Pushing green energy ceilings — wind and solar hitting new highs

The sun is setting in the Coachella Valley as I type this, but somewhere on the other side of the world, I feel certain, it is shining and possibly there’s a solar panel there converting the sunlight to electricity and reducing the carbon emissions that fossil fuel power would have generated.

The spread of solar around the world is part of the story contained in figures from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.  As of 2012, the world had a bit more than 101 gigawatts of PV running around, producing the same amount of power as 16 coal or nuclear plants of 1 gigawatt each, while reducing carbon emissions by 53 million tons.

Of those 101 GW, just shy of 30 GW were installed last year, about the same as 2011, the EPIA said. What’s more important, the geographic spread of PV installations is expanding.

Thirteen gigawatts of solar are now outside Europe, compared to 8 GW in 2011, the EPIA reported. Germany is still the world leader, with 7.6 GW, while China has 3-5-4.5 GW and the U.S. has 3.2 GW. Another report from Greentech Media projects growing solar markets, about 3 GW, in Africa and Middle East in the next two years.

Meanwhile, wind energy is also hitting new highs in terms of how much power it supplies in different states, according to Pete Danko writing on the Earth Techling website.

From midnight Monday to midnight Tuesday, three wind farms in eastern Washington pumped out 16,593 megawatt-hours of power, or about 23.5 percent of the power Puget Sound Energy needed for its 1.1 million customers. Danko writes:

While wind power rises and falls with the varying wind speed – obviously – Puget Sound said its three wind farms are providing at least some power two-thirds of the time and on average are supplying about 10 percent of the power its customers use.

Texas is also breaking records on wind production. The state leads the nation in wind installations over al,l and at 7:08 p.m. on Feb. 9, those turbines were spinning away, producing 9,481 megawatts of power, 10 percent over the previous record of 8,667 MW.

The Feb. 9 high mark represents 28 percent of the load on the state’s power system.

Meanwhile in Colorado, Xcel Energy reported that wind power accounted for 16 percent of the 35.9 million megawatt hours of electricity it sold in 2012.

The missing link to drive those numbers even higher is, of course, storage. California may be taking a step toward new green energy ceilings to break with a recent decision from the state’s Public Utilities Commission ordering Southern California Edison to add 50 MW of grid storage over the next eight years.

Writing about the order on Greentech Media, Jeff St. John notes it’s a relatively small amount of storage, but provides a signal that the state is serious about integrating wind and solar power onto the grid by the 2020 deadline for reaching the state’s renewable energy goal of 33 percent.

In the context of total energy production, in the U.S. or worldwide, all these new benchmarks may be relatively small, but they reflect a vision and momentum that will continue to push renewable energy ceilings higher and higher.


Positive response to Navy jets’ return to Palm Springs airport

A U.S. Navy T-45C Goshawk carrier-capable jet fighter trainer prepares to take off from Atlantic Aviation in Palm Springs on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Denise Goolsby/The Desert Sun

Over the next month, beginning on Wednesday, about 18 T-45 ‘Goshawk’ trainer jets from the Navy Training Air Wing 2 based in Kingsville, Texas, will visit off and on between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Navy announced Friday. They’ll temporarily operate out of Naval Air Facility El Centro.

PHOTOS: T-45C Goshawk jet fighter trainers at Palm Springs airport in April 2012

Palm Springs International Airport will be used for refueling, so residents can expect to hear and see about three jets a day, the Navy said in its email announcement to The Desert Sun.

About a year ago, the Department of Defense, in response to some local residents’ complaint of excessive noise from jets taking off and landing from the Palm Springs airport, began cutting back on on military jet stopovers in the desert.

The Desert Sun asked readers what they thought about the temporary return of the jets.

 Here are a few of those responses:

I live in the northern part of Palm Springs and have experienced the noise from the Navy jets.  I love them!  Their training flights give me a sense of security and pride in our country.  Yes, they were ear splitting but they are an incredible testimony to our country.  Bring on the T45s.

Resident on flight pattern,

Janet Schmitt

This is great news.  Along with the overall growth trends throughout the valley from cultural, sports, and business activities, the Navy aviators should be saluted.  These guys are protecting our freedoms and any minimal and momentary  discomfort to residents, who of course moved in long after the airport was established, is a very small price to pay to help the flying proficiencies of these great Americans.  Frankly, they should be welcomed by city and airport officials.

Alan Wayne, La Quinta

What I think it’s great!  Living in Rancho Mirage under the the approach to PS International there is nothing more exciting than watching, and hearing, one of our nation’s best in flight.
James D. Turner
Yea for our militaryLove the sound of those jets going over

Proud to be an American

Donna Flood

We should be welcoming OUR navy jets into the  Palm Springs airport. Some people have complained about the noise yet want to have the best military in the world as long as it doesn’t infringe on their life style. They should think about the life styles that our men and woman in the military (and their families ). Hearing and and seeing our jets makes me proud. Instead of complaining the next time you hear a military jet just say thank you and be grateful that you live in the USA.

Mike Salcido

Training Air Wing 2 is responsible for providing the fleet with newly winged Navy and Marine Corps aviators. The Air Wing consists of approximately 250 student naval aviators, 75 instructor pilots, 80 civilian personnel, and 100 T-45A and T-45C “Goshawk” aircraft.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts on the visiting military jets with us via e-mail at localnews@thedesertsun.com

1. large hawk: a large hawk with broad rounded wings and a long tail. Native to: Europe, North America. Latin name Accipiter gentilis


See the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument on Tues-Weds in Pasadena

This undated publicity photo provided by John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc., shows the frontal view of the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument. It is the first national monument ever to pay tribute to dogs and honors every dog who has served in combat since World War II. (AP Photo/John Burnam Monument Foundation, Inc.)

