Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peak Oil News: 4/30/13

Website: http://MrEnergyCzar.com This is Peak Oil News. I'm your host, MrEnergyCzar. We're covering Peak Oil, Renewable Energy, Electric Cars and everything ...


Credit: mrenergyczar


ES&T editorial calls Keystone XL a "pipeline to nowhere"

Editor-in Chief of the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Dr. Jerald Schnoor, also a professor in the departments of civil & environmental engineering and occupational & environmental health at the University of Iowa, has written an editorial for the journal in which he calls the Keystone XL pipeline a "pipeline to nowhere".

Use of coal, oil, and natural gas has to stop (in that order). But "dirty" oil, emanating from oil sands (a.k.a., tar sands) with a significantly higher carbon footprint than conventional oil, deserves a place at the front of the line. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would enable development of oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S., but this dog will not hunt. It is a pipeline to nowhere-a dead end in our economic future.

-Jerald Schnoor

Schnoor adduces five points against the building of the pipeline:

  1. We do not really need the oil. "Energy efficiency is actually the key(stone) we should be focusing on. "
  2. Keystone XL would add to global greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. It is a slippery (and oily) slope.
  4. Let Canadians decide (about pipelines in Canada for carrying the oil).
  5. When do we start to stop? If not now, when?

It has been a good run, this fossil fuel age. But from the invention of steam power in the 1700s when industrial society first started to burn huge quantities of coal, the future was preordained. One cannot burn all the fossil fuels that required 300 million years to form in just a few centuries and not expect to pay consequences. The fossil fuel age has massively disrupted the balance of oxidation and reduction on earth. Thus, elemental cycles yield more oxidized products like acid rain (nitric acid, sulfuric acid) and carbon dioxide as a result.

-Jerald Schnoor



Former president of Shell Oil calls for aggressive action on alternative fuels to break oil monopoly on transportation

John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil Company and founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy (CFAE), is joining the Fuel Freedom Foundation (FFF) Advisory Board. Fuel Freedom is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to opening the fuel market to allow alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, natural gas and electricity fairly to compete with gasoline at the pump. CFAE's mission is to educate citizens and government officials about pragmatic, non-partisan affordable energy solutions.

"The purpose and the focus [of FFF] is exactly in line with what I promoted as president of Shell and subsequently as the founder of CFAE," Hofmeister said to Green Car Congress. "From [these organizations' standpoints], the reason we have to get away from doing nothing is that the public doesn't fully appreciate or understand the situation it faces with respect to fuels' futures."

We exist to better educate the public, to have the conversations that need to be had with government, corporate executives, NGOs, with all sectors of society, on future alternatives.

We have to look at the fuels marketplace from a short-, a medium-, and a long-term perspective. There will not be enough oil to stay on the path we're on globally over the short- and medium-, let alone the long-term. By the time we meet China's needs, India's needs, the developing world's needs, there just is not enough supply to rely 100% on oil as a transportation fuel. It's not going to happen.

-John Hofmeister

In his 2010 book Why We Hate The Oil Companies, Straight talk from an energy insider, Hofmeister suggested that Americans would be facing the beginning of gasoline lines in the 2016-2020 timeframe.

That onset of what he calls the "beginning of the energy abyss" was predicated on normal economic growth, including China's growth, he noted. Since writing the book, economic growth has been "stunted", and China's growth reduced. That, he suggested, might stretch out the beginning timeframe a little further.

It's inevitable. The industry that produces oil can't produce enough, unless the world doesn't grow. It's possible that we will have such expensive oil that we will stymie growth. How many people will suffer? How many poor will become poorer, while rich become richer because we have failed rational tests of creating alternative competitive fuels? We have a choice to condemn ourselves to an energy abyss in the name of the status quo and lack of enlightened leadership, or we can choose to develop alternatives.

Why aren't we more thoughtful about the future? Why don't we begin the journey towards a range of alternatives that delivers increased national security, increased economic security, and multiple choice for consumers?

I think in this regard, we are missing in the whole construct, a meaningful voice of government as an intermediary and an enabler to a better future when it comes to fuel choice. The US has been crippled for 7 years by high-priced fuel; the government has done nothing to speak of to address the issue.

-John Hofmeister

There are many options theoretically available, Hofmeister said, includingnatural gas for multiple transportation fuel applications: LNG, CNG, GTL synthetics, methanol for personal vehicles, even gasoline from natural gas. The organizations are also pushing electric vehicles as an important options, whether battery-based or hydrogen-fuel-cell based.

Analysis of the viability or attractiveness of the different options should rely on a mix of cost, resource availability, and carbon footprint, he suggested.

We need a competitor for oil. We need to open the market to replacement fuels like methanol, ethanol and natural gas. Competition will drive transportation fuel prices down, structurally and sustainably. These fuels are well within our reach, we can implement them into our existing system without the need to wait twenty years for fleet turnover. Fuel Freedom's approach to opening the fuels market by breaking the oil monopoly is America's next giant leap forward.

-John Hofmeister

In terms of taking steps forward, Hofmeister suggests that "first and foremost" there should be a serious, twin-path discussion on the future of natural gas as an alternative fuel, with specific focus about what works best for trucking and trains, and on what works best for personal vehicles. "Let's see what the market does to grow both, the industrial side and the consumer side. We haven't had that conversation yet."

Further, Hofmeister suggested, that even though EVs are off to a slow start, the US should continue to enable the infrastructure to be built to enable both types of electric vehicles, battery and hydrogen.

I think hydrogen fuel cell capability in the next 20-30 years will be more than people give it credit for. It's not a fix for tomorrow, it's too soon. But with the work going on and cost reductions already accrued in fuel cells and vehicles...I would hate to be taught by Japan and Germany how to do it, how to develop the infrastructure for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. But that's quite possible.

-John Hofmeister



Friday, April 26, 2013

Study evaluates strategies for generating electricity from hog waste

(Phys.org) -Capturing methane gas from hog farms and piping it into existing natural gas pipelines may be a cost-effective way to meet North Carolina's Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS), according to a new Duke University study.



Ukraine marks Chernobyl disaster amid efforts to secure reactor (Update)

Ukrainians on Friday lit candles and laid flowers to remember the victims of the world's worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl 27 years ago, as engineers pressed on with efforts to permanently shield the stricken reactor.



Sinopec reports bio-jet test flight successful; hydrotreated palm and waste cooking oil


Wind power-even without the wind

Offshore wind could provide abundant electricity-but as with solar energy, this power supply can be intermittent and unpredictable. But a new approach from researchers at MIT could mitigate that problem, allowing the electricity generated by floating wind farms to be stored and then used, on demand, whenever it's needed.



Power your e-bimmer off of the sun? BMW offers solar panel packages for i3 ...

While simplifying the solar power process is a new twist, automakers simplifying EV ownership with an outside partnership isn't. Just last year, Ford and Best Buy's Geek Squad combined forces to provide Ford Focus Electric and Fusion Energi buyers with ...
See all stories on this topic »

Digital Trends



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Solar Impulse Airplane Prepares for Cross-Country Sun-Powered Flight

Image 01

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA flying over the Golden Gate Bridge this week.

What do you get when you build an airplane with a battery pack the size of the Tesla Model S, and a solar panel array 10 times bigger than ones found on most homes? Answer: The Solar Impulse, a prototype solar-powered airplane designed to to make an around-the-world flight in 2015. This month, the Solar Impulse is at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, getting prepped for a flight across the U.S. beginning on May 1.

The Solar Impulse is the brainchild of Bertrand Picard, the psychiatrist and adventurer who flew a balloon, the Breitling Orbiter, around the world in 1999. After that flight, he developed the idea of using renewable energy to power an airplane for a flight around the world, and rolled up his sleeves to make it happen. He formed a brave team that when told by aircraft manufacturers that the idea was impossible, went ahead anyway.

read more



April 24 News: EPA's Keystone Objection Matters 'A Lot'

How much does EPA's objection to the Keystone pipeline matter? "A lot," says Juliet Eilperin. [Washington Post]

EPA suggested the draft assessment may have underestimated the climate impact of the pipeline, which could transport as much as 830,000 barrels of diluted bitumen crude to refineries in Texas.

... In addition, Giles argued that when it comes to the potential of a spill of diluted bitumen from the pipeline, State needs to "more clearly acknowledge that in the event of a spill to water, it is possible that large portions of dilbit will sink and that submerged oil significantly changes spill response and impacts." ...

EPA's objection to the State Department's draft analysis not only provides opponents with political ammunition, it could force President Obama to directly weigh in on the permitting decision if they raise similar objections later when State conducts a national interest determination. As long as no other agency objects, State can issue a ruling on the pipeline on its own; if EPA challenges the national interest determination the State Department makes at the end of its review process, Obama himself would have to issue the final permit decision.

The House GOP accused EPA of trying to shut down Keystone with their objections. [The Hill]

New research suggests that the oil and gas boom has only had a modest impact on the U.S. economy. [Washington Post]

In a unanimous ruling the D.C. Circuit backed EPA authority to regulate mountaintop removal mining. [LA Times]

After last year's barge shipping delays due to drought, the flooding on the Mississippi is now causing delays because of closed locks. [Bloomberg]

New renewable energy will account for 70 percent of global installed power by 2030, says Bloomberg Finance. [Grist]

UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres urged the U.S. to do more on climate change and invest in clean energy to help the economy. [Reuters]

A House subcommittee holds a hearing today to investigate electric car maker Fisker Automotive's receipt of federal loan guarantees. [The Hill]

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): "It doesn't make sense to argue about how much global warming is caused by man - whether it's 5% or 50%. The best approach is to have a no-regrets policy." [CNN Money]

Farmers in Pakistan are dealing with the increasing unpredictability of precipitation that comes from climate change. [Al Jazeera]

One thing you can do with contaminated farmland is to install solar panels on it. [NRDC]

Facebook will site a new data center in Iowa because of the state's abundance of wind power. [EarthTechling]



Breaking: North Carolina ALEC-Modeled Bill To Repeal Clean Energy Standard Fails In Committee

North Carolina's renewable energy industry is safe from legislative threats, for now. Republicans and Democrats in the sponsor's own committee voted down his bill that would have repealed the state's clean energy standard. This bill mimicked "model legislation" from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

WRAL NC Capitol reports:

[Bill sponsor] Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, had pulled House Bill 298 from the House Committee on Environment, where it faced questionable support, to put it in front of the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy, which he chairs, in hopes of keeping the legislation moving forward.

Instead, an 18-13 vote killed the bill, with powerful Republican Reps. Tim Moore, Ruth Samuelson, Nelson Dollar and others joining Democrats in opposing the measure.

Rep. Hager used to work for Duke Energy, and is a member of ALEC, a right-wing state legislation factory that has received funding from the Koch brothers and the Heartland Institute. The Kochs also donated to the John Locke Foundation, founded by Art Pope. Pope, not a fan of renewable energy, was very active in the 2010 state elections, spending $2.2 million to elect a Tea Party-fueled GOP takeover of the state legislature.

Passed in 2007 with bipartisan support, the state's renewable energy standard required utilities to use increasing amounts of renewable energy. The clean energy industry has since created thousands of North Carolina jobs and pumped billions into the economy. North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to achieve a renewable energy standard. It is not just solar panel and wind turbines that support the bill. Prestige Farms is a turkey and pork processor, and opposed Hager's bill because it would jeopardize the construction of a waste-to-energy plant in eastern North Carolina.

Hager's own committee did reject his bill 18-13, yet the bill is technically still alive. Hager could try to make changes to the bill to revive it, though those changes would have to be significant.

Below the fold is an infographic on the renewable energy industry in North Carolina, which explains why the RES is so important:


The Charlotte News & Observer reports on why key Republicans voted to repeal Hager's bill: "Those who voted against it said the program had added jobs in their districts and recruited businesses to the state during a severe economic downturn. Since its adoption in 2007, the state's renewables policy has turned North Carolina in the nation's fifth-largest developer of solar energy. 'It was based off local issues back home,' said Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, who also chairs the powerful House Rules Committee. 'I would have had a difficult time talking to a CEO who just brought 300 jobs to Cleveland County that I'm going to vote to eliminate this program that justified their investment.'"



NY State Senate Passes Major Solar Energy Bill Extending Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative

Pierre Bull, Policy Analyst, Air & Energy, New York City
The New York State Senate today passed legislation to extend Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative through 2023 and solidify the state's long-term commitment to solar energy. Today's bipartisan vote for the New York Solar Bill (S.2522) indicates growing support among lawmakers for delivering comprehensive solar policy to Governor Cuomo's desk this legislative session.
Here's what Governor Cuomo had to say about extending the NY-Sun Initiative back in his January 2013 State of the State Address:
The long-term commitment to solar energy represented by NY-Sun will make New York State a leader nationally in solar development.
Hear hear!
About the New York Solar Bill (NY-Sun Act)
The New York Solar Bill (NY-Sun Act) would build on the success of the NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership designed to drive growth in the state's solar industry and lower solar costs for homes, businesses, schools and other energy users. As a press release from Cuomo's office puts it:
Program certainty is critical to developers in attracting significant private sector investment in solar photovoltaic systems. Therefore, expanding the NY-Sun program will support the growth of the solar industry across the state by providing stable and dependable funding of $150 million per year for the next ten years. By funding NY-Sun for the next decade, the state is enabling the sustainable development of a robust solar power industry in New York, creating well-paying skilled jobs, improving the reliability of the electric grid and reducing air pollution.
Sponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R-C, Newfane) and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D- Setauket), the bill is expected to deliver the following benefits:
  • Build at least 2,200 megawatts (MW) of solar, according to our own estimates; that is enough clean, reliable electricity to power 400,000 New York homes. (New York currently ranks 12th in the country for total installed solar capacity.)
  • Create thousands of new local jobs in New York. (3,300 New Yorkers are employed in the state's growing solar industry.)
  • Save New Yorkers billions by reducing the need to fire up our (and out-of-state imports) of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil power plants.
  • Spur millions of dollars of investment in the state's growing clean energy economy.
The NY-Sun Initiative Performance To-Date
Since the NY-Sun Program's successful launch over a year ago, which this new bill will build upon, the amount of solar in New York has tripled, surpassing the interim goal of the program (which was to double solar in New York from 2011 to 2012). A total of 190 MW of customer-sited solar capacity-enough to power over 34,000 homes-has either been installed or was under development at the end of last year thanks to this program.
The chart below from NYSERDA's annual performance review of the New York Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) shows more detail on just how much solar is coming online.
NY-Sun Program performance chart
Table 8. New York State Customer-Sited PV Capacity Additions in 2012 [MW]
And now fast forward just a mere 120 days, and the state is on track to meeting Governor Cuomo's latest solar goal, this time to "quadruple the 2011 [megawatt-based amount of] installations in 2013." In just the first four months of the year, at least an additional 50 megawatts are now contracted to be built in New York State.
Given the promise for the solar industry in the state-along with the economic and climate change-combating benefits that come with it-it's no surprise that the NY-Sun Act has support from a coalition of businesses, trade associations and environmental groups.
Sunny days are indeed ahead for New York with the NY-Sun Act. Onto the Assembly!



Natural Gas As Vehicle Fuel: Why Trucks Make More Sense Than Cars

Natural gas passenger cars have never really taken off in the U.S. like some thought they might. While the fuel is hugely popular in countries like Brazil, gasoline has always reigned supreme in North America. Or diesel, if you're a long-haul trucker--though that could be about to change. Natural gas is already becoming a major power source across...



Why Russia Chooses Natural Gas (CNG) Over Plug-In Vehicles

It's cost. End of story. Okay, we'll fill it in with some details. Russia is believed to be the world's second largest "producer" of natural gas, behind only the US. Thus, natural gas is cheap in Russia. Reports vary, but it's believed that natural gas costs roughly $2 less than gasoline per comparative (the cost [...]


Honda to build wind farm to cover 100% of electricity needs of Brazil plant

Honda Automoveis do Brasil Ltda. (HAB), the Honda automobile production and sales subsidiary in Brazil, will build a wind farm in the city of Xangri-lá in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil-approximately 1,000 km (621 miles) south of HAB's automobile production plant in Sumaré, São Paulo. Equipped with nine wind power turbine units, the wind farm is expected to generate approximately 85,000 MWh of electricity per year, equivalent to HAB's annual electricity needs for automobile production.

HAB will be the first automobile manufacturer in Brazil to invest in wind power generation. Operation is due to begin in September 2014.

By generating renewable energy to cover the entire electricity needs of the plant, HAB is expecting to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately more than 2,200 t annually. The total investment in this wind farm is expected to be approximately 100 million Brazilian reais (approximately US$50 million).

In order to evolve wind power generation business in Brazil, HAB established a new subsidiary, Honda Energy do Brasil Ltda., specialized in wind power generation business. Honda Energy do Brasil Ltda. will be responsible for the management and operation of all areas related to Honda's wind power generation business in Brazil.



Obama Administration announces 21M-acre oil and gas lease sale offshore Texas

The US Department of the Interior will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.

Proposed Lease Sale 233, scheduled to take place in New Orleans in August, will be the third offshore auction under the Administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program). The sale builds on the first two auctions in the current Five Year Program-a 39-million-acre sale held in March, which attracted more than $1.2 billion in high bids and a 20-million-acre sale held last November that netted nearly $134 million.

The Gulf of Mexico is a cornerstone of the United States' energy portfolio.

- Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

Lease Sale 233 will include 3,953 blocks, covering about 21.1 million acres, located from nine to 250 miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (5 to 3,346 meters). BOEM estimates the proposed sale could result in the production of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

BOEM published a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to update the environmental analysis completed for proposed Lease Sale 233 and other Western and Central Gulf of Mexico lease sales scheduled under the current Five Year Program.

The proposed terms of this sale include conditions to ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the human, marine and coastal environments. These include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development and other uses in the region.

BOEM's proposed economic terms include the same range of incentives to encourage diligent development and ensure a fair return to taxpayers as used in previous sales, with one exception. The provision for deep gas royalty relief under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) will sunset on May 3, 2013, and, therefore, will not be offered. Ultra-deep gas royalty relief required under EPAct will still be available.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Spilling Fields: How BP Made The Gulf Oil Disaster More Toxic While Covering It Up

US Air Force photo of C-130 spraying Corexit onto BP spill

Mark Hertsgaard has a must-read piece in Newsweek on how "The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill was even worse than BP wanted us to know." His piece is about the dangers created by the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit used to "clean up" the 210 million gallons of Louisiana crude BP negligently spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

Hertsgaard summarizes his piece as follows:

A secret internal manual that BP buried demonstrates that BP sacrificed the health of clean-up workers, local residents and Gulf ecosystems for its public relations goal of making the massive oil spill disappear, at least from TV screens. Sadly, most of the world's media-including, I regret to say, yours truly- got snookered by this cover-up, which I believe is a large part of the reason why the Gulf catastrophe, which President Obama at the time called "the worst environmental disaster in American history," has been largely forgotten and oil industry practices have not been significantly reformed.

Back in 2010, I interviewed one of the leading experts on the environmental impact of chemically dispersing oil for a piece in Salon headlined "Is BP's remedy for the spill only making it worse?" As the Climate Progress story on it noted, "BP's dispersants are toxic - but not as toxic as dispersed oil."

Then, in 2011, we ran a piece on how "Corexit Makes Oil Spills Worse, Not Better, Scientists Find."

Hertsgaard takes the story to the next level, concluding:

And so the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history has been whitewashed-its true dimensions obscured, its victims forgotten, its lessons ignored. Who says cover-ups never work?

Here is the whole piece:

What BP Doesn't Want You to Know About the 2010 Gulf Spill

by Mark Hertsgaard

"It's as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid." That's what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the "floating hotel" where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the workers were tracking the gunk inside on their boots. Griffin, as chief cook and maid, was trying to clean it. But even boiling water didn't work.

"The BP representative said, 'Jamie, just mop it like you'd mop any other dirty floor,'" Griffin recalls in her Louisiana drawl.

It was the opening weeks of what everyone, echoing President Barack Obama, was calling "the worst environmental disaster in American history." At 9:45 p.m. local time on April 20, 2010, a fiery explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had killed 11 workers and injured 17. One mile underwater, the Macondo well had blown apart, unleashing a gusher of oil into the gulf. At risk were fishing areas that supplied one-third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., beaches from Texas to Florida that drew billions of dollars' worth of tourism to local economies, and Obama's chances of reelection. Republicans were blaming him for mishandling the disaster, his poll numbers were falling, even his 11-year-old daughter was demanding, "Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?"

Griffin did as she was told: "I tried Pine-Sol, bleach, I even tried Dawn on those floors." As she scrubbed, the mix of cleanser and gunk occasionally splashed onto her arms and face.

Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. "My throat felt like I'd swallowed razor blades," she says.

Then things got much worse.

Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory. After cooking professionally for 10 years, she couldn't remember the recipe for vegetable soup; one morning, she got in the car to go to work, only to discover she hadn't put on pants. The right side, but only the right side, of her body "started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled - my ankle would get as wide as my calf - and my skin got incredibly itchy."

"These are the same symptoms experienced by soldiers who returned from the Persian Gulf War with Gulf War syndrome," says Michael Robichaux, a Louisiana physician and former state senator, who treated Griffin and 113 other patients with similar complaints. As a general practitioner, Robichaux says he had "never seen this grouping of symptoms together: skin problems, neurological impairments, plus pulmonary problems." Only months later, after Kaye H. Kilburn, a former professor of medicine at the University of Southern California and one of the nation's leading environmental health experts, came to Louisiana and tested 14 of Robichaux's patients did the two physicians make the connection with Gulf War syndrome, the malady that afflicted an estimated 250,000 veterans of that war with a mysterious combination of fatigue, skin inflammation, and cognitive problems.

Meanwhile, the well kept hemorrhaging oil. The world watched with bated breath as BP failed in one attempt after another to stop the leak. An agonizing 87 days passed before the well was finally plugged on July 15. By then, 210 million gallons of Louisiana sweet crude had escaped into the Gulf of Mexico, according to government estimates, making the BP disaster the largest accidental oil leak in world history.

Yet three years later, the BP disaster has been largely forgotten, both overseas and in the U.S. Popular anger has cooled. The media have moved on. Today, only the business press offers serious coverage of what the Financial Times calls "the trial of the century" - the trial now underway in New Orleans, where BP faces tens of billions of dollars in potential penalties for the disaster. As for Obama, the same president who early in the BP crisis blasted the "scandalously close relationship" between oil companies and government regulators two years later ran for reelection boasting about how much new oil and gas development his administration had approved.

Such collective amnesia may seem surprising, but there may be a good explanation for it: BP mounted a cover-up that concealed the full extent of its crimes from public view. This cover-up prevented the media and therefore the public from knowing - and above all, seeing - just how much oil was gushing into the gulf. The disaster appeared much less extensive and destructive than it actually was. BP declined to comment for this article.

That BP lied about the amount of oil it discharged into the gulf is already established. Lying to Congress about that was one of 14 felonies to which BP pleaded guilty last year in a legal settlement with the Justice Department that included a $4.5 billion fine, the largest fine ever levied against a corporation in the U.S.

What has not been revealed until now is how BP hid that massive amount of oil from TV cameras and the price that this "disappearing act" imposed on cleanup workers, coastal residents, and the ecosystem of the gulf. That story can now be told because an anonymous whistleblower has provided evidence that BP was warned in advance about the safety risks of attempting to cover up its leaking oil. Nevertheless, BP proceeded. Furthermore, BP appears to have withheld these safety warnings, as well as protective measures, both from the thousands of workers hired for the cleanup and from the millions of Gulf Coast residents who stood to be affected.

The financial implications are enormous. The trial now under way in New Orleans is wrestling with whether BP was guilty of "negligence" or "gross negligence" for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. If found guilty of "negligence," BP would be fined, under the Clean Water Act, $1,100 for each barrel of oil that leaked. But if found guilty of "gross negligence"-which a cover-up would seem to imply - BP would be fined $4,300 per barrel, almost four times as much, for a total of $17.5 billion. That large a fine, combined with an additional $34 billion that the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are seeking, could have a powerful effect on BP's economic health.

Yet the most astonishing thing about BP's cover-up? It was carried out in plain sight, right in front of the world's uncomprehending news media (including, I regret to say, this reporter).

The chief instrument of BP's cover-up was the same substance that apparently sickened Jamie Griffin and countless other cleanup workers and local residents. Its brand name is Corexit, but most news reports at the time referred to it simply as a "dispersant." Its function was to attach itself to leaked oil, break it into droplets, and disperse them into the vast reaches of the gulf, thereby keeping the oil from reaching Gulf Coast shorelines. And the Corexit did largely achieve this goal.

But the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit that BP applied during the cleanup also served a public-relations purpose: They made the oil spill all but disappear, at least from TV screens. By late July 2010, the Associated Press and The New York Times were questioning whether the spill had been such a big deal after all. Time went so far as to assert that right-wing talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh "has a point" when he accused journalists and environmentalists of exaggerating the crisis.

But BP had a problem: It had lied about how safe Corexit is, and proof of its dishonesty would eventually fall into the hands of the Government Accountability Project, the premiere whistleblower-protection group in the U.S. The proof? A technical manual BP had received from NALCO, the firm that supplied the Corexit that BP used in the gulf.

An electronic copy of that manual is included in a new report GAP has issued, "Deadly Dispersants in the Gulf." On the basis of interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, scientists, and Gulf Coast residents, GAP concludes that the health impacts endured by Griffin were visited upon many other locals as well. What's more, the combination of Corexit and crude oil also caused terrible damage to gulf wildlife and ecosystems, including an unprecedented number of seafood mutations; declines of up to 80 percent in seafood catch; and massive die-offs of the microscopic life-forms at the base of the marine food chain. GAP warns that BP and the U.S. government nevertheless appear poised to repeat the exercise after the next major oil spill: "As a result of Corexit's perceived success, Corexit ... has become the dispersant of choice in the U.S. to 'clean up' oil spills."

BP's cover-up was not planned in advance but devised in the heat of the moment as the oil giant scrambled to limit the PR and other damages of the disaster. Indeed, one of the chief scandals of the disaster is just how unprepared both BP and federal and state authorities were for an oil leak of this magnitude. U.S. law required that a response plan be in place before drilling began, but the plan was embarrassingly flawed.

"We weren't managing for actual risk; we were checking a box," says Mark Davis, director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at Tulane University. "That's how we ended up with a response plan that included provisions for dealing with the impacts to walruses: because [BP] copied word for word the response plans that had been developed after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill [in Alaska, in 1989] instead of a plan tailored to the conditions in the gulf."

As days turned into weeks and it became obvious that no one knew how to plug the gushing well, BP began insisting that Corexit be used to disperse the leaking oil. This triggered alarms from scientists and from a leading environmental NGO in Louisiana, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN).

The group's scientific adviser, Wilma Subra, a chemist whose work on environmental pollution had won her a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, told state and federal authorities that she was especially concerned about how dangerous the mixture of crude and Corexit was: "The short-term health symptoms include acute respiratory problems, skin rashes, cardiovascular impacts, gastrointestinal impacts, and short-term loss of memory," she told GAP investigators. "Long-term impacts include cancer, decreased lung function, liver damage, and kidney damage."

(Nineteen months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a scientific study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution found that crude oil becomes 52 times more toxic when combined with Corexit.)

BP even rebuffed a direct request from the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, who wrote BP a letter on May 19, asking the company to deploy a less toxic dispersant in the cleanup. Jackson could only ask BP to do this; she could not legally require it. Why? Because use of Corexit had been authorized years before under the federal Oil Pollution Act.

In a recent interview, Jackson explains that she and other officials "had to determine, with less-than-perfect scientific testing and data, whether use of dispersants would, despite potential side effects, improve the overall situation in the gulf and coastal ecosystems. The tradeoff, as I have said many times, was potential damage in the deep water versus the potential for larger amounts of undispersed oil in the ecologically rich coastal shallows and estuaries." She adds that the presidential commission that later studied the BP oil disaster did not fault the decision to use dispersants.

Knowing that EPA lacked the authority to stop it, BP wrote back to Jackson on May 20, declaring that Corexit was safe. What's more, BP wrote, there was a ready supply of Corexit, which was not the case with alternative dispersants. (A NALCO plant was located just 30 miles west of New Orleans.)

But Corexit was decidedly not safe without taking proper precautions, as the manual BP got from NALCO spelled out in black and white. The "Vessel Captains Hazard Communication" resource manual, which GAP shared with me, looks innocuous enough. A three-ring binder with a black plastic cover, the manual contained 61 sheets, each wrapped in plastic, that detailed the scientific properties of the two types of Corexit that BP was buying, as well as their health hazards and recommended measures against those hazards.

BP applied two types of Corexit in the gulf. The first, Corexit 9527, was considerably more toxic. According to the NALCO manual, Corexit 9527 is an "eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure ... may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver." The manual adds: "Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects." It advises, "Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing," and "Wear suitable protective clothing."

When available supplies of Corexit 9527 were exhausted early in the cleanup, BP switched to the second type of dispersant, Corexit 9500. In its recommendations for dealing with Corexit 9500, the NALCO manual advised, "Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing," "Avoid breathing vapor," and "Wear suitable protective clothing."

It's standard procedure - and required by U.S. law - for companies to distribute this kind of information to any work site where hazardous materials are present so workers can know about the dangers they face and how to protect themselves. But interviews with numerous cleanup workers suggest that this legally required precaution was rarely if ever followed during the BP cleanup. Instead, it appears that BP told NALCO to stop including the manuals with the Corexit that NALCO was delivering to cleanup work sites.

"It's my understanding that some manuals were sent out with the shipments of Corexit in the beginning [of the cleanup]," the anonymous source tells me. "Then, BP told NALCO to stop sending them. So NALCO was left with a roomful of unused binders."

Roman Blahoski, NALCO's director of global communications, says: "NALCO responded to requests for its pre-approved dispersants from those charged with protecting the gulf and mitigating the environmental, health, and economic impact of this event. NALCO was never involved in decisions relating to the use, volume, and application of its dispersant."

Misrepresenting the safety of Corexit went hand in hand with BP's previously noted lie about how much oil was leaking from the Macondo well. As reported by John Rudolf in The Huffington Post, internal BP emails show that BP privately estimated that "the runaway well could be leaking from 62,000 barrels a day to 146,000 barrels a day." Meanwhile, BP officials were telling the government and the media that only 5,000 barrels a day were leaking.

In short, applying Corexit enabled BP to mask the fact that a much larger amount of oil was actually leaking into the gulf. "Like any good magician, the oil industry has learned that if you can't see something that was there, it must have 'disappeared,'" Scott Porter, a scientist and deep-sea diver who consults for oil companies and oystermen, says in the GAP report. "Oil companies have also learned that, in the public mind, 'out of sight equals out of mind.' Therefore, they have chosen crude oil dispersants as the primary tool for handling large marine oil spills."

BP also had a more direct financial interest in using Corexit, argues Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, whose members include not only shrimpers but fishermen of all sorts. As it happens, local fishermen constituted a significant portion of BP's cleanup force (which numbered as many as 47,000 workers at the height of the cleanup). Because the spill caused the closure of their fishing grounds, BP and state and federal authorities established the Vessels of Opportunity (VoO) program, in which BP paid fishermen to take their boats out and skim, burn, and otherwise get rid of leaked oil. Applying dispersants, Guidry points out, reduced the total volume of oil that could be traced back to BP.

"The next phase of this trial [against BP] is going to turn on how much oil was leaked," Guidry tells me. [If found guilty, BP will be fined a certain amount for each barrel of oil judged to have leaked.] "So hiding the oil with Corexit worked not only to hide the size of the spill but also to lower the amount of oil that BP may get charged for releasing."

Not only did BP fail to inform workers of the potential hazards of Corexit and to provide them with safety training and protective gear, according to interviews with dozens of cleanup workers, the company also allegedly threatened to fire workers who complained about the lack of respirators and protective clothing.

"I worked with probably a couple hundred different fishermen on the [cleanup]," Acy Cooper, Guidry's second in command, tells me in Venice, the coastal town from which many VoO vessels departed. "Not one of them got any safety information or training concerning the toxic materials they encountered." Cooper says that BP did provide workers with body suits and gloves designed for handling hazardous materials. "But when I'd talk with [the BP representative] about getting my guys respirators and air monitors, I'd never get any response."

Roughly 58 percent of the 1.84 million gallons of Corexit used in the cleanup was sprayed onto the gulf from C-130 airplanes. The spray sometimes ended up hitting cleanup workers in the face.

"Our boat was sprayed four times," says Jorey Danos, a 32-year-old father of three who suffered racking coughing fits, severe fatigue, and memory loss after working on the BP cleanup. "I could see the stuff coming out of the plane - like a shower of mist, a smoky color. I could see [it] coming at me, but there was nothing I could do."

"The next day," Danos continues, "when the BP rep came around on his speed boat, I asked, 'Hey, what's the deal with that stuff that was coming out of those planes yesterday?' He told me, 'Don't worry about it.' I said, 'Man, that s-t was burning my face - it ain't right.' He said, 'Don't worry about it.' I said, 'Well, could we get some respirators or something, because that s-t is bad.' He said, 'No, that wouldn't look good to the media. You got two choices: You can either be relieved of your duties or you can deal with it.'"

Perhaps the single most hazardous chemical compound found in Corexit 9527 is 2-Butoxyethanol, a substance that had been linked to cancers and other health impacts among cleanup workers on the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska. According to BP's own data, 20 percent of offshore workers in the gulf had levels of 2-Butoxyethanol two times higher than the level certified as safe by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Cleanup workers were not the only victims; coastal residents also suffered. "My 2-year-old grandson and I would play out in the yard," says Shirley Tillman of the Mississippi coastal town Pass Christian. "You could smell oil and stuff in the air, but on the news they were saying it's fine, don't worry. Well, by October, he was one sick little fellow. All of a sudden, this very active little 2-year-old was constantly sick. He was having headaches, upper respiratory infections, earaches. The night of his birthday party, his parents had to rush him to the emergency room. He went to nine different doctors, but they treated just the symptoms; they're not toxicologists."

"It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." Ever since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, that's been the mantra. Cover-ups don't work, goes the argument. They only dig a deeper hole, because the truth eventually comes out.

But does it?

GAP investigators were hopeful that obtaining the NALCO manual might persuade BP to meet with them, and it did. On July 10, 2012, BP hosted a private meeting at its Houston offices. Presiding over the meeting, which is described here publicly for the first time, was BP's public ombudsman, Stanley Sporkin, joining by telephone from Washington. Ironically, Sporkin had made his professional reputation during the Watergate scandal. As a lawyer with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sporkin investigated illegal corporate payments to the slush fund that President Nixon used to buy the silence of the Watergate burglars.

Also attending the meeting were two senior BP attorneys; BP Vice President Luke Keller; other BP officials; Thomas Devine, GAP's senior attorney on the BP case; Shanna Devine, GAP's investigator on the case; Michael Robichaux; Wilma Subra; and Marylee Orr, the executive director of LEAN. The following account is based on my interviews with Thomas Devine, Robichaux, Subra, and Orr. BP declined to comment.

BP officials had previously confirmed the authenticity of the NALCO manual, says Thomas Devine, but now they refused to discuss it, even though this had been one of the stated purposes for the meeting. Nor would BP address the allegation, made by the whistleblower who had given the manual to GAP, that BP had ordered the manual withheld from cleanup work sites, perhaps to maintain the fiction that Corexit was safe.

"They opened the meeting with this upbeat presentation about how seriously they took their responsibilities for the spill and all the wonderful things they were doing to make things right," says Devine. "When it was my turn to speak, I said that the manual our whistleblower had provided contradicted what they just said. I asked whether they had ordered the manual withdrawn from work sites. Their attorneys said that was a matter they would not discuss because of the pending litigation on the spill." [Disclosure: Thomas Devine is a friend of this reporter.]

The visitors' top priority was to get BP to agree not to use Corexit in the future. Keller said that Corexit was still authorized for use by the U.S. government and BP would indeed feel free to use it against any future oil spills.

A second priority was to get BP to provide medical treatment for Jamie Griffin and the many other apparent victims of Corexit-and-crude poisoning. This request too was refused by BP.

Robichaux doubts his patients will receive proper compensation from the $7.8 billion settlement BP reached in 2012 with the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, 19 court-appointed attorneys who represent the hundreds of individuals and entities that have sued BP for damages related to the gulf disaster. "Nine of the most common symptoms of my patients do not appear on the list of illnesses that settlement says can be compensated, including memory loss, fatigue, and joint and muscular pain," says Robichaux. "So how are the attorneys going to file suits on behalf of those victims?"

At one level, BP's cover-up of the gulf oil disaster speaks to the enormous power that giant corporations exercise in modern society, and how unable, or unwilling, governments are to limit that power. To be sure, BP has not entirely escaped censure for its actions; depending on the outcome of the trial now under way in New Orleans, the company could end up paying tens of billions of dollars in fines and damages over and above the $4.5 billion imposed by the Justice Department in the settlement last year. But BP's reputation appears to have survived: Its market value as this article went to press was a tidy $132 billion, and few, if any, BP officials appear likely to face any legal repercussions. "If I would have killed 11 people, I'd be hanging from a noose," says Jorey Danos. "Not BP. It's the golden rule: The man with the gold makes the rules."

As unchastened as anyone at BP is Bob Dudley, the American who was catapulted into the CEO job a few weeks into the gulf disaster to replace Tony Hayward, whose propensity for imprudent comments - "I want my life back," the multimillionaire had pouted while thousands of gulf workers and residents were suffering - had made him a globally derided figure. Dudley told the annual BP shareholders meeting in London last week that Corexit "is effectively ... dishwashing soap," no more toxic than that, as all scientific studies supposedly showed. What's more, Dudley added, he himself had grown up in Mississippi and knows that the Gulf of Mexico is "an ecosystem that is used to oil."

Nor has the BP oil disaster triggered the kind of changes in law and public priorities one might have expected. "Not much has actually changed," says Mark Davis of Tulane. "It reflects just how wedded our country is to keeping the Gulf of Mexico producing oil and bringing it to our shores as cheaply as possible. Going forward, no one should assume that just because something really bad happened we're going to manage oil and gas production with greater sensitivity and wisdom. That will only happen if people get involved and compel both the industry and the government to be more diligent."

And so the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history has been whitewashed - its true dimensions obscured, its victims forgotten, its lessons ignored. Who says cover-ups never work?

- Mark Hertsgaard is the environment correspondent for The Nation, a fellow at the New America Foundation, and a cofounder of Climate Parents. His six books include "HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth." This piece was reposted at his request. The top image comes via Grist.



Over 20 Shale Gas Innovations Will Be Exhibited at Event

PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center will announce three winners of their Contest. Click on http://www.sgicc.org/75000-shale-gas-innovation-contest.html to register for this free event. ...

Add to digg



UPS to purchase ~700 LNG trucks, build 4 refueling stations by end of 2014

UPS plans to purchase approximately 700 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks and to build four refueling stations by the end of 2014. Once completed, the LNG private fleet will be one of the most extensive in the US.

An initial investment of more than $18 million to build fueling stations will be supported by the purchase of the 700 LNG tractors and continued expansion of the natural gas fleet in the US. UPS already operates 112 LNG tractor trailers from fueling stations in Las Vegas, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz., and Beaver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and has its own LNG fueling station on its property in Ontario, Calif.

New UPS-built fueling stations in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and Dallas, Texas, will serve its heavy-duty rigs traveling into adjacent states. With the addition of accessible LNG fueling stations, UPS also will add LNG trucks on routes from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas to further extend territory.

UPS was a founding Interstate Clean Transportation Corridor (ICTC) fleet partner, a group that established publicly accessible LNG fueling stations in California, Las Vegas, and Utah. The ICTC steering committee includes eight government and regulatory agencies at the local, state and national levels.

LNG is a good alternative to petroleum-based fuel for long-haul delivery fleets as it is abundant and produces reduced emissions at less cost. At UPS, we are helping to knock down some of the biggest hurdles to broad market acceptance of LNG in commercial transportation by continuing to establish vehicle demand, fuel and maintenance infrastructures. We plan expansion through infrastructure partnerships and a broader fleet in states that are leading the way to make alternative fuel vehicles economically feasible.

-Scott Davis, UPS Chairman and CEO

UPS has been operating natural gas vehicles for more than a decade. With natural gas prices 30-40% lower than imported diesel and US production gearing up, the logistics company is investing more aggressively in the natural gas infrastructure necessary to make it part of the UPS delivery network here. Beyond favorable fuel cost and domestic resource access, the industry cites 25% less CO2 emissions.

Worldwide UPS has more than 1,000 natural gas vehicles on the road today. UPS's alternative fuel and advanced technology fleet of more than 2,600 vehicles also includes a wide array of low-emissions vehicles, including all-electrics, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, propane, compressed natural gas and biomethane. Since 2000, the fleet powered by alternative fuels and technologies has driven more than 295 million miles.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Energy Department Announces New Innovative Projects to Develop Advanced Drop-in Biofuels for Military Jets and Ships

April 22, 2013
Energy Department Announces New Innovative Projects to Develop Advanced Drop-in Biofuels for Military Jets and Ships

$18 million in four innovative pilot-scale biorefineries in California, Iowa and Washington that will test renewable biofuels as a domestic alternative to power our cars, trucks, and planes that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel



Friday, April 19, 2013

Carbon Bubble Will Plunge the World Into Another Financial Crisis - Report

Trillions of dollars at risk as stock markets inflate value of fossil fuels that may have to remain buried forever, experts warn.


The world could be heading for a major economic crisis as stock markets inflate an investment bubble in fossil fuels to the tune of trillions of dollars, according to leading economists.

"The financial crisis has shown what happens when risks accumulate unnoticed," said Lord (Nicholas) Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics. He said the risk was "very big indeed" and that almost all investors and regulators were failing to address it.

The so-called "carbon bubble" is the result of an over-valuation of oil, coal and gas reserves held by fossil fuel companies. According to a report published on Friday, at least two-thirds of these reserves will have to remain underground if the world is to meet existing internationally agreed targets to avoid the threshold for "dangerous" climate change. If the agreements hold, these reserves will be in effect unburnable and so worthless - leading to massive market losses. But the stock markets are betting on countries' inaction on climate change.

To keep reading, click here.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

GE Unveils LNG In A BoxTM System; Gasfin Selects New Technology for Fueling Stations in Europe

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE Oil & Gas today introduced the LNG In A Box system, a small-scale, plug-and-play, re-deployable liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling solution that can help accelerate the use of natural gas. ...

Add to digg

< style='width:100%;height:100%;max-width:100%;'>

image/jpeg http://www.pheedo.com/e/577d5e9b03d7d1835bada63145262dba/GE_logo.jpg



GE unveils LNG In A Box system

GE Oil & Gas introduced the LNG In A Box system, a small-scale, plug-and-play, re-deployable liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling solution based on proven technology that can help accelerate the use of natural gas as a cost-effective, cleaner transportation fuel.

The world's first commercial application of the LNG In A Box system will be for LNG fueling stations in Europe to be delivered by Luxembourg-based LNG firm Gasfin through its operating company AIR-LNG, GE announced at the 17th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG-17) in Houston.

Each LNG In A Box unit is fully equipped with a gas pre-treatment system, cold box assembly and boil off gas compressor as well as a GE's turboexpander compressor, high-speed reciprocating compressor, electric motor, driver and control system. LNG In A Box units for Gasfin will be manufactured in the United States and will be shipped to Gasfin's LNG fueling sites in Europe.

Gasfin signed a memorandum of understanding with GE to install five LNG In A Box units serving "clusters" of LNG fueling stations. The first unit will be installed near the border of Italy and Slovenia, with the potential for an additional 25 units for expansion into Europe and the CIS countries.

In comparison to GE's Micro LNG plant announced last year (earlier post), this new system offers customers a more standardized, modular fueling solution covering an LNG production range of 10,000 - 50,000 gallons a day (16-18 tons/day). It expands GE's existing LNG portfolio and is the first available in a 10,000-gallons-a-day capacity that reduces demand-side adoption risk and requires a low CapEx and OpEx commitment.

Small-scale solutions such as the LNG In A Box system may encourage the transition of long-haul trucks from diesel fuel to LNG, GE suggests. In the case of North America, fuel savings may yield a three-year payback based on current fuel prices.

The small-scale solution also is economically suited for customers seeking a 10-50,000-gallons-a-day production capacity. Typical LNG tanks for heavy-duty vehicles hold an average of 70-150 gallons (110-240 kg), so one 10,000-gallon-a-day (17 tons/day) system would be able to fuel up to 100 trucks per day.

Previously introduced GE products include the CNG In A Box system (earlier post), a fully integrated compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling supply system offering cost-effective plug-and-play simplicity for fleet and retail fueling stations that provide CNG fuel; and the Micro LNG plant to power remote industrial locations and for fueling long haul trucks and locomotives running on LNG in the future.



World's energy 'as dirty now as 20 years ago', IEA says

Progress towards the use of cleaner fuel technology has stalled, with production of the world's energy as "dirty" now as it was two decades ago, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.



Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Peak Oil News: 4/16/13

Website: http://MrEnergyCzar.com This is Peak Oil News. I'm your host, MrEnergyCzar. We're covering Peak Oil, Renewable Energy, Electric Cars and everything ...


Credit: mrenergyczar


Monday, April 15, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Nevada deploys first US commercial, grid-connected enhanced geothermal system


Outlook for shale gas and tight oil development in the U.S.



May 2013 PSERC Webinar: Managing Wind Variability with Self-Reserves and Responsive Demand

April 12, 2013
May 2013 PSERC Webinar: Managing Wind Variability with Self-Reserves and Responsive Demand

The DOE-funded Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC) is offering a free public webinar on managing wind variability in energy production. The webinar will be held Tuesday, May 7, 2013 from 2-3 p.m. No pre-registration is necessary.



Nevada Deploys First U.S. Commercial, Grid-Connected Enhanced Geothermal System

April 12, 2013
Nevada Deploys First U.S. Commercial, Grid-Connected Enhanced Geothermal System

As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Energy Department recognized the nation's first commercial enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project to supply electricity to the grid.




Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First Solar shares soar almost 50% on outlook, efficiency records, acquisition

Solar thin film leader First Solar saw its shares zoom almost 50 percent on rosy guidance for 2013, new records for efficient solar cells and news that the company acquired solar panel tech company TetraSun. Marketwatch reported that the stock rallied so much that it "triggered Nasdaq circuit breakers" (which pauses trades if a stock moves more than 10 percent in five minutes) and trading of First Solar's stock "was halted five times." First Sola ...

First Solar Topaz



Why First Solar is buying a silicon solar cell startup no one's heard of

First Solar is buying an under-the-radar startup called TetraSun to add expertise around silicon solar cell manufacturing to its technology portfolio, which until now has focused on using the material cadmium telluride to make solar cells. The Arizona-based thin film solar giant announced the pending acquisition on Tuesday during its analyst day - its first since 2009 - in which it laid out a persuasive technology and business development plan fo ...

Courtesy of Southern California Edison

< style='width:100%;height:100%;max-width:100%;'>

application/pdf http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/OmMalik/~5/tUI4H5V7qR4/50853.pdf



Martifer Solar completes a utility scale solar PV plant cluster in the UK with a total capacity of 28.1 MWp

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Martifer Solar (http://www.martifersolar.com), a subsidiary of Martifer SGPS, developed a cluster of utility scale photovoltaic plants totaling 28.1 MWp in the United Kingdom. This is one of the largest clusters of utility scale solar PV plants ever built simultaneously in the country to date. As a testament to the superb engineering skills and experience of Martifer Solar, the construction of this cluster was complet ...

Add to digg



First Solar Sets CdTe Module Efficiency World Record, Launches Series 3 Black Module

TEMPE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First Solar set a new record for CdTe PV solar modules, achieving 16.1%, and announced its new Series 3 Back solar module. ...

Add to digg

< style='width:100%;height:100%;max-width:100%;'>

image/jpeg http://www.pheedo.com/e/e9edc623774f8dfa68346779542d323b/FSLogo_RGB_DISPLAY_LRG_2012.jpg



First Solar to Acquire TetraSun to Expand Addressable Market Opportunity

TEMPE, Ariz. & SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--First Solar is acquiring TetraSun, which has developed a break-through cell architecture capable of conversion efficiencies exceeding 21% with costs comparable to multicrystalline silicon. ...

Add to digg

< style='width:100%;height:100%;max-width:100%;'>

image/jpeg http://www.pheedo.com/e/0d580a24438c275d6c61f979586c53fb/FSLogo_RGB_DISPLAY_LRG_2012.jpg



Monday, April 8, 2013

California Wind Power Blows Away Production Record

FOLSOM, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wind power is gaining speed. The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) reports a new record was set when turbines spinning within the ISO power grid combined to produce a new record of 4,196 megawatts (MW) at 6:44 p.m. on Sunday. The ISO is the main operator for the state's high voltage network, serving about 80 percent of the Golden State. On Friday, total wind levels surpassed the 4,000 MW mil ...

Add to digg

< style='width:100%;height:100%;max-width:100%;'>

image/jpeg http://www.pheedo.com/e/c7496eb663ea9b45605405544c6619a1/ISOLogo.jpg



New one-pot process for conversion of sugars to hydrocarbons

Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a one-pot process for the direct conversion of sugar and sugar polyols to n-alkanes. Their paper is featured on the cover of the journal ChemSusChem.

Click to enlarge.

High (≥95 % C) yields of n-hexane and n-pentane were obtained by hydrogenolysis of aqueous sorbitol and xylitol, respectively, at 413-443 K [140-170 °C] by using the Ir-ReOx/SiO2 catalyst combined with H-ZSM-5 as a cocatalyst and n-dodecane as a cosolvent. The direct production of n-hexane from glucose or cellobiose can be achieved by using the same system.

The catalyst can be reused simply by the removal of the n-dodecane phase, which contains the product alkane, and the addition of fresh n-dodecane and substrate.

-Tamura et al.

The catalyst is used selectively to cut off OH groups of biomass-derived compounds-such as sugar polyols-through hydrogenolysis, similar to a knife cutting off the skin of a pineapple.


  • Chen, K., Tamura, M., Yuan, Z., Nakagawa, Y. and Tomishige, K. (2013), One-Pot Conversion of Sugar and Sugar Polyols to n-Alkanes without CC Dissociation over the Ir-ReOx/SiO2 Catalyst Combined with H-ZSM-5. ChemSusChem, 6: 613-621. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201200940



Solar financing startup Clean Power Finance raises $37M from Google Ventures, Kleiner

There's one area of solar that is going gangbusters in 2013, and that's companies that are financing and installing solar panels on rooftops. On Monday morning solar financing startup Clean Power Finance announced that it has raised a round of $37 million in growth equity from investors including Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins and Claremont Creek Venture. Odds are, it's a pretty safe bet even for the venture capitalists that have been scared of ...

Eagle Roofing SolarBlend tiles2



Friday, April 5, 2013

Frackers Are Losing $1.5 Billion Yearly to Leaks

Leaky pipes are the "super low-hanging fruit" of climate change.
Sean Garrett/Flickr

Sean Garrett/Flickr

Of all the many and varied consequences of fracking (water contamination, injured workers, earthquakes, the list goes on) one of the least understood is so-called "fugitive" methane emissions. Methane is the primary ingredient of natural gas, and it escapes into the atmosphere at every stage of production: at wells, in processing plants, and in pipes on its way to your house. According to a new study, it could become one of the worst climate impacts of the fracking boom-and yet, it's one of the easiest to tackle right away. Best of all, fixing the leaks is good for the bottom line.

According to the World Resources Institute, natural gas producers allow $1.5 billion worth of methane to escape from their operations every year. That might sound like small change to an industry that drilled up some $66.5 billion worth of natural gas in 2012 alone, but it's a big deal for the climate: While methane only makes up 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (20 percent of which comes from cow farts), it packs a global warming punch 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

Courtesy WRI

Courtesy WRI

"Those leaks are everywhere," said WRI analyst James Bradbury, so fixing them would be "super low-hanging fruit."

The problem, he says, is that right now those emissions aren't directly regulated by the EPA. In President Obama's first term, the EPA set new requirements for capturing other types of pollutants that escape from fracked wells, using technology that also, incidentally, limits methane. But without a cap on methane itself, WRI finds, the potent gas is free to escape at incredible rates, principally from leaky pipelines. The scale of the problem is hard to overstate: The Energy Department found that leaking methane could ultimately make natural gas-which purports to be a "clean" fossil fuel-even more damaging than coal, and an earlier WRI study found that fixing methane leaks would be the single biggest step the US could take toward meeting its long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals.

What's more, the solution to the problem doesn't rely on some kind futuristic, expensive technology: It's literally a matter of patching up leaky pipes.

So what's the holdup? For one thing, Bradbury says, that $1.5 billion in savings wouldn't necessarily go to the companies making investments in fixing pipes: Gas inside a pipeline is owned by the producer, but the pipeline itself is owned by an independent operator who might not see any advantage in preventing methane leaks. The other issue is detection: Methane is colorless and can be odorless, so there's no way to know when it's escaping, where, and how fast, without special equipment. Gear to simplify the detection process is beginning to crop up on the market, but without a government mandate there's less incentive for companies to invest in it. And without hard data on much methane they're losing, companies are disinclined to address the problem-especially across all of the nation's 300,000 miles of natural gas pipelines.

Or simply unwilling: A recent (debunked) report from the American Natural Gas Alliance claims the methane emissions risk is way over-hyped; an industry spokesperson said current practices were already enough to ensure that "people don't need to trade protection of air, land and water for economic advancement."

This is where the EPA needs to step in, Bradbury says. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA could regulate all greenhouse gas emissions, which would cover not only methane but also the main climate change culprit, CO2. It could, at a minimum, require companies to monitor these emissions. And it could reward companies that take action via recognition in its fracking best-practices program, Natural Gas STAR. Finally, the EPA could provide better support to the state-level agencies that are ultimately responsible for enforcing Clean Air Act rules.

If the president is serious about tackling climate change from the Oval Office, Bradbury said, there could hardly be a better place to start than here.

"We need to be focused on solutions and not take a wait-and-see approach," he said. "You want to get these rules in place at the front end; we're already playing catch-up."




YPF and Dow to partner on shale gas in Vaca Muerte; first shale gas project in Argentina


Thursday, April 4, 2013

BrightSource's cancelled projects highlight hurdles for desert solar thermal plants

Solar thermal company BrightSource has seen two of its contracts - to sell power from its desert solar farms to utilities - cancelled since the beginning of 2013. The situation highlights the hurdles that such large solar thermal power plants face, while rooftop solar panels continue to drop in price and are increasingly being installed.

Solar thermal technology uses mirrors to concentrated the sun's rays to a liquid-filled collector point, which heats up and produces steam and powers a steam tubine, delivering electricity. Solar panels, on the other hand, convert sunlight directly into electricity.

This week utility PG&E and BrightSource agreed to mutually terminate agreements for PG&E to buy solar power from two 250 MW planned solar power plants, called Hidden Hills, located in Inyo County, near the Nevada border. The projects are estimated to cost a combined $2.6 billion, and the companies said the contract was terminated due to "challenges associated with the project schedule and uncertainty around the timing of transmission upgrades."

A crane placing a mirror into place at Ivanpah

BrightSource has been focused on adding energy storage technology to its projects, which would make its power plants more robust and be able to provide energy when the sun isn't shining. BrightSource says its Hidden Hills site is a good candidate for a solar farm with the storage technology, but that such a change would require an amendment to the permit application and a reopening of the record to go over the new layout and plan. Suspending the current application saves time and expense, BrightSource spokesperson Keely Wachs tells me.

Back in January utility Southern California Edison and BrightSource also agreed to terminate a contract for a 200 MW solar plant for its Rio Mesa 2 project near Blythe, California. The California Public Utilities Commission had denied an adjacent contract next to Rio Mesa 2 due to cost concerns last year, and BrightSource suspended permitting for both Rio Mesa 1 and 2 earlier this year.

There's three transmission lines at Ivanpah

There's three transmission lines at Ivanpah

BrightSource is completing its flagship solar thermal project called Ivanpah in the desert near Las Vegas this year. Wachs says that BrightSource is also currently focused on its Palen solar project in Riverside County, which has already been permitted by the California Energy Commission.

But still, the hurdles for BrightSource's solar power plant contracts illustrate some of the inherent difficulties with trying to build massive solar plants, filled with mirrors and trackers and towers. Such large solar farms need transmission lines to shuttle the power to the cities that will use it, but transmission lines can be controversial, expensive and take a very long time to deploy.

Environmental reports can also take many months and a lot of money. Protests from environmentalists have derailed, and added significant costs, to solar thermal projects.

While solar thermal projects face such hurdles, solar panels continue to drop in price and are being deployed at a rapid pace. As GigaOM Pro research analyst explained this week: "3313 megawatts came online in the U.S. in 2012, a 76 percent increase over 2011 with GTM Research predicting that we'll see continued growth up to 4300 megawatts this year." And in particular utility-scale solar panel projects grew 134 percent last year and accounted for more than half of installed solar.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.