Yamaha's press conference at the Tokyo Motor Show today was a genuine sign of the times. Four brand new world premiers were shown. The largest internal combustion engine amongst them was a 250cc model with fat tires designed to go anywhere – the SUV of motorcycles was the claim. There was also a three-wheeled electric commuter, a fold-up electric pedal-assist bicycle and, wait for it, an 80 km/l (226 mpg Imperial or 188 U.S. miles/gallon) retro 125cc commuter that's somewhere between a bicycle and motorcycle – it weighs just 80 kg and it is beautiful... Continue Reading Yamaha shows lightweight retro 125cc motorcycle that gets 220 mpg
Nov 30, 2011
LG Electronics USA has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the end of 2020, compared with a 2007 baseline. To accomplish this reduction, the company says it will focus on cutting its energy consumption through such means as expanding and enhancing energy management systems and technology; increasing efficiency in data centers, computers and HVAC equipment and purchasing electricity from green power sources.
The NEA plans to increase non-fossil fuel energy to 15 percent of total primary consumption by 2020. These targets are additional to the country's goal of a reduction in energy intensity of between 40 and 45 percent by the same year. This implies that wind-energy generation should increase by an average of 12.5 gW every year through to 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.
This graph from the Energy Information Administration communicates the reality of renewable energy in America better than any other single source. Renewable energy covers only a small slice, 8 percent, of the country’s needs. And despite the focus on biofuels and solar power, the chart shows that more than a third of that slice comes from hydropower. In the wider world, an even greater proportion of renewable energy comes from hydropower—83.8 percent of renewable generation, according to the International Energy Agency.
Nov 29, 2011
Economic study questions cost-effectiveness of current biofuels and their ability to cut fossil fuel
greencarcongress - A new study by economists at Oregon State University questions the cost-effectiveness of current biofuels and says they would barely reduce fossil fuel use and would likely increase greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers focused on the major mandated and currently used biofuels worldwide: corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass grown in the United States, canola biodiesel produced in Europe, and sugarcane ethanol produced in Brazil and exported to the US or Europe.
|US costs and scope for reducing fossil fuel use and GHG emissions with alternative interventions. Jaeger and Egelkraut. Click to enlarge.|
...The researchers concluded that all of these biofuel mandates combined would reduce fossil fuel use by less than 2.5%, or the same amount that a gas tax increase of 25 cents per gallon could achieve, but at an estimated cost of $67 billion compared with a cost of $6 billion with a gas tax....
Their results indicated that all of the biofuel crops were much less cost-effective than the two alternative policies in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use.
Our results suggest that existing biofuel policies have been very costly, produce negligible reductions in fossil fuel use and increase, rather than decrease, greenhouse gas emissions. Each dollar spent on energy improvement programs would be 20 times more effective in reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions than a similar cost for the corn ethanol program. Likewise, a gas tax increase would be 21 times more effective than promoting cellulosic ethanol.—Bill Jaeger, lead author
Overall, it was estimated that US-produced biofuels would cost between 20 and 31 times more than energy efficiency improvements that would reduce gas consumption by 1%. The study also reported that combining a gas tax increase with energy efficiency improvements could reduce US fossil fuel use by more than 15% (or cut petroleum fuel use by more than 35%)...greencarcongress
Jaeger, William K. and Egelkraut, Thorsten M. (2011) Biofuel Economics in a Setting of Multiple Objectives & Unintended Consequences
greencarcongress - Siemens Energy launched its new 6-megawatt (MW) ...features the Siemens direct drive design with 50% fewer parts than comparable geared wind turbines. With a towerhead mass of roughly 350 tons, the SWT-6.0 is the lightest machine in its class. This combination of robustness and low weight significantly reduces infrastructure, installation and service costs, and boosts lifetime energy output and profitability, Siemens claims.
Rossi electricity generation claim is based on getting steam up to 450 celsius with Energy Catalyzer
Ecat World - Rossi claims - we have found a breakthrough with a primary fluid with which the reactors remain stable when we make steam at 450 Celsius. We are working on it together with our Customer. I am learning very much from him, and in particular I am learning from the person who made the test of the plant on October 28th. This person, now retired, is an engineer who used to test for military concerns thermic plants and missiles, so that he has a tremendous experience in thermodynamics. Here is to learn really and, honestly, when it turns to learn I am pretty fast. This collaboration is accelerating the development of the technological declinations.” The retired engineer Rossi mentions is Domenico Fioravanti, the consultant that was sent by Rossi’s military customer to test the first 1 MW plant in Bologna. Now it looks like the two are working together to find ways to make these 1 MW plants (the military entity has ordered 12 more) produce electricity and steam, and Rossi is evidently learning a great deal from Fioravanti, and he seems to be very happy about the collaboration.
Defkalion (once Rossi partner and now competitor) will have their big announcement of products on Wednesday, November 30 (tomorrow). Rossi also claims - We are building a 13 MW thermal plant, made of 13 plant such as
A security vulnerability discovered in Hewlett-Packard printers would allow hackers to steal data from the printers, cause them to burst in flames or be used as a launchpad to attack other computers connected to the printers.
The flaw lies in the design of HP’s LaserJet printer models, and possibly other printer models as well, which allows the firmware on the printers to be upgraded remotely, according to MSNBC, which first reported on the vulnerability.
EPA’s main blog site, Greenversations, has been the home of the High School Blog since August, 2009. But, like many students, we’re spreading our wings and taking on a new challenge: The EPA Students Blog!
Please come check out the brand new EPA Students Blog because it’s your special place to read, write and share your environmental experiences and interests with us and other students around the globe!
Nationwide, farmers only own 60% of the land they farm. In many of the most productive row cropping areas of the Midwest, the percent of farmer-owned land is significantly lower (see Map above from the USDA, 2007 Census of Agriculture). Much of our farmland resource is owned by non-farmers and rented to those who actually farm. Some of that rented land is owned by investors or real estate speculators, but most of it is actually still owned by the descendants of the families who used to farm it, often several generations back. These are the families who have been part of the steady trend of urban migration for more than a century.
Why Does Farm Ownership Matter? This ownership question is important for several reasons. US agriculture not only supplies our domestic needs for many crops, but we are also among the major grain exporters of the world. Our farmers, and our farmland owners, play an important role in determining whether we will be able to supply the increasing, global demand for food. Land ownership is also a key issue for agricultural sustainability. The most sustainable row crop farming practices can actually “pay their own way,” but they do so over time by building soil quality. Those soil changes are at the heart of the environmental benefits, but they also increase the productive potential and yield stability of the land...by definition, sustainable farming must involve a long-term perspective. Many of the people who are in the key role of farmland ownership don’t know much of anything about farming of any kind, let alone what constitutes the cutting edge of sustainability. Therein lies both the challenge and the opportunity.
Read full and comment: http://blog.sustainablog.org/2011/11/who-owns-americas-farmland/
A more detailed analysis of this issue is posted on SCRIBD.
And source website is Applied Mythology.
A hazmat team responded to the leak, which brought about an evacuation at the food processing plant at about 12:55 a.m. Tuesday morning.
According to police, some cleaning chemicals got mixed, creating fumes. »Read Full Article at WTMJ
This results in breathlessness, a cough and — because it tends to cause excess production of mucus — often leads to chest infections. The condition is linked to smoking, exposure to cigarette smoke and jobs such as mining or those involved in the chemical industry.
Other causes include low birth weight or serious chest infections, particularly as an infant (James, 27, had croup as a baby and whooping cough aged four, followed by serious chest infections every six months).
James had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
There are a million people registered with COPD in this country, yet the British Lung Foundation believes there may be two million who don’t know they have it.
It not only increases the risk of respiratory failure and cardiovascular disease, but quadruples the risk of lung cancer.
Though it is a progressive disease, the sooner it is diagnosed and treated the slower it will progress.
‘COPD is the second most common cause of acute hospital admissions in this country,’ says Professor Ian Pavord, a consultant physician in respiratory medicine at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.
‘The disease normally comes on progressively over years and so initially some may get used to the symptoms.’
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The University of British Columbia has opened the most sustainable building in North America, a $37-million “living laboratory” that will help to regenerate the environment and advance research and innovation on global sustainability challenges.
