Thursday, March 30, 2006

Quickie News in the AM

Canada lags in renewable fuels
The Conservative election platform includes a promise to require that gasoline and diesel contain at least five per cent renewable fuel by 2010.

That would represent 3.1 billion litres of ethanol and biodiesel a year, more than 12 times what the country produces now.

Oil above $66, world powers discuss Iran
"There's got to be a crunch point over Iran," said Geoff Pyne, an independent oil analyst. "At the end of the day Iran is intent on uranium enrichment and the West won't allow it."

U.S. crude stood at $66.5 0a barrel at 7:00 a.m. EST, up 15 cents. London Brent crude was up 55 cents at $66.10.

Cuba, OLADE to Trade in Energy
Rios Roca is meeting with Cuban Investment and Economic Cooperation Minister, Marta Lomas, and Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia.

He noted the prominence of alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, in danger of exhaustion and with mounting market prices.

Equitex Announces Hydrogen Power, Inc. Plans and Objectives for 2006 and Development of AlumiFuel(TM) Hydrogen Power Prototype
Based on HPI's patented Hydrogen Now(TM) hydrogen generation technology, the company has completed development of a first generation "AlumiFuel(TM)" hydrogen power product. AlumiFuel is a versatile feed fuel designed for use in generators producing high-purity hydrogen (free from CO, CO2 or Sulfur impurities). The AlumiFuel hydrogen generator is integrated with small lightweight fuel cells as an alternative to portable batteries and makes possible a new commercial hydrogen battery that is lighter, runs longer and provides more energy density than traditional batteries. AlumiFuel cartridges are designed to be long running and easily replaced in order to ensure an uninterrupted supply of power.

WIPP site gets EPA recertification
"Together with the LES (uranium enrichment) plant in Hobbs, WIPP is also helping define (southeastern) New Mexico as a center for nuclear expertise -- providing a critical engine for economic development while offering our nation a viable source of alternative energy," he said.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

News on the Sidebar

I added another news feed on my sidebar. They are both from First Sustainable who deals with investors who wish to build an earth friendly portfolio. Also I have been informed that my blog will be a part of the Green Blogosphere news tool. :)

Greenhouse Gas

First off, what are greenhouse gases? According to this link they are:
Greenhouse gases(GHG) are gaseous components of the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect. The major natural greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 36-70% of the greenhouse effect on Earth (not including clouds); carbon dioxide, which causes between 9-26%; and ozone, which causes between 3-7% (note that it is not really possible to assert that such-and-such a gas causes a certain percentage of the greenhouse effect, because the influences of the various gases are not additive. The higher ends of the ranges quoted are for the gas alone; the lower end, for the gas counting overlaps). [1] [2].

Other greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to: methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, and chlorofluorocarbons - see IPCC list of greenhouse gases.

The UK was being attacked from every quarter after announcing that they would not meet their target in cutting back on GHG. They did come up with some ideas though and it has businesses taking most of the heat for that. As this article points out, this will mean an increase in cost to the consumers as the businesses will have the added expense of purchasing permits.

The UK is not alone in facing this dilemna as the output of GHG from Ireland are now around 6 times the amount set as the standards for EU countries. Apparently the increase of transportation is the most to blame.

That is probably why some countries push for high gas mileage. The Bush Administration, thought to be the foe of all good things in some sectors, has finalised the new CAFE mileage standards. Big change this time is that the rule will cover SUVs. The 24mpg fleet average will be slowly phased in over the next few years and is projected to reduce consumption by over 10 billion barrels of oil.

Progress Energy is also backing GHG curbs. Their position became public after a group of shareholders asked what their position was on this matter. The article mentions that power companies produce 40% of the U.S.'s carbon dioxide. They expect to do their part by using cleaner coal technology, switching from oil to natural gas, burning animal waste as fuel, and by looking at the nuclear option.

Seattle announced that they are going to list a bunch of recommendations on how to curb their emissions.
The proposed solutions are multi-faceted in their approach and include increasing bus service, building more bike lanes and parking spaces, and discouraging driving by imposing tolls and higher parking lot taxes. There are recommended zoning changes that would encourage the creation of pedestrian-friendly communities where stores, jobs and homes are close together.

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ANWR May Not Make It Past the House

A bunch of people in the House are opposed to the idea so it is unlikely (but not completey impossible) that ANWR language will not make it into the budget that they draw up. The article does mention that the House is working on a plan to make the U.S. more energy independent.

Article here.
However, a group of two dozen Republican lawmakers in the House have come out against any budget bill with ANWR drilling. A similar position by the group scuttled opening the refuge last year.

Boehner sees problems with getting a budget bill passed this year with language to approve drilling in ANWR.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


SkinWrapz, just signed a deal with Earth Biofuels, Inc. What exactly does SkinWrapz do? Ever see one of those vehicles that was a complete ad all to itself? Locally I have seen a Ford Focus for Coca Cola. Another company uses a PT Cruiser. But how exactly do you do that for a Biofuel company? Probably a few of the contributing products before the process I would think, like soybean plants.

How much longer can the oil market sustain the bubble? Awhile longer it seems. Oil today is nearing $66 a barrel on worries that the U.S. may strike out at Iran soon and the ongoing drama in Nigeria. Oh and do not let us forget that Hurricane season is coming up again.

I love science and technology, just cannot get enough. Strangely though, I tend to agree that in certain areas we may be advancing far faster than society can properly adapt. However, in this case it is just plain neat.

3-D imaging to enable clean energy technologies
Ohio State University researchers have invented a technique to record three-dimensional scans of the gases and solids that mix inside boilers and other industrial processing reactors. Scientists can use the patented technique, called electrical capacitance volume tomography (ECVT), to observe how the density of materials varies inside a reactor. The end result could be better monitoring of reactor systems, including power plants.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006


I think that if Americans ever figure out exactly how much they pay in taxes they would probably revolt right on the spot. On second thought, probably not as that would disrupt television show times for sure.

Motor Fuel Excise Tax Rates

Saturday News


Remember what was thought to be a great U.S. oil supply treasure trove? Actually, it fell and by more than what anyone thought. This means higher prices of course. It is not like we are not going to have more to draw on but the market is so sensitive now that if a person standing near an oil barrel sneezes, the prices climb. How long can the market bear this though?

Meanwhile, the China National Petroleum Corporation increased their net profit 28.4% which translates into $16.61 Billion US. Wonder if Congress is going to investigate?
Well when they are not breaking their term pledge limits and citing elections in Belarus as a reason why.
Shimkus sponsored a House resolution before the trip that called on Lukashenko to hold open elections. As a result, Belarus officials tried to bar him from the country, and when that failed, operatives kept him far away from where ballots were being counted.

"Here's why the production of Southern Illinois coal and energy independence is so important," Shimkus said. "This dictator is in power because Russia sells him crude oil for $45 a barrel, and he turns around and sells it for market price ($63 a barrel). Russia props up a dictator. It keeps us over a barrel and threatens our long-term security."

See that, I made it about oil. ;p


Solar energy continues to make inroads in the US and in the world. But is it efficient enough to justify the cost? Speaking of the world, Singapore just hooked up their first panel to their national energy grid. The article goes on to say:
Right now, the solar panel can only produce enough power for nine HDB households.

Although solar setups are so expensive that most homeowners do not consider them an option, there are ways to bring solar energy into the household. Solar B.C. helps promote smaller systems that can cheaply impact the home such as solar hot water heaters. But how much energy does a convential hot water system use up in the overall monthly bill?
Heating up water for everyday use typically eats up about 30 per cent of a home's total energy bill, so an average homeowner could save about $300 per year by using this type of system - and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as well.

Another telling sign that solar projects may be the future can be seen at the Construction Specifications Institute annual convention. This year there will be quite a bit of time devoted to solar projects and their role in the construction industry.

As this article states, solar power is not just for your home but also for commercial enterprises as well.
One more reason to invest in solar is it’s marketing value your building. In Colorado, people value a clean environment. It stands to reason that if two buildings are in competition for a tenant, (assuming the cost of leasing the two buildings are identical) the one with a solar PV system may likely be chosen over the non-solar building. And in the case of a tenant/buyer who has a strong affinity for renewable energy, the customer may be willing to pay a substantial premium for the solar-equipped building.


Wind power in the US is up and coming as well and not just for Lady Liberty. Arizona is hoping to capture the wind and the possible market that it will bring. Of course Arizona is not known for the amount of moving air and that is a big problem there. Big enough to push the windmills 3,000 feet up in the air.
The problem in Arizona is that the wind is intermittent. So while a large array of tall windmills can generate considerable power at optimum wind speeds, anywhere from 12 to 25 mph, wind cannot replace other sources of energy.

Christine Real de Azua of the American Wind Energy Association said elevation is a key to successful generation here. That is why the plants under consideration are at 3,000 feet or higher.

Wisconsin may not have gone for ethanol but a judge has recently made sure that wind energy stays on the horizon. The big concern is if the wind farm will interfere with Air Force radar and a location that is close to the marsh.

An unscientific survery in Vermont shows that support has increased for wind farms.
In somewhat of a surprise considering the opposition wind power is facing, respondents favored building commercial wind farms 65 percent to 19 percent, with 16 percent unsure. That's an increase from last year, when 60 percent were in favor, Doyle noted.

Canada is also looking to increase how much power they draw from renewable resources.
The NEB said Saskatchewan generates roughly five per cent of its total capacity from wind power since the 150 megawatt (MW) centennial wind power project came on stream in December 2005.

Over the longer term, Saskatchewan aims to have one-third of its energy needs met by renewable energy sources by 2030.


Norwich Looking To Water Power
Norwich Public Utilities already owns 3 hydro-power plants; two are on the Shetucket River. Now a division of Northeast Utilities wants sell several hydro facilities throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, including three near Norwich.

Both the Scotland Dam and the Taftville Dam are on the Shetucket and the Tunnel Dam in Lisbon is on the Quinebaug River.

Qatar, UAE explore water, power deals
QATAR and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will explore the possibilities of making strategic exchanges in the water and power sectors in future. The exchanges would be in the field of information, expertise, scope of privatisation and quality control, a statement issued by Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) pointed out.

New turbines for Jialing river project
Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation has won a contract to equip the Caojie hydro power project in Chonqing province, China.

Underwater hydro power for Bermuda
According to BEL, the proposed underwater generator would provide more than 8% of Bermuda's current electricity demand, but it will not damage sea life, including ocean reefs.

Contract signed for Kamchay plant
Cambodia's Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy has signed an agreement with China's Sinohydro Corporation to develop Kamchay hydroelectric project on a build-operate-transfer basis.


SDG&E Signs Contract to Buy Renewable Geothermal Energy
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today announced that it has purchased 20 megawatts (MW) of geothermal electricity from Esmeralda Truckhaven Geothermal LLC, to begin delivery in 2010.

"This contract is another step in our aggressive efforts to meet our goal of supplying 20 percent of our customers' electricity needs by 2010 with renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power," said Terry Farrelly, vice president of electric and gas procurement for SDG&E.

Shaw Awarded Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contract for a New 60 MW Geothermal Plant in Indonesia
The Shaw Group Inc. (NYSE:SGR) today announced that an Indonesian subsidiary of its Shaw Stone & Webster unit has been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract for a new 60 megawatt geothermal power plant by PT Pertamina. The plant, which will be located in Kamojang, Java, Indonesia, is the first Pertamina independent power project to sell electricity to Indonesia's national electric power utility, PLN. The work will be done in conjunction with PT Rekayasa, a construction company headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is scheduled to be completed in 2008.

OAS Coordinates Eastern Caribbean Geothermal Development Project
According to Mr. Starret Greene, the Director of the OAS Office in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, the project is designed to prepare the market conditions to enable the commercial development of geothermal power in each of the partner countries.

Mr. Greene pointed out that in the case of St. Kitts and Nevis, substantial progress had been made in advancing the project. The Director reported that progress was evidenced during the recently completed pre-feasibility phase, and surface studies showed that the best location in St. Kitts and Nevis for geothermal resources appeared to be in the area of Bath Estate, on Nevis.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clean Energy in the News

We are hear and read a lot about clean energy. We see movies placed in the future where some sort of energy has been tapped and is in wide use. However, exactly what is going on to push for this goal?

Clean energy bill gets a push
The measure, which Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) plans to introduce next month, would provide $50 million in grants nationally over five years to local municipalities that create a clean energy bond act or similar clean energy adoption plans.
Last May, Babylon adopted several clean energy initiatives, including manufacturing of biodiesel fuel, purchasing 10 percent of its overall electricity from wind power through the Long Island Power Authority, and adding solar panels on top of Town Hall and its annex.

Two Texas Regions to Compete for $1 Billion Clean Energy Project
Two Texas regions have been selected to compete to become home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s FutureGen project, a $1 billion public-private initiative to build the world’s first near-zero emissions coal power plant. The proposed sites are located near Jewett in East Texas and Odessa in West Texas.

About 50 countries implement plans on renewable energy development
All the countries of the European Union, 18 states of the USA, 3 provinces of Canada implement actions for renewable energy development, WorldWatch Institute reported. Renewable projects exist not only in industrially developed countries. There are similar projects in Brazil, India, China, Dominican Republic, Mali, Philippines, China, Thailand, and many other countries.

The countries, trying to avoid oil, gas and coal dependence, plan to receive from 5% to 30% of energy from such alternative sources as water, wind, biomass and the sun by 2010. Austria has the most ambitious plans, as the country expects to cover 78% of its energy needs with renewable energy by 2010. Sweden plans to cover 60%, and Latvia – 49.3% accordingly.

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Oil from Shale, Chevron Woes

The United States is oil rich. 1 Trillion barrels. However, our oil has not matured yet and is still oil shale. It would take millions of years before it would be in a state where we could easily draw it out. Companies have been working on speeding that process up but it is expensive and resource intensive. Still the high oil prices have the government and businesses taking another look.

Article Here.

Chevron's Deepest Well Holds Less Oil Than Forecast

Article states that it only has 200 to 500 million barrels in their Knotty Head field.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oil Falls Below $60

Oil Falls Near One-Week Low on Speculation U.S. Supplies Rose
Crude oil for April delivery traded down 45 cents at $59.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:54 a.m. London time. The contract expires today. The more actively traded May contract is down 11 cents to $61.85 a barrel.

And yet the gas just keeps going up around me. I gassed up for $2.39 last week and this week it is $2.61. The current price is just a few cents higher than the end of last week. However, I did have a nice surprise on Weds (when everyone went up to $2.58). I saw a gas station that had Unleaded for 12 cents cheaper than anyone else and it was a Crown station, not some little no name place. I get out and right there on the pump is marked: "This pump may dispense E-10." I will try to snap a pic of it sometime later as I rarely go anywhere near that area.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Sawdust into oil?

Nothing new really, I read my first article on this a few years back. However, Wired ran with the story today so I thought I would put a bit of it here.

Grow Your Own Oil, U.S.
The biomass is converted into bio-oil through a process called pyrolysis, in which the organic scrap materials are finely ground and heated at 400 to 500 degrees Celsius, without oxygen. In just two seconds, about 70 percent of the material vaporizes and is condensed into bio-oil -- a dark liquid resembling espresso that contains more than a hundred organic compounds.

Pyrolysis also produces a gas, which is burned to fuel the process, and carbon-rich soot called "char," which can be burned as fuel, used as a soil fertilizer or processed into charcoal filters or briquettes.

DOE Report: Biomass Oil Analysis: Research Needs and Recommendations {PDF}
Demonstrate and optimize commercial bio-distillate production Bio-distillation research was ranked number one for several reasons. The benefits of producing bio-distillates from using existing infrastructure are significant. Production and distribution costs can be minimized and key political barriers are addressed. Bio-distillates can become a premium additive, where the additional value may offset the higher cost inputs. Biomass oils could displace higher cost
refinery streams. A stand-alone fuel composed of bio-distillates could even be possible. Emission benefits of either the additive or the stand-alone fuel are not known at this time and need to be identified. So long as existing refinery processes are used, global warming benefits are highly likely based on previous diesel and soy biodiesel life cycle analyses. There are a large number of technical issues that need to be resolved before this technology can be commercialized. What level of incentive would be necessary to breakeven with vegetable oil feedstocks? Why types of
logistical issues limit oil displacement, if any? What are the feedstock quality issues? What is the oil displacement potential?

Biomass: Hope and Hype
A recent report by the National Resources Defense Council and researchers at Dartmouth and Princeton projects that by 2050, in part through harvesting both protein and cellulose from corn and switchgrass, existing agricultural land could both supply our food needs and replace gasoline with ethanol.

Unless it's done carefully, however, deriving fuels from biomass could destroy crop lands through erosion, increase air pollution -- and even increase our dependence on fossil fuels. For example, one of the steps in processing biomass, distillation, requires heat. In the short term, inexpensive coal may appear to be a good energy source for this, says John Reilly, associate director for research at MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. But this would cancel out one of the primary benefits of biomass: carbon released by burning biofuels is offset by the carbon captured by growing crops, leading to near-zero total carbon emissions. Using coal for distillation would destroy this balance. In one scenario, Reilly says that "68 percent of the carbon you think you're saving is actually being emitted through other processes." Likewise, using gasoline or diesel to transport biomass from widespread farms and other agricultural facilities to processing centers would change the overall carbon equation.

Other Links:
Thermo-Chemical Conversion of Biomass
Biomass Energy Foundation
The Veggie Van Organization

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Oil falls as US inventories rise

Crude Oil Falls as U.S. Inventories Approach a Seven-Year High
Crude oil fell as U.S. inventories approached a seven-year high, easing concern about supply disruptions in Nigeria and Iraq.

Stockpiles probably rose 2.4 million barrels last week, according to the median of forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. Supplies jumped 4.8 million barrels to 340 million in the week ended March 10, the highest since May 1999, the Energy Department said.

Oil plummets more than $2
Oil prices tumbled $2.35 to $60.42 a barrel on Monday, as investors bailed out just ahead of the switch to the new futures trading contract. The fall in U.S. light, sweet crude for April delivery represented a 3.8 percent slip in price.

The contract, which expires at the end of Tuesday's session, fell 81 cents on Friday, but still ended the week up nearly $3 on concerns about potential supply interruptions.

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Coal in the news and Climate prediction software

Illinois Coal Mining Making Comeback
But St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp. bought the mine and reopened it last August as high oil and natural gas prices, power plant technology and rising demand for cheap power had the energy industry rethinking Illinois' high-sulfur coal.

"It's a godsend," Bill Jarrett, Coulterville's president, says of the mine and its jobs. "We needed it bad."

Climate Prediction Dot Net is the largest experiment to try and produce a forecast of the climate in the 21st century. To do this, we need people around the world to give us time on their computers - time when they have their computers switched on, but are not using them to their full capacity.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

More News

‘Green’ Projects Bring Melaver Southface Honor

Savannah-based real estate developer Melaver Inc.’s commitment to environmental stewardship has earned it the prestigious Argon Award for Success in Sustainability. The company will receive the award from Atlanta environmental nonprofit Southface on Tuesday at the eighth annual Visionary Dinner.

The Argon Award committee, comprised of Southface staff and leaders in the environmental community, chose Melaver to receive the 2006 Argon Award for its outstanding dedication to environmental and quality of life issues.

Oregon's PGE Number One In U.S. For Residential Green Power Sales

PGE's leadership in renewable power dates back to the 1990s when the company agreed to purchase the entire output of Oregon's first major wind farm. In 1999, PGE was one of the first utilities to offer a renewable power product to customers and later became the first utility in the nation to include a fish habitat option. In December of 2005, PGE began purchasing the entire output of the new Klondike II wind farm in Oregon.

Air Force committed to energy-efficient strategies

According to Dr. Sega, the Air Force is also looking at alternative sources of energy, from potential conversion of natural gas or coal to jet fuel, to increased use of renewable energy sources.

In October, the Air Force won a 2005 Green Power Leadership Award for its commitment to green power as the nation's largest purchaser of renewable energy for 2004. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Center for Resource Solutions, the award recognizes organizations whose actions help advance the development of the nation's renewable energy market.

This Green Beer's the Real Deal

Brooklyn Brewery, located on Brewer's Row in Brooklyn, New York, is one of a handful of breweries around the country that uses sustainable energy when producing its beer.

Its choice of method is wind power, which provides 100 percent of the brewery's energy needs, making the 1,658,000 gallons of beer it produces green year-round.

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Nuke leak news

Exelon kept leaks quiet, files show

Recent company disclosures about four tritium spills between 1996 and 2003 at Braidwood Generating Station came only after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency pressured Exelon Nuclear to test for contamination, following prodding from the plant's neighbors.

The disclosures of spills triggered lawsuits last week by the Will County state's attorney, the Illinois attorney general and neighbors of the plant accusing the company of not being forthcoming.

State sues ComEd over tritium leak

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan hit Commonwealth Edison and parent company Exelon Corp. with a lawsuit Thursday, alleging their Braidwood nuclear plant leaked radioactive water into the ground and they failed to report it.

Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow joined in the suit, which seeks $36.5 million in fines and other remedies -- including drinking water for residents of Braidwood and nearby Godley.
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Nuke Plant and in the U.S.!

It has been almost 30 years but now at least one is going to be built by Duke Energy. They think that they have a site now but will not submit plans for another year or two. Even then they still may not build it.

The article also mentioned that Progress Energy is also considering a nuke plant.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Is the U.S. too reluctant when it comes to nuclear power?

Have we gone too far with carbon emissions that the best, immediate solution is building more nuclear plants? It is an interesting question as scientists around the world have started ringing the alarm bells even more loudly than before. There are also a number of scientist who say that things are not that bad and that our evolution to renewable fuels will limit the future impact. Every year we see things change. What was a solid science before is called into question and things we never dreamed were possible are possible after all.

What prompted this was an opinion piece titled `The debate on climate heats up' by John K. Bullard. I agree that current world leaders are not educating the masses when it comes to the issue of the climate. However, is it their job to educate the masses? Not really but that can be debated elsewhere like on a blog devoted to politics and other such things.

Here is a quote from the linked article:
    This isn't just about a wind farm off the Massachusetts coast. This is about many such farms, everywhere we can put them. This is about nuclear power, because the risks from long-term storage of nuclear-fuel rods pales beside the harm caused right now by carbon.

Taking a look around the world one finds an increase of nuclear activity going on. Even though the U.S. stopped providing India with uranium over three decades ago, Russia is now pledging that they will supply the uranium needed to keep the Tarapur nuclear power plants. But will the U.S. block this purchase? If not will this clear the way for the Atomic Parks idea to go forward and, to quote, "add between 20,000 and 40,000 MW of nuclear power generation capacity over the next 10 years or so..."?

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that more nuclear power is needed in order to produce (and maintain) a 20% share in Russia.

A short hop, skip, and a jump away we see that Vietnam is trying to gear up for the nuclear age. Their first big problem is getting people who know what they are doing. The article states that too few students study the subject and those who are in the field are retiring or going abroad.

Closer to home we find Mexico. Not only are they looking at a huge new oil field, they are also looking at expanding their nuclear capability. It is hoped that the new plant will be built by 2020 and meet the ever increasing new demands for energy in the country.

Heading north we finally get back to the United States. Not so cheery news though. Instead there are calls to look over the security of nuclear plants. What kind of security? To thwart airborne (think planes) and waterborne attacks (ummmm...submarines? attacking the U.S.?). Locally the Shearon Harris nuclear facility the outer walls to the plant can survive a direct impact by a 747. As for the waterborne attacks a submarine is a bit much and most of the water is far too shallow for a sub.

How about a small crack team on a rubber boat and carrying explosives? OK they could possibly reach the intake. They will then have to remove the grating that keeps out the marine life. After getting in a bit they would also run into other items such as metal bars. Even if they were to set the charges at that point, the overall damage would be minimal.

Related link:
See Progress Energy's plants and assorted goodies.

So when we are not questioning the security of the plants, they are getting sued. Of course if they (Exelon Nuclear power plant 50 miles southwest of Chicago) would refrain from dropping radioactive tritium all over the place, they may find themselves a bit more loved by the community.

Perhaps the answer to that would be floating nuclear power plants as suggested by Mikhail Kovalchuk, director of the Kurchatov Institute? Oh wait then submarines might end up being a threat.

Of course we love our red tape and passing laws.

Senate bill would require legislative approval for nuke extension
    Operators of the Vermont Yankee would have to get the Legislature's approval before the nuclear power plant could extend its license beyond a scheduled 2012 expiration, if a bill that won preliminary Senate approval Tuesday ultimately passes.
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Oily news of the day

Let me start by posting a link to this blog post that another blogger wrote. Basically it looks like ANWR drilling just got a new lease on life. Call your Congress Critters today to ask them to just say no or yes, depending on your view of this topic.

OMG! We need tons of oil. NOT! Sorry, folks they just wanted to help increase the stock $$$$ for a bit but now they finally admit that we just do not need as much oil as they originally thought.

IEA cuts 2006 oil demand growth forecast UPDATE

The world's energy watchdog said in 2006, world oil demand is projected to grow by 1.49 mln bpd -- down from its previous forecast for growth of 1.78 mln bpd -- as high oil prices dampen demand

However, it said the growth forecast for 2006 "still represents a recovery from growth of 1.02 mln bpd in 2005". In its previous monthly report, the agency estimated 2005 demand growth stood at 1.06 mln bpd

Also the world does not seem to be running out of oil anytime soon. New technologies allow us to recover more from oil wells and also allows us to find what we did not see before. Israel actually found some oil, but it is in an area where spillage could spell a disaster. Now Mexico is getting in on the finds too!

Fox: Deep-water oil find may top Cantarell

The oil find is under 950 meters (3,117 feet) of water and a further 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) underground, Fox said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. The find will be formally announced Tuesday, he said.

Blast from the past (2003): Are We Running Out of Oil?

  • Today’s drilling technology allows the completion of wells up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) deep.

  • The vast petroleum resources of the world’s submerged continental margins are accessible from offshore platforms that allow drilling in water depths to 9,000 feet (2,743 meters).

  • The amount of oil recoverable from a single well has greatly increased because new technologies allow the boring of multiple horizontal shafts from a single vertical shaft.

  • Four-dimensional seismic imaging enables engineers and geologists to see a subsurface petroleum reservoir drain over months to years, allowing them to increase the efficiency of its recovery.

  • New techniques and new technology have increased the efficiency of oil exploration. The success rate for exploratory petroleum wells has increased 50 percent over the past decade, according to energy economist Michael C. Lynch.23

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    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    News about home and abroad

    Really close to home it seems that a number of local energy groups have a problem with the forcasts for future energy demand that Progress Energy and Duke Power have put forth. Normally they just submit the forcasts and plans and there are no hearings associated. While they are not opposed to the hearings, they doubt that the public will be willing to reduce energy consumption.

    The groups leading the charge have no concern over the rising cost to the customers though. Matter of fact, a number of their proposals leads to a direct increase to the consumer. So use less, pay more?

    Now the groups do say that the cost increases will be less than if the customers had to pay for a new power plant.

    NC does have tax credits for people and businesses that invest in renewable energy. You can even sell some of your excess energy to the utilities.

    Article: Groups want promotion of energy sources other than nuclear power

    Oh and the opposition to modern nuclear facilities. I could go on how our plants are not like Chernobyl. Hell they are nothing like the original plants built. I could also take on the film "The China Syndrome" but it would take up way too much space and those who are strongly opposed would not listen anyway. My head does not like brick walls.

    Lighting up Lady Liberty a breeze
    But even its supporters might not reject that description of its latest announcement: the torch on the Statue of Liberty, perhaps the single most famous symbol of the US, is to be lit exclusively by wind power.

    Knowing the luck this administration has had, it would lead to the accidental slaughter of some rare type of migratory bird.

    Energy Secretary To Promote Cooperation on Four-Nation Trip
    U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman will promote greater international cooperation on energy security and related issues on a trip to Russia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Hungary during the week of March 13, the Department of Energy announced.

    "This trip is a historic opportunity to achieve a more secure energy future, a cleaner environment and greater prosperity in Central Asia and Eastern Europe and in our world," Secretary Bodman said in the March 10 announcement.

    Shell is planning on spending $500 million in China. The money would be used to expand their gas operations and also clean energy projects.

    China aims to convert coal into ultra-clean energy resource

    How committed is China to clean energy proposals? Hopefully quite a bit as "China's central government, research institutions and enterprises are pitching in a joint effort to convert the country's rich coal reserves into a clean energy resource by using clean-coal technology."

    The article also stated:
    "According to an ambitious national plan for China's science and technology development published in early February, China will prioritize the development of industrial energy-saving, clean and efficient use, and the multi-product production of coal in the coming 15 years.

    China also plans to develop a technique for sealing up carbon dioxide generated in coal combustion to achieve near-zero emission.

    For the time being, its CCT {clean coal technology} technology is not mature enough to catch up with the world level. China's CCT reserve, however, ranks among the first in the world, according to Sun."

    Jordan joins world race to develop fuel cell power

    AMMAN — A research team from the Centre for Applied Industrial Research (CAIR) successfully tested its first Jordanian-made hydrogen fuel cell last week.

    The technology is not new in the world of energy research, but each country conducting studies on this inexpensive, clean and high-quality energy source treats its work as highly classified — leaving others to go it alone.

    "We have succeeded in producing a Jordan-made fuel cell without any external help or breaking the laws of confidentiality," said team leader Professor Fateh S. Bhinder, who worked to develop the technology called the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell.

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    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Toyota: New Subcompact for 2007

    Toyota has said that the Yaris (which I did a double take on because it looked like Yars, as in Yars' Revenge (which you might not get if you never played Atari 2600 games)). Anyway, this subcompact looks roomy and is boasting 34 mpg city and 40 mpg on the highway. If I were to evenly swap one out for my current vehicle (a 2005 Suzuki Reno, which is a GM-DAT (Daewoo) vehcile) I would save $25 per month at the current rate for unleaded regular gasoline ($2.26/gal today).

    Anyway check out:
    The Press Release {Adobe Acrobat Reader required}
    Toyota Yaris website

    I put together a package with the Yaris liftback which starts at $10,950 for the manual transmission.

    To that I added:
    Color: Meteorite Metallic (silver grey)

    Convenience Package: $630 nets you an AM/FM/CD/MP3 head unit, MP3 mini-jack, rear defroster, 15in steel wheels with cover, rear wiper

    Power Package: $1,290 nets you Power door locks, windows, and mirrors, 60/40 slide/recline/fold flat multi function rear seat

    Additional Options: $650 for Driver and Passenger Side Airbags

    Accessories that I picked out but are not priced. Interior Light Enhancement, Rear Bumper protector, TRD Sport Muffler, TRD Shock Absorber Set/TRD Lowering Spring Set, TRD Quickshifter, TRD Oil Filler Cap, TRD Radiator Cap, TRD Shift Knob

    For my basic setup (minus the above Racing Products)--$13,520

    Of course if you know how to play the game right, you will probably get it for a bit less. These small vehicles with pretty damn good gas mileage are a good way for us to conserve gasoline (and thus some oil) and does not rely on any new infrastructure.

    Wisconsin AG, Investors, Fuel Bills, and Fuel Efficiency

    Just the random news postings of the day.

    Wisconsin Ag Secretary vows to move forward
    “Clearly, we need to be committed to growing our energy supply,” says Nilsestuen, “That’s why the Governor has put high targets for renewables for Wisconsin.” There is a lot of interest in growing the renewables business in the state as well as national interest, like the big push to establish E-85 fueling stations across the country.

    Would-be energy investors need laws on their side
    He explained that venture capitalists’ advantage is they can make one or two transactions to raise the equity required to build a 100-million-gallon, $140 million to $150 million ethanol plant. A group of local investors might need 2,000 to 3,000 transactions.

    Such group efforts are costly and time-consuming, Dorr said, unless “distributed businesses” are allowed under state tax and business structures. An investment vehicle would provide one entity for many local investors.

    Ethanol Increases Consumers' Fuel Bills
    Throughout the country the price of E85 is higher than gasoline even though the corn-based fuel contains only 72% of the energy in a gallon of gasoline.

    So while the heavily promoted alcohol fuel may reduce U.S. demand for oil and pour billions of dollars into U.S. agriculture, it seems E85 will increase motorists' fuel bills significantly as well.

    I found this curious as at the time this was written there were E85 stations below the $2 mark for E85 whereas Unleaded was $2.18 (my area) and $2.29 (WI).

    CFA Finds Wide Variations in Fuel Efficiency (hybrid vehicles)
    "Consumers can save hundreds of dollars a year by simply buying a higher-rated subcompact, SUV or minivan. And our nation can dramatically reduce our dependency on foreign oil at the same time," Gillis added.

    Again, the consumer needs to be educated on what they are buying. See my earlier post, Forget Hybrids for now...".

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    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Idaho, South Africa, GM, Oh My!

    Bill to require Idaho gas to contain ethanol dies in House committee
    A proposed requirement for Idaho service stations to eventually sell gasoline with 10 percent fuel made from corn or straw died in a House committee Wednesday.

    They will study the issue over the coming summer.

    South Africa Company to Build $1 Billion Ethanol Plants
    Construction of the first plant, expected to cost about 700 million rand ($111.4 million) and was due to break ground next month, with a completion date for late 2007.

    The plant, in South Africa's Free State province, will require a further 200 million rand to purchase about 375,000 tonnes of maize yearly for processing into about 473,000 litres of ethanol daily.

    GM Eyes Bigger Ethanol Push in Minnesota
    General Motors Corp said Wednesday it would partner with renewable energy company VeraSun Energy Corp. to boost the number of gas stations in Minnesota where consumers can fill up their vehicles with the alternative fuel ethanol.

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    WI. Says No to Ethanol

    Sen. Plale: Votes “No” on Ethanol Mandate
    “I am relieved that we were finally able to defeat this measure,” said Senator Plale. “I share the view of so many of my constituents that this legislation is simply not in best interests of consumers in the 7th Senate district.”

    No Ethanol Mixed With Gasoline In Wisconsin For Now
    It would have required all regular unleaded gasoline to contain 10% ethanol by October 2007. It was approved in the Assembly and had the support of the governor.

    Before AB15 was shelved, this was out there:

    Better Environmental Solutions: New Study Shows Ethanol Cleans our Air in Wisconsin, Across the Nation

    The report cited Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) data showing that ozone exceedance days decreased 16% since it adopted 10% ethanol (E10) in southeastern Wisconsin in 1994 as part of the reformulated gasoline (RFG) requirements.[1] Before 1994 the average was 630 ozone exceedance days in Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha County monitoring stations. After 1994 when E10 became a part of reformulated gas, exceedances dropped to an average of 539 in the last two reporting years in those stations, a 16% reduction.

    Wisconsin will continue to expand their ethanol productions and 1,000s of pumps across the US will soon offer some type of ethanol blend to consumers. This will continue to drive the movement towards this type of fuel.

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    GE: Reducing the Costs of Hydrogen Production

    According to the article it costs about $8 per kilogram of hydrogen. That is a lot of money for something just around a gallon of gas. GE decided to tackle the issue head on and now the hydrogen economy might become more viable in the near term.

    The equipment used for the electrolysis, the process that seperates the hydrogen and the oxygen gases. This equipment does not need to be connected to a pollution source to function as any outside energy source such as wind or solar power could be used. The equipment that does the electrolysis is made up of a bunch of metal. What GE decided to do was to use plastic. The electrodes will be sprayed with a nickel based coating.

    This makes it cheaper and easier. Hopefully their testing of larger facilities will work.

    Cheap Hydrogen Fuel

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    CNet Links

    Surfed over to CNet and found these today:

    Photos: The many faces of solar power

    Solar industry chases a cheaper kilowatt
    Even as the industry chases a cheaper kilowatt hour, demand for solar PV systems is on the rise from both business and consumers, analysts say. Clean Edge forecasts that the total solar industry is poised to expand from $11.2 billion last year to $51.1 billion in 2015.

    Government subsidies and incentives are an important part of the demand picture, say industry executives and analysts.

    Clean energy market to clean up
    Customer demand is growing as well: For the past several months, solar panel manufacturers have been hampered by a lack of silicon. Political leaders from President Bush to British Prime Minister Tony Blair have also touted alternative energy.

    Several alternative energy fields will benefit from the trend. Revenue from the manufacture and sale of biofuels like ethanol will grow from $15.7 billion now to $52.5 billion by 2015.

    Calif. solar energy plan approved
    Under the 10-year plan, called the "California Solar Initiative," the life of current state subsidizes will be extended to provide a million residents and businesses with rooftop solar panels, or 3,000 megawatts of solar energy, across the state.

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    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    Courts: DoE Violated 1992 Law

    U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that the Department of Energy violated the The Energy Policy Act of 1992 when they failed to set long term goals on alternative energy. The Act was passed in order to increase the U.S.'s use of alternative fuel vehicles.

    Article Link:
    Judge rules Bush administration violated alternative fuel law

    Ethanol in the news

    Ethanol is picking up a lot of steam now. It is difficult to not find articles on the subject.

    Ford is calling on the US to push toward renewable energy sources. No wonder it has been a bit cold here lately.

    Ford VP calls for integrated push toward renewable fuels
    And Ford is rolling out a hybrid ethanol vehicle, which brings together two up and coming technologies.

    A great quote from the article:
    "It is clear the solution to America 's energy challenges will need to come from advances in fuels and vehicle technology. The fact is, without the whole-hearted involvement of the oil industry, we cannot move forward far enough and fast enough," said Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering. "We obviously need key partners like the oil industry to invest in developing and marketing renewable fuels, like E85."

    Of course some countries are feeling the pain since there is an increased demand for ethanol. Brazil is moving towards a huge ethanol economy but the surge in demand has raised prices there. Due to this, there is an expected decrease in sales for flexfuel vehicles. They might only make up 60% of total vehicle sales this year. Link here.

    Meanwhile, Congress critters who do not understand market conditions and fail to see what is ahead for oil companies are moving towards doing some permanent harm to the oil industry. Yes, the oil industry is seeing record profits. However, they are unable to fill their reserves back to where they need to be. Why? Running out of areas where they can pump oil domestically. China is still buying a shit load of oil up and has announced that the country will start their own strategic stockpile of oil. Therefore, these big ass profits are going to go towards finding new areas, updating technology in order to increase the amount of recoverable oil, and stock buy backs. If Congress steps in and changes the rules on them, expect oil prices to soar once the oil reserves (privately owned, not our strategic supply) take a big plunge this winter.

    The end of the article that I linked has the following on Ethanol:

    Tillerson said the U.S. should stop subsidizing ethanol as a gasoline component and let market forces determine whether the grain-based additive is viable. Ethanol, a form of alcohol distilled mostly from corn and sugar, is blended into about a third of U.S. gasoline because its high oxygen content reduces air pollution and improves engine performance.

    Tillerson said refiners would find ethanol unprofitable without the federal subsidy, which amounts to 51 cents this year for each gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline. Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest gasoline producer, uses almost 10 percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S.

    The federal government first introduced ethanol subsidies in 1978. Last year, Congress passed a law requiring the oil industry to almost double ethanol use in gasoline by 2012.

    Indiana is getting another bio-plant. ...would include a $100 million soybean processing plant, an 80 million gallon biodiesel plant and a 100 million gallon ethanol plant.

    Team Ethanol is prepping for the 2006 Indy race year.

    Yay for capitalism! A group of farmers in New Jersey are pooling resources in order to buy a factory in Bridgeton (not too terribly far from my old stomping grounds) and build their own ethanol plant.

    Ford says we need to build more E85 pumping stations. Currently there are around 600 stations that provide ethanol blends and about 170,000 that do not. Just as Congress is about to do harm to the oil industry, they are going to shoot themselves in the foot over this one. Look an infrastructure is needed for ethanol delivery. You (the oil and gas industries) have the ability and, if you jump on at the right moment, have the potential to make some $$$$. We will still need oil and gas for a lot of other applications and other vehicles (not to mention it will take decades for the non ethanol vehicles to go away and they never will completely). Yes, this is going to suck and things will be terrible for a bit but you will find other ways to make money. Or go out of business. yay for capitalism again.

    Now for their side (and an awesome point well made by the oil people):
    A spokesperson for the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for big oil companies, said it costs $200,000 to install an E85 pump and separate underground tank for the fuel.

    That is a large investment for a product that does not have a guaranteed market, the spokesperson said. The API also points out that while most service stations carry a certain brand of gasoline, they are not owned by the oil company that makes it.

    Ill.: Ethanol-plant meeting draws much public input They also questioned how a plant that uses corn to make fuel would affect area wells because it would use 800 gallons of water a minute and, at the same time, release 80 gallons of water into the ground.

    Secretary of ag, administration vying for input into farm bill
    Renewable fuels will play an important role in the next farm bill debate, he said. “With fuel prices at $1.20 a gallon, ethanol made little sense for Texas,” he said. “But at $2 a gallon, it’s a viable enterprise.”

    Investing in Renewable Energy
    This year, thousands of gas stations are expected to start selling the E-85 ethanol blend fuel, meanwhile the popularity of hybrid cars continues to grow.

    Construction Begins On Hawaii's First Ethanol Plant When the state requirement for 10 percent ethanol in gasoline kicks in April 2, it will create an instant demand for about $40 million of ethanol a year.

    Work resumes at RES Turning turkey byproduct, grease, and other assorted nasty items into bio-fuel. And it looks like they might turn a profit. Now if they can just deal with the odor issue. Appel said some of the fuel produced at the plant is used for heating at Fairview Greenhouse in Carthage. He said the plant is working on a fuel mix that can be used by the Carthage Water & Electric Plant.

    Renewable energy at water and electric places? Not a new thing. Solar panels and other assorted sources (even hydrogen) have been used here and there. The trick is to find what will work with today's technologies and tomorrow's as well.

    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Oil prices set Canada ready to dominate market?

    Due to the rising cost of oil the tar sands in Canada are now considered a go and have been included in the lastest estimates. These estimates raised Canada's 4.9 billion barrels of oil to 175 billion barrels of oil. Compare that to Iraqs 112 and Saudi Arabia's 264.

    However, there are some things that can throw a wrench into this. One is the price per barrel of oil. For this year we are likely to see no lower than $50 per barrel. At this price this is still viable. However, when oil starts to drop more steadily, this process will be too expensive. Plus we will not see a ramping up of production over night, it will take several years and to expect oil to remain that high for that long is not reasonable. Grabbing the oil from the sands puts more carbon monoxide out there and remember that Canada signed onto Kyoto. This could have a big impact on the price per barrel of oil coming out of Canada. 20 to 40 cents now is not that big of a deal but what happens several years from now if oil is selling at $30 a barrel? There will come a point where the market will not absorb the additional cost.

    Related links:
    Spearhead delivers oil sands crude to Cushing "Enbridge Inc. delivered the first crude from oil sands in western Canada to Cushing, Okla., through its Spearhead Pipeline on Mar. 2."
    Chevron Buys Oil Sands Leases in Canada "Chevron Corp. said Thursday it plans to develop a giant oil sands project in northern Canada, the latest in a string of investments that is quickly turning the region around Ft. McMurray, Alberta, into one of the world's fastest growing oil-producing regions."
    International rig count rose last month Excludes rigs in Sudan and Iran. Canadian and US rig count up.
    Canada's oil supply could top Saudi Arabia: report Within 10 years. I disagree with their assertion that oil will be, on average, $70 US per barrel this year.
    Canada To Compete In Oil Market
    Canadian Energy

    Forget hybrids for now....

    Hybrids have failed to evolve fast enough. Combine that with the fact that the latest batch of "hrbrid" vehicles can barely make that claim. For a more rapid movement away from imported oil (and no matter what the email said about boycotting certain stations, it all gets mixed together) we should jump behind ethanol. This is a complete turnaround for me as I have advocated against the use of ethanol.

    However, I am not advocating for 100% ethanol fuel. Instead we should move towards a blend. The big push is already on in FlexFuel vehicles and there are already over 5 million of these vehicles out there. Plus many people have no idea that their vehicle can take something other than Regular Unleaded gasoline. Further research into blends has led me to multiple documents that state and demonstrate that all domestically made autos, manufactured after 1986, can take E10 gasoline. That is a gasoline/ethanol mix. Gasoline is 90% and ethanol is 10% (thus the E10 designation). By comparison FlexFuel vehicles can usually take E85 and E90.

    Some states are already mandating a blend use but the laws are waiting for the manufacture of ethanol to catch up. This is something that can be made in every state. Imagine that, municipal gas manufacturing. Hmmm....... Furthermore ethanol can be made even from damaged crops.

    Now I did look up my Suzuki (which is a GM Daewoo vehicle) and it cannot take even E10. Well chances are it can without any problems whatsoever, but GM, Daewoo, and Suzuki do not recommend it for their gasoline vehicles. I am further hampered by the fact that the only ethanol pumps (save for state owned ones) are located only in Charlotte, Shelby, and Statesville.

    Although most of the issues that plagued ethanol in the past have been fixed, you can expect to change the fuel filter just a little more often and realise that you will get fewer miles per gallon. Now that fewer miles per gallon is NORMALLY set off by the fact that the ethanol blends are usually cheaper. One person stated that the E85 in his area is often 30 cents cheaper per gallon. So you will need to have a watchful eye and decide what to put into your car. If E-whatever is the same price as the gasoline you use, go with the gasoline and not the blend. Let's face it, we are not going to put ourselves into the poor house just to piss off some Saudis, Iranians, etc that we have never met.

    The other problem that had plagued ethanol was the energy needed to be expended in order to produce the ethanol. In a modern setup, the amount of energy expended to grow, harvest, manufacture, and deliver the ethanol is roughly half of the energy realised by its use. If the area in which the wood or grain is grown and harvested also use these supplies for other products then that energy used in getting it to us falls just a bit more but no less than 1/3 of the total energy realised.

    Have a bunch of ethanol pumps around you but not anything less than a B20 (biodiesel)? You can purchase conversion kits for your engine so that you can run the E85 gas. However, they are pretty pricey. Instead look for a flexfuel vehicle the next time you need to buy an auto and rest easy knowing that you can fuel up anywhere that you go AND have the option of using less gasoline derived from oil.

    Related links:
    Hybrids, We Never Knew Ya
    Hybrid Center
    Hybrid Vehicles Wikipedia
    Godfather of the Hybrid
    Clean Cities Program: Fuel Blends
    National Ethanol Vehilce Coalition
    NCGA - Ethanol
    E85 Wikipedia
    E10 Wikipedia
    Flexible-Fuel Vehicle Wikipedia
    Live Green, Go Yellow: GM's webpage on their Flexfuel vehicles and how golly gee swell their company is (hey! it is a marketing tool!)
    GM's portal site for their E85 vehicles
    Green Car Congress: Ford Plans New FlexFuel Engine Plant in Philippines
    General Motors Promotes Greater E85 Consumer Awareness, Use
    A dealership blog: Corn-Fueled Chevy
    Car Talk: Small doses of ethanol good for gas
    Colorado News: Committee approves ethanol bill
    Gasoline Gets a Little Corny

    In other, not really that related news, expect the clamor over global warming to increase. Why? Because a new model has now predicted that we are going to be facing some serious solar storms (rise in global temp coincides with the fact that our sun has been really busy lately).

    Other space news: Spacecraft to Slam into the Moon

    The European Space Agency’s (ESA) SMART-1 spacecraft—now circling the Moon—is headed for a planned early September impact with Earth’s celestial neighbor.

    The ESA probe would plow into the lunar surface, giving it a glancing blow as it speeds in at nearly 5,000 miles per hour (2 kilometers per second).

    SMART-1 is Europe’s first robotic lunar mission. The name SMART stands for Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology.

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