High Gas Prices Result of Huge U.S. Oil/Gas Exports; New Drilling/Pipelines Obviously Not Meant for U.S.

 

U.S. oil and gas exports are at their highest in 62 years! http://sfgate.bloomberg.com/SFChronicle/ Story?docId=1376-M03ZSG0YHQ0X01-5JR0G692MBGTE60AIHP5SP9EJ8.  Demand for oil/gas from foreign countries has increased tremendously while the U.S. has drastically reduced demand over a short period of time. What does this mean? It means that the big push to open up drilling in pristine Arctic wildlife areas, or to abscond land from private citizens in order to run a new pipeline, or the rounding up and slaughter of our free range wild mustangs, bison, wolves, etc., in order to clear them from the land like scooping up garbage instead of living creatures has nothing at all to do with our own energy welfare but for foreign countries.  It means we’ve pretty much gained energy independence from terrorist nations.  It means that we’re not running out of oil for our own consumption or that we need to drill baby drill. It simply has to do with big oil supplying that which we no longer need to foreign nations for big profits because there is demand out there. And when supply keeps up with increasing demand prices go up everywhere. It’s economics 101 http://www.investopedia.com/university/economics /economics3.asp#axzz1ny6hzw4F plain and simple that has little to do with us, except the fact we pay for it dearly at the pumps, while we still subsidize big oil. http://thinkprogress.org/green /2012/03/01/436001/obama-tells-congress-to-eliminate-outrageous-big-oil-tax-breaks/.

Now do we understand why there is such an outrage among some of us over subsidies, over the destruction of wildlife, and over the destruction of land for drilling/pipelines for a private, wealthy industry like big oil? Subsidies are taxpayer dollars to help big oil find new places to drill, places we do not want them to drill, places we do not want pipelines, yet we help these mega, mega rich private entities with our money. Feels like some sort of investment to me. We helped the U.S. auto industry out one time with a finite sum of money, most of which has been paid back, but not before there was a huge outcry that we’d better get it back and we shouldn’t have done that. Yet our taxpayer dollars consistently fund big, mega rich entities like big Ag and big Oil. Our payback right now from big oil is a continual increase in gas prices at the pumps. One would think that we should have some say so over that. Oh that’s right in most of the commercials about taxing big oil, or stopping subsidies, the people on the street remark, “Oh, don’t do that. That would mean a big increase for us and we can’t afford it.” So who’s the bully here and why is the bully so free to raise prices whenever? Oh that’s right too, we’re told those pesky government regulations/interference hinder big business and jobs. What’s happening at the gas pumps is what unfettered capitalism looks like. If Obama stepped in on our behalf, all hell would break lose. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2012/01/oil-lobbyist-publicly-warns-president-obama-xl-pipeline-or-lose-presidency/.

Now that we’ve seen the proof that there is enough U.S. oil/gas to export so much of it, we must also be aware that any new pipelines from new sources of oil, like Canada’s tar sands via the XL pipeline, isn’t destined for us either. As I explained in another blog the XL pipeline will be carrying filthy tar sands to China mostly http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2011/11/xl-pipeline-looks-to-be-a-good-deal-for-china-not-americans-alternate-route-through-british-columbia-being-considered/.  It will cause demand for the stuff to go sky high, with a huge supply in the waiting, and we’ll see another hike at the pumps.

It’s almost as if this is big oil’s payback to us for declining use of their product for environmental reasons. It looks that way in congress too with lackeys for big oil stifling any incentives for wind projects even though wind looked like the most promising alternative for the U.S.  The U.S. mid-section is a corridor of constant wind, as well as, our huge shoreline. But congress stifled wind subsidies/incentives http://www.democraticunderground.com/101454189. And solar, well, solar is quiet right now after the dragging of feet to get Solyndra going before China flooded the market with their cheap, incomparable products http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2012/01/solyndra-a-model-of-why-the-u-s-wont-be-a-contender-in-the-new-world-order/.  All of these scenarios–threatening commercials to raise prices if subsidies decline or taxation increases, stamping out the competition through congress, and creating more and more demand abroad, look as if we’re being coerced back to using oil. And if demand for our oil gets too outrageous, a shortage crisis will emerge—MARK MY WORDS—where it will be imperative that we drill everywhere and anywhere. We will be told our own resources are dwindling and there just aren’t enough alternatives to take up the slack. What a setup. If incentives to create and nurture a new green sector for the U.S. are cut out of the picture what choice will we have though? Looks like a plan to me.

Throughout my previous blogs I made comments about the progression of control I was seeing relative to energy and the environment. I began in the Bush era by saying, “The kings are polishing their crowns. From there it was, “The kings have donned their crowns but just haven’t announced it yet.”  When SCOTUS announced corporations are considered citizens, my comment was, “This is the announcement (new kings).” Now we’re seeing a little more clearly those that are sporting crowns and one of them is big oil, king and ruler of U.S. energy, whether we want to move away from it or not.

Read more about U.S. oil exports:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/story/2011-12-31/united-states-export/52298812/1

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/30/column-us-exports-energy-independence-idUSL5E7MU6OT20111130

 

 

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Solyndra a Model of Why the U.S. Won’t Be a Contender in the New World Order

Going green has lost quite a bit if traction in the U.S. because of some really outrageous spin and it would appear the oil/gas industry and their lackey’s in congress to be the culprits. Despite the fact we can see climate change with our own eyes, and that some of the giants in the oil industry admitted greenhouse gas contributes to climate change, we’re heading toward more fossil fuel production with gas fracking and tar sands oil at the top of the list. Friends of fossil fuel have jumped on the Solyndra bandwagon of failure as some sort of omen that green start-ups are too risky, and therefore, unworthy business models in the U.S. during a time of renewed “drill and frack” mentality. But Solyndra is a model of a much more ominous nature. Solyndra’s failure is not due to an innovation that had no place in the market, or mishandling of funds, or was too costly compared to the competition, or because it was a vehicle of some underhanded exchange of money for political gain. While conspiracies abound around the name “Solyndra” the biggest problem Solyndra had to overcome was CHINA, one of the four new and fastest growing world economies. No the U.S. is not on that short list.  We’ll never make it at all if we continue on the path of fossil fuel for energy and stall moving forward quickly with green innovation.

Don’t get me wrong. China is indeed destined to get most of that tar sand oil from Canada, and so it is in the big fossil fuel burning category of nations. But China also continues to be a mixed bag for its energy sources and moving more and more quickly into the green foray. China recently emerged as KING of solar panel producers exporting its solar panel wares worldwide in numbers far greater than its competitors. But how did this happen you say and so quickly? And how come a company like Solyndra that barely came out of the ground went under so quickly? Surely there was a market for solar just look at China.

Just about all the reporting relative to Solyndra from ABC, to Fox, to numerous websites has been false and totally out of context, the main one being that it is Obama’s baby. Truth is Solyndra began in 2005 with a sound standing in the field of solar panels. Solyndra was the leader in innovation for solar. While standard solar panels look like flat screen monitors and utilize costly silicon in their photovoltaics (sun’s energy converted to direct current), Solyndra’s solar panels sported a tubular design that didn’t utilize silicon chips at all.

Solyndra’s solar panels are made up of 40 individual modules, wired in parallel for high current, which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. Using innovative cylindrical copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS modules) and thin-film technology, Solyndra systems are designed to be able to provide the lowest system installation costs on a per watt basis for the commercial rooftop market. More than 1000 Solyndra systems are installed around the world, representing nearly 100 Megawatts.

Lightweight: Low Distributed Load of 2.8 lbs. per Square Foot

Designed to Last for More than 25 Years

Easier and Cheaper Installation

Superior Wind Performance: Ideal for Windy Locations

Greater and More Effective Rooftop Coverage

Design Keeps Panels and Roofs Cooler

http://www.solyndra.com/technology-products/

From 2005 to late 2009, Solyndra panels were in the ballpark cost wise with standard solar panel manufacturers. Solyndra’s  founder  Dr. Christian Gronet earned a Ph.D. in semiconductor processing and a bachelor of science degree in Materials Science from Stanford University and was Vice President and General Manager of the Transistor, Capacitor and Gate product group at Applied Materials for 11 years. http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=54334387&privcapId=33681528.   According to their website, “Applied Materials is the global leader in providing innovative equipment, services, and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display, and solar photovoltaic industries. http://www.appliedmaterials.com/.