The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) is one of only a handful of buildings worldwide that will provide “net positive” benefits to the environment. It reduces UBC’s carbon emissions, powers itself and a neighboring building with renewable and waste energy, creates drinking water from rain and treats wastewater onsite.The University of British Columbia makes its case for North America’s ‘greenest’ building in this video and the following news release. Feel free to link to other buildings that might vie for this title. South America’s green building of the moment is here. Read on and watch video at: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/27/376261/north-america-greenest-building/
...Researchers led by Iowa State Professor of Genetics Martin Spalding figured out how to keep those genes turned on all the time, turning this strain of algae (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) into a CO2-sucking, biomass-producing machine:
When the two genes were expressed together, Spalding was surprised to see the 50 to 80 percent biomass increase.
“Somehow these two genes are working together to increase the amount of carbon dioxide that’s converted through photosynthesis into biomass by the algae under conditions where you would expect there would already be enough carbon dioxide,” said Spalding.
The excess biomass naturally becomes starch through the photosynthesis process, and increases the biomass starch by around 80 percent.
By using some existing mutated genes, Spalding can instruct the algae to make oil instead of starch. This process requires more energy and the process results in around a 50 percent increase in oil biomass.
...But what if these organisms — which can very easily leave the lab on clothing, skin or through the air — escape into the natural environment and contaminate the gene pool of wild algae and dramatically increase growth rates?
... bioenergy expert David Haberman, criticize the government for not putting more thought into potential impacts, saying “the lack of study of the potential hazards is of great concern.”
Haberman has been warning of the threat of genetically modified algae for years — saying rogue organisms could disrupt fisheries, hurt recreation and make people sick. “There’s little oversight and no regulatory regime,” he says.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that farmers will have to produce 70% more food by 2050 to meet the needs of theworld's expected 9-billion-strong population. That amounts to 1bn tonnes more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200m more tonnes of beef and other livestock.
But as it is, most available farmland is already being farmed, and in ways that decrease its productivity through practices that lead to soil erosion and wasting of water.
This means that to meet the world's future food needs, a major "sustainable intensification" of agricultural productivity on existing farmland will be necessary, the FAO said in its report, State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture.
...the UN report found that 25% of the world's farmland was now "highly degraded" with soil erosion, water degradation and biodiversity loss. Another 8% was moderately degraded, while 36% was stable or slightly degraded and 10% was ranked as "improving".
The rest of the Earth's surface is either bare or covered by inland water bodies.
...The report found that water around the world was becoming ever more scarce and salinated, while groundwater was becoming more polluted by agricultural runoff and other toxins.
"Agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions could double by 2050 if current trends in global food production continue," study researcher David Tilman, of the University of Minnesota, said in a statement. "This would be a major problem, since global agriculture already accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions."
"Strategically intensifying crop production in developing and least-developed nations would reduce the overall environmental harm caused by food production, as well as provide a more equitable food supply across the globe," said study researcher Jason Hill of the University of Minnesota.
Different farming methods produce significantly different yields, the researchers found — in 2005, the crop yields for the wealthiest nations were more than 300 percent higher than what the poorest nations produced.
According to their analysis of the effects of extensive farming, if poorer nations continue using this method, by 2050 they will have cleared an area larger than the United States, about 2.5 billion acres. However, if wealthy nations help poorer nations to improve food yields by incorporating intensive farming practices, that number could be reduced to half a billion acres.
Nov 28, 2011
Burning ethanol in your car is supposed to be better for the environment, but when the company producing the biofuel falsifies air pollution monitoring data, things may not be as clean as they seem.
Toyota and BMW have reportedly begun discussions on swapping their signature green technologies. The Japanese automaker would open up its hybrid tech to BMW, while the Germans would provide diesel engines for Toyotas. This is a little different than the recent memorandum of understanding signed between Ford and Toyota, since that partnership - if it comes to fruition - would see both companies jointly developing a hybrid system for trucks.
