Posts Tagged ‘Natural Gas’


The Oil Spill’s Impact Hits Home: Local Businesses Hit Hard – NPR.org

The Gulf Coast is filled with people who were just getting back on their feet, nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina. Now, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is placing their recovery at risk, along with thousands of other families.

Listen to entire story.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON FACEBOOK

( read more )


Graham Pulls Support for Major Senate Climate Bill

WASHINGTON — In a move that may derail a comprehensive climate change and energy bill in the Senate, one of the measure’s central architects, Senator Lindsey Graham, has issued an angry protest over what he says are Democratic plans to give priority to a debate over immigration policy.

Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in a sharply worded letter on Saturday that he would no longer participate in negotiations on the energy bill, throwing its already cloudy prospects deeper into doubt. He had been working for months with SenatorsJohn Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, on the a legislation, which they were scheduled to announce with considerable fanfare on Monday morning. That announcement has been indefinitely postponed.

In his letter to his two colleagues, Mr. Graham said that he was troubled by reports that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up an immigration measure before the energy bill. Mr. Graham has worked with Democrats in the past on immigration matters and was expected to be an important bridge to Republicans on that issue, as well as on energy.

Mr. Graham said that any Senate debate on the highly charged subject of illegal immigration would make it impossible to deal with the difficult issues involved in national energy and global warming policy.\

Read entire article.

( read more )


Green Energy Rush Hit by Headwinds

OFF THE COAST OF KENT, England—A phalanx of sleek white windmills, rising nearly 400 feet out of the North Sea, is just the start of one of the world’s most audacious green-energy programs.

The turbines are part of a project expected to be the world’s largest offshore wind farm when it is completed later this year. But only for a while, because it’s a prelude to something much bigger. In a few years, its developer, Swedish energy company Vattenfall AB, plans to start a new project farther offshore, in deeper waters, with turbines as tall as London’s 580-foot Gherkin skyscraper.

Just one problem: Vattenfall has no idea how it’s going to build it. “The equipment we need to operate in such rough waters doesn’t exist yet,” says Ole Bigum Nielsen, the project manager.

Europe is making a huge bet on wind energy. Because there is little room in its crowded countryside for sprawling wind-tower complexes, planners are increasingly looking to the sea. Europe’s current 2,000 megawatts of offshore generating capacity will grow at least 40,000 megawatts by 2020, enough to power more than 25 million households, the European Wind Energy Association predicts.

Britain is making the biggest wind wager. By offering generous incentives, the U.K. already has built more offshore wind power than any other nation. Now it is planning a wave of vast new wind farms, in some of Europe’s stormiest waters.

The U.K.’s commitment is driven by stringent European Union targets. To meet them, Britain will have to raise the share of its electricity that comes from renewable sources to about 30% by 2020. It’s just 7% now. The U.K. also adopted a “carbon budget” a year ago, committing to reduce emissions to at least 34% below 1990 levels by 2018-2022.

Some dismiss the windmills as quixotic. Wind energy needs massive subsidies to be economic. The cost to carry out Britain’s plans is estimated at $150 billion. Some predict a consumer backlash against resulting higher energy bills. And many more challenges await, judging from those the project at Kent faced, ranging from the need to protect marine worms to a design flaw that causes turbines to sink into their foundations.

( read more )


Wikipedia’s Entry on Global Energy Consumption

In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J) with 80 to 90 percent derived from the combustion of fossil fuels.[1] This is equivalent to an average power consumption rate of 15 terawatts (1.504×1013 W). Not all of the world’s economies track their energy consumption with the same rigor, and the exact energy content of a barrel of oil or a ton of coal will vary with quality.

Most of the world’s energy resources are from the sun’s rays hitting earth. Some of that energy has been preserved as fossil energy, some is directly or indirectly usable; for example, via wind, hydro- or wave power. The term solar constant is the amount of incoming solar electromagnetic radiation per unit area, measured on the outer surface of Earth’s atmosphere, in a plane perpendicular to the rays. The solar constant includes all types of solar radiation, not just visible light. It is measured by satellite to be roughly 1366 watts per square meter, though it fluctuates by about 6.9% during a year—from 1412 W m−2 in early January to 1321 W m−2 in early July, due to the Earth’s varying distance from the sun, and by a few parts per thousand[clarification needed] from day to day. For the whole Earth, with a cross section of 127,400,000 km2, the total energy rate is 174 petawatts (1.740×1017 W), plus or minus 3.5%. This value is the total rate of solar energy received by the planet; about half, 89 PW, reaches the Earth’s surface.[citation needed]

The estimates of remaining non-renewable worldwide energy resources vary, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 YJ (1 YJ = 1024J) and the available nuclear fuel such as uranium exceeding 2.5 YJ. Fossil fuels range from 0.6-3 YJ if estimates of reserves of methane clathrates are accurate and become technically extractable. Mostly thanks to the Sun, the world also has a renewable usable energy flux that exceeds 120 PW (8,000 times 2004 total usage), or 3.8 YJ/yr, dwarfing all non-renewable resources.

( read more )


Natural gas: Fuel of the future – CNNMoney.com

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The world seems awash in natural gas.

In the United States, new production from once hard-to-tap shale rock is booming in places like Texas, Louisiana and the Northeast. There are also plans to construct a mammoth gas pipeline through Canada to bring Alaskan North Slope gas to market.

In Australia and Qatar, liquefied natural gas terminals have started supplying fast-growing Asian countries, and more are under construction.

In Africa, rich natural gas deposits off the coast of Angola are slated for both the domestic market and export to Europe, which still gets a big part of its supply from Russia’s huge reserves. Plans are also underway to supply both Europe and Asia with the sizable gas reserves in Iran and Iraq.

Forecasting agencies, long known to play it safe before touting new trends, are only predicting a modest increase in gas’ share of the world’s overall energy mix by 2030.

But some analysts are saying it could be much higher, with big implications for the electricity markets – and coal-fired power plants in particular.

How much do we have?

In the United States, it’s this shale natural gas that’s got everyone so excited.

This gas has been known about for some time, but new drilling and extraction technology has now made it commercially viable. There are some concerns over the environmental impact of this drilling, especiallywater pollution, but the sheer amount of new gas is getting major attention.

“We’ve basically won the lottery,” Michael Ming, president of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, an organization that studies new natural gas developments, said during a recent Time Inc. conference on energy technologies.

The amount of gas reserves in these new shales could double the nation’s known stockpile of natural gas, according to U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

Yet the U.S. Energy Information Administration is only forecasting a rise in natural gas production of under 20% by 2030. And as our overall energy use is expected to rise as well, natural gas’ share of our overall energy mix will be little changed. EIA’s estimates are in-line with other private forecasts.

Ming is among those who believe estimates for natural gas use are too small. He pointed to estimates from 10 years ago that said just 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was likely in Texas’ Barnett Shale. That estimate is now 50 trillion cubic feet.

“There’s a lot of conservatism right now,” he said in an interview with CNNMoney. “We’re just at the very tip of this pyramid.”

What we use it for

Natural gas can be used for many things – to power cars, heat homes, cook, or generate electricity.

It’s this last use that will likely represent the biggest opportunity for gas in the next couple of decades.

For the last several years utilities have scrapped plans to build coal-fired power plants in favor of natural gas plants, which emit about half the carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. This move has become known in the power industry as the “dash to gas.”

But that dash has been only half-hearted, said Peter Tertzakian, chief energy economist at ARC Financial, a Calgary-based private equity firm.

Over a decade ago utility execs were promised natural gas would be abundant and cheap. But the production didn’t pan out as planned, and gas prices spiked even before oil prices did earlier this decade.

Prices have since dropped significantly, partially due to all the new shale gas, but utility execs are still leery this resource is for real.

‘It’s a question of believing,” said Tertzakian, who also thinks the estimates for future natural gas use are low. “Once they believe the trend, gas demand is more likely to gain momentum.”

Read entire article.

( read more )


Five Questions: Kallenberg sits on the Chris Garcia Hotseat – Statesman.com, Cox Newspapers

We spoke to Gregory Kallenberg, director of the documentary “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for Energy.”

The film “takes place in the Louisiana backwoods, and follows the momentous discovery of the largest natural gas field in the United States — and maybe the world. It examines the historic find — a formation called the “Haynesville Shale” — from the personal level as well as from the higher perspective of the current energy picture and pending energy future.” (Kallenberg is a former reporter for the American-Statesman.)

