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News articles on energy
Mongabay.com news articles on energy in blog format. Updated regularly.
(02/07/2008) Driven by booming economic growth and rapid urbanization, China's carbon dioxide emissions are surging. At the same time, forecasts suggest climate change will have an immense impact on the country, with rising sea levels projected to swamp key industrial areas and diminished rainfall reducing agricultural output. Given this outlook, a new policy paper published in Science argues that China will need to embark on a cleaner path to growth, one that is less dependent on coal. The authors say that international assistance in the form of carbon funds could help persuade Chinese leadership to move towards more environmentally-friendly energy technologies.
Biofuels are worsening global warming
(02/07/2008) Converting native ecosystems for production of biofuel feed stocks is worsening the greenhouse gas emissions they are intended to mitigate, reports a pair of studies published in the journal Science. The studies follow a series of reports that have linked ethanol and biodiesel production to increased carbon dioxide emissions, destruction of biodiverse forest and savanna habitats, and water and air pollution.
Sustainability mandated for biofuels used in the EU
(01/24/2008) Biofuels used in the European Union will have meet strict environmental requirements said the head of the E.U.'s energy program on Wednesday.
New program pays Canadians for energy efficiency gains
(01/20/2008) As I write this article, CBS News is having a Sunday evening prime-time, hour long special on global warming. What is alarming is both the extent of how bad the situation is for the planet, the impact on wildlife (e.g . Polar Bear populations dwindling dangerously low due to reduced glaciers) and the alleged refusal of certain governments to acknowledge both that there is a fact based problem and that we are running out of time to reduce its effects on the air we breathe, our environments, our forests and its wildlife population.
Could battery discovery make long-range electric cars viable?
(01/16/2008) A discovery by Stanford University researchers could extend the life of rechargeable lithium ion batteries ten-fold, potentially ushering in a new era of 40-hour laptop batteries and long-range electric cars.
Indonesia seeks to cut fuel subsidies via biofuels
(01/15/2008) Biofuels will make up 10 percent of Indonesia's fuel transport consumption by 2010 under a plan announced Monday by a senior government official, according to Reuters. The initiative could ease the economic impact of fuel subsidies - currently some of the highest in the world - in Indonesia, while boosting demand for locally produced bioenergy crops including palm oil, jatropha, sugar cane and cassava.
E.U. may ban palm oil biodiesel
(01/15/2008) The E.U. may ban imports of certain biofuel feedstocks that damage the environment, reports The New York Times. Environmentalists say some biofuels like palm oil are driving the destruction of biologically-rich rainforests and may produce more emissions than conventional fossil fuels.
Switchgrass a better biofuel source than corn
(01/07/2008) Switchgrass yields more than 540 percent more energy than the energy needed to produce and convert it to ethanol, making the grassy weed a far superior source for biofuels than corn ethanol, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Leading biofuels wreak environmental havoc
(01/03/2008) Biofuels made from world's dominant energy crops -- including corn, soy, and oil palm -- may have worse environment impacts than conventional fossil fuels, reports a study published in the journal Science.
New process turns chicken fat into biodiesel
(12/20/2007) Chemical engineers at the University of Arkansas have devised a way to convert chicken fat into biodiesel fuel. The process advances efforts to "develop commercially viable fuel out of plentiful, accessible and low-cost feedstocks and other agricultural by-products," according to the researchers.
Will carbon credits-for-forests scheme be undermined by carbon negative bioenergy?
(12/18/2007) The Indonesian government has signed an agreement with energy giant Total E&P Indonesia on a carbon capture and storage scheme that could eventually lead to the development of carbon negative bioenergy production in the southeast Asian country, reports Biopact. The deal raises fears that feedstock for production could lead to large-scale deforestation of the country's remaining forests and undermine efforts to push forest conservation-for-carbon credits (or REDD) initiatives.
35-mpg mileage target will save consumers $22 billion a year in gas costs
(12/03/2007) The recently passed 35-miles per gallon target for the U.S. car fleet will save American consumers $22 billion a year in gasoline costs assuming an average price of $2.55 according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. However price premiums on fuel-efficient technologies could eat into these savings, reports an article in the Wall Street Journal.
Deal reached on U.S. fuel-economy standards
(11/30/2007) U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement to boost fuel-economy standards of the nation's cars and light-duty trucks for the first time in more than 30 years.
Could the carbon market save the Amazon rainforest?
(11/29/2007) The global carbon market could play a key role in saving the Amazon from the effects of climate change and economic development, which could otherwise trigger dramatic ecological changes, reports a new paper published in Science. The authors argue that a well-articulated plan, financed by carbon markets, could prevent the worst outcomes for the Amazon forest while generating economic benefits for the region's inhabitants.
Google aims to make renewable energy sources cheaper than coal
(11/28/2007) Tuesday Google announced an initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal.
Cooking oil, palm oil biodiesel can reduce emissions relative to diesel
(11/28/2007) A lifecycle analysis of biodiesel by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) shows that using palm oil derived from existing plantations can be an effective biofuel feedstock for reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional diesel fuel. However, palm oil sourced from rainforest and peatlands generating emissions 8 to 21 times greater than those from diesel.
UN says palm oil destroys forests, indigenous cultures in Indonesia, Malaysia
(11/26/2007) Europe's demand for supposedly eco-friendly biodiesel is fueling destruction of biodiverse rainforests in southeast Asia, warns a new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Termites may produce cleaner biofuels
(11/23/2007) Termites may be the key to greener, more effective biofuels, report scientists writing in the November 22 edition of the journal Nature.
Is the oil-palm industry using global warming to mislead the public?
(11/23/2007) Members of the Indonesian Palm Oil Commission are distributing materials that misrepresent the carbon balance of oil-palm plantations, according to accounts from people who have seen presentations by commission members. These officials are apparently arguing that oil-palm plantations store and sequester many times the amount of CO2 as natural forests, and therefore that converting forests for plantations is the best way to fight climate change. In making such claims, these Indonesian representatives evidently are ignoring data that show the opposite, putting the credibility of the oil-palm industry at risk, and undermining efforts to slow deforestation and rein in greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind could supply baseline electrical power
(11/22/2007) Wind power, long considered to be as fickle as wind itself, can be groomed to become a steady, dependable source of electricity and delivered at a lower cost than at present, according to scientists at Stanford University.
New system tracks CO2 emissions of 50,000 power plants worldwide
(11/14/2007) A new online database allows users to track carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 50,000 power plants worldwide. The system, called CARMA—Carbon Monitoring for Action, was developed by the Center for Global Development (CGD), an policy and research group.
China begins blocking river for second largest dam
(11/12/2007) China began damming the Jinsha River for its biggest hydroelectric project after the Three Gorges Project, reports Chinese state media.
Planned logging of Woodlark Island for biofuels opposed by islanders and scientists
(11/12/2007) On Woodlark Island, one-hundred and seventy miles from Papua New Guinea, a struggle is occurring between islanders and biofuel company Vitroplant Ltd. The company is planning to clear much of the island's forest for oil palm plantations to produce biofuels. Vitorplant Ltd.'s contract specifies that they would deforest 60,000 hectares of land for plantations; Woodlark Island is 85,000 hectares in total, meaning over 70% of the island would be converted. Last week, one hundred islanders (out of a total population of 6,000) traveled to the capital of Milne Bay Province, Alotau, to voice their concern over the plans to turn their forested island into plantations.
Greenwashing the palm oil industry
(11/12/2007) A new report from Greenpeace alleges that members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil -- an industry-driven initiative to clean up palm oil production -- are using palm oil derived by clearing endangered rainforests and draining carbon-rich peatlands on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Oil palm does not store more carbon than forests
(11/08/2007) Officials from the Indonesian ministry of agriculture and the palm oil industry are distributing materials that misrepresent the carbon balance oil palm plantations, according to accounts from people who have seen presentations by members of the Indonesian Palm Oil Commission. Ministry of agricultural officials are apparently arguing that oil palm plantations store and sequester many times the amount of CO2 as natural forests and therefore converting forests for plantations is the best way to fight climate change. In making such claims, these Indonesian officials are ignoring data that show the opposite, putting the credibility of the oil palm industry at risk, and undermining efforts to slow deforestation and reign in greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon-negative bioenergy to cut global warming could drive deforestation
(11/06/2007) A proposed mechanism for generating carbon-negative bioenergy -- an energy source that reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide levels -- could drive large-scale deforestation in the tropics and undermine efforts to conserve forests for carbon offsets says a biofuel expert.
China's coal pollutes the U.S.
(11/04/2007) It takes five to 10 days for the pollution from China's coal-fired plants to make its way to the United States, like a slow-moving storm. It shows up as mercury in the bass and trout caught in Oregon's Willamette River. It increases cloud cover and raises ozone levels. And along the way, it contributes to acid rain in Japan and South Korea and health problems everywhere from Taiyuan to the United States. This is the dark side of the world's growing use of coal.
Dutch: no subsidies for biofuels-driven rainforest destruction
(10/31/2007) The Dutch government will exclude palm oil from "green energy" subsidies as growing evidence suggests that palm oil is often less sustainable than advertised.
Climate change will impact U.S. economy
(10/16/2007) Climate change will have a significant economic impact on the United States, reports a new study published by researchers from the University of Maryland. The report, The U.S. Economic Impacts of Climate Change and the Costs of Inaction, aggregates and analyzes previous economic research in order to develop a better estimate of the costs of climate change.
Biodiesel demand could destroy world's forests
(10/04/2007) Growing demand for biodiesel could drive large-scale forest conversion for energy crops, warns a study published in conservation Biology.
China urged to join sustainable soy efforts in the Amazon
(09/12/2007) Brazilian soy crushers have urged China to join an alliance to promote sustainable soybean production in the Amazon, according to Reuters. Brazil, soon to be the world's largest producer of soybeans, recently formed the Global Roundtable on Responsible Soy Association as concerns grow that global demand for biofuels will level the Amazon rainforest. Environmentalists say demand from China is playing an important role in surging soybean production in the region.
Carbon tax, not subsidies, will spur nuclear power
(09/09/2007) A U.S. carbon tax, not government subsidies, should be used to spur investment in nuclear power, says The Economist.
U.S. has 957 billion tons on government land
(09/05/2007) Wednesday, U.S. government agencies announced the country has about 957 billion tons in coal reserves on federal lands. More than half the total lies in Montana and Wyoming. Additional reserves are found on private lands.
Big companies push energy efficiency
(09/05/2007) Some of the world's largest companies are pushing green initiatives to improve energy efficiency in office buildings reports the Wall Street Journal.
Guidelines to ensure biofuels production won't hurt the environment
(08/30/2007) Environmentalists have long seen biofuels as a means to improve the sustainability of transportation and energy use since they are a renewable source of energy that can be replenished on an ongoing basis. Further, because biofuels are generally derived from plants, which absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, biofuel production offers the potential to help offset carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change. Nonetheless, in recent years, there has been considerable backlash against biofuels, which are increasingly viewed as a threat to the environment. Green groups now point to large-scale land conversion for energy crops, higher food prices, and a spate to studies that suggest net emissions from corn ethanol are little better than those from fossil fuels, to caution that biofuels can cause more problems than they address.
Business has to lead the Clean Up of the Enviroment
(08/30/2007) Though the next two and-a-bit years will remain in a sort of ecological standstill, the remaining century is going to be the boiling point for earth. Will it crumble in to a roiling mass of disaster or will we finally manage to remove such a deep imprint as we have made over the past 30 years in the next 10.
Wall Street looks at energy efficiency to boost profits
(08/27/2007) Today the Wall Street Journal featured a special section on energy efficiency. The paper reports that business is increasingly looking at reducing energy use as a way to improve the bottom line.
With Corn ethanol more costly than oil, is Jatropha a better biofuel?
(08/24/2007) Jatropha may be a more economic biofuel than corn-based ethanol, reported the The Wall Street Journal on Friday, citing research from Goldman Sachs.
Imported LNG could have 35% higher GHG emissions than coal
(08/23/2007) A team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers report that the choices U.S. officials make today could limit how the nation's future energy needs are met and could cost consumers billions in idle power plants and associated infrastructure systems.
100 years ago: oil shortages spur need for alternative fuels
(08/08/2007) The fuels committee of the Motor Union of Great Britain and Ireland has issued a valuable report on motor-car fuels... a famine in petrol appears to be inevitable in the near future, owing to the fact that demand is increasing at a rate much greater than the rate of increase of the supply. In 1904 the consumption of petrol in the United Kingdom was 12,000,000 gallons; in 1907 it had risen to 27,000,000 gallons... the committee discusses in the report other possible fuels. The supply is divided into two parts. The first includes all fuels limited in quantity...The second group contains one item only - alcohol - and it is evident from the whole tone of the report that the committee expects to find in denatured vegetable spirits the fuel of the future.
Economics of next generation biofuels
(08/08/2007) 'Second generation' biorefineries -- those making biofuel from lignocellulosic feedstocks like straw, grasses and wood -- have long been touted as the successor to today's grain ethanol plants, but until now the technology has been considered too expensive to compete. However, recent increases in grain prices mean that production costs are now similar for grain ethanol and second generation biofuels, according to a paper published in the first edition of Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining.
20 coal projects canceled as global warming fears mount
(07/25/2007) Coal-fired power plants are fast being shelved as environmental concerns mount, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will cut pollution, emissions, oil use
(07/20/2007) Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality significantly by 2050, reports a new study by The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Corn ethanol is not the solution to energy independence
(07/18/2007) A new report claims that corn ethanol will not significantly offset U.S. fossil fuel consumption without "unacceptable" environmental and economic consequences.
Is peat swamp worth more than palm oil plantations?
(07/16/2007) Could peat swamp be worth more intact for their carbon value than palm oil plantations for their oil? Quick analysis suggests yes, though binding limits on emissions will be needed to trigger the largest ever flow of money from the industrialized world to developing countries. At stake: the bulk of the world's biodiversity.
Florida to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050
(07/15/2007) Florida plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 according to Charlie Crist, Florida's Republican state governor. Due to its low elevation and hurricane risk, global warming may pose the biggest risk to Florida of any U.S. state.
Miscanthus bests switchgrass as biofuel source
(07/11/2007) In a side-by-side comparison, miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) grass has been shown to be a more productive bioenergy source than switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists in Chicago.
Ford Motor to introduce plug-in hybrids, but lags behind rivals
(07/10/2007) Monday Ford Motor Co. announced a partnership with utility Southern California Edison to test a fleet of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles in an effort to make the technology more accessible to consumers, reduce petroleum-related emissions and improve the cost-effectiveness of the nation's electricity grid.
McDonald's bolsters eco credentials with recycled biodiesel
(07/09/2007) McDonald's Corp. (Public, NYSE:MCD), the fast-food chain, has bolstered its 'green' credentials by announcing that its UK distribution fleet will be powered by biodiesel made of recycled cooking oil from its restaurants. While the move is expected to save only around 1,675 tons of carbon annually, environmentalists say it sets an important precedent for the parent company and the fast-food industry as a whole.
Inflatable concentrators may cut cost of solar below conventional power plants
(07/08/2007) Cool Earth Solar, a Livermore, California-based company developing an innovative way for capturing solar energy, has merged with Radiant Energy, a developer and owner of renewable and clean energy power plants including solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. Rob Lamkin, CEO of Radiant Energy, says the merger will help ramp up the technology, which uses inflatable solar concentrators to minimize use of refined silicon, a costly ingredient in solar cells. Lamkin says the technology could dramatically reduce the cost solar energy, bringing it below the cost natural gas-fired power plants.
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