After President Obama and Mitt Romney spent three presidential debates steering clear of climate change, there was plenty of hand-wringing among the pundits. The candidates were letting down the electorate. The nation needs serious discussion about the looming challenge.
But what would happen if the solution to climate change turned out to be, well, sort of fun?
What if an inventor went on, say, The Colbert Report, and told the audience he had a neat solution for America's dependence on fossil fuels?
That happened Monday night when Stephen Colbert invited MIT professor Donald Sadoway onto his show to talk about his new battery that can store wind and solar energy for a fraction of the cost of today's batteries.
If his liquid metal battery can be commercialized successfully, it could be a game-changer by making renewable energy far more – (oh, wait, this is getting far too serious). Let Don and Stephen explain: ( Continue… )
In four years, climate change has gone from the elephant that blind men are trying to describe to the elephant in the room.
No one wants to talk about it. With a few exceptions, voters don't ask. And presidential candidates don't tell.
Now that the 2012 presidential debates are over, commentators have begun to take notice. Not once during the three presidential encounters or the single vice-presidential debate did the subject come up.
"National elections should be a time when our nation considers the great challenges and opportunities the next President will face," opines the website ClimateSilence.org, a project of Forecast the Facts and Friends of the Earth Action aimed at pushing the issue into campaigns. "But the climate conversation of 2012 has been defined by a deafening silence."
The candidates talked about energy and green energy, but always with regard to jobs, never about the climate. Why? ( Continue… )
America's unconventional energy boom is creating a very conventional jobs boom.
"Unconventional" oil and natural gas drilling supports 1.7 million jobs, according to a new report. By 2020, it will support another 1.3 million new positions.
The new unconventional extraction methods – called "fracking" – are creating so much energy so fast that by 2015 the United States will produce more oil from unconventional than conventional means, according to the new report from IHS Global Insight, an economic forecasting firm based in Lexington, Mass.
The jobs boom isn't evenly distributed. Everyone knows about North Dakota, where fracking has created something of an oil rush. The state has had the most robust job growth over the past year and the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the US.
But fracking has also created a jobs boom in Pennsylvania, the center of growing natural gas extraction from the huge Marcellus formation. The boom in energy jobs is far less noticeable in Pennsylvania than North Dakota because the Keystone State has a far more diversified economy. ( Continue… )
You are not alone if you think it's odd that Canada--the world's ninth largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products and the main supplier of oil imports to the United States--is itself a longtime oil importer, importing more than 40 percent of its oil needs this year.
The situation results from historical pipeline development which has left Canada without a major east-west pipeline to bring the huge surplus of oil produced in the western provinces--now primarily from tar sands--to the eastern part of the country. The country's provinces from Ontario eastward currently import a little more than 60 percent of their oil needs from overseas. That may be set to change.
Winston Churchill once said, "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing--after they've tried everything else." It seems he could have been talking about the Canadians and their oil predicament. Earlier this year TransCanada, a major pipeline company, proposed expanding the current pipeline system known as Keystone to carry more western Canadian crude to America's Gulf Coast. But, the pipeline giant was rebuffed by the Obama Administration in an election-year gambit to satisfy environmentalists concerned about the impact of tar sands development on climate change and water quality. Enbridge, another Canadian pipeline company, has proposed the so-called Northern Gateway pipeline route from the tar sands to the British Columbia coast. From there the oil would be exported to satisfy growing Asian demand. But practically everyone along the Northern Gateway route has lined up against it including the British Columbian premier.
Now, yet another route is being considered, one that would allow TransCanada to live up to its name. The company's latest proposal would take an east-west natural gas pipeline which is now being underused and convert it into an oil pipeline to bring western Canadian crude to currently import-dependent eastern Canada. The plan, which will require regulatory approval, may not face the stiff opposition that the other two projects faced since this pipeline is largely complete. It would require only some additional work to convert it and link it to refineries and storage depots. ( Continue… )
Last week, I spent two days at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 2012 Fusion Energy Conference in San Diego. The conference, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and General Atomics, brought together about 1000 fusion scientists from around the world to meet and discuss the state of the art in scientific research to develop fusion energy.
Fusion is a technology that holds great promise in meeting our energy needs. By fusing together two hydrogen isotopes – deuterium and tritium – enormous amounts of energy can be produced, as predicted by Einstein’s equation, E=MC2. The heat from this reaction creates steam to spin a generator just like any other electricity power plant. Since deuterium comes from ocean water, and tritium can be bred from lithium, fusion holds the promise of providing a nearly inexhaustible supply of energy, with no pollutants, no greenhouse gases, and no radioactive waste. There is no threat of a nuclear meltdown like there is with the nuclear fission reactors of today. ( Continue… )
The Russian government now controls the world's largest oil company.
Rosneft is set to pay BP a mix of $17.1 billion and shares representing 12.84 percent of Rosneft, in exchange for the British oil company's 50 percent stake in TNK-BP. BP also plans to use $4.8 billion to acquire a further 5.66 percent stake in Rosneft from the Russian government.
Rosneft will pay $28 billion for the other half of TNK-BP, currently owned by the AAR consortium, a group of Soviet-born billionaires. ( Continue… )
How could you make a renewable energy even more environmentally friendly?
The German company, Timber Tower, believes it may have an answer. Create wind turbines from renewable materials, in their case wood. (RELATED: Delta Airlines Buys its Own Refinery to Cut Fuel Costs)
They have created the technology to build wooden wind turbine towers that can be as tall as 200 metres. The towers are hollow, multi-faceted structures which are developed using ecologically sourced, PERC certified wood.
A test turbine is currently in place in Hannover, and uses a 1.5 MW Vensys wind turbine to generate sufficient electricity to power 1,000 homes. (RELATED: Encouraging Solar Energy to Stand on its Own two Feet)
One of the main advantages of using wood from a business point of view is the cost. Steel, which is normally used to build wind turbine towers, can be very expensive, whereas locally sourced timber is much cheaper. Transportation of timber pieces is also much easier than large tubular steel sections.
Timber Tower guarantees the wooden towers to have a minimum life cycle of twenty years, at which point the tower can be replaced, and the material recycled.
The move, which reportedly would be worth more than $25 billion, would be a big boost to Rosneft's oil portfolio. If it buys the other half of TNK-BP, as well, it would move ahead of ExxonMobil as the world's largest oil company. A combined Rosneft-TNK-BP would be producing well over 4 million barrels of oil and gas a day, according to Reuters.
For BP, the deal would include a minority stake in Rosneft, which could help the British company gain more access to Russian energy reserves.
In a statement Monday, BP acknowledged the negotiations but said no deal had been reached yet. ( Continue… )
In the latest rush to take advantage of oil opportunities in Canada, Exxon Mobil announced it signed a deal to acquire Celtic Exploration Ltd. for around $2.6 billion. The deal would give the U.S.-based supermajor access to shale reserves in British Columbia and Alberta. It also follows a string of moves by rival foreign companies to establish a foundation in North America. While the Canadian government is eager to entice investors to its oil reserves, recent public opinion surveys suggest most are wary of what looks like a foreign takeover of the petroleum sector.
Exxon's division in Canada announced it acquired 545,000 acres of shale in British Columbia and another 104,000 acres in neighboring Alberta province in the deal with Calgary-based Celtic Exploration. As of December, Celtic estimated the reserve potential at around 128 million barrels of oil equivalent. Andrew Barry, president of ExxonMobil Canada, said the acquisition adds "significant" resources to its unconventional portfolio in North America. Celtic, for its part, said the acquisition was in the company's best interest and represented a fair value for shareholders. (RELATED: The Alamo II: Texans Up in Arms over TransCanada Land Grab) ( Continue… )
The Niger Delta is the heart of Africa’s oil industry, yet the Gulf of Guinea, the area in which the delta is situated, is a hot spot for piracy. Only in the waters off Somalia are pirate attacks more common.
Pirates generally target ships in order to steal the goods being transported, and oil trade in the region is being affected as pirate activity grows. (Related Article: Is a Larger Middle East War Inevitable?)
On Monday the French shipping company Bourbon, which supplies vessels to the offshore oil industry in the Niger Delta, announced that one of its ships had been taken by pirates and that seven people kidnapped; six Russians and an Estonian. Luckily the other nine crew members had managed to make their way to the safety of the Nigerian port of Onne. (Related Article: Piracy: Skulls, Cross-Bones and Letterhead) ( Continue… )