Forbes asked the basic question: What is energy? This short post explores the types and sources of energy and man’s history with them. For humans, everything changes with the discovery of how to generate electricity in the 19th century and the use of petroleum to power our transportation in the 20th. The author suggests that our future rests with electric vehicles as they produce power cheaper both in economic costs and environmental costs.

The Layfeyette Hotel in San Diego, California is being powered by hydrogen we learned from hydrogenfuelnews. The hotel has installed a 40 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell which supplies almost half of its electric power requirements.  The hotel estimates its energy costs have been reduced by $30,ooo a year.

Wind is providing energy to a hydrogen fueling station on Long Island, New York said Elmontcivic. A 100 kW wind turbine in the town of Hempstead has been operating since December 2011 to convert water to hydrogen for Long Island’s only hydrogen fueling station.

Crain’s Cleveland Business wanted to know how will the US state of Ohio get its electrical energy when coal-fired plants are phased out.  The state gets 90% of its electricity from coal but new federal environmental regulations are making it more difficult for coal plants to survive. Given the price volatility of energy markets over time, the author believes the state should invest in a portfolio of energy options including solar, hydrogen, wind, energy efficiency, biomass, waste-to-energy, coal, natural gas and nuclear.

The National discussed the potential wonder fuel of the future – methane hydrates.

IPS told us how hydro dominates the alternative energy landscape in Chile. The country obtains 63% of its electricity from coal, 34% from hydro, and 3% from other sources (solar, geothermal). Hydro accounts for 92% of clean energy generation with nearly 40 dams in operation and another 10 being planned. The current government would like to increase hydro’s share of total electricity generation to almost 50% by building large dams in Patagonia in order to meet the voracious demand emanating from the mining industry. As in Brazil, environmentalists are opposed to giant hydro projects for their negative impact on the local environment and on local peoples. They would rather see the country move to a distributed electric grid with more solar and geothermal projects contributing to the nation’s electrical generation.

The UK Independent observed there are no easy answers to green energy.  As with other energy forms (fossil fuels, nuclear, shale gas) the author finds that there is no such thing as a free lunch for green energy either. In assessing UK energy policy announcements it is becoming clear that there is no perpetual motion machine, even in the green world.  All energy forms have costs and benefits. Tidal power is not as cost effective as once thought and carbon capture and storage is still a dream.  Wind is the only energy source which can be quickly ramped up in the UK but yet cannot be relied on to provide the 24/7 back-up power that is essential in 21st century economies. In a similar vein the Huffington Posts wrote about The Awkward, Realistic Choices on Low Carbon Electricity.

Bloomberg reported the EU has plans to phase out subsidies to solar and wind. An EU strategy paper that was leaked said that the subsidies will have to be cut because renewable energy has developed much faster than anticipated and prices for constructing renewable projects have declined.

Underwater turbines are being tested in the Orkney Islands in Scotland to determine the feasibility of ocean currents to generate electricity said euronews.

Reuters reported the surest electricity investment is in transmission cables. The International Energy Agency forecasts that 40% of global investment in the electric power sector will go to transmission and distribution through 2035. The post explores the countries that require this investment including the UK, Germany, China and the Netherlands to accommodate renewable energy like wind as well as upgrading to a smart grid.

Power Engineering warned solar and wind are unlikely to replace the reliability of nuclear energy.

Triple Pundit let us in on the real story of African charcoal cookstoves. Charcoal has been the main cooking fuel of choice in Africa since it is readily available and safer than liquified propane gas. This post introduces us to the charcoal market in Mozambique (a coastal nation in Southeast Africa)  where it is becoming more expensive due to deforestation. It is also unhealthy for both the environment and individuals. Moreover, charcoal stoves have about a 10% efficiency, meaning 90% of the heat is lost during the cooking process. Yet, charcoal is used to cook meals in 95% of homes in Maputo, the capital of the country, as the people are too poor to substitute more efficient but more expensive fuels like ethanol. xinhuanet continues on this theme in Clean cookstoves show impact on East Africa’s ecosystem, economic development. Here it is noted that 50, 000 people die in East Africa every year due to indoor air pollution occasioned by the use of and charcoal combined with unsuitable cooking space. According to the World Health Organization, smoke from dirty stoves causes almost two million deaths worldwide every year.

This way of cooking produces harmful smoke that in poorly ventilated homes can cause cataracts, pneumonia, low birth rate end even death.

The Fresno Bee examined how ideology rules California energy policy where clean hydroelectric power is not considered green energy because of opposition to large hydro projects by the environmental movement.

The UK Telegraph wrote that electricity rates in that nation are about to rise sharply due to the cost of wind and other renewable energy subsidies.

Earth Techling posted on the geothermal industry. Consultants Frost & Sullivan’s study of the Global Geothermal Power Market forecasts that the world market will grow from $1.16 billion in 2010 to $5.89 billion in 2017. In most cases energy from geothermal sources is cheaper than solar, wind and biomass power making it a more attractive renewable energy source. Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific all have financial incentives to encourage the development of the industry. However, a major challenge facing the industry is the high risks associated with drilling. “A suitable area assumed to have hot water of a certain temperature can be drilled only to discover that there is no significant resource, or the resource is not as expected.”

 

 

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