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Delta Airlines Jet Makes Emergency Landing in Phoenix Arizona After Bird Damages Windshield

PHOENIX, Nov. 3 (UPI) — An emergency landing by a Delta Air Lines passenger jet in Phoenix was necessitated by a bird strike, officials say.

Ian Gregor, a spokesperson of the Federal Aviation Administration, said Flight 1232, which was bound Monday morning from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, returned to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport shortly after takeoff, The Arizona Republic reported.

“(The bird strike) caused some damage to the windshield,” Gregor told the newspaper. “The damage caused a problem with the pressurization in the cabin and the pilot declared an emergency landing.”

Delta spokesman Anthony Black told the Republic the plane was landed the plane as a precautionary action and that passengers were placed on other flights.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Seawater Plants Can Produce Aviation Grade Biofuel

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Boeing and international academic and business partners are looking into ways of producing commercially viable aviation fuel from saltwater plants in a push toward reducing carbon emissions from air travel.

The Boeing Co. said scientific studies were focused on salicornia bigelovii and saltwater mangroves — plants known as halophytes.

Research conducted in the United States, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and other locations showed the plants thrive when irrigated with seawater and can be produced in large quantities to extract biofuel suitable for aircraft.

Aviation industry analysts said a biofuel substitute for hydrocarbons used in air travel could help ease environmentalist concerns over aviation’s carbon footprint.

A switch from expensive, high-octane aviation fuel to biofuels could also help counter a rising global aversion to air travel because of the perceived damage to the Earth’s ecology, said the analysts.

Boeing said it is joining with UOP LLC, a Honeywell company based in Des Plaines, Ill., to commission a study on the sustainability of a leading family of saltwater-based plant candidates for renewable jet fuel.

The study is being commissioned as part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group consortium, which brings together UOP and airlines.

Boeing said the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi will lead the study, which will examine the overall potential for sustainable, large-scale production of biofuels made from the halophytes. The institute was established with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and UOP will participate in the analysis, which will include an assessment of the total carbon lifecycle of biofuels.

Scientists say halophytes can be highly productive sources of biomass energy, thrive in arid land and can be irrigated with seawater, making them suitable for biofuel development.

Abu Dhabi, like parts of the United States and Central and South America, is seen by experts as a viable location for conducting a lifecycle-analysis study.

With improved plant science and agronomy, early testing results indicate that halophytes have the potential to deliver very high yields per unit of land, Boeing said.

Previous biofuel research has focused on algae and vegetation but has met with skepticism, both because of large quantities of fresh water involved in some of the fuel production and because of doubts about how long the alternatives can last as viable substitutes for oil.

Billy Glover, managing director of environmental strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the study will enable researchers to “better know if certain types of halophytes meet the carbon reduction and socioeconomic criteria that will allow them to become part of a portfolio of sustainable biofuel solutions for aviation.”

Abu Dhabi, a major oil producer within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has been investing in research that can prepare the country for a future when oil — and oil revenues — are no longer plentiful.

Dr. Sgouris Sgouridis of the Masdar Institute said the initiative aims to create and sustain the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city, Masdar City, to be located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

Boeing says biofuel development is focused on plant sources that do not distort the global food chain, compete with freshwater resources or lead to unintended land use change.

Biofuel research has also picked up in the Caribbean — though on a modest level and for a different reason. Most Caribbean countries have been hit hard by the recession and are finding it difficult to buy oil, even when offered on easy terms by neighboring exporters such as Venezuela. With international help, Caribbean states have been pushing initiatives to produce biofuels to keep their economies going.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Aviation, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Other, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Barge Leaks 10,000 Gallons of Fuel Oil in Houston Ship Channel

The U.S. Coast Guard says it will take two weeks to reopen a section of the busy Houston Ship Channel after fuel oil leaked from a barge.

The barge was struck by a commercial vessel late Friday night near Brady Island, dumping approximately 10,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil into the channel.

The Houston Chronicle said Sunday that the spill did not damage the other ship, which was carrying aviation fuel.

The incident closed the channel to all ship traffic north of the Sidney Sherman Bridge. Ten ships and barges in the immediate area will not be allowed to move until the oil is cleared.

Coast Guard Capt. James Whitehead said the closure would interrupt a lot of water-borne business, however, it was fortunate it did not occur in the busier south section of the 52-mile channel, which links Houston’s oil refineries and chemical plants to the sea.

