Monday, October 31, 2011

Experts Say Rosy Oil Forecasts Obscure Impending Crisis

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Leading energy and economic experts will gather on Capitol Hill this week for a conference to examine how the United States will adapt to an impending oil supply crisis. Most Americans are unaware of this emerging threat in part due to overly optimistic forecasts by the U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) within the Department of Energy (DOE).

ASPO-USA’s conference on Peak Oil, Energy & the Economy will examine the prospect that world oil supply is at or near an upper limit and will decline in the near future. Meanwhile, EIA projections indicate that world oil supply will increase by more than 20 million barrels per day by 2035, with prices rising only moderately.

“Truth in Energy” is the conference theme, calling for EIA to be more transparent and to address the possibility of severe oil constraints openly and directly. ASPO-USA is also calling for the Department of Energy to lead the development of a National Oil Emergency Response Plan to assess the consequences of oil scarcity and extreme price increases on different parts of the economy.

“America is wholly unprepared for a near-term oil supply crisis, let alone persistent oil shortages,” said ASPO-USA Executive Director Jan Mueller. “ASPO-USA delivered a letter to Secretary Chu last week urging his response to important questions that we believe DOE and EIA have failed to address.” More

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The peak oil brigade is leading us into bad policymaking on energy

It is almost always a mistake to assume you know where energy bills are going. This is especially true for secretaries of state, and energy policy should never be based upon assuming you know what the future will bring.
Unfortunately, it is the new conventional wisdom and an assumption prevalent across much of Europe.
Yet Chris Huhne, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change, is pretty sure that oil and gas prices are going ever upwards, that they will be volatile and that a core function of energy policy is to protect British industry and consumers from the consequences. It is a convenient assumption for renewables and nuclear: if the price of fossil fuel is going to get more expensive, then renewables and nuclear will be relatively cheap. Add in energy efficiency, and then it can be predicted that energy bills will fall if these technologies are supported.

The last time policymakers were this sure was the last time oil prices peaked – back in 1979. Oil peaked at $39 a barrel (around $150 in today's prices). It was assumed then that oil prices would go ever up, and the incoming Conservative government launched a plan to build one nuclear reactor per annum for 10 years. Instead, prices collapsed in the mid 1980s, and didn't return to the 1979 prices for more than a quarter of a century (even with two Gulf wars). More

US Military to Invest $10 Billion a Year in Renewable Energy

Congress may be dithering over green energy, but the US military has no qualms about its value.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) - one of the largest energy consumers in the world at 300,000 barrels of oil a day - is quickly moving toward energy efficiency and renewables to reduce risks to soldiers, enhance national energy security, and save money.

DOD is committed to getting 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025, the Air Force plans to use biofuels for 50% of domestic aviation by 2016 and the Navy will reduce fuel consumption on ships 15% by 2020.

11.3% of DOD's energy now comes from renewables, saving US taxpayers billions of dollars.

Military spending on renewable energy spiked over 300% between 2006-2009, to $1.2 billion, and is expected to exceed $10 billion a year by 2030, according to "From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America's Armed Forces," by the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate.

DOD currently spends about $20 billion a year on energy - 75% for fuel and 25% for facilities and infrastructure, according to Pike Research.

DOD is focusing on vehicle efficiency, advanced biofuels, and energy efficiency and renewable energy at bases.

It's expected to spend $2.25 billion a year by 2015 for efficient vehicles used in the air, land, and sea, while improving the energy efficiency of its buildings around the world - more than 500,000 of them.

That level of spending will have a considerable impact on the growth of the renewable industry. It has the potential to bridge the 'valley of death' that lies between research & development and full commercialization of these technologies," says Pike Research in another report, "Renewable Energy for Military Applications." More

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Energy Trap

While waiting to see how far the Europeans can kick their can of financial Armageddon down the road, let's revisit the damage being caused by high oil prices to life here in America.

Although the price of gasoline so far this year has not reached the rarified levels that we saw three years ago, neither has it plunged as far as in did in the fall of 2008. The price of a barrel of oil on the London futures exchange, which more accurately reflects what refiners must pay for oil, rose above $100 a barrel last January, and has essentially remained there ever since -- averaging about $25 a barrel higher than last year.
The Energy Trap is a project of the New America foundation, a non-partisan think tank funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, which recently conducted a survey on just how the American public is holding up under the high cost of energy. The idea of the trap is that an increasing number of Americans are caught between the cost of gasoline and a systemic inability to stop driving their cars. In the last 60 years America has become a "motorized society" in which most of our citizens have become totally dependent on daily travel by car for their existence. Take away our cars and most of us would be hard pressed to reorganize our lives to provide for the essentials of life - earn an income, and provide food, shelter, and education for ourselves and our families.
The current recession has compounded the troubles, forcing many to travel further afield to find employment - often in more than one underpaying job. More

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Eco-Economy Indicators - Solar PV Breaks Records in 2010

Solar photovoltaic (PV) companies manufactured a record 24,000 megawatts of PV cells worldwide in 2010, more than doubling their 2009 output. 

Annual PV production has grown nearly 100-fold since 2000, when just 277 megawatts of cells were made. Newly installed PV also set a record in 2010, as 16,600 megawatts were installed in more than 100  countries. This brought the total worldwide capacity of solar PV to nearly 40,000 megawatts—enough to power 14 million European homes. Made of semiconductor materials, PV cells convert solar radiation directly into electricity. Rectangular panels consisting of numerous PV cells can be linked into arrays of various sizes and power output capabilities—from rooftop systems measured in kilowatts to ground-mounted arrays of hundreds or even thousands of megawatts. (One megawatt equals 1,000 kilowatts.) More >>>

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wind Energy Driving Down Consumer Electric Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Wind energy is more affordable than ever, and new installations across the country are saving consumers money on their electric bills, as utilities rush to lock in long-term favorable rates.
“This is what a successful business looks like with stable tax policy. Utilities are locking in a great deal for their electric customers while it’s available. We’re keeping rates down all across the U.S., even in the  heart of the South,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), pointing to recent wind power purchases by the Southern Company in Alabama, Austin Energy in Texas, and Xcel in Colorado as examples.
The U.S. wind industry installed just over 1,200 megawatts (MW) in the third quarter, and about 3,360 MW on the year so far – but has more than 8,400 MW under construction. That is more than in any quarter since 2008, as the federal Production Tax Credit has driven as much as $20 billion a year in private investment.
“This shows what we’re capable of: adding new, affordable electric generation,” said Bode. “Traditional tax incentives are working. There’s a lot of business right now, people are employed, and manufacturers are looking to expand here in the U.S.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

IAEA Sets Up Team to Drive Nuclear Safety Action Plan

26 September 2011 | The International Atomic Energy Agency is setting up a Nuclear Safety Action Team to oversee prompt implementation of the

IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and ensure proper coordination among all stakeholders.

The 12-point Action Plan, drawn up in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, was approved by the Agency's Board of Governors on 13 September and endorsed by all 151 Member States at its General Conference last week.

The team will work within the Agency's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, headed by Deputy Director General Denis Flory, and will coordinate closely with the Director General's Office for Policy.

"The Action Plan requires immediate follow-up," Director General Yukiya Amano said. "This compact, dedicated team will assist Deputy Director General Flory in implementing the measures agreed in the Action Plan."

Gustavo Caruso, Head of the Regulatory Activities Section in the IAEA's Division of Installation Safety, has been designated as the team's Special Coordinator for the implementation of the Action Plan.

The IAEA has already started implementing its responsibilities under the Action Plan, including development of an IAEA methodology for stress tests for nuclear power plants. The methodology will be ready in October.
More >>>


World Food Day, 16 October 2011

Food prices - from crisis to stability

Price swings, upswings in particular, represent a major threat to food security in developing countries. Hardest-hit are the poor. According to the

World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.

“FOOD PRICES – FROM CRISIS TO STABILITY” has been chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme to shed some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.

On World Food Day 2011, let us look seriously at what causes swings in food prices, and do what needs to be done to reduce their impact on the weakest members of global society. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Film on Climate Refugees Strikes a Chord

During the shooting of his 2010 documentary “Climate Refugees,” the Irish-American filmmaker Michael Nash visited nearly 50 countries in about

18 months, interviewing politicians, scientists, health workers and victims of floods, cyclones, hurricanes and droughts.

Click here for film trailer

His conclusion was that short- and longer-term changes in climate are causing vast numbers of people to abandon their jobs, homes and countries to seek better lives elsewhere, or to simply survive. (Jeffrey Gettleman’s recent coverage of the Somali refugee crisis in The Times has offered some vivid and disturbing examples, although Somalia’s troubles are also inextricably linked to political turmoil.)

Mr. Nash poses a basic question: what will become of the millions of people whose lack of access to food and clean water leads them to take increasingly desperate measures? What type of strains will huge migration put on resources in more developed countries?

Will this dislocation eventually, as the retired Navy vice admiral Lee Gunn told Mr. Nash, pose a threat to Americans’ national security, too?

By focusing on the consequences of climate change rather than its scientific causes, some experts suggest that Mr. Nash succeeded in circumventing a divisive political debate over global warming and the extent to which human activity contributes to it. More >>>

Location: Cayman Islands