Friday, August 31, 2007

US energy policy

According to this, Carter came up with a energy policy proposal in 1979, specifically to prevent the US from having to go to war with the middle east to secure oil. Naturally it was opposed by many, and led to the bin Laden family essentially getting Bush2.0 in as the presedent.

oil subsidies

Just found this article detailing the extent of the US oil subsidies. It boils town to tax breaks - the oil industry gets taxed at 11%, other industries at 18%, which if you do the math comes out to about $6billion. This clearly doesn't square with the $16billion mentioned below - which demonstrates the saying that there are lies, damned lies and statistics :-)

Wozniak Green Plans

Steve Wozniak, of Apple fame, is jumping on the green bandwagon in a big way. He's discovered the idea of building homes that require little or no power to heat. Some of his ideas are a little misguided (eg, he suggested in an interview that one should knock down energy inefficient housing and replace it with shiney efficient housing - neatly ignoring the aount of energy required to build a home, not to mention the landfill required to dispose of the old one), but it's excellent that someone in his position has publicly declared energy efficiency to be a Good Thing&tm;, particularly as there is a certain class of Apple customer who will do everything the Steves tell them to :-)

One facinating idea he's come across (and no doubt will invest in) is that of using a particular wood for your core building material. Southern Yellow pine has sap that melts at about 22C, so as the external temperature rises above that, an enormous amount of energy is absorbed by the wood to melt the pine - keeping the internal temperature down. Neat idea - there's a few complications that I see - eg, sap tends to dry out over time, so it may lose effectiveness over time. Also, many people are allergic to pine sap, and as it evaporates (which surely it must if it becomes liquid) the house is going to be infused with vapourised sap. Not so good. Perhaps a synthetic version could be produced, with the working fluid sealed inside the structure of the building.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Oil industry in US

Finally, the oil industry is getting attention from the US government. For all those people who bleat on about the millions of pounds of subsidy that renewable energy companies receive, here's an extract from the BBC news site today:

"The draft law details support for "clean" energy sources like biofuels, wind, solar and geothermal resources. It would withdraw some $16bn (£8bn) in annual subsidies from the oil industry."

Obviously, it is opposed by Bush, who is entitled to veto it, but at least it's an indication that people who matter in the US government are starting to realise that there are other ways of generating energy.

Sixteen billion dollars is quite a lot of money, though a tiny fraction of what has been spent invading the middle east in recent years to support America's oil addiction.