When You Start with a Faulty Assumption, You End Up with a Faulty Conclusion: The Problem with an Anti-Cellulosic Ethanol Study
This weekend, the Associated Press published its coverage of the results of a recent University of Nebraska study that wrongly concluded that cellulosic ethanol from corn residue (like stover) could result in 7% more greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline in the short term. The study was conducted under conditions that are entirely inapplicable to modern cellulosic ethanol production, rendering its findings meaningless. Renewable fuel experts and agricultural scientists alike have slammed the study’s methodology and the EPA also distanced itself from its findings - with good reason.
With Washington adrift and the United Nations climate change panel again calling for action, the search for new clean energy finance solutions continues.
Renewable energy. The very concept itself is undeniably awesome. So awesome, in fact, that sometimes we can’t help but proclaim our love for renewables. Luckily, Earth Day is fast approaching, April 22, so this seems like an appropriate time for us to proclaim our enthusiasm for clean energy.
This is the second piece of a two part series. The first post is here.
Smart grids are being introduced in certain military installations, such as in Washington, DC and San Diego, CA, but are not yet fully operational. They are impressive but the big question remains – are they vulnerable to cyber-threats? In-the-field applications experimentation and training for applications-oriented “real world” sites is laudable, but the learning curve takes time on optimizing energy savings and generation, load shifting and shedding, sensor coordination, and maintenance. The first DoD step should be a DoD-wide requirement that all on-site energy systems connected to the electric grid must minimally have “smart” switching. This requirement must become a standard practice; meaning when there is independent on-base electric generation, if the grid goes down, the electric power is redirected towards critical functions. This can be accomplished automatically and not via computer or internet so there can be no cyber-interference.
Last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence refused to veto a bill that effectively eliminated the state’s “Energizing Indiana” energy efficiency program. The governor has expressed an interest in working with the legislature to enact a different energy efficiency program, but this entire process was unnecessary. Energizing Indiana was working as intended, creating jobs and saving energy, all at a monthly cost to ratepayers of less than a cup of coffee.
Renewable energy has now become a technology of choice for many Americans, accounting for nearly 40% of all new, domestic power capacity installed in 2013. Presently, renewable power capacity exceeds 190 GW, biofuels are responsible for roughly 10% of our nation’s fuel supply, and renewable thermal energy systems heat and cool a growing number of homes, businesses, public buildings, and other structures throughout the country. The array of technologies are either fully or increasingly cost-competitive with conventional energy sources, and costs continue to fall. Per Bloomberg New Energy Finance, private sector investment in the U.S. clean energy sector surpassed $100 billion in 2012-2013, stimulating economic development while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. This impressive growth of renewable energy is a signal that, when certain, state and federal policies have worked.