NOTE: I might come back to this blog one day. I can't be bothered right now.

Solar-thermal power touted as energy solution. 31/03/2006. ABC News Online

It's news that brings a big smile to my face...

Australian scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have developed a new form of electricity that could provide all of Australia's electricity needs in 2020.

Called solar-thermal energy, it has been developed by mixing solar energy, heat and natural gas.

The process uses two hundred mirrors to track the sun, and focus the sun's rays towards a tower. The tower at which heat can reach temperatures of more than 1000 degrees Celsius, producing 500 kilowatts of power.

This is then mixed with natural gas and water to produce a renewable energy.

Wes Stein from the CSIRO says the new development could provide for Australia's future energy needs.

"It would only require about 50 kilometres by 50 kilometres in the centre of Australia somewhere to provide all of Australia's electricity needs in 2020," he said.

"That's not very much of Australia."

Check out the article here at ABC News Online (Australia) |
Solar-thermal power touted as energy solution. 31/03/2006.

360-degree plug outlets

360-degree plug outlets

I found this post on Cool Hunting: 360-degree plug outlets, thought it was a great concept.

These outlets have already made the rounds, but such an ingenious solution to a common annoyance deserves note here.

The story goes like this: Some bright chaps in Salt Lake City invented a solution to the low functionality of most electrical outlets by creating a socket that can rotate a full 360-degrees, allowing us to use our electrical devices from 18 different angles. Standard installation allows you to install or replace existing outlets quickly and easily (make sure you turn your power off first though).

These outlets will be available from 360 Electrical sometime soon (so they say). To be the first to know about their availability, sign up for their e-mail list.

Queen Anthony Callea

Australian Idol runner-up Anthony Callea brought a showbiz touch to the Queen's visit.

The pint-sized Melburnian was a star turn at yesterday's Commonwealth Day church service in Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral.

The Queen's Commonwealth Day message was a serious one, highlighting the scourges of HIV/AIDS and the deaths of women in childbirth.

Then there was Callea, belting out a performance of his hit single, The Prayer.

He might have made an impression too, because the Australian Idol star was one of only a few official guests privileged to chat to the Queen during a royal reception later at Admiralty House.

The Queen struck up a conversation with Callea as Prime Minister John Howard escorted her along a line of well-wishers.

Callea also plans to run in the Queen's Baton Relay in Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of the opening of the Commonwealth Games.

- AAP via. The Age

Is it time we swapped OIL for ETHANOL?

On SBS DATELINE in Australia on Wednesday, March 15 at 8.30pm Ginny Stein reports on how Brazil has succeeded where much of the industrialised world has failed. After three decades of work it has developed ethanol – made from sugar cane – as a cost effective alternative to petroleum.

Faced with a dramatically escalating fuel bill during the first oil crisis in the 1970s Brazil’s government bankrolled the ethanol industry’s evolution. Today a variety of car manufacturers sell the flex car ‚– a vehicle type which can run on either ethanol or petrol or any combination of the two.

Last year over half the cars sold in Brazil were flex cars and over a million cars are now running on ethanol. All of the General Motors and Volkswagen cars sold in Brazil are flex cars. Brazil is also now creating the world‚’s first ethanol fuelled planes.

Flex cars now outsell standard petrol models, and the country‚’s leading manufacturer has declared it's the only model it will make from now on. Brazil is leading the ethanol charge but is urging other nations to come onboard - including Australia, where the struggling sugar industry sees ethanol as a potential saviour.

Certainly for Brazil it provides tens of thousands of jobs, energy independence, and enormous trade opportunities. Now it needs other nations to adopt ethanol so that it becomes a viable alternative fuel source around the world.

As countries around the world search for alternative fuels to power them into the future, more than a million Brazillian cars are running on fuel produced from sugar cane.

Is it possible that Brazil has come up with a solution to the world's energy problems?

According to a United Nations News report released on 14th April 2005, "Biofuels can cut poverty, provide energy and mitigate climate change".

Agriculture and forestry products such as sugarcane, maize and manure could become leading sources of energy, a key element in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability.

With around 2 billion people, mostly in rural areas of developing countries, still living without electricity or other modern energy services, increased use of so-called bioenergy can help diversify agricultural and forestry activities, improve food security, contribute to sustainable development and mitigate climate change by replacing fossil fuels that produce global warming greenhouse gases.

