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we lag behind most of our competitors in the rest of the world in a four key ways.
We have no national energy portfolio standard that encourages clean, renewable power and shifts away from dirty and dangerous energy.
We have an outdated electrical grid unsuited for the task of carrying energy from regions rich in wind, solar, and geothermal potential to the people who need the energy.
We don’t make dirty energy companies pay for the pollution they pump into the air; in fact, we give them billions every year in tax breaks.
And we don’t invest enough in research, development, and deployment to inspire our entrepreneurs and leverage their discoveries by helping bring their bold new technologies to market.
19 December 2009
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16 December 2009
Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.
• How the Copenhagen global leader came about
• Write your own editorial
• The papers that carried the Copenhagen editorial
• In pictures: How newspapers around the world ran the editorial
Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.
The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.
Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.
But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."
At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.
Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.
Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.
Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.
The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.
Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.
But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.
Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.
Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".
It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.
The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.
15 December 2009
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This incredible surge was made possible by cheap and plentiful energy and the fact that America's major competitors were recovering from a war that devastated commerce and industry. This combined with the coup at Bretton Woods that replaced the then current world trading currency, the pound, with the dollar provided for a boom in manufacturing and the cold war provided a continuing war time economy (remember Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex) which lead to incredible middle class wealth.
In 1973, this changed with the end of cheap oil and the beginning of strong inflation. What did Tom and Sally American do then? Why they sent Sally to work to augment the family income so that they did not have to give away any of the luxuries they now felt entitled to. This worked for a while.
Well for those of you who follow my blog, you know that inflation never left, it was just hidden by successive administrations tinkering with statistics. This combined with the fact that the American middle class wage has not kept pace with even the understated inflation rate made Tom and Sally have to dip into their next best store of potential cash and mortgage and second mortgage their home for cash to keep up with the American dream. What happened when we were running out of equity in our homes? REAL ESTATE BOOM - made up equity to leverage.
Now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. Tom and Sally need to face the tough reality that thanks to their short sighted planning their children would not have the same opportunities as they had. Their children would be the first American generation since the depression to regress in their standard of living.
I hate to say i told you so but .....
For a good article that discusses many of these points from someone who is much brighter than I click here.
08 December 2009
"We have [already] entered the 'peak oil' zone," an unnamed former IEA official told British newspaper The Guardian. "I think that the situation is really bad."
A second whistleblower reportedly claimed that the IEA's current figures are inflated due to pressure from the United States and a pervasive fear that the announcement of falling oil output in the future could cause markets to respond with panic.
The claims come on the same day the IEA plans to publish its annual "World Energy Outlook" report for 2009.
"Many inside the organisation believe that maintaining oil supplies at even 90m to 95m barrels a day would be impossible but there are fears that panic could spread on the financial markets if the figures were brought down further," one of the IEA sources reportedly told the paper. "And the Americans fear the end of oil supremacy because it would threaten their power over access to oil resources."
For the rest of the story click here.
07 December 2009
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I have a different idea of a tact to unseat Goodlatte. Run an independent campaign that is focused on the transition required by peak oil, environmental degradation and economic collapse. Run by instilling an awareness of the future that will compel both liberals and conservatives to think about their votes.
Do not even take on Goodlatte in anyway but to point out that he lacks the knowledge of the problems and the kind of independent thinking it will take to change the situation. I don't know if this is possible, but we may even be able to get the Dems not to run anyone against him making it an independent vs republican challenge.
I think if people are made to confront the changes that are coming and the absolute lack of political will that has been the case, maybe we will have a chance to unseat this Republican dittohead!
04 December 2009
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My purpose is to alert you to the revision of SEC Regulation S-K and Regulation S-X effective January 1, 2010. Concealed in a handful of benign new regs is a financial truck bomb that's going to blow away "proved reserves" as a meaningful metric of oil company assets.
Old definition: Proved Reserves are those quantities which can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable from known reservoirs under defined economic conditions. Proved quantities are limited by the lowest known hydrocarbon as seen in a well penetration unless otherwise indicated by definitive geoscience, engineering, or performance data. Seismic data alone is not sufficient to define fluid contacts. Undeveloped locations may be classified as Proved in undrilled areas of a reservoir that can be judged with reasonable certainty to be commercially productive.
New definition: Industry is no longer constrained by the criterion of certainty. An operator can book incremental proved reserves from planned enhanced recovery projects (gas injection, acid fracturing) based on a pilot project. Coal seam gas, bitumen, oil shale and other unconventional resources can be booked as Proved Reserves. Estimated reservoir properties in the aggregate is a departure from the old rules. The new SEC definition does not require that an analogous reservoir has to be in the immediate area or in pressure communication. Seismic analysis and reservoir models are sufficient to book Proved Reserves.
Hold on to your shorts, it gets worse.
For the rest of this excellant technical discussion click here.
30 November 2009
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Altmire, Barrow, Boccieri, Boren, Bright, Chandler, Childers, Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Gordon (TN), Griffith, Holden, Marshall, Matheson, McIntyre, Melancon, Peterson, Ross, Shuler, Skelton, Tanner, Taylor, Teague
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Please make the effort to come as it will be a great expo.
