Archive for the 'Editorial' Category
After a break from publishing for some time, we’re back. We’ll be posting information about renewable energy, and geothermal energy in particular, for the foreseeable future. So much has happened over the past 18 months, consolidation of industry players, the global economic meltdown, new US loan guarantees from the government, BLM lease auctions, etc. There is clearly no shortage of information as the geothermal sector heats up (pun intended.)
We are also open to the idea of contribution of content from the community. If you would like to contribute to this forum, please drop a line to explain what you’d like to contribute and why you’re the right person to do so Write the Editor.
No doubt there are serious issues to address on Earth Day. But a little humor never hurt and oh, by the way, just in case we’re worried about Earth? Don’t. This really should be “save the humans from themselves day.” Earth will be just fine long after we’re gone…
The past few years have seen some rather dramatic events unfold in the area of public policy and subsidies with respect to renewable energy projects. It would be difficult to underestimate the impact of these policies and the resulting guarantees that really enable renewable projects to be developed. Ideally, renewable energy projects would be economically viable without such legislative intervention, but we’re not quite there yet.
In our view, the government could best serve the people, the interest of the nation, and renewable project developers by doing a few, simple things:
- Shift focus from fossil fuel generation to renewable generation. Slash funding and subsidies to nothing for fossil fuel generators. In reality, these industries are mature and do not need the government support to maintain profitable operation, and encouragement of continued development of new fossil powered projects is counter productive for energy security and greenhouse gas issues.
- Establish a long-term (10-15 year) production tax credit for renewable projects. When it expires, do not renew the credit. This longevity enables investors to take on renewable projects with reduced risk, reducing costs all along the financial supply chain. The fact that PTCs will likely expire in December of this year increases risk making project financing significantly more difficult to secure and more expensive. This fundamentally changes the economics of projects for the worse. The PTC however, should not be permanent. It’s a catalyzing measure to increase investment in the near-term in renewable projects.
- Provide loan guarantees. Particularly in the present credit crunch, it’s difficult to get project financing. Having the government as a co-signer reduces risk for lenders and cost for developers. To their credit, there is a program with $38.5B in loan guarantees out there, but more than half is earmarked for nuclear and fossil fuel projects, which misses the point of having the guarantees.
- Give regulatory preference and increase velocity of government interaction on renewable projects. Be it a lease from the BLM, and environmental impact review from the EPA, a power plant application to FERC, these projects need to be expedited. The long development times kill developers making it difficult to get a project in place and producing. The average renewable project takes 4 years to go from concept to commercial operations.
- Get out of the way. Once the pieces above are in place, simply let the industry move forward. Additional oversight and overhead are not particularly useful or necessary.
Until and unless a simple, coherent, and consistent energy policy exists that prefers renewable generation projects, we’re simply on a status quo course of action. As a new administration is selected and sworn in, we’ll see if that person has the vision and will to lead the nation to an outcome of energy independence and security.
Attribution: GreenTech Media
GreenTech Media put together a really nice visual representation of the European Utilities Renewable Portfolios and development pipelines indicating the country and types of renewables in the portfolio. It’s really nice work and helpful. We need to do one of these for the US as well.
Things that stick out, the overall European nameplate capacity of renewables is 86.6GW at a cost of 26.4B EUR and the total development pipeline is 102.1GW. That’s showing just how far ahead Europe is in considering and solving this problem. It also shows the room the US industry has to grow, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
We promised not to make this a humor site when we posted our first renewable-related humor on wind power.
Photo Credit: The Other Power
But, we came across this project and it was simply too good to pass up for commentary. So, without further ado, here’s the striking new, renewable energy source: hamsters!
Custom energy hackers, The Other Power, have been releasing serious DIY energy projects for some time. These include wind turbines, steam generators, low-speed diesel generators, and camper mounted solar arrays. But, the most interesting project involves creating a custom low RPM alternator designed to be driven by hamster power. They call the project, The Hamster-Powered Night Light.
Photo Credit: The Other Power
It turns out to be not so simple to build a generator that relies on an animal driving a wheel 40-60 RPM with relatively low torque. But the folks at Other Power spend the time to walk you through the intimate details of the project including the new field of hamster psychology. Read the details of the project and enjoy!