Report Calls for US$100B Federal Investment in Clean Energy Over Two Years
17 September 2008
A US$100-billion federal investment in clean energy technologies over the next two years would result in the creation of 2 million new jobs with a significant proportion of that in the struggling construction and manufacturing sectors, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress. The report, Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy, was prepared by Dr. Robert Pollin and University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute economists.
The report proposes six investment areas: building retrofitting; mass transit/freight rail; smart grid; wind power; solar power; and advanced biofuels.
In the mass transit area, investments that could be pursued in very short order include, but are not limited to:
Expanded bus and subway services;
Lower public transportation fares;
Expanded federal support for state and municipal transit operation and maintenance budgets to deal with increased ridership;
Increased federal subsidies for employer-based mass transit incentives; and
Higher funding for critical mass transit programs currently bottlenecked for lack of federal dollars to encourage new ridership and more transportation choices.
Other efforts such as light-rail or subway systems entail longer lead times.
Biofuels investments should be focused on building out the manufacturing infrastructure for next-generation biofuels, where companies are facing significant financing hurdles to build next-generation manufacturing facilities that operate at commercial scale.
The report proposes $50 billion in tax credits; $46 billion in direct government spending; and $4 billion for federal loan guarantees.
To serve effectively as an economic recovery program, government spending and tax incentives to boost green infrastructure investments would have to be financed by increasing the fiscal deficit. These expenditures would be covered by a carbon cap-and-trade program, which would provide the revenues needed to pay for the US transition to a low-carbon economy. But in the short term, we have demonstrated that frontloading these green investments makes sound economic and environmental sense.—“Green Recovery”
The goverment will save some money just by permitting:
1. Biofuels made from green algae farming (actually it's prohibited without admiting it) That cost next to nothing and depollute and is a low investment solution.
2. natural gas for cars and trucks. Actually there is none and this fuel cost less and is plentiful in north-america. It's probably prohibited by goverment too to maintain high gasoline price and justified a war somewhere.
3. Hydrogen gas at stations provided by small machine that make the gas on-site by electrolisis of water or by reforming of natural gas. 10x less pollution then gasoline or diesel. Actually hydrogen technologies for the car and for making the gas are well-known but prohibited without admited it.
So personnally i think that goverment just protect market share of conventionnal petrol and these studies and special projects are there to retard new entry players that could take market share. The funny thing is that conventionnal petrol compagnies start with a lot of retail station and machinery and capital and could conserve high market share on natural gas-hydrogen-green algae biofuels but they push for war on everyone instead because they are tied to hostile goverments including the one in washinton.
Posted by: a.b | 17 September 2008 at 07:36 AM
To do this they'll have to print more Monopoly money the Chinese will back.
Posted by: garth | 17 September 2008 at 07:53 AM
Another report that fails to notice the Bush administration is already doing most of the things in the report. In the US, we have regained renewable energy leadership and building clean energy infrastructure at an astounding rate.
All congress has to do is pass the PTC and we will keep building renewable energy projects at an astounding rate. So what is the problem? The Dems say one thing and do another.
“Eliminate Federal tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas”
Maybe someday renewable energy ‘other’ will be able to meet the energy needs of the US but in the meantime we need to keep promoting conventional sources of energy too.
Posted by: Kit P | 17 September 2008 at 08:04 AM
"Other efforts such as light-rail or subway systems entail longer lead times."
Depending on location/city, light rail costs far less than heavy rail or subway systems. The cost to Operate and Maintain comparative systems vary according to city and country:
Salt Lake City LRT - 0.17 passenger mile
Tokyo monorail - 0.31 "
Denver LRT - 0.40 "
Baltimore RRT - 0.51 "
Seattle monorail - 1.02 "
Most of the operation and maintenance discrepancy is due to the fares charged and number of passengers willing to pay them.
Generally however building light rail is very fast compared to underground subway, monorail or heavy rail systems.
It would be interesting to see how the two million jobs break out.
Posted by: gr | 17 September 2008 at 08:35 AM
New Apollo program to the world of clean renewable energy!
Posted by: Ben | 17 September 2008 at 08:42 AM
Why not just burn the money? It would at least generate some heat energy. Using the money reasonably would pay for a lot of real energy, but this program wouldn't.
Over two decades it would pay for the first real commercial Fusion power plant, complete ITER and build DEMO (around $20 billion). That would permanently solve the energy availability problem, essentially forever.
