The Viridian Design Movement

From: Bruce Sterling []

Sent: Wednesday, March 05, 2003 9:28 PM

Subject: Viridian Note 00363: SXSW Interactive

Key concepts
Viridian parties, wind power, good industrial news, embarrassments for the wicked
Attention Conservation Notice
Involves free beer! You're invited!


It's SXSW Interactive again, and, as is our wont, we are having a Viridian SXSW Open House Party. It's Tuesday evening March 11, starting, oh, 7:45PM or so. You can bring anything you can carry and anybody you trust.

If you've never been here before, email me and I'll send you directions to the Viridian Vatican here in Austin.

Ever felt even a little bit guilty that you get tons of cool, hip Viridian email, yet you never have to pay anything at all? Well, go give Eileen Gunn one lousy dollar right now, so that she can wing some kind of arts grant and then pay me to continue my Infinite Matrix weblog.

(((Ned Leonard of "Greening Earth Society" is a notorious Beltway black-propaganda hack who is paid by coal companies to deny the Greenhouse Effect. Ned is a longtime Viridian bete noire.

(((Now check this out: due to climate change, Ned got snagged in the recent Washington snowfalls and his Webmaster caught pneumonia. Ned spins this mishap with the childish canard that Washington freezing means there can't be any such thing as "global warming." I do notice new undercurrents of confusion and fear here that Ned's brazen lies normally lack. Maybe the next big storm in DC will destroy Ned's office instead of just delaying his emails.)))

Greening Earth Society


"February 24, 2003 Vol. 4, No. 4

"Snowfall in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area has a pretty dramatic impact, triggering office and school closings, total disruption of commuter traffic by road and by Metrobus and rail, and closing the areas three airports (Dulles, Reagan/National and BWI). That, plus our Webmaster contracting pneumonia and my travels caused a delay in posting our latest Virtual Climate Alert. We apologize that it is a bit less timely than originally anticipated, but it remains an important insight to environmentalists' claims that the snowfalls along the Eastern Seaboard during the last two weeks have been triggered by global warming."

(((Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the government has the elementary good sense to tax carbon emissions and build windmills with that money. If we Americans were to do this in the USA, Ned Leonard's evil sponsors would go broke in short order, but nobody else would much notice.)))


"NZ govt to back wind farms with carbon credits "NEW ZEALAND: March 5, 2003

"WELLINGTON == The New Zealand government said yesterday it will support the development of two proposed wind farms by giving them Kyoto Protocol climate change credits for the clean energy they will produce.

"The two wind farm projects == a 36 megawatt (MW) extension of TrustPower's (TPW.NZ) Tararua wind farm and a 40-80 MW project proposed by state-owned Meridian Energy == will be allocated Kyoto Protocol 'carbon credits'.

"'Electricity from these wind farms would avoid some gas or coal-fired generation, with its associated greenhouse gas emissions,' Energy Minister Pete Hodgson said.

"'That is clearly in New Zealand's interests but the initial costs mean that the wind farms would probably not proceed without the credits the government is offering.'

"New Zealand ratified the Kyoto accord on global warming last December."

(((By now, for most countries on earth, it's become a delight to ratify the Kyoto Accord merely in order to irritate the United States of America, that Viper Among Nations, Threat to World Peace, Bane of the UN Security Council, that Gunslinging Atomic Bully, Rogue State, Oil- Grabbing Imperialist Hyperpower Hegemon, a Regime Cursed by Pope and Ayatollah Alike, etc etc etc etc.)))


"New Zealand generates around 63 percent of its electricity needs from hydro power stations, with gas providing around 22 percent, geothermal around seven percent and coal about four percent. (((Get rid of the coal, Kiwis.)))

"Under the deal, promissory notes for Kyoto Protocol emission units will be allocated to the power companies depending on the final amount of generation from the wind farms."

(((In local Austin news, the benighted hyperpower Imperialist Texans, driving SUV's while bloated with hamburgers, are humbly planning to build some homeless shelters out of old phonebooks.)))

