What comes out of a barrel of Crude Oil
A 42 gallon barrel of Crude Oil actually becomes more than 44 gallons of petroleum products during refining.
One barrel of crude oil, when refined, produces about 20 gallons of finished motor gasoline, and 7 gallons of diesel, as well as other petroleum products. Most of the petroleum products are used to produce energy.
For instance, many people across the United States use propane to heat their homes and fuel their cars. Other products made from petroleum include: ink, crayons, bubble gum, dishwashing liquids, deodorant, eyeglasses, records, tires, ammonia, and heart valves.
After crude oil is removed from the ground, it is sent to a refinery by pipeline, ship or barge. At a refinery, different parts of the crude oil are separated into useable petroleum products.
Crude oil is measured in barrels (abbreviated “bbls”). A 42-U.S. gallon barrel of crude oil provides slightly more than 44 gallons of petroleum products. This gain from processing the crude oil is similar to what happens to popcorn, it gets bigger after it is popped.
Today’s closing price for a barrel of “NYMEX Crude Future” sold for $72.51.
Source: United States Department of Energy
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Wind in Indiana
Indiana Wind Resource Map This map shows the potential for generating electricity from wind in Indiana.
Anything on the scale that is orange or above is considered “commercially viable” for generating electricity with wind power.
Repowering the Midwest
Indiana Wind Resource Map
Download the above map showing areas with potential for wind energy generation across Indiana.
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Indiana Wind Resource Fact Sheet
eGRID Comprehensive power plant database
eGrid is the most comprehensive database of all US power plants. Find Emissions, emission rates, plant size and outputs, coordinates, etc.
Download eGRID database
This is a near total resource for anyone concerned with Air Pollution or power plant issues. It includes such things as the Clean Air Act, EPA’s New Source Review Workshop Manual, Regulations and a myriad of studies done over the years regarding air.
The 55 MB file is in PDF format but will taker some time to download.
Who needs more coal? Amory B. Lovins is chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Institute and is a consultant experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford. This piece appeared in ORION magazine and is reprinted with permission, Via tompaine.com
Breaking the Coal Paradigm
Valley Watch President, John Blair discusses the need to get past coal.
Coal Markets, Prices and News from EIA
US Energy Information Administration’s web page of current market and price news published weekly
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Giant, Floating wind turbines developed by MIT
Seeking to address the concerns of people living near the ocean and wanting an unobstructed view, researchers at MIT have proposed placing giant wind turbines as much as 100 miles offshore
An MIT researcher has a vision: 400 huge offshore wind turbines providing onshore customers with enough electricity to power several hundred thousand homes—and nobody standing onshore can see them. The trick? The wind turbines are floating on platforms a hundred miles out to sea, where the winds are strong and steady.
Today’s offshore wind turbines usually stand on towers driven deep into the ocean floor. But that arrangement works only in water depths of about 15 meters or less. Proposed installations are therefore typically close enough to shore to arouse strong public opposition.
Paul D. Sclavounos, a professor of mechanical engineering and naval architecture, has spent decades designing and analyzing large floating structures for deep-sea oil and gas exploration. Observing the wind-farm controversies, he thought, “Wait a minute. Why can’t we simply take those windmills and put them on floaters and move them farther offshore, where there’s plenty of space and lots of wind?”
In 2004, he and his MIT colleagues teamed up with wind-turbine experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to integrate a wind turbine with a floater. Their design calls for a tension leg platform (TLP), a system in which long steel cables, or “tethers,” connect the corners of the platform to a concrete-block or other mooring system on the ocean floor. The platform and turbine are thus supported not by an expensive tower but by buoyancy. “And you don’t pay anything to be buoyant,” said Sclavounos. According to their analyses, the floater-mounted turbines could work in water depths ranging from 30 to 200 meters. In the Northeast, for example, they could be 50 to 150 kilometers from shore. And the turbine atop each platform could be big—an economic advantage in the wind-farm business. The MIT-NREL design assumes a 5.0 megawatt (MW) experimental turbine now being developed by industry. (Onshore units are 1.5 MW, conventional offshore units, 3.6 MW.)
Stable enough for towing
Ocean assembly of the floating turbines would be prohibitively expensive because of their size: the wind tower is fully 90 meters tall, the rotors about 140 meters in diameter. So the researchers designed them to be assembled onshore—probably at a shipyard—and towed out to sea by a tugboat. To keep each platform stable, cylinders inside it are ballasted with concrete and water. Once on site, the platform is hooked to previously installed tethers. Water is pumped out of the cylinders until the entire assembly lifts up in the water, pulling the tethers taut. (MORE)
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Taxing Carbon to Finance Tax Reform
November 9, 2006 – by Craig Hanson and James R. Hendricks Jr..In this issue brief, the World Resources Institute and Duke Energy explain how instituting a carbon tax would simultaneously support federal tax reform, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote more sustainable energy policies. Ed. Note: Duke Energy is seeking to build new coal fired power plants in both Indiana and North Carolina. Photo © 2006 John Blair shows Duke’s Gibson Station, one of the naiton’s largest CO2 emitters.
