Posts

Chief Blogger’s Favorite Cleantech Blogs

I’ve personally written hundreds of articles over the years.  I selected a few I thought were pretty timeless or prescient, and worth rereading:

What is Cleantech?  Always a good starting point:

or try, The Seminal List of Cleantech Definitions

 

The “Rules” in Cleantech Investing – Rereading this one after the cleantech exits study we just did, wow, was I on the money!

 

VeraSun IPO analysis – Read this carefully, I predicted exactly what would happen, and try the later version Beware the Allure of Ethanol Investing

 

Cleantech Venture Capitalists Beware, What You Don’t Know about Energy CAN Kill you – The title says it all.

 

 

The Seminal List of Authoritative Cleantech Definitions

It dawned on me after I MC’ed the Cleantech Open Gala Awards Ceremony two weeks ago (congrats again the to winners!), that there were now some 5.6 mm listings on google for the term cleantech, and while virtually every data provider or leading market analysis firm in the sector had tried to define cleantech, no one had ever tried to reconcile the different definitions.  And since after Cleantech.com and Wikipedia, the next two websites are mine, I ought to be the one to kick it off.  Especially since I wrote the first mini-history essay on cleantech in 2007.

So in conjunction with our new Cleantechblog.com facebook fan page, here is the first seminal list of definitions of cleantech.  Send us new ones in the comments.

Here’s our official Cleantech.org definition of cleantech, slightly revised from 2007:  Cleantech (noun) KLEEN TEK  is the generally accepted umbrella term referring to a variety of products and services, investment asset classes, technologies, government policies, and business sectors which encompass some combination of clean energy, environmentally friendly, and sustainable or green attributes; Synonyms/AKAs: clean tech, clean technology, greentech, green tech, energy & environmental technology


“What is Cleantech?” the first mini history of cleantech I wrote in 2007, published on Google’s Knol and Cleantech Blog and CNET, at the time tried to lay out in brief of how the term cleantech or clean tech came to be defined, and why some firms still used greentech to refer to their investing strategy.

“Cleantech, also referred to as clean technology, and often used interchangeably with the term greentech, has emerged as an umbrella term encompassing the investment asset class, technology, and business sectors which include clean energy, environmental, and sustainable or green, products and services. . . .

The term has historically been differentiated from various definitions of green business, sustainability, or triple bottom line industries by its origins in the venture capital investment community, and has grown to define a business sector that includes significant and high growth industries such as solar, wind, water purification, and biofuels.”

No definition of cleantech should start without first reading the Cleantech.com current definition, as they really get credit for popularizing the term, or more accurately, the Cleantech Group cofounders, Keith Raab and Nick Parker do.

“Clean technology, or “cleantech,” should not be confused with the terms environmental technology or “green tech” popularized in the 1970s and 80s. Cleantech is new technology and related business models that offer competitive returns for investors and customers while providing solutions to global challenges.

While greentech, or envirotech, has represented “end-of-pipe” technology of the past (for instance, smokestack scrubbers) with limited opportunity for attractive returns, cleantech addresses the roots of ecological problems with new science, emphasizing natural approaches such as biomimicry and biology. Greentech has traditionally only represented small, regulatory-driven markets. Cleantech is driven by productivity-based purchasing, and therefore enjoys broader market economics, with greater financial upside and sustainability.

Cleantech represents a diverse range of products, services, and processes, all intended to:

  • Provide superior performance at lower costs, while
  • Greatly reducing or eliminating negative ecological impact, at the same time as
  • Improving the productive and responsible use of natural resources”

They’ve also long maintained a taxonomy of cleantech, currently with 11 categories:

“Energy Generation
* Wind
* Solar
* Hydro/Marine
* Biofuels
* Geothermal
* Other

Energy Storage
* Fuel Cells
* Advanced Batteries
* Hybrid Systems

Energy Infrastructure
* Management
* Transmission

Energy Efficiency
* Lighting
* Buildings
* Glass
* Other

Transportation
* Vehicles
* Logistics
* Structures
* Fuels

Water & Wastewater
* Water Treatment
* Water Conservation
* Wastewater Treatment

Air & Environment
* Cleanup/Safety
* Emissions Control
* Monitoring/Compliance
* Trading & Offsets

Materials
* Nano
* Bio
* Chemical
* Other

Manufacturing/Industrial
* Advanced Packaging
* Monitoring & Control
* Smart Production

Agriculture
* Natural Pesticides
* Land Management
* Aquaculture

Recycling & Waste
* Recycling
* Waste Treatment”

CleanEdge Original 2001 Definition of Clean Tech

However, while the Cleantech Group does not lay credit to coining the term (nobody really does), the first original report on Clean Tech was by CleanEdge in 2001.

With Ron Pernick, Clint Wilder, and Joel Makower behind it, Clean Tech: Profits and Potential laid out a four leaf clover of clean technology was around Clean Transportation, Clean Energy, Clean Materials, and Clean Water.  And the reports original forecasts, while a bit understated looking back, were quite prescient.  Except perhaps for the bits about fuel cells and microturbines, but we won’t hold that against them!

But then no definition list would be complete without Wikipedia’s cleantech article (not the we trust it!)

Cleantech is a term used to describe products or services that improve operational performance, productivity, or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste, or pollution. Its origin is the increased consumer, regulatory and industry interest in clean forms of energy generation—specifically, perhaps, the rise in awareness of global warming, climate change and the impact on the natural environment from the burning of fossil fuels. The term cleantech is often associated with venture capital funds.”


And more recently, Dallas Kachan, cleantech analyst and former editor of Cleantech.com, and before that Inside Greentech, published a new cleantech taxonomy on our Cleantech Blog. Arguing that the old taxonomy’s had gotten long in the tooth, Kachan & Co highlight a 3 level taxonomy with 8 top level categories:

  • Renewable Energy Generation
  • Energy Storage
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Green Building
  • Transportation
  • Air & Environment
  • Clean Industry
  • Water
  • Agriculture

A few other definitions are worth noting:

Matt Marshall in Venture Beat commented a couple of years back on Dow Jones Venture One’s definition of cleantech, which defined as:

“Because of the significant level of attention being focused on cleantech, VentureOne’s research department adopted a strict methodology for categorizing potential companies in this new industry. They were defined as companies that directly enable the efficient use of natural resources and reduce the ecological impact of production. Areas of focus include energy, water, agriculture, transportation, and manufacturing where the technology creates less waste or toxicity. The impact of cleantech can be either to provide superior performance at lower costs or to limit the amount of resources needed while maintaining comparable productivity levels.”

And of course that means that Thompson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association jumped into the game in 2008:

“To enable more precise reporting on clean technology companies, Thomson Reuters has newly implemented a specific “clean technology” flag for the portfolio company database. Using the definition that clean technology investment focuses on innovations which conserve energy and resources, protect the environment, or eliminate harmful waste, transactions are coded by the data team and reviewed by the QA team for whether they meet the clean tech criteria. VentureXpert is the official database of the NVCA.”

And NRDC with E2 published their version in 2004 when arguing for a California Cleantech Cluster

“Cleantech as a distinct industry is still in its formative years. The industry encompasses a broad range of products and services, from alternative energy generation to wastewater treatment to environmentally friendly consumer products. Although some of these industries are very different, all share a common thread: They use new, innovative technology to create products and services that compete favorably on price and performance, while reducing mankind’s impact on the environment.”

In conclusion, aka, Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up

  • Damn, there are a lot of lists.  Why doesn’t someone do an analysis on them?
  • We are still waiting for Greentech Media and Michael Kanellos, and the Gartner Group to weigh in, not to mention Rob Day, the original Cleantech Investing blogger.
  • We have green washing in the green sector, but cleantech is a very inclusive sector, which means so far there’s still no sign of cleantech washing hawks, or even a first definition of cleantech washing (maybe I’ll write that next).
  • It is worth noting with some humor how many of these definitions try to shoe-horn in the notion of “and it’s cheaper, too!”.  I figure that  falls into the category of if you have to say it is, then it probably isn’t, but since half of these definitions include input from venture capitalists trying to justify why they’re investing in policy driven investments, a historic no-no in VC-land.
  • Note how the last three definitions build on concepts from the earlier ones.

But the real question is, just because you think you’re cleantech, are you actually cleantech – across EVERY definition?

Cleantech Blogging is Changing the World

We are picked up across the blogosphere as well as mainstream media, and we appreciate it all, but there were four mentions in 2007 of which we are particularly proud. So whether it is our spectacular writings (probably not), or simply that the future of clean energy has arrived, we do believe Cleantech Blog and the green blogosphere is changing the world.

In 2007 Cleantech Blog was named one of the 50 Best Business Blogs by the London Times. Not only do I love the London Times for its coverage of the all things clean energy related, but to make the same list as industry leaders like Boing Boing, TechCrunch, Jonathan’s Blog, and Freakonomics, and one of my own favorites, The Energy Blog was inspiring.

We were one of 10 blogs named in the Environmental Blog Roundup on Blog Action Day by Buzz, the official blog of Blogger.com, a part of Google. We are big fans of Blogger, since we use their platform, and it was wonderfully surprising to find out that someone Up There was reading. Please keep up the great work, Blogger people.

