In the Pipeline: 8/17/11

More news from the peak oil front…San Francisco Chronicle (8/16/11) reports: Norway’s Statoil has received a huge boost to its reserves with the announcement that two previous North Sea oil discoveries are connected which may represent the biggest find in the Norwegian continental shelf in 30 years…Statoil said in a statement Tuesday that the Aldous and Avaldsnes oil discoveries together contain between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of oil — significantly more than previously thought…Statoil owns a 40 percent stake in both discoveries and is the operator of Aldous…Tim Dodson, the company’s vice president for exploration, called the combined discovery “giant,” adding that “Norway has not seen a similar oil discovery since the mid-80’s.”…The discoveries show the Norwegian continental shelf remains an attractive source for crude, he said…Trond Frode Omdal, an oil analyst at Oslo-based Arctic Securities ASA, said the size of the discovery was surprising…”I think the companies had almost given up making such a huge discovery in the North Sea,” he said, adding that the gross value of the discoveries could be as much as $40 billion.

I’m not a math major but 14 green jobs for $20 million seems wrong — they must’ve had the same tutor as Geithner growing up Komo News (8/16/11) reports: Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare…McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods…But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable…”The jobs haven’t surfaced yet,” said Michael Woo, director of Got Green, a Seattle community organizing group focused on the environment and social justice…”It’s been a very slow and tedious process. It’s almost painful, the number of meetings people have gone to. Those are the people who got jobs. There’s been no real investment for the broader public.”…Organizers and policy experts blame the economy, bureaucracy and bad timing for the program’s mediocre results. Called Community Power Works, the program funds low-interest loans and incentives for buildings to do energy-efficient upgrades. They include hospitals, municipal buildings, big commercial structures and homes.

As president talks up green jobs in a diesel bus, green jobs are leaving the building Tucson News (8/17/11) reports: Solar module manufacturer Solon Corp. will lay off 60 local workers as it shuts down its production facility in Tucson, the company said Monday…The company will maintain its U.S. headquarters here after the production line shuts down, with some 70 employees in sales, engineeering and research. The layoffs will take place by October, the company said…Solon, part of German-based Solon SE, said it will seek lower-cost sources of solar modules for utility and commercial photovoltaic systems in Asia. The company currently has manufacturing facilities in Germany and Italy…The company’s North American CEO, Dan Alcombright, said Solon regrets the impact of ending production on its workers and the community…”We will continue to aggressively expand in Tucson and our other U.S. offices to support our efforts on commercial and large-scale project development, supply chain excellence, and new product development,” Alcombright said in a press release…Last month, the company announced that it would restructure operations to reduce its debt load…The company’s German parent said in an Aug. 10 release that revenues were down: “Against the backdrop of the nuclear energy debate, many customers appear to have deferred the purchase of solar systems or speculated on a further erosion of system prices.”

The first solar energy company to practice truth-in-advertising — actually naming itself Solon to apparently reflect its dependence on government for its sustenance — is closing its Tucson factory AZ Central (8/17/11) reports: Solon Corp. will close its Tucson solar-panel factory in October, laying off about 65 workers, but the company plans to maintain a development company in Arizona…Solon is a subsidiary of Solon SE of Germany, which has additional manufacturing plants in Europe and Asia…The company will maintain about 70 Tucson employees to continue the more-profitable work of developing power plants, said Dan Alcombright, president and CEO of Solon North America…The North American subsidiary was founded in 2007, using a small production facility at first. The 105,000-square-foot factory opened in 2008…Solon also has about 10 people working in a Phoenix office and five in San Francisco…The company is building power plants for Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power Co. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and those projects will not be affected by the factory closure…Alcombright said the Tucson facility can’t compete with low-cost factories overseas and that solar panels have essentially become a commodity where the minor differences among manufacturers are not major considerations for utilities buying solar panels…”The Solon product we manufacture here in Tucson may have a better fit and finish than some others, but the market doesn’t really value that,” he said. “The market values a low price. We are going to stop beating our heads against the wall and say, ‘How can we be smart strategically?’ ”

Whatever… National Journal (8/16/11) reports: Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas led an unprecedented attack on the ethanol industry in 2008 that could stymie his fledging presidential campaign in the politically critical, corn-rich state of Iowa…The governor urged the Bush administration at the time to roll back the so-called “ethanol mandate,’’ which requires the federal government to annually boost biofuel production, mainly through corn-based ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency turned down Perry’s request in a decision that elicited relief among Iowa’s corn growers and political establishment and disappointment from his home state’s cattle industry…Perry has yet to address the ethanol mandate since he launched his campaign on Saturday, but he is certain to face questions about it in Iowa, where his path to the nomination begins…“This is a very serious conversation we’re going to have with him,” said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. “We respect the fact that before, he was acting in the best interests of Texas, which has a lot of oil and quite a few cattle operations…. I’m interested to see if he’s now running for president of the United States, not governor of Texas.’’…“As far as his position in 2008, we didn’t think it was warranted,” said Amanda Taylor, senior policy advisor for the Iowa Corn Growers Association. “We’ll have to wait and see what he says regarding the [mandate] now as he comes to court Iowa voters over the next six months.”

Only the doomed tangle with Chris Horner Washington Post (8/16/11) reports: Four groups say they are worried the University of Virginia may unnecessarily disclose private correspondence from scientists in the case involving the work of former professor Michael Mann…The state’s flagship university has fought requests to release documents under Virginia’s freedom of information laws to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), but the groups say they are now concerned about a May 24 agreement U.Va. made to provide some documents to the American Tradition Institute.Environmental Law Center…The four groups — the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Association of University Professors, the American Geophysical Union and Climate Science Watch — sent U.Va. a letter late Tuesday…“We believe the agreement is in conflict with the university’s previous statements and actions on this issue and it threatens the principles of academic freedom protecting scholarly research,’’ they say in the letter…U.Va. is slated to respond to the American Tradition Institute around Aug. 20. Carol Wood, a university spokeswoman, did not immediately respond to a message for comment…In January. the American Tradition Institute asked the university to turn over documents, including e-mails Mann exchanged with other scientists while employed at the university, on behalf of Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) and two other state residents.

Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.