Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Solar and Wind Expo

There is no intellegent life down here
2011 was filled with so many distractions that it is hard to pin point the biggest. 2012 could offer a lot of the same – especially since it will be an election year. In fact, it may be difficult to make predictions for 2012. But all is not lost even though politicians will continue to thrive on accentuating our differences,

Just as in other countries, the population is fed up. The current politicians are ill-equipped to stop the bickering and to work out the problems of today to allow for a future that will benefit us all, equally. Politics-as-usual is coming to an end and we will be witnesses.

The focus of the Solar and Wind Expo is to move the country forward towards a clean energy independent future. I bet most of you agree that this will not be possible without using the current available energy sources (like the Keystone Pipeline) while making the change to a new clean energy a priority.

The good part is we can and will do this. But we can’t wait until the left and the right stop fighting or the next election. If Obama wins and the House and Senate stay as they are, the conservatives will be unhappy and block everything that is proposed – more gridlock for four years. But if the Republicans win the Senate and the Presidency, I can’t see a much brighter future for clean energy either.

Let’s tell the President and Congress that we do not want to make this election about abortion, Mormons or putting judges in jail or we’re going to replace them all.

Action is what is needed in 2012. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is now occupying people’s homes and they are making a difference because of action not in-action. Whether you disagree or disagree with OWS you have to applaud positive action. We all have our opinions, but this coming year let’s put the differences aside and focus on our commonalities. Clean energy is one of these commonalities and if we need a pipeline now to make things easier while we transition to the future, then okay. But this needs to be the discussion, not blackmail as it is being presented now. Environmentalists will need to compromise as well those who support the expansion of fossil fuels.

The Solar and Wind Expo will continue its mission of showcasing clean energy products and techniques in 2012 and we are planning bigger and better shows than last year. In 2012 we are bringing a new event call Electropalooza to Maryland with the help of electric motorcycles manufacturers and race teams. Electric Motorcycles will race in time trials around a track with chicanes. This should be a good time. The event is coming together well and we have developed a website for those who want to participate. We will eventually incorporate the website into the expo website soon.

Speaking of websites, we are working on redoing The Solar and Wind Expo website and will be hosting our own blog in the near future with some interesting surprises. So if you’ve noticed very few blogs lately, that is because the focus has been on the redo. Stay tuned.

So another year goes by and another approaches, let’s make the necessary changes in 2012 to make a clean renewable energy independence possible. Don’t look back, make it happen. Happy Holidays.

Here is a list of who is up for re-election:

• The 2012 United States House of Representatives elections will be held on November 6, 2012. Elections will be held for all 435 seats, representing the 50 U.S. states. Elections will also be held for the delegates from the District of Columbia and five major U.S. territories.

• 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested in regular elections whose winners will serve six-year terms from January 3, 2013 until January 3, 2019. Additionally, special elections may be held to fill vacancies that occur during the 112th United States Congress. Currently, Democrats are expected to have 23 seats up for election, including 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, while Republicans are expected to have only 10 seats up for election.

1. Democrats/Independents retiring (6 seats)

 Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (Independent)

 Daniel Akaka of Hawaii

 4.1.3 Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico

 4.1.4 Kent Conrad of North Dakota

 4.1.5 Jim Webb of Virginia

 4.1.6 Herb Kohl of Wisconsin

2. Democrats who have not announced intentions

 4.2.1 Dianne Feinstein of California

 4.2.2 Ben Nelson of Nebraska

3. Democrats/Independents seeking re-election (15 seats)

 4.3.1 Tom Carper of Delaware

 4.3.2 Bill Nelson of Florida

 4.3.3 Ben Cardin of Maryland

 4.3.4 Debbie Stabenow of Michigan

 4.3.5 Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

 4.3.6 Claire McCaskill of Missouri

 4.3.7 Jon Tester of Montana

 4.3.8 Bob Menendez of New Jersey

 4.3.9 Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

 Sherrod Brown of Ohio

 Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania

 Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

 Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent)

 Maria Cantwell of Washington

 Joe Manchin of West Virginia

4. Republicans retiring (2 seats)

 Jon Kyl of Arizona

 Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas

5. Republicans seeking re-election (8 seats)

 Richard Lugar of Indiana

 Olympia Snowe of Maine

 Scott Brown of Massachusetts

 Roger Wicker of Mississippi

 Dean Heller of Nevada

 Bob Corker of Tennessee

 Orrin Hatch of Utah

 John Barrasso of Wyoming

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is renewable energy truly a national defense issue?

