Thoughts and prayers are in store for the family get-togethers Thanksgiving Day and with energy and fuels such as gasoline and home heating oil prices damaging the standard of living of so very many, here are some things to be thankful for and give hope for the future.

Right now the wind industry is in a boom period with no end in sight. Wind worldwide will generate the equivalent of a quarter of US peak electrical demand by the end of 2010.  Many of the U.S. States have legislated incentives and requirements to kick-start the industry and improvements in design and materials will make the windmills better and that should come quickly.  The kick-start has also helped drive the principles of economy of scale which helps drive down costs making the incentives even more of a incentive.  If the Feds get their act straight and keep the federal investment incentive primed, the industry should hit 30% of U.S. electrical grid demand perhaps as early as 2020 with 2030 as the current goal, if technology improvements come quickly enough. If you’re heating with home heating oil, start advocating programs to assist you with a home heat pump system.

Oil and gas looks to have had a bad year, on the surface.  As a target for the “idiot’s press” and the “pander to the stupid” politicians the amount of nonsense is seriously hiding the progress and serves the interests of OPEC and the Axis of Oil.  We are all aware of the extreme pricing in crude oil and the damage it’s doing to the personal budgets and national economy that are felt now in a pretty wide share of the population.  But the oil and gas industry has some news even as it’s out of sight and not covered for mass distribution.  Foremost is the activity by Anadarko with its Independence Hub facility in 8000 feet of water coming on line in 2007 for 1 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas, BPAmerica started up its Atlantis facility in 7000 feet of water rated to 200,000 barrels of oil per day and 180 million cubic feet of gas, and the struggling Thunderhorse facility in 6000 feet of water rated to 250,000 barrel per day and 200 million cfg due to operate in 2008, Chevron’s Blind Faith production platform in 7000 feet of water for 30,000 barrels and 30 million cfg sets sail next month to installation, that together should clear one half million barrels of oil and condensate coming on shore each day to the U.S. later next year.  These large bits will offset U.S. imports very significantly.  Better still is the Chevron “Jack” field that is rumored to be close to the size of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay which at full production will equal or exceed the sum of this year’s new production.

Biofuels made a dent in oil imports this year with a big growth in ethanol production.  The ethanol push has gotten to the point the product can’t be taken away from the plants as fast as its made, making for some difficulties in distributing the supplies.  The news is that ethanol has maxed out the distribution system and a breather in growth is in store while the hunt for cellulosic methods proceeds with no really big events.  Cellulosic ethanol remains a research project, while Purdue scientists offered the energy industry a theoretical path to synthetic fuels using plant matter to sequester carbon and a variety of ways to gather hydrogen that in a reformer would produce a range of tailored synthetic fuels.  This is a theoretical breakthrough in thought.  Its consideration and further research should be a hot topic as natural carbon sequestration could be maximized and the carbon recycled.  The algae crowd also has made progress with ideas to vertically arrange the algae’s sunlight tanking thus greatly increasing the production.  Lots of new developments in biofuels with only one problem – in third world countries the rush to produce is putting marginal land at risk and reducing food supplies.

On the nuclear fusion front the bad news almost overtook the good news.  Dr. Robert Bussard, the leader in fusion passed away, but had managed in his final days to arrange for continued research and development of his design.  The seventh stage of development is funded with a competent staff building out from Dr. Bussard’s concepts looking for a continuously operating device that can be measured and thoroughly studied.  There is hope that this generation of his device could also show breakeven, but just to run continuously in a fusing state would be a breakthrough.  Dr. Rostoker’s device is being researched quietly and has acquired serious funding from venture capital.  Eric Lerner continues to refine the focus fusion idea, which offers compact way to fusion.  On the other hand the intergovernmental ITER fusion project caught more governments in its web even in the face of information that the basis of the research, the tokamak design, looks increasingly less likely to ever be practical even if it can be made to work estimated to be some 40 or 50 years out, so far.

