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Chevrolet Volt Makers Recycle Oil Spill Materials

The makers of the Chevrolet Volt electric car plan to take advantage of leftover cleanup materials from the BP oil spill.

General Motors announced last week that it intends to recycle 100 miles of boom, or plastic oil containment lines, for vehicle parts instead of going to landfills for materials.

More than 2,550 miles of boom were strung throughout the Gulf last April in an attempt to corral oil before it reached shore. According to AP, only one mile of the vinyl-coated polyester or nylon boom is in use today. Much of the rest was incinerated or sent to landfills.

“Creative recycling is one extension of GM’s overall strategy to reduce its environmental impact,” Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety policy, said in a statement. “We reuse and recycle material by-products at our 76 landfill-free facilities every day. This is a good example of using this expertise and applying it to a greater magnitude.”

GM will use the boom to make under-the-hood components of the current generation of Volts. The parts will deflect air around the vehicle’s radiator and will consist of 25 percent recycled boom plastic, 25 percent recycled tires, and 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastics.

The Chevrolet Volt can run about 35 miles on stored battery power before switching to a gasoline engine.

Posted in Cars, Energy, Oceans & Coastlines, Recycling, Reduce & Reuse0 Comments

Wind Energy: The Promise of City Turbines

Opponents of wind power keep a store of questions on hand about the method’s relevancy as an alternative energy source. Won’t it disrupt migratory bird patterns? Is it really enough support our needs?

And then there’s that other question, the one that’s less practical but still a prevalent concern: Won’t it look bad?

Sometimes it seems like that’s wind power’s biggest adversary–its own unsightly aesthetic. Challengers protest that fleets of turbines in rural areas mar the beauty of the landscape. They are, to most folks anyway, an eyesore, a disruptor of idyllic scenery.

But maybe all that’s about to change. Cleanfield Energy, an Ontario-based renewable energy company, recently spoke of its plans to install wind turbines in urban areas all over the world.

While traditional wind farms in remote areas require the construction of towers and transmission lines to transport power back to the market, the company’s urban turbines can be placed on rooftops to directly power city buildings.

“The market potential for urban wind is quite massive,” CEO Tony Verrelli said in a press release.

Urban windmills, called Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs), have already been installed in the U.S., Canada, Slovenia, China and Ireland, and they are gaining popularity, the company says.

“We expect to be in a number of new markets in the months ahead,” Verrelli said.

Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Wind0 Comments

South Korea's Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise to 620 Million Tons in 2007

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (UPI) — South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.9 percent — totaling 620 million tons — in 2007, the government announced Monday, Xinhua reports.

That represents the highest growth rate since 2002 and is nearly three times faster than the growth rate in 2006. It is also a 103-percent increase from 1990 greenhouse gas emission totals.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea’s emissions are the fastest growing of all industrialized states.

Seoul attributes the sharp rise to increases in fossil fuel output because of a fall in nuclear power generation as well as energy consumption in the country’s steel and petrochemical sectors.

Yet South Korea regards carbon dioxide reduction not as a burden but a “business model,” the country’s climate-change ambassador, Rae-Kwon Chung, told Der Spiegel during the Copenhagen climate-change conference.

Rae-Kwon, who has been active in climate negotiations since they began internationally in 1991, is sometimes referred to as the “godfather” of the green growth movement, which contends that countries can boost wealth by reducing emissions.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times during the Copenhagen talks, Rae-Kwon said world leaders need to capture the “opportunity” of renewable energy technology. To do so, he said, they need to rethink some fundamentals of daily life: tax structures, transportation patterns and, most importantly, to accept that cheaper energy is better for economic growth.

“They’re walking the walk” in South Korea, Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has worked closely with Chung on climate issues, told the Times. Schmidt said Chung “has had a very big impact in how South Korea views their role” on emission limits, domestically and internationally.

Recent announcements may confirm Schmidt’s observations.

Last week South Korea said it plans to officially register by the end of January its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the projected emission level in 2020 compared with 2005.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced Dec. 17 that $10 million would be used to establish a Global Green Growth Institute, bringing economists and top researchers together to develop new ideas.

And South Korea said Monday it would launch a carbon emissions trading scheme aimed at reducing the country’s emissions 1 percent to 2 percent of 2005 to 2007 averages, reports Xinhua.

The Korea Stock Exchange would serve as a platform for the three-year pilot program, starting as early as late 2010, said the Ministry of Environment. A total of 641 organizations will participate, including South Korea’s 14 local governments and 446 public organizations.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Quality Standards & Emissions, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Consumption, Energy, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Organizations, Science, Space, & Technology, Transportation, Walking0 Comments

Amendment to Chinese Energy Law Adopted

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (UPI) — China’s renewable energy law was amended Saturday to require power companies to buy all power generated from renewable resources.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported Chinese lawmakers adopted the amendment to China’s renewable energy law during a National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting.

The amendment also requires the State Council Energy Department and the state power regulatory agency to “determine the proportion of renewable energy power generation to the overall generating capacity for a certain period.”

Under China’s renewable energy law, electricity grid companies will face sizable fines if they fail to purchase power generated from renewable resources such as non-fossil fuels or wind and solar power.

The law and its adopted amendment come about as China remains reliant on coal as a power supply. Two-thirds of the country’s power supply comes from coal, Xinhua said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Energy Industry, Solar, Wind0 Comments

AGL Energy Doubts Wind Farm Project in Austrailia Due to Renewable Energy Certificates

SYDNEY, Dec. 24 (UPI) — AGL Energy expressed doubt about the future of its proposed $800 million wind farm in Victoria because of a collapse in the price of Australia’s renewable energy certificates.

The value of the certificates, aimed at encouraging investment in renewable energy, has almost halved since the Australian government began issuing them to consumers who install solar hot water systems and other products that do not generate power.

The 350-megawatt wind farm, with a planned 150 turbines nearly 300 feet tall, powering 150,000 homes, was expected to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

AGL Managing Director Michael Fraser said Tuesday the government’s approach was a fraud that threatened the industry’s ability to meet the target of obtaining 20 percent of power from renewable sources, the Herald reports. More than $30 billion of expected investment is needed to reach the target.

The oversupply of certificates had caused investment in renewable energy to stop, he said.

The only new wind farms AGL would definitely build were those required under contracts to supply power to desalination plants for the Victorian and South Australian governments, Fraser said.

”Beyond that, you simply won’t see us invest until this issue gets resolved,” he said.

The project was expected to create 500 jobs during construction. Fraser said up to seven of AGL’s other wind farms being considered are also under threat.

”The reality is that you’ve seen virtually no new announcements around large-scale investments in the renewable sector from anybody for months now,” he said.

Victoria state Energy Minister Peter Batchelor said Canberra’s policies have delayed investment in renewable energy projects and undermined job creation.

”We in Victoria want to move away from our overwhelming dependence on brown coal, but to do that we need to encourage investment in new wind farms,” he told The Age.

Coal-fired plants supply about 86 percent of Australia’s electricity.

Batchelor said the value of renewable energy certificates has fallen from more than $50 in May 2009 to less than $35 now.

“We are very concerned about the inability of the national renewable energy scheme to stimulate jobs and investment in Victoria,” he said.

When the legislation was passed in August, it was expected to generate $28 billion of investment in new generation capacity in Australia over the next decade and the creation of 28,000 jobs in industries such as wind and solar power, according to the Clean Energy Council, an alliance of the Australian Wind Energy Industry Association and the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

A spokesman for Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong acknowledged that the fall in price for certificates partly reflected the higher uptake of solar water heaters as a result of state incentives and the federal stimulus package, The Age reports.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Other, Policies & Solutions, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Dogs Pollute More Than SUVs, Says Guide to Sustainable Living

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec. 23 (UPI) — One medium-sized dog produces more greenhouse gas than a Toyota Land Cruiser, New Zealand scientists Robert and Brenda Vale say in a new book.

In “Time to Eat the Dog, the Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” the Vales analyzed the ingredients of pet food and how much each pet eats to determine the size of their carbon footprint, a term used to express a total amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Those numbers then were compared to a 4.6 liter Toyota Land Cruiser driven about 6,200 miles a year, the Vales told New

A medium-size dog had a carbon footprint about twice the size of the Land Cruiser, while a cat’s carbon footprint was about equal to a small Volkswagen, said the Vales, who specialize in sustainable living at Victoria University of Wellington. Two hamsters had the footprint of a plasma television, while a goldfish was comparable to a pair of cell phones, ABC News reported Wednesday.

Dogs and cats have such large carbon footprints because they eat so much meat, which requires large amounts of land and energy to produce.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Cars, Energy, Pollution & Toxins, Transportation0 Comments

Duke Energy to Spend $93M for Violations

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) — Duke Energy will spend $85 million to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Indiana plant and pay a $1.75 million fine, federal officials said Tuesday.

The company agreed to reduce harmful air pollution and pay the penalty under a settlement to resolve the violations, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said in a joint release.

The settlement also requires Duke Energy to invest $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, the agencies said.

