Archive for September, 2009

The Marcellus Shale Formation Is Grabbing Attention

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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National Public Radio had a three-part series on natural gas in the US last week (“Rediscovering Natural Gas By Hitting Rock Bottom,”  You can read the transcript or listen.  It focuses on the deep gas in shale formations,  particularly the Marcellus field, but also does a good job of explaining the gas industry and its lack of clout in Washington.  Within the confines of a 20 minute presentation, that is.


Renewable Energy and Sprawl

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Occasionally I go to the Canaan Valley of WV where there are operating coal mines, including both underground and strip mines, land that has been “restored” to look more like golf courses than rugged WV mountainside, a coal-fired power plant, a large man-made warmwater lake to take water from the power plant and cool it, and large windmills all across the mountainous landscape.  If you drive through a hydrocarbon production area, you will likely see plenty of gas processing plants, above-ground pipes, wells with pumps, storage tanks (if they are old stripper wells), and barbed wire fences to keep intruders out.  The old oil fields in Western PA left lots of debris as they played out for  a century and a half.  Uranium mining is mostly out of sight and out of mind, but uranium doesn’t grow on trees.

All energy production creates sprawl.  Whether it is aesthetically pleasing is in the eye of the beholder on a case by case basis.  The warmwater lake in WV creates recreational opportunities, but closes out other uses of the land.  NIMBYs line up on one side; those who wish to exploit resources without compensating the losers are on the other.

In short, I fail to see how renewable energy creates more sprawl than existing hydrocarbon production and mining. All energy production involves costs and benefits, winners and losers, and uses of  land that foreclose other uses.


The Energy Conversation September 15 Event

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Copied and pasted from an email announcement:

The Energy Conversation             
September 15th, 2009 
Dr. Imre Gyuk, Director of Storage Research, U.S. Department of Energy
Dr. Kevin T. Geiss, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations
and Environment 

The Power of Storage - A 21st Century Energy Revolution

Traditional electricity distribution balances load and generation from instant to  instant, hand to mouth, much as the food supply of primitive hunter-gatherer tribes.   Given the ready availability of fossil fuel this scheme has served society well, with generation being adjusted to follow the variable load.  But this has become a dangerous path.  We have come to learn that profligate use of fossil fuel brings with it global warming. Reduction of carbon footprint and, therefore, the introduction of renewable generation has become imperative.  But renewable wind or solar generation is intermittent and does not follow the diurnal load pattern. Increasing penetration of renewables will place a severe strain on the reliability of the grid. Energy storage provides the buffer, which mediates between variable generation and variable load.  It enables deeper penetration of renewables by making them more dispatchable, increases grid reliability, and yields better asset utilization for transmission and distribution.  However, energy storage is also a disruptive technology – once it is widely adopted, the electricity business will never be the same.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
5:30 – 8:15PM
L’Enfant Plaza Hotel
480 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, D.C.

More information and online registration are available here: