State initiatives

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State and local governments are taking it upon themselves to promote cleaner technologies and stricter environmental standards in their areas, independently of the federal government. The largest of these initiatives is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which brings together 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that have pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 10 per cent by 2010 through a cap-and-trade system. It is hoped that the RGGI initiative will become a model for future federal programs.

Some states are even creating coalitions with international leaders to address the climate challenge. For example, Governor Schwarzenegger of California signed a climate agreement with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair that recognizes the need for 'urgent action' in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement stipulates that the UK and California will work together to address climate change by sharing experiences, finding new solutions and even looking into a possible emissions-trading system (BBC News, 2006).

Texas too is pushing forward in the reduction of carbon emissions. It is actively promoting the development and use of renewable energy technologies, and is becoming a leader in the production of wind power. As of the beginning of 2006, Texas was the second largest generator of wind power in the US (AWEA, 2006), but by the end of the year it is expected to surpass California and become the largest producer in the country (SECO, 2007).

States are also making strides in transforming the transportation sector by encouraging and investing in hydrogen-powered vehicles. Florida, New York, Nevada and Washington DC are working on demonstration projects of this new technology (Birdsong, 2005; Kenworthy, 2005). But no state has gone further than California to incorporate hydrogen fuel cell technology into the transportation sector.

California and hydrogen power

California has always been a trendsetter for the US and the world, and its role in renewable energy production is no exception. California is the US' largest consumer of gasoline, but it has also taken the largest steps to incorporate hydrogen-powered transportation into the economy.

Only six months after taking office, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger established the 'Hydrogen Highway Project', a program to develop the infrastructure for a hydrogen-powered transportation sector. This program's goal is to install roughly 100 hydrogen-fueling stations along the California interstate highway system and develop a fleet of 2000 fuel-cell vehicles by 2010 (CHH, 2004). In addition, a 'significant and increasing' percentage of hydrogen will be produced using renewable energy as the project continues (Birdsong, 2005). By developing both the fuel-cell fleet and the refueling infrastructure simultaneously, California is avoiding the 'chicken-and-egg' problem that has plagued other efforts to begin the transition to a hydrogen economy.

Public/private partnerships, such as the California Fuel Cell Partnership, currently provide input about both vehicle and infrastructure development to the Hydrogen Highway Project. Partnership members include many major domestic and international auto manufacturers, energy and oil companies, and energy and environmental agencies (CAFP, 2005). This collaboration between the automotive industry, energy suppliers and government agencies has already borne fruit: currently there are 22 hydrogen-fueling stations in operation and 143 fuel-cell vehicles in California (CHH, 2004). The encouraging results of this cooperation illustrate that business and environmental goals can be fulfilled simultaneously.

Although it has already made great strides, the California Hydrogen Highway has a long way to go. Some auto manufacturers hope to have hydrogen vehicles ready for widespread commercial use within the next decade, but ultimately the price of hydrogen must become competitive with gasoline before the technology will be widely adopted. An additional important concern will be ensuring that most of the hydrogen is produced from non-carbon energy sources; otherwise greenhouse mitigation benefits will be modest at best.

Nonetheless, California's leadership, in developing the infrastructure for a hydrogen economy, is helping to lower the barriers to entry for this alternative energy. The state's intelligent policy choice to promote cleaner technology will hasten the transition to renewable power and will make California the center of the booming green-energy industry, placing it in an enviable position as a market leader as other states scramble to catch up to its lead.

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Solar Panel Basics

Solar Panel Basics

Global warming is a huge problem which will significantly affect every country in the world. Many people all over the world are trying to do whatever they can to help combat the effects of global warming. One of the ways that people can fight global warming is to reduce their dependence on non-renewable energy sources like oil and petroleum based products.

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