NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: HOW BIOFUELS CAN BE IMPORTANT NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 30: SOLAR AND UTILITIES SHAPE EACH OTHER; ‘HIDDEN’ WIND COSTS DWARFED BY ‘HIDDEN’ FOSSIL COSTS; GM’S RUN FOR THE 200 MILE CHARGE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: A CHRONICLE OF EXTREME CLIMATE IMPACTS
  • QUICK NEWS, July 29: OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY; NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION; BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014
  • QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 24:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE
  • TTTA Thursday-MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY
  • TTTA Thursday-TESLA CHAMPIONS THE PLUG AND THE CAR
  • -

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Saturday, March 31, 2007

    ELECTRANET!

    Exciting idea. Ties into the Austin, Texas, idea called Plug-In Partners.

    Electranet could see light of day; ‘Smart grid’ technology coming into real world
    Lisa Friedman, March 26, 2007 (Los Angeles Daily News)

    WHO
    Al Gore

    WHAT
    Electranet, a decentralized "smart grid" that would allow anyone to set up their own generator and trade in electricity. Despite resistance from utilities and sluggish state bureaucracies, the groundwork is developing for newly designed distribution grids. California has moved to decouple utility revenues from sales. Customers can now get credit for generating their own solar energy.

    WHEN
    Perhaps as soon as a decade from now, with changes already beginning.

    WHERE
    Developments in California lead the nation.

    WHY
    - Digitalization of the electricity grid is overdue. Such a “smart grid” would eliminate the need for new-generation plants, spark widespread use of renewable energy and, ultimately, beat back global warming.
    - A system that allows your dishwasher or refrigerator to sense changes in the power grid and automatically reduce electricity consumption, or let homeowners see how many kilowatts of electricity they are using at any given minute and adjust their use accordingly is a system that allows greater efficiency and conservation.
    - Flexibility in the grid will allow the development of renewable but potentially inconsistent energies such as solar and wind.

    QUOTES
    - "In the same way the Internet took off and stimulated the information revolution, we could see a revolution all across this country with small-scale generation of electricity everywhere," Gore told a House committee on climate change last week.
    - "What Gore is talking about is not fantasy," said Joe Ramallo, spokesman for the LADWP.

    MUST RECYCLE BULBS

    Remember: recycling is a GOOD THING, despite these attempts to find a "sensational" or "dark" side to the drive to save energy and cut greenhouse gas by expanding the use of the new light bulbs.

    Mercury in energy-saving bulbs worries scientists
    Lisa Von Ahn, March 28, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Consumers, in cooperation with U.S. regulators, manufacturers, scientists and environmentalists. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and IKEA.

    WHAT
    Mercury, a necessary but toxic part of most compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). Commercial recyclers and some municipal waste collection services accept used CFLs, as do some retailers. Advocacy groups are calling on other big chains to participate. Special curbside collections by municipalities, mail-back programs by manufacturers and drop-off programs at various places have also been proposed.

    WHEN
    CFL sales are currently booming. It is estimated 150 million were sold in 2006. Wal-Mart alone expects to sell 100 million in 2007.

    WHERE
    Scientists and environmentalists fear the used bulbs are ending up in garbage dumps.

    WHY
    The average CFL contains 5 to 6 milligrams of mercury. Some are less, between 1.23 and 3 milligrams per bulb. But cumulatively, at waste disposal sites, this represents a risk of toxic contamination. On the other hand, there is a cost of between 20 and 50 cents per bulb involved in recycling.

    QUOTES
    - Larry Chalfan, executive director of the Zero Waste Alliance environmental group, said the value of the metal, glass and mercury reclaimed from recycling fails to offset the cost of the process. "Someone has to pay," he said.
    - But, compared with the overall lifecycle cost of buying and using a bulb, recycling would be less than 1 percent, said Paul Abernathy, executive director of the Association of Lighting & Mercury Recyclers, "a small price to keep the mercury out of the environment."
    - "I have CFLs throughout my house," said Lindberg, who lives in California. "None of them have burned out yet. I can't tell you what I'll do with them when they've burned out, but I won't throw them in the garbage."

    WATCHING MAUNA LOA

    The canary in the coal mine.