Reforming the federal tax code could advance economic growth as well as help the United States address a number of its environmental and energy challenges. A carbon tax, in particular, is an effective fiscal policy option that would simultaneously support federal tax reform initiatives, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and promote sound energy policies.
• A carbon tax is a consumption tax levied on the carbon content of oil, coal, and natural gas. Taxing the carbon content of these fossil fuels is an efficient means of assigning costs to the carbon dioxide emissions they release when burned for energy.
• A carbon tax would be relatively easy to administer. It could be collected where fossil fuels enter the economy, such as ports, oil refineries, natural gas providers, and coal-processing plants. Applying the levy to as few as 2,000 entities could reach nearly all the fossil fuel consumed in the U.S. economy and would cover 82 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
• A carbon tax would generate significant revenue. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a tax of $12 per metric ton of carbon that gradually rises to $17 per metric ton of carbon would generate $208 billion in revenue over a ten year period.
• Revenue from a carbon tax could be used to finance other tax reform initiatives. A carbon tax could be incorporated into a number of revenue-neutral tax reform packages, with the proceeds supporting reductions in inefficient existing taxes on productive labor and investment.
A carbon tax dovetails sound tax policy and sound climate change policy. Climate change policy in the United States would be most effective if it were federal, economy-wide, and market based. A carbon tax meets all these criteria. A tax that starts at a modest rate and increases gradually and predictably over time would establish incentives throughout the economy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with minimal disruption. Moreover, by encouraging a less carbon-intensive economy, a carbon tax could help improve the nation’s long-term energy security.
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Colorado city votes to support electricity carbon tax
November, 2006 – by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor. Boulder, Colorado will lead the way in adopting a tax on carbon emissions fro the consumption of coal and natural gas fired electricity. Boulder, home of the University of Colorado is home to 92,000 people.
Tuesday’s election really turned up the heat on the issue of Global Warming when both houses of congress changed leadership. But perhaps the most important election held that day was a referendum by residents of Boulder, Colorado who voted overwhelmingly to support one of the nation’s first “tax” on carbon emissions from coal and gas used to generate electricity.
Known officially as the Boulder Climate Action Plan Tax, the measure was supported by a 60.4% majority of Boulder residents who cast votes on the issue. Even the Boulder Chamber of Commerce supported it.
It has been suggested in some quarters that a carbon tax should be instituted nationwide to replace other taxes like the personal income tax.
The average household will pay $1.33 per month and an average business will pay $3.80 per month. The tax will generate about $1 million annually through 2012 when the tax is set to expire. Estimated energy cost savings from implementing the Climate Action Plan are $63 million over the long term.
Boulder’s City Council adopted the goals of the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Climate Action Plan is a roadmap to meet the Kyoto goal and was created by staff, energy experts in the community and local stakeholders. The main strategies are to increase energy efficiency, promote renewable energy and alternative vehicle fuels, and reduce vehicle miles traveled.
Boulder’s Mayor Mark Ruzzin signed the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement along with 328 other mayors from around the nation representing over 53.2 million people. This agreement promotes strong policy resolutions calling for cities, communities and the federal government to take actions to reduce global warming pollution.
Mirrors can light up the world and run computers
November 27, 2006 – by Ashley Seager, The Guardian (UK). Scientists say the global energy crisis can be solved by using the desert sun.
In the desert, just across the Mediterranean sea, is a vast source of energy that holds the promise of a carbon-free, nuclear-free electrical future for the whole of Europe, if not the world.
We are not talking about the vast oil and gas deposits underneath Algeria and Libya, or uranium for nuclear plants, but something far simpler – the sun. And in vast quantities: every year it pours down the equivalent of 1.5m barrels of oil of energy for every square kilometre.
Most people in Britain think of solar power as a few panels on the roof of a house producing hot water or a bit of electricity. But according to two reports prepared for the German government, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa should be building vast solar farms in North Africa’s deserts using a simple technology that more resembles using a magnifying glass to burn a hole in a piece of paper than any space age technology.
Two German scientists, Dr Gerhard Knies and Dr Franz Trieb, calculate that covering just 0.5% of the world’s hot deserts with a technology called concentrated solar power (CSP) would provide the world’s entire electricity needs, with the technology also providing desalinated water to desert regions as a valuable byproduct, as well as air conditioning for nearby cities.
