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Standard Offer Contracts – the Future for Renewable Generation?

Stoneleigh, The Oil Drum / Canada
The Washington Post recently hailed Ontario’s electricity sector as an innovator, claiming that Ontario “makes clean energy pay”. According to the Post, “the growing chorus of cheerleaders for the program say it is an example of the kind of individual, grass-roots effort that many see as the solution to intractable problems ranging from energy shortages to global warming”.

“We love the idea,” said Keith Stewart, an energy specialist at World Wildlife Fund Canada. “The small stuff adds up. This model should be taken right across North America.”

It sounds ideal, but, looking a little deeper, can Ontario’s draft program of Standard Offer Contracts (PDF warning) for renewable energy – billed as “the most progressive renewable energy program in 20 years in North America” – live up to the hype? There is no lower limit on the size of project eligible to participate, but can it really encourage the proliferation of backyard generation, or farm and community scale projects, as its “cheerleaders” believe?
(18 Oct 2006)
This post marks the emergence of another country in The Oil Drum network – Canada.

President Bush Discusses Energy at Renewable Energy Conference

Pres. George Bush, The White House
…My worry is, however, that a low price of gasoline will make it complacent — make us complacent about our future when it comes to energy, because I fully understand that energy is going to help determine whether or not this nation remains the economic leader in the world. We’re doing fine now. We’ve got a really strong economy, and in order to make sure it’s strong tomorrow we need to make sure we work on how we use energy.

Energy is — look, let me just put it bluntly: We’re too dependent on oil. We are a — (applause.) And see, low gasoline prices may mask that concern. So, first, I want to tell you that I welcome the low gasoline prices, however it’s not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil.

We need to diversify away from oil for economic reasons. We live in a global world. When the demand for oil goes up in China or in India, it causes the price of crude oil to rise and, since we import about 60 percent of the crude oil we use, it causes our price to go up, as well, which means the economy becomes less competitive.

And then, of course, there’s the national security concern for oil. Why? Well, we get oil from some countries who don’t particularly care for us. They don’t like what we stand for. They don’t like it when we say, for the sake of peace, let us work in a way that we don’t develop nuclear weapons, for example.

I spend a lot of time on national security issues, which you expect your President to do. And a lot of times those national security issues are involved with countries that have oil.
(12 Oct 2006)

St Louis Renewable Energy Conference – Day 2

Heading Out, The Oil Drum
…From the presentations I heard yesterday and today, it seems that the energy future can be separated into three phases; the immediate short-term, where ethanol production from corn will grow to the point that 10% blends become the rule; some 7-10 years from now when cellulosic ethanol will start to provide significant competition; and somewhere beyond that the advent of biodiesel as the more attractive long-term fuel. And in making the first and second of these his platform, to this audience, Vinod Khosla’s presentation resonated well.

Already ethanol volume has passed that for exports, to become the second largest market for US corn, according to today’s talks, which included one from President Bush, who arrived to give the last keynote of the Conference. And, as a result, we all had to get to the Hall an hour earlier, in order to clear the enhanced security procedures.

The first talk was by ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, now with Booze Allen Hamilton, and Co-Chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, who had been asked to present a review of the first day’s discussions. He was the most relaxed and funny of all the speakers at the meeting, and yet his talk was at heart, a sobering reality check on how our “Just-in-time” manufacturing ethic is highly vulnerable when applied to our energy supply. He divided the problem into malignant interference (a tree branch falls in Ohio and 50 million people lose power) and malignant interference, such as when a terrorist attack hits Abqaiq.
(14 Oct 2006)