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Redirecting Anti-Wind Energy

Individuals, communities and politicians can turn a debate stalemate into an opportunity for collaboration.

By Susan Holtz, published originally in Alternatives Journal, September, 2013

DURING THE LAST 10 YEARS in Canada, as well as elsewhere in North America and other parts of the world, proposed wind energy projects have spawned fierce opposition and intense controversy. It’s not headline news when members of the public react against possible changes to their neighbourhoods. But many energy and environmental analysts, who see a switch to renewable energy as long overdue, have been dismayed by this hostility to a source of electricity that they see as much more benign in its environmental and health impacts than the coal, nuclear or even gas-fired electricity generation it displaces.

Opposition is so determined that members of one anti-wind group in Ontario have initiated a lawsuit against their neighbours who have signed contracts to host wind turbines on their properties. Some on both sides even fear physical violence is a possibility; there was, for instance, an anonymous notice in a local newspaper threatening that any farmer’s field with a wind turbine would be “subject to having foreign materials placed in the crops that would seriously damage harvesting equipment.” And the rage and vitriol expressed in information sessions for wind projects, in social media and in letters to newspapers have grown all too common.

This negative reaction is not universal. Even in Ontario, where opposition is strong and well-organized, a representative of the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CANWEA) noted in a personal interview that many wind farms have gone forward with little conflict. In fact, an Oracle Research poll in January 2013 found that 69 per cent of Ontarians agreed that “Ontario should be a leader in wind and solar energy production.”

Another survey in British Columbia determined that 76 per cent of respondents believed that wind energy should be further developed in that province. And in countries like Denmark and Germany, the widespread introduction of wind — beginning decades ago— has met with general public acceptance. Indeed, a 2009 draft report by Brendan Haley of the Carleton University School of Public Policy and Administration, entitled “The Social Implications of Nova Scotia Renewable Energy Scenarios,” described the public response to wind projects as typically U-shaped. There is often initial local enthusiasm when a project is announced, followed by increasing concern and opposition during planning and construction, and eventually by acceptance after operations begin and people become used to the new facility.

So if there’s broad support for wind and other renewable energy sources, what fuels such vehement opposition from local groups and some large provincial organizations? MORE

Electricity exports continue to generate revenue

Ontario's electricity market generated over $20 million in April by exporting electricity to other states and provinces, bringing total net export revenues to over $75 million this year.

This revenue can help Ontario families keep costs down on power and build and maintain a clean, reliable and modern electricity system.

Ontario is part of an interconnected North American power grid that allows the province to buy and sell electricity with states and other provinces. Being interconnected gives the province the opportunity to export power when it's not needed by Ontario families and businesses and benefit from these revenues. MORE

Algal biofuels beat diesel on greenhouse emissions

algal biofuelsProducing "green" electricity is relatively easy but finding an alternative fuel to keep planes in the sky, and cars, buses and trains on the move, is proving more of a challenge. Algal biofuels could be part of the solution; a new study assesses how much energy they could save.

Petrol, diesel and kerosene are the ultimate high-density liquid fuels. Finding a green alternative that is capable of getting an airbus across the Atlantic, or achieving "50 miles to the gallon" in your car, is no easy task. Biofuels are one of the best solutions to date but a large-scale switch to biofuels would require billions of acres of land to grow the relevant grasses, grains and trees, putting pressure on global food production, or eating into pristine tropical rainforest.

Algal biofuels have been touted as an attractive alternative because they have the potential to produce large yields per acre compared to conventional biofuel crops. As yet algal biofuels only exist in concept, but many research groups are investigating a viable production process. MORE


red dotAt least 10 more years of R&D needed, but algae biofuels could be major contributor (particularly for jet fuel): study


Wireless EV Charging Could Be Embedded in Highways

Stanford University researchers are working on a wireless EV charging technology that could eventually lead to highways that automatically charge vehicles as they drive over them. Such a technology could lead to a basically infinite range for EVs.

The wireless power transfer that the scientists are working on uses magnetic resonance coupling. Two copper coils are placed a few feet apart and tuned to resonate at the same frequency. One coil is connected to an electric current that generates a magnetic field that causes the other coil to resonate. This process leads to an electric current being transferred invisibly from the first coil to the second.

Previous studies have found the technology to be safe. The current is only transferred between the two in-tune resonators. People or objects standing near or between the coils would not be affected at all and even with obstacles in between, the two coils will still transfer the current without interruption. MORE


green_building savings


Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field

Methane leaks during production may offset climate benefits of natural gas.

methane diagramWhen US government scientists began sampling the air from a tower north of Denver, Colorado, they expected urban smo—but not strong whiffs of what looked like natural gas. They eventually linked the mysterious pollution to a nearby natural-gas field, and their investigation has now produced the first hard evidence that the cleanest-burning fossil fuel might not be much better than coal when it comes to climate change.

Led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado, Boulder, the study estimates that natural-gas producers in an area known as the Denver-Julesburg Basin are losing about 4% of their gas to the atmosphere—not including additional losses in the pipeline and distribution system. This is more than double the official inventory, but roughly in line with estimates made in 2011 that have been challenged by industry. And because methane is some 25 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, releases of that magnitude could effectively offset the environmental edge that natural gas is said to enjoy over other fossil fuels.

“If we want natural gas to be the cleanest fossil fuel source, methane emissions have to be reduced,” says Gabrielle Pétron, an atmospheric scientist at NOAA and at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and first author on the study, currently in press at the Journal of Geophysical Research. Emissions will vary depending on the site, but Pétron sees no reason to think that this particular basin is unique. “I think we seriously need to look at natural-gas operations on the national scale.” MORE

Developing Renewable Energy Resources of Landfill Gas


Landfills are a necessary component of contemporary life. According to the US EPA, the average person in the U.S. produces nearly 1,130 pounds (513 kilograms) of waste per year, and the vast majority of that ends up in landfills. Much of that trash decomposes, and releases methane and CO2, both of which are greenhouse gasses. However, methane is also a gas which can be used as a fuel, and increasingly, landfills are beginning to realize this is an energy resource and are making use of it.

At present, landfill gas is the source of power for more than a million homes and of heat for over three-quarters of a million homes in the US. In addition, it is also provides fuel for natural gas-powered vehicles as well as power and heat for industrial process uses. Nearly 600 sites throughout the country are using the mathane from landfills to produce electricity, heat, proces energy, and even pipeline-quality natural gas and compressed and liquified natural gas for vehicle fuel.

Methane is 20 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas for trapping heat, and landfills are a major source of methane emissions. However, according to the EPA, 60 to 90 percent of the methane produced by a landfill is captured by a typical landfill gas energy project.

Capturing and using the methane from landfills serves the dual purpose of keeping these greenhouse gasses from directly entering the atmosphere and providing an alternative to fossil fuels. These programs have been encouraged through tax credits and grants as well as by the renewable energy portfolio standards many states are adopting for their public utilities.MORE


red dotLandfill Gas


300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds

Thorium as a future energy resource, and the machine to extract that energy—the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor.

Kirk Sorensen shows us the liquid fuel thorium reactor -- a way to produce energy that is safer, cleaner and more efficient than current nuclear power.

Kirk Sorensen stumbled across thorium while doing research on how to power a lunar community. Thorium is a cleaner, safer, and more abundant nuclear fuel -- one that Kirk believes will revolutionize how we produce our energy. MORE


video Kirk Sorensen: Thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel


Space Lasers! (for Clean Energy, Obviously)

space  lasersOrbiting solar power stations have been a continuous source of debate for decades —someone always brings up the idea of power plants IN SPACE and it always gets shot down as being unfeasible. (What's not realistic about having energy beamed down from space? Come on.) But because Star Trek has been part of our collective consciousness for the past 50 years (or maybe it's just me), someone always goes back to the idea of space lasers providing clean energy.

Same Idea—But Now It Might Work

What makes this current wave of theorizing and testing any different from the last? Perhaps nothing —but there is that project going on at Kyoto University, and they're not the only ones. A 248-page peer reviewed report put together by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) concluded that it's possible. Barely.

As time goes on, development continues —we may have the technology today that we didn't have 40 years ago to make the idea of a giant orbiting platform in space to beam abundant solar energy toward the planet's surface worth the cost. There is no energy source more reliable than the sun —if that starts going, we've got bigger problems than carbon dioxide emissions. MORE


TED TALKS: Bilal Boman—Plant fuels that could power a jet

Algae plus salt water equals...fuel? At TEDxNASA@SiliconValley, Bilal Bomani reveals a self-sustaining ecosystem that produces biofuels -- without wasting arable land or fresh water.

