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Scientists look high in the sky for power
Jet stream could fill global energy needs, researchers say

Keay Davidson, SF Chronicle
Scientists are eyeing the jet stream, an energy source that rages night and day, 365 days a year, just a few miles above our heads. If they can tap into its fierce winds, the world’s entire electrical needs could be met, they say.

The trick is figuring out how to harness the energy and get it down to the ground cost-effectively and safely.

Dozens of researchers in California and around the world believe huge kite-like wind-power generators could be the solution. As bizarre as that might seem, respected experts say the idea is sound enough to justify further investigation.
(7 May 2007)

How a market for sustainable bio-energy is being developed

Rembrandt, The Oil Drum: Europe
In 2006 the government of the Netherlands instituted a commission to study how a market for sustainable bio-energy can be created. On 26 April 2007 the commission handed over their final report (downloadable pdf version written in Dutch) to the Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and environment. The general concept of the advice is to institute a trading scheme for sustainable bio-energy, in the form of certification with stringent sustainability criteria. Looking at what is happening now, it seems very likely that the Dutch Government will incorporate the criteria in this advice into the new subsidy scheme for sustainable energy. Especially since the woman that chaired the commission on criteria for sustainable bio-energy, Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Kramer, recently became the Dutch Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and environment, and therefore handed her own report over to herself on 26 April.

The main leverage for the government will be that companies that obtain subsidies related to bio-energy need to comply to the sustainability criteria, otherwise their subsidy will be withdrawn. The commission worked in a bottom-up approach in formulating the criteria, with people involved from universities, companies, the government and non-governmental organisations. Thanks to this approach, broad support has been gained to make the criteria work.
(7 May 2007)

Renewable is not a synonym for sustainable

Dale Shires, Des Moines Register (Iowa)
Governor Culver’s call for a diverse energy program is well-taken. Biofuels, for example, are only of partial and short-term help, I think.

One of my dad’s maxims was “never buy or sell hay.” Buying hay might bring in the seeds of weeds we had spent years trying to control; selling hay removed tons of nutrients without replacing it with commensurate manure.Thousands of years of unharvested prairie had built the rich silt loam. The first 75 years of diversified, value-added farming saw mainly livestock and livestock products leave a nearly-level farm, using no commercial fertilizer, yet with ever-increasing yields.

…A farmer may be able to sell some switchgrass grown from the nutrients in the soil, but over time will have to replace a lot of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and eventually some micro-nutrients.

Maintenance rates would cost around $30, at 2007 prices, per ton of dried switchgrass sold. For biofuels to be sustainable, fertilizer sources would have to be limitless and economical.

Some in the biofuels industry say farmers will need a $50-per-ton subsidy to make switchgrass work for them.

I would rather subsidize good soil- and water-conservation practices, wind and solar energy and related energy storage (e.g. hydrogen or electricity) and energy conservation – all better attacks against both global warming and fossil-fuel dependence.
(6 May 2007)
From the farmer’s mouth. One of the many things that make me skeptical about ethanol, is that the seemingly obvious point made here by Dale Shires is not discussed. -BA