Fuel independence not fuel autonomy

Over on Stolen Moments: A Green Digest I saw this about Bush Ethanol and the US (what else)

An agreement with a foreign country to produce ethanol jointly, or even an agreement to import foreign ethanol, would ease the demand for corn and thus lower prices. This might not benefit corn farmers, but it would lower prices in other sectors of the economy, easing the burden on consumers.

Given my earlier post today that looks like a sensible move.

Bush also has another strong reason for a deal with Brazil… energy independence, not energy autonomy. Importing ethanol would not necessarily mark a shift from dependence on foreign oil to dependence on foreign ethanol. It  would simply be a further diversification of fuel sources and expansion of trade with a country that produces an alternative fuel substantially more cost-effectively than the U.S.

Again this would reduce inflationary pressure in the US and could help spread wealth, not only to Brazil but also to farmers in other parts of the world.

7 Responses to Fuel independence not fuel autonomy

  1. Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant 21 March, 2007 at 4:01 am #

    WSJ Article – The Green House Effect: Eco-Conscious Homes
    WSJ RealEstateJournal.com
    The Green House Effect: Eco-Conscious Homes
    By Jim Carlton
    From The Wall Street Journal Online

    Suzanne Johnson relishes the view from the living room of her $1.6 million home nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But it’s not just the sight of snowcapped peaks she enjoys. Her custom-built, energy-efficient house produces so much of its own electricity that the monthly energy bill runs under $100, compared with as much as $1,000 for neighbors using gas heating. “I get great enjoyment watching the propane trucks going up and down the hill this time of year,” Ms. Johnson says.

    The Johnson home

    The energy-saving technology in the retired Intel Corp. executive’s 3,000-square-foot home includes photovoltaic solar panels that cover a third of the galvanized-aluminum roof. Laminated glass flooring in one area provides natural light to a downstairs room. Outside, 4-foot by 10-foot solar thermal panels sit on a terrace, helping supply hot water for the house, while the nearby 500-square-foot guest home features plants growing out of the sod on the “living roof.”

    After years on the fringe, green homes with solar panels, tankless water heaters and walls insulated with straw are increasingly moving to the mainstream. They are even becoming fixtures in new housing developments, not just in custom-built houses.

    In Vermont, officials say a third of the 3,000 new homes built there every year over the past few years have voluntarily adhered to rigorous energy-efficiency standards, as set by the national Energy Star program. In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to help fund solar rooftops on a million new homes was approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission last year. Industry officials project as many as 50,000 solar homes a year will be built in the state by 2015, compared with about 1,000 projected for this year, accounting for roughly a quarter of California’s annual rate of new-home construction. North Carolina is using loans and rebates to help subsidize solar systems on 3,000 homes by 2010.

    Nationally, green homes are projected to increase to between 5% and 10% of U.S. housing starts by 2010, from 2% in 2005, according to a report last June by the National Association of Home Builders and McGraw-Hill Construction. That would equate to a market value of new-home green building of between $19 billion and $38 billion, versus $7.4 billion in 2005, according to the report. It still remains a fraction of total residential construction: An estimated 1.8 million homes were built last year, with a total value of about $600 billion, according to the Census Bureau.

    The growing popularity of energy-saving construction comes amid a flurry of new interest in combating climate change, reducing dependence on foreign oil and developing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Bush laid out ambitious plans to expand use of alternative fuels.

    Defining Green

    Environmentally friendly buildings generally take two factors into account: energy-saving features and renewable resources. The most widely regarded benchmark is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, or LEED, from the U.S. Green Building Council. By its definition, a green home uses less energy, water and resources and creates less waste, like greenhouse gas emissions. A home can qualify if it meets minimum criteria under a points system, with credit given for features such as energy-efficient water heaters and insulation, water-efficient toilets and fixtures, and use of materials like non-rare wood and long-lasting siding.

