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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Your Green Energy News Center (Page 5)

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Author Topic: Your Green Energy News Center
Lyrhawn
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I was under the impression that they hadn't dropped coal, but that they had dropped the prototype coal plant because of skyrocketing cost increases, and planned to build more traditional coal plants instead.

I shouldn't have said pie in the sky for Carbon capture. Carbon capture is already in use in Canada to make oil fields productive again, though the infrastructure involved causes its own problems, but it's still economically and technologically feasible, we think, for the moment.

And there is more work being done on sequestering it in algae farms or in porous rock by capturing it before it escapes, or even using the captures CO2 as more fuel, but thus far they are far from proven technologies, and by and large they aren't economically feasible on a massive scale.

Capturing SO2, NOX, mercury and particulates would be done through stack filters no? I've heard about a lot of advances recently that dramatically improve capture of these emissions at the stacks before they escape, and do it in a cost effective means. Sadly the EPA has recently allowed many coal plants to increase production without updating their clean up measures, as the Clean Air Act I believe mandates.

Still, every little bit helps until we can replace coal entirely.

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AvidReader
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Lyr, my problem with offsetting the cost is that folks already pay for the number of kwh they use. (Except here in Tally where instead of raising our cost per kwh they upped the number of kwhs they bill us. But it's a city utility, so there's no one to complain to except the city. Most utilities should work differently.)

The other is that the bulk of the poor rent. So we need programs to entice landlords to make their apartments energy efficient. I'd think a rating system of apartments and a campaign to tell folks how much a rating will save them on their electric bills might work.

It would here, anyway. We use nothing but natural gas to produce the city's power. My 750 sq ft apartment cost me $213 last month. We've got the thermostat at 75, but only because it's not right and only sets the temp to 72, 75, or 80. There is no 78 to choose from. And I'm not shelling out the cash to do anything about it. Hence, the need to encourage landlords to do so.

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Lyrhawn
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I posted an article a couple days ago about using individual meters for apartment complexes so people would pay for precisely the energy they use, which returns a big element of control to how much they spend on their power bills.

In complexes where the landlords themselves are paying the electric bill, there's clearly an incentive already in place for them to upgrade to reduce usage, but a great many places make the tenents pay for their own utilities, therefore making any incentive to the landlords useless.

But I agree in that it makes little sense for renters to have to pay to upgrade their apartments when they'll never be able to take those upgrades with them. But in order to do that, you have to carrot and stick the landlords, threatening them with a direct energy tax to them (that can't be passed on to the renters) and then in the other hand offer them a way to reduce their own energy use in a cost effective way. I'm curious as to how you do that without passing the cost on to the renters anyway.

But anyway, my original suggestion was that any such extra tax on energy would be progressive, just like taxes are right now. But you can't base it off how much money they make, it wouldn't be fair. It'd be silly to tell a middle income homeowner that no matter how many improvements they make to their home, they make too much money for those improvements to matter. The idea needs to be efficiency and reduction in use. Therefore, the people who use the most energy pay the most. I think this also has to be coupled with a two-level system for charging, in that night time power is cheaper than day time power, to encourage people to use what appliances that can wait, at night, and whatever else, and to encourage them to be more careful in what they leave on during the day.

I don't think the changes or problems are going to be as drastic as naysayers make it out to be. But I think the biggest thing that will happen is people will take a look at their energy bill and a lot of them will be moved by their wallets enough to make a lot of simple changes, and even big changes, that will mean money savings and energy savings for them and for the nation. Right now too many people don't care because energy is too cheap. It's why when gas is cheap everyone buys SUVs, but when it hits $3.50 a gallon hybrid sales explode. By and large the majority of people don't personally act on things they pay lip service to until it really hits home, then they are moved to act for their own sakes.

These changes won't bash them over the head, it's more like poking them with a stick, prodding them to action in a safe way that won't ruin anyone, it'll just get them to take action they wouldn't have taken without the stick. Besides, the majority of the country agrees that we need to change the way we live, why is it too much to ask they actually do something about it? In America we get more than half our power the same way we got it in the 19th century. Well now it's time to get to the 21st century, and it's not going to be fast and easy, but it's also not going to be unbearably painful.

quote:
The other is that the bulk of the poor rent. So we need programs to entice landlords to make their apartments energy efficient. I'd think a rating system of apartments and a campaign to tell folks how much a rating will save them on their electric bills might work.
I reread that paragraph again and I think that's a great idea. We already have the beginnings of a standard in place with LEED certified buildings. There's no reason why residential buildings like apartment complexes can't operate almost in the same way that we're going to demand businesses operate with CO2 credits and offsets. If your building is LEED Platinum certified, you get credits to sell to apartment complexes that aren't, which gives them the incentive to take up the offer for loans to make energy improvements to the building. It's less a punishment and again, more a stick gently prodding them to action. I have to echo my twice mentioned earlier comment though, and wonder how renters would be protected from hikes in their rent if we tried something like that. I'm not really sure how lease agreements work when you're renting, do you basically sign a contract saying what your rent will be for a prescribed amount of time and the landlord can't raise it? If so, then I guess this works out fine until you have to sign your next lease agreement. Any ideas?
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Capturing SO2, NOX, mercury and particulates would be done through stack filters no?
In simple terms, sort of, except for NOx, which is reduced in the flame by staging combustion. Initially the fuel is burned without enough oxygen to complete combustion, and then the partially combusted products are introduced to a second source of oxidant, blended with flue gases to prevent the flame from becoming too hot. Oxy-fuel combustion further reduces NOx by eliminating nitrogen from the equation altogether.

Mercury capture involves injecting sorbent material into the flue, where it flows into the baghouse and is held with the rest of the filtered (particulate) material. There it continues to collect mercury until it's saturated, or until the filter bags are emptied. Particulate (and absorbed mercury) is then landfilled.

SOx is reduced by spraying a lime-water solution into the flue. This is called "scrubbing." The lime reacts with the SO2 and produces gypsum. The gypsum slurry is separated from the flue stream and is usually pumped next door to a wallboard plant. Your house may be made out of industrial waste.

Oxy-coal is also being looked at for CO2 sequestration since there is no nitrogen in the flue gas, you mostly just have water and CO2 left, so condensing the water leaves you with a very high concentration of CO2.

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lem
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I just read this today and thought of this most excellent thread.

There may be hope for radio frequencies to burn salt water as a fuel!

quote:
John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.
quote:
The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.

The discovery is "the most remarkable in water science in 100 years," Roy said.

quote:
The scientists want to find out whether the energy output from the burning hydrogen — which reached a heat of more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — would be enough to power a car or other heavy machinery.

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Glenn Arnold
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An important item in Green Energy News:

Estes Model Rockets now uses hydrogen fuel

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Lyrhawn
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Update for the day:

Remember when I was talking about wiring the Hudson with sensors? Well this is what the unmanned drones will look like. Solar powered underwater drones.

Oil supertanker from Japan has hybrid electric powerplant.

I already posted this development before, but this article has more information on cheap solar power plant systems, and current and future products going on in the southwest that are measured in gigawattts.

Office supply chains get good grades on sustainability, and making great strides to increase use of recycled materials and better forest management.

Looking to green your portfolio? Criterion has launched Canada's first all alternative energy investment option.

The H2O crunch is coming, maybe sooner than you think. Here are some simple ways to reduce your water usage.

Spend less time with your cell phone and more time going for a jog, or, how our wired world is hurting our health.

Philly wants to be the first major metropolitan city to grow most of their own food, using empty lots and buildings in the city. This is happening in a lot of cities, and I know first hand that it's doing good things for Detroit.

Microwind generation is a win for everyone involved in this distribution center projects.

A visual, hands on approach to keeping melting icebergs in the front of your mind.

I don't care what anyone says, I still think luxury water is ridiculous beyond measure.

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Lyrhawn
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Okay, probably a big set of articles today:

Greener, better looking cell phone towers.

Norwegian greenhouse gas detectors are amazingly precise, can tell you where the pollution came from.

Iowa State University looking into the sustainability of getting our energy from crops.

Tesla and PG&E are getting together on developing a smart energy grid.


Laptop battery running low, I'll finish later...

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Lyrhawn
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...okay here's the rest.

Okay, the only thing I'm really looking forward to here is the refridgerator that you can see inside without opening the door. Assuming the power used to project the image isn't more than used to open the door, it's a good development.

Good time to be a boy in the arctic? Man made chemicals causing a 2:1 ratio of boys to girls. And the problem might not just be in the arctic.

Co-Op housing in Toronto goes green, and looks better too.

Greener parking lots.

Why starting small matters in saving the environment.

Three featured articles!

Some good news! The ozone layer is healing!

