Recent developments in Public policy initiatives in the area of renewable energy, have proven to me that there is a disconnect between our leaders and the common sense I know they possess.
I'd like to think this is merely a product of myopia, as opposed to some deeper problem such as collusion with energy companies and/or an apathetic approach to their responsibilities as a public servant. Whatever the cause, the term "progress" has very little to do with the few steps that have been taken, and that needs to change.
There is quite a bit of controversy and conflicting opinions about not only the sustainability of biofuels, but the ecological and economical impact that cash crops will have on our country and the rest of the world. As a piece of the solution, I give you:
"The WTW model for cellulosic ethanol showed greenhouse gas emission reductions of about 80% [over gasoline]," said Wang. "Corn ethanol showed 20 to 30% reductions." Cellulosic ethanol's favorable profile stems from using lignin, a biomass by-product of the conversion operation, to fuel the process. "Lignin is a renewable fuel with no net greenhouse gas emissions," explains Wang. "Greenhouse gases produced by the combustion of biomass are offset by the CO2 absorbed by the biomass as it grows."
Feedstock sources and supplies are another important factor differentiating the two types of ethanol. Agricultural wastes are a largely untapped resource. This low cost feedstock is more abundant and contains greater potential energy than simple starches and sugars. Currently, agricultural residues are plowed back into the soil, composted, burned or disposed in landfills. As an added benefit, collection and sale of crop residues offer farmers a new source of income from existing acreage.
Industrial wastes and municipal solid waste (MSW) can also be used to produce ethanol. Lee Lynd, an engineering professor at Dartmouth, has been working with the Gorham Paper Mill to convert paper sludge to ethanol. "Paper sludge is a waste material that goes into landfills at a cost of $80/dry ton," says Lynd. "This is genuinely a negative cost feedstock. And it is already pretreated, eliminating a step in the conversion process."
How many people here have a hybrid vehicle? I caught this on Kos earlier today, and I couldn't stop smiling:
Converting a hybrid to a plug in hybrid saves CO2 emissions, and helps stabilise the grid if it is set up as a V2G Vehicle to grid PHEV plugin hybrid elctric vehicle. This helps us add much more wind power to the grid, which our Democrats are trying to do. Daytime solar charging stations like this mean you could plug in during work and if you wanted, earn money for selling excess back to the grid.
Recently, we've looked at some of the aspects of individuals making the move to Solar energy for their homes, and examples have been calculated to show how the ROI (Return On Investment) is relatively quickly gained. But you know what? It's still way too expensive for mass usage, and that is something that must be addressed. We also need to force energy companies to remove caps on the amount of net-metered wattage they will handle, and be willing to take it out of their ass if they refuse (sorry—I got carried away). The thing is, we have to make sure the roadblocks to Solar are removed and no new ones are put in their place.
I can see a future where our carbon emissions are much lower, where the fuels we use are mostly derived from waste material, where the power grid only relies on a few scattered facilities to augment the power generated by citizens tapping into the Elements (not the band, the natural stuff :) )
Can you see it, too?