Friday, June 26, 2015
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT STRUGGLES, BUT CONTINUES TO ADVANCE
Having been involved with sustainable energy resources BEFORE the first Energy Crisis in 1973, I've long lamented that the solar energy industry just happened by accident. The fundamental science and engineering have not yet been developed. Companies jump into the commercialization on the range of renewable technologies and many fail, most because they have high expectations and this potential is not yet real.
A good example might be fuels from algae. I had my first such project with the Electric Power Research Institute to enhance the growth of micro algae by feeding carbon dioxide from power plant stack gasses into a raceway. That was exactly 40 years ago. Here we had a system that theoretically could produce up to ten times the biomass compared to any terrestrial crop, while neutralizing global warming. How much more terrific can a project be? This was not my bioreactor, but I'm standing next to an advanced concept built by my Institute at the University of Hawaii two decades later. So what happened? There is a huge difference between theory and reality. The basic fundamental research had not yet been accomplished when we fiddled around with these micro algae-to-fuel efforts.
Finally, the U.S. Department of Energy is, four decades later, beginning to establish Bioenergy Technologies Incubators. In time, the field should better be able to become commercially competitive.
On another positive front, the Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act is being advanced by a bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress to allow renewables to participate in tax breaks on larger projects. Only fossil fuels are currently eligible. Rather than having your eyes glaze over with the details, for those interested, click on that Act to read about this effort.
The legislation is being co-sponsored by Chris Coons (D-DE, above left) and Mark Mason (R-KS, above right) in the Senate and Ted Poe (R-TX. left) and Mike Thompson (D-CA, right) in the House. This practical, market-driven solution will unleash private capital and create jobs, Coons said. He stated that in addition to broad support from Republicans and Democrats, the MLP Act has also received the support of academics, investors, and business leaders. Incidentally, how's this for a background: Senator Coons is a Yale Lawyer who was a relief volunteer in Kenya, worked for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York and campaigned for Ronald Reagan's presidency. Note, he is now a Democrat. As you might have perceived, there is also a dominance of white, Anglo-Saxon males in solar energy.
Many can't afford to just fly to any major solar conference around the world, but there are options these days, such as webcasts. These tend to be almost always free. So, if you have an hour or so at 1PM EDT (5PM GMT) on Tuesday, June 30, register for:
Answers will be provided to the following questions;
The speakers will all be from DNV GL: Ray Hudson (above left, Director), Terrance Schuyler (above right, Principal Consultant, DNV GL) and Michael Kleinberg (just above, right, Senior Consultant). DNV GL is a European organization involved with certification and classification.
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! There are no major ocean storms and the weather in Hawaii will continue to be fabulous.