In 2007 Cleantech Blog was picked up by CNET. Cleantechblog.com now provides CNET’s Cleantech Blog. We have long admired CNET’s coverage of the clean and green sector (especially journalists Martin LaMonica and Michael Kanellos, who write about everything we find interesting), and to be asked to participate in the CNET.com/News.com family was a humbling experience. Frankly, Cleantech Blog has had lots of opportunities to hook up with sites we respect, but to write alongside those two on the green web was not an opportunity I could pass up.

Over the summer we were mentioned by Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, in the Wall Street Journal’s Happy Blogiversary article on the 10th anniversary of blogs. I always tell people that when I do move back to Texas from the Bay Area, the San Francisco Craigslist community will be what I miss the most. I also always tell people that I firmly believe blogs and the democratization of content and journalism are changing the world. So the fact that the CEO of Craigslist, the site I visit and respect more than any other, felt it worthwhile to mention us as part of the citizen journalism movement in the environmental and energy blogosphere, was amazing. Thanks Jim.

And a warm Merry Christmas to the two bloggers, Rob Day of Cleantech Investing, and Jim Fraser of The Energy Blog, whose blogs inspired us to put Cleantech Blog together in the first place.

I am well aware that my columnists, including Richard Stuebi, Heather Rae, and John Addison deserve most of the credit. You can find their bios here. And I still find it humbling that this little blog is having a real impact. But the true example of the power of the blogosphere to change the world is the fact that when they picked us up, I had not met nor even previously communicated with anyone from the London Times, Blogger, CNET, or Craigslist, except through our writings in Cleantech Blog itself.

Thank you,

Neal Dikeman
CleantechBlog.com

Climate Legislation: Who Gains? Who Loses?

Most Americans now agree that something needs to be done to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Hopefully most Americans now appreciate that this is not a small, but even more so, not a simple problem. I am a big believer that the playing field for our low carbon future should start level, and the market should be structured to allow our major power and energy companies a chance to lead the way, instead of simply dishing out punishment for our combined historical choices. Carrots and sticks work well together, but sticks alone are not going to solve our global carbon problem. I think it is also important to ensure that our carbon legislation does not result in a higher cost to consumers in middle America, just because the MidWest happens to have been historically coal fired, than the cost to those of us living on the coasts. Jim Rogers of Duke Energy puts this much more eloquently than I do.

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), one of the largest power companies in the US, has been a long supporter of energy efficiency, and known for being forward looking when it comes to a low carbon future, smart metering, and advanced energy technologies, despite having a generation fleet that is 70% coal fired. Cleantech Blog is delighted to welcome Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, to give us his thoughts on the devil in the details from their perspective. It is heartening to see a major power company take on the carbon issue full force, and like Duke has done, push energy efficiency in a big way.

– Neal Dikeman, Cleantechblog.com

By Jim Rogers
Chairman, President and CEO of Duke Energy

As we debate our differences on how to address the challenge of global climate change, surely we can agree on the end-goal – a secure, sustainable and affordable supply of energy now, and for future generations.

Most Americans also agree that we must act now – and begin building a bridge to an energy-efficient, low-carbon economy.

As the third-largest coal consumer in the United States, and one of the largest greenhouse-gas emitters, Duke Energy has a responsibility to be part of the solution. That means looking at not only how climate change affects our business today, but also the implications for the future.

We support federal legislation to address global climate change by putting a cap-and-trade system in place. The U.S. Senate is in the process of vetting a cap-and-trade bill introduced by Senators Lieberman and Warner in October. This bill is well-intended, contains some good points and appears to have bipartisan support.

But on closer examination, questions arise. Who really stands to gain, and who stands to lose? What are the real costs to average Americans?

You would expect the bridge to a low-carbon economy to have a cost, just as you might pay a toll to cross any bridge. But should some of us have to pay twice? With the Lieberman/Warner approach, that’s exactly what would happen.

Lieberman/Warner proposes to auction a large number of emissions allowances to the highest bidder. In effect, an auction becomes a carbon tax, levied on consumers in the 25 states that depend on coal for electric power – primarily the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Southeast.

Electric power customers in those regions would have to pay for the auctioned allowances up front, and then pay again later to upgrade power plants, or build new ones, as carbon-control technologies become available.

A better approach is to allocate allowances at no cost to generators who emit greenhouse gases – and reduce the number of allowances over time, while new carbon-control technologies are being developed and put in place.

Some say that an auction is the only way to take action to reduce emissions, but history tells us otherwise. Allowances were not auctioned under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments; nearly 97 percent of them were allocated at no cost. Since then, new technologies to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have been developed and implemented. Those environmental controls have reduced emissions by more than 40 percent since 1990, and they continue to decrease, without dramatic rate hikes. In fact, the nation’s average electric rates have declined.

In contrast, some estimates put the Lieberman/Warner bill’s cost to the average family at more than $1,000 per year, while emissions traders would stand to profit greatly from a volatile market for carbon allowances. According to Bloomberg, the Lieberman/Warner bill would create a potential $300 billion annual carbon-trading market by 2020.

So the question comes down to this – are we interested in protecting consumers or enriching emissions traders?

Customers who live in the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Southeast did not choose to get a large portion of their electricity from coal – it was a matter of economics, geography and geology. They should not be punished for decisions made decades ago, in good faith, using the best and lowest-cost technology of the time, with regulatory approval – and long before anyone knew about the impact of carbon emissions on climate change.

And before we dismiss coal as a viable energy source for the future, consider this: The U.S. is sitting on more than 250 years of coal reserves, more than any other nation in the world. This rich natural resource has untapped potential for ensuring our country’s energy security. The challenge is primarily technological – to find smarter and cleaner ways to use it, such as carbon capture and storage. Until those technologies are available, we must continue to use our existing coal resources and protect the interests of consumers who rely on coal.

The goal for carbon legislation should not be to punish utilities for building coal plants to keep the lights on in the past. It should be to create the incentives to put new clean technologies in place for the future – not just clean coal, but also nuclear and renewable energy, natural gas and the “fifth fuel” – energy efficiency.

Under the Lieberman/Warner approach, electric power customers in half of our states will carry a disproportionate share of the burden. We need to pass climate legislation that is fair to all consumers and protects the economic interests of all states and regions. Our climate is at stake, and so is our economy. By allocating most allowances, following the precedent set by the successful Clean Air Act, we believe both can be protected.

Jim Rogers is the CEO of Duke Energy, writing as a guest columnist on Cleantech Blog.

Clean, Green & Pristine…

by Heather Rae for cleantechblog.com

The binder of information at our honeymoon cottage, Pink Sand, in North Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, reads (verbatim):

“Some do’s and Don’ts
1. Please Conserve Water as all our water is from rain that is collected from the gutters and placed in our Cistern that is under the Cottage.
2. Please use A/C only when you are in the Cottage and do not have windows open when using the A/C.

Electric in Eleuthera is 3 times that of electric in the USA. If using the Washer/Dryer, please use only once if you are staying for a week and 2 times if you are staying 2 weeks.”

The caretaker, while awaiting our arrival, had turned on the little Toshiba TV perched above the Ponsat Satellite receiver, and its noise overpowered the hum of the wall A/C. The honeymoon was off to a good start when Dave and I, once alone, chimed in unison, let’s turn off that A/C and the TV; we came to Paradise to get away from all of that. The cottage is equipped not only with TV, A/C and washer/dryer, but with an on demand electric domestic water heater, a hair dryer and a cell phone. The binder told us where to purchase calling cards for the cell phone. Forgetfulness having its virtues, the laptop — and access to iTunes — was at home, and it meant we were limited to the few songs downloaded the night before onto the tiny iPod that my tech-loving husband had just bought me. Electri-tech’d to the gills, I wondered how much ‘3 times that of USA’ meant. If any of the electrical appliances came with their own equivalent ‘calling cards’ and some kind of watt meter, I would have swapped time on the TV and A/C for additional loads of wash — clean clothes trumping 400 channels of audio-visual garbage any day.

And I couldn’t help but wonder: if electricity costs so much, then where were the solar panels, the small-scale wind turbines and the wave and tidal generators? I searched for them in the land of sea and sun, and saw not a one.

Discontent that the USA and Paradise are so advanced in some technologies like iPods, cell phones and satellite TV, and so tediously stunted in electricity, I dropped by the office the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) just north of Rock Sound to ask just how much ‘3 times’ is…and churn up a little more information about how BEC services a tropical archipelago. Javan Rolle, a utility manager, was Family Island-gracious to entertain a random visit from a woman in a sundress and tennies, brandishing a business card and asking about residential tariffs. We had a good laugh that nobody at the office knew, readily, the per-kWh cost of electricity on the island: it’s $.15 plus a surcharge for the fuel which is 100% diesel generated, bringing the cost to about $.30 per kWh. Coming from Maine, that’s about ‘2 times;’ coming from Colorado with its heavy reliance on coal, that’s more than ‘3 times.’

The only customer with solar installed on the entire island, grid-tied, was an outfit called The Island School at Cape Eleuthera on the southern tip of the Island and its affiliate, The Island Institute which was under the auspices of a research and pilot project for grid-tied PV.

Dave and I wended our way out to the Island Institute and met with Andy Danylchuck, PhD, the Director of Research, and Graham Siener, a cleantech solutions consultant for Cape Systems, Ltd., another affiliate of the Institute. We lunched with the staff and students and spoke briefly with Chris Maxey the Founder and Director of the School, the Institute, Cape Systems and the Cape Eleuthera Foundation. The Institute evolved out of a need for additional facilities at the School which already had a bio-wastewater treatment plant, a battery-based Bergey 7.5kW wind turbine, about 17kW of solar panels, and biodiesel collected as waste vegetable oil from cruise ships. The Institute’s offices and staff housing are located nearby, across an inlet and over a footbridge in curved- and vaulted-roofed concrete structures. These structures are built to withstand storms and hurricanes, to facilitate rainwater collection and to maximize air cooling. Interior furniture is made of a local, but invasive, hardwood; the floor is covered in recycled carpet tile. A breeze keeps the space, which is light and airy, cool; there is no need for the A/C which is quickly becoming an island status symbol (no different than in other locales like Colorado and coastal Maine that don’t need it but for — so the developers and builders claim — consumer demand.)

Cape Systems, Ltd. has initiated a campaign called, Freedom 2030: Sustainable Eleuthera, A Model for the Caribbean and Beyond. (The name Eleuthera derives from the Greek word for freedom.) The campaign seeks to raise funds for making Eleuthera a self-sustaining island by 2030, asserting, “this is both an economic and national security issue that will set Eleuthera and The Bahamas as a leader in the inevitable shift away from fossil fuels.” They are also underway with a joint venture with publicly-traded Bahamas Waste to establish biodiesel production from locally collected waste cooking oil from hotels, restaurants and cruise lines. The Institute and BEC are working cooperatively through net metering arrangements for solar PV, but there are kinks to iron out; for example, the metering for the Institute’s 30kW of solar generation flowing into the grid shows up as a charge to the Institute on their BEC bill.

Support for clean energy from the Prime Minister of The Bahamas appeared in the Bahamian paper this past Friday, and local columnists like Larry Smith, posted on Bahama Pundit, are paying attention to climate change, oil pricing, tourism and alternative energy solutions for the Islands. (See “The Bahamas and the Political Economy of Climate Change” and “Bahamas Could Set Renewable Energy Pace”).

In speaking to an international conference of the Caribbean Basin last week, PM Hubert Ingraham is reported in The Nassau Guardian to have pointed out, in reference to climate change and tourism, that the reduction of the import content of goods to service tourism, which is growing, needs to be a major economic policy, and that energy is a major factor requiring adoption of a serious energy policy: in 2001 domestic oil consumption in The Bahamas amounted to some $275 million or 15 percent of total merchandise imports of $1.856 billion; last year, 2006, it accounted for $706 million or 27 percent of total imports of $2.621 billion. Said Ingraham, “A reversal of this trend seems unlikely, and by the end of this year, the cost of domestic consumption of oil may well be at or close to one-third of total merchandise imports. This seems to be a level where alternative sources of energy make sense, and where it is sound economic judgment to revisit the energy efficiency of our lifestyles generally.”

Javan of BEC and Graham of the Island Institute say that the Bahamas has lifted the 50% import duty tax on solar panels, and that the 7% stamp tax still applies. The Institute participates in the Chicago Climate Exchange, selling certificates for offsets from energy efficiencies and cleantech which provide another revenue stream. Without rebates or other incentives, however, solar is still out of reach for most.

As in Colorado and Maine, in Eleuthera I couldn’t help but wonder, when are the builders and developers getting on board with sustainable building practices? Just a half-hour drive from the Island Institute, Dave and I walked a long stretch of pink sandy beach and broke inland at The Dunes of Eleuthera, a condomimium development midway under construction. Adorable rental cottages in blues and yellows and greens faced the water, wrapped in tropical landscaping. We were curious about these cottages and the new facilities; the developer smoothed through his pitch. Then I asked the question, the one that tends to set off developers and modular home builders: what is the energy rating of these buildings? Why, little lady, it’s an Energy Star-rated home, with R-19 walls and R-11 floors! With central air! He said something about poured concrete forms, but the R-19 and the wood foundation posts didn’t quite add up to ICFs or SIPs or even concrete block, the traditional island construction material.

Maybe it was the sun and the sand flea bites. Maybe it was knowing that $400K for a huff-and-puff condo was a travesty. Maybe it was knowing this developer from Louisiana intended to make enough money to retire at 55…that set me off: I work on an Energy Star program and those numbers mean nothing. I’d want at least an R-50. I’d want something that can handle a hurricane, and on a tropical island, I don’t need air conditioning. The bride wrapped in a red and orange sarong, on the Island of Freedom, had become a Greek Harpie, stealing civility from the conversation.

Departing from the Governor’s Harbour airport, I heard that these Energy Star houses were pre-fab and impounded at the docks by the State for failing to meet standards for tropical construction. I can’t substantiate the comment, but impounding unsuitable imported building materials is a reasonable response to developers who build with such little regard for homeowner, investor and the planet.

It was a joy to meet with the Island Institute and its affiliate organizations who truly understand what sustainability is all about.

Turning to take in one last gulp of Bahamian heaven at the airport, I saw a billboard: Keep Central Eleuthera Clean, Green & Pristine…It Starts with YOU!

Heather Rae, a contributor to cleantechblog.com, is a consultant in cleantech market management and serves on the board of Maine Interfaith Power & Light. In 2006, she built a biobus and drove it from Colorado to Maine. In 2007, she began renovation of an 1880 farmhouse using building science and green building principles.

Offshore Wind Report

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, I traveled to Berlin with a delegation representing Northern Ohio’s Regional Energy Development Task Force to attend the European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition, put on by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). We visited to learn about the status of offshore wind energy technologies, as part of the Task Force’s assessment of the proposed Great Lakes Wind Energy Center, which is envisioned to accelerate the development and emergence of offshore wind in the United States.

With offshore currently just a tiny niche of the booming wind industry, I expected the audience to be on the order of 500 people. The impressive turnout of an announced 2000 is a clear testament to the vast future potential offered by offshore wind energy. But, we also knew that, at present, offshore wind is still very much an uphill push to accomplish. Indeed, the lack of any booth at the show by GE (NYSE: GE), who had been until relatively recently prominently touting their offshore project at Arklow Ireland, indicates some retrenchment by companies with early experience in the waters. The conference validated the technical – and hence economic – challenges related to offshore wind, and therefore some fruitful directions for further pursuit.

For me, the “a-ha” moment – perhaps it should be described as a “duh” moment – was really seeing that offshore wind is at least as much about offshore technologies as it is about wind technologies. Yes, it is true that significant advancements are necessary for major components (such as blades and gearboxes) as turbines get larger for offshore projects. Also, there are many interesting possibilities for innovative turbine designs that dramatically depart from the standard approach (e.g., two-blade downwind) when one considers offshore deployment.

But the real drama of the maturation of the offshore wind sector is now being, and for the foreseeable future will almost certainly be, played out under or on the water. Note that offshore wind activity to date has been driven by the turbine manufacturers, not highly populated with marine engineers nor hugely capitalized for marine R&D. As a result, the wind turbine companies pushing for offshore wind have leaned heavily upon the one industry in which offshore deployment of above-surface infrastructure has become commonplace: oil/gas exploration/production. Today’s approaches to wind tower erection and turbine installation are thus heavily based on those used for oil/gas platforms, employing massive custom-tailored ships and cranes working on the seas.

Such installation approaches work, for sure. But the problem is cost. Too much of the cost structure of an offshore wind project relates to installation logistics. Note that each oil/gas platform yields huge revenue streams: a platform might produce ten thousand barrels of oil a day, which at today’s prices implies over $300 million per year. In contrast, each wind turbine – even really big ones of 5 megawatts or more – represents a much smaller revenue potential, maybe $2 million per year. The expensive installation techniques of the former just won’t be viable on the latter.

This is reflected in the data. According to a presentation made by the consulting firm Douglas-Westwood, the installed cost of an onshore wind project is projected to increase from an actual cost of Euro 1540/kw in 2003 to a forecasted cost of Euro 2940/kw by 2013. For an improving technology in a growing marketplace, this cost trend is clearly opposite of what should be expected.

Of course, there are many legitimate factors for such cost increases. As explained well in a presentation by the leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas (Copenhagen: VWS.CO), the input costs of virtually all commodities relevant to wind installation – from steel to shipping – have risen substantially in the past few years, beyond the control of any player in the marketplace. And, given that the wind sector is sizzling hot, all companies up and down the supply chain are in a seller’s market, and are able to charge highly profitable prices – arguably for the first time in the history of the industry.

However, also stated by Vestas was that players in the offshore wind industry have learned from their previous projects that they substantially underestimated actual costs and implementation risks (e.g., bad weather or heavy seas limiting installation productivities), and are now building “more realistic” contingency cushions into the economic projections of upcoming projects.

By my interpretation, the current players in the offshore wind industry are on the one hand admitting that the technical path chosen to date for offshore installation has become much too costly, while on the other hand are nevertheless committing to pursuing that same path with more projects and merely accepting substantially higher costs as an implication.

