Monday, September 29, 2008

How big can wind turbines get?

Wind turbines keep getting bigger, and their larger sizes are increasingly targeted to offshore applications. How big can they get? How big is big enough?

Danish world-wide leader leader Vestas provides the industry workhorses, especially the V90 model rated at 2-3MW.
Industrial behemoth GE, the largest US manufacturer, has machines comparable those of Vestas; it's newest 3.6MW model is intended primarily for offshore use.
Enercon, third largest (depending on how one does the scoring) and #1 in Germany has a long line of devices from the 330kW model E-33 (330kW) to the "world's largest" E-126, a 6MW monster with an overall height of 198 m (650 ft) and a diameter of 126 m (413 ft).
The largest turbine from German Siemens Energy is the 3.6MW SWT-3.6-107.
Spanish Gamesa has three turbines rated at 2MW: the G-80, G-87, and G-90.
Fifth-largest manufacturer Suzlon, based in India but now with offices all over the world builds turbines from 350kW to 2.1MW. It is parent company to REpower, whose 5M turbine has an overall height of 183 m (600 ft) and a diameter of 126 m (413 ft). REpower is aiming offshore: two 5M turbines have already been installed at the Beatrice project in the UK.
Clipper Wind (#2 in US) has the 2.5MW Liberty turbine and lays claim to developing the largest wind turbine yet--the 7.5MW Brittania with a diameter of 175m (574 ft). Fortune reported in its September 29, 2008 edition that Her Majesty the Queen of England, through the Crown Estate, is buying the Brittania and that Clipper confirms recent reports suggesting that the size may be upped to an astonishing 10MW. Like the largest turbines from REpower, Siemens and Enercon, its target market is offshore.

Others coming to market with turbines of 1MW or greater include Vergnet, the only French manufacturer and Google-funded Makani Power.

Chinese industrial conglomerate KHCK is reputed to be building a 20MW (!) device which will undoubtedly push the limits of materials science, quite possibly, and literally, to the breaking point.

The economics of wind require larger turbines; hence the race to build them bigger and bigger. The cost of a wind turbine fully installed is now estimated at as much as $4 per watt. The cost goes to $5/W for offshore wind turbines. A big part of this cost, apart from the turbine itself, is the logistics of transportation and installation. As the parts of the turbine keep getting larger and heavier, bringing them from the factory to the installation site is becoming exorbitant.

The sites that have good wind are also frequently at higher elevation, e.g. on ridge lines, where road access and flat staging areas are rudimentary or non-existent. The cost of bringing turbine parts and the enormous cranes used to assemble them high in the air to such challenging sites add greatly to the overall cost. Nonetheless, there are some economies of scale that make it more economical to install larger devices. For example, a 500-ton crane can just as well install a 5MW nacelle as a 2.5MW one. Having undertaken the expense of building a road to the site just to accommodate the equipment one may as well bring in the biggest equipment possible.

So, how big can they get? On land, transportation limits will likely be reached soon, necessitating a cap on the maximum size or a more clever way of breaking the manufacturing into smaller pieces for transport, at the cost of more complicated, time-consuming and expensive assembly on-site. (UPDATE: recent travails of a traveling turbine.)

Offshore wind presents a different set of challenges and opportunities, and manufacturers are increasingly looking offshore for cost and many other reasons. These reasons are why I'm excited about the Grays Harbor Ocean Energy project. More on that in a later post.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Who doesn't take public transit?

I grew up taking public transit in Toronto. I was getting around on my own before I was 10 and even after I got a driver's license I still rode the Red Rocket quite a bit. Going to college near Boston I started riding the T without giving it much thought.

Living in Phoenix in 1978 and moving to the Seattle area in 1982 I discovered that not all cities have as good public transit, and over the years I took it less. In the last few years as I have again moved back closer to downtown, and as Seattle's Metro and Sound Transit have added capacity and routes I've once again gotten back into it.

It's good. I like it. And of course I feel good about it, especially these days with the high cost of gas and the ever-present reminders of our carbon footprints and the broader implications for society and humankind. Most of all, taking public transit doesn't seem like (and isn't) a big deal. (It has it warts of course, especially not being able to get home to Bellevue from Seatac airport after 11:30 p.m.--shouldn't all core buses run until 30 minutes after the bars close?)

The thing I find so funny is when people tell me that they "never" take public transit, for which they give a whole variety of reasons.

I always ask them the same question: "Do you ever fly?" Haven't met anyone yet who never has or claims they never will, and these folks don't own their own Cessnas.

So guess what?

They do take public transit. They just need to act locally by taking more of it around town and not just when they go to a faraway town.

Yeah, I know, taking a jet and taking a bus aren't the same thing in many ways. But they're becoming more alike all the time. I remember a Greyhound ad campaign from years (maybe 10?) back where they explicitly showed how they saw the bus and the plane as similar--captain/driver in his uniform at the controls, baggage handlers slinging suitcases, etc. At the time it was rather funny because it seemed so strained--air travel was fun, even still a bit glamorous, and planes had more than one bathroom and got you where you were going in hours, not days.

Funny thing happened though didn't it? While the 'Hound tried to make themselves more upscale, the airlines went into a long race to the bottom, cutting amenities and adding fees. 9/11 accelerated the process which was already well under way before that. Now taking a plane has all the comfort and amenities of taking the bus, but perhaps with even less legroom. So if people can fly why can't they take the bus downtown? Or Amtrak between cities?

I take the bus downtown almost all the time now; the only exceptions being when my travel logistics are too tight or too complicated or when I have too much stuff to wield on a bus. The Internet is great for planning, and I use it to find the public transit alternatives when I fly to other cities. I went into a meeting at an office in Santa Clara two months back and they were stunned when I answered a question by saying I'd taken CalTrain down from San Francisco and the VTA from there. No one could believe it! Afterwards, I walked to the VTA, went back to the CalTrain, changed to BART and got on my plane at SFO and back to Seatac, where I took the bus back to the park and ride near my house. I do this so often now it's easy.

There's no good reason for everyone not to take public transit more often, especially since most people broke the ice on this long ago.

Two things that would make my life easier:
  1. Have all public transit vehicles take debit cards. In the alternative, create a cash card that you could "pre-load" with cash, similar to what Starbucks, Tully's, and many retailers do. Then you could simply swipe your card to pay, having your pre-loaded cash debited for the cost of the fare. Here in Seattle, the fares are all different depending on zones, time of day, type of vehicle, etc. If you always take the same route to and from work, say, you can use their tickets or monthly transit pass, etc., but if you're like me where every day is different and I'm always going different places at different times it's a nuisance. I actually carry a wad of one dollar bills and quarters in my brief case just to handle this.
  2. Have all hotels have some place on their web site that shows and describes how close they are to a public transit stop and which service and route numbers serve it. Then when I'm looking for a place to stay in a new town I can find a good value close to public transit (which I prefer since I almost never rent cars any more.) Right now most hotels don't do this, assuming you will arrive/depart by cab or rental car. I spend a lot of time currently with Google Maps, the hotel sites, travel sites, and local transit sites trying to ferret out this information. Maybe some entrepreneur less busy than I can build a mash-up that does this (hint hint)?

Take more public transit! Reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your stress, enjoy the scenery, maybe even relax with the paper (or do some work!)

PTC Update

Latest status on the PTC--very iffy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's up with the PTC?

The annual renewable energy policy circus is back in town, and it's far from the greatest show on Earth.

The Senate passed the “Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008” (HR 6049), providing about $60 billion intended to foster renewable energy investment, some of the costs of which are to be funded by lessened support for the Fossil Industry. The House meanwhile passed the “Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act” (HR 6899), which is similar in many respects but has some differences in how (completely) it applies the pay-go rules. The President has complained, of course, about the burdens these bills would place on his favored Fossil Industry, but has not (yet) threatened a veto. It is not clear whether Congress can get a bill done, especially with the impending election recess and the need to complete the Splurge to bail out the credit markets. “This may be the last chance to get these renewable energy incentives passed into law,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. “If President Bush and Senate Republicans shoot this package down like they’ve shot down every other clean energy tax package, there may not be another opportunity.”

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is critical to the renewable energy industry. Yet every year we have to go through all the same arguments and deal with all the same objections and are forced to justify it all over again. Once again, Congress dawdles over renewing the PTC, putting at risk projects, the ability of States and utilities to meet their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and indeed, the long-term energy security of the United States itself. Why does this happen?

