Energy Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Energy Media Articles in Major Media
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More than 40 nations are proposing to boost their 'bioeconomy' - the part of the economy based in biology and the biosciences. Around US$2 trillion of products in agriculture and forestry, food, bioenergy, biotechnology and green chemistry were exported worldwide in 2014, amounting to 13% of world trade, up from 10% in 2007. These sectors are central to at least half of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from food security to ensuring energy access and health. But conflicting national priorities make it hard to align bioeconomy policies to meet the SDGs on a global scale. Ecological sustainability is a prime concern in rich and industrializing countries; inclusive rural development and equitable sharing of resources is central in developing countries. Decisions made in one place may be felt elsewhere. A global bioeconomy must rebuild natural capital and improve the quality of life for a growing world population. It should balance managing common goods, such as air, water and soil, with the economic expectations of people. Three types of innovation will be needed: technological (such as systems to reduce emissions), organizational (changes in institutional behaviour) and social (such as job creation).
Note: For an excellent, more recent discussion on the global bioeconomy, see this informative article.
The deep waters off the coast of California could become home to the country’s largest offshore wind energy project. The 765-megawatt project, proposed by ... Trident Winds, would sit about 25 miles off California’s central coast. If built, it will be larger than the 630-megawatt London Array off the coast of Kent, – the world’s largest working offshore wind farm. The [US currently] has no offshore wind farms, though a number of projects are in the research phase. Trident is proposing an unprecedented project in a state that has frowned on coastal energy development ever since a 1969 blowout at an offshore oil drilling platform near Santa Barbara, which released more than 3m gallons of crude oil into the waters. California has some of the world’s toughest coastal development regulations. To win government approval, Trident will have to prepare a lengthy report to investigate the potential environmental impact of its project.
Note: Demand for energy from wind and solar sources is soaring despite the bargain price of fossil-fuels.
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new flow battery that stores energy in organic molecules dissolved in neutral pH water. This new chemistry allows for a non-toxic, non-corrosive battery with an exceptionally long lifetime and offers the potential to significantly decrease the costs of production. Flow batteries store energy in liquid solutions in external tanks - the bigger the tanks, the more energy they store. Flow batteries are a promising storage solution for renewable, intermittent energy like wind and solar but today’s flow batteries often suffer degraded energy storage capacity after many charge-discharge cycles. The Harvard team was able to engineer a battery that loses only one percent of its capacity per 1000 cycles. “Lithium ion batteries don’t even survive 1000 complete charge/discharge cycles,” said [researcher Michael] Aziz. “Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in neutral water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement,” said [researcher Roy] Gordon. “If it spilled on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is noncorrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.” The Department of Energy (DOE) has set a goal of building a battery that can store energy for less than $100 per kilowatt-hour. “If you can get anywhere near this cost target then you change the world,” said Aziz.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy innovation news articles from reliable major media sources.
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge has found that a division of Shell Oil engaged in fraud and market manipulation during California’s energy crisis, with company traders joking on tape about burning the evidence if they were ever caught. The tentative decision ... holds Shell and Spanish energy company Iberdrola liable for $1.1 billion in ill-gotten profits, money that could be refunded to Californians if the decision stands. It could end the last legal case over the expensive, long-term power purchase contracts that California signed under duress during the 2000-01 crisis. The state has already settled with all other companies accused of unjustly profiting from the long-term contracts, settlements worth a total of $7.7 billion. Officials are still pushing complaints against 13 companies involved in short-term contracts during the crisis, but have settled with others for a total of roughly $4 billion. The initial decision ... details Shell traders using schemes similar to those employed by Enron to drive up day-to-day power prices, which then increased the price California had to pay on its long-term contracts. As a result, Californians ended up overpaying Shell by $779 million and Iberdrola by $371 million. One scheme the judge cited, called “Ricochet” by Enron and more commonly known as “megawatt laundering,” involved buying electricity within California to ship to a destination outside of the state while simultaneously selling the same power back into the state’s market at a higher price.
Note: Read the text of tape recordings of Enron traders laughing at the misery they caused in California. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Engineers have developed a turbine which has the potential to power a small town all the while being no bigger than your office desk. Designed by GE Global Research, the turbine could power 10,000 homes and according to researchers, could help to solve some of the world's growing energy challenges. But rather than steam, which is typically used to set turbines in motion, the new turbine uses carbon dioxide. 'This compact machine will allow us to do amazing things,' said Doug Hofer, lead engineer on the project. According to MIT Tech Review, the turbine is driven by 'supercritical carbon dioxide', which is kept under high pressure at temperatures of 700˚C. Under these conditions, the carbon dioxide enters a physical state between a gas and a liquid, enabling the turbine to harness its energy for super-efficient power generation - with the turbines transferring 50 per cent of the heat into electricity. It could help energy firms take waste gas and repurpose it for efficient and cleaner energy production. Waste heat produced from other power generation methods, such as solar or nuclear, could be used to melt salts, with the molten salts used to the carbon dioxide gas to a super-critical liquid - which may be much quicker than heating water for steam. Currently, the design of the turbine would enable up to 10,000 kilowatts of energy to be produced, but the turbines could be scaled up to generate 500 megawatts, enough to power a city.
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Power plant turbines might be getting smaller. The tech is still in its early stages but GE Global Research is developing a turbine that - though only the size of the average desk - could someday power entire towns. The principle behind it could have a big effect on the future of turbine power. Instead of being pushed by steam, like most power plant turbines, the "minirotor" as [steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research Doug] Hofer calls it is pushed by CO2. Not gaseous CO2, or liquid CO2, but CO2 so hot and pressurized that it forms what is called a supercritical fluid, a state of heat and pressure so extreme that the distinctions between liquid and gas basically cease to exist. The tiny turbine's design is intended to harness the power of this specific (and weird) state of matter which could make the turbines as much as 50 percent efficient at turning heat to electricity, a significant improvement over ~45 percent efficient steam turbines. On top of that, these turbines should be relatively easy to spin up or down as demand shifts allowing power plants to more accurately tweak supply on the fly. The prototype design is a 10 MW turbine, though GE hopes to be able to scale the tech to enough to power a city, somewhere in the 500 megawatt range. The first physical tests are scheduled for later this year.
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A US government agency says it has attained the “holy grail” of energy – the next-generation system of battery storage. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Arpa-E) – a branch of the Department of Energy – says it achieved its breakthrough technology in seven years. Ellen Williams, Arpa-E’s director, said: “We can create a totally new approach to battery technology, make it work, make it commercially viable, and get it out there.” If that’s the case, Arpa-E has come out ahead of Gates and Musk in the multi-billion-dollar race to build the next generation battery for power companies and home storage. The battery storage systems developed with Arpa-E’s support are on the verge of transforming America’s electrical grid ... within the next five to 10 years, Williams said. She said projects funded by Arpa-E had the potential to transform utility-scale storage, and expand the use of micro-grids by the military and for disaster relief. Projects were also developing faster and more efficient super conductors. The companies incubated at Arpa-E have developed new designs for batteries, and new chemistries, which are rapidly bringing down the costs of energy storage, she said.
Note: Arpa-E is involved with a large number of breakthrough energy projects. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Do you think a 13-year-old could change the world? Max Loughan could be the one to do it. When we interviewed him, Max was wearing his lab coat ... in his parent's old boiler room, which has been converted into a lab. He ponders the future often. "The future that I imagine is the future, frankly we all imagine." He wants to make the world a better place, and to do that, Max believes you need one single thing: "If you got energy, you have power, you have everything." So to solve this problem, a few months ago, Max took the matter into his own hands. He created an electromagnetic harvester out of a coffee can, some wire, two coils, and a spoon. "This cost me 14 bucks," Max said. The harvester conducts radio waves, thermal, and static energy, and turns it into electricity. "This wire takes energy from the air." And the inside the coffee can, "We turn it from AC to DC." We took the device outside, and wrapped Max's twin brother, Jack, in a string of L.E.D. lights. Max connects the lights to the harvester, and sure enough, they turned on. His device clearly works. A $14.00 invention was able to do that. So imagine this same harvester on a scale 20 times larger. "As cheesy as this sounds, from day one, on this planet that I knew I was put here for a reason," said Max. "And that reason is to invent, to bring the future."
Note: Don't miss this video of the most amazing 13-year-old who just may have solved the energy problems of our world!!! For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Is Steorn’s Orbo technology a non-polluting, supercheap source of power? Steorn emerged at the turn of the century and to date it claims to have attracted €23 million in private investment. Put at its simplest, the “Orbo” technology is a non-polluting, almost cost-free source of power. It is not a battery but offers the same function. At the Steorn premises a table displays rows of heavy crimson skull-shaped boxes, known as power cubes. Each, according to the claims, holds numerous small “batteries” which recharge themselves allowing for a permanent supply of energy. Cube units retail at €1,200 and the first orders are due to arrive with buyers this month. However, the cube is not seen by the company as a mass-market product. They are simply a showcase for the technology. The real focus is on the mobile phone that never needs to be recharged. Explaining his own technology, [company founder Sean] McCarthy dismisses previous suggestions they are claiming to have developed a perpetual motion machine (a hypothetical device that works indefinitely without an apparent energy source) as there [are] no moving parts. “Technically it isn’t a battery at all; you’d call it a battery substitute technology. It’s something that replaces the function of the battery. It is really a generator rather than a storage device,” he says.
Note: Steorn placed a full-page ad in The Economist in 2006 calling for scientists to test its new technology. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Hydrogen has the potential to fuel incredibly environmentally clean cars. But making that fuel hasn't been so efficient or economical. Pure hydrogen gas does not occur naturally on Earth, so scientists must devise ways to separate hydrogen from naturally occurring compounds, like H2O. Until now, cars that run on water have been out of reach. But a team of scientists have come up with a different mechanism to produce hydrogen fuel from water. These researchers have created a biomaterial that catalyzes the splitting of the water elements, which they describe in a paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry. The biomaterial, called P22-Hyd, is made up of a modified enzyme, hydrogenase, protected within the protein shell of a bacterial virus. The mechanism goes both ways. P22-Hyd breaks the chemical bonds in H2O to produce hydrogen and oxygen, but it can also combine the two gases to generate power. That reversal is how hydrogen fuel cell cars work. "The reaction runs both ways - it can be used either as a hydrogen production catalyst or as a fuel cell catalyst," study lead author Trevor Douglas, of Indiana University Bloomington said. "You don't need to mine it; you can create it at room temperature on a massive scale using fermentation technology. It's a very green process to make a very high-end sustainable material."
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842 megawatts is ... more than enough to power all the homes in the Denver metro area. It’s also enough to keep about 15 percent of Google’s data centers humming. On Thursday, Google announced that it had finalized contracts to buy 842 megawatts of wind and solar energy from plants in the US, Chile, and Sweden, nearly doubling the company's total clean energy capacity. The contracts ... help to give the energy companies financial stability to be able to build additional clean energy facilities. Renewable energy now provides about 37 percent of the total energy consumed by Google’s data centers worldwide. This purchase is the largest of its kind ever made by a non-utility company, but Google isn’t the only tech giant shifting over to clean energy. One of Facebook’s five data centers is powered entirely by a nearby wind farm, and the company says it plans to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2018. Amazon’s cloud computing division announced last year that its operations would eventually be powered completely by clean energy. And in 2014, Apple announced that all of its offices, stores, and data centers in the US were being powered ... renewable sources. Google was one of 13 large companies that collectively invested more than $140 billion in new clean energy projects in July as part of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. Apple and Microsoft were also part of the pledge; both companies said their operations would eventually be 100 percent powered by renewable energy.
A revolution of sorts is brewing in the clean energy field, with the emergence of fusion and "low energy nuclear reaction" (LENR) energy. These processes, unlike fission reactions used in conventional nuclear reactors, need not emit dangerous radiation, nor do they produce radioactive byproducts. The fuel is plentiful and free. One pioneer in LENR is Andrea Rossi, an Italian-American inventor-entrepreneur ... who recently formed a venture to commercially market systems based on an LENR process he has developed. Many are understandably skeptical of Rossi's claims; yet he reports that he has a full-scale working prototype, delivering 1 MWatt continuous net output power, which is already seven months into a one-year acceptance test at a commercial client's site. Several observers have seen the system in operation, and have reported that it is working as claimed. On 25 August 2015, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Rossi a patent for his process. Given the potential importance of these developments, scientifically, economically and environmentally, we have been following progress in this area in earlier Huffington Post articles (HP#1) and (HP#2). "We foresee applications for central heating of commercial buildings, heat production for industrial processes and electric power generation. My dream is for domestic heat and power generation," [said Rossi]. "We have already obtained safety certification for our industrial plants. Domestic systems are still on course in the certification process."
Note: You can explore this patent on the US Patent office website on this webpage. And read an intriguing article from a local newspaper about the new energy invention of Randall Mills, who has raised over $100 million to fund development of his work. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy technology news articles from reliable major media sources.
Sweden said it’s targeting to become one of the first nations in the world to be free of fossil fuels and that it will invest 4.5 billion kronor ($546 million) in climate-protection measures next year as a step toward that goal. The government will increase support for solar, wind, energy storage, smart grids and clean transport. Investment in photovoltaics will rise nearly eightfold. Sweden got about two-thirds of its electricity generation capacity from clean and low-carbon sources last year. It plans to significantly reduce its emissions by 2020. It didn’t set a target date for the nation becoming fossil free, though Stockholm may reach that goal by 2050. Sweden will also spend 50 million kronor annually on electricity storage research, 10 million kronor on smart grids and 1 billion kronor to renovate residential buildings and make them more energy efficient. The Scandinavian country will also increase its funding of climate-related projects in developing countries, raising its budget to 500 million kronor. The government hopes it will send an “important signal” before the United Nations conference in Paris in December.
Some 1.3 billion people worldwide live without electricity, affecting health, lowering incomes, and making education difficult. An increasing number of advocates ... are promoting the use of solar power to [increase] access to clean energy across the globe. Solar is a low-cost energy source in the long run, but it has high initial costs. Some solar manufacturers and energy distributors are helping people skirt these up-front costs through creative financing models. In programs such as these, customers can finance their own solar systems for less than what they would otherwise be spending on kerosene ($40-$80 per year on average). Barefoot College developed a training program for grandmothers, who ... learn how to install, maintain, and repair the solar systems and, upon graduation, receive a monthly salary for their work. Solar Sister trains rural African women in sales and entrepreneurship, empowering them to become active participants in the economy while acknowledging that “women invest 90 percent of their income into their family’s well being.” Lighting a Billion Lives trains local entrepreneurs to manage their own solar charging station, from which they rent out solar lamps for a modest price to the local population. The organization also offers microloans and subsidies to facilitate such entrepreneurship. Grameen Shakti (Bangladesh), SolarAid (Africa), and Kamworks (Cambodia) operate with similar values. In this way, solar companies are ... empowering families [and] communities.
Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University are making a bold claim: an entirely new state of matter. The team, led by Kosmas Prassides, says they've created what's called a Jahn-Teller metal by inserting rubidium, a strange alkali metal element, into buckyballs, a pure carbon structure which has a spherical shape from a series of interlocking polygons (think of the Epcot Center, but in microscopic size.) The researchers created a complex crystalline structure that seemed to conduct, insulate, and magnetize while acting as a metal. It goes far beyond what ordinary matter can do. So what's the big deal? Applying pressure to the compound when it's in the conductor/insulator phase turns it into the weird state of matter, and also makes it superconductive at (relatively) high temperatures. Most superconductors that we know of need to be barely above absolute zero. Understanding and then mastering high-temperature superconductors, which this weird state of matter could help researchers to do, could make all sorts of new things possible in computing, transportation, infrastructure ... sort of everything. Discoveries of superinsulators in 2008 sort of hinted that this state of matter was possible, but confirmation would be a game changer for materials science.
A Dutch bike path designed to generate solar power has produced more power than expected in its first six months. SolaRoad has generated more than 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity since the 70-metre-long strip officially opened in November 2014, in Krommenie, a village northwest of Amsterdam, the project reported late last week. It said that was enough to power a single-person household for a year. "We did not expect a yield as high as this so quickly," said Sten de Wit, spokesman for the public-private partnership project, in a statement that deemed the first half-year of a three-year pilot a success. Based on what it has produced so far, the bike path is expected to generate more than 70 kilowatt hours per square metre per year, close to the upper limit predicted based on lab tests. SolaRoad is made of concrete paving slabs embedded with ordinary solar panels. The solar panels are protected by a centimetre-thick layer of transparent, skid-resistant tempered safety glass that can support bicycles and vehicles. So far, more than 150,000 cyclists have zipped over the solar-generating part of the bike path. SolaRoad says they "hardly notice it is a special path."The SolaRoad project hopes to test the technology on smaller municipal roads next. Meanwhile, a similar project called Solar Roadways is underway in the U.S.
Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings about ... rooftop solar panels. According to a presentation prepared for the group, “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges.” Three years later, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies. Recently, the battle has shifted to public utility commissions, where industry backers have mounted a ... successful push for fee hikes that could put solar panels out of reach for many potential customers. In a closely watched case last month, an Arizona utility voted to impose a monthly surcharge of about $50 for “net metering,” a common practice that allows solar customers to earn credit for the surplus electricity they provide to the electric grid. Net metering makes home solar affordable by sharply lowering electric bills to offset the $10,000 to $30,000 cost of rooftop panels. A Wisconsin utilities commission approved a similar surcharge for solar users last year, and a New Mexico regulator also is considering raising fees. In some states, industry officials [are now] arguing that solar panels hurt the poor. “It’s really about utilities’ fear that solar customers are taking away demand,” said Angela Navarro, an energy expert with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Note: In Arizona, traditional utility companies are brazenly manipulating the law to attack solar power installation companies. Meanwhile, the Rockefellers have stopped investing in fossil fuels. Does this mean that the renewable energy revolution is now in full swing?
Arizona’s largest utility company has been at odds with the solar panel industry for years. Now, APS [Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility] is asking the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on solar companies. But they didn’t ask them directly. Six Arizona Congressmen sent letters to federal regulators asking them to investigate solar leasing companies. Reporter Evan Wyloge ... has the original letter and proves it’s actually APS spearheading the effort. Arizona Public Service [is] one of the largest campaign donors for the group of lawmakers. The APS-authored, congressmen-signed letter comes as the latest in an ongoing effort to stymie third-party solar panel companies, whose business has grown tenfold over the past half-decade, presenting a challenge to the long-term business model of traditional utilities like APS. The high-profile fight between the traditional utility and newer rooftop solar panel companies is not unique to Arizona. Similar struggles have emerged in other states. On Nov. 19, Democratic Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema asked [regulators] in a joint letter to ... look into solar panel leasing practices. Then, on Dec. 12, Republican Reps. Trent Franks, Paul Gosar and Matt Salmon sent a similar letter to the FTC. After both letters were sent, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted late in 2014 to open a docket on consumer complaints about solar companies. Initial hearings are expected to begin this spring.
Longmont [Colorado] has become a cautionary tale of what can happen when cities decide to confront the oil and gas industry. In an aggressive response to a wave of citizen-led drilling bans, state officials, energy companies and industry groups are taking Longmont and other municipalities to court, forcing local governments into ... expensive, long-shot efforts to defend the measures. Two years ago, [Longmont] residents voted to ban hydraulic fracturing from their grassy open spaces and a snow-fed reservoir. In Colorado, the energy industry, which argues that cities lack the authority to outlaw fracking, has already won rulings overturning three fracking prohibitions. Longmont, which sits near the juncture of rolling plains and jagged mountains, has spent about $136,000 fighting — unsuccessfully so far — to defend a 2012 measure that outlawed fracking. In July, a district court judge tossed out the ban, and the city is appealing. A judge also overturned a fracking ban last year in Fort Collins, Colo., and denied pleas from the city to keep the ban in place while local officials went to court to defend a five-year fracking moratorium. In Broadview Heights, Ohio, energy companies are suing the town — and residents are suing the energy companies in return — over a bill of rights that outlawed fracking and the disposal of its byproducts. While the Longmont City Council voted unanimously in August to defend the fracking ban, other towns have decided it is just too costly a fight.
For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning. In some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant. Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources. According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents. “It is really quite notable, when compared to where we were just five years ago, to see the decline in the cost of these technologies,” said Jonathan Mir, a managing director at Lazard, which has been comparing the economics of power generation technologies since 2008.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of energy news articles from reliable major media sources. To learn about new energy technologies, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our New Energy Information Center.
Important Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.