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Posts tagged “Biodiversivist”

By Russ Finley on Aug 14, 2014 with 16 responses

Update on the Tesla Model S

Has anyone else noticed how much a Tesla Model S looks like a Jaguar XF (pictured below)? One of my neighbors drives a Tesla Model S. I was following him down the street a few weeks ago and heard his tires squeak three times in two blocks. Adequate acceleration to maneuver in traffic can enhance overall safety but too much acceleration potential can be dangerous, especially in the wrong hands. Not sure I’d want that temptation.

TeslaModelS

Tesla Model S Photo courtesy of Gareth James via Flickr

 JaguarXF

Jaguar XF Photo courtesy of Jimmy Smith via Flickr

Fast Chargers

Tesla is dead on with their promotion of fast charging stations. The ubiquitous 240 volt chargers are next to worthless simply because they take too long. A high voltage fast charger can provide a significant charge in a matter of minutes. I recently deliberately drove my Leaf beyond its range because we needed two cars to get supplies to a wedding. My plan was to stop at a charge station on the way home for a few hours to get enough charge to finish the trip. The rest of the family came home in our Prius.

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By Russ Finley on Jul 3, 2014 with 5 responses

Nissan Leaf Replacement Battery for $5,500

LeafWithBattery

Provision of an after-market battery pack is another electric car first and an all important step for electric cars to gain greater market share. Leaf owners now have the option to upgrade to a new battery (with new, more heat resistant chemistry) when the old one wears out, or of selling their car and letting someone else put a new battery in it. An electric car with a worn out battery wouldn’t have much resale value if you couldn’t replace the battery. The existence of a reasonably priced battery replacement might stimulate sales by putting at ease any prospective customers concerned about how they would sell their electric car once its battery wore out.

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By Russ Finley on Apr 21, 2014 with 10 responses

Lie To Me–Keystone XL Could Mean the End for Wolves

WolfPup

Photo courtesy Erin Eve via Flickr Creative Commons

I’ve gotten four email alerts related to the Keystone XL pipeline from my local chapter of the Sierra Club. They talk about wolves, water quality, and toxins, but other than one reference to the Boreal Forest storing 11 percent of the world’s carbon, they make no mention of climate change. Here’s a sampling:

Russell, can you help?‏ Wolf mothers and cubs are already cowering from helicopters dispatched to shoot them – all in the name of protecting tar sands mining sites.

The image has already been seared into my memory: wolves shot dead from helicopters to keep them away from the mines. I don’t want to see more of them dead, and I’m sure you don’t either.

Wolves are already at risk of being shot, but if Keystone XL is built, their quiet refuge in Canada will be all but decimated.

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By Russ Finley on Mar 22, 2014 with 43 responses

Will Government Mandated Corn Ethanol Consumption Ever End?

gothic

This spring, the EPA will likely reduce the amount of corn ethanol that must be blended into our fuel supply by about 1.3 billion gallons (for a total of about 13 billion gallons) simply because our transportation system can’t absorb any more of it without exceeding a 10% blend, risking damage to cars. This is called the “10% blend wall.” Unlike beef, or chicken, gasoline, or smart phones, ethanol consumption isn’t consumer driven. In general, because consumers could care less about corn ethanol, fuel blenders also could care less about it except as an economically viable anti-knock additive in more modest quantities. They have to be forced to blend more of it by the government. Unless or until some unforeseen consumer demand arises, mandated blending will be necessary to keep the corn ethanol industry solvent.

And just as importantly, where is future growth going to come from? We can’t use all of our corn crop. This isn’t new technology. We’ve been making moonshine by distilling ethanol from fermented seeds and fruit for thousands of years. CONTINUE»

By Russ Finley on Feb 4, 2014 with 11 responses

Maintaining the Grid as Residential Solar Power Increases

SolarFail

Photos courtesy of Activ Solar, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Avinash Kaushik, via Flickr Creative Commons

It makes little sense to be anti-solar energy in this day and age, although it does make sense to do it right. Even solar can be done wrong. Usurping farmland, forest, or pristine desert tortoise habitats for solar should be against the rules.