It is also evident that the offshore industry has largely cleaved into two sets of companies: wind technology developers/manufacturers and marine engineers/contractors. At Berlin, a few exhibitors were tackling the offshore turbine/installation challenges holistically – see Blue H as an example – but none of the major wind turbine players seem to be following suit. Instead, their approach was to extend/refine their onshore turbine products for offshore deployment, and look to marine engineers to solve the installation challenges separately.

I therefore spy the opportunity for someone to lead the way in developing fundamentally cheaper philosophies and techniques for offshore wind installation, and I suspect that this may (only?) be enabled by integrating the engineering challenges of both the turbine and offshore deployment into new solutions offering substantially lower cost for the overall system of turbine/tower/foundation. There’s simply got to be a better way – and if so, great rewards are for the taking.

Let’s see how the industry intends to make a meaningful dent in reducing installation costs at EWEA’s next biannual offshore wind show in Stockholm in September 2009.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Blogroll Review: Dam, Leadership, and Lime

by Frank Ling

Red Sea Power

A recent study shows that damming the Red Sea could provide 50 GW of emissions free hydroelectric power. This would be the largest power plant in the world. However, tens of thousands of people would have to be displaced, not to mention untold ecological damage.

Hank Green at EcoGeek writes about how this would politically impact the Middle East:

“The project would provide enough power to switch off oil-burning power plants throughout the Middle East. Political scientists are already estimating the stability such a project would bring to the region.”

Sustainable Leadership

Sustainability is now becoming a buzzword just like eco and environmental. But what does it take at the corporate level to promote sustainable practices?

A recent report from Avastone Consulting examined what types of leadership and organization structure was needed to carry out such changes.

Joel Makower says:

“Their study found that it isn’t a lack of systems and activities that limit a company’s success, but rather the scarcity of what it calls “higher capacity leaders” and the direct relationship between leader mindset development and the realization of complex sustainability outcomes.”

Baking Soda Solution

Jim Fraser at the Energy Blog writes about this simple but promising process:

“Sodium hydroxide, which is produced on site as a part of the SkyMine™ process is used to react with the CO2 to produce the sodium carbonate. The heat to drive the process is captured from the heat in the flue gas.”

For a 500 MW power plant, that amounts to 642,000 tons of emissions reduced each year.

Frank Ling is a postdoctoral fellow at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley. He is also a producer of the Berkeley Groks Science Show.

The Micro Fuel Cell Promise

Earlier this year I did a Cleantech Blog article called Micro Fuel Cell Killer talking about the challenges that undermined the promise of micro fuel cells.

Well, now we are looking at the other side of the story. One of my friends, Peng Lim, who is the CEO of Mechanical Technology Inc. (Nasdaq:MKTY), parent company to leading micro fuel cell developer MTI Micro, graciously consented to an interview on what they have done and the general state of play. In other words, what is the current micro fuel cell promise.

Peng, can you give our audience a little of your background prior to MTI? What made you choose MTI? And can you share some of your expectations from that time, and how they have panned out?

Prior to joining MTI, I spent the last 20 years in the consumer handheld electronics market starting with notebook computers in the early 1990’s and then moving into wireless computing in the mid 1990’s. At the time I joined, both markets were very young. You didn’t see many people with portable computers, or the hot spots that wirelessly connect them to the internet. I was fortunate to be part of the growth experienced by both portable computing as well as wireless computing. Each one of those industries grew because of the intrinsic need for people to be mobile. Allowing people to work any time, any place is something that they want; hence, both industries took off.

From there, in the late 1990s, I moved into the PDA market where I lead the worldwide product development for Palm, and was responsible for the Palm devices, OS and Application Software. At that time, the challenge was to take mobility to the next level. We devised a product that had the capabilities of a computer, but that could fit in your pocket; there would be no need to worry about the device. When needed, it is there and when it is not, it is stored in your pocket. Again the concept took off. At Palm, we captured 65% of the worldwide PDA market share and 75% handheld OS market share.

I left Pam in 2001 to start my own company focusing on handheld multimedia and gaming. The company was sold in 2005.

The reason why I joined MTI is two fold: 1) the technology has the potential to exponentially increase the energy density over that of lithium-Ion batteries, and 2) because of mobility. Mobile devices are not truly mobile yet. There is one last wire that attaches them to a wall – a charging wire.

Micro fuel cells promise to cut the last wire and provide customers with real mobility where they can use their devices at anytime and anywhere without having to be tethered to the wall for charging.

Besides MTI, I am currently on the board of advisors for Inventec Appliances, a multibillion dollar manufacturing company based in Taiwan.

Can you talk a little about the Mobion chip and your recent advances in it? What does that mean in the context of getting a product to market?

In June, MTI Micro demonstrated its integrated fuel cell chip used as the heart of its fuel cell systems for consumer product applications. The Mobion chip is based on 100% methanol feed, passive, direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology. Passive water management applied to DMFC technology is the catalyst for reducing size and simplifying fuel logistics. MTI Micro has reduced the size of the Mobion chip by over 40% to 9cc (small enough to fit in the palm of a hand), and has reduced the parts-count of the chip to one molded piece. The Mobion chip is capable of operating at 0 to 40 degrees Celsius and at any level of humidity. This is an industry standard requirement for many OEMs who want to use fuel cells with their products.

MTI Micro’s Mobion chip architecture significantly reduces the complexity of a fuel cell system’s internal construction, thereby reducing manufacturing costs, increasing performance and enabling further system miniaturization – factors that are critical for the successful launch of fuel cell products in the consumer market. We believe the Mobion chip is the first micro fuel cell technology designed with the performance and manufacturability necessary to make a significant impact on the consumer portable electronics markets.

If you had to pick your 3 top early adopter products for micro fuel cells, what would they be? And for each one, what are the power to weight, power to size, and lifetime targets you feel each will require.

We see a lot of opportunity for the early adoption of micro fuel cells, particularly in handheld consumer electronics. Applications including cellular phones PDAs, MP3 Players, digital cameras, game players are very attractive to us. As far as power, size and energy goes, it certainly would depend on every application and also on what requirements OEMs may have; at the same time, there may be some trade-offs between size and energy, etc..

If you had to tell a consumer customer what to expect from a microfuel cell product – what would you tell them?

Most importantly longer device run-time – a feature that customers deeply care for. MTI Micro’s Mobion technology will also allow users to be free from tethering their devices to an electrical outlet, eliminating the need for carrying multiple bulky chargers and converters.

Also, since refueling would be as simple as just replacing a cartridge, there is no down-time required for a recharge. “Hot-swappable” cartridges would instantaneously allow the user to continue to use their device.

Micro fuel cells are also considered a green technology. On the other hand, some rechargeable battery technologies such as NiCad are toxic to the environment.

What’s different about micro fuel cells now as opposed to 4 or 5 years ago that gives you confidence?

1) Technical improvements including size, energy density and power density have improved.
2) The worldwide energy source for the consumer portable electronic market continues to grow (approximately $12 billion this year and is expected to grow to over $20 billion in 2012).
3) The infrastructure and supply chain are starting to come together – especially around methanol solutions like our Mobion Technology.
4) Methanol has been approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to be carried inside commercial planes.

The DOT announcement on carrying methanol and fuel cells on planes is obviously huge – exactly why has it been so long in coming, and what put it over the line?

Direct methanol fuel cells and fuel refills can be transported safely, provided appropriate precautions are taken in design and packaging. However, meticulous considerations are given to any new products for approval in commercial transport. Having been approved by ICAO and now waiting for implementation by the U.S. Department of Transportation is an important and necessary step towards the commercialization of Mobion.

What exactly are the terms of the Samsung collaboration, and how does it affect MTI Micro’s plans for commercializing a micro fuel cell product?

MTI Micro first entered into a relationship with Samsung Electronics, our Korean partner and a leading producer of mobile phones, in May of 2006. Under the terms of MTI Micro’s initial Alliance Agreement, our Mobion technology was chosen to power a series of prototypes designed for mobile cell phone and cell phone accessories. In a short period of time, we delivered two rounds of these prototypes to Samsung for evaluation, and each prototype demonstrated significant size reductions and performance improvements from the previous. The latest and most advanced prototype contains the Mobion chip. This agreement expired on its own terms on July 31st of this year. However, on October 25th, MTI Micro announced its continued collaboration with its Korean partner, extending until the end of 2009, or six months after MTI Micro’s first commercial product launch should our commercialization timeline become accelerated – whichever comes earlier.

With this alliance in place, we feel very confident about MTI Micro’s strong momentum and ability to bring Mobion MFC technology to a high-revenue category within the worldwide consumer device market. Under this non-exclusive collaboration, MTI Micro will continue to refine the Mobion baseline product design for mobile phone applications. Until the design freeze date projected for December of 2008, our Korean partner may request product specification changes, and may also purchase commercial DMFC samples from MTI Micro as soon as they are readily available. Throughout this time we will also continue to share development updates with our Korean partner, as well as loan them prototypes for evaluation. With a production decision anticipated at the start of the third quarter of 2009, MTI Micro will thus prepare for the manufacturing of the Mobion baseline product starting in the third quarter of 2008, through the second quarter of 2009. To assist with evaluating potential manufacturing partners, and more importantly – to work as part of MTI Micro’s business development team to establish business relationships with new OEMs and maintain anticipated day-to-day, on-going customer relationships in Asia – we have added Korea-based Daehong Technew Corporation as a new representative, which we announced in late October.

