Here’s Why Chevron Couldn’t Make Biofuels Work

Here’s Why Chevron Couldn’t Make Biofuels WorkAccording to this article in Renewable Energy World, “Chevron Corp.’s attempts to turn plants into alternative fuels for profitable, large-scale production have failed.”  The author goes on to note:

The second-largest U.S. oil company by market value spent “significant sums” and assigned some of its best scientists to evaluate more than 100 kinds of feedstock and 50 techniques for converting them into fuels without success, Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Watson said during an address to the Economic Club of Minnesota in Minneapolis today.  The smartest minds in my company and others haven’t yet cracked the code on pairing the right feedstock conversion technology and logistics in an economic and scalable package,” Watson said. Read more ›

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Posted in Biofuels

Billionaire Peter Thiel on CleanTech

Billionaire Peter Thiel on CleanTechHere’s a 45-minute podcast featuring billionaire/mega-entrepreneur Peter Thiel (pictured), whose point is that the development of technology has hit a plateau, and that this phenomenon is creating disastrous effects for humankind.  While I don’t agree completely, he’s certainly right in at least two of his observations:

• The rise of the financial industry over the past few decades came largely at the expense of science and technology, and Read more ›

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Posted in Renewables - Business

Investing in the Water Industry, Advanced Nuclear

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

As indicated here, Goldman Sachs is bullish on water, based on the fact that the obvious factors affecting supply and demand are already beginning to drive the price up. When you think about it, there are several factors conspiring to limit supply, e.g., pollution and climate disruption, and there are no substitute goods; it’s not like we can simply start drinking something else.

It’s possible, of course, that cost-effective technologies for desalination and purification will be evolved soon, but it’s hard to imagine such technologies that operate in the absence of fairly intense amounts of power. This is one of the many reasons that it sure would be terrific if, in addition to solar, wind, and the rest, we could develop advanced nuclear.



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Posted in Nuclear

Best-Case Scenario for Nuclear Energy

Best-Case Scenario for Nuclear Energy It’s the birthday of Enrico Fermi (pictured here), the physicist who first applied Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity to the conversion of a tiny amount of mass to a large amount of energy, in the form of the atomic bomb. Einstein is reported to have later commented, “If I had known what would happen with my discovery, I would have become a locksmith.” Read more ›

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Posted in Nuclear

Are Koch Industies’ PR Campaigns Successful?

Are Koch Industies’ PR Campaigns Successful?I wrote recently that I was mystified about PBS’s “Ask This Old House” and how it so awkwardly avoids the issue of energy and the environment.  Several readers pointed out that the show is produced by WGBH in Boston, which is sponsored by Koch Industies, a group well-known for its vigorous public relations campaigns, aggressively misinforming Americans about the damage caused by fossil fuel emissions; mystery resolved.

These Koch boys are taking an awful drubbing in the press, though.  When one looks at articles like this one in Rolling Stone magazine, and the highly successful film documentary “Koch Brothers Exposed” one wonders how effective these PR campaigns could possibly be.


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Posted in Fossil Fuels

Happy Birthday Confucius–Sure Wish You Were Here

Happy Birthday, Confucius--Wish You Were HereCheck out this entry in the Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the day Confucius‘ birthday is celebrated in Taiwan. The holiday is called Teacher’s Day. Read more ›

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Posted in Sustainability

PBS Promotes Energy Efficiency, But Ignores the #1 Reason

PBS’s Ask This Old House Recommends Energy Efficiency – But Misses the #1 Reason To Care About ItI like to watch the PBS show “Ask This Old House” on Saturday mornings.  I’m so impressed with the incredible level of professionalism and the cleverness of the solutions these folks come up with.

Whenever it’s possible to mention energy efficiency or solar energy, the plumbing and heating guy, Richard Trethewey (pictured on left), normally dives right in.  Read more ›

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Posted in Efficiency

Shell Oil’s Attempt to Clean up Its Image Is Backfiring

Shell Oil’s Attempt to Clean up Its Image Is BackfiringThe Internet has empowered many key social phenomena of our day, including shining a light on shameful behavior—on the part of both individual people as well as corporations.  This can have enormous impact, as huge numbers of people decide to “vote with their wallets,” severely punishing bad actors.

Here, for instance, we have Shell Oil’s attempt to use Lego as a tool to clean up the horrible image it created for itself with its exploitation of the arctic.  As this video goes viral, Lego is under increasing pressure to disassociate itself from Shell, a move I predict they’ll make quite soon.





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Posted in Fossil Fuels

Check Out What New York City Is Doing To Deal with Climate Disruption

Check Out What New York City Is Doing To Deal with Climate DisruptionNew York City is amazing in so many ways–principally that most things one encounters there are good.  From the Julliard, to the Met, to a tunafish sandwich from any of hundreds of delis around town, it just doesn’t get any better.  So is it any surprise that New York is leading the way in energy efficient buildings as a tool to mitigate climate disruption?



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Posted in Climate Change

What Happens When Everybody and His Dog Goes to Renewable Energy?

What Happens When Everybody and His Dog Goes to Renewable Energy?

Here’s an article on the ever-accelerating progress that solar PV is making, as costs continue to plummet. It certainly makes one wonder about the so-called “utility death spiral,” in which traditional power companies become unable to function, by virtue of customer defection in favor of PV (or methane fuel cells, or whatever else).

Pundits aren’t too worried about this, on the basis that we have plenty of time to figure out a solution. I’m not at all sure that’s true. And that’s the essential theme of my current book project (Bullish on Renewable Energy – Eleven Reasons Why Clean Energy Investors Can’t Lose), i.e., that pure market economics will soon hit a tipping point, at which time everybody and his dog will go to renewable energy.



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Posted in Photovoltaics
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