Ocean currents can power the world, say scientists
Existing technologies require an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth’s currents are slower than three knots Photo: AP

The technology can generate electricity in water flowing at a rate of less than one knot – about one mile an hour – meaning it could operate on most waterways and sea beds around the globe.

Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth’s currents are slower than three knots.

The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.

Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.

A “field” of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.

Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.

The system, conceived by scientists at the University of Michigan, is called Vivace, or “vortex-induced vibrations for aquatic clean energy”.

Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture at the university, said it was based on the changes in water speed that are caused when a current flows past an obstruction. Eddies or vortices, formed in the water flow, can move objects up and down or left and right.

“This is a totally new method of extracting energy from water flow,” said Mr Bernitsas. “Fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them. Their muscle power alone could not propel them through the water at the speed they go, so they ride in each other’s wake.”

Such vibrations, which were first observed 500 years ago by Leonardo DaVinci in the form of “Aeolian Tones”, can cause damage to structures built in water, like docks and oil rigs. But Mr Bernitsas added: “We enhance the vibrations and harness this powerful and destructive force in nature.

“If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power.”

Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.

The engineers are now deploying a prototype device in the Detroit River, which has a flow of less than two knots. Their work, funded by the US Department of Energy and the US Office of Naval Research, is published in the current issue of the quarterly Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama on Saturday outlined his plan to create 2.5 million jobs in coming years to rebuild roads and bridges and modernize schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars.

“These aren’t just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long,” Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address. The economic recovery plan being developed by his staff aims to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011, and he wants to get it through Congress quickly and sign it soon after taking office.

He called the plan “big enough to meet the challenges we face” and said that it will jump-start job creation but also “lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy.”

Aides said the economic plan outlined Saturday went further that the president-elect has gone before.

Let us know your thoughs. Your comments are welcome.

Tough Times

November 21, 2008


The Labor Department just reported that unemployment benefits last week jumped to a 16 year high.  Further evidence, proving the rapidly decreasing job market, that is suspected to get even worse next year.  New applications for jobless benefits jumped up nearly 27,000 from the previous week.  On Thursday, the Senate is expected to vote on legislation that would extend unemployment benefits.  The White House stated that President Bush would quickly sign the bill.  Without the legislation, supporters say 1.1 million people will have worn out their unemployment insurance by the end of the year.  They are finding that those who are unemployed are finding it more difficult to find new jobs.  

This 16 year high means that over 10 million Americans are looking for work.  More than 1.2 million jobs have been lost so far this year, and the jobless rate is at a 14 year high at 6.5%.  Many economists believe the unemployment rate will be estimated at about 8% by the end of 2009.  If that’s not enough stocks have plunged for the second day in a row to rates that haven’t been seen in more than 5 years.

Let us know your thoughts? Your comment is welcome!

The Climate Change Challenge

November 20, 2008

Written by Gillian Caldwell   As reported in Huffington Post Green


When it comes to the outlook for climate and energy policy under President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress, there’s the good news, and then there are the serious challenges that we must work together to confront in the critical year that lies ahead.

The good news is that 30 national organizations working to combat global warming, including 1Sky and all members of the “Green Group” (the largest environmental organizations in the country), came together on a set of recommendations delivered to President-elect Obama earlier this month that emphasized the need to embrace the science-based targets for global warming emissions reductions outlined by the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In that document, we said:

“According to the [IPCC], we have a reasonable chance of meeting this objective if developed countries as a whole cut their emissions 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050; within this time frame, major developing countries as a whole must also act promptly to slow their emissions growth and then substantially reduce their emissions. To be within this range in 2020, the U.S. would have to reduce its emissions by 35% from current levels.”

It was the first time we were all standing together on the science, and it was an important way to begin the conversation with an impressive new ally in the White House and a new Congress to work with.

The other good news is that Obama addressed the Governor’s Global Climate Summit yesterday and in his speech he committed himself very clearly to a new chapter in leadership on climate change, and to implementing a federal cap and trade system that would get us to the 80% reductions by 2050 the IPCC says we must achieve — at a minimum — to avoid cataclysmic climate impacts. He reinforced what we all know — that climate change is irrefutable, and that it will continue to weaken our economy and our national security if we don’t address it. And he reiterated his commitment to creating 5 million new jobs in this country (a direct embrace of the 1Sky Solutions) through energy efficiency and investments in solar, wind, and advanced biofuels.

So — our work is done, right? Wrong.