As a senior NASA scientist, Bilal Bomani focuses on developing new and truly sustainable biofuels. After receiving two masters degrees from Cleveland State University, he earned his PhD in computer engineering from Case Western University. He currently runs the Greenlab Research Facility in Cleveland, Ohio, where he works on creating biofuels that don't use freshwater, and meet his definition of green: sustainable, renewable and alternative.

Switch off the lights, here comes the sun

how to get sunlight into a building

For those of us who spend most of our days under the alien glow of the artificial light that illuminates most large buildings, a brighter future may be at hand.

Technology being commercialized in British Columbia aims to transform building interiors -- providing practical, affordable illumination by harnessing the natural light of the sun. It's light that will be brighter, more attractive, less expensive and more sustainable than electric light, according to Tony Formby.

Mr. Formby is president of SunCentral Inc., a company developing technology based on breakthroughs made by University of British Columbia physics professor Lorne Whitehead. That technology uses computerized collector panels located on the sun-facing exterior walls of buildings to gather and concentrate sunlight, which is transported and dispersed inside the building by special light guides.

Dr. Whitehead, who holds more than 100 patents, first began dreaming about piping sunlight into buildings in 1978 when he was a graduate student working in a windowless laboratory. His interest in the quality of light had been piqued by a stint helping out with theatre lighting, and he recalls thinking, “Wouldn't it be great if it were practical to bring sunlight indoors?” MORE



Solar power affordability drives development

The falling prices of technology associated with solar power are opening up the possibility of shifting away from fossil fuels for millions across the developing world. About 1.3 billion people worldwide are without steady access to an affordable power source. Richenda Van Leeuwen, senior director for Energy and Climate at the United Nations Foundation, said, "This sector has exploded. There's been a sea change in the last five years."

red dotIn the Developing World, Solar Is Cheaper than Fossil Fuels

Advances are opening solar to the 1.3 billion people who don't have access to grid electricity.


Marnoch Thermal Power: a new type of heat engine for tapping into lower temperatures

Marnoch thermal powerThe Geological Survey of Canada put out a research paper in 2010 that concluded the country has enough geothermal heat to power itself many times over.

The big question is how much of that heat can be economically tapped?

As a general rule, the hotter and shallower the resource the more economical it is to exploit based on current technologies. The higher the temperature the easier it is to extract the volume of heat required to spin a turbine and generate electricity.

But there aren't many places in Canada, beyond northern B.C., Alberta and the Yukon, that have that right combination of temperature and depth. Everywhere else, you'll have to drill deep—as much as 10 kilometres down—to find enough heat. That's a deal-breaker with respect to cost and risk.

It's also a nut Ian Marnoch of Port Severn, Ont., is trying to crack. For the past seven years the Ontario inventor has been developing a new kind of “heat engine” that he says can generate electricity more economically from lower-grade heat. And that heat could come from anywhere: the ground, the sun, or an industrial waste process. MORE

IBM Develops a Lithium-Air Battery With a 500-Mile Range for Electric Cars

IBM lithium battery

Electric-vehicles can be much better for the environment—and they're geekier—because you're driving with pure energy. The biggest downside right now is that energy does not last very long with the smallish capacitance of lithium-ion car batteries that you have to charge overnight.

IBM is onto what it thinks is a breakthrough lithium-air battery that can theoretically store 1,000 times more energy than today's lithium ion battery. The huge jump in energy density could effectively quintuple your electric vehicle's range from 100 miles to 500 miles. Imagine a Nissan Leaf that can go 500 miles instead of 100 miles, or a Tesla Roadster that can go 125 miles per hour for more than 600 miles.

Unlike the batteries we have used in the past (lead acid, nickel metal hydride, and so on), Li-air batteries don't use metal to conduct a charge. Instead, the energy flow is created from the air reacting with lithium ions and a carbon matrix. So while you drive, the battery literally breathes in air to produce more energy, which extends the range of a single charge. MORE


red dot"Powering" the Future of Transportation

red dotIBM Lithium-Air Battery Project Looks Promising

red dotIBM: Lithium air battery prototype in 2013, production in 2020



Renewable energy passes nuclear as U.S. power source

Renewable energy sources -- wind, water, solar and others -- passed nuclear generation as a share of U.S. power in September.Renewable energy sources -- wind, water, solar and others -- passed nuclear generation as a share of U.S. power in September, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In the EIA's latest report on energy sources and usage in the United States, which covers the nine months ended September, the nine-month total for both renewable production and consumption were higher than those for nuclear power.

Colorado has made a major move into alternative energy, particularly solar and wind. MORE


Renewables making inroads in emerging global energy mix

renewable energy iconRenewables are to be a significant pillar of the global energy balance of tomorrow. This is where the future lies, insist the green lobby, the environmentalists and indeed the peak oil pundits. Most agree, if this crude driven civilization has to keep making strides, then renewables have to make a bigger and significant contribution to the global energy mix over the next decades or so.

And the push is on. The march continues—all around the globe. By 2030, almost 15.7 percent of the world's energy will be coming from renewable sources. This is significant. And despite hiccups, global renewable spending is projected to hit the $7 trillion mark by then, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) says in a recently unveiled report. It predicts investments in the sector doubling from 2010's record-breaking $195 billion, to $395 billion in 2020, before reaching $460 billion in 2030.

And interestingly, the big winners in this march, over the next 20 years, are not to be the first world but the energy poor, renewable hubs of Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The report underlines that the flourishing economies of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa are set to see growth rates of installed renewable capacity of 10-18 percent a year over the period 2010 to 2020. MORE


Oil giants back Gateway pipe

Suncor EnergyFive oil sands companies have revealed themselves as supporters of the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, lending their names to a massive infrastructure proposal that has stirred intense opposition in Western Canada.

Cenovus Energy Inc., (CVE-T34.33-0.47-1.35%) MEG Energy Corp., (MEG-T42.04-0.29-0.69%) Nexen Inc., (NXY-T17.000.251.49%) Suncor Energy Marketing Inc., a subsidiary of Suncor Energy Inc., (SU-T31.450.451.45%) and Total E&P Canada, the domestic arm of French giant Total SA, have each spent money to help develop the $6.6-billion pipeline, which if built will funnel massive volumes of oil sands crude to the West Coast for export to California and Asia....

Opposition has also been swelling—more than 100 first nations groups in B.C. have categorically rejected the project. The prospect of bringing 525,000 barrels per day of oil to the coast, and importing a further 193,000 barrels of an oil-thinner called condensate, has stoked substantial concern among those who believe a spill will be environmentally catastrophic. Indeed, one letter to the NEB says the project will engender “ecocide.”

Resistance is especially strong among those who believe spills from Gateway will sully vital B.C. waters. And environmental groups have been eager to learn which corporations stand to profit from the project. MORE


red dotNew poll shows support for Northern Gateway pipeline in B.C.

Counters earlier survey that found opposition to transporting Alberta oil to Pacific port

red dotPipeline Inspector-Turned Whistleblower Calls Keystone XL a Potential "Disaster"



Ecocide law would be ‘game changer' for environment

Polly Higgins says a feasible amendment to international law could catapult global society into a sustainable future

Polly Higgins says a feasible amendment to international law could catapult global society into a sustainable future

Frustrated by a lack of progress at international climate change negotiations, lawyer Polly Higgins realised that a fundamental shift was needed in how we tackle the environmental crisis. And she realised it needs to happen quick.

Her solution is a new international law, which if implemented, would make damage and destruction of the environment a crime against peace. She's calling it the crime of ecocide.

“This is a real game changer,” says Polly, “it will shift the rules in a way that we can barely begin to imagine.”

The new law would result in government policy ushering companies causing large-scale habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, soil depletion, deforestation and the disruption of natural cycles, towards a new green economy. MORE


red dotPOSITIVE NEWS: Justice

See also our CLIMATE CHANGE section


Bucking Solar Predictions, India Surprises Itself

A worker prepares to clean panels at a solar power plant in Khadoda in Gujarat State.When the Indian government embarked on an ambitious solar power project two years ago, I wrote that its goals seemed farfetched. Since then, things have changed significantly, and as I note in Thursday's paper, analysts say the project's goal of having 20,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020 seems well within reach.

The main reason for the change is the striking drop in the global price for solar panels and modules. Another interesting factor in the fall in prices is an auction process that India adopted to force solar power producers to compete with one another. In one recently concluded auction, for instance, the prices at which developers agreed to sell power to the government were nearly 30 percent lower than a year earlier. More than 100 companies bid in the auction, including many that have never built a solar power park before.

It almost didn't happen that way.

Initially, Indian policy makers intended to buy solar power for the grid at a fixed and subsidized price of 15.4 rupees (29 cents) for a kilowatt hour. “The sense was that we will not get up to 1,000 megawatts and there will not be too many offers,” said Shyam Saran, a former Indian diplomat and energy policy maker.

But what the government found was that there was far more interest in providing solar power to India than it was willing to buy; 6,000 megawatts were offered when it was interested in buying just 1,000 megawatts. So it decided to set up a reverse auction in which developers would bid to sell power to a state-owned electric utility. MORE

In Germany, Renewable Energy Surpasses Nuclear and Coal Energy For First Time

wind turbineIn 2011, Germany finally saw their renewable energy production top that of almost all other sources of energy, including nuclear, hard-coal and gas-fired power plants. The only other energy generation source greater than the renewable energy mix was lignite-fired power.

According to a report from German utility BDEW, renewable energy accounted for 20 percent of the country's total energy output, up from 16.4 percent last year.  Lignite-fired output produced 24.6 percent of the electricity. MORE


ANALYSIS: 10 Electric Vehicle Trends to Watch in 2012

Nissan Leaf carYesterday, after nearly a year of waiting, I finally got to order my Nissan LEAF. It's the first affordable, plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) available to the masses. The Chevy Volt, while touted as an EV, is really a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). It still has a gas tank, an engine and an exhaust system.

I should receive my LEAF next March or April. It'll be the first one in my area, and one of the first in Pennsylvania.

In about a week or so, my “oil well” should be producing “oil” to fuel my LEAF. Translated, my 10-kilowatt (kW) solar panel array should be live, and connected to the grid.

The system has been finished for over two weeks, but I'm still not connected to the grid. My local power company is in no particular hurry to switch my service over and connect the panels.

I'm not surprised. Solar and wind power, and electric vehicles (EVs), have been less than enthusiastically received by the general public, and even less so by the electric utilities. MORE

ICT key to combat climate change, say experts

Information and communications technology NEW DELHI: Information and communications technology (ICT) can play a major role in combating climate change by encouraging adoption of green practices, experts said Thursday.

"ICT could help in combating climate change, by encouraging, adopting green practices and developing of more energy efficient devices, applications and networks. ICT can be a key enabler which can promote growth by a low carbon economy," said RK Pachauri, director-general of The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri).

Alberta lags on greenhouse gas targets, report says

missing the targetEDMONTON—An environmental think-tank says Alberta isn't even close to meeting its mandated targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but can still catch up with drastic action.

The Pembina Institute said in a report released Friday that the province is on track to achieve less than one-third of its stated goal of reducing emissions by 50 megatonnes by the end of the decade.

Co-author Simon Dyer said Alberta needs to move immediately by doubling its fee per tonne of pollutant to $30 from $15 for large emitters, and by imposing the fee on all pollution released, not just on a small portion of it.

Without a strong penalty, said Dyer, other climate-saving incentives and programs such as carbon offsets won't be attractive.

“We actually think if we had a stronger carbon price it would actually incent more real emission reductions on site and there would be less need for offsets,” said Dyer.

The think-tank made six recommendations on how the province could meet its targets. MORE

Canadian power plants most greenhouse gas intense in NAFTA: report

Nantikoke Power PlantAn international report has found that Canada's fossil fuel-powered generating plants average higher greenhouse gas emissions for the same amount of electricity than American or Mexican stations.

The figures, compiled by the commission that oversees the environmental portions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, found that Canadian plants release an average of 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for every megawatt-hour generated.

That compares with 0.8 tonnes for U.S. plants and less than 0.7 tonnes for those in Mexico.

"It's an issue that has to do with the plant age, the technology, the fuel," said Orlando Cabrera, one of the authors of the report for the Commission on Environmental Co-operation.

While the commission has released data on power generation in the three countries before, it's the first time the commission has compiled data on greenhouse gas efficiency. The report considers more than 3,100 fossil fuel-powered electricity generating plants using 2005 data—the latest available internationally comparable information.

However, the U.S. still generates far more greenhouse gas from electrical generation than either of its NAFTA partners. MORE

U.S. power grid needs cybersecurity protection: panel

An analyst looks at code in the malware lab of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011.(Reuters) - The threat of cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid should be dealt with by a single federal agency, not the welter of groups now charged with the electric system's security, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported on Monday.

While acknowledging there is no absolute insurance against such attacks, the MIT researchers said a single U.S. agency would be better able to address the problem than the disparate federal, state and local entities responsible for various aspects of safeguarding the power grid.

In a report on the future of the U.S. electric grid, through 2030, the team recommended that the federal agency should work with industry and have the appropriate regulatory authority to enhance cybersecurity preparedness, response and recovery. MORE

'Zero-Energy' Construction Crosses the Ocean

passive house diagramENVIRONMENTALLY friendly and conservation-minded building techniques have been around for decades. But only in recent years have standards, like the LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, been developed for builders to follow.

Now one of the most exacting standards, called "passive house," is making its way to the United States from Europe. Passive, or "zero energy," houses maintain a comfortable interior climate without active heating and cooling systems, according to the Passivhaus Institut, which administers the standard. That is achieved through a system of interior and exterior air exchange, an airtight building envelope and energy-saving appliances, among other things.

An Energy Star home might save 15 to 20 percent energy on heating, while under LEED it would be considered to be superb if you had 30 percent, So the Passivhaus standards,where you're talking up to 90 percent reduction in heating and cooling, really changes the whole paradigm. MORE

Cooling buildings with the power of the sun

Sunlight can be used not just to warm homes but also to cool them and keep food fresh. Advanced and sustainable technologies for solar cooling already exist. But they're still too expensive to be used on a global scale.

Africa is pinning high hopes on solar energy - to both heat and cool "Cooled using sunlight"#8212;it may not be that unusual to find that label on food packaging in the future. Researchers are hoping to use the sun's rays to keep fruits, vegetables and other perishable goods fresh for longer periods, particularly in developing nations where refrigerators are often a luxury and only densely populated regions are connected to the electricity grid.

Poorer southern nations also need technologies to cool medicines and vaccines to avoid spoilage, especially in rural areas.

Solar cooling technologies are the focus at the Fraunhofer Institut for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany. Scientists there have proven that they work. In a project called "Medisco" funded by the European Union, they installed a solar power plant to cool wine and milk at a winery in Tunisia and a dairy in Morocco. MORE


The Great Energy Challenge Find Out How the World Uses Energy

amazing transport ideasNational Geographic produces a superb resource!

We all need energy to survive. Right down to the most basic level, we need energy for our physical being, but we also need energy in order to run all of our electronics and drive our cars. With National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge you can find out how big your carbon footprint is. You can also find out about the carbon footprint of every region around the world.

In addition to learning about carbon footprints, you can also view an interactive display of electrical consumption all around the world. You can view a global map, or zoom and see more specific regions. The interactive display also shows how each region produces electricity. You can use the sliders below the map to see how changing the way a region produces their electricity would impact that region, and the entire world.

For anyone looking to understand more about energy, and how to conserve it, this is a great tool. It is also a valuable tool for students looking to learn about more about the worlds energy consumption. HERE

Putting the ‘New' in New Home.

There is more "new" in a new home today than ever before—new ideas, new technology, new ways to build and new ways to save. And "saving" is where today's new homes really shine. Your home is likely to be the largest purchase you'll ever make. And with rising energy and resource costs, your home will continue to be a big part of your monthly budget.

More than 20% of the energy used in Ontario is used to run homes. Here's a breakdown of a typical home's energy use.

home energy distribution

Houses built today can offer great ways to save on energy, water, materials and more. MORE


red dotSolar Decathlon | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

The World's Largest Lithium-Ion Battery Farm Comes Online

AES's wind and energy storage project in West VirginiaFor nearly a month now, a cluster of 53-foot containers on a ridge of Laurel Mountain in West Virginia has been sipping power from wind turbines that stretch out in both directions. The containers are home to the world's largest lithium-ion battery farm for storing and sending energy to the electric grid, and the project reflects the emergence of a technology to help manage the growing production of renewable energy in the country.

AES Energy Storage designed the 32-megawatt project respond quickly to purchase requests by utilities to use short bursts of power at various times throughout the day to balance their supply and demand. The project serves the wholesale market operated by PJM Interconnection, which covers 13 states in eastern U.S. MORE


red dot accentCool energy-storage projects popping up; expect a lot more

energy policy and implications

Industry groups, environmentalists call for "clean-energy accord"

windmillsOTTAWA—A collection of more than 700 stakeholders from the business world, non-government groups, the academic sector and faith-based leaders are calling on provincial and territorial premiers to adopt a new clean-energy accord as a pathway to new jobs and trillions of dollars in ongoing and anticipated global investments in an emerging market.

