Thursday, July 28, 2011


Imagine that all the money appropriated to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund had been instead used to incentivized clean energy. First a little history about the Superfund:

Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (CERCLA statute, CERCLA overview). This law was enacted in the wake of the discovery of toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal and Times Beach in the 1970s. It allows the EPA to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-led cleanups.

From 1993 to 2005 the United States spent $19.142 billion on the Superfund, so roughly about $1.5 billion is spent yearly. My point is that we spend lots of money cleaning up mistakes that happen because we do not take the environmental impact of our actions seriously enough. As soon as there is a profit to be made, the wheels of progress (that is, pollution) go into motion.

Visit the Superfund site and look up your state. You’ll get an idea of what is wrong with some of the things that we do around the country. Companies get in over their heads and the cleanup is left to the tax payer. But even worse, the impact to our drinking water and to the ecology is tremendous.

For example, while admitting to no wrongdoing, Massey energy settled a case brought by more than 700 people who claim the coal company poisoned their water supply. The plaintiffs claimed the company contaminated their aquifer and wells by pumping 1.4 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry into worked-out underground mines between 1978 and 1987.

We are not talking Vegas here. What happens underground does not stay underground. Pollution from coal mines are a reminder that we need to stay away from any type of drilling that travels through our drinking water to reach gas and oil. I personally do not believe that the casings used in fracking to protect the environment, for example, will last forever and when they fail the Superfund will have to clean it up. Yes this is job security, but it’s the wrong kind of job security.

A hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping the fracturing fluid into the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase the pressure down hole to a value in excess of the fracture gradient of the formation rock. The pressure causes the formation to crack, allowing the fracturing fluid to enter and extend the crack farther into the formation. To keep this fracture open after the injection stops, a solid proppant (a material such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates), commonly sieved round sand, is added to the fracture fluid. The “propped” hydraulic fracture then becomes a high permeability conduit through which the formation fluids can flow to the well.

While hydraulic fracturing can be performed in a vertical well, it is generally performed via horizontal drilling whereby the terminal drill hole is completed as a “lateral” that extends parallel with the rock layer containing the substance to be extracted. Laterals extend 1,500 to 5,000 feet in the Barnett Shale basin.

In contrast, a vertical well only accesses the thickness of the rock layer, typically 50-300 feet. Horizontal drilling also reduces surface disruptions as fewer wells are required.

Drilling a wellbore produces rock chip, fine rock particles that may enter cracks and pore space at the wellbore wall, reducing the permeability at and near the wellbore. This reduces flow into the borehole from the surrounding rock formation, and partially seals off the borehole from the surrounding rock. Hydraulic fracturing can be used to restore permeability.

Hydraulic fracturing is commonly applied to wells drilled in low permeability reservoir rock. An estimated 90 percent of the natural gas wells in the United States use hydraulic fracturing to produce gas at economic rates.

The fluid injected into the rock is typically water, but also gels, foams, and compressed gases, including nitrogen, carbon dioxide and air can be injected. Various types of proppant are added, such as silica sand, resin-coated sand, and man-made ceramics, depending on the type of permeability or grain strength needed. Sand containing naturally radioactive minerals is sometimes used so that the fracture trace along the wellbore can be measured. Chemical additives are applied to tailor the injected material to the specific geological situation, protect the well, and improve its operation. The injected fluid is approximately 99 percent water and 1 percent proppant, varying slightly based on the type of well. The composition of injected fluid is changed during the operation of a well over time, that is initially acid is used to increase permeability, then proppants are used with a gradual increase in their size, and at the end the well is flushed with water under pressure. Injected fluid is to some degree recovered and stored in pits or containers. It can be toxic due to the chemical additives and material washed out from the ground. It is sometimes processed so that part of it can be reused in fracking operations, part released into the environment after treatment, and some residual permanently placed in deep-well storage.

It’s not rocket science to see the need to increase electricity production through clean methods and we need to do it quickly. At this rate we will have destroyed the planet before we get it done. Methods that do not require clean up and/or have dangerous health risks are solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal, hydro, fuel cells to name a few. We have choices, so why must we keep making the wrong ones? It’s up to us. Don’t wait for Washington, or even your State leaders, to make the right decision for you.

Background on Fracking or Hydraulic fracturing from Wikipedia

To make green a reality visit

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Solar-wind hybrid system in Maryland goes online on Eastern Shore

There’s a new “hybrid” on the street. And though this one also involves energy, it’s not a motor vehicle. It’s the first commercially available solar-wind hybrid system in Maryland sized for a home or small business, and it just began generating power on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Under the right conditions, this grid-tied device, which features a residential-size wind turbine with six solar panels attached to the turbine’s post, can produce one-third to one-half the power used by the average Maryland home. That’s because the because the device employs two clean-energy sources at once; and because it uses sun-tracking technology created by Advanced Technology & Research (based in Columbia, Md.) that enables the system’s solar array to produce up to 30% more power than fixed panels.

“Some days it’s windy; some days it’s not,” said Rob Lundahl, an ATR vice president, at the June 29th unveiling of the device. “Many days it’s sunny, sometimes it’s not. The combination of the two, as we like to say, provides more power more often,” Lundahl said, adding that he believes this is also the first such commercially available system in the U.S.

This hybrid sits at the home of Dewayne and Dawn Stewart, easily visible about 150 feet from the road. Fluharty’s Electric of Tilghman, Md., where Dewayne also works, installed the Southwest Wind Skystream wind turbine about four years ago, and the tracking solar system was just added. “Now not only are we taking advantage of the wind power but also sun power,” said Dewayne Stewart. “My wife is a day care provider out of our home and she uses electric all day, every day. Our use of green power is not only saving on our electric bill, but more importantly, it is setting a good example for our children and the children in her day care,” he added.

Fluharty’s began installing wind turbines about five years ago and is a Southwest Wind dealer and installer, said owner Tim Fluharty, and the idea of combining wind and solar power intrigued the company. “’If someone could come up with a good hybrid system, we’d like to give it a try,’ and this is it,” Fluharty said. “In addition to the energy and cost savings, the hybrid system will remove about 10,000 pounds a year of greenhouse gases from the environment, something that’s important in an area as vulnerable to climate change as the Eastern Shore,” added Fluharty, a life-long Tilghman resident. He said that for the average buyer, the solar part of the system should pay for itself in about six years with the availability of good solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), while the wind component should take 10-15 years because the wind credits aren’t as strong.

Talbot County Engineer Ray Clark said that the Department of Public Works also is interested in the idea of combining wind and solar power in the same system. The agency is finalizing the design of a 50-kilowatt wind turbine for Tilghman Island’s wastewater treatment plant, also is looking at incorporating a solar array producing up to 50 kilowatts more of electricity. “Being here today allows me the opportunity to learn more about the sun-tracking system that could be used within our proposed solar energy system,” Clark added.

In addition to helping consumers and small businesses cut their energy costs with clean energy, the hybrid’s solar module—along with three other ATR tracking solar offerings—can benefit Maryland by helping generate jobs, since nearly all of the trackers’ components are made and assembled right in the state, Lundahl said. He thanked the Maryland Energy Administration, which awarded ATR a CEEDI (Clean Energy and Economic Development Incentive) grant to help defray initial production costs, and Governor Martin O’Malley for their support. “The MEA really stepped up,” he said. “This tracking technology is exportable not only to all counties in Maryland, but to the entire U.S. and even beyond,” Lundahl added.

For more information visit
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Thursday, July 21, 2011


Shuttle Atlantis
on final mission
On this, the month of the 42nd anniversary of the lunar landing and the end of America’s Space Shuttle program, I am rather misty-eyed. The most impressive feat of human engineering and sheer steely-eyed nerve I ever saw in person was the launch of the Space Shuttle. In a prior life I was lucky enough to have worked at NASA, on both the Shuttle program and that of the International Space Station. For me and for most of my colleagues, working at NASA was not just a job – it was a calling. It was part of an adventure and a point of pride and patriotism.

I find the end of the American Space Shuttle program – which is really the end of the American human space flight program is, at least for now – quite sad. I went to Florida to see Atlantis roar off the pad on July 8. It was my third or fourth launch but it was no less impressive, even though I was too far away to feel the sound reverberate in my chest. It is an experience like no other.

On previous launches I had watched from just 3 miles away, inside the Kennedy Space Center. The sound wave was always a surprise, coming a good 30 seconds from the time the vehicle topped the pad. It was as if the sound, now oscillating in your own body, made you a part of the astronauts’ trip too. You were in the shuttle with them, shaking from the seven million pounds of thrust and 17,000 mph needed to overcome gravity to reach low-Earth orbit, some 250-300 miles up.

Every launch for me was an adventure with four to seven human beings putting their faith and their lives in the hand of an incredible team of thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians – most of whom they would never meet. Landings were the triumphant return of the people who experienced a sunset and sunrise every 90 minutes – a select group of just over 500 who had seen our planet from a truly unique vantage point. Only the Shuttle could return big payloads back to Earth. Only the Shuttle landed on a runway with pilots guiding its glide path.

International Space Station
as seen from the Shuttle
So why should we care? If the adventure of space and the learning for learning’s sake argument doesn’t move you, how about the many ways NASA research and technology has affected our lives for the past 50 years?

In the renewable energy field, NASA’s experimental aircraft program led to a public-private partnership that resulted in the development of single crystal silicon solar power cells. There are now commonly in use residentially and commercially. All satellites and other spacecraft are at least partially powered by solar arrays.

Technology developed by NASA to produce oxygen and fuel on Mars has been applied to generate energy on Earth. A private partnership that involved companies such a Google, Genentech and Segway, developed the technology. Now called Bloom Energy, its ES-5000 Energy Server uses the planar solid oxide fuel cell technology the original team developed for the NASA Mars project – a 5kW fuel cell system. According to NASA, “At the core of the server are square ceramic fuel cells about the size of old fashioned computer floppy disks. Crafted from an inexpensive sand-like powder, each square is coated with special inks (lime-green ink on the anode side, black on the cathode side) and is capable of producing 25 watts—enough to power a light bulb. Stacking the cells—with cheap metal alloy squares in between to serve as the electrolyte catalyst—increases the energy output: a stack about the size of a loaf of bread can power an average home, and a full-size Energy Server with the footprint of a parking space can produce 100 kW, enough to power a 30,000-square-foot office building or 100 average U.S. homes.”

There have been proposals to harvest solar power directly from space – that is “beaming” it down for our use. This would require extensive on-orbit capability and transmission technology, but could, in time, decrease use of fossil fuels.

Basic steps in health, safety, communications and even casual entertainment find their roots in the government branch commonly associated with rocket ships and floating people. In fact, NASA has filed more than 6,300 patents with the U.S. government. Here are only 10 NASA inventions that youmight see everyday:

1. Invisible Braces
2. Scratch-resistant Lenses
3. Memory Foam
4. Ear Thermeter
5. Shoe Insoles
6. Long-distance Telecomunications
7. Adjustable Smoke Detector
8. Safety Grooving or carving grooves into concrete
9. Cordless tools
10. Water Filters

  The contribution of NASA technology to our daily lives is everywhere – from the resilience of our automobile tires to medical equipment (See NASA).

I can only hope that the policy makers will take the long view – even in these economic times – and make investment in American science and technology.

Elvia Thompson is Comunications Director of The Solar and Wind Expo, Founder of Annapolis Green and former NASA Public Affairs Officer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Solar leasing choices improve in Maryland


The state's 20% renewable portfolio standard and various tax incentives have attracted three of the country's top solar leasing firms this year

By Maria Gallucci, Solve Climate News

Maryland's ambitious renewables goal and booming solar market have lured its third solar leasing firm this year, putting the state on track to substantially boost the rate of installations for rooftop systems.

SunRun, a San Francisco solar provider that owns, maintains and insures solar arrays and sells the electricity to homeowners, announced last week that it was teaming up with two Maryland installers to offer its services in the state for the first time.

The company can expect competition from other California firms eager to tap a promising new market.

SunRun's announcement came just weeks after Oakland-based Sungevity said it would move into Maryland as part of an East Coast expansion that includes Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

In January, SunRun's closest competitor, San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity, acquired Clean Currents of Silver Spring to serve as its operations center for Maryland and the District of Columbia. SolarCity also offers residential solar systems for sale and lease through Home Depot stores in Maryland and D.C., plus four other states.

"That is a testament to the impact that the industry has had in the state," Ian Hines, a spokesperson for the Maryland Energy Administration, said of the leading solar companies' recent moves.

Read the entire story here

Monday, July 18, 2011



The Solar and Wind Expo
P.O. Box 72, Pasadena, MD 21123
Contact: Elvia Thompson 410 212-7280 (cell)


Renewable Energy Experts & Exhibits

WHAT: The Solar and Wind Expo Massachusetts a renewable energy consumer show

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, Nov. 4-6, 2011

WHERE: Best Western - Royal Plaza Trade Center 181 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough, Mass. – just 36 miles west of Boston

WHY: This indoor-outdoor consumer show is uniquely devoted to renewable energy and was created to bring the manufacturer, installer, lender and consumer together under one roof. It’s all about saving energy, saving money, and being good to the Earth.

ADMISSION: $12 adults ($10 if purchased online); $4 discounts for seniors over age 65 and military members; kids under 12 are admitted free.

The Solar and Wind Expo is coming to Massachusetts in November, bringing together manufacturers, installers, lenders and consumers together under one roof to exchange information about renewable energy – solar, wind, and geothermal.

This unique indoor-outdoor consumer show is solely devoted to renewable energy and was created to help consumers save energy, save money, and be good stewards of the environment.

Conveniently located at the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center, the Expo will be easily accessible from routes 20, 90, 495, 9, and 290. Ample free parking is available.

The Solar and Wind Expo Massachusetts will feature companies knowledgeable in renewable energy solutions. Experts in this evolving field will conduct valuable educational seminars for Expo attendees on topics such as: Financial and Environmental Benefits of Switching to Renewable Energy, Electric Vehicles, Financing Programs Available Right Now, Green Building Design, Energy Affordability in a Time of Change, Wind Power 101, The Benefits of Weatherization, Geothermal 101, and more.

“This fall is a great time for this kind of show in Massachusetts,” said George Lopez, executive director of The Solar and Wind Expo. “The technology is maturing and becoming more affordable and there is consumer interest in saving money and reducing their carbon footprint. Renewable energy credits are very attractive now in Massachusetts. The consumer can really save some money. Now is the time to make these investments, and the Best Western Royal Plaza Trade Center on Nov. 4-6 is the place to learn more.”

Massachusetts has a long history as a renewable energy friendly state. The SREC market is stable in a way that is unique in the United States. There are also abundant federal, state and local incentives to encourage consumers to invest in renewable energy.

For interviews with Mr. Lopez call Elvia Thompson at 410-212-7280. For more information visit

Thursday, July 14, 2011

U.S. Department of Energy released it's 2010 Wind Technologies Market Report

According to the Department of Energy's "2010 Wind Technologies Market Report" that was just released, the U.S. wind energy market took a hit in 2010. The report does go on to put the cause on the U.S economic downturn.
From the report:
The U.S. wind power industry experienced a trying year in 2010, with a significant reduction in new builds compared to both 2008 and 2009. The delayed impact of the global financial crisis, relatively low natural gas and wholesale electricity prices, and slumping overall demand for energy countered the ongoing availability of existing federal and state incentives for wind energy deployment. The fact that these same drivers did not impact capacity additions in 2009 can be explained, in part, by the “inertia” in capital-intensive infrastructure investments: 2009 capacity additions were largely determined by decisions made prior to the economy-wide financial crisis that was at its peak in late 2008 and early 2009, whereas decisions on 2010 capacity additions were often made at the height of the financial crisis. Cumulative wind power capacity still grew by a healthy 15% in 2010, however, and most expectations are for moderately higher wind power capacity additions in 2011 than witnessed in 2010, though those additions are also expected to remain below the 2009 high.

Key findings from this year’s “Wind Technologies Market Report” include:

Wind Power Additions Slowed in 2010, with Roughly 5 GW of New Capacity Added in the United States and $11 Billion Invested.
• Wind Power Comprised 25% of U.S. Electric Generating Capacity Additions in 2010.
• The United States Was Overtaken by China in Cumulative Wind Power Capacity, Remained the Second Largest Market in Annual Additions, and Was Well Behind the Market Leaders in Wind Energy Penetration.
• Texas Once Again Added More New Wind Power Capacity than Any Other State, While Four States Exceed 10% Wind Energy Penetration.
•  Offshore Wind Power Project and Policy Developments Continued in 2010.
• Data from Interconnection Queues Demonstrate that an Enormous Amount of Wind Power Capacity Is Under Consideration.
• GE Remained the Top Turbine Manufacturer in the U.S. Market. GE secured 50% of
• Domestic Wind Turbine and Component Manufacturing Activity Has Increased, but Has Also Been Challenged by the Economic Downturn.
• A Growing Percentage of the Equipment Used in U.S. Wind Power Projects Has Been Sourced Domestically in Recent Years.
• The Average Nameplate Capacity, Hub Height, and Rotor Diameter of Installed Wind Turbines Increased.
•  Consolidation among Wind Project Developers Continued, Albeit at a Slower Pace.
• The Project Finance Environment Improved Throughout 2010.

