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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!

It seems to me that, in terms of the current American quality of life, an ideal energy source should be:

  • 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.)

From a progressive perspective, however, I feel that an ideal energy source should be:

  • 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.

Some of these contradict one another, while others are at best challenging to reconcile. But one thing should be clear--there is no one ideal energy source. That is why it is important, not just to find a replacement for oil, but to continue developing new energy sources and new energy infrastructures: To depend on any one energy source is foolish, and to depend on the status quo is perilous. We need to come up with better, safer, cleaner, more affordable energy sources, or the world as we know it will collapse.

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.

Because a little outrage is good for your soul

Courtesy of Mark Morford, a rant about SUVs:

Registrations for the huge lumps of bulbous steel jumped 39 percent between 1997 and 2002, from 1.9 million to 2.75 million, and overall there's been a whopping 56 percent jump in sales of the beasts in a mere eight years across the country, totaling nearly 25 million of the ugly tanks now lumbering across the American landscape and hogging all the parking and burning up most of the oil and sneering in the face of air quality and all rational thought and flipping over and bursting into flame after hitting a pinecone at 80 mph.

And sure you can be cheered slightly at the news that SUV sales are slightly sluggish lately, down 2 percent, and that Hummer sales are way off and Prius sales are way up and there's still a three-month waiting list for Mini Coopers.

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.

If you missed it the first time, look again

Oil Find Hits at a Less Dependent Cuba

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?


Check them out:

New Renewable Energy Lab Director, But No New $$ by Meteor Blades

China to buy Unocal? by jillian

Oregon: Sale of Enron-Held Utility Just as Bad as Critics Thought by LynnS

Solar, Baby!!!! Canadians Invent 30% efficient converter! by cskendrick

Cool energy idea: Kites by Devilstower

Say No to Hydrogen Cars by Devilstower

The End of the Oil Age by cgLynch

Canadian Uranium Co wants to reopen mines in AZ by navajo


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!)

Originally posted to lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:40 AM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent Diary (none)
    A few suggestions for improving our energy infrastructure:

    1. Focus on what is possible to do now - Trying to increase fuel efficiency in SUV's to 35 or 40 mpg will meet so much resistance that it will not be done at all.

    2. Hydrogen is a great idea the first time you hear it, but there are problems with fuel production and storage that will take decades to solve.

    3. Provide incentives for new homes to be equipped with solar panels or fuel cells. This can be done for about $10 - 12K per home and will cover its inatallation cost in about 5 years. For now, keep the homes hooked to the grid to provide backup power, but eventually start to develop technology which will allow the energy to be stored in battery  form. Doing this would begin to eliminate the use of coal and would have an immediate impact on our environment.

    4. Oil is a big problem. With Bush and his cronies, it will take a different administration to even address the issue, let alone try to solve it. OTOH, if California and the NE states start to legislate air qualityimprovements which can only be done by improvements in fuel efficiency, then we might have a framework for genuine national action in 4 years.

    5. Provide incentives for telecommuting which would lessen the need of people to drive to work all the time.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 07:54:52 AM PST

    •  I agree BUT.... (none)
      This is so damn deep-rooted!

      Focus on what is possible to do now - Trying to increase fuel efficiency in SUV's to 35 or 40 mpg will meet so much resistance that it will not be done at all.

      Resisted because of cost at market.  As long as capitalist reasoning prevails (why shouldn't it?) energy reforms gain no foothold, anywhere you turn.

      Hydrogen is a great idea the first time you hear it, but there are problems with fuel production and storage that will take decades to solve.

      Yes, exactly, and this applies to so many alternative sources!

      Provide incentives for new homes to be equipped with solar panels or fuel cells. This can be done for about $10 - 12K per home and will cover its inatallation cost in about 5 years. For now, keep the homes hooked to the grid to provide backup power, but eventually start to develop technology which will allow the energy to be stored in battery  form. Doing this would begin to eliminate the use of coal and would have an immediate impact on our environment.

      This works for wealthy people only.  Most of the world population spends quite a bit less on housing.  This is a partial solution for Americans only.  Where I live, there are a number of islanders who rely totally on solar for their electrical needs.  Wonderful, but to do so requires a change in lifestyle.  No electric heat, no electric stove.  Low energy appliances (closer to a real solution) and fossil fuels and wood for heat.  Wealthy folks with partial solutions.  They'd be on the grid if they could!

      Oil is a big problem. With Bush and his cronies, it will take a different administration to even address the issue, let alone try to solve it. OTOH, if California and the NE states start to legislate air quality improvements which can only be done by improvements in fuel efficiency, then we might have a framework for genuine national action in 4 years.

      Oil is a big problem.  Oil is a WORLD problem.

      Provide incentives for telecommuting which would lessen the need of people to drive to work all the time.

      I don't think commuters use that much oil, really.  Telecommuting is GREAT, no doubt, and helps bring energy usage down.  But the rest of the traffic you see on the road is people going to do things that can't be done by net: trucks full of solar arrays, crews to install them...

      I'm energy conscious, but I have a big 'ol pickup truck to do my jobs.  I burn local firewood with oil heat backup, but imagine 6 billion people doing THAT.

      I agree that there are things we sould be doing in government right now.  Powerful and drastic things, IMO.  But "we" and "government" aren't real happy in the same sentence these days.

      Honestly, I think the best thing I can do right now is to try to point out the depth of our energy dependence and the plight it presents the world.

      Oh, and laugh at the folks who don't believe we're in Iraq for the oil.

    •  Hydrogen is really problematic (4.00)
      ...Because it's not, strictly speaking, an energy source, but an energy medium. The distinction is necessary because it takes energy to produce hydrogen. For an energy source, such as oil, solar, nuclear, etc., you are basically harvesting energy from elsewhere. You cannot passively harvest meaningful amounts of hydrogen--you have to produce it actively.

      To put it in terms of vehicles, you pump oil out of the ground, refine it to make gasoline, and then distribute the gasoline to gas stations for consumption. In the case of hydrogen, you have to gain the energy from elsewhere, use the energy to liberate hydrogen from water or organic material, and then distribute the hydrogen for consumption.

      Where does the energy for liberating hydrogen come from? Your guess is good as mine.

      Mind you, there is some research into novel means of liberating hydrogen. Bacteria that can convert organic waste into hydrogen looks promising, for example. And that would shift the burden of producing the energy to the latent energy in the organic waste itself. But then you have the question of whether the process produces enough hydrogen to fuel the process itself--for instance, to haul the organic waste to the processing plant--with substantial excess for other uses. Also, if high-efficiency solar panels are developed, that could help to liberate hydrogen through electrolysis of water. But efficiency aside, solar has its problems as well--unlike oil pumps, they don't work 24-7, but are idle at night and during cloud cover.

      That is why I say there is no one ideal energy source, and why it seems necessary to constantly develop new sources and new technologies.

      Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

      by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:39:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please keep this up... (4.00)
    Energy energy energy energy!

    Cheap oil holds up the entire "civilized" world at this point in our history!

    Iraq is not the first war for oil, and certainly not the last.

    Nothing in our current technology comes close to the efficiency of oil as an energy source.  There are no real alternatives.  It's a total dependency problem.

    How much oil does it take to produce a gallon of soybean oil?  How much to produce a pound of hydrogen?

    Sorry, I'm ranting.  I profess less knowledge than you.  But some things seem intuitively obvious to me.  HOw can a gallon of gasoline be cheaper than a gallon of orange juice?  If we had to drill five miles into the earth's crust for oranges... well... I understand there's an economy of scale, but I think the truer reasoning is that if we had armies and threat of force behind an orange economy, there would be no "days without sunshine."

    Long-term future doesn't look good from my viewpoint.

    Sorry 'bout the rant, but one last thought: China's buying a lot of new cars...

    •  very much agreed (4.00)
      We dodged a bullet this winter.  The winter has been extraordinarily mild in the northeast (as was the summer).  If it had been a normal winter, or a bad one - I shudder to think about what oil and natural gas prices would be like.

      Not only does the long-term future not look good...I'm worried about the medium-term and short-term.  The optimists believe that peak oil won't hit until 2020.  (2020?  That's only 15 years from now.  Most of us will be alive to see it...and suffer from it.)  The pessimists think it could be happening now.  In any case, that's not enough time to develop alternate energy sources.  Worse, alternates may be impossible, due to the laws of thermodynamics.  Oil is an amazing, one-time gift.  We're using up millions of years of buried sunshine when we burn oil.  No other energy source comes close.  Even nuclear fusion wouldn't provide the cheap energy oil gives us...assuming we ever got it working.

      One oddity: not all right-wingers are oilmen.  Many of them are quite worried about peak oil, though they often take a religious or racist view of things.  I like pointing out to them that Michael Moore wrote about peak oil.  ("Oil's Well That Ends Well," Chapter 3 of Dude, Where's My Country?).  They are alway shocked to hear that that commie liberal knows about peak oil...

      Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

      by randym77 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:32:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right-wing disconnect (4.00)
        They've been taught so long that liberals are idealists that, in their frames, it's difficult to reconcile the notion that liberals might know something about energy policy in the here-and-now. They can see us playing with solar-powered cars and exotic house designs, and roll their eyes, but it doesn't occur to them that we are experimenting now because we know there will be a time not too far from now when any experience we gain would be very useful to avoiding total collapse.

        Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

        by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:45:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Outstanding (4.00)
    and recommended!  Great work.
  •  Tip Jar (4.00)
    Not because I need the mojo, but because some get upset if you don't let them. Ah, if mojo could be turned to calories, we could power a small city....

    Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

    by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 08:47:47 AM PST

  •  Peak Oil "at hand" (none)
    The message from industry heavyweights like Matthew Simmons and Colin Campbell is that oil is peaking right about now:

    According to Dr. Colin Campbell, a former exploration geologist and oil company executive who is generally considered to be the dean of global oil depletion experts, "there is no way on Earth" that level of demand predicted by the U.S. government and many oil industry analysts "can be fulfilled."

    ...Says Campbell: "If you add it all together, you get a peak of what I call ordinary oil in 2005 and a peak of unconventional oil in around 2007. By 2010 volatility comes to an end. Then, terminal decline."

    Campbell's oil peak prediction is right in line with no fewer than 12 recent studies, using a variety of different assumptions and demand projections. They all foresee accelerating decline in global oil production within the coming decade.

    Campbell recently revised his estimate of Peak Oil from 2010 to 2008.

    Mattew Simmons, interviewed at the 2003 Paris ASPO Conference:

    "I think basically that peaking of oil will never be accurately predicted until after the fact. But the event will occur, and my analysis is... that peaking is at hand, not years away."

    At the 2004 ASPO Conference in Berlin, Simmons said:

    ..."Oil is far too cheap at the moment... The figure I'd use is around $182 a barrel. We need to price oil realistically to control its demand. That is because global production is peaking."

    Some of my earlier comments:
    Peak Oil estimates
    Peak right about now
    Bottom of the barrel for oilaholics

    This is issue #1 for humanity. People need to learn as much as they can and start some serious thinking.

    Essential links:

    The text book:
    The Cliff's Notes: Running on Empty
    The Dummies book: Beginner's Guide to Oil Depletion
    The exposé: Life After the Oil Crash

  •  I love all good energy assessments ... (4.00)
    ...and you've done a great job of framing the issues vis-a-vis quality of the energy source vs. the eco-friendly, societally friendly nature of the energy source.

    Just one quibble, the U.S. consumed 20 million barrels of oil a day in 2003, not 10 million.

    Here are a couple of links to my energy pieces over a year ago at Daily Kos, Energy Plan: No Visionaries, Please and Energy Plan: No Visionaries, Please - Part 2. Some of the internal links may not still be current, but the story is much the same now as then.

    Indeed, a good deal of the story is the same as it was 30 years ago this June 28, when the head of the newly created Energy Research and Development Administration under Robert Seamans published "Creating Energy Choices for the Future."

    If the plan sounds familiar, stop me.

    It proposed:

    • to overcome technical problems (including operational reliability and environmental impacts); prevent an expansion of then-current major energy sources (coal plants and nuclear reactors);

    • to emphasize energy conservation in  transportation, buildings and manufacturing processes;

    • to speed up the capability to extract gaseous and liquid fuels from coal and shale;

    • to include electricity generated by solar power as a high-priority development, along with fusion and the breeder reactor; and

    • to focus on underused technologies capable of being rapidly developed for the mid-term and beyond, such as solar heating and cooling and the use of geothermal power.

    The nation's first national energy plan called for an early demonstration of the technical feasibility of new energy systems with built-in environmental and safety controls. The Federal Government would provide overall leadership and undertake only those efforts that industry could not initiate. As a technology approached the stage of commercialization, industry would assume the initiative.

    Great progress has been made in many areas since then. The cost of electricity from wind turbines and solar cells has been reduced by several orders of magnitude. Coal plants - while still major polluters (and, of course, major contributors to CO2) burn much cleaner than before (or scrub their emissions). We've done a much better job than predicted was possible - but still less than half as good as we could do - in conserving energy.

    However, in 1975, the U.S. imported 6 million barrels of oil a day (30% of our consumption). Now it's 12.8 mmbd (60% of our consumption).

    We don't inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. - David Brower

    by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:01:03 AM PST

    •  Oops! (4.00)
      I was using figures from the Energy Information Administration site, but was looking at the how much oil we import daily, not how much we consume. Re-reading it, you're right, it's 20m barrels/day. And I goofed twice--that "nearly 10m barrels/day" figure is just for crude oil imports. Overall petroleum imports are at 11.2m barrels/day.

      I told you I was no policy wonk... :)

      Glad to see you here, MB!

      Off to correct those figures....

      Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

      by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 11:15:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very nice, Lilith (none)
    I couldn't vote in the poll because I liked: "Biggest Little News Story Of The Week," "DKos Energy Diaries," and "Noticable Trends" equally.

    I'm sure I haven't told you about my letter to Gov. Selloutzenegger. When he was all puffed up about converting one of his numerous Hummers to hydrogen, I wrote asking why he didn't just fill it up with french fry oil and get on the bio-diesel bandwagon.

    Well, I got a letter back describing how awful the nitrogen oxide emissions are, and how bio-diesel is not widely available.

    No mention of all the other emissions being lower (and there are SO many), or that anyone with arable land could open a bio-diesel station for a comparatively tiny outlay of cash, (and if the Govt. got behind it ... NO outlay).

    All this says to me is, Arnie is in the pocket of the GOP and their corporate interests. Either they know hydrogen will never work and this is a distraction from our oil addiction ... or they know that when hydrogen is finally viable, the current corporate energy infrastructre will be in charge of it, and the cash flow from it.

    Anyway ... great diary and great topic. Recommended, and 4's for everyone.

    Whatever Dubya says, the answer is "Shut up, you ignorant fucking punk." C&J Cafe.

    by Baldwiny on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 12:52:14 PM PST

    •  Questions about biodiesel (none)
      First, I've seen different kinds of so-called biodiesel out there, such as in the heating oil story, where "biodiesel" is 80% diesel, 20% soybean oil. So, how do you define biodiesel?

      Second, presuming that you are using "biodiesel" to speak of diesel-compatible fuels that are mostly or entirely made from non-petroleum sources, roughly how many acres of which crops approximate how many barrels of oil?

      Biodiesel is intriguing, but I must admit I lean towards ethanol, for two reasons, documented by Sam Jaffe in this Washington Monthly article:

      • A Canadian firm has developed a process using genetically-modified microbes to make ethanol from cellulose, cheaply--perhaps cheaper than gasoline; and
      • A new, inexpensive catalyst can strip hydrogen from ethanol easily.

      So what we'd have here is a fuel supply that's compatible with the bulk of vehicles on the road, and which is ready for use in hydrogen fuel cells, without needing special hydrogen infrastructure.

      The nice thing is that, since cellulose is in all plants, we can be less fussy about what land is used--it does not have to be crop-ready--and we can be more selective about choosing hardy, drought-resistant plants that have little to no environmental impact. Plus, there's no guilt about growing food for fuel. :)

      But here too, I'd like to know--how many acres of what plants to make how much ethanol?

      Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

      by lilithvf1998 on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 09:46:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lilith (none)
    Great job on the diary. Recommended.

    Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Wed Jan 12, 2005 at 06:05:48 PM PST

  •  Much appreciated (none)
    Researching these issues means digging through a lot of sludge to find a few gems.  I'll be hitting energy again in my big "theory of everything" 2020 Vision series (Real Soon Now), and your work here is a great help.
    •  Darn it (none)
      So sorry that I didn't notice this guy until the "recommend" button was no longer worker.

      I'll be sure to catch volume II!

      TwoTaboos -- Politics and Religion.

      by Mark Sumner on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 08:28:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No problem there! (none)
        Since this is the debut, I'm focusing on diarywhoring :) until we reach a critical mass of readers, at which point recommendations should be enough to get a wider readership.

        And thank you kindly, both for your support of Fuel For Thought, and for your own excellent diaries on energy! I'm subscribed to your diaries in general and will be sure to link to any energy diaries you publish.

        Hungry for energy news and discussion? Have some Fuel For Thought!

        by lilithvf1998 on Thu Jan 13, 2005 at 09:44:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Categorization (none)
    This style of categorization, CategoryEnergy, requires a comment containing the string, so that the comment search tool finds the appropriate diaries.

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