Thursday, June 30, 2011

US DOE Investing in Geothermal Research and Development

On June 23, 2011, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will be funding eight geothermal projects in five states. The announcement was made by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The eight projects in five states (California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas, and Utah) have been selected to receive up to $11.3 million to support the research and development of pioneering geothermal technologies.

The projects selected will foster innovation in the technologies and methods used to generate geothermal energy, which will help strengthen US energy security and increase America's competitiveness in the global clean energy economy. Continued innovation and technical advances will also help geothermal energy to play an important role in achieving President Obama's goal of generating 80 percent of US electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

"Through these eight projects, the Department of Energy is investing in new technologies that will further develop the nation's geothermal resources and help diversify our energy portfolio," said Secretary Chu. "By investing in geothermal research and development, we are investing in our nation's energy future and creating opportunities for energy innovation in the US."
The projects aim to develop fundamentally new ways of producing electricity from the Earth's heat. Selected projects will conduct feasibility studies in Phase I, including technical and economic modeling and component design for technologies that recover geothermal heat for electricity production. If selected for Phase II, projects will then validate the designs in real-world environments. The selected projects are part of the Department's comprehensive efforts to reduce the cost of geothermal energy to be competitive with conventional sources of electricity.

Selected awardees are as follows:

GeoTek Energy, LLC (Midland, Texas) - up to $2.85 million. The Gravity Head Energy System project will study the technical feasibility of a new generation of gravity-driven downhole pump.

Gtherm, Inc. (Westport, Connecticut) - up to $200,000. The Single Well Engineered Geothermal Systems project will investigate the technical feasibility, heat extraction potential, and cost impact of a single well geothermal system.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California) - up to $4.99 million. The Geothermal Energy Coupled with CCS: Heat Recovery Using an Innovative High Efficiency Supercritical CO2 Turboexpansion Cycle project will develop new ways to produce electricity from superheated and pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) in deep geothermal formations.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, California) - up to $874,000. The Active Management of Integrated Geothermal - CO2 Storage Reservoirs: An Approach to Improve Energy Recovery and Mitigate Risk project will study the technical and economic feasibility of integrating geothermal energy production with carbon capture and storage.

Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) - up to $997,000. The Zero Mass Withdrawal, Engineered Convection and Wellbore Energy Conversion project will evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of technologies that circulate reservoir fluids to increase heat extraction.

Physical Optics Corporation (Torrance, California) - up to $200,000. The Heat Extraction from Geothermal Systems project will investigate the technical feasibility, heat extraction potential, and cost impact of an innovative wellbore condenser technology. This technology converts hot vapor into cooler liquids at high efficiencies, which could help generate greater geothermal power.

Terralog Technologies USA, Inc. (Monrovia, California) - up to $541,000. The Advanced Horizontal Well Recirculation Systems for Geothermal Energy Recovery project will investigate and develop advanced geothermal well designs that optimize combinations of vertical and horizontal wells.

University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah) - up to $671,000. The Novel Development of Geothermal Systems in the United States project will assess the electric generating capacity, economics, and environmental impacts of developing deep sedimentary and crystalline reservoirs throughout the entire United States.

DOE's Geothermal Technologies Program works in partnership with U.S. industry to establish geothermal energy as an economically competitive contributor to the U.S. energy supply. For more information about the program and selections, see the Geothermal Technologies Program's website.

© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Enhanced Geothermal Systems Conference 2011

On June 29th - 30th 2011, eyeforenergy is holding its second annual Enhnaced Georthermal Systems (EGS) Conference in San Jose, California. Geothermal is a promising renewable resource that has a very bright future.

Geothermal energy is a safe and reliable renewable power source that can produce energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The aadvantages of geothermal power include the fact that it produces little or no greenhouse gases. Geothermal energy will also create high-paying, long-term jobs. In 2008, the geothermal industry accounted for 25,000 jobs.

EGS offers the ability to improve existing geothermal wells to increase productivity. EGS also offers increased energy production by producing geothermal energy in new environments and at various depths.

However, geothermal energy is costly, technically challenging and socially sensitive. So far EGS has relied on government funding worldwide.

EGS claims a big slice of the $600 million of the federal stimulus for geothermal development over the next two years.

According to the organizers of the EGS event, now is the time to analyze and discuss whether geothermal energy will move away from this reliance and will eventually attract private investment. With the likes of Google.org already heavily encouraging EGS it certainly looks promising.

There are huge opportunities for geothermal contractors wanting to establish themselves in this rapidly growing industry.

The EGS Conference is subtitled "Push your EGS project forward by developing an effective Financial, technological and socio-economic strategy."

At the 2nd Annual Enhanced Geothermal Systems Conference attendees will receive:
  • Unique global updates: Learn from the successes and challenges of our global experts to increase the realization of your EGS project
  • Latest financial analysis: Listen to the top financiers in the industry to deliver the most powerful business case to secure future investment for your project
  • Support from your community: Hear from the key stakeholders to understand how and why you should plan an effective socio-economic strategy
  • Maximise profits: Understand the benefits of developing an EGS as an upgrade to your existing plant to effectively utilise all your resources and increase productivity
  • Technology breakthrough: Get the latest technology advances for reducing fracturing, exploration and drilling risks to save costs throughout your project
This is a must-attend event for all future and current developers who want to make their EGS projects commercially viable in the future and all contractors who want to establish their EGS position early to give their business first mover advantage when the market explode.

Attendees of the EGS event will benefit from the following:
  • The latest case studies worldwide from AltaRock, GreenFire Energy, EGS Energy, GNS
  • Science to learn from their challenges and successes to remain at the forefront of the industry.
  • A discussion on the discuss future government and private initiatives from BLM, Google and GeothermEx Inc.
  • Speak to conventional geothermal utilities including Magma Energy and Southern company
  • Meet the key regulators and utilities and hand pick the latest technology from our pool of contractors including URS, Potter Drilling and ThermaSource to drive costs down for your project.
  • By all accounts, last years EGS Conference was a success, here are some of the things that people had to say about the event:
"Last year’s EGS Conference and Expo provided an excellent basis for understanding the regulatory snares facing EGS development," said Mark Walters, Senior Geologist, Calpine Corporatio

"That conference was one of the best I have attended in many years all the presentations were spot on and clear," Michal Moor, Senior Fellow, ISEEE

Some of the companies that attended last years event included:
  • Google
  • Department of Energy
  • Thermasource
  • Geodynamics
  • Northern California Power Agency
  • Geothermal Resources Council
  • Lawrence Berkely National Labs
  • US Geothermal
  • Geothermex
  • Geothermal Advisory Pty
  • GE Global Research
  • Milbank
  • Resourcive Capital
    • Click here to download two of the keynote presentations from last year (Susan Petty, President, AltaRock and Michael Moore, Senior Fellow, ISEEE).These presentations will provide you with unique insight into the development of EGS in the US and the potential it has for future energy production.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Tuesday, June 28, 2011

      Survey Shows China More Receptive to EVs than America

      Electric Vehicles (EVs) may be taking the world by storm but public acceptance is better in China than it is in America. These are some of the conclusions of a 2011 Accenture survey tiled "Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Changing Perceptions, Hedging Bets".

      Globally 58 percent of respondents said they favor plug-in electric vehicles as a long-term substitute for internal-combustion vehicles. In the US only 46 percent of respondents said that they favor plug-in electric vehicles replacing conventional vehicles over time.

      Germany is a green energy leader and they are vying for leadership in the electric vehicle market, but only 53 percent of the population see electric vehicles as a viable, long-term replacement for conventional cars.

      In Italy, 76 percent of the population surveyed favored electric vehicles as an eventual substitute for conventional vehicles. In China, the number was a staggering 86 percent in favor of plug-in electrics.

      Traditional consumption patterns may help explain the difference. In China people appear to be more comfortable with charging their cars at electric fueling stations, while Americans and respondents from the rest of the world prefer charging their cars at home. Some 65% of global respondents stated that they would prefer to charge their vehicles at home as did 77 percent of respondents in the US. In China only 35% of respondents would prefer charging at home.

      The Chinese are also more interested than the rest of the world in knowing where the EV power source is coming from. Accenture’s study indicated that globally 45 percent of respondents expressed a desire to know where the electricity to charge their electric car comes from. In the US, only 43 percent were concerned about the origin of their electric power, while in China 62 percent wanted to know where their power came from. This is a critical issue in the sustainability profile of an EV as a car powered by electricity from renewable energy is much better for the environment than EVs powered by the burning of coal

      As revealed by the Accenture study, the Chinese are also more forward looking in terms of emerging technology. Although battery exchange may win out over home charging, 62 percent of Americans surveyed would prefer to charge a battery over exchanging it, while 35 percent of the Chinese respondents favored charging over an exchange.

      A J.D. Power and Associates Report predicts that China is expected to reach sales of 35 million light-vehicles in 2020 while the US can expect sales of 17 million light-vehicles.

      The US may be well positioned to lead the EV revolution, but with its massive domestic market and receptive population, China will give America a run for its money.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Monday, June 27, 2011

      The US is Positioned to Lead the Global Competition for EV Supremacy

      The US is well positioned to lead the global competition for EV supremacy. A 2010 McKinsey research firm study suggests that the US is the nation most likely to lead the world in electric car ownership in the coming years.

