Lots of energy news today; unfortunately, apart from the notion that peak oil is actually an opportunity for massive positive societal and environmental change which we'll get to in a few words, it's mostly not really good news.
Peak Oil Can Fuel Positive Change
We've been saying something like this for a long time. Here's how Dr Samuel Alexander of the University of Melbourne sums it up:
The looming implications of peak oil suggest the global consumer class should begin preparing itself for a significant downscaling of the highly energy and resource-intensive lifestyles that are widely celebrated today.
This may be desirable for environmental and social justice reasons, of course, but oil supply may soon enforce such downscaling, whether it is desirable or not. While the requirement to consume less stuff will be a great and unpleasant cultural shock for all those who do not anticipate it, members of the global consumer class could actually benefit from this transition by voluntarily embracing a ''simpler life'' of reduced energy and resource consumption. Consume less, live more. It's well worth considering. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Rice Husks Provide Solution To Energy Poverty For Rural Indians
Great example of appropriate technology, using agricultural waste to produce electricity locally—Husk Power Systems, in Bihar, India:
Along with rice husks, they also use mustard stems, corncobs, grasses, and other agricultural residue. After five months of R&D, they developed a 32-kW system by burning 50 kilograms of rice husk per hour. In the last four years, they’ve installed over 80 biomass mini-plants across Bihar, bringing power to more than 32,000 rural households. (Renewable Energy World)
Wind Power Vestas Cutting 2,300 Jobs Globally - 1,600 Jobs In US May Be Next
Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has announced that it will closing 26 plants worldwide, laying off 2,335 employees in the process, a 10% reduction in global staff. Over half the job losses will be in Denmark itself. The move is expected save the company €150 million ($190m).
So far no facilities in the US are affected, though that remains a possibility, especially if an extension of the wind power production tax credit is not approved by Congress. Should Vestas shutter its US facilities, 1,600 jobs would be lost.
China's Renewable Energy Growth Less Than Its Growth In Coal
Reversing a trend we wrote about in 2010: The Guardian says that though China's solar power capacity tripled in 2011 and both wind and hydropower generation increased as well, it's consumption of coal increased in 2011 by 95 million tons—and, China will soon burn half of all the world's coal production. More about what they are doing to slow growth in coal—and they are—at the link above.
Get Prepared For Super Fracking!
“I want to crack the rock across as much of the reservoir as I can,” said David Pursell, a former fracking engineer who’s now an analyst at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston. “That’s the Holy Grail.” More aggressive fracking may heighten concerns about the risks associated with shale development, said Kirk Sherr, president of Regester Larkin Energy North America, an industry consultant. “If critics already think fracking is bad, theoretically, super fracking would be super bad,” Sherr said. (Bloomberg)