Energy infrastructure of the post-carbon future

The urban infrastructure of the post-carbon future will need to rediscover and utilize lost technologies and processes from history.

Integrated waste-to-energy combined heat and power systems can meet essential needs for food, clean water, public health and sufficient electrification for elevators and public transportation in a well-planned eco-city and provide a modest amount of energy for local light industry. When considering how much energy would be available, it would be misleading to look at total city energy use as planners do with today’s centralized utilities. Instead, it would be more helpful to examine how much energy you and your family could produce yourselves with a small, household anaerobic digester and gasifier and home combined heat and power system.

Can biomass help phase out coal?

If biomass can help power plant owners ease away from coal faster, that is certainly a good thing. The Dominion announcement is particularly relevant given the number of planned plant retirements in the coal industry – there are currently 190 generators around the U.S. set to be shut down, and there’s a dwindling appetite to replace them with more coal.

Can renewable energy outshine fossil fuels?

I’m not popular with environmentalists when I tell them that renewables can only provide a small fraction of the energy that fossil fuels do in powering industrial civilization. In fact, I was recently called a liar at the screening of an anti-nuke film for suggesting so.

How to discourage energy conservation

I got serious about cutting gas heating costs after losing my job as a research scientist last year, but now I’m paying more for each unit of natural gas delivered to my house. This was odd, so I had to look a little deeper. After some investigation I found that we are paying a lot more for each hundred cubic feet (CCF) of natural gas than our neighbors because we use so much less than they do. I’m being penalized for conserving gas, so my local gas utility is working against me.

Critical comments on “The Energy Report” by WWF and Ecofys

The Energy Report aligns with several others in recent years in confidently claiming that we could transition to full reliance on renewable energy, without any disruption of high material living standards or the pursuit of economic growth. These reports are typically quite impressive involving glossy formats with lots of coloured graphs and pictures, a large cast of heavy-weight authors, and a long list of high-powered endorsements.

Critical comments on The Energy Report by WWF and Ecofys – TEMPORARY

The Energy Report does not provide a satisfactory analysis of the issue. It fails to defend assumptions adequately and it omits discussion of crucial issues. To put it mildly, its general conclusion is not established at all persuasively. More importantly, the Report appears to provide yet more proof that renewables can save energy-intensive and growth obsessed societies. It therefore helps to ensure that thought will not be given to the possibility that sustainability cannot be achieved unless there is dramatic reduction in levels of production, consumption, affluence and GDP, and therefore unless there is extremely radical social change, including the abandonment of growth economies.

How much energy can our forests provide? & The possibilities and consequences of large-scale oil cutoffs

As oil prices rise, heating our homes with wood becomes more attractive. Steven Hamburg is the Chief Scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund, and he co-authored a recent report on the potential of northeastern forests to meet our energy need. Tom Whipple writes the weekly Peak Oil Review, and his latest edition says, “Collapse would not be too strong a term to apply to the global economy should Saudi oil production of 9 million b/d be halted or severely restricted by domestic unrest.” We talk to him about what he sees that indicates Saudi production may become shut in, and why that’s so important.

Are more people turning to wood heating?

The opening paragraph of some newspaper and magazine articles about wood heating make the claim that more households are burning wood due to the high cost of conventional energy sources. This assumption is logical enough considering there is plenty of income insecurity and increasing costs lately. But a review of the few available sources of statistics calls this conclusion into question.

Growth of wood biomass power stokes concern on emissions

The only way that biomass achieves carbon neutrality is if growing forests sequester — that is, absorb from the atmosphere — as much or more carbon dioxide than is released in the burning process…It takes only seconds to burn a tree’s worth of wood, and decades for that tree to grow back and sequester the same amount of carbon.