Sen. Ken Salazar DOI Steven Chu DOE
In my last post, I mentioned a number of popular ideas to advance alternative energy development. But I didn’t attribute them because nothing had been written of incoming administration officials as yet. A couple of days later several major newspapers mentioned ideas of incoming administration officials which included ideas I talked about. So I inserted these in my last post. If you went to my last post early check back. (Just skim down and check the writing in block quotes.) This week’s post includes a piece from the Wall St Journal which mentions another popular idea I mentioned in my last post.
How about renewable energy? Dr. Chu already had a taste of Washington power-brokering, in a briefing with current Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. He pitched them on the idea of an interstate electricity transmission system to be paid for by ratepayers. That would solve one of the biggest hurdles to wide-spread adoption of clean energy like wind and solar power.
This is interesting because Dr. Chu is the president elect’s choice to lead the DOE.
The president elect’s choice for the Dept of Energy is Dr. Chu. Dr. Chu’s marquee work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is the Helios Project. That’s an effort to tackle what Dr. Chu sees as the biggest energy challenge facing the U.S. transportation. That’s because it’s a huge drain on U.S. coffers and an environmental albatross, Dr. Chu says. Helios has focused largely on biofuels—but not the bog-standard kind made from corn and sugar. The Energy Biosciences Institute, a joint effort funded by BP, is looking to make second-generation biofuels more viable. Among the approaches? Researching new ways to break down stubborn cellulosic feedstocks to improve the economics of next-generation biofuels, and finding new kinds of yeast to boost fermentation and make biofuels more plentiful while reducing their environmental impact.
Include algae to fuel in that mix. David Chu does not like coal.
Big Coal won’t be very happy if Dr. Chu gets confirmed as head of the DOE—he’s really, really not a big fan. “Coal is my worst nightmare,” he said repeatedly in a speech earlier this year outlining his lab’s alternative-energy approaches.
Ken Salazar is the president’s pick to head up the Dept of the Interior. How will he affect water policy? Likely he will be very innovative.
He was raised on a ranch in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, and became an attorney with an expertise in water law. “In rural areas,” Salazar said in an interview this summer, “they understand water as their lifeblood.”
How will Salazar be on energy? He’ll be tough on oil interests.
Earlier this year, Salazar criticized the department for decisions to open Colorado’s picturesque Roan Plateau for drilling. Salazar said the regulations to begin opening land for oil shale development would “sell Colorado short.”
He’s a fan of alternative energy.
The senator campaigned vigorously for Obama in Colorado, a swing state, barnstorming rural areas in a recreational vehicle while preaching alternative-energy development and its potential to revitalize rural economies. After the election, Salazar publicly urged Obama to build his planned economic stimulus package around investments in energy infrastructure.
It might be a good idea to invite Ken Salazar to the national salinity summit. So that he can see some slides that show the best places for solar and wind overlapped with the deepest briny aquifers. He’ll already know Senator Pete Domenici’s saying that you need water to make power and vice versa. He’ll also know that the hoover dam produces both power and water; that too, the hoover dam is the foundation for the economies of the southwest–and its profitable. He may see that the best way to get brackish water desalination plants is to site and budget them with solar and windmill power plants. Then it would be his job to sell the idea to DOE elect Dr. Chu.
“It’s time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that’s committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all our families,” Obama said
Come to think of it, it might be a good idea to invite a bunch of solar wind and desal executives to the National Salinity Conference.
imho Senator Salazar will be interested in accelerated funding for all forms of desalination R&D from Proifera plus a dozen other cutting edge membrane companies to left handed ideas like low temperature cooking water out of gypsum. As well, I would think for experimental reasons both men would be interested in siting at least one solar/desal plant near a coal plant so as to pump the coal plant’s waste CO2 into algae geenhouses. I’ve mentioned this in posts here & here. Texas might be the best place for this because they have CO2 emitting industrial plants there,sunlight and briny aquifers. There are others.
I think that both Senator Salazar and Dr Chu should be urged to fund research into cheap smart energy efficient water pipelines mentioned here, here and here. I mentioned an initial slant well experiment in the Santa Barbara channel with a Profiera membrane here. Further they should be appraised that the ultimate goal in +-7 years of nanotube and pipeline research are pipes with one end in the salty pacific through which only fresh water flows inland to points all over the desert southwest. Toward this end, I could easily see several lines of solar power plants in the empty deserts there that point to Arizona. These might double as pumping stations in the future for water pipelines that push water eastward.
Finally it might be helpful to do a little more detailed ranking for best places to site desal/solarwind plants. Ranking might include:
1.)distance from electric AND water grids
2.) ease of getting federal state & local permissions.
3.) time to project ground breaking.
If the DOI was onboard, likely the quickest places to break ground would be BLM lands.
Herbert Hoover as Commerce Secretary signed the initial enabling legislation for the Hoover Dam on November 24, 1922. Ground was not broken on the Hoover Dam until 10 years later in 1932.
That’s a very leisurely pace to ground breaking. Things won’t be nearly so leisurely this time.
Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary who will head Obama’s National Economic Council, has said a fiscal stimulus will have to be “speedy, substantial and sustained.” Congressional leaders have indicated that spending could even be as large as the $700 billion bailout, but details of how and where the money will be distributed are unknown.
So be forewarned. In the next year or two — guys will come into your office blue in the face with tension. Help them along their way. Why? Because the very best investment the government can make is in water and energy. Why? Because water and energy provide the basis for growth in the economy and the government’s future tax base.
said Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. and an Obama economic adviser, in an interview. “You would want to invest in something that would not just physically build a bridge, but would help build businesses that would create more wealth.”
That would be water and energy. Why is this important politically? The reason is–this is not a settled issue. The talk is now for +-50 billion to allocate for green projects. But it could be more or less depending on the projects presented –and the vision thing.
Even so, the Obama team remains split over how much money to devote to green and high-tech projects, and how much to focus on traditional infrastructure.
In purely economic terms, a traditional infrastructure building spree might provide the biggest bang, Mr. Zandi said. But, he added, “there’s something to be said for an infrastructure program that captures the imagination, because confidence is just shot.”
The way to settle this in favor of green energy and water desalination projects is to present projects that can be implemented quickly. Oh and one more thing. The size of the investment will depend on the size of the vision.
A National Salinity Summit that can conclude with best sites for solar/wind/desal plants can give solar/wind/desal players legs. Even this is a step behind. Nor is it the big vision I’ve talked about for a couple years.
As it is the big cities already have their make work projects lined up.