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Archive for the ‘energy’ Category

Kudos to Jane and many other Firebaggers and environmental advocates

Posted by Charles II on November 3, 2015

Joseph Horton, Omaha World-Herald:

WASHINGTON — Trans­Canada wants a Keystone XL timeout.

The company on Monday asked the State Department to suspend consideration of its controversial pipeline while Nebraska officials review its route through the state.

Last month, TransCanada applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for route approval after opponents went to court, challenging the law under which the route had been approved by then-Gov. Dave Heineman.

“I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved,” according to a statement from Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer. “We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.”

TransCanada says it anticipates the PSC approval process in Nebraska will take seven to twelve months.

It’s not dead. Transcanada may be trying to avoid a ruling either by State or by Nebraska. But KXL is in trouble. And it all was possible because of the protests by Jane Hamsher and other members of that community, as well as a broad coalition of environmental groups.

Posted in energy, environment | 1 Comment »

Light on your feet …and, farm gushers

Posted by Charles II on June 16, 2015

Anmar Frangoul, CNBC:

Pavegen is a London-based company that is looking to harvest the energy from our footsteps to do precisely this. They have designed and built flooring that converts the kinetic energy we produce when walking into clean, renewable electricity.

“The Pavegen panels convert the weight of your footsteps into electricity, so every time you walk on our product it harnesses a small amount of energy from every single step,” Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and Founder of Pavegen, told in a phone interview.

Anmar Frangoul, CNBC:

The global chemical industry is vast, and has an environmental impact to match. According to a 2013 report by International Energy Agency, the chemical and petrochemical sector accounts for approximately seven percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

One Illinois-based company is working to change an industry which has traditionally relied on oil-based products.

Elevance Renewable Sciences have developed technology and a process that they say enables them to “successfully bridge the renewables and chemicals industries, transforming natural plant-based oils… into speciality high-performance, cost-effective commercial products.”

Posted in energy, environment, science and medicine | 3 Comments »

The demise of the dollar and the rise of the Russian petrostate?

Posted by Charles II on January 1, 2015

That’s what Marin Katusa, author of The Colder Cold War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp, believes. Aired a few weeks ago, before the intensification of the ruble crisis, Katusa makes some excellent points (a number of which we have made on this blog year after year):

* Aggressive U.S. policy has had the perverse effect of bringing America’s chief rivals, Russia and China, much closer together
* The failure to push alternative energy has left the U.S. in the unenviable position of being dependent on the oil with some of the highest production costs
* Where alternative energy has been developed, it has in the past been dependent on government subsidies
* Russia directly controls a very large fraction of the low-cost reserves of gas, oil, and uranium in the world
* Russia indirectly controls more energy reserves through Russian companies, notably Gazprom operating in Israel and a uranium company, ARMZ, in North America
* A number of U.S. allies and neutral countries are heavily dependent on Russian energy
* OPEC regards North American energy producers as rivals that need to be driven out of business
* OPEC’s biggest customer is China, so its interests are no longer so deeply entangled with the U.S.
* The sanctions against Russia have accelerated the negotiation of contracts in currencies other than the dollar

Katusa predicts a dollar crisis, in which a number of countries ditch the dollar, the dollar starts to fall, and foreigners dump dollars. Then energy prices in dollars will rise, hurting the poor and middle class. (See here for an article about the dollar’s recent rise)

You can read more about Katusa’s views here.

Noting the usual caveat emptors–Katusa has heavy investment in the Slavic world, and probably some personal loyalty to it–this is still an interesting take on world events. Mercury Rising has repeatedly noted the dysfunctional U.S. approach to alternative energy, unconventional hydrocarbon development (fracking, deepwater drilling, etc.), and places like Ukraine and Venezuela. Certainly the U.S. has played the game badly, alienating allies, consolidating rivals, and baffling the world by its senseless and ineffectual interventions in places like Iraq.

I don’t think his analysis of a dollar crisis is accurate. First off, of course, is the point that Russians keep offshore bank accounts because they don’t trust their government. If they dump dollars, there are no attractive currencies. More broadly, currency crises generally occur when the assets of a country are falling in value, with no foreseeable rise. Now, the asset could be the currency, and the cause of the decline could be speculative outflows. But US assets are much more broadly held. There are $188T in assets, most of them financial. By contrast, M3 is an order of magnitude smaller.

I do, however, think that Katusa could be right for the wrong reason: the incompetence of the U.S. government, and the paralysis caused by Republican control could indeed cause a panic. There is no objective reason why we cannot convert much of our energy supply to alternatives, undermining the use of energy as a means of control by any government, including Russia. This action would be in the interests of the entire planet, as it would slow global warming. But with a government as stupid and paralyzed as the present one, the chances of getting into a fix we can’t handle are actually pretty good.

Posted in eedjits, energy, Obama Administration, Oil, unintended consequences | Comments Off on The demise of the dollar and the rise of the Russian petrostate?

Clean coal?

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2014

Nikkei Asian Review:

Toshiba has developed technology to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into an energy source at the highest efficiency to date, with a goal of commercializing it in 2020.

The artificial-photosynthesis technology combines a semiconductor with a gold catalyst. Oxygen and hydrogen ions are generated from water by applying sunlight to the semiconductor. The catalyst then creates carbon monoxide through a reaction between the carbon dioxide and the hydrogen ions. The carbon monoxide can be processed into such fuels as methanol.