It would also and fund the nuclear plants to raise US electricity production to 50% clean nuclear, and recreate a viable nuclear power manufacturing infrastructure. (around $30 billion).
It would provide the clean electricity to power a national fleet of PHEVs. This would take over a decade to do.
It would also allow the subsidies needed to build a viable national industry to produce and manufacture PHEVs, and the battery and electrical component manufacturing infrastructure too, here in the USA.
(around $50 billion)
Trying to spend the money over two years is Jacka$$ idiocy.
Posted by: stas peterson | 17 September 2008 at 08:44 AM
LEAP – LOCALIZED ENERGY ADVANCEMENT PLAN
(1) Southern California Edison (SCE) is leasing commercial rooftops and installing solar panels on them to feed the local grid in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. This is the very best bang for the buck. Look at the advantages: No land is used. No transmission lines need to be built. No waiting 4 to 5 years to build them. No power loss to transmit electricity long distances to where it is consumed. The power is fed directly into neighborhood grids. No need to shell out big bucks to upgrade the National Grid which would drive your electric bill higher. Take every city where there is enough cost effective sunshine, and do the same. Cover all commercial rooftops with solar panels. Then do schools, colleges, hospitals, government buildings, and residential rooftops, either leased by the local power company or installed by the owner. This is LOCALIZED electric power generation.
(2) Implement a “Uniform Net Metering Act” to guarantee that anyone generating surplus electric power will be paid at least the going wholesale rate for it by local power companies. Some power companies already have variations of net metering, but many do not. The impact will be that solar, wind, biogas to electric, and other home and business power systems will be installed larger than they need to be, thus adding peak load and generating surplus power to the local grid and also creating quarterly revenue for the private owner.
(3) Massive installation of solar roof panels on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, cars and trucks, including long haul trailer roofs. Theses would interface with localized V2G parking systems that would either charge the vehicle or produce peak load power for the grid while parked. The vehicle owners local electric power account would be electronically debited or credited accordingly. Solar roofed vehicles in mass, parked in the sun all day long, would generate a sizeable amount of peak load power, which would generate energy credits or even revenue for the vehicle owner. This combined with the rapid development of next generation translucent solarvoltaic window panels and entire vehicle bodies covered with hi-tech solar paint, with long haul trailers generating a significant amount of solar power. Again, no land or transmission lines needed and no National Grid needed. Cost per mile: ELECTRIC way is cheaper: 7 to 1 over gasoline and 7 to 2 over natural gas as auto fuel.
(4) Advanced, super-organized recycling systems to channel all local organic waste from homes, commercial buildings, restaurants, institutions, government offices, agricultural, food processing, wood working, building industry, municipal sewage and landfill, etc. into forms of localized energy production, such as biogas methane. With the fuel burned as natural gas for the local grid, and the exhaust and the nitrogen-phosphorous liquid effluent mitigated and fed to adjacent Algae production systems. With the oil in the algae made into locally produced biodeisel; the byproduct algae starch made into locally consumed ethanol; and the protein made into locally consumed animal feeds.
(5) The mitigation and exploitation of all sources of sewage and manure from septic systems, dairy farms, poultry, hog and livestock operations into biogas digesters producing methane to generate electric power for local grids and surplus regional transmission. With the effluent again being used to feed adjacent algae production for additional power, liquid fuels, or animal feed.
(6) The mitigation and exploitation of all existing fossil fuel and biomass burn power plants by the cycling of CO2 rich exhaust to feed adjacent algae production, with the potential to co-fire all or part of the algae as onsite power plant fuel, in the form of combustible ultrasound fractionated oil-rich algae slurry, to replace a portion of the conventional fuel being consumed by the power plants.
(7) The mitigation and exploitation of all existing Corn ethanol refineries, and Sweet Sorghum ethanol refineries by leveraging the waste products of CO2, waste heat, waste water effluent, production power exhaust, to feed adjacent algae production, with the option to divert corn sugar and sweet sorghum sugar to the Solazyme method of growing algae in the dark, in adjacent digester tanks: To create feedstock for biodeisel for localized agriculture, ethanol for local and regional markets, biogas (a natural gas replacement) for production power and cogeneration to the local grid, and to produce byproduct high protein, algae based animal feeds to market with distillers grains. These algae products, produced in whatever proportion would be advantageous to supply local and regional markets.
Again, the emphasis is on localized electric power production, localized transitional liquid fuel production, and localized animal feed production, mitigating and exploiting waste products into value added algae based fuels and feeds.