      America is the home of car culture and the nation has a strong domestic auto market. The US has one of the largest vehicle markets in the world and this trend is expected to continue well into the future. According to a J.D. Power and Associates Report, the US is expected to reach 17.4 million auto sales in 2020. Market analyses by energy research firm SBI Energy show that of the 204 million personal vehicles in the US, the average household owns 1.9 vehicles. The viability of the US bid for EV supremacy also derives from the fact the America is the world's wealthiest nation.

      According to an SBI Energy report, Electric Vehicle (EV) and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Markets Worldwide, in the six years between 2004 and 2009, the number of HEV available models around the world has tripled to 29 and the number of brands producing hybrids has jumped from six to fourteen. In fact, almost a third of the hybrids being offered in the US have 2010 as their first model year.

      Global sales of hybrid electric vehicles rose 33% in 2009 with 700,000 vehicles sold in an unfavorable climate that saw the overall auto market plunge worldwide. "SBI Energy's first EV market study entitled, Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Manufacturing projects North America will hold 20% of the electric vehicle infrastructure manufacturing market by 2014, driven by government incentive programs and the movement toward eco-friendly consumer lifestyles," says Shelley Carr, publisher for SBI Energy. "While government capital is vital, growth also depends heavily on the investment interests of the private sector and the adoption of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles by consumers."

      China is already a leader in the transition from fossil fuel powered cars to electric vehicles. China has a proven capacity for mass producing things inexpensively. Chinese auto manufacturers also have a huge domestic market. A J.D. Power and Associates Report predicts that China is expected to reach 35 million light-vehicle sales in 2020.

      China is not alone in its pursuit of global supremacy, Germany and France are also vying for leadership in the EV sector.

      Despite serious challenges, America's viability as a global EV leader was corroborated in a study that says the US is the most likely to spearhead a movement toward electric cars from gasoline-driven cars as a means of mass transportation. This is the finding of a research index from McKinsey & Company, a global consultancy firm.

      McKinsey’s electric-vehicle index gauges nine variables including consumers’ favorability toward electric cars, a segment where America ranks highly. The US ranked first in the electric-vehicle index ahead of France, Germany, China and other Western European countries.

      America is in a competitive position due largely to government support of EVs. In 2007, Congress set aside $25 billion in Department of Energy low-interest loans to encourage the advancement of alternative-fuel vehicles, including EVs. The DOE has made $8.5 billion in loans to Nissan, Ford, Tesla Motors, Tenneco and Fisker Automotive. President Barack Obama also earmarked another $2.4 billion in grants for battery-makers and other electric-vehicle component-makers in 2009. The stimulus package also included a $2,500 to $7,500 tax credit to consumers who purchase EVs.

      These investments have put America in the position to lead the race to be the leader in one of the most expansive economic and technological opportunities of our times. The demand for EVs is sure to keep growing. As this demand grows so will the response from automakers. Nissan and General Motors already plan to have a combined capacity to build hundreds of thousands of EVs in the US by next year (2012).

      The growth of EV sales will also positively impact associated industries. Pike Research projects that $61 million will be spent across the US on EV charging equipment during 2011.

      This is a boon for American business, not only in terms of the vehicles themselves but in terms of the infrastructure needed to support EVs.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Sunday, June 26, 2011

      DOE's EV Oriented Transportation Budget

      The 2012 Department of Energy (DOE) budget submitted to Congress includes a 20 page section on Vehicle Technologies (VT), much of which is focused on vehicle electrification. In the 2012 DOE budget, VT finance increases 80 percent from $325 million to $588 million. Charging equipment and energy storage technology are getting the bulk of the financing assistance.

      The majority, ($229 million) of the VT budget increase goes towards EV deployment and infrastructure. It will benefit programs like Clean Cities which provides grants for purchasing of EVs and charging equipment. It will also benefit EV charging equipment companies.

      Funding increases also include energy storage technology which increased from 94 million in 2010 spending to $188 million in the proposed budget. The VT budget also invests in accelerating cost reduction through more research and manufacturing funding.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      US DOE Supports Electric Vehicles with $184 Million in Grants

      Late in 2010 US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the U.S. Department of Energy will start accepting applications for grants to accelerate the development and deployment of new efficient vehicle technologies. Up to $184 million in grants is available for a wide variety of EV technologies including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.

      "[The DOE] awards will help ensure America leads the world in the development of advanced vehicle technologies that support cost-competitive, convenient, and comfortable fuel-efficient vehicles," said Secretary Chu in the DOE press release. "Investments in the next generation of vehicle technologies are laying the groundwork for a sustainable transportation sector in America that strengthens our economy and improves our economic competitiveness."

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Fuel Efficient Combustion Engines: Too Little Too Late

      Innovations in conventional combustion engine technology can offer dramatic improvements in fuel economy.

      There is a large and growing demand for these highly efficient combustion engine technologies. These technologies include downsized engines that use turbochargers to add horsepower and 6 or 7 speed automatic transmissions.

      Novel innovations are also coming to market to help improve the performance of this new generation of cars. One example of a simple novel technology is what is known as active grille shutters. The shutters open to allow engine cooling, but close when not needed to improve aerodynamic air flow. Such shutters are expected to appear on the 2013 Malibu Eco.

      American automakers should have been producing these types of vehicles decades ago. The truth is, even as the Japanese began to eat into America's automotive market in the 70s, Detroit's Big Three did not react. It took bankruptcies, higher gas prices and pending new regulations to get the American automotive industry to start producing fuel efficient engines.

      This is a case of too little too late as the combustion engine is approaching the beginning of the end of its life cycle.

      Internal combustion engines spew emissions into the atmosphere and make us dependent on foreign oil. These cars burn gasoline at an average rate of one gallon every 20 miles. Even if they were to average 30 mpg, this is not comparable to the superior fuel efficiency and lower emissions profile of hybrid electric vehicles'.

      Even though smaller, more fuel efficient cars are selling well, these vehicles are bridge technologies that are leading to cars that have little or no emissions at all.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Saturday, June 25, 2011

      Video: Sustainable Economic Development that Works



      In April 2011, more than 100 people convened at Boston University for Development That Works, an all-day conference that brought together leading scholars and practitioners to discuss development ideas that have the potential to lead to sustainable and effective growth worldwide.
      The fourth and final session brought together a panel of leading economists that examined evidence on economic development. Chaired by Dilip Mookherjee, a CAS professor of economics and director of the BU Institute for Economic Development, speakers included Abhijit V. Banerjee, a Ford Foundation international professor of economics and director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT; Mark Rosenzweig, a Frank Altschul professor of international economics and director of the Economic Growth Center at Yale University; and Asim Ijaz Khwaja, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Panel members discussed the impact of development interventions and highlighted the need for deeper and more systematic enquiries on the matter.

      Sponsored by the BU Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, in collaboration with the BU Global Development Program, the conference was organized by Mookherjee, Kevin Gallagher, a CAS associate professor of international relations, Jonathon Simon, an SPH professor of international health and director of the BU Center for Global Health & Development, and Adil Najam, a CAS professor of international relations and director of the Pardee Center. Panel leaders discussed everything from global development policy to local programs that deliver education, health, and poverty alleviation services to rural villages in Africa and Asia.

      Hosted by the Pardee Center for the Study of Longer-Range Future, in conjunction with the Boston University Global Development Program, on March 31, 2011.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Investing in Green Economic Growth

      A report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP), indicates that a relatively small investment by governments can go a long way towards helping the green economy to grow. According to Pavan Sukhdev, head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative:

      "Governments have a central role in changing laws and policies, and in investing public money in public wealth to make the transition possible. By doing so, they can also unleash the trillions of dollars of private capital in favor of a green economy."

      An investment of 2 percent of the global gross demestic product ($1.3 trillion), could generate momentum toward a low-carbon world. Investing in the greening of sectors such as construction, energy and fishing could jump start the new green economy.

      "Investing 2 per cent of global GDP into 10 key sectors can kick-start a transition toward a low-carbon world," the Nairobi-based agency said in a statement.

      Such investments would not slow the economy. The report indicates that this investment would grow the global economy at the same rate, or higher, then present economic policies. Greener policies would still grow economies while reducing the ecological footprint by nearly 50 percent in the next 40 years. Despite some job losses, investment in more sustainable jobs would offset losses.

      "The sum, currently amounting to an average of around $1.3 trillion a year and backed by forward-looking national and international policies, would grow the global economy at around the same rate if not higher than those forecast, under current economic models."

      The report said that ten sectors (agriculture, buildings, energy supply, fisheries, forestry, industry, tourism, transport, waste management and water) could all benefit the environment if they were more green.

      Left to purely market forces this transition would occur over time, however, the urgency of climate change demands immediate attention and these types of investments are the most productive way to spur the growth of the green economy.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Friday, June 24, 2011

      Economic Development is the Only Way Forward

      Some of the most passionate supporters of the environment argue that we cannot make the necessary changes within the current consumer oriented capitalist system. They point to the fact that growth in the 20th century was all about resource depletion.

