The Make Connecticut Plan Part 2

I have been thinking about a way to get our beautiful state of CT off of nuclear power and transitioned to renewable sources instead. I have been inspired by Germany and their efforts to do just that.

I am also very concerned about our loss of manufacturing jobs.

The solution to address job and economic growth while ending our use of nuclear power plants, is renewable energy. Specifically, a state wide massive transition from nuclear power replaced by both centralized and de-centralized solar and wind power.

The decommissioning and replacement of nuclear power plants in CT with renewable sources will create thousands of jobs and promote economic growth, just as the transition from y2k related issues and widespread adoption of the internet, created massive economic growth back in the 90’s.

CT and Germany both have a long history of manufacturing and innovation. Both CT and Germany have utilized nuclear power.  Yet Germany, has been moving away from Nuclear power and transitioning to renewable energy sources on a very large scale. They have had a great deal of success and according to the New York Times, (in an article dated Feb, 18, 2014), “renewable energy sources have expanded to 23 percent of the country’s supply”. Yet there are ominous signs that this has lead to an increase in coal dependence.

CT should learn from the German experience of moving away from nuclear power, using the ideas and policies that worked in Germany and adapting them to work in our state. Regarding the things that are not working in Germany, CT needs to innovate and find solutions that will work here.

In 2014, CT generated 49.5 percent of its electricity using nuclear power and 44.9 percent using natural gas.  (Source – www.eia.gov) The dangers of nuclear power have been thoroughly demonstrated by both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Because CT has limited capability to import natural gas via pipelines, we have faced some of the highest electricity prices in the country( See previous article , “The Make CT Plan Part 1” for details).  If CT turns to more natural gas plants, that would mean expanding pipeline infrastructure in CT to import more gas.

Every time CT residents have to import a fuel like natural gas to generate power, they export their money to the states that produce that fuel and the result is an awful lot of capital leaving our state. In addition, by relying on a fossil fuel such as natural gas, CT is relying on a fuel that is produced using a method called Fracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing.  Fracking is a method that uses high pressure fluid composed of chemicals, sand and water, to unlock natural gas in deep rock formations. Fracking  been found to cause earth quakes, air and land pollution, in addition to depleting local water supplies. There is a very ominous production issue with fracked wells, several reports from many sources including Bloomberg and the University of Texas are showing that production from Fracked wells will decline more abruptly than anticipated. This could leave the US with a real energy shortfall in a few years.

If CT could find a way to replace nuclear power with domestically produced wind and solar, it would create jobs, keep more money in our state and put and end to relying on expensive and unstable natural gas supplies.

The Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Lab has shown that CT has a large portion of viable wind power offshore, extending from Stamford all the way to New London.  In addition, CT residents have increasingly been turning to solar to power their homes and businesses.  Combining increased solar with both on and offshore wind power, could be a very good resource of safe, nearly unlimited and stable power for CT.

The Renewable Energy Association of CT calls on our academic and political leaders to determine a viable way to decommission all nuclear power plants in CT and replace them with renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.  This transformation has the potential to create thousands of jobs all over CT.

We stand on the precipice of an enormous opportunity to move away from nuclear power and transition our energy supply to a more stable, safe and renewable source of power for generations, let’s not waste it.

Photographer: Armin Kübelbeck, CC-BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons

Solar City Rockets to Number 1

Solar City has flown past SunPower to claim the record for the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel with a module efficiency over 22 percent . In addition, that solar panel will be manufactured at their solar giga factory in Buffalo, New York.

Solar City is already America’s number one solar provider and now they have two powerful engines to drive growth: strong sales driving market share up (via the lease and other great financing tools) AND their own manufacturing (via the solar giga factory)that can now produce the most efficient panels in the world, right here in the U.S.

I would expect , once the solar giga factory is fully operational, this will increase sales/revenue and hence we will see their stock price rise.

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

People’s Action for Clean Energy

Regular readers will recall that reneact.com has published PACE events and activities. Some of you may be familiar with their tireless work and commitment to clean, safe, renewable energy as well as conservation. For those of you who are not, the info below from the PACE website is a  good summary for you..

PACE is a public health and environmental all-volunteer organization formed in 1973 by a group of concerned Connecticut citizens to:

  • promote the development of alternative sources of energy, especially passive solar, solar hot water, and photovoltaic energy
  • encourage the efficient use of energy
  • develop a spirit of conservation among Connecticut residents
  • challenge Connecticut’s commitment to nuclear power and nuclear weapons

PACE is the largest all volunteer organization in the state that is working on these issues and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.

The Renewable Association of CT and Peoples Action for Clean Energy are partners in the promotion and widespread adoption of renewables as our primary source of energy.  As we have in the past, reneact and PACE will communicate regularly about shared goals/issues and reneact.com will continue to publish PACE events as needed.

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Is This the Future of Wind Power?

Saphon Energy has come up with a wind generator called, “The Saphonian” and describes it as a “blade free, non rotational system”.   The company claims it is more efficient than traditional blade turbines, is less harmful to birds, is significantly quieter than blade turbines, yet is 45% less expensive to manufacture.  This new wind energy device has won several innovation awards and has landed a strategic alliance with Microsoft.

Image above licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

For more info check out the videos below

 

Showcase Your Renewable Energy Project on The Renewable Energy Association with Only 3 Steps

Do you have a solar, wind, geothermal or other renewable energy system or project you would like to share? Click on Contact to get started. The process is simple; you will be interviewed on video showing your renewable energy system and asked 3 simple questions..

Tell us about your renewable energy system, what it is and how it works.

Why did you go with that renewable energy system?

How has it benefited you or your family?

Once the interview is complete it will be edited and then posted on reneact.com as soon as possible.

That’s it, just 3 easy steps and you can share your renewable energy experience with the world.

 

The Alaimo Echo Village

5-container-guest-house aboveThe Alaimo Echo Village is both a standard and a service. Inspired by Norman Nadeau and co-developed by both Greg Alaimo and the late Dr. Martin Fox; Electrical Engineering professor from the University of Connecticut.

The spelling utilizes the word Echo not Eco. The word Echo is used to evoke inspiration, that the standard will be adopted world wide,  like an echo bouncing across the walls of a global village

The idea of an Alaimo Echo village is to provide not just affordable housing to everyone but affordable housing that is sustainable and yet is far less expensive to live in.

Housing in CT has become increasingly expensive, while maintenance, food and utility bills continue to rise. Not just specific to CT, in other parts of our globe, such as third world nations, housing, let alone shelter, is a distant dream for too many

The Echo village is a concept designed to promote an affordable green community, that is sustainable, safe and can be built to accommodate several needs including; affordable  retirement living, survival shelters (both temporary and permanent), low income housing, affordable office space, homeless shelters, modular green schools and or education centers and community rehabilitation.

The echo village brings together several critical elements; affordable housing that is also sustainable and yet is incredibly safe, utilizing housing structures(or living units) that are constructed from shipping containers and are able to withstand the worst that mother nature can dish out including; hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and is even EMP resistant. In addition each housing unit is also resistant to termites and carpenter ants.

The Alaimo Echo village is the first of its kind, combining affordability with sustainable design while being flexible enough to meet a plethora of needs. In addition, the echo village is designed to lower the long term cost of living by offering residents the ability to nearly or completely eliminate their electric bills, water bills, sewage bills and heat and cool their homes for less than a traditional home. In addition residents share a garden and as a result spend less for produce. Many echo villages will also want to have chickens or livestock for fresh eggs and meat, promoting a healthy sustainable source of food that is also more affordable.

The Echo village standard has several parts;

Community based and community owned

Individual families or occupants are also known as stakeholders.

Stakeholders own an equal percentage of the land and responsibility in community  land and property management as well as any community determined necessities such as garden and/or livestock care and management.

Insulation is eco friendly and non toxic

All LED lighting for efficiency, and cost effectiveness

Electricity provided by solar and or wind , optimized according to location, solar panels and or wind turbines may be placed on  individual dwellings or centrally located.

Village may be grid tied or completely independent of the grid using battery backup.

Villages may be built by professional contractors or the stakeholders themselves, depending on project goals and needs. Villages built completely or in part by the stakeholders will obviously reap the benefits of lower construction costs. Echo villages built by inhabitants otherwise known as stakeholders can also be used as a means of community rehabilitation and or education for individuals or groups.

Heat provided by geothermal, pellet stoves, recovered sewage biogas and or any combination depending on stakeholder needs.

Hot water provided by solar thermal panels

Individual units vary in size from 675 sq ft to 1400 sq feet

Individual units are made from shipping containers, this achieves two goals, keeping the cost low and providing a very safe, robust, long lasting structure to build from.

Central community center and garden, provides community interaction/socialization and local inexpensive food.

Villages may be located either on shore or offshore.  Floating offshore villages are conceivable and will certainly be considered as needed.

Community compost pile

Tool sharing, car sharing and bike sharing

Community wifi

Community free to air satellite and individual units utilize digital antennas

Every echo village utilizes well water

Every echo village utilizes either composting toilets or a septic system

Every echo village utilizes recycling and composting  to a degree that allows for zero waste disposal so no landfill disposal is needed

Clothes hanging in place of dryers where ever practical

The basic design is simple; each unit is made from a shipping container and customized/sized according to need.

All the units are organized in a circular fashion and joined by foot paths to the center of the village which features an appropriately sized (per population) dome or geodesic shaped green house and community center. If livestock are utilized, the design can be altered to accommodate those needs. Yet every Alaimo Echo village utilizes a centrally located green house and meeting/community center.

