March 2009


I read an article on Solar Daily that started me thinking. It seems that Photon Consulting has announced the release of it’s new report: “The True Cost of Solar Power: Race to $1/W“. This made me realize that this is what Solar Power has to be about right now. It has to find a way to compete with gas based energy sources and get the price down. I mean, seriously. I gripe about the watt cost on my utility bill when it goes to .06 per kWh, which translates into about .60 a Watt. If it went to a dollar a watt, or .10 a kWh, I’d blow a gasket. So now, when you think about it from that standpoint, you realize that Solar Energy is nowhere near being useful to most of us. Not on my salary, anyways.

But this new report shows solar energy companies are cutting costs at a pace that will soon make solar power competitive with grid electricity in several major global markets. It combines PHOTON Consulting’s in-depth analysis of the solar sector with detailed solar energy cost forecasts to show an industry racing to deliver dollar a watt solar modules that cost a single dollar a watt to install. And this race is necessary if we are going to get serious about solar. The big payout? Well, the companies that win this race, according to PHOTON Consulting, will be able to provide large amounts of clean, competitively-priced electricity.

According to their Managing Director, Michael Rogol, solar should be ready by 2012. In a statement, he is quoted as saying, that “by 2012, companies not able to achieve $1/W through the module level, $2/W through the system level and $0.10/kWh to $.20/kWh for electricity are significantly at risk, because other companies will get there.” I hope that is a promise. Otherwise, the sun will not be a viable energy source at any time in our lifetimes.

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I know this sounds absolutely crazy and I admit I do a lot of posts on various types of new fuels, but this one is a fact and I find it fascinating. Actually, I find all these fuel ideas fascinating. Imagine that we’ve been surrounded by energy in every form since time began and we got focused on the one type of energy that wreaks havoc on the atmosphere. I mean, seriously. Doesn’t that sound like the rhythm of human life in general? I mean, it sounds a lot like the big fat lampoon my own life often turns out to be.

But here’s the real laugh after all the other laughing is done. The Liverpool John Lennon Airport, in the city of Liverpool, in stodgy old England, will soon become the world’s first airport to try a revolutionary piece of technology: recycling the breath of passengers into biofuel. And I don’t mean they have to be drunk first. Oh, I know, not funny. But heck, this seems a little flaky to me.. and yet, it’s not. It’s a viable option that looks fantastic when considered carefully.

This new contraption, called the Eco-box, developed by Origo Industries, will capture the CO2 exhaled by airport travelers and convert it to fuel to be used in the airport’s diesel vehicles and heating system. In fact, the Eco-box was originally designed to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles. It works by capturing carbon emissions through a photo-bioreactor as a feedstock for algae, producing biomass that is then refined and converted to green fuel. Aha, Algae again. One of my favorites. How cool.

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Everybody is looking for ways to save the planet and save money, too. It is the primary goal of all of us today in this cold economy with a fast warming planet. Some folks seem exasperated with it all, saying that going green is a luxury and right now, we have to be economical. But someone needs to explain conservation to these folk. Conservation IS saving. Saving money and saving the earth.

You should be conserving in every way possible every single day. It will lighten the load on your wallet, make your life simpler and help the gasping environment at the same time. You should be thinking in this mode every day, all day. How can I save this? How can I stop losing that? How can I simplify my needs? How can I save money? We cannot afford to slip backwards one time in this effort, as it can cost us that last dime and push us closer to bankruptcy while adding another pile of trouble on our world at large. When you think about it, you will realize that what has happened to America then began to happen all over the world. As a rich country, a superpower in the world arena, we control the destiny of billions. Including many countries we will never visit and many others we don’t even know the names of.

So it is very important that we get it together, for ourselves, for the world and even more so, for our children and their future. But that does not mean it has to be a loss or a sacrifice. In fact, we have sacrificed more in the past, chasing money and working like dogs, than we will in the simpler, kinder future. And some of the solutions to our most pressing problems are readily in hand today. And, best of all, they just don’t cost a lot while they will save us tons of money and trouble in the future.

One of these great products is the programmable thermostat. By itself, this thermostat is the number one best and fastest way to green up your home. It is inexpensive, easy to install, will save you tons of money is lost electricity and save the planet by lowering energy usage across the board. Doesn’t it just sound wonderful? Well, in fact, this item is wonderful and you should consider looking to buy it today.

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Here it comes! The first Jeep, to my knowledge anyways, to be run on algae. Actually, it runs on what is called “algal-based renewable diesel” under the trade name, SoladieselRDTM. They recently showed the new car at CALSTART Target 2030: Solutions to Secure California’s Transportation Energy and Climate Future, which was held in Sacramento, California in January.

This very cool new fuel is a drop in replacement for ordinary petrodiesel (also known as #2 Diesel). It has already passed the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D975 Specifications. I know, everything technical is a mouthful and some of us more technically challenged individuals find it hard to even say these words, much less make sense of them. But, according to Biofuel Daily: “both SoladieselRDTM and SoladieselBDTM, a FAME biodiesel that meets the (ASTM) D6751 specifications, have been successfully road tested unblended (100 percent) for thousands of miles in standard unmodified diesel engines”.

The Jeep was available for rides throughout the event and although I don’t know anybody personally that went to the event, all reports have been positive. Jeep lovers, like me, are excited about the prospects.

Quoting Jonathan Wolfson, co-founder and CEO of Solazyme, Biofuel Daily reported that “with new elected officials across the country, now is an ideal time for events like CALSTART Target 2030, which look at energy solutions that will serve us in the long term” The article went to add that Mr. Wolfson is
“proud to be in California, a state known for leading energy policy” and that he is also “pleased to showcase our solutions which include clean and scalable renewable fuels derived from algae that meet today’s demanding performance and regulatory specifications, while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint versus petroleum based-fuels.”

I know all of this sounds like a sales pitch but I am hoping that algae finds a real future on the biofuels scene. It is both abundant and sustainable and I can show you where you can get a load of it right now! (LOL). And, according to Solazyme, their unique process grows algae in the dark using standard industrial bioproduction equipment. This makes it affordable and easily to start, without needing special equipment or for current equipment to be retooled, a problem with many other biofuels. The algae are fed a variety of non-food and waste biomass materials including cellulosic biomass and low-grade glycerol, which makes their growth and sustainability affordable. It also allows the company to produce oil with a very low carbon footprint and to do it efficiently in a controlled environment.

Solazyme’s fuels have already been road tested in unmodified vehicles for thousands of miles. The results, from what I have seen so far, are positive. If my readers have other information, I would like to know it so feel free to leave a comment. FYI: This company has also recently announced that it has produced the world’s first algal based jet fuel which met all eleven of the tested key criteria for (ASTM) D1655 (Jet A-1). This is another huge milestone in the making of viable bio fuels that can energize our future into the next century! Additionally, Solazyme’s process is the very first bridge from non-food carbohydrates and certain industrial waste streams to edible oils and oleochemicals. Now, think about that!

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