Andrew Heintzman, president and chief executive officer of Investeco, an environmental investment firm, said the supporters in the plan want governments to "look beyond fossil fuels" such as oil, gas and coal. Instead, he said they should consider larger opportunities to build smart electricity grids, promote energy efficiency and clean up Canada's energy sector through specific government policies.

He explained Alberta's oilsands industry, which launched its first commercial operations in the middle of the 20th century, only became a "beacon of private-sector investment," after getting financial support from governments.

"As we all know, it (the oilsands sector) was a very long product of significant government investment over many years that brought it to where it is today," said Heintzman, who heads a firm that manages about $45 million in assets for about 120 investors. "I think that energy policy is usually fairly tied up with government policy. It's just the nature of it."

The stakeholders were brought together by Tides Canada, a charitable foundation that has been fending off direct and indirect attacks from the Harper government and Alberta-based energy company, Enbridge. They have suggested Tides Canada is involved in a conspiracy to shutdown the oilsands sector through campaigns funded by American billionnaires. MORE




Ontarians Benefit from Electricity Exports Revenue

OntarioOntario's electricity market generated almost $19 million in February by exporting electricity to other states and provinces.

This revenue helps Ontario:

Ontario is part of an interconnected North American power grid that allows the province to buy and sell electricity with states and other provinces. Being interconnected gives the province the opportunity to export power when it's not needed by Ontario families and businesses and benefit from these revenues.

Since 2006, the electricity market has generated $1.8 billion through net exports compared to 2002 and 2003 when Ontario paid $900 million to import power. Over the last year, the province exported power at positive prices more than 98 per cent of the time. MORE


Auditor General's review of renewable energy is flawed, misleading and based on discredited studies

March 8, 2012 Find the press release from Ontario Highlands Friends of Wind Power HERE

Energy: Ontario overpaying to meet peak electricity demand, consultant argues

cutting moneyOntario electricity users are paying a premium of $1.5 billion a year to make sure there’s enough power during occasional periods of peak demand, a consulting firm estimates.

That translates into nearly one cent per kilowatt hour when spread over the total amount of power produced in Ontario each year.

It’s like having an insurance policy for a steady supply of power, suggests consulting firm Secor Energy Group, who released the report.

But it suggests there may be alternatives to over-building the power system

Secor says Ontario’s power policy is based on reducing the risk of power shortages during periods of peak demand – peaks that occur only a few days a year. MORE


Starting a dialogue on the role of municipalities in the Green Economy

green economy

The world's economy is going to get greener. Innovations will be spurred by rising energy prices and an increased scarcity of resources. Canada should be a world leader in the transition to a green economy, but that is far from certain today. Innovation is taking place around the world, and Canada is capable of contributing.The question is - will we be a net consumer or net producer of these innovations? 

Municipalities drive economic growth, and supported by the right mix of federal and provincial policies and investments, they can make better use of their own policy levers to build a greener economy for Canada. The result? New jobs, GDP growth, lower environmental impacts and improved quality of life for Canadians.

DOWNLOAD: Building Canada's Green Economy

Ontario Clean Air Alliance—'Drummond Drops the Ball'

Don Drummond missed some substantial and easy savings in the energy file.Don Drummond’s recently released report is all about pursuing efficiencies in public services.  Can’t argue with that.  But while Mr. Drummond does make a number of good electricity sector recommendations (e.g., eliminate the very wasteful 10% electricity rebate, lower the feed-in-tariff prices for solar energy, and consolidate Ontario’s municipally-owned distribution utilities) he misses the two biggest and easiest opportunities to lower our electricity bills and save taxpayers billions:

Cancel the Coal Subsidies

Ontario’s dirty coal-fired power plants are now on financial and operational life support.  During the first nine months of 2011 the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation (an agency of the Government of Ontario) gave Ontario Power Generation a $28.8 million per month subsidy to cover the operating losses of its coal plants.  Cancelling this subsidy by putting the coal plants on standby reserve and only operating them when absolutely necessary would save Ontario $979.2 million between now and December 2014 (when the coal plants are legally required to cease operations).  In his 362 recommendations, Mr. Drummond found few savings that were as large and painless as this one.

Cancel the High-Cost Nuclear Re-Investment Plan

Between now and 2030 the Government of Ontario is proposing to re-build the Darlington and Bruce B Nuclear Generating Stations and build two new nuclear reactors at Darlington despite the fact that our electricity needs could be met at a much lower cost by importing water power from Quebec and investing in energy efficiency and combined heat and power systems.

If you accept Ontario Power Generation’s estimate that the cost of re-building Darlington will be up to 8 cents per kWh, then the annual savings of replacing the Government’s nuclear plan with lower cost options will be up to $1.7 billion per year. More realistically, taking into account that every nuclear project in Ontario’s history has gone massively over budget – on average by 2.5 times – we estimate that the annual savings of pursuing the lower cost options could rise to $9.1 billion per year or greater. Imagine all the things we could do with $9 billion!

These are real and substantial savings for the taking.  What is Premier McGuinty waiting for?

action alert

Please send Mr. McGuinty a short email (and cc me). Ask him to cancel his billion dollar subsidy for the dirty coal plants and his uneconomic nuclear expansion plan. Cleaner and more cost-effective alternatives are available now!

Thank you!


They say radical; we say rational

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

David SuzukiWe’re not abut to quit oil cold turkey. Does that mean we should continue with business as usual?

In Canada, “business as usual” means rapidly increasing oil sands exploitation and selling the bitumen as quickly as possible to anyone who wants it. It means continuing to import half the oil we use, mostly from the Middle East, while shipping oil extracted here to other countries. It means continued tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies while manufacturing and other value-added industries suffer because of our inflated petro dollar. It means low royalties and not putting away revenues for the future.

This could spell a bleak future: a failing economy as accessible oil starts to run out with few renewable energy sources to replace it; deteriorating health of citizens as water, air, and land become more polluted; increased droughts, floods, and water shortages as climate change increases.MORE


People divide people - not legislation


letter too the editorIn his recent opinion piece, our MPP, Jim Wilson, says the Green Energy Act is dividing Ontario. It isn't. People divide communities not legislation, particularly if the legislation provides opportunities for people to provide input, to object to submissions and to appeal decisions, as is the case with the Green Energy Act.

Mr. Wilson, who is an experienced, knowledgeable, and principled legislator knows this is so. Mr. Wilson also knows that municipalities never had the authority to decide where turbines and solar panels can go, anymore than they can establish their own building codes, ignore provincial public health and education regulation, or determine policies for electrical generation and distribution.

Municipalities can decide where hot dog stands go, but a hot dog stand is not part of a provincial wide electrical system. Even hot dog stands have to respect clear municipal bylaws approved by the appropriate provincially established authority and impartially applied, provincial health regulations, provincial building codes and provincial commercial rules.

Most of Ontario's operational wind projects were approved before the Green Energy Act was in place. Municipalities participated in their development by applying Provincial rules, overseen by Provincial regulators including the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, the Ministry of Energy, the Ontario Energy Board and Hydro One Networks Inc.

What's changed? Nothing, except now we have clear and consistent province-wide rules and oversight and approval processes for renewable energy projects.

Wind opponents who use misinformation and disrupt legitimate community consultations divide communities. Stigmatizing foreign owned developers divides communities.

Robert Knox


Securing public health forever with clean energy

Switching from conventional energy resources to wind, water and sunlight is essential for the future of our planet.

Palo Alto, CA - I ask myself, why is it so difficult for nations to reach a consensus on solving the three major problems of our age: air pollution mortality, global warming and energy security. These problems are caused by the same thing—how we obtain our energy. The solution is simple: change our sources of energy. Why hasn't this been done? Because politicians and the public have been led to believe by industries with a financial interest in the current infrastructure that, given enough time and money, they can solve the problems themselves, or that their latest products are good enough.

Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors.

Let's look at the scope of the problems, why the most advertised solutions don't solve them, and what will solve them.

Currently, 2.5-3 million people worldwide, including nearly one million children younger than five, die prematurely each and every year from air pollution caused by the burning of biofuels and fossil fuels. Millions more become ill due to respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, asthma, pneumonia and other diseases exacerbated by air pollution. MORE

Tear down barriers to energy conservation

A new study says that a 16 per cent reduction in our natural gas consumption by 2021 would increase GDP by $5.5 billion and reduce the combined federal and provincial deficits by $975 million.So far, the best idea the province seems to have for slaying its deficit is to roll the dice on a Toronto casino. But there is a much better bet sitting right under the nose of Queen’s Park. As a province that imports all of its natural gas and that sells much of its electricity below cost, increasing energy efficiency is a sure fire way to increase economic growth and provincial revenues.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) commissioned one of the province’s top economic forecasting firms—Spatial Economics—to look at what increasing the efficiency of natural gas use would do for our collective bottom line. It found that a 16 per cent reduction in our natural gas consumption by 2021 would increase GDP by $5.5 billion and reduce the combined federal and provincial deficits by $975 million. And it would do that while creating more than 33,800 new jobs and lowering the cost of doing business in Ontario.

