Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘infrastructure’ Category

China Rushing to Adopt Green Power, Manufacturing, and Living

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 8, 2011

If a non-trivial number of Capitol Hill legislators of both parties didn’t owe their jobs to Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Nuclear, China wouldn’t be trouncing the US in green growth:

China’s production of green technologies has grown by a remarkable 77 per cent a year, according to the report, which was commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and which will be unveiled on Monday at an industry conference in Amsterdam.

“The Chinese have made, on the political level, a conscious decision to capture this market and to develop this market aggressively,” said Donald Pols, an economist with the WWF.

Denmark, a longtime leader in wind energy, derives 3.1 percent of its gross domestic product from renewable energy technology and energy efficiency, or about euro6.5 billion ($9.4 billion), the report said.

The PRC is the largest cleantech producer in terms of money, with green technologies making up more than euro44 billion ($64 billion), or 1.4 percent of its annual gross domestic product. The US? We’re 17th.

It’s not just that the Chinese want a monopoly on worldwide cleantech, though that would be a nice side benefit for them. They want to flat-out survive. Human-caused global warming is a direct and growing threat to China, and the Chinese elites know it.

Seeing empty deserts where glaciers once stood not so long ago — glaciers that feed the great rivers of both China and India — was a real eye-opener for the Chinese central government. The worldwide economic downturn has been a blessing in disguise as not only has it slowed down the rate at which factories and power plants contribute to global climate change (thus buying the world an extra 18 months in which to get its act together), it allowed the central government to force the shutdown and retooling of older, polluting establishments so that they would run greener and cleaner upon reopening.

Of course, this also means that China is no longer as “business-friendly” as it once was, so various industries (such as HTI, or Hutchinson Technology) are looking towards Thailand, Indonesia and even India (Foxconn, which makes Apple’s iPads and iPods and iPhones, is going to India from China later this year) in a desperate bid to avoid having to honor environmental and labor regulations. But Thailand is an unstable mess and India and Indonesia are themselves cracking down on polluters and exploiters.

The free ride for the polluting and exploiting CEOs is over. Increasingly, they are being forced to choose between cleaning up their act or attempting to set up shop in places that are either politically unstable or have no infrastructure capable of supporting a multinational business.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in China, infrastructure, international, solar, wind power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lunatics, asylum, running

Posted by Charles II on November 20, 2010

CTJ:

Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker and Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich want both of their states to stop any work on high speed rail projects that are funded with federal stimulus dollars. Yet, both newly elected governors seem to want the millions of dollars the federal government is offering. (For Ohio that amounts to about $400 million, and Wisconsin was slated to receive $810 million).

Neither governor wants to put the transportation money into high speed rail programs. Instead they want to use the money to fix roads and bridges. The newly elected Republican governors apparently like federal spending — when it means money they can spend as they please.

It turns out that Ohio has already been given federal dollars to help with the transportation issues Kasich mentions. A letter from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reminded Kasich that Ohio has already received over $1 billion for road, bridge, and airport projects. As for the rail funding, LaHood clarified that, “none of those funds may be used for anything other than our high-speed rail program.”

I, too, confess that I would like to take a salary for doing specified work then, instead of doing the work, spend my time playing video games and get paid anyway–twice, if possible. Unlike Walker and Kasich, I am not crazy enough to think anyone would go along with this.

Posted in Flying Monkey Right, infrastructure, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer | 9 Comments »

The Most Important Stimulus Money?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 29, 2009

There’s a very good case to be made for the stimulus dough the Department of Energy is about to dish out:

One of the hottest cleantech funding programs created as part of the stimulus package is close to producing some of its first winners. When we spoke with the Department of Energy back in May about the $2.4 billion in grants for advanced battery manufacturing for plug-in vehicles, we learned that the agency planned to notify awardees sometime in July — as in by the end of this week — and dole out the grants by September. While DOE Deputy Secretary Jen Stutsman told us at the time that delays were a possibility, depending on the number and completeness of applications, she confirmed with us this week that the agency “will be making all of the announcements soon.”

More than 100 companies have lined up for the so-called Electric Drive Battery and Component Manufacturing Initiative’s $2.4 billion, which is set to be divided into just 32 to 35 or so grants in seven different categories. The bulk of the money — $1.2 billion — will go toward manufacturing facilities for battery cells and packs, with grants of $100 million to $150 million supporting seven to eight projects.

This is the big bottleneck for realistic (and affordable) electric cars with a range beyond that of a typical daily commute.  Furthermore, improved battery storage is a way to take some strain off the grid.

Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, industry, infrastructure, sustainability | Comments Off

The H-1B Program

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 1, 2009

Boo hoo hoo, American banks that took bailout money must be forced to — GASP! — hire Americans first, rather than the cheaper H-1B workers whose labor they’ve been exploiting for years.

The H-1B program needs to be reformed, if not eliminated altogether. Right now the H-1Bs are little more than indentured servants, allowed to stay in America only to work for a single company, and only so long as they are employed by that company. Which doesn’t help the H-1Bs or the American workers whose jobs they take, but it sure benefits the CEOs. As recently as March of 2008, when the economy was already showing signs of stress (and when Microsoft was seeing the full bitter flowering of the poisoned fruit that was Vista), Bill Gates was asking Congress for more H-1B visas.

