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solar cell investments to reach parity with semiconductor industry by 2010

“ [...] PV cell makers Q-Cells AG and REC Group said they expect a reduction in PV system costs by 40 percent from 2006 to 2010.

“With these cost reductions, many regions throughout the world will soon reach grid parity - a point at which PV electricity costs the same or less than power derived from the electrical grid. PV grid parity is expected beginning 2012 in nations where sunshine is plentiful and constant, and 2018 in areas of the world with adequate or medium sun exposure.”

related material
photovoltaics (solar cells)

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#solar_cell_investment_260608





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dodgy report on sugar cane crop insect attack

telchin licus larva. Image: bigbrazil.com.br“A new pest in Brazil's largest sugar cane growing state, Sao Paulo, could cause annual crop losses of up to $245 million, if it spreads as expected, a leading sugar cane research center said on Tuesday.

“The giant cane borer (Telchin licus), which is common in Brazil's northeastern states, was spotted for the first time in Sao Paulo last July, in the Limeira area and "has disseminated," the Sugar Cane Technology Center said.”

Left: telchin licus larva. Image: bigbrazil.com.br

telchin licus moth. Image: guianensis.fr

Telchin licus is a moth which is a member of the Castniidae family. This family has some butterfly-like characteristics, which may cause confusion.

For comparison, on the related Australia sun moths:

“They fly during the day and have clubbed antenna, but they are not butterflies. They are Sun Moths [members of the Castniidae family]. A family of moths that [are] active during the day. They usually have dull brown forewings but bright colour hind wings.” [Quoted from linus.socs.uts.edu.au]

Note that sun moths are found in Australia, particularly in Queensland, a major sugar cane-farming region. However, here the larvae are reported as feeding beneath the soil, on the roots of grasses and sedges. Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) is a grass.

Harvesting sugarcane in Brazil. Image source: whataboutbrazil.com
Harvesting sugarcane in Brazil (using the equivalent of a combine harvester). Image source: whataboutbrazil.com

Taxonomy:
Telchin licus, also known as Castnia licus, Giant Sugar Cane Borer Moth

Phylum: Uniramia
Superclass: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Castnioidea
Family: Castniidae
Genus: Telchin
Species: Telchin licus

Saccharum officinarum, Sugar cane or Sugarcane

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Saccharum
Species: Saccharum officinarum

related material
biofuels
sugar cane

http://www.guianensis.fr/photos_castniidae.htm http://www.guianensis.fr/photos_castniidae.htm

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#sugar_cane_insect_attack_120608

at last, realism starts to emerge - “the world would need to build dozens of nuclear power plants a year...”

“The IEA said the $45 trillion is equal to 1.1 percent of average annual global gross domestic product over the period [...].”

“The world would need to build dozens of nuclear power plants a year and bury carbon emitted from dozens more gas and coal plants, plus cutting the carbon intensity of cars, trucks, buses and planes eightfold, to halve emissions by mid-century, the International Energy Agency said in a new report.

“Without taking action on government policy, emissions would surge by 130 percent and oil demand would rise by 70 percent by 2050, the IEA said, far beyond the level that many experts believe the world is capable of sustainably producing.

“The report, commissioned by the Group of Eight three years ago, lays down the gauntlet for G8 leaders gathering in northern Japan next month, where Tokyo is expected to urge them to agree on a target of chopping greenhouse gases in half by 2050.”

“ "It will essentially require a new global energy revolution which would completely transform the way we produce and use energy... We need to act now."

“The IEA said halving emissions by 2050 would require "all options up to a cost of US$200 per tonne of CO2" -- and in the worst case US$500 a tonne -- giving a rare long-term forecast that suggests a sharp rise from the 27 euro (US$42) a tonne price for carbon emissions rights trading in Europe.”

And more.

related material

“The American economy runs at about $10 trillion a year, and growing. $100 billion is about one percent of the US GNP year in, year out. As can be seen, this is a very large project, but perfectly do-able.” [Quoted from abelard.org, 2003, 16 april]

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#world_nuclear_power_090608

motoring economics usa - second-hand hybrids rising in price

“I was visiting my local Toyota dealer in Bethesda, Md., last week to trade in one hybrid car for another. There is now a two-month wait to buy a Prius, which gets close to 50 miles per gallon. The dealer told me I was lucky. My hybrid was going up in value every day, so I didn’t have to worry about waiting a while for my new car. But if it were not a hybrid, he said, he would deduct each day $200 from the trade-in price for every $1-a-barrel increase in the OPEC price of crude oil. When I saw the rows and rows of unsold S.U.V.’s parked in his lot, I understood why.”

Note, an American gallon is approximately four-fifths of a UK gallon.

Marker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.orgMarker at abelard.org

“2008: By the end of 2008, GM will offer eight hybrid models, estimated to be more than any automotive manufacturer in the U.S.” [Quoted from gm.com]

Page showing GM hybrid vehicles, including SUVs.

