I am not an energy wonk. I am learning as I go along, and I am sure to say things that aren't polished or fully thought-out, or even necessarily articulate. But it seems best to write, as clearly as I can, the basis for my interest in energy news and policy, to give the reader a perspective through which I view this subject. This is what I believe:
I believe that energy has a massive impact on the economy, the environment, our quality of life, and in a very real sense, our survival as a civilization and as a species. We cannot take energy production, consumption, distribution, and environmental impact for granted.
More after the bump!
- Concentrated--that is, it should pack a lot of energy into a relatively compact form, to keep costs down;
- Stable--there should be no major disruptions of energy resources if at all possible;
- Convenient--anything more complicated than a fill-up at the corner gas station or plugging an appliance into a wall socket will probably not gain much traction short of a major crisis. (That's hoping the crisis is still decades away, rather than immanent--not necessarily a safe presumption.)
- Friendly to the environment--minimal or non-existent emissions, little to no impact on the carbon cycle, safe to handle, and limited in impact in case of an accident;
- Renewable/Sustainable--an energy supply that is subject to location or limited supply will cause irreparable harm to civilization;
- Inexpensive--if a remote village can get energy they can afford, their lives can be drastically improved.
That said, I will try to cover such a large area as a whole--not just alternative energy sources, but conventional sources as well need to be discussed and explored. As time develops a more regular structure will probably develop, but for now I will simply do my best to organize the information I've gathered and comment--with sincerity or snarkiness, as might be my wont. But be assured, this is a topic I take quite seriously, and I will do all I can to keep it aired.
RANT OF THE WEEK
Because a little outrage is good for your soul
Courtesy of Mark Morford, a rant about SUVs:
Until you realize that 2 percent ain't much of nuthin' and until you read how the U.S. consumes 20 million barrels of oil each day, with passenger vehicles burning up three quarters of the total -- and SUVs alone burn half the total for all passenger cars, far more than their fair share and more petroleum than our entire country produces in a year.
And then you learn how that little pip-squeak tyrant Saddam was sitting on 10 percent of the world's oil reserves and that he might have once thought about threatening the nearby 60 percent owned by our buddies the terrorist-lovin', women-slappin' Saudis, and you realize that anyone who thinks we're in Iraq for democracy or humanity's sake is absolutely full of Rumsfeld.
You tell 'em, Mark.
BIGGEST LITTLE NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK
If you missed it the first time, look again
Two Canadian energy companies have discovered oil within Cuba's territorial waters, estimated at 100 million barrels. This will put pressure on Cuba to sell oil to the US, and likewise will put pressure on Bush to buy said oil. The end of an embargo? That is left to be seen, but while 100 million barrels isn't much at all--the US consumed
nearly 10 20 million barrels a day in 2003--if you're a poor country under embargo and you suddenly find that you have a supply of a resource with increasing demand and dwindling supply, well, what would you do?
DKOS ENERGY DIARIES
Check them out:
New Renewable Energy Lab Director, But No New $$ by Meteor Blades
China to buy Unocal? by jillian
Cool energy idea: Kites by Devilstower
Say No to Hydrogen Cars by Devilstower
The End of the Oil Age by cgLynch
Trash is Power
Private group reviews waste proposal: In Arizona they are trying to figure out how to better deal with solid waste. Their proposed answer sounds a lot like thermal depolymerization to me--that is, you expose organic waste to extreme temperatures, and it turns the bulk into the equivalent of Texas light crude. Only in this case, they are talking about turning waste into "gas"--natural gas, I presume.
Commissioners keep gas project lit: In Watauga County, North Carolina, they're already venting methane arising from their landfills. Now the Watauga County Commissioners have loaned $70,000 to the Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council, to install a methane collection system, to power the county maintenance building, solid waste transfer station, and recycling station. Every little bit helps, and $70,000 is probably cheap compared to energy bills over the long term. Good going.
City may use gases in trash: And Anchorage has the same idea for their landfills. The Anchorage Regional Landfill holds as much energy as 1.9 million gallons of diesel fuel. How's that for a strategic reserve?
Energy Corporations are Still Brats
Allegheny Energy seeks ruling on clean air compliance: What, you're about to be sued for not scrubbing your smokestacks thoroughly enough? No problem, just have a court say that you comply with the Clean Air Act anyhow.
Lawmaker promotes renewable energy: Wyoming State Representative Jane Warren (D-Laramie) wants to be ready should there be an energy crisis. The state energy industry, on the other hand, doesn't want to be rushed. Who's got their priorities straight here?
Oil not a worry, says BP: Yes, yes, nothing to see here, move along. Ignore the elephant in the room, drinking millons of barrels of oil a day. There's plenty to go around. High prices? Just a fluke--and shame on you for mentioning established fact at a time like this....
ConocoPhillips Leaves Arctic Drilling Lobby Group: ConcocoPhillips follows BP's lead--go figure--in deciding to leave Arctic Power, a lobbying group trying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil production. So maybe brats can grow up after all! Or maybe they figure now is not the time to wage that battle...?
Energy Demand is on the Rise
The beginning of the end for oil: Al Jazeera is taking about Greg Greene's documentary "The End of Suburbia," discussing at length how our modern lifestyle is propped up by cheap energy, and how we are all in for a rude shock when energy is no longer cheap. I wonder why I'm not seeing this discussed in Western media so much, hmm?
Oil demand expected to climb in 2005: You probably thought that increased oil and gas prices would curb our hunger for petroleum, right? Wrong--demand is only increasing, just as people are beginning to realize we're running out of sources of oil. If you're in that group of people who think hybrid cars are annoying, you might want to reconsider, fast.
France needs new power plants, grid warns again: France produces and exports the most energy of any European country. Now French grid operator RTE is reporting a 477.2 terawatt-hour increase in demand, and warns that new power stations need to be online by decade's end or risk blackouts. Apparently new power plants are already in the works to help soften the problem, but it is a reminder that Europeans are also energy-hungry. The bulk of France's electrical production is from nuclear reactors, for what it is worth.
Energy Conservation is Also on the Rise
A natural, inside and out: Environmentally friendly house building--including energy conservation--is on the rise. Given that buildings use twice as much energy as cars, this is a good trend.
Biodiesel is Gaining Popularity
Biodiesel marketer aims to fuel homes: Fred M. Schildwachter & Sons intends to take advantage of a tax credit to market biodiesel--in this case, 80% diesel fuel and 20% soybean oil--for heating homes. The tax credit makes the biodiesel competitive price-wise, and while biodiesel doesn't produce quite as much heat as equivalent amounts of heating oil, that is offset by lowered sulfur emissions. It doesn't sound ideal, but it is still an improvement.
UNDP to provide fund for renewable energy: A majority of Bangladesh's population still lacks electricity. The UN's Development Program has stepped in to provide sustainable energy, including wind turbines, biodiesel, and biomass gasification, so Bangladesh can become more prosperous. Of course, this is an outrage to anti-UN politicians who accept huge donations from companies like Enron, but screw them.
Technology is Improving
ThermoEnergy announces Federal funding for energy projects: ThermoEnergy Corporation has devised a system for producing steam and/or synthetic gas from a number of energy sources--coal, natural gas, oil, biomass, petroleum coke, waste oils, etc.--and eliminates mercury, acid gases, and particulates, while capturing and recovering carbon dioxide. If only we had this technology, oh, 50 years ago....
Carbon Emission Exchanges Sputters to a Start
Euronext in Carbon Emissions Exchange Partnership: In a move forward for Kyoto, three European bourse (stock exchange) operators intend to open a European carbon emissions exchange where corporations that exceed their emissions quotas can, in lieu of being fined, trade their overquota with a corporation that is under quota. Ideally, such a system would make environmental friendliness self-enforcing. So who sets the quotas? Glad you asked....
Controversy clouds formal start to emissions trading: The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme is barely over a week old, and already the UK is threatening to sue if the EU ETS doesn't use Britain's quota allocation plan, which has raised the ceilings on carbon emissions twice already. And there is grumbling that the World Bank's participation in emissions trading amounts to a monopoly on the market. As Al Franken would say, "Oi...!"
Right to Pollute Sold after Cut in Pig Emissions: Chilean food processor AgroSuper has turned their pig waste into a money-making proposition, investing in infrastructure to draw methane from excrement, flare off some, and use the rest to power farms. They then sold their Certified Emission Reductions credits to Japan, which says they may need to get up to a third of their Kyoto mandated emission cutbacks through the open market. While there is some controversy over how CDM credits will be earned, you must admit that less methane is better.
China to Start Filling Strategic Oil Reserves Next Year: Makes you wonder who else plans to set up strategic reserves, no?
Project Aims to Develop Hydrogen Power: How? With nuclear reactors, of course. And some wonder about our skepticism towards hydrogen!
Pooh-poohing global warming off base: George Will gets bitch-slapped. Figuratively speaking, of course.
...To everyone who voted on whether or not to do a regular energy diary. Special thanks to Baldwiny for suggesting the title. And thanks to you, the reader, for reading. See you next week!
Update [2005-1-12 12:24:17 by lilithvf1998]: Fixed URL for cskendrick's diary.
Update [2005-1-12 14:33:14 by lilithvf1998]: Corrected US oil consumption in "Biggest Little News Story"--thanks to Meteor Blades for catching that!
Update [2005-1-13 10:19:7 by lilithvf1998]: CategoryEnergy (And thanks to anonymous coward 8 for providing the category system!)