More about the movie and its trailer HERE.

How did you come across this subject and what made it seem worthy of its own movie?

Gregory Kallenberg: Well before anyone knew the massive scale of the Haynesville discovery, there was this buzz going around northwest Louisiana. You couldn’t go anywhere without people whispering about “secret wells” and leasing checks being written for “millions of dollars.” It was this surreal “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” moment that makes you want to pick up a camera, hit the REC button and see what happens. At that point, the film was going to be a story about people’s experiences with this weird boomtown hysteria. Once we found out that all of this was true AND the impact of this find would have national impact, we knew we had a film that could address the bigger issue of energy, its human cost and what role that energy could play in our energy future.

What’s the film’s narrative and who are the main players?

The movie documents the discovery of the largest natural gas field in the U.S. The find, called the Haynesville Shale, has an estimated $1.75 trillion in gas and contains more energy than Brazil and Mexico combined. The film follows the beginning fervor of the Haynesville Shale and its effect on three people’s lives. Kassi, a single mom, fights for her community’s environmental rights. Pastor Reegis is an African American preacher who believes that God has delivered the Haynesville Shale and its riches to his congregation. And Mike, a self-described “country boy,” wrestles with the idea of giving up his pristine land in exchange for becoming an “overnight millionaire.” At the same time, you see academics, environmentalists and pundits discuss the broader impact of this find.

Your movie arrives amid a flux of activist docs about energy, conservation and food production. What does yours add to the dialogue?

“Haynesville” is unique in that it avoids the current trap of being a histrionic first-person, hyper-biased film. My goal as a filmmaker was to make a balanced piece about energy and its human cost and larger perceived benefit. I want people to see that energy is an amazingly complicated issue with very few easy answers. What’s most important to me is that people walk out of this film and start the conversation that will lay the foundation for our energy future. For the first time in history, I believe all of us have the power to chart the course for a clean energy future, and I hope “Haynesville” helps start that movement.

What do you think should be done with the Haynesville Shale? Are you conspicuously stepping aside from the argument or does the film make your point?

While I hope the film communicates my point, I will provide a bit of a spoiler here. I personally think we should have gotten off of coal yesterday. The extraction of coal is environmentally obscene and the emissions from coal are borderline poisonous. That said, I only believe in the use of vast energy sources like the Haynesville if we can figure out how to extract in as safe a way as possible that’s fair to landowners and environmentally responsible. If the gas industry and the environmental movement can work together on this, then we have a good shot at a clean energy future.

You screened the movie in Copenhagen at the big climate summit. What was the response? Are you galvanizing people and opinion?

Our screening in Copenhagen was an amazing experience for three reasons: 1) I had the unique opportunity to show my film at the world’s premiere environmental conference. 2) I saw an audience made up of environmentalists and energy lobbyists nodding together at the screen and, afterwards, coming together and discussing the film’s message. And 3) I fulfilled my life’s dream of eating Danish danishes and, I’m happy to report, they were way better than I ever imagined.

( read more )


Visualizing The U.S. Electric Grid – NPR.org

The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domesticelectricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation’s electrical systems.

View interactive graphic.

( read more )


Small Town, Big Find: The energy debate gets personal in ‘Haynesville’ – Austin Chronicle

By Joe O’Connell

The Rev. Reegis Richard was wandering through a field, hungrily eyeing a dilapidated former school and dreaming of the possibilities, when a Haynesville producer climbed over a fence out of curiosity. Five minutes later, a camera crew was set up, says documentary director Gregory Kallenberg.

It was the sort of serendipitous moment that has guided his documentary, which explores how a massive shale natural gas find in Louisiana is both fueling the dreams of Louisiana’s downtrodden and crushing them, while providing a potential solution to our nation’s energy thirst.

Richard sees the bucketloads of cash the find is bringing to the area as the fulfillment of a personal prophecy to save his dirt-poor African-American neighbors. “He truly believes God gave him these riches,” Kallenberg says. “He wants to give back to a congregation that literally has nothing. He ends up being this incredibly inspirational character. His passion I hope comes through on the camera.”

It does, as the preacher uses the sudden riches to bring the school back to life on screen. Kallenberg interweaves Richard’s story along with those of Mike Smith, a good old boy who finds himself a sudden multimillionaire from the shale his 300 acres of land contains, and – perhaps the doc’s most gripping character – Kassi Fitzgerald, a single mother who turns into a driven community activist to make sure both her economically depressed neighbors and the environment are treated fairly.

Kallenberg, who cut his teeth as an Austin American-Statesman technology reporter as the tech boom was blossoming in the late Nineties and later jumped into that boom full force at Austin’s NotHarvard.com, approached the film originally with a clear eye for the personal narrative, a storytelling philosophy that took root further in his days as a University of Texas film student. He originally followed 11 people affected by the Haynesville find. “As with most documentaries like this, some stories fizzled, and once some saw how obtrusive a camera can be, some people opted out,” he says. “I was left with about seven really compelling ‘personal’ narratives.” The final three stories made the cut “because they are such strong characters, and they embodied all sides of what was happening during this crazy time in Louisiana.”

Kallenberg had moved to Shreveport in 2007 and was in search of a next project. Haynesville fell in his lap while he was enjoying the legendary strawberry pie in Strawn’s Eat Shop. “I was sitting in this cafe, and these farmers out of central casting come stumbling in like they just left the creek at Sutter’s Mill,” he says. “I think it was the fervor as they discussed this secret gas well that put me into eavesdropping mode.” The northeast Louisiana discovery was not yet in the news, so Kallenberg, camera in hand, jumped in at an opportune time to tell the story. “It turned out this thing was real,” he says. “It blew up on me.”

The final film is one Kallenberg sees as significant in a much larger sense. “This issue of energy has become so prevalent,” he says. “It’s complicated. I really think the film transcends being just about these people but also how we are going to handle our energy future. My personal belief is there’s a lot of energy under the feet of Louisiana. We’ve got to work with the industry, and we have to dictate how it’s going to be extracted in a fair way, an environmentally safe way.”

That battle is portrayed in the film by single mother Fitzgerald, who never completed high school. She throws herself into tireless research and grassroots footwork once she realizes the oil companies are paying different amounts to different neighbors for gas rights, primarily based on the person’s economic situation. “She tries to overcome her lack of education by pure gumption,” Kallenberg says. “She comes really close to winning against greater odds. She ends up suing Exxon and wins the ability to move from federal court to parish court. Nobody told her that Exxon’s a big fucking conglomerate.”

Kallenberg makes an interesting choice with the oil industry’s side of the tale. “When it came to presenting the larger energy story, I wanted to be very careful and present it the right way,” he says.”I wanted it to be a compelling argument, and I wanted it presented by people outside of the oil industry. As a result, the bigger views on energy are delivered by academics like Tad Patzek, pundits like Austinite Robert Bryce, and world-renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben.”

The doc’s goal is more about engaging discussion about our energy future than pushing any one agenda – though Kallenberg is clear in his distaste for coal as an energy source. Haynesville screened at December’s Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, an event that hit home for him the importance of this chance project. “There were hardcore energy lobbyists on one side and hardcore environmentalists on the other,” he says. “It was heartening to see both sides look at the screen and nod at it. Haynesville really shows the issue from all levels. There is an intimate, tertiary exploration of the issue as these people on the ground grapple with consequences of the find. But Haynesvile also zooms out to a macro level, where you get to see what this energy could mean in getting us to a clean, renewable-based energy future. At the end, I really wanted to leave my audience in a place where they could start a conversation … and what they envision as an energy future.”

Read entire article.

( read more )


A Natural Choice – Washington Post – Editorial

IN AMERICA’S climate debate, one of the most promising developments of recent months has been the growing recognition in Washington that natural gas may play a key role in curbing carbon emissions. The resurgence of gas comes through the discovery of massive deposits in Appalachian shale formations and elsewhere — a reserve that offers the prospect of stable domestic supplies and relatively low prices. Since burning natural gas produces half the emissions of burning coal, switching the two fuels could put a significant dent in America’s carbon footprint.

The rumor this month was that such arguments had swayed the White House and that President Obama would back policy aimed at discouraging coal and encouraging natural gas at a speech he delivered to the Business Roundtable on Wednesday. The rumors didn’t bear out. That’s too bad. With climate-change legislation still stalled in Congress, nudging gas forward is something that the government can do quickly and relatively cheaply to meet its medium-term emissions goals if current trends persist.

To be sure, America doesn’t want to depend too much on one commodity. Drastically ramping up the amount of natural gas burned to generate electricity would require infrastructure investments in certain regions as well as retrofits of certain plants or the construction of entirely new ones.

But existing gas-fired plants are running at only about 25 percent capacity, in part because many are switched on only when demand spikes. The Congressional Research Service reports that doubling the use of existing plants could replace about a third of coal-fired power, getting America a third of the way to its goal for 2020. For reasons of infrastructure, that might be too optimistic a scenario. But BP — which has a stake in natural gas — estimates that retiring the 80 dirtiest coal plants and replacing them with gas-fired power would get America 10 percent of the way to its 2020 emissions target and increase domestic gas consumption by only 5 percent.

Even if you don’t trust BP’s numbers, a range of attractive policy options is available, starting with tax incentives to decommission old coal plants. Natural gas is so competitive, it might not take much more than that. However, policymakers might also consider coupling that with some carrot to switch to gas. States that demand that utilities derive a certain portion of their electricity from clean sources could also allow natural gas to count in such requirements, discounting for the carbon emissions it does produce. Federal legislators contemplating a similar, national standard might also consider this.

In the long term, natural gas is only a bridge fuel as America weans itself off carbon, since it still produces plenty of emissions. With a rising carbon price, natural gas will become too expensive to burn. But it can provide the country some time to bring to market the cleaner technologies on which America eventually must run.

( read more )


HAYNESVILLE Selected for Coveted “Spotlight Premiere” Slot at SXSW Film 2010

The news came to the “Haynesville” production office in a deceptively simple and somewhat cryptic E-mail from Janet Pierson, SXSW’s producer of the film festival: “Congrats! You’re in! Call me.”

It was the deciphering of the message that was so important.  The documentary “Haynesville: The Relentless Hunt for Energy Future” had been chosen for the world-renowned SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.  Added to that, the film had earned a coveted “Spotlight Premiere” slot and would show at the historic Paramount Theater.

“I couldn’t believe it when Janet told me the news,” said Gregory Kallenberg, director of the film.  “Showing at SXSW was our highest goal.  After getting off of the phone, I actually think I had to sit down and process what had just happened.”

SXSW Film is globally known for being a top-tiered film festival and, with Sundance, the best festival in the country for documentaries.  This year, with less than 68 slots, SXSW broke a record by receiving over 750 documentary films.  Only 13 of the 68 are Spotlight Premieres.

“It’s an amazing honor, and just the way we wanted to premiere the film,” says Kallenberg.  “We feel like ‘Haynesville’ is an important film that needs to seen by the entire country, and we’re hoping that this prestigious showing helps position the film so that it can be seen by a wider audience.”

“Haynesville” plays on Tuesday, March 16 at 11am at the Paramount Theater.  Tickets will be available at the box office prior to the screening for $10.  SXSW badge holders can attend the screening as part of the conference.

ABOUT THE FILM: “Haynesville” is a film documenting the historic discovery of the nation’s largest natural gas field and its effect on three people’s lives.  The film also explores the potential impact of the Haynesville’s vast reserves of natural gas on a clean energy future.  The film has been honored by being an official selection at the Climate Summit in Copehagen and earned a Green Award nomination at the Sheffield International Doc/Fest in England.

ABOUT SXSW FILM: The SXSW® Film Conference and Festival is a uniquely creative environment featuring the dynamic convergence of talent, smart audiences and industry heavyweights. A hotbed of discovery and interactivity, the event offers lucrative networking opportunities and immersion into the art and business of the rapidly evolving world of independent film.

CONTACT:

Gregory Kallenberg

512-751-9000

gregory@haynesvillemovie.com

More information and the film trailer: www.HaynesvilleMovie.com

Facebook group: www.Facebook.com/HaynesvilleMovie

More information on SXSW Film: sxsw.com/film/screenings

###

( read more )