Today and tomorrow, the public can get a first glimpse at the Military Working Dog Teams National Monument in Pasadena before it starts a cross-country road trip to Texas for permanent installation later this year.

The bronze sculptures of a military dog handler and four working dogs — each canine standing about 5′ tall — are scheduled to be displayed on a vehicle parked next to the Natural Balance Pet Foods “Canines with Courage” float following the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Each was created by sculptor Paula Slater.

In this undated publicity photo provided by Natural Balance, a rendering of a float called "Canines with Courage," the Natural Balance entry for the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2013 is shown. War handler veteran, John Burnam, and dogs and handlers from every branch of the service will ride the float. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)

The float features a floral replica of the bronze monument and including working dog teams walking along side. Also riding on the float was Lucca, a working dog with three combat deployments, who lost her front left leg during a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan last March. Natural Balance’s Rose Parade annual canine star, Tillman, was also on the float. This year, the skateboarding and surfing bulldog traded in his sports equipment for Marine Corps dress blues. Tillman was made an honorary Marine Corps Private First Class during an October ceremony in Dallas.

The post-parade Showcase of Floats is open to the public on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 from 1-5 p.m. and Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The showcase offers a chance to see the floats up-close and often speak with volunteers or staff who worked on them. Tickets for the float viewing are $10. Click here for more information, directions, and tips for the post-parade event.

The Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will be permanently installed and dedicated in late summer at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, where military working dogs are trained.

In this Aug. 2, 2012 publicity photo provided by Natural Balance, war handler veteran, author and designer, John Burnam, left, and veteran portrait sculptor, Paula Slater, stand with the silicon bronze 9.5-feet tall military dog handler that is part of the U.S. Working Dogs Teams National Monument shown in the Sculptor's Studio in Hidden Valley Lake, in Calif. (AP Photo/Natural Balance)

Chancellorgate in El Paso and Timothy Bradley’s undercard

The University of Texas System regents using fear without providing evidence is striking a nerve with me.

For those of you who haven’t heard, Texas cancelled a fight between popular Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Andy Lee by the regents over elevated security concerns over violence from across the boarder spilling over. Problem is, the law enforcement community have said they have not heard of any concerns, let alone any that would justify cancelling a fight that could provide millions to El Paso.

I grew up in Tucson, Ariz., which is 90 minutes from the Mexican border. Some politicians would talk about violence spilling over from the border, creating a security concern. Problem is, I had family and friends. That was not the case. And it sounds like the same thing.

Something is not right in Texas.

On another note, the Timothy Bradley-Manny Pacquiao undercard has been set. Here’s the release from Top Rank.

Tickets are still available for the June 9 fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The three-bout pay-per-view undercard will feature undefeated No. 1 welterweight contender MIKE “MJ” JONES battling two-time world champion and current No. 2 contender RANDALL “The Knockout King” BAILEY for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title; undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) super bantamweight champion GUILLERMO “El Chacal” RIGONDEAUX defending his title against world-rated TEON “The Technician” KENNEDY; and five-division world champion and Méxican icon JORGE “Travieso” ARCE, in his first fight in a Las Vegas ring in more than one year, taking on Puerto Rican knockout artist JESUS ROJAS in a 10-round junior featherweight fight.

Tickets are still available for the June 9 fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.They run from $200-$1,200. You can find tickets at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

College football’s opening weekend

Some general observations about the college football season

LaMichael James is on the outside looking in on the Heisman race. Biggest game and he had a career low and was knocked out with cramps. With the Ducks offense, he can still put up big numbers to get back into the race, but as of now, he’s out.

Kellen Moore needs to be talked about more as a Heisman candidate. Going into Georgia and giving them that kind of a beating, and people better recognize him as a top-five candidate. He’s played at a high level his whole career at Boise State. Becauseof him, they are poised to be BCS busters again. This kid can play and his stock is rising.

Notre Dame and USC. Yes, they are the glamour teams, but they were rated way too high. I was surprised they were even ranked coming in and people were talking about them being a BCS team. Uh, talent does mean something, and the Fighting Irish just doesn’t have the talent to warrent those kind of expectations. USC, they should be good, but I was surprised to see they were picked as a favorite to win the Pac-12 Southern Division, especially with the players Arizona and Arizona State returns. And there’s also Utah. It’s a good division that should be hotly contested. But USC doesn’t have depth because of the sanctions, and that will play a factor.

Rick Neuheisel seemed like the perfect fit to return to UCLA, but it hasn’t worked, and shows no sign of getting better. I’m not sure what the Bruins will have to do to save Neuheisel’s job, but it’s looking bleek.

I get why Texas A&M wants to go to the SEC, but why would the SEC want them? It’s a good football program, but not nearly at the level of the SEC teams. I don’t get why Texas isn’t pursued. It would be a great match, because you would have rivalries like Texas-Alabama, or Texas-LSU. The Pac-10 has been pursuing the Longhorns, but they have been too much of a headache to be worth it, to be honest. And how will you deal with the Longhorn Network with the Pac-12 Network? Just seems like Texas would be a better fit in the SEC than the Pac-12.

Arizona looked good in dismantling Northern Arizona University, but it will get much tougher. The Wildcats face No. 9 Oklahoma State this week, followed by home games on Sept. 17 against No. 6 Stanford, Sept. 24 against No. 14 Oregon and then Oct. 1 at the Coliseum against USC. If the Wildcats can get through that gauntlet of a schedule, then they will be a force on the national scene. And it would put quarterback Nick Foles into the public consciousness. Foles is considered a high draft pick in next year’s draft. He also has great weapons, particular Juron Criner, who might be the best wide receiver in the country.