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After the BP Spill

Deepwater Horizon Spill and Restoration Plans Need to Include Social and Economic Effects

July 13th 2013

Gulf oil spill

While numerous studies are under way to determine the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico, the extent and severity of these impacts and the value of the resulting losses cannot fully be measured without considering the goods and services provided by the Gulf, says a new report from the National Research Council. The congressionally mandated report offers an approach that could establish a more comprehensive understanding of the impacts and help inform options for restoration activities.

Currently, state and federal resource managers tasked with providing timely assessments of the damage use a process called the Natural Resources Damage Assessment, which is authorized under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and measures impacts in ecological terms such as the number of fish killed or acres of wetland destroyed. As a result, restoration activities usually focus on replacing individual resources. But the impacts of environmental damage extend beyond individual resources, the report says. Read more ..

The Race for Geothermal

Geothermal Power Facility Can Induces Earthquakes

July 12th 2013

Click to select Image

An analysis of earthquakes in the area around the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in southern California has found a strong correlation between seismic activity and operations for production of geothermal power, which involve pumping water into and out of an underground reservoir.

"We show that the earthquake rate in the Salton Sea tracks a combination of the volume of fluid removed from the ground for power generation and the volume of wastewater injected," said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author of the study, published online in Science magazine. "The findings show that we might be able to predict the earthquakes generated by human activities. To do this, we need to take a large view of the system and consider both the water coming in and out of the ground," said Brodsky, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UCSC. Read more ..


The Race for EV's

Building a Future with Fuel Cell EVs

July 9th 2013

NREL-Toyota-EV

Efforts currently underway at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are contributing to rapid progress in the research, development and testing of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Building from more than 10 years of support from the Department's Fuel Cell Technologies Office on these topics, NREL has received four Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles — Advanced (FCHV-adv) on loan from Toyota. These vehicles will help NREL enhance its research capabilities related to hydrogen fueling infrastructure, renewable hydrogen production, and vehicle performance.

Zero-Emission Fuel Cell Vehicles are Rapidly Evolving
The Toyota vehicle represents another step toward the commercialization of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Hydrogen fuel is most often produced using domestic resources and can also be produced using clean renewable energy technologies. When hydrogen is used to power an FCEV, the vehicle has zero tail pipe emissions. Read more ..


The Race to EVs

Building an Electric Vehicle Highway to Energy Security: Tennessee EV Project

July 8th 2013

Plug-in Vehicle

Electric vehicles (EVs)—notwithstanding the high-end success story of Tesla Motors—remain stuck in a classic “chicken and egg” dilemma. Achieving widespread market penetration requires ubiquitous charging stations. But charging station scale-up requires a critical mass of EVs already on the road to justify the investment.

One approach to this problem is what a variety of partners in the state of Tennessee are doing through a $230 million public-private partnership partly funded by a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) and managed by ECOtality. Together, these actors—working as a charter market for Ecotality’s  EV Project, the largest deployment of EVs and charging infrastructure to date—are forcing the issue and simply blowing through the market challenge by building a ton of charging stations fast. Read more ..


The Race For Wind Power

London Array: Masdar Celebrates World’s Largest Wind Farm Inauguration

July 5th 2013

London Array

The London Array is Masdar’s largest renewable energy project to date, but the government-supported research and development group have no intention of stopping there. With a 20 percent stake in the offshore wind project that will generate enough energy to power half a million UK homes, the group is ready to keep up the momentum.

Construction on the 630MW began in July 2009 with the first onshore substation. The first 147 meter tall turbine designed by Siemens was erected in January, 2012 and now, just over a year later, all 175 of them are fully functional.

Masdar agreed to join Germany’s E.On and Dong from Denmark when Shell pulled out. This is consistent with the firm’s mission to spread renewable energy to all reaches of the globe – including the Seychelles and Mauritania, where Africa’s largest solar PV plant was recently inaugurated. Read more ..


The Race for Biomass

Illinois Biomass Recycling Center Aims to be First of its Kind

July 4th 2013

old town fuel & fiber

A small town in the midwestern state of Illinois is home to a recycling initiative its creators hope will revolutionize biomass waste conversion.  Chip Energy might not have been the first company converting one man’s junk into another man’s treasure, but it believes it's the first to build a recycling facility completely from recycled materials.

Outside rural Goodfield, Illinois is a pile of wood that weighs 4.5 million kilograms. Some people call it garbage, but for Paul Wever, it's something else.

"I look at this as oil barrels stacked one on top of the other.  It’s a pile of energy,” he said. For several years, companies with industrial waste, like wooden crates, have used Wever to cart the materials away. Wever converts the wood into mulch, fuel and other products that he can sell. “My customers presently pay me to take the material and convert it into a value added product. If I’m successful, I’ll end up paying them,” he said. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Negev Energy Wins Bid for Israel’s Largest Concentrating Solar Power Plant

July 3rd 2013

Solar-Eruption

Spain’s super solar giant Abengoa has teamed up with Israel’s Shikun & Binui Renewable Energy (SKBN) to build a concentrating solar power plant in the Negev desert. When the company announced their win of the BOT tender of the Ashalim plant, they also claimed it will be the largest of its kind in the country.

The Negev desert comprises more than half of the entire country, which enjoys an annual solar irradiance of 2,000kWh per square meters.

That’s a lot of sun, and aside from Arava’s solar plants, a BrightSource pilot project, and a few other relatively small installations, this energy has gone largely untapped.

But now the Israeli government is stepping up its solar program with plans to ensure that by 2020, 10 percent of its overall energy mix will come from renewable sources.

Negev Energy, the new partnership between the Spanish and Israeli companies, will build and operate the 110 MW Parabolic Trough plant under a 25 year power purchase agreement. The energy they produce will sell for NIS0.76 per kilowatt hour, or $0.21. Read more ..


The Race for Smart Grid

Sandia Cooler Blows Traditional CPU Coolers Away

July 2nd 2013

Sandia-cooler

Every year, the information technology sector spends almost $7 billion on electricity costs, and much of that money goes to cooling computer processing units (CPUs) in data centers. At the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories, researchers have developed an innovative new air-cooling technology -- the Sandia Cooler -- that improves the way heat is transferred in computers and microelectronics, significantly reducing the energy needed to cool CPUs in data centers. If the technology can be successfully scaled up and applied to other applications like heating, ventilation and air conditioning, researchers say the Sandia Cooler has the potential to decrease overall electrical power consumption in the U.S. by more than 7 percent. To understand the technological advances in the Sandia Cooler, it helps to understand traditional CPU coolers. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

House Votes to Expand Offshore Oil-and-Gas Leases

June 28th 2013

Gulf oil spill

The House voted Friday to require the Obama administration to develop a new five-year plan allowing offshore oil-and-gas leases in coastal waters with the most promise for energy development.

Members passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act in a 235-186 vote that saw 16 Democrats join Republicans. The bill is similar to GOP legislation passed by the House last year, and responds to a five-year oil and gas lease sales plan that Republicans say shuts out potentially productive areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coastline. In Thursday debate, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said the president had a chance to expand lease sales, but instead put forward a restrictive plan that will hurt U.S. energy development. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Nabucco Pipeline Suffers Setback As Rival Expected To Get Azeri Gas

June 27th 2013

Oil Pipes1

Ten years ago, hopes were high there would be a major pipeline connecting Europe directly to the gas fields of the Caspian Basin and the Middle East.

The pipeline, called Nabucco, was to run from Austria to Eastern Turkey, where it would receive gas via feeder pipelines from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, and from Iran, Iraq, and Egypt.

But over the years, the grand ambitions of the Nabucco project have increasingly come to look more like a dream than any imminent reality.

The original scope of the project was cut back dramatically in May 2012 when the consortium backed away from plans to build the Turkey segment of the pipeline and to focus only on the European part. Similarly, the Nabucco consortium began to talk in terms of a pipeline with an initial capacity of just 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year rather than its originally planned 30 bcm. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

Printing Microbatteries Could Unravel New Applications in Medicine

June 25th 2013

batteries

A team based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has demonstrated how 3D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand, which could be small enough to fit in tiny devices for medical or communications applications.

To make the microbatteries, the researchers printed precisely interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes, each less than the width of a human hair.

