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Found 4 results

  1. Advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to obtain natural gas have made this resource an abundantly available and comparatively inexpensive source of fuel. While electric utility generators have traditionally favored large coal-or nuclear-powered plants to supply electricity to a designated grid, natural gas has steadily risen in popularity within this sector since the 1990’s - if it continues along its current path, natural gas is projected to overtake coal and nuclear power as a primary source of alternative energy over the next few decades. Automakers, however, are still struggling to put America’s prodigious volumes of natural gas to their use. While coal may still be the cheapest means of generating electricity, it is also the dirtiest, causing smog, soot, acid rain, and other toxic air pollutants. Natural gas burns cleaner, and releases dramatically fewer emissions into the atmosphere - a nearly 30 percent reduction in carbon output and toxins. It’s also cheaper by as much as $1 per gallon equivalent, even as the prices of gas and diesel have plummeted in recent weeks. When used to power vehicles, it’s one of the leading choices for environmentally-conscious drivers worldwide. But despite its comparatively clean and reliable track record, CNG vehicles have had a hard time catching on in the United States. The average yearly growth rate for the U.S. hovers at around 4%, as contrasted with an impressive global growth rate of over 30%. Government agencies and private companies are making massive investments to boost America’s natural gas fueling infrastructure, but the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel remains relatively modest. Most CNG vehicles offered today are available for commercial truck fleets, or as buses and medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. Because there are so few personal vehicles running on compressed natural gas, companies are unwilling to invest in the construction of a network of refueling stations. And auto companies don’t want to build CNG vehicles if drivers will have no where to gas up. The compressed natural gas success story in the United States is still in its infancy. But as technology advances, the domestic uses for natural gas multiply. Furnaces and water heaters powered by the alternative fuel can allow homeowners to save between $300-$1,262 per year on their utility bills. In typical home appliances, the use of natural gas cuts energy consumption by 28 percent and produces 37 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Innovators in the fuel industry soon hope to give individuals the option to generate their own electricity at home, using natural gas to power small generators (more info at Direct Energy’s website). Our energy future continues to hang in the balance, and while the harvesting and transport of natural gas pose a threat to its success, it remains one of the most promising advances in the energy sector. As with all fossil fuels, natural gas began as microorganisms living in the ocean. As such, natural gas is a non-renewable resource (at least in our lifetime) and it’s important to remember that it won’t be available forever. Lack of infrastructure also complicates matters, and some fracking companies have become victims of their own success when productivity outpaces access to pipelines. The fracking process itself is also an enormous concern, and so far over 100 U.S. municipalities have banned fracking due to concerns about groundwater contamination. Air pollution, hazardous wastes and other issues are also connected with use of hydraulic fracturing, and have been linked to increases in health problems in people living near fracking sites. Tests from these areas have also revealed high levels of benzene, formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals in the air. With fracking production outpacing the science on its impact, continued drilling has sparked public outcry and outrage from environmentalists. That said, the increase in available natural gas, along with increasingly strict vehicle emission requirements and a gradual improvement in fueling infrastructure, can be expected to continue to push the market for CNG passenger cars in conjunction with the increased demand for home heating and appliance applications. In 2013, 27% of U.S. electricity was generated from natural gas, more than doubling from amounts used for that purpose in 2004. While natural gas’s role in climate change remains controversial, our hunger for energy resources as insatiable as ever. With a cheap, domestic energy source at our disposal it seems foolish to throw the baby out with the fracking water.
  2. People do not always think of the eco-friendly when it comes to gigantic limousines used by CEOs of large companies or celebrities. The world is becoming increasingly concernend about the environment and what would be left for future generations to come. Whenever people decide to get a limousine hire, they want a limo hire service that is friendly to the environment. Limo hire services have numerous limousines that are eco-friendly. Eco-friendly limousine hire services are becoming more common. Factors That Make A Limo Eco-Friendly * Cleaner fuel - The fuels that limos use now are the most important factor that is allowing huge limos to have less of an impact on the environment. Flex fuels can be power some of these limos. They have superior miles-per-gallon. These limousines are more suitable and emit less greenhouse gases as well. * Bio-diesel - There is about 90 percent less greenhouse gases emitted. * Combo engines - The hybrid cars made these engines famous. This includes the Prius. A number of limos have these gas/electric engines installed in them. The miles-per-gallon can be lower in these engines with the help of the battery. The battery can also supplies power for the electrical components. * E85 - This is also known as ethanol. It generates 60 percent less ozone-forming emissions. It is also renewable. * Compressed natural gas. This also has fewer greenhouse gas emission than LPG, diesel, or gas. It is safer to use as well. Limos That Are Eco-Friendly * Prius limo - The hybrid car revolution was led by the Prius. This vehicle helped to start the eco-friendly limo revolution. The idea of making a limo out of a Pirus came from someone from Canada. Many people know this car as the Primo. This limo has six doors and eight seats. This vehicle gets 50 miles-per-gallon. You may be get a limo hire and have a Prius roll up as part of the limousine service. * Nissan Leaf stretch limo - The first completely electric limo is the Nissan Leaf. It was built for Emabassy Suites in Franklin, TN. There is an eight person capacity. This vehicle can go for almost 100 miles from one charge. * Knight XV - This is an armored limo. It is ideal for a night on the town. * Chevy Tahoe Hybrid limo - It was transformed into the first hybrid SUV limo in the world. This limo gets better gas mileage than a Tahoe that is not a hybrid. It is about 80 percent better as well.