The agreement, filed in federal court in Indianapolis, resolves violations found at the company’s Gallagher coal-fired power plant in New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville. The settlement is expected to reduce the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 35,000 tons per year, an 86 percent reduction when compared to 2008 emission levels, the Justice Department said.

The settlement also requires Duke to spend $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, including $250,000 for the U.S. Forest Service to address acid rain in downwind national forests, $5 million for at least one project such conversion to hydro-generation or hybrid vehicle fleets, and $1 million for environmental mitigation projects allocated among the states — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — that joined the settlement.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Air Pollution Remediation, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Business & Economics, Coal, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Ethics & Responsibility, Justice0 Comments

Department of Energy Must Upgrade Computer Security, Says Inspector

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) — An Inspector General’s report finds the U.S. Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on computer security, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Delays in upgrading security on computer systems at the department’s Office of Science could be both dangerous and costly, the report said. The office is responsible for research in a number of areas and manages nuclear facilities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

“Any system that is not as secure as it should be could be subject to compromise,” said Rickey Hass, deputy inspector general for audit services. “There are literally thousands of people who scan systems to try to gain access.”

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Energy reviewed the office’s spending on computer security in 2008, $287 million for the year. The report said the seven field offices have not upgraded security to a high enough level.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Nuclear, Office, People, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

OPEC Likely to Leave Production Unchanged

LUANDA, Angola, Dec. 21 (UPI) — Oil ministers arriving in Luanda, Angola, and industry researchers said the world’s dominant oil cartel would leave production levels unchanged for now.

Representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are set to begin a summit meeting Tuesday. While arriving in Luanda, OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said there was “consensus that there is no change. If you look at the price, it is very comfortable.”

Representing OPEC’s largest exporter, Ali Naimi of Saudi Arabia said, “the current prices is wanted by all. We are not alone … but also those with alternatives and oil difficult to extract,” The Financial Times reported Monday.

Consultants at PFC Energy in Washington said production would remain steady “for the moment,” while warning a drop in demand and high supplies in 2010 might trigger a production cut of up to 1 billion barrels a day.

OPEC members last cut production in December 2008 by 2.2 million barrels a day to prop up prices that had fallen from $147 per barrel in July to lower than $40 per barrel by January 2009.

Prices have since risen steadily, reaching a peak for the year above $80 per barrel and hitting $75.14 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday morning.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Drilling for Oil, Energy, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

U.N. Summit Once Coined as 'Hopenhagen' Turns into 'Flopenhagen'

BERLIN, Dec. 21 (UPI) — World leaders failed to put aside their national interests to save the climate at an utterly chaotic U.N. conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Representatives from nearly 200 countries met in Copenhagen for the past two weeks to hammer out a legally binding climate-protection treaty.

In the end, they got an accord that world leaders did not adopt, but “took note of,” meaning that it isn’t legally binding. The text includes a pledge to cap the temperature rise at 3.6 F, but it doesn’t spell out emissions-reduction targets for developed or developing countries. This is below experts’ most modest expectations. Instead of Hopenhagen, the Danish city is now called Flopenhagen.

The so-called Copenhagen Accord is the consensus negotiated by a number of world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South African President Jacob Zuma.

In the end, all the pledges by world leaders, including Obama, proved empty words, as neither the world’s biggest economy — the United States — nor the world’s biggest emitter — China — was willing to move on key issues.

British Premier Gordon Brown said a few countries held the talks “to ransom,” until they culminated in what many say is a lukewarm compromise.

“This is the best that we can get?” asked Kim Naodoo, the head of Greenpeace International. “Then essentially what the most powerful countries and particularly the United States is saying is that we are issuing a death warrant for people in small island states.”

But there is a glimmer of hope.

In an positive side to the accord, developed countries promised $30 billion in aid for poorer nations trying to deal with climate change between 2010 and 2012, a fund that is due to rise to as much as $100 billion a year by 2020.

And leaders have pledged to work hard in 2010 to get a legally binding agreement by the end of 2010 in Mexico City, where the next COP will take place.

In the United States, Obama will try to push through a clean energy and climate bill that might encourage China to boost its emissions reduction pledges as well. Yet Obama did not come to Copenhagen willing to boost America’s reduction pledges to soothe China, and it remains to be seen whether Beijing really drops the blocking attitude it brought to the recent summit.

“We should be conscious that a huge challenge lies ahead of us,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Next year’s conference in Mexico has to achieve “all the things we were supposed to achieve” in Copenhagen, he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, International Relations & Treaties, People, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

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