In recent years engineers have invented many miniaturized devices, including medical implants, flying insect-like robots, and tiny cameras and microphones that fit on a pair of glasses. But often the batteries that power them are as large or larger than the devices themselves, which defeats the purpose of building small. To get around this problem, manufacturers have traditionally deposited thin films of solid materials to build the electrodes. However, due to their ultra-thin design, these solid-state micro-batteries do not pack sufficient energy to power tomorrow's miniaturized devices. Read more ..


The Race for Biofuel

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Ethanol Fuel Case

June 24th 2013

E85 Pump

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review a case that charged federal regulators allowed a mid-level ethanol fuel blend onto the market without proper testing.

The move preserves a space at the gas pump for E15 fuel, a mix comprised of 15 percent ethanol — compared with the standard 10 percent — and 85 percent petroleum by leaving intact a 2009 Environmental Protection Agency ruling that E15 is safe to use in cars made in 2001 or later.

The biofuel industry praised the decision, characterizing it as the nail in the coffin for attacks against E15 by the oil industry and food groups. “I am pleased that today’s Supreme Court action ends a long and drawn out petroleum industry effort to derail the commercialization of E15. The uncertainty created by this lawsuit has chilled commercial activity that would provide American consumers more affordable choices at the pump,” Renewable Fuels Association CEO Bob Dinneen said in a statement. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

31.1 Percent Efficiency for III-V Solar Cell

June 24th 2013

Sunrise or Sunset

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Lab has announced a world record of 31.1 percent conversion efficiency for a two-junction solar cell under one sun of illumination.

NREL Scientist Myles Steiner announced the new record June 19 at the 39th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa, Fla. The previous record of 30.8 percent efficiency was held by Alta Devices.

The tandem cell was made of a gallium indium phosphide cell atop a gallium arsenide cell, has an area of about 0.25 square centimeters and was measured under the AM1.5 global spectrum at 1,000 W/m2. It was grown inverted, similar to the NREL-developed inverted metamorphic multi-junction (IMM) solar cell – and flipped during processing. The cell was covered on the front with a bilayer anti-reflection coating, and on the back with a highly reflective gold contact layer.

The work was done at NREL as part of DOE's Foundation Program to Advance Cell Efficiency (F-PACE), a project of the Department's SunShot Initiative that aims to lower the cost of solar energy to a point at which it is competitive with other sources including fossil fuels. Read more ..


The Coal Problem

New Scrutiny of 'Longwall' Mining Finds Damage in Pennsylvania Streams

June 23rd 2013

Coal Train

The brutally efficient coal-extraction method known as “longwall mining” has permanently damaged a half dozen streams in Pennsylvania, state regulators have found — a finding that could trigger deeper waves for such operations in the state.

In December, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, sent a little-noticed letter relaying its unusual decision to the coal company that has tried to repair one such stream for five years, Consol Energy. Regulators determined the unnamed tributary, UT-32596, “has not been restored to conditions that existed prior to undermining.” They called further remediation attempts “futile,” and demanded the company compensate “for the loss of Commonwealth resources.”

The same day, the DEP sent another notice to Consol conveying a similar conclusion about five other streams “not recovered from the effects of underground mining.” The agency said it “now requires Consol to perform compensatory mitigation or enhancement measures.” Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Greek Cyprus Signs Energy Deal With Israel in Defiance of Turkey

June 22nd 2013

Gas Well Israel

The Greek Cypriot cabinet defied Turkey earlier this week, approving plans to sign a deal with a US-Israeli partnership to build a liquefied natural gas plant on the island to exploit untapped energy riches, AFP reported Friday.

Turkey has objected to the plan, saying the resources should be divided between two sides of the separated island.

“The cabinet has approved the decision to sign the memorandum of understanding between Cyprus and companies Noble Energy International (US), Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership for liquefaction terminal for natural gas,” said government spokesman Victor Papadopoulos on June 19. The broke Mediterranean island is hoping the untapped offshore energy resources can infuse its faltering economy. It hopes to commercially export its gas by 2020. Read more ..


The Race for a Smart Grid

New Research Center to Boost Clean Energy Technologies on a Smarter Grid

June 21st 2013

transformer farm

The Energy Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) today announced the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado, as the latest Energy Department user facility and the only one in the nation focused on utility-scale clean energy grid integration. The facility's first industry partner – Colorado-based Advanced Energy Industries – has already signed on to start work at ESIF, developing lower cost, better performing solar power inverters.

