September 30 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Researchers in Japan are working to create a strong material out of wood pulp that could replace steel parts in vehicles within a decade. Work is also charging ahead in the country to develop plastics that can withstand high temperatures, to replace metal for parts near the engine. These innovations are part of a wider industry push to make cars lighter. [BBC]
Replica Citroen 2CV crafted out of fruitwood (Getty Images)

Replica Citroen 2CV crafted out of fruitwood (Getty Images)

  • “A Call For Help For Puerto Rico” • Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, the island is entirely without grid power. It faces the prospect of remaining without grid power for months. It is appalling that citizens of the US are so exposed to hardship. But we could crowdfund microgrids in large numbers and get them up quickly. [CleanTechnica]
  • In a blatant money-grab for the coal industry, Rick Perry’s Energy Department is pushing for direct subsidies to dirty, un-economical coal-fired power plants. So much for “The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” So much for “Let market forces decide.” According to Rick Perry, dirty plants are needed as for “security.” [CleanTechnica]
  • The US DOE said it has offered conditional loan guarantees worth $3.7 billion to help save efforts to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, bringing the total federal backing for the delayed and over-budget project to $12 billion. The guarantees will go to three of the four owners of the plan to add two 1,150-MW reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. [Platts]
  • Pattern Energy Group has reported “no material damage” to its wind farms in Texas or Puerto Rico as a result of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria. However, it expects production in the third quarter of 2017 to below the long-term average, because of the weather conditions. The hurricanes made it necessary to evacuate wind farm employees. [reNews]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

from Green Energy Times http://www.greenenergytimes.org/2017/09/30/september-30-green-energy-news-4/
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A Call for Help for Puerto Rico

By George Harvey

Puerto Rico is in trouble. When Hurricane Maria struck on September 20, it was a Category 4 storm, which means that the highest sustained wind speeds were over 130 mph. It was a storm much like Hurricane Harvey, which hit Texas a little less than a month earlier, on August 26, and was the most destructive hurricane in the history of the United States. Maria was also rather like Hurricane Irma, which it Florida less than two weeks earlier, on September 10, and was the most powerful storm ever to develop over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean (as opposed to the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean). Hu Hurricane Maria was very much like those two record-breaking storms, except that it was in some ways the worst. It was the most intense storm of the season, with the lowest central pressure.

By the time Maria was done with Puerto Rico, it had completely destroyed the island’s transmission infrastructure. It also left thousands of people homeless. People are dying from heat exposure. They have very little water. They are running out of food.

The people of Puerto Rico are as much citizens of the United States as those who were born in New York or New England. They serve in the military, and they vote in national elections. I can personally bear witness to the fact that they are as capable of working hard and being productive as any group I have ever worked with. They are worthy people, and they need our help, because Hurricane Maria has left them without any electricity at all and has destroyed much of the transportation infrastructure.

Unfortunately, they are not getting the help they need from the federal government. After nine days, Most areas in Texas that had lost power to Harvey had it back, as had most areas in Florida in the same time after Irma. But nine days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico was hit, there has not been a single portion of the electrical grid that has been brought up again.

The situation is only getting worse. The governor of Puerto Rico has said it will take months, at the least, for many areas to get electric service restored. And with each passing day, more people get sick or die because of poor living conditions.

Nine days after the storm hit, a three-star general was assigned the job of getting things organized on the island. In our opinion, that is at least nine days longer than it should have taken. Nevertheless, the Trump administration is patting itself on the back for all its hard work.

We might observe that the navy should be engaged as well as the army. A fleet aircraft carrier typically has two nuclear reactors, with a combined power output of 550 megawatts (MW). One aircraft carrier could quite possibly power San Juan, bringing a semblance of normality to the lives of the people there. An action of this type was conducted by the USS Lexington (CV-2) in 1930, when it supplied 140 MW to the city of Tacoma for a month during a drought.

The federal government, however, seems to be too focused on reducing the services it provides to taxpayers to see its way clear to taking on the problem in Puerco Rico as a priority. President Trump has commented, which is proof, at least, that he is aware that Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

Perhaps the most dismaying statement about the island’s problem has come from Energy Secretary Rick Perry. He suggested that the island’s problems could be solved by installing a number of small modular nuclear reactors, an action that would take years to accomplish, if it can ever be done at all.

A better part of a solution to the problems of Puerto Rico has been suggested by an Australian web site, REneweconomy, in an article, “Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do.” Their suggestion is to provide the island with a large number of renewably-powered microgrids. They can be put up quickly at low expense, and will provide a much more resilient electric supply for the future. The biggest problem with this is how to fund it, a problem we thing the Trump administration might be unwilling to face.

We at Green Energy Times feel a need to reach out to assist our neighbors and fellow citizens in a time of need. We believe we can repower Puerto Rico by crowdfunding. We are not starting a campaign to do this on our own, but rather calling for towns, cites, and states, commercial businesses and industries, non-profit organizations, and anyone else who might wish to organize crowdfunding to do so. Many local crowdfunded campaigns could provide many microgrids.

The goal would be to send small to medium sized renewable systems for households, neighborhoods, and communities to get power back to the areas of Puerto Rico that have no power. The cost of doing this is surprisingly low. A town in Vermont could easily put together enough materials to get the lights on in a neighborhood. A single large city in this country could conceivably get San Juan back on its feet.

The logistics of this need to be worked out. We could see the Army helping with establishing solar power in Puerto Rico, once the materials are supplied. In the mean time, this is something we should be talking about, as we meet with neighbors and friends.

