February 11, 2011

Someoneas poetic as Oettinger deserves a round of applause or at least some freecarbon creditsGuardian(2/10/11) reports: He said the tougher target would force industries to move toAsia. "If we go alone to 30%, you will only have a faster process ofde-industrialisation in Europe," he said, citing the steel industry as oneof the likely casualties. "I think we need industry in Europe, we needindustry in the UK, and industry means CO2 emissions." Moving to thehigher target would cost about €81bn (£68.4bn) a year by 2020, or 0.54% of GDP,according to the European commission’s research, compared with a cost of €48bnfor the 20% goal. But the move would quickly yield benefits including moregreen jobs, better health outcomes from less air pollution, and would makereducing emissions beyond 2020 much easier…"[It shows] the best thing forCO2 emissions is a crisis, so do we need longer and deeper crises?" heasked. "Look at our deficit – we need growth, and we need moreindustry."


Takenote: Author says there is a lot of excitement about EVs, but only listsgovernments and rent seekers. I wonder, how excited is the consumer? NewYork Times (2/10/11) reports: There sure is a lot of excitement percolatingaround plug-in hybrid and electric cars these days. Chevrolet’s Volt andNissan’s Leaf are the talk of the car world, city governments are installingbattery chargers, and the Obama administration has promoted them. Even the TVcommercials for the battery chargers are cool…There are some skeptics, however.And on Thursday I caught up with one of them, William M. Colton, ExxonMobil’svice president for corporate strategic planning, who is definitely not a fan. Areverse skeptic could say, sure, why would ExxonMobil say nice things about acar that would displace gasoline? That’s certainly true, although Exxon Mobilis getting more and more invested in natural gas, which would indirectly helpfuel electric and hybrid cars because it is an important fuel stock for theelectric utilities that ultimately charge the car batteries.


Bio-fuelis not only uneconomical, but also drives up food prices for the world’s pooras an unintended consequence (Part 1)WashingtonPost (2/11/10) reports: Each year, the world demands more grain, and thisyear the world’s farms will not produce it. World food prices have surged abovethe food crisis levels of 2008. Millions more people will be malnourished, andhundreds of millions who are already hungry will eat less or give up other necessities.Foodriots have started again…Nearly all assessments of the 2008 food crisisassigned biofuels a meaningful role, but much of academia and the mediaultimately agreed that the scale of the crisis resulted from a "perfectstorm" of causes. Yet this "perfect storm" has re-formed notthree years later. We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it…Demandfor biofuels is almost doubling the challenge of producing more food. Since2004, for every additional ton of grain needed to feed a growing worldpopulation, rising government requirements for ethanol from grain have demandeda matching ton. Brazil’s reliance on sugar ethanol and Europe’s on biodieselhave comparably increased growth rates in the demand for sugar and driven updemand for vegetable oil.


Ethanolis the leading cause of increased food prices in the U.S. and it’s not even anet positive energy source (Part 2) NewYork Times (2/9/11) reports: Reserves of corn in the United States have hittheir lowest level in more than 15 years, reflecting tighter supplies that willlead to higher food prices in 2011. Increasing demand for corn from the ethanolindustry is a major reason for the decline, according to federal officials…TheDepartment of Agriculture reported Wednesday that the ethanol industry’sprojected orders this year rose 8.4 percent, to 13.01 billion bushels, afterrecord-high production in December and January…That means the United Stateswill have about 675 million bushels of corn left at the end of the year. Thatis about 5 percent of all corn that will be consumed, the lowest surplus levelsince 1996…Corn prices have already doubled in the last six months, rising from$3.50 a bushel to more than $7 a bushel.


Historyrepeats: Remember Range Fuels from yesterday? Well, today Ineos Bio brokeground on a new cellulosic ethanol plant. NewYork Times (2/10/11) reports: There are myriad routes to making car fuelfrom waste, using mix-and-match technologies assembled in novel ways, but nonehas worked yet on a commercial scale. On Wednesday, Ineos Bio, the subsidiaryof a major international chemical firm, broke ground on a plantthat aims to use yet another combination…The Ineos concept has a leg up oversome other approaches in that it anticipates three revenue streams. The factorywill get paid for taking in plant waste or possibly household garbage and willproduce electricity as well as ethanol at a huge savings in carbon dioxideoutput…The plant, near Vero Beach, Fla., adjacent to an Indian River Countylandfill, will begin with plant waste, including palm tree leaves, and willgasify it. This is a common technology that involves heating material in achamber with a controlled amount of oxygen. It produces carbon monoxide andhydrogen, both fuel gases, and carbon dioxide.


Gaming the system: Government Electric’swind farms taking advantage of small developer regulatory loopholes, Idahomoves to block amid higher electricity rates IdahoStatesman (2/10/11) reports: These utilities contend sophisticated,well-financed developers such as General Electric Co. are breaking up theirlarge wind farms into small, 10-megawatt projects so they can qualify for thebetter prices. The utilities say the big developers essentially are gaming asystem originally designed to help small, independent power producers…IdahoPower said it has been overwhelmed by these fragmented projects and says theyare contributing to higher costs for its customers. The utility also estimatesit could have 1,100 megawatts of wind power on its system within just a fewyears — more than it needs during low-usage days


Let’scompete with China and develop natural resources: PetroChina buys $5.4 billionstake in Canadian shale gasBBC (2/10/11) reports:The Cutbank Ridge deal marks a further step in a developing energy relationshipbetween China and Canada…PetroChina has made other investments in Canadiannatural resources…It took a 60% stake, costing $1.7bn, in two projects owned byAthabasca Oil Sands in 2009…Many in the oil and gas industry see so-calledunconventional gases as an untapped energy resource with greatpotential…However, the exploration of shale rocks for energy is a controversialsubject for many…Environmental groups say that the process used to extract thegas is new and untested, and that the potential health effects on those wholive in areas where shale gas extraction takes place are unknown.


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