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Michigan Governments Surveyed on Energy Efficiency (Ind. Report)
Energy Efficiency
Date: 2020-10-09
A just released survey from the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy reports over half of Michigan local government officials see improving energy efficiency for local businesses or residents as "somewhat or very relevant."

While 70 pct report having at least considered plans or policies regarding energy issues, only 59 pct report having developed local policies while 55 pct say they have implemented policies.

The survey noted 40 pct of local governments have had energy audits conducted for at least one type of government facility while 30 pct have not considered energy issues due to a lack of expertise necessary to develop policies, costs associated with developing energy policies and having "more important priorities". More than half said they "rarely or never address energy issues with their residents." (Source: University of Michigan, Graham Sustainability Institute, PR, Oct., 2020) Contact: University of Michigan, Graham Sustainability Institute, Dr, Sarah Mills, Project Manager, 734-615-8230, www.graham.umich.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News Energy Efficiency,  


NRDC Calls Coal vs. Renewables Political Divide Fake News (Opinions, Editorials & Asides)
NRDC
Date: 2019-02-25
The following is from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): "New polls show that all Americans -- Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike -- want to close the book on our dirtiest fossil fuel. From a political standpoint, defending coal consumption is harder than ever. Coal is far and away the dirtiest fossil fuel there is in terms of carbon emissions and regular old air pollution (and its messy mining practices certainly aren’t helping its reputation). And when you factor in health care costs, environmental costs, and costs to local communities in the form of reduced tourism and property values, coal is also a real loser economically speaking -- especially in relation to natural gas and renewables like wind and solar.

"Still, lawmakers from coal-producing states and members of the current presidential administration have long attempted to justify their defense of coal on the grounds that it's more than a fossil fuel -- it's a way of life. This has been a reasonably effective tactic, up to a point. If you're trying to neutralize the arguments of those who want to see coal phased out of the U.S. energy diet, the best way to do so is to play the culture card: Point to all the people who rely on the coal industry for a regular paycheck and appeal to their sense of history and heritage.

"But this last line of defense -- 'Renewables may be all the rage in San Francisco or Seattle or wherever, but where I come from, the people still love coal and always will' -- may not be effective for much longer.

Two recently released reports show how public sentiment regarding coal and renewables has shifted dramatically in recent years. One of them looks at attitudes at the national level; the other explores them in the historically coal-friendly state of Ohio. Both spell trouble for the future of an industry that's already, by nearly all accounts, on its last legs.

"The University of Michigan's National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE) is a biannual survey of public opinion surrounding issues of climate and energy policy, providing perhaps the best snapshot we could ever hope for in regard to how Americans stand on subjects like coal, renewables, climate science, geoengineering, a carbon tax, and a host of other climate-related topics. Late last year, to commemorate its 10th anniversary of publication, NSEE released a trove of reports that illustrate just how much public opinion has changed on these matters over the past decade.

"One of them in particular should strike fear into the hearts of the coal industry's dead-enders and spark joy in the hearts of the rest of us. It shows that between 2016 and 2017, the number of Americans who strongly support a coal phaseout increased 11 percentage points, from 18 pct to 29 pct. In that same one-year period, the number of Americans who oppose a phaseout fell by the same amount. Remarkably, in states with active coal mines, strong support for a phaseout rose even more: by 13 points. Just as remarkably, this trend seemed to cut across political lines, rising among Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Among the last group, strong support for a phaseout actually increased by 5 percentage points, whereas the number of Republicans who strongly oppose it fell by 14 points.

"Another NSEE report provides a perfect complement. As more Americans announce their willingness to say goodbye to coal, they're also saying hello to the opportunity presented by renewables. This report reveals that 88 pct of Americans are in favor of increasing the use of solar energy in their state, and 82 pct feel the same about wind energy. Here, too, there's real bipartisan buy-in, with 79 pct of Republicans getting behind solar and 72 pct getting behind wind. What's more, the numbers show that a sizable majority of Republican, Democratic, and independent respondents support requiring and/or subsidizing renewable energy production at the state level. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans surveyed -- 64 pct -- said they like the idea of a state renewable energy requirement; even more amazingly, 65 pct of them said they have no problem with boosting the nascent renewables sector through subsidies.