In his remarks yesterday the President-elect reiterated his prior commitment to get emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020 — when the IPCC has said clearly that we must achieve at least 25% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020, and our international counterparts are standing by awaiting leadership on that scale as they prepare for their negotiations in Poznan in December 2008, and in Copenhagen in December 2009. Obama’s near term targets must be much stronger if we are to tackle this problem, and if we are to demonstrate the leadership he is clearly committed to providing at a global level.

The other challenge we face is that Obama reiterated his commitment to “clean coal” which, as I have said before, is a myth, and while he talked about continued reliance on nuclear energy, there was no mention of geothermal alongside wind and solar as smart, renewable energy alternatives. As my colleague David Orr is famous for saying, “nuclear is a very expensive way to boil water,” not to mention the security risks it presents.

I hate to be the naysayer, because I am as excited as anyone else about the hope and potential President-elect Obama presents. But I take him at his word when he says we have to work together to get where we are going, and that he will be listening carefully — most of all when we disagree. I was somewhat disheartened to see the slew of entirely celebratory press statements yesterday coming from my colleagues in the field — none of which took issue with the ways in which Obama’s remarks deviated from what we called for just a week ago in a unified set of recommendations.

But perhaps the biggest challenge we face is getting Congress behind the President-elect. We need 218 votes in the House to pass strong climate legislation, and depending on who is counting we are upwards of 150. And we need 60 votes in the Senate — we don’t even break 50 if we are talking about standing with the science. That is why yesterday, 1Sky, Energy Action, 350.org and a range of our other allies nationally mobilized more than 4,000 people to visit all 435 Congressional districts in every state in the country, welcoming the 111th Congress and urging them to work with President-elect Obama to:

  • Create 5 million new green jobs and pathways out of poverty focused on climate solutions and energy efficiency;
  • Reduce global warming pollution at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050;
  • Impose a moratorium on new coal plants that emit global warming pollution and end our dependence on oil through strong standards and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

We need you now more than ever — we are about to launch our Climate Precinct Captains campaign, with a goal to identify and engage voluntary Climate Precinct Captains in all 435 Congressional districts in the country by early 2009, and to move from there into all 300,000 voting precincts nationwide. Sign up now and put yourself on the map!

A Billion Zeros

November 20, 2008

Just a little food for thought!

The next time you hear a politician use the word ‘billion’ in a casual manner, think about
whether you want the ‘politicians’ spending YOUR tax money. Have you seen this, now going around the Internet?

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.



A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.


A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.



A billion dollars ago was only

8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government


is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain…

let’s take a look at New Orleans …

It’s amazing what you can learn with some simple division.
Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) is presently asking Congress for


to rebuild New Orleans . Interesting number…

what does it mean?


Well… if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans

(every man, woman, and child)

you each get $516,528.

Or… if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.

Or… if you are a family of four…

your family gets $2,066,012.

Just some things to think about…

Here’s some more to think about. I am going to list some taxes below…

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax < BR>Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food Licens e Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting Licen se Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Ta x
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring ChargesTax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Now, think about this…

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago…and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt…

We had the largest middle class in the world.
What happened?

Can you spell ‘politicians!’

And I still have to

press ‘1’

for English.

I hope this goes around the


at least 100 times

What the heck happened????

Comments are welcome!

President-elect Barack Obama sent a video message to a summit meeting on global warming organized by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, implying that despite the continuing economic turmoil, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will remain a central component of Mr. Obama’s energy, environmental and economic policies.


Below you can read a transcript, as prepared by the Obama transition office. He also implied that he was turning down requests from environmental campaigners that he attend next month’s round of talks over a new climate treaty, in Poland, saying he has asked members of Congress who are attending to report back to him.

Many climate scientists would undoubtedly suggest some tweaks in the language in the statement — the line about “stopping climate change,” for instance. Keep in mind that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year concluded that a freeze on global emissions now wouldn’t have a measurable impact on warming rates for several decades. But the overall tenor of the message was clearly that the need to curb heat-trapping gases will not be a come-and-go issue in this administration.

Time will tell. With economic activity down, anything that can be portrayed as raising energy costs could face big hurdles in Congress. And Mr. Obama’s broader call for an energy revolution also could require him to overcome what he called America’s “shock and trance” cycle as oil prices spike and collapse.

Here’s the transcript of the video:

President-elect Barack Obama’s statement:

Let me begin by thanking the bipartisan group of U.S. governors who convened this meeting. Few challenges facing America — and the world — are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.

Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security. I know many of you are working to confront this challenge. In particular, I want to commend Governor Sebelius, Governor Doyle, Governor Crist, Governor Blagojevich and your host, Governor Schwarzenegger — all of you have shown true leadership in the fight to combat global warming. And we’ve also seen a number of businesses doing their part by investing in clean energy technologies.

