Renew On Line (UK) 63
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 163 Sept-Oct 2006
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
10. US Developments
US Oil boom?
President Bush says he wants to get the USA off imported oil, but given that domestic oil production in the US has been declining since the 1970s, this presents some problems. The enthusiasts look to bio-ethanol, and certainly the USA does have a lot of room to grow biofuels like corn (see below). However the US Dept. of Energy has now claimed that its oil reserves could be boosted 4-fold through advanced injection of CO2 into depleted oilfields- the Enhanced Oil Recovery concept. This is already done in the US and elsewhere on a small scale, but the DOE says that 89 billion barrels could be added to current proved US oil reserves of 21.9 billion barrels through EOC- although they didn’t give a time frame. It does sound rather over optimistic, but at least it would store a lot of CO2.
However not everyone is convinced this would be a permanent solution. ‘How do you make sure you’re not putting it in one end and leaking it out many other ends?’ said Greenpeace. ‘If it leaks even at 1% per year, you’ve thought you’ve saved something, but in fact you didn’t’.
ExxonMobil have produced a new report - ‘Tommorow’s Energy’. There’s a lot about uncertainties in global warming, but they do seem happy to forsee wind and solar power ramping up rapidly.
US Ethanol Boom
US Federal support for ethanol will reduce crude oil imports by 2 billion barrels and reduce the financial outflow to foreign oil producers by US$64bn, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, an industry lobby group. In its 2006 industry outlook, ‘From Niche to Nation,’ it says that the national Renewable Fuels Standard created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 will establish a baseline for green fuel consumption, starting with 4 billion gallons per year in 2006 and expanding to 7.5 billion by 2012, mostly ethanol, and leading to a doubling of the domestic ethanol industry in the next six years.
‘Once serving just niche markets in the Midwest, ethanol is now a ubiquitous component of the U.S. transportation fuels market, as ethanol is now sold from coast to coast and is blended in 30% of the nation’s gasoline,’ explains RFA president Bob Dinneen. Tellingly, trend setter Bill Gates has invested in ethanol. So has Richard Branson.
US wind boom
The US wind industry will install a record breaking 3,000 MW of turbines this year, generating electricity for 600,000 homes, says the American Wind Energy Association in its market report for the first quarter of this year. More than 400 MW of new turbines have gone online since January and the domestic wind industry will invest US$4 bn in new wind energy capacity this year. The industry broke annual installed capacity records last year when it installed 2,400 MW in $3 bn of new plant in 22 states.
California leads in the USA in the use of green power. In 2003 it consumed 3,895 GWh from wind (compared to 11,187 GWh for the whole US), 534 GWh from solar PV (US -534), 12,982 GWh from geothermal (US-14,424) and 36,371 from hydro (US-275,806).
* Geothermal could supply 30,000 MW of U.S. electricity by 2025, but proposals to close federal research programs would cut this figure in half, warns the US Geothermal Energy Association. Currently, geothermal produces 2,800 MW.
…but US CO2 Emissions up
Emissions of SO2 and nitrogen oxide from the top 100 US electric utilities fell by 44% and 36%, respectively, between 1990 and 2004, according to environmental coalition Ceres, the National Resources Defense Coalition and the Public Service Enterprise Group. But their emissions of CO2 rose 27% and will increase more as new coal-fired power plants are built.
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