Energy Collective blog power policy climate - the conversation happens here

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sorry for the Absence - I'm Back

I'd like to say sorry to all you regular readers out there (and there's got to be a couple of you, right?!) for my recent absence here at Watthead. Work on my thesis, has been absorbing much of my time lately, as it probably should (it now has an official title though: On the Road to Replacing Oil - Exploring Alternative Transportation Fuels and Energy Sources) .

Additionally, I spent the last week on the road and away from reliable internet access. I headed down to Chico State University in California last Tuesday evening to attend the Western Regional Sustainability Conference. There, my girlfriend, Jenny, and I gave a presentation on our work here at the University of Oregon to institute an optional program that will allow residents of the UO dorms to purchase Green Tags to cover their personal electricity consumption. I then headed on to San Francisco on Thursday for a bit of a visit with family.

I'm back home now and should resume the 'regularly scheduled programming' here at Watthead, assuming my real world commitments don't intrude to much. I hope you stay tuned...


Jesse Jenkins said...

Thanks Bob. As for satisfying the critics, I am conducting a well-to-wheels analysis using the Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transport (GREET) model developed by Argonne National Labs.

That is, I am examining the entire fuel production pathway from mining/farming/production of the feedstock down through transportation and refining of feedstock, transportation, storage and distribution of fuel, on through to the vehicle's fuel tank/battery/fuel storage and on to the vehicle's wheels.

That will give a good picture of total GHG and criteria pollutant emissions as well as petroleum, fossil and total energy use associated with each mile driven by a vehicle given a particular fuel pathway and vehicle technology. That's the plan anyway...

Robert McLeod said...

You may also want to use RETScreen or Homer if you want to simulate the actual electricity production of alternate energy sources. Homer can be particularly useful if you want to generate data that shows the intermittancy of wind power.

I have links to them on Entropy Production.

Jesse Jenkins said...

Thanks Robert. I do have RETScreen but I haven't heard of Homer before. I probably won't use them for my thesis, however, as I don't need that detailed a look at individual renewable energy facilities to use the caluclations in the GREET model needed for my Well-to-Wheels analysis. RETScreen, and Homer I assume, are very interesting models though and worth poking around in.

Bob, I'm not sure that I agree that we are not going to run out of oil anytime soon. There's a lot of evidence to support the opposite contention. Anyway, the way I see it, there are three forces motivating our push towards alternative fuels, and the same fuel/energy source/technology isn't necessarily the best at solving all three:

(1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate global climate change.
(2) reducing criteria pollutant emissions - i.e. those that cause smog, acid rain, etc - particularly in our populated urban areas.
(3) reducing our dependence on foreign oil and oil in general, assuming that it is a finite resource which is depleted by our continued use.

Our light duty transport fleet contributes significantly to all three of those problems. My thesis seeks to explore the relative benefits of various alternative tranport options in terms of mitigating those three problems.

Jesse Jenkins said...

Bob, I'd like to give you a formal welcome to the site! I'm curious how you stumbled across it?

Light duty transport fleet refers to cars and light trucks, i.e. personal vehicles, and excludes medium and heavy trucks, buses, off-road vehicles, etc. Basically its all the cars, minivans, light trucks and SUVs normal people drive plus those same vehicles belonging to government and business fleets. Hope that clears it up.