But too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.

That will start with a federal cap and trade system. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80 percent by 2050. Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private-sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power and next-generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.

This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

But the truth is, the United States cannot meet this challenge alone. Solving this problem will require all of us working together. I understand that your meeting is being attended by government officials from over a dozen countries, including the U.K., Canada and Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Poland and Australia, India and Indonesia. And I look forward to working with all nations to meet this challenge in the coming years.

Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won’t be president at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one president at a time, I’ve asked members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there.

And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.

Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.

Stopping climate change won’t be easy. It won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that’s willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America. Thank you.

PSEG to develop wind farm

November 18, 2008


PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Ralph Izzo, PSEG chairman and CEO, in a keynote speech today at the Newark Green Future Summit, called climate change “the greatest environmental challenge of our time” and said it presented a solid opportunity for growth in New Jersey, especially its cities.

Izzo spoke at a conference spearheaded by the Clinton Global Initiative to promote sustainable economic development and discussion about the “greening” of Newark’s economy and community.

“Climate change is not only the greatest environmental challenge of our time, it’s an opportunity for economic and community development,” Izzo said. “We have capital that we are ready to invest, in projects that will require an expanded workforce. The opportunities for residents of our cities will be immense.”

Izzo noted that cities have the potential to become hubs of the growing green economy, as long as they have access to energy efficiency, renewable energy and the jobs that will deliver them.

He detailed PSEG’s plans to weatherize homes and businesses in Newark and Trenton, develop a 350-megawatt wind farm off the coast of southern New Jersey, and expedite investment in solar power statewide. All of these initiatives, he said, will create new green jobs.

Izzo also discussed the company’s workforce development efforts, which include the creation of a green energy academy dedicated to preparing high school students for green collar jobs and the expansion of the energy utility technology degree programs being offered with several New Jersey colleges.

“We are looking to form new partnerships with government, community groups, educational institutions, military and others on initiatives that will prepare New Jersey residents for green jobs of the future.”

Our perspective:

PSEG has been very proactive in supporting alternative energy efforts. NJ, along with California, are poised to be leaders in the efforts to provide energy independence. If we all work together this worthy goal will be achieved and issue in a new era of stability and strength in the economy.

Let us know your thoughts? You may email george@hbsadvantage.com or post a comment.

As reported on Time.com

Van Jones does not look like your typical environmentalist. He doesn’t wear Birkenstocks. He’s African-American in a movement that tends to be overwhelmingly white. His background is in civil-rights activism — specifically prison reform — a cause he champions in Oakland, Calif. But Jones, the head of the non-profit Green For All and the author of the new book The Green-Collar Economy, could represent the future of environmentalism in America and a way for the movement to survive and even thrive through the coming recession. “The solution for the environment and the economy will be the same thing,” says Jones. (Listen to Jones talk about the green collar economy on this week’s Greencast.)

Jones, a charismatic 40-year-old Yale Law School grad who has emerged as a major green star over the past year, argues that environmentalism won’t just be about the environment anymore. Instead, it will drive fundamental changes in the way we do business and the jobs we create — that’s what he means by a green-collar economy. Over the years, manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs have been gradually outsourced from the U.S. That has hit the working class especially hard, in both cities and rural areas, because decent-paying blue-collar employment is what pulls people out of poverty and into the middle class. At the same time, it’s the working class that has also borne the brunt of the high energy prices that result from America’s dependence on foreign oil. As the recession darkens, that double bind is likely to worsen.

The answer, Jones writes in his book, is the creation of green-collar jobs that provide working-class employment, shield America from rising fossil fuel prices and stem carbon emissions. These are not the high-tech, high-education “George Jetson” jobs, as Jones puts it, that were created by the Internet and biotech booms. Green-collar jobs include manufacturing solar panels, insulating green homes, servicing wind turbines. These are jobs that can be filled by blue-collar workers who need jobs — and they help the environment to boot. “You can put the country back to work with green solutions that are good for the Earth,” says Jones.

Jones has a way with a slogan and a talent for cutting to the core of an argument that some environmentalists (Al Gore, for instance) don’t always possess. But while Jones has become the face of the new green-collar economy, he’s hardly the only environmentalist pushing the idea. The concept is gaining steam because when it comes to climate change, simply protecting the environment is not enough. The only way the environmental movement can grow beyond a relatively small elite is if it meets broad, basic economic needs, not just green ones. “We need to go from talking about green as a lifestyle choice, and make it an economic choice,” says Jones. “We need eco-populism, not eco-elitism.”

