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Aggregating Energy Since 2006

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Expedia and Terrapass

Renewable Energy Access covered a new feature in the dot.com era of travel websites. Expedia.com now offers the option to offset your air travel carbon emissions by partnering with TerraPass.

TerraPass funds clean energy projects and offers carbon calculators so people can offset all their carbon emissions. It claims to have already eliminated 150 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Now you can offset your carbon emissions from air travel when you purchase your tickets. I wonder how many people will actually exercise this option - considering it actually only seems to add some $20 - $30 to the price of the ticket.

Feeding the addiction

Those of us who want action on global warming will be less than thrilled about new oil reserves recently discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. The reserves are predicted to boost domestic reserves by 50%, though the article quotes energy analysts as saying the new discovery will do little to make us more energy independent or bring down prices at the pump. Maybe this will make ANWR more safe though. Heck, a lot of the Gulf is already a "dead zone" anyway, from all the pollution runoff from the Mississippi, right?

Chevron predicts 3 to 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas in the 300 square-mile region. On balance, I would have to say that any new domestic natural gas reserves are a positive, however, since as natural gas prices rise, there is more and more pressure to build coal-fired power plants.

Iris Ovshinsky, 79, dies

Those who have seen 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' and loved the cute couple who invented the NiMH battery and continue to work on alternative energy technology will be saddened at the death of Iris Ovshinsky. She died August 16th due to drowning after apparently suffering a heart attack while swimming.

Hot Fuel?

Have you heard of "hot fuel?" The Free Press of Mankato has - and they are not happy about it.

Simple physics requires that when gasoline heats up, it expands, reducing the amount of energy in a standard U.S. gallon.

Government rules require that U.S. gasoline be priced at a measure of 231 cubic inches per gallon, or the measure of a gallon at 60 degrees. When gasoline becomes warmer than that, say at 90 degrees, it expands to 235 cubic inches per gallon, but Americans are charged for the 231 cubic inches, which contains less energy.

What a TOTAL RIP OFF! Can you believe how many different ways we consumers are getting screwed? Sometimes I think the whole world is out to get us.

Put simply, for every degree the gasoline is over 60, the energy in one gallon is less. That, according to an investigation by the Kansas City Star, costs consumers $2.3 billion per year.

$2.3 billion per year?? Wow, that must work out to between $10 and $30 per consumer per year (depending on how many people in the U.S. purchase gas). Perhaps as high as $40 per year!!!

This really seems quite inconsequential to me. The energy required to retrofit all the pumps in this country to sell fuel based on temperature seems like a total waste of resources to save tens of dollars per year. Especially when this problem falls greater on those who purchased fuel inefficient vehicles.

Wilson on Kennedy on Gas Tax

The esteemed Dr. E Wilson appeared on TV to discuss Mark Kennedy's gas tax suspension solution. He wants to temporarily suspend the 18 cent federal gas tax and subsidies to oil companies to solve high gas prices.

In other words, he is campaigning for Congress in the usual method - smoke and mirrors. It sounds nice but won't do much.

Notice how clean E's desk is ... I haven't seen it that clean since I first met her, days after she started!

BP Fouling up Alaska

An editorial in the Star Tribune this morning takes a peak at regulation and monitoring of oil pipelines in Alaska. They come down very hard on BP and Alaska state agencies. The impression is of a federal and state monitoring and regulation program that is only interested in preventing catastrophes.

"The rest result in official write-ups and fines that become a cost of doing business in the Alaskan oilfields, and perhaps create the misimpression that these pipeline operations are tightly monitored and regulated. In fact, the federal government limits effective oversight to pipelines whose high pressure and/or urban locations would mean catastrophe in event of a serious leak. The low-pressure, mostly rural lines that move oil around in Alaska are subject to much more lenient scrutiny, in which federal inspectors partner with industry-friendlier state agencies"

Additionally, there is the distinct possibility that BP was not satisfied with leniency from regulators also withhelding information that might have given indications as to the severity of the problems in the pipeline.

"This, then, is the environment in which BP may have been within the rules to operate a sludged-up, corroded pipeline for as long as 14 years, and well beyond its designed lifespan, without an internal inspection by electronic "smart pigs" -- despite plenty of external evidence that corrosion was thinning its walls to the danger point. Indeed, investigators are now reviewing allegations that BP not only brushed aside warnings from its own employees and consultants on this risk, but gamed its regulatory reporting to minimize the situation."

Gas prices still too low to consider mass transit

A recent online poll in The Business Journal of Jacksonville asked people at what price for gasoline would they carpool or take mass transit to work. Results show an extreme reluctance to give up the car.

"Given a choice between a 20-minute drive and a 90-minute mass transit trip, the cost of gasoline is fairly irrelevant," wrote one respondent.