Focusing on Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, they say, Europe should build a new high-voltage direct current electricity grid to allow the easy, efficient transport of electricity from a variety of alternative sources. Britain could put in wind power, Norway hydro, and central Europe biomass and geo-thermal. Together the region could provide all its electricity needs by 2050 with barely any fossil fuels and no nuclear power. This would allow a 70% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production over the period.
CSP technology is not new. There has been a plant in the Mojave desert in California for the past 15 years. Others are being built in Nevada, southern Spain and Australia. There are different forms of CSP but all share in common the use of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays on a pipe or vessel containing some sort of gas or liquid that heats up to around 400C (752F) and is used to power conventional steam turbines.
The mirrors are very large and create shaded areas underneath which can be used for horticulture irrigated by desalinated water generated by the plants. The cold water that can also be produced for air conditioning means there are three benefits. “It is this triple use of the energy which really boost the overall energy efficiency of these kinds of plants up to 80% to 90%,” says Dr Knies.
This form of solar power is also attractive because the hot liquid can be stored in large vessels which can keep the turbines running for hours after the sun has gone down, avoiding the problems association with other forms of solar power.
Competitive with oil
The German reports put an approximate cost on power derived from CSP. This is now around $50 per barrel of oil equivalent for the cost of building a plant. That cost is likely to fall sharply, to about $20, as the production of the mirrors reaches industrial levels. It is about half the equivalent cost of using the photovoltaic cells that people have on their roofs. So CSP is competitive with oil, currently priced around $60 a barrel. (MORE)
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State is cautioned on coal-to-liquid fuel plant
June 29, 2007 – by Stephanie Steitzer, the Louisville Courier Journal. Analyst says there are major challenges
A senior policy analyst with a national think tank told lawmakers yesterday that Kentucky is poised to become a leader in the coal-to-liquid fuel movement — but he warned them to move cautiously.
James Bartis, of the California-based RAND Corp., told the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee that converting coal to liquid fuel holds promise for helping wean the country off oil, but also poses three major challenges that shouldn’t be ignored:
What to do with the carbon dioxide produced in the process, particularly if the country moves to strengthen emission standards, as is expected in coming years.
The uncertainty of what it would really cost to build a coal-to-liquid plant, given that only rough estimates currently exist. (MORE)
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June 18, 2007 – Editorial from the Washington Post. A risky solution to America’s energy woes. Large-scale and premature subsidies for this untested and environmentally risky technology may amount to nothing more than a big giveaway to Big Coal. Illustration: John Blair
COAL-TO-LIQUID fuel is being touted in the Senate energy debate as a key to overcoming America’s dependence on foreign fuel. The argument is understandable, considering that the United States sits atop the largest coal reserves in the world, by one estimate a 200- to 450-year supply. But unanswered questions and environmental concerns raise the prospect that the price for this brand of energy independence may be too high.
To turn coal into liquid fuel it must be fired up to 1,000 degrees and mixed with water. Then the gas that’s created is transformed into fuel that can be used in cars and jets. Unfortunately, creating CTL, as it is known, is a very intensive process requiring coal, water and cash. To wean the United States off of just 1 million barrels of the 21 million barrels of crude oil consumed daily, an estimated 120 million tons of coal would need to be mined each year. The process requires vast amounts of water, particularly a concern in the parched West. And the price of a plant is estimated at $4 billion.
The most troubling aspect of CTL is that producing it will roughly double climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because liquefying coal releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (MORE)
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As coal stakes its total future on capturing and storing carbon, questions remain
August 11, 2007-To hear coal proponents, one would think that it is easy to capture and store carbon from power plants but reality is different from fantasy. Studies show some promise for what is known as CCS but no demonstrable volume of CO2 has ever been permanently placed where it will never escape.
Carbon sequestration means putting carbon dioxide, the leading global warming pollutant, somewhere other than into the atmosphere. There are two basic methods of sequestering carbon: geologic sequestration and terrestrial sequestration.
Geologic sequestration takes carbon dioxide from large emissions sources such as coal-fired power plants and pumps it in a nearly liquid state deep into the earth. The geologic formation then traps the carbon dioxide. As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “For well-selected, designed and managed geological storage sites, the vast majority of the CO2 will gradually be immobilized by various trapping mechanisms and, in that case, could be retained for up to millions of years.”
Geologic sequestration has the most potential to help stabilize the concentration of global warming pollutants in the atmosphere. But it comes with certain hazards:
* Fractured rock formations, faults, and seismic activity could provide an avenue for CO2 leakage.
* Pressure from CO2 injection could trigger small earthquakes.
* The cement caps usually placed on the wells could deteriorate when exposed to carbonic acid, which can form when CO2 interacts with saline formations.
* Abandoned oil and gas wells that were not sealed to today’s standards could leak. A sudden and large release of CO2 could pose immediate dangers to people in the vicinity.
* Elevated CO2 concentrations in the shallow subsurface could have lethal effects on plants and subsoil animals, and could contaminate groundwater.
