Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
France is currently thinking of enacting a carbon tax to increase climate change mitigation efforts. If enacted, it would be applied to the consumption of energy in general.
With French electricity being mostly low carbon, the majority of the tax revenues would come from the transportation and housing sectors.
It is worth noting that this new tax would be compensated by a decrease in charges associated to labor.
A ton of carbon dioxide would cost emitters €32 euros (around $45) in 2010 and would bring the government an estimated €8.73 billion ($12.328 billion) during the first year.
Out of these, €3.57 billion would be collected from French households and the remaining €5.16 billion from companies and administrations.
In order to divide greenhouse gases emissions by a factor of four by 2050, the tax would increase with time to reach €56 ($80) in 2020, €100 ($140) in 2030 and around €200 ($280) in 2050.
Monday, July 6th, 2009
Africa is the most under-supplied region of the world for electricity, and access to it is very different throughout the continent. While industry receives plenty of cheap power, 80% of the population lives off the power grid. As in other parts of the world, African economies utterly depend on electricity, “but levels of inequality are particularly pronounced here due to the inherent unevenness of ‘electric capitalism’ on the continent,” writes David A. McDonald in his recent book Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid.
The international community is trying to improve the quality of life in Africa, and different sources of energy are being developed and installed. “Initial delivery of electric service to rural Africa is far from a ‘one size fits all’ technical solution, especially given the seasonal diversity of energy needs, as well as the availability and quality of candidate renewable energy resources”, argues S.R. Connors in an article titled “Providing Electricity Services to Rural Africa.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
While coal-fueled power plants are directly responsible for roughly one-third of our CO2 emissions, the DOE indicates that coal is expected to dominate our domestic power generation at least for the next 25 years. Globally, the increased demand for coal-fueled electricity will translate into a 57% rise in related CO2 emissions by 2030 according to the IEA.
One technology that attempts to solve the CO2 emissions crisis is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. Generally speaking, CCS captures the CO2 emissions from coal power plants and other industrial sites and injects the CO2 into underground porous rock formations in hopes of permanent sequestration.
Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
The Australian government plans to build the world’s largest solar power station, a 1,000-megawatt plant that would generate three times as much electricity as the world’s largest solar electric plant, now located in California, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced.
Preliminary plans call for the construction of four individual plants — two solar thermal plants that use mirrors to focus the sun’s heat on steam-generating pipes or towers and two plants that use photovoltaic cells. Over all, the proposed facility would cost about U.S. $1 billion, Rudd said, and would generate electricity equivalent to a large coal-fired power plant.
Monday, March 9th, 2009
Coal is dirty. Nuclear is dangerous. Wind and solar are intermittent. Trash is a constant, which brings us to landfill gas.
People throw things away. They recycle, sure, but consider all the waste in the world the next time you unpack your groceries. Product packaging alone can fill your trash can after one trip to the supermarket.
Garbage goes into landfills, where it decomposes, and creates methane, a gas much more potent than the whipping boy, carbon dioxide. For years, landfills have gotten rid of this gas, which builds up inside, by flaring it off. Burning it, wasting it.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
I recently had the chance to speak with Catherine Potter, Manager of Consumer Content at Positive Energy.
Matthew Benson: What is Positive Energy?
Catherine Potter: Every energy utility faces a fundamental challenge of balancing supply with demand. They can add more capacity or they can reduce demand to make the math work. We help utilities reduce demand in the residential sector, by providing tools and ideas that encourage and enable consumers to reduce energy use. In this way, utilities can look at us as an efficiency power plant.
Friday, February 6th, 2009
The search for alternative transportation fuels just got a little easier.
The U.S. Department of Energy, now headed by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, has rolled out an “Alternative Fueling Station Locator.” In other words, if you’re driving a vehicle that runs on biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, natural gas or propane, this tool can help you find it .
Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
President Obama, welcome to the center stage, the country and the world are expecting great things from you and your team of 306 million people. Please lead us all wisely.
This morning Barack Hussain Obama became 44th President of the United States before a backdrop of mounting environmental concerns, national security fears, economic instability and a very expectant, demanding and increasingly impatient constituency. Today he humbly called on American and the World’s citizens and to help him. The future of clean technologies of every sector require forward thinking politicians and intelligentsia to wean the public from energy sources that “strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet“.
Thursday, November 20th, 2008
In “The Grid: A Journey Through the Heart of Our Electrified World”, Phillip Schewe provides his readers with a historical backdrop to the “largest industrial investment in history” – the electrical grid. He discusses the key players in its development – from the scientific geniuses who converted electricity from a curiosity to an essential tool for modern life, to the entrepreneurs who built the electrical infrastructure and marketed and sold power to the masses, to the political leaders who deemed it in the national interest to get the government into the power business to expand access to this essential commodity. Schewe writes from a fairly general point of view and avoids getting into too much technical or economic detail. He does often complement his historical summarizing with philosophical meanderings, which in my opinion add little value to the overall presentation.