The Alaimo Echo Village Service encompasses the following;

The complete project management of an echo village project from conception to completion. This includes; finding and bringing together the stakeholders, determining the right location, determine the goals of a particular echo village, taking those goals and turning them into a viable village design, complete with timetable for design, building and completion, filing of all permits, purchase of land and all needed materials and components, hiring contractors, communication and management of all project goals and timetables and coordination and adhering to project timetables and completion dates between all parties and finally managing all move ins.

Each Alaimo Echo Village is unique, different villages have different goals; one Echo village may be focused on elderly housing, another may be survival, another may simply be affordable green housing etc. With each project comes a unique set of needs and the project management will be focused on achieving and meeting those needs.

The Process..

To build an Alaimo Echo Village, the process can be started by any of the interested stakeholders, whether they be a financial backer for an Alaimo Echo Village in Haiti or the founding stakeholders who are interested in establishing and being a part of an affordable green community.

The first step is determining the type of Echo Village to be built. Next, the initial stakeholders will want to get more parties interested in the project to gather a community of similar minded stakeholders together. For example, say a group of 5 or ten families are interested in building an affordable green community. Once the size and type of the village is determined, the stakeholders will hire myself as project manager. Together we will work out the size and type of each living unit to be built from shipping containers, the plans for each unit will be found and or designed. Once the individual units are designed and or finalized, the stakeholders will work with the project manager to determine how much land the stakeholders need and can afford.

Each stakeholder owns the land. The property is divided according to and by the number of stakeholders. As a basic example; if there are ten stakeholders and they determine they can afford and need 10 acres, each stakeholder will own 1/10 of the land and is therefore responsible for the purchasing of one acre.

Next, the project manager will begin finding a suitable or compatible town and land to build that echo village. Not every town will be interested in hosting a village comprising of houses built from shipping containers and using solar and or wind for power.  Careful research and communication is needed to insure there are no mid project or early project show stopping surprises. Once a suitable town or towns have been found and agreed upon by all parties or stakeholders, and a suitable piece of land  located and purchased,the project manager will handle the entire building process from ground breaking to final move in.
Third World Alaimo Echo Village; Echo villages can replace slums in places like Haiti and other impoverished nations. Shipping containers can be utilized as very safe homes utilizing  solar to provide power and light. Each unit utilizes composting toilets for improved sanitation. For more info click on Contact to get your Alaimo Echo Village started today.
Image Courtesy of architecturendesign.net

 

The Make Connecticut Plan Part 1(Updated)

800px-Abandoned_concrete_factory_mechanismWe used to build a LOT of things in CT and we don’t any more. Manufacturing in CT is a mere shadow of itself.  Letting manufacturing go to other states or overseas, has resulted in a sorry state of unstable or stagnant growth, stubborn unemployment numbers and blah economic opportunity.

One of the biggest problems our state faces is that we do not control our energy. We import natural gas, we import gasoline and we import oil. While CT is currently enjoying the benefits of low oil prices, it is not known how long those low prices will last. In addition, CT  is suffering from high natural gas prices which have resulted in CT residents paying some of the highest electricity rates in the country. The U.S. residential average price of electricity is 12.15 cents/kWh and CT Residential is 19.69 cents/kWh. The U.S. average Commercial  price of electricity is 10.34 cents/kWh compared to the CT average Commercial price of electricity of 15.70 cents/kWh. The Industrial U.S. average price of electricity is 6.65 cents/kWh and yet the CT Industrial average is 13.08 cents/kWh.  Source – http://www.eia.gov

Let’s compare CT electricity prices to Iowa where wind provided 27% of that state’s electricity.  Residential is 10.12 cents/kWh,  Commercial is 7.80 cents/kWh and Industrial is 5.22 cents/kWh. Source – http://www.eia.gov

Another key problem is transportation congestion. Anyone who has tried to commute to work on; I84, I91 or I95 knows, they are going to sit in traffic. How much productivity have businesses and consumers lost due to highway congestion?

To change this, we need to attract the best thought leaders and get them to build their innovative products here.

Let’s tell Elon Musk that we are interested in building his Hyper loop to solve our transportation problems. Let’s replace nuclear power plants with solar and both on and offshore wind farms to help stop importing our energy and fluctuating energy prices. Let’s revive an innovative idea to empty our landfills and turn garbage into clean energy using landfill gas to power super heated Plasma Tech

If the  business and political leaders of CT can effectively harness these ideas to combine Yankee ingenuity and know how with 21st century solutions, it can turn Connecticut into a modern renewable energy powerhouse of cutting edge technology, economic activity and growth.

