Energy

Quantum dots may be key to turning windows into photovoltaics

While wind may be one of the most economical power sources out there, photovoltaic solar energy has a big advantage: it can go small. While wind gets cheaper as turbines grow larger, the PV hardware scales down to fit wherever we have infrastructure. In fact, simply throwing solar on our existing building stock could generate a very large amount of carbon-free electricity.

The Evolution of America’s Energy Supply (1776 – 2014)

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released data on the history of America’s energy supply, sorted by the share of each energy source. Today, the United States gets the majority of its energy from fossil fuels, though that percentage is slowly decreasing. While oil is still the primary fuel of choice for transportation, it now only generates 1% of the country’s electricity through power plants.

Mission to build a better battery for space exploration

A research team from the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) has been awarded $1 million in NASA funding for its all solid-state battery, a game-changing technology that could potentially power future space missions. The new NASA award moves the UMD battery into the second phase of a three-phase NASA funding process for developing full-scale prototypes of batteries for future space missions.

Why wind and soon solar are already cheaper than fossil fuels

Citigroup has published an analysis of the costs of various energy sources called “Energy Darwinism II.” It concludes that if all the costs of generation are included (known as the levelized cost of energy), renewables turn out to be cheaper than fossil fuels and a “benefit rather than a cost to society,” RenewEconomy reports.

Rechargeable batteries with almost infinite lifetimes coming, say MIT-Samsung engineers

MIT and Samsung researchers have developed a new approach to achieving long life and a 20 to 30 percent improvement in power density (the amount of power stored in a given space) in rechargeable batteries — using a solid electrolyte, rather than the liquid used in today’s most common rechargeables. The new materials could also greatly improve safety and last through “hundreds of thousands of cycles.”

Clinton parts with Obama administration on Arctic drilling

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday staked out her opposition to Arctic oil exploration, putting her at odds with the Obama administration one day after it approved drilling off Alaska. "The Arctic is a unique treasure," Clinton said in a Twitter post. "Given what we know, it's not worth the risk of drilling." On Monday, the Obama administration gave Royal Dutch Shell PLC final approval to resume drilling into the oil zone off northern Alaska for the first time since 2012.

New Tech Taps Biggest Natural Battery - the Ocean

A team of engineers are flipping a switch today on a green technology that harnesses the stored energy of the ocean using the temperature difference between warm surface and cold deep water to produce electricity. Known as OTEC, or ocean thermal energy conversion, the process could be a game-changer for much of the world’s tropical coastlines and islands.

Shell Wins Approval to Drill for Oil in Alaskan Arctic Waters

Royal Dutch Shell Plc won permission to fully drill a well for oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska for the first time in three years. Shell halted Arctic drilling in 2012 after a rig ran aground, helping prompt the Obama administration to revisit U.S. rules for exploration activities in the region. The producer, based in The Hague, may complete the well as early as this summer.

Keystone XL: US review taking 5 times longer than average

The federal review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas has dragged on for nearly seven years, more than five times the average for such applications. The White House insists it's simply following a standard and well-established process. In the 6 1/2 years since TransCanada Corp. first applied for a permit, the $8 billion project has become a flashpoint in the debate over climate change.

Study Finds that the Price of Wind Energy in the United States is at an All-time Low, Averaging under 2.5¢/kWh

“Wind energy prices—particularly in the central United States—have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser said. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the U.S.”

With final plan, Obama's pollution limits for power plants shifts to states, court challenges

Touting the plan at a White House ceremony, Obama described his unprecedented carbon dioxide limits as the biggest step ever taken by the U.S. on climate change. On that point, at least, his opponents agreed. They denounced his proposal as egregious federal overreach that would send power prices surging, and vowed lawsuits and legislation to try to stop it. Sixteen states — including energy-producing states like Kentucky, Wyoming and North Dakota — will face stricter emissions limits than they did under Obama's previous proposal. Montana's requirement more than doubled, from a 21 percent cut in the earlier plan to a 47 percent cut in the final version.

Why Concentration of the Solar Industry in China Will Hurt Technology Innovation

Earlier this month, the U.S. Commerce Department reviewed its tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels, originally imposed in 2012 in retaliation against Chinese subsidies and below-market pricing, and opted to maintain the total tariff burden on most panels. While interest groups advocating U.S. manufacturing cheered, those in favor of cheaper clean energy to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions denounced the decision.

Electric Planes on the Way With Greener, Cheaper Flights

While it may be a while before we board a cross-country electric flight, a short hop to the islands off Cape Cod may be more realistic. Engineers at NASA are working with Barnstable, Mass.,-based Cape Air to develop an Cessna 402 9-passenger electric airplane suitable for the short hops to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, a flight of less than an hour from airports in New York or Massachusetts.

Speaker calls for end to oil export ban

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Wednesday for Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. Boehner hadn't taken sides in the debate until Wednesday, and his endorsement likely sets the stage for a major policy battle this fall on Capitol Hill. “Lifting the ban would create an estimated 1 million jobs here at home, jobs that would frankly get created in every state. It would help bring down prices at the pump for consumers, and it will be good for our allies,” Boehner said at a press conference.

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.

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