What's frustrating is that efforts are currently disjointed and incoherent and it's obvious that we can't expect the federal government to take up the cause. The Governors Association is a suitable venue for creating a regional effort to develop renewable energy.
Regarding specific companies involved in the renewable energy (RE) business, please reference the portfolio list for the Powershares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio which is an exchange traded mutual fund (ETF). This new ETF focuses on owning shares in companies directly involved in the production and storage of RE along with associated components and services. The beauty of this fund is it allows small investors to invest in and provide capital for public Green Industry companies. Also check out the Winslow Green Growth Fund which invests more broadly in environmentally pro-active and eco-friendly companies.
Local companies working on RE in Washington state include Seattle Biodiesel, Washington Biodiesel, AquaEnergy (AquaBuoy wave energy conversion), Puget Sound Energy (wind farms), etc. Unfortunately, the first three companies are currently not publicly traded but are seeking venture capital which means large investments (e.g. $50,000+).
I just heard on NPR that Gov. Gregoire of Washington state shall propose to the legislature that all diesel sold in WA state be blended with five percent biodiesel. Furthermore, she wants to see additional incentives for meeting the growing demand for biodiesel.
I propose the creation of what I call a Renewable Energy Development Area (REDA) in the Pacific NW including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Northern California. The purpose of the REDA is to establish the Pacific NW as the continental and national leader in the development and use of such renewable energy technologies as wind energy, wave/tidal energy and biomass (biodiesel, ethanol, landfill gas, methanol digesters, etc.) and solar. By creating the REDA, we employ folks, add tax revenue, keep our environment clean, preserve our natural resources, slow Global Warming by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and make the United States more secure.
Regarding wind energy, Washington state offers good wind energy potential in places like Vantage along the Columbia River, southeast Wenatchee, the Olympic and Cascade mountains, the Strait of Juan De Fuca and along the Pacific coast. Imagine dozens of wind turbines off the beach at Long Beach and West Port generating clean, renewable electricity while employing residents of economically depressed Grays Harbor, Pacific and Clallam counties. Can we boost our local economies while keeping our air clean and diversify electricity generation away from hydropower? You bet. Let's recruit the company trying to establish a wind farm in Nantucket Sound to consider our own high wind coastal area. If the Kennedy's don't want wind in their back yard, maybe we want it in ours.
Energy generated from wave and tidal energy offers much potential here, especially in the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Again, we can employ Washingtonians, diversify our electricity production and do it cleanly. Why not? There's a company in the region working on doing this. Embrace them, encourage them!
The inefficient use of biomass in our region is a pet peave of mine. So much woody material is left to rot in clear-cuts and around new development when it could be ground up and used in several ways. First, it could be fed into wood gasifiers to derive methane and a range of valuable chemicals. Secondly, it could be turned into alchohol for direct use or as a precursor for biodiesel production or burned directly. Third, we can more completely use these woody debris for creation of more wood pellets for pellet stoves. Fourth, we can create large-scale water heating opertations by filling composting chambers with wood chips.
Many of us probably don't think the Pacific NW has much solar potential, especially this time of year but the sun does shine up here. Think of the greenhouse effect and your automobile on an overcast day. Even on an overcast day, your closed up car will collect and trap solar radiation. Though I don't see too much solar electricity generation considering the state of current technology, solar water heating and solar assisted water heating is feasible. Also, solar space heating is very feasible. Have any south facing windows?
I can foresee industrial facilities producing biodiesel from algae grown in waste water and methanol derived from landfill gas or wood chips. Light and heat for the algae is derived partly from burning some of the biodiesel or landfill gas. Artifical light and heat supplement solar lighting and heating during the winter months and at night. That portion of the algal solids left over after the oil is "squeezed out" could be composted for fertilizer or turned into animal feed and used to fertilize the algae ponds.
Great ideas, huh? How do we achieve creation of our REDA? Our political leadership, voters, the business community, educators and engineers and scientists must come together and think wholistically. Then, through tax incentives, intergovernmental coordination, cooperation with regional and local economic development agencies, regulatory reform and entrepreneurs, we lay the foundation for the next industrial revolution...the Green Industrial Revolution.
Yours in Liberty