eXtreme efFiciency

Yes, we really can have all the modern conveniences and clear consciences and a safe planet, too.
We just have to make the right choices

Sunday, September 9

A very promising biofuel

Biofuels have been talked about for years as having the potential to solve several problems at once -- energy dependence on unstable nations, greenhouse gas warming, and some kinds of pollution -- as well as giving a boost to farmers. But they're also a complex and controversial solution: different analysts reach very different conclusions as to whether biofuels can take more energy to produce than they acrually yield, and whether producing them would cause depletion in food crops and in water resources, among other things. The devil is in the details, and some biofuels, made from some crops in some places, may indeed be a real boon, while others may be questionable, or even disastrous. Entrepreneur Vinod Khosla is a strong believer in the potential of biofuels, and a very smart and successful businessman, and I find his analysis very convincing (see this presentation, for example).
In today's New York Times, there's a story about another very convincing and promising potential, a crop called jatropha that's already widely grown, especially in some very poor and very arid nations such as Mali, and that can efficiently yield a biodiesel fuel without competing with food crops for either land or water. This looks like a very good prospect, and one to keep an eye on.

Friday, January 27

Lovins in Discover

There's a really good article by Amory Lovins in the current Discover magazine. He really lays it out nicely in a pretty short space -- how to get this nation weaned off oil altogether. That's what this blog is supposed to be about, and that article nicely summarizes the whole concept.

Monday, October 3

People want efficiency. Yes they do

An overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, believe that oil companies have been engaged in price gouging, taking advantage of recent events including the devastation of back-to-back hurricanes in its principal petroleum-producing areas to boost their own profits. And they want the government to take action.
A new poll released in mid-September found that 87 percent think the companies "are currently gouging consumers at the gas pump," and 81 percent think the US government is not doing enough about it. Strong majorities support a big increase in fuel-efficiency requirements, new taxes on the oil companies' windfall profits, and a mandate that car companies be required to convert all their models to fuel-efficient hybrid technology.
Raising the fuel-efficiency standards for US cars from the present 27.5 miles per gallon to 40 mpg would "reduce our dangerous dependence on Middle Eastern oil, making us more secure in the world," said Pam Solo, president of Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan think tank which commissioned the poll along with 40mpg.org. In addition, she said, with the higher efficiency requirement, "air pollution is reduced, and we can cut the US contribution to global warming by a third."
With three out of four Republicans as well as Democrats convinced the government is not doing enough to address energy issues and the oil companies' profiteering, "Americans apprear to be coalescing in substantial and surprisingly bipartisan majorities behind major new federal policies," said Wayne Russum, president of the Opinion Research Corporation, which conducted the new poll of 1,019 Americans last week. A new tax on the windfall profits, earmarked specifically for research on alternative energy, was supported by 79 percent.
By contrast, the comprehensive energy bill passed by the US Congress earlier this year is mostly geared toward support of petroleum, coal, and nuclear power, with alternative energy research given relatively little funding.
Russum said that the poll marks a significant change in US public opinion, with 80 percent now "in a frame of mind where they want Detroit car makers to follow the lead of Toyota in powering all future vehicles with fuel-saving hybrid technology."
Only 4 percent of poll respondents said that "no price gouging is going on" by the industry. And because of the recent sharp spikes in fuel prices at the pump, about three-quarters of people in both parties think it is much more or somewhat more important than before to increase the fuel-economy requirements.
The poll had a sampling error margin of 3 percent.
Check out the study here.

Monday, March 7

Useful link for Extreme Efficiency information

Here's a page with a great set of links, put together as a result of a session on Extreme Efficiency at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC last month.

Sunday, March 6

Ex Eff One

I will be posting a lot of good information here about the coming era of extreme energy efficiency.
Just for the record, no, this doesn't mean sitting in the dark and cold. I'm talking about an era of guilt-free SUV's, giant TVs and personal rockets, without destroying the planet or being beholden to the whims of other often volatile nations, regions and interests.
Yes, it's possible. Keep watching this space.