Decision '09
Blog Index


Debate #3
Elusive Water Vapor:
High Altitude Hydrogen Jets, and the Delicate Stratosphere


Debate #2
Green Energy
in the American Southeast

Topics featured in this debate:

Offshore Wind

Concentrated Solar

Hydrogen from Solar Electrolysis

Expert Commentary:

Robert Leitner
South Carolina's Institute for Energy Studies

Nate Blair
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Jeffrey Nelson Sandia National Laboratories

Fred Humes Education, Training and Research Center at ARC: Hydrogen

Todd Stone
3TIER, Global Renewable Energy Assessment and Forecasting

Erika Hartwig Myers
South Carolina Energy Office

Chris Daetwyler
SC Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance


Debate #1
Biomass from
Poplar Trees


Energy Links:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

National Renewable Energy Lab

Wind Logics

Garrad Hassan


American Solar Energy Society

United States Council on Green Building (LEED)

National Association of Home Builders

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated General Contractors

The California Institute of Earth
Art & Architecture

Green Building Funding Opportunities

Database of Incentives

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

South Carolina Energy Office

SC Hydrogen

Nuclear Energy Institute

World Resources Institute

International Renewable Energy Alliance

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership

International Network for Sustainable Energy

World Council for Renewable Energy

International Renewable Energy Agency

Apollo Alliance

Rocky Mountain Institute

Sierra Club

National Association of Electrical Distributors

Edison Electric Institute

Electronic Industries Alliance

Int'l Council on Mining and Metals

Mineral Information Institute

American Institute of Architects

Pellet Fuels Institute

Link to
Government Sites:

White House

Supreme Court

State Dept.

WH Office on Management and Budget

WH Council of Economic Advisers



Dept. of Agriculture



National Solar Thermal Test Facility

Sandia National Laboratories

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility



Links to Science Organizations:

Union of Concerned Scientists

Federation of American Scientists

The Planetary Society

US Maritime Alliance

Standards Engineering Society

National Fisheries Institute

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology

American Chemical Society

Chemical & Engineering News

International Congress of Radiology

American Society for Cell Biology

Institution of Engineering and Technology

Science Initiative Group

California Council on Science and Technology

American Polar Society

Links to Governmental and Business Groups:

World Planners Congress

Int'l Intellectual Property Alliance

US Chamber of Commerce

Environmental Working Group

Foreign Policy Group

Southern United States Trade Association

Washington Research Group (Guggenheim Partners)

Nat'l Conf.
of State Legislators

Nat'l Association of Government Contractors

Investment Company Institute

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

American National Standards Institute

Urban Land Institute

Independent Business Alliance

American Independent Business Alliance

Link to Media Sites:

National Geographic

Mother Earth News

Solar Today Magazine

Farming Magazine

1 Sky

Charlie Rose

Nightly News with Brian Williams

Washington Post

Meet the Press

Jim Lehrer NewsHour

60 Minutes





"The adoption of a holistic worldview globally may represent humanity's greatest chance for a promising future to be shared by all." yasha husain








By Yasha Husain, posted May 14, 2009

Debate #2: Green Energy in the American Southeast

Photovoltaic installion in field
1.45 MW thin film solar park in field
Photo Courtesy of Beck Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Biomass and bioenergy
Bioenergy and biomass
Photo Courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Nate Blair, Senior Analyst/Group Manager at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado

Input from Nate Blair, a Senior Analyst/Group Manager at NREL, is regarding which renewable energy sources look most likely to be tapped in the southeast in the coming years. His emailed response was sent on April 20th:

The southeastern states have a set of renewable resources that are less obvious than the southwestern US (strong solar) or the Midwest (wind dominates). However, with New Jersey being the 2nd largest builder of solar PV systems in the country (after CA) but minimal solar resource, the southeastern states shouldn’t dismiss renewables due to their resource levels. Obviously, one can make either wind or PV work in the southeast but it’s just more costly because the resource might not be as good.

My expectation would be that the dominant renewable resource for electricity would be biomass power (with carbon capture added eventually). Second, I would expect PV systems to be a significant contributor in the southeast. CSP is a more difficult proposition because CSP can only use “direct radiation” or “DNI” and not “diffuse radiation” which PV can use. If you look at a map of DNI in the U.S. (
), you can see that it decreases significantly as you leave the southwestern U.S. The resource that PV can use doesn’t change as significantly (percentage-wise) as CSP (see

Having said that, FPL (Florida Power & Light Company) Energy is building a CSP plant in Florida at a demonstration level so there are opportunities.

However, the biomass resource is significantly better in the southeast so, holding everything else equal, the probability of biopower being generated in the southeast is probably the highest.

Offshore wind holds promise in the southeast but the threat of hurricanes remain an unknown for the future of that technology. Wave power could also be a possibility but that is still an emerging technology and relatively unknown for performance and the resource is not well-characterized.

For the idea of a hybrid plant, in the near-term, a mix of natural gas and coal will be used to moderate the grid-impacts of renewables. In the long-run, electricity storage and load-management can be used to moderate these as well.

Finally, the best and most important thing to do in the southeast is energy efficiency. Improved insulation, high-efficiency air-conditioning, solar water heating, high-efficiency appliances, more stringent building codes (requiring greater insulation, pre-wiring and pre-plumbing for solar, 2 or 3 pane windows, etc.) is probably going to help significantly.

As for studies, you could look at the 20% wind by 2030 report at  NREL will shortly be releasing studies of the various RPS cases. Watch the website for our forecasting tool REEDS ( for more information.

I requested a follow-up phone interview, or to receive additional answers in writing, from Nate Blair, mainly regarding non-utility scale CSP plants and up and coming concentrated photovoltaic systems (CPVs), like Zenith Solar's, which can apparently deliver up to 75 percent efficiency in terms of its ability to harness energy from sunlight, but I have yet to hear anything more. I am of course thankful for the written response received.


Robert Leitner, Director of South Carolina's Institute for Energy Studies at Clemson University

Jeffrey Nelson, Manager, Concentrating Solar Power Systems, Sandia National Laboratories

Fred Humes, Director of the Education, Training and Research Center at ARC: Hydrogen in Aiken, South Carolina

Todd Stone, Director of Marketing, 3TIER, Global Renewable Energy Assessment and Forecasting

Erika Hartwig Myers, Renewable Energy Coordinator for the South Carolina Energy Office

Chris Daetwyler, Staff Specialist, South Carolina Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Alliance


Topics featured in this debate:

Offshore Wind

Concentrated Solar

Hydrogen from Solar Electrolysis


Debate #2: Comments

Received May 17, 2009 9:10 p.m.

James Hansen, "Hydrogen is not an energy source -- and not an effective energy carrier -- don't bet anything on it."

Hansen is Director: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Hansen's comments were the first to be posted for Debate #2; to view more comments, please link to the page, Debate #2: Comments



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