"But an even more eye-opening poll is making news too. An organization with a somewhat eyebrow-raising name, the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, released the results of a survey last week suggesting that support for renewables is no longer a politically exploitable issue. In a survey of 400 Ohioans who self-identify as conservative, two-thirds of respondents said they believe their state needs to diversify its energy portfolio by having at least half of its energy come from renewable sources. Nearly the same percentage of respondents said they were more likely to support a politician who voted for or otherwise expressed support for renewable energy or energy efficiency legislation. "Ohio, just as a reminder, ranks 11th in coal production among U.S. states, and its coal industry supports about 33,000 jobs. It also ranks fourth among states in coal consumption.

"For too long, it's been too easy for lawmakers and administration officials to claim that by kowtowing to the coal industry's wishes, they were simply doing right by voters. It's getting harder. The gap between the interests of average Americans and the interests of coal-company executives is getting wider every day. And solar and wind are wedging their way in. (Source: NRDC, 22 Feb., 2019) Contact: NRDC, Jeff Turrentine www.nrdc.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News Renewable Energy,  Coal,  NRDC,  


Univ. of Michigan Awarded $1.$1.6Mn for Solar Window R&D (R&D, Funding)
Univ, of Michigan
Date: 2018-11-19
In An Arbor, the University of Michigan is touting its work on the development of electricity-generating windows and high-temperature solar power. The projects are funded unded with $1.6 million from the US DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Solar cell windows are supported with $1.3 million while $325,000 will be aimed at reducing and storing the heat lost from captured solar thermal energy. (Source: University of Michigan, PR, 16 Nov., 2018) Contact: University of Michigan, Nicole Casal Moore, ncmoore@umich.edu, www.umich.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News Solar Window,  


University of Michigan Alage Biofuel R&D Funded (R&D, Funding)
University of Michigan
Date: 2018-10-15
Researchers from the University of Michigan are reporting receipt of $2 million in funding from the US DOE to create renewable diesel from algae. The grant will support the development of a method of collecting algae and turning algae into a low carbon, clean diesel fuel.

When the desired type of algae is identified, the researchers will study how best to convert the algae into a highly efficient diesel. (Source: University of Michigan, Siver Telegram, Informator News, 13 Oct., 2018) Contact: University of Michigan, University of Michigan, Biology Prof. Bradley Cardinale, (734) 764-9689, bradcard@umich.edu, http://seas.umich.edu/research/faculty/brad_cardinale, www.umich.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News University of Michigan,  Biodiesel Algae,  


Michigan-Penn State Partner on Algae Biofuel R&D (R&D, Funding)
University of Michigan
Date: 2018-10-08
In Ann Arbor, University of Michigan researchers report they will partner with colleagues at Penn State University to evaluate how best to grow algae, transform it into a diesel fuel and maximize its performance during the combustion process. The effort is being funded with a $2 million grant from the US DOE.

According to University of Michigan Biology professor Bradley Cardinale, researchers are "one of the first teams in the world to go all the way from designing sustainable biofuel feedstocks in outdoor ponds, to refining fuel." Algae-based biofuels are seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional diesel fuels, which produce high levels of greenhouse gases when they burn. (Source: Univ. of Michigan, AP, witf, 7 Oct., 2018) Contact: University of Michigan, University of Michigan, Biology Prof. Bradley Cardinale, (734) 764-9689, bradcard@umich.edu, http://seas.umich.edu/research/faculty/brad_cardinale

More Low-Carbon Energy News University of Michigan,  Algae Biofuels,  Algae,  


Fewer Biofuels, More Green Space May Benefit Environment, Study Finds (Ind. Report)
University of Michigan
Date: 2018-10-01
According to a study from University of Michigan (UM) Energy Institute professor John DeCicco, growing and harvesting bioenergy crops -- corn for ethanol, trees to fuel power plants, and others -- is a poor use of land, which is a precious resource in the fight against climate change.

