Future Energy eNews IntegrityResearchInstitute.org July 27, 2008
Jun 19th 2008
From The Economist print edition, http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=11565685
EVERYONE loves a booming market, and most booms happen on the back of technological change. The world’s venture capitalists, having fed on the computing boom of the 1980s, the internet boom of the 1990s and the biotech and nanotech boomlets of the early 2000s, are now looking around for the next one. They think they have found it: energy.
Many past booms have been energy-fed: coal-fired steam power, oil-fired internal-combustion engines, the rise of electricity, even the mass tourism of the jet era. But the past few decades have been quiet on that front. Coal has been cheap. Natural gas has been cheap. The 1970s aside, oil has been cheap. The one real novelty, nuclear power, went spectacularly off the rails. The pressure to innovate has been minimal.
In the space of a couple of years, all that has changed. Oil is no longer cheap; indeed, it has never been more expensive. Moreover, there is growing concern that the supply of oil may soon peak as consumption continues to grow, known supplies run out and new reserves become harder to find.
The idea of growing what you put in the tank of your car, rather than sucking it out of a hole in the ground, no longer looks like economic madness. Nor does the idea of throwing away the tank and plugging your car into an electric socket instead. Much of the world’s oil is in the hands of governments who have little sympathy with the rich West. When a former head of America’s Central Intelligence Agency allies himself with tree-hugging greens that his outfit would once have suspected of subversion, you know something is up. Yet that is one tack James Woolsey is trying in order to reduce his country’s dependence on imported oil.
The price of natural gas, too, has risen in sympathy with oil. That is putting up the cost of electricity. Wind- and solar-powered alternatives no longer look so costly by comparison. It is true that coal remains cheap, and is the favoured fuel for power stations in industrialising Asia. But the rich world sees things differently.
In theory, there is a long queue of coal-fired power stations waiting to be built in America. But few have been completed in the past 15 years and many in that queue have been put on hold or withdrawn, for two reasons. First, Americans have become intolerant of large, polluting industrial plants on their doorsteps. Second, American power companies are fearful that they will soon have to pay for one particular pollutant, carbon dioxide, as is starting to happen in other parts of the rich world. Having invested heavily in gas-fired stations, only to find themselves locked into an increasingly expensive fuel, they do not want to make another mistake.
That has opened up a capacity gap and an opportunity for wind and sunlight. The future price of these resources—zero—is known. That certainty has economic value as a hedge, even if the capital cost of wind and solar power stations is, at the moment, higher than that of coal-fired ones.
The reasons for the boom, then, are tangled, and the way they are perceived may change. Global warming, a long-range phenomenon, may not be uppermost in people’s minds during an economic downturn. High fuel prices may fall as new sources of supply are exploited to fill rising demand from Asia. Security of supply may improve if hostile governments are replaced by friendly ones and sources become more diversified. But none of the reasons is likely to go away entirely.
Global warming certainly will not. “Peak oil”, if oil means the traditional sort that comes cheaply out of holes in the ground, probably will arrive soon. There is oil aplenty of other sorts (tar sands, liquefied coal and so on), so the stuff is unlikely to run out for a long time yet. But it will get more expensive to produce, putting a floor on the price that is way above today’s. And political risk will always be there—particularly for oil, which is so often associated with bad government for the simple reason that its very presence causes bad government in states that do not have strong institutions to curb their politicians.
The market for energy is huge. At present, the world’s population consumes about 15 terawatts of power. (A terawatt is 1,000 gigawatts, and a gigawatt is the capacity of the largest sort of coal-fired power station.) That translates into a business worth $6 trillion a year—about a tenth of the world’s economic output—according to John Doerr, a venture capitalist who is heavily involved in the industry. And by 2050, power consumption is likely to have risen to 30 terawatts.
Scale is one of the important differences between the coming energy boom, if it materialises, and its recent predecessors—particularly those that relied on information technology, a market measured in mere hundreds of billions. Another difference is that new information technologies tend to be disruptive, forcing the replacement of existing equipment, whereas, say, building wind farms does not force the closure of coal-fired power stations.
For both of these reasons, any transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable, alternative, green energy—call it what you will—is likely to be slow, as similar changes have been in the past (see chart 1). On the other hand, the scale of the market provides opportunities for alternatives to prove themselves at the margin and then move into the mainstream, as is happening with wind power at the moment. And some energy technologies do have the potential to be disruptive. Plug-in cars, for example, could be fuelled with electricity at a price equivalent to 25 cents a litre of petrol. That could shake up the oil, carmaking and electricity industries all in one go.
The innovation lull of the past few decades also provides opportunities for technological leapfrogging. Indeed, it may be that the field of energy gives the not-quite-booms in biotechnology and nanotechnology the industrial applications they need to grow really big, and that the three aspiring booms will thus merge into one.
The possibility of thus recapturing the good times of their youth has brought many well-known members of the “technorati” out of their homes in places like Woodside, California. Energy has become supercool. Elon Musk, who co-founded PayPal, has developed a battery-powered sports car. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, have started an outfit called Google.org that is searching for a way to make renewable energy truly cheaper than coal (or RE<C, as they describe it to their fellow geeks).
Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, is turning his considerable skills as a venture capitalist towards renewable energy, as are Robert Metcalfe, who invented the ethernet system used to connect computers together in local networks, and Mr Doerr, who works at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture-capital firms. Sir Richard Branson, too, is getting in on the act with his Virgin Green Fund.
This renewed interest in energy is bringing forth a raft of ideas, some bright, some batty, that is indeed reminiscent of the dotcom boom. As happened in that boom, most of these ideas will come to naught. But there could just be a PayPal or a Google or a Sun among them.
More traditional companies are also taking an interest. General Electric (GE), a large American engineering firm, already has a thriving wind-turbine business and is gearing up its solar-energy business. The energy researchers at its laboratories in Schenectady, New York, enjoy much of the intellectual freedom associated with start-up firms, combined with a secure supply of money.
Meanwhile, BP and Shell, two of the world’s biggest oil companies, are sponsoring both academic researchers and new, small firms with bright ideas, as is DuPont, one of the biggest chemical companies. Not everyone has joined in. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company not in government hands, is conspicuously absent. But in many boardrooms renewables are no longer seen as just a way of keeping environmentalists off companies’ backs.
Some people complain that many existing forms of renewable energy rely on subsidies or other forms of special treatment for their viability. On the surface, that is true. Look beneath, though, and the whole energy sector is riddled with subsidies, both explicit and hidden, and costs that are not properly accounted for. Drawing on the work of people like Boyden Gray, a former White House counsel, Mr Woolsey estimates that American oil companies receive preferential treatment from their government worth more than $250 billion a year. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations-appointed group of scientific experts, reckons that fossil fuels should carry a tax of $20-50 for every tonne of carbon dioxide they generate in order to pay for the environmental effects of burning them (hence the fears of the power-generators).
So the subsidies and mandates offered to renewable sources of power such as wind turbines often just level the playing field. It is true that some subsidies amount to unwarranted market-rigging: examples include those handed by cloudy Germany to its solar-power industry and by America to its maize-based ethanol farmers when Brazilian sugar-based ethanol is far cheaper. Others, though, such as a requirement that a certain proportion of electricity be derived from non-fossil-fuel sources, make no attempt to pick particular technological winners. They merely act to stimulate innovation by guaranteeing a market to things that actually work.
If the world were rational, all of these measures would be swept away and replaced by a proper tax on carbon—as is starting to happen in Europe, where the price arrived at by the cap-and-trade system being introduced is close to the IPCC’s recommendation. If that occurred, wind-based electricity would already be competitive with fossil fuels and others would be coming close. Failing that, special treatment for alternatives is probably the least bad option—though such measures need to be crafted in ways that favour neither incumbents nor particular ways of doing things, and need to be withdrawn when they are no longer necessary.
That, at least, is the view from the rich world. But poorer, rapidly developing countries are also taking more of an interest in renewable energy sources, despite assertions to the contrary by some Western politicians and businessmen. It is true that China is building coal-fired power stations at a blazing rate. But it also has a large wind-generation capacity, which is expected to grow by two-thirds this year, and is the world’s second-largest manufacturer of solar panels—not to mention having the largest number of solar-heated rooftop hot-water systems in its buildings.
Brazil, meanwhile, has the world’s second-largest (just behind America) and most economically honest biofuel industry, which already provides 40% of the fuel consumed by its cars and should soon supply 15% of its electricity, too (through the burning of sugarcane waste). South Africa is leading the effort to develop a new class of safe and simple nuclear reactor—not renewable energy in the strict sense, but carbon-free and thus increasingly welcome. These countries, and others like them, are prepared to look beyond fossil fuels. They will get their energy where they can. So if renewables and other alternatives can compete on cost, the poor and the rich world alike will adopt them.
That, however, requires innovation. Such innovation is most likely to come out of the laboratories of rich countries. At a recent debate at Columbia University, which The Economist helped to organise, Mr Khosla defended the proposition, “The United States will solve the climate-change problem”. The Californian venture capitalist argued that if cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels are developed, simple economics will ensure their adoption throughout the world. He also insisted that the innovation which will create those alternatives will come almost entirely out of America.
As it happens, he lost. But that does not mean he is wrong. There are lots of terawatts to play for and lots of money to be made. And if the planet happens to be saved on the way, that is all to the good.
February 24-27, 2009 · Von Braun Center · Huntsville, AL
Integrate · Educate · Support
Call for Papers
Technical and Publication Chair
Glen A. Robertson
IASSPES, Madison, AL
Papers are invited in all technical areas of the Space, Propulsion and Energy Sciences International Forum (SPESIF-2009), organized by the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Space, Propulsion and Energy Sciences (IASSPES). SPESIF-2009 will be held February 24 - 27, 2009, at Von Braun Center, down town, Huntsville, AL. SPESIF-2009 is still under development at this time and workshops maybe converted to conference or symposium status on the registration form depending on the number of publishable papers submitted and approved for publication by the Publication Committee.
ABSTRACT SUBMISSION: Interested authors or workshop presenters are invited to submit abstracts for consideration using the online submission form on the SPESIF website, www.ias-spes.org/SPESIF.html, or click on any of the submission form links provided next to each session listing throughout this Call for Papers. Deadline for submission of initial abstracts is July 15, 2008. Authors and workshop presenters should indicate the SPESIF conference, number and title of the technical session in which they wish their abstracts to be considered. Abstracts should include the name(s), phone number(s) and email(s) of all co-authors, and clearly indicate the motivation and purpose of the work, important results, significance, applications, and briefly summarize approach or methodology. Acknowledgment of receipt of submitted abstracts will be sent to the primary author (first author listed) or the workshop presenter. Inquiries can be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (256) 694-7941. All submitted abstracts will be reviewed by the appropriate SPESIF-2009 Technical Program Committee.
Abstracts are currently being accepted and authors or workshop presenters will be notified as they are accepted. Workshop presenters are not required to submit papers, but may do so. Please indicate on the Abstract Submission Form whether you plan to submit a paper. The Abstract Submission Form can be found here.
REVIEW AND ACCEPTANCE OF FULL PAPERS: Authors with accepted abstracts will be asked to provide a full manuscript for review and editing by August 15, 2008, or as indicated on the abstract acceptance letter. It is the authors’ responsibility to obtain any clearances, i.e internal or ITAR reviews, before submitting their first draft before the deadline of submission. Format instructions for preparing the final paper will be provided to the authors of accepted abstracts and will also be available on the SPESIF web site. Final manuscripts, in a camera-ready form, will be included in the SPESIF-2009 proceedings. In addition, final camera-ready abstracts will be included in the abstract book to be distributed to all SPESIF-2009 attendees.
For more information and updates, please consult the SPESIF homepage at: http://www.ias-spes.org/SPESIF.html.
August 15, 2008 -- Initial Abstracts Due
August 20, 2008 -- Authors Notified of Acceptance
September 15, 2008 -- Draft Papers Due
October 30, 2008 -- Formal Acceptance of Papers
December 1, 2008 -- Camera Ready Papers Due
December 15, 2008 -- Accepted Authors Must Register for Conference
December 26, 2009 -- Completed Proceedings Sent to Publisher
March 20, 2009 -- Published Proceedings Released by Publisher
TABLE OF CONTENTS AND LINKS TO SESSIONS
Office of Fusion Energy Sciences
Phone: (301) 903-6474
Energetics Technology, LLC
Meigs Road, Suite A-110
The Workshop on Future Energy Sources seeks to integrate current, emerging and future energy sources for space exploration with Earth applications, including their issues of public interest.
Papers and presentations are solicited that examine basic research and theories for conventional (e.g., fusion), non-conventional (e.g., bio-fuels) and more speculative future energy sources (e.g., quantum fluctuations, dark energy, gravity, wide frequency EM, etc.).
Papers and presentations are also solicited that address the fundamental high-impact issues of future energy sources, such as their economics versus alternatives, breakthroughs in energy source or conversion efficiency and sustainability.
Examples of the above include (but are not limited to):
· New or re-engineered fusion or fission devices could provide safe nuclear energy sources for heating and electrical power for Earth and space applications. Of specific interest, but not limited to are advanced fusion or fission energy concepts for enabling detailed exploration and utilization of the lunar surface.
Sessions will be developed from the submitted papers and presentations into the following focused areas:
· Scientific and technology foundations,
· Basic research areas originating from government, industry, academia and private research programs, and
· Public education.
The workshop chairs have final authority on what is presented in their workshop. It is suggested that authors wishing to submit papers on the "More speculative Future Energy Sources" discuss this with the workshop chairs before submitting their abstract to SPESIF.
Go to Submission Form
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Glen A. Robertson
265 Ita Ann Ln.
R. Clive Woods
102A Department of Electrical
and Computer Engineering
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA
(225) 578 5243
This symposium pertains to the advancement of the space propulsion sciences from current technologies to emerging concepts and theories. The symposium is broken into the following Five Topic Areas cover the contemporary propulsion sciences, technologies and techniques for short-term objectives supporting near-term space initiatives for Earth, in-orbit, Moon and Mars-based propulsion and power systems over the next 30 years; enhancement of the feasibility of future space propulsion systems; new frontiers in the space propulsion sciences comprising ideas, concepts, experiments, theories and models; and approaches that could lead to new directions in space travel, exploration, astrophysics and particle physics with applications to propulsion, power or communication; or to help combine these areas of science with the space propulsion sciences toward new frontiers in science.
Chair: Andrew Ketsdever, Edwards AFB, CA 93524, email@example.com
Co-Chair: John Cole, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, AL, 256 544-4290, firstname.lastname@example.org
Papers are solicited that examine advances in the diverse arena covering the contemporary propulsion sciences. This arena involves advances in chemical propulsion as well as hybrids, beam energy systems, electric and magnetic thrusters and launchers, magnetic, plasma and solar sails, other worthwhile concepts and innovative and alternative space propulsion approaches that have been tested and shown feasible within currently accepted physical laws. This section focuses on: New Advances in Propulsion Technology, Advanced Propulsion Concepts, and Experimental Results.
Go to Submission Form
Chair: Chuck Suchomel, USAF WPAFB, OH, 937-904-8653, email@example.com
Co-Chair: Frank Mead, firstname.lastname@example.org
Papers are solicited that examine advances in technologies and techniques for enhancing contemporary propulsion systems as well as other technologies required for space travel and exploration. This arena involves advances in power, communication and other technologies or other innovative and alternative approaches that are testable within engineering accepted limits as well as those concepts that may be on the edge of current engineering realities. This section focuses on but is not limited to: Advanced Power Concepts, Advanced Communication Concepts, Other Technological Concepts and Techniques for Space Application, and Experimental Results.
Go to Submission Form
Chair: Martin Tajmar, Austrian Research Centers GmbH - ARC, Seibersdorf, Austria, +43-50550-3142, email@example.com
Papers are solicited that examine models and theories by providing new insight or extend theoretical concepts and models. These theoretical concepts and models should be governed by known physical laws (although perhaps in embryonic form or not yet formally well-established) and should be testable by current or foreseeable scientific and/or engineering techniques. Examples of technologies to be examined in these sessions include (but are not limited to): interaction of gravitation and superconductors, propulsion using novel means such as zero-point fields, quantum entanglement, and novel propellantless propulsion techniques.
Papers should provide the theoretical groundwork for future space travel and/or exploration beyond the bounds possible using the current propulsion sciences, pushing their expansion towards new frontiers in the propulsion sciences, and so should stress the practical consequences of the work or concentrate on determining the limitations of contemporary scientific and technological approaches and explaining how such limitations may be overcome by using new, evolving, and enabling, technologies. Concepts can be either mathematical or speculative and should include rigorous, logical, scientific support and plausible assumptions to validate the fundamental aspects.
Go to Submission Form
Chair: James Woodward, California State University, Fullerton, CA, 714-278-3596, firstname.lastname@example.org
Papers are solicited that report on the experimental results or possible experimental techniques related to theoretical concepts and models in the basic research realm of the propulsion sciences, to include experiments related (but are not necessarily limited) to interaction of gravitation and superconductors, quantum entanglement, propulsion using novel means such as zero-point fields, and novel propellantless propulsion techniques. The experiments discussed should provide a better understanding of these concepts, either pro or con, and must provide suggestions for further work indicating clearly the likely future direction of the work.
Go to Submission Form
3) ENERGY SECURITY
IN AFRICA WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY
Preben Maegaard, Chairperson, WCRE, World Council for Renewable Energy; Director, Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, Denmark, July 2008 http://www.wcre.de/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=90&Itemid=3
More than any other continent, Africa needs an energy revolution and independence from the international fossil fuel economy; a change to renewable energy and energy autonomy is paramount for survival. Africa depends largely on the import of fossil fuels to meet a significant and growing part of its modern energy needs, which has created perverse effects on the economy and lives of Africans. Renewable energy is the only viable alternative that has the potential, when properly managed, to improve quality of life on a national and continental scale.
The current sky-high oil prices are disastrous for the fragile economies in most African countries. Already with the much lower oil prices of the past, several African countries were spending half of their foreign trade expenditure for the import of oil. With oil prices doubling and US$ 200 per barrel in a foreseeable future, the misery we already see in Darfur and other regions will spread and people will suffer and continue to bleed.
Energy Rich Africa
The end of the fossil oil era has the potential to foster energy innovation based on Africa's tremendous renewable energy resources. The continent has an abundance of wind resources, biomass and not least, solar energy, all in sufficient quantities for satisfying future energy needs. Africa has all of the renewable resources. What it needs is access to know-how and practical technological solutions.
Within this context I ask why the Africa Energy Forum, gathering July 2 to 4, 2008 in Nice, France, will focus almost entirely on the conventional energy system but not on renewable energy. The Africa Energy Forum brings together senior government officials and private-sector executives to discuss opportunities in expanding public and private power. I received an invitation for the conference and answered that I would not be able to attend. I also asked for a better representation of the renewable energies as most of the presentations of the Forum focus on conventional energy options that will not be affordable for the masses of the African continent.
No renewable energy at Africa Energy Forum!
The prompt answer from the director of the conference revealed that the priorities of the conference were already decided and did not intend to include renewable energy. The conference manager, Rod Cargill, e-mailed to me:
"One thing is certain, conventional power is pivotal to Africa's economic growth. To claim that Africa's problems of poverty would be alleviated by relying on renewable energy is folly. The number of failed renewable energy projects in Africa over the last 20 years is unacceptable, and verging on the irresponsible. These failed projects have setback development by raising aspirations and then failing to deliver, thus curtailing self-help in Africans.The aim of the Africa Energy Forum is ultimately poverty alleviation in Africa. We are well aware of the difficulty of bringing power to rural communities and the consequences of untrammelled power expansion on climate change. But we believe that cooperation between all power providers is the only way to achieve our objective. We find a strong reaction in Africa to the moralizing of western countries, particularly when they are the ones selling the renewable technology".
Well known suppliers of renewable energy solutions like Sharp, Kyocera, Vestas, Solar World, Enercon and many other world brands within wind and solar power are not the sponsors, while the conventional fossil fuel energy sector will be well represented. One might get the impression that the solar and wind industries, despite a large annual turnover of ? 60 billion, are still not considered a professional sector. Some might say the sector should be considered as a whole responsible for a "..number of failed renewable energy projects in Africa over the last 20 years as they failed to deliver.." and thus preventing energy change in Africa.
Disastrous solar project by Eskom and Shell
Even though renewable energy has seen tremendous technological achievements, there will of course be failures as it happens in any other innovative sector. In Africa the renewables sector undoubtedly suffered their most severe setback ever when oil giant Shell tried to pave the way for solar power but failed with their widely advertised solar initiative in rural South Africa.
Shell Renewables and Eskom, South Africa's national electricity supplier, embarked in 1998 upon a joint venture to supply homes in the remote and rural communities of South Africa, with a unique solar home system. This project was the largest commercial solar rural electrification venture ever undertaken. The aim was to bring illumination to 50,000 rural homes in South Africa. After some years their token payment system failed, and systems were either not functioning, or panels were stolen. As the project did not succeed organisationally, technically, and commercially Shell was forced to withdraw. What was planned as a model for the 2 billion people globally that have no grid electricity, ended up in a disaster for the reputation of solar power.
But fortunately we find in Africa numerous successful renewable energy solutions that obviously did not get the same negative response as the disastrous Shell top-down project. In Namibia small solar shops charge mobile phones and many towns and villages get their electricity from PV. In Kenya thousands of solar systems give light to homes after sunset. Egypt and Morocco already have wind farms and are planning many large-scale uses of wind and solar. They have better resources than most industrialized nations and have begun to mobilize their own industrial capacity to collect in full the fruits of their natural resources.
Decentralized solar technology can improve the conditions of life
I have personal experience from solar projects in Uganda and Mali. These projects are in no way comparable with the Shell experience. At the 2004 project inauguration every solar panel installed was serving the rural population with electricity for schools, clinics and other basic institutions. Some of the installations had already been producing electricity for years. With extremely modest financial resources dozens of villages are now demonstrating that modern technology can improve the conditions of life among the poorest in rural areas. Ninety-three percent of the population does not have access to electricity. The nearest power line may be 100 km away and will never find its way out to the thousands of villages where you find the majority of the population.
In the last 10 years solar cells fortunately have become more efficient and reliable and can deliver electricity to schools and clinics, improve the supply of water, all for the common good. Meanwhile the residents with sufficient income have started to buy their own solar installations. This energy revolution, admittedly still at its very beginning, has been made possible by a small dedicated team at the Mali Folkecenter, www.malifolkecenter.org that has implemented other pioneering projects in some of the poorest countries of the world.
Energy supply and revitalization of local ecosystems
In 2006 the rural commune of Garalo, in the south of Mali, celebrated the implementation of a bio-fuel project based on jatropha oil. The facility will help bring bio-fuel generated electricity (245 KW) to approximately 8000 residents of the Garalo commune and possibly later to the rest of the people in the surrounding villages. For the 70% of Malians who live in rural communities this project shows that living rurally does not have to mean a cash-crop dependent economy with no running water, or that the only alternative for electricity is petroleum generators.
The Sahel environment is fragile and arid, yet jatropha is resilient and can grow under these harsh conditions. Jatropha can thrive in the region's difficult land and restore eroded areas, effectively generating environmentally friendly energy, helping reduce CO2 emissions, and helping to revitalize local ecosystems. Such projects will also stimulate the economy and create disposable income. Extra income can in turn be used to develop healthcare, education, small-business needs, living conditions, and much more. The project will be closely monitored and documented, so others interested in similar initiatives can learn from this experience. Jatropha is expected to transform Garalo, offering residents greater opportunities, stable energy prices and a chance for sustainability.
Renewable energy requires new financial mechanisms
Most crucial for any of successful local projects is access to the same long-term investment solutions that were normal when the industrialized countries extended the power grid to the most remote corners of their societies. Those societies found practical ways to provide the benefits of electricity to their populations. Today the widespread implementation of renewable energy requires new financial mechanisms. One valuable example is the Grameen Bank that has enabled thousands of poor in Bangladesh to enjoy the benefits of solar cell electricity, a model that has much to teach to the rest of the developing countries. Such solutions clearly deserve at least a session at the 10th Africa Energy Forum in Nice in July 2008.
An urgently needed international renewable energy agency
Considering the fact that the fossil energy sector does not see the challenge of the emerging renewable energy economy, the world community must pave the way for an urgently needed renewable energy international agency. The fact is that existing organizations cannot help well in this crucial endeavour.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) promotes atomic energy worldwide. The IAEA began with a small number of countries, and now acts as a powerful international lobby for nuclear interests. The IEA focuses on fossil fuels and only sees some need for renewable energy in 2040 or later. However, time is short for this imperative transition. Therefore the initiative of the German government in April 2008 to invite the nations of the world to prepare an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) deserves the support of all concerned citizens and organisations.
Emerging initially from a coalition of proactive countries IRENA will act as an advocate for renewable energy in the international political arena in much the same way that the IAEA promotes atomic options.
IRENA, will have as its main focus, increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Bringing together international experience and expertise in the field of renewables, IRENA will develop policies and institutional and technological capacity across the world, helping countries achieve the effective and efficient use of the renewable energies.
IRENA has the potential to develop the capacity and expertise needed for continents such as Africa to begin the transition to energy security and prosperity through the use of renewable energy solutions.
World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE)
c/o EUROSOLAR e.V.
Phone +49 (0)228 / 36 23 - 73 or - 75
Fax: +49 (0)228 / 36 12 - 13 or - 79
4) Algae: 'The Ultimate in Renewable Energy'
ANTHONY, Texas (CNN) -- Texas may be best known for "Big Oil." But the oil that could some day make a dent in the country's use of fossil fuels is small. Microscopic, in fact: algae. Literally and figuratively, this is green fuel.
Plant physiologist Glen Kertz believes algae can some day be competitive as a source for biofuel.
Kertz, a plant physiologist and entrepreneur, holds about 20 patents. And he is psyched about the potential algae holds, both as an energy source and as a way to deal with global warming.
"We are a giant solar collecting system. We get the bulk of our energy from the sunshine," said Kertz.
Algae are among the fastest growing plants in the world, and about 50 percent of their weight is oil. That lipid oil can be used to make biodiesel for cars, trucks, and airplanes. Watch how pond scum can be turned into fuel »
Most people know algae as "pond scum." And until recently, most energy research and development projects used ponds to grow it.
But instead of ponds, Valcent uses a closed, vertical system, growing the algae in long rows of moving plastic bags. The patented system is called Vertigro, a joint venture with Canadian alternative energy company Global Green Solutions. The companies have invested about $5 million in the Texas facility.
"A pond has a limited amount of surface area for solar absorption," said Kertz.
"By going vertical, you can get a lot more surface area to expose cells to the sunlight. It keeps the algae hanging in the sunlight just long enough to pick up the solar energy they need to produce, to go through photosynthesis," he said.
Kertz said he can produce about 100,000 gallons of algae oil a year per acre, compared to about 30 gallons per acre from corn; 50 gallons from soybeans.
Using algae as an alternative fuel is not a new idea. The U.S. Department of Energy studied it for about 18 years, from 1978 to 1996. But according to Al Darzins of the DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab, in 1996 the feds decided that algae oil could never compete economically with fossil fuels.
The price of a barrel of oil in 1996? About 20 bucks!
Government scientists experimented with algae in open ponds in California, Hawaii, and in Roswell, New Mexico.
But that involved a lot of land area, with inherent problems of evaporation and contamination from other plant species and various flying and swimming critters. Darzins said NREL switched from algae research to focus on cellulosic ethanol. That's ethanol made from plants like switchgrass and plant stover -- the leaves and stalks left after a harvest -- but not edible crops such as corn and soybeans.
Valcent research scientist Aga Pinowska said there are about 65,000 known algae species, with perhaps hundreds of thousands more still to be identified.
A big part of the research at the west Texas facility involves determining what type of algae produces what type of fuel. One species may be best suited for jet fuel, while the oil content of another may be more efficient for truck diesel.
In the Vertigro lab, Pinowska studies the care and feeding of algae for just such specifics. She said even small changes in the nutrients that certain algae get can help create a more efficient oil content.
And she said a knowledge of algae's virtues goes way back.
"Even the Aztecs knew it was beneficial; they used it as a high protein food," said Pinowska.
The other common commercial use of algae today is as a health food drink, usually sold as "Spirulina."
I'm too sexy for my pond
And who knew that single celled plants could be such "hotties" when it comes to sex? Kertz said it's a real "algae orgy" under the microscope.
Some algae reproduce sexually, some asexually, while many combine both modes. In some green algae the type of reproduction may be altered if there are changes in environmental conditions, such as lack of moisture or nutrients.
Intriguing details like that keep Kertz and other scientists searching for more and different algae. While dusty west Texas may not be the best hunting grounds, he said he is always on the lookout for samples in puddles, streams or ponds.
Locating algae processing plants intelligently can add to their efficiency. Locating algae facilities next to carbon producing power plants, or manufacturing plants, for instance, the plants could sequester the C02 they create and use those emissions to help grow the algae, which need the C02 for photosynthesis.
And after more than a decade hiatus, the U.S. government is back in the algae game. The 2007 Energy Security and Independence Act includes language promoting the use of algae for biofuels. From the Pentagon to Minnesota to New Zealand, both governments and private companies are exploring the use of algae to produce fuel.
"There's not any one system that anyone has chosen yet.
Whatever it is has to be dirt, dirt cheap," said Darzins.
5) CO2 Online Calculator
How much CO2 do you produce each year? Whether due to heating your home or your water or due to mobility by auto, bus or airplane: in many of our everyday activities we produce CO2 without even noticing – on average 11 tons per person per year, 3 of them in the fields of housing (heating, electricity) and mobility. Fill in the fields and find out how big your personal CO2 footprint is.
Click here to fill out the one-page calculator (total of 5 minutes tops to enter data) http://www.energyglobe.com/en/co2-calculator-1/
6) New Energy Technologies
The 236th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, August 17-21, 2008
New Energy Technology Session
|1:30 PM||105||Elaboration of deuteron cluster fusion model|
|1:55 PM||106||Quark-Gluon model for nuclear magic numbers related to
low energy nuclear reactions|
George H. Miley, Heinz Hora, N. Ghahramani, M. Ghanaatian, M. Hooshmand, F. Osman
|2:20 PM||107||Radiochemical comparisons on low energy nuclear
reactions (LENR) and uranium fission|
George H. Miley, Heinz Hora, Andrei Lipson, Prajakti Joshi Shresthra
|3:10 PM||108||Theoretical models relevant to excess heat
Peter L. Hagelstein, Irfan U. Chaudhary
|3:35 PM||109||Using chemical potential to build a CMNS reactor|
XingZhong Li, Bin Liu, QingMing Wei
|4:00 PM||110||Concepts and experiments for utilizing van der Waals
forces and Casimir effect for new energy technologies|
Previous Session -- New Energy Technology
Grid -- Division of Environmental Chemistry -- Session
The 236th ACS National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, August 17-21, 2008
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