Monday, July 16, 2012

An "electric" car that actually runs on a toxic form of alcohol (methanol)

Green, they may be. But electric cars have struggled to overcome one of the main shortfalls that put buyers off - an inferior range to their petrol-powered rivals. That may be about to change after a new electric car was unveiled that promises to go 500 miles (800km) before the battery needs recharging.

The Modular Energy Carrier concept (MECc), created by three Danish companies, uses bio-methanol to bolster its battery life.

Mogens Lokke, CEO of ECOmove, designers of the innovative 'QBEAK' car said bio-methanol was far better than diesel or gasoline because it produces substantially less carbon dioxide.

'In combination with the way we built the car, which is really lightweight (425 kilograms), we can get the 500-mile range,' he told CNN.

A bio-methanol/ water is converted by the fuel cell to create electricity, while waste heat from the process powers the car's heating and cooling system.

It also benefits from a innovative chassis design which has really pushed the technology forward. 'Instead of putting in a fixed battery, we have built in (six) modules that can be fitted inside the chassis. We can use battery power in the modules or any other kind of energy source,' Lokke said.

The award-winning QBEAK also uses patented in-wheel electric motors to deliver a top speed of 75mph (120kph).

According to Mads Friis Jensen from Serenergy, the designers of the fuel cell, bio-methanol is a cheap and abundant fuel with a short carbon chain. Compared to gasoline, bio-methanol production can cut CO2 emissions by more than 70 per cent

The U.S. Department for Energy (DOE) says direct methanol fuel cells are not hampered by the storage problems that affect other green fuels like hydrogen because as a liquid it's easier to transport and supply through current infrastructure.


No fact checking please! We're Warmists!

Attempts to link recent U.S. weather to global warming have already be extensively debunked on this site but I liked the article by Pat Michaels below so am putting it up as a parting shot at the nonsense concerned

What ever happened to rudimentary fact-checking? There certainly wasn't very much of it in a recent Associated Press screed conflating this summer's weather and global warming.

True, AP's Seth Borenstein had the good sense to never directly say that any particular event could be linked to global temperature. But his intent was obvious:
Climate scientists suggest that if you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, take a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.

Horrendous wildfires. Oppressive heat waves. Devastating droughts. Flooding from giant deluges. And a powerful freak wind storm called a derecho.

Before we go into the facts he didn't check, let's start with the obvious. If this summer's weather is a result of global warming, then it had better be globally warm.

Below is a plot of the four major global temperature histories. This chart begins in 1979 because that is the starting date of the satellite history, which is likely to be the best record. The top three charts are from ground-based thermometers, and the bottom is the satellite. (Don't worry about the absolute difference between the records-they are referenced to different mean values.)

Global average temperature anomalies, 1979 through 2012 (red, NASA dataset; green, US Department of Commerce dataset; orange, University of East Anglia; blue, satellite records from University of Alabama-Huntsville). The open circles are annual departures from average for each dataset. The last point (filled circle) is for the first five months of 2012.

All of these records share a common characteristic. They don't show much warming since the late 1990s. More germane to Borenstein's article is that, so far, 2012 is actually cool compared to the run of years since then. Such an inconvenient fact.

Now to the specifics. Borenstein reiterated the old rural legend about wildfires being enhanced by a bug called the western pine beetle. It works like this: bark beetles, which kill pine trees, survive in larger numbers during warm winters. Therefore warm winters result in more dead trees which results in more fuel which results in bigger fires. Logical, right?

Having done a bunch of research on pine beetles myself, I, too, once believed this. But it's wrong. Last year, Martin Simard of the University of Wisconsinactually checked the facts, measured the amount of fuel left behind, and found that beetle-infested forests have less fuel and that they suppress forest fires. The results were published in Ecological Monographs, about as prestigious a journal as there is in the field of Ecology.

Given the fact that 2012 is nothing special globally, then, under Borenstein's logic, any odd weather from 1996 through now-when temperatures have been pretty constant-is consistent with global warming. That would include:

* Last year's mild winter,

* The record length of time that the U.S. has seen since its last major hurricane strike, and

* The very low hurricane activity observed worldwide since 2005,

* The gigantic snowstorms that hit Washington DC in 2009-10,

* The very active hurricane season of 2005, and

* The lack of any trend whatsoever in severe tornadoes or economically-adjusted weather damages.

* Etc..

But the largest insult in Borenstein's article was his completely careless conflation of global warming with last week's "derecho" that blew down trees in and around our Nation's Capital, These systems, known more accurately as Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS), are not rare. Some places average one a year. They tend to form in the daytime and usually (but not always) wane at night. Very few form east of the Appalachians, so they have to migrate over mountains that are very hostile to them to get to DC, which is why there is about one every four years here.

Whatever bad weather lands in Washington hits the media right between its eyes. Even modest snowstorms acquire cosmic importance And the local culture does its best to make things worse.

Politically and arboreally, Washington is a jungle. The modern cult of tree-worship is especially popular. People squawk when the power company comes by to trim branches, so the power company goes away. When an ice storm, a decaying hurricane, or-yes-an MCS shows up, so goes the power. For millions, and sometimes for weeks.

With regard to global warming, some aspects of it would enhance derechos, and others would detract from them. It's probably a push. Indeed, given the total lack of anything special about global temperatures in 2012, if derechos were being plumped by warming, then they would have become much more frequent over the last 16 years. Of course, there's absolutely no evidence of this, but why let the facts get in the way of a good story?


Senator Harry Reid’s Part in Green-Energy Crony-Corruption

So far our chronicle of the green-energy crony-corruption story, has focused primarily on the connections the players have to President Obama. This chapter stars Senator Harry Reid. When looking at the whole story, it’s important to note that Senator Reid “led passage of the $814 billion stimulus bill and worked to include the loan guarantee program to help finance clean-energy projects”—projects to which, as we will show, he is connected.

In a DOE press release, Reid actually bragged about how he included the green loan guarantee in the stimulus bill: “As I led passage of the stimulus bill, I worked to include the loan guarantee program to help finance clean energy projects” that will “bring us closer to energy independence.”

We’ve already unveiled two of these expensive and politically explosive projects through our Special Seven series––those that received the touted loans as a part of the stimulus bill (even though they were rated as “non-investment” grade) and grants, as well as “special” Department of Interior treatment. As the “Special Seven” moniker indicates, there are more companies and/or projects to reveal.

Before we start on the new information, here’s a highlight of the previous players’ specific connections to Senator Harry Reid—the focus of this chapter.

Last week, we exposed BrightSource Energy that received a $1.6 billion DOE loan. BrightSource’s executives donated almost $4000 to Reid’s 2010 campaign, including $2400 from the CEO John Woolard, who in September 2010, along with Peter Darbee, then Chairman of PG & E, hosted a fundraiser for the majority leader in his corporate offices.

The week before, we uncovered the fact that a couple of SolarReserve (with its $737 million loan) board members are big Democrat donors, including contributions to Obama’s 2008 campaign as well as Senator Reid. The Washington Free Beacon divulged, “…Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve—are located in Reid’s home state. Executives from all three companies have donated to Reid and his fellow Democrats, contributing more than $58,000 since 2008.”

However, what you are about discover is that the two projects we’ll profile in this chapter have similar direct ties, some sly connections to the Senator, and some stinky consequences.

Nevada Geothermal Power

First we’ll look into Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) as recent news exposes that its power is dimming. NGP may be the next green-energy bankruptcy.

Here’s the NGP thumbnail presented in the introduction to the green-energy crony-corruption story:

Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) holds leasehold interests in six geothermal projects located in the Western United States. They hold a BB+ rating and received a $78.8 million loan, guaranteed by the DOE, in September of 2010. Executives from NGP contributed in 2008 to Harry Reid’s campaign.

Additionally, since 2009, NGP was the recipient of more than $69 million in federal grants, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The New York Times reports: “Reid was instrumental in securing that financing for Nevada Geothermal.” The NYT noted: “Mr. Reid has taken the nascent geothermal industry under his wing, pressuring the Department of Interior to move more quickly on applications to build clean energy projects on federally owned land and urging other members of Congress to expand federal tax incentives to help build geothermal plants, benefits that Nevada Geothermal has taken advantage of.” You might think Reid has altruistic motives, such as creating jobs for his state, however, as the NYT points out: “Mr. Reid has received some support from the industry, in the form of at least $43,000 worth of campaign contributions from the geothermal industry since 2009, according to an analysis of federal campaign finance records.” The “campaign contributions” could be why, in a 2010 press release, he declared “Northern Nevada is the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy.”

Despite the flowery rhetoric, at the time the DOE approved the conditional loan guarantee in September 2010, they were well aware of NGP’s “well-documented” financial difficulties. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (HOGRC) called the loan a “bailout”—which “violated the spirit and, quite possibly, the letter of the law” and provided “an opportunity for private industry to exit an investment, deleverage and transfer the extraordinarily high default risk to taxpayers.”

Less than a year after the loan was issued, leading accounting firm Deloitte & Touche did an audit of NGP and concluded: “significant doubt” about Nevada Geothermal Power’s “ability to continue as a going concern.” The company’s vital signs are not looking good: it “has incurred net losses over the past several years, has an accumulated deficit of $44.0 million and an anticipated inability to retire its long-term liabilities.”

The project continued to have “operational and financial problems.” In the October 2011 NYT article, it states: “Executives expressed confidence that they can recover” and that “the government investment is not at risk.” As CEO Brian D. Fairbank stated: “We’re doing OK.”

During Fairbank’s “Green Energy Gamble” May 16, 2012 testimony before the HOGRC, he spoke “about the many good things occurring at Blue Mountain” and stated that they “remained bullish on the future of geothermal resource potential” at Blue Mountain. However, the future of Nevada Geothermal is looking dim, it still faces financial problems, and the company’s internal auditors have questioned whether it can stay in business.

The audit report states: “NGP has incurred $98 million in net losses over the past several years, has substantial debts and does not generate enough cash from its current operations after debt-service costs.”

With the audit completed in March 2012, one as to wonder how much did Fairbanks actually know about the status of NGP during that May 16 testimony when he claimed he “remained bullish?”

Another angle, in that DOE press release, both Secretary Chu and Senator Reid praised the potential job creation of the NGP project. Chu said: “Our support for the Blue Mountain project is part of the Administration’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions while creating clean energy jobs,” and Reid: “clean energy projects like Blue Mountain geothermal that will put Nevadans back to work...” In conflict with these claims, the HOGRC report states: “It was known to him [Secretary Chu] at that time [of the press conference], however, that the loan would not create a single job, but instead would simply refinance an existing loan, despite DOE’s claim that it would create over 200 jobs”

Instead of using the loan as Title XVI, Section 1602 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, requires: “Recipients shall use grant funds in a manner that maximizes job creation and economic benefit,” the loan was used to pay off a creditor. According to the Washington Times report, “At the time the Energy Department announced its conditional approval of the guarantee, Mr. Issa said NGP would have defaulted on a loan from TCW Asset Management Co., then its primary lender, ‘had DOE not swooped in to save the failing company with taxpayer money.’ A committee report said the loan did not finance any new construction and ‘did not help to create a single job.’”

So, Senator Reid received money from the geothermal industry, he, apparently, then pressured the DOE to fund projects in Nevada based on the false promise of job creation—which he knew was not accurate at the time. Instead of creating jobs, Reid’s advocacy actually “bailed out” his cronies—that is really corrupt.

Ormat Nevada

But the story continues. As we reported in the introduction, Kai Anderson, a lobbyist for NGP’s partner corporation, Ormat Technologies, Inc., is a former Senate aide to Harry Reid. Ormat’s CEO Paul Thomsen is another former Reid aide. Additionally, according to the Washington Times, “Mr. Fairbank denied knowing or lobbying Mr. Reid, but the House Oversight Committee said Ormat Inc., which was paid $80 million to build NGP’s Blue Mountain plant, has ‘strong ties’ to the senator.”

The thumbnail of Ormat in the introduction reads as follows:

Ormat Nevada is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ormat Technologies, Inc., whose website touts “green energy you can rely on.” They have an S&P rating of BB and received $350 million in partial loan guarantees. Ormat’s lobbyist Kai Anderson and Director of Policy and Business Development Paul Thomsen were both former senate aides to Harry Reid and donors to his campaign.

The May 2012 HOGRC report expands the connections: “During Senator Reid’s 2010 reelection campaign, Thomsen starred in a campaign ad for Senator Reid to advertise the benefits of Ormat’s loan guarantee for Nevada. In addition to Anderson and Thomsen, Ormat’s President, Yoram Bronicki, gave thousands in political contributions to Senator Reid. The strong ties between the company and the Senate Majority leader raise questions about whether the DOE acted in the best interests of the American people when it approved the loan guarantee.”

Yoram Bronicki is the son of Ms. Yehudit Bronicki (also known as Dita). She is CEO and Director of Ormat Technologies. In addition to the $350 million loan guaranteed by the DOE with John Hancock in aggregate principal amount, Ormat Technologies’ projects received more than $200 million in various DOE grants.

The 2010 campaign ad, starring former Reid staffer Thomsen, heralded “Geothermal means 16,000 Nevada jobs… Harry Reid saw the potential just before everybody else.” With projects like NGP, it seems those jobs have never materialized and the reason Harry Reid was such a soothsayer is the same reason a fortune teller tells you what you want to hear: you are holding the money. With the geothermal industry “contributing more than $58,000 since 2008” and, in just these two stories, receiving $700 million in loans and grants, they’ve gotten an amazing return on their investment. In the bad economy, the best way to grow your money just may be to invest in green energy—just make sure you have friends in high places.

All this, and it does nothing to “bring us closer to energy independence.” Geothermal—and wind and solar—power generates electricity. America is already electricity independent. We have enough coal, natural gas, and uranium to power us for centuries! We even export coal, we have so much.

So why are we killing good-paying jobs in the coal industry, preventing thousands of union jobs the Keystone pipeline would create, and potentially putting thousands out of work with a pending ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction, for the supposed jobs in green energy—when we are already electricity independent? These green-energy projects can only raise the cost of electricity and waste public money, while the energy sources the administration’s efforts are killing or blocking can actually reduce costs—without taxpayer investment.

The green-energy crony-corruption story is explains it all.


Clinton’s Colorado Legacy

Just as the financial crisis that caused everything to collapse in 2008 was a delayed consequence of Bill Clinton doubling down on Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act insanity, the wildfires that have caused such massive destruction in Colorado reflect Slick Willy’s cherished legacy:
Environmental regulations restricting the construction of forest access roads have limited the ability of the Forest Service to clear combustible brush and trees, adding dangerous fuel to the wildfires that have ravaged Colorado this summer. The so-called “roadless rule,” which was first implemented in 2001 by President Clinton shortly before he left office, restricts and in many cases prohibits local and federal officials from building and maintaining roads that allow firefighters to clear out growth that could instantly become tinder for a new fire.

The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, regularly referred to as the 2001 roadless rule, was adopted in January of 2001 and classified 31 percent of national forest lands in Colorado as Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA’s).

As with the looming Fannie/Freddie catastrophe, W at least tried to fix it.
President Bush attempted to give more control over roadless areas back to the states by throwing out the one-size-fits-all 2001 roadless rule and allowing states to engage in a petition process in order to promulgate their own rules.

But this was held up by the clueless moonbats running the courts until the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals nixed it last year, with the blessing of the dementedly envirofascistic Obama Regime and other usual suspects such as the Sierra Club.


Soaring green energy taxes could force firms out of UK as industry becomes uncompetitive

Industry will become increasingly uncompetitive due to soaring green energy taxes, according to the Government’s own advisers.

A shocking report has found UK manufacturers’ electricity bills are already significantly higher than those in other leading nations due to climate change levies.

By the end of the decade, our green taxes will be double those in other EU nations and dozens of times higher than those in the US.

Industry groups said the report was ‘extremely worrying’ and could force firms abroad, where regulations are less stringent.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) report looked at the iron and steel, aluminium, cement and chemicals industries in 11 countries, most of which have renewable energy policies.

These energy-intensive industries directly employ 600,000 in Britain and contribute nearly £50billion a year to the economy.

Firms will be forced to pay an extra £28.30 in green taxes on top of the market price they pay for every megawatt hour of electricity by 2020 due to climate policies, according to the report by an independent firm.

This compares with £15.70 in Denmark, renowned for its renewable energy drive, £15.20 in France, £17.30 in Germany, £10 in China and a fall in the US and Russia.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: ‘This report provides clear, independent evidence supporting concerns we have long put to government – that UK manufacturers in energy-intensive sectors are paying more for their electricity than many global and European competitors.’

He said the report showed ‘a mismatch between intent and reality’, given ministerial assurances that costs would not be loaded on to hard-pressed businesses.

Ian Rodgers, director of UK Steel, said: ‘The findings paint an extremely worrying picture for the UK’s steel industry. UK Government policy is making it more expensive to do business in the UK.’

The Government has committed to cutting carbon emissions by 80 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2050.

Last May India’s Tata Steel announced 1,500 job cuts in the UK, which it put down to the impact of expensive climate policies.

Its chief executive in Europe, Karl-Ulrich Kohler, said there was a ‘great deal of uncertainty’ about how far the UK Government was prepared to go in its green policies.