The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2 cents per kilowatt hour for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. This incentive is available for electricity produced by equipment placed in service before the expiration of the credit, currently December 31, 2008. The credit is a significant component of the overall feasibility of renewable energy projects, particularly those producing wind energy. The PTC was first enacted into law by the Energy Policy Act (EPACT) of 1992 and has been extended repeatedly for one or two years at a time. It was allowed to lapse in three different years: 1999, 2001 and 2003, with predictable results--a steep decline in the development of renewable energy generation. The PTC has been in place since 2005, and this stability has helped nurture the industry.

Similar approaches elsewhere have proven to create sustainable renewable energy capacity, spur technological innovation, and create jobs. I wrote earlier about Portugal. The UK has its Renewables Obligation, and they are creating a global industry by creating incentives and letting entrepreneurs do the rest. Our neighbor to the south, the State of Oregon, has a Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) that is enticing industry to the state and building an ecosystem of innovation that is gradually turning Oregon into a national leader. There are plenty of other examples that show what works and what doesn't; all we need do is be clear about our policy and go find the best practices others have already pioneered.

The PTC isn't perfect and has had its abusers. A feed-in tariff would be a much better policy, but as always good policy takes a backseat to politics, "the art of the possible." Read one critic's case against the PTC here.

Other criticisms I hear about the PTC have much less merit. The worst is the gripe that the industry ought to be able to stand on its own, and the taxpayer should not be subsidizing an industry that, the argument goes, would not be financially viable without these artificial supports. Some of these critics go further, and argue that, to meet our energy and energy security needs we should make a yet-greater push for domestic oil and gas exploration, captured by the inane slogan: "Drill, baby, drill." I think this is a truly stupid and myopic idea, a great sound bite and a lousy solution that neither lowers the price of gas nor provides energy security for the country even as it contributes to our growing environmental problems.

Government has a critical role to play in energy, but it shouldn't be to try to pick winners. My conservative friends never tire of arguing how the market always does a much better job of identifying the best solution to any need or problem than any government can do, no matter how carefully the lawmakers study or how lofty their intentions. (I've largely come to agree with the viewpoint; however, recent events in the financial arena ought to make everyone question any reflexive belief in the "magic" of the market.) OK, if government should stay out of the markets, why do we provide enormous subsidies to the Fossil Industry? Why does the latest House Bill (HR 6049) provide an 8-year PTC for solar but only one year for wind? The only conclusion I can draw is that policy isn't driving the debate; instead, such laws are an amalgam of favors produced by horse-trading between our Representatives. Maybe this is how government should work, but let's dispense with the facile bromides and recognize that this isn't a coherent policy.

It's sausage factory lawmaking.

Penny wise, pound foolish

I don't have any objection to the US Congress' application of so-called "pay-go" rules, a generally good idea, but I scratch my head at the logic (if any) that determines when they are applied.

Nowhere is the gap between the general and the specific more obvious or more arbitrary than the current debate over federal support for renewable energy, particularly the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

The House and Senate have each passed an energy bill, but there are significant differences in some of the key details and it's unclear what will emerge, if anything, from a yet-to-be-formed conference committee, and whether the President will sign it. Congress is itching to recess for the elections and is probably only still in session because of the financial meltdown unfolding around us. One of the big hang-ups is the question of how to pay for it, i.e. how to offset the revenue loss stemming from these credits. After much kicking and screaming, it seems that some of the revenue loss will be made up by reduction of tax benefits to the oil and gas industry. (Some would call these reductions "tax increases" but what they amount to is fewer tax exemptions. Oil and gas businesses continue to receive substantially greater tax benefits than most other businesses.) The price for getting enough Republican support to (marginally) reduce the largesse to the Fossil Industry is to re-open offshore drilling.

How much do we subsidize the Fossil Industry? In 1995 the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated the tax reductions alone at $2B in 1991. There are plenty of other estimates out there, and I expect there are some which are more current (and probably larger.) It's hard to come up with a single number because it's amazingly complicated to disentangle oil from all other parts of the economy, and some argue that subsidizing oil makes cheaper many other things--from public works projects to transporting organic vegetables. Such calculations also generally ignore the socialized costs for such things as environmental cleanups, increased health problems, climate change, and so on. But the amount of the subsidy isn't my main point--it's the fact that it exists at all.

Do Congress and the President apply pay-go rules every time they dole out another few $B via the tax code to the Fossil Industry? How about for crop subsidies? The war in Iraq? Are they seeking to make the Splurge (the $700B bailout of the credit markets) revenue-neutral? No. While some might argue that the Splurge is an emergency, it is much harder after 5+ years to call the Iraq War an emergency, and the others are clearly not emergencies. They're policies.

So why do we waste time arguing over how to make the relatively tiny renewable energy incentives revenue-neutral when huge outlays get a free pass from budgetary scrutiny under pay-go? The answer is that this is our government's policy.

And what a penny-wise and pound-foolish policy it is.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pelamis Wave Devices off Portugal

Pelamis Wave Power, based in Edinburgh, Scotland has placed three of a projected 28 machines in service offshore of Porto, Portugal. Each of the 142 meter long and 3.5 meter diameter bright red/orange articulated snake-like machines works by converting the waves or sea swells into power through the motion of internal pistons that move as the sea bends the devices at their joints. Here's a good video that shows the operation diagrammatically. See what Pelamis says here.

Each device is rated at 750kW, but it's not yet clear how much power will actually be generated in the specific environment. I'm also interested to see how the hold up over time in an environment than can be pretty rough: the open ocean (well, 3 miles offshore) with wave and wind fetch that stretches all the way to the US. Do they have a way to pull them out or temporarily submerge them if a large storm is threatening? Do they need to?

The installation was done by Babcock & Brown (who are also notable for having recently purchased Bluewater Wind, arguably now the leading developer of offshore wind energy, having signed a PPA with Delmarva.) Electricity is carried by submarine cable to the Portuguese electrical grid at the coastal town of Aguçadoura, near Porto. The project takes advantage of a feed-in tariff of approximately 37 cents (US$). (That would be nice to have here in the US!)

The Portuguese are no slouches when it comes to renewable energy and providing the governmental support needed to attract and nurture new technologies and new industries. They already have one of the world's biggest wind farms in the north at Alto Minho, and a huge solar array near Moura in the south. They've expanded their wind capacity 4x and their hydroelectric 3x in the past 3 years. Portugal already gets a whopping 40% (or more) of its electricity from renewables! They're aiming for 60% by 2020. Amazing how a sense of national purpose and no local reserves of oil or coal can galvanize meaningful action. Even the Brits are chafing a bit at the UK-developed Pelamis having its commercial debut on the Continent. Says Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, Doug Parr: "Wave technology invented in Scotland is powering Portuguese homes and making money for Portuguese suppliers, because our government has consistently neglected the renewables industry here in the UK....It's time we stopped the rot before our performance on renewables becomes a national disgrace." Harsh words, and I would have to be much harsher living as I do in the US where energy policy remains firmly rooted in the past (notwithstanding the latest congressional efforts to renew the PTC--more on that in a later entry.)

It appears that the US, much more so than the UK, is poised to once again cede leadership, even ownership, to Europe of yet another renewable energy technology with global scope. It's tempting to say that things will get better here after the November election, but based on the sausage factory approach used on EPACT 2005 and more recently on the PTC extension I'm not too hopeful. We'll probably still have largely the same Congress next year, and the oil and gas lobby is awash in cash to help, er, fund their message.... (sigh)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

UK-Pacific NW Marine Energy Mission

I spent all day on Monday at the Bell Harbor Conference Center with maybe 75 people involved in or interested in the renewable ocean energy industry. There were many excellent presentations and ample time to network and discuss areas of mutual interest. Sadly I couldn't talk to everyone and I missed bits of some presentations because I got engrossed in conversation... I forced myself to take some notes to try to capture some of the good bits.

This was the first stop on a week-long trade mission by a dozen or so entrepreneurs and other business people from England and Scotland. I'm a bit slow getting this post up; by now they've been and gone from Portland, OR (Wednesday) and are now down in Coos Bay for the Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET) Ocean Renewable Energy Conference. (Sorry I couldn't go to that one myself, but I have to do some "real work" at least part of the week ;-)

The event was organized by UK Trade and Investment and promoted by PNWER. Local organizing assistance came from the British American Business Council of the Pacific Northwest, Port of Seattle, WA Clean Tech Alliance, Washington Technology Center, Washington State CTED, OWET, and Oregon ECD. Sponsors included The North of England Inward Investment Agency, Ricardo, Scottish Development International (SDI) and Stoel Rives.

