Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Are You Having A Sustainable Thanksgiving?

As we get ready for Thanksgiving, it’s very easy to forget about living sustainably. But it’s actually a great time to remind ourselves to be thankful for all the Earth has given us while we enjoy our time with our friends and family. Using eco-friendly practices helps to protect our environmental and usually helps to simplify things by reducing cost, saving time and reducing stress.

Getting Ready

The best place to start being earth conscious is during shopping. During your shopping trip we can reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste, and support local business. Here are a few ways to do that:

Shop Local: When shopping, consider going to your local farmer’s market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to get fresh, locally grown foods.

Foods from a local source are fresher, create less waste and reduce carbon emissions. Foods from large farms typically travel hundreds, or even over a thousand, miles before they are put on store shelves. This also requires packaging to ensure longer shelf lives. Locally grown foods don’t have to travel far and do not need the plastics and Styrofoam. Locally grown food also contributes to your local economy, supporting local farmers and merchants. If you are not sure where to go in the area for locally harvested food, visit Local Harvest’s website.

Selecting the food: It’s not a secret that the most eco-friendly way to have a meal is vegan. However, it is the not most traditional way to spend Thanksgiving. If you want to have an eco-friendly traditional Thanksgiving, consider buying organic, ensuring the food is chemical-free and making sure it’s sustainably harvested (reducing its impact on the Earth), which is the healthiest option for the Earth and your guests.

Purchase a turkey that is free-range, free of hormones and free of antibiotics. Select produce that has not been exposed to pesticides and synthesized fertilizers. If you choose not to buy organic, again, buy local. Small farms use fewer chemicals than large industrial farms. They are also more likely to grow a variety of foods, promoting biodiversity, which is important to long term food security.

Portioning: A great way to reduce waste this Thanksgiving is to practice portion control when planning the meal. Try to buy just enough food for each of your guests. Here is an example list of approximate per person food and drink portions for Thanksgiving from Use Less Stuff:

           – Turkey: 1 pound
           – Stuffing: ¼ pound
           – Sweet potato casserole: ¼ pound
           – Green beans: ¼ pound
           – Cranberry relish: 3 tablespoons
           – Pumpkin pie: 1/8 of a 9-inch pie

Bring your own bags: This is a great practice any time of year, but Thanksgiving is a great time to start. Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store helps keep plastic out of landfills and our waterways. Unfortunately, plastic never completely decomposes – it just breaks down. Reducing the amount of plastic we use essential to preserving our ecosystems.

Reduce packaging: Try to buy products that require little to no packaging. If there is something that is packaged, be sure the packaging is recyclable.

Decorate with Nature

There are some beautiful, eco-friendly options out there for making your house festive for Thanksgiving. They are also a fun way to get your family involved in the decorating. Here are a few ideas:

Pumpkins: Use Pumpkins, gourds and squash around the house and as center pieces. Hollow out a pumpkin as a candle holder or for fresh flowers.

Pinecones: You can create pinecone name-tag holders to place at each setting. Maybe you could scent them with cinnamon or have the children create turkeys out of them. Pinecones also look great in a glass vase.

Acorns: Use acorns with strings tied around them as napkin holders. Or fill a glass vase with them, and they will serve as an anchor for tall autumn branches.

Fall Leaves: Fall leaves can be used in a garland or to surround a candle. You can also put them in a glass bowl with water and use floating candles for a beautiful center piece.
During the meal

Keep it real: Try to use real plates, cloth napkins and silverware. Avoid the disposable ones.

Have a clearly marked recycling bin: Have your guests help you with the reducing by clearly labeling the recycle bin and trash so your guests know where to put their waste.

Drink tap water: Try to avoid drinking bottled water. Chill some tap water in the refrigerator instead. It’s cheaper, and you don’t have all the plastic waste. And you will know where your water came from.
Clean Up

After dinner is over, Thanksgiving is not done. There is often quite a bit to clean up and put away. If you are like the rest of us. you have leftovers, food scraps and other trash to deal with. Here are a few eco-friendly ideas for your “after Thanksgiving” clean up:

Share your leftovers: You can always give your leftovers to your guests to take home. Remember to put them in reusable containers as opposed to foil, plastic wrap or baggies. Those items just create more waste. Another option is to donate the food to a local shelter. Call ahead to see if they are accepting already prepared food donations.

Composting: Instead of throwing out your potato peels and other veggie scraps, start a compost bin or put them in your garden to be turned back into nutrient-rich soil.

Yummy soups: Eating left overs is definitely a great part of Thanksgiving. You can always heat up your stuffing, turkey and potatoes, but did you know that you can also make delicious soup from your leftover scraps? You can add your turkey carcass to a large pot of boiling water, along with your celery and carrot tops. There are many great recipes out there, but here are a few from Carbon Footprint Defined.

The 3 R’s: Reduce, reuse, recycle. I’m sure it’s not the first time you have heard this. But why not have a friendly reminder of ways to give back to our planet by reducing waste and natural resources used?

We hope these green Thanksgiving tips are useful and help to make for a very simple and fun holiday for you and your family. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Maine Ski Resort Installs Solar Panels

Perfect timing as we welcome our first snow to New England in time for Thanksgiving.  Of course, we had plenty of snow and ice in Denver/Boulder two weeks ago as we covered the ISSP conference there.  

Kudos to MT. Abram and their investment in clean energy.  I love to ski but have felt strongly that, in pursuit of our leisure sports, we need to reduce our impact on the environment.  Snow making, we all know, is tough on Mother Earth.  Draining a lot of water, running tons of equipment across mountains and fields, high uses of electricity and many, many cars driving up mountain roads.  Of course, there's lots of food waste created in restaurants and lodges.

What we need is better balance--to reduce fossil fuel burned, to generate clean electricity and to drive to mountains in highly efficient hybrids and EV's.  Hopefully, too, the food consumed at resorts is local, organic and uses biodegradable packaging and utensils .  Let's enjoy skiing, of all types, snow shoeing, skating, etc while letting Mother Nature enjoy winter as well.

Maine Ski Resort Installs Solar Panels for Snowmaking to Build Sustainable Future

This winter, sunny days will be just as welcome as snowy days for one ski area in western Maine.

Mt. Abram Ski Area in Greenwood, Maine, is wrapping up installation of 803 solar panels that will be used to help pay for the mountain's snow-making efforts.

The switch to solar will offset 70 percent of their annual energy usage and save costs from pricey and environmentally unfriendly fossil fuels.
Matt Hancock, co-owner of Mt. Abram, said there was a combination of factors that went into developing the project, which they first began researching back in October 2009.

Hancock said price fluctuation in energy for heating oil or diesel fuel, used for the snow groomers and snow-making system, has the ability to be very impactful for the mountain. A renewable energy system can fix the cost of their daily energy usage, he explained.

"You now have a known cost of energy for whatever amount that you produce," Hancock said.

Another key factor in the transition to solar was their clientele, who Hancock describes as outdoor enthusiasts. Hancock believes that customers who care deeply about the environment will recognize Mt. Abram's green initiatives and would be more willing to plan a trip to the mountain.

"I've always felt that people who are passionate about getting up on a Friday morning or a Saturday morning, when it's 7 degrees out and going to play in the outdoors, are people who are more passionate about the environment," Hancock said.

The ski area is planning a commissioning celebration on Dec. 4 that will mark flipping the switch to make the panels live, just in time for opening day on Dec. 13.

In the early part of the season, Hancock said that they rely on man-made snow more frequently because the weather is typically more inconsistent. Having the new system done in time for the Christmas holiday, one of the busiest periods of the year for ski resorts, is pivotal because the difference in having snow on 15 trails versus five is dramatic.

"It's a 20-week season, at least on paper, but you could argue it's a two-week season," Hancock said.
The mountain's snow-making systems were also upgraded, in part to allow quicker response to challenging weather events such as unseasonably warm weather and rainy or icy conditions.

Every ski area or resort begins the year with a targeted goal of what they want to accomplish with their snow-making process. The goal is to make enough snow to cover the necessary amount of terrain to open and feed more snow onto high-traffic areas, such as snow tubing or snowboarding parks.

"One of the biggest things you need to do is recover from unwanted weather events," Hancock said.
The solar power project is the latest in a series of sustainable endeavors for the mountain. Mt. Abram is one of only two ski areas in North America that offer charging stations for hybrid and electric vehicles and it has been recognized by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) for switching from a fossil fuel based heating system to a wood pellet-based system, which is described as a carbon neutral and locally produced fuel source.

Only Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Massachusetts, which generates 100 percent of its energy from wind and solar power, is more reliant on renewable energy.

Sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions continues to remain a top priority throughout the entire ski industry. Since 2000, the NSAA's "Sustainable Slopes" environmental charter has provided a framework for ski areas around the country on sustainability and enhanced environmental performance, according to the program's website. More than 190 resorts endorse the charter according to the NSAA.

Hancock said he believes that more ski areas across the country will begin to turn to renewable energy.

"When your business relies on cold, snowy winters, you need to support that from a climate standpoint," Hancock said

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good News on Energy

Wow, this is a great article and reminds us, with concrete data, on how far we have come in reducing our use of energy.  What is here at Renewable Now we declare 2015 the Year of Efficiency and let's celebrate every single investment we make in driving down the use of fossil fuels--in our homes, buildings and cars.

Thanks so the NY Times for a great piece.  We will get the writer on a future radio show:

SAN FRANCISCO — WHEN the world’s two largest polluters join in establishing new goals for reducing emissions of climate-disrupting gases, criticism and skepticism are predictable. And there was plenty following the recent agreement between the United States and China to do just that.

Critics warned of a “war on coal,” regulatory overreach and the surrender of American interests to Chinese duplicity. Skeptics wondered whether the goals were even feasible.

In fact, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than one-quarter over the next decade, as the United States has agreed to do, is simply another step in a transition to cleaner energy that has been underway for decades.

That realignment is the most important reason the security, affordability and efficiency of America’s energy services have never been better. A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, where I work, found that total energy use in the United States peaked in 2007 and has trended downward since. Despite a small uptick in 2013, the total remains below the level of a decade earlier.

We also found that economic growth decisively outpaced any increases in energy use over recent decades, as America found smarter ways to use energy (like the LED, which uses one-fifth as much electricity as Edison’s original light bulb). Improvements in energy efficiency over the last 40 years have done more to meet growth in America’s energy needs than the combined contributions of oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Without energy productivity improvements, America’s energy needs would have tripled since 1970, according to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Actual growth was only one-fifth of that. Energy efficiency has emerged as the largest and cheapest alternative to burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.

The efficiency trend shows up vividly in recent data on electricity consumption. Since 2000, growth in electricity use has dropped well below growth in the population, through both recessions and recoveries, despite a flood of new consumer electronics and other plug-ins.

Moreover, oil consumption by vehicles, homes and businesses is down more than 12 percent from its 2005 peak, despite a slight increase in 2013. Lower petroleum use is an important contributor to recent reductions in pump prices and declining reliance on foreign suppliers.

There is also good news on renewable energy. By last year, wind was providing more than 4 percent of America’s electricity generation. Solar is surging, too, although it still produces less than 1 percent of the total. For the first time, total hydropower generation (once the dominant source of renewable power) was overtaken over a 12-month period beginning in June 2013 by the combined contributions of other renewable energy sources, primarily wind, solar and geothermal. More than one-eighth of our electricity supply is now in the “renewable” category, which is growing faster than any other.

These trends put the country in a strong position to meet carbon dioxide emissions standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce pollution from power plants. These standards would cut emissions by 30 percent compared with 2005 levels.

The E.P.A.'s proposal would encourage states to push for energy efficiency improvements across the economy to reduce power plant generation. Because optimizing energy use is cheaper than making more electricity, the E.P.A. projects that electric bills will drop.

Clean energy progress goes hand in hand with economic health, and America’s success in linking them is encouraging efforts worldwide to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. That is why the deal between China and the United States should be understood as a way to advance both national and international interests. Achieving the pollution reductions involves expanding proven ways to deliver more affordable and reliable energy services. China is now the world’s largest renewable energy investor, and its energy productivity improvements have outstripped America’s in recent years.

Avoiding climate disruption will require reductions far in excess of what China and the United States have proposed. The transition to a clean energy economy needs to reach zero emissions.

We must start by rejecting attacks on the E.P.A. power plant standards. Utilities should boost their energy efficiency and renewable energy investments, and state utility regulators should speed up reforms to advance clean energy progress. We can find new ways to squeeze more miles from fewer gallons, while reducing our need to drive by planning more compact communities. And we can marshal more technology to use less energy while maintaining comfort, convenience and quality of life.

But we don’t need to change course, or kill jobs, or wage war on anybody or anything.

Ralph Cavanagh is the co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

SunEdison and TerraForm Buy First Wind

Good to see continued investment in wind.  We are starting to think that wind might make a very big comeback in the next decade and start to provide significant load to our grids.

SunEdison and TerraForm Buy First Wind, Gaining a Toehold in Turbines

Wind turbines line the hillside at First Wind’s project in Sheffield, Vt. First Wind is being bought by SunEdison and TerraForm.Credit Toby Talbot/Associated Press

SunEdison, a company that grew from making chemicals and components for solar modules to become one of the leading developers of solar farms, is making an acquisition that will give it a foothold in the wind power business.

SunEdison and its publicly traded power plant subsidiary, TerraForm, said on Monday that they would buy First Wind, a leading developer and operator of wind farms, for $2.4 billion.

SunEdison said the purchase would make it the world’s largest renewable energy development company. The deal would increase the generating capacity of the renewable power plants SunEdison is capable of completing in 2015 to about 2.2 gigawatts, from roughly 1.7 gigawatts.

“We felt that having wind would help us double down on our strategy,” said Ahmad Chatila, SunEdison’s president and chief executive. “We feel that electrons are electrons — solar or wind really doesn’t matter for our customers. Our customers are demanding that we have a more comprehensive solution.”

First Wind, based in Boston, is operating or building renewable energy projects in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii. It said its projects had a combined capacity of nearly 1,300 megawatts, or enough to supply more than 425,000 homes each year.

The two companies will pay $1.9 billion upfront for the company and another $510 million if First Wind completes projects in its backlog.
The acquisition fits with Sun-Edison’s growth strategy, Mr. Chatila said. He said the company had been growing at 90 percent a year since 2009.

Over the last couple of years, SunEdison undertook a successful turnaround plan. Two years ago, the company’s stock was sagging as low-cost Chinese solar panels undercut American offerings.
But with the help of a new plan pushed heavily by Steve Tesoriere of Altai Capital, an activist hedge fund that SunEdison surprisingly welcomed into its boardroom, SunEdison has built both solar panels and power-generating projects around the world. SunEdison held a successful initial public offering for TerraForm in July.

The acquisition will help TerraForm satisfy investors looking for a bigger pipeline of projects, Shayle Kann, an analyst with GTM Research, wrote in an email. He added that First Wind had “made a successful foray into solar project development over the past couple years.”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Massachusetts Clean Energy Revolution

From our main site, this week's new radio show.  Great show.  We hope you use the link to listen and share.

We'd welcome your feedback on similar work getting done in other states:


Show Description:
Where else but New England, specifically, Massachusetts, for the next great revolution?  Today we welcome Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary, Mark Sylvia, for this great, innovative State and learn more about how they are investing, through over 123 lucky cities and towns, millions of dollars as they build, for all communities, a sustainable future.

Along with our Boston-based co-host, Jack Gregg, we get behind the scenes of one state's fantastic track record of modeling the highest standards for energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean tech. Of course, their success is a much financial as environmental.  Listen as Mark gives us the data on their incredible job creation, air-pollution reductions, expansion of mass transient and the seeds they have sown, cleanly, for future growth.

Guest Bio:

Sylvia has been with the Patrick Administration since 2009 and has served as Green Communities Division Director as well as Commissioner. He and his team have implemented nation-leading policies, leading to the number one ranking in energy efficiency three years in a row and surpassing the Governor’s ambitious solar goal of 250 megawatts by 2017 four years early.

“I’m thrilled to be appointed Undersecretary and excited to continue promoting the Governor’s clean energy agenda, which has put the Commonwealth on the global map for energy innovation and new technology,” said Sylvia.

Under Sylvia’s leadership, DOER has launched innovative programs to support energy resiliency, electric vehicle adoption, building labeling and renewable thermal technologies. There are now 123 cities and towns that have been designated as Green Communities, representing 48 percent of the Commonwealth’s population.

Sylvia earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from the American University in Washington D.C.


