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So, I'm watching ESPN earlier (because I have nothing else to do), and I see a BREAKING NEWS alert across the bottom of the screen.  The news: Tiger Woods hit his first tee shot into the fairway.  I'm not kidding, this was breaking news.  And I'm thinking to myself, is this a sign that society is on its last legs?  I mean, I never believed those 2012 prophecies before, but now I'm starting to re-consider. Anyway, now for a smooth transition to the topic of this diary: renewable energy!

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Mississippi will be getting over 500 solar energy jobs:

Twin Creeks Technologies, a venture-backed solar technology start-up, is set to build a solar panel manufacturing facility in Senatobia, Mississippi. The production facility will create 512 jobs, in two phases, over the next five years and represents a company investment of more than US $175 million.

The State of Mississippi provided loan assistance totaling $50 million through the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority for this project. In addition, the State and the City of Senatobia will provide $4 million for infrastructure improvements at the site.

UPS is decreasing their carbon footprint:
UPS today announced its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles had expanded with the deployment of 200 next-generation hybrid electric delivery trucks in eight U.S. cities.

The 200 new hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) join roughly 20,000 low-emission and alternative-fuel vehicles already in use and have been deployed in Austin, Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Long Island, Minneapolis and Louisville. Before this latest deployment, UPS was operating 50 hybrid electrics in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix.

The 200 new HEV delivery trucks are expected to reduce fuel consumption by roughly 176,000 gallons over the course of a year compared to an equivalent number of traditional diesel trucks. The hybrids also should reduce by 1,786 metric tons the amount of CO2 gases released annually into the atmosphere.

In a somewhat related story, I saw today that UPS wants to hire 20,000 new drivers, but that 30% of the candidates don't make it through training.  

The DOE is building a new biofuels lab in Berkley:

U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Cathy Zoi today announced that the Department's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will build an advanced biofuels process development facility aimed at speeding the commercialization of advanced biofuels by allowing researchers and the private sector to test and integrate innovative technologies. The facility—funded with nearly $18 million from the Recovery Act—will be a publicly available facility where researchers can integrate process steps and test innovative technology pathways, such as those being developed at DOE's Office of Science Bioenergy Research Centers. This facility will be the only one of its kind available for public use.
Considering the nutjobs who have taken over the state's government, it's amazing that any scientific research is taking place in Virginia.  But the scientists @ UVA continue their fine work:
That tilt may soon be righted by researchers at the University of Virginia and the Seawater Foundation, who discovered that the most important source of the risk-benefit imbalance was the heavy reliance on fresh water and the need for petroleum-based fertilizer to improve plant productivity. Researchers at both organizations substituted wastewater rich in organic material and developed much cleaner and efficient practices for biofuels development.

Andres Clarens and colleagues in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Virginia found that algae production could be cleaner and municipal wastewater treatment costs could be reduced if the two processes worked together symbiotically.

One option studied by Clarens’s team includes growing algae in nutrient-rich wastewater, which reduces the need for synthetic fertilizer. In turn, the algae remove nutrients from the water and save energy by doing part of the treatment plant’s work. The consequence of scaling up the team’s work is potentially immense.  Removing nutrients from wastewater uses 60 to 80 percent of a treatment plant’s energy budget, said Clarens.

The Pentagon continues to work on renewable energy, this time teaming up the Navy w/the Department of Agriculture.  Among the Navy's goals:
The strategic goal is to reduce this country’s reliance on fossil fuels, especially on the battlefield where transportation costs can make a gallon of gas cost up to $400. The Navy has set several energy targets, featuring biofuels in most of them:

* When awarding contracts, appropriately consider energy efficiency and the energy footprint as additional factors in acquisition decisions.

* By 2012, demonstrate a Green Strike Group composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuel. By 2016 sail the Strike Group as a Great Green Fleet composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running on biofuel, and aircraft running on biofuel.

* By 2015 cut petroleum use in its 50,000 non-tactical vehicle commercial fleet in half, by phasing in hybrid, flex fuel and electric vehicles.

* By 2020, produce at least half of shore based installations’ energy requirements from alternative sources. Also 50 percent of all shore installations will be net zero energy consumers.

* By 2020 half of DON’s total energy consumption for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles and shore installations will come from alternative sources.

Tennessee has jumped on the biofuel bandwagon:
Tennessee’s Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for its grant program in which retail fuel station owners and farm co-operatives can seek support for biofuel projects.

The next round of the state’s Green Island Biofuel Corridor Network grant program is now open until April 30, 2010.  The program allows those promoting or selling blends of gasoline with ethanol (E85) and diesel with biodiesel (B20) to gain funding towards new capital projects such as refuelling stations.

You know how all those GOP Senators rail against global warming, saying it's all a hoax and that we don't need any "cap and tax" legislation?  Well, their contituents disagree.  Specifically, their constituents who also happen to be veterans disagree:
Republicans in the armed forces are coming back with much greener views on energy than the Senators that represent the Red States they come from, or the media that serves Republicans.

A VoteVets poll of returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, comprising mostly Republicans – only 20% were Democrats – mostly from the Red States in the South showed a strikingly stark chasm opening between vets and their Senators.  Asked “Do you favor or oppose a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America and limits carbon pollution in the atmosphere?”

73% of vets voted "Aye".

On top of that, 67% agree with the statement that “millions of new American jobs will be created in clean energy industries”, and they also say that such a program will help returning vets find work. And 56% believe funding and support for terrorism by oil producers will be reduced.  So, Senator Inhofe, who is it that hates America?

1500 solar jobs are coming to New Mexico:

A new solar energy company said Wednesday it will spend $500 million over the next five years to build a 1 million-square-foot plant in Rio Rancho that eventually will employ 1,500 and have an annual payroll of $64 million.

Green2V CEO Bill Sheppard, who ran Intel Corp.’s Rio Rancho plant in the 1990s, said the company expects to break ground on the 124-acre site in the next few weeks.

Green2V will manufacture solar cells and modular glass frames and will design, install, operate and finance the systems, Sheppard said.

You want to know why some areas just can't seem to jump on board the green energy bandwagon? Read this.  This particular story is about my state, but I'm sure the same thing is happening across the country.

A solar powered airplane had a successful test flight in Switzerland.

In Canada, the province of Ontario has embraced renewable energy:

The Ontario Power Authority, which designed and is in charge of administering the province’s feed-in-tariff program, announced micro and small/medium sized FIT contracts earlier this year totalling 112 megawatts. Today, it issued the big one: the awarding of 184 contracts for projects larger than 500 kilowatts. In total, and assuming all projects get developed, this works out to 2,421 MW of green-energy capacity.

Ground-mounted solar represented 76 of the projects and amount to more than 600 megawatts. Northland Power, a company normally associated with building natural gas plants, has 13 solar projects totalling 130 MW. Onshore wind projects number 47 and waterpower projects number 46. The Ontario government called this the “single-largest green energy initiative of its kind in Canada,” while environmental and pro-green industry groups called the contract approvals historic.

Interestingly, 264 MW worth of projects have been identified as “community power”. These projects are developed, owned and operated by Ontario landowners and groups comprised of First Nations and energy co-ops.  In other words, this really is people powered.  A contract was issued for a 300 megawatt offshore wind project in Lake Ontario, near Kingston’s Wolfe Island. This represents the first time a power-purchase contract granted to an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes.

The project is estimated to create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.  Sure would be nice to get in on that this side of the border.  Hello, Washington?  Is this thing on?

John Deere is under fire for doing the right thing:

Farming in many regions of the US is likely to be among the worst casualties of climate change over the next decades. So it is an obvious, ethical, sensible and responsible move that John Deere supports climate and energy legislation to reduce our use of climate-changing fossil fuels, by funding renewable alternatives through fees on polluters.

Predictably, however, Deere is being targeted by attack ads by Freedomworks that will be shown on CNN, Fox News, Headline News and the History Channel.

The lobbying group FreedomWorks is the group that created the Tea Party movement. Based in Washington, DC, it is run by Dick Armey, a former House Republican Majority Leader who is now a fossil industry lobbyist.

John Deere is one of many companies on the right side of this issue.  For a complete list of such companies, check out American Businesses for Clean Energy or US-Cap.org.  If you find a business you frequent on either site, you may want to drop them a line and let them know you appreciate their stance.  You know they're hearing plenty of garbage from the other side.

Apparently, the mountain pine beetle has really done a number on Colorado's 5 million acres of pine forests.  Nearly half of the forests have been decimated.  A California company, Cobalt Technologies, may have found a way to put those decimated forests to good use:

The company based in Mountain View, Calif., said it has achieved a “breakthrough” in producing biobutanol from insect-infested trees, of which Colorado has plenty.

Cobalt’s continuous fermentation process can also convert forestry waste and sawmill residues into the cellulosic biofuel.

Finally, I'd like to share a cool map I found with all of you.  It can be found at the NRDC website.  It's completely interactive.  It tells you about up and running renewable energy projects, and ones that are planned.  And, you can focus on your state or even your county.  I found that my home county has no renerable energy production, none planned, and really doesn't have enough renewable resources to make such projects worthwhile.  Don't I feel good.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to mark louis on Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 02:54 PM PDT.

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