Archive | Power and Energy RSS feed for this section

I Worked in a Strip Club in a North Dakota Fracking Boomtown | Mother Jones

16 Oct

Around the same time, the Pentagon issued a warning that climate change, caused by unchecked fossil-fuel extraction, “will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.” A subsequent report issued by the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board, a government-funded military research organization, went even further, stating that the effects of climate change—food insecurity and massive forced displacement, just to name two—”will serve as catalysts for instability and conflict.”

via I Worked in a Strip Club in a North Dakota Fracking Boomtown | Mother Jones.

Advertisements

Mark Carney: most fossil fuel reserves can’t be burned | Environment | theguardian.com

14 Oct

The governor of the Bank of England has reiterated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, and called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions.

According to reports, Carney told a World Bank seminar on integrated reporting on Friday that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C.

Carney is the latest high profile figure to lend his weight to the “carbon bubble” theory, which warns that fossil fuel assets, such as coal, oil and gas, could be significantly devalued if a global deal to tackle climate change is reached.

via Mark Carney: most fossil fuel reserves can’t be burned | Environment | theguardian.com.

Steam Detected at Damaged Fukushima Reactor – NYTimes.com

18 Jul

Lesson: A damaged nuclear reactor is a danger forever. Is there any such thing as a nuclear reactor that’s NOT damages?

TOKYO — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stood ready Thursday to inject boric acid into one of its most heavily damaged reactors after it found steam emanating from the reactor building. The preventive measure would stave off criticality, or an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction, in the reactor’s damaged core.

The incident has brought the Fukushima plant’s vulnerable state into sharp relief, more than two years after its reactors suffered multiple meltdowns when its cooling systems were overwhelmed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

via Steam Detected at Damaged Fukushima Reactor – NYTimes.com.

Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners – NYTimes.com

16 Jul

Our current power grid is a balkanized mess owned and operated by 500 different entities. It needs to be redesigned and rebuilt. But we also need to allow for resilience at the local level so individual communities will have their own power from renewables sources.

For now, engineers in the grid redesign project have determined that conducting business as usual between 2010 and 2030 would require $18.5 billion in new transmission lines in the United States, while a system designed to integrate renewables like wind energy on a large scale would cost $115.2 billion. In some places, however, renewables could cut electricity costs by allowing the replacement of high-cost generators with lower-cost ones.

The technology, the engineering skill and even the money are all available, experts say, but the ability to reach agreement on such a grid is not. Dozens of experts said in interviews that there were simply too many players, both commercial and governmental, and too many conflicting interests.

via Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against the System’s Many Owners – NYTimes.com.

Life After Oil and Gas – NYTimes.com

24 Mar

As renewable energy gets cheaper and machines and buildings become more energy efficient, a number of countries that two decades ago ran on a fuel mix much like America’s are successfully dialing down their fossil fuel habits. Thirteen countries got more than 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2011, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, and many are aiming still higher.

Could we? Should we?

A National Research Council report released last week concluded that the United States could halve by 2030 the oil used in cars and trucks compared with 2005 levels by improving the efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles and by relying more on cars that use alternative power sources, like electric batteries and biofuels.

via Life After Oil and Gas – NYTimes.com.

Documentary Explores Conflict Between Tribes, Energy Developers | East CA | SoCal Focus | KCET

8 Mar

Arriving in the desert, he found himself in the middle of a battle that seemed eerily similar to the Elwha dams issue: Native people whose life ways were threatened by renewable energy generation. In the early months of the Obama administration, an unprecedented number of solar projects had been fast-tracked for construction on public lands in the desert — lands held to be culturally vital by the Native people in that desert. It was (and is) one of the most widespread assaults on the landscape in the history of European settlement. Some of the people who would have been likely to defend the landscape in the past, the environmentalists and allies who had worked with desert tribes to help stop the Ward Valley nuclear waste dump came down on the other side when industrial desert solar was at issue. Suddenly, when the climate change argument came into play, the desert seemed expendable to the urban greens.

via Documentary Explores Conflict Between Tribes, Energy Developers | East CA | SoCal Focus | KCET.

A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park’s Margins – NYTimes.com

3 Mar

The Anschutz Exploration Corporation has been drilling exploratory wells for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, immediately east of Glacier National Park, for over two years.

Now a subsidiary of the company, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, is bidding on a contract to operate all concessions in Glacier National Park for 16 years.

That Anschutz could gain another foothold in Glacier has rattled environmentalists and concerned tribal groups and citizens, who already worry that the drilling next door could permanently alter the landscape. Glacier is home to three of the nation’s largest watersheds and to endangered species, including grizzly bears.

via A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park’s Margins – NYTimes.com.

Report Sees U.S. as Top Oil Producer, Overtaking Saudi Arabia, in 5 Years – NYTimes.com

13 Nov

The United States will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer by about 2017 and will become a net oil exporter by 2030, the International Energy Agency said Monday.

That increased oil production, combined with new American policies to improve energy efficiency, means that the United States will become “all but self-sufficient” in meeting its energy needs in about two decades — a “dramatic reversal of the trend” in most developed countries, a new report released by the agency says.

And when we’ve ruined out water supply with all that fracking, what are we going to drink?

via Report Sees U.S. as Top Oil Producer, Overtaking Saudi Arabia, in 5 Years – NYTimes.com.

In backup generators we trust? – Boing Boing

4 Nov

Right now, your neighborhood gets that voltage and frequency signal from the larger grid as a whole. If you’re suddenly cut off from the signal, your neighborhood will cease to have a working electric system — even if there are sources of generation right there down the block.

In an emergency situation, we do suddenly have lots of hyper-local generation sources — those 12 million backup generators. What we don’t have is the infrastructure in place to take advantage of that. A backup generator can power a building, but, in general, it can’t share resources with the building next door.

A microgrid would change that, enabling areas the size of neighborhoods to operate independently in the event of an emergency. “Your backup generators are tied together and then you can redirect power from where it’s available … say at a bank … to a hospital, or a fire station, or someplace more critical,” Zimmerle said.

Doing that means updating technology, but it also means changing the way we think about legal and regulatory frameworks. In particular, Zimmerle pointed to power purchase agreements — contracts between the people who get electricity to your house and the people who generate it. In some places, those two jobs are done by the same people. But where they aren’t, power purchase agreements usually limit the amount of electricity that can be generated locally.

via In backup generators we trust? – Boing Boing.

Solving Solar’s Biggest Problem Didn’t Take Technology Development – Alexis C. Madrigal – The Atlantic

17 Oct

Lynn Jurich explains in the video above that her company gets money from banks — hundreds of millions of dollars — and then uses that money to finance the installation of solar systems on homes. Homeowners pay on a monthly basis, not up front, at rates that are comparable to or cheaper than the grid (SunRun says).

We still don’t know how much money SunRun makes on each home, but we do know that the company’s model has exploded. Most new solar is now being installed with the leasing model and other companies like SolarCity and Sungevity are trying to horn in on SunRun’s business (even if SunRun remains the largest solar leasing company).

The takeaway from SunRun is simple, though: sometimes the innovations that matter aren’t technical but financial (or even social). Of course, developing more efficient, less expensive solar cells helps, but the technology development alone cannot guarantee successful market deployments.

via Solving Solar’s Biggest Problem Didn’t Take Technology Development – Alexis C. Madrigal – The Atlantic.