"Our National Laboratories are a national treasure that help America's entrepreneurs and innovators to accelerate the development of new technologies," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. "This new facility will allow for an even stronger partnership with manufacturers, utilities and researchers to help integrate more clean, renewable energy into a smarter, more reliable and more resilient power grid." Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Companies Try Natural Gas to Fuel Vehicles

June 18th 2013

Autogas refueling

While many Americans want to reduce both pollution and energy costs, the nation's automobile-based transportation system undermines these goals by being largely dependent on petroleum.

But in the western state of Oklahoma, Ethel Clayton drives a truck that can run on much cheaper and cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG).

"Not just because you save a whole lot of money, but it is also good for the environment and it also keeps your engine in better condition," Clayton said.

Thanks to support from local natural gas producing companies, there are plenty of CNG filling sites around Oklahoma, and Clayton says online guides also show places to refuel when traveling out of state. "They will actually route your destination where there will be CNG filling stations," she said. "So it is getting better."

The dramatic increase in U.S. natural gas production has made the fuel cheaper and driven projects that would use this resource to replace far dirtier fossil fuels. Companies are experimenting with various ways to use natural gas as a transportation fuel. Read more ..


The Edge of Climate Change

Cut Energy Subsidies and Reduce Global CO2 by 13 Percent

June 15th 2013

Hurricane Sandy Lashes Ocean City

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time, yet most countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to subsidize energy derived from fossil fuels. Seeking solutions, The Guardian launched a three part Global Public Leaders Series and sent us this recent lecture by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Deputy managing director Nemat Shafik warns that subsidies underpin both climate change and public debt.

Nemat Shafik’s presentation in Washington D.C. gave an illuminating look at how energy subsidies are linked to both climate change and public debt. Shafik estimates that cutting subsidies could reduce global carbon emissions by as much as 4.5 billion tons or 13 percent of the current output. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Alexandria Enters PV Solar Project with a Catholic School in Egypt

June 14th 2013

Solar Building

Once the most powerful seat of learning in Egypt, Alexandria has some catching up to do when it comes to renewable energy. Which may be why the governor has entered into an agreement with a Catholic technical institute to bolster photovoltaic education and installations.

Alexandria governor Muhammad Abbas told Daily News Egypt that the city’s partnership with the Don Bosco Institute, an Italian group with Catholic roots, is one of the country’s most important projects.

The idea to install a photovoltaic array on Don Bosco’s roof to provide energy for its own street lighting first arose in 2009, when Egypt imported its first solar cell from Germany, according to DNE. A group of German, Polish and Italians decided to build the country’s first inverter in order to enable the conversion of DC to AC and 10 power distribution points were installed.

While one rooftop array is hardly going to ease the country’s incredible energy deficit, Don Bosco has worked with both the Egyptian Government and the European Union to officially recognize a practical educational system that it has devised. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

UPS Service Market Sees First Quarter Growth in 2013

June 13th 2013

computer keyboard woman hands

Market growth for service on uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) in the first quarter of 2013 has increased by five percent from the same period last year, according to a report from IMS Research, now part of IHS. UPS service revenues can be viewed in terms of concurrent vs. non-concurrent sales. Concurrent services refer to those that accompany the purchase of a new UPS unit, including installation, commissioning, site assessments and factory warranty extensions. “Some of the slow growth in the UPS service market can be understood by looking at concurrent services,” said Liz Cruz, senior analyst, data center and critical infrastructure, at IHS. “In the IHS quarterly tracker on the UPS hardware market, 2012 was found to be flat to slightly down compared to 2011; this would have a negative effect on the concurrent services that would normally accompany a sale of UPS. However, concurrent services are estimated to account for less than 20 percent of all service revenues, so there is definitely more to the story.” Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Kuwait Launches First Solar Project

June 12th 2013

Rub al Khali Saudi Empty Quarter

Kuwait invited bids on Wednesday to build a solar farm to produce 70 megawatts of electricity by 2016, the first phase of a plan to generate 2,000 megawatts from renewables in 2030, the project supervisor said. Thirty-seven consortia out of 107 prequalified to bid, said Salem al-Hajraf, head of energy research at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research. The second and third phases will produce 930 MW and 1,000 MW, respectively, when the project is completed in 2030, he said.

Fifty megawatts will be produced from solar thermal sources and 10 each from photovoltaic and wind sources. The pioneer project will be built on a 100-square-kilometre (39-square-mile) area in Shagaya, a desert zone 100 km (62 miles) west of Kuwait City, near the borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Read more ..


Pakistan on Edge

Pakistanis Hope For Brighter Future Amid Energy Crisis

June 11th 2013

Protest-Energy

Muhammad Abid, a tailor in Islamabad, is among the tens of millions of Pakistanis who propelled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to power in early May on the promise he would show them the light.

Ending a severe energy crisis that often restricts citizens to only four hours of electricity a day was a key campaign pledge made by Sharif and many other members of the newly elected parliament.

Electricity shortages cost the Pakistani economy more than $13 billion a year, according to a recent survey, which says the lack of power slows economic growth by 1.5 percent annually. The coming heat of summer brings more demand for energy, resulting in more engineered blackouts, or "load shedding," to relieve pressure on power grids, and voters are anxious to see a solution. Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Chinese Antidumping Duties Look Likely to Drive up Solar Polysilicon Devices Pricing

June 10th 2013

Solar Array

China’s moves to slap antidumping tariffs on imported solar polysilicon from key countries will enerate a surge in pricing for this key raw material in June and July 2013.

Information and analytics provider IHS predicts that the likely imposition of the import duties will cause global solar polysilicon pricing to rise to $19.50 per kilogram in June and July 2013, up from $16.50 in May 2013 according to the IHS Polysilicon Price Tracker.

The situation represents a major turnaround for a polysilicon market that has seen average pricing decline for seven of the last 10 months, as presented in the attached figure.

However, the increase will amount to only 18 percent, falling short of the 30 percent indicator that would represent a major market correction. Prices also would remain below the key $20-per-kilogram mark. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

New Battery Fuel Gauge and Charger Chipsets Squeeze More Life out of Li-Ion Batteries

June 10th 2013

batteries

Texas Instruments Incorporated has introduced two Power Management chipsets with TI’s patented new MaxLife fast-charge technology, which allows consumers to charge single-cell Li-Ion batteries faster and experience longer battery life.

The bq27530 and bq27531 fuel gauge circuits, coupled with TI’s bq2416x and bq2419x chargers, optimize battery performance using the highest possible charge rates with minimal battery degradation.

Mobile phone users are frustrated when their batteries’ charge doesn’t last as long after months of daily charging and discharging. TI’s MaxLife technology applies an innovative degradation modeling system to minimize charge time while extending battery service life – as much as 30 percent according to lab tests. Based on TI’s Impedance Track battery capacity measurement technology, the MaxLife algorithm accurately predicts and avoids charge conditions that could degrade the battery. Read more ..


The Race for Renewable Energy

Desperate for Energy, Egypt to Reward Hotels that Go Green

June 9th 2013

Solar Panels

The National Bank of Egypt has announced that it will give low interest loans to hotels throughout southern Sinai and Red Sea provinces that are commited to switching to renewable energy, according to local press. The move comes in advance of crippling energy shortages during the hottest time of the year.

When temperatures rise from May to October, so too does energy consumption as Egyptian residents fire up their air conditioners.

But Egypt is already running at a chronic energy deficit and consumption spikes cause widespread cuts – at great cost to the local economy.

Particularly hard hit is the tourism industry, which is so crucial to the country’s bottom line. In order to secure tourism against energy shortages, the bank has entered into an agreement with the Solar Energy Development Association (SEDA) to empower hotels to switch to renewable energy. Read more ..


The Race for Nuclear

Nuclear Site Closes After Leak

June 8th 2013

Nuclear Reactors

Owners of a troubled Southern California nuclear site are blaming uncertainty from regulators for their decision to permanently retire the plant.
The Friday shuttering of the San Onofre nuclear station, out of commission since January 2012 because of a leak found inside a steam generator, brings an end to a battle over nuclear safety that has roiled regulators and legislators for over a year.

In October, the utility that owns the plant, Southern California Edison, began asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to allow it to restart one of its units. The agency has been reviewing the request ever since.

The uncertainty about whether the NRC would allow the station to resume operations, and the potential that it could take regulators another year to make a final determination, led Southern California Edison to close the plant on Friday. Read more ..


The Race for LED

OLEDs Hardly Have a Chance Against LED Lighting

June 7th 2013

LED bulb

Market research and consulting company IDTechEx has gotten granular on the market chances for OLED (organic light-emitting diode) lighting, given the strong competition through conventional LEDs. The finding is that OLED is facing an uphill battle against conventional LEDs. Nevertheless, for the years ahead OLEDs will experience a stunning market growth - in specific, well defined niches.

OLED is likely to struggle to define and communicate its unique selling points and may remain an over-priced and under-performing option compared to LED lighting, conclude IDTechEx experts Norman Bardsley and Khasa Ghaffarzadeh. That is, unless Apple-like design innovation occurs. In other words: In standard applications, OLEDs won't be competitive against LEDs, but in areas where chic design features are the decisive factor, they have a good chance to prevail. This could be the case in the hospitality, retail (the fancy part) and architectural sectors. Read more ..


The Race for Biofuel

NREL Teams with Navy, Private Industry to Make Jet Fuel from Switchgrass

June 6th 2013

switchgrass

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is partnering with Cobalt Technologies, U.S. Navy, and Show Me Energy Cooperative to demonstrate that jet fuel can be made economically and in large quantities from a renewable biomass feedstock such as switch grass.

"This can be an important step in the efforts to continue to displace petroleum by using biomass resources," NREL Manager for Bioprocess Integration R&D Dan Schell said. "We're converting biomass into sugars for subsequent conversion to butanol and then to JP5 jet fuel."

It's one of four biorefinery projects funded recently by the Energy Department as part of the Administration's efforts to support renewable biofuels as a domestic alternative to power military and civilian aircraft and vehicles Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Carmakers Jointly Launch Software Platform for Europe-wide E-car Charging

June 4th 2013

Better Place

A joint venture of carmakers and energy provides has launched a software platform that enables e-car charging station operators across Europe to exchange billing information. Thus, they offer a charging infrastructure mechanism similar to roaming in the telecommunications segment. And users of electric vehicles can travel without worrying about finding a charging station.

Carmakers BMW and Daimler and power utilities EnBW and RWE along with automotive supplier Bosch and technology group Siemens AG formed a joint venture named Hubject GmbH that aims at providing the billing hub for charging data across Europe. This week, the billing hub went operational; it bears the name intercharge. "By launching this eRoaming platform, we provide the solution for an elementary problem of electromobility", said Hubject general manager Andreas Pfeiffer. "Intercharge enables simple charging for all users of electric vehicles everywhere". Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Japan Prepares to Become World's Largest Solar Revenue Market in 2013

June 3rd 2013

Rising Sun Shinto Island

Japan’s solar installations surged by 270 percent (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013, to surpass Germany to become the world’s largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue in 2013. Although Japan is forecast to install fewer GW than China (which is forecast to be the largest market in GW installation terms) in 2013, the high prices of PV systems in Japan will drive it to become the world’s largest market in revenue terms.

A total of 1.5 GW worth of PV systems were installed in Japan in the first quarter of 2013, up from 0.4 GW during the same time last year, according to a new report entitled ‘The Photovoltaic Market in Japan’ from information and analytics provider IHS Inc. The growth that started the year is expected to continue throughout 2013 as demand for solar energy is forecast to double, making Japan the world’s largest market for PV installations on a revenue basis for the first time in a decade. Japan's share of global PV system revenue will rise to 24 percent in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2012 and just 9 percent in 2011, as presented in the attached figure. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Petroleum 'Supply Shock' is Poised to Make U.S. a Net Exporter

June 3rd 2013

oil pump

They're calling it a "supply shock" in the world's energy markets. A recent report by the International Energy Agency says oil production in North America will grow so much in the next five years that it will turn the United States into a net oil exporter, transforming the global oil market in the process.