Before we close more nuclear power plants

This is a really good element to add to our national conversation on future energy sources to fuel our growth.  We look forward to expanding the conversation on radio.

Continuing to use nuclear power brings fiery opinions from all sides.  Read the below article with an open mind before reacting.  Will the day come when nuclear plants are completely safe and we invent ways of reusing or disposing of waste? 

Before we close more nuclear power plants, we need a national conversation


FILE -- June 19, 2013 photo, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station sits along the banks of the Connecticut River in Vernon, Vt. Entergy Corp., announced Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, it will shut down the nuclear power plant by end of 2014, ending a long legal battle with the state. (AP)
New England is about to get hit with huge electricity rate increases, job losses and more carbon emissions, a result of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s imminent closure.  Make no mistake, the potential for these consequences to occur is not isolated to one region -- all parts of the country should brace themselves if additional premature plant closures occur.

In fact, a growing number of America’s existing nuclear energy plants are at risk of shutting down. In 2013, four nuclear energy reactors from across the country announced their retirement, an unprecedented retrenchment for the nuclear industry.   Others have indicated that they will follow suit if conditions do not improve, even though these plants have years of useful life left.   

Such losses will be devastating because of the benefits that our existing nuclear energy plants provide to the nation.
Existing nuclear plants produce 20 percent of our electricity, provide 100,000 well-paying jobs, contribute billions in local, state and federal taxes, and make up 63 percent of our carbon-free energy.  
Existing nuclear plants produce 20 percent of our electricity, provide 100,000 well-paying jobs, contribute billions in local, state and federal taxes, and make up 63 percent of our carbon-free energy.
To put a finer point on it: due to Vermont Yankee’s closure, 600 people across Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will lose their jobs.  Not to mention that regulators are already scrambling to ensure that the energy from the Vermont Yankee unit is replaced, given that the plant produced 26 percent of New England’s power during the peak of last year’s frigid weather and helped prevent the emission of a million tons of carbon each year.  And, due in part to Vermont Yankee’s closure, some customers can expect rate increases of up to a staggering 50 percent.

Vermont Yankee is just one example of this national problem.  The closure of the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin and the San Onofre plant in California pose serious carbon emissions challenges for their host regions, among a number of other issues.

The cause of the current malaise is due in large part to a perfect storm of economic and policy challenges, including sluggish demand for electricity, the onset of cheap natural gas, electricity markets that do not sufficiently value low- or zero-carbon electricity sources and an aging, constrained transmission system.

The reliability implications of premature nuclear energy plant closures alone should give us pause.  During the Polar Vortex, nuclear energy plants outperformed all other sources of energy, operating at 95 percent capacity.  So what was a close call this past January could mean blackouts in the future if parts of the country have to deal with severe weather conditions without nuclear energy plants.

What might be done to ensure that existing nuclear energy plants are preserved? While different solutions may be called for in different regions, it is time to begin engaging in these discussions on a national scale so that we can ensure a diverse and secure energy future for America.  To this end, we have laid out a framework of possible solutions that might be considered by policymakers.

First, markets should appropriately value existing nuclear energy plants for their reliability.  Some organized competitive wholesale markets for power, in addition to energy markets that facilitate the buying, selling and delivery of electricity, have capacity markets that provide incentives to promote investment in maintaining existing generation and encouraging the development of new power facilities.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is charged with oversight of wholesale electric markets, could approve changes to capacity markets that would ensure that only resources that can physically perform will bid into regional capacity markets, and thereby ensure that prices reflect the true cost of capacity.

Second, electric transmission lines could better link nuclear energy plants to the markets that need their power. Transmission expansion in many places is difficult due to limitations on which projects can qualify as regional projects in Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO), as well as impediments in siting.  Lack of transmission causes bottlenecks and impedes the ability of nuclear energy facilities to reach places where power is needed.  State and federal policymakers could facilitate the expansion of the grid in such places by ensuring that laws and regulations support development under these circumstances.

Finally, nuclear energy plants could be recognized for the fact that they emit no carbon.  According to a recent study by the Brookings Institution, nuclear energy is the most cost-effective, zero-emission technology on the U.S. electric grid.  In fact, nuclear energy facilities prevent four times as much carbon dioxide per megawatt as wind; six times as much as solar arrays.

A majority of states have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) policies designed to increase generation of electricity from renewable resources.  These policies require or encourage electricity producers within a given jurisdiction to supply a minimum share of their electricity from renewable resources.  Generally, these resources include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and some types of hydroelectricity.

An RPS provides a preference to such new renewables, leaving existing nuclear resources to compete on an uneven playing field.  In lieu of an RPS, states could adopt clean energy standards (CES) that appropriately value the carbon-free nature of nuclear energy, or modify existing RPS to promote clean energy and its environmental benefits in a technology-neutral fashion.

This is especially timely as states contemplate how they will meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent draft rule to curb carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  The proposed rule’s recognition of nuclear energy’s attributes and its importance to state compliance is a positive development, but the closure of nuclear energy plants will make it difficult or impossible for states to comply with these rules.

Discussions are already beginning on how best to preserve nuclear energy plants.  We are hopeful that with continued dialogue and increased awareness of this issue, we can find the right solutions to help preserve this essential energy resource.
Former Senators Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) are co-chairmen of Nuclear Matters, a campaign designed to engage and inform policymakers and the public about the need to preserve existing nuclear energy plants.
Evan Bayh joined the Fox News Channel (FNC) in March 2011 as a contributor.

Judd Gregg is a former Republican governor and 
three-term senator from New Hampshire. He served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as 
ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Honda concept previews

We are hearing a lot more about hydrogen powering cars.  There is a big push in New England, certainly MA as a start, to get fueling stations set up.

Honda and Toyota seem to be leading the charge.  We relish seeing different methods of powering cars, including EV's, biofuels that do not compete with food supply (corn-based), and, as here, hydrogen.  We believe the combination of technologies will reduce fossil fuel use and emissions.

Let us know if you have driven any alternative vehicles and your experience.

Honda concept previews cew fuel cell vehicle coming In 2016
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Honda is an industry leader in the development of hydrogen-powered fuelcell vehicles. In 2002, it was the first automaker to begin a retail initiative with the leasing of fuel cell vehicles to fleet customers with its original FCX hatch, and by 2005 it was already leasing the cars to individuals. A couple of years later the FCX Clarity was introduced and to this day there are roughly two dozen of the cars still on America’s roads.

Now, Honda has confirmed that a successor to the FCX Clarity will be launched in 2016. It will go on sale in Japan in March of that year and should reach the U.S. and Europe shortly after. The confirmation was made during the presentation of a new concept dubbed the FCV, an evolution of last year’s FCEV concept and a closer match to the production version due in a couple of years.

Fuel cell fans may note that Toyota also used the FCV moniker for its fuel cell vehicle, but the rival Japanese automaker has since confirmed that its hydrogen-powered car will be known as the Mirai when it reaches showrooms next year. Both Honda and Toyota see hydrogen as a high-potential, next-generation energy carrier due to their belief that hydrogen can be generated from various energy sources and is easily transportable and storable.

Fuel cell vehicles are essentially electric cars that use a hydrogen fuel cell stack to generate the electricity to power their motors. The fuel cell stack in the new FCV concept is 33 percent smaller than the one used in the FCX Clarity yet realized output is greater than 100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) and output density is as high as 3.1 kilowatts per liter, improving the overall performance by approximately 60 percent. A full tank of hydrogen should provide a driving range of more than 435 miles, says Honda.

Filling the tank will take about three minutes, assuming you can find a station that provides hydrogen. And therein lies the biggest hindrance to the adoption of fuel cell vehicles: a lack of the necessary refueling infrastructure, though this doesn’t appear to be deterring the likes of Honda and Toyota.

In addition to revealing the FCV concept, Honda also presented a concept external power feeding device that enables AC power output from the FCV with maximum output of 9 kW (12 hp).This allows the FCV to function as a small-sized mobile power plant that generates electricity for various uses.

Sustainability Professionals Converge at ISSP Conference 2014

One of the great events we've covered this Fall.  Be listening on our broadcast section for some great interviews and specials.  See much more at:

It was a "who's who of sustainability" last week at the ISSP (International Society of Sustainability Professionals) Conference 2014 in Denver, Colorado, where leaders in sustainability came together to network, educate, discuss, and honor leaders within the profession. The agenda included the important task of shaping the future of sustainability. ReNewable Now was also on hand, gathering exclusive video coverage and interviews. These will be released in a series over the next few weeks.

This conference was something special, and yes, you could feel it in the air. When you think of the timing, it couldn't have been any better with opening day occurring on the same day as the historic climate change deal between the U.S. and China. Some may have said that this was only a coincidence, but for ReNewable Now there are no coincidences; this is a reflection of the growing importance of all around sustainability on every level. During the conference, we did hear from a number of speakers about the need to be dealing with climate change and how this is a matter of urgency. This couldn't have been better articulated or emphasized by noneHunter Lovins with Peter Arpin other thanHunter Lovins during the “Sustainability Hall Of Fame Wisdom Panel”. Hunter, in her own classic Hunter way, got the attention of the audience when she shouted, "Get prepared for a !#@% STORM(you can fill in the blank) if we conduct business as usual, we are looking at a collapse of all living systems!" If that doesn't get your attention, we don't know what will. The entire video of the “Sustainability Hall Of Fame Wisdom Panel” will be released by ISSP for your viewing in upcoming weeks.

ReNewable Now conducted over 50 interviews, and we tried to attend as many break-out sessions as possible. Our takeaway from the conference is that businesses who aren't thinking about how to incorporate sustainability will fail long term.  Those who embrace it will not only continue to be in existence, but will be part of the solution. In some cases, businesses will see the opportunity in problem solving innovations and profit accordingly. And for us that is what it is all about, rolling up your sleeves, be willing to sweat a bit, and feel good about being part of moving future generations in the right direction.

Our congratulations goes to the entire ISSP staff for putting together such an inspirational conference. We especially want to give a special shout out to ISSP Marketing Director, Ray Berardinelli, and his assistant, Elias Kauders for helping us coordinate all the interviews.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell

This is a very interesting article and perspective.

Our position has been not to get caught up in discussions of global warming and climate change, but focus on our ability to do more with less--to run the economy using less energy and little to no waste.  Our question:  What is the downside to that?  What is the fallacy of running our lives while creating less air pollution, less contamination in our oceans and rivers, water supplies, and less erosion of our natural resources?

Regardless, we'll see how the climate change plays out.  Might be a cold winter.

Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell Strikes Earth

Image: Climatologist: 30-Year Cold Spell Strikes Earth

With nasty cold fronts thrusting an icy and early winter across the continental U.S. — along with last winter described by USA Today as "one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record" — climatologist John L. Casey thinks the weather pattern is here to stay for decades to come.

In fact, Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, is out with the  provocative book "Dark Winter: How the Sun Is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell," which warns that a radical shift in global climate is underway, and that Al Gore and other environmentalists have it completely wrong.

The earth, he says, is cooling, and cooling fast.

And unless the scientific community and political leaders act soon, cold, dark days are ahead.

