December 28, 2008

La nueva Conquista: Parques eólicos en Oaxaca

En el mes de noviembre de 2008 se llevo a cabo el Encuentro Voces y resistencias para comentar las diversas problemáticas que atraviesan los pueblos de Oaxaca por los proyectos neoliberales y capitalistas que se imponen sin consentimiento en la zona. El encuentro tuvo cita en Juchitan Oaxaca cabecera municipal de esta región donde el aire atrajo no un proyecto ambiental como podría pensarse de la energía eolica, sino de la ambición mezquina de interés capitalistas (como la familia del fallecido Secretario de Gobernación Camilo Murino.

Estas empresas en su mayoría europeas están aprovechándose de la pésima situación en que viven los campesinos debido a las malas políticas de los gobernantes, para vender o rentar su tierra por poco dinero y rompiendo así el tejido social comunitario, debido a la migración y la desigualdad económica.

La forma en que se han llevado a cabo esta nueva conquista ocupa la mentira y el engaño hacia los ejidatarios y campesinos. Los beneficios de la tecnología ocupada no es para el goce colectivo sino de unos cuantos.

Cuando pasó el recorrido de la Otra Campaña, eran menos de 10 transformadores eolicos introducidos por la Comisión Federal de Electricidad, dos anos mas tarde son cientos de transformadores cerca de centros poblacionales, así como zonas agrícolas y de pastizal.

Pero los problemas no paran ahí, por todo Oaxaca, así como en todo el país, la política del gobierno es un diseño de la política global neoliberal, que quiere despojar a los campesinos de su tierra y convertirlos en los miserables de las ciudades. No comprende ni admite las formas y tradiciones democráticas de las comunidades indígenas, no busca el beneficio.

Lunes 29 de diciembre de 2008

Wind energy multimillionaires: "immoral, unjust, scandalous"

This is a translation, as near as I can make it out, from an interview with Roberto García, Secretary general of Unións Agrarias, in the Dec. 26 El Pais (click the title of this post for the Spanish original).

"It is immoral, unjust, scandalous, that in making multimillionaires from wind energy development, the Xunta [Galicia, Spain] takes its percentage of business, the contractors talk of how much they are going to reinvest in replacing Ence in the area and creating who knows how many companies, and the only ones left with nothing are the landowners of Chousas and Leiras, where the wind blows at a certain speed, where they will install the windmills."

"Isn't that standard for industry?"

"They have expropriated our land by emergency and we have no other choice than to go to trial on a question that should have been part of that standard. Our farms are not valued for the toxos, only for the value of the air passing through at a certain speed."

wind power, wind energy, human rights

December 24, 2008

Against Utilitarianism

There is nothing truly beautiful but that which can never beof anyuse whatsoever; everything useful is ugly, for it is the epxression of some need, and man's needs are ignoble and disgusting like hos own poor and infirm nature. The most useful place in a house is the water-closet.

--Theophilé Gautier, May 1834

December 10, 2008

Efficiency 3 times cheaper than wind, payback in 1 year

Gary Parke, chief executive of energy services firm Evolve Energy, writes in Evolve Energy (Dec. 10, 2008):

Energy efficiency has often been seen as the ugly sister to renewable energy, but there is nothing ugly or unglamorous about saving money, reducing energy costs and lowering emissions. While the clean tech sector tends to focus on investment in renewables as a means of cutting carbon, there is growing evidence that investing in "negawatts", a term coined to describe a megawatt of power avoided or saved from use on the energy grid, will provide a better return.

According to Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, energy efficiency is “the largest, least expensive, most benign, most quickly deployable, least visible, least understood, and most neglected way to provide energy services”. While that may seem a strong statement, there is widespread agreement that increasing energy efficiency can bring both financial and environmental benefits.

The opportunity for energy efficiency investment is immense – the International Energy Agency calls it the "fifth fuel" after oil, coal, gas and nuclear. According to a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute, Curbing Global Energy Demand Growth: The Energy Productivity Opportunity, increased energy efficiency is the biggest and most cost-effective lever to attack greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It could deliver up to half of the reductions of global GHG required to cap the long-term concentration of GHG in the atmosphere to 450 to 550 parts per million – a level many experts believe will be necessary to prevent the mean temperature increasing by more than two degrees centigrade, leading to "dangerous" levels of climate change. ...

Perhaps even more importantly, there is the opportunity to boost energy productivity using existing technologies, in a way that pays for itself and frees up resources for investment or consumption elsewhere. McKinsey’s analysis suggests that annual investment of $170bn (£115bn) would result in a cut in energy demand of between 20 and 24 per cent by 2020 and a CO2 saving of 7.9 billion tonnes. McKinsey calculated that, at an oil price of $50 a barrel, $170bn annual investment would generate more than $900 billion in annual energy savings, a 17 per cent annual rate of return. This would reduce global oil consumption by 21m barrels a day, from today’s level of 86 million barrels a day.

While many energy efficiency market drivers are similar to those in the renewable energy market, Evolve Energy has found first hand that investing in energy efficiency delivers greater carbon reductions and financial return than investing in renewables.

We recently conducted some research on the return on investment for a typical 4GW wind turbine in comparison to energy efficiency measures implemented for a large supermarket brand. We found that to generate one megawatt of wind energy costs about £1m, while to save one megawatt through energy efficiency measures costs £350,000. For companies investing in wind technologies it could take 20 years to achieve payback, whereas it would only take just over one year through energy efficiency. On a wider environmental point, businesses can reduce up to three times the amount of CO2 for every £1 invested. This comparison shows that energy efficiency can provide a greater economic and environmental reward.