If you are interested in seeing a presentation on Passivhaus I will be presenting:
"Cutting Edge Low Energy Construction an Introduction to Passivhaus design principles"
at 12:30 on Friday, Nov. 6
This presentation will focus on the basics of Passivhaus design, a scientific European approach to low energy construction and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Passivhaus has a twenty year track record in Europe but has only recently come to the US.
See you there!
03 November 2009
02 November 2009
01 November 2009
Click Here for Details.
31 October 2009
It is speaking to our condition!
Initial meeting is November 8th Sunday at 1pm at Shoneys at Exit 137 off Route 81
The idea is to make renewable energy affordable for interested people by doing the labor yourself and learning the process.
Typically we'd meet at a project house on solar, wind or EV's for a build & learn session to help people with renewable energy projects and reduce their cost.
29 October 2009
Almost to a country, the western world decried the moves as unacceptable and almost to a country vowed to reduce their dependence on foreign energy supplies. It is here that the story becomes very interesting both for the student of history and as an insight into the probable near term consequences of actions we will take.
In examining the reaction of a western country let’s first look at Denmark. They made the decision to commit themselves to a future that was not dependant on foreign energy supplies. They made commitments not only on the oil side, but also on conservation, heat and electrical generation. In the 1980’s they also made the decision not to allow any nuclear power plants on their soil.
In examining the reaction of the US, and specifically Virginia, we made a lot of verbal noise about energy independence and freedom from foreign energy sources. We made some first steps in the years from 1974 – 1979, but with the election of Ronald Reagan and the return of cheap oil, all focus was diverted and the goals were forgotten.
Why did this happen and what were the results? Well, the American public has never had a taste for putting off gratification today for the betterment of tomorrow, and the Danes were focused on two generations down the line. An examination of the results thus far is very telling. Here is a brief comparison between Denmark and Virginia.
The GDP per capita for Denmark is $37,300.00
The GDP per capita for Virginia is $46,521.00
Per capita Virginia is 25% richer than Denmark.
The population of Denmark is approximately 5.5 million.
The population of Virginia is approximately 7.7 million.
Virginia has 40% more people than Denmark.
Denmark (proper) is approximately 17,000 sq miles
Virginia is approximately 43,000 sq miles
Virginia is 153% larger than Denmark
Total energy usage per capita in Demark is 46,722 kWH/year
Total energy usage per capita in Virginia is 99,442 kWH/year
The average Virginian uses 113% more total energy than the average Dane.
Electrical energy usage per capita in Denmark is 6,506 kWH/year
Electrical energy usage per capita in Virginia is 13,662 kWH/year
The average Virginian uses 110% more electrical energy than the average Dane.
Cost of electrical energy in Denmark is $0.322 / kWH
Cost of electrical energy in Virginia is $0.104 / k WH
The average Dane spends $2,094 on electricity annually and the average Virginian spends $1,420 on electricity annually.
The average Dane spends $674 (47%) more on electricity annually than the average Virginian.
Percent sustainable energy (including hydro) in Denmark is 17.0%
Percent sustainable energy (including hydro) in Virginia is 2.6%
Denmark produces 554% more sustainable energy than Virginia.
So what do all these numbers tell us. Before I answer that I would like to tell the reader why I chose Denmark. Denmark has the highest cost of energy of any country in the European Union. Denmark also is consistently listed as one of the freest markets in the European Union and also had the least dependency on foreign energy supplies. I wanted to compare Virginia to a real world success story.
So, back to the numbers.
First, we see that Virginia is richer (per capita GDP), larger (population) and has more natural resources (gross land area) than Demark.
Second, there is a simple truth which shines thorough the second set of figures. There is a correlation between energy cost and energy usage. In study after study it has been shown that the higher the energy cost, the lower the usage. We see this in the US in states like Vermont, which has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, but per capita has the lowest energy usage.
Third, we see that this energy independence is costing the average Dane $1.85 per day more than the average Virginian.
So for less than a Starbucks Coffee per day, we could conceivable create a sustainable and foreign intervention free energy supply. Wow, sounds like a deal to me!
So what is standing in our way Virginia? Oh, I can answer that, political will and vision. Here are three items that happened to me at the Conference on Virginia Energy Symposium (COVES) in Mid October 2009:
(excerpts from by blog)
There were 400 or so folk who showed up, most of the regular characters you find at such things: solar, wind and biomass folks, utility reps, college facility people, politicians or there reps, etc..
As I circulated among the seminars and talked to the people at the conference, I got a very clear understanding of how far we are from grasping the scope of the change that needs to be made. At this symposium, I found just what I expected, many of the people on the front lines of energy policy change and renewable generation had a clear understanding of just how much has to happen in a small amount of time.
