Archive | Geothermal

Biden Issues Positive Clean Energy Report

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — Vice President Joe Biden has issued a report to the president indicating U.S. Recovery Act initiatives are building a more energy-efficient economy.

“I’m pleased to report that the administration is laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security,” Biden wrote in the memo Monday. “Through the Recovery Act and more effective use of programs already in existence, the administration is taking the critical steps to transform the United States into a global clean energy leader.”

The memo outlined ways the Recovery Act and other investments are allowing the United States to make clean energy advances, and asserted the nation is scheduled to double geothermal, solar and wind generation manufacturing facilities in three years.

The memo also touted three of the first-ever electric vehicle facilities along with 30 new battery plants expected to be operational during the next six years. U.S. homes will have 26,000,000 Smart meters installed by 2013, triple the number now in service, the memo said.

There are plans to build and operate five commercial scale power plants with carbon capture facilities intended to help control greenhouse gas emissions.

All the projects are to be funded, the memo says, either by Recovery Act monies alone or in combination with private sector investments.

Biden will discuss the measures at a meeting on climate change in Copenhagen next week.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Energy Policy & Advocacy, Geothermal, Other, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Yellowstone Magma Plume Studied

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 15 (UPI) — University of Utah scientists say seismic images of the plumbing feeding the Yellowstone supervolcano show a magma plume much larger than previously thought.

Scientists say they’ve imaged a plume of hot and molten rock rising at an angle from the northwest at a depth of at least 410 miles, contradicting claims there is no deep plume, only shallow hot rock moving like slowly boiling soup.

A related University of Utah study used gravity measurements to indicate the banana-shaped magma chamber of hot and molten rock a few miles beneath Yellowstone is 20 percent larger than previously believed, so a future cataclysmic eruption could be even larger than projected.

The studies, led by Professor Robert Smith, suggest the same “hotspot” that feeds Yellowstone volcanism also triggered the Columbia River “flood basalts” that buried parts of Oregon, Washington state and Idaho with lava starting 17 million years ago.

“We have a clear image, using seismic waves from earthquakes, showing a mantle plume that extends from beneath Yellowstone,” Smith said, noting the plume angles downward 150 miles to the west-northwest of Yellowstone and reaches a depth of at least 410 miles,

The study, the Yellowstone Geodynamics Project, was conducted during 1999-2005, using an average of 160 temporary and permanent seismic stations.

The findings from the studies appear in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Earthquakes, Geothermal, Volcanoes0 Comments

Wave Energy Moves to Test Underwater Grid Links

PENNINGTON, N.J., Nov. 2 (UPI) — The prospect of generating large volumes of electricity and then distributing power through underwater grid lines is nearer with successful tests announced Monday.

New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies Inc. said it tested the feasibility of setting up wave power substations underwater and linking the pods to grids on land for onward transmission of the electricity to consumers. The test results were also reported simultaneously by the London Stock Exchange.

The company said it carried out the tests in Spain, proving the feasibility of “cleaner, safer, more efficient” form of energy produced from the ocean waves.

The Underwater Substation Pod, based on a proprietary design, collects power from up to 10 of OPT’s proprietary PowerBuoys afloat in the ocean and transmits electricity via a subsea power cable to a shore-based grid.

OPT said the pod had been developed as an open platform and could provide “plug and play” connectivity for any offshore energy device linked to it.

Underwater trials of the pods included pressure testing, running electric power to and from the system, and verification of data communication capabilities.

The tests were carried out as part of an OPT contract with Iberdrola Marinas de Cantabria, a special-purpose company whose shareholders include Iberdrola S.A., the major Spanish utility company, Sodercan, a regional development agency for northern Spain’s Cantabria region, IDAE, the energy agency of the Spanish government, and Total oil and gas company.

OPT said the Underwater Substation Pod was a “unique product” in the offshore market, creating a potentially new revenue stream from sales to third parties that are engaged in marine power development and other offshore activities.

OPT currently earns most of its income from the PowerBuoys. The vessels are designed for utility-scale power generation or for autonomous applications, such as offshore homeland security. The PowerBuoy is designed as a “smart” system capable of responding to differing wave conditions.

