• Roadmap for Fusion

    ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world's largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor at the Cadarache facility in the south of France. The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) has published a roadmap which outlines how to supply fusion electricity to the grid by 2050 with ITER as one of its units. The roadmap to the realization of fusion energy breaks the quest for fusion energy down into eight missions. For each mission, it reviews the current status of research, identifies open issues, proposes a research and development program and estimates the required resources. It points out the needs to intensify industrial involvement and to seek all opportunities for collaboration outside Europe. >> Read the Full Article
  • Renewable Energy Zones on Public Lands in Arizona

    Preserved natural lands are a national treasure that protect wildlife and allow us to see and enjoy the natural landscape of our beautiful country as it has existed for millenniums, without human "improvements". But there are lots of areas in national parks, monuments, and wildlife areas that are not pristine. These areas are targeted for low-impact energy development by the Obama administration. This week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that Interior has designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development. This initiative, known as the Restoration Design Energy Project, caps a three-year, statewide environmental analysis of disturbed land and other areas with few known resource conflicts that could accommodate commercial renewable energy projects. The action establishes the Agua Caliente Solar Energy Zone, the third solar zone on public lands in Arizona and the 18th nationwide. The Solar Energy Zones are part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six states in the West with high solar potential, few resource conflicts and access to existing or planned transmission. With the Agua Caliente zone, Interior is delivering on the promise made as part of the Western Solar Plan to identify and establish additional solar energy zones. >> Read the Full Article
  • Update: California Carbon Caps and Market Trading

    Carbon allowances are now available for sale in California. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) in the power, oil, and industrial sectors will now have to turn in permits for every ton they emit this year and the years to come. Things are moving fast in California right now, so here’s a primer on what’s happening and what to expect for the coming months. Are people really buying carbon permits? Yes. Currently California Carbon Allowances (CCAs) are trading for about $15 a ton on the secondary market. Point Carbon reported a big spike in volume traded since January 1st, as a lot of new companies have entered the markets and are cutting their teeth on West Coast-style carbon trading. >> Read the Full Article
  • El Salvador Prioritizes Geothermal Energy Development

    During the last two decades, the global installed capacity for geothermal electricity has nearly doubled. Despite this recent expansion, geothermal energy is not getting the same level of attention as other renewable energy resources, and it remains heavily underutilized. If the world were able to tap just a small portion of the Earth's heat, we could provide everyone with clean and safe energy for centuries. Current estimates of our global potential for geothermal energy range from 35 gigawatts (GW) to 2,000 GW. However, simple technological improvements could greatly increase these projections. >> Read the Full Article
  • iWind Power?

    Apple may be the world’s valuable company and brand, but to sustainability and corporate social responsibility advocates, the company is often a pariah. But a patent application the company filed last year, first revealed on the Apple Insider blog, shows that some of that cash on which Apple is sitting could be invested in a new clean energy technology. Filed last year, the application describes a set of rotating blades that converts rotational energy from a wind turbine into heat that is then stored in a vessel containing "low heat capacity fluid." The system would then selectively transfer the heat as needed from that low heat capacity fluid to a "working fluid" and hence would generate electricity. Heat, not rotational energy, would would be the result of the turbine's blades rotating; and even more exciting, energy could be used when needed, as when there is little or no wind. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Biofuel Credits

    By now the New Year's fiscal cliff deal has received quite a bit of press. We have already discussed the significance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit here earlier. Less well known is the inclusion of measures included in the deal to revive tax credits for advanced biofuels. It is well worth a moment to examine these to understand what impact these actions might have on both our future energy and food supply. >> Read the Full Article
  • Oil is Still World's Largest Energy Source, But Coal and Natural Gas are Gaining

    Oil remains the world's leading energy source - for now. In recent years, coal and natural gas have proven themselves increasingly important resources across the globe. Global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.72 billion tons of oil equivalent, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent, to 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent. Both are primary fuels for the world’s electricity market, and because they are often used as substitutes for one other, their trends need to be examined together. The bulk of coal use is for power generation, with smaller amounts being used in steelmaking. Spurred mainly by rising demand in China and India, coal's share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. Although the United States remains one of the world's largest coal users, just over 70 percent of global demand in 2011 was in countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. Consumption in non-OECD countries grew 8 percent in 2011 to 2.63 billion tons of oil equivalent. >> Read the Full Article
  • Extreme Weather Delays Efforts to Regain Control of Run-aground Oil Rig

    On Monday night, an oil drilling rig owned by Dutch Royal Shell ran aground on Sitkalidak Island in southern Alaska, prompting fears of an oil spill. As of yesterday no oil was seen leaking from the rig according to the Coast Guard, but efforts to secure the rig have floundered due to extreme weather. The rig, dubbed Kulluk, contains over 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The incident occurred when harsh weather caused the rig to break free from a ship that was towing the Kulluk from the Arctic back to its winter headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Rescuers quickly evacuated. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sustainable Aviation On The Horizon

    In 2010 NASA launched its N+3 initiative which awarded four major airlines extensive funds to research, design and develop more environmentally friendly aircraft. Lockheed Martin, MIT, GE Aviation and Boeing have been charged with the challenge to create a commercial plane that would expend 75% less emissions and consume 70% less fuel. Not a small undertaking but significant progress has already been made, especially by Boeing who have a promising hybrid aircraft in development stage. >> Read the Full Article
  • Growth in US Energy Production Outstripping Growth in Consumption

    In a recently released report, the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013), the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected the US energy markets through 2040. Their projections only take into account the effects of policies that have already been implemented in law or final regulations. The EIA found that the growth in energy production has outweighed the growth in consumption. This is due to many factors including rising crude oil and natural gas production through advanced technologies, new fuel economy requirements, and the increase in renewable fuels such as solar and wind. The result, EIA predicts, will be lower net CO2 emissions, five percent below the 2005 levels through 2040. >> Read the Full Article