by David A. Nuttle
When it comes to energy, most of the wealth and political influence remains with the polluting energy industries such as petroleum and coal. Nuclear power has provided some energy but still has cost and serious safety issues. Natural gas is making more of a contribution, at a probable cost of environmental pollution due to the “fracking” (water, sand & over 600 assorted chemicals pumped into the earth under pressure) to extract more and more gas. Some fracking chemicals are known to contain toxins and have the potential to contaminate well water. There is general scientific agreement that the above sources of energy are not sustainable over the long-term, and that green energy options are far friendlier for all life on this planet.
Green energy technologies currently under development include solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, biofuels, thermoelectric, waste-to-energy (gasification), hydrogen and others. Mistakes are being made in the development of some of these green technologies. Forests need not be cleared on a massive scale to grow palm oil for biofuels (there are better options). Ethanol should be made from waste crop materials such as bagasse and corn stalks, not from the corn needed for food and feed. There are more efficient wind turbines than the big turbines being used, and the new turbines are safer for bird populations. With any new technology, there will be mistakes. Some of the mistakes are political. It was the “corn lobby” that pushed to make ethanol out of corn rather than cellulosic materials (as noted above).
“Big oil,” primarily in the form of U.S. petroleum executives are working with their cronies in the U.S. Congress to impede development of three promising green energy technologies. Most of our elected representatives now lack virtue they are willing to accept “political payola” (bribes) to support policies, legislation and programs harmful to the public interest. My purpose in writing this article is to show how such harm is coming to new/ innovative green energy technologies. Three examples of such harm follow:
1) Large, mobile biochar kilns could be used to convert our reported 60 million acres of insect-killed timber into biofuels, biochar (for use in improving soil fertility) and production of green electricity using kiln heat to power thermoelectric generators. This technology is detailed under my U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/795,914, dated 10/31/2012. Engineers at N.C. State University have assisted with development of this technology, and are well aware of its potential. Subject technology could create thousands of quality jobs and dramatically reduce forest fire hazards in the process of carbon sequestration (by adding biochar to soils), as well as producing millions of gallons of inexpensive biofuels. (“Big oil” seeks to prevent such competition.)
2) All the global needs for biofuels could be met using a system of tube-algalculture to grow massive quantities of algal-lipids, on waste and desert lands, to produce algal- biodiesel. As an example, Kenya has several million acres of essentially vacant desert where tube-algalculture could take place. The water needed for algalculture could be obtained from Lake Turkana and/or the Tana River (both with ample water supplies). Photovoltaic power could be used to provide super-aeration of algae to supply the CO2 from which the algae would obtain needed carbon nutrients. Water from Lake Turkana and the Tana River are rich in nutrients from fish and crocodile waste, so the balance of nutrients needed by algae are already available. Lake Turkana contains a native species of algae that produces 65 to 70 percent lipid, a natural for algal-biodiesel production. The above said technology is detailed in my U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/744,995, dated 10/09/2012. Researchers at Duke University and N.C. State University previously assisted in the development of my original algalculture systems first patented under my U.S. Patent No. 5,121,708. (Again, “big oil” seeks to prevent such competition in its energy arena.)
3) One-third of all land is desert. As proven via the Thar Desert counterdesertification project, new technologies are available to make deserts produce massive amounts of food, feed, fiber, niche & green energy crops such as jojobo (a desert plant grown for lipids to make biofuels). This new technology is detailed in my article now shown on http://www.needfulprovision.org/articles/counterdesertification.php. Since you can easily refer to this article, I will not repeat what makes counterdesertification work. My charity, NPI (Needful Provision. Inc.) has successfully developed advanced technologies to greatly improve counterdesertification efforts. NPI has been seeking funds for a demonstration counterdesertification project for a Kenyan desert or similar location. (Yet again, “big oil” has been working to “block” our funding for such a project.)
The lesson from all the above is that we have yet to develop the political will to successfully oppose a special interest group (“big oil”) using its wealth and political influence to sustain and optimize its petroleum markets. Moreover, if we continue to elect politicians without virtue, they will continue to represent special interests over the public interest because the former is far more personally profitable. In brief, we have a serious case of “hiccups” when it comes to supporting the development of green energy.