Category Archives: Environment

Stuff about the environment and our relationship with it

Portugal To Use Nearly Half Renewable Energy by 2010

jose socratesIn a stunning example of what can happen when a countries leader is serious about renewable energy, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, anounced today that he hopes to have 45% (!!) of all energy used in his country to come from renewable sources by 2010.

From here.

the target raises the government’s existing goal by 6 percentage points.

‘This … will place Portugal in the front line of (EU countries using) renewable energy,’ Socrates told parliament.

The government will also launch a micro-generation programme enabling householders to generate their own power and sell the excess to the electricity grid, Journal de Negocios online reported him as saying.

Power sources will include wave energy, which will be tested in a pilot project at Sao Pedro de Moel to be approved in cabinet tomorrow, Socrates added.

The prime minister’s statement came two days after EDP – Energias de Portugal SA announced plans to invest 2.910 billion euros in renewable energy by 2010, including 2.630 billion in wind farms and 280 million on other sustainable technologies.

When compared to Bush’s feeble attempt at reducing our gasoline usage by only 20% by 2017 (something he offered no plan for doing other than some numbers about biofuel) you can see that European countries are leaps and bounds ahead of us. America will need to rapidly increase its use of renewable energy or face the consequences.

What will happen when American cars are not allowed to be sold in other nations because they burn gas? What would happen if other countries started to embargo our good because we are not part of their co2 emissions cap and trade system? We can not allow America to become a technological backwater. If we wish to remain competitive we will have to continue to push our elected officials towards more and more renewable energy solutions to our energy needs.

State Of The Union Falls Short On Energy

bush idiotThe energy and climate initiatives announced in U.S. President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address on Tuesday left the White House well behind the growing public and business momentum for an overhaul of U.S. energy policy. The proposals lacked both the breadth and the specificity needed to cope with the twin problems of energy security and global warming, and leaves national leadership on the issue up to Congress.

The centerpiece of the president’s energy proposal is the dramatic and laudable goal of cutting gasoline consumption by 20 percent within a decade, but the mix of policies and technologies he would use to get us there isn’t clear. The president’s support for accelerated development
of renewable fuels and improved fuel economy is headed in the right direction, but fuel economy still appears to be getting the short end of the stick in administration priorities. The U.S. Congress will need to pass strong new fuel economy and renewable fuel mandates if the
president’s goals for increased energy independence are to avoid the fate of similar proposals by at least five previous presidents.

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Massachusetts Power Plants To Pay Emissions Penalties

deval PatrickDeval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts, has wisely rejoined a north east energy pact that requires power plants to emit less co2. Fines from power plants could raise millions to spend on energy conservation. His predecessor Mit Romney has pulled out of the agreement because of fears of higher energy costs.

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Wind Power Growing Rapidly In US

ponnequin wind farm Wind power generating capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006 and is expected to increase an additional 26 percent in 2007, proving wind is now a mainstream option for new power generation, according to a market forecast released on Jan. 22 by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, DC). Wind’s exponential growth reflects the nation’s increasing demand for clean, safe and domestic energy, and continues to attract both private and public sources of capital.

“iPods, flat screen televisions and other highly sought technologies are creating a demand for electricity that is beginning to eclipse our current supply. Wind is a proven, cost-effective source of energy that also alleviates global warming and enhances our nation’s energy security,” says AWEA executive director Randall Swisher.

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 2,454 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2006, an investment of approximately $4 billion, billing wind as one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country – second only to natural gas – for the second year in a row. New wind farms boosted cumulative U.S. installed wind energy capacity by 27 percent to 11,603 MW, well above the 10,000-MW milestone reached in August 2006. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity to serve 250 to 300 homes on average each day.

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Biodiesel and Ethanol News Roundup

biofuelsBush may call for billions of more gallons of ethanol from corn in his state of the union address. This being the same guy who said we were addicted to oil and then did nothing to help us kick the habit, yes I remain skeptical. In an effort to stay on top of the flood of interesting biofuel (ethanol and biodiesel) related news stories I have posted this handy link roundup for you.

Bush to call for Billions of gallons of ethanol from corn.

From here.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush is expected to call for a huge increase in the amount of ethanol that refiners mix with gasoline, probably double the current goal of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

While the details of the proposal are not known, 15 billion gallons of ethanol would work out to more than 10 percent of the country’s current gasoline consumption, and is far beyond the current capacity of about 5.4 billion gallons.

Personally I am still unconvinced about the energy balance of Ethanol using the current technology to make it. I have read reports that show that you do get more energy from ethanol than it takes to create it, but I worry that food that should be going to people will instead be powering our cars. I am much more in favor of developing ethanol from wood waste or switch grass or hemp or some other non-edible plant. In this way we could use non-premium land that is not suited for growing crops to create ethanol.

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