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Renewables - March 22

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Hydropower from Old Washing Machines

Lee Bruno, AlwaysOn
OK. It’s New Zealand, not Australia. But this company called EcoInnovation still reminds you a little bit of Road Warrior. Founder and chief engineer Michael Lawley has built his “renewable energy store” on the ingenious redeployment of everyday household appliances.

Among other things, the company recycles SmartDrive motors from salvaged washing machines to generate hydropower. Of course, you need to be near a river or stream.

Yes, micro-hydro turbines that can tap into the movement of medium flowing streams and turn a turbine that can deliver most of the electrical requirements of a small home.

Lawley says the company has been able to recycle the motors from salvaged domestic washing machines – aka Whirlpool. The company claims its already made 1,000 successful installations of its micro-hydro device as well as wind and solar power systems.
(16 March 2009)

'Biochar' goes industrial with giant microwaves to lock carbon in charcoal

Alok Jha, Guardian
Climate expert claims to have developed cleanest way of fixing CO2 in 'biochar' for burial on an industrial scale
Giant microwave ovens that can "cook" wood into charcoal could become our best tool in the fight against global warming, according to a leading British climate scientist.

Chris Turney, a professor of geography at the University of Exeter, said that by burying the charcoal produced from microwaved wood, the carbon dioxide absorbed by a tree as it grows can remain safely locked away for thousands of years. The technique could take out billions of tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year.

Fast-growing trees such as pine could be "farmed" to act specifically as carbon traps — microwaved, buried and replaced with a fresh crop to do the same thing again.
(13 March 2009)

Everyone Hates Ethanol

Editorial, Wall Street Journal
These days, it's routine for businesses to fail, get rescued by the government, and then continue to fail. But ethanol, which survives only because of its iron lung of subsidies and mandates, is a special case. Naturally, the industry is demanding even more government life support.

Corn ethanol producers -- led by Wesley Clark, the retired general turned chairman of a new biofuels lobbying outfit called Growth Energy -- want the Obama Administration to make their guaranteed market even larger. Recall that the 2007 energy bill requires refiners to mix 36 billion gallons into the gasoline supply by 2022. The quotas, which ratchet up each year, are arbitrary, but evidently no one in Congress wondered what might happen if the economy didn't cooperate.

Now the recession is hammering demand for gas. The Energy Information Administration notes that U.S. consumption fell nearly 7% in 2008 and expects another 2.2% drop this year. That comes as great news for President Obama, who is achieving his carbon-reduction goals even without a new carbon tax, but the irony is that the ethanol industry is part of the wider collateral damage.

Americans are unlikely to use enough gas next year to absorb the 13 billion gallons of ethanol that Congress mandated, because current regulations limit the ethanol content in each gallon of gas at 10%. The industry is asking that this cap be lifted to 15% or even 20%. That way, more ethanol can be mixed with less gas, and producers won't end up with a glut that the government does not require anyone to buy.
(16 March 2009)

Feed-in tariff in Minnesota and Hawaii (+ Renewable Energy Dividends - REDs)
Marc Strassman, Etopia News

David Bly talks about prospects for a feed-in tariff in Minnesota
David Bly, Minnesota State Representative from District 25-B, talks about the prospects of his feed-in tariff bill, now pending in the Minnesota House of Representatives, recorded from St. Paul, Minnesota, on March 17, 2009

Joseph Saturnia discusses the possibility of a feed-in tariff in Hawaii
Joseph Saturnia, President of Island Pacific Energy, LLC, talks about the possibility of implementing a feed-in tariff in the State of Hawaii, recorded remotely from Honolulu, HI, on March 17, 2009

Kathy Baylis at Sarasota Economic Development Corporation expects Florida to adopt REDs
Kathy Baylis, President and CEO of the Sarasota (Florida) County Economic Development Corporation, talks about its endorsement of renewable energy dividends and her expectation that Florida will soon implement this policy statewide, recorded from Sarasota, Florida, on March 20, 2009

Mike Antheil and Andrew Walmsley discuss lobbying for REDs in Florida
Mike Antheil, Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (FARE), and Andrew Walmsley, Assistant Director of Agricultural Policy at the Florida Farm Bureau, discuss their lobbying efforts on behalf of renewable energy dividends (REDs), recorded from Palm Beach County and Gainesville, FL, on March 19, 2009
(March 2009)

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