Sunday, November 22, 2009


Carmakers are shifting towards electric vehicles. Policymakers must do their part, too

The amount of global vehicles is expected to quadruple over the next few decades and if car companies fail to produce more energy efficient vehicles, then the “world would explode” claims Carlos Ghosn. The companies Nissan and Chevrolet have begun to assemble cars that are solely propelled by electric motors, slowly replacing the conventional car industry we have today. As seen in the lectures, every electric car produced has substantial effects on the environment and could eventually lead to a reduction of man-made greenhouse gases.

The cost of redesigned components and the cost of generating electricity could slow the process of transferring to zero emission vehicles. These high costs could be avoided if the transformation became worldwide and the industry completely switched to electric vehicles, that way the price of buying all new equipment to produce a small volume of cars would be eliminated. The government can also play a part to stimulate the switch by raising the price on gasoline or by placing a tax on the carbon emissions released. Either way, the cost is a fleeting manner when it comes to the health of the world.

Green Energy in the Rust Belt

When you think of green energy you do not generally think of the Rust belt. Once known for many smokestacks, Ohio has become a location for the expansion of the green energy movement for the rest of the country. Many solar start ups are moving to Ohio because the large availability of skilled workers, many of whom have been out of work since the downturn in the economy. In automotive manufacturing cities such as Detroit, where plants to stamp metal are already largely available, it seems the logical choice to move mirror manufacturing for solar power. Stamped metal used for cars is very similar to the metal used for the mirror backing in solar array fields. This means much of the manufacturing is cheaper because the existing machinery is there and can be used which saves a lot on the overhead costs of building it. Adding to the buzz is the belief that solar and wind energy is and will continue to one of the fastest growing businesses on the market and the business can only increase. Not only that but many wind turbines are already made in Ohio. The once bleak future of the aging rust belt states is starting to look much brighter.

Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower

This article is the exact opposite from "No peak in oil before 2030, Study says" that I've posted.

This article states that "the world has already past it's oil peak production," but people like the US are trying to bend the truth so that there will not be panic in the financial markets. Also, "Americans fear the end of oil supreacy because it will threaten their power over access to oil resources," no one wants to admit the truth of the future of oil, therefore, no one is saying it.

People need to know exactly what the oil supplies future has, so their eyes can open up to new resources. Being optimistic is good but when it is talking about oil and resources this world has I think the truth should be nice and clear. Like I stated before we need to start on planning for the future, but not just that, we also need to start putting into work and finding a way to have our nation changing their lifestyles; they are going to have to change it anyway why not now.

Read this article it is way more interesting than the one I posted before.

No Peak in Oil Before 2030, Study Says

In this article, it is generaling saying that we are not running out of oil just yet. We will reach our highest level in 2030 or 2050, so the study says. Experts/researchers say that there is still oil on this planet in such places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq that we can still get oil from, therefore, oil supplies will keep growing in the next two decades.

What goes up must come down therefore I think we should prepare for when oil supplies gets low and we have to use other sources/reserves. If we do not plan ahead we might find ourselves in a bad situation. This whole article is just trying to be optimistic and keep people from panic.

Read my other article "Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower" that says the exact opposite about the "oil peak" in this article.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

India Cabinet Approved a $19 Billion Solar Plan

Summary: India cabinet approved a $19 billion dollar solar power plant in the whole India. The power plant is designed to generate about 20 gigawatts of electricity by 2020。 The plan is only under projection right now, and the India will spend future years research as well as construction. It is reported that the power plant will provide roughly 1-1.5 gigawatts of electricity in 3 years. The report says that this super expensive plan is India trying to narrow the gap between the solar leader like China, and in that way it would have more leverage in internationla talk. This is a Yahoo News posted on Novenber 19th. Click here to check the original article.
Comments: India is the biggest developing country right next to China. it consumes tremendous amount of energy in its industry. Also, India has about 1 billion population, the electricity demand of India is very high. The purpose of this giant solar power plant will certainly reduce the CO2 emission of India. However, the concern will also raise. Is the solar the suitable source for India? Or moreover, Is such a large-scale solar power palnt suitable for India? Is India has mature enough techonologies to build such a giant power plant? Is this just a comptetion to China? I certainly doubt that Indian can afford such a expensive budget, as well as the effect of this solar power plants. But it looks like we all going to find out soon, since it will start its operation in 2012 accroding to the article.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Digging for Oil; Canada Is Unlocking Petroleum From Sand

Summary: In Canada, less than 1% of the available oil sands have been used to produce oil. “According to Canada's National Energy Board, there are at least 300 billion barrels of recoverable oil within a 250-mile radius of this northern city, about 15 percent more than the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia.” Canada’s oil sand production is expected to grow drastically in the next few years thanks to the new advancements in technology, which make the production of oil sands easier and cheaper.

Comment: As we already know, Canada is the largest oil supplier country of the United States. This means that if Canada’s oil sands production is going to increase drastically in the next few years, the amount of oil coming from oil sands in the United States is obviously going to increase as well. This is a really good thing because we need to take advantage of the other ways we can produce oil rather than just from petroleum, which we know is already running out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Books Help Students Investigate Energy

The students who are learning a lot of the material about energy are mostly kids from the age of 9-12. From these new books they are learning plenty of material from energy such as the history and science of it. Also "Why do we need power and how we get it?". I just think it is a great idea to inform children about what all energy is and does. By doing such matters, kids will know what is going on in the world and have more interest in the world and energy. RIght now there are a lot of people who just do not know a thing about what is going on in the world, and it is for two reasons. Either they just do not know or they just do not care. Either way both reasons is quite a bad thing. It is best that the majority of humanity have interest in energy. So by giving these kids the education of Energy, can result to become a good thing.

India to Boost Funding for Solar Power

Climate change is a global problem that many countries are working on tackling. Although it may not be a drastic enough step, India's move towards solar energy is beneficial to the world and India. Sunlight is abundant in India in contrast of other renewables: wind and hydroelectric. Right now, India produces about 7.5% if their energy from renewable sources with the majority being wind. The government's new policy is aimed at increasing solar-power generation to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 from three megawatts. India is also working on energy efficiency of cars and consumer appliances in their efforts to adapt to a more economical, and sustainable energy profile. America, Russia, and others who seem to show an unwillingness to act on climate change need to realize that if we all work together, we can significantly cut carbon emissions. If developing countries play their part in the action we collectively need to take, we are moving in the right direction. Solar power is a technology that should continue to develop and become competitive in the future, and investing in it is a sound strategy.

Turtles Are Casualties of Warming in Costa Rica

While some people dedicate their summer nights to cookouts and fireworks, tourists on Costa Rica's northern Caribbean coast stroll the palm-lined beach of Tortuguero National Park to witness a more natural ritual, the annual nesting of green sea turtles. As many as 150,000 bury their eggs in the sands of Tortuguero in a good year, making it one of the world's top nesting beaches for the endangered green turtle. Four times as many green turtles now nest in Tortuguero than did in the 1960s. Tortuguero is one of many success stories in a long struggle to ensure the survival of the harmless marine reptile, which only recently faced an uncertain future.
But scientists fear that climate change could undo much of the progress made in sea turtle conservation. Global warming is linked to weather extremes. Rising temperatures from global warming are a major threat. Beach temperature during egg incubation determines turtle sex ratios, with higher temperatures producing more females.
A recent study at a Florida nesting beach found that all the turtle hatchlings were female, while on Costa Rica's Playa Grande, the sand was so hot between January and March of this year that turtle eggs buried there stopped hatching.
This is a clear consequence of climate change. It does affect more than we think, If we don’t measure what we do we can finish destroying all the life on the earth. There are some damages which are reversible but there are other that are impossible to fix. Contaminated water may be purified, but extinct species can’t be recovered. How will we stop the bad we have started?

Shower Time Could Get Shortened

The average American spends about eight minutes in the shower using about 20 gallons of water. The most radical proposal would be to take fewer showers. Which would help the environment, and give you more workspace around your colleagues. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez wants shower time limited to three minutes without any singing. Another proposal was “Navy showers”, or turning the shower off while lathering up. However, the main focus of this article is to improve water usage through modification of the showerhead.

This is not the first time that governments have looked at setting restrictions on showerheads. In 1992, the government restricted showerheads to ones that pump 2.5 gallons of water per minute. This forced showerhead companies to add flow restrictors, often by adding simple washers. The small secrets were that these washers were easily removed with a knife and there were often directions in the box about where they were located and how to remove them.

The latest idea is to turbo charge the new showerheads like today’s turbo charged cars that force more air into the engine, which boosts the power. With restrictions on the flow rates of showerheads - of 1.5 gallons per minute in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and 2.0 gallons per minute in San Antonio, Texas - improvements will have to come from technology. Engineers believe mixing air into the water can still give people the same pressure and enjoyment as a regular shower. The current technologies use either a “Venturi Vacuum”, which is often used by hotels to save water, or a small turbine inside of the showerhead. Both these technologies provide great pressure, and a reduction in water usage. However, the only problem is that the addition of more air causes users to operate their showers at higher temperatures, which uses 10% more energy in the process.

I hope that the EPA will only consider making restrictions to showerheads and not on the number of showers that I can take. Otherwise, I think we would need more space for group projects, and swimming would make chlorine the most popular cologne. I am impressed with the progress and cannot wait to take a shower in a fancy hotel to test out the new technology!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

IEA bets on Solar, Wind and Natural Gas to win the race to renewables.

Seeing as we're getting ready to write our papers, I feel that this article complements our research very well by proposing a realistic assessment of the material future of alternative energy in the united states.

the article actually makes a few points:

first, to get our sources strait: it's quoting the International Energy Agency's "outline for world energy future for the next 20 years" - the article explains that this year marks their decision to focus on stimulating clean energy for the future.

secondly, it indicates that while natural gas, solar, and wind power are expected to a rapid increase in demand, nuclear power will continue to play quite a minimal role in the future of alternative energy.

thirdly, this entire report is all based on the assumption that the world will cooperate on environmental policy and carbon taxes will skyrocket among a host of other presuppositions, which makes this report perhaps seem less important than it is. However, even if its based on the above assumptions, if there's one thing i've learned in economics is that public perception influences the demand for a product. If the public percieves that the International Energy Association advocates and predicts a big boom in wind and solar power, they might just believe in it.

I think it is critical to ask why nuclear power is still being left out of the picture as a "clean renewable source of energy" by even a network of informed scientists as prestigious as the international energy association. I hypothesize that it is one of the following:
a. given that nuclear power plants are highly capital intensive and take time to be approved let alone built, so the IEA is skeptical of the worlds ability to stimulate the production of nuclear power plants quickly in the next 10 years. OR
b. nuclear power is still seen as "dirty" or "unsafe" in terms of it's public image despite the massive leaps in efficiency, disposal and safety technologies.

I really hope it's the former, because if it's the latter, we're on the verge of making perhaps the gravest mistake of our time. In a world where we are thirsty for a highly safe, efficient and clean sources of energy - nuclear power should be one of the leading contenders to supplement our energy portfolio.

- thoughts?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Solar incentives drop as cells get raised on roofs

The popularity and demand for solar panels has increased as the price for their installment has dropped substantially. Another aspect of this spike in solar cell sales is the high rebate for the electricity produced by the cells. But because of this high spike in sales the cities and even countries such as Australia have placed cuts in the rebates. These cuts have received some argument because these cuts reduce the rebate by 50%. Cities such as Austin are behind the movement toward reducing the rebate.

The cut I find is logical as proposed. The rebate was used to give incentive to develop solar energies and replace polluting plants and hazardous emissions. As solar sales go up why should the rebate remain the same. The rebate is still in place-though at a lower level, and the people receiving the rebate are still receiving "free" energy. over time they are still benefiting from both. If the rebate were to stay at the current level the city would have to recover this money in some other program-maybe tax increases, which would mean a pretty vicious circle of people paying taxes to the city then the city paying the rebate to those with solar cell. In the end those without solar cells would be paying those with them. This would drive those without cells to install them then the whole system would be useless. The reduction is necessary in my opinion.

Clean Air for the future

In response to a lawsuit brought on by the State of North Carolina the T.V.A must "significantly reduce" its air pollution from four coal-fired power plants by December 2013. In order to do so smokestack scrubbers are being installed to eliminate most of the sulfur emissions. However this system takes into practice creating a landfill area rather than polluting the air. The T.V.A. has been approved to use an area of 50 acres and 200 feet tall but the project is wanting to limit the land use down to a fraction of this size to further reduce its footprint. Also being used is a dry storage system for the coal ash in response to last year's coal-ash spill. Two plants are already online with new scrubbers and a third one needing some adjustments and the fourth one is still to be determined if it can make deadline.

Investing over $6 Billion since the late 1970's T.V.A. has been working to reduce air pollution from sulfur dioxide and particulates and smog forming nitrogen oxide. The emphasis has been toward the air and has been leaving landfills to fill. the trade off is fair according to Mr. Nash who commented, "but it is still better to clean the air," because "we all breathe the air." I believe this logic is somewhat flawed because landfills as already noted in the article coal ash can spill. These resulting spills can devastate the local area and leak into underground water supplies leaving it contaminated. It is important to clean the emissions produced by the plants but the long run effects lead to a need for cleaner fuels and energy sources.

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

As the article state, "The holy grail of renewable energy is a solar power plant that continues producing electricity after the sun goes down". Essentially, SolarReverse, a company in Santa Monica, California, is looking to build a 150-megawatt solar farm that will store around seven hours worth of the sun's energy by heating molten salt and releasing that heat at night to create steam that will turn a turbine in order to compensate for the demand of electricity throughout the day.

The project, named Rice Solar Energy Project, will be built in the Sonoran Desert. The power plant will use thousands of mirrors, called heliostats, to concentrate sunlight to a tower with a receiver mounted on top of it. The receiver will be filled with 4.4 million gallons of liquid salt and will be heated by the focused sunlight to around 1050 degrees, which will flow through a steam-generating system.

This isn't the first time salt has been used for solar purposes, but in this case, the salt will be stored in tanks and used later. Solar Reverse also claims that it will air-cool the plant to avoid using water, another concern that comes with energy. This is yet another step in the right direction in our path to more reliable and renewable energy. Now that we are expanding the definition of solar energy with the introduction of using salt, this will urge scientists to find other mediums to where we can store the sun's energy, a source of energy that will be here to stay.

Although this may work in California, not all states have the available space need to commit to such a large project. This limits the effectiveness of a power plant like this dependent on its location. In the future, I believe that the big states with enough money and in an area that has high solar power potential will invest in this type of power plant. I do wonder however, if the current state of California's economy will have any effect on this specific project. Whether it will delay the completion of the project, or completely abandon it, if there is any effect at all.

Yemen could become first nation to run out of water

Summary: Yemen is set to be the first country in the world to run out of water, providing a taste of the conflict and mass movement of populations that may spread across the world if population growth outstrips natural resources.

Comment: This really puts things into perspective. When the world is talking about cutting down on CO2 emissions, and finding ways of storing and producing energy, there are still areas of the world where the very basic needs are scarce. The crazy thing is, Dr.Webber's flyer about water policy talked about how water demanding many of the energy generation techniques were, but here in Yemen, the situation is completely different. They find themselves in a situation where energy...just doesn't even matter. They are in a situation where water policy is the most important matter to discuss and legislate. It is a matter of life and death. The amazing thing is that gangs protect trunks containing water with guns. The most powerful currency in Yemen without a doubt is water. The government has anounnced that wells will run dry within ten years. Without mentioning their unstable civil wars, which lead to gangs obtaining ilegal water.
One of the main problems also, is the fact that yemen's growth rate is very high, one of the highest in the world. This makes things even worse. More mouths to feed means more problems. Most people can't afford water, and end up spending almost half of their money on all the water they can find.
Something they need to look at is agriculture. With almost 40% of water being consumed by Qat trees, which is a local drug, little is left for essential daily water use. The idea of constructing a desalination plant is good, however very expensive. Disease will increase and Yemen will find themselves in a situation where, if no one helps them out from the outside, they will find themselves in extreme civil war. Desperate times will produce fear and hatred. So this really does look like a very serious problem.