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Other energy - Jun 21

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Oh, Canada! — Natural Gas and the Future of Tar Sands Production

Dave, The Oil Drum
[The main questions] are
* What is the state of Canada's natural gas production?
* Do future projections support such a large increase in natural gas usage to support tar sands production?
* Are there are alternatives to using natural gas?

But first, we must discuss how and why natural gas is necessary for producing the tar sands.

...In conclusion, I do not see where the extra natural gas is going to come from to scale up tar sands production to levels forseen by agencies like CAPP. From the supply side, the logistics (pipelines) and the political side, there are major obstacles at every turn. This will be especially true as more natural gas is required to produce a barrel of oil using the in situ SAGD method. I recommend great skepticism toward claims that this miracle resource will replace a large part declining conventional oil from existing fields. And I haven't even mentioned the water problems.
(20 June 2006)

The Promise and Problems of Those Dirty Black Rocks

William Grimes, NY Times
With oil prices soaring and the Middle East in turmoil, it may be some comfort to know that the United States is sitting on gargantuan reserves of fossil fuel. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's coal.

Just how bad is laid out emphatically in "Big Coal," Jeff Goodell's compelling indictment of one of the country's biggest, most powerful and most antiquated industries. Coal, he argues, is bad for the economy, bad for public health and especially bad for the environment, yet its future looks quite bright. It is relatively cheap. It is plentiful. And Americans, who get half their electric power from coal-burning generators, are addicted to it. As of 2005, more than 120 new coal-burning plants were either planned or under construction in the United States.

"We may not like to admit it," Mr. Goodell writes, "but our shiny white iPod economy is propped up by dirty black rocks."

Mr. Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, considers coal at three points in its life cycle. He travels to West Virginia and Wyoming to see how it is mined and transported by rail to generating plants around the country. He watches it being burned and transformed into electricity. Finally, he weighs the environmental effects of releasing huge amounts of sulfur and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the more than one billion tons of coal burned every year in the United States, and billions more around the world. Seen from any angle, coal looks ugly.
(21 June 2006)
Also posted at Climate Ark.

"Not In My Backyard" syndrome presents challenges to new energy plants or facilities

RBC Financial Group Press Release
Twenty-five per cent of Americans said they oppose any type of energy plant or facility in their hometown, including solar plants or wind terminals, according to a nationwide survey of 1,001 Americans released by RBC Capital Markets. These opponents to new plants or facilities were also more likely to believe that high energy prices are temporary.

"Call it NIMBY-ism for the energy sector - 'Not in My Backyard,'" said RBC Capital Markets analyst Kurt Hallead. "While these opponents represent a minority view, it's a significant minority, and underscores how very difficult it is to invest in new energy sources. We need to do more to educate Americans about the severity of our energy dependence."

According to all survey respondents, the two energy sources that were most accepted in hometowns were solar plants (64 per cent) and wind terminals (60 per cent). Surprisingly, clean-coals plants were ranked third, with 31 per cent support.
(16 June 2006)

Nuclear 'will cost taxpayer billions'

Manchester Evening News
NUCLEAR energy is "the ultimate stealth tax", Sir Menzies Campbell will warn today as he renews his battle with the Government over Britain's future energy sources.

The Liberal Democrat leader clashed with Tony Blair on the issue in the Commons last week after the Prime Minister signalled a new generation of nuclear stations was firmly on the agenda.

Mr Blair told him nuclear had to be "at least part of the debate", but Sir Menzies will argue that taxpayers and consumers will be faced with a bill of tens of billions of pounds.

His latest attack will be reinforced by new research by the party showing it could only be made to work using vast taxpayer subsidies or a rigged market.

An alternative energy strategy based on renewables, microgeneration, energy efficiency and clean coal technology will be more affordable, Sir Menzies will argue.

Sir Menzies will follow his speech with a visit to a combined heat and power station and a fuel cell project that power a leisure centre in Woking, where the party controls the council.

Nuclear waste

He will say: "Every UK citizen is already paying over £1,500 to clean up the nuclear waste of the last 50 years - and that bill regularly gets revised upwards.

"If the Prime Minister gets his way and a new generation of nuclear power stations are built, both the taxpayer and consumer will get stung again. Nuclear power is the ultimate stealth tax.

"Evidence from abroad shows nuclear power is not competitive. Last year the US government was forced to offer nuclear subsidies of 13.7 billion to persuade investors.
(20 June 2006)

Surge in Internet use has tech firms seeking power

Kevin J. Delaney and Rebecca Smith, The Wall Street Journal via
With both Internet services and power costs soaring, big technology companies are scouring the nation to secure enough of the cheap electricity that is vital to their growth.

The search is being led by companies including Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and IAC/InterActiveCorp. Big Internet firms have been adding thousands of computer servers to data centers to handle heavy customer use of their services, including ambitious new offerings such as online video.

But that is feeding a thirst for more power. One large data center can consume enough juice to power a small city of 30,000 to 40,000 people -- and also requires a fat Internet linkup to stay connected to the outside world. The power-guzzling centers are such big energy users that shaving as little as a penny per kilowatt-hour from electricity rates can knock off millions of dollars in annual expenses.

Some Internet executives say electricity has become a closely watched expense and can even be a factor when they consider rolling out new services. While always a concern, the cost of power has become more important amid a recent run-up in energy prices and increased use at data centers.

To satisfy their power needs, Internet companies are exploring options ranging from building facilities in former defense bunkers -- which already have rugged grid connections -- to plunking themselves down near hydroelectric plants to get a slice of the inexpensive power. Anticipating demand a decade from now, some executives even are mulling whether proximity to nuclear-power plants could be a plus.
(13 June 2006)
Related: Hiding in Plain Sight, Google Seeks More Power about a new computing center "as big as two football fields, with twin cooling plants protruding four stories into the sky." -AF

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