Future Energy eNews   IntegrityResearchInstitute.org      Dec. 19, 2007       

1) Energy Tax Credit About to Expire - Federal credits for efficiency expires at end of year
2) Energy Needs to Grow Inexorably - Global demand for energy is tied to economic growth
3) Crude Oil -- The Supply Outlook - Critical analysis from Energy Watch - German Parliment
4) Eco-Power to the People - Solar panel project in Oakland California to help poor
5) Beyond the Point of No Return - Maybe the best article full of honesty and ideas for the future 
6) V2G Car Generates Electricity and Money - "Vehicle to Grid" provides revenue to owner
7) World Energy Model for North America - Several institutions in partnership developing model
 * Best Wishes for a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year from Integrity Research Institute *

1) U.S. Homeowner Tax Credit to Expire
Dec 3, 2007 United Press International
WASHINGTON -- The 2005 U.S. Energy Policy Act tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year.

U.S. homeowners have just one month left to take advantage of the federal tax credit aimed at encouraging home energy efficiency. The tax credit was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and allows for a tax credit of up to 10 percent of the cost of materials for certain home improvements. Some of the included improvements are: installing ENERGY STAR-qualified windows, attic insulation or air sealing products. The $500 maximum tax credit per home was not extended by Congress this year.

Only 23 percent of homeowners used the opportunity during 2006, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by Opinion Research Corp., an independent research firm, on behalf of Johns Manville, a Denver-based building products manufacturer. The survey also found that 32 percent of homeowners believe that their home is energy efficient.

For Further Information

Forbes magazine arricle:  http://www.forbes.com/business/2007/12/04/energy-tax-homeowner-biz-beltway-cx_ae_1205beltway.html

2) Energy Needs 'to Grow Inexorably'
The global demand for energy is set to grow inexorably through to 2030 if governments do not change their policies, warns a top energy official.

Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said such a rise would threaten energy security and accelerate climate change.

He said energy needs in 2030 could be more than 50% above current levels, with fossil fuels still dominant.

Mr Tanaka was speaking at the launch of the IEA's World Energy Outlook report.

Rapid economic growth in China and India would be the main drivers behind the rise, he said as he unveiled the agency's annual flagship publication.

"The emergence of new major players in global energy markets means that all countries must take vigorous, immediate and collective action to curb runaway energy demand," he warned.

"Rapid economic development will undoubtedly continue to drive up energy demand in China and India, and will contribute to a real improvement in the quality of life for more than two billion people.

"This is a legitimate aspiration that needs to be accommodated and supported by the rest of the world."

Rising emissions

The World Energy Outlook 2007 report warned that much of the increased demand for energy would be met by coal.

As a result, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could rise by 57% - from 27 giga-tonnes in 2005 to 42 giga-tonnes in 2030, it said.

Even in the report's "alternative policy scenario", which takes into account the governments' proposed action to save energy and cut emissions, CO2 levels are set to rise by 25%.

But it offered a glimmer of hope within its "450 Stabilisation" case study.

It described a notional strategy for governments to stabilise CO2 levels in the atmosphere at about 450 parts per million (ppm), which some scientists and policy makers suggest is an acceptable concentration.

"Emissions savings come from improved efficiency in industry, buildings and transport, switching to nuclear power and renewables, and the widespread deployment of carbon capture and storage," the report said.

This approach would see global emissions peak in 2012 then fall sharply below 2005 levels by 2030, it suggested.

But it added: "Exceptionally quick and vigourous policy action by all countries, and unprecedented technological advances, entailing substantial costs, would be needed to make this case a reality."

Mr Tanaka stressed the need for urgency in the battle against climate change: "We need to act now to bring about a radical shift in investment in favour of cleaner, more efficient and more secure energy technologies."

The UK's Energy Secretary, John Hutton, endorsed the IEA's findings and agreed that urgent action by politicians was needed.

"As the IEA states, it is a lack of international political will, not technological innovation, that is preventing us from reducing emissions while securing energy supplies to power our homes and businesses for the years ahead," he told BBC News.

"The UK must continue to lead by example by embracing innovation while also ensuring it takes advantage of existing low carbon technologies.

"We share view that there should be the broadest possible energy mix and will be carefully examining the recommendations of this report as we prepare to introduce our Energy Bill."

Ed. Note -

See following article for further, surprising information about the IEA.

3) Crude Oil -- The Supply Outlook
Edited by Thomas Valone, PhD, Integrity Research Institute
Energy Watch Group Oil Report - 2007/10/13 LBST 101 pages http://www.energywatchgroup.org/fileadmin/global/pdf/EWG_Oilreport_10-2007.pdf

Conclusions and Critical Findings

The major result from this analysis is that world oil production has peaked in 2006. Production will start to decline at a rate of several percent per year. By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame.

The projections for the global oil supply are as follows:

- 2006: 81 Mb/d

- 2020: 58 Mb/d (IEA: 1051 Mb/d)

- 2030: 39 Mb/d (IEA: 1162 Mb/d)

The difference to the projections of the IEA could hardly be more dramatic. A regional analysis shows that, apart from Africa, all other regions show declining productions by 2020 compared to 2005. By 2030, all regions show significant declines compared to 2005.

The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life.

Climate change will also force humankind to change energy consumption patterns by reducing significantly the burning of fossil fuels. Global warming is a very serious problem. However, the focus of this paper is on the aspects of resource depletion as these are much less transparent to the public.

The now beginning transition period probably has its own rules which are valid only during this phase. Things might happen which we never experienced before and which we may never experience again once this transition period has ended.

Our way of dealing with energy issues probably will have to change fundamentally. The International Energy Agency, anyway until recently, denies that such a fundamental change of our energy supply is likely to happen in the near or medium term future. The message by the IEA, namely that business as usual will also be possible in future, sends a false signal to politicians, industry and consumers – not to forget the media.


The analysis in this paper does not primarily rely on reserve data which are difficult to assess and to verify and in the past frequently have turned out to be unreliable. The history of discoveries is a better indicator though the individual data are of varying quality. Rather the analysis is based primarily on production data which can be observed more easily and are also more reliable. Historical discovery and production patterns allow to project future discoveries and – where peak production has already been reached – future production patterns.

The analysis is based on an industry database for past production data and partly also for reserve data for certain regions. As reserve data vary widely and as there is no audited reference, the authors have in some cases made their own reserve estimates based on various sources and own assessments.

Generally, future production in regions which are already in decline can be predicted fairlyaccurately relying solely on past production data. The projections are based alsoon the observation of industry behaviour and on “soft” indicators (for instance, the recent turn about in the communication by the IEA and a remarkable quote by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia)… The quote from King Abdullah perhaps can remove the remaining uncertainties: "The oil boom is over and will not return," Abdullah told his subjects. "All of us must get used to a different lifestyle." [Christian Science Monitor, Aug 15, 2007]

World’s biggest fields in decline

Crucial for the further development was the production peak of Cantarell in Mexico, the world's biggest offshore field and one of the four top producing fields 4 in the world. This field, discovered in 1978, even today contributes one half to the Mexican oil production. It has reached a plateau for some years and started to decline in 2005. The field then declined dramatically from 2 Mb/d in January 2006 to 1.5 Mb/d in December 2006, and double digit year over year decline rates are expected in the coming years.

With Cantarell, now 3 of the 4 biggest producing fields are in decline: the others being Daquin in China and Burgan in Kuwait. The status of Ghawar in Saudi Arabia is not known for sure – but the field is very likely also in decline now.

Oil industry

In general, the communications by the big energy agencies (most prominently IEA and US EIA) and by the oil industry all assume unabated growth of oil production in the foreseeable future. (But the recent shifting of the IEA position should be noted.) Major turning points in the past, like the peaking of Prudhoe Bay, the peaking of the North Sea and most recently Cantarell, were not foreseen, and were in some cases even denied for years after the event. This casts some doubt on the quality of the forecasts of these institutions and the industry.

Within the oil industry there is one notable exception, namely the communication by Chevron at www.WillYouJoinUs.com. Chevron states that “the era of easy oil is over” and points out that 33 of the 48 largest oil producing countries have already passed peak [Chevron 2007].

For More Information -

An Executive Summary report (473K) available from the Energy Watch Group:


 Editor's Note -

This article consists only of excerpts from the original report. Examining the comprehensive world oil production graphs in full color (pdf report) from the Energy Watch Group website is highly recommended. The impact on future energy costs and demands for future energy innovation and alternatives has to be serious. In the opinion of Integrity Research Institute, it is likely that the US will take another few years to begin to concur with such disturbing conclusions from our European colleagues.

4) Bring Eco-Power to the People

Bryan Walsh, Time, Nov. 21, 2007 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686811,00.html

Annie Schumake stands outside her one-story house in the depressed city of Richmond, Calif., just north of Oakland, and watches her electric meter slow to a crawl, stop and then begin to tick backward. Schumake's solar panel, just installed on her roof and partly financed with low-cost loans from the city, is supplying free power and more. The panel was put in by a team of local workers trained by area nonprofit groups that prepare unemployed Richmondites for jobs in the burgeoning green building field. "I'm happy because I'm saving money," says Schumake. "But I'm also saving the planet, and that's the major one." Van Jones, the dynamo promoting the project, breaks into a wide smile of his own. "Power by the people, for the people," says Jones. "This is the vision of the future right here."

A few years ago, the Oakland-based human-rights activist came to a realization. If the U.S. accelerated the transition to a cleaner economy, millions of jobs in green construction and alternative energy could be created. Those jobs--call them green collar--were exactly what unemployed residents of cities like Oakland needed. Environmental activists and inner-city minorities--two groups often segregated by race and class--had a common interest, and it could help extend the coalition against climate change beyond hard-core greenies. "Polar bears, Priuses and Ph.D.s aren't going to do it alone," says Jones, 39. "Everything our friends in the eco-élite do will vanish unless we find a way to expand green jobs to the rest of the economy."

You couldn't create a better advocate for the green-collar movement than Jones. A Yale-educated lawyer who founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, the magnetic Jones moves easily between worlds, at home preaching to inner-city high school students or mixing with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. But everywhere Jones goes, he repeats a simple message. "Give the work that most needs to be done to the people who most need the work," he says, and solve two pressing problems--pollution and poverty--at once.

For the environmental movement, embracing Jones' message means recasting global warming not just as an existential threat but as an enormous economic opportunity. It's a narrative that is particularly resonant with low-income workers who are likely to bear the short-term economic burden of cutting carbon only if they believe there will be a personal payoff for them in the long run. Says Jones: "They need to see green in their pockets."

It may be a while before many of them do. Jones successfully lobbied for a $250,000 pilot program, the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, but tepid public support elsewhere has kept green employment from taking off. Still, the promise is real. A study by the Cleantech Network, which tracks green investment, found that for every $100 million in green venture capital, 250,000 new jobs could be created. To speed that transition, Jones and Majora Carter of the Sustainable South Bronx in New York City recently launched Green for All, a campaign to secure $1 billion in government funding to train a quarter-million workers in green fields. "We're looking for an environmental Marshall Plan for the 21st century," says Carter.

Jones has even greater ambitions, believing the green-collar movement can reshape politics in the U.S. by breaking down old barriers on the left and the right. A few hours after helping Schumake get her solar panels, Jones traveled across the bay to San Francisco's ornate city hall, where his organization received the first-ever environmental grant from the Full Circle Fund, a Bay Area philanthropic network. Jones had the tough task of following Al Gore, who had delivered the keynote speech, but he still brought the house down. "When we bring together the best of the business community and the best of the tech community and the best of the racial-justice community, we'll get the coalition we always wanted." Even better, he adds, "we'll get the country we always wanted." In his vision, that means the map won't be divided between red and blue, but will be all green.

5) Beyond the Point of No Return

It's too late to stop climate change, argues Ross Gelbspan -- so what do we do now?

Grist Environmental News, 11 Dec 2007, http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/12/10/165845/92/?source=daily

This is a guest essay from Ross Gelbspan, who's retired from a 30-year career as an editor and reporter at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. He is author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point, and he maintains the website heatisonline.org.


As the pace of global warming kicks into overdrive, the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world's most prominent climate scientists, is preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise.

The environmental establishment continues to peddle the notion that we can solve the climate problem.

We can't.

We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes. These will happen either incrementally -- or in sudden, abrupt jumps.

Under either scenario, it seems inevitable that we will soon be confronted by water shortages, crop failures, increasing damages from extreme weather events, collapsing infrastructures, and, potentially, breakdowns in the democratic process itself.


Start with the climate activists, who are telling us only a partial truth.

Virtually all of the national and grassroots climate groups are pushing hard to reduce carbon emissions. The most aggressive are working to change America's entire energy structure from one based on coal and oil to a new energy future based on noncarbon technologies -- as they should.

The Step It Up campaign inspired more than 1,500 protests in all 50 states this year, and is hoping to build on that impact by joining forces with the 1Sky climate campaign. The Campus Climate Challenge is planning a new and more energetic clean energy campaign. Focus the Nation continues to exhort colleges and universities around the country to green their campuses. Al Gore's dedication to bringing the climate crisis to public attention won him a well-deserved Nobel Prize, and he's using his newfound credibility to push even harder for action against climate change. The large Washington-based environmental groups are pressing to improve climate and energy bills that are moving through Congress -- even though the bills are clearly inadequate to the challenge before us.

But even assuming the wildest possible success of their initiatives -- that humanity decided tomorrow to replace its coal- and oil-burning energy sources with noncarbon sources -- it would still be too late to avert major climate disruptions. No national energy infrastructure can be transformed within a decade.

All these initiatives address only one part of the coming reality. They recall the kind of frenzied scrambling that is characteristic of trauma victims -- a frantic focus on other issues, any other issues -- that allows people to avoid the central take-home message of the trauma: in this case, the overwhelming power of inflamed nature.


Within the last two years, a number of leading scientists -- including Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), British ecologist James Lovelock, and NASA scientist James Hansen -- have all declared that humanity is about to pass or already has passed a "tipping point" in terms of global warming. The IPCC, which reflects the findings of more than 2,000 scientists from over 100 countries, recently stated that it is "very unlikely" that we will avoid the coming era of "dangerous climate change."

The truth is that we may already be witnessing the early stages of runaway climate change in the melting of the Arctic, the increase in storm intensity, the accelerating extinctions of species, and the prolonged nature of recurring droughts.

Moreover, some scientists now fear that the warming is taking on its own momentum -- driven by internal feedbacks that are independent of the human-generated carbon layer in the atmosphere.

Consider these examples:

  • Despite growing public awareness of global warming, the world's carbon emissions are rising nearly three times faster than they did in the 1990s. As a result, many scientists tell us that the official, government-sanctioned forecasts of coming changes are understating the threat facing the world.

  • A rise of 2 degrees C over preindustrial temperatures is now virtually inevitable, according to the IPCC, as the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is approaching the destabilizing level of 450 parts per million. That rise will bring drought, hunger, disease, and flooding to millions of people around the world.

  • Scientists predict a steady rise in temperatures beginning in about two years -- with at least half of the years between 2009 and 2019 surpassing the average global temperature in 1998, to date, the hottest year on record.

  • Given the unexpected speed with which Antarctica is melting, coupled with the increasing melt rates in the Arctic and Greenland, the rate of sea-level rise has doubled -- with scientists now raising their prediction of ocean rise by century's end from about three feet to about six feet.

  • Scientists discovered that a recent, unexplained surge of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is due to more greenhouse gases escaping from trees, plants, and soils -- which have traditionally buffered the warming by absorbing the gases. In the lingo of climate scientists, carbon sinks are turning into carbon sources. Because the added warmth is making vegetation less able to absorb our carbon emissions, scientists expect the rate of warming to jump substantially in the coming years.

  • The intensity of hurricanes around the world has doubled in the last decade. As Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research explained, "If you take the last 10 years, we've had twice the number of category-5 hurricanes than any other [10-year period] on record."

  • In Australia, a new, permanent state of drought in the country's breadbasket has cut crop yields by over 30 percent. The 1-in-1,000-year drought exemplifies a little-noted impact of climate change. As the atmosphere warms, it tightens the vortex of the winds that swirl around the poles. One result is that the water that traditionally evaporated from the Southern Ocean and rained down over New South Wales is now being pulled back into Antarctica -- drying out the southeastern quadrant of Australia and contributing to the buildup of glaciers in the Antarctic -- the only area on the planet where glaciers are increasing.

As one prominent climate scientist said recently, "We are seeing impacts today that we did not expect to see until 2085."[1]


The panic among climate scientists is expressing itself in geoengineering proposals that are half-baked, fantastically futuristic, and, in some cases, reckless. Put forth by otherwise sober and respected scientists, the schemes are intended to basically allow us to continue burning coal and oil.

Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, for example, is proposing to spray aerosols into the upper atmosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting earth. Tom M. L. Wigley, a highly esteemed climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), ran scenarios of stratospheric sulfate injection -- on the scale of the estimated 10 million tons of sulfur emitted when Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 -- through supercomputer models of the climate, and reported that Crutzen's idea would, indeed, seem to work. The scheme was highlighted in a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times by Ken Caldeira, a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution.

Unfortunately, the seeding of the atmosphere with sun-reflecting particles would trigger a global drought, according to a study by other researchers. "It is a Band-Aid fix that does not work," said study co-author Kevin Trenberth of NCAR. The eruption of Pinatubo was followed by a significant drop-off of rainfall over land and a record decrease in runoff and freshwater discharge into the ocean, according to a recently published study by Trenberth and other scientists.

The noted British ecologist James Lovelock recently proposed the idea of installing deepwater pipes on the ocean floor to pump cold water to the surface to enhance the ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Others suggest dumping iron filings into the ocean to increase the growth of algae which, in turn, would absorb more carbon dioxide.

These proposals fail to seriously acknowledge the possibility of unanticipated impacts on ocean dynamics or marine ecosystems or atmospheric conditions. We have no idea what would result from efforts to geoengineer our way around nature's roadblock.

At a recent conference, Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council noted, "These types of proposals are multiplying around the world, and there is no structure in place to evaluate if any of them work. People are going after these gigantic projects without any thoughtful, rational process."

What these scientists are offering us are technological expressions of their own supercharged sense of desperation.


To be fair, the reality that faces us all is extremely difficult to deal with -- as much from an existential as from a scientific point of view.

Climate change won't kill all of us -- but it will dramatically reduce the human population through the warming-driven spread of infectious disease, the collapse of agriculture in traditionally fertile areas, and the increasing scarcity of fresh drinking water. (Witness the 1-in-100-year drought in the southeastern U.S., which has been threatening drinking water supplies in Georgia and other states.)

Those problems will be dramatically intensified by an influx of environmental refugees whose crops are destroyed by weather extremes or whose freshwater sources have dried up or whose homelands are going under from rising sea levels.

In March, the U.S. Army War College sponsored a conference on the security implications of climate change. "Climate change is a national security issue," retired General Gordon R. Sullivan, chair of the Military Advisory Board and former Army chief of staff, said in releasing a report that grew out of the conference. "[C]limate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world."

One frequently overlooked potential casualty of accelerating climate change may be our tradition of democracy (corrupted as it already is). When governments have been confronted by breakdowns, they have frequently resorted to totalitarian measures to keep order in the face of chaos. It is not hard to imagine a state of emergency morphing into a much longer state of siege, especially since heat-trapping carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for about 100 years.

Add the escalating squeeze on our oil supplies, which could intensify our meanest instincts, and you have the ingredients for a long period of repression and conflict.

Ominously, this plays into the scenario, thoughtfully explored by Naomi Klein, that the community of multinational corporations will seize on the coming catastrophes to elbow aside governments as agents of rescue and reconstruction -- but only for communities that can afford to pay. This dark vision implies the increasing insulation of the world's wealthy minority from the rest of humanity -- buying protection for their fortressed communities from the Halliburtons, Bechtels, and Blackwaters of the world while the majority of the poor are left to scramble for survival among the ruins.

The only antidote to that kind of future is a revitalization of government -- an elevation of public mission above private interest and an end to the free-market fundamentalism that has blinded much of the American public with its mindless belief in the divine power of markets. In short, it requires a revival of a system of participatory democracy that reflects our collective values far more accurately than the corporate state into which we have slid.

Unfortunately, we seem to be living in an age of historical amnesia. One wonders whether our institutional memory still recalls the impulses that gave rise to our constitution -- or whether we have substituted a belief in efficiency, economic rationalization, and profit maximization for our traditional pursuit of a finely calibrated balance between individual liberties and social justice.


From a more personal viewpoint, an acknowledgement of the reality of escalating climate change plays havoc with one's sense of future. It is almost as though a lone ocean voyager were suddenly to lose sight of the North Star. It deprives one of an inner sense of navigation. To live without at least an open-ended sense of future (even if it's not an optimistic one) is to open one's self to a morass of conflicting impulses -- from the anticipated thrill of a reckless plunge into hedonism to a profoundly demoralizing sense of hopelessness and a feeling that a lifelong guiding sense of purpose has suddenly evaporated.

This slow-motion collapse of the planet leaves us with the bitterest kind of awakening. For parents of young children, it provokes the most intimate kind of despair. For people whose happiness derives from a fulfilling sense of achievement in their work, this realization feels like a sudden, violent mugging. For those who feel a debt to all those past generations who worked so hard to create this civilization we have enjoyed, it feels like the ultimate trashing of history and tradition. For anyone anywhere who truly absorbs this reality and all that it implies, this realization leads into the deepest center of grief.

There needs to be another kind of thinking that centers neither on the profoundly dishonest denial promoted by the coal and oil industries, nor the misleading optimism of the environmental movement, nor the fatalistic indifference of the majority of people who just don't want to know.

There needs to be a vision that accommodates both the truth of the coming cataclysm and the profoundly human need for a sense of future.

That vision needs to be framed by the truly global nature of the problem. It starts with the recognition that this historical era of nationalism has become a stubborn, increasingly toxic impediment to our collective future. We all need to begin to think of ourselves -- now -- as citizens of one profoundly distressed planet.

I think that understanding involves a recognition that a clean environment is about far more than endangered species, toxic substances, and the "dead zones" that keep spreading off our shorelines. A clean environment is a basic human right. And without it, all the other human rights for which we have worked so hard will end up as grotesque caricatures of some of our deepest aspirations.

Fortuitously, the timing of the climate crisis does coincide with other worldwide trends. Like it or not, the economy is becoming globalized. The globalization of communications now makes it possible for anyone to communicate with anyone else anywhere else in the world. And, since it is no respecter of national boundaries, the global climate makes us one.

At the same time, the coming changes clearly suggest that, to the extent possible, we should be eating locally and regionally grown food -- to minimize the CO2 generated by factory farming and long-distance food transport. We should also be preparing to take our energy from a decentralized system using whichever noncarbon energy technologies are best suited to their natural surroundings -- solar in sunny areas, offshore wave and tidal power in coastal areas, wind farms in the world's wind corridors, and geothermal almost everywhere. (It may even be feasible to maintain a low-level coal-fired grid, of about 15 percent of current capacity, as a back-up for days the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine.) But it's critical to stop thinking in terms of centralized energy systems and to begin thinking in terms of localized, decentralized technologies.

At the level of social organization, the coming changes imply the need to conduct something like 80 percent of our governance at the local grassroots level through some sort of consensual democratic process -- with the remaining 20 percent conducted by representatives at the global level.


For some years, I have been promoting a policy bundle of three specific strategies as one model for jump-starting a global transition to clean energy. Those policies, which are spelled out in my book Boiling Point and on my website, include:

  • Redirecting more than $250 billion in subsidies in industrial countries away from coal and oil and putting them behind carbon-free technologies;

  • Creating a fund of about $300 billion a year for a decade, to transfer clean energy to poor countries; and

  • Adopting within the Kyoto framework a mandatory progressive fossil-fuel efficiency standard that would go up by 5 percent a year until the 80 percent global reduction is attained.