(8) Consistent long term tax credits for renewables such as solar, wind, wave, geothermal, biomass and biogas to electric, and hydrogen and clean fuels to electric, etc.
(9) Fast Tracking the award winning clean burning multi-fueled GREEN REVOLUTION ENGINE. This engine can burn any liquid or gaseous fuel, including hydrous ethanol, powdered biomass slurry, and ultrasound fractionated oil-rich algae slurry (In stationary applications, the exhaust to be recycled to grow more algae).
(10) Hydrous Ethanol is ethanol mixed with 4% to 65% water. Existing engines can be modified to run on ethanol diluted with water. Louisiana is creating an experimental hydrous ethanol program that could be expanded to other states. Why: Phil Ratte, Mechanical Engineer, BME University of Minnesota said: “From 1981 to 1989, I worked with Herb Hansen, who had been an engineer on a WW II submarine, and a former captain of a nuclear submarine. We developed two prototype cars, a Ford Pinto Station Wagon and a Mitsubishi Sedan, that ran as well on 65 proof ethanol (2/3 water and 1/3 ethanol) as they did on unleaded regular gas.” Can we modify existing engines to run on ethanol and water? The answer is yes. Dongfeng, a major Chinese auto maker is introducing a car this year, with a slightly modified fuel system, that runs on 65% ethanol and 35% water. They claim hydrogen is formed. Toyota also has a similar hydrous ethanol prototype that produces on board hydrogen. We must use this technology now. The BTU argument that ethanol is inferior to diesel and gasoline is not valid. Pure ethanol is water soluble, has higher octane and a faster flame speed, and burns at a lower temperature with less heat loss. Dilute pure ethanol with 2/3 water, and you have a viable transition fuel in every way.
(11) Fast Tracking the ultra clean GEET Fuel Processor that runs existing internal combustion engines and gensets on exhaust bubbled vaporized mixtures of 75% water and any combustible fuel, including gasoline, diesel fuel, biodiesel, ethanol, oil rich ultrasound fractionated algae slurry, and ethanol enhanced powdered biomass slurry. Search: GEET Fuel Processor. Search: BingoFuel (one word).
(12) Fast Tracking hydrogen on demand for fuel cells from (A) Reforming ethanol (onboard vehicles) into hydrogen for fuel cells; (B) Water splitting (onboard vehicles) using Ultrasound and or Pulsed Width Modulation current, generated by conventional vehicle electric systems and vehicle solar body panels. QuantumSphere recently announced a breakthrough that increases hydrogen gas output in electrolysis systems by 300%, at 85% efficiency.
Open Source, Publish Freely
Posted by: Jeff Baker | 17 September 2008 at 08:57 AM
A long list does not make a plan just because the word ‘plan’ is in the title. In any case, Jeff is nominated to make electricity with manure or maybe with wind in North Dakota.
There is a lot of dairy farm manure around Riverside. The proof of concept for anaerobic digesters making electricity has been around since Jimmy Carter.
All the people who talk about an Apollo programs for energy want to do is talk about them. Thy to create jobs for working folks in their back yard just see how fast you get slapped down.
So Jeff, building wind farms in Oregon for California is that how you define local?
Posted by: Kit P | 17 September 2008 at 10:01 AM
I think advanced biofuels are a waste of time. You get far more bang for the buck by using biomass for cogeneration, the electricity of which you use for EVs. You can use lignocellulosic biomass today. No need to dream about some magical bug that can turn it into liquid fuels which can only be used in inefficient ICEs.
On a well to wheel basis, biopower the electricity of which goes to EVs and the heat of which goes to district heating, cogen or process heat for biomass drying, is 3 (as compared to magic cellulosic ethanol) to 12 times more energy efficient (as compared to current corn ethanol) than liquid biofuels.
Advances biomass should be promoted. Not advanced liquid biofuels.
That's what the EU just did: scale back the goal for liquid biofuels, and increase the goal for biopower in transportation.
Posted by: Jonas | 17 September 2008 at 10:52 AM
With $4 trillion is new debt the last 8 years and bail outs of some of the investment banks and now AIG, there is not much that the federal government can do on this.
This is a better investment and not a wasteful expenditure. It would create jobs and get us where we need to go, but the borrow and waste surge has reduced that as a possiblity.
Posted by: sjc | 17 September 2008 at 11:18 AM
The way I see it, we don't have a choice. The real question is what is the most efficient way to fill the energy needs at home. Efficient has to mean supply of energy used vs. commodities sold as well as financialy from CapEx and OpEx. What is the real challange is to find something that will work and we can afford to build. The real issues of trade deficit and jobs created as well as environmental cleanup just make good window dressing.
