Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Friday, September 22, 2006

In this post I will get back to energy issues. Wind Power is a viable option in areas of the world where winds blow much of the time. One such area is on the island of Ooland off the coast of Kalmar, Sweden. All of the electricity generated there comes from wind driven generators. The same could be done on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket off the coast of Cape Cod in Masachusetts. There is only one problem...some of the very people who criticize the Bush administration energy policy for its seeming lack of stress on developing alternatives to fossil fuel have fought tooth and nail against the erection of wind power generators offshore that would block heir view from their mansions. The objectors include Ted Kennedy and John Kerry among others. Enough said.

Tidal Energy is another option where the feet of rise and fall of ocean tides is sufficient to power water turbines hooked up to electric generators. Places exist around the world like the Bay of Fundy where the feet of rise is about 35 ft. Water would be drawn off at peak tide level into temporary storage then released into vertical chambers feeding the water into turbines much like those used in hydroelectric plants. The storage ponds would be filled on each rise of the tide to continue the process described above.

Solar Energy is used in those areas where the hours of sunshine dominate the climate. Two primary systems are commonly used; one to heat water for cleaning and heating purposes, the other to power cells for lights, remote controls for railroads and numerous other applications.

Various types of fuel cells are under research and development and are expected to reach commercial use soon.

Geothermal energy is is found in such areas as Yellowstone National Park where the Earth's crust is only a few hundred feet thick.

While we should maximize use of all viable alternatives to fossil fuels, no single one of the above alternatives or any combination of them can satisfy all of our energy needs. In the case of electric power generation, however, we could get there if we get back to atomic energy. We could shutdown almost all of our fossil fuel power generation plants, thereby greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on foreign oil. Further develoment in fuel cell technology should help us reduce the use of fossil fuel in the movement of people. What would help even more would be to develop European style rapid transit systems along with incentives to get commuters to use them and to discontinue or minimize use of their personal automobiles.

Friday, September 15, 2006

This will be another departure from the general energy theme. The issue in this post is property insurance. The hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 caused tremdous property damage in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. As a result, insurance rates in those states have risen to astronomical levels. That assumes you can find coverage, which in some areas is impossible unless you are willing and able to get coverage from your state's underwriters' pool. The problem is not limited to individual homeowner policies, but to commercial property insurance as well. The issue boils down to windstorm coverage in both cases.

For many home and business property owners, it's a catch-22 situation that involves mortgages, home equity borrowing, and cost. Most if not all standard mortgage lenders require that the property on which the borrowing is made must be covered by fire, theft and windstorm insurance equal to the replacement value of improvements on the property. Until the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2oo5, premiums for such insurance were reasonably affordable. throughout Florida and the Gulf Coast. Now, they've gone out of sight and are as much as 4 times the local property taxes typically paid.

Is it time to set up a national underwriters' insurance pool to provide coverage for all national disasters involving windstorm damage whether it be from hurricanes, tornadoes, nor'easters etc.? Just something to think about.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Today I will depart from the energy theme to comment on 9/11 as today is the 5th anniversary of the tragic events that occurred on that day in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in an open field in Pennsylvania. Every time I see the videos of those events, I get just as angry as I did when seeing it all on live tv on that bright September morning 5 years ago. As it did then, my anger is directed at the perpetrators who were of the crazed mentality we continue fighting today in the war on terrorism.

Today, I also get angry at those people in this country who don't want to accept the fact the war we fight is really against Islamic extremism and it will last a long time. It would not go away if we were to leave Iraq prematurely; in fact, such a move would only serve to make us look weak and not to be trusted by our allies. Terrorists prey upon weakness.

It also angers me to hear people (35% in a recent poll) suggest that 9/11 was contrived and directed by the Bush administration, that the 3,000 who died that day was acceptable "collateral damage"if it would convince people to support our entry into Afghanistan and Iraq. I find such a position preposperous beyond words.

Criticism of government policies and actions is a given in a democratic society. I don't have problems with that provided the criticism is based on facts, not hearsay, and has been well thought out. And, I understand concerns over privacy and rights guaranteed under our constitution as manifested, for example, by the liberties being taken by the administration on phonecalls between suspected overseas' terrorists and U.S. citizens. But, we are fighting a war that hinges on intelligence gathering more than any previous war in history. We had to give up many freedoms during WWII and I don't know of a single case of an innocent person being hurt by it.

Have we made mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan? Of course we have, there is no activity known to man in which mistakes haven't or won't be made, but should we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan because of any mistakes made? My answer is NO! If we were to pull out now we would be telling the world and the Islamic fanatics that our word isn't to be trusted, that we are of weak will, and therefore, the fanatics can act without fear of retribution. We must fight on and fulfill our commitment to the people in both countries.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The energy picture changes whenever a new oil find is announced or progress in developing an energey alternative is announced. Such changes impact the politics of energy as well.

Chevron Announces New Oil find in Gulf

The announcement made on September 5, 2006 by Chevron and its partners holds the promise of increasing our proven reserves by as much as 50%. Their test well driven to a total depth of 27,000 ft. below the water surface of the Gulf flowed at a rate of 6,000 bbls.per day. That's about what the early wells in Saudi Arabia delivered except at depths of only a few hundred feet! I point out that difference to make but one point...we're having to drill deeper and in more difficult environments today which means at far greater expense.

We haven't heard much political comment about the new discovery yet, but I will wager that it will come in due course. Some may think the find will permit us to get out of Iraq quicker and to become less dependent on foreign source oil. Sorry, not yet. It will take at least 3 years before the impact of the new find will start to be felt. They won't be sure of the volume available for awhile yet either. They are saying now that the field may contain as much as 15 billion bbls. or as little as 3 billion bbls. which puts it in the range of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Still, its an excellent discovery which eventually will help us reduce imports. Now, let us go for what promises to be a large find in ANWAR!