Archive for the ‘renewable energy’ Category

Ethanol production in US approaches milestone at warp speed

Earlier this year, I jokingly asked an ethanol trader if he thought the US would hit one million barrels of ethanol production per day anytime soon.

“No way,” he said. “That’s light-years away.”

And in many ways, it did seem like an impossibility at the time.

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The 10% ethanol blendwall is once again looming

Don’t look now, but the ethanol blendwall is back.

That 10% cap of how much ethanol can be blended into the US gasoline pool was a fiery issue in the Big Oil vs. Big Farm battle in 2013.

And believe it or not, the number has quietly but quickly crept back up into dangerous territory.

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Keeping the electricity flowing in Europe and the UK…or at least trying

Among the many brilliant and baffling woodcuts by the Dutch artist MC Escher is a depiction of what appears to be a triangle made of three sections of wood, which is in fact an impossible construct owing to the way the joints appear to fit together.

If it existed at all, it would resemble the leg of an insect, which viewed from one position only would appear to enclose a triangle, but in reality it would form a three-part zigzag in space, two of its ends far apart.

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Regulation & Environment: Cap & Trade comes to California oil product markets

California’s cap and trade law has been reality for a wide variety of CO2 emitters for several years. But they are all stationary sources. In January, it moves to a moving kind of source: motor vehicles. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, John Kingston, fresh off a trip to the state’s capital city of Sacramento, discusses the implementation of the law in the fuels business.

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Letter from the IAEE meeting: competitive response

To visit an energy conference in New York, or perhaps anywhere in the United States, is to feel the full force of the shale gale that has swept across the US oil and gas industry, transforming the country’s domestic and foreign perspectives. Its founding fathers have achieved legendary status and are provided the veneration that only America appears capable of giving business leaders.

Shale is variously described as a “revolution,” even a “miracle.” Benjamin Schlesinger, president of Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, went that one step further to state that “natural gas is a renewable fuel.”

This was the international conference of the International Association for Energy Economics held in New York from June 15-18, where it was clear that America is the cat that has got the cream. It is the crucible of the revolution in drilling technology that has reduced the cost of previously unrecoverable oil and gas resources to affordable levels, and it is beginning to export those technologies to the rest of the world. It no longer has to concern itself with existing and emerging import dependencies. Instead it is discussing the possibility that it may soon be a net exporter of oil.

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Why polar bears are doing better than you think

Last year Greenpeace campaigners in the UK paraded a giant polar bear puppet the size of a double-decker bus through the streets of Westminster to protest against planned drilling in the Arctic. This year the polar bears made it into the Houses of Parliament, as a Canadian professor told a meeting there Wednesday night that the animals are not as endangered as many think.

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Marrying the sun and upstream oil production to cash in on LCFS credits

All along, the backers of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard have claimed that the standard, by not being top-down, is going to spur innovation in helping sellers of transportation fuels reach the state’s goals.

And sometimes, they’re proven right. For example, we blogged awhile ago about a plan to turn landfill gas produced somewhere other than in California into two things: natural gas vehicle fuel, and LCFS credits.

It’s hard to imagine how these little things are going to add up enough to help the state’s fuels industry reach its ambitious goal of a 10% cut in the carbon intensity of its transportation fuels. But it does support the suggestion that some companies or individuals will get creative and capitalize on LCFS processes in various ways.

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Energy Economist: South American hydropower fluctuates, and LNG markets feel the impact

A butterfly flapping its wings in the Andes may or may not have some unforeseen global consequence, but the falling of a raindrop will. South America has a natural gas deficit and a highly variable demand load, owing to its over-dependence on hydroelectricity and the variations in electricity generation that produces. Countries in the region have turned to LNG as a backstop, passing the volatility of hydro generation through to the spot market for LNG. Ross McCracken discusses the issue in this month’s excerpt from Platts Energy Economist.

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Can energy sources get bigger and slower in a world going the other way?

Robert Bryce is no easy-to-pigeonhole right-winger. “The Second Iraq War, costing more than $800 billion, will be remembered as one of the biggest strategic errors in modern US history,” he writes in his new book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper. That comes soon after he says “I’ve never believed in American ‘exceptionalism,’ whatever that dubious term might mean.”

The main premise of Bryce’s new book is that lots and lots of things are getting SmallerFasterLighterDenserCheaper, and he strings together those five words into one word frequently in his book.

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The continuing demise of US fuel oil consumption

When commentators talk about the US cutting its oil consumption, they often cite the reductions in usage that were spurred by the first oil shock in 1973-1974. “See,” they say. “We did it back then, and we can do it again!”

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What they often fail to note is that one of the ways in which the US did dial back on its oil consumption is by drastically changing over its use of fuel oil for electricity generation to lots of other things: coal, natural gas, nuclear, alternatives. In 40 years, there have been plenty of things.

But the fact is if you’ve all but zeroed out your consumption of fuel oil, you can only do that once. That’s why the whole “we can do it again!” comes up short.

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