Casey says the evidence is clear that the earth is rapidly growing colder because of diminished solar activity.

He says trends indicate we could be headed for colder temperatures similar to those seen in the late 1700s and early 1800s when the sun went into a "solar minimum" — a phenomenon with significantly reduced solar activity, including solar flares and sunspots.

If he's right, that would be very bad news.

"Dark Winter" posits that a 30-year period of cold has already begun. Frigid temperatures, and food shortages that inevitably result, could lead to riots and chaos.

Casey tells Newsmax, "All you have to do is trust natural cycles, and follow the facts; and that leads you to the inevitable conclusion that the sun controls the climate, and that a new cold era has begun." Casey is president of the Space and Science Research Corp., an Orlando, Fla., climate research firm.

His new book debunks global warming orthodoxy. For over a decade, he reports, the planet's oceans have been cooling. And since 2007, the atmospheric temperature has been cooling as well.

"The data is pretty solid," Casey says. "If you look at the 100-year global temperature chart, you look at the steep drop off we've had since 2007, it's the steepest drop in global temperatures in the last hundred years."

So how can the media and scientific elites make a case for global warming when it's actually cooling?

Casey suggests climate-change theorists have simply wedded themselves to the wrong theory, namely, that global temperatures respond to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 Any scientist suggesting otherwise is castigated as a heretic, though there are other prominent scientists who support Casey.

Noted Russian astrophysicist Habibullo I. Abdussamatov has argued that a new, mini-ice age has begun, though Casey doesn't go that far.

He does agree with Abdussamatov that the real driver of global climate is solar activity, namely sunspots. These correspond to shifts in global temperature with a greater than 90 percent accuracy, he says.

The environmental left focuses instead on ever-rising greenhouse emissions, suggesting nature is just taking a bit of a breather before the upward march in temperatures ineluctably resumes.

"There are two fundamental flaws with that," Casey says. "No. 1, the greenhouse-gas theory, and the global climate models that they produced, never permitted a pause. As long as CO2 levels were going up, the only thing that could happen was global temperatures could go up. That has not happened.

"No. 2, there could absolutely be no cooling, much less a pause. And yet we've been cooling for 11 years now."

The recent polar vortex that sent temperatures across the Midwest plunging to sub-zero records is not an aberration, Casey says.

If "Dark Winter" is right, that means the nation is busily preparing for the wrong calamity.

"We don't have 10 years," Casey warns. "We've squandered during President Obama's administration eight years . . . and we didn't have eight years to squander."

The worst of the cooling cycle, Casey predicts, will hit in the late 2020s and the early 2030s.

Food riots will break out, demand for heating oil will spike, and the failure of the corn crop will put the squeeze on ethanol.

He even predicts the United States will ban agricultural exports to feed its own citizens.

When Casey developed his theories in 2007, he emerged with several predictions.

Rising temperatures would begin to reverse themselves within three years. The sun would enter a phase of reduced activity he called "solar hibernation." And oceanic and atmospheric temperatures would enter a long decline.

So far, all of Casey's predictions have come true. He says, "My theory tells you when it will be cold . . . and it is the cold that kills."

Casey also posits that a long-term cold spell will have dire effects on the earth's geology.

As air and ocean temperatures, the earth's crust begins changing, leading to more volcanic activity and earthquakes. Casey notes that the worst earthquake to strike the continental U.S. in modern times was in 1812 at New Madrid, Missouri – during the last great solar minimum.

The climate changes also will affect human activity and may be a prelude to revolutionary politics. He says the French Revolution took place at the beginning of the last solar minimum in 1789.

"It could be one of the reasons Putin is so eager to get Ukraine," Casey says. "For many decades before Ukraine became independent, it was the primary source of wheat for the Soviet Union during cold weather times. Putin must have the wheat of Ukraine for the new cold era."

Casey has a worried look as he talks about the revelations in "Dark Winter."

"There is no human on earth, much less here in the U.S., who has experienced the depth and duration of cold we're about to experience — it's that serious," he says.

G20 communique 'will include climate change'

We believe balancing steady, clean economic growth with environmental protection and restoration of natural resources is our overriding global issue.  The more world leaders link these paramount issues, the more progress we will make on both.
The G20 communique will include a significant passage on climate change, according to EU officials.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses leaders during the plenary session of the G20 Summit in Brisbane .

The United States and other heavyweight nations have overridden host Australia's attempts to keep the issue off the formal agenda.
Much of the meeting of world leaders in Australia has been overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine.
But today, momentum swung back to other major concerns for the Group of 20 leading economies, including climate change.
Reuters reports that is something of an embarrassment for Australia, which had argued it was not a clear economic issue and so should not be discussed at the G20.
Leaders of the world's 20 largest economies are discussing ways of boosting world economic growth but have also pushed climate change on to the agenda despite Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's reluctance.
But New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said there was growing momentum to deal with climate change.
He is confident that the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris next year will make progress in reaching a global agreement on reducing carbon emissions.
The agreement between China and the United States last week to seriously address the issue has given impetus to talks on the matter. US President Barack Obama has followed that up by pledging $US3 billion to the UN Green Climate Fund.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) speaks as New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington June 20, 2014.

As the economy's been recovering it is starting to become a more top of mind issue. You've seen some quite strong commitments, you know, for President Obama here. In the end you've still got to get the Congress to actually agree to giving him the $US3 billion for his climate fund but I'm fairly confident myself that climate change will just have a slightly higher profile over the next 12 to 18 months," Mr Key said.
Mr Key met French President Francois Hollande this morning at the G20 meeting and he said the two men discussed climate change given Paris is hosting the UN climate change summit next year.
He signalled New Zealand will be allowed some leeway around emissions from farming given food production is so important to feeding the world.
Mr Key said New Zealand farmers must be held accountable and currently they pay for emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme.
"But there's no point in just putting a tax on them when they can't change. But as soon as we can give them options, and the science and technology we are developing like DCDs is an example of that, then we would expect them to comply. But we can't just put them out of business to see, you know, another part of the world have that economic activity pop up because that doesn't solve the issues of climate change," Mr Key said.
Mr Key said with the largest economies taking leadership on climate change, he expected there would now be movement towards an agreement on reducing emissions next year.
He said with many countries feeling stronger economically, the time had now come to increase attention on climate change.
"We're starting to see the US demonstrating underlying economic strength and it's feeling more confident about pushing an issue that it feels very strongly about," Mr Key said.
"There is a range of different views although I think there's a consensus view we need to deal with the issue. The question is really how you do that."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For today's show: Kranowitz

Busy day in our Providence studios as we welcome Jeremy Kranowitz, Ex-Dir of Sustainable America and our Boston-based co-host, Jack Gregg in for a great show on what it takes to build an organization that implements a strategic plan to raise consumer awareness around food sustainable food, fuel issues, and to support entrepreneurs working on start ups and technology to make our nation more efficient, resilient and sustainable.  What an awesome mission that is.  We can't wait.

Tune into WRNP 1320 on line to listen between 1-2p, EST, today, and then look for the show in our broadcast section of our main site,


Our future is a Sustainable America.


Food is fuel. The consumption of food and fossil fuels are inextricably linked. Their production is nearing capacity, and shortages in both are a very real near term possibility. Without a concerted effort at all levels to separate the two—and to develop solutions to agricultural and energy shortcomings—we will be faced with a global crisis.


As daunting as the outlook is, there is hope on the horizon. Sustainable America’s goal is to bring together like-minded groups to foster awareness through open dialog and educational outreach, and act as a catalyst for the development and funding of innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to the impending food/fuel crisis.
Thinking and working together we can cultivate the change that fuels our future as a Sustainable America.



Jeremy Kranowitz is Executive Director of Sustainable America, implementing its strategic plan to raise consumer awareness around sustainable food and fuel issues, and to support entrepreneurs working on these issues to make our nation more efficient, resilient and sustainable. Prior to Sustainable America, Jeremy worked for a decade at The Keystone Center on the nation’s toughest energy and environmental issues as a mediator, facilitator, and educator. Jeremy worked for the Izaak Walton League on a clean air campaign on behalf of hunters and fishers, and helped launch Forest Trends, an international sustainable forestry non-profit. He also worked for five years at McKinsey & Co in its environment practice, working with Fortune 500 companies. He has an MS in Environmental Science and BA in Social Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPA in Environmental Policy from New York University.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Utilities Are Making it Cheaper to Drive Electric Cars

This is a major step forward in the use of EV's.  First, we need to make charging convenient and cheap (particularly as we see, at least right now, gas prices falling).  With that, then we can eliminate much of the consumer's range anxiety and offer a driving experience not just as pleasant, but more pleasant than using fossil fuel.  While saving them money and weekly/daily stops at gas stations.

We commend these states and commend all of you who buy and use plug-ins and EV's.

Some Utilities Are Making it Cheaper to Drive Electric Cars


Some utility companies are starting to encourage consumers to make the switch to plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). JEA, a utility company in northeastern Florida, recently began offering to its nearly half a million household and business electricity customers a rebate of up to $1,000 for the purchase or lease of a plug-in electric vehicle. That's a lot of cash toward buying a car that is already significantly cheaper to fuel than a conventional gas guzzler.

Recently, Georgia Power, the largest utility in the peach state, announced it will invest$12 million in a pilot program through which it will offer its residential customers incentives of $250 (and up to $500 for businesses) if they install certain types of EV chargers. The utility also now offers special electricity rates for EV drivers and plans to install 50 public charging stations. The company also provides a strong EV web sitefor prospective and current EV owners.

In Michigan, Consumers Energy currently offers a reimbursement of up to $2,500 to help customers cover the purchase, installation, and wiring of a Level 2 EV charging station. If you're an interested customer, act quickly because the program will likely expire at the end of this year, and only 2,500 households are eligible.

San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDGE) offers two electricity rate options specifically for EV owners. One uses a separate meter for the EV, and the other uses the existing meter to provide a combined reduced rate for EV charging and typical household use. Both plans calculate the price of electricity based on the time of day you choose to charge your car. Through these 'time of use' programs, SDGE expects to encourage customers to "limit daytime usage of electricity, when demand for electricity is highest."

According to the Edison Electric Institute, there were at least 23 electric utilities around the US that were offering EV specific rates at the end of 2013.

Some utility companies and agencies are way ahead (and others way behind) in promoting EVs. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is working to catch up by holding technical conferences on a number of EV topics, including electricity rate design for EV drivers, demand response programs, and grid planning (this is wonky but important stuff). Ideally, they will accept public comment and create regulatory changes that will get Massachusetts utilities into the pro-EV mix in the near-term.

According to a 2014 report by the Edison Electric Institute, customers are more likely to trust their local utility than the US Department of Energy for information about EVs, demonstrating that utilities are a crucial ally in today's EV market. In addition to encouraging EV programs for customers, EEI has also requested that each of its member utilities spend 5% of their annual fleet purchase budgets on plug-in vehicles, including electric forklifts. Companies such as Pacific Gas and Electric Company in Portland are already moving in this direction, with the recent unveiling of the first electric hybrid drivetrain Class 5 truck and battery powered lift systems on bucket trucks, which eliminate the need for trucks to idle at work sites.