The BMW and Toyota talks are about swapping tech to save money on "core technologies." BMW's gain would be in the U.S.
energybulletin - I often don't bother arguing with the "Drill, Baby, drill" folks - the reason is that while I think they are misguided and their lack of understanding of the possibilities of US oil are embarassing, they also have a point - as we get further down the energy curve, most of our available energy resources will be exploited if it is economically viable to recover the oil or the gas. It simply will happen - environmental sensitivity will not be a major factor. read more
Sure they’re methane producers of the highest order, but at least some of what comes out of cows is being put to good use. Take the Greenhill Dairyfarm Biogas Plant in the United Kingdom. The combined heat and power company Alfagy says a project it worked on there is using the waste from 600 cows, along with other organic matter, to fuel a 430-kilowatt power plant.
Alfagy says this anaerobic digestion plant, outside the tiny village of Ardstraw, Northern Ireland, is unusually efficient: “Normally, central power plants pump more than 50 percent of the energy into the air while turbines waste 75 percent of the wind’s energy. Run on muck, the cow power plant has an energy efficiency of 86 percent, wasting only 14 percent, which a huge step toward a sustainable Northern Ireland.”
Finnish energy engineer Kaj Luukko published some useful homework on the French nuclear deployment, with comparisons to the recent global wind power deployment. Luukko’s website is in Finnish, but you can access the Google translation of this post here.
The latest annual energy outlook by the International Energy Agency, though not radically different from earlier editions in broad outline, nonetheless paints a very dramatic picture of the next quarter century.
...Like previous outlooks, this one distinguishes between a business as usual scenario and a New Policies Scenario in which governments generally try to curtail consumption of fossil fuels and promote green energy; it appears to consider the New Policies Scenario (NPS) the more likely one. Even in NPS, however, fossil fuels remain dominant for the next 25 years and renewables continue to account for only about 10 percent of total world primary energy demand, thought their share of electricity production grows sharply.
Some of the report's most compelling highlights are displayed in a free-standing document containing ten charts, which is well worth a look even if time is lacking to study the whole report. For example, those subscribing to that theory that oil accounted for the decision of George W. Bush's administration to launch a second Gulf War will find Figure 3.17 arresting: Among the countries expected to make large additions to the world's liquid fuel supplies in the next quarter century, Iraq leads the pack by a healthy margin and is well of ahead of Saudia Arabia and total world biofuels. Other highlights incude:
• with oil production declining in all existing fields, an increasing share of liquid fuels will come from natural gas liquids and oil sands
• despite all the current concern about the prospect of declining subsidies for renewable energy, the 2011 NPS predicts that total renewables subsidies will increase to $250 billion in 2035, from $66 billion in 2010; European subsidies will increase only modestly from a big base, U.S. subsidies more rapidly from a smaller base, and "rest of world" subsidies more rapidly still from an even smaller base
• in terms of power generation, NPS expects additions of renewable energy to roughly equal additions of gas and coal combined, with nuclear accounting for a considerably smaller share of increases
• even so, NPS sees a relatively robust future for nuclear, with the long-term Fukushima impact rather surprisingly small
• looking at where we are right now and how we got here, the Outlook finds that in the last decade, coal has met almost half of new demand for energy, roughly equally all other sources of energy
So Beijing has launched an aggressive plan to decarbonize China's economy by pushing nuclear and renewable energy to 15 percent of energy consumption by 2020, up from 9.5 percent last year. Nuclear generating capacity would rise to over 80 gigawatts from the 11.3 GW currently in place. As a result, analysts expect China to meet its environmental goal for 2020: to reduce carbon emissions per yuan of economic output by 40 percent compared with 2005 levels.
To meet its nuclear numbers, China has embarked on the world's biggest reactor building program. Beijing has standardized its nuclear juggernaut around two pressurized water reactor designs: the Chinese/French CPR-1000, designed in the 1990s, and Westinghouse Electric's AP1000, designed in the 2000s. The country is turning both types out at high speed. According to the World Nuclear Association, 14 reactors were operating as of September, and 26 more were under construction. China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has said that 100 reactors may be feeding the grid by 2020. "They are not just building nuclear power plants. They are building an entire industry," says Chi-Jen Yang, a technology policy expert at Duke University's Center on Global Change.
Nevertheless, the Fukushima disaster has highlighted the risks of the nation's aggressive nuclear build-out. In Fukushima's wake Chinese leaders put new reactor projects on hold while they reviewed the safety of existing ones. Officials concerned by a potential shortfall of trained reactor operators and inspectors suggested trimming China's 2020 goal for more than 80 GW nuclear capacity by 10 GW or so. Experts also worry that corrupt management of the build-out could affect the safety of China's reactors.
Gregor Macdonald - US production of crude oil peaked in 1970 at 9.637 mbpd (million barrels per day) and has been in a downtrend for 40 years. Recently, however, there's been a tremendous amount of excitement at the prospect of a "new era" in domestic oil production. The narratives currently being offered come in the following three forms: 1) the US has more oil than Saudi Arabia; 2) the US need only to remove regulatory barriers to significantly increase production; and 3) the US can once again become self-sufficient in oil production, dropping all imported oil to zero...Now, three respectable publications have recently cast the advent of new oil extraction in America as a kind of miracle. And indeed, technologically, the refinement of hydraulic fracturing techniques -- first used to extract natural gas, and now used to extract oil -- is miraculous. But a technique such as this, although replicable and repeatable, will not change the fact that newer, unconventional resources are developed and produce oil at a much slower rate. One year after the Black Giant of East Texas was discovered in the early 1930s, it was producing just 1 mbpd. The US no longer has resources such as this to exploit. The history of US oil production over the past 40 years should make this clear.
However, this did not stop the Telegraph of London from making triumphant assertions in their October 23 piece:
World power swings back to America
The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy.
The US was the single largest contributor to global oil supply growth last year, with a net 395,000 barrels per day (b/d)," said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America, comparing the Dakota fields to a new North Sea. Total US shale output is "set to expand dramatically" as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009. The US already meets 72pc of its own oil needs, up from around 50pc a decade ago. "The implications of this shift are very large for geopolitics, energy security, historical military alliances and economic activity.
The claims made here (or should I say the conjectures here), are completely over-reaching -- but worse, the data is completely wrong. This matters because the article was widely distributed and sustained a very popular position for several days on Twitter and in other media outlets. I have written extensively on the problematic nature of energy data that’s produced by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in Washington and International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris. So it’s not really surprising that the public, the average reader, cannot fact-check these numbers easily.
In Secrecy by Complexity: Obfuscation in Energy Data and the Primacy of Crude Oil, I explained how difficult it can be -- even for journalists -- to obtain a time series of commodity production and flows that is continuous, let alone understandable. For example, if one includes biofuels (which, of course, are not oil in any sense and do not contain the dense btu content of oil), perhaps one could claim that 2010 oil production in the US outpaced the rest of the world. But according to the EIA in Washington, 2010 saw China make the largest new contribution to world oil supplies at 277 kbpd (thousand barrels per day), followed by Russia at 199 kbpd, and then Canada at 153 kbpd. The United States? US oil production grew by an average 114 kbpd.
So in a world of global crude oil production currently running around 74 mbpd, we are asked to believe a new era has dawned for the United States on the back of an additional 114 kbpd? That would be funny, if it were not so ridiculous. Let’s also include the 2011 additions to US oil production, at 141 kbpd. Are you feeling excited yet? These are the volumes that will allow the US to re-conquer the world with new oil production, and wean itself off global oil imports? The New York Times is quite enthused about these “major developments,” as evidenced by this October piece:
New Technologies Redraw the World’s Energy Picture
This striking shift in energy started in the 1990s with the first deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil, but it has taken off in the last decade as a result of declining conventional fields, climbing energy prices and swift technological change. The United States may now have the means to reduce its half century of dependence on the Middle East.
Sigh. The New York Times has been selling that dream for several years now. Indeed, if you are old enough to have followed the presidential election cycle since the 1970’s, you’ll know that “energy independence” has been a standard, vague promise trotted out since the Carter Administration.
....So, now you know. The longest and deepest recession (actually a financial crisis and a depression) in the post-war period reduced oil consumption by 12.8%. The “miracle,” if you can call it that, of US oil independence lies not in the illusion that 5.5 mbpd of oil production can be lifted to wipe out 11.5 mbpd of oil imports. Instead, it lies in a further de-industrialization of the US economy, a huge reduction in miles driven on the nation’s roads and highways, and no doubt some energy efficiency.
Perhaps some of these are good things. Even very good things. But they are not unequivocally good things.
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