Court rules against automakers, say states are allowed to set own emissions standards (or at least match California's).

EPA has new fuel economy stickers for cars. I really like the look of these. They tell you up front that your mileage may vary, they use the new testing standards, they tell you how much you can expect to pay for fuel in a year, and they tell you how your car measures up to others in the same class.

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aspectre
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The fact that automakers even challenge the California standards is one of the many reasons that I believe that executives and stockholders want to continue building overweight highly-polluting over-powered fuel-guzzling hunks of junk. And their "attempt"s to build better vehicles are merely a facade to generate excuse to whine "We can't..." at Congress.

The new EPA mileage testing standards make an interesting read.
HTML without graphics and the more informative PDF with graphics

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Lyrhawn
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Of course they want to keep building those, they still continue to sell well, even with oil at $80 a barrel.

But it's not stopping them from building PZEVs, PHEVs, Hybrids, and other environmentally friendly vehicles.

Besides, they know Congress won't listen this time.

Pending court cases against polluters, most are likely to fail, but the small ones might be the most imporant anyway.

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Lyrhawn
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Double update today. I'll get the old ones out of the way and do the rest later:

Better displays lower the amount of energy you use. (And they look nicer!)

For cities near the water, piers are coming back in style, and they are more stylish than ever, and more environmentally friendly as well.

In many cities, parking spaces outnumber the number of cars that city has 3:1.

Tiny island nation of Tuvalu may be the first conquest of global warming. It's sinking beneath the waves as we speak. Burma faces the same fate.

If Honda can get the home fuel station working, they may sell a small amount of Fuel Cell cars in 2008.

Mexico gets series about trees. Plan to plant 250 million by year's end, and they might actually do it.

Use anarchy to decrease traffic accidents? Germany and Holland have tried installing new roundabouts without signs or traffic signals, and surprisingly, they actually reduce accidents as people pay more attention.

Canada launches next phase in their biofuels plan.

Here's another article on Sask and their power plans. The article is a bit more in depth, and does a little cost comparison to renewables.

Comments from both sides in the fight in Vermont over emissions standards.

Madison, WI takes delivery of more two-mode hybrid busses from GM.

Expect Saturn VUE PHEV in 2009..ish.

Google is looking to spend more green on Green. They are soliciting proposals from EV startups for investment opportunities.

American Electric Power spends big bucks to install mega batteries at wind farms. Batteries like this, while expensive, make wind power a lot more reliable. I haven't seen something like this done yet. It's very, very expensive. I have seen other ideas, like using wind power to compress air that could later be used to power a turbine elsewhere and provide power on demand. And I've seen it suggested that used LIOD car batteries could be used when PHEVs take off, used in giant banks, could store a lot of energy. For the moment, I wonder how cost effective they think this is.

Featured article

Florida's Solarsa nets small savings in money for companies, but could be great for getting businesses off the grid.

quote:
A Florida-based company called Solarsa has just launched one of the first pre-assembled solar cooling systems targeted specifically for commercial businesses. Its Energy Independence System 005 (EIS005) can also heat water and allows restaurants to recycle waste cooking oil. Scott Jergensen, its president, described the system as a "series of mirrors" that is "reflecting the sun into a series of collectors and is giving us electricity and hot water at the same time."

The unit - which is installed at no cost (businesses just pay for the energy they use) and can produce up to 4-MW of energy - would only save customers $1000 on average, Jorgensen concedes, but he argues that it could mean hundreds of thousands in savings down the line for large chain restaurants. He claims that its reduced operating and maintenance costs make it a viable alternative to natural gas and electricity over the long-term.

This is the kind of thing I'd love to see take off everywhere. It's small savings, so they aren't going to make a ton of money off it, but who cares? Savings are savings, and better yet, they have no big maintenance or installation fees, that is done by the new provider, they just sign up and enjoy the savings, while the company makes money too. The savings, by going off the grid, ripple in more ways than just money. The cooking oil being saved helps the environment, and reduces load demand from the grid, which eventually could mean peaking plants no longer need to run, more big environmental and monetary savings.

Microgeneration is a key solution to solving our problems.

PS. Neither here nor there, but you can go to the Farm Aid website and watch the concert for the next week or so. That link may open up to Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, that's who I was watching.

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Lyrhawn
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This brings me up to date, but you aren't getting as much as you could have had because IE died and killed the whole post just as I was getting ready to send it. Save your Firefox posts, I'm not in the mood. [Mad] I still gave good explanations for most of them, I just didn't expand on them like I did before, so you have to do more of the reading yourself today [Smile] .

Why Corn ethanol is bad, especially if you aren't in the midwest (it's wasteful)

Chicago spending millions on hybrids for vehicle fleet.

GM builds giant solar array at plant to provide half their power.

Megacorporations explain to consumers how they will reduce their carbon footprint at new convention

Frankfurt Auto Show dominated by Green vehicles in opening weekend

Toyota and UC Berkley come together to design more sustainable cities.

Illinois becomes second state to mandate Green cleaning products.

There's a lot more behind this story, but the gist is that Ford has released a new line of ultra low CO2 cars in Europe, where people actually want to buy these things.

Election time in Canada means big promises, but not a lot of action. Either way, I'm not super impressed by the Hydrogen Train. Hydrogen is a way to store energy, not produce it. Unless it's a solar or wind powered train, I'm not impressed.

The Solar Alliance has been founded by big players in the solar industry, including everyone from startups to big players like BP. It's part advocacy group and part special interest really, but at least it's good for solar, and that's good for us.

Leave the grid out of it, with a little bit of time you can power your own electronic devices.

Philly breaks Green records (for car sharing).

UK company working on giant battery to store power from non-constant renewable sources.

Seeing is believing, the Northwest Passage is free of ice: (Picture inside).

International group of scientists plan to experiment with turning the sea into a giant carbon sink next year. I have reservations about playing around with ocean life like that, but we'll see what happens.

Alabama joins growing list of states clamoring for a pipeline to pipe in water from the Great Lakes to drought stricken states. I don't mean to be greedy, but no. As a Great Lakes State native, I'd have to say that is utterly ridiculous. Ya'll have been draining your natural aquifers through horrible water resource management for decades, not to mention living in drought prone areas is as goofy as living in hurricane prone areas. Everyone down there can't keep expecting or settling for everyone else solving their problems because they live in areas that aren't easily habitable. Sometimes I don't like winter, maybe we should build a pipeline to send the heat from down there up here in the middle of February. You need to develop better water usage techniques, maybe it means farming in the south won't be what it once was. Either way, some lakes in the Great Lakes are already at or near historic lows, and this is a long term natural resource, we're not doling it out like candy because hydrologically challenged areas have been irresponsible. Find another way out, or move.

I think a key point in the article Treehugger links to is this:

quote:
Although there's no deadline for passing the compact, Sayers said 2011 will be a critical year because of a political power shift based on population changes from the U.S. Census in 2010.


"In 2011, what is likely to happen is the water-thirsty states like Florida, New Mexico, Arizona or … Nevada, would gain seats in Congress and these Great Lakes states are likely to lose them," said Sayers. "And if, as a region, we haven't taken control of our water resources by then, the federal government will."

He's right, in 2010 the Great Lakes basin will lose probably 10 House seats, and most of those will go to the South and Southwest especially as populations shift. The fear is that if there is no control of the Great Lakes by the states by then, the increased power out west will lead the national Congress to more or less seize control of the water. At the very least I would expect Canada to throw an international hissy fit over this.


Okay I changed my mind halfway through, these last few articles are just too good to bury, I don't care if it is a friday and that this post has taken me an hour to put together, this is good stuff!


Your featured articles

Wireless device tells you how much energy your home uses in real time and then translates that into $$. The value of this product should be easy for anyone to see. It'll literally be able to tell you how much it costs you an hour to turn on a lamp. It's wireless, so you can take it with you anywhere in the house, and will be able to easily help you streamline your energy use. Might even make turning off a light in a room you aren't using a fun game!

Further, I think something like this could easily be paired with new meters that are more accurate and price fixing that makes night time energy cheaper and daytime more expensive. If you can EASILY see how much money you'd say by using night energy, I think it'd be easier for regular people to wrap their heads around the idea.

.......

US sewers ready to burst...

Infrastructure is something I've talked about a lot in this and other threads. The US hasn't been spending much on the simple things that make nations work, like power lines, sewer lines and roads. Our national infrastructure is 100 years old, and we need more than a TRILLION dollars to get it all back up to snuff, but so far we've just brushed it under the covers. Flood inducing rains in many places like the Great Lakes and the Midwest will only get worse as Global Climate Change rears its ugly head. I fear we won't act to fix this problem until we're literally walking about in pools of our own...well, you get the idea. We saw what happened when the sewers imploded in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina, and that wasn't just because of topography and a storm.