Environmental advocates have a long history of going to battle with utilities (and industry associations like EEI) on issues related to dirty energy sources and energy efficiency programs. Just this past summer, several Florida-based utilities presented testimony to the Florida Public Service Commission arguing they should be allowed to roll back energy-efficiency goals, and environmental groups -including the Sierra Club-- have been pushing back. These fights will surely continue.

However, EVs offer an opportunity for agreement and collaboration among strange bedfellows. More electricity used by customers is desirable for utility companies -even those where electricity has been 'de-coupled' from total profits. And more consumers switching to plug-in electric cars is sought after by environmental groups that have done the math and found that EVs are a much cleaner choice compared to conventional vehicles, even using electricity to charge them based on today's energy sources. With more renewable sources of power, EVs become even cleaner over time.

Sierra Club's online EV Guide, now updated with a short online quiz, gives a wealth of information about EVs, including location-specific utility incentive programs that may be available where you plug in.

Madison Halloran contributed to this article.

Monday, November 17, 2014

U.S. and China reach historic deal on climate change

This happened while we were in Denver last week.  Of course, this is a very good, major step in reigning in emissions on a global scale.

Take a look at the details on the blueprint and work that will follow, including major carbon capture.  See the newest technology in action as these two behemoths look to reverse the worst of our air pollution and builds a clean-energy future.

The world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases have reached an unprecedented agreement to reduce such emissions, suddenly raising global hopes that we might solve climate change after all.

Obama and Xi Jinping
U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a press conference in Beijing Nov. 12. (Photo: Feng Li/Getty Images)
The U.S. and China — Earth's two largest economies and top two emitters of greenhouse gases — just revealed a historic, game-changing agreement to fight climate change. In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, President Obama and President Xi Jinping committed to dramatic reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions that could loosen decades of gridlock in global climate talks.
On the final day of Obama's three-day visit to China, he and Xi made the following pledges:
  • The U.S. will cut its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels before the year 2025. That will double the current pace of U.S. emissions cuts, from 1.2 percent annually during the 2005-2020 period to between 2.3 and 2.8 percent annually during 2020-2025.
  • China will peak its carbon emissions by 2030, marking the first time the No. 1 carbon-emitting country has agreed to set a date for such a target. China will also increase the non-fossil fuel portion of its total energy usage to 20 percent by the same year.
This is a big deal. Not only does it herald the largest-ever emissions cuts from the planet's top two emitters of carbon dioxide — which alone could put a dent in climate change — but it also opens the door to far more possibilities at next year's United Nations climate talks in Paris. Many countries have been reluctant to limit their own CO2 output without stronger commitments from the U.S. and China, but Obama and Xi say their newly revealed agreement should put such arguments to rest.
"As the world's two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," Obama said Wednesday. "We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious — all countries, developing and developed — to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year."
U.S. and Chinese leaders have long pointed to each other to justify their own inaction on climate change, but today's announcement could transform that dynamic in one fell swoop, says Bob Perciasepe, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "For too long it's been too easy for both the U.S. and China to hide behind one another," Perciasepe says in a statement. "People on both sides pointed to weak action abroad to delay action at home. This announcement hopefully puts those excuses behind us. We'll only avert the worst risks of climate change by acting together."
coal plant in China
About 70 percent of China's electricity still comes from coal, but that's poised to change. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The ultimate goal for the U.S., according to the White House, is emissions cuts "on the order of 80 percent by 2050." Much of that will be based on existing efforts to rein in CO2, including energy-efficiency measures, vehicle fuel-economy rules, and the EPA's plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants. But the deal with China also features a package of new joint initiatives, including:
  • More investment in the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which was created in 2009 by Obama and Xi's predeccesor, Hu Jintao. The deal extends CERC's mandate for five more years, renew funding for three existing research tracks (building efficiency, clean vehicles and advanced coal technology) and launch a new track on the interaction of energy and water.
  • Creating a major carbon capture and storage project in China that "supports a long-term, detailed assessment of full-scale sequestration in a suitable, secure underground geologic reservoir." The U.S. and China will match funding for the project, and seek additional outside funding. 
  • Pushing for cuts in the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigerants. The deal will boost cooperation on phasing out HFCs, including efforts to promote HFC alternatives and shift government procurement toward climate-friendly refrigerants.
  • Launching a new initiative to help cities in both countries share tips on using policy and technology to encourage low-carbon economic growth. This will kick off with a bilateral "Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit" to feature best practices and set new goals.
  • Promoting trade in "green goods," including low-carbon infrastructure and energy-efficiency technologies. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will lead a three-day business development mission in China next April.
  • More U.S. help with China's efficiency and clean-energy goals, such as expanded cooperation on smart grid development and a U.S.-Chinese commercial agreement on a "first-of-its-kind" 380-megawatt concentrating solar power plant in China.
Both countries' commitments are big news, but China's are especially momentous given that country's huge population and heavy reliance on coal for electricity. The agreement will require China to add 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of zero-emissions electricity generation by 2030, according to the White House, including both renewable and nuclear energy. That's more than all of China's current coal-fired power plants can generate, and it's close to the entire U.S. capacity for electricity generation.
"Today's announcement is the political breakthrough we've been waiting for," says Timothy E. Wirth, vice chair of the United Nations Foundation and former U.S. State Department official under President Bill Clinton. "If the two biggest players on climate are able to get together, from two very different perspectives, the rest of the world can see that it's possible to make real progress."
For more details, see the countries' joint statement about their agreement.

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