Yesterday’s News: July 6, 2012

Good News on Food Prices, While It Lasts


July 5, 2012, 3

We’ve finally hit a run of good news about global food prices. But the agency that tracks them, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is warning that that it may not last.  More….


As Exxon Mobil Weighs Oil Bid, Afghans Move Closer to a Foreign Investment Goal


Published: July 5, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials and their American backers made a small step this week toward securing the big-name Western foreign investment they have long sought for Afghanistan: Exxon Mobil is weighing a bid on a modest oil concession in the country’s north, Afghan officials and the company said Thursday.

Afghan and American officials eagerly cast Exxon Mobil’s expression of interest in the concession — six blocks of land being auctioned by the government — as a sign of confidence in Afghanistan, even though there was no guarantee that the company would actually bid.

But the Obama administration’s immediate concern is weaning Afghanistan off foreign aid.

Even if Exxon Mobil does not end up bidding for the blocks, its willingness to consider moving into Afghanistan is a rare boost for the Pentagon operation dedicated to helping Afghanistan attract investment.

The operation, known as the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, prepared a report in 2010 that said Afghanistan had nearly a trillion dollars’ worth of untapped oil and mineral wealth.



Our Outdated Electrical Grid: An Intolerable Situation

by John Cooper  Posted July 3, 2012

As outages stretch past four days for millions without the modern conveniences supported by electricity, let us hope that the cold hard fact of grid vulnerability is beginning to dawn on us all

A paradigm shift would involve a shift in focus to outage prevention or nullification, rather than outage restoration or mitigation. In contrast to the grid, the internet is inherently stable and invulnerable, because it is designed to be distributed and highly redundant. A distributed, redundant grid would feature diverse, distributed on site energy resources that co-exist with grid electricity. Back up generators that rely on stored fuel and foul the air with noise and pollution are band aids that anticipate short term outages, they do not provide for extended outages. More…


Could Oil’s Surge Sink Renewable Energy?

by Jeffery Styles

A new forecast of global oil production by the end of the decade attracted a fair amount of attention this week. The  from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, indicates that oil production could expand by about 20% by 2020 from current levels. The Wall St. Journal’s Heard on the Street  column cited this in support of the view that the influence of “peak oil” on the market has itself peaked and fallen into decline. I was particularly intrigued by a scenario suggested in MIT’s Technology Review  that this wave of new oil supplies could trigger an oil price collapse similar to the one in the mid-1980s that helped roll back the renewable energy programs that were started during the oil crises of the 1970s. More…


Wind Energy CO2 Emissions Reductions are Overstated

by Willem Post

Because wind energy is variable and intermittent, it requires backup by quick-ramping, open cycle gas turbine generators that ramp up when wind energy ebbs and ramp down when it surges which occurs at least 100 times per day. Such part-load-ramping operation is inefficient and requires extra fuel/kWh and emits extra CO2/kWh. The extras offset a significant part of what wind energy was meant to reduce, as proven by studies of the Irish, Texas and Colorado grid operations data. The studies are based on 1/4-hour and 1-hour grid operations data. More…


President’s anti-energy policy a threat to North Dakota’s oil and gas production

By: Rep. Todd Porter, INFORUM

In the recently published article “Population boom next?,” Lynn Helms, North Dakota director of the Department of Mineral Resources, mentions that proposed federal taxes on the energy industry threaten the continued, strong development of oil and gas in the state.

Here in North Dakota we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country – an impressive 3 percent. This is due in large part to the state’s commitment to energy development and new business opportunities. Fostering American energy development is exactly what North Dakota and the country need right now. More…


New film series seeks middle ground on discussing energy issues

Emily Pickrell July 5, 2012 at 7:00 am by

The domestic energy boom of the last five years also has produced a gusher of documentaries and movies about the industry.

The message behind the films, Kallenberg explained, is that the United States stands to gain by trying to depolarize the discussions about energy.

“I think that there is this natural distrust that has always existed between certain elements of the environmental side – that the energy industry will never deliver energy in a fair and responsible way – and the energy industry, which has a natural defensive posture,” Kallenberg said. “Those are the high, shrill voices that are out there, but we are entering this amazing time, where people are sick of it. What the rational middle wants to do is get to place where you understand what the real risks are of an industrial process like hydraulic fracturing.” More…


1 million in US still without power

By Reuters  July 4 2012 at 08:16pm

Washington – More than 1 million homes and businesses in a swath from Indiana to Virginia remained without power on Wednesday, five days after deadly storms tore through the region.

The outage meant no July 4 Independence Day holiday for thousands of utility workers who scrambled to restore lingering power outages. More..


U.S. Completes Environmental Review for Largest Wind Farm

By Justin Doom

The U.S. completed environmental reviews for the nation’s largest wind farm, a 3,000-megawatt project in Wyoming that may generate enough power for 1 million homes.

The U.S. Interior Department is promoting wider use of renewable energy on public land to reduce consumption of foreign oil and create clean-energy jobs, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today on a conference call with reporters. The agency has approved 31 utility-scale wind, solar and geothermal projects since 2009 with more than 7,200 megawatts of capacity. More…


Wireless Power Can’t Yet Replace Utility Poles, But Could Offer More Options for Electronic Charging

Posted by Marianne Lavelle of National Geographic

On the heels of the violent storm system that felled enough overhead wires to disrupt electricity for 4.3 million utility customers on the U.S. East Coast,  new research suggests that the technology for transmitting power without connection to the vulnerable electric grid may be closer at hand than most people think.

There are a number of wireless charging technologies;  Martin says one to watch is magnetic resonance coupling, which was pioneered by researchers at Intel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  (The MIT spinoff company is called WyTricity.) The technology involves setting up a magnetic field that is actually able to transmit energy between two poles from a transmitting device to a receiving device. Where previous technologies only allowed transmission over distances of inches, magnetic resonance coupling would allow transmission at long enough distances that it opens the door to many new applications. “You could have a room system where you can charge multiple devices while sitting in an easy chair,” Martin says.  Wireless power stations can be deployed, and will proliferate in public spaces, just as wifi has done, he says.  “Having to find a power outlet at an airport is going to be obsolete,” he says. More…





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