Tuesday, December 16, 2008

U.S. Needs $500 Billion Clean Tech Investment, 5 Million Green Jobs: Report

By GreenBiz Staff
Published December 9, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- A new plan for reviving and strengthening the U.S. economy calls for an investment of $500 billion over 10 years on a range of energy, education, construction, building and manufacturing programs that would create 5 million jobs.

The New Apollo Program is the creation of the Apollo Alliance, a coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders promoting clean energy, energy efficiency and green jobs.

The five sections of the program include numerous recommendations, ranging from expanding and continuing existing programs to developing new funds and systems for cutting carbon. An underlying theme throughout the plan is improving conditions in the U.S. though better infrastructure, education and good jobs.

Rebuild America Clean and Green

The Alliance calls for a national commitment to reduce energy use in new and existing buildings by at least 30 percent by 2025. A proposed Energy Smart Fund would funnel grants to state and local entities to provide energy services and financing.

The plan also includes producing 25 percent of the country's power from renewable and recycled energy sources by 2025, and improving the energy efficiency of existing power plants and industries by 20 percent - primarily through combined heat and power systems - by that same year.

Additional measures include connecting neighborhoods and cities with improved transit systems, enhancing transportation infrastructure by first fixing it instead of expanding it, using smart grid technology to manage power better, extending tax credits related to renewable energy and investing in carbon capture and storage.

Make It in America

As the market for renewable power and alternative vehicles increases, more jobs will be needed to build and maintain new energy systems. Manufacturing in the U.S. will create jobs and increase our energy security, the Alliance argues.

To do that, the federal government needs to provide funding for the auto industry to retool manufacturing plants and create highly-efficient vehicles, The New Apollo Program says. It also calls for consumer rebates and incentives to help people purchase efficient vehicles and tax credits for fueling stations to expand the availability of cellulosic ethanol, sustainably-produced biodiesel and other low-carbon fuels.

Restore America's Technological Leadership

In 1979, public investment in energy-related research and development was at $7.8 billion in today's dollars. Now it's at $4 billion.

The New Apollo Program recommends doubling the national investment in clean tech R&D, with a focus on advanced energy storage systems for improved grid management, smart grid technologies to reduce peak energy demand, nanotechnology and advanced materials science for new solar cells and ultra-light wind-turbines, the widespread introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicles, and advanced cellulosic ethanol and sustainable biodiesel production.

A National Energy Innovation Fund would invest in the most promising technologies coming out of the U.S.

Tap the Productivity of the American People

To achieve all of the above, the U.S. is going to need people making solar panels, installing wind turbines, monitoring the grid, maintaining electric cars and researching new fuels.

To achieve that, the Alliance says the U.S. should expand the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce Training Program created in last year's energy bill, provide funding specifically for providing green career training for people living in poverty, double federal support for national service programs and award 100,000 Clean Energy Tomorrow scholarships each year to students pursuing undergraduate degrees in science, math or engineering.

Reinvest in America

Lastly, to help fund many of the new efforts, the program includes a federal "cap and invest" system that would create a cap on carbon emissions, allow allowances to be traded and invest proceeds back into energy efficiency, renewables, transit, transportation and green jobs programs

Report: Stimulus plan could be $1 trillion

Washington -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is considering a far bigger economic stimulus plan than before as job losses mount and the economy deteriorates, sources say.

Obama aides and advisers now see $600 billion spent on stimulus measures over a two-year period as "a very low-end estimate," with a final number likely to be between $700 billion and $1 trillion, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The U.S. unemployment rate is expected to hit 9 percent soon without aggressive intervention, officials say. That has prompted Obama's transition team to think bigger on a stimulus plan, with sources saying his economists have staked out $600 billion in the first year and $300 billion to $600 billion in the second, depending on economic conditions in 2010.

Transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told the Journal that no decisions have been made on the size of the stimulus plan, saying, "Any speculation on size or scope is premature at this time."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Getty Images file

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles took the spotlight at July's Plug-In Conference and
Exposition in San Jose, Calif. How much will plug-ins change the energy game?

If the plans being laid for the economy and the environment work out the way President-elect Barack Obama's advisers hope they do, the future of energy can be summed up in one word: electricity.

That one word covers a lot of policy twists, however: What will the economic downturn mean for initiatives to cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions? What will the recent drop in gasoline prices mean for efforts to boost alternatives to fossil fuels? Can the electrical grid handle increased demand? How do you smooth out the highs and lows of power generation? Where will all that power come from?

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has repeatedly cited a catalog of challenges for future energy policy, ranging from the global supply-and-demand imbalance to climate change and the threat from "petro-dictatorships." Some people might look at that list and conclude that "we're cooked ... we're completely fried," Friedman said during a conference sponsored last week by the Center for American Progress, Washington's most Obama-centric think tank.

"That's one way to look at that list," Friedman continued. "I look at it the way John Gardner looked at a similar list - and he said, 'That list? That's a list of incredible opportunities masquerading as insoluble problems.'"

That reflects the thinking of Obama's top advisers on energy and environmental policy, who would make "green infrastructure" a top target for next year's economic stimulus. Based on statements made during the campaign as well as afterward, they see energy innovation as a key economic driver as well as a way out of the climate-change mess. full story

Iceland harnesses green energy for heat, power

By Jon Frankel

Reykjavik, Iceland - Imagine an entire nation dependent on something other than oil for its energy. It's cheap. There's plenty of it. And it means never worrying about instability half a world away.

But to find it, you have to go to Iceland — a country better known for its glaciers and booming fishing industry than leading the world in energy.

Here, it's all about hydrogen and geothermal technology.full story

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fun Quizzes for Greens and Not-So-Greens Alike

How Well Do You Know Your Planet?Take Our Odd Earth Facts Environmental Quiz and Find Out click here for quiz

Interest is churning for hydroelectric power

HAMILTON, Ohio - Many decades ago, cost-conscious Henry Ford turned to hydroelectric plants to power his car factories like the one by the Great Miami River, near this Cincinnati suburb. That assembly plant is long gone, but the power plant and the technology behind it isn't.

Far from it. The push to get electricity from moving water is only picking up steam.

There is mounting political pressure to get more energy from alternative sources and developers are pushing ambitious projects to exploit America's biggest rivers for power. full story

Monday, December 8, 2008

Latest Photo

December 08, 2008
Washington United States
Greenpeace activists protest at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2008. Activists presented themselves in prison jumpsuits calling for the end to the political persecution of Greenpeace anti-whaling activists, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, who have been detained for 172 days after exposing the embezzlement of whale meat from the taxpayer-funded whaling fleet.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers