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Natural Gas Important to America's Energy Future

14 October 2011
The need for plentiful, affordable energy, as well as a political interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil has pushed natural gas to the forefront of U.S. energy policy. Unfortunately, some policymakers are trying to promote natural gas with subsidies for natural-gas-powered vehicles and infrastructure. Others…

Learning from Solyndra

07 October 2011
Solyndra's declaration last month that it intended to shut down manufacturing operations and declare bankruptcy has set off a political firestorm in Washington. And no wonder. The California-based solar panel manufacturer was the poster child of the Obama administration's much-ballyhooed green jobs campaign and was the recipient of a staggering…

What Drives Gas Prices?

15 Sep 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
For much of the summer, high US gasoline prices have been in the news. As of this writing, the national average gasoline price per gallon hovered around $3.50. The public is unhappy with these high gas prices, and politicians are scrambling to find ways to reduce the pain – or,…

Uncertainty Causes Oil Rigs to Flee

09 Sep 11  
A year ago, three oil rigs fled the Gulf of Mexico for better opportunities abroad. Now, it's 10. Make no mistake, the toll is rising on a business environment marked by the Obama administration's uncertainty, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD). The massive planning, capital, project management and luck required to produce…

Unfounded Hydro-fracking Fears Threaten Energy Success Story

09 Sep 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently forecast that natural gas production from five American shale reserves would double in five years and triple in 20. These U.S. sources of gas can transform America's energy outlook, provided lawmakers don't interfere with the process, says Lawrence J. McQuillan, director of…

Time to Privatise US Federal Assets

27 Jul 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Although the issue is seldom discussed, the federal government currently owns more than $1.6 trillion of liquid assets. Free market economists have a general presumption that private owners, relying on the profit-and-loss test, allocate resources to their most valuable uses. Especially given the current budget crisis, now is an excellent…

Reducing Oil Dependency More Difficult than Commonly Thought

14 Jul 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Since petroleum replaced whale oil as a main fuel source more than a century ago, chemical companies and refineries have found a startling range of uses for it, from asphalt to vanilla flavouring in ice cream to pills from the drugstore. It has oozed into everyday life, so reducing dependency…

Biofuels Responsible for Surge in Food Prices

14 Jul 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
The current price surge in crops reflects a shortfall in supply to meet demand, which forces consumers to bid against one another to secure their supplies. Soaring farm profits and land values support this explanation. What explains this imbalance, asks Timothy Searchinger, a research scholar at Princeton University. Crop production has…

Biofuel Subsidies Cause Agricultural Price Shocks

07 Jul 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
A new study, requested by G-20 leaders last November, fingers biofuel subsidies as among the leading causes of agricultural price shocks. According to the report, "between 2000 and 2009, global output of bioethanol quadrupled and production of biodiesel increased tenfold," a spike which "has been largely driven by government support…

Why bigger isn't necessarily better when it comes to CSP

23 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
It is widely cited that scaling up plant size is the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) sector's silver bullet for lowering costs. CSP Today, however, argues that the reasons for scaling up could yet be flawed. Their new report provides a concise breakdown of the current levelised cost of electricity (LCOE)…

Electricity crisis 'costs SA R120bn a year'

23 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
SA's electricity crisis costs the country R120 billion in a single year, or about 5% of GDP, according to Free Market Foundation executive director Leon Louw. He said on Thursday that the cumulative loss indefinitely into the future was about 1% of economic growth, with commensurate losses in employment and…

Independent operator will change electricity arena

23 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
The establishment of an independent system and market operator will revolutionise the local electricity market. But the legislation that makes the ISMO possible and the amount of legislation and regulation that needs to be changed to accommodate the new legislation means that it could take years before consumers see any…

Policies up for grabs in budget votes

15 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
A flurry of budget votes in Parliament in the past week brought into stark focus clashing policy directions held by members of the same governing party with the fiscal prudency lobby fighting to remain in the ascendancy while the forces of protectionism and greater state intervention publicly flexed their muscles. Three…

A Better Way to Frack?

09 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
The innovation that has unlocked vast new reserves of natural gas is a process known as hydrofracking – or fracking for short – in which horizontal drilling is combined with blasts of pressurised water and sand. But for critics, the natural gas unlocked by fracking may come at too great…

Are Renewable Energy Sources Really

09 Jun 11  
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), renewable energy sources generate about 13.8 per cent of our energy and, if encouraged to grow, could eventually displace most fossil fuel use. It turns out that the great majority of this energy, 10.2 per cent out of the 13.8 per…

What is the electricity transmission grid and why is it important to you?

08 Jun 11   Eustace Davie
Most people do not know that the electricity transmission grid plays a significant role in their lives. The grid consists of high voltage wires strung between huge pylons and stretching across thousands of kilometres from generating plants to electricity users. In SA, this grid is currently owned and maintained by…

Environmentalists reverse opinion on natural gas fracking

03 Jun 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Until a decade ago, experts believed that it would be technically infeasible to exploit the potential resource base of natural gas locked in 48 shale basins in 32 countries around the world. Then horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, was perfected. The shale gas rush was…

Solar power prospects

27 May 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
The production of electricity from renewable energy technologies is growing much faster than the electric power supply as a whole. Solar power is among the fastest growing segments of the renewable energy market, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Globally, grid-connected solar…

Renewable energy mandate will wreak havoc on California's economy

20 May 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Last month, California's new governor Jerry Brown signed his first major piece of legislation: a bill that requires the state's utilities to get 33 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Before signing the bill, Brown claimed that the measure "is about California leading the country." But…

Dutch Losing Faith in Wind Power?

29 Apr 11   FMF Policy Bulletin
Green is the new black, in both the United States as well as Europe. Virtually everyone on the left has thrown on the green pants, green shirts and green cloak of what, they assure us, is the future of life on Earth as we know it, says Kenneth P. Green,…