  3. Energy companies in Calgary, Alberta, are attempting to make their first network of natural-gas export terminals as lucrative a business as their counterparts in Texas. The first step, however, is finding almost 50,000 workers willing to make the move to Alberta. Over the next decade, the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada estimate that as many as 47,900 oil and gas jobs will need filling over the next decade, and if British Columbia’s efforts are included, more than 100,000 jobs could be created. In order to tempt workers to make the trip, housing complexes with significant amenities are in the process of being constructed. Workers will find their homes boast indoor golf driving ranges, two-story gymnasiums and even private movie theaters. Calgary-based company, Atco, has even added squash courts, a running tack, and recreation rooms with Ping-Pong and foosball tables.The atmosphere and entertainment options are a not-so-hidden attempt to mitigate the isolation workers from across the globe may feel if they do decide to join one of the many future projects. It’s difficult to tell if any perk will overshadow the isolated West Coast, but perhaps the wage inflation might. Remoteness may become more bearable when considering that labor shortages in Canada have already resulted in many oil and gas workers’ wages skyrocketing as much as 60 percent higher than the same job pays in the United States, according to both U.S. and Canadian labor data. Workers in Texas, often envied for their high wages, make approximately $29.50 an hour. Those same positions in Canada can earn up to C$44.80 ($42.01) an hour, according to the numbers from Nabors Industries. The main instigator for Canada’s sudden wave of gas export construction is the country’s desire to meet rising demand in Asia. Last year, Japan alone imported $58 billion of liquefied natural gas last year. Chevron, which is among the Alberta Natural Gas companies looking to profit from this venture, is aiming to build a pipeline across Canada’s western mountains as well as a plant on the country’s freezing Pacific Coast to allow shipping to Asia. That project alone will require as many as 5,500 workers. Other companies looking to benefit from Asia’s need are Royal Dutch Shell, and Petroliam Nasional. The project leaders, which include Chevron, intend to secure financial partners and long-term contacts with suppliers before proceeding with the proposed ten export LNG terminals already looking to receive building permits. If even five of the projects are built by 2021, then at a minimum, 21,600 workers will be needed, and an estimated C$47.8 billion will be spent. The housing alone will cost Canadian energy companies an average of $200 a day per person, since competition to acquire workers has resulted in work camps that function more similarly to a hotel than the previous dorm style living standard. Now, labor costs can make up to as much of half the construction budget of a typical LNG plant, and Canadians can expect the living price to continue to rise. In Australia, similar competition resulted in resort-style living. In addition, due to the demand for skilled workers, such as those who could weld cryogenic equipment, some workers earn as much as $500,000 a year. B.C. Premier Christy Clark is hoping for British Columbia to make a similar, if not bigger contribution to the natural gas energy market as Alberta. Clark says that as much as 150 years worth of natural gas reserves can be found in B.C. fields, as much as Alberta has in their oilsands. Clark believes that B.C. and Alberta will be doing the “biggest favor for the environment” by helping China and the rest of Asia reduce dependence on coal. As she says: “[Canada] would be doing a huge favor to the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions because we all share that air.”
  4. One might see it as a good development that the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is planning to shut down eight coal-burning generating stations across Alabama and Kentucky. While, indeed, this will be a blow to the profiteering coal industry (reducing coal production by 3,300 megawatts in those states), it could be little more than a false triumph in terms of health and the environment. That's because the TVA is planning on replacing those stations with nuclear plants and natural gas facilities. The Obama administration has cracked down on carbon and mercury output, particularly when it is triggered by coal-fired power plants. And TVA board members were obligated to respond by phasing out some of these coal facilities, though not without Republican opposition. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met with the president of the TVA in an attempt to stop the coal plant shutdowns, albeit unsuccessfully. Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, praised the shutdowns, remarking, "This is a great move for public health, clean air and water, and our climate. It will also help protect families across the southeast from rising energy bills as the cost of coal-generated electricity continues to increase. I grew up in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee and went to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so I know firsthand how much that region has struggled with coal pollution. Residents, businesses, and industries have spoken loud and clear: they want the TVA to provide affordable, reliable, and clean power." Unfortunately, the TVA seems to have no plans for implementing renewable energy, and that is why many environmentalists' reactions to the victory have now soured. According to TVA spokesman Duncan Mansfield, coal usage is "dropping fast as a drilling boom in the U.S. pushes down the price of natural gas, the fuel that competes with coal for power generation." He failed to mention the destructive practices associated with natural gas facilities, particularly fracking and chemical dumping. Currently, TVA executives are looking to build a new 800-megawatt natural-gas-fired plant in either Alabama or Kentucky. But perhaps just as disconcerting to activists is the fact that the TVA is now constructing a new nuclear power plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., after having signed a contract with the Babcock & Wilcox Company. That company owned the reactor that was destroyed by a nuclear meltdown in the infamous Three Mile Island disaster. The new plant is only the first step in the TVA's campaign to step up its atomic output, in addition to natural gas. Hitt, from the Sierra Club, stressed the importance of replacing these dangerous, unreliable fossil and nuclear fuels with cleaner, safer energy. "TVA's next steps are critical," she said. "The utility must consider the workers and communities and make sure their livelihoods are protected. But we urge the TVA to focus on replacing these retiring coal plants with clean and affordable energy technologies that will help create jobs and affordable electricity for decades to come. Wind and solar power are cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels like natural gas, and there are dozens of examples of for-profit and public power utilities that are making huge investments in clean energy. "We urge the TVA not to choose to rely on natural gas. It's time to leapfrog over dirty fossil fuels that will continue to exacerbate environmental and public health issues. This is the TVA's choice. They can get their fiscal house in order by developing and deploying groundbreaking energy efficiency programs that deliver real results, and by seizing this moment and leading on clean energy." This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe. Photo credit: Paul Joyce (cc)