There has been a lot of talk in the news and in politics since that fateful day, Sept. 11, 2001, about the need to end global funding of terrorist factions, and justly so. The playbook rhetoric has always been that we take the war to them, and we did, that we find where the funding is coming from and stop it, and we did, sort of.

Terrorism exists on ideology and money. Without money it is impossible for a terrorist group to buy weapons, organize training camps or bribe officials in locations where training operations take place. Our government’s policies favor invading or putting in place sanctions to force countries that harbor terrorists to our will. These tactics haven’t worked in Cuba. After enduring years of US economic sanctions, Cuba is now looking to China to help it find oil 60 miles from Key West. This proves that isolation only creates strange bedfellows and that these tactics are so counterproductive that they do is create more problems. What will Cuba do with these profits, hopefully not harbor terrorist?

Invading other countries is a bad choice and often backfires. Help from other countries isn’t always there and the human toll is priceless. Yes we have triumphed in Iraq, or so it seems but time will tell. We can’t stay on this course any longer, we just can’t.

Terrorist attacks cost a small amount when compared to the funds they spend in developing their terrorist infrastructure, which cost perhaps billions of dollars to set up and maintain. Vast sums are spent on recruitment, training camps, conventional and unconventional weapons, intelligence gathering, various forms of propaganda, and other activities.

The methods used to acquire these funds are nothing new and have been around for decades, i.e. drugs and oil profits. The US has done little to curtail the influx of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels that fund the very terrorism that we then must fight. How many wake-up calls must we have before people in power act see this?

Tired of waiting for government action, the American public is taking matters into its own hands. They are saving more, fighting for their legal rights and buying locally to help themselves get out a financial quagmire while Congress continues its lackluster performance. The 2008 economic crash left the United States people no choice but to rethink the place of our country in this new global economy.

The United States needs to make the change to clean electric cars and solar, wind and geothermal technologies as quickly as possible to help lead the country and the world out of this dependence. There is no more time to wait. Countries all over the world are making quick work of the change and we must too. We should take the message to Congress that this too is of national importance and must be put in the defense budget. This is the language they understand.

Money can be reallocated from research on worthless technologies or new line items should be added. It’s that important.

The defense expenditures for 2010 were as follows:
  • Operations and maintenance $283.3 billion +4.2%
  • Military Personnel $154.2 billion +5.0%
  • Procurement $140.1 billion −1.8%
  • Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation $79.1 billion +1.3%
  • Military Construction $23.9 billion +19.0%
  • Family Housing $3.1 billion −20.2%
  • Total Spending $683.7 billion +3.0%

DOD Programs: 
  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter $11.4 billion +2.1%
  • Ballistic Missile Defense (Aegis, THAAD, PAC-3) $9.9 billion +7.3%
  • Virginia class submarine $5.4 billion +28.0%
  • Brigade Combat Team Modernization $3.2 billion +21.8%
  • DDG 51 Aegis-class Destroyer $3.0 billion +19.6%
  • P–8A Poseidon $2.9 billion −1.6%
  • V-22 Osprey $2.8 billion −6.5%
  • Carrier Replacement Program $2.7 billion +95.8%
  • F/A-18E/F Hornet $2.0 billion +17.4%
  •  Predator and Reaper Unmanned Aerial System $1.9 billion +57.8%
  • Littoral combat ship $1.8 billion +12.5%
  • CVN Refueling and Complex Overhaul $1.7 billion −6.0%
  • Chemical Demilitarization $1.6 billion −7.0%
  • RQ-4 Global Hawk $1.5 billion +6.7%
  • Space-Based Infrared System $1.5 billion +54.4%