Posted by: Andy | 17 September 2008 at 12:22 PM
Jeff does include a few interesting items at the end of his list (sonic fractionated algae). The way I expect it to continue is expansion in all sectors of biofuels, wind, solar (solar cars are silly until later) geothermal and wave. One area that can use expansion of government funding (mostly from military budgets ~450B) is algal oil. Mil biodiesel and bio jet fuel would end one THIRD of U.S. daily consumption of oil (300M bl). Oil needs to adopt E85 or die.
The new level of nukes look promising provided they can compete long term with other energy sources on ROI and safety.
We're on a good path with very strong growth in key sectors including electrification of transport and replacement of dated coal generation. Long term energy players should look hard at downsized local area power grids, conditioning and backing Residential Power Units. We are going to move off the old grid - and there's huge opportunities in doing that. The Uniform Net Meter idea is a positive one though wholesale rates will decline with the implementation of independent power sources at residences. Energy will get cheaper. It will no longer be held hostage by a gateway of producers. It's called progress.
Interesting times ahead. And plenty of opportunities for new business. Hang on. It's already fun.
Posted by: Sulleny | 17 September 2008 at 01:59 PM
The only plan that could accomplish anything with so many cooks in the kitchen is a free market. There is so much effort and entrepreneurship going into renewables and green transportation that the only real way to support it is by taking away all the subsidies on coal, nuclear, biofuels, oil, etc...
Posted by: Rainmaker | 17 September 2008 at 07:05 PM
We can see the "free market" with less regulation melting down on our TV screens every day now. Small companies do small things and even if you have 1000s of them, there is no coordination. Big companies are first to be second and will only go in a big way when there is a killing to be made using the scale that they have.
Posted by: sjc | 18 September 2008 at 12:10 AM
The free market has its own ways of promoting successful technologies. Large companies were always small companies at one time. Were Apple or Microsoft big, political, 'bad' entities in the early 80's? Had you heard of Clipper or Suzlon, now quite large wind turbine manufacturers, just 5 years ago? I would argue that there is lots of coordination when the individuals involved believe there is value in that coordination. This very site posts numerous articles about joint ventures and all kinds of cooperation every day!
Posted by: Rainmaker | 18 September 2008 at 05:51 AM
“There is so much effort and entrepreneurship going into renewables and green transportation that the only real way to support it is by taking away all the subsidies on coal, nuclear, biofuels, oil, etc... “
The renewable energy effort and entrepreneurship is being generated by subsidies. Subsidies for wind, nukes, and biofuels have paid big dividends for US tax payers based on the increased tax revenue that results from increased domestic production. All American benefit from the lower cost of energy.
At some point in the life of a project, the project undergoes due diligence to get financing. Subsidies often are the difference between building and not building.
The 32+ nukes that are being developed in the US is an interesting example. Because of incentives for a small number of nukes, billions of dollars have pured into the US making it arguably the largest world market for nukes.
The market for energy projects and equipment is global.
Posted by: Kit P | 18 September 2008 at 06:19 AM
That is such BS. I call for 100 billion to be spent on 'insert your own pet project here'. It would create jobs yada yada yada. When will we learn that government money is our money and that the money government steals from us to use on whatever other entity is not creating a job? It is just a transfer of wealth.
Posted by: Beester | 18 September 2008 at 08:46 AM
In many cases things needing subsidies to get built perhaps shouldn't be built. The PTC is over and renewables like wind and solar thermal still are going strong. Perhaps with the current level of subsidies in nuclear and oil the PTC helped wind get a kick-start, but if you take those subsidies away wind had a strong value proposition from the beginning.
Posted by: Rainmaker | 18 September 2008 at 09:08 AM
Posted by: Rainmaker | 18 September 2008 at 09:10 AM
"The renewable energy effort and entrepreneurship is being generated by subsidies."
Sorry, Kit, you're wrong.
Any potential profit opportunity will bring about an effort by entrepreneurs and/or existing companies of any size and age. If the government would not try to kill those efforts right from the beginning with all kinds of rules, regulations and downright stupid interferences. The effort would actually pay off a lot faster - not just in profits to the company but also in benefit for the public at large. Subsidies are nothing else than trying to convince everybody that some government politicians and bureaucrats 'approve' of how 'politically responsible' the companies are. The market will determine 'due diligence' for financing quite efficiently. Who would invest in a buggy whip business today?