    Ms. Johnson’s Gardnerville, Nev., house has 20-inch-thick straw-bale walls. In the winter, the sun shines into the porch and light is absorbed by the concrete floors, to help maintain heat. (Architect: Arkin Tilt)

    Higher-end green homes tend to be the most energy-efficient, since some of the latest technologies can be pricey. Solar hot-water heaters use the sun to warm up the water; a solar panel runs from about $1,000 to $1,500, and a standard water heater is generally needed for backup. Rooftop catchment systems collect rainwater for toilet, bathing and irrigation purposes. Though they can be as simple as a used barrel, more extensive systems run $500 to $10,000.

    It’s still not easy to go green. In 2005, architect Phil Bernstein set out to expand his family’s 2,500-square-foot home in New Haven, Conn., by another 1,500 square feet. Mr. Bernstein and his wife wanted to use green design — like double-pane windows and expanding-foam insulation — as much as possible, but ran into problems. They had a hard time finding kitchen countertops made of recycled material, for one. “We found some in Seattle, but we decided it would defeat the purpose to have a truck spewing carbon emissions bringing them all the way here,” Mr. Bernstein says.

    The couple also wanted to use an alternative to mahogany for their cabinets that didn’t come from endangered forests. They found one called Lyptus — a hybrid of two species of eucalyptus trees — but when the cabinets arrived, they were pink. Mr. Bernstein worked with his builder for three months to find the right dye for the wood.

    The project is now months behind schedule, and has cost $500,000 so far — $300,000 over budget, in part because of the complications in going green. That’s far more than Mr. Bernstein, who is also a vice president at software maker Autodesk Inc., would expect to recoup on a home he values at about $800,000. “If we sold this house, we would lose our shirts,” he says. “It’s like one homeowner against the world.”

    Experts say green features generally add anywhere from 3% to 5% to the total cost of a new-home project. A photovoltaic roofing system easily runs $30,000 or more on a large house. Although government subsidies can halve that cost, the payback in energy savings can take as long as a decade.

    Yet the cost-benefit aspect of installing green technology is improving. A decade ago, a similar photovoltaic system cost $60,000. A tankless heater recently installed at a low-income home in Dallas cost $585 versus $188 for a standard tank-type model. But the tankless heater uses 730 kilowatt-hours less electricity annually than the tank one, resulting in power savings of $58 a year under local rates, according to an analysis by the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, a venture of industry and federal officials. That’s a payback on the investment within 6.8 years, according to the analysis.

    On a larger scale, in San Jose, Calif., a developer called First Community Housing built 76 low-income apartments in 2003. The project’s cost of $18.8 million included an extra $360,000, or 2%, for green features such as low-flow plumbing fixtures and engineered wood (made from glued-together wood fragments, so fewer trees have to be chopped down). The complex’s energy savings are expected to total at least $520,000 over 30 years, according to a 2005 study by New Ecology Inc. and the Tellus Institute.

    But there are potential downsides to green building. Some homeowners have had to tear out their poorly installed straw-insulated walls after the straw became wet and began to rot. Builders are also working to solve ventilation problems that arise when walls and windows are too well insulated, putting occupants at risk of toxic exposure to chemical fumes emitted by carpet, paint and other materials. Most reputable builders now make sure green homes allow a healthy inflow and outflow of air.

    False Start?

    This Gambier Island, Canada, home uses a high-efficiency wood-burning masonry heater, made from recycled brick, that’s fired once daily. (Architect: Henry Yorke Mann)

    Green trends have come and gone over the years, and some skeptics wonder how long-lasting this one will prove. Solar energy was a big promise in the 1970s, but failed to take off after oil prices fell again. In the 1990s, with green materials like alternatives to wood and solar rooftop panels in short supply, builders faced spending as much as 30% more to use green designs instead of conventional ones. This time around, proponents say the economics have changed. As energy costs have spiraled and the cost of green technology has dropped, consumers are increasingly eager to embrace new techniques that, over time, can save them money.

    Today, heating and cooling of homes accounts for about 20% of U.S. energy use, according to federal estimates, and the movement towards greener homes is likely to help curb the country’s emission of greenhouse gases, experts say. And a survey last year by McGraw-Hill Construction found that for the first time, a majority of U.S. builders said they planned to use green features in at least 16% of their homes by 2007 — in what NAHB officials call “a tipping point” in builders going green.

    But many consumers remain unwilling to make a fundamental sacrifice: size. “The biggest thing people could do to be green is not to build a 4,000-square-foot house, but a 2,000-square-foot house,” says Tim Hermach, executive director of the Native Forest Council, an environmental group in Eugene, Ore.

    Green products are increasingly showing up in real-estate developments. In Maui, Hawaii, developer Dowling Co. is set to break ground in April on a gated, 69-home complex featuring solar power, low-flush toilets, native landscaping and low-emitting paints and carpets. Homes in the Maluaka development, about two miles down the beach from upscale hotels along the Wailea coast, will range from 2,500 square feet to 5,300 square feet, with prices expected to range from $3.75 million to $13.5 million.

    Many of the new green developments are more affordable. In Seattle, work is half completed on the 1,600-home High Point development. City officials say it’s being built so efficiently that it will use the same amount of energy and less water than the former housing project on the site, which had half as many units. Prices range from between $170,000 and $320,000 for flats to between $385,000 and $600,000 for single-family homes.

    Rooftop Lawns

    Commercial developers are even further along than residential developers, in part because cities and states have been pushing for greener construction. In Chicago, city officials have retrofitted 15 million square feet of public buildings — an area the size of three Sears Towers — with more efficient equipment for cooling, heating, lighting and ventilation. Officials also planted a lawn and shrubbery atop the Chicago City Hall, which has reduced air-conditioning use by 10% because the roof now reaches only 90 degrees on the hottest summer days, compared with 160 degrees on neighboring rooftops. In all, Chicago has some three million square feet of its municipal rooftops carpeted with the cooling gardens and trees.

    Newark, N.J., has planted 500 trees in strategic areas around the city, with the shade from each tree designed to reduce heating and cooling costs in adjoining buildings by as much as 12%.

    Berkeley, Calif., has used an educational approach. Anyone who applies for a building permit there is assigned a city staffer who gives recommendations on how green materials and designs can be used on the project.

    The roof of this Venice, Calif., house has 89 photovoltaic panels that transform sunlight to energy. (Architect: Pugh & Scarpa)

    Few places have as high a concentration of green building as Burlington, Vt., a leafy college town of about 40,000 people on the shores of Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain Chocolates, for example, built a packaging-and-distribution warehouse to vastly exceed energy-efficiency standards of the local utility. The waterfront in Vermont’s largest city is also adorned with a green aquarium, green office building and a green high-rise apartment complex. At the University of Vermont, school officials have invested $250 million in green building over the past five years.

    That effort has made an impact. Power consumption in Burlington has stayed roughly flat since 1989, even though the population and number of businesses have grown over the same time, says Chris Burns, an energy specialist with Burlington Electric, the city’s utility. “Had we done nothing, we would be paying $7 million more a year for electricity,” Mr. Burns says.

    For a 40-unit apartment building on the Burlington waterfront, the $5 million development was financed by a combination of low-income housing tax credits and loans and grants from state utilities. Power consumption in the four-story building is tightly restricted, while an on-premises treatment plant was built to clean any storm water off the property before it runs into Lake Champlain. The residents of the affordable-living complex say they like the fact that their electricity bills run only about $20 a month — less than half the rate for comparably-sized apartments that aren’t built green.

    All that efficiency can have a downside. Gail Hunter, 75, lives with her husband Cor, 86, in a top-floor unit with extra-insulated fiberglass windows. “The windows are so heavy they are very difficult to raise and lower,” she says.

    Email your comments to rjeditor@dowjones.com.
    Posted by LV at 6:12 PM

    Labels: Press, Reference Material

    Jay Draiman said…

    In order to insure energy and economic independence as well as better economic growth without being blackmailed by foreign countries, our country, the United States of America’s Utilization of Energy Sources must change.
    “Energy drives our entire economy.” We must protect it. “Let’s face it, without energy the whole economy and economic society we have set up would come to a halt. So you want to have control over such an important resource that you need for your society and your economy.” The American way of life is not negotiable.
    Our continued dependence on fossil fuels could and will lead to catastrophic consequences.

    The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, retrofits etc. The source of energy must be by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, Ocean-Tidal, Hydrogen-Fuel Cell etc. This includes the utilizing of water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption. (Sales tax on renewable energy products and energy efficiency should be reduced or eliminated)

    The implementation of mandatory renewable energy could be done on a gradual scale over the next 10 years. At the end of the 10 year period all construction and energy use in the structures throughout the United States must be 100% powered by renewable energy. (This can be done by amending building code)

    In addition, the governments must impose laws, rules and regulations whereby the utility companies must comply with a fair “NET METERING” (the buying of excess generation from the consumer at market price), including the promotion of research and production of “renewable energy technology” with various long term incentives and grants. The various foundations in existence should be used to contribute to this cause.

    A mandatory time table should also be established for the automobile industry to gradually produce an automobile powered by renewable energy. The American automobile industry is surely capable of accomplishing this task. As an inducement to buy hybrid automobiles (sales tax should be reduced or eliminated on American manufactured automobiles).

    This is a way to expedite our energy independence and economic growth. (This will also create a substantial amount of new jobs). It will take maximum effort and a relentless pursuit of the private, commercial and industrial government sectors’ commitment to renewable energy – energy generation (wind, solar, hydro, biofuels, geothermal, energy storage (fuel cells, advance batteries), energy infrastructure (management, transmission) and energy efficiency (lighting, sensors, automation, conservation) (rainwater harvesting, water conservation) (energy and natural resources conservation) in order to achieve our energy independence.

    “To succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”

    Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
    Northridge, CA. 91325
    Mar. 21, 2007

    P.S. I have a very deep belief in America’s capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.
    I happen to believe that we can do it. In another crisis–the one in 1942–President Franklin D. Roosevelt said this country would build 60,000 [50,000] military aircraft. By 1943, production in that program had reached 125,000 aircraft annually. They did it then. We can do it now.
    “the way we produce and use energy must fundamentally change.”
    The American people resilience and determination to retain the way of life is unconquerable and we as a nation will succeed in this endeavor of Energy Independence.

    The Oil Companies should be required to invest a substantial percentage of their profit in renewable energy R&D and implementation. Those who do not will be panelized by the public at large by boy cutting their products.

    Solar energy is the source of all energy on the earth (excepting volcanic geothermal). Wind, wave and fossil fuels all get their energy from the sun. Fossil fuels are only a battery which will eventually run out. The sooner we can exploit all forms of Solar energy (cost effectively or not against dubiously cheap FFs) the better off we will all be. If the battery runs out first, the survivors will all be living like in the 18th century again.

    Every new home built should come with a solar package. A 1.5 kW per bedroom is a good rule of thumb. The formula 1.5 X’s 5 hrs per day X’s 30 days will produce about 225 kWh per bedroom monthly. This peak production period will offset 17 to 2

    4 cents per kWh with a potential of $160 per month or about $60,000 over the 30-year mortgage period for a three-bedroom home. It is economically feasible at the current energy price and the interest portion of the loan is deductible. Why not?

    Title 24 has been mandated forcing developers to build energy efficient homes. Their bull-headedness put them in that position and now they see that Title 24 works with little added cost. Solar should also be mandated and if the developer designs a home that solar is impossible to do then they should pay an equivalent mitigation fee allowing others to put solar on in place of their negligence. (Installation should be paid “performance based”).

    Installation of renewable energy and its performance should be paid to the installer and manufacturer based on “performance based” (that means they are held accountable for the performance of the product – that includes the automobile industry). This will gain the trust and confidence of the end-user to proceed with such a project; it will also prove to the public that it is a viable avenue of energy conservation.

    Installing a renewable energy system on your home or business increases the value of the property and provides a marketing advantage. It also decreases our trade deficit.

    Nations of the world should unite and join together in a cohesive effort to develop and implement MANDATORY RENEWABLE ENERGY for the sake of humankind and future generations.
    The head of the U.S. government’s renewable energy lab said Monday (Feb. 5) that the federal government is doing “embarrassingly few things” to foster renewable energy, leaving leadership to the states at a time of opportunity to change the nation’s energy future. “I see little happening at the federal level. Much more needs to happen.” What’s needed, he said, is a change of our national mind set. Instead of viewing the hurdles that still face renewable sources and setting national energy goals with those hurdles in mind, we should set ambitious national renewable energy goals and set about overcoming the hurdles to meet them. We have an opportunity, an opportunity we can take advantage of or an opportunity we can squander and let go,”
    solar energy – the direct conversion of sunlight with solar cells, either into electricity or hydrogen, faces cost hurdles independent of their intrinsic efficiency. Ways must be found to lower production costs and design better conversion and storage systems.
    All government buildings, Federal, State, County, City etc. should be mandated to be energy efficient and must use renewable energy on all new structures and structures that are been remodeled/upgraded.
    “The goverment should serve as an example to its citizens”

    Jay Draiman, Energy Consultant
    Northridge, CA 91325
    Email: renewableenergy2@msn.com

    March 20, 2007 8:57 PM

  2. Biofuelsimon 21 March, 2007 at 10:44 am #

    Hey Jay, A pretty thorough comment. Using energy efficiently is important and could significantly cut the amount of fossil fuel consumed in the US. I’m not sure that the situation is quite the same as in 1942, it is probably closer to Kennedy than Roosevelt, but in both cases I guess your country put the resources into the problem to solve it…

  3. JaJy Draiman, Energy Analyst 8 June, 2008 at 6:54 pm #

    Our war for energy independence and economic sustainability

    The US government and other governments are not serious about energy efficiency and renewable energy development and implementation – they are too busy playing politics and capitulating to the Oil Companies.
    IT is time to get series to avert an economic catastrophe – I hope it is not too late
    The world needs to invest $50 trillion in energy in coming decades, building some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expanding wind power, solar power, geothermal energy in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.
    The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions an “energy revolution” that would greatly reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.
    “Meeting this target of 50 percent cut in emissions and replacing fossil fuel represents a formidable challenge, and we would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale,” IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said.
    The scenario for deeper cuts would require massive investment in energy technology development and deployment, a wide-ranging campaign to dramatically increase energy efficiency, and a wholesale shift to renewable sources of energy.
    Assuming an average 3.4 percent global economic growth over the 2010-2050 period, governments and the private sector would have to make additional investments of $50 trillion in energy, or 1.2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, the report said.
    That would be an investment more than three times the current size of the entire U.S. economy.
    In addition, the world would have to construct 38 new nuclear power plants each year, and wind-power turbines would have to be increased by 18,000 units annually, solar energy output would have to be increased 20 fold every year.
    Let us not forget as we are increasing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency – the world population is increasing – the demand for energy by advancement in technology worldwide is also increasing. We have to take these factors into account.
    Oil is going to hit at least $200 per barrel, gasoline at the pump will hit $6 or more per gallon, in some countries it is already $10 per gallon.
    Most of the money would be in the commercialization of energy technologies developed by governments and the private sector.
    “If industry is convinced there will be policy for serious, actions for accelerated development of renewable energy and efficiency, then these investments will be made by the private sector.”
    People are hurting financially and economically, this must end, we should strive for a thriving economy with new technology for renewable energy and efficiency.
    We have the technology and knowhow let us stop playing politics – unite our people and our nation in a common goal to avert an economic disaster and maintain our quality of life for generations to come.
    Let us serve as an example to the rest of the world.
    Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst – June 6, 2008

  4. Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst 20 June, 2008 at 4:43 am #


    Do you want to see a quick resolution to the energy crisis?

    The public should boycott from purchasing any vehicle that is less than 100 mpg.

    That is surely to grab the automobile industry attention worldwide to produce an energy efficient car that does 100 mpg or better on alternative energy – the vehicle must be pollution free.

    “The ‘big three’ is not the ‘big three’ anymore,” Iacocca told National Public Radio, referring to the falling sales of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. “[They] didn’t adapt quickly enough to the energy problem in this country [and were] not ready with the right kind of cars.”

    Any big corporation that is too bureaucratic and cumbersome to quickly react to changing market conditions is doomed to failure.

    In today’s fast moving market conditions and technology – you must be innovative, utilize the cutting edge of technology and produce a quality and economical product.

    The public has a short memory, all they care is what have you done for me lately.

    In life we must always live in hope.

    Jay Draiman

  5. Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst 27 June, 2008 at 6:56 am #

    Renewable Energy Manufactures/suppliers should use their own product to manufacture.

    The manufacturers’ of Solar Panels and other forms of renewable energy with related support products manufactures/suppliers – should have at least the decency to practice what they preach what they market to the public.
    That would be the best marketing approach I can think off.
    If they believe in the product they manufacture/sell, they should utilize it to its fullest potential.
    It will give the manufacturer the actual experience of utilizing the product on a daily basis, view and experience any shortcoming or improvements that are needed, implement the improvements and capitalize on that revision to improve the product and its performance.
    This will instill confidence in the public to purchase the product.

    Jay Draiman, Energy Analyst

    As with any new technology, PV will become more efficient, cheaper and cleaner to produce. In order for this to happen we (Governments / NGOs / Individuals) need to invest more time and money into making PV viable, e.g. through increased incentives, regulations, technical standards, R&D, manufacturing processes and generating consumer demand.
    Just like the automobile industry, the manufacture used its own product.
    Over the years the automobile industry and technology has evolved from the early 1900 to what it is today the year 2008.
    I predict that in 10 years the automobile we know today will change drastically for the better, with new fuel technology and other modification that will improve its scales of economy and features.

  6. Jay Draiman 15 September, 2008 at 8:00 am #

    Should The US government bail out American corporations?

    Does corporate America share its profits with the tax payers? The answer is absolutely not.
    Do they share the profits with the with their employees? The executives are paid millions.
    The US Government should bail out all corporations large and small is that right? The answer is no. If it is a viable business, they can raise the money from investors, if not, let them close shop.
    If the government decides to bail them out if should be at a cost (like shares in the company) where the government will make money and have a say in running the company. Even better have a public referendum where the voters decide.
    Carmakers want money from the government; the financial institutions want money – where does it stop.
    It is about time corporate America should learn they have to stand on their own feet. Where is corporate America financial responsibility?
    They claim the government is abusing its financial responsibility; it seems Corporate America is no better. They also go to their workers to take a pay cut, is that fair? It seems the little guys are the ones that always pay the price for corporate financial abuse and miss-management.
    Other corporations in the world are not asking to be bailed out – they go out of business.
    Jay Draiman
    The corporate barracudas have no conscience they will step on anyone, stab anyone in the back and fudge the numbers to climb up the corporate ladder and receive the hefty bonuses.
    As family values have declined in the last half a century so has corporate integrity and honesty, it seems that corporate America will do almost anything for the buck ($) no holes barred.
    What a shame that corporate America has sunk so low.
    The government is no different, honesty and integrity is a foreign language, they only serve the special interest groups. (We all know why).
    What happened to the American people who placed their trust in the government? (The public officials they voted for).
    We are faced constantly with another corporate or governmental scandal of wrongdoing. When is the American public going to wake up and demand an honest government and honest corporate America? Americans wake up before it is too late.

  7. Simon Robinson 15 September, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Hey Jay,

    You should be running/standing for something. At least in the US there is some transparency, in some parts of the world, and that includes some of the places where biofuel feedstocks are grown, there is little or no transparency. That is why we need to have clear, enforceable ethical standards in place for biofuel sourcing based on prior informed consent that is given without coercion and is based on a fair price for a fair days work.

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