This, however, is really just the tip of the efficiency iceberg: Union Gas has calculated that it could reduce its customers’ energy consumption by 30 per cent over roughly the same period. And those are real in-your-pocket savings: the costs of improving efficiency would be far outstripped by your utility bill reductions.

The OCAA is not alone in seeing this potential. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives recently came out with a report which bluntly stated: “We must use existing and future energy supplies as efficiently as possible, embracing the maxim that the cheapest form of energy is the unit that is not used.” MORE

Friends with Benefits: The Harper Government, and Sun Media Connection

sun news tv news channel logoJust over a week before the Northern Gateway Pipeline hearings began, and its allies launched a pre-emptive PR offensive on environmental and First Nations groups who oppose the pipeline. Their new website,, and ad campaign are an attempt to invalidate opposition to the pipeline by pointing to the small amount of American funding going to some environmental groups, and claiming that pipeline opponents are actually the “puppets” of “foreign interests.”

Sun News was first to promote the campaign, and by the end of the week, numerous papers across Canada were repeating the story. After mentioning last November that "significant American interests" would line up against the pipeline, Stephen Harper eagerly picked up where he left off, touting's cause, decrying the foreign influence attempting to “overload” the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Review. By Monday, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver had penned a letter to Canadians denouncing the foreign interests trying to “hijack” the review process "to achieve their radical ideological agenda". The same ominous tone and divisive talking points were parroted over and over by, Harper, Oliver and the credulous media, driving an entire week of news coverage.

The campaign was timed to hit national news just as many Canadians were tuning into this issue for the first time, and this frame (“foreign interests” vs. a “Canadian decision”) could have a lasting impact on how people view one of the most important debates in a generation.

So how did a small industry front group with secretive funding sources manage to have so much impact on the national conversation? Well, it looks like the Harper government,, and Sun Media have coordinated with one another to create an echo chamber that turns industry talking points into national news. We'll show how one digital communications company intimately connects, the Harper Government and Sun Media. MORE

action alert HERE


A Tale of Two Perspectives: Framing is Fundamental

Two major news reports in the last week of October showed how much the answers we come up with on sustainable energy futures depend on how we frame the questions.

"To solve the energy problem, we needed to enlarge it, to look at the whole thing," said Amory Lovins, the co-founder, chair, and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), during the October 27 release of his latest book, Reinventing Fire.

Conservation and renewables can replace our addiction to oil by 2050

Lovins believes the productivity gains and other business benefits of new energy technologies will bring American business to a tipping point, beyond which efficiency improvements will far exceed anything that can be achieved through regulation or carbon pricing. In one of the interviews he conducted for his book release, he positioned Reinventing Fire as a prescription for a 158% bigger U.S. economy by 2050, requiring no oil, coal, or nuclear energy.

"The transition requires no new inventions and no Act of Congress," he said, "and can be led by business for profit."

The Game-Changers

Lovins' comment reflected the emerging results of the Trottier Project's research on low-carbon energy futures: the biggest game-changers in carbon and energy only reveal themselves when we look at the fuel and electricity market as a sub-system of a wider web of value creation. MORE


red dotOil sands and pipeline debates hindered by lack of energy plan

Federal push for oilsands lists allies, 'adversaries'

First nations, activists listed among foes

peter kent denialThe federal government is distancing itself from its own campaign to polish the image of Alberta's oilsands, after revelations an internal strategy document labelled first nations and environmentalists as "adversaries," and described the National Energy Board, an independent industry regulator, as an "ally."

The descriptions were in a 2011 document from the government's "pan-European oil-sands advocacy strategy."

The document, released through access-to-information legislation, outlined the government's plans to lobby against climate-change policies in Europe that would require oilsands producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy also listed goals for the government's diplomats in promoting the oilsands industry - considered by Environment Canada to be the fastest-growing source of global-warming-causing emissions in the country.

Environment Minister Peter Kent denied the labelling of "allies" and "adversaries" reflected Ottawa's approach. MORE


accentFeds list First Nations, green groups as 'adversaries' in oil sands PR strategy


U.S.: Regional Cap-and-Trade Effort Seeks Greater Impact by Cutting Carbon Allowances

transmission linesAdjusting to shifts in the economy, states in the cap-and-trade system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have slashed the number of allowances that electric power companies can buy to offset their emissions.

The decision, made last week, was intended to shore up the pioneering program as it undergoes its first comprehensive review this year. While the program has been judged a success by most of the participating states, in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, an oversupply of the allowances—in essence, permits to pollute—has limited the program's impact.

The program, the nation's first cap-and-trade system, sets a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power providers and requires the companies to pay for their heat-trapping emissions by buying the allowances in online auctions held four times a year. Companies that pollute less can benefit by selling off allowances to other companies.

Because of a switch to natural gas from coal by many utilities and a limping economy, however, both the demand for electricity and the plants' emissions have been lower than expected since the program was first put into effect in 2009, with many of the allowances going unsold. MORE



Ontario Clarifies Property Tax Rules for Renewables

Ontario logoOn January 4, 2012, the Ontario Government announced changes to the property tax rules with respect to renewable energy generation facilities in the province.

These changes are, generally, good news for project developers, financiers and landowners as they add certainty to an area of Ontario law which was previously unclear - particularly in relation to solar projects.

The amendments apply to facilities that generate electricity using solar energy, wind energy or anaerobic digestion of organic matter. The amendments take effect as of January 1, 2011.

To get you up to speed with the new rules Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP have released an informative memorandum summarizing the changes: Ontario Clarifies Property Tax Rules for Renewables

Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies 'could provide half of global carbon target'

Such a move could save the equivalent of Germany's annual emissions by 2015, says chief economist at the IEA

The International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol says that phasing out fossil fuel subsidies would go a long way to meeting carbon saving goals. Eliminating subsidies for coal, gas and oil could save as much as Germany's annual greenhouse gas emissions each year by 2015, according to one of the world's leading energy experts.

Speaking to the Guardian, Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency (IEA), said such a move could provide half of the carbon savings needed to stop dangerous levels of climate change.

While the G20 pledged in 2009 to phase out such fossil fuel subsidies in the "medium term", the hundreds of billions that governments spend each year rose in 2010. The World Bank, economist Lord Nicholas Stern and green groups have also called for their removal.

"Energy markets can be thought of as suffering from appendicitis due to fossil fuel subsidies. They need to be removed for a healthy energy economy," said Birol. "Energy is significantly underpriced in many parts of the world, leading to wasteful consumption, price volatility and fuel smuggling. It's also undermining the competitiveness of renewables." MORE


accentFossil fuel subsidies: a tour of the data


What is so radical about caring for the Earth?

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington

pipelineCaring about the air, water, and land that give us life. Exploring ways to ensure Canada's natural resources serve the national interest. Knowing that sacrificing our environment to a corporate-controlled economy is suicide. If those qualities make us radicals, as federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver recently claimed in an open letter, then I and many others will wear the label proudly.

But is it radical to care for our country, our world, our children and grandchildren, our future? It seems more radical for a government to come out swinging in favour of an industrial project in advance of public hearings into that project. It seems especially radical when the government paints everyone who opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project as American-funded traitors with a radical ideological agenda "to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth."

It's bad enough when our government and its ethical oil and media supporters don't tell the truth, but it's worse when they don't even offer rational arguments. Their increasing attacks on charitable organizations and Canadians from all walks of life show that if they can't win with facts, they'll do everything they can to silence their critics. And we thought conservative-minded people valued free speech!

The proposed Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipeline projects and the massive, mostly foreign-controlled expansion of the tar sands are not about finding the best way to serve Canada's national interests. If we truly wanted to create jobs, we would refine the oil in Canada and use it to reduce our reliance on imported oil, much of which comes from countries that government supporters say are "unethical". If we really cared about using resources for the national interest, we would slow development in the tar sands, improve environmental standards, increase royalties and put some of the money away or use it to switch to cleaner energy, eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and encourage Canadian companies to develop the resource. MORE


accentStephen Harper and the Big Oil Party of Canada

action alert

accentSubmit your public comment to protect our wildlife!

California becoming clean energy powerhouse

California solar farmCalifornia regulators have approved five power purchase agreements that could boost the state's renewable energy capacity by 1,088 megawatts (MW) and produce 2,927 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy.