“It is low economic impact at this point,” said Whitehead.

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How To Fight Global Warming with Tropical Reforestation & Aerosal Emissions

Assume global warming is real, caused by humans, and can be averted through immediate collective action on the part of all humanity. How then might we analyse what to do about global warming, based on everything we know?

The return on investment, in terms of time required, cost to implement, and immediate impact to cool the planet, is very good when invested in increasing (nontoxic) aerosol emissions, reforesting the tropics, or cooling the urban heat islands with billions of canopy trees. The return on investment in reducing carbon emissions, even if completely successful, is more problematic.

U.S. National Aerospaceplane
Why not emit non-toxic aerosols over the Arctic?
Photo: NASA

More aerosols in the atmosphere would be a good way to quickly combat global warming, potentially saving Antarctic ice and immediately ending crippling droughts. In the book “The Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery, the author cites Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption as having immediately cooled the planet by 0.3 degrees centigrade (0.5 farenheit). The same book references an unprecedented increase in temperature in the U.S. during the three-day grounding of commercial aviation after Sept. 11th, 2001. If we are serious about stopping global warming now, clearly there is a role for aerosols – we just have to invent less toxic aerosols.

Compared to the cost of sequestering CO2 and replacing CO2 emitting sources of fuel, reforesting the tropics and greening the urban heat islands, are less expensive, more feasible, and will yield greater immediate results. Along with cooling global surface temperatures and increasing land-based CO2 uptake, reforesting and urban forestry will attract rainfall therefore moderating global weather streams more evenly and improving global water supplies. Cooling the world means giving her back her tropical lungs, to move the monsoons. Cooling the world means trees transforming mega-cities from heat islands burning like rocks in the sun into shaded streams. Invest in tropical reforesting. Invest in urban forests.

To focus exclusively on curtailing CO2 emissions is to ration burning and invest trillions in CO2 sequestration schemes – yet fossil fuels are something the world economy is utterly dependent on. The reason you don’t see pie charts depicting renewable energy sources as a slice of total energy production is because there is only one small slice, hydroelectric, with solar and wind not registering as more than thin lines in the circle. As of late 2006, most citizens of the world have only begun to live in industrialized societies. If we focus too much on curtailing CO2 emissions, we will deny aspiring nations their only practical fuel, coal.

Feasible cuts to CO2 emissions may be too little, too late. Clearly other measures to combat global warming must be considered. In America, Africa and Asia the tropical forests should expand again, and urban trees should help cool the mega-cities. In the last 150 years the 56 million square miles of land on earth has seen its forests shrink from 25 to 18 million square miles, deserts expand from 5 to 8 million square miles, and well over a million square miles of urban heat islands sprout across the planet – usually along the rivers where the rain used to fall. And isn’t it feasible to seed the Arctic from March through September with non-toxic aerosols to save the Polar Bear along with the gulf stream?

Posted in Aviation, Coal, Energy, Global Warming & Climate Change, Hydroelectric, Other, Solar, Wind1 Comment

U.K. Speeds Wind Energy Development

Blowing in the Wind: The U.K. Aims to Substantially Increase Wind Generated Electricity
Windmills
Today in the U.K. wind only generates 649 MW

Editor’s Note: Wind power began to be viewed as a serious contender to provide competitively priced renewable energy over 20 years ago, when search for sources of energy to replace fossil fuels began to accellerate. Since these beginnings the Europeans, particularly the Danish and the Germans, have lead the way in developing wind energy. If the U.K. government has anything to say about this, however, that is all going to change.

In their favor, the British have the windiest country in Europe. They also have the seafaring tradition which may make them the first to build wind generating platforms in deep salt water, well beyond the 12 mile limit, where winds blow stronger and more consistently than closer to shore or on land.

In any case the British will have a long way to go before they can claim leadership in the race to use wind energy. Denmark generates over 20% of their energy from wind, in the U.K. this figure is only one-half of one percent. But wind power continues to fulfill its promise to deliver energy at prices at or below conventional energy sources.

The U.K. is particularly focused on offshore wind projects.

Such projects carry significantly higher risks than onshore ones. In addition, few offshore projects have been undertaken, and although countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark want to develop them, the U.K.’s proposals are the most ambitious.

