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Renewables - May 12

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Solar-cooker project could cut air pollution

Mike Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune
Veerabhadran Ramanathan tours the globe to conduct experiments and advise world leaders about climate change.

He helped craft the United Nations' landmark report in 2007 on global warming, and his research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla has been featured in major journals such as Nature.

... But at 63, Ramanathan seeks more than scientific accomplishment. He wants to use his knowledge to help poorer nations improve their quality of life and fight global warming at the same time.

His budding vision is Project Surya - Sanskrit for sun. The idea is to give about 3,500 solar and other “clean energy” cooking devices to families in Mukteshwar, a rural area in the Himalayas, and study if the smokeless cookers effectively slash levels of atmospheric soot.

About half of the world's people cook and heat their homes with fires fueled by dung, wood, crop residues and other high-polluting materials.

If Project Surya were expanded to hundreds of millions of people in various countries, Ramanathan expects that it would buy the world an additional decade or two to control emissions of carbon dioxide, which most scientists say is the major human influence on global warming.

Climate change “is going to impact all of us, but developing and poor nations are going to be more vulnerable,” Ramanathan said. “Everybody has to do something about it.”
(11 May 2008)

Rockefellers get more muscle in Exxon fight

Associated Press via AJC
Proxy weapons: Founding family wants more focus on renewable energy, less on short-term profits.
The Rockefeller family and shareholders pushing Exxon Mobil to focus more on renewable energy now have the backing of a powerful advisory group for institutional investors.

The RiskMetrics Group also came out in support of another proxy supported by the Rockefellers, who want the position of chief executive and chairman, currently held by Rex Tillerson, to be split.

... Some family members said they are concerned that Exxon Mobil is too focused on short-term gains from soaring oil prices and should do more to invest in cleaner technology for the future.
(11 May 2008)

On the Record: Vinod Khosla (interview)
(Podcast and text)
San Francisco Chronicle
... biofuels, one of the industry's main obsessions, have come under fierce attack lately as a possible cause of food shortages.

Enter Vinod Khosla, one of green tech's most prominent investors. He has funded entrepreneurs building solar power plants that will dwarf football fields and companies that will make ethanol from wood chips.

Khosla met recently with a group of Chronicle reporters to talk about the future of green tech and discuss which technologies will thrive while others die. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Chronicle Business Editor Al Saracevic and reporters David R. Baker, Ilana DeBare and Deborah Gage participated in this interview
(11 May 2008)
Contributor daveinmarinca writes:
An in-depth interview with Vinod Khosla, a pioneer in alternative energy. Khosla predicts oil and coal's days are numbered as advances in cellulosic ethanol research will drive the manufacturing cost down to $1/gallon. Khosla is the Ray Kurzweil of energy presenting a time table for cheap, environmentally neutral fuels for the entire world.

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