The Age of Windustry

Day one of the Windpower 2007 conference has come to an end, and having just
rubbed elbows with something like 6,000 attendees, 400-plus exhibitors and
national legislators and policymakers from around the country, I thought I’d
try to make sense of it all. The confab
was put on by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and heavily
attended by many of folk who belong to it: wind energy producers,
manufacturers who produce things like wind turbines, poles, and transmission
lines and wind outreach and education organizations. The conference features
tons of panels, discussions and presentations, but much of the talk at this
year’s Windpower focused on just a few issues: 

  • A lot of people -­ and not just wind industry representatives, either ­-
    believe that wind energy is and will remain an increasingly crucial part of
    our national renewable energy portfolio. No one had anything particularly
    negative to say about nuclear or other non-c02-emitting power generation
    technologies, but all agreed that of those other options, none were as ready
    as wind power was to step up to the plate and work. (It takes
    years and years to bring a nuclear power plant online, for instance, and not
    nearly as long to build and permit wind turbines). The wind industry feels
    that its golden moment is now.
  • The AWEA has set a really tough goal for itself and for the wind industry:
    to produce 20% of the U.S.’ power by the year 2020. As good as that sounds,
    no one really knows how it’s going to be accomplished. Panelist Bob
    Lukefahr, of BP¹s alternative fuels division, stressed the challenges: It
    will require "technology we haven’t invented yet," he said, and entails "political and economic complexity this business has never faced before."
    For starters, they’re going to have to figure out how to deliver
    all that energy; even if we had the turbines to do it right now, it would
    cost at least $60 billion to build the transmission lines to get that power
    onto the country’s grid, according to AWEA President Randall Swisher.
  • The future of the wind industry depends on the White House, and if the
    next few presidents we have aren’t wind-friendly, wind will stay small for
    the long haul.

The good news is, there are plenty of states out there interested in having
the wind industry set up shop in their regions. At Monday’s confab alone,
the mayor of Los Angeles and the governors of Montana and Iowa made nice to
the assembled windustryites, and at least one congressman (D.C.’s own Jerry
McNerney) and a senator (Tom Daschle) lent their support to the cause as a
whole. In short, the industry is booming, consumer interest in renewable
energy has never been higher, and the future ­ depending in part on what
happens in the 2008 election ­ looks bright.

Photsynth Makes Print Obsolete

Photosynth is an amazing photo and text software environment that will change the way you look at photos forever.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas
presents a demo of Photosynth at the TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference. He shows how his new software links photos together spatially and hints at the value Photosynth adds to your photo collection. The demo  shows Photosynth creating amazing multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features just by scanning photos from Flickr. It creates a spatial map and places all photos of an object (such as Notre Dame, Paris) into a collage that is easy and intuitive to navigate.

While the spatial 3-D image collage is amazing, the information created when everyoneÂ’s photo tags are linked is even more amazing. Photosynth creates a dense information swarm around the objects it links together.

Photosynth is the brainchild of Blaise Aguera y Arcas, he also created Seadragon (acquired by Microsoft in 2006), the visualization technology that gives Photosynth its amazingly smooth digital rendering and zoom capabilities.

Seadragon and Photosynth create an interface that will make working with text and images on a screen preferable to working with paper. With the exception of reading at the beach, I canÂ’t see any advantage for paper. 

the Trucking Industry Events


The following are events taking place in the field of trucking, scroll
down the page to locate an event for your month of interest. If you
would like to submit your event please contact us at or call 866-383-7956. Keep in mind your event must
be trucking related or benefit the truck driver or owner operator.

3 – 5 TMCA Annual Conference & Expo
Sponsored by The Transportation Marketing & Communications Association
Renaissance Vinoy Resort, St Petersburg, FL

3 – 6 HDDC’s 23rd Annual Business Conference
Sponsored by Heavy Duty Distributor Council
Hilton Suites Toronto, Markham Conference Centre & Spa, Toronto,
Contact: 519-631-9424

7 – 9 The Truck Show Las Vegas
Sponsored by The Truck Show
Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

Carbonation and Global Warming?

Recently Dave Burdick compared renewable energy to diet soda: You get all the fun without any of the guilt. Well, a randomly-associating commenter suddenly wondered about the effects of soda CO2 off-gassing on global warming.

Far be it from me to make light of a serious issue like global warming, but I really can’t help but figure out the answer for myself.

So I found some quick (and occasionally disturbing) data:

  • There’s an average of 6 grams of CO2 in 1 liter of soda.
  • The majority of CO2 used in the soft drink industry is a byproduct of, get this, petroleum refineries.
  • There are 300 million people in America.
  • And freakiest of all, the average American drinks 56 gallons of soda per year.

First of all, HOLY CRAP! Fifty Six Gallons Per Year! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…

Anyhow…now for the math:
300 million people x 56 gallons per person x 3.78 gallons per liter x 6 grams of CO2 per liter soda / 1000 g per kg x 1 ton in 978 kg= 389,570 tons of CO2 emitted by soft drinks yearly in America alone.

Now, since most of this CO2 was going to be emitted from petroleum refineries anyway, it’s not all that big a deal. But it’s pretty amazing that we, in effect, manage to sequester almost 400,000 tons of CO2 (the amount emitted by a town of around 45,000 people) in soda pop every year.

Now, if we could just keep buying them, and stop opening them.

Audi Tradition Celebrating 100 Years of DKW

Worldwide fans of the two-stroke engine Audi Tradition with DKW cars at classic events A legend of the automotive world is celebrating its centenary this year: DKW. The company from Zschopau in Saxony originally planned to build …

Volkswagen rejects takeover bid from Porsche

Volkswagen is still in full control after sports car maker, Porsche, failed in the public takeover bid of the German car company. Porsche AG said that its offer to buy the shares it does not already own in Volkswagen AG expired with less than 1 percent of the stock offered for sale by investors.

Porsche earlier said that it has no plans to acquire Europe’s biggest automaker outright and has maintained this statement throughout the bidding process. The company offered 65.54 Euros (US$89.42) for each preferred share and 100.92 Euros (US$137.69) per ordinary share. On the other hand, Volkswagen shares rose 1.9 percent to 115.80 Euros (US$155.82), while Porsche shares gained 1 percent to 1,352.53 Euros (US$1,819.92).

“Given that the current stock exchange price is higher than the offer price, the result was as expected,” said Chief Executive Wendelin Wiedeking. “The completion of the mandatory offer is, amongst others, subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities and is not expected to occur prior to the end of June.”

Porsche lifted its stake in Volkswagen last March to help the company from possible foreign takeovers. The company’s other major shareholder is the German state of Lower Saxony, which holds a 21 percent stake.

Analysts saw the move as a clever strategy for Porsche to increase its decisive power in Volkswagen without being forced to pay over the odds for any additional shares. Experts also suggested that Porsche could be considering that Volkswagen share price would fall in the wake of the announcement, which will let them to buy additional shares at cheaper amounts.

Now that the takeover bid has failed, Porsche is legally free to acquire further shares in Volkswagen until it reaches 50 percent at which point it would have to make another takeover offer.

It was actually earlier this year when Porsche first decided to purchase more Volkswagen stock, with its stake raised to over 30 percent. Under a German law, it was mandatory for the low-volume luxury automaker to launch a bid for all outstanding public shares of Europe’s largest automaker. Usually when one company wants to take over another, they offer a stock buyout price that is equal to or greater than the actual market value. But in Porsche’s case, it only offered 101 Euros even though the stock is trading at about 112 Euros. Volkswagen shareholders then rejected Porsche’s offer because of the low offer price.

Porsche unexpectedly bought shares in Volkswagen back in September 2005, becoming its biggest investor and protecting it from a possible takeover.

It is not surprising that Porsche would gain interests in Volkswagen, for the two automotive company have close relationships even in the past. In fact, Porsche founder, Ferdinand Porsche, was the original Volkswagen designer. The first Porsche cars, like the 1948 Porsche 356, used many Volkswagen components including a tuned engine, gearbox and suspension. Other collaborations were the 1969 and 1970 VW-Porsche 914, the 1976 Porsche 924 and the 2002 Porsche Cayenne.

Lab-Grown Meat for Ethical Carnivores

My goodness we live in a strange world. Some scientists in the Netherlands are currently working on growing meat in laboratories with the eventual aim of eliminating livestock. Even though I find this completely gross, and I can’t imagine how they could effectively market such a product, it might actually be a good idea.

Cows and pigs are one of the biggest contributors to global warming because methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Chickens alone produce about eight billion pounds of waste per year.

And then there’s the whole "Omnivore’s Dilemma." Should we choose to kill and eat other animals if we have a choice? Well, if these scientists have their way we’ll be able to have our pork as well as our pig, and everyone will be happy. Oh…except the livestock industry.

Via TreeHugger and Reuters

Making Solar Popular: China’s Sun City

Rizhao is not the most well known city in China, but it is rising in fame as a promising example of citywide solar energy use. With a name that means "City of Sunshine," they have sure lived up to it – 99% of central district houses are using solar water heaters, as well as more than 30% of suburban and village houses in the surrounding area. This amounts to 500,000 square meters of solar water heaters, doing the work of half a megawatt of electricity. The trend extends to 6,000 houses using solar cooking facilities and 60,000 greenhouses heated using solar heat collectors. In addition, a majority of city lights and traffic signals use photovoltaics.

This is not some futuristic city on the rise; Rizhao is just "a small, ordinary Chinese city with per capita incomes even lower than in most other cities in the region." Credit for solar energy’s popularity goes to the government, which has undertaken a tremendous campaign for the use of these technologies. Instead of subsidizing the use of solar heaters (which they could not afford in any case), they invested in research and development to lower the cost of the appliances, putting them at price parity with their electric counterparts. At the cheaper price, the use of solar water heaters becomes a no-brainer, saving the average household $120 a year. In addition, the city now mandates solar heating installations be incorporated into all new buildings.

Efficiency Matters Most

Diet soda is so lame. If you think soda is bad for you, you ought to just be cutting back on the soda.

Renewable energy is really exciting to talk about because it’s like the diet soda of energy — we can still drink all the goop we want, but it hurts us just a little less. Well, the American Solar Energy Society’s report this year tells us we ought to be drinking a lot less goop if we’re serious about saving ourselves from CERTAIN DOOM.

OK, maybe those aren’t their exact words. But the ASES says that energy efficiency is more important than all other kinds of renewable energy put together. Check out the report and some graphics here. Of particular interest is this projection of where our energy savings should come from if we want to hit a 60% — or 80% — reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The report states that using less electricity through smart design, awareness, etc. could reduce carbon emissions by up to  57 percent by 2030. We say, let’s get started. Check out our efficiency category to see what’s up there.

Via TreeHugger.