Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hits from the Drum

Yesterday we talked about advances in solar power and the recently heightened profile of renewable energies due to increased adoption by business. Today I wanted to share some recent articles and post topics from a very interesting site, The Oil Drum, that will provide some background and insight on a wide variety of energy related topics.

Alternative energy, fossil fuel depletion, and sustainability: it's all covered here. Whatever your grasp of these issues, I can assure you that you'll find some interesting perspectives and probably learn something in the process. Just be sure not to get lost in the often long-running comment threads!

In, "Key Questions on Energy Options", Oil Drum member and contributor Robert Rapier lays out the key questions we must answer to determine whether an energy source is a good choice for our planet. Here is how Robert lays out the issue:

A question was recently posed here: What is the most important question concerning ethanol production? That got me to thinking about important questions regarding not only ethanol, but all of our energy sources. There are a number of issues that we must carefully consider for any of our potential energy sources.

In my opinion, they are:

1. Is the energy source sustainable?
2. What are the potential negative externalities of producing/using this energy source?
3. What is the EROEI?
4. Is it affordable?
5. Are there better alternatives?
6. Are there other special considerations?
7. In summary, are the advantages of the source large enough to justify any negative consequences?

Give the thread a read and see what Robert and the gang have to say about the various forms of ethanol, fossil fuels, biodiesel, biomass, wind, and solar. An informative essay.

Moving on from Rapier's discussion of suitable energy options, we find a directly related example case of disastrous energy planning in Dave Cohen's post, "Palm Oil - The Southeast Asia Report".

We've discussed the oft-neglected environmental impacts of biofuels here before. In Cohen's recent post, we learn more about the ill effects of palm oil plantation farming and the ensuing damage done to the local ecosystems and the environment.

Peak oil and farming? Yep, that's the subject of Chris Vernon's recent post to The Oil Drum: Europe. In "Agriculture Meets Peak Oil: Soil Association Conference", Vernon tells us about agriculture and food distribution in the post-fossil fuel era. Check it out.