It's just another sign of the times. Americans don't want to pay for things like that, we expect the lights to turn on tomorrow the same way they did yesterday. We want instant gratification, and care little for details. We want the status quo, and refuse change for fear it might be expensive, or worse, that we might have to change our lives for it! God forbid. We're in for a rude awakening some day.
................

This is a series of movies that I haven't watched yet, but will do in a moment and come back to comment on. They're videos on how beneficial a V2G (Vehicle to Grid) energy grid could monetarily benefit electric and PHEV car owners.

................

Here's the big one!

Okay, any long time visitor to this thread will probably remember the little debate between Tatiana and myself over whether or not renewables are good at macrogeneration. At the time, I gave examples of plans to build many large scale plants, though I was a much bigger proponent of the microgenerating capacities of wind and solar. She said solar just can't power a city, you need big boy power plants for that.

Well (and not to sound cofrontational, but), is this big boy enough for you?

quote:
California would become the Saudi Arabia of solar energy if a slew of large-scale solar power plants proposed for the sun-drenched Mojave Desert are built. The federal Bureau of Land Management has received right-of-way requests on 300,000 acres for 34 Big Solar power stations that would generate more than 24 gigawatts of green energy. That disclosure was made in a development application that BrightSource Energy has filed with the California Energy Commission to build a 400-megawatt solar power station complex in the Mojave just across from the Nevada. It's unlikely, though, that anywhere close to that number of solar power plants will be built in the near future. Still, it's an indication of the land rush that's on as solar entrepreneurs start to lock up the best sites. So far, Southern California Edison (EIX) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SRE) have contracted for up to 1.75 gigawatts with Stirling Energy Systems of Phoenix. PG&E (PCG), meanwhile, is negotiating with BrightSource to provide 500 megawatts of solar electricity and has signed a contract for 553 megawatts more with Israeli solar power company Solel. All the projects would be built in or near the Mojave.
Now I know a common argument against solar is that it takes up vast amounts of space, and it does. But is anyone seriously arguing that we shouldn't blanket the desert in solar power? Are you using that sand for anything else? As far as I'm concerned, it's a national resource, and should be exploited (safely, Greenly, and efficiently) like any other national resource. Sure, a lot of this stuff is just on the drawing board, but there's a Green Rush going on right now for the best spots in California. 24GW is a long way from powering a nation, but for people who think solar can't power a city, it's a great story and a great move forward.

[ September 15, 2007, 04:12 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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AvidReader
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As long as we're up front about the fact that we're willing to sacrifice the desert habitat for Green power, sure. This will come at the cost of a delicate ecosystem, but it's one that probably can't take much climate change anyway. There's got to be an upper limit on how much heat the plants and animals can take. Not using Green power will probably destroy the area anyway.

It comes with a cost, but one likely to be paid even if we do nothing. So why not?

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Lyrhawn
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Well. I don't think it'll DESTROY the desert. What's really there to destroy? There's sand a variety of cacti that dot the landscape, and a few creatures here and there, but overall the density of wildlife in the desert is the lowest of almost any climate in the world. I don't think damage is that pronounced, and as you say, it's less than it would be if we continued to use fossil fuels.

Besides, if I have to choose between a coal plant that chokes the air and kills thousands of creatures every year and solar that takes up a lot of space in a sparsely populated area, I pick the second one, and save as much wildlife as I can. I'd be interested to read a report on the proposed impact on the desert environment, but still, I don't think it's that bad. There's no toxins being spewed into the air, it isn't using up massive amounts of water like nuclear, it's just space.

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Lyrhawn
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A quick update because I have to get ready for a wedding reception in an hour -

Toyota opens second European solar powered dealership.

The Blacksmith Institute has released their second annual list of the top 10 most polluted places in the world. None are in North America or Europe. But on the bright side, they also released a list of success stories, of dirty places that managed to clean themselves up.

No surprise, but a grand majority of Americans disagree with President Bush over relaxed rules on mountaintop removal mining methods. Even Republicans in Congress are shying away from this messy issue.

Another refinery on the Great Lakes seeks to increase refinery space, this time by a whopping 700%. Time to dust off the pen and paper again and write my congressman, as I urge all Great Lakers to do as well.

Ame Jaffe, associate director of the Rice Energy Program on an apollo-style energy program (think Manhatten project)

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AvidReader
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Looks like it's a pretty good time to be Russian. They're just cleaning everything!

And hooray for not destroying mountaintops. How are you supposed to get tourists to come take pictures of the mountains if you chop the tops off? That's just bad planning.

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Lyrhawn
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As always, a small weekend update:

Should cars be banned from London? Studies show it may be the only way for London to reach its carbon reduction goals, but other polls have shown that the British are absolutely against the idea. A recent poll that I neglected to link showed that almost a third of English people said that given the choice between walking or driving two miles to a location, a third refused to walk, while another third would rather drive but would consider walking. I don't think a measure banning cars will pass, though I have heard about and posted about some politicians calling for a ban on all gas powered cars. I don't think that'll go anywhere either. The goal I think, however unachievable in the near term, is electric cars powered by renewable energy. Britain, like almost every other Euro nation, is finding it extremely hard to actually meet the goals they set themselves, but drastic measures may be the only way to actually get it done.

Small Spanish company achieves certification of recyclability. Okay, this one is less about the announcement and more that I had no idea Europe made it a law that every car sold in Europe has to be at least 85% recyclable, or 95% by mass. That's an amazing law, and I think the real headline is that Europe made car companies do something extremely hard, and Green...and all of them are still selling cars! No complaining, no "I can't do it," they just made the law, boom, we have recyclable cars, and the industry moves on as usual. Even more ironic? GM and Ford have been losing money hand over fist in a largely unregulated (as far as Green goes, let me be specific) United States, but in the highly regulated (for Green) Europe, they make hundres of millions. If not for Europe, I think both of them would have folded by now. The only requirement I can think of in the US that is more stringent than in Europe is our diesel emissions standards. Tier II Bin 5 is roughly what you need to sell a car in California, and it'w almost twice as strict as what Europe has with their Euro IV standards, but Bin 5 isn't mandatory, it's more of a goal, and it depends on vehicle weight. In other words it's somewhat complicated, maybe I'll go into it another time in an editorial. Either way, they're still selling cars, regardless of the regulations, and they are still making lots of money.

Here's a little speech from Rob Hopkins to the International Forum on Globalization. He briefly discusses peak oil, but it's less henny penny the sky is falling and more "if it happens, which it eventually will, it can go a lot of different ways, so let's be prepared." His whole approach to the Green movement is something I've been personally trying to do for years. He says that too many of us in the Green movement are talking about global climate change like the sky is falling, about how dark and bleak our future will be if we do nothing, basically it's negative reinforcement. And it turns a lot of people off. What we should be doing, and what I've tried to personally adhere to, is positive reinforcement. Don't tell people how horrible the world will be if we do nothing, tell them how awesome it will be if we do the things we need to do. It's like selling a vacation, sell them the upsides, don't sell them on NOT going to this other crappy vacation spot. You need to coax them out of their holes, not scare them out. How does that old saying go? Something about catching more bees or bears with honey rather than vinegar? Well the idea is there.

Treehugger's quote of the day talks about food, and while this isn't strictly a Green issue, it does have ripples. The Green argument has to do with sustainable agriculture, but I like to mix issues together sometimes. There's a healthcare problem in this country, that's no surprise. The question you might ask is, "well what does our health have to do with the environment?" To which I would say, "everything!" It's the fact that we drive and don't walk everywhere that we're so obese. We truck in food from far, far away which adds nasty emissions into the air when we should be buying local produce. We eat more meat, bar none, than any other country in the world, who largely eat meat almost like a dessert, it's an extra treat. It used to be that way in America too, even just 60 years ago. Just after the depression, and during, meat was extremely expensive. I remember a woman telling me a story that when she was a little girl, her brother was in the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), they did a lot of stuff in National Parks, building paths and making them more accessible. Something now that we'd almost certainly call a "make work" job and yet we all enjoy the NPS. Anyway, the CCC was where a LOT of young men went to get work. They didn't give the men a check, they sent it right to their families, and the woman I spoke to (ironically, at Mammoth Cave), said if not for the CCC her family would have starved to death, and the day when the check came was the one day a month they could eat meat. The way we farm meat in this country isn't good for us, the animals, or the environment. They should be free roaming, and there's no good reason why they aren't. The meat would be more nutricious if they did. We should be eating more whole grains and less greasy, fatty, preprepared foods, and we can save the environment and our waistlines at the same time. More importantly (for a lot of people), we can save for our wallets.

You don't realize that there's a magic hidden tax on every double cheeseburger you buy. It might be on the 99 cent menu, but you are paying a hidden cost in healthcare bills later in life when all that cholesterol adds up. You also pay in years off your life. How do you even put a price on that?

Anyway, got a little offtopic there, but the point is that Green and many other issues are all interconnected.

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Lyrhawn
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Here you can find the special on the CBS morning show about electric cars. Tesla and the Chevy Volt were featured, among others. I haven't watched it yet but I will tonight.

Safeway will install solar panels at 23 stores in California.

US will work with China to increase energy efficiency.

Xerox opens more efficient factory that produces more Green toner.

More later...

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Lyrhawn
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Sorry to break this into two posts, I had to sign off and take a nap, I was exhausted. Sadly I awoke to find the Tigers lost to the Indians in a walkoff homer. Oy.

We're one week away from the West Coast Green Conference, this one is for regular people.

Global Warming could cause global collapse of food supply. Poor, southern nations the hardest hit, northern industrialized countries to get boost from longer growing season.

Australia has new internationally recognized standard for forestry practices. Think LEED certification for wood.

Offshore wind power getting a boost in Deleware.

Company brings makeshift farmer's markets to office parking lots. Healthier lunch and partnerships with local farmers? More please!

Ethanol producing cyanobacteria - I've talked about this before. One of the hopes of the Green movement is that CO2 sequestration will really be recycling, using bacteria like this or like algae to turn CO2 into something usable. It's the hope for cellulosic ethanol too.

Look out SoCal, you're in for a water crunch! Increasing drought in the Southern California region has led to a decision to reduce by 30% the amount of water SoCal gets from northern resevoirs. The south gets 60% of their water from those resevoirs. Officials in the south believe this will lead to some possibly serious increases in the price of water in SoCal, as well as a lot of new regulations on what you can and can't use water for. The future is here now.

Carl Sagan talks about reducing poverty and lowering the world birth rate.

Sun Lizard is a much Greener way to heat and cool your home (okay, it's not the best thing ever, but it takes the edge off!)

SolarGenix has a revolutionary (so they say) do it yourself system of solar powered heating and cooling. This one actually looks pretty cool.

Some featured articles

Russia claims they have found a mineral that can render radioactive material totally inert. Possible boon to nuclear power, but claim has not been independently verified.

More talk in Britain about getting rid of cars. The Greens there are talking about huge taxes on cars in order to radically expand the rail system.

Ground has been broken on a new 70MW solar power plant in MA.

End of features, now for something a bit lighter...

article on

Now I seriously hope that the picture and the video are a joke, and that it's not an ACTUAL Toyota ad. It's going way too far if it is, and while the point isn't a bad one, it's done so very, very wrong.

I'll do a breakdown on the CBS video later tonight and edit this post.

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Lyrhawn
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Okay, the video is just shy of 11 minutes, so it's not bad. It's roughly 1/3 about Tesla, 1/3 about the Chevy Volt, and 1/3 about electric cars and batteries in general.

The bit about Tesla was cool. They talked about the big price, but also that it's sold out and back ordered for a year, and though they didn't name it they talked about Tesla's already planned family car, the half priced White Star (which I cannot for the life of be think of without thinking of Babylon 5). Tesla is the representative of the pure electric community. 200 mile range that you plug in with no connection to the gas pump. It's also the representative of the grass roots effort, the small start up electric car that is popping up all over Silicon Valley.

Then they move on to Detroit and the establishment, GM. They briefly touch on the "Who Killed The Electric Car?" thing, and then delve into GM's commitment to the Volt. They take us through the labs that are working on the battery, they talk with Bob Lutz, who again expresses his commitment and excitement for the car. Pogue, the interviewer phrases the PHEV in a way I haven't heard it mentioned yet, which is a "reverse hybrid," in that, instead of being gas powered with a little battery to augment it, it's really an electric car with a small gas engine to help charge it. It really is an electric car, it just has a tiny power plant on board. It's a good article.

But they cover the skepticism over GM's commitment, without I think, giving fair time to the EV1. The EV1 died for perfectly valid reasons: They weren't sellable. The batteries sucked, I don't care what that documentary says. They like to say that 5,000 people were waiting in the wings to buy them, but that's not true. 5,000 people expressed a keen interest, and then when GM told them it'd be $299 a month for a lease, you'd only get 80 miles of range, and it'd take up to 15 hours to charge it, a lot of them said forget it. Keeping in mind they were only available in I think California and Arizona, and I can't imagine I'd want one in LA traffic either. Lutz admits that shredding them was ridiculously stupid, but that not selling them was good business sense.

I'm a bit surprised they didn't even throw a bone to the tussle between Toyota and GM over the future of PHEVs, or try to cover any of the other PHEVs being developed, but frankly no large car company has embraced PHEVs like GM has, despite whatever press releases they issue and concepts they bring to auto shows, especially Toyota who spends a lot of time badmouthing them.

We'll have to wait a couple years to see what happens with the Volt, but we should know in less time than that whether or not the Roadster goes the way of the EV1 or not.

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Lyrhawn
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No update today. I had one set up and ironically when I went to copy the post before posting it (to make sure it wasn't lost), I hit paste by accident and killed the post. Sorry to say, I just don't feel like doing it again. There were a couple good things at Treehugger.com, autobloggreen.com, and Green Wombat, so you can check them out yourself if you want to. There was some stuff on California's proposed regulations and Texas wind power that was good.

I promise a bigger update tomorrow.

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Bokonon
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Lyrhawn, in most apps, even in notepad, I think, ctrl-z will undo your last action. You can recover from most accidental pastes that way.

-Bok

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Lyrhawn
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Holy crap, thanks! Damn I wish I'd known that 10 minutes ago.

Much appreciated Bok.

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Noemon
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Here's an interesting interview with Joe Biden in which he talks about "energy security" being the primary focus of a Biden presidency.
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Lyrhawn
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I like Biden. I really do. I'd vote for him if I think he had a chance of winning, but really I don't think there is that chance, though I'd love to see him as Obama's VP maybe.

My favorite answer was this:

quote:
I see a role for nuclear, but first you've got to deal with the security as well as the safety concerns. I'd be spending a whole hell of a lot of money trying to figure out how to reconfigure the spent fuel into reusable fuel. I would not invest in [growing our nuclear power capacity in its current form], but I would invest in sorting out the storage and waste problems.
Emphasis mine. I know Biden gets attacked a lot for making gaffes, but I LIKE that kind of off the cuff response. Why? Because I hate polish. I hate washed, polished, screened, pre-written answers and talking points. I liked his answers in general, it looks like he REALLY gets it, and he'd be ultra aggressive about it. I wish the other Democratic candidates got it too.

Alright, one article I WILL post is this: Traffic congestion is only getting worse in America, and it's costing is billions in time and money. In other words, we're still largely using the same roads our parents used while adding millions of drivers. So you get more time wasted in traffic, that lowers our productivity, and you get more time spent sitting in traffic, which wastes gas (and both waste money). Ironically, making concrete is one of the most polluting activities we have, and that's what we'd have to do to create more roads to ease congestion, but I think it'd be worth the carbon investment in terms of long term savings.

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AvidReader
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I wouldn't call that a gaffe so much as an inaccuracy. If you build a breeder reactor, you get more fuel that you started with. Which is pretty impressive when you consider that the whole point is to break the uranium so it isn't uranium anymore.

Spent fuel is mostly cobalt that will break down into something inert. Lead maybe? It just needs to be put away so the gamma rays don't kill anyone while it does it. The paper suits are a little trickier. Good thing they don't use those anymore. Not sure what to do with the old ones, though.

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Bokonon
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I'll add that in some apps you can even use that combo several times to go back several edits.

No problem, Lyrhawn. You provide a lot of info, and it sucks when you're stymied by Windows [Smile] I need my Green fix.

=Bok

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Lyrhawn
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As promised, your somewhat bigger than usual report. Yeah, there wasn't a huge amount of cool stuff today, so even though I said I wouldn't, I went back and grabbed some of yesterday's headlines that I said I'd leave in the dust. Going back over them, some were pretty good, so here you go:

Businessweek has a big review on Green tech, I haven't been through it all, but there's a lot there.

Despite sluggish sales last month, hybrid sales as a whole are up almost 50% from last year. And to emphasize the point, check out this graph on hybrid sales increaes by region and state.

CA Judge dismisses suit against car companies. CA claimed cars were a nuissance because of emissions. Rightly I think, the suit was slapped down. Blaming car companies is trying to find a scapegoat. I think car companies have a role to play, but attacking them like that is goofy. It won't solve the problem at all, it might even make it worse.

California wants all new commercial buildings in CA to be carbon free and self powered.