The U.K.’s abundance of windy weather could deliver significant clean renewable power for the nation over the next decade. It would help put the country on track to meet the government’s target of 15% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2015. Industry sources expect the U.K. to have the fourth-largest wind power capacity in the EU by 2010. These goals seem optimistic, however, given that total installed capacity was about 649 MW at the end of 2003, equivalent to only 0.5% of U.K. electricity. It is likely that an improved planning permission process would be required, along with a long-term, benign regulatory framework to deliver the government’s expected targets.

U.K. WIND SPEED MAP
United Kingdom Wind Map
The U.K. is the windiest
country in the European Union

The year 2003 was the most successful to date for the U.K. wind industry, with 100 MW of additional installed capacity. This translates into a reduction of almost 256,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

The measures announced by the government by the end of 2003 are designed to boost further investors’ confidence in the U.K. wind sector. The measures are:

* Extension of the Registers of Scotland tenure to 2015 from 2010, and an increase in the actual renewable obligation to 15% from 10% of energy generated; and

* Extension of the limit for offshore construction to more than 12 nautical miles from the coast.

The Registers of Scotland (ROS) requires power suppliers to derive a specified proportion of the electricity they supply to their customers from renewable sources. This started at 3% in 2003, and rises gradually to 15% by 2015. The extension of the ROS to 2015 has provided greater certainty for investors. The average payback on a wind project generally extends beyond 10 years, and
so the ROS extension allows for project revenues to be generated over a longer period. This development is critical to reduce financiers’ concerns and attract investment as the sector enters a decisive stage of development. The ROS extension indicates the government’s general support, resulting from its pursuit of environmental targets.

Another positive development for the industry is the opportunity to build large wind farms further offshore than the previous 12-nautical-mile limit. This extension will enable projects to take advantage of better wind conditions further out to sea. This change is intended to encourage investors to build offshore farms.

Windmills Offshore
Wind energy is stronger and more consistent offshore

In Standard & Poor’s opinion, however, offshore wind power generation is still developing, and construction, technological, and operational risks are high. The turbine technology for wind farms a long way from shore is not sufficiently tested, and the distance from the coast and poor weather conditions could prevent necessary repairs. Maintenance costs could also increase if there were a failure in the connection between the wind farm and the main grid, and construction and repair costs are likely to be high. All these factors would have a direct negative impact on turbine availability. Furthermore, the long-term maintenance needs of turbines in deep saltwater have not been gauged. The entry of new and
inexperienced offshore developers into the U.K. offshore sector may further increase risks.

The December 2003 “Round 2″ announcement, which followed the measures discussed above, identified 15 offshore developments that will be offered leases by the Crown Estate. If built, they will provide 5.4 gigawatts (GW)-7.2 GW of new wind capacity. Such installed capacity would:

* Generate enough power to run 4 million homes, or one in six U.K. households; and

* Require about 7 billion pounds ($12 billion) worth of investment.

These projects are to be constructed in the Thames Estuary; Greater Wash; and the North West.

United Kingdom Flag

The “Round 2″ announcement clearly demonstrates the government’s acknowledgment of the offshore sector’s importance to the renewable energy target. The announcement, like the measures taken in November 2003, was targeted to inspire investor sentiment.

The upbeat investor climate in late 2003 has been overshadowed in the first quarter of 2004 by the release of the MoD’s 2003 objection statistics, and recently released reports on the costs of generating electricity.

The release in February 2004 of the MoD’s 2003 wind farm development objection rates–48% of the pre-application wind farm proposals submitted, or 413 out of 861 proposals–may dampen investor confidence. The MoD’s objections result from concerns about radar interference.

United Kingdom Map
Wind currently generates
1/2 of one-percent of
the U.K.’s electrical production

Radar is susceptible to distortion owing to high-level signals reflected from reflective large objects, such as windmills that exceed the limits of the radar design.

The high objection rate is not the only MoD-related concern for the sector. The ministry’s response times to proposals are becoming increasingly lengthy. This is not conducive to gathering construction and operational momentum in the sector. The MoD response time of about six months is far slower than the targeted three weeks.

The MoD and civil aviation stakeholders’ approach may restrict wind project build rates in both the onshore and offshore subsectors. If unresolved, the issue will inhibit investment in the sector as a whole. A technical solution should, however, be identified. This issue has been dealt with in mature European wind markets, and coordination between the government and the MoD will help alleviate the latter’s concerns.

Recent renewable energy studies estimates that, over the medium term, the cheapest electricity will come from gas-fired power plants and nuclear stations, rather than onshore or offshore wind farms. The report findings conflict with current onshore wind power costs of 3.1p per kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced for the British Wind Institute. This figure is lower than recent figures on new-build nuclear generation, produced for the Department of Trade and Industry, of 3.7p per kWh. The publication of such contradictory reports may erode investor and developer confidence in the sector with regard to the price competitiveness of future wind farms.

About the Author:
Gordon Feller is the CEO of Urban Age Institute (www.UrbanAge.org). During the past twenty years he has authored more than 500 magazine articles, journal articles or newspaper articles on the profound changes underway in politics, economics, and ecology – with a special emphasis on sustainable development. Gordon is the editor of Urban Age Magazine, a unique quarterly which serves as a global resource and which was founded in 1990. He can be reached at GordonFeller@UrbanAge.org and he is available for speaking to your organization about the issues raised in this and his other numerous articles published in EcoWorld.

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Posted in Aviation, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Wind3 Comments

Government Funding to Help Curb Our Energy Crisis

Energy Crisis Insider: Can Government Work? It has in the past. It can do so again.

Editor’s Note: Here’s the latest installment from EcoWorld Editors-at-Large John Hulls and John Joss’s “National Energy Plan.” The writers envision the federal government funding a hydrogen “backbone” pipeline, fueled by energy from windmills, photovoltaic arrays and other renewable sources. This installment describes the U.S. federal government’s successful efforts in the 1940s and 1950s to build oil and natural gas pipelines, setting a precedent for action today.

An amazing aspect of recent political history is how Newt Gingrich and his ilk, up to the present day, convinced themselves and the American public that Government can do nothing successfully. This ‘Newtering’ of American political thought has huge implications for the nation’s energy policy and overlooks that, repeatedly, the Federal Government has taken a leadership role in energy development. It needs to do so again, to create the Hydrogen Backbone of the New National Energy Plan that will benefit all citizens and enterprises for the next 50-100 years (and also provide huge and legitimate benefit to the energy industry). Some aspects of the national interest, such as utility services, transcend private profit motives.

Are there two sides to this story? Can the ‘bumbling’ Federal government take a leadership stance? Should we always rely on ‘swift, efficient, private industry’ to work not only for reasonable profit but also for the national interest? Consider history, and the creation of America’s natural gas industry.

Take a trip back in time . . .

It is 11 December 1941, four days after Pearl Harbor. Hitler has directed Admiral Doenitz and his U-boats to attack the tankers carrying virtually all the oil from loading docks in the Gulf of Mexico to consumers in the Northeast. Attacks on tankers carrying oil across the North Atlantic for the Royal Navy and aviation gasoline for the beleaguered Royal Air Force have reduced fuel reserves in England to a few days. The outcome of the war itself is in the balance. Backlit by Miami’s lights, where hotel owners have refused to douse the lights during tourist season, the easily recognizable tanker profiles stand out like arcade targets for the waiting U-boats. On the Atlantic City beaches, people watch for the explosions and massive glare of blazing tankers. The U-boats are sinking tankers at four times the rate at which they can be replaced. Brave men are dying. Disastrous shortages on all war fronts seem inevitable.

President Roosevelt calls on Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, a man hated by the oil industry for his anti-monopoly stance, to solve the problem. Blackouts are imposed and coastal convoys formed. But the brilliant stroke is the wholesale change of the industry’s means of transportation. Authorizing use of crucial steel supplies for a project the petroleum industry says is doomed to fail, the government builds two pipelines—”Big Inch” and “Little Inch”—to carry oil from Texas to the East Coast, in one of the great, unsung engineering feats of WWII. In less than one and a half years, “Big Inch” is carrying more than half the East Coast’s oil 1,250 miles from the Texas oil fields; soon “Little Inch” is carrying gasoline and refined products to New England. Ickes is promoted to Petroleum Administrator for War, the “Oil Czar”. By the war’s end, over 42% of American oil moves through government-owned and -financed pipelines.

Inching Forward. More Government energy action-and success

The government is not finished with “Big Inch” and “Little Inch” to rationalize the energy industry. As the war ends, the House Armed Services Committee decides that the risk of depending on foreign oil is unacceptably high, presaging OPEC-created crises, Saddam Hussein and Desert Storm by half a century. They see the solution in the thousands of plumes burning across Texas night skies, as annoying and ‘worthless’ natural gas, a ‘waste’ by-product of oil production, is flared off. They tell the industry to collect and sell the natural gas to reduce dependence on foreign energy. Led by Defense Secretary James Forrestal, the government sells “Big Inch” and “Little Inch” to the Texas Eastern Transmission Company on the condition that they carry natural gas to East Coast markets. They also allocate scarce steel to build “Biggest Inch,” the El Paso Natural Gas Pipeline from Texas and New Mexico to Los Angeles (the very same pipeline so controversial in the energy crisis of 2001).

The birth of the natural gas industry

Did it matter? Was an industry created? Commercial natural gas, long considered an orphan waste product, went from virtually zero until by 1950—just three years after the program started—the market for natural gas was 2.5 trillion cubic feet per year, saving nearly a million barrels of imported crude oil per day. And enriching private industry in the process.

History shows that Government led the energy industry effectively. Winston Churchill, in his “History of the English Speaking Peoples,” credits much of America’s success on the Federal Governments willingness to invest in infrastructure to create new industries and markets. That is what the Government must do now. Just as it created the pipeline industry and the natural gas industry, it must lead the way to a sustainable energy infrastructure for the Millennium.

By taking the lead in promoting the Hydrogen Backbone, (www.ptreyeslight.com articles of February 8, 15 and 22, 2001, and EcoWorld: National Energy Plan) the Government will create a whole new aspect of the energy industry, as they did with the “Inch” pipelines and natural gas. Much of the technology exists, delivering surprising economic advantages which we will discuss in the next installment. Implementation is merely a matter of leadership and management.

‘Dirty Harry’ wins a small battle but loses (along with us) the war

Meanwhile, on the energy insider front, Clint Eastwood went to Sacramento recently to get the government to “make his day” on a fair shake for photovoltaics, such as those he installed at his Monterey Peninsula golf course. They did so, but vigilant utility lobbyists got the legislators to make sure the fair treatment lasts only until 2002. If the State had let the rules stand, so that PV could be financed over a 10-year period, we might have ended the energy crisis without the IOU’s (Investor Owned Utilities) or the State spending a cent. But then the utilities wouldn’t get to profit. Clint, go on back and explain to them in words they can understand.

Does PV really haul the freight? For a fascinating article on how PV power is competitive under the existing rate structure with a combination of net metering and time-of-day purchase, see the current (June/July) issue of Homepower entitled “Practical Solar” by Phillipe Habib. It is a well documented, fascinating story that gives details of rates, metering and structuring a system to make PV pay, along with a between-the-lines look at the perfidy of certain utilities . . .

‘Deep Volt’ strikes again, to the heart of the matter

Back to Deep Volt and the computer-controlled grid. The New York Power Authority is installing a FACTS-type technology to enable the State Independent System Operator to balance two major power lines feeding from Quebec Hydro to New York-one through Albany and one through the Catskills-moving hundreds more megawatts through a system at near capacity with the obsolete control technology. Even San Diego Gas and Electric is purchasing four units (from Mitsubishi, in Japan) to bring hundreds of extra megawatts into Southern California. Both these systems are still a far cry from the promise of FACTS/computer-controlled national grid , but they’re a step in the right direction. But the technology players are all foreign-Siemens, ABB and Mitsubishi-despite the technology signposts erected by EPRI in Palo Alto, California and by thyristor technology owned by General Electric. Do we really want to let others lead the way on this technology?

For more history of the oil and gas industry, read Daniel Yurgin’s excellent, Pulitzer Prize- winning book, The Prize, the Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. For more information on the computer control of the grid, including information on the New York project, see MIT’s Technology Review magazine July/Aug issue, “A Smarter Power Grid,” which shows how deregulation will bring ever larger numbers of independent power generators, who will not collaborate effectively, to create even more instability on an already overloaded grid.

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Posted in Aviation, Business & Economics, Energy, Energy Industry, Engineering, History, Hydrogen, Infrastructure, Natural Gas, Other, Science, Space, & Technology, Solar, Transportation0 Comments

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