Posted by ecoshift on November 7, 2007
The Carbon Calculus – New York Times
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: November 7, 2007
CHANGE is in the works that could go a long way toward making alternative energy less alternative, and more attractive to consumers and businesses.
It’s not a technological fix from some solar-cell laboratory in Silicon Valley or wind-turbine researcher in Colorado or the development of some superbug to turn wood waste into ethanol.
Rather, the change would come from Washington, if Congress does what it has talked about and puts a price tag on greenhouse-gas emissions. Suddenly the carbon content of fuel, or how much carbon dioxide is produced per unit of energy, would be as important as what the fuel costs. In fact, it might largely define what the fuel costs.
That could shake up the economics of energy, handicapping some fuels and favoring others. Those that produce hefty emissions, like coal and oil, would likely look much worse. And some — sunlight, wind, uranium, even corn stalks and trash as well as natural gas — would probably look much better. “Carbon-negative” fuels that take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they are made, might even become feasible.