LA vice-consul Michael Rosenfeld of the UK consulate and Graham Evans of the WA Clean Tech Alliance traded off as masters of ceremonies; both did a splendid job keeping the sessions on track and on time, making introductions and injecting sufficient levity to keep all engaged.

Steve Klein, CEO of Snohomish PUD gave the morning keynote and talked quite a bit about SnoPUD's renewables plans. Of greatest interest to me was his flat assertion that "no fossil fuel generation will be added to our portfolio." Given their load growth of 10-12 thousand new connections and 15-20 aMW per year--amongst the fastest in the state--this is a remarkable statement. A lot of people are assuming Washington's future electricity demand will be met with liquid natural gas (LNG) thermal plants and/or Canadian imports (probably also LNG) but, as Steve stated, this is not a part of their Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Instead, they intend to meet demand through conservation, wood waste/landfill/biomass, "cows" (is he serious?), and geothermal, taking advantage of their position on the Pacific "rim of fire". Interestingly, they plan on geothermal being the largest source of new energy (after conservation) with wind next. Small hydro and tidal are expected to be only small contributors at only 5 aMW each by 2020. They are also pursuing tidal energy in Puget Sound; he said that there "could be 100 aMW of tidal [energy] in Puget Sound ... [but] nobody really knows." I'll write more on this later.

Steve spent some time talking about wind energy; he has several "worries":
  • they've added 10GW in the last 2 years, and problems are starting to show
  • the wind doesn't blow much when it is very hot or very cold--when energy demand is greatest
  • it is not predictable
  • cost of wind is going up (not down)--as much as doubled
  • the devices have mechanical issues (especially the gearboxes)
  • SnoPUD isn't "putting all the eggs in the wind basket" (I think it's clear they're going to hard-boil them with geothermal!)
Scott Amsden of Tacoma Power talked about the results of their assessing tidal power in the Tacoma Narrows. This was a project done by my business partner Burt Hamner and Puget Sound Tidal Power. You can read all about it here.

Naval architect Charlie Nordstrom of the Glosten Associates gave a very interesting presentation on the growing interest in offshore wind and some details of the Trillium project that he and his firm are pursuing in Lake Ontario. Offshore wind has challenging logistics, foremost of which are the size and weight of the components and the enormous deamnds that these place on the equipment used to transport and install the turbines. For example, the 5MW turbines used in the Beatrice project in the UK require an approximately 800 ton "pick" or lift by a marine crane, and there are not very many such cranes. Also, since the weather conditions have to be right to do the picks, progress can be slow--Charlie noted that it took most of the summer to do just 2 installations. Not only are the demand on the equipment great, but there isn't very much of the right equipment available. On the west coast there are only a handful of cranes that can pick more than 500 tons. Glosten Associates are designing a 1000-ton crane for Manson Construction, which, when built, will be the largest crane available. At Trillium they are planning to use the Jumping Jack to do the installation. An additional constraint on offshore wind (or other energy projects) is the Jones Act, which basically prevents ships from other countries being used in US waters. (Of course, there aren't really any such ships available--in Europe they are all booked years out.)

Charlie identified the following best practices for offshore wind construction:
  • minimize at-sea work
  • design for installation
  • keep expensive assets busy
  • rely on operators' experience
  • use existing equipment
  • know your site conditions
  • plan for equipment availability

Later in the afternoon Paul McKeever of NaREC added two more to this list:

  • have equipment redundancy
  • strategically purchase spare parts

After a break, we heard from the UK companies; I'll write about that in a later entry.

At lunch (great food!), Roget Garratt, Director of Resource Acquisition & Emerging Technology for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) gave the keynote, talking about PSE's customer base, growth, and generation plans. Afterwards he took some questions; the best was asked by Burt Hamner: in its IRP what does PSE anticipate will be the cost of energy in 2020? A quick glance around the room confirmed that this was The Question that many in the renewable energy industry really want to know. After all, if you are a project developer in renewable energy or part of the supply chain for the technology, you really need to know the price at which the customer will buy. Of course it gets a lot more complicated when once considers the (on-again/off-again) credits, potential penalties for not meeting the RPS, etc. but it all starts with the core COE. Although Roger answered the question he never gave a number. Does PSE consider this information proprietary, not wanting to let the other utility officials in the room know their planning numbers?