The projects, two for wind and three for solar, are divided among the state's biggest utilities—Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric—all of which are required to source 33 percent of their energy from renewables by 2020. The state recently reported that in 2010 the utilities passed the 16 percent mark.

Southern California Edison led the way in this new round of approvals, getting the state Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to sign off on 20-year power purchase agreements the utility reached last January for power produced at three solar photovoltaics (PV) projects backed by San Jose-based SunPower.

Those projects include a 110-MW plant in Las Banos that is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2014, and dual 325-MW and 276-MW plants set for Rosamond that are expected to be generating power in October 2016. MORE

Shale Gas: A Boon That Could Stunt Alternatives, Study Says

Shale gas has transformed the U.S. energy landscape in the past several years—but it may crowd out renewable energy and other ways of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a new study warns.

gas drillingA team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology used economic modeling to show that new abundant natural gas is likely to have a far more complex impact on the energy scene than is generally assumed. If climate policy continues to play out in the United States with a relatively weak set of measures to control emissions, the new gas source will lead to lower gas and electricity prices, and total energy use will be higher in 2050.

Absent the shale supply, the United States could have expected to see GHG emissions 2 percent below 2005 levels by 2050 under this relatively weak policy. But the lower gas prices under the current shale gas outlook will stimulate economic growth, leading GHG emissions to increase by 13 percent over 2005. And the shale gas will retard the growth of renewable energy's share of electricity, and push off the development of carbon capture and storage technology, needed to meet more ambitious policy targets, by as long as two decades.

"Shale gas is a great advantage to the U.S. in the short term, for the next few decades," said MIT economist Henry Jacoby, lead author of the new study. "But it is so attractive that it threatens other energy sources we ultimately will need." MORE

Climate change needs an intergenerational solution

INTERGENERATIONAL FAMILYThe vast majority of Canadians feel a reverence for the natural surroundings that make up our home and native land. We celebrate our environment in song, stories - even beer commercials. I'll 'fess up. I ordered a Molson Canadian after its "Made from Canada" commercials aired during the 2010 Olympics, because they reminded us that we have "more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on earth."

Since we know we have "the best backyard in the world," it is fundamental to monitor what we do to sustain it over time. This is especially important when evaluating whether our country still works for all generations. Regrettably, there may be no greater evidence of an intergenerational breach than our ineffective efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
In 1976 Canada was one of the worst three Organization for Economic Cooperation and

Development countries for per capita carbon dioxide emissions. According to data from the International Energy Association, on average, each Canadian produced nearly 17 tonnes of CO2 that year. Only citizens of the United States and Luxembourg emitted more proportionately. MORE

Powering Sustainable Energy for All


Ban Ki-MoonEnergy transforms lives, businesses and economies. And it transforms our planet—its climate, natural resources and ecosystems. There can be no development without energy. Today we have an opportunity to turn on the heat and lights for every household in the world, however poor, even as we turn down the global thermostat. The key is to provide sustainable energy for all.

To succeed, we need everyone at the table—governments, the private sector and civil society—all working together to accomplish what none can do alone. The United Nations is well-placed to convene this broad swathe of actors and forge common cause between them. That is why I have established our new initiative, Sustainable Energy for All. Our mission: to galvanize immediate action that can deliver real results for people and the planet.

This is the message I will bring to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi starting Monday. As I see it, we face two urgent energy challenges.

The first is that one in five people on the planet lacks access to electricity. Twice as many, almost 3 billion, use wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook meals and heat homes, exposing themselves and their families to harmful smoke and fumes. This energy poverty is devastating to human development.

The second challenge is climate change. Greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels contribute directly to the warming of the earth's atmosphere, with all the attendant consequences: a rising incidence of extreme weather and natural disasters that jeopardize lives, livelihoods and our children's future. MORE

Greenhouse gas emissions targets conflict with development plans

Environment Minister Terry Lake: business before the environment.The British Columbia government is not going to let its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions constrain northern development, says Environment Minister Terry Lake.

Lake told The Vancouver Sun that the province is committed to developing the north even if it means using fossil fuels like natural gas to produce electricity to power future development.

Lake acknowledged that the decision to pursue development that may require electricity from fossil fuel will make it challenging for the government to meet its legislated greenhouse gas reduction target.

One of three liquefied natural gas terminals that the province wants to see operating by 2020—the same year B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions are required to be 33 per cent below 2007 levels—will likely be powered by electricity generated from greenhouse-gas producing natural gas, Lake said. MORE

Group urges caution on new nuclear plants

no nuclearIowa should not build more nuclear plants unless they produce power at a lower cost than other options, including energy conservation, the Iowa Public Interest Research Group said Thursday.

Iowa PIRG said nuclear plants across the country have been plagued by cost overruns, and half of those proposed don't get built. The group said energy conservation, wind power and solar are better options.

The report, “A Nuclear Gamble: Why Nuclear Power Is A Bad Bet For Iowans,” was released Thursday.

“Nuclear power is among the most costly approaches to solving Iowa's energy problems,” the authors contended. “Fearing the many significant financial risks of new nuclear projects, private investors have stayed away. As a result, utilities and nuclear proponents are now asking Iowa citizens and businesses to pay.” MORE

Big Oil and Canada thwarted U.S. carbon standards

Emails show how a Washington lobbyist enlisted Canadian officials to beat back U.S. carbon standards

canada is an oil polluter...The broaderfight to reform Alberta's tar sands, the one which actually stood a chance of breaking America's addiction to the continent's most polluting road fuel, has been quietly abandoned over the past several years. For that we can thank the planet's richest oil companies and their Canadian government allies, who've together waged a stealthy war against President Obama's climate change ambitions.

Their battle-plan is revealed in more 300 pages of personal emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Alberta government. The story in the emails, reported for the first time here in Salon and The Tyee, Canada's leading independent online news site, traces a year in the relationship of Michael Whatley, a GOP-connected oil industry lobbyist and his friend, Gary Mar, a smooth-talking and ambitious diplomat at the Canadian embassy in the Washington, DC.

The messages lay bare a sophisticated and stealthy public relations offensive, one designed to manipulate the U.S. political system; to deluge the media with messages favorable to the tar-sands industry; to sway key legislators at state and federal levels; and most importantly, to defeat any attempt to make the gasoline and diesel pumped everyday into U.S. vehicles less damaging to the climate. The goal of it all? “Defeat” Obama's effort to reduce carbon consumption andkeep America hooked on Canada's $441 billion tar sands industry, no matter what the cost to our planet's future. MORE

Quebec Establishes Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Regime

Pierre Arcand, minister of sustainable development, environment and parksMONTREAL, Quebec, Canada, December 15, 2011 (ENS) - The province of Quebec has adopted a regulation establishing a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances in an effort to help control climate change.

Based on the rules established by the Western Climate Initiative, Quebec's cap-and-trade system is expected to help the province achieve its greenhouse gas reduction target of 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

"Cap-and-trade systems for emission allowances are recognized as one of the most effective and least costly economic tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions," declared Pierre Arcand, minister of sustainable development, environment and parks, announcing the regulation today at a news conference in Montreal's Biosphere.

"By adopting this regulation, Quebec acquires the means to achieve the transition toward a green, sustainable and prosperous economy," he said.

Arcand said Quebec thus officially steps to the starting line, next to California, which approved its own state-wide cap-and-trade system on October 20. MORE

B.C. considers greenhouse gas plan

Minister of Environment Terry LakeThe British Columbia government's rock-solid stand against greenhouse gases is softening as several American states pull out of a carbon-trading partnership.

Environment Minister Terry Lake said Friday the province is still committed to its climate agenda, but there's also a need to be pragmatic as British Columbians worry about economic issues.

Lake wasn't surprised that six American states pulled out of the Western Climate Initiative, leaving just four Canadian provinces and California in the trading program.

Lake said there's been no decision yet if B.C. will take part in the initiative's cap-and-trade system because that could mean losing the large greenhouse gas emitters who pay into the province's carbon tax. MORE


accentBC consulting on changes to carbon neutral plan

accentCalifornia Beats Northeast With New Cap-and-Trade Strategy: View

Australia leads the way! Start of a new era

"This is an historic moment. Australia's Parliament has put the nation's first carbon price into law. With this vote, the world has turned a pivotal corner in the collective effort to solve the climate crisis. This success is the result of the tireless work of an unprecedented coalition that came together to support the legislation, the leadership of Prime Minister Gillard, and the courage of legislators to take a vote that helps to safeguard the future of all Australians.

I have spent enough time in Australia to know that their spirit of independence as a people cannot be underestimated. As the world's leading coal exporter, there's no doubt that opposition to this legislation was fierce. But through determination and commitment, the voice of the people of Australia has rung out loud and clear.

Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we do everything we can to ensure that this legislation is successful."

Renewable Power Trumps Fossils for First Time

4 acesRenewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis and an impasse at the United Nations global warming talks.

Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data. Accelerating installations of solar- and wind-power plants led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal. MORE


High voltage part two

Energy companies lament shortages but sell our energy abroad.

by Joyce Nelson

[Straight Goods Editor's note: SGN presents the second part of Joyce Nelson's incisive and disturbing report on the way that non-profit "institutes" and for-profit energy companies are setting Canada's energy policies on the basis of maximum profit, rather than environmental or other public good issues.]

Bruce Carson, Harper's 'Mechanic'Along with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's ("the NERC") recommendation to build 32,000 miles of transmission lines across North America, another boost for the Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) vision of a vast supergrid was provided by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, during Obama's February 2009 visit to Ottawa. The two leaders launched the "US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue," or CED. According to a February 19, 2009 news release from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Clean Energy Dialogue is mainly devoted to two projects:

    1. 1. developing carbon capture and storage (CCS), and


    2. building "a more efficient electricity grid based on clean and renewable generation." The CED Action Plan was released in Washington on September 16, 2009 by Environment Canada and the US Department of Energy.

BC's Northwest Transmission Line

At the same time, Harper announced that he was providing $130 million for "a green infrastructure project in northern British Columbia involving the construction of a 335- km transmission line that will support the development and use of green energy in the area... [and facilitate] the development of an estimated 2,000 megawatts of renewable electricity generation." MORE


Fukushima fallout: time to quit nuclear power altogether

Experience in northern Japan illustrates that even incremental investment in nuclear power threatens human civilization. The Fukushima disaster should once and for all drive global society away from nuclear power, and toward renewable energy.

Testing for radioactivityIn August, just months following the tsunami-induced crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, the 2011 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs gathered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities destroyed in 1945 by atom bombs, becoming forever linked to the birth of nuclear weapons and the nuclear age. The world conference was formed in 1995 to work toward a nuclear-weapon ban and foster solidarity and support for A-bomb survivors and victims of nuclear disasters.

A few of the 70,000 victims of the Fukushima disaster joined us at the August meeting, riveting the attendees with first-hand accounts of the devastating effects of radioactive contamination. According to the reports delivered by these eyewitnesses, nearly 300,000 Fukushima children continue to live in wretched conditions, continuously exposed to the dangers of radioactivity. The health hazards of radioactivity are far deadlier to children than the effects of radiation on adults. Annual blood tests are now a life-preserving necessity to track the potential onset of disease.

Because of soil contamination, one-eighth of Fukushima's soil can never be plowed again, and the consumption of crops grown on such plots is strictly forbidden. MORE

Peddling Greenhouse Gases

What is the Carbon Footprint of Canada's Fossil Fuel Exports?

Canada's fossil fuel exports a threat to global climate: study

oil gushing over earthOTTAWA—To get serious about climate change, Canada needs to not only cut its consumption of fossil fuels, but also stop peddling fossil fuels in export markets, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

According to the study, greenhouse gas emissions embodied in Canadian exports of fossil fuels in 2009 were 15% greater than the emissions from all fossil fuel combustion within Canada, and almost four times the emissions from extracting and processing fossil fuels in Canada.

"Canada is more than an addict to fossil fuels," says CCPA Senior Economist Marc Lee, the study's lead author. "We are a major dealer. And that has huge consequences for people in other parts of the world who have done little to cause climate change."

Canada's confirmed fossil fuel reserves are equivalent to 91.4 Gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions, about three times annual global CO2 emissions. Total possible reserves (given changes in technology and economic conditions) are much higher, equivalent to almost 40 years of global emissions at current levels. MORE


Study Shows That High Gas Prices Do Reduce Driving, Encourage Use of Alternatives

gas pricesThere is some discussion where I live about whether the amount people drive is "elastic"- whether people drive less and look for alternatives if the prices of fuel go up. In the last Provincial election where I live, the leader of the party I support ran on a platform I couldn't support, calling for the removal of a tax on gasoline and heating, suggesting that people had no choice, that demand was inelastic.

Your electricity. Your home heating. Gas for your car. You can cut a lot from your household budget, but everyone needs to heat their home, keep the lights on and commute to work.

But a new American study by Bradley Lane of the University of Texas at El Paso contradicts this, even in cities and towns with lousy transit. According to Eric Jaffe in the Atlantic,

All told, Lane found a pretty strong link between changes in gas prices and shifts in transit ridership. Every 10 percent increase in fuel costs led to an increase in bus ridership of up to 4 percent, and a spike in rail travel of up to 8 percent. These results suggest a "significant untapped potential" for transit ridership, Lane reports in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Transport Geography. In other words, a significant part of America's love for the automobile may only be its desire for inexpensive transportation.

But what is most surprising is the reaction by drivers in seriously car-oriented communities, where you would think people would stay in their cars no matter what the cost because there are so few alternatives.MORE

video Chris Martenson: Why the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years

focuses on the so-called three "Es": Economy, Energy and Environment.In this video (1:11:43) Chris Martenson, economic analyst at and author of 'The Crash Course', explains why he thinks that the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years. In his presentation he focuses on the so-called three "Es": Economy, Energy and Environment. He argues that at this point in time it is no longer possible to view either one of those topics separately from one another.

Since all our money is loaned onto existence, our economy has to grow exponentially. Martenson proves this point empirically by showing a 99.9% fit of the actual growth curve of the last 40 years to an exponential curve. If we wanted to continue on this path, our debt load would have to double again over the next 10 years. By continually increasing our debt relative to GDP we are making the assumption that our future will always be wealthier than our past. He believes that this assumption is flawed and that the debt loads are already unmanageable.

Martenson explains how exponential growth works and why it is so scary that our economy is based on it. In an example he illustrates how unimaginably fast things speed up towards the end of an exponential curve. He shows that an exponential chart can be found in every one of the three "E's" for instance in GDP growth, oil production, water use or species extinction. Due to the natural limitations on resources, Martenson comes to the conclusion that we are facing a serious energy crisis. See description of the video HERE


The problems with emissions trading

How does putting a price on carbon reduce greenhouse-gas emissions?

money treeAlberta's Can$60 million (US$57 million) carbon-cutting programme is failing, according to the latest report from the Canadian province's auditor-general, Merwan Saher.

Like many such programmes around the world, it includes an emissions trading scheme, which allows polluters to meet their emissions reductions targets by buying carbon offsets from a selection of approved projects. The offsets are supposed to be real, measurable and provable. But the report claims that the province, despite earlier warnings, has not improved its regulatory structure—and calls the emissions estimates and the offsets themselves into question.

Nature looks at the hurdles faced by Alberta and other jurisdictions over their emissions trading schemes. MORE


red dotFACTBOX-Carbon trading schemes around the world

New research recommends implementing carbon tax mechanisms at point of fossil fuel extraction

carbon footprint and CO2An expert research team has suggested that carbon tax mechanisms within the fossil fuel supply chain could be applied more holistically.

Researchers have said that implanting carbon tax mechanisms at the point of extraction could be both effective and efficient due to the fixed location of fossil fuel resources in comparison to the varied logistical paths of fossil fuel products and combustion locations around the globe.

According to the research team, based at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, allocating a carbon tax solely to the location and method of fossil fuel combustion, excluding the initial extraction process and subsequent global logistics may not be the most effective way to calculate the carbon emission cost of fossil fuel consumption. MORE


ONTARIO CLEAN AIR ALLIANCE: A New Energy Minister Needs a New Energy Plan

At a time when the province is struggling with a soaring deficit, Ontario's new Energy Minister, Chris Bentley, needs a new plan. Instead of blowing the budget on expensive new nuclear units, the Minister should be harnessing the power of energy efficiency to create jobs, reduce the provincial deficit and improve productivity. The OCAA has sent the new minister a simple six point plan for efficiently and economically meeting the province's energy needs:

1. Put our money-losing coal plants on standby reserve and only operate them if they are absolutely needed to keep the lights on.

2. Direct the Ontario Energy Board and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to eliminate their red tape and perverse financial incentives that are limiting the ability—and motivation—for our electric and gas utilities to promote energy conservation and efficiency.

3. Direct the OPA to pay large commercial and industrial customers up to the same price to save energy as they pay electricity generating companies to produce electricity.

4. Direct the OPA to negotiate a long-term contract with Hydro Quebec for low-cost water power imports.

5. Mandate that all new natural gas-fired electricity supply must be combined heat and power (CHP) to squeeze every drop of energy out of the natural gas we use.

