Monday, June 30, 2008

CNN goes green

As oil hits $143 per barrel the race is on to find new energy resources. Some of these efforts are driven by the wish to reduce environmental impacts. However many countries are only interested in seeking to provide for the ever growing demand for energy. Recently President George Bush proposed an initiative to start off shore drilling to solve the demand for oil and help bring down prices, but in California there is more than 900 million barrels waiting to be pumped from the ground. In California a number of drilling companies have made 4000 applications to start pumping this precious commodity, up from 3000 such applications last year. To drive around parts of Los Angeles it would be difficult to spot these oil drilling operations as many are hidden behind specially constructed buildings, some even disguised as works of art. In the north east of America along the Canadian coast there exists vast oil reserves in the form of bitumen. But processing costs are high and it takes more than 2 tonnes of bitumen saturated sand to obtain 1 barrel of oil. However, more than 1 million barrels of oil are produced every day and production is likely to increase.

CNN has this week started a new series of programmes looking into the worlds demand for energy and at the same time how the world might solve the associated environmental problems. Going Green launched with an insight into some of the efforts made by China to help reduce its carbon footprint, while at the same time providing much needed electricity to its growing economy. John Vause went to the north of the country to investigate the new wind farms springing up across inner Mongolia. The wind blows an almost constant 20 km/h making it an ideal location for such installations. Wang Yong, a local official from the Chayouzhongqi Wind Power Office, has helped to encourage energy companies into the area around Huitengxile. So far wind power only provides 1% of China’s electricity, but this may increase to more than 8% according to Qin Haiyan, secretary general of the Chinese Wind Energy Association.

China is investing heavily into other energy production methods including bio-fuels, solar power and nuclear energy. And according to Christopher Flavin president of the Worldwatch Institute, China’s economic future would be sacrificed if it doesn’t invest in renewable energy sources. But China is already taking steps to secure its economic future. Li Jinglu speaks excitedly of the efforts to produce energy from plants grown in the Mongolian desert. At the Madwasu Psammophile Thermoelectricity Company the burning of biomass is set to provide more than 200 million Kw/h electricity per year, enough for more than an average of 20,000 homes. CNN will be broadcasting special reports all this week with in depth reports on the 5th and 6th of July. Attempts to reduce carbon footprints and reduce the use of oil and coal isn’t pleasing everyone. A report released today suggests that British household could be paying more for their electricity if efforts to reduce CO2 emissions are implemented [BBC]. The EU wants other member states to cut carbon dioxide levels by 20% by the year 2020. At the same time it wishes to raise the proportion of renewable energy they use to 20%. But the report, called Costing the Earth, says UK households may not be able to pay for the higher energy bills. Wind farm initiatives are also under constant attack by some lobby groups who believe they are a ‘blot on the landscape’. But as oil becomes more expensive, governments may have to force through initiatives like wind farms in order to keep up with the constant energy demand.

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