Marker at abelard.org

“On Tuesday, General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner announced that four truck and SUV plants in North America are being shut down as the company reacts to rising fuel costs and increased demand for compact cars and crossover vehicles...” [Quoted from forbes.com]

Marker at abelard.org

“The closing is GM's reaction to long-term trends in energy costs and what it considers a permanent shift in consumer behavior. Wagoner said that 18 of its next 19 product launches will be cars and crossovers, which is more proof of the company's belief in the trend that consumers are shifting away from buying trucks and SUVs.

“GM officials said that while it will close plants and slash shifts, it will increase production of energy efficient vehicles, including hybrids and its new Volt electric vehicle.” [Quoted from wisn.com]

related material
transportable fuels
Fuel cells and battery-powered vehicles

end note

  1. Usually refers to a car that borrows features from a SUV, sometimes called
    a CUV or crossover utility vehicle.

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#valuable_hybrids_040608

why relying on solar and wind energy does not work - the example of california

“A dirty secret about California’s energy economy is that it imports lots of energy from neighboring states to make up for the shortfall caused by having too few power plants. Up to 20 percent of the state’s power comes from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Montana, and another significant portion comes from large-scale hydropower in Oregon, Washington State, and the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. “California practices a sort of energy colonialism,” says James Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington, D.C.–area investment group. “They rely on western states to supply them with power generation they are unwilling to build for themselves”—and leave those states to deal with the resulting pollution.”

“Californians still enjoy the fruits of those manufacturing industries—driving cars built in the Midwest and the South, importing chemicals and resins and paints and plastics produced elsewhere, and flying on jumbo jets manufactured in places like Everett, Washington. California can pretend to have controlled energy consumption, but it has just displaced it.”

This article is confusing and problematic

Yes, Californians are very foolish to close the nuclear generators.
No, they are very sane to be spending 100s of millions of dollars. That is what is going to be required.

In general, The United States is improving efficiency by around 2% per annum . That is, they get more GDP per unit energy year by year. But this is also offset by increased production.

The point about shifting energy rich production ‘abroad’ is important. That is also what much of the West is now doing, and then falsely claiming to be reducing pollution. In fact, this is often increasing pollution by shifting energy-heavy production to China, which is far more energy inefficient than Europe.

This, for example, is a present lie perpetrated by socialist Labour and the Millipede (Foreign Minister, David Milliban) in the UK.

It is important to note that most reporters do not/cannot properly distinguish between the production capacity of generating plant, and how much that plant produces in a year. This is particularly important when comparing wind or photovoltaic with say, nuclear power.

Nuclear power tends to run at 85% up time and higher, whereas wind is often running at 20-30% and photovoltaics do not work at night.

The power rating may be a megawatt, but if plant is out of production much of the time, then in no manner does a megawatt of photovoltaic capacity or wind energy equate with a megawatt of nuclear power.

This misperception is further aggravated by ‘reporters’ quoting megawatts hours produced and megawatt capacities as if they are comparable. This is a gross error, as a one megawatt unit produces a megawatt hour of electricity every hour it is running. That is 100% up time is approximately 8760 megawatts hours per annum.

Another frequent confusion is confounding energy desiderata with electricity desiderata. Electricity is a type of energy, but energy is not necessarily in the form of electricity (see World primary energy consumption table).

Further, a photovoltaic array is rated on peak performance, whereas not only is there night to consider but also cloud cover, rain, angle to the sun and so on. Meanwhile, a wind generator is only optimal at some wind speeds. Thus, a solar or wind farm may only be 20% efficient at best.

If solar or wind farms over several different regions are linked together to provide power, then it is possible that the combined energy output efficiency could be as high as 50%. Why? Because when there is a calm or it is night in one region, it could well be windy or a sunny day in another, so overall there can still be some energy generation.

I am not convinced that this efficiency is, in fact, possible because of the energy losses that would occur transporting the power generated over long distances. A possibly more effective method could be remote generating units where the power generated is transformed into a liquid fuel such as methanol. Liquid fuel is more energy efficient to transport, whether by pipelines or by sea-tankers. This is why the fossil fuel oil industry works, there being only 2-5% losses even when the crude is refined and transported between continents.

Below is a renewable energy ‘super-grid’ as proposed by the Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation. Note that the TREC is suggesting such a grid, not in order to ensure a better energy efficiency for the various generation methods, but to provide “Europe with power and cut [...] carbon emissions”, together with energy for desalination and, they hope, better political and economic relationships between European countries and those in desert countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

Renewable energy super-grid. Image: Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC)
Renewable energy super-grid.
Image: Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC)

Note that TREC believes that they can “transmit the clean electrical power via High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines throughout those areas and as from 2020 (with overall [...] 10-15% transmission losses) to Europe”.

related material
non-pv (photovoltaic) solar technology

Replacing fossil fuels—the scale of the problem
book review - the nuclear energy option

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#california_dreaming_300508

biofuels - reasons for caution

biofuel interests remind that correlation is not causation

“Speaker after speaker at the World Biofuels convention, which ended on Thursday in southern city Seville, said plant-based fuel production accounted for just 3 percent of world demand for grains.”

