Browsing the archives for the natural gas tag.


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    Take Action Now!

    alternative, energy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, green living, solar, Uncategorized, Wind

    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

     Sometimes people don’t vote because they think “one vote can’t change anything”. I think the 2000 election proved that wrong, but some people still don’t believe. Now is your time to be counted by your elected officials. If you want this country to move forward with cleaner energy contact you Congressional Representatives and Senators today. It only takes a minute but can help save the earth a life time.

     Click here to email your U.S. Representative and Senators about the NAT GAS Act today!

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    Nuclear Power – Like it or not

    alternative, energy, green living, Uncategorized

    A couple of days ago I posted a response on a forum about whether nuclear energy should still be an option for the future. My answer was yes. This in turn has created some controversy among readers. In the meantime somebody else suggested I write about why ”the US and other countries insist on nuclear power when a reactor produces more waste in one day than will take over a million years to get rid of. Some of the technology should go to solving that problem before anyone tells us it is clean energy.”

     

     

    I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have been looking into this. According to researchers at MIT we have four options to reduce our carbon footprint for our future energy needs:

     

    ·         Nuclear Energy

    ·         Renewable Energy

    ·         Increased Energy Efficiency

    ·         Capturing Carbon Emissions[1]

     

    Obviously I do not consider nuclear power the best option. I personally believe that wind will be our future in the coming decades. Wind is not just a source of electricity, the power from a wind tower can be used to produce hydrogen and then the tower itself can be used to store the hydrogen.[2] Hydrogen is a great source of carbon free fuel. Solar is also a great fuel source, at this point it is not cost effective for large scale application or the average consumer. The Japanese are working on a Space Solar Power System(SSPS) that will catch the sun’s rays in space without atmospheric interruptions and then beam the energy in the form of lasers back to earth.[3] These are awesome plans but will not be functional for decades.

     

    Today we have an ever increasing demand for electricity and transportation fuel, and an ever shrinking reserve of fossil fuels. Basic economics of supply and demand are telling us the cost to produce electricity and transportation fuel is going to sky rocket again in the near future. As the price of oil increases again it will be even more obvious we need to use more natural gas than oil for our transportation and electrical needs. Natural gas is commodity that is readily available from North American sources. The infrastructure is already in place to transport and use it and it is cleaner and easier to mine than coal. Natural gas does not have to be purchased from countries that do not like us and is cleaner than oil. Natural gas powered cars can be filled using a device at your home and putting up filling stations around the country is a small price to pay compared to what we are paying for our foreign oil habit. Companies like Mirant, who own non-nuclear electric plants, have already converted most plants to use natural gas, coal or oil depending on price. They have also gone to great lengths to reduce emissions.[4]  But the fact remains that however much we increase efficiency and decrease emissions we still are leaving far too much of a carbon footprint.

     

    Then there is nuclear energy. The biggest things nuclear has going for it are that it produces large amounts of electricity without producing carbon and the technology already exists and is in place and can be replicated. Everything else about nuclear power is not so pretty. First of all is cost, the initial outlay of time and money does not make new nuclear power plants competitive with other sources of electricity. There is also the issue that even if we did build new nuclear power plants to meet the up coming demand for electricity that there would only be sufficient uranium available for 50 or so years. Then there is the issue of proliferation, the stealing of technology and/or enriched uranium or plutonium.[5] After the break up of the USSR, 9/11 and the North Koreans this is a serious issue.  And then there is the storage of the spent fuel. According to Entergy Inc., owner of many nuclear plants, 80% of spent fuel loses its radioactivity within 3 years and can be stored on site safely for up to 100 years.[6] Yet the remainder can take thousands of years to break down. There is no doubt that huge irrepairable mistakes have been made with the handling of nuclear waste in the past.  Today the Department of Energy is making plans to build a repository in Yucca Mountain to store and seal off the spent nuclear fuel for eternity.[7] Not perfect, but a best case solution for a very serious problem.

     

    So the deal is we need to reduce our carbon footprint yesterday. The best solution is to have large scale renewable energy in place today, but that is still decades off. We need a bridge to get us from foreign oil dependency to 100% renewable, carbon free energy. One piece of that bridge is nuclear power, whether we like the idea or not. The other parts of that bridge are using more natural gas for transportation and electricity production, improving existing technology to lessen our carbon emissions and to push forward with research for renewable, carbon free energy.

     

    I invite everybody to check out the Pickens Plan and to pay attention to the plans our new President, Barak Obama, will bring forth. Please take time to visit the other websites used in researching this blog. Be informed.

     

    The Pickens Plan: http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php

    The Office of the President Elect: http://change.gov/


    [1] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

    [5] The Future of Nuclear Power, An Interdisciplinary MIT Study:http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

          Entergy Inc. : http://www.entergy-nuclear.com/environment/fuel_storage.aspx

    [7] Department of Energy: http://www.rw.doe.gov/index.shtml

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Choosing to convert from oil to natural gas

    energy, heating options, Uncategorized

    I apologize for my abscence. This is not my full time job and life is not always as forgiving as we would like it to be. Enough of pleasentries.

    I wish to update you on my mission to find options for my parents heating dilemas. I can update this in a single phrase….sticker price shock! It seems in this world of forclosures, out of control oil prices, job losses and banks “feeing” us to death, among other things, we are caught in a “catch-22” situation. My goal of this blog is to highlight ideas and products that won’t cost an arm and a leg upfront to save energy, save fuel and save money in a reasonalbe amount of time.

    The bottom line is that both of my parents have oil heat and I wanted to look into converting them to natural gas heat. My father lives alone has gas already piped to his house but has old fashion steam radiators and only about 900 sq.ft. My mother has four adults living in her house, doesn’t have gas piped to her house but has more modern baseboard system and about 1500 sq.ft. Amazingly enough both estimates where within a few dollars of each other. It would cost approximately $5,500 to convert each house. This includes the fuel efficient furnace and a new energy star hot water heater. Wow, that floored me. Both of my parents are on fixed incomes and can hardly afford to shell out this kind of money. But can they afford not to?

    I found a area of National Grid’s (our local natural gas provider) web site that gave a conversion rate from oil to natural gas. According to National Grid, if you multiply your oil consumption in gallons by 1.385 you will get your approximate gas consumption in cubic feet. Each of my parents used about 700 gallons of oil in the last physical year. 700 gallons of oil x 1.385=969.5ccf of natural gas. Using $4/gallon for oil and the composite rate for gas in Aug. 2008 of $1.7725/ccf,  the annual savings would be around $1080/year. They would be breaking even on their investment within five years, if the current rates applied. Overall not a bad investment when a conventional solar system is not anticipated to break even for 10 to 20 years. But more on solar another time. 

    In Massachusetts, were I live, there is a program for low cost or no cost loans for heating improvents at http://www.masssave.com/about/heat_loan.php. This will allow many people who cannot come up with the cost of converting up front. Please check your individual states and utility companies for information on fuel assistance, tax incentives, discount utility rates and loan programs.

    In the case of my parents…. I think my mother will convert to natural gas. She plans on being in her house for more than five years and her income is not getting any larger. Natural gas is plentiful in North America and is not reliant on foreign suppliers. Weighing the odds we both feel gas will be the more reliable and cheaper way to go. We are not sure my father will be in his house for five years and he gets fuel assistance so he probably will not convert. I guess I will be putting eeFuel in his tank and pray oil prices don’t go through the roof this winter. 

     

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