Note that per capita energy use in the U.S. is about twice that in the U.K.; there is obviously a huge potential for conservation as well as efficiency.

December 5, 2008

Denmark: no new wind energy since 2003

The world's leader in wind "penetration" -- with wind turbines producing energy equal to around 20% of the country's electricity use -- Denmark also leads in running up against the practical limits of erecting giant wind turbines to supply the grid. As Kent Hawkins has calculated, with the help of Vic Mason, who works in Denmark and has access to Danish-language reports, the actual penetration limit for wind, which is intermittent, highly variable, and nondispatchable -- all the very opposite of the grid's needs -- appears to be 6%, the rest being dumped into larger markets in Germany and the rest of Scandinavia.

In any case, Denmark has not added new wind energy capacity since 2003:

Year:       2001200220032004200520062007
Installed wind capacity (MW):       2,4892,8923,1173,1253,1293,1363,125

wind power, wind energy

December 4, 2008

Enron provided the model for buying off environmentalists

There are two kinds of environmentalist groups: activists and collaborators. They both have important roles to play. The collaborators, however, often get too cozy with the industrialists they mean to influence. Many of them, such as Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund, The Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy, also accept large donations from the companies they "work" with. They become, instead of the pragmatic arm of the environmentalist movement and corporate watchdogs, the "green" outreach office of those companies, industry's "useful idiots".

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that several of these groups have signed on with the new industry-initiated American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI) (and its $3 million first-year budget). AWWI's board includes representatives from GE, BP, Iberdrola, Enxco, and NRG Systems, and its web site is registered by Wayne Walker, a consultant who works for Horizon Wind Energy and the American Wind Energy Association. Other industry members are AES Wind Generation, Babcock & Brown, Clipper Windpower, Eon, Horizon, Nordic Windpower, Renewable Energy Systems, and Vestas.

The goal, as seems apparent from Wayne Walker's work, is to come up with ways that industrial wind developers can "mitigate" their impact on wildlife, i.e., give money to cooperative environmentalist groups in return for letting them get on with industrializing the last of our rural and wild places.

It also comes as no surprise to learn that Enron, who created the modern wind industry (inventing "green tags", for example, to sell the energy twice), provided the model for AWWI. Christopher Morris wrote in August 2002, for the anti-welfare Capital Research Center:
... Enron executives worked closely with the Clinton administration to secure support for the Kyoto Protocol because the company believed the treaty could generate a financial windfall. An internal Enron memo circulated immediately after the 1997 Kyoto meeting (and first reported by the Washington Post) shows the company believed the treaty “would do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States.”

So Enron philanthropy lavished almost $1.5 million on environmental groups that support international energy controls to reduce so-called global warming. From 1994 to 1996, the Enron Foundation contributed nearly $1 million dollars ($990,000) to the Nature Conservancy, whose “Climate Change” project promotes global warming theories.

The company did more than simply provide financial backing for groups supporting ratification of the Kyoto treaty:

• In 1997 Enron CEO Kenneth Lay was named a member of President Clinton’s “Council on Sustainable Development,” joining Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, EPA administrator Carol Browner, and Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The task force also included representatives from the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

• The National Environmental Trust, a public relations organization heavily funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to promote environmental policies, worked with Ken Lay to place pro-Kyoto editorials under his signature in the Houston Chronicle, the Austin-American Statesman, and the Salt Lake City Tribune.

• Enron built ties to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). EDF lauded Enron’s “Enron Earth Smart Power,” a 39-megawatt wind farm in Southern California that was intended to offer consumers “environment-friendly” electricity. Daniel Kirshner, an EDF senior economic analyst, commended Enron’s achievement, saying, “The Environmental Defense Fund hopes that buying environmentally-friendly electricity will soon be as popular as recycling is now.”

• Representatives from Enron participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Progressive Policy Institute to “discuss the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and politically viable strategies for tackling the larger threat of climate change.” Other panelists included Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and members of the Natural Resources Defense Council and EDF.

Enron’s activities were not limited to advancing the environmental agenda; the company also used its environmental friends to advance its business agenda. Enron solicited support from green groups for its own business ventures, such as the 1997 purchase of Portland General Electric. Enron urged Natural Resources Defense Council and a coalition of Oregon environmental groups to sign a memorandum of agreement endorsing the purchase, despite objections by the state Public Utility Commission. Portland’s Willamette Week newspaper reported that the groups subsequently received Enron grants totaling nearly $500,000. Among the beneficiaries: Northwest Environmental Advocates ($30,000), Salmon Watch ($15,000), and American Rivers ($5,000). . . .
wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism

December 3, 2008

Bloomberg Wind Energy Index plummets

The Bloomberg Wind Energy Index is a multiple weighted index of the leading windpower stocks in the world, with a higher emphasis placed on the companies with the highest exposure to the wind industry and the key suppliers to the wind industry. The index is rebalanced quarterly.

Here is a chart of its value since its inception:

wind power, wind energy

U.S. oil use down 12.8%

According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data (click the title of this post), the consumption of oil in September 2008 was 533,880,000 barrels, which was 12.8% lower than the oil used in September 2007, 612,438,000 barrels. It is the lowest September consumption since 1994.

Now how hard was that?

That drop represents, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 33,779,940 fewer metric tons of CO2 generated. That's equivalent to taking 6,186,802 cars off the road, or burning 176,397 fewer railcar loads of coal, or eliminating the carbon emissions from the electricity for 4,474,164 homes.

Again, how hard was that? Why don't even environmental groups talk about conservation instead of promoting the construction of new power plants and transmission lines in wild and rural places?

energy, environment, environmentalism