The Vanguard – helping explore space, one step at a time.
Here that is:
So much energy from so many people. We can do this.
by Abi Skipp
An online conversation with a young energy activist turned solar entrepreneur.
Here we have a couple of entrepreneurs who are leading new approaches to financing the needs we will have for future energy.
What is interesting is both were clean energy activists who have taken to new approaches for raising capital to fund needed cleantech projects. Instead of fighting capitalism, they are bending it to their needs.
Mosaic allows people to make microinvestments (as low as $25) into clean energy projects with perhaps 4.5% interest on their investment. The projects were funded with hours. It has invested over $2 million using about $1000 in marketing expenses.
Mosaic raises money for solar projects and as the projects generate revenue, some of that revenue accrues to the investors. Those investors are regular people.
And they are doing this with just 3 employees focussed full time on origination, underwriting and servicing of loans. No Wall Street firm could ebven look at this with just 3 employees. (Mosaic actualy has 7 people working on its IT.)
Think of that – a financial services company with over twice as many people working on IT than working on the financial services.
It can work because the cost for solar panels has dropped tremendously. And crowdsourcing approaches permit them to disintermediate Wall Street brokers.
That is, ‘notes’ can be issued for projects that would not be moneymakers for Wall Street. A community project costing $100,000 would not be worthwhile to most companies because their profit would be too low. Their models require tens of million or more for it to make money for them.
Here, being able to broker many, many notes to people can work. They make it up in quantity, along with the drop in actually doing the process.
They take a small fee for administrating the note of 1% of the total interest. So the note is actually at perhaps 5.5% and they pay out 4.5%.
Read a prospectus to understand more. As with most investments, there are risks. But the ability to directly invest in local community projects that would have a very hard time selling binds is truly amazing.
It is like a whole new way to create bonds in the days of the Information Age.
Mosaic has over 10,000 people waiting to invest in the next projects.
And things will really change when the SEC publishes the rules about crowdinvesting. That will make it easier for microinvestment in corporations, altering the way stocks are sold in the same way this is changing the way bonds are created.
The other company is taking a non-profit approach to the same thing – letting people donate money rather than invest.
Both will be hugely disruptive to Wall Street, all while making capital flow more easily for small investors.
So expect the big guys to do what they can to stop it.
It’s not often Seattle can go toe-to-toe with Phoenix in the hot weather department for the crown of hottest big city in America, but Monday, the Emerald City held its own.
Seattle and Phoenix both reached 87 degrees — smashing the daily record of 79 for Seattle; a few degrees cooler than the normal 91 for Phoenix.
But at least on this particular day, no other major city in the United States could claim to be as warm.
Ten degrees hotter than Houston, where I used to live. Twenty-three degrees warmer than Boulder, where I also used to live.
It was cooler where I live, reaching only 81°F. It’s down to 55 •F right now.
Not often we are so much warmer than the rest of the country. Supposed to cool off somewhat on Tuesday.
Ramez Naam says: “Back in November, you posted about investor Jeremy Grantham’s argument that ‘we’re headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.’
“I have a rebuttal up at Business Insider, based on my new book on saving the planet [The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet], that I thought you might in interested in.”
Perhaps 100-fold less is spent supporting solar power. Yet it will soon cost about the same as heavily subsidized coal and natural gas.
Then we will be subsidizing fossil fuels in order for them to be competitive with solar. Is that messed up or what?
(Stanford University) The construction of the photovoltaic power industry since 2000 has required an enormous amount of energy, mostly from fossil fuels. The good news is that the clean electricity from all the installed solar panels has likely just surpassed the energy going into the industry’s continued growth, Stanford researchers find.
Pretty cool. The data indicate that the amount of energy needed to create photovoltaic arrays is now less than the amount of energy being produced. Declining energy costs to produce the solar arrays is the main reason. And these costs are expected to continue to decline.
This is not just the energy needed to make PV arrays today. The energy debt created by using coal-fired power plants to produce PV arrays since 2000 will be paid off by 2015, if things continue. This means that not only has the energy deficit been dealt with but all the energy used before that time will have been ‘paid’ off.
By 2020, about 10% of the world’s energy needs would be from PV systems. And, if things continue, only 2% of the world’s electricity will be needed to support them.
What is amazing is that Germany makes up 40% of the installed market yet it has fewer sunny days than Seattle. Heck, Alaska is sunnier than Germany.
The chart shows the kWh per square meter per year. The entire Southwest gets twice as much solar energy per year as Germany. Most of the US gets 50% more than Germany. Yet Germany is using solar power at a huge rate.
Solar power has an energy capacity of 33,000 megawatts in Germany. In the US it has only about 7000 MW of which only 4000 is connected to the grid.. We might get up to 13,000 MW total capacity by the end of this year.
Less sun but 4 times more energy produced. Looks like we have some catching up to do.
