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Renewables & efficiency - April 6

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Study: Low-Carbon Fuel Standards Are Unlikely to Reduce Warming

Kate Galbraith, Green Inc., New York Times
A low-carbon fuels standard is likely to do little to reduce global warming emissions and can even be counterproductive, according to a paper published in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

The study, by three academics, found that the policy reduces consumption of high-carbon fuels like oil, but “increases low carbon fuel production, possibly increasing net carbon emissions.”

... One problem with a low-carbon fuel standard is that it could be extremely costly. The paper says that a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels could result in abatement costs ranging from $307 to $2,272 for each ton of carbon dioxide. That is roughly 100 to 700 times the price of carbon dioxide emissions allowances now traded in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program in 10 Northeastern states to combat global warming by cutting power plant emissions.

A related problem is that rather than cutting fuel use across the board, such a fuel standard would encourage drivers to increase their consumption of “low-carbon fuels,” and thus theoretically increase the overall amount of fuel consumed.
(3 April 2009)
Re-discovering the Jevons Paradox (aka Rebound Effect): "the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource." -BA



Are You Ready to Live (and Invest) in the ‘ZigBee’ World that’s Almost Upon Us?

Bill Paul, Energy Tech Stocks
To improve the rate at which healthcare workers wash their hands, researchers at the University of Iowa recently conducted a test in which workers wore small, pager-sized badges that wirelessly recorded their use of hand hygiene dispensers, with the data stored in the badges. Patients’ rooms were outfitted with small beacons that detected whether the worker had washed his hands before entering. Researchers found that hand-washing compliance surged as worker behavior changed.

Welcome to tomorrow. Before long, not just hand-washing but virtually every other aspect not only of healthcare but also energy production and consumption will be controlled wirelessly by sensors on or in every electronic device, including the human body and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle parked in your garage.

The acronym for this world will be “ZigBee,” which is the name of the leading protocol scientists and engineers are using to develop the multitude of products that will seamlessly connect in this wireless universe.
(5 April 2009)



Corn Ethanol Concerns Spread to Oregon

Kate Galbraith, Green Inc., New York Times
The Oregon legislature is jumping into the anti-ethanol fight as it considers five bills that would limit the reach of the corn-based product in the state. (Thanks to Grist for pointing this item out.)

According to OregonLive, the complaints range from lower gas mileage to wear-and-tear on engines, as well as the impact of corn ethanol on food prices.
(31 March 2009)
Lively discussion at the original. The NYT mentions a post by EB contributor John Gear at Gristmill: Oregon's folly.

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