April, 2010 Archives
Renewable energy resources rapidly are becoming a prerequisite for location decisions. There are many factors to consider in evaluating the green credentials of candidates. Q My company is considering where we should build a new facility to manufacture a product designed to take advantage of renewable energy sources. We want the new facility to be located in a region, state, and community that encourages the development and use of environmentally-friendly technologies and practices. How should we evaluate potential locations for our facility? The Expert Says: I will start from a macro perspective. To state the obvious, your company would do best to consider a country with good environmental conditions and a good record on environmental issues. By most respects this would limit your search to the developed countries rather than developing nations. Diving down a little deeper, there are a number of factors that should be considered at a regional level. I will start first with air quality. The condition of a region’s air quality is an important measure for a lot of manufacturers who are seeking federal air permits to discharge pollutants from their facilities. If this applies to your facility, then you will want to focus your search on areas that are in attainment for all of the criteria pollutants measured by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Beyond your own discharge issues, it may also be important to your company to be located in a community that has a strong history of monitoring and protecting the quality of its air. As such, the EPA attainment status remains an important factor. In addition, for companies that are vigilant about monitoring the environmental impact that its products and facilities have, you will also want to pay close attention to the energy and utility capacity of the communities that you are considering. On the electricity side, you will want to evaluate the generating sources owned and operated by the electric utility provider. You may actually elect to only consider communities that are served by an energy company whose generating portfolio is in a majority of renewable sources. If your process involves a lot of water and/or wastewater production, the planning and administration of regional water and wastewater systems will be an important issue for evaluation. You will want to consider whether or not the regional systems are using cutting edge technology for the capture, treatment, recycling and release of the water and wastewater resources. It will also be important to consider the capacity of the systems under consideration, as you do […]
Brendan Miller became New Mexico’s first Green Economy Manager in 2008. We asked him to explain his role and the state’s clean-energy strategy. BF: What is New Mexico’s strategy for development of alternative energy growth? BM: Gov. Richardson’s Green Jobs Cabinet (GJC) has identified five key goals for New Mexico: 1) Be the leader in renewable energy export, 2) Be the Center of the North American Solar Industry, 3) Lead the nation in Green Grid innovation, 4) Be a center of excellence in green building and energy efficiency, 5) Have a highly skilled and ready-to-work workforce. BF: Many states are focusing on one type of renewable energy, while others are trying to build a diversified base. Should each region “play to its strength” or is diversification the key to success? BM: We have been stressing the importance of economic and energy diversification across the state. In New Mexico we are blessed with strong solar, wind and geothermal potential and we plan to develop all three. These various sources can support each other by increasing the load factor on transmission lines since they are available at different times of the day. This means less natural gas or storage will be needed to back up intermittent renewable energy sources, reducing costs. I believe it is important at the utility scale to play to regional strengths to compete. BF: What are the major economic development challenges that may arise from a cap-and-trade system? BM: With New Mexico’s strong history of oil and gas production, we have to find a way to strike a balance on cap and trade issues. Carbon pricing can stimulate innovation but it can also produce business and job “leakage” if it is unevenly implemented between states. Our department generally considers national or regional cap and trade structures that create a level playing field between states a reasonable compromise. BF: How critical is it to create an infrastructure for clean energy technologies, including major new transmission systems? BM: Transmission is absolutely critical for a state like ours with a large renewable energy resource and a small population. We must find ways to get our power to major demand centers, which is why our Renewable Energy Transmission Authority is so important. Energy storage and other green grid / smart grid infrastructure will also be critical. We are working to make progress on all of these fronts. BF: Many governors are calling for national standards that would set a goal of 10% of U.S. electric power derived from renewable sources by 2012. […]
Although it still is awaiting a federal permit to build a controversial offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, Boston-based Cape Wind has signed an agreement to buy 130 wind turbines for the project from Siemens Energy Inc. Siemens concurrently announced it will open an office in Boston for U.S. offshore wind projects. Asked why Cape Wind made the agreement now, before the federal government’s permitting decision, spokesman Mark Rodgers told Boston.com: “We’ve been working hard for the last year to make our selection, and now that we’ve made it, we thought, why wait?’’ Siemens Energy’s parent company, Siemens AG, based in Munich, has a U.S. headquarters in Orlando, Fla. The company’s U.S. Wind Power division has grown from one employee in December 2004 to more than 1,000 employees today. MA Gov. Deval Patrick praised the development. “The opening of a local Siemens offshore wind energy office is another significant step forward for the clean energy industry we have growing in Massachusetts,’’ Patrick said in a statement. The model of Siemens turbine that Cape Wind agreed to purchase is an industry workhorse, with 1,000 units sold and 150 units installed and successfully operating, the company said. Each is capable of generating 3.6 megawatts of power. According to the American Wind Energy Association, a megawatt of wind generates enough electricity to power 225 to 300 households for a year. Globally, Siemens commands more than 50 percent of the world’s offshore wind market. Rodgers told Boston.com Cape Wind’s decision came down to Siemens or Vestas Wind Systems, based in Denmark.
