Energy

Construction Begins On First Commercial Offshore Wind Farm

A few miles off the coast of Block Island, part of Rhode Island, a small flotilla has been gathering: crane vessels, tugboats and barges that began this week installing the 1,500-ton foundations of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. It’s a moment that its supporters have long anticipated, billing it as nothing less than the dawn of a new clean energy future for the United States, which lags Europe and China in harnessing ocean gusts for electricity.

US Navy eyes graphene nanoribbon for ultimate power control system

The U.S. Navy distributes electricity aboard most of its ships like a power company. It relies on conductors, transformers and other bulky infrastructure. The setup works, but with powerful next generation weapons on the horizon and the omnipresent goal of energy efficiency, the Navy is seeking alternatives to conventional power control systems.

Senate panel to vote on lifting oil export ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said her panel will vote before the August recess, scheduled to start Aug. 7, on a bill that includes oil exports and state revenue sharing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling. “[Offshore] revenue sharing and oil exports are very keen priorities of mine,” Murkowski told reporters Thursday.

Keystone’s southern leg hits milestone

The existing, southern segment of the Keystone oil pipeline system has pumped its billionth barrel, owner TransCanada Corp. said Monday. The company is using the milestone to promote the safety of its pipeline and push the Obama administration to approve the highly controversial northern segment, known as Keystone XL.

Bill Gates Is Funding Clean Energy Innovation -- That's Great, but Let's Not Forget Current Deployment

Bill Gates, an early investor in clean energy, recently made a new $2 billion commitment to fund new renewable energy research. This is a significant show of support from an industry and policy leader who cares about the issue and understands the need for action. However, in announcing his commitment, Gates said that current renewable technologies could not sufficiently "bend the curve" to get the job done, except at astronomical cost.

Can Congress Break the Energy-Legislation Curse?

The last comprehensive piece of energy legislation to clear Congress came in 2007, with a bill that dealt with fuel economy, biofuel development, and energy efficiency. Since then, it's been a Sisyphean stretch of futility, setting aside a small energy-efficiency package that passed this spring. Of course, any legislating these days is a struggle, but energy carries with it a heap of nonstarters on both sides.

A jet engine powered by lasers and nuclear explosions?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent (US 9,068,562) to Boeing engineers and scientists for a laser- and nuclear-driven airplane engine. “A stream of pellets containing nuclear material such as Deutrium or Tritium is fed into a hot-stop within a thruster of the aircraft,” Patent Yogi explains. “Then multiple high powered laser beams are all focused onto the hot-spot. The pellet is instantly vaporized and the high temperature causes a nuclear fusion reaction.

A solar-energy storage cell that works at night

A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new “photoelectrochemical” energy cell that can efficiently store solar energy and deliver electrical power 24 hours a day. It can also be scaled up to provide large amounts of energy, limited only by the size of its chemical storage tanks, according to Fuqiang Liu, an assistant professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department who led the research team.

US oil output on track for 45-year high

The United States is on track to see its most productive year for crude oil in 45 years. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast Tuesday that production will average 9.5 million barrels per day by the end of the year, after seeing 9.6 million barrels a day in the first half. That would be the highest annual production since 1970, which saw 9.6 million barrels a day, making it the most productive year ever for the United States.

U.S. Manufacturing costs are almost as low as China’s, and that’s a very big deal

You don’t need to a Nobel Prize in economics to know that the fracking revolution has been good for the U.S. What’s not so well known is just how competitive cheap oil and gas has made American manufacturing. BCG, the Boston consultancy, estimates the average cost to manufacture goods in the U.S. is now only 5% higher than in China and is actually 10% to 20% lower than in major European economies.

2015 Will Be Banner Year For Solar In Hawaii

Hawaii has always been on the forefront of renewable energy, partially due to their vast resources of sun and wind, and a new report found that 2015 will be the best year for the state in terms of new solar installations. The report, U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), found that solar growth in Hawaii in Q1 of 2015 was driven by a combination of residential and commercial solar installations. That is on top of the 12 percent of Hawaiian homes that are already powered by solar.

New manufacturing process cuts lithium-ion battery cost in half

Researchers at MIT and spinoff company 24M have developed an advanced manufacturing approach for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The researchers claim the new process could cut the manufacturing and materials cost in half compared to existing lithium-ion batteries, while also improving their performance, making them easier to recycle as well as flexible and resistant to damage.

Live rig will be classroom for energy workforce at Lone Star College

The rig will serve as fertile training ground for would-be rig hands - also known as roustabouts - maintenance workers, machinists, engineers and others. Students will be exposed to courses on electrical technology, commercial wiring, engineering, pneumatics and hydraulics among other things.

Origami batteries and accordion sensors could power smart clothes

The ancient art of origami is helping to inspire the next generation of wearable technology. In a study published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, engineers at Arizona State University in Tempe demonstrated how a cleverly folded stretchable battery could be used to power a smartwatch.

Today’s Tech Innovations Could Make U.S. the Energy Efficiency Superpower of Tomorrow

The future of energy efficiency technology often seems more like science fiction than reality, but according to energy thought leaders at last week’s 26th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, cutting-edge efficiency advancements are already practical and implementable. At this year’s Forum, Johnson Controls and the United States Energy Association (USEA) convened energy thought leaders and experts to discuss not only the innovations we’ll see in coming years, but how they will help make the United States a global leader in energy efficiency.

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