Energy

$3 Billion Solar Power Deal Signed By California Utility
April 4, 2008 09:42 AM - Via: Mercury News , MetaEfficient

Pacific Gas & Electric today will announce a deal to buy as much as 900 megawatts of electricity. It will be enough to power 540,000 California homes each year, and involve the construction of five solar power plants during the next decade. The company to build the solar-thermal power plants in the Mojave Desert is BrightSource Energy. “From what I know, this is the biggest commitment ever in the history of solar,” said John Woolard, BrightSource Energy’s chief executive officer and president. “It’s a fairly significant undertaking on both sides.”

Carbon Dioxide Emission Reduction Assumptions Overly Optimistic, Study Says
April 4, 2008 09:29 AM - National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

"In the end, there is no question whether technological innovation is necessary--it is," write the authors in the Nature commentary. "The question is, to what degree should policy focus explicitly on motivating such innovation" The IPCC plays a risky game in assuming that spontaneous advances in technological innovation will carry most of the burden of achieving future emissions reductions, rather than focusing on those conditions that are necessary and sufficient for those innovations to occur."

German minister stops biofuel blending plans
April 4, 2008 06:27 AM - Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday he had stopped government plans to raise compulsory bioethanol blending levels in fossil gasoline. Politicians and industry groups had criticized the plans to raise the level to 10 percent for some gasoline grades from five percent, fearing the increase would damage older cars.

Americans prefer energy fix to cancer cure: poll
April 3, 2008 08:41 AM - Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A nationwide survey of nearly 700 people suggests that Americans would prefer more money be invested in technology to solve the nation's energy ailments than to cure cancer or other diseases. Some 37 percent of respondents to the poll, conducted by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority in Virginia, said they would rank spending to raise energy efficiency and develop alternative fuel technology a top priority for future investment. That compares with 30 percent who ranked more cash for medical breakthroughs as most important.

Texas sees higher costs to reap wind power
April 3, 2008 07:28 AM - Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The price tag to build new power lines to bring plentiful wind power to Texas' biggest cities could range from $3 billion to $9 billion, the state's electric grid operator said in a report filed with regulators on Wednesday. Following legislation passed in 2005, the Texas Public Utility Commission began working to speed up construction of high-voltage transmission lines to tap into abundant supplies of renewable power.

Algae Could One Day Be Major Hydrogen Fuel Source
April 2, 2008 09:06 AM - DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are answering that call by working to chemically manipulate algae for production of the next generation of renewable fuels – hydrogen gas. “We believe there is a fundamental advantage in looking at the production of hydrogen by photosynthesis as a renewable fuel,” senior chemist David Tiede said. “Right now, ethanol is being produced from corn, but generating ethanol from corn is a thermodynamically much more inefficient process.”

Malaysia scraps coal plant plans on environment worries
April 2, 2008 06:03 AM - Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia has scrapped plans to build a 1.3 billion ringgit ($408 million) coal-fired power plant in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island due to worries it would pollute the environment, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. The 300MW-plant was to have been built near a tropical forest by a subsidiary of state-controlled utility Tenaga Nasional and a Sabah state government agency, The Star reported on its Web site.

Southern utilities apply for new nuclear licenses
March 31, 2008 07:36 PM - Reuters

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Two utility groups, including units of Southern Co and SCANA Corp, said they filed applications on Monday for separate licenses to build and operate new nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina to meet growing demand for electricity. Southern Nuclear Operating Co said it filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a combined construction and operating license (COL) to build two new reactors at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant near Waynesboro, Georgia, 105 miles southwest of Columbia, South Carolina.

Invention: Diamond-cooled nuclear reactor
March 31, 2008 09:37 AM - New Scientist

Nuclear plants can fail when the heat from the reactor is not removed quickly enough from the core. This can happen in pressurised water nuclear reactors if the water in the cooling system boils, because steam is a much poorer conductor of heat than liquid water. These reactors have a primary water cooling system that directly takes heat away from the reactor. It is sealed under huge pressure to prevent it boiling and conducts heat to a secondary water cooling system that is not sealed.

Shell and Virent Partner to Produce 'Biogasoline'

Royal Dutch Shell and Virent Energy Systems inc. formed a five-year partnership to produce a gasoline alternative from plant sugars that won't impact food prices or need modified gasoline engines. The deal follows a larger trend of oil companies investing in biofuel research. For instance, BP is working with several universities, such as University of California at Berkley and Arizona State University, to transform low-carbon feedstocks into biofuels.

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