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Have you cut your energy consumption — and greenhouse gas emissions — by 40 percent in recent years? Didn’t think so. Neither have I, or many of the other seven billion people on the planet. In a draft of their final report that was leaked last week to The New York Times, scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have concluded that the world is not heeding their repeated warnings, and that mankind’s heavy use of fossil fuels — and emissions of carbon dioxide — are increasing, not declining by 25 to 40 percent, as they recommended.

Resistance remains strong. If plan A is prevent climate change through massive, collective sacrifice, let’s face it: It’s time to start working on plan B.

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— William Falk, in Why climate change is inevitable (via theweekmagazine)

Jonathan Foley with the Associated Press: 

An Associated Press analysis of utility spending and reliability nationwide found that electric customers are spending 43 percent more than they did in 2002 to build and maintain local electric infrastructure. Since then, power outages have remained infrequent; but when the lights do go out, it now takes longer to get them back on.

Neither the spending nor the reliability trends are dramatic on their own. But experts say the combination is revealing: it suggests that the extra money from electric customers isn’t being spent wisely - or that utilities aren’t investing nearly enough to upgrade fragile equipment that is increasingly threatened by major storms.

The Hill

In all, 1,231 megawatts of new generating capacity were installed in January. Of that total, wind provided 958 megawatts, solar chipped in 267 megawatts and biomass contributed 6 megawatts.

That’s a marked difference from January 2012, when coal led the way with 808 megawatts of the 1,693 megawatts added. Natural gas followed with 445 megawatts, and wind tossed in 276 megawatts to take the pole for renewables.

Brad Plumer: 

The main point here: Germany doesn’t get an enormous amount of sunlight, relatively speaking. Its annual solar resources are roughly comparable to Alaska’s. Just about every single region in the continental United States has greater solar potential, on average, than Germany.
Yet despite those limitations, Germany has still managed to be the world leader in solar power. At the end of 2012, the country had installed about 30 gigawatts of solar capacity, providing between 3 percent and 10 percent of its electricity. The United States, by contrast, has somewhere around 6.4 gigawatts of solar capacity.

Brad Plumer

The main point here: Germany doesn’t get an enormous amount of sunlight, relatively speaking. Its annual solar resources are roughly comparable to Alaska’s. Just about every single region in the continental United States has greater solar potential, on average, than Germany.

Yet despite those limitations, Germany has still managed to be the world leader in solar power. At the end of 2012, the country had installed about 30 gigawatts of solar capacity, providing between 3 percent and 10 percent of its electricity. The United States, by contrast, has somewhere around 6.4 gigawatts of solar capacity.

Reuters:

President Barack Obama’s promise to attack climate change is likely to light a fire under federal agencies slow to comply with a mandate to cut energy use - which could be very good news for companies that specialize in systems that save power.

Waiting in the wings are the likes of Honeywell International Inc, Johnson Controls Inc and Ameresco Inc that are ready to carry out heating and cooling system upgrades, lighting retrofits and similar projects in some of the government’s 500,000 buildings….

In October, Honeywell won an $80.6 million project to improve energy efficiency at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, the largest such project ever awarded by the federal government, according to Orzeske. Most such projects are in the $10 million to $15 million range, he added.

The upgrades are expected to save more than $170 million over 20 years, guaranteed by Honeywell through the contract.

Wonk Blog: 

The United States imported about 40 percent of its oil in 2012. So where are we getting it from?
For refineries on the East Coast, the majority of their imported oil comes from Africa, mainly Nigeria and Angola. By contrast, refineries in the Midwest get virtually all of their imported oil via pipeline from Canada.
Also note that relatively little of America’s imported crude comes from the Middle East, with the bulk of that (about 1.1 million barrels per day) getting shipped in through ports to refineries in the South, with much of the resulting gasoline and diesel getting shipped up to the Midwest.
Now what will happen in the years ahead, as the United States ramps up its domestic oil production, thanks to new drilling in places like North Dakota and Texas? Remember, the Energy Information Administration now expects U.S. oil imports to shrink from 8.3 million barrels per day down to 6 million barrels per day by the start of 2014.
That’s where things get tricky. The United States won’t simply be able to keep buying from the countries we like and shut off imports from countries we don’t like. As a recent investigation from Bloomberg’s Matthew Philips detailed, the changes will be a lot messier than that.

Wonk Blog

The United States imported about 40 percent of its oil in 2012. So where are we getting it from?

For refineries on the East Coast, the majority of their imported oil comes from Africa, mainly Nigeria and Angola. By contrast, refineries in the Midwest get virtually all of their imported oil via pipeline from Canada.

Also note that relatively little of America’s imported crude comes from the Middle East, with the bulk of that (about 1.1 million barrels per day) getting shipped in through ports to refineries in the South, with much of the resulting gasoline and diesel getting shipped up to the Midwest.

Now what will happen in the years ahead, as the United States ramps up its domestic oil production, thanks to new drilling in places like North Dakota and Texas? Remember, the Energy Information Administration now expects U.S. oil imports to shrink from 8.3 million barrels per day down to 6 million barrels per day by the start of 2014.

That’s where things get tricky. The United States won’t simply be able to keep buying from the countries we like and shut off imports from countries we don’t like. As a recent investigation from Bloomberg’s Matthew Philips detailed, the changes will be a lot messier than that.

The Economist on “Pricing Sunshine”:

SOLAR energy currently provides only a quarter of a percent of the planet’s electricity supply, but the industry is growing at staggering speed. Underlying this growth is a phenomenon that solar’s supporters call Swanson’s law, in imitation of Moore’s law of transistor cost. Moore’s law suggests that the size of transistors (and also their cost) halves every 18 months or so. Swanson’s law, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity. The upshot is that the modules used to make solar-power plants now cost less than a dollar per watt of capacity. This means that in sunny regions such as California, photovoltaic power could already compete without subsidy with the more expensive parts of the traditional power market. Moreover, technological developments that have been proved in the laboratory but have not yet moved into the factory mean Swanson’s law still has many years to run. See full article.

The Economist on “Pricing Sunshine”:

SOLAR energy currently provides only a quarter of a percent of the planet’s electricity supply, but the industry is growing at staggering speed. Underlying this growth is a phenomenon that solar’s supporters call Swanson’s law, in imitation of Moore’s law of transistor cost. Moore’s law suggests that the size of transistors (and also their cost) halves every 18 months or so. Swanson’s law, named after Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower, a big American solar-cell manufacturer, suggests that the cost of the photovoltaic cells needed to generate solar power falls by 20% with each doubling of global manufacturing capacity. The upshot is that the modules used to make solar-power plants now cost less than a dollar per watt of capacity. This means that in sunny regions such as California, photovoltaic power could already compete without subsidy with the more expensive parts of the traditional power market. Moreover, technological developments that have been proved in the laboratory but have not yet moved into the factory mean Swanson’s law still has many years to run. See full article.

theweekmagazine:

America has an energy addiction. 

theweekmagazine:

America has an energy addiction

(Source: theweek.com)

barackobama:

Obama + clean energy = OTP.

barackobama:

Obama + clean energy = OTP.