Nearly 20 months after the fiscal collapse they engineered almost destroyed the global economy, the movers-and-shakers on Wall Street have had an epiphany. At a press conference held this morning at a soup kitchen in Manhattan’s downtrodden Bowery, a dozen of the most powerful investment titans announced that billions of dollars in bonuses they have siphoned from federal bailout funds will be donated to a new charitable foundation. The $800-billion fund officially will be called Angels of Walls Street, but some insiders at the big investment banks are referring to it as “Our Ticket Out of Hell.” “We can’t live with this anymore,” a tearful Richard Fuld told a room full of astonished business and financial journalists. “You know we’re guilty, we know we’re guilty, everybody knows we’re guilty.” Fuld, the former chief of now-defunct Bear Stearns, said the idea for a bonus-financed charitable foundation came to him last week as he was crossing a busy Manhattan intersection and was almost struck by a vehicle that veered across three lanes of traffic. “This is the sixth time this has happened to me in the past month, and none of the cars were Toyotas,” he said. “It occurred to me that this might not be a mechanical malfunction associated with unintended acceleration.” The idea for converting bailout bonuses into a new charity really developed a head of steam when Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was fished out of the Gowanus Canal on Monday afternoon. Blankfein, who appeared confused as he was pulled from the notorious Brooklyn waterway, claimed he was inspecting the nation’s newest Superfund toxic waste site as “a possible investment opportunity.” However, sources close to Goldman said Blankfein has been “extremely depressed” in recent weeks. At a Goldman board meeting convened to finalize plans for new derivatives that would purchase individual life insurance policies, bundle and sell them to investors, and then place short-selling side bets on when the individual would die, witnesses said Blankfein burst into tears and shouted at the board. “This is the Devil’s work!” he reportedly screamed. Former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, who presided over Citigroup when the world’s largest bank disintegrated, said the first task of the Angels of Wall Street foundation will be to purchase 10 million foreclosed homes and give them back to their original residents. Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain told the press conference he is donating $45-million worth of Japanese origami sculptures he purchased to decorate his office bathroom shortly before the financial collapse. Standing on the side of the room during […]
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief The people who make those giant cardboard sunglasses that shield car windshields from the baking summer sun are going to have to find a new line of work soon. The folks in Tucson, AZ have a better idea—they’re covering outdoor parking facilities with solar panels. Futuristic solar arrays are transforming the Arizona landscape and giving Tucson bragging rights as “The Solar City.” Our cover design pays homage to Tucson’s ambitions by imagining a photovoltaic canopy over the entire city, which isn’t as big a stretch as you might think. This month, we herald the arrival of the Age of Alternative Energy. On these pages, we detail the frenzied activity across the country as every state is powering up by capturing sunlight, harnessing the wind and converting wastelands into biofuel. Even before a national goal for electricity from renewable sources has been established, the race to the finish line is well underway. The economic recovery and alternative energy are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. When billions of dollars in stimulus grants were earmarked for alternative energy projects last year, some thought this was a long-term response to a short-term need. Now, it seems, everyone has healthy case of green-power fever. So don’t hesitate to say goodbye to a bitter winter of economic discontent and punch your ticket to The Solar City, where the future’s so bright it’s got its own shades.