Articles of Interest: Sept 23 – Oct 4, 2011

windmill and smokestacksHow Will We Fuel the Future?

September 23, 2011

Fareed Zakaria in his op-ed piece, NYT, ‘Fueling the Future’ analyses the current energy crises the world faces at this moment. His analysis goes further than the discussion put forward by Daniel Yergin in his book “The Quest, Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.” Zakaria argues that though technological advances have been made in terms of solar,wind and biofuel, we still lack sufficient technology to store the harvested energy and is expensive compared to coal. Even though nuclear energy remains the most viable carbon-free technology, the public opinion againstnuclear power makes it impossible for governments to pursue them. In his conclusion, Zakari says that while raising carbon tax is a possible solution,he also highlights the need to invest in research on green technology that will continue to make it cheaper than the production of energy from coal. This will help ensure that renewables are adopted by emerging developing countries as China and India, both of whom continue to have a large dependency on coal.

 

A Way to Make Motor Fuel Out of Wood? Add Water

September 27, 2011

 

A Georgia company, Renmatix, has been experimenting with a technology that

treats agricultural waste and turns it into vehicle fuel and other chemicals

using compressed water heated to a very high temperature. If it works, the

technology could reduce reliance on oil imports for gasoline in favor of a

cleaner-burning and less expensive source of energy. More importantly, as the

supply of cellulosic biomass, or wood chips, is far larger than the amount of

corn available for making ethanol, it does not involve diverting resources from

food production.


 

Blue Mountain Geothermal Plant, NV

A US-Backed Geothermal Plant in Nevada Struggles:

Unpredictability of Renewable Technology

October 2, 2011

A Nevada Geothermal Power plant in a remote desert location in northern Nevada is struggling with the debt after encountering the problems with power output. The geothermal plant generates only 35megawatts compared to its predicted output of 45megawatts when the funds were approved. This uncertainty of power output and time taken to construct geothermal installation makes them much riskier investments compared to solar and wind. The federal government investment in the plant stands at $79 million as loan guarantee and $66 million in the form of grants.

 

Bullitt Center in Seattle
Bullitt Center in Seattle, as proposed

The Self-Sufficient Office Building

October 4, 2011

A six-story $30million Bullitt Center in Seattle is set to be the greenest commercial structure in the world. The center will generate its own power, supply and treat its own water including rainwater while it will also avoid using hazardous ‘red listed’ materials as lead and cadmium. The energy consumption is estimated to be one-forth of the typical building of same size while the designs of the building will ensure energy efficiency. The key however, is making sure that the new tenants are more environmental conscious.