Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The Earth is going to diminish slowly and we are obviously going to go down with it. There are many things that have been killing this planet, and carbon emissions is one form. Trees are important in reducing carbon emissions, yet many trees are being cut every day. I think people hesitate in making a sacrifice because they do not want to change their lifestyles. I do not understand why saving the environment would not be on every one's list of "Things to Do."
Monday, October 26, 2009
Commnets: This article reminded me aout the relationship between water and energy that Dr. Webber mentioned in his article. We always valued more about energy, since it might bring more profits in short term. But we mostly ignored the importance of water . We can't live without water, and there is no alternatives for that, but we can always invent alternative energy form. Specially, in this case, NYC is the most population intnesive area in the whole world, and rely mostly on underground water for its daily life. Pollution to the undergraoup water is extermely dangerous. So, I think those big oil company which have it all need think more about the side effects that energy exploring might bring, and think more about long-term effects. Moreover, we need to think the importance of water, and put that in the list of environmental protection, and maybe set an agency to control the water qualties.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
China’s new solar energy policy is very lofty proposing to increase its solar capacity from 50 megawatts in 2008 to 10 to 20 gigawatts in 2020. This increase would be about 20 or 40 times the solar capacity of the U.S. in 2008 (eia). This increase is to be accomplished through government subsidies for solar power plants and rooftop instillations. The program “Golden Sun” will subsidize 50% for on-grid plants, and 70% for off-grid power systems. This program should generate 500MW of power and lasts until 2011.
China’s solar policy should be good for many global companies and consumers. Companies such as First Solar, Solarfun, Canadian Solar Inc., and Trina Solar all have agreements to start building facilities. First Solar, which is an Arizona based company, has an agreement to build a 2GW plant in Ordos City, which should be one of the largest in the world. This would probably be like The Three Gorges Dam of solar plants a.k.a. huge! This 2GW plant will not even be completed until 2019. Solarfun, a Chinese company, also has a contract to build 2 plants that will total 600MW of power for the city of Hohhot. Canadian Solar Inc. has a contract to build a 500MW plant for the city of Baotau. Trina Solar also has plans to increase its plant by 500MW.
This is all being done by solar companies because of China’s availability of capital and lower prices of polysilicon, which is the raw material to make thin-film solar cells. This is all a play by China to make Solar power technologies economical for production. Solarfun and Trina Solar are good examples of this. Solarfun has taken out a 56.8 million dollar loan to increase its capital for its 600MW plants. Trina Solar has taken out a 304 million dollar loan to increase its capital to fund its expansion of 500MW.
These loans and expansions of power and solar technologies should come back to benefit the consumer. The increased use of capital should help start the flow of money again and help us out of our current recession. The increased renewable energy capacity will help China reach its desired solar energy capacity and supply power to more of its cities. This is also helpful for the U.S. in order to see how the production of these solar plants function economically and efficiently before we construct more of our own. Finally the most important thing is to see if China can meet more of its energy demands with more solar and less with its coal plants!
(The lithium part of the article, which I am not commenting on, but will be very important for the next generation of batteries for electric cars, and storage of large amounts of power from utility scale wind or solar plants.)
U.S. Electric Net Summer Capacity. EIA, 01 July 2009. Web. 25 Oct. 2009.
Iowa Lakes Community College: Partnership for Academic and Economic Success in a Rapidly Evolving Wind-Energy Industry
Summary: Even though oil is harder to find nowadays, it is possible thanks to the technology that keeps on improving. This year, more than 200 oil discoveries have been made by big and small oil companies. This brings excitement for the industry as well as anxiety because of the fear that lower prices might injure the exploration. Companies are trying to keep up with the exploration while trying to reduce the costs. Thanks to this exploration drive companies have also found natural gas reserves and one of them could be Venezuela’s largest natural gas field.
Comment: We know that we need oil and people believe that there’s still a lot in the ground but it’s very expensive to explore and extract. It is reasonable that companies will explore more when the prices are high and that they won’t when the exploration is not worth the price. So, maybe there’s more oil left than we think, and the day when the price is high enough to explore the most difficult places will come.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In this case we do not need to look very far to find one of those problems, right here in the state of California. It should be a reason to worry about, but as usual it is turning into political stuff, the typical argument between Republicans and Democrats, but in this case both supporting the same goal, to solve the problem about the water supply.
The main idea is to repair the state’s fragile water ecosystem, to unleash new water supplies and to increase water conservation throughout the state. More specifically, negotiators hope to seal a deal that would make equal the goals of restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ( a collection of channels, natural habitats and islands at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers that is a major source of the state’s drinking water) and increasing the supply of water to residents, businesses and farms. Being the first one the largest environmental restoration project ever in the United States.
The discussion over how to distribute the water in California is decades old, but when it comes to water legislation, close to done never means done. There are many consequences cause of this problem with water, like water restrictions and increased prices for water, a federal order last year forcing water authorities to curtail the use of large pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to help preserve dying smelt has reduced water flows to agriculture, environmental problems in the Sacramento River have resulted in a collapse of the Chinook salmon population…
Of course there are some proposals to fix this. The construction of at least one dam is included in the plan, as well as a peripheral canal that would transport water from the Sacramento River around the delta to federal and state aqueducts for use in urban and agricultural areas.
One thing is clear, without water we can’t live. It’s necessary for us to survive, it’s a resource of energy we use continuously and it’s part of the nature where we live. It’s time to fix the damage we have caused during ages.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The article, Energy Firms Deeply Split on Bill to Battle Climate Change by John Broder and Jad Mouawad, goes on to talk about how since it has become a war of everyone against everyone there have been bought protests and advertising campaigns thrown around the battle field. One comment that caught my attention was concerning lobbing and how energy producers have literally thrown money into such efforts. The comment more than anything gave a comical take on the situation of how desperately this was happening, “The fact that the lobbying is so fast and so furious is a positive sign that this thing is moving along,” said Mark Brownstein, a managing director at the Environmental Defense Fund and an advocate of climate legislation. “The fact that everyone is rushing to Washington tells you people believe it is real.” The war is far from over it goes from coal to natural gas, to congress from fake advertising, and well the list is endless but most exhausting to maintain.
I see all of this as just pointless; I do not necessarily mean that we should not concentrate on saving our environment but this fiasco just seems over rated. There is never a moment in which what was agreed upon is later respected let alone acknowledged. Well those in senate all I can say is beat of luck, because seems to me that you must deal with a four year old throwing a temper tantrum.
As Congress considers ways to make America greener, these two states will serve as laboratories according to the policy makers under the Obama administration. Texas has loads of land and loose regulation, which makes it easy to build a wind turbine farm. California on the other hand does not have much extra space, which is why they turned to solar power. Although it may cost more money, it does not take up any land if they build the panels on the rooftops of buildings.
However, the one thing that both states have in common is that each has a renewable electricity mandates, stating that a certain amount of their electricity come from a renewable source. Congress is now considering on making such a mandate for the nation as a whole. As of now, renewable energy only accounts for 9.5 percent of the nation's supply of energy. Congress hopes that better technology will be developed soon so that the percentage will rise.
I believe that many other states will begin to follow in California's footsteps in solar power because it is a sure bet unlike wind power. Seeing as a majority of the states are not as big as California or Texas, they should take advantage of their building's rooftops and such. Also, as the concern for the environment rises, the creation of these energy mandates should satisfy many environmentalists.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
So why is there little interest in western states such as California in obtaining energy from its strong off shore winds? One answer is its topography offshore. Unlike eastern states which have a fairly continuous continental shelf on which turbines can be anchored, the west coast has a sudden shear drop to depths that do not allow turbines to be anchored with today's technology at an economic rate. Another reason is that California has large tracts of land that is recently being developed to obtain wind energy with less expense. With plenty of land to last them economically there is no need at the time to develop offshore wind systems. Power prices as well are cheaper than those in states such as New England and therefore there is little incentive to dump large amounts of money into new technologies as offshore wind when they are already stable. These technologies would have to deal with such things as the tremendous depths that the wind turbines would have to be anchored as well as earthquakes which the area is prone to. Other concerns in developing this technology include the high price for the research and engineering as well as maintenance.
From these reasons I believe it an understandable position of western states to resist the drive toward offshore wind power to some degree. I see it as beneficial however for small divisions of field research to develop basic groundwork. The potential for states such as California to establish this technology to produce electricity will come as a gain as it can produce enough for itself and for other grid systems in the long run. And as in the case of Texas which is proving to be a founder in the innovations of solar and nuclear plants California can also prove to be a key to such technologies as offshore wind technologies and gain world attention.
Citation: Galbraith, Kate. "Prospects Distant for Offshore Wind in West - Green Inc. Blog - NYTimes.com." Energy and Green Business - Green Inc. Blog - NYTimes.com. 09 Oct. 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 2009.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I like the fact that this competition exists because it gives students a chance to showcase their skills but also their great ideas. One will never know if any of these students will come up with an invention or idea that we will be using in the future. With success, these students can prove that there is a way to live a "green" life in your own home.
Notably, senator Kerry who has been known for his long-time support for climate legislation said "We're going to work in a bona fide way with everybody to see how to bridge a gap here. We've got to get a 60-vote margin. That means you've got to legislate, which means you have to compromise."
The current legislation being debated includes a "preliminary section on nuclear power that provides greater incentives for worker training and research, as well as funding for the NRC's program to study the feasability...of expanding comercial reactor use beyond their current 40-year licenses"
How has the NRC responded? They believe it's a "step in the right direction" however more comprehensive nuclear reform will be needed to revitalize the industry.
The democrat's decision to barter with the republicans and make concessions is both monumental and proactive, especially at a time where there is such a great schism in congress over the healthcare bill. The Kerry-Boxer proposal is not just "a step in the right direction" it makes the necessary compromises that are at the heart of popular legislation, and potentially the signal of a new-wave of bipartisanship to come.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Summary: In the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2009 Climate Change Excerpt released last week, the IEA found that the ongoing financial crisis has had a significant impact on worldwide CO2 emissions, predicting a fall in CO2 emissions of as much as 3% which would be the greatest drop in 40 years. IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka goes on to explain how “this gives us a chance to make real progress towards a clean-energy future, but only if the right policies are put in place promptly.”
Comment: The impact the financial crisis has had on worldwide CO2 emissions has been huge. At first, a fall of 3% from the previous year may not seem like much, but when you consider the fact that the worldwide CO2 emissions for the last decade has increased on average by about 3% annually, a fall of 3% becomes a huge deal. In fact, the press release even states that the predicted CO2 emissions in 2020 is now 5% lower than it was calculated to be last year, and that’s without any changes in climate change policies.
The drop in CO2 emissions this year will not solve the climate change issue, but it will be a small break if, and only if, we capitalize on it and work towards the goals of the IEA’s 450 ppm Scenario (“to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse-gas emissions in the atmosphere at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent.” At these levels, the average global temperature would be within the 2 degrees Celsius margin for dangerous global warming). In the press release, Dr. Tanaka stresses the importance of a worldwide energy transformation, especially by the two major contributors of CO2 emissions, China and the United States.
The financial crisis has provided us with a little relief, but we, as a world, need to use it as a window of opportunity to get on track towards the 450 ppm Scenario. Hopefully, the world will take swift action and come to an agreement when the UN Framework Convenction on Climate Change meets at Copenhagen in December.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Tom Friedman, author of “The Power of Green,” describes his ideas of green patriotism with his motto: “Green is the new red, white and blue.” The term green is slowly transforming from “tree-hugging” and “girly” to being considered geoeconomic and environment-friendly. This ideology could be the binding tool to revive America’s patriotism. The United States has made steps toward uniting after the 9/11 tragedy but a common interest or goal could help quicken the process.
Americans are continuously bombarded with issues regarding global warming, the economy and terrorism, and the solution of creating a green nation can be the beginning of a consolidating political movement. Painting the states green could erase over the divisions and differences of the red and blue states and transform the image of the US into one single hue and could drive us forward.
Tom Friedman believes that the highway system that President Eisenhower installed after the Communist threat helped America’s car culture grow and aided to our dependence of oil. Because of this “red menace” we have to pay for our reliance on harmful fossil fuels and the economic and environmental prices that came along with the habit.
We are in desperate need of a leader who can address the “profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil” (Friedman). By making more efficient ways of producing energy we can regain our “international stature” by leading the way in fueling our nation in a much cleaner way with alternative energy. These changes are in hopes that many countries will follow the example.
Comments: This is something many of us really don't think about when we're logging on to our favorite websites. It also puts a new perspective on how we can save energy. As our technology and capabilities grow, so does our need for energy, and this is going to make it very difficult in the future to continue to provide the electricity while trying to cut down on our fossil fuels. So really the electricity that this technology takes goes hand in hand with the need for new sources of energy because in some regards our energy uses are only going to go up in the future.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Comments: The energy is highly related to national and international politics. This article reminded me about the failing of solar energy in United Sates in 90s that we talked about in class. the causes of the failing in U.S. are similar to German, like the shrinking of the demands, the new government policy that do not support solar energy, and the competition from other energy sources. I personally do feel that solar energy is a competitive source compare to others. It is safe, clean, renewable, sustainable, and rather cheap. I think he reasons that solar energy did not become the major source to generate electricity are that first solar is rather unstable, cause we can only get them during the day, and we have to store them to prepare the usage during the night. Second, I think that the cost of building the panels is the main reason keep the low demands in the market. Third, the transition difficulties that caused great electricity loss made some it is impossible to use solar energy in certain regions. Last, I think another reason is we have enough other types of sources for current uses. However, solar energy can be our future, and also the great opportunities for the third world countries. Even though U.S. has plenty natural sources, lots of countries like islands countries in Asia do not. So, The solar could be a great solution for the electricity shortage.
The report suggests that the fungus is "so good at turning plant matter into fuel that researchers say... [it] calls into question the whole theory of how crude oil was made by nature in the first place." The fungus' raw potential for converting plant matter into biofuels suggests that the fungus could be used to convert billions of acres of farmland into the raw material for biofuels. Not only is this highly effective, but it also helps us avoid some of the harmful side-effects of growing massive amounts of Corn and Switchgrass which both have adverse effects on soil and land trade-off.
The organism, named Gliocladium roseum, researchers find very interesting...
" "This is the only organism that has ever been shown to produce such an important combination of fuel substances," said researcher Gary Strobel from Montana State University. "The fungus can even make these diesel compounds from cellulose, which would make it a better source of biofuel than anything we use at the moment.""
The article goes on to suggest that this fungus might have been responsible for helping creating fossil fuels in the first place..
""The accepted theory is that crude oil, which is used to make diesel, is formed from the remains of dead plants and animals that have been exposed to heat and pressure for millions of years," Strobel said. "If fungi like this are producing myco-diesel all over the rainforest, they may have contributed to the formation of fossil fuels." "
Monday, October 5, 2009
There are many ways to get energy, not only those of which we all have heard about like wind, sun or water. What about becoming energy self-sufficient? This can be accomplished, maybe it is not the most comfortable and fast way to do it, but it works. It can sound like taking steps backwards in our development, but it is worth it if we can keep preserve nature. Nowadays it is much easier to pay for fuel and natural gas and get all the energy without doing anything else, but what will happen when these reserves are consumed? Maybe it is time to realize what is happening around us, and have a look at this Danish island and learn from them. Even if we don’t want energy sources are not unlimited, at list the ones we use most.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Summary: Oil companies in America are starting to go green and invest in alternative ways of energy. This is partially because of government regulations, China’s demand on alternative technologies, and because Russia and Venezuela are pushing them out. But the strongest reason for these companies to be investors is the profitable business that they think this alternative energy can be for them.
Comment: As we already know from the previous presentations in class, oil is not going to last very long and alternative sources of energy are needed. But are these alternatives going to be functional by the time the oil is almost gone? How is the transition going to be? When are we going to see a significant increase? I don’t see in the near future a reduction of oil demand and I think that the significant increase in these alternatives should be seen already.
Comment: I found it ironic that the environmental impact of renewable energies is potentially harmful in some regards. Water is obviously a very important resource, and it will be interesting to see how we as a nation respond to the solar thermal farms high demand for such a precious resource. At the same time, many people are pushing for these sources of energy, and it will be interesting to watch our nation's energy policy in the future, and how we reconcile the many complex issues regarding our energy sources and their affects on the environment.
Brazil has a lot of energy from its recent win to host the 2016 Olympics and its 50 Billion barrel offshore oil find. Both of these events are good news for Brazil’s economy, industrial capability, and recognition on the world stage.
The economic benefits will come from giving Brazil’s own oil firm, Petrobas, exploration and production rights of the crude. The government’s share of the oil revenue will be placed in a fund to invest in future development projects. Brazil will also gain economic leverage in the regulating oil prices and production volumes through its firm.
Brazil’s industrial benefits will be from acquiring and using the new technology needed for offshore drilling. Brazil may also see increased industrial activity from better infrastructure and cheaper transportation costs in the future, which will be helpful in preparing for and hosting the games in 2016.
The economic and industrial gains will help Brazil improve its position on the world stage. Their ability to join in the regulation of oil production and prices will allow them to be more influential in world markets. Brazil being acknowledged for the games will help them become recognized as “first world” or global cultural players, and economic players.
But before Brazil can get these benefits, they must make substantial investments and take substantial risks. The economic costs for Brazil will be from much greater debt, the high initial cost of oil production and building facilities and infrastructure for hosting the games. Brazil cant make any money from its oil if commodity prices stay high enough to cover the high initial and on-going costs of production. Brazil is going to have to pay for the technology to drill offshore and maybe give into lucrative deals in order to get to the oil. This means the first barrels of oil will be very expensive to produce. Regarding the games, Brazil will gain recognition for the games if they can successfully overcome the severe crime and infrastructure problems in its leading city, Rio de Janeiro. While there is great prestige, the difficulty for cities and countries hosting the games is that no city has ever come out ahead economically. This means that in the short run Brazil will be in debt for both the games and from drilling.
Nevertheless, the benefits from oil drilling and hosting of the Olympic games could help Brazil in the long run. If Brazil is able to get past the first barrels of oil being very expensive, the costs will begin to plummet after the first very expensive barrels. The greater availability and lower relative cost of oil in Brazil should help improve their infrastructure and industry creating more jobs and cheaper transportation. Hopefully helping improve the slums in Rio and helping expand the growing middle class in Brazil.
Brazil’s new energy should be good for most of us. The new oil and hosting of the games will rightfully put Brazil on the map as a world economic power and petroleum power. And given their sports history, we can imagine how good a soccer or “futebol” team they will put on the field when they host the games!