“Industry speakers said grain prices had risen due to a world-wide credit squeeze driving investment funds into commodities.

“This is logically part of the market, but it is worth recalling that speculative positions in the Chicago maize market are today three times stocks for the end of the 2008/09 campaign, as forecast by the US Department of Agriculture," said Javier Salgado, chairman of Abengoa Bioenergy, one of Europe's leading biofuel makers.

“For many European producers, the debate over a trade-off between food and fuel was redundant as they could not compete against imports of US biodiesel, which they say receives unfair tax breaks.”

Note also that:

  • there is a long-term squeeze with food stocks shrinking year by year. Foolish governments are subsidising biofuel, the USA to the tune of more that $10 billion a year;
  • huge stocks of grain go to feed farm animals,some of which return less that one calorie for every ten in fodder;
  • some of the biofuel stocks may be taking more energy to produce than they yield;
  • meanwhile, rising populations, and standards of eating/fattening, continue.

Marker at abelard.org

“Rice prices nosedived today as Japan moved closer to unlocking its massive hidden surplus and bullish supply forecasts routed speculators.”

“Behind the sharp drop, which contributed to a 14 per cent collapse in the rice price over the week [...]” [Quoted from timesonline.co.uk]

Excellent news - now how will the farmers react!

Secret reserves, eh - some people run their country with more sense.

Marker at abelard.org

world bank - don’t rush to biofuels

“A senior World Bank official said on Thursday that countries should not greatly increase biofuels production until there is more clarity about how much they have contributed to the global food price crisis.

“Juergen Voegele, director for agriculture and rural development department at the World Bank, cautioned against shifting a lot of the blame to biofuels but also said massive subsidies for the biofuel industry was not helping the crisis.

Marker at abelard.org

This may also interest those watching this area:

E-Fuel Corp unveiled on Thursday the "MicroFueler" touting it as the world's first machine that allows homeowners to make their own ethanol and pump the brew directly into their cars.

“The portable unit that sells for $10,000....”

The unit is reported as making 132 litres a week at $1 a litre.

There’s a short fun film at the linked company page.

Keep in mind the effects on the sugar markets if this became popular.

related material
biofuels
land conservation and food production
comparing fertility rates and populations in europe and beyond

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#biofuel_reasons_for_caution_160508

another step toward cellulosic ethanol production

“Oklahoma secured land for the world's largest stand of switchgrass devoted to cellulosic ethanol production. Acknowledging concerns over ethanol production impacting food prices, Oklahoma advances switchgrass, a different type of energy crop, which has higher energy output than corn and does not compete with human or animal food sources.

“The Oklahoma Bioenergy Center (OBC), a state-initiative championed by Gov. Brad Henry, secured land to enable the planting of more than 1,100 acres of production-scale demonstration fields for cellulosic energy crops, such as switchgrass and sorghum to contribute to the United States' bioenergy effort. Planting will take place within the next 45 days.

“The critical piece of this effort is 1,000 acres of switchgrass which will be planted near Guymon, Okla. in the state's panhandle. This switchgrass field will be the first of its size anywhere in the world focused on biomass production. Additional acreage of sorghum and switchgrass will be planted near Chickasha and Maysville in central Oklahoma.

“Rising food costs recently resulted in a pushback against renewable fuels. However, cellulosic ethanol from sources like switchgrass and sorghum are non-competitive with food sources for animals and humans and remove cellulosic ethanol from this discussion," said Oklahoma Secretary of Energy David Fleischaker. "More so, this dedicated land will allow us to demonstrate the advantages of switchgrass.”

See also the setting of energy policy - biofuels: a study in politics as usual

related material
switchgrass

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#cellulosic_ethanol_050508

old fools ‘discussing’ nuclear power without the slightest understanding of the situation

Context: Energy questions in the UK House of Commons, asked by all parties and answered by a (NuLabour) ‘energy’ minister.

No context with the fossil fuel filth.
No context with the subsidies to the so-called renewables.
No context given the lights will go out.
No context that energy prices must rise as an imperative.
No context of security.
No understanding of the very low real waste situation.

The Lib Dems in cloud cuckoo land;
Socialist Labour with no business sense;

while the Conservative Tories just cynically watch the dopes wallow.

here are a few bits of informarion either ignored or unknown by most paticipants:

related material
the nuclear energy option
nuclear power - is nuclear power really really dangerous?
ionising radiation and health—risk analysis

the web address for the article above is
https://www.abelard.org/news/energy0805.php#uk_mps_nuclear_010508


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