In the afternoon there were several panel discussions and they were pretty interesting--so much so I find that I neglected to take very many notes. Charlie Brandt of PNNL, Tim Stearns of CTED, Sheila Hosner of the Washington Department of Ecology and Mary Jane Parks of Principle Power discussed permitting and regulatory issues. Short story--there are a lot of agencies and permits needed to do any kind of offshore project, but the authorities are not awful to work with as long as you follow the process. Sheila recommended proactively keeping them informed, beginning long before you even file something. In that repsect it's rather like applying for an SBIR or other government grant--spending quality time with the program manager and building trust through constant communication really pays off. Sheila also represents the Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance which has been established specifically to help companies wend permits through regulatory offices. Later, in wrapping up the day Graham Evans noted that many of the speakers (not just in this panel) agreed that "embracing" the regulatory process--not fearing, but cooperating--was the best practice for getting regulatory and permitting approval.

Burt Hamner gave a lucid overview of the Grays Harbor Ocean Energy project he and I are pursuing off the Washington Coast--the only proposed offshore wind project on the US west coast, and the only one with a FERC permit.

Brian Polagye of the University of Washington, Bob McClure of BioSonics and Paul McKeever of NaREC discussed R&D directions and emerging technologies in their panel. Bob's presentation was particulalry interesting, detailing his firm's state-of-the-art hydroacoustic technology to assess fish and aquamarine populations to astonishing levels of detail. Verdant Power and many others are clients using their equipment and know-how to assure that their marine energy equipment is compatible with the local species.

There was a lot more going on than I can write here, and lots of excellent information, ideas, and exchanges. Graham stated, to broad agreement, that this was just the beginning of such collaborative meetings, and that there is much more information, expertise, and lessons learned that are still to be shared. I know I speak for many participants in saying that I am keenly looking forward to the first quarter of 2009, when the reciprocal trip of NW ocean energy companies and people will journey to the UK to see what they have there and talk to those involved in more detail. Sign me up for that trip--it's going to be too cool!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Power from water

All blogs have to start with an initial post, and I will start mine with a confession--I find writing difficult and often tedious. That said, I do it aplenty anyway and much of every day is so spent. In truth I'd rather just talk to people; it's faster and it's interactive and we can do it over coffee in comfortable chairs, or better still over energy drinks on an high Cascades mountaintop with a sweeping view... The advantage of writing is also its power--reaching many people at once and reaching many more over time because of its relative permanence. So that's why I'm joining the 21st Century and starting a blog--to reach more people about one of my passions: renewable energy from water power.

Hydrovolts is a startup company building small in-stream hydrokinetic turbines to create clean, renewable energy. What does that mean?
  • In-stream--Placed directly into flowing currents, e.g. rivers, canals, ocean currents, dam tailraces, etc.
  • Small--Sized for individuals, houses, small villages, businesses, and point-of-use purposes (as opposed to larger community or utility-scale)
  • Hydrokinetic--Literally, "water-movement". Hydrokinetic devices harness the movement of water to produce electricity, and include wave, tidal, in-stream and other kinds of machines.
  • Turbines--Devices that spin due to the force of a moving flow upon them: wind turbines spin from the wind; water turbines from the water.
  • Clean--Like "green" an often-abused word. By clean I mean not creating wastes or down-stream byproducts in its operation.
  • Renewable--Doesn't use an extractive or depletable resource; it's operation is effectively perpetual.
  • Energy--This is why we do it! The world runs on energy, and demand continues to grow both with population and on a per capita basis.

Hydrovolts is creating turbines to produce electricity from almost any kind of flowing water. The devices are small enough to be built and deployed cheaply and simply in millions of places without specialized equipment, modifications to the water-course or harm to marine life.

Hydrovolts was founded last year by my long-time friend Burt Hamner and me. Burt's amazing background includes marine biology, cleaner production, sustainability, international consulting and much else. My background is in technology management and entrpreneurship.

Lots more detail on the website: Check it out, and let me know what you think. I'll be writing more soon (really!)