Stay up to date and keep reading the Renewable Energy Association of CT for the latest info on electric vehicles, affordable sustainable housing, renewable energy news from solar, wind and more.

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The Short and Long Term Energy Forecast

800px-Snow_lanternsGasoline  and oil prices are fairly straightforward this year. Supply is up, demand is down and those factors are not going to change much for awhile, yet they WILL change due to structural realities. What that means is when prices fall, so do profits, when profits fall companies cut back on finding more oil . There is no sense in spending money you don’t have, to find or develop something that doesn’t pay enough to cover the costs of finding it any more.

Another factor that will raise future oil prices is the method being used for extraction.  The US is getting all this oil because of fracking. It is a known fact;  oil from fracked wells dries up quicker than traditional drilling methods.

Here is how it will play out: the US will enjoy lower oil prices which will give our economy a boost. As the economy keeps growing from cheap energy, oil and natural gas consumption goes up. As oil and gas consumption rises, so do prices. Once the wells start to run low, prices shoot up even more. However, once those wells start to go dry, our supply of domestic oil is nearly gone, there is no plan B for more oil. However, there better be an alternative at that point to fuel our country, because at that point, oil imports will be even more expensive since demand will be so high for what is left of world oil supplies. Our country could face a great depression if there is no cheap, readily available alternative for energy, at that critical time.

Going back to the short term. Those who are heating with oil this Winter should enjoy lower than normal heating bills  However, those who heat with natural gas are facing the unknown. There are 3 things that are going to effect the price of natural gas this Winter;

1)Storage, 2)Pipelines 3)Weather

Storage.. we are starting this heating season with supplies that are lower than at this time last year. Pipelines.. there are not enough pipelines to meet demand, so if we have another energy intensive,  very cold Winter, natural gas prices will naturally rise.

Tired of shifting energy prices that continually take money from you? Check out the section, ‘For the House’ and see how solar electric and or geothermal can keep more money in your wallet.

Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
 

William McDonough Talks about “The Upcycle”

William McDonough – Architect, Designer, Winner of the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development, Dean, Business Leader, Professor and Author,  gives a talk at Stamford presenting his published work,  ” The Upcycle”.  This is a treat, definitely worth your time.

 

 

Oil Plummets – Now What? Updated

Lucas_gusherThe price of oil has gone down dramatically in the last few weeks, resulting in gasoline prices approaching and in some cases reaching below 3 dollars a gallon.

I have been wondering when this would happen.  The realities of rising renewable energy production with rising supply of domestic oil because of fracking, combined with slowing demand due to  conservation efforts, result in lower oil prices.

Simple law of supply and demand; more supply and lower demand, equal lower prices.

Here are the big questions; how long will this last and will this drop in the price of oil kill renewable energy in this country?

Q1; How long will low prices last? That is tough to say, we are destroying our water supply to remove every last drop of oil we can pull out of the ground. How long can you do that before the water supply dries up?

Q2;Will it kill renewable’s? No one knows, yet, history shows as recently as the 1980’s, during the Arab oil embargo, renewable energy flourished. Once cheap, abundant oil returned, renewable energy nearly vanished.

Here is the fun part; fracking makes it appear as though we have plenty of reliable domestic oil. In reality, it is a desperate backup plan to flush out the remaining drops of oil stuck in the cracks and crevices of rocks, deep within the earth. A backup plan hatched because demand for energy is rising, yet all the easy to find, cheap oil is gone. Once those wells dry up,  very little oil is left in the US and there is no backup plan. Our country would be left with a  depleted water supply, a large bill to clean up the ground pollution and no energy to power our economy.

What about natural gas? Most of the power plants in the US have been switching to natural gas. Due to rising demand, fracking is being used to ferret out every last cubic inch of gas they can find. Meeting the rising demand for natural gas means rising prices and supplies dwindling more quickly.

Oh, but wait, we have Saudi Arabia! Not really, they are going to keep supplying the world while their wells slowly dry up and demand keeps rising. Going back to relying nearly exclusively on the Saudi’s at a time when demand is higher and supply is lower, will result in a price spike way beyond what our economy can handle.

Coal! We can use coal! Uhm, no, do you like to breathe?  China tried powering their country on coal, it didn’t work out so well. Today coal use in China is falling for the first time in their history and renewable energy is rising. Think about that, the second largest economy in the world is moving away from coal.

What about nuclear? Which do you prefer; a nuclear power plant in your back yard or a wind or solar farm?

What is needed right now is a backbone, from people who know that renewable energy is the only way forward for long term energy and economic security. People who understand that energy security is not developed by destroying our water supply. Leaders who can see that fracking is not a long term solution but merely a vehicle to short term gains fading into long term economic hardship and instability.

New info>>>saw a report today that stated Saudi Arabia may get together with their OPEC friends and cut oil production to drive oil prices back up .

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