Source: Austin EcoNetworks, David Farris

[AustinEcoNetwork] stackwall demo structure

"David Farris <straw_works*>"
Tue Mar 04, 2003 12:29:45 AM US/Central

Reply-To: AustinEcoNetwork*

"Hello all, I am David Farris. I recently co-invented with my 5 yr old son, a new way of building homes for the homeless and other citizens using recycled telephone books. This endeavor is fueled by my desire to lessen waste in landfills across the world and to house the homeless in a sustainable manner.

"SBC, and Leadership Austin is assisting me in establishing the avenues and volunteer base to collect and build housing with this coming- December's estimated 1.4 million Austin phone books. That's enough to build 275 1500-square-foot, 4 bedroom, 2 bath homes, or enough co-housing capacity to house 2,700 homeless/displaced persons.

"I have an individual offering to have the first-ever stackwall structure built on her property just south of east St. Elmo Road in south Austin. The storage shed/barn is around 600 square feet. Those interested in lending their support, expertise or funding to this work-in- progress can call me directly at 512-407-8874 or thru this email stackwallproject*"

"thank-you, David Farris

"To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:"

(((Meanwhile, in rather more conventional business affairs, Enron's windpower has been bought by General Electric, who are guys who, unlike Enron, actually manufacture products. Business Week approves.)))

Source: Business Week, By Adam Aston in New York

"MARCH 3, 2003


"A Strong Tailwind for Wind Power

"GE's entry == and buy-green laws == have the industry racing ahead

"In May, 2001, General Electric Co. (GE ) scooped the assets of Enron Corp.'s wind-power division out of bankruptcy for $285 million. Skeptics wondered why GE was bothering with such small fry. Its own $23 billion Power System Div. was a global leader in heavy power equipment. The wind business as a whole, worth just $6 billion in revenues worldwide, was too small to really matter on the global-energy scene. And even if it did, Enron Wind ranked fourth in an industry dominated by European companies."

(((And besides, it's merely a matter of stark human survival.)))

"Nearly two years later, it's clear that GE grabbed a cheap ticket into the fastest-growing game in the power business. Global wind capacity has nearly quadrupled in the past five years. Better technology has brought prices down. And wind power has also benefited from a growing body of local and national buy-green laws.

"Now, the industry should get a big boost as GE brings its century-long experience in turbine technology to bear. 'The wind business,' says Steven Zwolinski, president of GE Wind Energy, 'combines a variety of technologies that GE excels at.'

"Technology has played a key role in this virtuous cycle. Windmill blades have gotten bigger and more efficient, as have turbines, which convert the mechanical motion into electricity. Just two years ago, 750-kilowatt turbines dominated the market. Today, GEWE's best-selling model has twice that capacity. And while first-generation turbines in the 1980s were famously unreliable, 'now, they're up 95% of the time or more,' explains Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Assn.

A delightful bunch of people. Buy the T-shirts.

"This means that new, well-sited wind towers (((yay!))) can compete with coal- or gas-fired plants, (((booooooooh!)))) charging 3 cents to 6 cents per kilowatt hour, versus around 4 cents for coal or gas. So utilities and power developers are starting to see wind as a cost-effective way to diversify their mix of fuel options and not just a way to burnish a green image.

"'The main driver has been cost. The price [of wind] has come down by 80 percent over the past 20 years,' says Lew Hey, chairman and CEO of FPL Group Inc. (FPL) The Juno Beach (Fla.) utility == a GEWE customer == has added more than 2,000 megawatts of wind capacity to its portfolio of gas, coal, biomass, hydro, nuclear, and solar plants.

(((NO WAR FOR WIND, BIOMASS, HYDRO AND SOLAR! Hey wait, that slogan doesn't even fit on the placard here.)))

"Sweeteners in the form of local and federal wind-tax credits are part of the allure. In 1992, for example, President George H. W. Bush (((of beloved memory))) unveiled a set of federal production-tax credits, or PTCs, which now give wind-plant operators a 1.8 cents credit for each kilowatt hour they sell. The PTCs aren't ideal, as they are only useful to companies such as utilities that earn steady income. But they're a step up from earlier investment-based credits, which gave wind producers little incentive to maintain wind facilities after taking the initial credit."

