Archive | Energy

Copenhagen’s Carbon Footprint

It takes a lot of energy to hold a UN climate conference — and lots more for delegates, activists, journalists and others to get there.  That means a lot of carbon emissions.  Reuters reports: “Despite efforts by the Danish government to reduce the conference’s carbon footprint, around 5,700 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be created by the summit and a further 40,500 tonnes created by attendees’ flights to Copenhagen.” According to the same report, the this is the equivalent of the amount of CO2 generated in a year by 2,300 Americans or 660,000 Ethiopians.

UPDATE: Of course it’s impossible to have a carbon-free UN conference.  Some day, virtual interaction and teleconferencing might be a replacement for face-to-face negoations, but not yet.  Still, by any measure, the carbon use for this conference was excessive.  As the Telegraph reported, conference attendees rented over 1,200 limos, only a handful of which were hybrids or electrics.  The Copenhagen airport also reported an extra 140 private jets at the peak of the conference.  This exceeded the airport’s hanger capacity, so many of these planes had to fly to other regional airports to park.  If convention delegates and other attendees were really interested in sending a message, much of this excess would have been avoided. […]

Continue Reading 78

Geothermal Energy on the Rocks

The NYT reports:

The company in charge of a California project to extract vast amounts of renewable energy from deep, hot bedrock has removed its drill rig and informed federal officials that the government project will be abandoned.

The project by the company, AltaRock Energy, was the Obama administration’s first major test of geothermal energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuels and the project was being financed with federal Department of Energy money at a site about 100 miles north of San Francisco called the Geysers.

But on Friday, the Energy Department said that AltaRock had given notice this week that “it will not be continuing work at the Geysers” as part of the agency’s geothermal development program.

The project’s apparent collapse comes a day after Swiss government officials permanently shut down a similar project in Basel, because of the damaging earthquakes it produced in 2006 and 2007. Taken together, the two setbacks could change the direction of the Obama administration’s geothermal program, which had raised hopes that the earth’s bedrock could be quickly tapped as a clean and almost limitless energy source.

[…]

Continue Reading 48

Bats Stall Wind Farm

“This is a case about bats, wind turbines, and two federal polices, one favoring protection of endangered species and the other encouraging development of renewable energy resources.”  So begins a federal district court opinion halting expansion of a wind farm in West Virginia because of likely harm to endangered Indiana bats. The project must obtain an incidental take permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service if it is to proceed. Washington Post coverage here. […]

Continue Reading 12

Bloggers: 10% unemployment would be disaster for Dems in 2010. Split on whether Cap/Trade will pass

In last week’s National Journal of political bloggers, one question asked: “If unemployment remains at roughly the current level, what impact will that have on the 2010 midterm elections?” One hundred percent of the Right, and 89 percent of the Left bloggers thought it would hurt Democrats, and most thought it would hurt them a lot. I agreed: “It’s easy to imagine the Republican campaign ads which show the Democratic charts predicting how bad unemployment would get without the stimulus — juxtaposed with how much worse unemployment actually got after the Democrats’ deficit spending spree was adopted.”

For the other question, both Left and Right reversed their positions from last June. Sixty-five percent of the Left now think it is “somewhat likely” that Congress will pass Cap & Trade. Sixty-five percent of the Right now thinks passage is “very” or “somewhat” unlikely. So both Left and Right have become more optimistic in the past few years. Objective proof that “hope” is on the rise.

I was in the minority of the Right who thought C/T somewhat likely: “The bill will see lots of ‘no’ votes from Blue Dogs and from other Democrats who represent energy-producing states. But there may be enough support from urban/suburban Republicans for something to pass.” Certainly a C/T bill that included lots of the ideas which John McCain has proposed, and which greatly cut back on the rent-sales that appear in the House-passed bill, the bill would be nearly unstoppable. […]

Continue Reading 18

Bloggers agree: Congress ethics weak; public option likely. Disagree on nukes in cap/trade, and on 2d stimulus

Last week’s National Journal poll of political bloggers asked Left/Right bloggers “Are [Democratic/Republican] leaders doing enough to police congressional ethics enforcement in their ranks?”  On the Left, 56% said the Democrats were not doing enough, and 60% of the Right said Republicans were not doing enough. I was among the “no” votes for Republicans, writing that “They have fewer opportunities for corruption now that they’re the minority, but I don’t see any evidence of a fundamental change in self-policing.”

Question 2 asked “Could you see yourself supporting a cap-and-trade bill if it included significant incentives for nuclear energy?” On the Left, 61% said yes. On the Right, I was the only one who said yes. I reasoned, “The last 10 years of real-world climate data have shown that the professional hysterics and their predictions are wrong. However, the last 10 years have also demonstrated the growing dangers of U.S. energy dependence on dictatorships like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. So it’s possible (but unlikely) that a C&T bill with a strong nuclear energy component might significantly reduce U.S. dependence on dictators’ oil, and therefore be worth supporting for national security reasons.” I do realize the nukes in themselves are not the answer to foreign oil dependence, since only a small percentage of our electricity comes from imported oil. But it’s still possible (albeit very unlikely) that a C&T bill could do a great deal to reduce American dependence on dictator oil.

The October 9 poll (which I didn’t post about at the time) asked, “If major health care legislation clears Congress this year, will it include a public option?” Seventy-two percent of the Left and 57% of the right said it would. I was in the majority: “”If one presumes that the bill will pass, near-unanimous support will be needed from […]

Continue Reading 17

Renewable Power, Texas-Style

Does it take substantial governmental intervention to encourage the growth of renewable energy?  It certainly takes some, as renewables remain more expensive than conventional energy sources, but how much?

Last Sunday, the New York Times contrasted the efforts of California and Texas.  Both states have renewable energy mandates, but energy development is heavily regulated in California, while Texas is comparatively laissez faire.

the oil-and-gas state has nonetheless emerged as the nation’s top producer of a commodity prized by environmentalists: wind power. Eager developers are covering its desolate western mesas with giant turbines. The world’s largest wind farm began operations in Texas this month, and the state now has close to three times as much wind capacity as Iowa, the second-ranked state.

This achievement puts Mr. Perry’s state in odd company. The race for clean-energy leadership is on — and big red Texas is going head-to-head with the gung-ho greens of California. That state has thrown itself into solar power and now leads the nation by a huge margin; it has also aggressively pursued energy efficiency. . . .

Texas’s secret, besides strong winds and lots of land, is its lack of regulation. Wind developers rave about the fact that, in essence, they need few state permits to build a turbine farm. They deal mainly with local officials, who are generally permissive (energy, after all, is a well-loved commodity in Texas).

California, by contrast, has all but stifled wind developers. The state built several big wind farms in the 1980s — but has added very few since, because of the cost and delays of complying with stringent state environmental regulations. The early turbines killed thousands of birds, for instance, and that memory lingers.

Such snags are a key reason California has turned to solar power. It’s more expensive than wind, but

[…]

Continue Reading 66