Monday, July 31, 2006

Article Link: Citizens Pony Up for Green Energy

The trend is upward elsewhere, too. Utilities in 36 states offer some form of green pricing, and last year 430,000 households bought green power -- up 20 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Energy Department reported.

Besides increasing the amount of clean energy being used, such programs educate consumers about renewable energy sources, said John Kelly, director of research and economics for the American Public Power Association, which represents public utilities.

"There is this continual education effort, so you have a few progressive states and utilities that kind of lead the way," he said.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Alternative Energy Stocks Continue to Decline

In the last few months, shares in the alternative energy sector have declined. In the U.S. it has been a quarter since May. For the rest of the world it is even sharper.

This seems curious since we continually read articles that suggest the entire world is going to move towards at least a small offering of alternative energy resources.

AtaHolding wants to carry out project of alternative energy sources
He said that the project on alternative energy source requires investment of $1.1bn and Azerbaijan enjoys very favorable wind and sun energy.

Bay set to power ahead with alternative energy
THE Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has announced plans to take the lead in providing alternative energy sources in the country by initiating an innovative process to provide renewable energy for residents.

Companies and projects chosen for the R9-billion initiative are Lereko Energy Consortium (wind turbines, solar heating, electricity generation from waste), Thermo-Rec (electricity generation from solid waste), and Enercon India (large-scale wind farm), being a 100% subsidiary of EIL South Africa Power Development (Pty) Ltd.

In this op-ed piece a citizen states his support for alternative energy subsidies if it would actually lead the country to getting off of the huge dependence on foreign oil. Of course we have oil we could tap, but have not. However, Cuba has now started up operations just 60 miles off of our coast. We would not touch it for environmental reasons but other countries do not have the same concerns and we might be the better choice due to technology and the fact that we have citizens who are concerned about such things.

Now for the original article that I read:
Alternative energy
The trouble is that, with much of the potential payoff in the distant future, valuations of alternative energy stocks are heavily exposed to mood swings in broader markets. During turbulence, that lends an edge to companies running other businesses too, such as Archer Daniels Midland, the leading US ethanol producer. But unless oil prices stay at current levels, fuels such as bio-diesel will continue to require US government support to be viable.

Another strategy championed by several smaller US companies is to focus on finding new, cleaner ways to extract energy from traditional sources. Converting coal into a gas for use in power plants has lately re-emerged as a favourite. It is potentially competitive with oil and gas at crude prices well below current levels. It would also benefit from the US's large coal reserves and allow carbon emissions to be captured more easily. But storing these emissions underground still looks challenging, while the economics will depend heavily on government subsidies.

It comes down to how much are we willing to sacrifice to make the change? How much is too much? What about those who cannot afford the new technology? Should it be phased in and left to chance it will be continually delayed such as other projects in the US? Will other countries make the commitment to alternative energy?

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Air Quality News: Pine Plantations Increase Carbon Dioxide Levels

The researchers estimate that some 10 million acres – roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont – of mainly hardwood and natural pine forests will be chopped down to make way for pine plantations by 2030 in just three Southern states. That translates into roughly 700,000 tons more carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually, or 21 million tons over the 30-year period.

That number may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the 3 billion tons of carbon the United States emits annually. But Sohngen is quick to point out that the model only included Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and that the results can apply across the southern United States, suggesting that carbon dioxide emissions could be as much as four times higher.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Interesting Article on an Electric SPORTS Car

0-60 in no time flat and incredible breaking. Most of all, no engine and a 250 mile capacity before refueling. Can the tech sector save the troubled auto industry?

Battery-Fueled Car Will Smoke You
The trick? The Tesla Roadster is powered by 6,831 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries -- the same cells that run a laptop computer. Range: 250 miles. Fuel efficiency: 1 to 2 cents per mile. Top speed: more than 130 mph. The first cars will be built at a factory in England and are slated to hit the market next summer. And Tesla Motors, Eberhard's company, is already gearing up for a four-door battery-powered sedan.

In an age when a car's electronics are worth more than its steel, it seems only natural that the tech sector would have its own car company. The question is, can Eberhard turn the digital era into horsepower, torque, and rpm?
More important, Eberhard says, the electric cars of the past -- slow, cramped, spartan -- looked like they were designed by people who thought you shouldn't be driving to begin with. Eberhard calls them "punishment cars." What he wanted to build, he told his potential investors, was a classic sports car. He wanted to have his ecofriendly ride and race it, too. Initially, the Sand Hill VCs weren't interested. Eberhard got his first bite from Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, who -- over the course of two years -- put in nearly $30 million of his own money and also corralled some of his wealthy entrepreneur friends to chip in. By May 2006, Tesla Motors had raised $60 million. Now Eberhard had to get the car into production.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Nuclear Power Articles

Nuclear power revival looms

It may seem a mere tangle of pipes and instruments to the untrained eye. To nuclear engineer Jose Reyes, it's a sign of a coming nuclear-power plant revival in the United States with electricity produced more safely and for less money than the atomic behemoths built in the 20th century.
This jumble of technology is a one-quarter-scale model of the Westinghouse AP1000 power plant. Reyes heads a team at Oregon State University that built the model to test the AP1000's so-called passive safety systems, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy and Westinghouse.

"We've conducted 20 tests for the AP1000," said Reyes. "We found the simple passive system could replace entire batteries of pumps that are normally used for cooling of the nuclear core."

This kind of safety system, Reyes said, would make nuclear leaks far less likely, and virtually eliminate the threat of a meltdown of the nuclear core.

China seen driving global nuclear power industry growth - Merrill Lynch
According to the China's People's Daily, the National Development and Reform Commission announced plans in 2004 to increase installed nuclear capacity to 36 mln-kilowatts by 2020, and is contemplating adding two or more reactors every year for the next 16 years.

'Despite this, there remains considerable uncertainty about the scale of future nuclear generation, and this is reflected in the relatively wide variation between different demand scenarios by the World Nuclear Association (WNA),' the note said.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Oil in 2007, Prices cooling

OPEC announced that it expects several factors to lead to the cooling of prices next year. However, they warned that the price of oil would still be subject to change due to political situations throughout the world. Right now that would be Iran, the current Israeli campaign to recover their soldiers and destroy various militants that host countries have neglected to reel in, and of course the ongoing problem in Nigeria. Apparently that is "muslim oil" there and should not go to the American "devils."

Oil prices helped by 'moderating' factors in 2007: OPEC
"The expected increase in OPEC capacity, combined with the projected decline in required OPEC crude, should help to moderate prices," the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said.

"Whether the market will benefit from the full effect of these trends will depend mainly on downstream developments and non-fundamental factors, particularly geopolitical tensions, a major factor behind the current record high oil prices," it added.

OPEC capacity is expected to increase by 1.0 million bpd to 34.3. million bpd by end-2007 but demand for the cartel's oil is set to drop to an average 28.1 million bpd, down 600,000 bpd from the estimate for 2006, due in part to high oil prices and slower economic growth, the report said.

Non-OPEC supply in 2007 is set to increase by 1.7 million bpd, to 53.1 million bpd, compared to 51.4 million bpd in 2006, mainly helped by Africa, North America and Latin America, the organisation said.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Study IDs Energy Gains and Eviro Impact of Biofuels

Specifically corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel. The report shows that they both produce more energy than what it takes to produce the fuels. This has been a sticky point since other research had shown otherwise. However, soybean biodiesel is the cleanest of the bunch, reducing greenhouse emissions by 41%. Plus soybeans do not need the same chemicals that are normally used with crops and could reduce the chance of polluting ground water.

Article: Researchers Identify Energy Gains And Environmental Impacts Of Corn Ethanol And Soybean Biodiesel
The amount of energy each returns differs greatly, however. Soybean biodiesel returns 93 percent more energy than is used to produce it, while corn grain ethanol currently provides only 25 percent more energy.

Still, the researchers caution that neither biofuel can come close to meeting the growing demand for alternatives to petroleum. Dedicating all current U.S. corn and soybean production to biofuels would meet only 12 percent of gasoline demand and 6 percent of diesel demand. Meanwhile, global population growth and increasingly affluent societies will increase demand for corn and soybeans for food.

The authors showed that the environmental impacts of the two biofuels also differ. Soybean biodiesel produces 41 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel fuel whereas corn grain ethanol produces 12 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

An Inconvenient Car

10 years ago there were a number of electric vehicles being made but one in particular really impressed its owners and had a waiting list of those who wanted to lease it. The car was named the EV1 and was manufactured by General Motors.

The car itself was priced at $33,995 but GM never sold a single unit. The lease ran $400-$550 per month and included a bumper to bumper warranty. The lease was three years and had no option to buy.

Even with the high price tag, the car was a loser for GM and was discontinued. As the leases ended the cars either ended up in musuems, universities, or was crushed.

It would have been a great go to town and come back car. A full charge took just three hours and would take you all of 80 miles. Hmmm, that would take me a couple of days just to drive up the coast 500 miles.

Article link.
As befits its title, ``Who Killed the Electric Car?'' begins with a funeral, a mock one, held at a real cemetery. It ends with an inquiry, one that implicates oil companies, auto manufacturers, the federal government, the California Air Resources Board and, yes, even you and me for murder of an automobile that looks like a winner in these days of high gas prices.

There were several makes of electric cars, but Chris Paine's trenchant documentary focuses primarily on General Motors' EV1. Launched in 1996, the car was fast and quiet, ran without exhaust, required no gas or oil changes and was so popular that dealers kept a waiting list with tens of thousands of names.

Technical specifications of 1998 GM EV1 Gen II NiMH

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