At the company's annual shareholder meeting, however, a conservative think tank called the National Center for Public Policy Research which holds Apple shares criticised this move and asked the company to pledge that it would not continue environmental initiatives that don't increase profits.
"We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards," wrote NCPPR general counsel Justin Danhof in a statement before the meeting. "This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender."
Cook's immediate response was to point out that the company's environmental efforts make full economic sense, but he also added: "We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it." If anyone disagreed with that approach, Cook said, they should "get out of the stock".
The general idea behind a microgrid is this: When power is lost across an entire area’s electric grid, some public services and critical private businesses could be linked with their own self-contained and separate electric grid, powered by electricity generated on-site or nearby. This small electricity network would operate independently from the main grid, and could incorporate a natural gas generator, a combined heat and power system, or renewables, including solar panels and wind turbines.
When the traditional power grid is down, a self-contained microgrid creates an effect called “islanding” — a network of buildings with their own power lines and source of electricity are an island in a larger area stricken by a power outage.
The idea of microgrids is catching on all over the world, particularly in the U.S., where more than 260 projects are either planned or operational, said Rick Martin, spokesman for Navigant Research, which released a study in May showing that there are 480 microgrid projects running or in the works worldwide.
The concept is both about becoming less vulnerable to storms and other power disruptions, and reducing a city’s impact on a changing climate.
“There are two kinds of aspects to a role of microgrids in the context of climate change — mitigation and reducing the emissions that are driving climate change, and then adaptation and resiliency (in the face of major storms),” said Jackson D. Morris, director of strategic engagement at the Pace Energy and Climate Center in White Plains, N.Y.
“By having your generation or a large portion of your generation to meet your load on-site, there are significant benefits,” he said. “You have some solar, small wind resources — those are zero emissions. Combined heat and power systems, those can reach efficiency levels of up to 70 or 80 percent, as opposed to the most efficient centralized power plants that are half that.”
Another benefit of a microgrid is that it mitigates “line loss,” — electricity lost in transmission along power lines — which is sometimes as high as 20 percent of the power generated when people are using the most electricity, Morris said.
“All of those megawatt hours that aren’t getting from the power plant to customers have emissions attributed to them,” he said. “There is a very real role in wide-scale deployment of microgrids in an overall emissions strategy for the grid.”
The Columbia microgrid report link doesn't work - you can get it here. (pdf) recommended if you're interested in the subject.
The USGS has built a database of over 47,000 wind turbines in the US along with a web-based mapping application. The interface is a bit clunky, but the information is fascinating and the data is publically available. Note the interface uses Flash.
They also have a short tutorial for the application.
Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. Natural gas is essentially methane - excessive leakage can erase the lower carbon emissions of natural gas over petroleum or coal. Methane escapes during natural gas mining,transportation, processing and storage - the question is how much. The traditional guess - and it is only a guess - is about 1.5% in the US.
In the past few years there have been spot checks showing much larger methane releases - some so large to make the natural gas used from those sources worse than burning coal. The Washington Post notes a new larger study suggests a figure about 50% higher than the traditional guess..
This would make burning natural gas about as bad as gasoline, but still better than coal. The good news is much of it may be coming from a few bad players as well as points in the infrastructure that can be fixed. Hopefully there will be strong rules or legislation to find and fix leak points.
The Vestas V164-8.0-MW is currently the largest wind turbine in the world. The power you can extract from the wind goes as the swept area of the blades and the cube of wind speed, so big and tall are important.