Wave power generation is a developing area of growth for industries seeking renewable energy. In recent years, momentum has been added to a global quest for alternatives to oil as a result of concerns over climate change, sharp fluctuation in the prices of hydrocarbons and uncertainty over supply. In South America and Europe, geothermal power has also received attention from both national and overseas companies.

OPT specializes in wave-energy technologies in a $150 billion annual power generation equipment market. The company’s PowerBuoy system is based on modular, ocean-going buoys that capture and convert predictable wave energy into electricity. OPT has headquarters in Pennington, N.J., and offices in Warwick, England.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Other, Regional0 Comments

U.S. Navy Secretary Promises Greener Fleet Using 50% Less Fossil Fuels by 2020

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 23 (UPI) — U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus promises a greener fleet using 50 percent less fossil fuel by 2020.

In a speech Wednesday to the San Diego Military Advisory Council, Mabus said even Navy planes may soon run on fuel produced from biological sources, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. He said the China Lake Naval Weapons Station in California already relies on geothermal energy, using only 5 percent of what it produces.

Mabus said fuel efficiency will be the goal on land and at sea as well as in the air. Specific plans include a strike force of nuclear-powered vessels by 2016, switching to hybrids and electric vehicles for cars and trucks and using renewable energy sources for bases.

“If the Navy has a demand for it, the technology will come,” he said.

The Navy is turning to the ocean for biofuel, with a plan to convert marine algae. The F/A-18 Hornet, which runs on biofuel, is scheduled to be part of a carrier wing within three years and to become a standard fighter by 2016.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Cars, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Nuclear, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Caribbean Views Biofuels and Bioenergy Development as The Way Ahead

Cash-strapped Caribbean countries are seeking energy independence through bioenergy development but are hamstrung by poor organization and limited initiatives.

U.N. Development Program sources said recent biofuel advances in the so-called Small Island Developing States promised a greater reliance on regional resources — “south-south cooperation” — to cut dependence on imported fuel and food. But the targets for self-sufficiency were far from being reached because of lack of expertise, cash resources and access to new technologies, reports on recent studies and surveys indicated.

Danielle Evanson, spokesperson for the UNDP and Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, told United Press International in an interview the food, financial and energy crises were compounded by climate change.

The prospects for achieving sustainable development in the impoverished small states of the Caribbean were dwindling with increased reliance on imported fuel and food, studies made available by Evanson showed.

An added problem was that, as economies stagnated and depended more on service industries, they suffered extra costs of importing more fuel for mobility, central to the service sector’s operations.

To get out of that vicious circle, Caribbean states are looking to build capacity for biofuels produced from organic waste. Technologies now exist to convert plants, garden waste and manure into charcoal, biodiesel, ethanol or gaseous fuels but are not yet available to the Caribbean states.

The region is also looking more actively into wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower power. “The decline in the agricultural sectors, particularly with sugar cane and elimination of preferential trade agreements with the European Union, is driving the interest in bioenergy development for the electricity and transport sectors,” UNDP said.

The overarching aim is to build cooperation between the countries of the region so they can make use of sustainable energy services and enhance their energy security.

A Caribbean Community Climate Change Center is coordinating moves by the small islands to increase reliance on cheap energy produced by local resources.

Caribbean countries were jolted into awareness of their fragile state when, earlier in the summer, Venezuela indicated it could review preferential payment terms it offers oil-importing member states of the Petrocaribe alliance.

Venezuela later denied it planned to withdraw its preferential terms for Petrocaribe partners. Petrocaribe sources said the flap brought home to Caribbean states the uncertainty of conditions in which they met their fuel needs through foreign sources.

Added to that uncertainty is the growing burden of debt over fuel imports that diverts scarce cash resources into debt servicing and repayments rather than new investment into manufacturing and food processing industries. The biofuel industry’s development has also been hampered by lack of cash resources.

UNDP said new technologies could greatly influence the region’s capacity to exploit its natural resources to produce energy. After hurricane damage to wind farms, for example, experts are recommending deployment of turbines that can be removed at short notice to save them from being wrecked in stormy weather.

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Other, Regional, Services, Solar, Wind1 Comment

Geothermal Companies to Increase Global Geothermal Power Production

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Magma Energy Corp. announced Tuesday it would pursue acquisition of a larger stake in Iceland’s geothermal giant HS Orka and increase its geothermal power production footprint worldwide.

Reporting its audited financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, the Vancouver-based company outlined its international operations, including its recent acquisition of 32.32 percent of HS Orka from Reykjavik Energy and two other HS Orka shareholders.

Magma was set up in January 2008. Its acquisition of the HS Orka stake is the largest foreign investment in Iceland since the collapse of its banking sector in 2008.

The agreement provides that a Magma wholly owned subsidiary will purchase the interest for about $29.5 million and a bond for about $68.8 million repayable in a single installment in seven years with interest at 1.52 percent.

The bond will be secured by the shares acquired by Magma in the transaction. Closing of the transaction is expected in late September, Magma said.

On July 23, 2009, Magma announced that it had signed an agreement to acquire a 10.78 percent shareholding in HS Orka and had an option to acquire about 5 percent additional shareholding in the company. If both transactions conclude, Magma would hold a 43.1 percent direct interest in HS Orka and an option to invest $15 million in HS Orka’s expansion plans, increasing its stake up to 48.1 percent.

Magma says its mission is to be “the pre-eminent geothermal energy company in the world.” The company currently owns one operating geothermal plant and an extensive portfolio of geothermal exploration and development projects in Argentina, Chile, Peru and the western United States, and is actively expanding its projects portfolio worldwide.

Magma CEO Ross Beaty said the Iceland deal gives Magma access to the country’s substantial geothermal resources and a highly skilled domestic workforce.

He said the company had a great first full year of operations, raising more than $130 million in tough financial markets, acquiring assets in Nevada and initiating geothermal exploration in Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

Magma ended the year with a successful initial public offering and listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is entering its second full year in a healthy condition, Beaty said.

HS Orka is the largest privately owned energy company in Iceland with installed geothermal power capacity of 175 megawatts. It plans to increase geothermal power production to 425 megawatt by 2015.

Magma was advised on the transaction by Glacier Partners Corp., a corporate advisory boutique focused on the geothermal energy sector. Glacier Partners CEO Magnus Bjarnason said Magma’s acquisition was “a milestone for Iceland” as it recognized the country’s “leadership in geothermal energy development.”

Environmental campaigners, including singer-songwriter Bjork, have argued against overexploitation of geothermal energy, which they want conserved for future generations.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Other0 Comments

Americans Reduced Coal and Petroleum Energy Use in 2008

Energy Business Daily publishes a number of news and analytical stories that discuss the use of energy consumption, production and delivery. Earlier this morning they reported that Energy Use in the US Drops In 2008.

The article, which is certainly worth your time to read, discusses the many ways in which energy use in American changed from 2007 to 2008. The dependancy on coal and petroleum based products were, at least to some degree, supplemented with the use of more nuclear, solar, wind and biomass energy.

Here are some facts that we gleaned from the referenced report:

  • In 2008, an estimated consumption of energy in the US was equivalent to 99.2 quadrillion BTUs (quads), down from 101.5 quadrillion BTUs of energy consumed in 2007.
  • The consumption levels of geothermal energy remained the same from 2007 in 2008
  • The drop in the use of energy in the industrial and transportation sectors, which rely heavily on petroleum energy, is attributed to a spike in oil prices during the summer of 2008.
  • There was witnessed a significant increase in the use of biomass energy last year, with the recent push for the development of more biofuels such as ethanol.
  • In 2008, there was a slight increase of nuclear energy use to 8.45 quads up from 8.41 quads in 2007.
  • …[in the] transportation and industrial sectors, the consumption of energy reduced by 0.9 and 1.17 quads respectively, while in the residential and commercial energy use, consumption climbed slightly.

For the full report, please see the original article available here: Energy Use in the US Drops In 2008.

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Solar, Transportation, Wind0 Comments

Forbes: 4% of America's Energy Comes from Renewable Sources

Earlier in the month of August, Jonathan Fahey of published an article that was part of their Special Report on Green Energy. The article struck us here at EcoWorld and left us feeling quite disappointed.

Why? Because a mere 4% of energy used in this nation comes from renewable energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

The immediate question that needs to be asked – is why this number is so low. Fahey summarizes the answer to this critical issue in his article…

The problem, in a word, is money. Even though the fuel is free, the technology and infrastructure needed to gather the energy, or harness it, or transform it, or transport it adds up to something more expensive than burning coal, natural gas, uranium or gasoline.

Federal and local governments both in the U.S. and around the world are helping bridge the money gap with tax breaks, grants, mandates and, ever more, making dirty electrons more expensive than clean ones by putting a price on carbon.

But each of the major technologies has its own set of problems that is holding it back from truly widespread adoption. Forbes asked experts in the four major renewable energy technologies to explain.

So what can environmentalists and renewable energy enthusiasts do now to help increase America’s use of renewable energy? Please drop a comment and let us know what you think can help increase that tiny number of 4%…

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Geothermal, Solar, Wind1 Comment

The Omega Center for Sustainable Living Raises The Bar

Located in New York, The Omega Center for Sustainable Living has literally raised the bar for what it means to be green. The building itself is an exquisite representation of green architecture and is also a prime example of what it means to be environmentally self sufficient.

The facility utilizes green powers, like geothermal and solar to produce 100 percent of it’s own energy rendering day to day operations completely carbon neutral. The Omega Center doubles as a learning facility of what it means to be green and is also a natural water treatment facility, providing four different stages of water purification.

“The OCSL demonstrates the critical intersection of environmental sustainability, renewable energy, and the new green economy,” said Skip Backus, chief executive officer at Omega in a press release.

For more information on The Omega Center for Sustainable Living please read the full article.

Posted in Architecture, Energy, Geothermal, Solar0 Comments

The Abundance Choice: A Prevailing Challenge of Scare & Finite Resources Facing Humanity

The prevailing challenge facing humanity when confronted with resource constraints is not that we are running out of resources, but how we will adapt and create new and better solutions to meet the needs that currently are being met by what are arguably scarce or finite resources. If one accepts this premise, that we are not threatened by diminishing resources, but rather by the possibility that we won’t successfully adapt and innovate to create new resources, a completely different perspective on resource scarcity and resource policies may emerge.

Across every fundamental area of human needs, history demonstrates that as technology and freedom is advanced, new solutions evolve to meet them. Despite tragic setbacks of war or famine that provide examples to contradict this optimistic claim, overall the lifestyle of the average human being has inexorably improved across the centuries (ref. Humanity’s Prosperous Destiny). While it is easy to examine specific consumption patterns today and suggest we now face a tipping point wherein shortages of key resources will overwhelm us, if one examines key resources one at a time, there is a strong argument that such a catastrophe, if it does occur, will be the result of war, corruption, or misguided adherance to counterproductive ideologies, and not because there weren’t solutions readily available through human creativity and advancing technology.

Energy, water and land are, broadly speaking, the three resources one certainly might argue are finite and must be scrupulously managed. But in each case, a careful examination provides ample evidence to contradict this claim. As we document in the post Fossil Fuel Reality, known reserves of fossil fuel could provide enough energy to serve 100% of the energy requirements of civilization at a total annual rate of consumption twice what is currently consumed worldwide; there is enough fossil fuel on the planet to provide 1.0 quintillion BTUs of energy per year for the next 300 years. In addition to fossil fuel there are proven sources of energy such as nuclear power, and potential sources of energy such as solar, geothermal, and biomass, that have the potential to scale up to provide comparable levels of power production. With these many energy alternatives, combined with relentless improvements in energy efficiency, it is difficult to imagine human civilization ever running out of energy.

Water is a resource that appears finite, and indeed in many regions of the world the challenge of meeting projected water needs appears more daunting than the challenge of producing adequate energy. But water is not necessarily finite. There are countless areas throughout the world where desalination technology can provide water in large quantities – already nearly 2% of the world’s fresh water is obtained through desalination, and for the large urban users, desalination is affordable and requires a surprisingly small energy input. Another way to provide abundant water is to redirect large quantities of river water via inter-basin transfers from water rich areas to water poor areas. Finally, water is never truly used up, it is continuously recycled, and by treating and reusing water, particularly in urban areas, there should never be water scarcity. (ref. India’s Water Future, Arctic to Aral, Affordable Desalination, California’s Water System, Sverdrups & Brine, and Decentralized Wastewater Treatment.)

Being an environmentalist should not require rejecting free
market solutions, or accepting global warming alarmism.
(Photo: Ecoworld)

The question of finding adequate land for humans is clearly different from that of finding energy or water, since unlike energy or water, land is truly finite. But even here, key trends indicate land is now becoming more abundant, not less abundant. In 2007 the population of humans became more than 50% concentrated in cities, and within the next 25 years this concentration is expected to grow to 75%. Humans, in general, prefer living in urban environments, and this massive voluntary migration to cities from rural areas is depopulating landscapes faster than what remains of human population growth will fill them. This seismic shift in population patterns, combined with high yield crops, aquaculture, and urban high-rise agriculture, promises a decisive and very positive shift from land scarcity to land abundance in the next 25-50 years. (ref. Sustainable High Density, Skyscraper Farms, India’s Green Future, Biofuel Feedstock, and Green Abundance.)

Human population growth, along with increasing per capita standards of living, taken at face value, obviously could suggest we are racing towards disaster. But as noted, resources to accommodate greater rates of overall human consumption are more resilient than is commonly accepted. And, crucially, most of human population growth has already occurred. The welcome reality of female emancipation, female literacy, and increasing general prosperity is causing human cultures all over the world, one by one, to shift from rapid population growth to negative population growth. The demographic challenge we must prepare for is not too many people, but too many old people. Our long-term challenge is not resource scarcity, but how to create robust economic growth on a planet where humans have an ever-increasing average age, and a population in slow numeric decline.

If one accepts the possibility that humanity is not on a collision course with resource scarcity, entirely new ways of looking at policy options are revealed. Rather than attempting to manage demand, based on the premise that supplies are finite, we might also manage supply by increasing production. While, for example, utility pricing might still be somewhat progressive, if we assume resources will not run out, it doesn’t have to be punitive. If someone wishes to use more energy or water than their neighbor, if their pricing isn’t so punitive as to effectively ration their consumption, but instead is only moderately progressive, then over consumption leads to higher profit margins at the utility, which in-turn finances more investment in supplies.

Another consequence of rejecting the malthusian conventional wisdom is a new understanding of what may truly motivate many powerful backers of the doomsday lobby. By limiting consumption through claiming resources are perilously scarce and by extracting them we may destroy the earth, the vested interests who control the means of production will tighten their grip on those means. Instead of pluralistically investing in this last great leap forward to build mega cities and infrastructure for the future – in the process extracting raw materials that can be either recycled or are renewable – the public entities and powerful corporations who benefit from scarcity will raise prices and defer investment. It is the interests of the emergent classes, whether they are entrepreneurs in prosperous, advanced economies, or the aspiring masses in destitute nations, who are harmed the most by the malthusian notion of inevitable scarcity.

Abundance is a choice, and it is a choice the privileged elite must make – in order for humanity to achieve abundance, the elites must accept the competition of disruptive technologies, the competition of emerging nations, and a vision of environmentalism that embraces resource development and rejects self-serving anti-growth alarmist extremism. The irony of our time is that the policies of socialism and extreme environmentalism do more harm than good to both ordinary people and the environment, while enabling wealthy elites to perpetuate their position of privilege at the same time as they embrace the comforting but false ideology of scarcity.

Posted in Business & Economics, Consumption, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Geothermal, History, People, Policies & Solutions, Population Growth, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar1 Comment

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