Puerto Rico deserves and needs our help. And if we can save Puerto Rico, maybe we can see our way clear to saving the rest of the world, as well.

from Green Energy Times http://www.greenenergytimes.org/2017/09/29/a-call-for-help-for-puerto-rico/
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Elon Musk wants to build a rocket that can fly you from New York to Shanghai in 30 minutes

Imagine being able to travel from New York to Shanghai in just 30 minutes. If Elon Musk — the visionary behind PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla — succeeds with his newest vision, a trip of this kind will soon be possible. During Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the entrepreneur shared his goal to build the code-named “BFR,” which could transport anyone anywhere on the planet in just 60 minutes. Musk, who has long-dreamed-of founding a human colony on Mars, is willing to use his own…

from Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building http://inhabitat.com/elon-musk-wants-to-build-a-rocket-that-can-fly-you-from-new-york-to-shanghai-in-30-minutes
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Greenbuild: The world’s biggest green building expo is coming to Boston

The world’s biggest conference dedicated to green building is coming to Boston this November, and you won’t want to miss it. The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will bring together experts, professionals and leaders in sustainable building for mind-blowing exhibits, learning activities, a Net Zero zone, and pavilions with the latest in green building technology.

from Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building http://inhabitat.com/greenbuild-the-worlds-biggest-green-building-expo-is-coming-to-boston
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Energy entrepreneur hopes to bring commuter rail to Vermont

In this Sept. 5, 2017 photo, David Blittersdorf, right, and Charlie Moore pose in Barre, Vt., in front of one of a dozen passenger rail cars Blittersdorf bought to try to jump-start a commuter rail system in Vermont. Moore, a long-time rail expert in the state, is working to make that happen.

In this Sept. 5, 2017 photo, David Blittersdorf, right, and Charlie Moore pose in Barre, Vt., in front of one of a dozen passenger rail cars Blittersdorf bought to try to jump-start a commuter rail system in Vermont. Moore, a long-time rail expert in the state, is working to make that happen.

David Blittersdorf spent $5 million of his own money to buy the fully functional, 1950s-era cars, and he has hired one of the state’s most experienced rail experts to get those cars carrying passengers once again.

“Part of the vision is you’ve got to show the pictures, you’ve got to show the real stuff,” Blittersdorf said recently inside one of the new cars. “If we were to buy the new hardware or worked the way the folks have been working on rail it would be decades away and we don’t have time. We have an oil crisis. We have a climate crisis.”

David Blittersdorf spent $5 million of his own money to buy the fully functional, 1950s-era cars, and he has hired one of the state’s most experienced rail experts to get those cars carrying passengers once again.

“Part of the vision is you’ve got to show the pictures, you’ve got to show the real stuff,” Blittersdorf said recently inside one of the new cars. “If we were to buy the new hardware or worked the way the folks have been working on rail it would be decades away and we don’t have time. We have an oil crisis. We have a climate crisis.”

Blittersdorf maintains many young people now don’t want to be tied to their vehicles, as their parents have been. He hopes to set up a public-private partnership that could run a commuter rail system with the cars he bought. He would like to see at least some of the cars carrying the first paying passengers in a year or so.

He hired out of retirement Charlie Moore, a 40-year veteran of the Vermont rail industry, to be president of his company AllEarth Rail, to work out the details. They are working to identify a first route, but possibilities are from Burlington, the state’s largest city, to Vergennes or Middlebury, communities to the south. Or between Essex Junction, just outside of Burlington, and Montpelier, the state capital.

from Green Energy Times http://www.greenenergytimes.org/2017/09/29/energy-entrepreneur-hopes-to-bring-commuter-rail-to-vermont/
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Carbon tax number one at climate hearing

(This story by by Cherise Madigan was posted Sunday in the Bennington Banner.)

Dr. Alan Betts, of Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, speaks at the Governor’s Climate Action Commission’s public hearing at Burr and Burton on Thursday. Photo by Cherise Madigan/Bennington Banner

Dr. Alan Betts, of Atmospheric Research in Pittsford, speaks at the Governor’s Climate Action Commission’s public hearing at Burr and Burton on Thursday. Photo by Cherise Madigan/Bennington Banner

MANCHESTER — The implementation of a carbon tax was the No. 1 request at a public hearing of Gov. Phil Scott’s Climate Action Commission at Burr and Burton Academy Thursday night.

Members of the commission, including locals Tom Donahue from BROC Community Action and Bill Laberge from Grassroots Solar, came to Manchester for one of four public hearings across the state.

“We’re here to get to the action; what do you want us to recommend to the governor?” asked Peter Walke, deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. “Our job is to make realistic recommendations. We all know that climate actions are needed, but we need to do it in a way that continues to drive Vermont forward and helps us reach all of the other goals that we have.”

The hearing brought out dozens of local activists, business owners, educators and ordinary citizens hoping to influence Vermont’s climate policy.

“Our economic system that maximizes profit and value now specifically discounts the future. In the process, it discounts the future of all of our children’s lives and the earth itself,” said atmospheric researcher, Dr. Alan Betts, of Pittsford, who served on Gov. James Douglas’ Climate Commission. “There’s a lot we have to pay for; both mitigation and dealing with Vermont’s issues. A carbon tax is an obvious source for that.”

Click here to read the entire article.

from Green Energy Times http://www.greenenergytimes.org/2017/09/29/carbon-tax-number-one-at-climate-hearing/
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SF Wave Organ captures the sounds of the sea to make haunting music

Installed in 1986, the Wave Organ is a somewhat obscure landmark, often overlooked due to its hard-to-find location at the end of a jetty east of the St. Francis Yacht Club. Making the trek out there, however, is worth it. Surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, the environmental artwork harnesses the pulse of the sea through 25 PVC and concrete pipes located at various elevations that transmit the sounds of crashing waves and gurgling water to elevated openings for listening….

from Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building http://inhabitat.com/sf-wave-organ-captures-the-sounds-of-the-sea-to-make-haunting-music
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