    Uptick in carbon dioxide is recorded at Mauna Loa
    Helen Altonn, March 29, 2007 (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

    WHO
    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    WHAT
    - A 50-year record of air measurements…shows a steady increase in carbon dioxide, with faster growth since 2005…
    - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 11,140-foot observatory on Mauna Loa has the longest continuous measurements of atmospheric CO2 in the world…

    WHEN
    - During 800,000 years of history recorded in ice cores, including big ice ages every 100,000 years, carbon dioxide cycled from 180 to 280 parts per million molecules of air…
    - Around 2005, according to NOAA scientists’ readings, atmospheric carbon dioxide went to 380 parts per million…

    WHERE
    - Mauna Loa Observatory, Mauna Loa Peak, Island of Hawaii, state of Hawaii…

    WHY
    The bad news: Increased CO2 is attributable to increases burning of fossel fuels. The good news: Greenhouse gases such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons, controlled by the Montreal Protocol (a 1987 international agreement), have been declining in recent year…

    QUOTES
    - "The de-seasonalized, postindustrial trend in added carbon dioxide has been increasing exponentially, with a doubling time of about 32 years," according to a NOAA report on global CO2 measurements.

    Friday, March 30, 2007

    AUSTIN’S PLUG-IN PROGRAM

    First the Journal acknowledges the genius of plug-in hybrids and Austin's Plug-In Partners program and then they acknowledge the genius of NewEnergyNews. Smart people over there at the Journal.

    In Quest for Cleaner Energy, Texas City Touts Plug-In Car; Mayor’s Unusual Plan Links Wind, Batteries; Pitching Auto Makers
    John J. Fialka, March 26, 2007 (Wall Street Journal)

    WHO
    Austin, Texas, Mayor Will Wynn, Austin Energy deputy manager Roger Duncan and 8000 residents of Austin

    WHAT
    Austin Energy, the city’s award-winning utility company, and Roger Duncan, its charismatic deputy manager, are championing the plug-in hybrid auto as a method of expanding the capacity and economic viability of its wind energy resources. Austin Mayor is now on board with the plan and the city has launched Plug-in Partners, a campaign to commit residents to the purchase of the combination electric/internal combustion engine vehicles as soon as they become available. To date, 8000 Austin residents have committed to do so.

    WHEN
    - The idea of tapping the electricity stored in car batteries—called vehicle-to-grid power, or V2G—originated with electrical engineer Willett Kempton in the late 1990s.
    Optimistic forecasts are for plug-in hybrid vehicles to be widely available within 3 to 5 years, though they are currently available to the ambitious. More information on plug-in hybrid vehicles here.
    For Austin to install the necessary infrastructure to complete the V2G scheme requires more time.

    WHERE
    Austin, Texas

    WHY
    - The effectiveness of renewable energies such as wind and solar is limited by their periodicity: Solar is only available during the day and sometimes the wind does not blow. Because it is not economic to build monstrous batteries, there is no efficient way to store these energies when it is being produced, nor any way to get energy when the sun or wind is unavailable.
    - Plug-in hybrid vehicles can be engineered to download and hold electricity. A city full of them becomes a network of energy storage units, though the city would have to be wired to allow the vehicles to plug in ubiquitously. Because the average vehicle is only driven three hours a day or less, if it is plugged into the network the other 21 hours of the day it can hold energy generated by a utility from sun or wind until it is needed and then give it up to the network grid. On-board computers, working in conjunction with a utility’s centralized controller, can make sure the vehicle retains all the charge in its battery required by the driver.

    QUOTES
    - “ ‘I said to myself, “Wait a minute, this is a big storage system,”’ Dr. Kempton recalls.”
    - “Developing the plug in battery ‘is the biggest show stopper, if you want to call it that,’ says Ahmad Pesaran, a battery expert at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
    - “Auto makers haven’t said when plug-ins will reach market, but Mayor Wynn says Austin’s City Council has already set aside $1 million to fund rebates for the first 1,000 residents to buy plug-ins. The city intends to change building codes to require plugs in municipal parking lots, with Internet connections to Austin Energy. After that, the mayor explains, ‘we’ll be able to start harvesting parking garages.’”

    NEW SEVEN SISTERS ALL NATIONALS

    Posting from the Petroleum History Institute's annual oil history symposium in spectacularly gorgeous downtown Long Beach, CA, this story seemed like an obvious choice.

    The New Seven Sisters: Today’s Most Powerful Energy Companies
    Nicholas Vardy, March 28, 2007 (SeekingAlpha via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    The OLD Seven Sisters: Standard Oil of New Jersey, Royal Dutch Shell , Anglo Persian Oil Company, Standard Oil of New York, Standard Oil of California, Gulf Oil and Texaco; The NEW Seven Sisters: Saudi Aramco , Russia's Gazprom, CNPC of China, NIOC of Iran, Venezuela's PDVSA, Brazil's Petrobras and Petronas of Malaysia.
    As designated by Italian energy magnate Enrico Mattei.

    WHAT
    Today’s titans, a whole new group of key global oil and gas companies selected recently by the Financial Times, are largely state-owned companies from the emerging world. The still extant descendants of the OLD Seven Sisters are ExxonMobil and Chevron in the U.S., England’s BP and Europe’s Royal Dutch Shell. They produce only about 10% of the world's oil and gas and hold just 3% of its reserves.

    WHEN
    The International Energy Agency [IEA] calculates that over the next 40 years, 90% of new energy supplies will come from developing countries.

    WHERE
    These National oil companies are largely from the emerging world and developing countries.

    WHY
    The FT ranked them on the basis of resource base, level of output, company's ambition, scale of their domestic market, and influence in the industry. The New Seven Sisters control about one-third of the world's oil and gas production and reserves.

    QUOTES
    - “With 25% of the world's oil reserves and with nearly triple the capacity of any other group, Saudi Aramco is the world's largest and most sophisticated national oil company.”
    - “The poster child of irresponsible profligacy is President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela who spends two-thirds of PDVSA's profits on his populist social programs. The result? PDVSA's production capacity has fallen from 3.4 to 1.5 million barrels per day since 1999. In Iran, NIOC cannot boost its oil production or fix its refineries because its profits go toward keeping gas at 40 cents per gallon for Iranian consumers.”
    - “The IEA estimates that the world is falling 20% short of making the investment needed to ensure adequate energy supplies for the next 25 years.”

    NEW WIND

    Specialized wind turbine ready for testing
    March 23, 200 (UPI)

    WHO
    Distributed Energy Systems

    WHAT
    Testing of the next generation Northwind turbines, which stand about 150 feet off the ground and generate about 100 kilowatts on average.

    WHEN
    Presently being sent for testing.

    WHERE
    The turbines, designed and built at Northern Power in Barre Town, Vt., will be shipped to Golden, Colo. to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    WHY
    The Northwest turbines are specially designed to accommodate small villages, farms and rural areas that are too remote to be connected to the grid. The new design is smaller and uses less materials so its more cost competitive at between $250,000 and $350,000 per unit. The turbines are used to produce electricity for households as well as to power water treatment facilities.

    QUOTES
    Craig Giles, product manager at Northern, suggested the turbines could be used to offset up to about 50 percent of diesel use in places like the islands off South Korea's shores, or Alaskan villages.

    TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL

    More college students studying clean energy
    Leonard Anderson, March 28, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    U.S. college students, UC Berkeley energy professor Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business professor Christine Rosen

    WHAT
    More American college students are choosing courses on clean energy technologies and environment-related subjects.
    - “The number of Berkeley undergraduates enrolled in introductory energy courses has almost tripled and a new graduate class in solar photovoltaics signed up 70 students, the largest course in recent memory at UC's College of Engineering.”

    WHEN
    According to Professor Kammen, there has been a significant and noticeable enrollment increase in these fields in the last two years.

    WHERE
    UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Middlebury College, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Williams College, Illinois State University, and the University of California at Davis, among many others.

    WHY
    Students see venture capital moving to companies and jobs developing renewable and alternative energies. Projects such as nanotech solar cells and biofuels generated by enzymes and termites win funding. These young people see an opportunity to prosper and do good.

    QUOTES
    - "Students see an opportunity for challenging jobs and a way to do some good for the planet," Dan Kammen, an energy professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said.
    - "The environment is incorporated into every aspect of the world. The program gives you the opportunity to consider environmental consulting or working for alternative energies or corporate social responsibility," [Daniela Salaverry, a Middlebury grad who works on environmental programs in China for San Francisco-based Pacific Environment,] said.

    DIGI-TECH COMER MOVES TO CLEAN TECH

    A hint of which way the winds of commerce are blowing?

    SAP wunderkind Agassi abandons code for clean tech
    Ashlee Vance, March 28, 2007 (The Register)

    WHO
    Shai Agassi

    WHAT
    The man once expected to take over SAP has left the software maker to initiate projects in clean technology.

    WHEN
    His resignation will take effect at the end of the week of March 26-31.

    WHERE
    SAP corporate HQ is in Germany, a world leader in alternative and renewable energies.

    WHY
    Agassi's peers at SAP expect him to form an alternative energy start-up. SAP recently extended the contract of CEO Henning Kagermann. Agassi had expected to be promoted to that position.

    QUOTES
    "I look forward to new opportunities, and working on issues that are important to me, including alternative energy and environmental policy issues, as well as the future of Israel," [Agassi] said.

    Thursday, March 29, 2007

    NEWENERGYNEWS MAKES THE NEWS

    Blog Roll
    Staff, March 28, 2007 (Wall Street Journal)

    WHO
    Thanks to Mark Gongloff of the Journal for notification.

    WHAT
    NewEnergyNews, Listed and Linked in the "Blogs We're Reading" section

    WHEN
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    WHERE
    The Wall Street Journal's On-line Blog Roll column.

    WHY
    Honored to be in the company of the other sites. Honored to be mentioned by the venerable Journal.

    QUOTES
    Will keep working to deserve the recognition.

    UNITED AGAINST NUCLEAR

    These guys make a lot of current world leaders look like nuclear industry shills or cowards.

    Nuclear energy ‘not the solution to global warming’
    March 26, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Environment ministers from Austria, Iceland, Ireland and Norway

    WHAT
    In a joint statement, the four ministers from the non-nuclear countries said the "inherent risks and problems associated with the nuclear energy option remain and it can not therefore claim to be a clean alternative to fossil fuel use."

    WHEN
    The statement was made following a meeting on Monday, March 26, 2007.

    WHERE
    Dublin, Ireland

    WHY
    - Health and environment risks associated with nuclear energy reach beyond borders and governments in countries with nuclear power need to ensure that other countries' concerns are considered.
    - International liability protections for the nuclear industry do not provide full compensation for potential damage and injury and this constitutes a hidden subsidy, according to the ministers.
    - The problem of nuclear waste remains intractable. There is no long-term solution.

    QUOTES
    "…for Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and Austria, we voice serious concern that nuclear energy is being presented as a solution to climate change…It is our collective view that the current debate seeks to downplay the environmental, waste, proliferation, nuclear liability and safety issues and seeks to portray nuclear energy as a clean, safe and problem free response to climate change."
    - "Nuclear waste reprocessing…has long since lost its lustre and today the industry remains economically and environmentally untenable."

    DIVIDED ABOUT NEW ENERGY?

    This article represents the worst kind of journalism, Bill O’Reilly chicanery in print, an attempt to invent a controversy. Its going to take every kind EROEI + energy to move ahead in the 21st century.

    Energy activists snipe at rivals; Technologies vie for Feds funding
    Jeff Nesmith, March 25, 2007 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    WHO
    Advocates and critics of various forms of alternative energy.

    WHAT
    Alternative and renewable energies, contending for research and development grants and funds, comment on one another’s strengths and weaknesses. The article’s author attempts to make it sound controversial.

    WHEN
    On-going debates moving in the direction of enlightenment.

    WHERE
    Nationally and internationally.

    WHY
    Is it true, as the article suggests, that a gain for one technology is a loss for others? No.
    Solar energy is not, as one of the article’s quotes suggests, a “fraud” but it is still in development. Corn ethanol is probably of limited merit but second generation ethanol, called cellulosic, may have value and ethanol from animal waste may be the best kind. Though not perfected, rechargeable batteries for autos, in conjunction with the internal combustion engine, are available now and are the bridge to the future. Hydrogen is a fine fuel but expensive.

    QUOTES
    The future will not be dominated by one fuel but will be the domain of many alternatives.

    JAPAN FOCUSED

    Japan’s energy wisdom
    Renee Loth, March 26, 2007 (The Boston Globe via International Herald Tribune)

    WHO
    Japan government long-term energy planners and 1.8 million Japanese citizens who have pledged to take six steps, such as turning off lights, to meet energy conservation goals.

    WHAT
    Japan's energy consumption as a percentage of gross domestic product is the lowest in the world. Japan has kept energy use down and kept the comforts of an affluent society. Per capita consumption of energy is nearly half that in the United States, but per capita incomes are comparable. Japan's economy is the world’s second largest. Japan has fully internalized the wisdom of restricting energy imports.

    WHEN
    Presently.

    WHERE
    Government campaigns for energy conservation are omnipresent.

    WHY
    - The national expression of concern for the earth dovetails nicely with the traditional Japanese reverence for nature…
    - The Japanese have invented their way out of energy abuse…Toyota and Honda have provided hybrid cars…Four of the world's five largest producers of solar panels are Japanese…
    - Gasoline is taxed…Subways are fast, clean, and relatively inexpensive…Long-distance travel by the Shinkansen bullet train is preferable to flying…

    QUOTES
    - "This is a problem of moral dimensions," said Japan's minister of environment, Masatoshi Wakabayashi. With a green feather in his lapel and a copy of Al Gore's book on his desk, Wakabayashi is a bureaucrat with a cause. "I think we are receiving the message that our mother earth is in crisis," he said. "We have a common consciousness of this fact."
    - There is a growing movement called "watashi no hashi" ("my chopsticks") that urges people to carry their own into restaurants so as to cut down on the waste of the disposable kind.
    - Takayuki Uedo, manager of the New and Renewable Energy Division of Japan's natural resources agency: "We are 20 years ahead of the EU countries."

    ENERGY FUNDS: RATINGS FROM TheStreet

    Ratings: Energy and Natural Resource Funds
    Kevin Baker, March 24, 2007 (TheStreet.com)

    WHO
    Recommendations come from Kevin Baker, senior financial analyst at TheStreet.com

    WHAT
    - Recommended investments: The ProFunds Oil & Gas UltraSector ProFund (largest holdings: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Schlumberger), Todco, Pride International, Gastar Exploration (in Fidelity Select Natural Gas Portfolio), PowerShares Dynamic Energy Exploration & Production Portfolio (containing Alon USA Energy, Western Refining, Rosetta Resources).
    - Loser: Halliburton

    WHEN
    Recommendations made March 24, 2007.

    WHERE
    For charts, click the link.

    WHY
    The globe is warming, energy markets are heating up, gasoline stockpiles are declining, summer driving season is approaching, interest rates may moderate.

    QUOTES
    Human beings may be causing the Earth to warm, but the inconvenient truth is that we are also causing the run-up in energy prices.

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    WINDS OF CONTROVERSY

    "The course of true love never did run smooth." (Shakespeare)

    Turbines fan debate over wind energy; A plan to erect 50 windmills near a national monument spurs an outcry in the Palm Springs area
    Janet Wilson, March 25, 2007 (LA Times)

    WHO
    Supporters and critics of wind energy, politicians, celebrities and locals, and Steve Christensen, owner of the mesa where the windmills would be erected.

    WHAT
    The controversy over a proposal to build about 50 windmills: Supporters say wind provides energy without negatives such as greenhouse gases that make for global warming, while critics say it delivers only a quarter of its promised energy while lethal to wildlife and a blight on the landscape.

    WHEN

    WHERE
    The San Gorgonio Pass, a blustery stretch of desert above the 10 Freeway two hours east of Los Angeles, where many of the world's first power-producing windmills were built, next to Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

    WHY
    - The wind energy industry, born in California, now has projects in 40 states and, in the last two years, $8 billion in investments.
    - San Gorgonio Pass is one of the windiest spots in North America.
    - Development on the squall-scoured mesa is reported to be impossible due to winds that would virtually destroy anything on site.
    - The 3,000 existing turbines produce enough energy to power almost 25,000 homes for a year, said California Energy Commission spokeswoman Amy Morgan. But that is a fraction of their advertised capacity.
    - Critics argue that wind projects subsidized with public funds ($93.8 million in subsidies from California ratepayers) deliver less power than advertised. In 2003, San Gorgonio wind farms claimed 413 megawatts of capacity but generated a quarter of that. (Advocates reference greater potential from newer machines.) Among the negatives are accidents (turbines as big as minivans have caught fire in midair and crashed 200 feet to the earth), breakdowns (broken propeller blades), harm to wildlife ( hawks, eagles and songbirds have been ground up by turbines at other sites), objectionable noise and light (a ceaseless high-pitched whine from windmills and bright, revolving night lights) and loss of recreational lands.
    - Claude Kirby, a real estate agent for the Palm Springs office of the Bureau of Land Management, said he is proud of the leases he has for 1,224 turbines on 3,589 acres, netting the public annual rent of $640,610, adding, "I'd rather see wind turbines than black smoke from a coal plant."

    QUOTES
    - …rich liberals are all for alternative power providing it doesn't mar their views.
    - "They're going to take a national monument … and turn it into an industrial slum," [homeowner Les] Starks shouted, his voice nearly drowned by blustery gusts as he eyed the stark mountain front soaring above Palm Springs…"They want to bulldoze that mesa, put in these enormous wind turbines … and make lots and lots of money."
    - "We've got windmills to the north of us, windmills to the east and west of us, windmills everywhere but to the south," [windmill installation landowner Steve Christensen] said. "Why are they picking us out?"
    - "You can build wind facilities in bad places," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, a fan of wind energy who contends that a national monument is an inappropriate setting.

    PEAK OILER BOOSTS COAL

    The energy nobody likes to talk about.

    Sunrise In Coal Fields; Coal’s Role In A Peak Oil Field
    Matthew Simmons, March 3, 2007 (slide show via 321energy.com)

    WHO

    WHAT

    WHEN

    WHERE

    WHY

    QUOTES

    PROOF OF FUSION

    Fusion: Superenergy or eternally elusive? Maybe a congressional subcommittee will find out. For the non-scientist, just remember there is a difference between fission and fusion.

    Congress Asks Purdue for Fusion Claim Findings
    Kenneth Chang, March 23, 2007 (NY Times)

    WHO
    The Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Science and Technology Committee; Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke; Purdue scientist Rusi P. Taleyarkhan

    WHAT
    The congressional subcommittee is investigating claims of the university’s scientist to have generated nuclear fusion in a desktop experiment. Nuclear fusion, explained in detail here, is the coming together of atomic nuclei to propagate the release of energy, as is done by the sun when it releases heat and light. Extensive research has so far failed to do what Taleyarkhan claims, which is to have used sound waves to generate temperatures hot enough for hydrogen atoms to meld and release energy.

    WHEN
    Taleyarkhan began publishing the work in 2002.

    WHERE

    WHY
    Extensive government funding has been expended attempting to validate the possibility of fusion. Published U.C.L.A. research argues that what Dr. Taleyarkhan took as evidence of fusion consisted of emissions from a piece of californium, a radioactive element stored in Dr. Taleyarkhan’s laboratory. A LeTourneau University researcher claims to have reproduced Dr. Taleyarkhan’s findings using the Purdue lab and equipment.

    QUOTES
    “There’s enough in published reports and in talk in the scientific community to raise questions,” said Representative Brad Miller, the North Carolina Democrat who is chairman of the subcommittee…In view of the billions of dollars the government spends on scientific research, Mr. Miller said, “we need to know we are getting valid sound research and not research that is being manipulated.”

    PRES. BUSH PLUGS IN!

    Astonishing for USA Today to run a story with a picture of the President at a plug-in vehicle’s socket yet a headline about “flex-fuel”? No, the story comes from DETROIT.

    Bush, automakers pump ‘flex-fuel’
    Justin Hyde, March 26, 2007 (Detroit Free Press via USA Today)

    WHO
    CEOs of General Motors, Ford Motor, the Chrysler Group, President Bush

    WHAT
    A 45-minute meeting in which Bush reiterated support for using more ethanol and other renewable fuels. After the meeting, the CEOs showed off alternative-fuel models: Ford's Edge HySeries hydrogen plug-in hybrid concept, an E85-capable Chevrolet Impala and a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee fueled with 5% biodiesel, a mix of 95% petroleum-based diesel and 5% diesel made without petroleum. (Ford has no plans to manufacture the Edge HySeries but hopes to use a similar drivetrain in some other vehicle in the future.)

    WHEN
    - The CEOs told the president that half the vehicles they manufacture will be compatible with E85 fuel, a blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol, by 2012.

    WHERE
    The meeting took place at the White House and was followed by photo-ops at a display of alternative fuel vehicles on the White House driveway.

    WHY
    - The president's 20 in 10 plan would cut U.S. gasoline consumption 20% in 10 years by using more non-petroleum fuels such as ethanol, and boosting fuel economy standards.
    - Ethanol has less energy than gasoline, so vehicles get worse fuel economy running on E85. Federal fuel-economy regulations give automakers extra mileage credit for ethanol-compatible vehicles, called flexible-fuel vehicles, to help balance that.

    QUOTES
    - Joan Claybrook, head of Public Citizen, says, "Automakers fool consumers into thinking they are helping the environment and lessening our dependency on foreign oil, while they manipulate the (fuel economy) loophole, avoid meeting federal fuel economy standards and laugh their way to the bank."
    - "We are absolutely on the edge of being able to move into a new era with flex-fuel, a lot of developments in batteries and hybrids," said GM CEO Rick Wagoner. "We ought to stick with that and play it hard. This is a real opportunity."

    Lots more on alternative fuel vehicles at Green Cars and at Plugs and Cars

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    ARIZONA: SOLAR AMBITIONS

    Always wondered why the Middle East can't be "the Middle East of solar power"...maybe they don't have Arizona's ambition.

    Plugging into solar power
    Larry Copenhaver, March 24, 2007 (The Tuscon Citizen)

    WHO
    Arizona utilities, energy consumers, energy authorities and decision makers.

    WHAT
    The potential of Arizona to become "the Middle East of solar energy" by institution of legislation and financial incentives for the installation of every solar option, from business and residential photovoltaic installations as well as solar heating systems.
    Additionally, the creation of such large scale resources as Arizona Public Service (APS) Co.’s solar energy plant northwest of Tucson, a 14-acre, $6 million plant which will produce 1.3 megawatts (enough to supply 200 to 250 homes) with six rows of parabolic mirrors to track the sun, concentrate sunlight on steel tubes, and heat mineral oil in the tubes to 600 degrees Fahrenheit which heats a second fluid that vaporizes, producing steam to spin an electric turbine. And Tucson Electric Power Co.’s 2.4-megawatt solar facility near its coal-fired plant in Springerville.

    WHEN
    Presently developing. By 2025, APS plans to get up to 15 percent of its power from solar, wind and other renewable sources.

    WHERE
    Across the sun-drenched state of Arizona.

    WHY
    - Arizona is widely touted as the sunniest state in the nation although solar energy accounts for less than 1 percent of its commercial power.
    - "The world is moving toward a place where there will be a tax on pollutants, taxes that get passed onto the customer," [Valerie Rauluk, a member of the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission] said. "We are going to have to pay one way or the other. But by aggressively going heavily into solar energy, we are providing a hedge against those rising prices of the future."

    QUOTES
    - For Arizona to go solar, government incentives would be necessary, said Colleen Crowninshield, coordinator of the Clean Cities program for Pima County.
    - "The solar-energy industry is ready to do it," said Valerie Rauluk, a member of the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission. "We are just waiting to get those rules in place…One way is with a solar farm and another is to put solar panels on the roofs of large building such as Wal-Marts and Home Depots," Rauluk said. "Such installations would substantially cut fossil-fuel energy consumption and help those customers shave peak power needs."

    KURDS: AMBITIOUS WITH THEIR OIL

    Not waiting for conditions to be right in Iraq? Or not expecting conditions to be right?

    Kurdistan to advance oil sector
    March 23, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    Ashti Hawrami, energy minster of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    WHAT
    The Kurdistan Regional Government has signed contracts to develop the large oil reserves it has and will sign more deals with international oil companies, regardless of the status of Iraq's draft hydrocarbons law.

    WHEN
    5 contracts signed, 10 more to be developed by the end of the year. Best case, the Iraq law will be approved by end of May.

    WHERE
    The semi-autonomous northern Iraq region of Kurdistan.

    WHY
    Iraq's draft hydrocarbons law hasn't been taken up by the Parliament yet, and there are some tough issues still to be addressed which could stall the draft law's approval. If it is, it would detail how international companies could invest in Iraq's 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, the third most in the world. But the security conditions in Iraq would need to be improved before any people or capital is put on the ground in Iraq. Aside from the oil pipeline from Kirkuk, in Iraq's north, to ports in Turkey, which is attacked so much it is offline more than operational, Kurdistan has been relatively free of violence.

    QUOTES
    "We are in discussions with a number of other companies," Hawrami said. "It is more likely that the contractors will come (to Kurdistan) to start with and set up a base to hopefully then invest in the rest of Iraq."

    KENYAN VILLAGE: SOLAR AMBITION NEEDS FUNDING

    There must be a grant for this somewhere!

    Tech students design solar energy system for Kenyan clinic but need funds
    Greg Esposito, March 23, 2007 (Roanoke Times)

    WHO
    A group of Virginia Tech engineering students; Getongoroma, a remote southwestern Kenyan village; Rev. Thorney Kirk, an independent minister; Virginia Tech academic adviser Uri Vandsburger and Virginia Tech graduate student advisor Mark Showalter.

    WHAT
    To make things like taking X-rays and refrigerating vaccines at the Kenyan clinic possible, Virginia Tech engineering students have created a prototype system designed to provide about 24 kilowatt hours of solar energy daily (it needs about 18 kilowatt hours daily to function). Solar panels would absorb sunlight during the day, convert it to electricity, store it in batteries and distribute it through a breaker box and outlets in the clinic walls. The students need about $120,000 to build and ship the equipment to Kenya. Funding requests have been turned down.

    WHEN
    Developing presently.

    WHERE
    Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University; Getongoroma, a remote southwestern Kenyan village

    WHY
    The clinic in Getongoroma is about an hour from the nearest power grid. Its only electricity comes from small solar panels that power a few light bulbs so patients can be treated at night. The Rev. Thorney Kirk, an independent minister, has been coordinating efforts between Tech and the clinic to create more power.

    QUOTES
    "You can look at the numbers and get an idea of what kind of an impact you're going to have," said Garrett Bradley, one of the students who made the trip. "But when you actually see people's faces and talk to people and see the smiles on people's faces, you realize it's real life."

    UNIV OF CALIF: UNETHICAL AMBITIONS?

    New America Foundation Fellow Jennifer Washburn is the author of University, Inc: The Corporate Corruption of American Higher Education

    Big Oil buys Berkeley
    Jennifer Washburn, March 24, 2007 (LA Times)

    WHO
    BP, (British Petroleum), UC Berkeley, in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC administrators and BP executives

    WHAT
    A $500 million, 10 year grant from BP to fund a new multidisciplinary Energy Biosciences Institute, principally for biofuels research.

    “This is shameful. The core mission of Berkeley is education, open knowledge exchange and objective research, not making money or furthering the interests of a private firm.”

    WHEN
    Announced February 1, 2007.

    WHERE

    WHY
    - Cal and other universities are increasingly desperate for research dollars. Cal and the University of Illinois and took the BP money even though it means allowing 50 BP scientists to work with academic scientists on their campuses in private labs where all the research would be proprietary and confidential. BP will influence the selection of the director and other high-level positions and, therefore, have leverage over research agendas and funding allocations to 25 labs across many departments. Unlike other university researchers, the 50 BP scientists will have no obligation to publish their work. The universities must share intellectual property rights and commercial licenses with BP. All this raises questions of intellectual integrity.
    - “Californians need to know that their public university is dedicated to pursuing the best science, not just science that generates profits for BP.”

    QUOTES
    - Robert Reich, former secretary of labor and now a professor of public policy at Berkeley, has warned that — because of its size and commercial scope — the BP alliance could be either "a huge feather in Berkeley's cap or a huge noose around Berkeley's neck."
    - UC President Robert Dynes: "It is my belief," he said, "that we are reinventing the research university in this public-private partnership."
    Washburn: “Five hundred million dollars is a nice chunk of change, but does any amount of money justify "reinventing" UC Berkeley's academic integrity?”

    GERMANY: ANTI-NUCLEAR AMBITIONS

    More power to them.

    Germany can abandon nuclear powers and cut CO2: Greenpeace
    March 22, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Greenpeace Germany's energy expert Andree Boehling.

    WHAT
    Germany could abandon nuclear energy more quickly than planned and still achieve a 40-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions.

    WHEN
    If all nuclear power stations were closed by 2015, instead of the planned date of 2020, Germany could still reduce its CO2 emissions by 40 percent.

    WHERE
    Germany. The plan is a potential model for other EU countries.

    WHY
    - Shutting down the country's nuclear plants would indirectly have a positive effect on emissions by encouraging the energy industry to develop new technology.
    - Germany could achieve the reduction by using renewable energy to generate one fifth of its heating needs and one third of its electricity by 2020.

    QUOTES
    "There can be no more excuses, a 40-percent cut by 2020 is achievable," said Greenpeace Germany's energy expert Andree Boehling.

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    IRAN TAKES HOSTAGES, OIL PRICES UP, NEW ENERGY NEEDED

    Unfortunate circumstance or sordid conspiracy? Either way, we gotta get off oil.

    Iran action drives oil past $62
    Mark Shenk, March 23, 2007 (Houston Chronicle)

    WHO
    Oil traders and consumers, Iranian and British navies.

    WHAT
    Crude oil jumped above $62 a barrel and gasoline prices surged to a seven-month high in New York after Iran seized 15 British naval personnel.

    WHEN
    Hostages were taken Friday, March 23, 2007.

    WHERE
    Prices jumped on the NewYork Merchantile Exchange. The British sailors were taken in the Persian Gulf along the disputed line between Iranian and Iraqi territory.

    WHY
    Increased tension in the Persian Gulf threatens the availability of crude supplies.

    QUOTES
    Tom Bentz, an oil broker with BNP Paribas in New York: "Worries that Iran would take oil off the market because of the nuclear dispute have been pushing prices higher for a while now. We are in a world that can't afford to have any supply taken off the market."

    *