July 2011 Archives

AEP on Google Streetview
Image of AEP, New Haven WV, taken from Google Street View

On the West Virginia side of the Ohio River, close to where I grew up, is American Electric Power, who recently decided to pull the plug on their carbon capture experiment. The blame, apparently, lies with Congress's inability to create legislation that would give incentives for such climate-change helpful projects.

The project in New Haven would've been the biggest carbon sequestration project to date, and would've buried CO2 as it was burned off from the adjacent coal-fired plant.

The cutting of the 668 million dollars that had been allocated to this plant is one example of how the government can be a bit overzealous when it comes to spending cuts. Not only would this have help meet our ambitious clean air goals (President Obama announced in 2009 a goal of an 80 percent reduction in climate-altering emissions by 2050), it also would've created new jobs.

It hits close to home for me, because it is literally so close to my home. I know unemployed from the area and it strikes me as sad and deflating that so little attention is being paid to where things are cut.

Obama was right when he said in 2008 that renewable energy will create a whole new sector for jobs—it just seems that maybe our Congress has forgotten about it for now, which is a shame.

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Oil refinery
Source : http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesknight/5160755225/
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic
Author: James Knight

As one Arab state after another convulses with revolution, the importance of the energy sector to countries in the region becomes starkly apparent. Tunisia and Egypt, countries with no oil exports, succumbed to revolution first. Syria and Yemen, which also export no oil, and Libya, which historically produced less oil than any other Arab member of OPEC, teeter on the brink. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have managed to stave off successful revolt.

The link between survival and energy seems to have pushed those oil-rich Gulf States to hedge their bets with investments in alternative energy. After all, they very well can't maintain power if the rest of the world stops using the resource that funds their control.

To this end, Saudi Arabia has announced plans to produce solar power equal to the energy generated by its oil exports. Considering Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter, that's a lot of solar power. The UAE has also invested heavily in solar power, with its 10 MW solar plant reaching all its performance goals, and with a 100 MW concentrated solar plant on pace to begin operations next year.

These developments are clear signs that the nations who profit most from fossil fuels believe that both supply in, and demand for, oil will begin to decline sooner rather than later. Whether or not Saudi Arabia and the UAE meet their alternative energy goals remains to be seen, but the fact that they are even thinking about it shows how quickly the clock is ticking towards the end of oil.

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