      Economic growth is not an end, but rather a means to an end. Because economic growth is premised on the concept of increasing quantity, it may be more productive to frame the issue in terms of economic development. Economic development looks at growth as a means of achieving a higher level of individual and societal well-being. While economic growth is about quantity, economic development is about quality. A well developed economy is one that meets people's needs and provides well-being for everyone.

      Economic development is based on the collective good which is ultimately about creating more value per person.

      UNEP's Executive Director Achim Steiner said in the statement: "With 2.5 billion people living on less than two dollars a day and with more than two billion people being added to the global population by 2050, it is clear that we must continue to develop and grow our economies. But this development cannot come at the expense of the very life support systems on land, in the oceans or in our atmosphere."

      Growth and resource depletion are not inexorably linked and given the urgency, the green economy is the only solution we have of capable of addressing the environmental and social threats we face.

      We simply do not have time to rebuild society anew, nor is it reasonable to wipe the slate clean. In the form of economic development, growth can serve the earth and its inhabitants. However future growth will not be based on wanton resource depletion, it will be about increased efficiency and productivity.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      The Cycle of Climate Change Acceptance

      Like all major socio-economic revolutions the acceptance of climate change takes time. Although reluctance to fully engage the battle against climate change may seem painfully slow, it is consistent with the theoretical stages in what is known as the cycle of acceptance.

      The popular attitude towards climate change, must go through various stages before the bitter truth can be inculcated into the public psyche.

      Organizations and individuals who are confronted with facts about global warming have been thrown into a cycle of acceptance. The stages in the process of acceptance are part of a well known process first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The Kübler-Ross Model is commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, it is also referred to as the Cycle of Acceptance. In essence it involves 5 steps:

      1. Denial
      2. Anger
      3. Depression
      4. Bargaining
      5. Acceptance

      Denial, although a waste of valuable time, is the first step on the road to acceptance. Over the last couple of years we have seen a lot of denial and anger surrounding the issue of climate change, but there are indications that we may be moving towards acceptance.

      People are at different stages when it comes to climate change. While some are still stuck in the denial phase, there are others who feel hopeless and depressed due to the slow acceptance of climate change in North America. While many polls indicate that American support for climate change declined in 2009 and 2010 there may be a positive trend beginning to develop in 2011.

      Popular support for the issue of combating global warming has languished over the last couple of years, however, according to a May 2011 Yale Survey titled Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies, an increasing number of Americans now believe that tackling climate change should be a national priority.

      We are currently experiencing an upswing in a cycle that will entrench environmental issues into the popular psyche.

      The Pembina Institute provides policy research leadership and education on climate change and energy issues. Clare Demerse, acting director for climate change at the Pembina Institute’s Ottawa offices, believes it’s only a matter of time before we are all talking about global warming.

      “All issues go through a cycle where they are at top and then fall off and that’s where we are now. It will be back up there again.”

      However, the amount of time it takes a person or an organization to complete the cycle of acceptance is critical. The longer they take to come to the stage of acceptance, the less likely they are to ever fully complete the cycle, and the less likely they are to make the difficult decisions to deal with the problem wisely.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Belief in Global Warming is Tied to the Economy

      It would appear Americans are victims of the false choice between the economy and the environment. As the economy was ravaged by the recession, polls indicate that American support for climate change declined.

      Over the last couple of years, when Gallup asks Americans about top problems facing the county, the economy is always at or near the top of the list, while environment is rarely among the top five concerns.

      According to a May 2011 Yale Survey titled Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies.When compared to 2008, public support for efforts to combat climate change waned in 2009 and 2010.

      This finding confirmed an April 2011 study from Brookings which compared American and Canadian views on climate change. The study found that American belief in climate change declined in lock step with the shrinking economy between 2008 and 2010.

      During the same period, Canadians support for efforts to combat climate change did not erode as much as Americans. The fact that the recession did not hit Canada as hard as it hit America is consistent with the hypothesis that economic difficulties trump environmental concerns.

      Predictably, Republicans are much more likely then either Democrats or Independents, to choose the economy over the environment.

      Thanks in part to Republican misinformation, popular support for the issue of combating global warming has languished over the last couple of years. However, as we emerge from recession the Yale Survey indicates that a small but increasing number of Americans now believe that tackling climate change should be a national priority.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      The False Choice Between the Economy and the Environment

      In debates on the issue of climate change we are often asked to make a false choice between the environment and the economy. However, an intelligent discussion of climate change cannot be framed as a choice between the environment and the economy.

      The rise of sustainable business is making it abundantly clear that we can have it both ways. Businesses are adopting new models that both contribute to the economy while minimizing their environmental footprints.

      According to a May 2011 Yale Survey, 56% of Americans now believe that protecting the environment improves economic growth and provides new jobs.

      Previous polemics argued that you can either have the economy or the environment. Contemporary wisdom reveals that you can have both.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      TerraCycle Reach a Major Milestone in Non-Recyclable Waste Diversion

      TerraCycle is a winning combination of environmentalism and free enterprise. The company has succeeded in diverting one million non-recyclable packages from landfills. TerraCycle is a company with a mission to "Eliminate the Idea of Waste®" by creating sustainable collection systems and end of life solutions for non-recyclable packaging and products.

      TerraCycle created a free nationwide collection program in Canada that enabless consumers to raise money for their schools and communities by collecting material like drink pouches, cookie wrappers, yogurt pots, sandwich bags and candy wrappers. For every piece of waste collected, they donate 2 cents to a school or charity of choice.

      TerraCycle was founded in the US by Toronto native Tom Szaky. After winning countless business plan contests, Tom dropped out of Princeton to pursue his dream of founding the world’s most environmentally friendly company. Seven years later, TerraCycle’s eco-friendly products have received a myriad of social and environmental accolades and are sold at major retailers like The Home Depot, Wal*Mart and Whole Foods Markets.

      TerraCycle’s business plan and products made from waste received a Zerofootprint Seal of Approval, won The Home Depot’s Environmental Stewardship Award twice and recently won the 2007 Social Venture Network Innovation Award. Kool Aid has also offered their support for TerraCycle’s Drink Pouch Brigades and encourages recycling and upcycling of drink pouches.

      As indicated in a recent company press release, the Canadian recycling brigade has reached a major milestone. On June 3rd 2011, the company reported that they had succeeded in diverting one million drink pouches. The ubiquitous drink pouches cannot be recycled through traditional programs. In the process of collecting these waste materials, TerraCycle has contributed over $20,000 to schools and non-profits.

      Over 2,700 schools, non-profits and community groups have joined together across Canada to help collect the one million pieces of waste. Students, teachers and community members from communities across Canada are working together to help TerraCycle give new life to waste.

      “It gives the students a chance to participate and see results for their actions. We can collect waste and get paid for it,” says Sandra Ross, parent volunteer at William S. Patterson P.S. in Clandeboye, Manitoba.

      The collected material will be repurposed into a variety of environmentally responsible products ranging from pencil cases and tote bags to storage containers and park benches. Thier eco-friendly consumer products should be in stores within the next 6 to 12 months.

      To mark the milestone of one million pouches collected, TerraCycle held an assembly and unveiled a special recycled prize at Dixon Grove Public School, in Toronto. The school is one of the country’s top collectors and a shining example of environmental commitment.

      Their non-recylcable waste program not only diverts packaging from landfills, it engages students and adults in a fun, hands-on activity to encourage them to be more concerned about resource conservation and recycling.

      TerraCycle has an innovative business model that should cause entrepreneurs and established businesses to stand up and take notice.

      For more information go to the TerraCycle site.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Canadian Global Warming Denial from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

      Like Americans, Canadians are influenced by climate denial groups posing as think tanks. Peter Holle is the founding president of one such climate-denying think tank known as the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. This Winnipeg-based group is behind a series of ridiculous assertions related to energy and climate change.

      Americans have powerful misinformation networks like the Heritage Foundation and the Mercantus Center. Canadians have the Frontier Centre for Public Policy which describes itself as an independent public policy think tank whose mission is "to broaden the debate on our future through public policy research and education and to explore positive changes within our public institutions that support economic growth and opportunity."

      This so called "think tank" is really a made in Canada propaganda machine that takes a strongly cynical stance on the science supporting global warming.

      One of Holle's paradoxical beliefs include the notion that first-hand extreme weather experiences make Canadians skeptical about global warming. Another one of Holle's bizarre beliefs is that “carbon dioxide is not the pollutant source of global warming.”

      Holle discredits the wealth of scientific research supporting the anthropogenic origins of climate change. He ignores mainstream science that contradicts his views and recruits scientists who argue that cooling and warming cycles are part of the earth’s normal pattern.

      Sadly, a minority of Canadians continue to fall for the well used lie that human activity is not behind global warming.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Canadians Support Efforts to Combat Climate Change

      Unlike their Conservative federal leadership, Canadians support efforts on climate change. According to a joint study released in April 2011, Canadians are more likely to believe in the veracity of climate change then Americans.

      The study also found Canadians are more willing than their friends to the south to pay for energy from renewable sources. A majority of Canadians said they would support a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, even if it came with a cost of $50 per month in energy expenses.

      A report from the Conference Board of Canada indicated that the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government spend a lot money trying to understand the implications of climate change. However, they are inefficient and there is a striking lack of coordination.

      The report suggests that Canadians need a carbon pricing scheme like those in place in BC and Quebec.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      Canadian Conservative Government Rejects Kyoto

      Canada's newly reelected Conservative government has confirmed that it will not support an extension of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions after 2012. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper had already announced his government would not meet the binding emissions cuts it committed to under the first round of Kyoto.

      The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The Kyoto Protocol contains key rules to quantify and monitor efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and important market-based mechanisms that enable cost-effective mitigation.

      Harper has opted to renege on Kyoto even though the International Energy Agency found that found fossil fuel emissions hit record highs last year, topping 30 gigatons, (about 5 percent more than the previous record set in 2008).

      Ottawa, joined the US, Russia and Japan in rejecting an extension of the international agreement at the UN preparatory climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

      Buoyed by their recent election victory, Conservatives can be expected to exploit the tar sands and do as little as possible on the environmental front.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Post COP15

      Progress at the Bonn Climate Talks and Hopes for COP17

      Climate talks wrapped up in Bonn on Friday June 17 ahead of the seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP17) which will take place later this year in Durban, South Africa.

      Before the climate talks in Bonn, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) encouraged countries to come together: "No nation will solve climate change alone. And no nation is alone in feeling its impacts. We're only a few days away now from the mid-year climate negotiations and governments need to pick up speed."

      After the Bonn talks, Figueres indicated that she is optimisitic that countries will make progress on a wide range of issues at COP17. These issues include the Kyoto Protocol, global mitigation framework, the Adaptation Committee, the Green Climate Fund, funding, and the Technology Mechanism.

      She reiterated the importance of the link between negotiations on mitigation under the UN Climate Change Convention and mitigation under the Kyoto Protocol. As explained by Figueres, the Kyoto Protocol contains key rules to quantify and monitor efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and important market-based mechanisms that enable cost-effective mitigation. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 192 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments.

      Figueres pointed to progress on the Adaptation Committee and the Technology Mechanism that will boost global clean technology cooperation. “Strong convergence has emerged on how the Adaptation Committee will be governed, what its composition will be and what its specific role will be,” Figueres said. “This progress means that the Committee could be fully operationalized at Durban."

      The Bonn talks also made progress on the Technology Mechanism which will include a Climate Technology Centre and Network which will operate with the strong involvement of the global clean technology stakeholder community. Participants also discussed the effects of implementing mitigation measures including economic transition and diversification, along with health and trade-related issues.

      Figueres said the Bonn session included discussions on the design of the Green Climate Fund, as well as identification of sources for long-term funding. Another meeting related to the Green Climate Fund will take place in Tokyo in July.

      Other meetings are also planned to help pave the way for progress at COP17. A ministerial conference is planned for 2 to 3 July in Berlin. The leaderships of South African and Mexico are planning to meet with Heads of State and Governments at the UN General Assembly in New York in September and ministers are scheduled to meet approximately one month ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in South Africa.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Sunday, June 19, 2011

      Hope in the Face of the Fastest Ever Rise in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

      Despite 20 years of climate negotiations global warming causing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from energy are now rising at record setting levels. As reported in the Guardian, UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, indicated that we are experiencing the fastest-ever rise in greenhouse gas emissions, but she added that the data should not lead people to believe that the problem is impossible to tackle.

      "This is the inconvenient truth of where human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are projected to go without much stronger international action now and into the future." But Figueres added, "I won't hear that this is impossible. Governments must make it possible for society, business and science to get this job done."

      Estimates from the International Energy Agency, reveal that despite government policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gases the 2010, global emissions from energy were 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, compared with 29Gt in 2009 and 29.3Gt in 2008.

      Three quarters of the emissions rise came from developing countries, with a quarter from the developed world. Although most of the record rise in emissions came from rapidly emerging economies, including China, there is growing evidence that the west has "exported" billions of tonnes of its emissions by relying on imports from the developing world.

      The developing world is simply using the developed world for more of its energy intensive manufacturing. This is the finding in research being conducted by Sir David King, director of the Smith School of Enterprise at the University of Oxford and former chief scientific advisor to the UK government. Similar results were also revealed in studies from the Carbon Trust and others.

      Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA and one of the world's foremost experts on energy and climate, said: "Unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to achieve the global goal agreed [at the last UN climate change conference in December] in Cancún."

      Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate chief, said: "One wonders how many more worrying figures the world needs. The promises of world leaders at Copenhagen and Cancún to stay below 2C of warming need urgently to be followed by more action."

      Hedegaard said the EU had put in place strong policies that had reduced emissions, and said other countries should follow. In 2008-10, emissions from EU heavy industry fell by more than 8%, in part owing to the recession and in part to climate policies. Hedegaard said: "We in Europe have specific policies, binding targets and a price on carbon. Europe has committed to an ambitious agenda of climate action. We look to our partners to do likewise.''

      Hedegaard insisted there were reasons to be optimistic, "Countries, including the biggest economies, are moving forward with new policies that promote low-carbon prosperous growth, even if they don't always attach climate labels to these policies. And the private sector continues to increase its investment in low-carbon business and renewable energy and wants to do more."

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Video: Bonn Climate Change Conference June 2011



      UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres provides some of the highlights from the June 2011 Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. This video was recorded on the final day of the UN Climate Change Conference. Figueres indicates that it is important to resolve the future of the Kyoto Protocol which is fundamental and critical for at least two reasons 1) It contains the key rules to quantify monitor the mitigation efforts of countries. 2) It also contains important market based mechanisms that allows those countries to reach their mitigation levels in a cost effective manner.

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      Saturday, June 18, 2011

      SolarDay 2011

      SolarDay takes place on Saturday June 18 in Canada, the US and the UK (November 19 in Australia). This is the third annual SolarDay event, it celebrates solar energy and its capacity to help protect the planet from global warming. SolarDay includes events by cities, non-profits, companies and the solar industry.

      SolarDay 2010 events were held in 26 US cities and included municipal proclamations declaring an Official SolarDay. One 2011 SolarDay event in New Orleans involved multiple non-profit organizations working in concert with the city.

      Members of the U.S. Congress Supporting SolarDay 2011 include California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Congresswoman Doris Matsui is also supporting SolarDay with letters on the SolarDay website to encourage public participation and awareness of how solar energy can reduce monthly energy bills - while provided much-need "green" jobs for the US economy.

      Event organizers see solar as the next step in the "Greening of America" movement that includes driving a hybrid car, shopping for organic and sustainably-farmed foods, doing business with green companies, recycling, saving energy and avoiding, as much as possible the burning of finite and polluting fossil fuels that play a significant role in the production of greenhouse gases and global warming.

      Costly fossil fuels are a finite resource that threaten the planet and all its inhabitants. By some estimates, we have 50 years of oil reserves, 200 years of coal reserves and at least 5 billion years of solar energy. It is clear that our energy future is dependent upon the renewable energy we can harvest from the sun.

      For more information, or to find local events in your area, visit the SolarDay site.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Electric Vehicles Create Jobs

      Electric vehicles (EVs) are reducing emissions and creating sustainable jobs. EV technology is steadily improving and consumer interest is growing. While EVs create jobs, combustion engine vehicles contribute to global warming and America's dependence on foreign oil.

      The Chevrolet Volt is an example of a hybrid electric car that is providing new jobs. In the past year, GM has invested nearly $1 billion in electric vehicles. The car maker is also investing $270 million on an electric motor plant near Baltimore, Md. The project will create more than 200 blue-collar and managerial positions, along with hundreds more assembly line jobs when the plant starts production.

      Mike Robinson, GM's vice president for environment, energy and safety policy, expects the new plant will be a job engine for many years to come.

      "This is the wave of the future. And we expect that plant is going to produce 40,000 or so electric motors for us by 2013," Robinson says. "And we do think this is a long-term bet that makes sense, and we expect market volumes will support that kind production."

      Other car makers are also involved in the EV market including Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda. Industry analysts predict there could be as many as 1.5 million electric cars on US roads by 2015.

      While the price of electricity is relatively stable, gas prices are volatile. Auto industry analyst George Magliano, of IHS Global Insight thinks that green technology will boost economic growth and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

      EVs create American jobs which is why President Obama has pledged that America will have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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      Thursday, June 16, 2011

      Study Finds EVs Better than a Renewable Energy Standard

      According to research conducted by Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, EVs are better than a national renewable energy standard at reducing emissions and cutting oil imports. The study shows that replacing fossil fuel powered cars with EVs in the US would have a better result than imposing renewable energy quotas.

      The study says: “The single most effective way to reduce US oil demand and foreign imports would be an aggressive campaign to launch electric vehicles into the automotive fleet.”

      The US Carbon Management Policy study concludes that if 30 percent of all vehicles were electric by 2050, that would cut US oil use by 2.5 million barrels a day and cut emissions by 7 percent. A national mandate for renewable energy would cut emissions by only half that amount (4%) over the same period.

      This Research also found that a carbon tax would actually end up being more costly in the long run and would not impact oil imports in any significant way.

      Government support for EVs is important and so is renewable energy to power those cars. However, renewable energy is not a panacea in the short term. As we transition to green energy, renewables can operate alongside cleaner fossil fuels like natural gas. We can also achieve reduced energy demand through greater reliance on public transportation and more efficient building practices including retrofits.

      © 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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