For that to happen, however, we need serious government policy: smart subsidies for alternative energy and green building, retraining for green-collar jobs, more research money for clean tech — and hopefully a tax on carbon. Both Presidential candidates have gestured at this — though Sen. Barack Obama, who has pledged to spend $150 billion over 10 years on clean tech, is ready to do more.

But that was before this once-in-a-generation economic crisis hit. Now, with hundreds of billions of dollars in government money being shoveled towards the financial sector, with the economy in free-fall, with once-record oil prices dropping, surely the last thing we can afford is more spending to prop up green dreams?

Jones says we can and we should. This isn’t the time to abandon the green push — not just because carbon emissions continue to rise faster than ever or because scientists grow more concerned daily about the fate of the planet. Let’s even put aside a politically fraught cap-and-trade program for the moment. A green stimulus package — a Green Deal, perhaps — could not only put the unemployed back to work in the middle of a harsh recession, but also lay the building blocks for a new, more sustainable American economy, one prepared to compete in a future where energy, natural resources and maybe carbon will all come at a premium. The old system failed, and we’re picking up the pieces. “We can create an economy that’s about production, not just consumption,” says Jones. “That’s the way forward.” It may be hard to believe, but a recession could be the first step to a truly green economy — one that will be ready for a very different future.

Transition off oil

November 16, 2008

As reported on Huffington Post Green

Greg Pahl, author of Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options, knows a thing or two about weening your house off oil and the associated evils (expensive, dirty, foreign sources, etc.). He’s been working with renewable energy systems for over 20 years, and recently completed the transition of a 1950s tract home off of oil completely by installing a pellet boiler, a fireplace insert, and the solar domestic hot water system he explains in the video below.

If you’re looking to begin the journey to an oil-free existence, a solar hot water system is a great place to start…even if you live in colder climates, as Pahl explains in this video: see link below


Rutgers: Going Solar

November 14, 2008

09.23.2008 | SUNDURANCE NEWS

Rutgers University Breaks Ground for Largest Campus Solar Energy Facility in Nation

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – President Richard L. McCormick of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, today joined commissioners of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and other university officials to break ground for the construction of a seven-acre solar energy facility – the largest system on a single campus in the United States.

Photovoltaic solar energy, which converts sunlight into electricity, is one of the cleanest renewable energy sources. The 1.4 megawatt solar “farm” will generate approximately 10 percent of the electrical demand of the Livingston Campus and reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,200 tons per year.

“The wide array of research conducted by Rutgers plays an important role in addressing the critical issues of climate change and conservation,” said McCormick. “As an institution, Rutgers is a national leader in bringing environmentally sound practices to higher education. By partnering with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to construct this remarkable solar energy facility, Rutgers demonstrates our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship. We believe this project will serve as a model that other institutions can emulate.”

Rutgers will fund approximately half the $10 million cost of the project – $5.1 million – but the balance will be subsidized by a rebate through the BPU’s Clean Energy Program. The program is aimed at public agencies and institutions to help them defer the cost of implementing solar projects.

“We are proud to be a part of Rutgers’ commitment to fostering renewable energy in the state of New Jersey,” said BPU Commissioner Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “New Jersey’s colleges and universities are continually leading the nation in their dedication to innovation on a broad range of issues. By taking advantage of New Jersey’s innovative solar financing program to create the largest campus-based solar energy farm in the nation, Rutgers is demonstrating that investment in clean energy is good for the environment, good for the economy and good for the future of this state.”

Besides receiving rebates, Rutgers will capitalize on the BPU’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program. SRECs are tradable certificates that represent the clean energy benefits of electricity generated from a photovoltaic system. The SRECs can be sold to electric suppliers to provide a source of revenue that helps the university offset the costs of installing the solar farm.

“This project makes good sense economically and environmentally,” said Antonio Calcado, Rutgers’ vice president for Facilities and Capital Planning. “The solar array will generate more than 1,500 megawatt hours of electricity in the first year, offsetting the need to purchase power from PSE&G or draw on the capacity of the university’s gas and oil-fired cogeneration plant.”

According to Calcado, the solar energy project will save Rutgers more than $200,000 in its first year of operation, rising to more than $300,000 in annual savings by the end of the 15-year program.

The more than 7,000 ground-mounted photovoltaic modules comprising the solar farm will be installed by SunDurance Energy of South Plainfield, N.J. SunDurance develops, designs and builds large-scale solar power facilities for private and public entities.

The solar farm will be sited on a parcel of land at the northeast corner of the Livingston Campus in Piscataway, bordered by Berrue Circle, Road 2 and Suttons Lane. It is expected by to be in operation in the spring of 2009.