For an insight into what this means, RFE/RL correspondent Heather Maher turned to Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS, a global forecasting company. Yergin's book, “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power” won the Pulitzer Prize and his latest book, “The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World,” is about the search for sustainable energy resources.

RFE/RL: What did you think when you heard about the coming oil supply shock?

Daniel Yergin: I think this comes as no surprise. U.S. oil production is up 43 percent since 2008. The increase in U.S. oil production – just the increase – is equal to Nigeria’s entire oil production. So the oil supply situation is being transformed by this revolution in unconventional oil and gas that’s now unfolding in North America. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

New Natural Gas Pipeline Into NYC Is Volatile Issue

June 2nd 2013

Oil Pipes1

New York City is crisscrossed with underground natural gas pipelines, many decades old, supplying cooking and heating gas to homes and businesses. But safety and environmental concerns about a new gas pipeline being built into Manhattan’s west side have given rise to protest, and calls for New York to move more quickly to sustainable forms of energy.

The high-pressure Spectra Energy pipeline, set to begin operating in late fall, travels under parts of New Jersey, Staten Island, and the Hudson River, and enters Manhattan next to a playground and park. "This is an incredibly high-population area and it’s insane what they’re doing," said Kathleen Thomas, one of several hundred protesters who rallied in Manhattan recently to call on President Barack Obama to withhold support for all new fossil-fuel pipelines. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Green Groups confront Obama on Keystone Oil Pipeline

June 1st 2013

Environmental lobbyists are pressing President Obama to turn more western lands into national monuments to prevent oil-and-gas companies from drilling there. The Sierra Club is leading the charge and is sweetening its message with political sugar, saying Obama could thereby help Democrats win House and Senate seats in midterm elections year.

This week it will launch a campaign called “Our Wild America,” which will call for new national monument designations.
“We think there’s real opportunities for them to do additional monument designations by the midterm elections and that it’s a positive political thing for the administration and for senators and congressmen,” Dan Chu, who is leading this program, told The Hill in a recent interview.

Chu pointed to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who is up for reelection in 2014. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

New NYC Natural Gas Pipeline stirs Interest in Sustainable Energy

June 1st 2013

New York City is crisscrossed with underground natural gas pipelines, many decades old, supplying cooking and heating gas to homes and businesses. But safety and environmental concerns about a new gas pipeline being built into Manhattan’s west side have given rise to protest, and calls for New York to move more quickly to sustainable forms of energy.

The high-pressure Spectra Energy pipeline, set to begin operating in late fall, travels under parts of New Jersey, Staten Island, and the Hudson River, and enters Manhattan next to a playground and park. "This is an incredibly high-population area and it’s insane what they’re doing," said Kathleen Thomas, one of several hundred protesters who rallied in Manhattan recently to call on President Barack Obama to withhold support for all new fossil-fuel pipelines.

Thomas noted that the Spectra pipeline is similar in design and pressure to one that exploded in 2010, destroying a neighborhood in San Bruno, California. Eight people were killed and more than sixty injured in the disaster, which left a crater several stories deep and 122 meters wide. Thomas’s group, United for Action, and other opponents fear that a similar accident, or terrorist attack, could kill hundreds. Among the entities that have filed suit to stop the pipeline is Jersey City, New Jersey, across the Hudson River, where the pipeline travels under schools, hospitals and chemical plants. Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Keystone Builder 'Extremely Confident' Obama Will Approve it

May 31st 2013

Keystone Pipeline

The chief executive for Keystone XL oil sands pipeline builder TransCanada Corp. says he is “extremely confident” the White House will approve the project. TransCanada Corp. CEO Russ Girling said he hopes the State Department will complete its environmental review of the Canada-to-Texas pipeline by mid-summer. Foggy Bottom would then need to make a determination of national interest for the project, which Girling said he hopes would take no longer than 90 days.

“I have never been involved in a process that has lasted this long. We're not reinventing the wheel here,” he said, according to excerpts of an interview with Bloomberg Government’s Capitol Gains that will air Sunday. “I remain extremely confident that we'll get the green light to build this pipeline." Read more ..


Oil Addiction

Senior GOP Lawmaker Revives Offshore Drilling Bill

May 30th 2013

Gulf oil spill

A senior House Republican floated legislation Thursday to extend offshore drilling to Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions President Obama excluded from his five-year oil and gas leasing plan. The bill from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is similar to the one that passed the House last year, largely with Republican votes.