* Carbon-laden liquids could mobilize toxic metals and organics and contaminate groundwater.
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It’s a Syn
June, 2007 – by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren for the CATO Institute. More expensive, dirtier and will cause more global warming, The CATO Institute, a conservative, free market oriented, think tank draws a similar conclusion to learned enviros on coal to liquids technology. Illustration: John Blair
Soaring gasoline prices are prompting politicians on both sides of the aisle to contemplate a re–embrace of one of the worst financial boondoggles of the 1970s — synthetic fuels. Of course, the coal industry is smart enough to rebrand this technology, so the new term of art is “coal–to–liquids.” While turning coal into oil (and then into gasoline) would be a wonderful idea if it could be done cost effectively, it can’t — which is why the coal industry is banging on the federal door for lavish taxpayer subsidies. The fact that these proposals are being seriously entertained in Washington speaks volumes about why politicians should be kept as far away from the energy business as possible.
Should Congress go down this road again, it would represent the fourth federal effort to jump–start the industry with taxpayer money. If past is prologue, it will fail yet again.
The first effort began in 1944 with the “Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act,” which authorized the construction of a host of federal coal–to–liquids demonstration plants. The New York Times reported that “The next ten years will see the rise of a massive new industry which will free us from dependence on foreign sources of oil. Gasoline will be produced from coal, air, and water.” By August 1949, the federal Bureau of Mines was reporting that coal–to–liquids technology was, in theory, economically competitive with conventional gasoline, a claim that the bureau made again in a massive report issued in 1951.
What the federal demonstration plants actually “demonstrated,” however, was that coal–to–liquid technology wasn’t nearly as economically viable as advertised. When budget–cutting Republicans swept into Washington after the 1952 elections, the synfuels program was one of the first things to go.
The second effort came in 1960 with the Coal Research and Development Act. Originally adopted as a measure to prop–up the depressed coal sector, the law established the Office of Coal Research and funded the construction of six synthetic fuels demonstration plants. The most notorious of these was “Project Gasoline,” a coal–to–liquids facility in Cresap, West Virginia under the protection of — you guessed it — Senator Robert Byrd (D., W.V.). Although the feds alleged that the Cresap plant would produce gasoline at eleven cents per gallon, construction delays, and cost overruns prevented the facility from ever coming fully on–line. Project Gasoline was quietly terminated in April, 1970.
The third and most ambitious effort was launched as a consequence of the 1973 oil embargo. Appropriations for coal–to–liquids programs increased 19–fold from 1970–1978. Three new federal coal–to–liquids demonstration plants were started, Robert Byrd’s Cresap facility was brought back on–line, and President Ford promised that one million barrels of oil a day would come from coal by 1985.
Alas, the industry disappointed yet again, so when the 1979 oil–price shock hit, a frustrated Congress passed the 1980 Energy Security Act. Among other things, the law authorized a staggering $17 billion to fund the notorious Synthetic Fuels Corporation (SFC), a public–private entity charged with producing 500,000 barrels of oil per day by 1987. Another $68 billion was promised four years hence once the SFC submitted a “comprehensive strategy” to meet that target. The government actually talked about pressing the nation’s entire construction industry into a crash program to build the envisioned fuel plants.
By the time the first $100 million of taxpayer funds went out the door, however, all but two SFC projects (none coal–to–liquid) were still–borne or cancelled due to yet more cost overruns and technical problems. The Synthetic Fuels Corporation was shut down in 1985 before it could spend any more. (MORE)
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The History of Wind Power
October 17, 2008-by Niki Nixon in the Guardian. For centuries, people have harnessed the wind’s energy for electricity. But how did it develop into a clean, abundant and free solution to tackling global warming?
July 1887, Glasgow, Scotland
The first windmill for electricity production is built by Professor James Blyth of Anderson’s College, Glasgow (now Strathclyde University). The professor experiments with three different turbine designs, the last of which is said to have powered his Scottish home for 25 years.
Winter 1887 – Ohio, US
Professor Charles F. Brush builds a 12kW wind turbine to charge 408 batteries stored in the cellar of his mansion. The turbine, which ran for 20 years, had a rotor diameter of 50m and 144 rotor blades.
1890s – Askov, Denmark
Scientist Poul la Cour begins his wind turbine tests in a bid to bring electricity to the rural population of Denmark. In 1903, Poul la Cour founded the Society of Wind Electricians and in 1904 the society held the first course in wind electricity. La Cour was the first to discover that fast rotating wind turbines with fewer rotor blades were most efficient in generating electricity production.
1927 – Minneapolis, US
Joe and Marcellus Jacobs open the Jacobs Wind factory, producing wind turbine generators. The generators are used on farms to charge batteries and power lighting. (MORE)
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