Solyndra had no problem raising over $78 million in venture capital quickly. From Climate Progress and verified by the DOE: “Solyndra raises its first round of venture financing worth $10.6 million from CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and U.S. Venture Partners. In October, Argonaut Venture Capital, an investment arm of George Kaiser, invests $17 million into Solyndra. Madrone Capital Partners, an investment arm of the Walton family, invests $7 million. Those investments are part of a $78.2 million fund.”

Funding came from the Right, the Left, and everywhere in between.

http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/09/13/317594/timeline-bush-administration-solyndra-loan-guarantee/

At about the same time Solyndra began, the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy Act of 2005 was initiated. Section 1703 seemed an ideal match for a company like Solyndra as follows: “Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy to support innovative clean energy technologies that are typically unable to obtain conventional private financing due to high technology risks.” https://lpo.energy.gov/?page_id=39. The emphasis here is on the word “risk.”

In 2006, Solyndra applied for a DOE loan under Section 1703. Late 2007 the loan program was funded and Solyndra was on the list for a loan. According to Energy Sec’y Sam Bodman at that time: “The Energy Department had received 143 pre-applications for the guarantees and narrowed the list down to 16 finalists — including Solyndra.” Why was Solyndra mentioned that way, as if singled out? According to WashingtonMonthly.com, “Bush’s Energy Department apparently adjusted its regulations to make sure that Solyndra would be eligible for the guarantees. It hadn’t originally contemplated including the photovoltaic-panel manufacturing that Solyndra did but changed the regulation before it was finalized. The only project that benefited was Solyndra’s.” Hmmm—heavy Republican investors or what? The Bush Administration, as I often blogged about back then, was not exactly green by any stretch of the word. However, it was late 2007 and 2008 meant a new presidential race. Being able to tout investment in alternative energy might appeal to some independent voters. Whatever the case, this loan program and its admittance of Solyndra on the list was a decision made during the Bush Administration.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_09/solyndras_republican_paternity032460.php

By 2008, Solyndra planned on building 2 new facilities in the U.S., and private investment in Solyndra reached an accumulated $450 million. It still looked like a great venture. Prices for silicon remained high and Solyndra’s costs were still competitive. But by late 2008, the loan still hadn’t been approved. According to themoderatevoice.com:

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

March 2009: The same credit committee approves the strengthened loan application. The deal passes on to DOE’s credit review board. Career staff (not political appointees) within the DOE issue a conditional commitment setting out terms for a guarantee.

Once taxpayer money was involved, the Obama administration was reluctant to let Solyndra fail.

http://themoderatevoice.com/122532/solyndra-and-bush/

Cleantechnica.com reported:

June 2009: As more silicon production facilities come online while demand for PV (photovoltaics) wavers due to the economic slowdown, silicon prices start to drop. Meanwhile, the Chinese begin rapidly scaling domestic manufacturing and set a path toward dramatic, unforeseen cost reductions in PV. Between June of 2009 and August of 2011, PV (photovoltaic) prices drop more than 50%.

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/09/15/solyndra-advanced-by-bush-for-2-years-solyndra-timeline/

Some reports suggested that President Obama was warned several times via email that the deal was risky. On the contrary, Media Matters stated:

There was no email to Obama that the deal wasn’t ready for prime time relative to financial risk. Instead Email Concerned Timing Of Announcement, Not The Merit Of The Loan Guarantee.[] The email argued that ‘This deal is NOT ready for prime time’ because there were more steps to be completed before the loan guarantee could be finalized — namely, OMB had to review the credit rating and Solyndra needed to raise an additional $200 million in private capital. [House Energy and Commerce Republicans,9/14/11]

The merit of the loan guarantee lies with the OMB or Office of Management and Budget.

  • OMB reviews and must approve credit subsidy cost estimates for all loan and loan guarantee programs, including the credit subsidy cost estimates generated by DOE for the Title XVII program, to ensure that costs are accounted for appropriately.
  • OMB assesses cost estimates on a loan-by-loan basis because the Title XVII program provides relatively large-dollar guarantees and because their characteristics, terms, and risks vary greatly from project to project.
  • OMB delegates the modeling of credit subsidy costs to agencies, and issues implementing guidance to ensure consistent and accurate estimates of cost.
  • OMB works closely with agencies to create or revise credit subsidy models for new programs or programs issuing their first loans or loan guarantees, such as the Title XVII program in 2009,
  • Based on these models, OMB reviews and exercises final approval authority over credit subsidy costs to ensure that the costs of direct loans and loan guarantees are presented, and reflect estimated risks, consistently across Federal agencies so that taxpayer funds are invested in a prudent and effective fashion.
  • The final decision on whether to issue the loan or guarantee rests with the agency implementing the applicable program – DOE in the case of Title XVII.

http://mediamatters.org/research/201109190020.

By September 2009 Solyndra raised the money, an additional $219 million dollars and the $535 million loan from the DOE went through. Around one billion dollars had been invested in Solyndra, the bigger portion coming from the private investment sector. The Walton’s (the Wal-Mart family) Madrone Capital Partners and the Kaiser Foundation’s Argonaut Venture Capital, the Right and Left money respectively, being the biggest investors.

At this point, early 2010, China trumped everyone in the solar game “dump[ing] $30 billion into its solar industry. That is a lot of money for infrastructure as well as research and development. There is little doubt that the companies making solar panels in China benefited from the money.” http://www.solarcompanies.com/news/china-and-united-states-to-enter-trade-war-on-solar-panels

However, China did so in violation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which prohibits government subsidies for corporations/businesses that plan to export. To do so allows that country to possibly corner the worldwide market in any segment, which China has done with solar panels. The thinking goes this way. A corporation is limited in growth if all its goods and services remain in the country. In the U.S., a corporation is limited by the fact that we only have 300 million people and consumers are only going to buy so many goods/services over a period of time. But if that same corporation decides to export—the sky is the limit. So for any government to heavily subsidize a corporation that also plans to export, tips the playing field badly on competition that can’t possibly keep up. Since China has over 3 times our population the playing field is already tipped to say the least. The $30 billion dollar Chinese “illegal” dump into the solar industry was a death knell for Solyndra. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/09/business/global/09trade.html?pagewanted=all

It’s not unforeseen or unusual that from December 2010 through February 2011, the two largest private investors, DOE, and Solyndra “negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement to restructure the Solyndra loan guarantee. Throughout this process, DOE consulted with OMB about the proposed terms and conditions of this arrangement.” NY Times: Experts Said DOE’s Decision To Restructure “Is Routine In The Commercial World.” From a September 16, New York Times article

By the end of February 2011,

  • Both Argonaut and Madrone added a combined $69 million in emergency funds to Solyndra.
  • DOE agreed to extend the term of Solyndra’s loan guarantee from seven to 10 years, and to postpone the first repayment installment by one year, from 2012 to 2013.
  • In addition, the agreement provided that, in the event of the company’s liquidation before 2013, the investors have the senior secured position with respect to the first $75 million recovered. In this case, it is not the full $75 million but rather the $69 million in emergency funds as stated, “The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government. [Associated Press,9/16/11].
  • DOE has the second senior secured position with respect to the next $150 million recovered in liquidation. This is taxpayer money
  • If Solyndra had not liquidated or declared bankruptcy by 2013, the investors would have lost their senior secured position to DOE. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 9/12/11]

Media Matters further stated that the decision to fund Solyndra, which in turn built brand new state of the art facilities, is in much better shape to garner more when they liquidate. “DOE determined, as part of the restructuring, that the facility would be more valuable, even in the event of a future liquidation, once complete.” He went on to say that “DOE determined that restructuring the loan guarantee gave the U.S. taxpayer the best chance of being repaid”

http://mediamatters.org/research/201109190020

So there you have it. Advanced solar technology like Solyndra had a foothold in the industry when it began 7 years ago, but failed during the slow, slow process of funding during which time a giant like China decided to dump an “unforeseen” 30 billion into the solar panel industry in a very short time. Did they know about Solyndra? China’s panels are ho hum standard cheap, nowhere near the innovation of Solyndra. It’s a shame we have segments of our population that scream about government helping new industry get a start when our competition does it all the time. It’s not socialism by any stretch, especially when it’s about energy and infrastructure. It’s investment in the U.S. future if we’re going to compete with the likes of China, India, Russia, or Brazil—the top 4 economic powers now. Government certainly needs to rethink  trade agreements too now that we know how China plans to play the game.

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In Spite of the Fossil Fuel Industry Push for More Filthy Fuel, California Completes One Gigawatt of Solar Power

Kudo’s to California. Despite adversity from the deep pockets of the fossil fuel industry out to stall progress for a sustainable energy future, California completed the installation of one gigawatt of solar power capable of powering 750,000 homes the equivalent of 2 coalburners.

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/11/11/california-now-has-1-gigawatt-of-solar-power-installed/

 

 

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As U.S. Energy Bill Dies China to Establish Domestic Carbon Trading Program by 2015

The hope of passing a decent and comprehensive energy bill is dead. Republicans will not even consider it. They stand for corporate America and will not budge. In the meantime, China leads us in solar and wind, (wind power doubled in 2009), and is working on a new super grid. China also has a model of a green utopia in Baoding that I blogged about where the mayor literally shut down all the factories when he saw all the dead fish floating in the rivers and lakes. He pushed for green manufacturing and turned a profit from it within 3 years. The communist government was very pleased.

We have dead turtles, fish, dolphins, pelicans, etc., in the gulf and no matter, we continue on the same profitable (not for us) path falling farther behind our competitors who aren’t going to be pleased with us the next time we meet for a climate summit. China seems to be keeping its promise of moving ahead to a cleaner future, while we
just stagnate.

According to the NYT:

Chinese companies have already played a leading role in pushing
down the price of solar panels by almost half over the last year. [] China’s biggest solar
panel manufacturer, Suntech Power Holdings, said that to build market share, it plans to sell solar panels on the American market for less than the cost of the materials, assembly and shipping.

Backed by lavish government support, the Chinese are preparing to build plants to assemble their products in the United States to bypass protectionist legislation,

Hmmm. I might be in the market for some of those panels myself if they are that cheap. My house has a lot of roof space that has full exposure all day. I could get off the grid most of the time. They will be U.S. made. What a pleasant thought, nary a utility bill ever again.

People want jobs and don’t really care about the green thing right now, well maybe they can get employment in a Suntech plant because our fossil fuel industry and their representatives in congress just don’t believe that hogwash about global warming. It’s fossil fuels or die or should it be “and” die.

< href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/business/energy-environment/25solar.html">http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/25/business/energy-environment/25solar.html.

http://www.fortunenest.com/projects/10-super-grid-cloud-computing-meets-supercomputing.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/JustOneThing/story?id=8327868&page=1.

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Kevin Costner’s Invention to Clean Up Gulf is a Hit

One of the main problems with the cleanup is scooping the gooey stuff that ends up being 90 some % water. Then there is the problem of where to dump the stuff.

According to ABC News:

The machine is a centrifuge designed to separate spilled oil from water and, according to Costner, could be instrumental in cleaning up the massive oil slick expanding in the Gulf.

Costner has spent the past 15 years and more than $20 million of his own money to develop the oil separator, which during successful testing, left water 99 percent clean of crude.

Why wouldn’t it be a better solution to outfit the ships with Costner’s invention? This interview was before the oil leak was capped.

We need these machines out there. These machines should have been tested and OK’d, what did Costner say—12 years ago? The powers that were obviously did not care about the “what if” scenario and the environment even after the Exxon Valdez spill. Here we are 12 years later…

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/bp-excited-kevin-costners-oil-cleanup-machine-purchases/story?id=10916445.

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Solar Powered Plane Has Successful Test Flight Over Switzerland


Today, April 7th, 2010, a plane equipped with 12,000 solar cells built into its wings took flight over Switzerland. A Reuter’s article reported: “It glided for 87 minutes above western Switzerland at an altitude of 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) with German test pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls.” This is just Step One.

According to the same article, “It took six years to build the carbon fiber aircraft, which has the wingspan of an Airbus A340 and weighs as much as a mid-size car (1,600 kg). []The propeller plane is powered by four electric motors and designed to fly day and night by saving energy from its solar cells in high-performance batteries.”

Step 2 is a plan to fly this solar plane non-stop around the world in 2012. It is designed to fly 24/7 without fuel and therefore creates zero emissions. Of course the best thing about the new plane is that it is free of anything harmful to the environment. But I have to say what a wonderfully quiet ride it must be too.

Read about it:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6362S420100407.

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U.S. News and World Report April Issue Front to Back About the Future of Energy

I had a lot of time to kill today because I went to an appointment with my elderly mother. I took a few magazines from home, one of which was my April issue of U.S. News and World Report. Its cover title is “The Future of Energy.” Front to back are articles about energy in the U.S. and Worldwide as we go farther into the future.

And I did read the magazine front to back waiting, waiting, and waiting in the waiting room. I wouldn’t attempt to do a synopsis of it. It’s packed with interesting stuff people really should know. For instance, I know the U.S. utility grid is ancient. Our reps have put our infrastructure off for so long, it’s what the article, “A National Power Grid That Thinks,” by Alex Kingsbury calls “dangerously antiquated.” It’s dangerous not only because we face greater threat of blackouts, but so many computers are hooked into our outmoded grid that we’re extremely vulnerable to hackers. There is little cybersecurity either because according the same article 80% of U.S. electric utilities are privately owned, and they hesitate to spend money on security. If hackers find a weak spot the whole system is endangered. The U.S. could suffer a lockup—banks, hospitals, air travel, electric, heat, sewer systems, (bad one there), stores, and transmissions including cell phones. That’s a chaotic picture.

The article finishes on a good note, however, about rebuilding a “smart” grid where citizens that have solar and/or wind power can feed excess into the grid and get credit, and cybersecurity will be up to par.

Buy the magazine, and/or visit U.S. News website as some of the articles become available. There are other good environmental reads there already.http://www.usnews.com/.

The articles in this issue are:

The Energy Race
Climate War’s Front Lines
Smoking Gun or Hot Air? The changing nature of the debate
TWO TAKES Global Warming
Reality Check about the future of 9 key energy types
Stimulus Pipeline Clogged
Invisible Enemy about the military burning toxic waste
Dioxin’s Legacy
Smart, Secure Power Grid
Exxon’s Dilemma
China-U.S. Thaw about being partners for the environment
Dept. of Energy Gets a Jolt
Stuttering Start for Electric Cars
The Next Wave about capturing the power of the oceans
Hot and Cold on Solar
Save Money and the Planet
Q&A John Hickenlooper, Denver’s mayor and what Denver is doing
Green at Tax Time
Dirty Truth About Air

See what I mean? It’s front to back about energy, pollution, and climate. We need to know what’s in our future. Not seeing the housing market failure and subsequent economic downfall cost us dearly. Ignoring Mother Nature could be much, much worse and on a worldwide scale. We are responsible for whatever happens and should stay informed so as not to be lead astray. It’s our future and extremely important we get it right because we’re dealing with long term consequences that we just might not realize early on.

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Exxon Mobil and Algae Biofuel Research; Wonders Never Cease

I’m really behind on this front. I recently caught an Exxon Mobil commercial where a researcher claimed he had been growing algae for years. I almost did a dance as the commercial went on to say the biggest oil company, one that has in the past adamantly claimed they are only in the business of oil, is investing heavily in algae as a viable and sustainable biofuel of the future. Well, the commercial may be new, but an article from the NY Times from July last year enlightened its readers that Exxon has joined “a biotech company, Synthetic Genomics Inc., to research and develop next-generation biofuels produced from sunlight, water and waste carbon dioxide by photosynthetic pond scum.” That is a major strategy change. Has Exxon seen the light environmental or the light relative to lost Navy contracts for Honeywell-based algae fuels?

At first I thought the Rockefellers finally leaned on Exxon enough to move forward.
And then I wondered if Exxon garnered the Navy contracts for algae biofuels for their jets? No that was Solyzyme using Honeywell based technology that got the Navy contract last year. http://green.venturebeat.com/2009/09/25/navy-taps-solazyme-to-make-jet-fuel-out-of-algae/.

At any rate, the lost Navy contract may have been a wakeup call for Exxon. The Navy is moving forward on replacing jet fuel. Then it will be commercial airliners, then cars, then…If Exxon isn’t in the alternative game, it could become a dinosaur.

The Navy must have been impressed with the algae. It’s planning on producing its own now. So much for a recurring contract. http://www.physorg.com/news185521814.html.

Let’s face it. It’s a heck of a lot easier and cheaper letting pond scum do its thing. As fast as the scum is harvested, it’s on it’s way to producing more, not so with drilling anymore. Oil that is available is harder and harder to get, and poses hazards in the form of oil spills along our coastlines.

In any event the best part of the article for me was this from Exxon Mobil:

The world faces a significant challenge to supply the energy required for economic development and improved standards of living while managing greenhouse gas emissions and the risks of climate change,” said Emil Jacobs, vice president of research and development at Exxon Mobil Research and Engineering Co. “It’s going to take integrated solutions and the development of all commercially viable energy sources, improved energy efficiency and effective steps to curb emissions. It is also going to include the development of new technology.

Did Exxon Mobil just admit greenhouse gas emissions are relevant to risks of climate change? It sounded like it to me.

Read: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/07/14/14greenwire-exxon-sinks-600m-into-algae-based-biofuels-in-33562.html.

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Project Frog Building Systems for the Future

I caught a small segment of an Anderson Cooper 360 show that highlighted the first energy efficient building in New England. It’s also the only independent school in Hartford Connecticut. Watkinson School – Center for Science and Global Studies is a Project Frog design. Project Frog’s website states it “makes the most technologically advanced, energy-efficient building systems on the planet. Employing innovative clean technology across the construction spectrum.” I was impressed, but than again I’ve always been in the modern, contemporary mode, what is Project Frog’s style.

Watkinson School needed a new building and fast. So in keeping with the theme of science and global studies that surely covers global climate change, the school went with Project Frog’s building plans/concepts, and 7 months later the school was ready. It leaves no carbon footprint and cost far less to run than a conventional building.

Check out the segment I saw on CNN and Project Frog’s website for more information. To me this looks like the way to go for charter Schools, new office buildings, retail, and hopefully homes of the future. And the biggest news here, it’s cheaper than standard building structures. Project Frog’s website lists the qualities of it’s buildings:

BETTER
Healthier-low VOC, high air quality, abundant daylight
Higher Quality-engineered, factory built, premium materials
Safer-2008 IBC, zone 4 seismic, 110+mph wind
GREENER
Materials-high recycled content
Operations-50-70% less consumption
Waste Reduction-near zero on site construction waste
FASTER
Purchase-single integrated point of purchase
Permit-weeks not months
Build-5X faster than traditional construction
CHEAPER
Purchase-25-40% less first cost
Operate-50-75% less operational cost
Recycle-100% recycle potential

I think we’re going to hear a whole lot more about Project Frog. Finally a company that presents a win, win situation for new building construction. Oh forgot to include that local contractors put up the buildings too.

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Read more about Project Frog: http://www.projectfrog.com/company/aboutus.

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Scientists Harness Wasted Energy; Make Hydrogen Fuel

An article on Science Daily reported, “Materials scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a way to harvest small amounts of waste energy and harness them to turn water into usable hydrogen fuel.” The authors of the new paper wrote: “This study provides a simple and cost-effective technology for direct water splitting that may generate hydrogen fuels by scavenging energy wastes such as noise or stray vibrations from the environment.” It was a little ambiguous what they were doing at first.

The scientists grew nano crystals of common crystals and applied noise vibrations to them producing piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is electricity produced by mechanical pressure on certain crystals (notably quartz or Rochelle salt); alternatively, electrostatic. The scientists had 18% efficiency with the nano crystal fibers. They then used that energy to break the chemical bonds of water to separate the oxygen and hydrogen gas. The hydrogen can then be used as fuel. Neat.

Xu one of the scientists involved believes, “With the right technology, [] this method [would be] useful for generating small amounts of power from a multitude of small sources — for example, walking could charge a cell phone or music player and breezes could power streetlights.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311131802.htm.

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