The atomic fission crowd might have blown their hopes of more uranium-fueled plants when lobbying for “equity guarantees” from the U.S. Congress.  Although 19 permit applications were filed the environmentalists saw all of this and have just begun to fight.  In the face of the oncoming new research and market developments I guess I’d be looking for a guarantee too.

Solar has seen a good year with thermal solar plants in the offing and new developments in photovoltaic with thinner films, silicon spheres, wide spectrum silicon and a bunch of small improvements that together have propelled photovoltaic into a much better position.  The thermal solar folks are getting to be much better engineers and they can sell projects on the technology of today in today’s economics.  The likelihood of a viable home or business thermal unit improvement might well trickle down from the lessons of huge power plant sized installations.  Meanwhile as the rush to develop photovoltaic proceeds there is a good chance the industry will hit the threshold of easy homeowner sales.

Geothermal, is and remains the poor stepchild of alternative energy.  With one of the longest histories and high potential the only significant result is still in Iceland.  The U.S. DOE has a wide-ranging program, but it’s poorly funded.  Some companies have geothermal installations scattered across the globe.  The saying “it ain’t rocket science” is true here, but there is a need for technological research to get commercial grade projects considered and underway.  On the other hand geothermal offers a huge resource if the attention and dollars can get there.

Lastly are the interrelated aspects of hydrogen.  There is fuel cell, super capacitor, battery, various storage ideas, and hydrogen generation ideas that have had of late, a banner year.  First, the storage area has seen some advances and new concepts that offer hope for good solutions.  Fuel cells are getting more efficient, smaller and cooler.  A new examination of the internal combustion engine resulted in a new design that has a patent pending and the design could easily withstand the reactivity of hydrogen, and the projected efficiency exceeds that of fuel cells.  Hydrogen is usually related to electrical generation so battery claims are getting stronger and super capacitor claims bigger.  We’ll see when the proof comes out.

Hydrogen generation is in the Wild West stage with a massive interest worldwide.  Ideas are from free energy from water on down to nuke -> electricity -> electrolysis processes and the everlasting chemical stripping.  Some old ideas are revisited like plasma induced electrolysis, a microbe system that has the bugs eating and producing hydrogen and new ones that just defy a workable label yet seem to find adherents world wide. I’ve looked at many of these over the past months, but have steered around the odder methods as the explanations, even though some experimenters have things working need repeatable study and explanations that read with more facts than guesses. Now don’t assume I’m opposed, I just need working models and explanations that are understandable in a frame of reference that connects to known science, or questions formed that offer physics and chemistry new challenges.  For those people researching, that means you need to give those shaking their fists in human omnipotence hard reasons to look again at nature’s omnipotence.   What works is and must be repeatable; the answer to why can wait and be researched on its own for any new theory or explanation.

With these few words and a review of the fields in the Categories Section and the articles and posts within, you will find a rich and broad array of things that justify thanks in the area of new energy and fuel.  We’re in an energy hard spot in 2007, but it won’t last.

Most of all – Thank you.  I’m sincerely wishing each and every one a Happy Thanksgiving day.


6 Comments so far

  1. M. Simon on November 22, 2007 3:12 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Wonderful article. However it just cries out for embedded links.

  2. Thomas Jackson on November 22, 2007 3:12 PM

    You need to do more recent research on Solar Thermal. It’s a little more wide-spread than you infer. Frankly, I believe that Solar Thermal could be the way we could finally wean ourselves off of fossil fuels entirely. Just Google the company names below and you’ll see why. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

    Ausra,(Australia, California) AndaSol-1 (Spain), Solel (Israel), FPL (Florida Power And Light – $1.5 billion for a 300-megawatt solar-thermal plant), Skyfuel, and BrightSource Energy, just to name a few.

    Solar Thermal Rules! 🙂

  3. Nicolas on December 4, 2009 2:58 AM

    Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!

  4. Miato on December 10, 2009 7:48 AM

    Super post, Need to mark it on Digg

  5. Garretot on February 14, 2010 8:22 AM

    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.

  6. government grants on November 8, 2010 8:28 AM

    What a great resource!

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind