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Feinstein says “No!” to solar panels in desert

Kent Bernhard Jr. has written a very well-thought opinion in Portfolio.com. He discusses the realities of creating energy to support our lifestyles and the inherent difficulty in doing so without disturbing the environment in some way. There are no easy answers and no secret formula to create fuel for our consumption. In fact, the only way that we can not affect the environment is to probably revert to the ways of the historical Native American Indians.

Mr. Bernhard goes into great detail on the subject.  He discusses natural gas, wind power, and nuclear.  Please click through and read the entire article but my version will only focus on the first part. In this sampling he discusses Sen. Diane Feinstein and her efforts to block solar energy from the desert.

Windmills Are Killing Our Birds

The subject of windmills killing birds has been discussed occasionally on the web for several years. Every time the subject gets popular, it suddenly seems to drop out of vogue to discuss. The argument is always that the bird fatalities are a fraction of other human activity and therefore not significant.

There is little doubt that windmills kill birds and bats. Their remains are found at the foot of windmills on a regular basis. Robert Bryce, the author of “Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence‘”, “Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron“, and “Cronies: How Texas Business Became American Policy– and Brought Bush to Power” recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the wind energy industry is being held to a different standard than other energy companies.

Author refutes review

I had earlier mentioned the review of the “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” report that Climate Skeptic was doing.  In that review, Climate Skeptic called the following graph and the stated conclusions from it BS.

Evidently the original author didn’t like his review and challenged him publicly.  This is fantastic as it allows for the open sharing and discussing of the ideas, thoughts and conclusions.  There needs to be more of this type of exchange on critical issues such as climate change.

Climate Skeptics basic charge is that the increase in disruptions is more a result in differences in data collection over time than it is a change in climate disruptions.  Such a rapid increase in events is almost surely not solely due to weather.

Utilities seem to be a problem for analysis

I have had a few posts on the recent report from the US Administration regarding global warming. My posts all reference the great work of other bloggers on the subject. This post will be no different.

Steve McIntyre builds on the work of Climate Skeptic in digging into the utility industry and the vast increases in outages that they are suffering through due to the rampant bad weather that we are enjoying due to global warming.

Wind energy soon might power Sandia and Kirtland

New Mexico Business Weekly – May 23, 2008

Interesting article about good use of natural resources to power federal government facilities.  It is also worth noting that the facility tried to not just use wind but also solar and found that solar was not economical. This subject should be interesting to all that are concerned with global warming and also those that want to make sure that we tap every available option to create energy.

A 30 megawatt wind farm soon could supply a third of the energy consumed by Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base.

Carbon-Market Concept Moves to Mainstream

Wall Street Journal – May 14, 2008

I really do not like the concept of trading in carbon. I think that carbon offsets trading only reward bad processes that are extremely cheap and are a band-aid to the real problem. If it is assumed that we need to vastly reduce the carbon footprint then the buying public should be encouraged to buy energy and products that result from lower carbon emissions and discouraged from buying the carbon rich ones.

Allowing a utility that has a coal burning plant in one part of the world to offset that footprint with a geo-thermal plant in another part of the world really doesn’t solve anything. If the two plants served the same marketplace, then their energy would compete but if the two plants are separated by oceans then we really haven’t solved any problems, we have just allowed a company to financially afford a carbon-rich coal plant.

Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010

The New York Times – January 14, 2008

Toyota is not going to be out-done by GM.  Yesterday, I discussed that GM is spending a lot of effort and money to develop alternative fuels and alternative propulsion options. This article shows that Toyota is not going to stand still in that important competitive battle.

Toyota will offer the first plug-in hybrid in 2010. Plug-in hybrids are important because it is far more efficient to produce electricity at an industrial power utility plant than it is to burn gasoline in your car in the form of a “traditional” hybrid vehicle.

Solar Venture Will Draw on Molten Salt

Wall Street Journal – January 2, 2008

As the price of fossil based fuels continues to increase dramatically, other sources of energy begin to be more cost effective. This, combined with the increase pressure due to global warming concerns, has propagated the use of alternative fuels such as solar farms that capture the sun’s energy.

This story relates how a United Technologies company is starting a new venture that uses an old technique for storing energy. Only the current economic situation of today would allow for this to be a profitable venture. UT should not be overly commended here since all they are doing is taking advantage of a market condition and trying to make a business satisfying a need. I am confident that should the price of crude suddenly drop by 50%, UT would cancel this venture as fast as one would jump when touching molten salt.

Power Plant Rejected Over Carbon Dioxide For First Time

Washington Post – October 19, 2007

This is the first time in the US that a power plant was rejected due to concerns regarding its output of carbon dioxide as a pollutant. I don’t understand all of the laws in this area but I suspect that this decision would not have been possible had the Supreme Court not ruled that CO2 was a pollutant.

I am not going to make a lot of comments on this article except to ask two questions that are not adequately answered in this article:

Little Green Lies

BusinessWeek – October 29, 2007

BusinessWeek must be one of the most venerable periodicals in the business community. Few magazines can acclaim to the level and depth of business discussion. Most CEOs and business leaders read or at least skim the magazine on a regular basis.

As their cover story, BW decided to cover the idea that "going green" was a good thing for business.  I have discussed this issue before and it was good to get BW’s opinion and coverage on the story.  Their perspective is quite interesting.