The assumption that bioenergy simply recycles carbon is a major accounting error, DeCicco and William Schlesinger, president emeritus of the Milbrook, New York-based Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, held. The core of the assumption is the idea that producing a biofuel and then burning it for energy moves a given amount of carbon from the biosphere to the atmosphere, and back again in an unending and stable cycle. That's in contrast to the current one-way flow of fossil-fuel carbon from the Earth to the atmosphere.

According to DeCicco, for bioenergy to be actually carbon neutral, harvesting the biomass to produce it would have to greatly speed up the net flow of carbon from the atmosphere back into vegetation. Otherwise, decades can pass before the "carbon debt" of excess CO2 in the air is repaid by future plant growth. "All currently commercial forms of bioenergy require land and risk carbon debts that last decades into the future. Given the urgency of the climate problem, it is puzzling why some parties find these excess near-term CO2 emissions acceptable," the researchers noted.

In his 2016 study, DeCicco found that just 37 pct, rather than 100 pct, of the CO2 released from burning biofuels was balanced out by increased carbon uptake in crops over the first eight years of the U.S. biofuel mandate.

To reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere requires avoiding deforestation and reforesting harvested areas, up to one-third of current carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels could be sequestered in the biosphere," the researchers wrote. "Terrestrial carbon management can keep carbon out of the atmosphere for many decades."

The new opinion was published in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Source: Univ. of Michigan, Rahunuma Daily, 1 Oct., 2018) Contact: University of Michigan Energy Institute, Prof John DeCicco, (734) 764-6757, DeCicco@umich.edu, www.umich.edu; Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, (845) 677-5343, www.caryinstitute.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News Climate Change news,  CO2 news,  Carbon Emissions news,  Bioenergy news,  


UM Initiative Aims to Convert GHGs into Profitable Products (R&D)
University of Michigan,CO2 Sciences
Date: 2018-08-13
In Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan is touting its Global CO2 Initiative aimed at removing carbon dioxide from the air and turning it into useful products. The initiative is funded with up to $4.5 million -- a maximum of $2.5 million in seed funding from Michigan Engineering and an additional $2 million in other fundraising commitments. The initiative aims to reduce the equivalent of 10 pct of current atmospheric CO2 emissions annually by 2030 -- approximately 4 gigatons that could potentially be converted into concrete and other construction materials, fuels, and carbon fiber.

The Global CO2 Initiative combines the assets of the San Francisco nonprofit CO2 Sciences with what was previously the Beyond Carbon Neutral initiative at the U-M Energy Institute. While both endeavors aimed to accelerate the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the air, CO2 Sciences worked to find uses for that extracted greenhouse gas. The board of CO2 Sciences elected to donate its assets to U-M in order to leverage its resources and ecosystem.

The initiative aims to drive the development of technologies that can capture and convert CO2 into a commodity -- providing commercial incentives to lower the concentration in the atmosphere.

As a first step, the initiative will deploy, for free download, a first-of-its-kind toolkit that establishes a common model for assessing the climate and economic impacts of different technologies in the carbon conversion industry, as well as of CO2-based products themselves. The Life Cycle Analysis and Techno-Economic Analysis Toolkit (LCA/TEA) was developed in collaboration with institutions from around the world and to evaluate technologies for a global market. It is designed to help researchers and industry evaluate which carbon removal approaches or carbon-based products are most promising. The toolkit's initial partners include: the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Sheffield, RWTH Aachen and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam. U-M is continuing to expand funding commitments and research partners for this initiative. The $2.5 million in seed funding from Michigan Engineering is part of its new Blue Sky Initiative designed to encourage daring research with high potential for societal impact. (Source: University of Michigan, Michigan News, 8 Aug., 2018) Contact: University of Michigan, Volker Sick, Global CO2 Initiative Lead, www.globalco2initiative.org; CO2 Sciences, www.co2science.org

More Low-Carbon Energy News GHGs,  Carbon Emissions,  Carbon Negative,  Carbon Neutral,  


Biodiversity Key to Stable Algal Biofuel, says Study (R&D Report)
University of Michigan
Date: 2018-07-03
Researchers from the University of Michigan have confirmed that the key to improving the performance of algal biofuel systems is through biodiversity. In the first large-scale experiment to study the connection between biodiversity and algal biofuel stability, the researchers grew varying combinations of freshwater algal species in 80 artificial ponds and found that a diverse mix of algal species performed better than any single species. They also found that diversity does not necessarily result in more biomass or algal mass, and that monoculture produced larger biomass results in most cases.

After a 10-week study, the researchers compared the ability of the algae and the algal combinations to multitask and found that monoculture algae were able to perform very well in one or two tasks. However, the combined algae species were better at a range of tasks.

"Our findings suggest there is a fundamental trade-off when growing algal biofuel. You can grow single-species crops that produce large amounts of biomass but are unstable and produce less biocrude. Or, if you are willing to give up some yield, you can use mixtures of species to produce a biofuel system that is more stable through time, more resistant to pest species, and which yields more biocrude oil," according to the report. (Source: Univ. of Michigan, GinnersNow, 28 June, 2018) Contact: University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, Casey Godwin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, (734) 764-6453, seas-info@umich.edu, seas.umich.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News University of Michigan,  Algae,  Algae Biofuel,  


Study Improves Stability of Algal Biofuel Systems (R&D)
University of Michigan
Date: 2018-06-18
A diverse mix of species improves the stability and fuel-oil yield of algal biofuel systems, as well as their resistance to invasion by outsiders, according to the findings of a National Science Foundation funded outdoor study by University of Michigan researchers.

For the study, scientists grew various combinations of freshwater algal species in 80 artificial ponds in the first large-scale, controlled experiment to test the widely held idea that biodiversity can improve the performance of algal biofuel systems in the field. Overall, the researchers found that diverse mixes of algal species (polycultures) performed more key functions at higher levels than any single species -- they were better at multitasking. The researchers also found that polycultures did not produce more algal mass (biomass) than the most productive single species, or monoculture.

"The results are key for the design of sustainable biofuel systems because they show that while a monoculture may be the optimal choice for maximizing short-term algae production, polycultures offer a more stable crop over longer periods of time," said study lead author Casey Godwin, a postdoctoral research fellow at U-M's School for Environment and Sustainability.

Algae-derived biocrude oil is being studied as a potential renewable-energy alternative to fossil fuels. Because they grow quickly and can be converted to bio-oil, algae have the potential to generate more fuel from less surface area than crops like corn. But the technical challenges involved in growing vast amounts of these microscopic aquatic plants in large outdoor culture ponds have slowed progress toward commercial-scale cultivation.

In the study, research team found that while monocultures tended to be good at one or two jobs at a time, polycultures performed more of the jobs at higher levels than any of the monocultures. But at the same time, polycultures produced less biomass than the best-performing monoculture.

"Our findings suggest there is a fundamental tradeoff when growing algal biofuel. You can grow single-species crops that produce large amounts of biomass but are unstable and produce less biocrude. Or, if you are willing to give up some yield, you can use mixtures of species to produce a biofuel system that is more stable through time, more resistant to pest species, and which yields more biocrude oil," according to the researchers. The team's findings are scheduled for publication June 18 in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. (Source: University of Michigan, Public Release, 18 June, 2018) Contact: University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, Casey Godwin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, (734) 764-6453, seas-info@umich.edu, seas.umich.edu

More Low-Carbon Energy News University of Michigan,  Algae,  Algal Biofuel,  

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