An American article on this, using gallium phosphide with a cobaloxime catalyst, here.

So far, clean coal is a pipe dream, and not just because of CO2. Coal produces mercury and sulfur oxides among other pollutants.

But maybe some day.

Posted in energy, environment | 1 Comment »

Here comes the sun

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2013

Rory Carroll, Guardian:

The creators of the world’s first solar-powered plane have announced it will fly across the United States in a coast-to-coast showcase of the experimental technology.

The Solar Impulse, which has a wingspan longer than a Boeing 747 but weighs less than a car, is due to take off from San Francisco in May and spend two months hop-scotching across US cities until ending its tour in New York in July.

The plane’s capabilities have advanced rapidly in recent years. It flew 26 hours non-stop in 2010 to show it could absorb enough solar energy during sunlight to continue during the night. In 2012 it flew 1,550 miles from Madrid to Morocco, crossing a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean, in 20 hours

Now if only the US were not so blind that it can’t even see the future.

Posted in energy, solar | 7 Comments »

Government? We don’t need no stinking government? (Solar edition)

Posted by Charles II on September 17, 2012

Via Ritholtz, an article by Dean Kuipers, LAT:

One of the holy grails of solar cell technology may have been found, with researchers at UCLA announcing they have created a new organic polymer that produces electricity, is nearly transparent and is more durable and malleable than silicon.

The applications are mind-boggling. Windows that produce electricity. Buildings wrapped in transparent solar cells. Laptops and phones – or even cars or planes – whose outer coverings act as chargers. It might even be sprayed on as a liquid. The promise of cheap and easy-to-apply site-generated solar electricity might now be a lot closer to reality.

Posted in energy, solar | 4 Comments »

“Who? Us?” –JP Morgan

Posted by Charles II on July 3, 2012

Interesting news is pouring out at holiday time.

Katarzyna Klimasinska, Bloomies:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is being investigated over potential power-market manipulation that inflated payments for electricity, according to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The FERC, which has pledged to combat manipulation of prices, began its probe after reports last year of bidding practices by JPMorgan that the California and Midwest grid operators deemed to be abusive, according to documents provided by the Washington-based agency.

“Three of the bidding techniques had together resulted in at least $73 million in improper payments,” the agency said in documents filed yesterday, citing estimates by the two system operators.

Morgan response: “Who? Us?”

Also under FERC investigation/scrutiny: Deutsche Bank, Constellation, Barclays.

Posted in banking, crimes, energy | 3 Comments »

The Fukushima next time

Posted by Charles II on March 7, 2012

It’s all very far away. Pay no attention. Build new plants near you. You are getting very sleeeeeepy:

Monticello Minneapolis, MN Nuclear Management Co. Routine testing of an emergency pump intended to prove that it was capable of performing its safety functions during an accident actually degraded the pump. The pump’s manufacturer recommended against running the pump at low speeds, but this recommendation was ignored during the tests.

Kinda lucky that they found out during testing that their policies and procedures would (predictably) lead to system failure. That’s one of the least serious incidents reported by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

More representative is this one:

Pilgrim Plymouth, MA When restarting the reactor after a refueling outage, workers overreacted to indications that the water inside the reactor was heating up too rapidly, and lost control of the reactor. The plant’s safety systems automatically kicked in to shut down the reactor.

In all, UCS reports 15 significant incidents during 2011.

Why are we building new plants instead of going full out to fix the ones we have?

Posted in energy, nukes | 6 Comments »

Pipe (bad) dream: the Fukushima meltdown

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2011

David McNeill and Jake Adelstein, The London Independent:

The Independent has spoken to several workers at the [Fukushima nuclear] plant who recite the same story: serious damage, to piping and at least one of the reactors, occurred before the tsunami hit.

“Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate. But I was severely alarmed because as I was leaving I was told and I could see that several pipes had cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t sufficiently get the coolant to the core, it melts down….”

The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of Tepco: The Dark Empire, explains it this way: A government or industry admission “raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.” Earthquakes, of course, are commonplace in Japan.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear plant designer, describes what occurred on 11 March as a loss-of-coolant accident. “The data that Tepco has made public shows a huge loss of coolant within the first few hours of the earthquake. It can’t be accounted for by the loss of electrical power. There was already so much damage to the cooling system that a meltdown was inevitable long before the tsunami came.”

Every single plant built on the Mark I design needs to be shut down. Same for every plant of any design built in an earthquake prone region. And it needs to be done now.

Posted in energy, environment, Japan, nukes | Comments Off on Pipe (bad) dream: the Fukushima meltdown

Japanese Wind Farms Unharmed By Quake or Tsunami, Putting Out Lots Of Power

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 18, 2011

Copyright New Energy Foundation (Japan)

The fledgling Japanese wind industry just passed a major, and unplanned, test — it’s not only survived the one-two punch of earthquake and tsunami, but done so without so much as a scratch:

I’ve been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake “battle proof design” came through with flying colors.

Mr. Ueda confirms that most Japanese wind turbines are fully operational. Indeed, he says that electric companies have asked wind farm owners to step up operations as much as possible in order to make up for shortages in the eastern part of the country…

The only wind farms that are offline because of the quake and tsunami are offline solely because of grid damage; the farms themselves are intact and capable of full operations once the grid is restored.

(Crossposted to Renaissance Post.)

Posted in energy, environment, Japan, nukes, wind power | 2 Comments »

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