“The Obama Administration has said ‘no’ to new energy and ‘no’ to new jobs, but House Republicans are once again saying ‘yes.’ This legislation is a pro-energy, pro-jobs plan that will strengthen our economy and increase our energy security by responsibly and safely harnessing our vast offshore energy resources,” Hastings said in a Thursday statement. The Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a June 6 hearing on the bill, the committee announced. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Alcohol-Based Fuel Cells to Extend Range of E-Cars

May 29th 2013

Plug-in Vehicle

With a novel energy storage technique, researchers of the Berlin Technical University will improve the driving range of electrically driven cars: They use ethanol - but instead of filling it into the tank, they plan to build an ethanol-based fuel cell.

Fuel cells are not new as an energy source in the automotive industry. Actually, several carmakers including Daimler and Opel (General Motors) are in the prototype phase for a potential roll-out of serial-built fuel-cell powered e-cars later in this decade. Their common denominator is a hydrogen fuel cell whose electric power could directly drive an electric car.

The approach of the Berlin research group headed by professor Peter Strasser is different. While it basically is possible to build fuel cells based on alcohol instead of hydrogen, alcohol-based fuel cells feature a significantly lower energy density than their hydrogen counterparts. Nevertheless, alcohol fuel cells could offer significant benefits over hydrogen cells. The reason is that storing the very energy-rich hydrogen in high-pressure tanks as well as the process of refuelling requires strict safety measures. Since this tank frequently takes place under the passenger compartment, fuel cell vehicles face safety concerns in the public. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

A Level Road for CNG Vehicles Could Energize Americans' Vacation Drives

May 28th 2013

Click to select Image

Every Memorial Day, as sure as barbeques and baseball games, Americans can count on the familiar tradition of watching gasoline prices rise. The Energy Information Agency summer cost forecast estimates that gasoline prices this summer will average $3.63 per gallon. While this price is down from last summer’s average of $3.69 per gallon, it still burdens the average driver.

AAA predicted that Memorial Day weekend average gasoline prices will top the 2012 $3.64 level and even the 2011 $3.79 price. This follows AAA’s April survey showing that two-thirds of Americans say gasoline prices strain their budgets at $3.64, and half of Americans say gasoline is too high at $3.40.

In Europe, government policies support high gasoline and diesel prices to encourage fuel economy and reduce petroleum demand. Here’s the good news: America has a better option. We have an abundant, accessible resource of clean natural gas that can drive us where we need to go at nearly half the cost of gasoline. Read more ..


The Race for BioFuel

Nation Equipped to Grow Serious Amounts of Pond Scum

May 27th 2013

Pond Scum

A new analysis shows that the nation's land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year in the United States, one-twelfth of the country's yearly needs.

The findings come from an in-depth look at the water resources that would be needed to grow significant amounts of algae in large, specially built shallow ponds. "While there are many details still to be worked out, we don't see water issues as a deal breaker for the development of an algae biofuels industry in many areas of the country," said first author Erik Venteris.

For the best places to produce algae for fuel, think hot, humid and wet. Especially promising are the Gulf Coast and the Southeastern seaboard. "The Gulf Coast offers a good combination of warm temperatures, low evaporation, access to an abundance of water, and plenty of fuel-processing facilities," said hydrologist Mark Wigmosta, the leader of the team that did the analysis. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Better Place Files for Bankruptcy

May 26th 2013

Project Better Place

Shai Agassi's vision that led to the founding of Better Place is the right one for today and was right five years ago. There is a real need to find an alternative to the internal combustion engine used in the world's vehicles. The contemporary car, despite all the technological developments of the past century, is still anti-environment, burns non-renewable fuels, pollutes the atmosphere, and harms our health.

Nobody has any doubt that sooner or later fuel reserves will be used up. While the global recession keeps the price of oil at a reasonable level, if the rapid rise of living standards of a billion people in the developing world continues as it has done over the past decade, the demand for gasoline will soar as will prices. We must not forget that a few years ago oil prices reached $150 per barrel and $200 per barrel is inevitable. Read more ..



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