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Pentagon to unveil energy conservation effort

Gopal Ratnam, Defense News
The Pentagon will shortly unveil a militarywide program aimed at conserving energy that is expected to address what President George W. Bush termed America’s “addiction to oil” during his State of the Union address in January.

“We expect a guidance to come out in a week to deal with the energy situation and what steps we can take to address the issue,” Gordon England, deputy defense secretary, said March 14, responding to a question on the military’s energy use by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR).

Though the QDR did not explicitly deal with the military’s use of oil, “toward the end of the QDR, these concerns became an issue for all of us,” England said.

The militarywide energy discussion was likely set off by a Dec. 14 memo by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which called on the Pentagon to create a “centralized point in the Department” to work on energy conservation.

“We have talked before about what DoD can do to conserve energy, particularly hydrocarbon fuels. It seems to me we should be doing all we can to pursue energy initiatives through fuel-efficient vehicles, advanced battery technology, or hybrid power trains,” Rumsfeld wrote in the memo addressed to England, Ken Krieg, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, and Ryan Henry, one of the principal architects of the QDR. “It really is a national security issue, and we are an enormous part of government consumption.”
(15 March 2006)
UPDATE: Just added this late-breaking story. -BA

GE Energy’s Rob Wallace explains business strategy on wind power, clean coal, climate
OnPoint, E&E TV
With major investments in wind power and coal gasification, General Electric Co. has positioned itself to be a key provider of low or no-carbon sources of energy. During today’s OnPoint, Rob Wallace, manager of government relations for GE Energy, discusses the company’s fast-growing wind power division. He also explains how electric utilities have responded to GE’s decision to offer cutting-edge coal gasification units. Plus, Wallace explains the company’s stance on global warming and the different climate change policies under consideration in the Senate.
(14 March 2006)
A Climate Change of Heart says that GE’s change to a greener direction was due to the stepping down of former GE CEO Jack Welch.

A supergrid for Europe

Peter Fairley, MIT Technology Review
A radical proposal for a high-tech power grid could make possible the continent’s vast expansion of renewable energy sources.
Europe has big plans for greatly expanding its renewable energy sources, but there’s a problem: weak connections between a patchwork of national power grids. The situation is particularly problematic for wind power, because smaller, isolated grids have more difficulty absorbing the variable power generated by wind farms.

Last month a Dublin-based wind-farm developer, Airtricity, and Swiss engineering giant ABB began promoting a bold solution to the continent’s power grid bottlenecks: a European subsea supergrid running from Spain to the Baltic Sea, in which high-voltage DC power lines link national grids and deliver power from offshore wind farms. When the wind is blowing over a wind farm on the supergrid, the neighboring cables would carry its power where most needed. When the farms are still, the cables will serve a second role: opening up Europe’s power markets to efficient energy trading.

The result would be a more integrated and thus more competitive European market, delivering power at lower prices. And it would enable Europe’s grid to safely accommodate even more clean, but highly variable wind power.
(15 March 2006)

US says will still need more foreign oil

Melissa Akin, Reuters via Washington Post
MOSCOW – Top global energy consumer the United States on Wednesday sought to assure producers that it will need even more of their oil and gas, despite a longer term aim to cut dependence on imports.

Visiting the world’s number two oil exporter for a meeting of Group of Eight energy ministers, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said he will urge Russia to sell more. Energy supply security is set to be top of the agenda for the Thursday talks.

In January President George W. Bush’s caused alarm among exporters when he said the U.S. must break its dependence on oil and called for an end to reliance on supplies from the Middle East.

Bodman said suppliers could count on a healthy U.S. import market for some time to come, adding that demand reduction measures, such as use of nuclear power and cellulose-based ethanol, had a long horizon.
(15 March 2006)

Heritage Foundation panel discusses Russia’s growing influence on energy issues

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said energy security will be a top priority at the Group of Eight Summit in Russia this summer. But some foreign officials are concerned that Russia is using its oil and gas assets as a political weapon against energy-dependent nations. Today’s E&ETV Event Coverage features experts discussing this issue at a Heritage Foundation event earlier this month, with remarks from Dr. Margarita Balmaceda of Harvard University, Dr. Stephen Blank of the U.S. Army War College, Dr. Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, Adnan Vatansever of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and Andrew Kuchins of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
(15 March 2006)

Senate panel interrogates wary oil executives

Jad Mouawad, NY Times
The nation’s top oil executives were called before Congress again yesterday to defend their industry’s recent mergers and record profits, in the face of public outrage over high oil and gasoline prices.

It was the second time in four months that the oil industry faced strong criticism from both Republican and Democratic senators. In November, the Senate held similar hearings, which produced a show of indignation but were followed by little legislation.
(15 March 2006)
Related: Big Oil Defends Industry Mergers in Hearing (Washington Post)