The CBI said the report showed measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne last year – such as £250million to alleviate energy costs up to 2015 – did not go far enough.

Manufacturers yesterday urged the Treasury to put similar measures in place by 2015-20 to put them on a level playing field.

The report was also scathing about the proposed Carbon Price Floor, which from next year will tax firms £16 per ton of carbon they emit.

It has been criticised by environmental groups for simply encouraging firms to shift production to countries without such strict rules.

The BIS said the report did not take into account the Chancellor’s recent £250million subsidy for businesses. A spokesman said: ‘Government is committed to ensuring that manufacturing remains competitive during the shift to a low carbon economy and that the UK is open for business.’


British Wind farm subsidies to top £1bn this year

The cost of subsidies for wind farms is expected to top a billion pounds this year for the first time. The disclosure comes ahead of a long-awaited government announcement to cut the size of the subsidy, which benefits the big energy companies but is added on to household electricity bills.

The scale of the reduction was last night bogged down in Whitehall wrangling. Edward Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, was expected to make a decision before the Commons breaks up for the summer on Tuesday.

However, Whitehall sources told The Sunday Telegraph last night that discussions were “still continuing” – code for Coalition rows about the scope of subsidy cuts – leading to fears that the announcement could be postponed.

Original government plans were to cut onshore wind subsidies by 10 per cent for the period 2013-17, a move backed by the Liberal Democrats. Conservative MPs have been fighting for cuts of about 25 per cent.

The consumer subsidies were introduced by the Labour government to encourage green energy projects, including wind farms. However, it is now generally accepted that the subsidies are too generous as technologies have become cheaper.

According to an analysis of official figures by the think-tank Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), the total annual subsidy for onshore and offshore wind farms has, for the first time, topped £1billion. REF estimates that on current renewable energy targets – and with only modest cuts – the energy companies will have received £100 billion in subsidies by 2030.

REF said it expects 10 companies, between them, to pocket £800million through subsidies over the next 12 months.

The biggest winner is Dong Energy, a Danish energy company, which is on course to earn more than £156 million in subsidies through its British wind farms. Dong is also paid for the energy that it sells to the National Grid.

The next highest earner is Vattenfall, a state-owned Swedish energy conglomerate, which will earn £128 million from its wind farms. Out of the top 10, only two of the companies are British-owned – Centrica, which will receive £58 million in subsidy and SSE, which is due £53 million.

The remaining energy companies that make money out of British wind farms and British consumers are based in Germany, Norway, Spain and Italy.

The subsidy cut has caused anxiety in the onshore wind farm business, which has lobbied hard to keep the reduction at 10 per cent – a figure that was first mooted in a consultation document last year. The reduction was suggested as a means of deterring “poorly sited projects which are more expensive to develop”. Offshore wind farms, which are more expensive and receive a bigger subsidy, face a 5 per cent subsidy cut.

Back-bench Conservative MPs want a bigger reduction. Oliver Letwin, a Cabinet minister who is close to David Cameron, revealed in an email last month that he expected the subsidy to be scrapped by 2020.

REF, which opposes wind farms on the grounds of cost and on the damage they do to the countryside, said that the planned subsidy cut – even at a 25 per cent reduction – may still not be enough to cap costs because of the number of planned wind farms.

John Constable, director of REF, said: “The total savings that a 25 per cent reduction in subsidy could produce are macro-economically significant, and it is unlikely that either the Treasury or the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will want to stop there. Retrospective cuts for existing wind farms and those in construction cannot be ruled out.”

He described the future saving as “a big barnacle scraped off the hull of the UK economy”.

The size of the cut, and a possible delay in the announcement, has caused uncertainty in the wind energy industry. The industry’s figures show that 348 onshore wind farms are in operation and that 275 have planning consent but remain unbuilt. REF claims that “investor anxiety over the long term sustainability of the subsidies is a major factor” in explaining why energy companies have not constructed more onshore wind farms.

One developer, RES, which has not started construction on several projects that have planning permission, insisted that it was nothing to do with the subsidy cut.

A spokesman for RES said: “There is nothing on any of these wind farms that is holding them up. They are just going through due process.”

Þ Proposals for an offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea between Anglesey and the Isle of Man have been submitted.

The joint venture between Centrica and Dong Energy could include up to 440 turbines. Centrica said that the plans were in an extremely early stage.



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