Posted in computers and software, financial crisis, industry, infrastructure, technology | 3 Comments »

The Economic Reach of Wind

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 20, 2009

Renewable Energy World has an interesting article on why wind power is so important to the US right now:

…as the U.S. economy hemorrhaged jobs in 2008, the wind industry enjoyed 70% job growth — growth that supported a 60% surge in new wind capacity installation over 2007. The wind industry installed 8,358 MW last year, which accounted for roughly 40% of all new electricity capacity. This incredible growth led to the addition of around 35,000 new jobs, creating a total of 85,000 people now employed in the wind industry. More impressive still, even though the new jobs were wind power jobs, they were added across myriad sectors, such as manufacturing, construction and operations, among others.

The wind power jobs story is also one of “on-shoring” (as opposed to offshoring). In 2008 a continued shift toward domestic production resulted in nine new facilities opening across the country and many more on the way. …

[…]

In the past, the U.S. wind industry relied largely on imported components; however, there has been a remarkable shift towards domestic manufacturing in the past few years that is likely to continue. Since 2005 many of the leaders in turbine manufacturing have opened U.S. facilities; of the top 10 global suppliers in 2007, seven — Vestas, GE, Gamesa, Suzlon, Siemens, Acciona, and Nordex — have an American manufacturing presence. (The other three — Enercon, Goldwind, and Sinovel — do not yet sell into the U.S. market.) In addition, the homegrown Clipper Windpower has joined GE Energy as a major domestic player in the production of utility-scale turbines, with the two companies together capturing 50% of the 2008 domestic market.

Domestic manufacturing for large components in particular, such as towers and blades, has increased significantly over the past several years, with the majority now produced in the U.S. As for the thousands of smaller and midsized components, while the U.S. continues to import some of them (mostly from Europe) many more can now be sourced from American companies.

Posted in energy, environment, Good Things, industry, infrastructure, wind power | 1 Comment »

What Was That Again About Foreign Leaders Pushing Around Obama?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 2, 2009

I think that particular meme just got shot down — Obama just pulled off one heck of a negotiation and kept both China and France (not to mention Germany) from walking away from the table:

France and other European nations have been pushing for rules and regulations to apply to various tax havens; Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has said “these tax havens are also places where unregulated financial market deals are made.”

But Chinese leaders fear a crackdown would hurt banking centers in Macao, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Other countries agree, though they are less outspoken publicly.

The exchange between Sarkozy and Hu got so heated, said a source — who is not a member of the Obama administration — it was threatening the unity of the G-20 leaders’ meeting.

Obama first pulled aside Sarkozy and discussed possible compromises; then he did the same for Hu; then he brought both men together to work out the final deal. It’s not 100% of what either guy wanted, but it’s a good starting point. Something similar could be said for the conference as a whole. There will be another G-20 later on this year; we’ll see what gets addressed then

Posted in China, France, infrastructure, international, President Obama | Tagged: | Comments Off

New Material Repairs Itself When Exposed To UV Light

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 15, 2009

Light could heal materials from Science News on Vimeo.

Ultraviolet light is generally inimical to lots of things, causing them to break down faster — which is a problem if these things need to be out of doors.

So when I saw this Science News article (by way of SOTT) about a material derived from chitosan, the key constituent in lobster and insect exoskeletons, that repairs cracks or tears in itself (or the material — such as polyurethane — in which it is embedded) when exposed to UV light, I immediately thought of how useful it would be in, say, outdoor photovoltaic cell applications such as traditional solar panels or even true Solar Roadways.

Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, Good Things, infrastructure, solar, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Why Democratic economics beats Republican economics

Posted by Charles II on March 12, 2009

Bonddad has a post worth reading here. In this post, and posts that are promised, he looks at the calculations that go into whether stimulus is net a A Good Thing or A Bad Thing. Most of us just want to keep our jobs, and our accustomed caloric intake, so it’s a good thing that the CBO is looking at how our selfish individual calculations affect the nation as a whole. In Bondad’s first segment, he says that CBO looks at what stimulus does to GDP.

It raises GDP, as do tax cuts, by increasing economic growth. If it’s spent on productive things, like repairing bridges in danger of collapse or building solar electrical generation capacity, or educating students, it adds to future GDP. On the other hand, it subtracts from future GDP by funneling investment into government bonds (for which interest has to be paid by taxes) rather than into, say, nanotechnology. But of course the same could be said about the effect of tax cuts.

Bottom line: infrastructure investment is exactly like tax cuts, except you get to keep the roads and bridges.

And that’s why Democratic approaches to the economy are almost inevitably superior to Republican ones.

Posted in Democrats, economy, infrastructure, Republicans | 1 Comment »

Funny How That Works

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 16, 2009

Even as John McCain is talking incoherent smack about President Obama’s stimulus plan — which passed both houses of Congress and is on the way to the president’s desk to be signed — Atrios notes that one of McCain’s top economic advisors is praising the plan to the skies.

Posted in 111th Congress, economy, infrastructure, John McCain, President Obama, priorities, Silly Republicans | Comments Off

Stupid And Evil, That’s Our Boehner!

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 15, 2009

If anybody’s thinking of running against John Boehner next year, here’s some lovely oppo for ya!

Boehner recently uttered this slam against passenger rail spending in the stimulus package:

“Tell me how spending $8 billion in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district.”

Turns out that 1) there is no line from LA to Vegas and 2) Ohio stands to benefit mightily from high-speed rail.

Posted in 111th Congress, infrastructure, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, transportation, WTF? | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: