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News articles on energy
Mongabay.com news articles on energy in blog format. Updated regularly.
(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.
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.
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.
Cuba Energy Crisis Solved
(07/05/2007) Cuba may be overcoming its intermittent energy crisis, according to a top U.N. official. Power shortages and brownouts have long been a problem in the small communist island nation, but it was daily 16 hour-electricity cuts in 2004 that finally forced the government to act. Its efforts are apparently paying off.
Fuel efficiency boost wins unanimous Senate support
(06/22/2007) The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to raise fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks as part of the new energy bill.
$100 billion invested in renewable energy in 2006
(06/20/2007) $100 billion poured into renewable energy and energy efficiency in 2006, a 25 percent jump from 2005, reports a new analysis by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Most Americans back a $10 monthly global warming tax
(06/20/2007) 73 percent of Americans back a $10-per-month charge to underwrite renewable energy production reports a new survey by New Scientist Magazine, Stanford University and Resources for the Future, an independent think tank. The research indicates that 85 percent of Americans believe global warming in currently happening.
China surpasses the U.S. in CO2 emissions
(06/20/2007) China has surpassed the United States as the world's largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (EEA), a group that advises the Dutch government.
Google to be carbon neutral by year end
(06/20/2007) Google Inc. aims to be carbon neutral by the end of 2007, according to a statement posted on the Official Google Blog. The search giant plans to fight global warming by investing in and using renewable energy sources; reducing energy consumption by maximizing efficiency, and purchasing carbon offsets for the greenhouse gas emissions that it cannot reduce directly.
Amazon.com, eBay rank worst for global warming efforts
(06/20/2007) Amazon.com and eBay rank at the bottom of the list when it comes to reducing their impact on climate, reports a new analysis from Climate Counts, a nonprofit that works to promote responsible climate policy among corporations. Microsoft and Yahoo rank at the top of Internet and software companies rated, while Google is in the middle of the pack.
Google will put $10M towards plug-in hybrid cars
(06/19/2007) Google.org, Google Inc.'s philanthropic arm, today unveiled an initiative to convert hybrid cars to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), a move that will cut carbon dioxide emissions, reduce oil use, and help stabilize the electrical grid.
Carbon capture and storage could help combat global warming
(06/12/2007) While solar power and hybrid cars have become popular symbols of green technology, Stanford researchers are exploring another path for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas that causes global warming.
Brazil debates $11B Amazon dam project
(06/10/2007) The eternal tension between Brazil's need for economic growth and the damage that can cause to the environment are nowhere more visible than here in this corner of the western Amazon. Now a proposal to build an $11 billion hydroelectric project here on the Madeira River, which may have the world's most diverse fish stocks, has set off a new controversy.
Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant Built in 16 Years Goes Online
(06/08/2007) SCHOTT today announced that with the connection of the Nevada Solar One power plant to the grid, its solar receivers officially began collecting solar radiation needed to generate clean energy for Nevada homes.
Nobel prize winner debates future of nuclear power
(06/07/2007) Two renowned energy experts sparred in a debate over nuclear energy Wednesday afternoon at Stanford University. Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank, argued that energy efficiency and alternative energy sources will send nuclear power the way of the dinosaurs in the near future. Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, said that nuclear would play an important part of the future energy portfolio needed to cut carbon emissions to fight global warming.
Extortion or global warming mitigation?
(05/24/2007) Marketwatch reported more details on Ecuador's proposal to forgo development of Amazonian oil fields in exchange for payments from industrialized nations. Last month Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that if the South American country is compensated with half of the forecasted lost revenues, it will not exploit oil in Yasuni National Park, setting aside the area for wildlife and indigenous people. Correa said the cost would be about $350 million per year.
EU will demand sustainable biofuel production
(05/24/2007) The European Commission is planning new criteria to ensure that biofuels are produced in an environmentally-friendly manner, reports Reuters. The move comes a month after the Dutch issued voluntary guidelines for biofuel production.
First U.S. offshore wind farm wins preliminary approval
(05/23/2007) The first offshore wind farm in the United States won preliminary approval Tuesday from a panel of Delaware state officials. According to published reports, four Delaware state agencies ordered Delmarva Power, an electric utility, to buy wind-generated power from Bluewater Wind, the wind farm's developer.
Intel pushes its environmental initiatives
(05/23/2007) Intel Corp. said is removing lead from its next generation of computer chips. Instead the company will use an alloy made up of tin, silver, and copper.
Sugar could power hydrogen fuel cars says VTU researcher
(05/22/2007) Sugary carbohydrates could be used to produce low-cost hydrogen to power fuel cells report researchers writing in the May 23 issue of PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal from the Public Library of Science ( www.plosone.org)
IBM launches "green" chip
(05/22/2007) IBM is touting the "green" credentials of its newest and most powerful microprocessor, the "Power6."
CO2 emissions growth surges as global energy efficiency falls
(05/21/2007) Worldwide growth in carbon dioxide emissions has doubled since the close of the 1990s, reports a study published in the early on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings suggest that the global economy is more dependent on fossil fuels than ever before, with carbon intensity--the amount of carbon needed to produce a unit of economic output--decreasing after a period of increases.
Improving energy efficiency will require overcoming market distortions
(05/20/2007) In a new study, McKinsey&Company, one the world's most respected management consulting firms, reports that the world should be able to cut energy demand growth by half over the next 15 years without compromising economic growth. However it says that market forces along will not drive the transition--targeted policies will be needed to overcome present market failures and policy distortions.
Ancient Amazonian technology could save the world
(05/17/2007) Terra preta, the ancient charcoal-based soil used by ancient Amazonians to create permanently fertile agricultural lands in the rainforest, is getting serious consideration as a means to fight global warming and meet domestic energy demand, reports an article in Scientific American.
U.S. ethanol may drive Amazon deforestation
(05/17/2007) Ethanol production in the United States may be contributing to deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest said a leading expert on the Amazon. Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Woods Hole Research Center said the growing demand for corn ethanol means that more corn and less soy is being planted in the United States. Brazil, the world's largest producer of soybeans, is more than making up for shortfall, by clearing new land for soy cultivation. While only a fraction of this cultivation currently occurs in the Amazon rainforest, production in neighboring areas like the cerrado grassland helps drive deforestation by displacing small farmers and cattle producers, who then clear rainforest land for subsistence agriculture and pasture.
UN warns on dangers of bioenergy
(05/09/2007) Biofuels offer "an extraordinary opportunity" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but could make "substantial demands on the world's land and water resources at a time when demand for both food and forest products is also rising rapidly," said the U.N. in its first assessment on the growing bioenergy industry.
China finds 7.5 billion barrel oilfield
(05/08/2007) PetroChina, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, announced the discovery of a 7.5 billion barrel oil field off the northeast coast of China. The find, in an undersea field in Bohai Bay, is the largest in Asia in four decades and will boost China's known oil reserves by 20 percent. Nevertheless, the discovery will not be enough to offset China's oil imports, which have surged in recent years due to a booming economy and rapid adoption of automobiles.
Carbon dioxide emissions lag 25% behind 2012 targets
(05/08/2007) The world is far behind carbon dioxide emissions targets set by the Kyoto Protocol reports the Little Green Data Book 2007, an annual publication put out by the World Bank. The publication notes that global carbon dioxide emissions have risen 19 percent since 1990, more than 25 percent behind goals set forth under the Kyoto Protocol, which called for a 5.2 percent reduction from 1990 levels.
Massive oil palm expansion planned by Indonesia's richest man
(05/08/2007) Indonesia's richest man plans to spend $4 billion to expand his company's palm oil, energy, and pulp and paper holdings, according to a report from Reuters.
Cost of stabilizing climate 0.1% per year
(05/04/2007) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its long awaiting installment on climate change mitigation, arguing that the costs of offsetting global warming will be much lower than some claim. The IPCC estimates that emissions can be reduced rapidly using existing technology at a cost of 3 percent of GDP, or 0.12 percent per year over the next 25 years, though new technologies could further reduce this cost. While the projections are encouraging, they may be conservative. Some analysts, including the well-respected Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, have calculated that emissions targets that would stabilize the climate could be achieved at no net cost and possibly even a profit. Even McKinsey & Company, a leading management consulting firm, agrees, putting the net cost of reducing emissions by 46 percent at zero.
Wind energy has promise, but brings concerns, reports study
(05/03/2007) While wind-generated energy has the potential to produce clean electricity without carbon dioxide emissions, more research is needed to understand its impact on wildlife says a new report from the National Research Council, a private, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter.
Cleantech investment booms, but energy tech bubble looms
(04/30/2007) Investors are pouring money into clean technology, with spending on R&D rising to $48 billion in 2006, up 9% from 2005, reports a new study by Lux Research, an emerging technology research and advisory firm. However, the report warns that the energy technology sector is showing signs of a bubble, with initial public offering (IPO) values and venture capital deployments more than doubling last year.
Dutch plan restricts biofuels that damage environment
(04/29/2007) The Netherlands has proposed a system to reduce the environmental impact of biofuels production. The country becomes the first in the world to establish such guidelines. Environmentalists have expressed increasing concern for the establishment of energy crops in biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems like the peatlands of Indonesia and the Amazon rainforest. They say that conversion of these forests for oil palm and soybeans is threatening endangered species and worsening global warming. Further, they warn, demand for such biomass energy products is driving up prices for food crops.
Dutch will demand rainforest-friendly palm oil
(04/27/2007) In a report scheduled to be released today, the Dutch government will outline criteria for growing biofuels in a more sustainable manner. The guidelines will be closely watched by the rest of Europe, which is currently struggling with the environmental pros and cons of large-scale energy crop production, especially in ecologically-sensitive areas like the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests.
Ecuador: pay us not to develop Amazon oil reserves
(04/27/2007) Ecuador says it will wait a year to see whether the international community takes its offer to forsake development of a giant oil field in the Amazon rainforest in exchange for compensation, reports the Environmental News Service.
New railway will facilitate logging in Congo
(04/25/2007) A new 800-km railway backed by a South Korean consortium will boost logging in the Republic of Congo, reports the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in its April 1 Tropical Timber Market Report.
To fight warming, Canada will ban incandescent light bulbs by 2012
(04/25/2007) In an effort to fight greenhouse gas emissions, Canada plans to ban use of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, said Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn. Canada follows Australia as the second country to announce a ban on the inefficient bulbs. California legislators have proposed a similar ban for 2012.
AES Corp seeks to flood rainforest World Heritage site
(04/23/2007) American power company AES Corporation seeks to flood sections of Panama's La Amistad World Heritage site, alleges a coalition of more than 30 environmental groups that today filed a petition against the electric utility.
Biodiesel may worsen global warming relative to petroleum diesel
(04/23/2007) Biodiesel made from rapeseed could increase rather than reduce greenhouse emissions compared to conventional diesel fuels, reports a new study published in the journal Chemistry & Industry. Overall the researchers found that petroleum diesel and rapeseed biodiesel, presently the main biofuel used across Europe, have a similar environmental impact. The results suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change through the adoption of rapeseed biodiesel may be of little use beyond energy security.
Device uses solar energy to convert CO2 into fuel
(04/18/2007) Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, (UCSD) have devised a device that uses solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into fuel. While the machine is only a prototype and not yet optimized, the researchers hope that their work will attract attention to their approach.
Ethanol may be greener but have higher health cost
(04/18/2007) Widespread burning of ethanol as fuel may increase the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations relative to gasoline, according to a new study by Stanford University atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson. The report comes as mounting environmental concerns cloud the benefits of using ethanol as a green alternative to fossil fuels.
Incandescent light bulb ban would cut India's GHG emissions 4%
(04/17/2007) A ban on incandescent light bulbs would cut India's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4 percent said environmental group Greenpeace at a press conference Monday. Greenpeace argues that adopting compact florescent bulbs and other more efficient lighting technologies would help India fight global warming. India is already the world's fifth largest GHG polluter, accounting for around 3 percent of global emissions.
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