Unfortunately, the political folks had an inkling of understanding but a lack of will and vision. I will site three examples and you judge for yourself:
At a symposium where an Assistant Secretary of DOE gave a presentation, he discussed the much needed work to be done on existing buildings in the area of energy retrofits. He described energy retrofit as “not low hanging fruit, but fruit rotting on the ground”. There is a huge potential for energy reduction that is easily achievable and compared to other energy reduction strategies, relatively inexpensive. After the presentation during the question and answer portion I asked if we could get Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make it mandatory that any home purchased using their funds (which is the majority of all homes sold in the US) have an energy audit done. We could get folks used to having audits done and use this to quantify the homes energy footprint in an eye towards making energy upgrades mandatory with the sale of homes. This is a program that is not pie in the sky; rather it is currently being done in the UK. The answer was depressing a generic, "we are looking into many ways of encouraging energy audits". To me this was the failure to recognize two facts, first is that the US taxpayer now owns Fannie and Freddie (for all intents and purposes) and secondly it would take no political maneuvering, as Fannie and Freddie can impose that type of requirement at will.
The second was what happened at the final symposium, the summation of the conference. They had four speakers, one from biomass, solar and wind and one from the governor’s office. After the presentations during the questions and answer period I asked this question: I said that it seemed to me that all the presenters were ignoring the elephant in the room. Every alternative energy presenter lamented the fact that it is hard to compete with the cheap energy we have in Virginia, and that with little political and financial support from Richmond, the alternative energy community was facing a tough road. The elephant is Virginia's cheap energy. I asked the governors rep. this ~ since we all generally agree that we need sustainable, non-polluting sources of energy in Virginia and that we have cheap energy here in the olde dominion, why not use that as a positive and raise the cost of energy to create the revenue to pursue a faster switch to a sustainable future. The response was once again what I expected, the gov's rep started in saying that Virginia could not act "in a vacuum" and that making a change while the rest of the US and the world did not would hurt Virginia. I responded that we cannot abdicate our responsibility for energy independence and that is exactly what he was doing by making that argument. He said, "I did not say that" to which I said, "you most certainly did". With that the moderator took another question.
The third thing happened in a presentation by Dominion Power’s Vice President in charge of sustainable energy. She gave a presentation about the “smart meter” installations that Dominion was doing and bemoaned the fact that the customers did not seem interested in the monitoring abilities of the smart meter interface. She said that the customers were not monitoring their energy usage to lower their consumption. My hand shot up in an instant and I asked, why not have a usage carrot and stick. For example, if you use the base amount of energy you pay the base rate, but for every kWH you use over that amount the rate increases, and alternatively for every kWH you use under the base amount the rate decreases, I told her that I bet folks would pay attention to their usage then! She brushed my comment aside as unrealistic, but I muttered that I guess the meters aren’t as smart as they want to make out. I also asked her if we could institute a voluntary check box like the neighbors to neighbors fund to support customer generated energy (wind, solar, biomass). I let her know that right now North Carolina is doing this and it has almost tripled the amount of money going to the customer for electrical generation, without costing the utility a cent. Once again she said that she thought it would not work in Virginia.
So you see, this is the situation and the problem. Left in the hands of the politicians, who are guided by those with a lot of money and access and a vested interest in business as usual we are not going to see change.
So what I am asking is to think about the kind of Virginia you want for your grandchildren and act as if your actions today will have a direct effect on their lives, because they do.
28 October 2009
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26 October 2009
Solar Decathlon Winners Embrace Passivhaus Standard
Technische Universität Darmstadt takes first-place with its surPLUShome, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign second with its Gable Home. Both modeled their entries to the Passivhaus standard
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How does Passive House certification work? Does one have to go to a PHIUS certified architect to get a house design/plans and Passive House certification? Can a non-PH architect get house plans certified? If so, by who? PHIUS? What are the approximate costs for PHIUS review, consultation, and certification?
Passivhaus certification for a project requires that the plans be analyzed and and submitted to PHIUS by a Certified Passivhaus Consultant. The design can either be by a TEAM of a certified PH consultant & a non certified architect or by a PH certified architect. Personally, as an Architect and a PH certified consultant I find that it would be difficult and time consuming to coordinate with an architect who does not have a good, solid understanding of the concepts, however, I think a good PH consultant can give the Architect and Client a good overview of PH principals in about 4 hours.
The real tough part is the coordination of the design details with the PHPP (Passive House Planning Package). As a design/builder I can tell you that when I am designing I have both my CAD program and the PHPP open to determine the optimal outcome to maximize efficiency and minimize price.
I would think that the the client should be prepared to spend more for an untrained architect as there will be a learning curve and it is likely that there will be considerable redesign to bring the iterations of the plans into compliance with PH principles.
As far as the costs, that depends on the project and the team. My personal recommendation is that the best, most cost effective approach is true design/build, where the architect, PH consultant and builder are one entity and have one point of responsibility to the Owner.
If you want to pursue separate architect, PH consultant and builder, then I would recommend a very intimate process where the team is assembled day one and the Passivhaus Consultant is responsible for orienting the team to PH principles. I cannot stress how important the builder is in all this. You can have a great design and an efficient PH concept, but without a builder grounded in real world details and a deep understanding of PH concepts, the entire project can spin out of control, because of the high level of quality and attention to detail that is required to implement Passivhaus techniques.
I hope this helps!