For some, mass transit simply isn't an option.

I suspect that the results would vary greatly depending on the currently quality of mass transit in the region.

Greenwashing or Green driving?

BP has announced a pollution trading program in the UK with the goal of making drivers carbon-neutral. The idea was unveiled at targetneutral.com. Drivers determine how much CO2 they are emitting and then sending funds to green energy projects. They currently only have four projects that will receive funding, though.

  • A biomass power plant in Bihar, India. This is reducing CO2 emissions by 4,800 tonnes per year.
  • Biomass boilers at a chemical manufacturing plant in Himachal Pradesh, India. This reduces CO2 by 3,150 tonnes per year.
  • A wind turbine at Chitradurga, India installed September, 2005. This reduces CO2 by 1,260 tonnes per year.
  • A biomass boiler at a chemical manufacturing plant in Maharashtra, India. This reduces CO2 by 4,783 tonnes per year.
  • By their calculations they act together to reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to that of about 3,500 cars.

    There are plenty of skeptical comments found in the NY Times article above. I think that it’s an interesting approach but one that is ultimately going to have nearly zero impact. This coupled with the timing of the release so close to the pipeline problems makes me think that there is likely something behind the greenwashing charges.

    The voluntary aspect of the program is going to keep participation extremely low and only among those conscientious people who are already doing a lot to reduce their CO2 emissions. At the targetneutral.com website they claim that the average driver would only need to contribute about £20 a year (~$38). For the emissions averted by the above projects that comes to about £70,000 (~$132,000) per year. A very marginal amount to be spread across four capital intensive projects. Is the prospect of this potential income to the projects going to spur additional projects and expansion of the program? I'm skeptical.

    Metro Transit Greens

    Green Car Congress noted Pawlenty's announcement of 150 new hybrid buses and B10 next year.

    Metro Transit is retiring some 300 buses. Half of the replacement buses will be hybrid and the rest are supposedly the cleanest diesel burning models available.

    The time frame is over the next 5 years. The hybrid buses are 22% more efficient and have 50% less exhaust.

    Helpful back-of-the-envelope fact:

    Metro Transit consumes and supplies about 10 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.

    Airline Emission Trading

    The World's 18 Aug, 2006 technology podcast discusses a proposed airline emissions trading program.

    I seem to recall the statement that airline emissions are the fasting growing carbon emissions in Europe. So the EU may institute a trading program to reduce them.

    The view is shared by a number of airlines which accept that their current exemption from tax on aviation fuel is not tenable in the long term. Many operators are alarmed at plans to slap a levy on tickets to generate funds for areas not related to aviation, such as development aid. Moreover some airlines see an advantage in the fact that it will take at least two or three years to get the measure through the EU legislative procedure.

    Scientific American looks at Energy and Climate Change

    The Scientific American recently had a series of articles related to energy and climate change. Unfortunately, most of these require a subscription to access online. You can purchase them or buy the hardcopy.   A Climate Repair Manual [ INTRODUCTION ]
    Global warming is a reality. Innovation in energy technology and policy are sorely needed if we are to cope   An Efficient Solution [ ENERGY EFFICIENCY ]
    Wasting less energy is the quickest, least expensive way to stem carbon emissions   High Hopes for Hydrogen [ FUEL CELLS AND MORE ]
    Using hydrogen to fuel cars may eventually slash oil consumption and carbon emissions, but it will take some time   The Rise of Renewable Energy [ CLEAN POWER ]
    Solar cells, wind turbines and biofuels are poised to become major energy sources. New policies could dramatically accelerate that evolution   What to Do about Coal [ CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE ]
    Cheap, plentiful coal is expected to fuel power plants for the foreseeable future, but can we keep it from devastating the environment?   A Plan to Keep Carbon in Check [ STRATEGY ]
    Getting a grip on greenhouse gases is daunting but doable. The technologies already exist. But there is no time to lose.   Plan B for Energy [ SPECULATIVE TECHNOLOGY ]
    If efficiency improvements and incremental advances in today's technologies fail to halt global warming, could revolutionary new carbon-free energy sources save the day? Don't count on it--but don't count it out, either   Fueling Our Transportation Future [ AUTOMOTIVE ANSWERS ]
    New technologies, lighter vehicles and alternative fuels can lower greenhouse gas releases from cars and trucks   The Nuclear Option [ ROLE FOR FISSION ]
    A threefold expansion of nuclear power could contribute significantly to staving off climate change by avoiding one billion to two billion tons of carbon emissions annually     

    Ford Cuts Production Again

    Ford sees no end in sight for the high gas prices and cutting truck and SUV production as a result.

    Looks like the specific cuts will be announced in September but will definitely impact St. Paul.

    The change will result in more downtime at Ford's St. Paul Ranger Truck plant as well as nine other plants, officials said.

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