I was motivated to do this post by a rare, cloudless, 50 degree day in the dead of winter. CONTINUE»

By Russ Finley on Mar 17, 2013 with 16 responses

Hawaii’s Electrical Potential

 Wind

Click here to see a YouTube video of these turbines in action. The sound you hear is the wind blowing.

Any visitor to the dry side of Maui (where I am presently vacationing) can’t help but notice the wind turbines. Like all energy sources, wind has its downsides. There’s now a scar gouged out of the mountainside to create an access road to them, and at night the mountain has a series of blinking lights up one side. Wind farms are notorious for messing up natural vistas.

At first glance, it didn’t seem likely to me that they will kill many birds, and I’m sure they studied the topic well, but just seconds before I hit the record button to video the turbines at close range, a large flock of seabirds flew through my view finder with the turbines in the background. What a shot that would have made. The public doesn’t have access to the base of those turbines to see if there are any dead birds lying around. Hawaii already has a very large number of endangered bird species.

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By Russ Finley on Jan 8, 2013 with 24 responses

What Do Global Warming Skeptics Fear?

Climate skeptics fear that people who are not qualified to opine on the complex topic of energy production may cripple economies with assorted misguided energy related boondoggles. Is that a realistic concern? What are the odds? Russ Finley argues that the odds are not zero.

By Russ Finley on Nov 21, 2012 with 31 responses

Replacing Coal With Trees Won’t Scale

A report written by the British arm of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace titled “Dirtier than Coal” criticizes their government’s plan to burn trees to make electricity. In my opinion, these two organizations seem to get things right about as often as they get things wrong, so you would be just as well off flipping a coin.

For me, this is largely an academic exercise. As a species, I suspect that we are incapable of overriding our instinctive drives for self-promotion, subconscious biases, and propensities for self-deception to the point of tackling a problem of this magnitude — global warming. We will always find ways to rationalize what we do and think, especially if doing so brings home the bacon.

In this case they got one thing right (IMHO) by calling for the withdrawal of public subsidies for making electricity by burning imported trees (roundwood and sawlogs). Their report is based on input from Tim Searchinger who was asked to review the studies done by the British Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

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By Russ Finley on Oct 25, 2012 with 7 responses

The Unintended Consequences of Government Mandated Biofuel Consumption

Food Deficit

A recent article by George Monbiot explains one of the potential ramifications of diverting grains into fuel. Thanks to extreme weather around the globe:

 ”…this is also a year of food deficit, in which we will consume (31 million tons) more grain than farmers produced. If 2013′s harvest does not establish a new world record, the poor are in serious trouble.”

His main point is that thanks to a growing demand for food driven by an increasing population and improving standards of living, along with the conversion of grains into fuel, the world has to break harvest records every year to keep up. Thanks to grain reserves, humanity can weather years that don’t break records, but failing to break records for two or three years in a row means hunger for hundreds of millions because the price of food will spike as speculators capitalize on the fact that low supply relative to demand equates to higher prices. If weather extremes become more and more common, the odds of running out of reserves becomes more and more likely. (See more: Midwestern Drought, Ethanol, & Renewable Fuel Standard)

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By Russ Finley on Sep 16, 2012 with 11 responses

Nuclear Energy Deniers

I was rebutting a comment I found under a CER News Desk article titled: Utility Head: Japan Can’t Afford Renewable Energy, Needs Nuclear when I realized I had generated enough material for an article.

Although not a single talking point in the comment I addressed is novel (few thoughts are), and not a single footnote to a source was proffered, the comment serves a larger purpose by providing me an opportunity to express some critical thought.

I don’t want the commenter to feel singled out and welcome him to continue to participate, but I would also like to suggest that he take the time to provide links to sources so the audience knows who the originators of the talking points are and so they can assess the quality of the sources of the information he passes along. I know of one site that does not allow unsourced comment. I don’t think this is necessarily a good idea because it has a tendency to spill over into censorship. They do this in an attempt to keep the comment field from becoming a come-one-come-all liar’s club (although most people are inadvertently passing along information they don’t realize — or care — is bunk).

Here is the link to my comments.

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