In the Pipeline: 4/7/11

Before Obama says he can do nothing about gas prices, how about he tries to do something first? Like have open up some of the 97% of OCS where he doesn’t allow development Herald Times (2/6/11) reports: Pitching the promise of energy independence, President Barack Obama cautioned Wednesday that it’s going to be tough to transition from America’s oil-dependent economy and acknowledged there’s little he can do to lower gas prices over the short term…“I’m just going to be honest with you. There’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now,” the president told workers at a wind turbine plant. It’s a theme Obama’s struck before as he tries to show voters he’s attuned to a top economic concern with gas prices pushing toward $4 a gallon…Obama said he wants to move toward “a future where America is less dependent on foreign oil, more reliant on clean energy produced by workers like you.” That will happen by reducing oil imports, tapping domestic energy sources and shifting the nation to renewable and less polluting sources of energy, such as wind, the president says. He has set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025.

Go Anchorage! Anchorage Daily News (2/1/11) reports:
Anchorage’s city power utility made a long-awaited offer this week to buy wind power from Cook Inlet Region Inc., backers of a proposed wind turbine project on Fire Island… But CIRI senior vice president Ethan Schutt said the offer is so low it’s ridiculous and contains unworkable terms…Municipal Light and Power director Jim Posey held a press conference Thursday to explain the utility’s offer, which he said protects ML&P customers from higher costs…CIRI wants to begin construction of turbines on Fire Island off Anchorage this summer, but has so far been unable to get any utility companies to sign contracts to buy the power it would generate, said company spokesman Jim Jager. “Realistically, the project isn’t going forward until we have power-purchase agreements,” he said in a recent interview…The corporation is lined up to get nearly $44 million in federal grants to help build the turbines, but the money is contingent on starting this year. The state has approved using $25 million in public funds to build a transmission line from Fire Island to the mainland…The first phase of the project — 22 turbines that could provide electricity for 12,000 households — would cost about $135 million, said Schutt.

Shock Study! Wind Farms are inefficient.  Who would have thought? BBC (2/5/11) reports:
The analysis also suggested output was low during the times of highest demand…The report, supported by conservation charity the John Muir Trust, concluded turbines “cannot be relied upon” to produce significant levels of power generation…However, industry representatives said they had “no confidence” in the data…The research, carried out by Stuart Young Consulting, analysed electricity generated from UK wind farms between November 2008 to December 2010…Statements made by the wind industry and government agencies commonly assert that wind turbines will generate on average 30% of their rated capacity over a year, it said….But the research found wind generation was below 20% of capacity more than half the time and below 10% of capacity over one third of the time.

Weird — You mean turning food into fuel means there’s less food? New York Times (2/6/11) reports:
But last year, 98 percent of cassava chips exported from Thailand, the world’s largest cassava exporter, went to just one place and almost all for one purpose: to China to make biofuel. Driven by new demand, Thai exports of cassava chips have increased nearly fourfold since 2008, and the price of cassava has roughly doubled… Each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels and as emerging powerhouses like China seek new sources of energy to keep their cars and industries running. Cassava is a relatively new entrant in the biofuel stream… But with food prices rising sharply in recent months, many experts are calling on countries to scale back their headlong rush into green fuel development, arguing that the combination of ambitious biofuel targets and mediocre harvests of some crucial crops is contributing to high prices, hunger and political instability.

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