6. Require Ontario Power Generation to obtain all-in fixed price contracts from a third party (e.g., Candu Energy Inc., Areva, General Electric) to refurbish its Pickering Nuclear Station and re-build its Darlington Nuclear Station.

You can read the full plan HERE.

Read the Executive Summary HERE


Renewable energy becoming cost competitive, IEA says

wind turbine(Reuters) - Renewable energy technology is becoming increasingly cost competitive and growth rates are in line to meet levels required of a sustainable energy future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on Wednesday.

The report also said subsidies in green energy technologies that were not yet competitive are justified in order to give an incentive to investing into technologies with clear environmental and energy security benefits.

The renewable electricity sector has grown rapidly in the past five years and now provides nearly 20 percent of the world's power generation, the IEA said during the presentation of the report titled Deploying Renewables 2011.

The IEA's report disagreed with claims that renewable energy technologies are only viable through costly subsidies and not able to produce energy reliably to meet demand.MORE

red dot accentWhat if we saw EVs as public utilities?

French Industrial group Bollore's head Vincent Bollore poses near a BlueCar at the Autolib Center in Vaucresson during a presentation of the Autolib pick-up electric car service.What if we viewed electric cars as a public utility rather than personal possessions? The idea is already embedded in the Zipcar and AutoShare plans and BIXI bikes. A new French scheme extends it to electric vehicles.

Paris has started to test “Autolib,” in which four-seat, battery-powered vehicles called Bluecars are rented to individuals for short periods at relatively low cost. Bluecars run on advanced lithium metal polymer batteries and are said to travel up to 250 kilometres between charges, with a top speed of 130 kilometres per hour.

Autolib participants will pay the equivalent of about $200 as an annual subscription fee and $7 per half-hour of use. MORE

10 transportation steps for kicking the offshore-oil habit

Debunking the 'we're stuck with it' line

vehicle efficiencyThe last time lawmakers truly freaked out about the problem of our oil dependence--when gas prices topped $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008--the Senate Energy Committee called in Skip Laitner, director of economic analysis at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Looking at the transportation sector alone, Laitner recommended 10 short-term policies that would cut the need for oil. Congress eventually passed one of them-the "cash for clunkers" program. Even that could be improved upon: the lax fuel-economy standards for new cars meant the trade-in program didn't save nearly as much fuel as it could have. MORE

Fact: Green energy is good for Ontario

comparison of jobs with energy sourceOntarians head to the polls on Thursday to elect the next provincial government, at the close of an election campaign where green energy has emerged as a hot-button issue. As the rhetoric has escalated on all sides of the debate, Ontario voters have also had to wade through a great deal of misinformation about their energy options. Read more...

FACT: The Green Energy Act will not dramatically increase the price of electricity.
FACT: Green energy has existed for decades without harmful side effects
FACT: Grandmothers do not have to do their laundry at 2 a.m. because of smart meters
FACT: Green energy creates jobs for Ontarians
FACT: Subsidies to renewable energy are no greater than those for fossil fuel and nuclear power
FACT: Feed-in tariffs are the most effective tools to develop renewable energy MORE


accentDOWNLOAD: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Renewable Energy (Especially Wind and Solar)

Energy agency warns world needs major shift in priorities.

driving off a cliffCountries have chained themselves to a fossil fuel train that is headed straight off a cliff, warns the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system, the IEA said Wednesday in London on the release of the 2011 World Energy Outlook.

Sounding very much like Greenpeace, the conservative IEA called for urgent action by governments to massively shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and boost energy efficiency. Without a major shift in priorities in the next five years, there will be enough fossil fuel infrastructure in place to guarantee a 2° rise in temperatures, it warned.

"Governments need to introduce stronger measures to drive investment in efficient and low-carbon technologies," said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. "We cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy," van der Hoeven said in a release.

"Delaying action is a false economy," the World Energy Outlook report emphasizes. Every dollar of investment in cleaner technology before 2020 avoids the need to spend an additional 4.30 dollars after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions, it said. MORE

hydro power

Hydropower Investment Could Create a Million Canadian Jobs

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, Dec 14, 2011 -- The Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) reported today that a study it commissioned indicates hydropower investment could produce over 1,000,000 Canadian jobs over the next 20 years from construction activities alone. These are known as FTEs, or "full-time equivalents," where each represents one person employed for one year. The employment opportunities would occur in every region of the country. The business school, HEC Montreal, conducted the study, entitled Job Creation and Economic Development Opportunities in the Canadian Hydropower Market.

Electricity generation projects already under consideration for 2011-2030 would create 776,000 FTEs for construction firms and their suppliers, which is the equivalent of 38,800 positions lasting 20 years. A further 224,000 induced FTEs are forecast to be created by increased spending by those directly or indirectly employed by the projects. "These results highlight what appears to be one of the best kept secrets of the Canadian energy sector," said CHA President and CEO Jacob Irving, "the multiple benefits of Canada's extraordinary hydropower potential."

The report's authors employed the commonly used Statistics Canada Input - Output Model of the Canadian economy to test various scenarios. The 158 potential projects that industry members identified for the study would require investment of $127.7 billion and would result in 29,060 megawatts (MW) of both refurbished and new generation capacity. The model results predict that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be about $15 billion per year greater over the study period than it would have been otherwise, due to the construction of the capacity and its subsequent operation. MORE

Only Way to Stop Greenhouse Gas Emissions is to Use Clean Electricity, Study Finds

transmission linesIs it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 emissions levels by 2050? Maybe, according to a study done in (of course) California. The study was jointly conducted by consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and focused on using current technology to meet the emissions goals.

The study implies that electricity is the way out of excessive greenhouse gas emissions—specifically, moving away from oil and toward carbon-free electricity generation. Snuller Price, co-author of the study and a partner at E3, explains that “...his study means that our electric utilities will be the central players in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the long term.”

Dr. Jim Williams, lead author of the study and chief scientist at E3, feels that the only way to achieve reduced emissions is with clean electricity: MORE


Technology funding makes climate protection cheaper

To cost-effectively protect the climate, not only an emissions trading scheme but also financial support for new technologies is needed. Economising on targeted funding, for example for renewable energies, makes climate protection more expensive—as scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now calculated for the first time, using a complex computer simulation that spans the entire 21st century. Without funding, energy technologies with high cost reduction potentials will hardly stand a chance, since they require a significant initial investment: a case of market failure. MORE

Wave Energy: The Latest Battleground in the Conservation vs. Innovation Debate

wave energy testing stationWhether it's the impact of solar farms on desert critters or the increase in bird and bat deaths linked to wind farms, renewable energy has long had a bit of a tenuous relationship with conservation. Although renewable energy advocates and conservationists are ostensibly on the same side, there's a tension there: To solve one environmental issue while creating another is unappealing at best and requires one to prioritize things like reducing carbon emissions and protecting habitat—aims most environmentalists consider equally important.

While solar farms are moving ahead in North America's deserts, mounting concern over the environmental impacts of wind farms are stalling developments in Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as in Vermont.

Now companies pursuing wave and tidal energy, both of which require the installment of buoys and turbines in the ocean, are working to head off any concerns about the impact of such equipment on marine ecosystems.

To that end, IBM announced this morning a new project in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority Ireland (SEAI) to test the impact of noise associated with wave energy installations on marine ecosystems at two sites in Ireland. One test site, in Galway Bay, is up and running, and IBM has been working with SEAI there already to monitor wave conditions, acoustics, marine life and pollution levels in and around the bay. A second site, in County Mayo, is currently being developed, and will provide testing for full-scale, grid-connected machines. Because the sites are government-funded and open to all, any manufacturer can apply to test their equipment there. MORE

Saving energy will lead to prosperity

It costs Ontario up to 94% less to save a kilowatt hour of electricity than to provide it by building new nuclear plants

saving moneyA study for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance by the Centre for Spatial Economics (CSE), one of the province's top economic forecasting firms, found reducing wasteful natural gas use alone would be a huge boon for our economy.

It projects over the next decade, reducing natural gas use would increase the provincial GDP by up to $5.5 billion (0.6%) per year and reduce the provincial deficit by as much as $479 million annually, by increasing productivity and employment and reducing the export of energy dollars.

This would come at no net cost to businesses and residents.MORE

There's no efficiency with this energy retrofit program

attention!Dawn Walton explains why the federal ecoEnergy Retrofit Program may end up costing you money. Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says, "Unless you retrofit your whole home, this program is useless to you." MORE


attention!Are you paying too much for gas?

The CCPA's Gas Gouge Meter measures in real time the difference between current retail prices in twenty cities in Canada and what would be a normal price, based on current crude oil prices, current exchange rates and normal profit margins for gasoline refining, distribution and marketing. MORE

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