Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Energy Innovation’ tag

Efficiency, Innovation, Natural Gas are Keys to Energy Security

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Former Presidents Bush and Clinton are walking a fine line, balancing between taking advantage of the cost effective resources we have now, such as oil and gas, and the need to protect our energy security and natural environment for generations to come.

Two former presidents share many energy views

By JENNIFER A. DLOUHY and TOM FOWLER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

March 12, 2011, 2:28AM

Oil will be essential for fueling the U.S. for decades to come, but low-emission natural gas and improved efficiency will bridge the transition to cleaner alternative fuels, business leaders, two former presidents and energy analysts said Friday.

Former President George W. Bush told a packed ballroom of energy executives at the CERAWeek conference that while the U.S. has a vision of new technologies to power our homes and propel our cars, the nation needs to be prosperous to afford them. And that prosperity, Bush said, is tied to oil and natural gas.

Although they have been political adversaries, Bush and former President Bill Clinton agreed that the U.S. should do more to harness the promise of natural gas, which produces fewer emissions than coal and oil.

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But he cautioned that the nation needs to make sure that the hydraulic fracturing process, used to unlock vast stores of gas in shale formations, doesn’t contaminate drinking water supplies or create an accident that shuts down the industry the way last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill stopped most offshore drilling.

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‘We’ve got to take action’

Big energy consumers said they are scrambling to offset spikes in crude prices and eke out more per barrel by boosting efficiency.

Read the entire article here.

Limited Government Intervention Can Aid Innovation

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Especially during the healthcare debates, many were heard to decry increased government intervention as stifling not only the economy, but also innovation. Many of the concerns regarding the inefficiency of the federal government were certainly valid, and I stand by my contention that, while every person in a country as wealthy as the US ought to have basic healthcare, the federal government is not the most efficient instrument to carry out this mission.

But for those who ask what new technologies have come out of the much more socialist Europe, I point to the vast strides they have made in renewable energy. As I said in an earlier post, Germany and China are leading this charge, two countries that have far more government intervention than we have here.

Yes, more fence sitting. I take the stand that limited government intervention is necessary to set the framework for more long term thinking, to provide the guidelines for business activity that will provide the same options we have now in terms of resource availability for future generations. Once that framework is set, the market ought to be able to work out the most efficient means to maximize welfare given the world’s physical constraints.

The quote below by Pietikainen captures this sentiment. Wow, imagine that coming from a socialist politician.

European Business and Policy Leaders Discuss the Role of Innovation and Energy

BRUSSELS, September 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —

– Dow Corning-Sponsored Roundtable Spotlights European Commission Vision to Accelerate Development and Deployment of Economic Stimulating, Low-Carbon Technologies

Political representatives and business leaders today provided a glimpse into the role that innovation and energy technologies will play in the economic recovery and environmental protection in Europe.

The roundtable at the European Parliament in Brussels was sponsored by Dow Corning and co-hosted by Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Fiona Hall and Sirpa Pietikainen. Panel participants exchanged views on pressing issues that will be addressed this autumn by the European Union’s institutions to position Europe for the 21st Century, including the upcoming innovation strategy and the revision of the EU’s industrial policy.

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“Europe must ensure that companies can operate in a business-friendly environment that promotes low-carbon technologies and innovation,” said Pietikainen, “which will contribute to solving Europe’s greatest challenges by reducing costs and improving resource efficiency in production processes.”

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

February 11th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

A Strong Economy is Positive for Energy Innovation

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To pick on one particular point in this article, I definitely don’t agree with Mr. Mosquero, the chairman of Tecpetrol, quoted below, as seeming to say that the global economic crisis is positive for our energy future because it has tempered demand.

A sound economy allows companies to invest in developing the technologies that will increase our efficiency and our capabilities to, among other things, innovate alternatives to non-renewable resources. Specifically in terms of energy, those technologies that aren’t already competitive are more likely to be at least as cost effective as fossil fuels in the coming years if our economy continues to prosper.

Energy Boom Is Coming Regardless of Slowing Global Economy, Officials Say

By Margot Habiby and Frederic Tomesco – Sep 14, 2010 12:59 PM MT


The world must prepare for the next energy boom, officials meeting this week in Montreal said, as long-range forecasts that demand will surge eclipse concern that the pace of the global economic recovery is slowing.
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“Any long-term energy outlook that I’m aware of has continued demand increases for energy demand globally,” said Richard Newell, head of the statistics unit of the Energy Department, which predicts demand will rise 50 percent by 2035.
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“Even though the share of fossil fuels in the energy mix may decline over the longer term, the absolute quantities of energy from these sources will continue to rise simply because total energy demand is set to expand so significantly,” Khalid al-Falih, chief executive officer of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest oil producer, said in a speech yesterday in Montreal.
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Projections by the EIA, IEA and IHS-CERA show that “under current policies and current market trends, the fossil-fuel share of global energy consumption is likely to stay in the 70 to 80 percent range,” the EIA’s Newell said. These forecasts factor in increased use of renewable fuels as well as improved energy efficiency by countries from the U.S. to China, he said.
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“If we continue with a double-dip world economic crisis, that’s fine,” said Marcelo Martinez Mosquera, chairman of Argentina’s Tecpetrol SA and Tecgas Argentina SA. “We can postpone talking about energy issues for a while until we go back to the 2008 economic scenario of different countries pushing for scarce commodities, but I don’t think this will happen.”

Read the entire article here.

The Profitability and Economic Advantage of Renewable Energy

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“[Then Gov.] Bush and his fellow Texans didn’t create the [renewable energy] industry because they were worried about global warming. They did it because there was money to be made.
There still is. And if Congress doesn’t hurry, most of it is going to be made in China.”

With the August recess just a few days away, and politicians focused on the most important mid-term elections in at least a decade, I have little faith that anything substantive will happen with energy legislation before the new year. And with Republican prospects as strong as they are and a lack of Republican support for rewriting the way our government influences our energy usage, the chances don’t look much better in 2011.

I suggest not a quantitative change in government intervention, unless it’s a decrease, but a qualitative shift. In other words, this is not a call for increased government intervention or market distortions, but a change in the way the government intervenes. Today’s regulations hamper the ability of people in the free market to find the most efficient solutions to our energy challenges. Not good.

The best bet would be for the government to set the standards, as with Renewable Electricity Standards (RES), bring pricing in line with the externalities associated with different forms of fuel, so that issues such as healthcare costs incurred as people get sick from breathing air that’s been polluted by coal, and then let firms work within this transparent framework to deliver reliable power at the best possible price. These RES would offer much better prospect for people in later generations to enjoy more of the options we have presently, without forcing us to make unrealistic sacrifices now.

Without these measures, we face a number of serious problems, including an economy plagued by dependence on foreign energy, air that continues to be dirtied by coal and petroleum, and more jobs going to places like China as those visionaries who know that renewable fuels are going to bring big returns on investment flock to the countries that encourage, and benefit from, this necessary and lucrative innovation.

Senate Inaction Cedes U.S. Energy Race to China

By Eric Pooley – Jul 29, 2010 7:00 PM MT

Right now the U.S. Senate is conducting a master class on the perils of legislation by rearview mirror. On July 27, when Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled the “Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act,” the two most powerful clean energy provisions were missing: a cap on carbon emissions from the electric power sector and a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), which would require utilities to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021.
For years, business leaders from General Electric Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt to venture capitalist John Doerr have warned that if America failed to pass a comprehensive climate-and-energy bill, the country risked losing the clean energy race to China — sacrificing the jobs of the future in a timid, ill-fated effort to preserve the jobs of the past. Now those warnings are coming true.
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In a meeting with business leaders and environmental advocates early last year, Obama economic adviser Larry Summers described a “scissors” approach to economic recovery, according to several people who were present but not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The first blade of the scissors, Summers explained, was the stimulus package and its tens of billions for clean energy deployment. The second blade would be a mandatory, declining cap on carbon, which would remove the investment uncertainty that has hobbled the energy market, and draw billions of private dollars off the sidelines.
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Instead of funding U.S. projects, banks and venture capitalists increasingly are putting their energy money into China, where the market is large and secure, thanks to government mandates. In the second quarter, for example, China attracted more clean-tech asset financing than Europe and the U.S. combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
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On the same day that Reid pulled the plug on the carbon cap, China Daily announced that the People’s Republic would begin an experiment in carbon trading — a policy mechanism invented in America, used by Republican George H.W. Bush to fight acid rain, and vilified by today’s GOP as “cap and tax.”
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Colorado voters approved one in 2004, and the state has increased the standard twice: The current target is 30 percent by 2020, double the one left out of the Senate bill. Colorado now generates almost 6 percent of its electricity from wind, and its commitment to clean energy has helped develop a solar industry as well: from 100 companies in 2007 to more than 400 today, according to the governor’s office. When Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish turbine maker, chose to build its North American manufacturing plants in Colorado (a $1 billion investment that was good for 2,500 new jobs), it called the RES a major factor in the decision.
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Another early adopter is Texas. Its RES, signed into law by Governor George W. Bush in 1999, has helped the state become a major producer of U.S. wind power, adding almost 10 gigawatts (up from 0.2 in 1999) and thousands of new jobs in the decade since the law was enacted. Although Texas has reduced its carbon emissions as a result of this push into wind energy, Bush and his fellow Texans didn’t create the industry because they were worried about global warming. They did it because there was money to be made.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

July 30th, 2010 at 6:56 pm