The Texas Renewable Energy Industries Assoc. has jazzed-up its website.

"The current PTC is set to expire at the end of 2003. Still, industry execs say that support for wind is greater now than on the past two occasions the credit was renewed. 'The industry's at a point where it could probably get by without [the PTC],' says Edwin F. Feo, a lawyer specializing in energy finance at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.

(((The occasional bank-crushing oil-price spike may have its own effect, too. Seen those pump prices lately? Wow!)))

"Thanks to the rise of green-energy quotas, GEWE and the wind biz may prosper either way. Concerned about global warming (((no such thing))) and U.S. dependence on imported oil, (((utterly harmless, a mere myth))) more than a dozen states have established so-called renewable- portfolio standards that require power producers to phase in locally generated renewable sources. California, for example, calls for 20% by 2017; Texas producers are ahead of schedule to produce 3% green by 2009; (((I can hear those New Zealanders laughing from here, but c'mon, three percent is a lot))) and in New York, the governor just set the bar at 25% within 10 years. (((Not to mention Tony Blair's recent very interesting screed on the blatant national-security menace of climate change.))) Link:

"A similar set of national quotas == a 10% green-power minimum for all 50 states by 2020 == was approved by the Senate last year, and is bound to get more attention.

"Accounting for just 0.25% of U.S. power output, wind may still look like a long shot. But developments in Europe give the industry hope. There, high fossil-fuel costs and a steadier commitment to wind power have pumped up wind loads to over 20% of power generation in Denmark and Spain. AWEA expects the U.S. to achieve 6% wind by 2020 or sooner just by letting current growth trends continue. (((Maybe they'll forge ahead with green power just to spite the Americans. After all, that sure beats trying to defeat their Air Force.)))

"For many states, wind may be the only cost-effective option. Most state-level renewable quotas demand that the green energy be produced locally. For all but a handful of hydropower-rich states, wind is the cheapest, most flexible, and most abundant option. The cost of power from photovoltaic cells, for example, is five to six times that of wind, though prices for solar have been falling. Biomass and geothermal remain too small to compete for now. And with dams coming under environmental scrutiny, hydropower output is likely to decline." (((That's pretty much the energy story, all right == but you know, it's hard, but it's not impossible. In fact, it's simpler than endless warfare and vast deficits.)))

"GE's arrival on the scene could add a lot of momentum. Zwolinski, who also served in GE's medical and power-systems units, talks about turning GEWE into a $1 billion operation by applying the conglomerate's diverse industrial expertise. GE's aerospace engineers can work on the shape of the blades. Generators are a specialty of GE Power Systems. The drive shaft, gearing, and control systems are all staples of GE's industrial controls and power operations. Add in Six Sigma tools that GE itself perfected, and Zwolinski thinks the company could bring the price of wind power down by an additional 20% or so.

"Already, GE has unveiled the world's largest commercial wind turbine. At 3.6 megawatts, it has more than twice the capacity of today's standard 1.5-megawatt models. (((They're AMERICAN-sized wind turbines! SUV- sized! Double cheeseburger with bacon!))) Zwolinski is also focusing on service and maintenance, applying remote diagnostics and other technologies GE pioneered in its medical-systems operations to predict when maintenance is due. (((And they're wired and digital!))))

"'GE'S entry really changes the game. And it means a healthier, more competitive industry,' says Terry F. Hudgens, CEO of PPM Energy Inc., which recently installed GE turbines in a Minnesota wind park.

"Such customer confidence is a plus. But GE still faces some significant obstacles. In its key U.S. market, uncertainty over the timing of the PTC renewal is causing some developers to delay big deals. And while wind is plentiful, it often blows the hardest where nobody needs it. So until federal rules are revised, it may be costly for new wind projects to get connected to the grid. And once these issues are resolved, wind's price will have to keep falling. After all, notes Zwolinski, wind businesses can only flourish if they deliver power at a price that won't punish customers for going green." (((Punish them for going brown, stupid.)))

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