Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where Have All The Subsidies Gone?

This is from the group called:

Where Have All The Subsidies Gone?

by mjohnston on March 24, 2009

I saw a legislator on CNN yesterday talking about how renewable energy gets a huge amount of money in government subsidies and how that ought to be taken away. That made me wonder just how much fossil and nuclear fuels receive in subsidies and how much Exxon raked in while we were all paying 4$ a gallon for gasoline during their 14 billion dollar profit quarter last year.

I found a page from the Energy Information Agency which explains subsidies and gives some handy charts and general figures in relation to type of energy production and how much each got in federal money. If you look at just the total amount received Refined Coal is the obvious champ taking in 2.156 billion dollars with Nuclear a close runner up at 1.267 billion.

In the above chart it looks as though renewables got the biggest share but you have to remember that there are many types of energy production included under the general heading of “renewables”. Things such as Ethanol, Biomass, Solar and Wind are all lumped together in the chart while Coal, Petroleum and Nuclear are given separate categories. If we lump all traditional (fossil/nuclear) fuel sources together and compare that figure to the conglomerate “renewables” it is apparent that traditional fuels definitely got the lions share of available government handouts.

Renewables: 4.875 Billion

Coal/Oil/Nuclear: 7.162 Billion

I did not factor end use subsidies into this on either side because they can apply to either type of fuel in the form of energy conservation efforts, etc.

Clearly traditional energy sources were the big winner in total dollars collected in the form of government subsidies. So the next time someone starts crying about alternative energy subsidies you will know what they aren’t saying…

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dr. Patrick G. Hatcher

Dr. Patrick G. Hatcher

Batten Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty Director of the College of Sciences Major Instrumentation Center, Executive Director of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium


Ph.D. in Chemistry, University of Maryland, 1980
M.S in Marine Chemistry, University Miami, 1974
B.S.in Chemistry, N C State University, 1970

Research Interests:

The Hatcher Group's research is in the area of environmental chemistry and geochemistry, emphasizing the origin and chemical transformations of plant-derived biopolymers in natural systems such as soils, peats, marine sediments, and oceanic waters. Other interests include the studies of the interaction of organic contaminants with natural organic matter in soils, sediments, and natural waters; The studies of the sequestration of nitrogen in the environment; Defining the origin, nature, and reactivity of black carbon (soot, charcoal, etc.) in the environment; and conversion of algae biomass to biodiesel.

Personal Website:


Office: Physical Sciences Building Room 3100-C
Laboratory: Physical Sciences Building Room 3103A & 3103E

Contact Information:

Dr. Patrick G. Hatcher
Old Dominion University
Physical Sciences Building
4402 Elkhorn Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23529

Office phone: 757-683-6537
Laboratory phone: 757-683-4807
Fax number: 757-683-5310

e-mail: phatcher@odu.edu

Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium

Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium

VCERC was created by the VA legislature in 2007 and first received funds from the Commonwealth in fiscal year (July 1st 2007-June 30th 2008). Since July 2007 VCERC has developed coastal energy technologies and the Virginian knowledge base to assist the Commonwealth in meeting the targets set out in the VA Energy Plan. VCERC’s ongoing efforts impact three key VA Energy Plan objectives: creation of renewable energy resources; improving the environment; and economic development.

Specifically, VCERC provides the research and development required for the commercialization and implementation of renewable energy by using algal biomass, wind and wave resources available in Virginia. Algal biomass energy removes pollutants from Chesapeake Bay, represents an innovative win-win wastewater remediation-biofuel production technology, and avoids utilizing food crops, trees, and other valuable natural resources to produce fuel. Project expansion in algal biofuels and wind power will lead to spin-off industry, creating jobs, investment and lowering fuel prices in Virginia.

The VA General Assembly set out key energy policy statements and objectives. In reference to VA energy policy, VCERC’s efforts will:

  • Facilitate development of energy sources that are less polluting of the Commonwealth’s air and water, and … do not contribute to greenhouse gases and global warming
  • Foster research and development of alternative energy sources that are competitive at market prices
  • Develop energy resources and facilities that do not impose a disproportionately adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or minority communities
  • Increase VA’s reliance on agricultural-based ethanol and biodiesel from crops grown in the Commonwealth
  • Ensure that energy generation and delivery systems are located in places that minimize impacts to pristine natural areas and other significant onshore natural resources, and that are as near as possible to compatible development

The Consortium is governed by a board which consists of fourteen members - with representatives from each of the eight partner universities and six government and industry partners. The Consortium is located at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

City looks at algae as possible fix for wastewater problems

from Desert Dispatch

City looks at algae as possible fix for wastewater problems

Comments 5 | Recommend 2

Biofuel and fertilizer produced as byproducts

BARSTOW • The solution to the city’s problems with the groundwater contamination around Soapmine Road could come in the form of green algae.

Mayor Joe Gomez is floating the idea of partnering with Southern California-based developer Brad Ducich and a group of Virginia-based researchers to create an operation in which ponds full of green algae would eat the nitrates from contaminated water while the algae is harvested to make biofuels and fertilizer. The treated water could then be pumped back into the ground to flush out the contaminated groundwater.

Ducich and Dr. Patrick Hatcher, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Old Dominion University and executive director of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, were in Barstow Friday to talk to stakeholders including the mayor, Councilman Tim Saenz, and residents of the Soapmine Road area.

The prospect could have the city and Soapmine Road residents on the same side of the table for once.

The city is under orders by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board to come up with a remediation plan for the Soapmine area groundwater. The water board determined that the high level of nitrates in the groundwater was caused by the city irrigating a field to the west of the Soapmine Road area with treated wastewater from the city’s wastewater plant for about two decades prior to 2004.

Soapmine Road resident Christina Byrne, who has been vocal on the groundwater issue, said residents are excited by the idea of using algae in the cleanup.

“The neighborhood is very optimistic,” she said. “I’m optimistic, I’m happy.”

Algae is not being used commercially for wastewater treatment currently, Hatcher said, but Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium and several other groups are currently conducting pilot projects pairing biodiesel production with wastewater remediation.

Al Darzins, group manager of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Lab, which has put many years of research into algae-based fuels, said algae has a higher energy content and yields a far higher amount of oil per acre than other plants used for biofuels. But with the fuel costing an estimated $10 a gallon or more to produce, it is not yet cost effective, he said.

Hatcher said that with the production costs being offset by selling byproducts like fertilizer, the actual cost per gallon of biofuel could be $1.50 to $2 a gallon.

The idea of using algae for wastewater remediation in Barstow is still very much in the initial phases and will need to go to the City Council before it moves forward, Gomez said.

First Step Plus LLC, a company owned by Ducich, already has a conditional use permit to develop 34 acres on Interstate 40 by the Daggett airport into a truck stop. Now, Ducich said, he is looking at putting an algae farm on the property and selling biofuel as well as regular fuel there.

Ducich said he hopes to begin construction in the next six months.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or asewell@desertdispatch.com