• IPP Project Ownership Remained Dominant, while Utility and Community Ownership Held Steady.
• Long-Term Contracted Sales to Utilities Remained the Most Common Off-Take Arrangement, but Scarcity of Power Purchase Agreements Drove Continued Merchant Development.

• Wind Power Prices from Projects Installed in 2010 Were Higher, but Relief Is on the Way.
• Low Wholesale Electricity Prices Continued to Challenge the Relative Economics of Wind Power Plants Installed in Recent Years.
• The Average Installed Cost of Wind Power Projects Held Steady in 2010, but Is Expected to Decline in the Near Term.
• Wind Turbine Prices Have Declined Since 2008 and Will Yield Lower Project-Level Installed Costs and Power Sales Prices in the Years Ahead.
• Wind Power Project Performance Has Generally Improved Over Time, but Has Leveled Off in Recent Years.
• Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Costs Are Affected by the Age and Commercial Operation Date of the Project.
• Extension of the Treasury Grant Program and Bonus Depreciation Provides Some Measure of Federal Policy Certainty Through 2012.

• State Policies Play a Role in Directing the Location and Amount of Wind Power Development.
• Despite Progress on Overcoming Transmission Barriers, Constraints Remain.

Operators Are Implementing Methods to Accommodate Increased Penetration.

With federal incentives for wind energy in place through 2012, an improved project finance environment, and lower wind turbine and wind power pricing, modest growth in annual wind power capacity additions appears likely for 2011 relative to 2010. Additions are expected to remain well below the 2009 high, however, due in part to relatively low wholesale electricity prices and limited need for new electric capacity additions, and in part to existing state-level RPS programs that, in aggregate, are not sizable enough to support continued wind power capacity additions at 2008 and 2009 levels. Most projections show further growth in 2012, as the cost of wind energy continues to decline as a result of lower wind turbine pricing, and as wind project developers rush to capture federal incentives currently slated to expire at the end of that year. Forecasts for 2013, meanwhile, span a particularly wide range, depending in part on assumptions about the possible extension of federal incentives beyond 2012, but in general are weighed down by current policy uncertainty as well as the expected limited need for new electric capacity additions.
Integrating Wind Energy into Power Systems Is Manageable, but Not Free of Costs, and System.

To read the report
To make green a reality visit

Monday, July 11, 2011

Renewable is the term used to describe what we do, everything else is dirty

After a long vacation following the Solar and Wind Expo Maryland and Pennsylvania, I would like to say that we are all glad to be back to work and we truly apologize for the lack of postings during this time… but the entire staff needed a break. Now we are all back at our desks and have once again plugged into the rhetoric that continues to spew out of state and national arenas.
If we already know the correct path to a healthier and more economical way of life, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, biomass and so on, then why must we endure the constant barrage of confusing comments and terms by no lesser than even our own President. Mr. Obama, in his quest to please everyone, has continuously touted clean energy to include “clean” coal and nuclear. REALLY? REALLY?

We might as well include oil and shale gas in there. Oh wait, he has.

He mentioned natural gas when he called for the United States to get 80% of its electricity from a “wide range of energy sources.”

Similar to the way “Green” has been whitewashed or watered down, so have the words “Clean” and “Alternative.” It is interesting how language is constantly used to persuade the general public to abandon its quest for genuinely clean energies and instead settle for what is touted as clean, such as “clean” coal and nuclear. But the sad part is, this is only done to profit a certain group.

In a capitalist society, blaming the profiteer is a futile exercise. As a matter of fact, our system is structured to reward the risk takers, even when those rewards are not for the benefit of the whole. Just look at the banking industry. Our government is supposed to keep this in check, but as we know, it has not done a good job of it.

So again, why must we hear these terms being used by officialdom? This is not leadership. Surely it would be utopian to never have to worry about our government and to always feel protected. But the truth is that government has few checks and balances. We as a society have got to make them accountable for their lack of strength and rectitude. Another election approaches and we again will have a chance to do our duty - or sit and grumble.

Great to be back!

"make green a reality"