The 2012 Defense-related budget breakdown shows where all the money is going to be spent:
  • DOD spending $707.5 billion Base budget + "Overseas Contingency Operations"
  • FBI counter-terrorism $2.7 billion At least one-third FBI budget.
  • International Affairs $5.6–$63.0 billion At minimum, foreign arms sales. At most, entire State budget
  • Energy Department, defense-related $21.8 billion
  • Veterans Affairs $70.0 billion
  • Homeland Security $46.9 billion
  • NASA, satellites $3.5–$8.7 billion Between 20% and 50% of NASA's total budget
  • Veterans pensions $54.6 billion
  • Other defense-related mandatory spending $8.2 billion
  • Interest on debt incurred in past wars $109.1–$431.5 billion Between 23% and 91% of total interest
  • Total Spending $1.030–$1.415 trillion

My proposal is this. Add one more line item: 
  • Strategic fossil fuel import reduction $431.5 billion - to be used to finance renewable energy

This amount is equal to the amount that is paid in interest for past wars alone. Maybe we can put an end to having to fight those types of wars. We must make it a National Priority.

George Lopez

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

America is split – just about down the middle – half on the left and half on the right

 If you told me that every football game this season was going to end in a tie, I would not watch football. I feel the same way about politics; I just can’t watch it anymore. At least with football if you stop watching, the pain goes away. The opposite is true with politics. If you leave them alone they will steal the farm (Oh wait, they have).

We need to take responsibility for our votes. The left blames the right and the right blames the left. In the end it’s the voter who loses.

The almost even division of the country has created this problem; and in a way this is a good thing, because this system does not give either side supreme power and this increases the need for compromise between the two sides. But they all have dug in their heels and will not allow common reasoning to enter the conversation.

So the only thing the left and the right can do is hope that the independent vote will help sway the election their way. So in other words, billions of dollars are spent to sway a small minority.

This is money that in my eyes can be used for better things, but that argument is for another time. What is so disingenuous on the part of both sides is that they never repay their debt by helping an independent candidate get any recognition. Not ever. It boggles my mind.

What does all this have to do with renewable energy and electric vehicles? If you look around you’ll see that the environment hasn’t gotten any better and the cost of fossil fuels hasn’t gone down. History shows that this is a never-ending trend. But the cost of solar and wind and geothermal is going down. According to the World Energy Council (WEC), global demand for natural gas is likely to increase by 44% between 2007 and 2035 due to increasing global population and growing demand. This will increase the cost of that fuel. Count on it.

Bloomberg news reported a couple of days ago on India pushing down the price of solar even further:

India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, is cutting solar-power costs to a record by forcing project developers into auctions, helping avoid the spiraling renewable-energy subsidies that have hurt Europe.

The lowest bid in India’s latest national auction on Dec. 2 came from Solairedirect SA, France’s second-largest producer, which offered to sell photovoltaic electricity at 7,490 rupees ($147) a megawatt-hour. That’s 38 percent below the average price set in a December 2010 auction and about 30 percent cheaper than the global average for solar projects.

They go on to say:

The auction’s results for $700 million of projects shows the price of solar power in India is closing in on the cost of coal-fired generation faster than expected as photovoltaic equipment costs plunge, said Mohit Anand, senior consultant at Bridge to India Pvt., a New Delhi-based advisory firm.

Solar power may equal the cost of fossil fuel-based electricity sold to commercial businesses as early as 2014 or 2015 if prices continue to fall at the rate seen in India over the past 12 months, Anand said. KPMG LLP predicted in May solar power may be as cheap as coal by 2017. The government said in an August report that solar could reach grid parity by 2019.

Read the story here.

While the country is in gridlock and the media only wants to promote its own agenda, the renewable energy industry could make a difference by promoting alternative energy friendly political candidates. There is a great opportunity to make difference going forward and maybe this two-party system is hurting our chances to further the renewable energy industry in a way that is fair. Is the only way left to introduce new ideas is to introduce a new party?

While Ice caps melt, ground water is dries up, the housing market flounders and economies all over the world are at the mercy of fossil fuel providers, the price of clean, renewable energy continues to go down. There has been no better time to make the change to clean renewable energy, but all the left and the right can do is argue. HELLO! CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME?!! George Lopez.