Sunday, September 27, 2009

Energy Bill would create 5,000 new jobs in state

In the day and age we live in, our society has become obsessed with CONSERVATION OF ENERGY and being eco friendly 24 hours per day 7 day a week. Now this is most evident through the importance that alternate forms of energy/green jobs had on our most recent presidential elections. Once in office president Obama gave a speech regarding “green jobs”, which in fact not only tied into issue of the economic chaos but gave a helping hand to the relationship between Mother Nature and the U.S. The article that I found talks about the bill pending to passes, in South Dakota, that would save the state around $226 per household by the year2020.
The article, “Energy bill would create 5,000 new jobs in state” written by Roger Larsen, has the same topics of green jobs, effects on the environment, and effects on the economy. Now an unfortunate twist to this “miracle plan” is that not everyone agrees on these changes, but they are rightfully justified. Some famers in South Dakota would not be able to work as efficiently with the new energy resources being used. I see both the pros and cons in this article, the article goes from both sides of how great this can truly be, but more importantly as seen in a short term point of view the effects out way the idea of an “eco friendly nation”. Clearly stated by Senator Tim Jonson, “Steps need to be taken to reduce greenhouse emissions, but it will take decades to correct the situation, Johnson said. In the meantime, however, there will be job creation and cleaner air”, and then there is the problem of how “if the bill fails to pass the Senate, it would stall the economy for the next few years.” I believe that to have such progress you must take in the good with the bad, although it may be a time lapse of 20 or 30 years, the nation will be that much closer on cleaning up mistakes made before. That is what the U.S. is; it is setting up a brighter future for future generations to come.

China vows climate change action

Summary: In an attempt to control climate change, China vows to control its carbon dioxide emissions. Joint with the USA, China is responsible for 20% of the worlds greenhouse pollution. 70% of China's energy comes from coal which during combustion releases great amounts of carbon dioxide. The question now is whether or not China actually goes through with this or not. The main problem resides in the fact that the Chinese government believes developed nations should do more than developing nations.

This story is potentially groundbreaking. As one of the world's leading greenhouse polluters is talking about reducing their global emission. China is currently responsible for emitting 20% of the world's total carbon dioxide, this can only be matched by the USA. This therefore makes China into a very important and strategic nation in terms of overall pollution cutbacks. Reducing the amount emitted by a country such as China would have drastic consequences on the world's environment.
The main problem China has is that it is a developing nation, and as such has a necessity to consume all the energy it can create to further progress its economy. 70% of all the energy they produce comes from coal, which of course during its combustion generates great amounts of carbon dioxide. If they are true to their word then essentially the efficiency of the country will increase. The general goal is to reduce the carbon intensity of the nation, which is associated to the GDP of the nation. This is however very deceptive because one of the main problems is the speed at which the Chinese economy is growing. What would actually happen is that the overall emissions today would be exactly the same as those in 2030. In actual fact, no official figures have been published by the Chinese government so it is still uncertain as to what actually is going to happen.
One of the major factors in Chinese policy resides in the fact they believe they have a right to emit more carbon dioxide than developing countries. This of course is something which I am certainly in favor of. I feel it is unfair to force countries that haven't really contributed to what is now considered to be a global problem. Developed nations have been emitting all sorts of contaminants and greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for years and years, without the slightest concern. This in turn has enabled us to progress, making us richer and more powerful. Whether or not this has contributed to global warming is a completely different debate which will continue to create conflict between experts. However what isn't debatable is the potential each country has to contributing to lowering emissions. It is unfair to ask a nation which finds itself in the position the US was back in the day, to cutback its progression. The Chinese have only been technologically competitive for a few years, and their accumulative pollution is not anywhere near the rest of developed nations. They are essentially still very economically immature and have a greater need to maintain their current status in order to make the next step into a developed country.
One of the major factors in global warming resides in the American energy policy. The fact the Kyoto protocol was dismissed completely proves just how much the Americans care about the overall well being of the world. The fact of the matter is that they only care about themselves and this in turn automatically gives China the right to not care about anything else but themselves and actually increase carbon dioxide emissions. However, thankfully some politicians are smart enough to understand that we all live on the same planet and therefore we all need to make an effort to cutback on any potentially harming policies. The Europeans have and are investing a great amount of their money into new technologies which have had serious effects on their carbon dioxide emissions.
The Chinese government is prepared to cutback on their emissions which in turn slows down their growth rate, but this should be seen as a good thing, as an example to the rest, that if we all pitch in, in the long run the earth will be in a better state. The Chinese have asked for help, they have asked for the developing nations to also make a move and actually make a greater effort in cutting back. This is simply because they have more power and a greater tolerance. The Chinese have also asked for the more powerful nations to investigate in cleaner technologies, which later on can be adopted by less developed nations. The general message is that everyone needs to contribute. With the Copenhagen summit later this year, where a general analysis of the state of the world will be evaluated, one can only hope that this time a step forward by the greater nations will be made.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

NRG agreement with Houston

Being from Houston, I was surprised when I came upon an article about the City of Houston making a 25-year agreement with NRG Energy to buy power from a solar power plant that will be built in July of 2010, which will then be the largest solar power plant in Texas. Its 10-megawatt capacity is estimated to provide the city with 1.5 percent of its energy needs. The cost per megawatt hour, estimated at $4 million per megawatt, is not much higher of those of its surrounding plants.

Issa Dadoush, the director of Houston's General Services Department hopes that this will give the city renewable energy credit, stating that "Houston always talks about being the energy capital of the world, but we'd like to see it transformed into the energy conservation and renewable capital".

This quote caught me by surprise because I doubt Houston can change their nickname to something pertaining to renewable when it headquarters a company like Halliburton, which opened a second headquarters in Duabi, a place not known for renewable energy, in 2007.

I found it interesting that the city is investing in a source of energy that will further diversify Houston's sources of fuel, which has been a concern after the natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which affected supply of oil and natural gas and caused a rise in the price of electricity.

I believe that if this investment is deemed a success that this could only push Houston in the direction to use more sources of renewable energy, aside from wind. Even if the plant's capacity is a mere 10-megawatts when being compared to plans on building a 14-megawatt plant in San Antonio and a 30-megawatt plant in Austin, this could be a small step towards a better future for the city.

The article, in its entirety, can be found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Algae in politics

While reading through a few articles I came across one based on algae and its development and possible future as a biofuel. The research and development done for this project was through Sapphire Energy which has since its beginning in 2007 has over "200" patents of its "designer algae" mechanisms. The focus of the article was toward the "green" nature of algae ands its efficiency as a fuel in areas of cost and productivity. The part that really caught my attention however was the political and business portion of this green venture.

In one particular section Mayfield, one of Sapphire's founders, commented that " there are no senators for algae-growing states to go back to Congress and say, 'Stop giving money to corn and give it to algae'." This is a rather inverse affect of one of algae's positives that it can be grown virtually anywhere- that because it has no "official home" it receives little political support at the time. (Though at this time Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwomen, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah), chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, support algae and its development.)

Under the current writing of the House Bill toward carbon offset ventures and biofuel equivalences, algae does not yet qualify as being either. But with continual drive from such political backing and business networks the language of the bill will be rewritten in order for algae research to gain grants and other government support.

In order to strengthen its foundation Sapphire Energy has been building bridges in the world of business. Not wanting to project themselves as a competitor fuel source it has lent itself toward facilitating needs of other energy providers- such as coal burning plants. In one section it was noted that algae absorbs and fixes CO2 as part of its chemical metabolism and algae stations have thus become a factor in some power plants in reducing their carbon emissions to meet EPA standards.

For the full article click this link, it is a rather long article but I found it very interesting and gave me a better perspective on the energy issues and how politics and business interplay with new energy developments such as algae.