Solar Impulse Continues From Dallas To St-Louis After A Week Pause.

Solar Impulse is the first ever solar plane projected to travel for the west to the east of the United States of America.  This is a Swiss long-range solar powered aircraft project being led by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The project eventually hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power. To me, major significance of the solar impulse is to open another industry of hybrid and renewable energy planes. The airline industry has been a major contributor to climate change in the transportation industry and the pollutions are not properly regulated because of its complexity.

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This first leg of this trip started from California to phoenix Sky Harbor international airport and later left phoenix on the 22nd of May, 2013 to Dallas Forth Worth international airport. The solar impulse airplane embarked on the third trip on Monday, June 3rd from Dallas, Texas to a stormy part of America – St. Louis, where the Solar Impulse team had put a portable, inflatable hangar to protect it from extreme weather. The third leg of Solar Impulse’s “Across America” odyssey may not have been a record-setting trip like last week’s flight from Phoenix to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport; But St. Louis could rank as the plane’s most challenging layover to date.

Solar Impulse arrived just days after a powerful storm swept through Lambert St. Louis-International Airport, damaging buildings and strewing the runway with debris. That meant the plane’s intended hangar wouldn’t be available – but Solar Impulse’s team said the flight had to go forward anyway. The plane took off at 4:06 a.m. CT Monday, and came in for a landing at 1:28 a.m. Tuesday, making a 21 hours nonstop flight on the 40 miles per hour aircraft.

I think this is a beautiful development, the project will proof that with proper research and development, short haul flight which is increasingly becoming the business strategies for airline operators could be successfully powered by solar energy with the help of a reliable back up battery. The future is bright for solar aircrafts and I believe there are vast un-tapped business potentials in the industry. I want you to start thinking of how you can invest in this emerging industry today.

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Your lawn mower is also causing climate change

Most of us want to keep pointing finger at others saying they are the ones causing climate change without looking within to consider how our lifestyle is also influencing it. Dr Bret Simmons’ leadership class at University of Nevada Reno taught me that in other to be an effective leader we should have the “rear view mirror” mentality of prudence. He said that “the evaluation of prudence is best made by looking in your rear view mirror, back at decisions you’ve made to confirm that the sacrifices you endured were justified by the rewards you earned.” Therefore to be an effective leader in the campaign against climate change, we should be able to access our lifestyle to know if we are making the right sacrifices to stop climate change on our part.

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According to several data analysis, it was discovered that in urban cities, more carbon dioxide is released from residential lawns mowers that are adding to the carbon footprint and thereby influencing climate change. Most of us will think that the impact our small lawnmower will make is little or nothing, forgetting the fact that it all adds up when the cumulative effect of all the mowers are considered.  Several states including the state of California has continually reduced lawn mower emission standard and some go to the extent of having a replacement program to exchange resident’s old mowers for a new efficient one. These regulations are working but it’s not by any means eliminating its carbon dioxides production. Some residence even go to the extent of buying mowers in states that have lower standards  to use it a different state that has a higher standard.

I think the best approach to this is by making individual assessment of our lifestyle, and see how much we are contributing to climate change, not to keep blaming the energy or oil and gas industry without making a move to support what we believe in. There are several electric power and rechargeable lawn mower that we can use and it will not emit any carbon to the atmosphere. We can also use solar powered lawn mower which will be the most ideal in this kind of situation. This is another call for us to change our lifestyle in order to stop climate change.  Protests and demonstrations alone cannot solve the problem if we are not resolved in our heart to make a change in our individual activities. Kindly make a move to get a zero emission lawn mower today.

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Lessons from Euro carbon market

Last November, California Air Resources Board flags off the first carbon market program in the United States of America despite the US senate’s 2010 failure to pass a national program. Given the state’s history of implementing environmental regulations that later becomes national policy, a successful cap-and-trade system could serve as a federal model in the future. I think the cap-and-trade idea is to make it more expensive to emit CO2, and to make green technologies-including renewable fuels, and carbon capture and sequestration-that are initially expensive more competitive with fossil fuels.If cap-and-trade in California fails, then that could be a big blow to its consideration as a national policy instrument in Washington.

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The European carbon program is going through some hard times. last week, the European parliament  voted 334-315 (with 60 abstentions) against a controversial “back-loading” plan that aimed to boost the flagging price of carbon, which since 2008 has fallen from about 31 euros per ton to about 4 euros (about $5.20).  This blog post is to make a quick assessment of the European carbon program and highlight some lesson the world could learn from its mode of operation.

I believe that what really plummet the European carbon market were the 2008 economic Recession and the subsequent anemic recovery that still lingers on till now. Due to the slow economic recovery, the demand for carbon reduces and the supply continues to increase; forcing a bad economics of scale. Tomas Wyns, director of the Center for Clean Air Policy Europe, a Brussels-based nonprofit said there should be a price-stabilization reserve that buys up allowances when prices are too low. The EU should have introduced a back-loading system that will take a chunk of the excesses out of the market creating an artificial scarcity that would have boosted the price of carbon.

The major opponents to the carbon market program are the major industries ranging from the steelmakers to beer brewers who argue that if the price of carbon goes up they will not be able to compete against competitors from other countries that are still benefiting from the already cheap energy sources like the shale gas in America. While I think it is a legitimate argument especially with the fragile state of European economic, it equally important to think about its potential risk

Although the US senate voted down the 2010 cap and trade proposal, I hope the European experience will not be a deterrent for future consideration.  I believe the complexity of European politics has contributed to the European carbon market problem and that with a stable political system and support, the US will definitely gain from a thoroughly planned emission trading program. The California carbon market is relatively young and will appreciate your positive criticism and comments below in order to make it better.

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4% power rate increase in Nevada if…

Yesterday, I read a blog posted by Josh Vega titled “Nevada Makes Moves to Clean Up” and feel it’s significant to also share my thoughts about this move. The proposal called ‘NVision’ will allow NV energy to shut down its coal-fired plants, increase investment in renewable energy and create thousands of construction jobs over the next 12 years.   Personally, I believe this is a very good gesture but we have to know that these moves come with a cost. The residences of Nevada need to braze up for a state-wide rate increase that will soon be effective as soon as the policy is approved by the legislatures. NV Energy estimates that the plan could result in a nearly 4 percent increase in rates over the next 20 years.

According to a sierra club report posted on its website, this report talked about the becoming benefit of shutting down the coal power unit at the Reid Gardner Power plants.  The report says that based on analysis,  “Sierra Club determined that the retirement of Reid Gardner units 1-3 in 2011 and of unit 4 in 2013 would reduce costs to customers by an estimated $121 million dollars over a 20-year planning horizon. While some of these savings have been lost due to NV Energy’s  ongoing expenditures at the plant and other influences, the Sierra Club analysis  estimates that the retirement of all four Reid Gardner units by 2013 would still save an estimated $59 million over a 20-year planning horizon”. With this analysis, I think this move should reduce the rate instead of increasing it for the state residences.

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Lastly, I just want to say that most of the units in the Reid Gardner power plant have been commissioned since the 1960s and they would have exceeded their design and economic life span.  Closing down the power plant should not in any means increase rate but rather reduce rate due to the advanced energy and cost saving technologies available in the industry.

I would not support that idea of using 25 percent  renewable energy generation as bait to make the residents pay a rate increase because that has been formally planned in the state of Nevada renewable energy policy as provided on the center for climate and energy solution website which NV Energy is expected to meet. I think the Nevada power utility commission and the state legislatures needs to critical look at this ‘NVision’ proposal and make sure the citizens will not be over paying for power utility in the state. Kindly leave a comment and let your voice be heard on this issue.
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U.S. Energy-related CO2 emission lowest in 20 years

Hey guys, I’ve got good news today.  According to the data posted by the US energy information administration, Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the United States during 2012 fell to the lowest level since 1994.  I believe this is a step in the right direction if want to meet our goal of reducing CO2 and other related GHGs in the near future.The assessment concludes that about 5.3 billion metric tons of CO2 were emitted from coal, natural gas, and oil consumption during the year 2012, a 3.7 percent decline relative to 2011 and 12.1 percent below the peak of 6 billion tons hit in 2007. The EIA cited increased use of natural gas and falling consumption of coal as the primary reason for the drop in emissions of the greenhouse gas.

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The report stated an increase in natural gas and decrease in Coal plants CO2 production. CO2 emissions from coal were down 18% to 387 million metric tons in the January-March 2012 period. That was the lowest-first quarter CO2 emissions from coal since 1983 and the lowest for any quarter since April-June 1986. The decline in coal-related emissions is due mainly to utilities using less coal for electricity generation as they burned more low-priced natural gas.About 90% of the energy-related CO2 emissions from coal came from the electric power sector. Coal has the highest carbon intensity among major fossil fuels, resulting in coal-fired plants having the highest output rate of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.

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This CO2 reduction was attributed to three main reasons as stated in the report which are;

  • A mild winter that reduced household heating demand and therefore energy use
  • A decline in coal-fired electricity generation, due largely to historically low natural gas prices
  • Reduced gasoline demand

Words cannot express how glad I am to see this report, but it’s also important to say that we still have a long way to go as a country. The US still remains the second highest producer of CO2 emissions just a little behind china. Remember to drop your comments and join us in this battle to make the world a better place.

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Hard times for solar energy industry

The solar energy industry is taking some big hits these days as major investors are quitting the business. I think this is bad for the economy and also a major setback in the campaign to mitigate global warming. As I was listening to the NPR morning edition report last week, I remembered the BP (British Petroleum) current CEO announcing that BP will be quitting the solar business. BP CEO, Bob Dudley said in his words,  “We have thrown in the towel on solar” , he also continued by saying “Not that solar energy isn’t a viable energy source, but we worked at it for 35 years, and we really never made money,”  The company now says it is focusing on those sectors of the energy industry where we can profitably grow our business  which means a shift to wind and bio-fuels. As we all know BP is still struggling with the cleanup cost of the deep water horizon spill of 2010 and might still be required to pay more in response to the several class action law suits that faces the company.Image

I also read in a separate report that the Chinese solar companies are also taking the heat. The country is sick of losing money on its struggling solar panel manufacturers, and is encouraging mergers amongst debt-ridden companies and also discouraging local governments from stepping in to support them. This economic problem is causing several solar companies to close down or diversify its investment.

I think this a not a good news for the clean energy project. This will also reduce investment into solar energy research and will set back the advancements that have been seen in the industry over the past 10 years. Its high time government set up its funding on solar energy research and encourages tertiary institutions to intensify effort in making solar energy efficient and affordable.  I will appreciate your comments below on how to make solar energy affordable and more available to all.

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