Special Times: ‘The Business of Green’

Not infrequently, The New York Times supplements its regular offerings with a “special section,” a home for special content on special topics or special events-and for the advertisers who want to read about these topics! We will be reviewing these sections in this space.

Today: “The Business of Green.”

The section’s lead story, “Storm Over the Chamber,” concerns turmoil within the Chamber of Commerce. The accompanying photo illustration incorporates a picture of lightning courtesy of Getty Images and a picture of the Chamber of Commerce courtesy of the AP.

The second front-page article catalogues the difficulties of wind and solar energy, like still summer afternoons and passing clouds. In California, for example, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes to meet 33 percent of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources–but this is challenging:

To hit the goal of 33 percent, there will be hours when California must run at about 50 percent renewable energy–mostly wind–to balance out the hours when the wind does not blow. That is hard, because the wind blows best at night, when demand is low, and already there are night hours when the system cannot use all the energy available, because there is so little demand.

The article provides readers with many examples and analogies. The current grid is “like a sheet cake in a flimsy box, which will hold together only as long as it is supported from many points”; “capacity” is an important concept because it describes situations like “stepping out of the shower and turning on the hair dryer without calling the electricity company to ask permission.” One 2003 night in wind-powered Texas, a cold front so exacerbated energy demands that electric clocks in the state began to run a quarter of a percent slow. “Had the slowdown lasted an hour,” the article notes, “Texas would have been nine seconds behind the rest of the world.”

But some purveyors of wind energy are heading out to sea with floating turbines. “Farther offshore,” we learn, “winds are stronger and more consistent, with no surface obstructions to slow the air down.”

On page four, wallside “vertical farms” and eco-conscious surfboard manufacturers show us the fun side of sustainability.

Other articles explore a recession-induced energy surplus (“Can it last? And would that be a good thing?”), companies’ desire for government incentives to act greener, and the “profitable but unglamorous field [of] automating power, gas, and water meters.”

The eight-page section features one quarter-page ad, one junior-page ad, two ninth-page ads, one half-page ad and two full-page ads. Special Times: ‘The Business of Green’