The Future of Solar Energy

With the current concentration on global warming, the existence of which is denied by only a few naysayers, developments in solar power are moving at a pace to fill the need for efficient green solutions to our seemingly insatiable desire for energy.

The failure of solar power to be more widely adopted to date seems primarily to be due to cost concerns, where the payback periods are now quoted to be 7+ years, and thus beyond the normal financial horizon for many potential participants, whose average occupancy of any particular house is expected to be 7 years. When a lower cost can be achieved, the benefits of mass production will cause a snowball effect in purchasing systems, and that time would seem to be drawing closer.

Durham University in the UK, ever photovoltaic solar research project, with more than $12M to be spent in the next four years, starting in April. The principal investigator, Professor Ken Durose, has committed to “make a major contribution to achieving competitive photovoltaic solar energy”. Nine industrial partners and eight institutions will be involved in the project, which is aimed at reducing the thickness, and thus cost, of solar cells.

Much as this may seem to be a promising advance, an alternative approach is being adopted by commercial interests, in the form of a company called G24i which is also in the UK, in Wales. They have developed what are called fourth generation solar cells, which are a thin-film product, the latest buzzword in the solar marketplace.

Their invention is a dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), which is, simply, printing a thin layer of titanium oxide on to a thin-film of metal foil, and then performing some molecular manipulations to achieve the desired reaction to light. The product is manufactured on a roll-to-roll process, similar to that used in the textile industry. They commenced production last year, and are planning to expand this year to a production capacity of 200 Megawatts.

The process by which DSSC works has been compared to that of photosynthesis in plants, and it is more sensitive than conventional silicon cells, producing electricity from a wider range of the light spectrum and lower levels of lighting. It is very flexible and one-fiftieth of the weight of conventional glass silicon cells, and can even be produced in designer colors! The initial market is for devices that could not be made with the older technology, supplying power for portable electronics, particularly for mobile phones in the developing world.

With a growth in the traditional solar cell market of 35% per annum, and a continuing global shortage of silicon projected up to 2010, G24i would seem to be very well placed to take away business from the conventional suppliers. Their technology is available at much lower cost, and expansion would seem to be limited only by their ability to grow in a controlled manner.

On what seems to be a more esoteric front, it’s reported that scientists are considering the possibility of a space engineering project that would dwarf any other that has been attempted to date. While the sheer size of the project would require governments to take the first steps at an international level, researchers from the USA, Europe and Japan are proposing building giant solar arrays in orbit and beaming the energy to Earth.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Damphousse of the Pentagon has spoken of the need for “hundreds of sorties every week” in order to move the tons of material that would be required. A recent study by the Pentagon concluded that such a project was nearly technologically possible right now, and that robots could be used to facilitate the construction in space. More realistically, perhaps, Leopold Summerer of the European Space Agency has projected that the generation of power in space may be about 20 years away, but the concept is being actively pursued.

Finally, what may prove to be the most promising current development in solar energy has just been announced by Global Warming Solutions, Inc. of Houston. Successful tests have been conducted on hybrid solar modules, which produce both heat and electricity from one unit. The combined efficiency of the modules is reported to reach 85%, significantly better than the 40%+, then a record, achieved a year ago by Spectrolab using concentrator solar cells to produce electricity only.

The technologies used include some originally developed for industrial lasers, stated Dr. Alexander Kornaraki, the COO. “The quantum pump separates the heat and the electrical photons of the incident solar light”, giving the most efficient spectra to the photovoltaic process. The modules produce up to 28 Watts of electricity and 93 Watts of heat per square foot. The projected payback period is no more than five years.

Global Warming Systems have several pilot systems, and one with 108 square feet of panels provides 100% of the energy, both electrical and heating, to a single family home. Even more promising, these panels are efficient even as far north as Alaska, which is a new achievement for the industry.

Learn more about Solar Power and how you can use it to produce electric power, to heat, or even cool your home!

Politics As Usual

I can see the ad on eBay when I close my eyes, one senate seat, price $500,000.00, pick up only. Sure the news would have leaked sooner, but is this idea really such a stretch? Here we have yet another politician whom we can assume is well educated and intelligent and who is well aware of the watchful eye that follows, and eventually catches up with public servants gone wild. For reasons that escape me, this does not appear to factor into the decision making process, or perhaps it is just that the elitist feels such a sense of entitlement, that their actions play out like the actions of a sociopath, without conscience and with complete and utter narcissism.

I am of course speaking of the scandal of Blagojevich and his alleged participation in the selling of our President elect’s vacant senate seat. What strikes me as even more remarkable then the charges against Mr. Blagojevich, is the defiance he displayed by showing up at his office to work, despite the fact that he was to relinquish his duties while under investigation. This willful act of brazenness reminds me of an old Seinfeld episode, where the character George Costanza gives his boss a verbal thrashing, then quits and walks out the door. Regretting his actions, George shows up at work the following day as if nothing ever happened, thinking no one will notice, including his boss. Okay, maybe not the best example, but you get the point.

Why are we the public, the only ones not shocked by the alleged actions of yet another politician who has allegedly soiled the very foundation that is our government? Certainly, the Washington elite are well aware of the corruption that plagues their inner circle. Is their feigned surprise merely a guise to keep us of their track? Ask yourselves this question, if a politician falls in DC and there is no one around, does he make a sound and proclaim his innocence and do we really want to hear it?

I’m a freelance writer who is a former New Yorker now living in New Mexico. Many moons ago I wrote a legal column “The Legal Eye”, for a major internet provider. I have a background in sociology and am currently in the health field. I am a big fan of the late Erma Bomback and currently enjoy the rantings of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

This is Why Bush’s 700 Billion Dollars Bailout Plan Will Fail

Not long ago, the President stood before the American People to make his case for the massive bailout plan that Congress is now working to approve. With the sincerity and the passion that characterize him, President Bush made it clear that “this time is an extraordinary period for America’s economy”. He then went on to explain why he is urging Congress to support his plan to rescue Wall Street.

According to the President, his bailout plan represents the best we can do to solve the financial crisis and stop the mortgage meltdown.

In his plan, the Federal Government would take over bad assets from Wall Street since these assets cannot be bought or sold. They cannot be sold because they cost essentially more than what they are worth.

In other words, when banks issued loans to homeowners with their homes as collateral, they also converted these loans into financial products called mortgage-backed securities. These mortgage-backed securities were then sold to other financial institutions, therefore allowing banks to get the funds they need to issue more loans. As long as this cycle was repeated, the financial market was moving well.

Then, homes’ values started to go down.

When homes’ values go down, they make mortgage-backed securities become less attractive. This is because the collateral against these mortgages is now worth less than what banks want to borrow or sale the securities for. Here resides the key to the financial crisis.

The President’s plan is to buy those mortgage-backed securities to allow banks to have more money.

The theory behind this is that if banks have more money and less risky assets, they will be more willing to lend to credit-seekers.

The main limit with this approach is that while the bailout may in fact put more money in banks’ hands, homeowners will not see their problem solved. They will not be rescued.

Backers of the President’s plan forget that we are in this crisis because homeowners defaulted. They defaulted because they could no more afford payments. At the same time, they could not refinance their mortgage to get better deals because their home was worth far less than what they owed. This created the feeling of insecurity that is now dragging our economy down. And there is even more…

Supposing that after taking over these bad assets Government allows homeowners to make lower and affordable monthly payments; the economy will still face at least one serious challenge:

Assets removed from the market by Government will still be worth less than their face value. The same will be applied to most of the other assets not necessarily concerned by this bailout plan.

As a consequence, most of the mortgage-backed securities remaining on Wall Street will be, in a certain way, less attractive.

Investors will then continue to prefer non mortgage-backed securities since they not only present prospects of better revenues; but they also provide the security that investors want. Examples of options with prospects of good revenues and security are commodities like crude oil…

And when that happens, our economy will collapse dramatically. This is because the housing market is at the heart of America’s economy.

This is the reason why I think that the President’s plan to bailout Wall Street is a very risky plan that will only delay the collapse of our economy.

I believe that what this economy needs is a more efficient plan capable of solving this financial crisis at the root.

I propose a Program that will reduce homeowners’ debt to 80% of their homes’ market value.

How will this work?

On behalf of homeowners, Government will pay all amounts needed to reduce homeowners’ debt to 80% of homes’ market value.

These loans will be issued against promissory notes signed by homeowners.

Rescued homeowners will be required to make relatively low minimum monthly payments.

In addition to this, Government will be allowed to deduct a percentage of homeowners’ Federal and State tax refunds (if available) to help reduce loan balance. Agency in charge of this program will report accounts to credit bureaus on a monthly basis.

The destiny of America’s economy will be placed, once again, in the hands of those who are more able to make it work again: The American People.

Adopting this plan will do 3 things:

First, when Government pays back part of homeowners’ debt, Wall Street will eventually receive the funds that are so badly needed to continue fuelling our economy.

Second, homeowners’ debt will be reduced to 80% of their homes’ market value, therefore making them eligible, once again, to shop for better rates and affordable deals. Paying less for their homes will free some funds that can be used to purchase more goods.

Third, America’s housing market will be back on track, again. The market will be ready for new buyers and sellers, therefore sealing the revival of our economy.

However, this plan can only produce its best results if Congress complements it with a strong regulation that keeps the market under control. Otherwise, greed will once again destroy us.

Ben Modo is an Accountant, a Management Professional and a Financial Consultant. He has earned degrees in Business and Public Administration and he is the author of many published articles in economics and politics. Ben Modo was born in Cameroon and is married to Lydia. Together, they have two children, Stan and Dave Modo. Ben and his family live in the Washington metropolitan area.
Source

Forget Bailout – Here is My Plan

Anyone facing foreclosure knows that in most cases that they have been snookered. Funny how mortgage contracts will adjust for increasing payments, but none adjust down if the economy goes bad.

Now the government is going to give Wall Street a 700 Billion dollar bailout plan. Now this plan is suppose to help the homeowner. It does not address unemployment and loss of jobs, the adjusting of mortgage rates that are the root causes.

Let us think about this:

• Gas prices are higher than ever
• We spend billions of dollars per month in Iraq
• Unemployment is high
• Food Prices have increased
• Most homes have lost value leaving little to no equity
• Utilities such as gas and electric are higher
• Credit is scarce and refinance market is dead
• Average family income is down
• Bankruptcies are high

Who wins?

• Oil companies recording record profits
• Brokers, who have taken money from the stock and equity markets
• Retiring executives from most markets with golden parachutes
• Those who are operating the banks and brokerage firms

Those responsible will not suffer; the good old taxpayer is coming to the rescue. Okay, so we bail them out and have our government, buy the homes that have lost their value in many ways. Now the government will also have to absorb the cost in foreclosure. That is an additional expense.

Here is the major question, with banks and other institutions having dumped all their bad paper on the government, what is next? The answer to that is who knows.

Here is a solution, when you wean a baby off the bottle; you just take it away from the baby. That is what we have to do to the financial institutions. This has to be fixed in part by government but with a ground floor view.

If you want to help those homeowners and reverse the economy here is the plan

• A 6-month freeze on all foreclosures and those up coming for the next year
• A $ 10,000.00 grant to all unemployed homeowners that need to get back on their feet
• An audit on all mortgage companies that financed the sub-prime market
• Allow modification of mortgage contracts on all distressed property
• Allow 6 months for homeowners to get gainful employment (if they are unemployed)
• Invest 100 billion for new “green” energy jobs
• Invest 100 billion in full scholarships in community colleges for new high tech or “green” jobs
• Financial Institutions that hold vacated property will keep them
• Those pending foreclosures will be turned over to the government
• The government will then administrate the process of implementing the above points.
• The mortgagee when employed will modify their contract with the governmental agency.
• Let the private sector sell the vacated properties through auction or other means

This is what I call trickle up economics. The intention is to assist those who are facing financial distress in most cases this will allow the homeowner to pay off their real estate taxes, allow them to find gainful employment. They will also buy food, pay utility bills, and help offset the price of gas. It is a terrible thing when you must commute 20 to 30 miles and do not have any money for gas. You must go to where the jobs are.

There are three types of people affected here, the employed, the unemployed and the multiple dwelling homeowners. The employed would need a modified contract. The unemployed would need a moratorium and financial aid if not eligible for unemployment. Then there are those who have multiple dwelling units which the economy does not directly effect their primary residence.

Implementation can be administered by HUD, the first action that needs to be taken is an instant moratorium on all forecloses and real estate tax liens.

• Set Up Special Temporary Branch under HUD to implement program
• HUD takes all the recorded default notices
• This program will be voluntary to homeowners
• Residents affected will contact a 1-800 number for the financial grant
• HUD will verify the information given
• Homeowner will fill out application and send to HUD via internet, fax or mail.
• HUD will release half of the $ 10,000.00 grant and in 30 days release the other half.
• If Homeowner is collecting unemployment benefits HUD will reduce the scheduled unemployment benefit amount from the HUD payments for the 6 month period
• Homeowner has 6 months to find gainful employment.
• Within the 4 month period Homeowner will contact HUD for mortgage contract modification
• Homeowners who are employed will contact HUD for assistance in mortgage modification
• When mortgage modification is approved by HUD then the Homeowner will start making payments to the mortgage holder of record.

Mortgage holders are not bailed out, but will be allowed have the distressed properties temporarily moved off their balance sheets into a holding company account. This will relieve their balance sheet on a temporary basis, which will allow them to qualify for appropriate credit. They will report to the SEC (if a public company) and HUD the information on the holding company, with complete details. No other transactions other than that of distressed real estate are to be post to this holding company.

When a homeowner starts to make payments on the modified mortgage contract the mortgage holder will transfer from the holding account the original value back to the mortgage holder’s original balance sheet.

In this way everybody wins, the mortgage holder, the homeowner and the government. This plan will result in more jobs; mortgage holders’ credit restored and distressed properties relieved. Of course, there are more details to work out but overall I believe my plan can be implemented in very little time.

John Tebar Certified Life Coach, Author and Entrepreneur sign up for weekly Ezine at http://holisticlifeplanningandresearch.com

Who is to Blame For High Gas Prices?

With only the possibility of John McCain and Barack Obama, I would say that whose to blame for high gasoline prices has been the most played news story across every media network over the last month or two. The national average for gasoline peaked earlier this month around $4.11 per gallon or regular 87 octane and has recently come down to about $4.03 per gallon. This obviously is a stark increase from the price range around ~$2.50 that we had seen during 2006 and 2007. The issue becomes even more important than “just an extra” $2.53 per gallon as our economy and lifestyle are based on the consumption of gasoline for transportation. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is who is to blame and how can we fix the problem? Like many other questions concerning energy, the answer is not nearly as simple as the media would have you believe. Warning: The information you are about to read may be completely foreign to you as none of the 6 major media networks have ever reported truthfully on this topic in the past.

It must be the E&P companies, right?

Not as much as you would think. While it is true that the exploration and production companies have to make some profit, when you look at the numbers the results are not as horrifying as you may have previously thought. Let’s take a look at the profit margins of some of the larger E&P companies (all of the numbers are for the trailing twelve months):

* Apache Corp. APA – 29.95%

* Anadarko Petroleum APC – 3.78%

* EnCana Corp. ECA – 14.77%

* Occidental Petroleum OXY – 29.2%

* Suncor Energy Inc. SU – 17.98%

* Microsoft Corp. MSFT – 29.26%

Now its time to play the which one of the above is not an oil and gas E&P company game? If you guess Microsoft, you probably have a bright future ahead of you and I wish you my sincerest congratulations.

This is only one example, Goldman Sachs GS has a profit margin of 23.68% and Intuitive Surgical ISRG has a profit margin of 24.68%. Many of the energy companies actually have lower profit margins than companies in other sectors. They are not the ones that are charging you too much for the goods you rely on, they are just participating in the free market economy and helping you achieve economic satisfaction more so than most of the other companies in the world.

Well then it has to be refiners?

This is definitely the last person who is causing your wallet to thin. The refiners (excluding the major integrated companies that incorporate refining and marketing activities into their overall business structure) bring the least to the bottom line when compared to the other sub-sector of the energy universe. The problem with the refiners is that since they do not produce the oil, they are reliant on spot market prices for the input of their product. This difference is called the crack spread. The crack spread is the margin refiners make when the take a barrel of crude oil and “crack” it into another form, either gasoline, heating distillate, diesel, or a number of other products. Generally crack spreads are quoted in the 3:2:1 ratio, or 3 barrels of crude are cracked into 2 barrels of gasoline and 1 barrel of heating distillate. Recently the crack spread has been in a state of free fall as highlighted by the stock prices of Valero Energy Corp. VLO, and Tesero Corporation TSO falling more than 45% each while the rest of the energy sector rallied.

Gas station owners, thats it!

Unfortunately for gas station owners, they fall into a similar category as the refiners. They do not produce the gasoline, so their input prices are out of the control. Because there is a high level of competition and a bunch of stingy consumers, they are not able to raise prices as quickly as they would need to in order to maintain historical profit margins. More than 1,000 gasoline stations closed in the United States last year, many of which were actually losing money every time they sold you a gallon of gasoline because of the rate at which gasoline spot prices were rising over the last year and a half. You should expect more gas station closing through 2008 and maybe into 2009. The business has become so unprofitable that Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM has recently announced that they are planning to sell at least 2,500 of their company owned gas stations in the United States during the next year, mostly likely at steep discounts to their worth even 3 months ago.

What about the government?

If you read my article concerning McCain’s Gasoline Tax Holiday you would know that the government sponsored gasoline tax really has little to no effect on the price of gasoline that consumers pay at the pump. The government definitely has an indirect effect on the price of gasoline due to the current drilling policies. If all United States territory was opened, not only would the markets discount this news into the future and lower energy commodity spot prices but the supply that would come online within 2-3 years would cause the price to be pushed downward in the long run. There is also a counter argument that some day we may actually need those reserves for something truly important, not just saving you a few dollars per fill up. That type of ethical issue is one that is difficult to address because facts will not allow either side to be completely “right” or “wrong” no matter how long the topic is argued. I’ll let you make your own decision on that one.

Wait a second, it can’t be my fault can it?

Actually, yes it can. The unfortunate news is that we as consumers are the cause for almost all of the rise in gasoline price. It is not just “us,” it is actually consumers all around the world who are driving up the price. Because crude and gasoline trade on global exchanges, it is not just the United States thats affects the prices, contrary to popular belief. Increased demand from India and China as well as the rest of the developing world is one of the major factors contributing to the price inflation. For example, an American used 25 barrels of oil per year while the Chinese only use 3 barrels per person per year and the Indians only use 1 barrel per person per year. Gasoline prices could become really frightening if the rest of the world would demand even 25% of the consumption that we have grown accustom to over the past century.

Another important factor is worldwide inflation. Inflation rates are growing at historically fast rates around the world. The United States has year-over-year inflation growth of 5% (if you believe the government data which many experts are suggesting you should not), China is over 8%, Russia is over 9%, so on and so forth. With all of this extra money, it is easy to see that a good portion of the price appreciation is do to the fact that people have more nominal dollars to spend, even if each one is worth less and less every day.

Our modern American economy is so heavily based on petroleum products to function that there is only a certain amount of demand that can be destroyed at these low levels of gasoline prices (I know that sounds ridiculous to say, but bear with me). Children have to go to school and adults must go to work, no matter the price of gasoline. Use yourself as an example. Would you quit your current job because of gasoline prices? At what price would you consider quitting your job? At what price would you have no choice but to quit your job? For most of you, these numbers are going to be much higher than the current price of gasoline. Many of you would be shocked to believe that gasoline spending per capita is actually only half of the historical high percentage that was reached during the 1910s and the 1980s. Do not believe for any moment that gasoline prices cannot or will not appreciate from here.

So what can we do? Are we doomed?

We are not doomed. I for one am long on the idea that the United States will be able to innovate and solve this problem. The solution won’t come from the government, but from the free markets. Only time and extreme necessity can drive us closer to the solution, but I assure you that one day it will come. I will discuss the solutions in another later article, but you should not feel as if there is no hope for America because there most certainly is going into our bright future.

This article is brought to you by the authors at BullishBankers.com, a brand new and wildly popular stock market community on the internet.

If you would like free investment tips, stock market research and analysis… please stop by http://www.bullishbankers.com to support our efforts. You’ll find all the information you need!

Making Biodiesel at Home – What Exactly is It?

Petroleum prices are rising across the globe. Escalated prices are giving nightmares to common man. Consequently some people are looking towards substitutes. An excellent alternative to fossil fuel in this category is biodiesel. Biodiesel is a clean burning fuel and more importantly, it is a renewable energy source. Environmentally this fuel has proven to be a much less pollutant than its counterpart, the standard diesel. The regular diesel has components such as sulfur and aromatics. This fuel is made out of vegetable oil and costs considerably lesser than the conventional fuel. Because of this property it is easy to make biodiesel at home.

Biodiesel is outcome of the process called transesterification. In this method the fats are removed from the vegetable oil thus leaving behind byproducts like glycerin and biodiesel. In view of the fact that biodiesel does not contain sulphur and aromatics, it burns cleaner leaving very few traces of contaminants. These characteristics make biodiesel surpass the conventional petroleum fuel.

The most fantastic feature about biodiesel is that you can make biodiesel at home. The equipment required for the entire process is simple and can be accessed at any local store or even from your garage. You would require steel or plastic drums, a pipe, a valve, a motor and a temperature gauging instrument.

Initially you should manufacture little amount of oil so that when you become acquainted with the process, you can make biodiesel at home at a larger scale.

The compounds needed for the reaction to take place are vegetable oil, lye (caustic soda) and Methanol. Lye has to be mixed with methanol first. This mixing should be done quickly because lye absorbs water from the atmosphere. This water content can produce impurities in the entire process. Methanol and lye combine to yield sodium methoxide. Now add vegetable oil to the blend and shake it with the help of a motor. Once the blending has taken place, the mixture is set aside to stand for at least 8-12 hours. This way the glycerin will sink underneath and biodiesel will emerge on top of it. The reason behind this phenomenon is the difference between the specific gravities of the two compounds. The glycerin can be removed from the bottom with the help of a pipe whose flow is controlled by a valve. Glycerin can further be utilized in making soaps and biodiesel for your vehicles.

Using the process mentioned above you can effortlessly make biodiesel at home.

To find out how you can easily make your own biodiesel from the comfort of your own home, visit our site below.

For those interested in Making Biodiesel at Home come visit our site so you can learn how to Make Your Own Biodiesel.

Oil, Energy, and Congress

Now that Congress has recessed for the end of the summer, what are we to make of the energy situation? At this point, I’m getting tired of hearing that $4.00 gasoline is good for me. How can it be good when Americans are spending less of their money on other goods and investing in their gas tanks? Is it good that transportation costs have sent my food bill sky rocketing? Is it good that many Americans have shortened their vacations and cut back on their entertainment spending? Is it good that the working poor are struggling between putting groceries in their home and fueling their cars to get to work?

Apparently our Congressional leaders and one presidential candidate say the answer is yes. While our Speaker of the House is trying to “save the planet”, the rest of the world is out trying to find more oil & energy. Let’s look at few recent examples:

  • Egypt announced last week the start of a 9 billion dollar oil refinery and petrochemical complex, which will be located on its north coast. The complex is expected to begin operation in 2010 and will be completed in 5 years. The facility will refine 350,000 barrels of oil per day.
  • The Tupi deepwater oil field is located offshore of Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil’s best tourist destinations. Last November, the Brazilian government announced that the location could contain five billion to eight billion barrels of oil. The Tupi oil field is expected to begin producing 100,000 barrels of oil in 2010, according to Petrobas, Brazil’s national oil company. Petrobas hopes to bring production to one million barrels a day in about ten years.
  • Finland is building a 1600 megawatt nuclear power reactor. The country currently gets 28 percent of it electricity from nuclear power.
  • Japan is working to increase its nuclear power production of electricity from 30 percent to 37 percent by 2009 and 41 percent by 2017.

Now, besides threatening to sue the Saudi’s and adding more taxes to oil, what has the United States government energy policy done? Let’s look at a few examples:

  • From 2000 to 2007 domestic crude oil production fell 12.4 percent
  • Through a congressional mandate, 85 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf is off limits to oil exploration. It is estimated that the Outer Continental Shelf contains 90 billion barrels of oil
  • The Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is estimated to have 10 billion barrels of oil; in 1995 President Clinton vetoed a bill authorizing oil production on 2,000 acres out of 19.6 million.
  • U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, Colorado, inserted language into the omnibus spending bill last December that places a moratorium on enacting rules for oil shale development on federal lands. The Green River Formation is estimated to have as much as 1.1 trillion barrels of oil shale.
  • As mandated by the 2007 energy bill signed by President Bush, the U.S. is now required to mix 9 billion gallons of biofuels into the gasoline supply. The mandate is met primarily with corn-based ethanol. At the start of the biofuel mandates, corn was $2 per bushel. The price of corn now is a little over $6 per bushel.

It seems the more our government gets involved, the worse the situation becomes. And where did common sense go? If I see that you need water, I wouldn’t send you to a desert to find it. Yet, that’s what we do with our oil exploration. Try to find it where we don’t know if it exists.

From 2000 to 2007 American oil companies increased the drilling of exploratory wells by 138 percent (on those 68 million acres of existing leases); oil production still fell to its lowest level since 1947. The American Petroleum Institute reported that oil companies had the highest second-quarter oil well activity since 1986.

The United States has successfully developed other forms of energy; clean coal plants, nuclear power, natural gas plants, solar & wind energy. Our most efficient and cheapest forms of energy production are under constant assault from the environmental movement. The U.S. uses 760 gigawatts of power plants to meet current needs. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) estimates that we will need 135 gigawatts of new capacity in the next 10 years. As of now, only 57 gigawatts of power plants are planned. Why?

  • 59 coal-fired plants were canceled in 2007 because of anticoal activist.
  • U.S. production of natural gas is beginning to decline because of environmental restrictions on exploration.
  • The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) succeeded in stopping 13 natural gas power plants in southern California.

We have the best scientist, engineers and technicians in the world. Give them the opportunity to solve this challenge and they will. There are many private companies working on new technology to bring to the market. If our government is going to pick winners and losers through subsidies, many companies will not get into the market.

For example, NuScale Power, an Oregon-based startup company, is seeking federal clearance to begin its project to build a mini nuclear reactor. The reactor can power 45,000 homes, is 65 feet long and has no visible cooling tower. NuScale states that these reactors require no maintenance and do not need to be refueled. At the end of its useful life of about 30 years, the plant is returned to the factory.

This type of technology should be welcomed and encouraged by all. With a small footprint & no carbon emissions, these plants could replace many traditional coal and gas-fired power plants.

This situation does not require a billion dollar bail out from our government. Nor does it require raising taxes on the oil companies. Remember, we tried the windfall profits tax with President Jimmy Carter. That led to a 6 percent drop in the production of oil and a 15 percent increase in oil imports, according to the Congressional Research Service.

If congress would step back and allow all of the energy companies to explore and develop energy in a responsible way, we would not have to struggle with high energy costs. Take away all of the subsidies and let the market decide which means of energy is cheapest, environmentally sound and durable. American technology is more than capable of producing efficient energy and protecting the environment.

Instead of trying to spend more of my tax dollars, why doesn’t congress spend more of their time, which we pay them for, to fix the regulatory landscape of energy production. Congress needs to enact some common sense environmental regulations. If they do, the market will give us a diverse supply of energy that is reliable – American made – and affordable

It’s time to streamline & simplify this process, now.

Xander is a writer & researcher of current events. For more information, visit his blog at http://xander-xee.blogspot.com

Outrage Fatigue Seems To Be Settling In As Chronic Condition

www.latimes.com

Mortgaged to the House of Saud

Robert Scheer

August 9, 2005

THE ONLY EVIDENCE you need that President Bush is losing the “war on terror” is this: On Sunday, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said that relations with the United States “couldn’t be better.”

Tell that to the parents of those who have died in two wars defending this corrupt spawning ground of violent extremism. Never mind the ugly facts: We are deeply entwined with Saudi Arabia even though it shares none of our values and supports our enemies.

Yet on Friday, Bush’s father and Vice President Dick Cheney made another in a long line of obsequious American pilgrimages to Riyadh to assure the Saudis that we continue to be grateful for the punishment they dish out.

“The relationship has tremendously improved with the United States,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal told a news conference in Riyadh. “With the government, of course, it is very harmonious, as it ever was. Whether it has returned to the same level as it was before in terms of public opinion [in both countries], that is debatable.”

Well, score one for public opinion. It makes sense to distrust the mercenary and distasteful alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. We protect the repressive kingdom that spawned Osama bin Laden, and most of the 9/11 hijackers, in exchange for the Saudis keeping our fecklessly oil-addicted country lubricated.

Yes, it has stuck deep in the craw of many of us Americans that after 9/11, Washington squandered global goodwill and a huge percentage of our resources invading a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, while continuing to pander to this dysfunctional dynasty. After all, Saudi Arabia is believed to have paid Bin Laden’s murderous gang millions in protection money in the years before 9/11, and it lavishly funds extremist religious schools throughout the region that preach and teach anti-Western jihad.

“Al Qaeda found fertile fundraising ground in the kingdom,” noted the 9/11 commission report in one of its many careful understatements. The fact is, without Saudi Arabia, there would be no Al Qaeda today.

Our president loves to use the word “evil” in his speeches, yet throughout his life he and his family have had deep personal, political and financial ties with a country that represents everything the American Revolution stood against: tyranny, religious intolerance, corrupt royalty and popular ignorance. This is a country where women aren’t allowed to drive and those who show “too much skin” can be beaten in the street by officially sanctioned mobs of fanatics. A medieval land where newspapers routinely publish the most outlandish anti-Semitic rants. A place where executions are held in public, torture is the norm in prison and the most extreme and expansionist version of Islam is the state religion.

It’s hard to see how Saddam Hussein’s brutal and secular Iraq was worse than the brutal theocracy run by the House of Saud. Yet one nation we raze and the other we fete. Is it any wonder that much of the world sees the United States as the planet’s biggest hypocrite?

As insider books by former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke, journalist Bob Woodward and others have recounted, punishing Saudi Arabia in any way for its long ideological and financial support of terrorism was not even on the table in the days after 9/11. Instead, within hours of the planes hitting the towers, the powerful neoconservatives in the White House rushed to use the tragedy as an excuse for a long-dreamed invasion of Iraq.

Meanwhile, after two wars to make the Middle East safe for the Saudis, wars that cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of American lives, the price of oil is soaring — up 42% from just a year ago. Good thing we just passed a pork-laden energy bill that will do little to nothing to ease our crushing — and rising — dependence on imported oil. Federal officials project that by 2025, the U.S. will have to import 68% of its oil to meet demand, up from 58% today.

There are those who argue that the best rationale for invading Iraq was to ease our dependence on Saudi Arabia’s massive oil fields, which might allow for a more rational or moral relationship. Yet the dark irony is that with Iraq in chaos and its oil flow limited by insurgent attacks and a bungled reconstruction, Saudi Arabia is now more important to the United States than ever.

It’s scary, but these gaping contradictions don’t seem to trouble our president a whit.

As the drumbeat of devastating terrorist attacks in Baghdad, London and elsewhere continue, Bush prattles on — five times in a speech last Wednesday — about his pyrrhic victories in the “war on terror.” This is a sorry rhetorical device that disguises the fact that the forces of Islamic fanaticism in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the world are stronger than ever.

Are We Revisiting the 1970’s

Wait long enough the saying goes and everything comes back in fashion. Well I don’t know about you but the pain and suffering being experienced by many people in the UK today is one fashion I could do without.

The press and social commentators are happily comparing now with the financial meltdown that occurred during the 1970’s. So, is it the case that there are parallels between what happened then and the beginnings of what we are experiencing now and are there any lessons that we can learn?

One of the good things that the current Prime Minister did whilst Chancellor of the Exchequer was to make the Bank of England independent. His brief to them was to keep inflation at 2%. If they failed to do so they had to write to him to explain why and tell him what they intended to do to bring it under control.

The Bank of England PPC (public policy committee) have been very successful in keeping inflation within its boundaries, but now they have had to write that letter as inflation rises above three percent. Cast you mind back to the 1970’s when inflation ramped up to nearly 27%.

The reason why inflation is so feared is that costs escalate, and as costs escalate so prices have to rise to ensure profits are maintained. As prices rise, so wages have to rise to enable goods to be bought, this causes inflation to rise again and so the cycle continues. It is unsustainable for businesses facing wage demands from employees seeing the value of their earnings plummet and so this is why inflation is so feared by businesses.

Back in the 1970’s the unions had a lot of power and held the government of the day to ransom. In the 1980’s Margaret Thatcher challenged the power of the unions and many say broke them. She did this to drag the country out of the doldrums it was in and to try to turn it competitive again. In this decade, union and government relations are peaceful and their leadership on the whole responsible.

So whilst the PPC has control over inflation in the country it can do little if anything about global inflation, which is being fuelled by an ever rising price in the barrel of oil, which is now over $140 a barrel. This has been caused in part by speculators, the demand for oil from emerging economies of India and China, and problems with refining capacity across the globe. In the 1970’s we saw this type of situation when OPEC cut production.

In addition we also have a global food crises in which a combination of crop failure and alternative use of land to grow crops such as for bio-fuels, has caused prices of staple foodstuffs such as rice and wheat to be in shorter supply. Certain countries have already experienced food riots.

All this is happening at the same time as banks restrict the availability of credit, due to the problems incurred in the US where banks over lent to sub-prime borrowers, who subsequently defaulted on their home loans. These loans were packaged into billions of dollars of security and traded. When the true nature of the value of these loans was discovered, it caused billions of dollars of losses to global financial institutions. This led to dissolution of their capital bases and the restriction of credit by those institutions both between themselves and the public.

In the UK, the high street, has for a number of years been kept afloat by consumer spending on credit card and other types of credit. Whilst times are good, this credit can be re-paid. The economy needs this activity to continue otherwise growth will stagnate.

In the UK we have also had rising house prices for a decade which has given society a false feeling of wealth. People thought that if they had equity in their property, they could continue to spend as even if they couldn’t repay the installments they could always sell up and repay.

However there is now a major problem with this debt solution as the restriction in credit has meant that mortgages are not available for first time buyers who need a large loan to value. This has prevented many people getting on then housing ladder when coupled with the high prices of housing stock.

The lack of movement in the housing market is causing house prices to fall, maybe by up to 15% this year. With that envisaged, those same people who couldn’t get on the housing ladder, are now waiting to see how far house prices will fall. This is further exacerbating the problem and may well lead to falls in prices last seen in the early 1980s’

An additional problem is that with houses not being sold, builders are unable to shift stock, which has the knock on effect of causing those builders to downsize staff. As more people are made redundant, this has further negative implications and headlines.

With potential inflation and a slowing economy, we face every economist’s worst nightmare. Stagflation.

The economic news every day is gloomy. Nobody is quite sure where this is all going to end. The government argues that the economy whilst experiencing difficult times will not enter recession. Many others argue we are already effectively in one, no matter what the official definition might say. I say if it looks like and recession and feels like a recession…

Hold on tight, this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Steve Thatcher.
Help With Debt

Help With Debt is a national organization set up to help anyone needing debt advice. All debt advice is completely free of charge and, whatever your current situation, we will be able assist.

http://www.helpwithdebt.org

The Top 10 Most Wanted Toys For Christmas 2008

Christmas is coming faster than you think!

Each year the same thing happens to millions of parents, when they have to tell their little one that “Santa didn’t have time to deliver this year”. Instead of running around like a headless chicken trying to find that special toy during the Christmas rat race, why not shop early and take a look at some of the most in-demand toys for Christmas 2008.

Basically there are 10 toys that are going to be hard to find by the time Christmas comes, so shop early for the best selection of Christmas gifts in 2008.

Toy Number 1

The Nintendo Wii

Nintendo’s Wii video game system (pronounced “we”) is designed to attract people, regardless of their age or video game experience, to sit down and play together–whether they’re in the same room or on different sides of the globe. The system’s name reflects this simple idea. It’s easily pronounced in a variety of languages, and the distinctive spelling suggests two players side by side. The two Wii features Nintendo thinks will create new levels of gaming community are built-in Wi-Fi access, supported by a new online gaming service, and Wii’s intuitive, wireless, motion-sensitive game controller.

Toy Number 2

The Wii Fit

Wii Fit is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family. In Japan it has been encouraging family members as a whole to discuss the topic of fitness and take an active interest in understanding their own fitness in a fun and entertaining way, all in the comfort of their own home.
Wii Fit comes bundled with the Wii Balance Board, an accessory developed exclusively for the Wii console that will have a far-reaching impact for all who use it. It’s innovative, exciting and most of all fun and simple for all to use. It is a pressure sensitive, wireless balance board that goes on the floor – so someone can stand on it in front of the TV. It senses weight and shift in balance in any direction and therefore by standing on the Wii Balance Board during activities allows players to follow along to movements ensuring they have full control of the on-screen activities. This allows personal improvement goals to be set to effectively help you and your family to train and stay fit.

Toy Number 3

The Nintendo DS

Sleek black and white may have been the must-have look this summer, but now it’s all about pink as the hugely successful Nintendo DS Lite turns pink. Nintendo’s latest console includes all the existing features of the Nintendo DS, yet includes a variety of distinctive changes which truly sets it apart from other handheld consoles. Nintendo DS Lite retains the advanced touch screen technology, allowing players to control the software with a stylus or even their finger, as well as dual screens, voice recognition and Wi-Fi capabilities of the Nintendo DS but is now both smaller and lighter. Weighing nearly 60g less than the original, it is just two thirds of the original size. The redesign isn’t only cosmetic though, the Nintendo DS Lite features adjustable screen brightness with four settings, a repositioned microphone for ease of use and a larger and more comfortable stylus. With its new design and unique features, this console is perfect for everyone regardless of age, gender and gaming skills.

Toy Number 4

Sony Playstation 3

The PS3 features IBM’s “Cell” processor and a co-developed Nvidia graphics processor that makes the system able to perform two trillion calculations per second. That makes the PlayStation 3 40 times faster than the PS2. Along with the traditional AV and composite connections, it also boasts an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, which delivers uncompressed, unconverted digital picture and sound to compatible high-definition TV and projectors. The system is capable of 128-bit pixel precision and 1080p resolution for a full HD experience. This console also provides for a sound experience by supporting Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, as well as Linear PCM 7.1. A pre-installed 40 GB hard disc drive allows you to save games as well as download content from the internet. Unlike the other models of the PlayStation 3, the 40GB does not offer backwards compatibility.

Toy Number 5

Xbox 360

In comparison to the Darth Vader inspired design of the original Xbox, the Xbox 360 a thing of (near) wondrous beauty.

In addition to playing games and movies, the Xbox 360 can stream music and video from a wide variety of electronic devices, including iPods and the Sony PSP.

Toy Number 6

Sony PSP

All other portable consoles seem like chess to this. what is the point of making them. The PSP slim and lite has out classed the original and out classed all other portable devices. You can even get satnavs now for PSP! FANTASTIC!!!

Toy Number 7

Lego Mind Storm

Build-your-own Star Wars droids with the Droid Developer Kit. If you have ever wanted your own R2D2, now’s your chance. With a little time and patience you can create a droid that can be programmed to do what you want it to.
At the heart of the Droid Developer Kit is a small, intelligent brain called the Micro Scout. This minute computer can react to light, has a motor to bring movement and has seven pre-programmed routines as well as a programmable option via your PC. If R2D2 is not your ideal choice of robot then you can build one of the two other droids in the pack: L-3GO Training Droid or the Jedi Knight Droid.

Toy Number 8

Silverlit PicooZ Twin Blade 3 Channel Helicopter

Be warned. This is no ordinary radio controlled helicopter. This is the TandemZ. A full three channel, auto stable system with twin propellers and an advanced multi-role set-up that requires skill, brains and determination to master. In appearance, the TandemZ closely resembles the iconic Sea Knight Helicopter, a vehicle famed for its assault transportation of combat troops and its ability to land on aircraft carriers. The twin propeller system is a striking feature of this unique style of helicopter, and providing greater stability, greater control and added power when airborne. With the TandemZ being a full 3 channel radio controlled unit, users are able to control the flight altitude, forwards and backwards movement and the direction of flight. Easier said than done. The handheld control unit (which doubles as the charging base for the TandemZ) is more complex than the standard R/C chopper, incorporating controls for Yaw trimming (direction), Pitch trimming (hovering angle), Throttle (altitude), Direction (forward/backward movement) and an additional headlight switch for flying in the dark. With guidance from the instruction booklet and a little practice, users will quickly appreciate the added control that the TandemZ offers and once mastered, can attempt more challenging stunts than ever before.

Toy Number 9

Speed Racer & Snake Oiler

Chase the robbers in the air and catch them at sea. This police seaplane is perfect for difficult police missions. Open the side door, take your seat, spin propellers and get ready for takeoff! Total wing span 40 cm/ 15.7 inches. Includes one police pilot.

And Finally – Toy Number 10

Original Rubix Cube

One of the most famous toys in history, Rubik’s Cube is the incredibly addictive, multi-dimensional challenge that has fascinated fans since it arrived in 1980. Over “43 Quintillion” (that’s 43 with 18 zeros to you and me) moves are possible with this original 3×3 Cube, but there is only one solution! A must for puzzle lovers, the aim is to twist and turn the Rubik’s Cube to return it to its original state, with every side having one solid colour. For those who struggle to master this challenge – or simply lack the patience – the enclosed guide provides the simplest ever 7-step Rubik’s Cube solution and introduces a number of other fantastic games to play. So, whether you’re into simple siding or prefer a spot of classic cubing, hours of challenging fun lie ahead.

Darius Diamond specializes in writing video gaming, DVD & entertainment reviews, free tips guides and more.

To view a large selection of games, consoles and DVDs at great prices visit :

http://astore.amazon.co.uk/toys-and-games-superstore-21