Other energy - Mar 7
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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage
Lovins: Winning the oil endgame (talk)
Amory Lovins, John Hopkins APL (Principles of War Seminar series)
...The United States can get completely off oil and revitalize its economy - by business for profit... and accelerated by Dod [US Department of Defence] for its mission effectiveness.
(23 February 2006)
Lovins talks on his usual themes, but updated and with an emphasis on the military's interest in energy issues. Several formats are available: video and audio, Notes on talk (PDF), and Presentation slides.
The real cost of electricity - some numbers (well, lots of them)
Jerome a Paris, European Tribune
I've been accumulating a number of sources on the "real" cost of electricity generation, and I'd like to put them together in one place - here.
There are several items that influence the cost of electricity:
- the initial investment amount, and the discount rate used to amortise it over the life of the power plant;
- the fuel costs (for those power plants that need a fuel, like coal, natural gas or uranium);
- the operating costs;
- the externalities, i.e. the cost imposed on society by the power plant, if not internalised by regulation.
Any comparison between various power sources that does not explicitly states which assumptions are made with regards to fuel costs and discount rate should be considered as dubious.
Now, the main alternatives for power generation are well known: coal-fired plants, gas-fired plants, nuclear, hydro and wind. There are other renewables sources, and various subcategories in the above, but they represent most of the installed capacity
...The sources most sensitive to the discount rate used are, in decreasing order, wind, nuclear, coal and gas. Thus, making the hypothesis of a high financing cost structurally favors gas and coal against nuclear and wind. Conversely, providing cheap financing is most helpful to wind and nuclear.
It is thus not neutral at all to campaign for private ownership of generation assets, as it will always skew investments towards gas-fired and coal-fired plants, unless you have - gasp - specific regulations or -double gasp - subsidies that encourage investments in other sectors like renewables (or nuclear).. Hydro, being a mature industry with few prospects in the West, will not be discussed here.
(5 March 2006)
Also posted at Daily Kos. Jerome a Paris is an energy banker and a prolific blogger on political and energy issues.
Gov. Schweitzer's coal-to-fuels program: What you didn't hear on ‘60 Minutes'
Mike Dennison, Missoulian
HELENA - If you watched "60 Minutes” on CBS last Sunday, you saw Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer making his pitch for development of coal-based synfuels in the state.
But you heard few real details on impacts of the coal-to-fuels process or the context of actual development plans. Working off a transcript of the show, the Missoulian's State Bureau examined the reality behind the rhetoric:
(6 March 2006)
Good example of what the media should be doing in the energy debates -- verifying claims and checking sources.
Related: Montana's Coal Cowboy (CBS).
Montana Gov. Schweitzer (D) makes the pitch for coal-to-diesel plant (VIDEO: "Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) talks about clean coal, and how Democrats can use energy issues to their advantage.")
Life in a grass house
Kyle, The Oil Drum
Scouring the web with an eye toward understanding a bit more about the use of biomass-based ethanol as a replacement for gasoline, it has become apparent to me that there are a substantial number of "urban legends" emerging regarding the use of switchgrass as a feedstock for ethanol. More properly, these misconceptions are "rural legends," because at least from this former farm kid's perspective they arise from the fact that most people have very little connection to the land, and as such, are simply blowing a lot of wishful smoke about the details of a biomass-based fuel system. Hopefully the analysis below will shed a bit of light on the subject.
...Currently, in the US ethanol is made from corn, which any number of studies have shown is quite marginal with regard to energy return. Paraphrasing Bob Hirsch in his most recent talk, making ethanol from corn is a process by which a certain amount of energy in the forms of natural gas and diesel fuel are used to create an equivalent amount of energy in the form of ethanol, with the primary output being money from government subsidies. However, there is substantial excitement about the potential of using biomass composed primarily of cellulose rather than starch as a feedstock for ethanol - hence the mention of switchgrass by the President in the 2006 State of the Union Address.
...What's the moral in all of this? If corn ethanol is marginal on an energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) basis, it is very difficult to argue that biomass grown to make ethanol will be any better. To be blunt, if there are concentrated stocks of waste biomass in place, such as at lumber mills, then biomass ethanol probably makes sense. Otherwise, it appears to be more or less equivalent to corn based ethanol - in other words, a wash.
(7 March 2006)
Kuwaiti MP demands truth on Kuwaiti oil
AFP via Gulf Times (Qatar)
KUWAIT CITY: Veteran Kuwaiti lawmaker Ahmad al-Saadun demanded yesterday that the government reveal the truth about the emirate’s oil reserves which were reported to be only half of the official figure.
“No clarifications have been issued by the energy ministry, the Kuwait Petroleum Corp or its affiliated companies to discount doubts about the credibility of official figures,” Saadun said in a question to Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah.
“This raises justified and legitimate concerns that these reserves could be depleted in a very short duration on the basis of current production figures,” Saadun, a three-time former speaker, said.
The controversy began after the authoritative industry newsletter Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW) revealed in January that Kuwait’s oil reserves are far below the officially stated amount of 99bn barrels.
(6 March 2006)
Also posted at the Lebanon Daily Star.