Take the $85 billion AIG bail-out: 5 top executives are 'benefiting' to the tune of $100 million for sinking the ship! The CEO was there less than a year and another guy just 2 or 3 months! Or Fanny & Freddy with all those 'government executives' reaping millions in 'bonus' payments!
Last thing we really need is politicians and former bureaucrats feathering their own nests with subsidies of any kind! Then we can even have lower taxes - imagine that!
Apart from all that - what in the world is a 'political economy'? Isn't that the thing that collapsed with the Soviet Union?
Posted by: hansb | 18 September 2008 at 09:15 AM
Currently no nuke plant is getting a PTC. That is because the new nukes have not been built yet that qualify and are therefore not producing electricity. The future PTC for nukes will cost nothing to federal government until the plant is built and making electricity. The promised incentive has worked very well in getting generators to consider the nuclear option.
The PTC for wind and solar is not over. It will be over at the end of the year but the payments will continue for many years if congress does not act. That is the reason so many wind projects are currently under construction.
What will happen to wind and solar without a PTC? Many states have mandates for renewable energy call renewable energy portfolio standards (RPS). Whatever it costs, the utility will pass the cost on to the rate payers. I suspect that wind farms will still get built but the cost will be borne by the states with the most aggressive RPS.
Without PTC and RPS renewable energy will die. I worked in renewable energy business development when Clinton was president and natural gas was $1.50/MMBTU. It certainly looked like renewable energy was the buggy whip with few projects getting built and many existing ones going out of business.
I also like the way the Bush administration has tailored incentives for renewable energy. Incentives are limited to a level make a business plan profitable but capped in such a way that nobody is reaping millions but lots of jobs and property taxes are being created in rural American. The net result is more taxes come into the government.
Posted by: Kit P | 18 September 2008 at 10:35 AM
We transferred a lot of wealth to government contractors in Iraq and I do not see a lot of jobs here because of it. It could be said that the tax payers pay for it all, but it is nice to get something in return and not just borrow and waste surges in other countries.
Posted by: sjc | 18 September 2008 at 02:12 PM
Subsidizing anything or anybody just promotes spending resources getting subsidies and not solving our nation's (or the world's) problems. We are all on this website because we care about our nation and the world we leave our children. It is my opinion that for this reason we should 'lobby' for no more 'lobbying'. In other words, rather than everyone trying to convince everyone else that one idea or another is better, we should try to convince our government to end subsidies and the attention spent trying to get them.
Posted by: Rainmaker | 18 September 2008 at 03:26 PM
Subsidies for renewables now means they will be there to take up the drop on oil and gas availability in the future. Not subsidizing renewables means freezing in the dark when oil and gas is only affordable by the very rich.
Posted by: tom deplume | 18 September 2008 at 03:53 PM
60% of our oil is used for light ground transportation, light trucks and cars.
78% of USA drivers average 40 miles or less per day.
The most practical current design for the USA is the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV). Also call a Range-extended EV (REV) or a Series-PHEV. The GM Volt, due out in 2010 and the Aptera, due out in 2009 are both good examples.
Volt: 40 all-electric miles, 50 mpg in Series-HEV mode after that.
Up to 40 miles: No gas is used, infinite mpg. (78% USA drivers) At 90 miles: 1 gallon is used, total is 90 mpg.
At 140 miles: 2 gallons are used, total is 70 mpg.
At 240 miles: 4 gallons are used, total is 60 mpg.
At infinitely long distances, with no time to charge, you approach 50 mpg.
Aptera: 120 all-electric miles, 130 mpg in Series-HEV mode after that.
Up to 120 miles: No gas is used, infinite mpg. (95% USA drivers???) At 250 miles: 1 gallon is used, total is 250 mpg.
At 380 miles: 2 gallons are used, total is 190 mpg.
At 640 miles: 4 gallons are used, total is 160 mpg.
At infinitely long distances, with no time to charge, you approach 130 mpg.
Will you drive more than 640 miles in a day?
The E-REV design also works for trucks and SUVs. Any Frank at UC Cal Berkley, father of the Prius HEV concept, is modifying SUVs to do this right now. He improves the horse power in the bargain. AFS Trinity has produced two prototype "XH-150" SUV E-REVs:
Note that AFS Trinity is using high energy density capacitors (ultracapacitors) in addition to a Li Ion battery pack.
If you want a real solution Li Ion batteries (or better) and E-REVs are it!!!
Posted by: mds | 26 September 2008 at 03:32 PM