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Carbon tax will retard economy

2013-12-13 15:30:39 | fashion dresses
I AM sometimes asked why I write so often about energy. Remember January 2008 ― the rolling blackouts, the cries of outrage, the burning (pun intended) anger, the pointed fingers? Along with the global financial crisis, shaky economic recoveries and stasis at home, our own economy has performed poorly. That’s why.

Three articles on the same broad issue in the London Financial Times on a single day (December 1) underline concern that is rarely absent.

One of these dealt with the challenge to the world oil cartel (Opec) by the oil and gas supply revolution that is expected to convert the US into the largest global oil producer within a few years.

And, coincidentally, as the US’s reliance on imports declines so does its consumption of petroleum products, now at 10% below its peak.

And, in their very own Rocky Horror Show, As Government Cuts Back On Biofuel the cartel is faced with extra-cheap production from within ― Iran, returning from years as the prodigal son, could soon produce 1-million barrels per day (bbl/d); Iraq might get production from its vast fields up to 3.5-million bbl/d in 2015. The world has plenty of hydrocarbons and plenty of places supplying it. Opec is becoming an irrelevancy.

But that just intensifies the worries about green taxes. British industry says it is being pushed to "crisis point". UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne intends cutting environmental levies on household energy bills. Executives from Tata Steel and Ineos say green taxes are putting them at a comparative disadvantage with European competitors.

In April, accounting firm KPMG released its KPMG Green Tax index, which looks at 21 economies to examine which governments are more active in using the tax system as a tool to influence corporate behaviour and achieve green policy goals. Heading the list is the US because of its rash of incentives for energy-efficient and green buildings, and use of renewable power.

We are apparently poised in January 2015 to become the first African and the second Brics nation to introduce a direct carbon tax. Yet here we are, a nation whose economy is as near as makes no difference to stagnating, about to dress up like Cinderella at the Hug-a-Tree Ball.

There is an army of unemployed people in our cities, yet we are handing R800m to South Africa’s Green Fund, whose website insouciantly says "it seeks to support green initiatives to assist South Africa’s transition to a low carbon, resource-efficient and climate resilient development path".

Meanwhile, I notice that new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is having trouble scrapping the carbon tax imposed by the previous Labor government and which is now described as a A$1.2bn (R11.3bn) deadweight on the economy. The curious voting system which holds sway in Australia ensures division at almost every level, and Abbott’s party is staring at defeat in its effort to scrap both the mining and carbon taxes in the Australian Senate.

Just because he is having those difficulties is no reason for South Africa to be strapped with a carbon tax. In any event, it is, as I have frequently argued, merely another excuse for the Treasury to collect more taxes.

As Government Cuts Back On Biofuel

2013-12-12 16:37:28 | LED lighting
Ben Wootton was just getting ready to bring his company out of bankruptcy last month when word from Washington stopped him in his tracks.

Instead of an expected pick-up in sales for the biofuel-based diesel that he makes from recycled cooking oil at a suburban Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, plant, demand is likely to drop due to a proposed freeze on U.S. consumption mandates.

"I won't be alive, for sure," said Wootton, who runs the 1.5 million gallon per year Keystone Biofuels plant.

Wootton and others like him are venting their frustrations at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which they say is penalizing makers of so-called advanced biofuels like biodiesel in rules proposed last month that are primarily directed at curbing consumption quotas for ethanol in 2014.

The disappointment highlights the difficult task ahead of the EPA - and President Obama - as they try to enforce a troubled 2007 law aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Predicting that gasoline demand would continue to rise, Congress mandated increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels to be blended into U.S. fuel production. The goal was to cut oil imports and reduce carbon emissions - all while building a home-grown biofuel industry and creating jobs.

But with gasoline demand falling, the law's bespoke goals have made it impossible to please everyone, leaving makers of advanced biofuels like biodiesel particularly vulnerable.

Advanced biofuels have not been around as long as traditional corn ethanol and require investment in new plants, technologies and processes to bring them to market.

With the EPA proposing to cut 2014 advanced biofuel blending mandates to about 2.2 billion gallons from 2.75 billion this year, those investments look a lot less certain. One type of advanced biofuel - biodiesel made by producers like Wootton - would stay frozen at 1.28 billion gallons through 2015.

So while corn ethanol proponents have lashed out at President Obama and the EPA for backing down on ambitious 2014 targets, frustrations may run deepest among those in the advanced sector like Wootton, who took out loans and burned through savings to invest in the space.

"We're the collateral damage," said Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, which represents 44 companies active in the sector.

Already, some larger companies are putting the brakes on investment in the space.

"For Abengoa, any additional investment in the U.S. biofuel space is on hold until we see where the final EPA rule comes out," said Javier Garoz, chief executive of Abengoa Bioenergy . The company had just spent $500 million to develop a new plant in Kansas that would make advanced ethanol from non-food sources when it learned of the cut.

Energy efficiency

2013-12-05 11:05:17 | LED lighting
Pine River-Backus Schools looks for energy efficiency in all projects we do. Here are some of the projects we’ve completed in recent years.

Heating: The entire district has been equipped with a building automation system that allows room-by-room or building-by-building control with a single computer program.

This system also allows automated shutoff of district exhaust fans after hours and alternating startup times so we can eliminate peak demand in electric usage and cut costs.

The district has burners on the boilers that allow the burner to modulate down to meet demand without large spikes and drops.

Lighting: The district recently replaced all T12 light fixtures with T8s, which are more efficient. Most classrooms are equipped with motion detectors for the lights. If rooms are left unoccupied for longer than the set period of time, the lights will automatically shut off.

All exit lights were upgraded from incandescent to fluorescent to LED in recent years. The exterior lights and parking lot lights are being converted to LED lights with longer life, higher efficiency and electrical energy savings.

Building additions: In starting new building projects, like the recent early childhood addition, athletic addition and bus garage, the district tries to install energy efficient systems wherever possible.

The new additions are equipped with variable speed/high efficiency control motors on exhaust fans and water supply systems, T8 lighting with motion detectors and energy efficient windows. The additions have also been connected to the district’s building automation system. The bus garage was built with three stalls all equipped with in-floor heat and individual thermostats, allowing regulation of all depending on need.

Cost savings and rebates: We are able to offset the costs of these projects by applying for rebates through Minnesota Power and Xcel Energy. The district has also been awarded grants through the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Minnesota Power.

Over the last five to 10 years this has amounted to more than $55,000 in rebates and grants.

All of these projects are allowing the district to be more energy efficient. Cost savings from any one project are hard to calculate. For every project that saves on energy usage, another project is completed that adds to energy usage ― new computer labs, Smart Boards in all classrooms, etc.

I only ever score one goal a season

2013-12-03 11:14:49 | dresses
The comprehensive review of the banking system is set to be completed and the results known by November of next year.There had been market speculation that Bank of Ireland would wait for the results of the balance sheet assessments before it made a final decision on a share placement that would be used to part refinance €1.8bn in Government Briner and his colleagues found preference shares that have to be redeemed by March 31. If the shares are not redeemed by then, they face a 25% set up in value to €2.25bn.Rowntree scored a goal in the Carlisle club's epic 110 victory over Billingham a week ago a personal feat he reckons won't be repeated again this season.But, while the 27yearold former Blackburn trainee may not be renowned for his goalscoring prowess, he is taking great pride in being part of a back four that has kept seven clean sheets in the Nation's run of nine straight victories.He hopes another watertight defensive display today at Guisborough Town will help Willie McStay's side make it 10inarow and see them leapfrog Shildon into top spot in the Northern League.

"It's always good to have a clean sheet even if the team is scoring a lot of goals," said Rowntree."It's as good as scoring a hattrick for a defender, and it is contributing to the team's success."The back four is doing well and working well together so we want to keep the run of clean sheets going."I'm happy to leave the goalscoring to Jonny Allan, Colin McMenamin and Micky Rae, especially as I only ever score one goal a season. The team can't relying on me popping up with regular goals, but I wouldn't fancy choosing between those three for the two starting places."Rowntree admits he is revelling in his arrival at Nation after joining the club in the summer from Workington Reds.He believes the appointment of Willie McStay as manager proved to be a major turning point as he has instilled confidence into the side that was stuttering at the start of the campaign."There is great team spirit running right through the team after our run, and that is important if you want to compete and win the league," he said.

Briner and his colleagues found

2013-11-26 14:19:28 | dresses

Because radiocarbon dating is expensive, Briner and his colleagues found another way to trace the age of their fossils.Their solution was to look at the structure of amino acids the building blocks of proteins in the fossils of ancient clams. Amino acids come in two orientations that are mirror images of each other, known as D and L, and living organisms generally keep their amino acids in an L configuration.When organisms die, however, the amino acids begin to flip. In dead clams, for example,Individuals have less to give D forms of aspartic acid start turning to L's.Because this shift takes place slowly over time, the ratio of D's to L's in a fossil is a giveaway of its age.Knowing this, Briner's research team matched D and L ratios in 20 Arctic clamshells to their radiocarbon-dated ages to generate a scale showing which ratios corresponded with which ages. The researchers then looked at the D and L ratios of aspartic acid in the 250 Greenland clamshells to come up with the fossils' ages.Amino acid dating is not new, but applying it to the study of glaciers could help scientists better understand the history of ice and climate change on Earth.

Holiday attractions booking startup, GetYourGuide, whose platform streamlines the booking of vacation excursions, rolled out its first mobile apps last month to European mobile users. Today it's pushed them a little further from home by extending their availability to the U.S. market.The startup told TechCrunch the apps have pulled in some 210,000 active users since last month's launch. In the U.S., GetYourGuide named its main competitor as Viator, which has already got mobile apps in the market.GetYourGuide's website was already available in the U.S. and the startup previously told TechCrunch that U.S. and U.K. visitors made up the bulk the transactions it was seeing from international markets. It's now looking to build on that base by extending the reach of its apps."Since the launch of our GetYourGuide website in the U.S., we have seen tremendous adoption from the American market," said Johannes Reck, CEO of GetYourGuide, in a statement. "The launch of our Android and iOS apps is the next step in expanding our U.S. footprint."GetYourGuide raised a $14 million Series A back in January, from Spark Capital and Highland Capital Partners Europe, following a $2 million seed round in early 2012.President Obama has been clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is in America's national security interest.