...Bioenergy is produced from biofuels ‚– solid fuels, biogas, liquid fuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel ‚– which come from crops such as sugar cane and beet, maize and energy grass or from fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural wastes and by-products, forestry residues, livestock manure and others.

...In developed countries, there is growing interest on the part of governments and the private sector in expanding the use of biofuels, particularly in the transport sector. Scenarios developed for the United States and European Union indicate that short-term targets of up to a 13 per cent replacement of petroleum-based fuels with liquid bioethanol and biodiesel appears feasible on available cropland, FAO says.

For this century, the report anticipates a significant switch from a fossil fuel to a bioenergy-based economy which could benefit not only the rural poor but also the whole planet, since biofuels can help mitigate climate change.

Ethanol is having some success - Japan has agreed to increase the level of ethanol it includes in its petrol and so has the United States. There are over 5 million flex cars running in America, and Indonesia will start producing 150,000 flex cars this year.

The Australian Government has released the final report on the testing program on the impact of 20 per cent ethanol on the Australian vehicle fleet. The report's findings support the Australian Government's decision to cap ethanol at 10 per cent. The 10 per cent cap commenced on 1 July 2003.

Ethanol could be used as an additive/enhancer to petrol at the 10 per cent level in most modern vehicles but could also be used at higher percentages in specially-designed flexible fuel vehicles.

In America, The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FDAI) has indicated that manufacturers new car vehicle warranties would support an ethanol level in petrol of up to 10%.

However in Australia there are still no garantees using Fuel blended with 10% of ethanol won't void car warranty.

Sugar can be fermented to produce ethanol (ethyl alcohol, 'alcohol') which can be added to petrol. In petrol it increase the absorption capacity with consequent damage potential.

Benifits of Ethanol:
Kyoto Targets - Increased use of ethanol will help Australia to achieve a reduction in Greenhouse gases required by international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol.

Reduced Oil Imports - Some 70% of petrol in Australia is derived from imported oil. A thriving ethanol industry in Australia will replace imported oil and improve our Balance of Payments. A 10% blend in Australia’s petrol would improve Australia’s trade balance by more that $3 billion over 5 years.

Greenhouse Gas - Petrol and other transport fuels contribute significantly to Australia‚’s greenhouse gas production. Carbon dioxide is the greatest component of greenhouse gas produced from burning petrol in vehicles. Ethanol reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because it is a renewable fuel.

Ethanol production from plants represents a carbon cycle where plants absorb carbon dioxide during growth, recycling the carbon released during fuel combustion.

The latest reports based upon ethanol produced from corn in the USA concludes that a litre of ethanol produces some 19% less Greenhouse gas that a litre of petrol. This is based upon the entire farming and production cycle (ref. United States Department of Energy 1999.) Ethanol produced from by-products such as molasses will result in even higher savings of Greenhouse gases.

Car Warranty - The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FDAI) has indicated that manufacturers new car vehicle warranties would support an ethanol level in petrol of up to 10%.

In Canada and the USA where ethanol has been widely used for 20 years ethanol blended fuels are approved under the warranties of all major auto manufacturers. In fact some recommend ethanol blends (E10) for its environmental benefits.

Made in Australia - Ethanol is produced by sugar and grain grown in Australia. Approximately 70% of petrol used in Australia is imported. By using ethanol blended fuels you are supporting Australian farmers and Australian industry and helping the environment.

In Closing: - I think considering that two thirds of the worlds known oil resources are located in the Middle East. And the constant instability of that region, seemingly caused by the western world who wants their oil at any cost. It would make far greater sence that Australia and other Western countrys put all the resources they can into stimulating growth in these industrys and eventually call for an end to fuels that cause greater damage to the environment! For Australia I would recomend no or very minimal taxes on more enviromentally friendly fuels and make industry and consumers or fuels that are causing the damage to remain in some form, so as to usher people onto enviromentally friendly fuels and work faster towards stopping global warming and greenhouse gas emitions.


DATELINE - SBS Television Australia
Episode "Brazil's Sweet Revolution" to air on Wednesday, March 15 at 8.30pm
Press Release - Brazil's Sweet Revolution - SWAPPING OIL FOR ETHANOL IN BRAZIL

Media Release - Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage - Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell - Ethanol fuel quality report released - 9 December 2004

Ethanol Facts - Australian Friends of Ethanol

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) - Australian politics - chemlink

Biofuels can cut poverty, provide energy and mitigate climate change - United Nations News Service

Related Links:

Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage - Atmosphere - Ethanol

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