On the financial side, can you share when you expect to reach breakeven, and your cash vs. financial burn forecasts, and your feeling on when or if the company will need to raise more cash?

As of November 8, 2007 the company has $12.6 million in cash and cash equivalents. Our burn rate is approximately $0.9 million per month. We have a number of resources for funding including the positive cash flow from our MTI Instruments subsidiary, sale of Plug Power stock, government funding and the capital markets.

Thank you Peng, always a pleasure. I will keep my fingers crossed for you guys.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, and a blogger for the CNET Cleantech Blog.

California’s Low Carbon Diet

By John Addison (12/5/07). When Coke and Pepsi were in the middle of their diet wars, California was an early battle ground. It is a state which tends to do much in excess, including drinking colas. In fact, only a handful of countries spend more money on beverages. Parties of happy and surprisingly fit youth were shown on TV commercials drinking their beverage of choice.

Now millions of Californians are being targeted as early adopters for a low carbon fuel diet. More miles, less carbon emission. It is the law. Executive Order S-1-07, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), calls for a reduction of at least 10 percent in the carbon intensity (measured in gCO2e/MJ) of California’s transportation fuels by 2020. Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program

Successful implementation of the LCFS will be critical to California’s even more ambitious law, the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB-32), which requires California’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions to not exceed 1990 emissions. The challenge is that in 2020, California’s population will be double 1990.

Because transportation is the main source of greenhouse gases in California, it is urgent that Californians use vehicles with better miles per gallon and that less greenhouse gases be emitted from the use of each gallon of fuel.

The world will learn from the successful implementation of LCFS because gasoline and diesel are currently becoming more carbon intense. There has been a shift from oil that is easy to get, to extraction and refining that increases greenhouse gases, as we make gasoline from tar sands, coal-to-liquids, and a future nightmare of shale oil. For example, monster earth movers strip-mine northern Alberta, extracting tar sands. Elizabeth Kolbert reported in the New Yorker that 4,500 pounds of tar sand must probably be mined to produce each barrel of oil. The converting of tar sands to petroleum will require an estimated two billion cubic feet of natural gas a day by 2012. Carbon intensity includes all the emissions from the earth movers and all the natural gas emissions from refining.

“All unconventional forms of oil are worse for greenhouse-gas emissions than petroleum,” said Alex Farrell, of the University of California at Berkeley. Farrell and Adam Brandt found that the shift to unconventional oil could add between fifty and four hundred gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere by 2100. Article

So, how can California reduce the carbon emission from fuel use? As a major agricultural state, E10 ethanol will be part of the solution. E10 can be used in all gasoline vehicles including 40 mile per gallon hybrids and in the new 100 mile per gallon plug-in hybrids being driven by early adaptors. Higher percentage blends of next generation ethanol are even more promising. Biodiesel is better at reducing carbon intensity than corn ethanol. Most heavy vehicles have diesel engines, not gasoline. Exciting new European diesel cars are also starting to arrive.

There are over 25,000 electric vehicles in use in California. Heavy use of electricity for fuel would take California far beyond the minimal target of a ten percent reduction in carbon intensity. This is especially true in California where coal power is being phased-out in favor of a broad mix of renewable energy from wind, geothermal, solar PV, large-scale concentrated solar, ocean, bioenergy and more.

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Technical Analysis documents that there is a rich diversity of sources for biofuels within the state and in the USA including the following in million gallons of gasoline equivalent per year:

In-state feedstocks for biofuel production Potential volume
California starch and sugar crops = 360 to 1,250
California cellulosic agricultural residues = 188
California forest thinnings = 660
California waste otherwise sent to landfills = 355 to 366
Cellulosic energy crops on 1.5 million acres in California = 400 to 900
California corn imports =130 to 300

Forecasted 2012 production capacity nationwide Potential volume
Nationwide low-GHG ethanol = 288
Nationwide mid-GHG ethanol = 776 to 969
Nationwide biodiesel = 1,400
Nationwide renewable diesel = 175

A variety of scenarios have been examined with detailed analysis by U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, and stakeholder workgroups that include technical experts from the California Energy Commission and the California Air Resources Board. Several scenarios are promising including one that would achieve a 15% reduction in carbon intensity with the following percentage mix alternate fuels and vehicles of some 33 million light duty vehicles by 2020:

Fuels:
Low-GHG Biofuel 3.1%
CNG 1.7%
Electricity 0.6%
Hydrogen 0.4%
Low-GHG FT Diesel .9%
Sub-zero GHG Biofuel 3.9%

Vehicles:
CNG vehicles 4.6%
Plug-in hybrid vehicles 7.4%
Flex-fuel vehicles 34.7%
Diesel vehicles 25.5%
Battery electric vehicles 0.5%
Fuel cell vehicles 1.9%

The ultimate mix will be determined by everyday drivers in their choice of vehicles and fuels. Low emission choices are becoming more cost-effective with the growth of electric vehicles, waste and renewable hydrogen, fuel from biowaste and crops grown on marginal land, and even fast growing poplar trees that absorb more CO2 than is emitted from resulting biofuels. The alternatives make fascinating reading for those interested in future scenarios for fuels and vehicles:

California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Technical Analysis and Scenario Details
California Low Carbon Fuel Standard Policy Analysis

California’s ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will benefit by the increased motive energy per CO2e that is described in these scenarios. California will also benefit from vehicles that will go more miles with the same energy input. Vehicles are getting lighter and safer as high-strength carbon fibers and plastics replace heavy metal. The shift to hybrids and full electric-drive systems allow replacement of heavy mechanical accessories with light electric-powered components. Hybrids allow big engines to be replaced with smaller, lighter engines. Pure electric vehicles can eliminate the weight of engines and transmissions. Less fuel weight is needed. Aerodynamic vehicles are becoming more popular.

Employer programs are leading to more flexible work, less travel, and increased use of public transit. Demographics may also cause a shift to more urban car sharing, use of public transit, bicycling, walking, and less solo driving. It can all add-up to a celebration of low-carbon living.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report which includes over 50 articles about clean transportation.

Fear Triumphing Over Hope in Capital Markets

by Richard T. Stuebi

Those of us in the cleantech arena frequently tout that we’re in one of the hottest sectors of investment. But, apparently, not the hottest.

It seems that an even hotter investment market deals with private security and defense technologies. So says a recently published article entitled “Guns Beat Green” in The Nation by noted author Naomi Klein.

Quoting:

“So why is ‘homeland security,’ not green energy, the hot new sector? Perhaps because there are two distinct business models that can respond to our climate and energy crisis. We can develop policies and technologies to get us off this disastrous course. Or we can develop policies and technologies to protect us from those we have enraged through resource wars and displaced through climate change, while simultaneously shielding ourselves from the worst of both war and weather….In short, we can choose to fix, or we can choose to fortress. Environmental activists and scientists have been yelling for the fix. The homeland security sector, on the other hand, believes the future lies in fortresses.”

In our capitalist economy, money flows to the area of greatest perceived opportunity, and the market in 2007 is saying that fortresses are a better bet than fixes, with $6 billion in venture capital going to security/defense vs. $4.2 billion for green. By contrast, in 2006, these two sectors were neck-and-neck. For those deploying capital, fear has thus leapt ahead of hope.

I’ve often said that cleantech is getting only a small fraction of the capital investment it should be getting. These numbers only convince me further of my sentiments.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.


Let in the Sun Shine

(11/28/07 by John Addison) Gene Coan does not worry about the price of gasoline, nor is he concerned with his gas and electric bill. Gene powers his home and car with solar photovoltaics (PV) and also uses solar hot water heating. With his Zenn electric-vehicle (EV) Gene rides on sunlight.

Gene is following his beliefs. He is a Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. From PV to EV, Gene is living zero-emissions from energy source to wheels.

The Zenn is a stylish three-door hatchback, which makes it handy for hauling stuff from stores. It is fully enclosed. It is a light electric vehicle with a curb weight of only 1,200 pounds because of its aluminum frame and ABS plastic body panels. It has a range of 35 miles and a legal speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

There are over 25,000 battery-electric vehicles on the road in California. Most are the $9,000 to $12,000 light electric vehicles (LEV) such as Gene’s Zenn. These electric vehicles are often referred to as neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV). LEVs are popular in university towns, such as Palo Alto, California, where Gene lives. There are over 100 in use at nearby Stanford University. Many silently zip around the campus carrying the people, goods, and equipment necessary to keep the university running.

New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, but often not kept, especially when the price tag is $45,000. In January 2002, Michael Mora convinced his wife that they should buy a Toyota RAV4 electric vehicle for $45,000. Michael had to practically beg the dealer to sell his last one. Today, Michael could sell his RAV4 as a used-vehicle for $20,000 more than he paid for it. After a showdown with the California Air Resources Board, all major auto makers including Toyota stopped selling their EVs. Freeway speed EVs are in hot demand. Now Michael could pocket a handsome twenty grand after driving the vehicle for almost six years.

Michael is not selling. He powers his RAV4 with the solar power installed on his roof. The daily cost to drive the vehicle is zero. Because the RAV4 has NiMH batteries, he can achieve up to 100 mile range. Freeway speeds are a piece of cake.Hundreds of individuals are lining-up to order freeway-speed electric vehicles from Tesla, Miles Motors, AC Propulsion, and others. Price tags of up to $100,000 do not faze these electric vehicle enthusiasts.

Electric vehicles are equally popular with individuals and with fleets. The U.S. Marine Corps is vitally concerned about the nation’s energy security. At Camp Pendleton, in Oceanside, California, the Marines use 320 LEV’s for routine maintenance, goods hauling, and transportation on the vast base. The LEV’s 25-mile per hour speed matches the use. The vehicles are recharged at an eight-station solar carport. Just as two-car families may have one electric vehicle and a heavier vehicle for range, the Marines use different vehicles for different purposes. At Camp Pendleton, five million gallons of B20 biodiesel is used annually, powering heavy duty and long distance vehicles.

The City of Santa Monica is rapidly installing solar power on roofs throughout the city. It intends to be the nation’s first Net-Zero City. The city uses many electric vehicles including EVs: 24 RAV EVs, a GEM electric truck for the popular Third Street Promenade, a demo electric scooter, and even a Segway.

National Renewable Energy Labs turned to Envision Solar to cover part of its parking lot with solar shaded vehicle charging. Envision CEO Robert Noble is an award-winning LEED architect. His solar design follows the metaphor of trees and groves that convert ugly “heat island” parking lots into beautifully landscape. A pre-fab version for homeowners will be showcased as the vehicle charger of choice at the EVS conference. Envision is in partnership with Kyocera (KYO).

Why not just cover a car with solar panels and skip the separate solar charging station? Each year teams build demonstration solar cars that do. This year, 38 vehicles covered with solar panels crossed 3,000 kilometers of Australia in the Panasonic Solar World Challenge. This year’s winner, Nuon Solar Team from the Netherlands, accomplished the feat in 33 hours and 17 minutes.

Big auto makers are demonstrating concept vehicles with integrated solar roofs. VW’s (VOW) “Space Up! Blue” includes 150W solar roofing to help charge the vehicle’s 12 lithium-ion batteries. This vehicle is designed to travel 65 miles in electric-only mode and only then use added electricity from an on-board fuel cell to achieve a 220 mile range.

The new Mitsubishi iMiEV Sport also includes solar roofing for the next major automaker commercially sold battery-electric vehicle. By 2010, we may be seeing these sleek freeway-speed electric vehicles being sold for well under $30,000 by Mitsubishi (7211:JP).

Over 40 million electric vehicles are in use globally, often silently whisking by without attracting our attention. Increasingly those driving will experience the added joy of riding on sunlight.

This article is Copyright © John Addison and will be part of his upcoming book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. Permission is granted to reproduce this article with the preservation of this copyright notice.

Blogroll Review: Termite, LED Safety, Extreme Green

by Frank Ling

Mighty Bugs

If weeds are plants out of place, then termites must be bugs out of place. Every year, termites cause billions of dollars of damage to lumber. It’s also well known that bacteria and their enzymes in the gut of these termites can break down wook and other plant materials to produce of hydrogen gas.

Scientists are now trying to decode the genes of these bacteria in order to create bio-reactors for hydrogen production.

Robert Rapier at R-Squared Energy Blog writes about how this could be made practical for energy production:

“Scale up the internal bioreactor of the termite to produce a desirable end-product.”

I heard that rock and roll makes termites work faster. :)

LEDs on the Road

LEDs are already common in traffic signal lamps but now they are working on the road…literally!

In England, the traffic authorities have begun to install solar powered LEDs on dark stretches of roads. Called SolarLite Smart Studs, these units collect energy from the sun during the day. At night, the LEDs give off light. The result? 70% fewer traffic accidents.

Hank Green at EcoGeek says:

“Drivers on the retrofitted roads enjoy 10 times more visibility (90 meters to 900 meters) with the new in-road lights. And drivers have a resulting 10 times more time to adjust to changes in road direction. Even better, the lights, in some scenarios, can replace overhead street lamps, completely eliminating the need for the roads to be on the electric grid.”

Extreme Eco

Surfers, divers, racers, and other sports enthusiasts are always taking things to the extreme. But can you take saving the planet to the extreme.
Walmart is now offering $200 computer systems based on Unix.

Alexis Madrigal at Earth2Tech writes about the top ten controversial ways to save the planet.

One of these ideas is the ocean-cooling pipes:

“Though the idea received a lot of attention after Gaia-hypothesis originator James Lovelock called attention to it, a startup called Atmocean has been hard at work developing an ocean-cooling pipe prototype for years. It would serve two purposes: cooling the ocean in front of approaching hurricanes, as well as causing plankton blooms that could act as a CO2 sink.”

That’s extreme to the max! :)

Frank Ling is a postdoctoral fellow at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley. He is also a producer of the Berkeley Groks Science Show.

Policy Progress in the Midwest

by Richard T. Stuebi

When it comes to clean energy, it’s no secret that the Midwest U.S. far lags beyond the East and West Coasts. This is because, on the coasts, public policy far more aggressively promotes advanced energy. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast and the Western Climate Initiative in the West are regional emission-reduction compacts that will drive significant adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Correspondingly, much of the future advanced energy industry is emerging on the coasts, getting established to serve local markets, while the Midwestern industrial base largely hollows out and stagnates.

A few weeks ago, the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) began to take steps to close the gaps. The Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin, along with the Premier of the Canadian province of Manitoba, met to discuss shared energy challenges. The result: two pacts that start to lay the groundwork for regional collaboration and commitment to energy/emissions reductions.

The Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform sets significant goals in four areas:

  1. Energy efficiency: electricity demand reduced by 2% by 2015, 2% per year thereafter
  2. Biofuels: 1/2 of regional transportation satisfied by biofuels and other low carbon fuels by 2025
  3. Renewable energy: 30% of regional electricity supply from renewables by 2030
  4. Coal with carbon sequestration: all new coal plants with sequestration by 2020, all plants in fleet by 2050

The Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform also proposes six areas of regional collaboration:

  1. Carbon management infrastructure: for transporting and storing CO2 in a coordinated fashion
  2. Bioproduct procurement: to establish a common marketing/sales framework for bioproducts
  3. Electricity transmission: to expand transmission to accomodate greater amounts of renewables (especially wind)
  4. Renewable fuels infrastructure: for transporting biofuels and other low carbon fuels
  5. Bioenergy permitting: to avoid duplicating or conflicting efforts in various jurisdictions and arrive at common standards
  6. Low carbon energy integration: to demonstrate the potential to harness multiple forms of advanced energy synergistically

Lastly, some of the Midwestern governors signed the Greenhouse Gas Accord, which commits the signatories to establishing targets and timeframes for greenhouse gas reductions on the order of 60-80% reductions by 2050, along with a cap-and-trade mechanism for reaching these targets.

Note that only some of the Midwestern governors got on board with the Greenhouse Gas Accord. Signatories were Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba. Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota only opted for “observer” status — whatever that really means.

A spokesman for Ohio Governor Strickland was quoted by Gongwer in saying that “the governor supports the Midwest states’ effort to move forward in the way outlined in the agenda, but Ohio is not in a position today to participate actively in [the Greenhouse Gas Accord].” I am compelled to ask: what exactly about Ohio’s current energy situation is materially different than, say, Michigan (which signed the Greenhouse Gas Accord)?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Chrysalis & Catharsis

by Heather Rae
for cleantechblog.com

In three days, my right love and I will walk down the aisle of an historic church overlooking Damariscotta Lake, and we will take our marriage vows. This marriage is a chrysalis of joy, love, passion and unequivocal devotion.
We met at a bookstore cafe in the early spring. He was speaking loudly to someone (a wind developer, it turned out) about gasoline taxes. I interrupted, from several feet away, with a snappy comment about putting the taxes to good use, like renewable energy initiatives. (A smartass with nice legs, so he says, he thought.)
He, it turned out, was a registered Republican and a relatively recent convert to all things sustainable. He was figuring out how to tighten up his drafty house, built in 1775 by one of George Washington’s captains, and how to reduce its electric load. My fiance’s enlightenment, his change of consciousness, came on a horse packing trip through the Shoshone Wilderness outside of Yellowstone, on the trails ridden by Jim Bridger. That was why he was headed to the sustainable energy expo where I was working a booth that day.
In getting to the alter, and making room for this wild and crazy romance, I have had to release myself from the hands-on renovations of the house, yet (somehow without my interventions!) the renovation progresses. Someone else finished gutting the kitchen walls to the studs. The downstairs bathroom is gone, walls and all.
Added on to the house renovation, we’ve been cleaning out the Captain’s house of 30 years of collectible stuff. This activity is a catharsis for a new beginning.
Seasons march on and winter cannot be put on hold; there was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning. I had arranged for Main Street Fuel to install the new Monitor heater. (They filled the new tank in the basement with K1 and then handed me the bill upside down; we all had a good laugh at that…it’s $833. Hahaha! Yikes.) The Monitor has dutifully held the temperature at 50 degrees in a room that is, essentially open to the outside: a leaky window that barely held off the north winds has been removed, framed out and the hole covered with OSB; Typar applied to the exterior is the only barrier over holes drilled through the sheathing in the seventies for blown-in cellulose insulation.
Sunday, I cleaned up after the electrician who rewired the kitchen and removed some more lathe and plaster. Monday morning, Charlie Huntington’s crew was back, spraying closed-cell foam between the 4″ kitchen wall studs. This morning, on my way to have my wedding ring cleaned, I checked in on the house and called Charlie about foaming in the window cavities. I turned off the Monitor.
In three days, I will wriggle into a little Nicole Miller number and slip on a pair of delicate, strappy sandals. Hiding the telltale signs of manual labor may prove impossible. The knuckles on my right hand, my demolition hand, have grown too large for my mother’s engagement ring. The bruises on my legs and that strange wound on my rear (a nail?) may not heal, nor the finger scrape from the wood burning stove. The fingernails will be short.
I find these house projects physically exacting but cathartic…cleansing, simplifying. Simpler living, lower planetary impact, those are expressions of beauty, as beautiful as the chrysalis into which I will wed.

Heather Rae, a contributor to cleantechblog.com, manages a ‘whole house’ home performance program in Maine and serves on the board of Maine Interfaith Power & Light. In 2006, she built a biobus and drove it from Colorado to Maine. In 2007, she begins renovation of an 1880 farmhouse using building science and green building principles.

Freedom Harvest

(By John Addison 11/20/07) Oil prices neared $100 per barrel as hundreds of leading investors converged at the Pacific Growth Equities Clean Technology Conference. A number of exciting companies presented next generation biofuels that promise to reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Look for a freedom harvest.

Corn ethanol is likely to continue its strong growth in the U.S. from one billion barrels of fuel per year to the current five billion per year. Ethanol can be blended to 10% with gasoline – E10 – without new infrastructure and without modification of engines. More states are starting to mandate E10. Ethanol will continue strong growth based on these mandates and on concerns about dependency on foreign oil.

At the Pacific Growth Conference, Steve McBee delivered a keynote that predicted passage of significant ethanol and clean energy subsidies before the 2008 presidential election. Ethanol will receive billions, most likely in the Farm Bill, possibly in an Energy Bill. Mr. McBee sees high likelihood of a Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) despite opposition from several food, oil, and environmental groups. Look for all of these to continue:
• 51-cent-a-gallon direct subsidy
• Protectionist tariffs that exclude cheaper ethanol from Brazil sugarcane
• Loophole in the fuel economy standards that allows the automobile manufacturers to claim a fuel economy credit if they build cars that can use E85, even if those cars never drive within 500 miles of a filling station that sells E85.
• More from WRI

The growing use of corn ethanol is creating serious problems. The price of corn is up 40% in only 12 months. Children and families living in poverty suffer globally. If the entire U.S. started switching to E85, there would not be enough land to grow the corn. Ethanol must be trucked not pipelined to oil refineries. Needed is fuel from wood and waste, not food and haste.

Fortunately, next generation ethanol and other biofuels are in development. Next generation biofuels are also likely to benefit from pending legislation being put into law. While corn produces a yield of 300 to 500 gallons per acre, other sources can produce ten times that yield without corn’s water and pesticide requirements.

Presenting at the Conference, cellulosic ethanol developer Verenium (VRNM) presented a positive update. Verenium sees revenues of $42 to $45 million this year. Their 1.4 million gallon per year (MPY) pilot plant in Osaka, Japan, meets the demanding challenge of converting construction wood waste into ethanol. A similar plant is being built in Louisiana that will use sugarcane as feedstock. Look for a 25 to 30 MPY plant in 2010. Sugarcane has been the key source for Brazil’s amazing transition away from petroleum dependency. Sugarcane yields per acre can be 2,500 gallons – five to eight times the yield of corn. Sugarcane has been the key to Cosan (CZZ) tripling revenue and profit in three years. (NOTE: Author owns stock in Cosan.)

Most cars may run on gasoline, but most heavy vehicles run on diesel. The hottest selling cars run on diesel not gasoline. Diesel and biodiesel has about 25% more energy per gallon than gasoline. Ethanol has about 25% less energy than gasoline. Nova Biosource Fuels (NBF) presented at the Pacific Growth Conference. Nova has a joint venture (JV) with ConAgra targeted at taking ConAgra animal waste and producing biodiesel and glycerin. ConAgra has agreed to buy 130 million gallons of biodiesel per year from the JV. If successful, Nova Biosource could buy other players in the fragmented U.S. biodiesel market and solve a significant waste problem for meat and poultry processors. Consensus estimates from analysts is that Nova Biosource will experience explosive growth from $26 million in 2007 to $187 million in 2008, and become profitable in 2008. Reuters Estimates

Private venture-backed Virent presented an exciting alternative to ethanol. It takes biomass and converts it gasoline – biogasoline. Gasoline, after all, is a complex hydrocarbon molecule that can be made from feedstock other than petroleum. Unlike ethanol, biogasoline has the same energy content as gasoline. Unlike cellulosic ethanol alternatives, Virent produces water using a bioforming process, rather than consuming valuable water. Virent has raised $28.5 million of investments from Cargill, Honda (HMC), Venture Investors, Advantage Capital Partners, and Stark Investments. Biogasoline will be its major initial focus. Its technology can also be used to produce biodiesel and bio jet fuel. Virent also has a five-year joint development agreement with Shell to produce hydrogen without CO2 emissions.

All presenters started with safe harbor warnings about future uncertainties. If you are an investor, please use this article only as a starting point for added research. In the transition from petroleum, their will be losers and winners. Some will be big winners.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. Over 50 articles about clean fuels and clean transportation are at http://www.cleanfleetreport.com

What About Diesel Hybrids?

by Richard T. Stuebi

My good friend Gerrit visited me last week from Canada, driving down his prized Mercedes diesel. We talked about diesel autos, and how they were likely to be an increasing part of the energy/environmental solution.

Gerrit told me that he had been hearing that auto manufacturers were losing enthusiasm for hybrids, coming to the realization that most Americans drive lots of highway miles, for which diesels are simpler, cheaper and more efficient than hybrids.

Certainly, diesel hybrid designs are beginning to show up for commercial vehicles, such as delivery vans and garbage trucks. For instance, Eaton (NYSE: ETN) announced earlier this year a pilot program for UPS (NYSE: UPS) involving a diesel delivery truck with a hydraulic (not battery) motive augmentation system.

But what about diesel hybrid autos? Is anyone doing anything interesting in that field? If not, why not?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

All Electric ATV – No myth to bust on this one

I had a chance to visit with the founders of a new San Francisco Bay Area cleantech startup called barefoot motors, which is building an all electric ATV. I think is a great idea for an untapped electric vehicle product. Think about it, of all the potential electric vehicles out there ? ATVs suck down a comparably large amount gasoline a lot of gasoline per mile and are used primarily for short range transport (range is a longtime achilles heel of electric vehicles). And riders have a serious problem with the noise and the noxious exhaust fumes. Add to that the fact that ATV riders want a combination between acceleration and power that electric drive systems are particularly good at doing, and you should be able to get a really great product from an electric all terrain vehicle. According to barefoot, Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters fame agrees. He had a big hand in the prototype.

I have followed the barefoot story for some time, but this week one of the cofounders, Melissa Brandao who was formerly with the electric vehicle company Zap, spared a few minutes on the record to give Cleantech Blog the rundown.

So Melissa, give us the story.

barefoot motors is proud to be the first company to offer Earth Utility Vehicles. Our first vehicle is called the Model One, it’s an all electric, heavy duty ATV for primarily agricultural and industrial applications. It has all the power and speed of a conventional heavy duty ATV with the added benefits of being eco-friendly lower cost of ownership driven by fuel savings, quieter and more comfortable to ride, along with those expected perks like rebates and other incentives that are likely to be instituted in the coming years to help reduce air quality issues faster. As far as air quality goes, replacing ONE conventional ATV with the Model One is like taking FOUR cars off the road. There are 1.6 million of these ATVs running around California. But because they are not in plain site they are often overlooked and forgotten by all of those that do not encounter them regularly. ATVs, unlike cars, are not highly regulated, and it will take years to change that.

Why Electric ATVs? What is better about them than electric cars?

Electric ATVs are not better than EVs they’re just different, as off-road vehicles are different than on-road vehicles. The premise at barefoot was to build a comparable vehicle to the heavy duty ATVs that were currently available knowing that the one area that we would have to address is range. What we discovered is that the principal application for our vehicle did not require an 80 mile range to fit their needs. They simply need a good, reliable, heavy duty work horse that will work around their property throughout the day. That is the Model One’s sweet spot.

What exactly is your Electric ATV going to look like?

That is under discussion as we speak but fundamentally it will look like an ATV with some design changes based on innovation as well as the distribution of weight and space, in essence there’s less stuff on the Model One so there is more space to work with.

Melissa, you told me Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters fame had a big hand in the prototype?

Yes, I met him at Maker Faire two years back and we have stayed in touch since then. When I introduced him to the idea of collaborating with barefoot motors, a green utility vehicle company, he was keenly interested for two reasons. One, he has been an advocate of alternative fueled vehicles for a long time. He even rides an electric bicycle back and forth to work. Two, Jamie was raised on a farm and he rode his grandfather’s 3 wheel ATV on the property, so he understands the importance of a good utility vehicle for agriculture. In essence, this project hit home. As a prototype builder Jamie can create elegant solutions that are simple and functional, he is the holder of several patents and he has a deep knowledge of electronics, robotics and rapid development. In building the Model One, Jamie has been the driver behind the choice of technologies and packaging. He has kept us focused on that same principle of simple but elegant design. The proof of concept, Model One, achieves our initial performance requirements, in fact, it has exceeded expectations and it’s so fun to ride, as you can see from the video of Jamie riding it. When are we going to get you on it?? (Soon Melissa, very soon).

Will it have more or less pulling power than a conventional one?

In towing capacity we can handle 1,000 lbs. That is our baseline performance which is on par with a conventional heavy duty ATV.

What about range?

Our prototype is getting about 30 to 40 miles on a charge. The BIG difference when you talk range is that an ATV encounters many variations in the off road terrain, mud, sand, gravel, dirt, steeper slopes which can skew the range figures more than it would on a standard car that drives almost entirely on asphalt.

Is there a list I can get on to buy one?

First, check out the video clip. Then yes, please contact melissab@barefootmotors.com if you are interested in purchasing one, we are building about 150 next year. We are asking for deposits of roughly 10 percent which we will apply to the price of the vehicle. It is fully refundable at any time.

Are your battery needs much different than from cars?

Our choice is lithium ion batteries we feel the density and efficiency you gain is significant enough that it only makes sense in this application.

Are we going to have a naming contest for your Electric ATV? Do we need a new acronym? EATV sounds dull. How about Electric Warthog?

Sorry, we got the name already, but I like the idea of customer interaction so you will see some clever ideas from barefoot in the coming months!

Thanks Melissa, great story. And we will put them video clip of the electric ATV up on the blog as well.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is founding contributor of Cleantech Blog and a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks.

To Coal or Not To Coal?

by Richard T. Stuebi

A number of people recently have contacted me for my perspective on a large new coal powerplant being considered here in Ohio.

The plant is proposed by American Municipal Power of Ohio (AMP-Ohio), a nonprofit wholesale power supplier that provides electricity to several municipal utilities in Ohio, including Cleveland Public Power (CPP).

The implicit question is whether it’s a prudent course of action for AMP-Ohio, and for its clients such as CPP, to commit to building a new coal plant in a world in which climate change appears to be accelerating, and in which future constraints on carbon emissions to combat climate change will be relatively more burdensome for utilities that rely upon coal for power generation. Many environmental advocates clearly think that this proposed coal plant is just plain a bad idea.

I lunched last week with CPP Commissioner Ivan Henderson to get a more detailed view of CPP’s plans for subscribing to a portion of AMP-Ohio’s new coal plant. And, from my discussions with Commissioner Henderson, it appears as if there are two underreported aspects of CPP’s plan that merit consideration before objections are lodged.

First, CPP’s go-ahead to their share of the AMP-Ohio coal plant is contingent upon the results of an independent assessment by an engineering consultant (to be selected) of the viability of implementing the ECO2 CO2 carbon capture technology developed by Powerspan Corporation of New Hampshire. This technology, essentially a CO2 scrubber, is designed to remove 90% of CO2 emissions from the plant’s flue stream, and is being tested in pilot scale at the R.E. Burger powerplant owned and operated by First Energy (NYSE: FE). If the assessment indicates that the Powerspan ECO2 CO2 scrubber technology is not-ready-for-primetime, CPP is out of the deal.

Second, assuming the new coal plant is built, AMP-Ohio is committed to retiring its 1950’s vintage Gorsuch coal powerplant. Clearly, replacing an old relic with a new plant benefitting from 90% CO2 capture will lead to substantial CO2 emission reductions, relative to the status quo.

Thus, there is more to the story than might initially appear to the casual reader. Assuming that both of the above conditions apply, the construction of this new coal plant is actually a good idea, not a bad idea. The moral of the story is that environmental advocates need not have a rabid knee-jerk reaction against new coal plants, if new coal plant construction results in substantial CO2 emission reductions.

Make no mistake: I love wind energy and photovoltaics. However, they only provide intermittent sources of generation. On the electricity grid, lacking truly economic large-scale electricity storage, wind and PV cannot fulfill the role of dispatchable (a.k.a. “firm”) power.

I also love energy efficiency, and we should all do more of it. Energy efficiency can reduce our electricity generation requirements considerably. Ultimately, though, in our current society, we still will need some form of firm generation.

Coal power with 90% CO2 capture fits that bill pretty darn well. If the Powerspan technology works as advertised at reasonable economics, it might be a whole lot cheaper and more quickly available than zero-emission baseload technologies, such as IGCC with carbon sequestration or advanced nuclear designs. In which case, Powerspan is a company to watch.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Blogroll Review: Campaigns, Hype, and Linux

by Frank Ling

Getting Presidential

With global warming and rising prices of energy on the minds of Americans, the presidential candidates have undoubtedly begun to think about energy policy for their platforms.

Jim Fraser at The Energy Blog writes that:

“The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has published a comparison of the energy policy positions of the 2008 presidential candidates, which range from environmentally responsible to business-as-usual.”

Pacific Ethanol Stumbles

Ethanol may be hot but there have been and continue to be many reasons why it is overblown.

When Pacific Ethanol became public, there was widespread interest because Bill Gates had invested in it. Lately, stock prices for the company have hit a new low.

Robert Rapier says in TR Squared Energy Blog:

“Ethanol prices have fallen as supplies expanded faster than demand. At the same time, prices for ethanol’s main feedstock, corn, rose dramatically, further hurting profit margins.”

He also adds why ethanol in California is fundamentally flawed:

“There is a reason that California is not a hotbed of ethanol activity, despite the fact that Californians consume ethanol. It’s too far from the corn, so it is more cost effective to ship in finished ethanol.”

What were they drinking? :)

Green Penguin

The debate among mainstream computer users is usually Mac or PC, but the time for Linux to gain consumer acceptance may be on the horizon.

Walmart is now offering $200 computer systems based on Unix.

Hank Green at Eco Geek writes that:

“The Everex machine, which runs on a power-sipping Via 1.5 Ghz processor, is the first Ubuntu machine to be sold by any major retailer. It’s strange that Wal-Mart was the pioneer here, but their constant search for lower prices meshes well with the freeness of Linux.”

Apparently the lower end version of the system is ultra efficient because it does not hog all the resources.

Has anyone seen a green penguin? :)

Frank Ling is a postdoctoral fellow at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley. He is also a producer of the Berkeley Groks Science Show.

Seal It Up

by Heather Rae
for cleantechblog.com

The basement in my 1880 house is a combination of ledge and dirt floor. In the 24′ by 34′ footprint, where once there was a brick cistern, there is now a heating oil tank. The copper plumbing undulated, making repairs expensive. I’ve had the copper replaced with a clean, organized PEX system with individual hot and cold shut offs for each facility. Previous owners had installed a horizontal furnace with a maze of leaky ducts; these metal tubes commanded most of the remaining subterranean real estate. I ripped out the furnace and the ducts and patched the holes in the floor from the supplies and returns (but there remains lots of carpentry repair on the first floor pine and maple floors).
Cleaned up, the basement was ready for air sealant and vapor barrier. (Air infiltration and moisture contribute to heat loss.) Whatever cash was left in the “renovation pot” (not much) would go to this measure before the Monitor and fuel pump still sitting in their boxes would be installed. Closed cell foam is more expensive than alternatives like fiberglass batts, but batts can’t begin to perform like foam: not in blocking air infiltration, not in creating a clean result. Charlie Huntington of I&S Insulation says that foam is growing ever more popular in his business.
This week, Charlie’s crew laid down a clean mat of 60mil EPDM (rubber). I tend to get joyful fulfillment from neatness…and the prospect of a warmer house; this was no exception. Not only will the closed cell foam block air infiltration, but it will provide an R value of 6-7 per inch. We were going with three inches. With a shop vac, I sucked debris and cobwebs from the tops of the rock foundation and the above-ground brick. The installers suited up in full body protective gear (no, this isn’t a low-VOC material). They waited for the liquid to reach the right temperature and began to spray a clean, flat coat of foam on the brick down to the rock foundation and up into the rim joists. They foamed along the perimeter of the EPDM, sealing off the ground from the rest of the house. They foamed around all projections like the chimneys and supports. The new basement is an incredible transformation from where it began eight months ago. A picture of a very similar install is on the I&S Insulation website.

Other Goings on This Week
The vote is in this morning: the proposed IGCC coal plant in Wiscasset, Maine has been defeated. As it should be. The “Say No to Coal” campaign was swift and loud. (Google, lobstermen protest wiscasset coal). Nothing added up on this project: not the shipping of coal, not the finances of the developer, not the claims to emissions reductions or access to water or sequestration of carbon. Its one upside: reduced taxes for Wiscasset residents for a plant located on the town’s periphery, at the site of a the defunct Maine Yankee nuclear plant, nearer Westport Island…and not Wiscasset which claims the title, “Maine’s Prettiest Village.”

Heather Rae, contributor to cleantechblog.com, manages a ‘whole house’ home performance program in Maine and serves on the board of Maine Interfaith Power & Light. In 2006, she built a biobus and drove it from Colorado to Maine. In 2007, she began renovation of an 1880 farmhouse using building science and green building principles.