Energy

MIT study looks at benefits of acting on climate change
September 2, 2015 07:25 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Since the 1990s, scientists and policymakers have proposed limiting Earth’s average global surface temperature to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, thereby averting the most serious effects of global warming, such as severe droughts and coastal flooding. But until recently, they lacked a comprehensive estimate of the likely social and economic benefits — from lives saved to economies preserved — that would result from greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies designed to achieve the 2 C goal.

Now, a team of researchers from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has published a study in Climatic Change that provides scenarios that climate scientists can use to estimate such benefits. The study projects greenhouse gas emissions levels and changes in precipitation, ocean acidity, sea level rise and other climate impacts throughout the 21st century resulting from different global greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation scenarios. The scenarios include a business-as-usual future and one aimed at achieving significant GHG emission reductions limiting global warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C. Research groups convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have already begun using the MIT projections to evaluate the benefits of a 2 C emissions reduction scenario for agriculture, water, health, and other global concerns.

The Fingerprints of Sea Level Rise
August 26, 2015 02:49 PM - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

When you fill a sink, the water rises at the same rate to the same height in every corner. That's not the way it works with our rising seas.

According to the 23-year record of satellite data from NASA and its partners, the sea level is rising a few millimeters a year -- a fraction of an inch. If you live on the U.S. East Coast, though, your sea level is rising two or three times faster than average. If you live in Scandinavia, it's falling. Residents of China's Yellow River delta are swamped by sea level rise of more than nine inches (25 centimeters) a year.

These regional differences in sea level change will become even more apparent in the future, as ice sheets melt. For instance, when the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is totally gone, the average global sea level will rise four feet. But the East Coast of the United States will see an additional 14 to 15 inches above that average.

Offshore Wind Power Comes to the US
July 29, 2015 03:33 PM - S.E. Smith, Care2

The United States marked an energy milestone this week as construction began on a pilot offshore wind program that will be used to test the economic feasibility of offshore wind energy. According to the Bureau of Energy, some four million megawatts of power lie in wait off the coasts and the shores of regions like the Great Lakes, where wind blusters far stronger than it does on land — and even a few miles an hour makes a big difference with turbines. 

New Model Predicts Avian Fatalities at Wind Facilities
July 8, 2015 12:30 PM - USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has released a study that will enable ecologists, managers, policy makers, and industry to predict the bird fatalities at a wind facility prior to it being constructed. The study examined golden eagles as a case study because they are susceptible to collisions with wind turbines in part because of their soaring and hunting behavior. 

Greece's economic problems linked to its coal-based energy policies
July 4, 2015 07:53 AM - Takis Grigoriou / Greenpeace EnergyDesk, The Ecologist

As Greece prepares for its referendum, Takis Grigoriou takes Greece to task for its highly polluting lignite power sector, its ditching of a successful solar program in favour of more coal, the minimal insulation in its buildings that locks in high fuel bills, and Syriza's failure to tackle these issues. The good news? Greece's latest €1.4bn coal project looks like going unfunded.

Instead of phasing out lignite Greece opted to engage in a long battle to preserve the ailing industry while putting an abrupt end to solar energy development by blocking new applications.

Advertising coming to EV charging stations?
July 3, 2015 05:04 AM - BOB SHETH, Electric Forum

While many electric vehicle owners will find it irritating and annoying to be hit with adverts when charging their vehicles, is this a sign of the times? The fact that many larger companies are willing and prepared to pay for advertising space on “free” charging devices seems to indicate that the marketing industry believes the sector is here to stay. So, will advertising be a help or a hindrance to the industry going forward?

Until the electric vehicle industry cracks the “mass market” it is vital that the cost of services and products is kept as low as possible. There will come a point when costs will have to rise, services will be chargeable and the whole dynamic will be very different than what we see today but, in the meantime, is advertising on “free” charging stations really a hindrance?

Study examines overall carbon cost of fuel from Canadian oil sands
June 28, 2015 06:34 AM - UC Davis via the ECOreport, ECOreport

Gasoline and diesel fuel extracted and refined from Canadian oil sands will release about 20 percent more carbon into the atmosphere over the oil’s lifetime than fuel from conventional crude sources in the Unied States, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory; the University of California, Davis; and Stanford University.

The researchers used a life-cycle, or “well-to-wheels,” approach, gathering publicly available data on 27 large Canadian oil sands production facilities. The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, found the additional carbon impact of Canadian oil sands was largely related to the energy required for extraction and refining.

Fracking helping utilities reduce reliance on coal
June 23, 2015 07:15 AM - MARIE CUSICK, NPR

When you flip on a light switch, odds are, you're burning coal. But as the fracking boom continues to unleash huge quantities of natural gas, the nation's electric grid is changing. Power plants are increasingly turning to this low-cost, cleaner-burning fossil fuel.

Bill Pentak stands in the middle of a construction site, looking up at his company's latest project towering overhead — a new natural gas power plant.

"This plant was sited precisely where it is because of its access to the abundant, high-quality natural gas that's found a mile to two miles beneath our feet," he says.

Kansas City goes All-In for EV's
June 6, 2015 08:05 AM - BOB SHETH, Electric Forum, Electric Forum

Even though there is a long way to go before electric vehicles are accepted by all motorists, there is no doubt that the Kansas City Power and Light company is putting Kansas City on the map. The company announced very interesting and very ambitious plans to install 1001 electric vehicle charging stations across the area which it serves. This is certainly a very interesting development at a time when advances in electric vehicle battery technology are hitting the headlines but consumers are still concerned about range anxiety.

Will this move make a difference?

As one executive put it “if you install the charging stations they will come” which just about sums it up. The $20 million “clean charging network” will consist of 1001 charging stations which will be able to charge two cars at the time. Not only will this encourage more electric vehicles in the region but it will also greatly help with charging at busy times of the day. The simple fact is that until somebody actually took the plunge and decided to install electric vehicle charging stations we would always be at the beck and call of electric vehicle battery technology.

Renewable Energy Market Employs 7.7 Million People Worldwide
May 19, 2015 09:01 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Renewable energy investment and deployment is paying off, and in spades, when it comes to addressing a basic issue plaguing developed and developing countries alike: an inability to generate jobs that pay a good living wage. Around the world, renewable energy job creation continues to far outpace that for economies overall. Some 7.7 million people are now employed across the global renewable energy value chain, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). That’s up 18 percent from 6.5 million in 2014, the agency noted in its 2015 Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review.

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