The initial impulse behind these strategies was to craft a policy bundle to stabilize the climate -- and at the same time create millions of jobs, especially in developing countries. Initially, I, along with the other people who helped formulate them, envisioned these solutions as a way to undermine the economic desperation that gives rise to so much anti-U.S. sentiment. They would, we hoped, turn impoverished and dependent countries into trading partners. They would raise living standards abroad without compromising ours. They would jump the renewable energy industry into a central driving engine of growth for the global economy and, ultimately, yield a far more equitable, more secure, and more prosperous world.

Unfortunately, given all the apathy, indifference, and antagonism to taking real action, nature has now relegated that earlier vision to the rear-view mirror.

But this kind of global public-works plan, if initiated in the near term, could still provide a platform to bring the people of the world together around a common global project that transcends traditional alliances and national antagonisms -- even in today's profoundly fractured, degraded, and combative world. Along the way, it could also provide decentralized stand-alone energy sources for disconnected social communities in a post-crash world.

The key to our survival as a civil species during an era of profound natural upheaval lies in an enhanced sense of community. If we maintain the fiction that we can thrive as isolated individuals, we will find ourselves at the same emotional dead end as the current crop of survivalists: an existence marked by defensiveness, mistrust, suspicion, and fear.

As nature washes away our resources, overwhelms our infrastructures, and splinters our political alignments, our survival will depend increasingly on our willingness to join together as a global community. As the former Argentine climate negotiator, Raul Estrada-Oyuela, said, "We are all adrift in the same boat -- and there's no way half the boat is going to sink."[2]

To keep ourselves afloat, we need to change the economic and political structures that determine how we behave. In this case, we need to elevate the ethic of cooperation over the deeply ingrained reflex of competition. We need to elevate our biological similarities over our geographical differences. We need, in the face of this oncoming onslaught, to reorganize our social structures to reflect our most humane collective aspirations.

There is no body of expertise -- no authoritative answers -- for this one. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory. And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, our instinctive dedication to a human future -- and the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye.



[1] Author's conversation with Dr. Paul Epstein, of the Center for Health and the Global Environment of Harvard Medical School, September, 2006.

[2] Raul Estrada-Oyuela, Argentine negotiator, at the U.N Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, December, 1997.

For story: Beyond the point of no return

6) V2G Car Generates Electricity, and Cash

Science News


University of Delaware researchers have created a system that enables vehicles to not only run on electricity alone, but also to generate revenue by storing and providing electricity for utilities. The technology--known as V2G, for vehicle-to-grid--lets electricity flow from the car’s battery to power lines and back.

Newswise — The price of oil nearly reached $100 a barrel recently, but a new University of Delaware prototype vehicle demonstrates how the cost of the black stuff could become a concern of the past.

A team of UD faculty has created a system that enables vehicles to not only run on electricity alone, but also to generate revenue by storing and providing electricity for utilities. The technology--known as V2G, for vehicle-to-grid--lets electricity flow from the car’s battery to power lines and back.

“When I get home, I’ll charge up and then switch into V2G mode,” said Willett Kempton, UD associate professor of marine policy and a V2G pioneer who began developing the technology more than a decade ago and who is now testing the new prototype vehicle. The UD V2G team includes Kempton as well as Ajay Prasad, professor of mechanical engineering; Suresh Advani, George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and Meryl Gardner, associate professor of business administration, along with several students.

When the car is in the V2G setting, the battery’s charge goes up or down depending on the needs of the grid operator, which sometimes must store surplus power and other times requires extra power to respond to surges in usage. The ability of the V2G car’s battery to act like a sponge provides a solution for utilities, which pay millions to generating stations that help balance the grid. Kempton estimates the value for utilities could be up to $4,000 a year for the service, part of which could be paid to drivers.

The technology will work on a large scale, he said, because on average 95 percent of all cars are parked at any given time. One hour a day of car usage is the average in America.

“A car sitting there with a tank of gasoline in it, that’s useless,” he said. “If it’s a battery storing a lot of electricity and a big plug that allows moving power back and forth quickly, then it’s valuable.”

Kempton already has one of those large plugs at his home. He has a 240-volt plug that gives the battery a full charge--or a range up to 150 highway miles--in just two hours. A smaller, standard 110-volt plug works but provides a full charge in about 12 hours. The smaller plug also moves less power for the grid operator when the car is in V2G mode, Kempton explained.

“The bigger the plug, the more power you can move, the more revenue,” he said, explaining that it cost about $600 to have the larger plug installed.

But even though Kempton is supplying power to the grid with the prototype car, he’s not getting paid for it--yet.

PJM, the grid operator for 14 states, including Delaware, is keen on the technology and hosted a demonstration of the V2G car. But PJM requires at least 300 megawatts to purchase power. That means the UD team and its collaborators must get 300 cars up and running.

The prototype car is a stepping-stone to that goal. Kempton is working with UD mechanical engineers Prasad and Advani, who plan to add V2G to the University’s hydrogen fuel cell bus. Next, the team, including the company that created the car, California-based AC Propulsion, will test the prototypes and fix any potential problems they bring to light. Then they’ll begin creating a user interface that will let drivers, for example, tell the car to never go below 50 percent charge while in V2G mode.

Helping him to learn what types of features potential buyers would want on the car and to identify potential buyers are business administration faculty member Gardner and her students. They’ve done a pilot survey of nearly 100 drivers that’s shown there’s a lot of interest in the technology, she said.

“We also want to provide information on how to market the car,” she said, so her team is asking people questions like how much they would be willing to pay for it and how they feel about driving a car that’s better for the environment than a gasoline-powered vehicle.

That last question gets Kempton, who also is involved in College of Marine and Earth Studies research on offshore wind farms, the most excited. He explained that even if the electricity used to charge the car is produced by a coal-fired power plant, the car itself produces no carbon dioxide emissions. If a wind farm fuels the electricity from the power plant, he explained, the car and its power source would be emissions free.

And even though the green aspect of the car is key for Kempton, he knows consumers might have some other, more practical, questions about the vehicle, such as, “What’s it like to drive?”

Zippy yet quiet, being behind its wheel is a thrill, he said. “I hate getting back in my gas car. It feels sluggish.”

7) Threshold 21 - North America Model

 The Millenium Institute, Dec. 19, 2007, http://www.millennium-institute.org/projects/na/aspo.html

Energy is at the foundation of every aspect of our present globalized economy. Without adequate energy, the wellbeing of our still growing and increasingly urbanized and industrialized world population faces the prospect of reduced standards of living, declining access to food and clean water supply, and contraction of global trade and gross domestic product.

In the next decade and beyond, decisions will be made at the national policy (and possibly, global) levels that have consequences on large segments of the Earth’s population and the world environment. These decisions will directly and indirectly impact energy and resource availability, human well-being, and the sustainability of the environment on which all economies ultimately depend.

Millennium Institute, Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO-USA), and the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) are partnering on a project to develop a world energy model that generates scenarios of global energy use and determines their likely impact.  The first phase of the project is the development of a Threshold 21-North America (T21-NA) model.  The model will examine assumptions, test scenarios, and the consequences of energy peaks, shifts to alternative energy sources, and sustainable policy options; and generate and inform public debate on the impact of energy-related decisions.

MI will be responsible for developing the T21-NA model, building upon the foundation of an existing T21-USA model. The model will examine energy issues in the context of an integrated framework that incorporates the relations of the energy sector to the broader economic, social, and environmental framework to the extent feasible. SUNY-ESF will create an EROI database and feedback paths, and a new graphical interface for the model.

Related Resources

T21-NA User Interface and Guide (11mb)

T21-USA Model v.3.4 and User Guide (5.8mb)

Informing the U.S. Energy Policy Debate - How Can We Deal with Rising Demand and Constrained Supply

Modeling U.S. Energy with Threshold 21

>>> As Integrity Research Institute  continues its monthly public service year after year, <<<<<

We invite you to share the Holiday Spirit by contributing to www.IntegrityResearchInstitute.org in any way you can, including if you like, through Guidestar.org where our corporate profile is also posted, being a charitable, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to researching scientific integrity in the area of emerging energy. 

May your New Year be filled with the fulfillment of your every worthwhile wish and desire.           

Tom Valone, PhD, PE