What’s the Latest Development? Asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries said yesterday in a statement that 2012 DA14, scheduled to pass within less than 18,000 miles of Earth on Friday, could be worth as much as $195 million in water and minerals. However, they stressed that the amount was …
Deep Space Industries has stated they are still trying to find investors.So it makes sense for them to hype to potential of a nearby asteroid. Yes, it would be valuable if it as made of valuable stuff.
But it is pretty much a typical one – lots of iron-nickel, which would be valuable to space construction but not for paying back the billions to mine it.
Sydney experiences its hottest day on record, with temperatures reaching 45.8C, as bushfires leave one man dead in Victoria.
And there were even hotter places in the vicinity. Wildfires are burning up huge areas of the continent, already killing some.
This high was almost a full degree warmer than the previous high from 1939. It was so hot that electrical wires for the urban rail systems were damaged.
Facebook/Stu Ostro via. University of Dundee, Scotland.
It’s on. Sunday, January 20th will see a couple dozen of the best big-wave surfers in the world descend on Pillar Point for the Maverick’s Invitational. This makes Jeff Clark one happy dude. As well it should. After a couple years of not running – and a series of political conflicts between event organizers, surfers and Clark – he’s back on as contest director for the event.
There was real possibility earlier in the week that two big wave competitions would take place – the ‘Eddie’ in Hawaii (which I watched live in 2009) and this one at Mavericks in California.
These events are only held when really big swells come in, producing monster 30-40 foot waves. The picture above shows they are happening this week.
This was a North Pacific storm . It had a barometric reading of 932 millibars, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, with 65 foot waves. It intensified more rapidly than any other storm ever seen at this latitude. It was over 1400 miles in diameter. Some called it a superstorm.
And the waves can be deadly for those on the shore. The ocean can look flat for a while and then a sneaker wave can pop up and pull people under. Here is what happened at Mavericks in 2010:
This time they will not let people get that close.
It is the beginning of a New Year, and belatedly, I hope that all readers find this new period to be one of prosperity, health and happiness. It would be encouraging if the portents for our energy future would point in that direction, but unfortunately I can’t see nearly as much optimism in that regard as do others who are similarly reviewing where the global energy supply numbers are going. This week the EIA’s ”The Week in Petroleum” is illustrative of the optimistic vision.
Figure 1. Recent projection from the EIA on American Oil Production (EIA TWIP Jan 9, 2013)
This plot is from the new Short-Term Energy Outlook from the EIA, which projects the numbers through to 2014, at which time: the Agency anticipates that US domestic production will rise to 7.9 mbd, the highest since 1988. Growth is expected to extend beyond just the Bakken:
In particular, drilling in tight oil plays in the Williston (which includes the Bakken formation), Western Gulf (which includes the Eagle Ford formation), and Permian basins are expected to account for the bulk of growth through 2014. Williston Basin production is expected to rise from an estimated December 2012 level of 0.8 million bbl/d to 1.2 million bbl/d in December 2014. Western Gulf Basin production rises from an estimated December 2012 level of 1.1 million bbl/d to 1.8 million bbl/d in December 2014. Within the Western Gulf Basin, roughly 0.4 million bbl/d of the oil production is outside of the Eagle Ford formation. The Western Gulf Basin accounts for more than half of the onshore domestic liquids production growth due to a comparatively large amount of liquids coming from both oil and gas wells compared with the other key production basins. The Permian Basin in West Texas, which includes plays such as Spraberry, Bonespring, and Wolfcamp, is a third key growth area. EIA estimates that crude oil production from the Permian Basin reached 1.2 million bbl/d in December 2012. Permian Basin production is projected to increase to 1.4 million bbl/d in December 2014.
The long decline in oil production in the US reversed itself under Obama’s first term. It has continued to rise and now stands higher than in 25 years.
This does not mean that oil is cheap. we have pretty much pulled most of the cheap oil out of the ground – all the $1 a gallon gasoline, so to speak. We are now pulling out the oil that represents maybe $3.30 a gallon of gas.
But we are pulling it out, at such high levels that there are now very severe changes happening in the direction oil refinery stocks travel – instead of the Gulf Coast as oil was imported , now it comes from the mid-US.
Human greenhouse gas emissions have continued to warm the planet over the past 16 years. However, a persistent myth has emerged in the mainstream media challenging this. Denial of this fact may have been the favorite climate contrarian myth of 2012, first invented by David Rose at The Mail on Sunday with an assist from Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry, both of whom later doubled-down on the myth after we debunkedit. Despite these repeated debunkings, the myth spread throughout the media in various opinioneditorials and stunts throughout 2012. The latest incarnations include this article at the Daily Mail, and a misleadingly headlined piece at the Telegraph.
As a simple illustration of where the myth goes wrong, the following video clarifies how the interplay of natural and human factors have affected the short-term temperature trends, and demonstrates that underneath the short-term noise, the long-term human-caused global warming trend remains as strong as ever.
Here is the video:
It is quite straightforward to mathematically remove the heating and cooling effects of global events, such as volcanoes or El Nino, as well as solar effects such as changes in energy hitting the Earth.
What we are left with after removing these data is a clear trend of temperature increase that has not changed in the last 30 years or more. Whatever is causing it has not suddenly disappeared recently.
The only driver of heat that fits the curve – and actually fits it pretty well – is the increasing heat contained by the greenhouse effect derived from increasing greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. And the only place where enough greenhouse gas is being released over this entire time period is derived from human activities.
The world is still getting warmer, almost every single year. We need to start getting serious about fixing the problem.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 was far and away the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, beating 1998 by a full degree Fahrenheit.
These charts put that warmth into historical perspective for the country as a whole, and for a few select cities.
The 1°F margin between 2012 and 1998 may not seem like much at first, but usually such temperature records are set by just a few fractions of a degree. As seen in this NOAA chart, 2012 towers above the pack of warm years.
Temperature departures from average throughout 2012 as compared to the previous 5 warmest and 5 coolest years.
Click to enlarge the image. Credit: NOAA.
Every state in the continental U.S. had temperatures that were above average, and 19 states, from Utah to Massachusetts, had record warm annual average temperatures. In South Dakota, annual average temperatures were 4.4°F above average, putting 2012 in the top spot on the list of warmest years there.
A total of 45 states had annual average temperatures that ranked among their top 10 warmest on record. The three exceptions in the lower 48 were Georgia, which had its 11th-warmest year, Oregon, where 2012 was the 12th-warmest year, and Washington, which was the coldest state in the contiguous U.S. this year, with its 30th-warmest year. (Here is a list of the annual temperatures for each of the lower-48 states, as well as a Climate Central interactive on 2012 state temperatures.)
Statewide ranks of 2012 average temperatures. Any state marked “118″ had its warmest year on record in 118 years of recordkeeping.
Luckily I happened to live in the coolest state of the lower 48 last year. Out of 118 years of record-keeping, last year was only 89th.
But the rest of the states got hit pretty hard, with most being the warmest ever. Not a lot of fun to look forward to.
Need to start finding solutions.
Versatile and responsive to management, corn is grown throughout the world for everything from food to animal feed to fuel. A new use for corn could soon join that list, as researchers in China investigate the crop’s ability to induce “suicidal germination” in a devastating parasitic weed.
The weed – sunflower broomrape (what a name!) – devastates the sunflower crops in China. Sunflowers are a major source of oil.
But the weed is a parasite, lacking chlorophyll of its own. And it turns out that corn results in germination of the weed when it cannot survive.
The roots of the corn plant apparently produce high levels of a germination stimulant, forcing the weed to germinate when it is not developmentally ready, essentially killing its chances of spreading.
So it may very well be possible to incorporate corn plants into the sunflower fields as a way to naturally control the spread of a weed.
They get the sunflower oil and, in addition, also get some corn they can sell. A nice win-win for the farmers.
BBC weatherman Nick Miller looks at the science behind what happened to Britain’s wild weather in 2012.
Britain went fro the worst drought in a generation to record-setting rains – the wettest year on record. And it may have been caused by a similar event seen in North America – the placement of the jet stream.
We just witnessed a winter storm in the USA driven by the jet stream. It snowed in Little Rock. There were ice storms across the country.
The position of the jet stream can vary by quite a bit. In early December, two large highs – in the North Pacific and on in the North Atlantic, pushed the jet streams farther north, bringing warm temperatures. The Atlantic one is a cyclical one called the North Atlantic Oscillation. This same weather event affects both Europe and the Eastern US. It seems to fluctuate randomly.
The Atlantic high is called the Pacific/ North American teleconnection pattern (PNA) that is mixed up with the jet stream. It is influenced by El Niño/La Niña events.
Both are involved in the Arctic oscillation and thus determine when and where cold Arctic weather falls lower into the US or Europe. Some of the deepest negative phases ever seen have happened in the last few years.
And this is also one of the areas we need more research. We know that the Arctic Oscillation affects the jet streams and thus our weather. We do not have a precise idea of the effect of climate change on the Arctic Oscillation and the jet stream. As the BBC video states, the effect of melting arctic waters is still an area of current research.
Our new CCS Security and Investment Project provides a comprehensive leadership strategy for the emerging energy economy and the trend to safer and more sustainable approaches.
It details how past progress has been made by localities, states, and national agencies to meet climate, energy, and economic goals at the same time. And it points to specific new actions that can do more now.
The project addresses three important questions:
- How much has the US done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and how has this been accomplished?
- How can the US take significant new actions that improve climate, economic, and energy security?
- How can these new actions generate needed investment?
One of the great things about America’s collection of federated states is that each state can experiment with policy decisions. And the best ones can be used by all.
This report looks ta several questions regarding the reduction in fossil fuel usage. Sure, some is due to the Great Recession but a large part of the reduction comes from policy decisions being made nationwide.
The report indicates that we can go a long way towards meeting our goals if we take several of the policies used through out the US and used them nationally.
These could get us to 73% of the goal we have set by the year 2030.
We could accomplish a lot of this without having to make huge changes in the economy,
Here is how we might do it: