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Renewables - March 30

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Energy activists snipe at rivals
Technologies vie for feds' funding

Jeff Nesmith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In what one industry representative calls a struggle for supremacy, advocates of various sources of alternative energy are beginning to point out the competition's warts.

"Everyone wants to use the energy crisis as leverage topport his solution," said Bob Rose, executive director of the Fuel Cell Council. But with limited government research-and-development money available for ways to replace oil, any gain for one technology is a loss for the others. So the criticism is flying in all directions.

Solar energy? A retired University of Connecticut physicist who advocates increased development of nuclear power calls solar energy "a fraud." Ethanol? Some critics say that at best it will swap food for fuel, at worst it will use more energy in the process than it yields. Rechargeable batteries for autos? Some call the current technology too expensive and environmentally suspect. Hydrogen? One advocate of ethanol fuel recently declared that the dream of a hydrogen-based economy is a "hoax." ..
(25 Mar 2007)
This ‘sniping’ is the closest we’ve got to open debate, lets hope there is a lot more of it, with less focus on the individual proponents and more on the science and cultural factors involved.-LJ


The Peak Oil Crisis: Alternatives #1 - Wind Power

Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
The year 2007 is shaping up as one filled with bad news. It’s only March and already oil prices are threatening new highs. This fall’s hurricane season is predicted to be a bad one. Worst of all, a new study of coal reserves, which were supposed to last for the next 150 years, is saying that, in terms of energy content, US coal production peaked in 1998.

Very soon we are going to have a more electrified civilization with the energy coming from the sun, the wind, the sea, the molten core of the earth, biomass, and perhaps exotic biological reactions. Until these new technologies come into widespread use -a transition that will be expensive and will take decades to accomplish- there will have to be serious conservation to see us through.

There is some good news however. Many people and organizations around the world are working on new technologies that could make a difference. Hardly a week goes by without some credible institution announcing a technological advance which, if it turns out to be technically and economically feasible, just might make a big difference in the years ahead.

Over the next few months, I want to apprise you of some of these advances; this week, we look at wind-generated electricity.
(29 March 2007)


Hydro's uphill battle

Josh Gordon and Rachel Kleinman, The Age
AUSTRALIA'S iconic Snowy hydro-electricity scheme has almost run out of water, prompting its operator to turn increasingly to gas and dirty coal-fired power to stay in business.

The operator, Snowy Hydro, in its determination to keep the hydro system running, has also been using non-green sources of power to pump water back uphill to one of its main storage dams.

While this process may seem perverse from an environmental perspective — using polluting energy sources to sustain an ostensibly clean source of power — it makes good business sense for Snowy Hydro.

The water is pumped uphill overnight using cheap off-peak power from the grid, and released during the day to generate high-priced, peak-period electricity from the Tumut 3 hydro power station at Talbingo, NSW.

Further eroding its green credentials, Snowy Hydro is turning more to non-hydro means to produce power, and has been generating much of its energy recently from an antiquated and polluting gas-fired plant in the Latrobe Valley. ..
(29 Mar 2007)
Contributor SP writes: Bear in mind that the system is a combined power/irrigation system.


The Hydrogen Economy - Energy and Economic Black Hole

Alice Friedemann, Culture Change
Editor's note: Wonder why you're hearing much more about biofuels than hydrogen fuel these days? It's because the "Hydrogen Economy" has been found to be unrealistic. It so happens our author has been a main factor in sinking the technofix illusion of hydrogen. Alice Friedemann's next report is on biofuels, and it ought to accomplish the same thing.

This report was first published on Culture Change as a draft two years ago. A revision appeared in various publications, helping to burst the hydrogen bubble as promoted by George W. Bush, Jeremy Rifkin and Arnold Schwartzenegger. You are looking at the very latest edition. - JL

The energy-literate scoff at perpetual motion, free energy, and cold fusion, but what about the hydrogen economy? Before we invest trillions of dollars, let’s take a hydrogen car out for a spin. You will discover that hydrogen is the least likely of all the alternative energies to solve our transportation problems. Hydrogen uses more energy than you get out of it. The only winners in the hydrogen scam are large auto companies receiving billions of dollars via the FreedomCAR Initiative to build hydrogen vehicles.

Most importantly perhaps, the real problem that needs to be solved is how to build hydrogen trucks, so we can plant, harvest, and deliver food and other goods. However, hydrogen trucks are completely impractical, as we shall see in this report.
(March 2007)
As Alice Friedemann points out, hydrogen is not really a renewable - but this is the best category we could find for it. We published Friedemann's original article on hydrogren in 2005, and look forward to her study of biofuels. -BA

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