Ariba offers advice to companies on how to "green" their supply chain.

New designs for apartment buildings are self powered, heated, and through vertical farms, actually provide their own food. Talk about one stop shopping!

New ceramic tiles make carbon sequestration from coal fired plants much easier. I can't let this one go without a disclaimer. As good as this is for possible sequestration technologies, CS is still very expensive, and almost wholly untried with the exception of oil fields. We don't know how long it will stay in the earth, we don't know what unintended consequences there might be, and we don't know how much space will be taken up, or if we even have nearly enough space to do it. So, this is great, because if we ever need for CO2 to be emitted purely, this makes it much easier, but don't think that this is any sort of major solution. Renewables are still the way to go.

Okay this one is a bit wacky. Here in the US we have enough space in the desert to power the whole country through solar (more on that later), but many countries don't have that luxury. So the UAE, being one of them, wants to build giant solar islands in the middle of the Gulf. What do you expect from the same people who build giant islands tailored to their every need? Still, it doesn't look like they are very efficient, they'd need dozens of the things.

For those living in Brooklyn, the 3rd Annual Green Brooklyn Event is Friday. It'll give you tons of tips on everything from composting in the city to small improvements you can make around your house. It's a Green Expo.

Old problems with coal get new light shined on them. Clean coal looks like more of a myth than ever.

Canada cuts spending on Wildlife observations. But let's still give these guys some credit, I've had a dozen posts recently on Canadian spending on Green energy projects.

The wrong way to look at the global fight against pollution.

Washington DC to mandate more parking for bikes. Bicycles have obvious benefits. They don't pollute, they make you healthier, and they ease traffic congestion. Furthermore, Britian is looking at a major investment in cycling in the UK as a way to SAVE money.


Several Featured articles today

British scientists have found a way to use lasers to render radioactive waste inert. Looks promising!

Scientists advocate solar for the whole US, say that solar power could power the entire nation. And it's cost effective. Infrastructure changes are required though.

Europeans embrace microgeneration!

Special link for baseball fans!

Alright, mostly for girls I guess, or guys looking to buy their ladies some baseball related swag. Uncommon Goods is selling silver jewelry with recycled plastic and wood bits from old Baseball stadiums in them, in an effort to keep waste out of landfills, and at the same time let you have a piece of that classic childhood memory stay with you forever. Normally I don't schill for places like this, but it IS for a good cause (that cause being less waste!) and if they can make some money off using the three R's while selling a product that frankly I think a lot of people would like, then do be it.

PS. I'm probably going to get one for my mom (a huge Tigers fan) for Christmas.

PPS. They are uber expensive. I just checked out the link, and the bracelet on the picture at the link is over $200. The cheapest thing they have is a necklace that starts at $80. Just so you're aware.

And we'll top it off with a little quirky bonus

I was going to post this in the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" Thread, but no one started one! So here you go, scientific proof that the reduction in number of Pirates is causing global warming!

[ September 20, 2007, 12:15 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Lyrhawn
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Just an update, I did a little browsing through the Businessweek page on green stuff, and it's chock full of great information.

I won't link, you can look for yourself, but "The State of Green," and "Energy From Unusual Sources," were good. Much of it will look very familiar to any frequent reader of this thread, but even I was surprised by the blurb on using lightning bolts to power homes. I guess when it comes to our manmade power sources, mother nature still blows us away.

Anyway, the page has tons of little links on anything from home use, to business use, and it's a great summation of a lot of what we've talked about on here for the last three months.

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AvidReader
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I really like that about the lasers. I wonder if they can stick the iodine next to the cobalt and break it down without needing extra power? If nothing else, you'd think they could boost the existing gamma rays for less power than producing all new ones.

One kind of nuclear waste might help break down another. Ha!

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Lyrhawn
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Okay, I thought this deserved a second, more in depth look. Vertical Farms are something I posted about yesterday (or the day before), and at the time I thought, "well that looks neat," but there's apparently a lot more to them than that. The designs are many, but the benefits could be staggering. A recent article in New York magazine states that 150 of these buildings, 30 stories high and about the footprint of a city block, could feed all of New York City for a year. They produce their own power and water, even to excess, while feeding 50,000 people per building. The benefits are staggering, obviously. Ridiculously less fuel used to transport food all over the country, I'd imagine reduced food prices, since you are not only buying direct from the source, so no middle man mark up, but also no transportation costs, and a lot of the other costs involved with the modern farming industry. Frankly I think they look beautiful too. This is the penultimate sustainable building. While I don't expect to see this any time soon, I would LOVE to see one of these spring up in New York.

Jane Goodall praises new Kenmore appliances. Okay, that sounds a little goofy, but these things use way less water than old ones, and they run on less power than it takes to run some lightbulbs! Now that's impressive (Plus they are so high above even Energy Star standards, they qualify for a tax credit!)

Electricity prices set for a big jump in the US. And you thought it was just gas prices. This might tune a lot of people into the power crunch in the US during this upcoming election year. Basically it comes down to some of the same things I've been saying. The industry has no friggin clue what Congress is planning, especially without knowing who'll be the next President, they don't know what to build. If they knew for a fact that there would be no CO2 laws coming, they'd be building tons of coal plants, but they fear regulation, so building now could be disastrously expensive in the near future. Also, building materials are SKYROCKETING in price, thanks in part to the huge upsurge in renewable building. Wind plants especially are seeing big jumps in price because the towers they need to mount the turbines on are made of a now super expensive steel. On the bright side, US Steel us making a tidy sum off the explosion in construction, on the downside, we all have to pay more for power, regardless of what kind it is.

US Datacenters are considering going Green in large numbers.

Construction should consider Green renovation rather than rebuildings.

A little detail on the new GM HCCI engine.

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Lyrhawn
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Could Midwestern ethanol take us back to the dust bowl years? Maybe. The Ogallala aquifer, where most of the states between Texas and South Dakota get a lot of their water, is dropping, and many think it is because of increased ethanol production. Maybe ethanol will help us get serious about water conservation?

Nanotechnology and Green building join forces to the benefit of both.

MA school builds geothermal power plants on site to power school. They expect to gain $17K a year for six years and then make pure profit off it from then on.

Anyone notice? Today (or tomorrow, I can't tell which) is PARKing Day. The idea is to basically hold parking spaces hostage and turn them into green spaces to outline the glaring lack of open public spaces in America. I think I might have linked this once before, but it's worth mentioning again. We really do have too many parking spaces, and not enough green.

Architect Paul Rudolph wants people to pay more attention to renovating old buildings and less attention to knocking everything down. I like this for two reasons. 1. Renovating saves on materials. 2. America doesn't have enough architectural heritage. We knock too many old buildings down to make way for something new when we should preserve our history and upgrade the ineterior. What would Europe look like today if they had never saved anything?

Metal Shutter Houses are up for sale in NYC. They haven't been built yet, but they espouse a couple important Green improvements, like solar lighting and open spaces to allow for airflow, which will reduce the need for air conditioning. I'm not sure about the windows opening quite so wide, but it's not like you have to worry about bugs when you're that high up. Otherwise I think they look amazing.

Best Buy is apparently trying to slap a free Green changes on their buildings to give them a Green label, but at what point is it just Green-washing?

Not strictly energy news, but a "species factory" has been found off the coast of Indonesia.

A Mexican institution gets its first PV power plant.

New solar panel system designed to look nice and be easy for home installation.

Making LEDs brighter using salmon sperm? Well, yeah, maybe. Researchers are looking at biological products to make LEDs better.

Americans apparently don't have a clue...about where we produce the most greenhouse gas emissions.

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AvidReader
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Wow. 5 pages into the thread and I'd still have said cars and coal plants were the pollutors. I guess I haven't been paying as much attention as I thought. [Embarrassed]

As for the buildings being reused, I'd say it depends on the situation. If someone wanted to knock down our pretty buildings downtown, I'd have a problem with that. When they knocked down the grocery store no one wanted to build a new department store, I was thrilled. I thought the lot would sit empty while folks built new ones south of town. Heck, we're hoping the rumors are true that the strip mall across the intersection is getting knocked down to build condos.

Attractive buildings should be renovated. Most buildings are not attractive. They're large concrete boxes. I'd rather see them torn down than sit empty.

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Mike
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From the fourth comment on the "buildings cause most greenhouse gases" link:

quote:
Ummm... what? Excuse my ignorance here, but how are the buildings to blame? Just the electricity they use? Or am I missing something obvious? Because if it's just the electricity, that's a very misleading survey. The emissions for the electricity come from the power plant, not the house, even if the house is using the energy, right? So I can understand why people would say power plants were the leading cause of carbon emissions. If I'm somehow mistaken, please point it out.
Nu? Isn't it just that buildings draw a lot of electricity? So isn't it ultimately the power plants producing the emissions?
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Lyrhawn
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I have much less of a problem with knocking down something ugly and wasteful.

Yeah, but that's not how they look at it. If you're trying to focus on conservation and reducing energy use, you have to look at who is using the energy and not who is producing it, because they are only producing, most of the time, what people are demanding. You can focus on filtering emissions from stacks, but if you want to talk about conservation, you have to look at the users, and Commercial buildings are HUGE users of energy, which makes them huge polluters.

Yes power plants are the ones who create the emissions, but they are really just agents, the creators are those that buy the energy. Without the buildings, the electricity wouldn't need to be made, and the pollution wouldn't exist.

It might look like a semantic argument, but when it comes to reducing use, it's very important.

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Mike
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Indeed, from the standpoint of reducing emissions, it is very important to identify the biggest consumers of energy. But this article appears to have no other purpose than to say "look at those dumb Americans." What it indicates to me more than anything else is that the survey was extremely poorly worded. After all, why would anyone point to power plants as the leading cause of emissions if we are looking only at consumers of energy, not producers?

Also, claiming that buildings cause greenhouse gas emissions is misleading when it is actually the energy consumption associated with buildings that is (indirectly, through some kinds of power plants) causing the emissions. It makes it sound like, o noes, there's an abandoned building over there emitting CO2, when that's not actually happening at all.

Meh.

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aspectre
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More than that, it's a matter of marginal costs. eg When a heat wave rolls in and air conditioner use is bumped up, that extra demand for power causes ever more less-efficient&more-polluting powerplants to be fired up and placed on-line. The greater the demand, the worse the performance-level of the plants brought on-line.
The most efficient dual-cycle methane-burning gas-turbine powerplants achieve ~60% of the theoretical maximum efficiency in converting the potential power of fuel into electricity.
The least efficient coal-fired powerplants run at ~20% of the theoretical maximum efficiency. For the same amount of potential energy contained within the fuel itself, coal-burning produces 5/3rds the amount of greenhouse gas as methane-burning.....and far far more sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution.
ie The least-efficient coal-burning powerplants are putting out 60% divided by 20% times 5/3rds, or 5times as much CO2 to produce the same amount of electricity as the most-efficient methane-burning powerplants.

Since such peak demand also causes electricity to be imported from farther away, transmission-line losses cause a further decrease in efficiency. And transmitting more electricity on a transmission-line than it is optimally designed to handle causes an increase in transmission-line resistance, causing a yet further decrease in efficiency.
Which is why highly expensive fuel-cell powerplants are nearly economicly competitive in places like Manhattan. Considering maximum load-capacity of individual transmission lines and power converters, the cost of adding extra load-capacity to handle peak demand closely approaches the extra cost of installing fuel-cell powerplants. Add that those fuel-cell powerplants directly supply electricity to critical services such as fire, police, hospitals, etc that are the last places ya want to have shut down due to a blackout, and fuel-cell operations become very attractive as a means of supplying peak power.

Thing is ya can't just replace the less-efficient plants with the most-efficient powerplants. To achieve that 60% efficiency, the dual-cycle powerplants have to run at their optimum production level on a close-to-constant basis so that the waste from the first-cycle gas-turbine generators can keep the second-cycle steam-powered generators running efficiently.
ie A dual-cycle gas-turbine isn't good at varying the amount of electricity produced, and thus not economicly competitive with less-efficient but quick&easy on&off-cycling powerplants such as single-cycle gas-turbine, fuel-oil, diesel, and the least-efficient coal-fired powerplant in producing peak power.

So the best way to minimize the greenhouse gas production accompanying electricity production is to decrease the difference between the base*load and the peak-load. And the most economical way to do that is to increase the efficiency at which final consumers use their electricity.

As an added benefit, the total cost of electricity production decreases because the least efficient means of getting electricity to the consumer are decreased. Which means lower costs to the consumer; including because lower demand for fuel means lower prices for fuel.

* The minimum expectable demand for electricity within a given period of time. I almost linked to Wiki but frankly the authors' statements about baseload powerplants are absurdly misleading due to what-is-not-discussed.

[ September 23, 2007, 05:46 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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AvidReader
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We need a standing ovation graemlin. Thanks for all that info, aspectre.

Do you happen to know if it's hard to get the methane for the better plants to burn? Coal we go dig out of the grond and ship on a barge. Is it comparable to getting methane and shipping it cost and efficiency wise?

Like, I know uranium costs more than coal size wise. But you get more energy out of it than the coal, so it ends up cheaper. Is methane the same way?

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Lyrhawn
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Nicely worded post aspectre. The difference between peak and offpeak is part of why I think there should be different prices for off peak and peak use, to reduce the peak use and put all that use at night when it's cheaper, otherwise that power is just being wasted. Peaking plants are the most wasteful of all, and we should be first focusing on reducing daytime use, and replacing them with renewables. It's also why a massive EV car fleet could be powered without any real extra pollution, because that energy is still produced at night, it just isn't used.

You'll start to see a BIG call in the next 10 years to SERIOUS update the US electric grid from AC to DC, to reduce transmission losses so we can more or less import renewable power from the southwest. The desert, for really the first time, is being turned into a techologically enabled natural resource. It's the best land for solar power, and there's nothing out there for anyone to really argue about as far as taking up the space. A 96x96 square mile spread of land, while unrealistic at the moment, could power the country, and we have the room to spare, it'll just take a change in the way we talk about energy, and a major investment over the next 20 years.

I expect zero real progress to be made with Pres. Bush in charge, though private industry is picking up the slack. Bush is making zero demands of us through conservation, and a lot of industry and Congressional officials are balking at relaxing standards for air quality and allowing more polluting plants when Conservation efforts haven't even been tried yet. They're calling it ridiculous, and it is, to argue that we're short on energy (which we are) when we've had zero call from government for better Conservation efforts.

We need an AGGRESSIVE government when it comes to energy efficiency in this country, the kind of aggressive stance we haven't seen on this sort of domestic issue in 40 years.

It's depressing, to see how apathetic and untrusting this government is of its people, to think they can't trust us to understand how important this issue is.

I'll get your update for you later tonight.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
But you get more energy out of it than the coal, so it ends up cheaper. Is methane the same way?
It all depends on location. It's difficult to ship natural gas, so it's generally moved by pipelines. Some oilfields aren't located where they can be conveniently connected to a pipeline, and they actually flare off gas, because to them it's a nuisance. But if a powerplant is on a pipeline, it might be cheaper depending on the demand for natural gas, and the proximity to the oilfield /refinery.

I've also heard of powerplants that burn hydrogen during surges in demand, because it provides a quick source of high quality steam without the need for a boiler. It's a very expensive fuel, but it can be turned on at the flip of a switch, so there is no time delay that occurs when you start heating up a boiler. This is an extreme example of how load changes make power production inefficient.

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Lyrhawn
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Sorry I didn't get an update for you all last night. I did a quick browse of my usual info sources and didn't really see a whole lot of attention grabbing stuff, which is pretty usual for the weekend, so I took the night off. Forgive me [Smile]

But for today...

One major complaint about CFLs is now gone; they are now fully dimmable.

Concrete proof that air pollution causes heart disease, and we know how it works.

In slightly offbeat Green news, many are expecting the Pope, in his first address to the UN, to make a major speech on global warming and perhaps even linking Green living to moral behavior.

Ford may be getting on the Green bandwagon with an Escort PHEV in 2010 or 2011, still just speculation.

Touring one of the most polluted places in the US. Seriously I watched the video and it's disgusting. To think that companies are flouting anti-pollution laws and are getting away with it, it's disturbing, especially so since they can only do so when apathy thrives.

Okay, you guys know that I don't usually post stuff like this, but this falls into my personal "cool" category. It's a wind powered outdoor LED light. You know those little solar powered outdoor accent lights you can jab into the ground? This is a larger version, that spins in a helix formation with a little breeze, and it lights up when it spins from LED lights that go up and down it. It's pretty cool looking.

Red meat in excess isn't just not good for your health, it's not good for the health of the planet either. And we Americans apparently eat WAY too much red meat.

Next genearation of Volkswagon cars could ALL have a hybrid option, and some may be standard.

Another win for the OZONE layer! In an add-on to the Montreal Accord, the world's nations have agreed to accelerate phasing out and eliminating HCFC emissions. They'll be done with by 2020 for industrialized nations, and 2030 for developing nations.

New Transbay Terminal in San Diego is beautiful to behold and Greener than your average skyscraper to boot. I'm going to check into this further to see what sort of, if any, LEED certification they are aiming for, and what sorts of Green engineering they're incorporating into the design.

Cost of traditional solar panels cut by 50% thanks to researchers in California. The manufacturing process is also less wasteful. Result? Solar power produced at less than $1 a watt.

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Lyrhawn
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Double sized post today to make up for the day I missed. Might come in two halves.

Icelandic bank loans out a billion dollars to geothermal projects in the US.

The so-called "Holy Grail" of LEDs (a white light good enough for home use) has been achieved by Indian scientists. It contains small amounts of Cadmium, which is a downside, but it's less than the mercury in CFLs, so I wonder how bad it'll really be.

The DOE will spend $38 million for advanced battery research to make PHEVs a reality.

The University of Buffalo may have come up with a new technique to make solar film more efficient and cheaper to produce.

Dell goes carbon neutral...or at least that's the line.

Silicon Valley leading the fight against climate change.

NRG has submitted papers to the US government agency that oversees nuclear plants for the building of the first nuclear power plants in the US in 30 years.

Reusable paper? Xerox has announced that they are in the early stages of research into paper that will be timed. Basically, you print something on it, and after a specified period of time the ink disappears and you have new paper again.

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Lyrhawn
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US policy in mass transit seems to be headed off the tracks.

Can Marine Reserves save the sea from humans?

Businesspeople and Treehuggers join forces at last? Maybe. It appears both sides might finally realize they have something to gain from listening to one another (which might seem obvious, but hasn't always been apparent).

EU taking maverick action on airplan emissions, US decrying unfairness. Wow, there's some irony for you.

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The Bush Administration, in documents recently made public, lobbied hard behind the scenes to try and drum up negative attention for California's more aggressive stance on emissions. It appears the White House is no longer interested in a fair fight (which it knows it'll likely lose), so it's resorted to yet more underhanded tactics.

Tiny island nations plead for industrialized nations to do their part in saving the world.

Hello and goodbye, a list of 100 things that may be gone forever, and things we might have to learn to live with, because of global climate change.


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Follow the link and check out the page, it's a report being done by NBC on the coming water crisis in the world. By 2030, up to 2/3rds of the world will be living in water stressed areas. If we don't start taking action now, we may find that many of the problems we're worried about in the world right now pale in comparison to this looming threat. It's going to catch a lot of people unaware. In third world countries, millions will die. In America, it's doubtful that many will die, but it could dramatically change the way we grow and consume food, and where we build our homes. And for most of us, it's going to seem like it's coming out of nowhere.

Businesses are already being warned to watch out for this problem.

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Lyrhawn
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Update for the 27th:

MI Congressman John Dingell goes hardcore on pollution. Proposes $50 per ton tax on CO2 and 50 cent increase in gas tax. Wow, that's some damned tough talk. All proceeds would go towards renewables. Now, that kind of cash could be huge in spurring efficiency upgrades and better mileage for cars. It could be a huge drag on the economy too, which is why it'll go nowhere, but we need to raise funds from somewhere. That money could go towards upgrading the power network in the country to reduce transmission losses, as well as providing funding for research projects and money for efficiency upgrades. I support it, or at least a watered down version of it. Any sort of aggressive action will still require compromise. You can't sacrifice business for the sake of the environment, much as I'd like to say it doesn't matter, it does. Treehuggers and Businesspeople need to work together to aggressively solve the problem in a way that won't crush one group or the other in the process, and I think we can reach an agreement.

This, however, is not the way to do it. Rice and Pres. Bush are living in fantasyland if they really think that businesses will voluntarily reduce emissions. "But Lyrhawn," you say, "haven't you been reporting to us that dozens of businesses are doing exactly that?" Well, yes, I have. But I've also been saying that a great many of them are doing so for three reasons: 1. Consumer backlash, which many of them fear if their can't keep up at least the guise of Green cred. 2. Money savings through reduced power consumption. 3. Fear of future CO2 legislation. They are reducing their consumption because they KNOW that regardless of what Pres. Bush says now, there WILL be some sort of cap in the future, so they are getting a head start. The prudent thing would be to let them in on what the plan will be, so they aren't all whipping in the wind with no real guidance.

Frankly it should something like this. We've already been through this, with CFCs and the hole in the OZONE layer. Government mandated change, and business balked that it would be too expensive. It wasn't. And now we have made tremendous progress in achieving our goal in a short amount of time. Pres. Bush is a naysayer, but worse, he's a fearmongerer, at a time when fearmongering is particularly potent and finds purchase all too easily in the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Fact is, delaying CO2 legislation is probably going to cost us more in the long run than implementing a fair piece of legislation sooner.

Yeah I'm harping on it again, our rivers are disgusting and our sewers are overtaxed. Do we want to end up looking like the Ganges? If you want to have rivers your kids and grandkids can swim in some day, you need to start paying attention to the problem now.

Handy dandy power strip takes the pressure of your mind and smartly saves you power.

Waste management is turning 60 more landfills into gas capturing renewable energy plants. This could generate more than 700MW of clean power.

PG&E has announced plans to buy an additional GW of solar power, making it the largest provider of solar derived power in the US.

Florida is playing ball on solar power too, realizing how much they have to lose if climate change becomes a reality.

Standard Charter Bank has pledges at the Clinton Global Initiative to spend more than $8 BILLION on renewable investments around the world.

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How technology will decide this issue regardless of what Congress does.


P.S. I don't know how many people actually read this thread on a regular basis, at least three or four of you I'd imagine, but I was wondering how you think a Green Fundraiser might go over. No, I know that there seems to be more fundraising going on here than usual on a regular basis, what with Tatiana's Kiva (which, by the way, is totally awesome, and a lot of fun to track, so don't for a second thing I'm knocking that effort, I'm not [Smile] ), so I don't want to crowd the punchbowl, but I had an idea in mind. Generally it's hard to do any sort of small fundraiser for Green causes because there's really only three things you can do: 1. Offsets. 2. Efficiency Upgrades. 3. Renewable investment. Well we don't really have the resources for investing, and I'm skeptical of the value of carbon offsets. Frankly I think they are a copout, and scientifically muddled since carbon sinks by and large only really work in South America.

So I was thinking something along the lines of number two, efficieny upgrades. What if we did a sort of Hatrack microlending for effiency upgrades for other hatrackers? Personally I'd love it if there was a US Efficiency version of Kiva so regular Americans could borrow money for efficiency upgrades, but there isn't. So what if we created a revolving fund, where hatrackers could borrow money for things like CFLs to replace incandescents, or to buy equipment to lower their water usage. Some of these might be DIY projects that could make a home more efficient, so the person borrowing is also donating their time for the upgrade. Then the borrower will pay back into the fund, and we can loan it out again, whilst having the upgrades in place.

I know it's not quite the same, since this is people we know, and it's different than someone in a third world country, and different than us just pointing and clicking to watch numbers roll around, but I think most everyone here is trustworthy, and I'd love to go beyond reporting the changes that OTHER people are making and even if it's a small change, really be involved with spreading real changes to real people.

Thoughts? Suggested modifications? Shoot me down and put me out of my misery? Constructive criticism is welcome!

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Lyrhawn
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New Zealand to be 90% renewable powered by 2025.

ING, like many other companies, is going carbon neutral by buying all wind power for their operations.

Dupont exploring making plastics from plants. It's not new technology, it's been around for something like 70 years. Ford has been doing tons of work on making car parts from plants. I think I posted about it once before, but 70 years ago there was a Betamax/VCR type war over whether we'd make plastics from plants or oil. Oil won out at the time because back then we still had Texas and California, and oil was flowing like rivers (unlike today, where it just flows INTO our rivers). In other words it was cheap and plentiful so plants lost. But with that not being the case, we're starting to take a look at plants again.

Something to keep in mind though, is using plants as our own domestic source of plastic building blocks MIGHT not be the best solution either. Midwest aquifers are drying up, the Gret Lakes are at their lowest recorded level ever, Florida has used up a great many of their natural aquifers as well, and drought persists in the west, and south. Farming in America might not, in the next 30 years, be what it was in the last 30. Just something to keep in mind.

I know you've seen me post a lot about PG&E before, and it looks like their efforts have caught up with them, as CNN Money takes a look at the Green Juggernaut.

Featured Article
Very detailed article on what Cellulosic Ethanol is, where we are in the progress towards achieving it cost effectively, and the science involved. Great for getting caught up on the ethanol debate.

And here is a look at some of the competition ethanol has in the biofuel business.

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This thing is pretty cool. It measures how much power you are using at any given time in your house, and then tells you how much money it's costing you per hour. When you turn a lamp off, you see exactly how much money you are saving. Should be a great way for people to truly see what their habits cost them.

Ecuador pledges to forgo development on largest oil reserve in order to preserve rainforest. Highly commendable.

An...organic looking solar powered street lamp. It's an interesting design, and while it looks weird, I really don't think I'd mind seeing one on a regular street if it replaced those big metal drab grey droning street lamps with their dull lights that we have now.

Ontario election sees big fight over who is the Greenest.

Using electricity to power coral growth? Maybe!

Germany is a perfect example of how a Green economy can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

PS. Any comments on my idea from the last post?

[ October 01, 2007, 06:27 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Lyrhawn
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Barring any comment on my idea, I think I'm going to start a new thread and propose the fundraiser idea to all of Hatrack and see what the response is.

Sorry there hasn't been any big update lately, but news has been slowly and largely repetitive really. Even some of today will sound like a rehashing, but there's still some new information to be had:

Alaskan fishing village falls into the sea due to soil erosion.

Most men in America doubt the truth of "green" products. Most men especially in the south say they doubt whether a product is green or not, and would not pay more up front, even if they knew it would save them more in the long run. On the other hand, the majority of them say they WOULD pay more up front for home building costs to built a more efficient home.

Most retailers getting serious about sustainability.

Using microbes to turn trash into fuel via fuel cells may soon be a reality. This isn't like thermodepolymerization, which uses heat to separate hydrocarbon chains, it's using bateria to convert rotting fruit and dirt (cellulosic trash basically) directly into stored energy. Takes composting to a whole new level.

Consortium of groups come together to form new CO2 sequestration techniques. The jury is still out on whether or not it'll work.

Kohl's is getting REALLY serious about microgeneration, and will put some serious solar power on the roofs of their department stores. When it's done next year, they will have 25MW of installed capacity, more than anyone else in the US (actually more than the top three arrays combined). Now that's a serious investment.

Urban planning could sink or swim our entire effort to reduce CO2 production. The basic argument? We need to love closer to where we work, we need to not be so spread out. You know the most efficient cities in the world? Cities like New York. Why? Because 200 single family homes are many, MANY times more wasteful than one 200 unit apartment complex. Those 200 people probably take public transportation to get to work, which likely isn't super far away, and their single building is more easily made efficient than 200 separate homes. Now multiple that by millions of people, and continued urban sprawl and you begin to see where the problem comes from.

We need to focus on public transportation and make more sustainable liveable cities.

Diane Rehm on NPR dicusses how ethanol affects food prices. It's an hour long show and I haven't listened yet, but I will later and I'll report back.

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Introducing the Energy Island. It looks like a Pacific Atoll, but it's actually a combination hydroelectric dam and offshore wind power station. The good? It produces 1.5GW of power (like having 3 coal fired plants), and it doesn't matter when the wind blows, the hydroelectric part stores energy at 80-90% efficiency. We've got tons of shoreline, let's start building these things.

I found a new site that has some really interesting news on upcoming renewable energy technologies. I'm browsing through it now to see if there's anything worth mentioning, but here's the first snippet from the site.

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New wind turbines are lighter, more efficient, and smaller than ever.

quote:
Lower weight HTS (High Temperature Superconductor) direct drive generator systems are expected to provide more power in a smaller package for about the same cost as conventional direct drive generators. By replacing copper with HTS on the generator's rotor and utilizing a new high-efficiency stator design to be developed under this project, AMSC and TWMC estimate that they could produce 10 megawatt (MW) class direct drive generator systems that would weigh approximately 120 metric tons, or about one-third the weight of conventional direct drive generators with this power rating. Technically, weight reductions could be greater, albeit at a higher cost, giving wind energy system manufacturers and developers new options to design and deploy cost-effective offshore wind farms.
Your average wind turbine from GE right now is probably between 1.5 and 3MW, with 5MW being the newly introduced high end models. Replacing old, or making new turbines at 10MW would be a huge advantage, especially if there is no price premium and they are even lighter than their predecessors. I wonder how much better it would be made with integrated MagLev technology like what the Chinese are working on.
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Lyrhawn
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Summary of Diane Rehm show:

Food prices have rapid increased over the last few years, last year especially because of the use of food in biofuels. For example, a pound of chicken is up 15% from a year ago, beef as well. Families are spending 9.9% of their disposable income on food, up significantly from a year ago.

We've double the amount of corn that goes into ethanol recently, and it looks like we'll double it again. Soybean prices have gone up as farmers stop planting it and plant more corn. A problem with that is that soybeans are crucial to crop rotation, they replace nitrates, but now everyone is going all corn. Corn prices have jumped as well. This is from me, not the interview, but biofuel plants in Texas have closed recently because they don't have the corn to turn into fuel. Corn is becoming scarce, and with it there is a fear that the last few remaining wild American prarie grasslands could be destroyed in the drive to grow more corn. Back to the interview, currently more supply than demand, 12 billion gallons produced, 9 billion gallon demand. Less efficient producers will fold. There's an overexuberance because of the explosion right now in subsidies and excitement, but it might be too much. Also, not from NPR, but Europe is pissy because cheap US ethanol is flooding Euromarkets and is putting domestic suppliers out of business. They are starting to complain about it. The US supplies a huge percentage of European biofuels at the moment. Back to NPR again.

Ethanol is having a hard time getting to where it is needed because the infrastructure isn't there. There are no pipelines for it because it can't be sent by pipeline, it corrodes the pipes (much like your engines!) The Senate has passed a bill doubling the amount of ethanol that MUST be blended with gas to 20%. I don't like this as I haven't seen studies on what this does to car performance and engine wear. They could be destroying a generation's worth of cars and ruin efficiency. You might end up paying more.

Oil companies are making a dollar per gallon they sell thanks to government subsidies. This means a huge winfall for oil companies and refineries. It takes 6 pounds of grain to make add a pound of beef to a beef cow. So in the third world, with the growth of the middle classes and the increased consumption of beef, you see a lot more grain being used, which spikes the price of food everywhere.

Fruit, vegetables and beverages aren't suffering as much from the spike. Other things like rent, electricity and bills like that play a bigger role in upping the price of food than commodities. The weather is playing a role as well, like last year's Euro heat wave and Australia's drought. Farmers however like the record prices and the weak dollar, it's boomtime for them. Despite that though, food companies are still using this as an excuse to raise prices.

Price hikes invariably hurt the poor the most. The rich can choose to buy less expensive foods but the poor are already buying those, and have no way to make cheaper options.

Wheat is at historic highs, $9 a bushel. Causing a bit of a problem in Congress as some push for Food Aid to be purchased locally in country rather than spending a lot to ship it from the US, but domestic producers and the shipping industry don't like that.

As we consume more and more grain for non-food sources, you're going to see our "nest egg" of grain depleted, which leaves us more vulnerable to drought and prices will spike.

The system is set up to make sugarcane ethanol almost impossible. Subsidies and tariffs make the price extremely high for sugar, which means the money is all in sugar, not ethanol, because of the Sugar lobby. Cheap Brazilian sugar is being kept out of the country. But this isn't causing prices to spike, it's just keeping the price artificially high for the last 20 years. Subsidies were designed for when farmers were in tough times in dust bowl conditions, but that is no longer the case.

New Farm Bill has a lot of money for conservation and more money for fruit and vegetable farms. Also starting to see a call for integration of energy and farming as far as the discussion of funding and sustainability goes.

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Lyrhawn
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If you're going to be in DC after Oct. 12th, be sure to visit the Solar Decathalon!

PG&E gives away a million CFLs.

China joins growing list of countries that pledge to eliminate CFLs in the next 10 years. US still behind.

Lights Out San Fransisco will take place on Oct. 20th. Residents and business will be asked to turn off non-essential lighting from eight to nine pm.

Toxic America, something you might want to look at if you're moving to a big city.

Small things you can do every day to reduce waste around you.

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New nano-paint insulation actually creates energy using the temperature variation from outdoors and indoors. It might not produce a lot of power, but if we painted it on everything in the US and it only provided a 5% bonus to us, that's still thousands of megawatts saved.

Yet more on how bad coal is: Mercury run off.

Portugal will build the world's first wave farm. Okay it's small, only 3MW, but it's also only three units. We could carpet the ocean with these things in the future. Link includes actual pictures not just renderings. I have high hopes for wave power through farms like this and the giant buoys being tested in Oregon and Washington state.

Biofuels may have unintended consequences.

Macy's to reduce 40% of their energy use in California through solar power and efficiency upgrades.

Harry Reid introduces Senate bill to create National Renewable Energy Regions, to help pair transmission line builders with renewable energy power builders.

GE teams with Skypower to create 300MW of wind power in the US and Canada.

An example of how recycling can lead to beautiful results.

[ October 03, 2007, 08:59 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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AvidReader
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That's one snazzy looking coffe table. Here's to more cool recycling projects like that.
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