Energy

Drilling in the Dark
August 1, 2014 08:54 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison

As production of shale gas soars, the industry's effects on nature and wildlife remain largely unexplored, according to a study by a group of conservation biologists published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment on August 1. The report emphasizes the need to determine the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure, and other accidents. "We know very little about how shale gas production is affecting plants and wildlife," says author Sara Souther, a conservation fellow in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "And in particular, there is a lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and the chemistry of fracturing fluids. Of the 24 U.S. states with active shale gas reservoirs, only five maintain public records of spills and accidents." The 800 percent increase in U.S. shale gas production between 2007 and 2012 is largely due to the use of hydraulic fracturing. Also called fracking, the process uses high-pressure injection of water, laden with sand and a variety of chemicals, to open cracks in the gas reservoir so natural gas can flow to the well.

General Motors, OnStar, EV's and the Smart Grid
July 29, 2014 01:09 PM - Editor, Justmeans

General Motors is bringing its OnStar-enabled Smart Grid solutions, to one of the largest electric vehicle collaborations to take place within the industry. Eight global automakers, including GM, and 15 electric utilities are working with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop and implement a standardized Smart Grid integration platform. "One thing that’s missing from most Smart Grid programs is a sense of collaboration," said Tim Nixon, chief technology officer, Global Connected Consumer, GM. "Companies will showcase a meaningful solution, but without widespread acceptance in the industry, its usability is limited. That's what makes this partnership unique."

Why Seals Might Love Having More Wind Farms
July 24, 2014 12:27 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

New research reveals that off-shore wind farms are particularly useful for seals as they appear to act like artificial reefs, drawing in large groups of fish. The study, carried out by researchers at St Andrews University in Scotland and published this month in the journal Current Biology, saw scientists track a group of seals in the North Sea using GPS devices. The purpose of the study was to look at whether man-made changes to the structural ocean environment are affecting marine predator behavior.

New Poll Shows Support for Carbon Tax, with Exceptions
July 24, 2014 08:01 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

The concept of a national carbon tax is a hard sell for most people these days. According to a recent poll, only 34 percent of U.S. respondents said they would support taxing fossil fuels like oil, gas or natural gas. But support for a carbon tax changes dramatically when it comes to scenarios in which the funds are either reimbursed to taxpayers or used to fund renewable energy projects.

Wind energy not growing in Europe as quickly as expected
July 23, 2014 11:30 AM - EurActiv

Europe's installed wind capacity will increase at a slower rate to the end of the decade than previously estimated, due to regulatory uncertainty and weak economic growth, an industry association said on Wednesday (23 July). European Union countries will have a combined 192.4 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind energy capacity by 2020, 64% higher than 2013 levels, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said in a report.

Only 10% of Wind Farm Fires Reported
July 18, 2014 08:09 AM - Editor, ENN

Wind farming is one of the leading industries in the renewable energy sector. The process is simple: wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. However, converting this kinetic energy into mechanical power has resulted in quite a few wind turbines catching fire, and according to researchers not all fires are being fully reported. Researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden carried out a global assessment of the world's wind farms, which in total contain an estimated 200,000 turbines. The team found that ten times more fires are happening than are being reported. Instead of an average of 11.7 fires each year, which is what is reported publicly, the researchers estimate that more than 117 separate fires are breaking out in turbines annually.

Where are America's Greenest Buildings?
July 16, 2014 04:59 PM - Elisa Wood, Clean Techies

Ok, no surprise to see Washington, D.C. or San Francisco ranked high in a list of the cities with America's greenest buildings. But Atlanta? Georgia's capital was the only southern state to make the top ten in the 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, released July 15 by Clean Edge. The cleantech research firm tracks the cleantech progress of the 50 largest metro areas and the 50 states.

Sand Power: A Better Battery
July 15, 2014 11:32 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Technology of the future is hard to see coming — sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or — more commonly — sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.

Light rail systems DO improve air pollution in cities
July 13, 2014 08:59 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Have you ever wondered if the cute light rail systems some large cities are installing actually get people out of their cars and have a positive environmental impact? For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing traffic corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution. In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South). Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the U has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

Frackable rock under groundwater aquifers raise water contamination fears
July 3, 2014 02:20 PM - Editor, The Ecologist

A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.

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