• Man-induced earthquakesGeothermal plant caused South Korea’ 2017 tremor

    A rare earthquake in South Korea was triggered by the country’s first experimental geothermal power plant, government officials said Wednesday. The southeastern port city of Pohang was rattled by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake in November 2017— the second-most powerful tremor ever in the normally seismically stable South.

  • Energy & geopoliticsNew geopolitical power dynamics created by renewables

    Political and business leaders from around the world have outlined the far-reaching geopolitical implications of an energy transformation driven by the rapid growth of renewable energy. In a new report, experts say the geopolitical and socio-economic consequences of a new energy age may be as profound as those which accompanied the shift from biomass to fossil fuels two centuries ago.

  • Considered opinion: Guyana turmoilGuyana at risk: Ethnic politics, oil, Venezuelan opportunism and why it should matter to Washington

    By Evan Ellis

    On Friday, 21 December, the government of Guyana, a strategically important but often overlooked country, imploded. A member of parliament from a small centrist partner in the governing coalition, supported an opposition no-confidence motion against his own party’s leadership. His move ended the government’s fragile 33-32 majority in the 65 seat National Assembly, setting the stage for new national elections within 90 days. The collapse of the government is the first shot in a destabilizing fight between Guyana’s ethnically Indian and African communities to control the spoils from a tidal wave of oil money as production from the offshore Liza field begins in 2020. To exacerbate the situation, the collapsing socialist regime of neighboring Venezuela continues to assert claims on part of that oil and a third of Guyana’s national territory.

  • Oil spillsInexpensive super-absorbent material offers solution for ocean oil spills

    A super-absorbent material developed by Penn State scientists could dramatically reduce the environmental impact of oil spills on oceans and allow recovered oil to be refined normally. The synthetic material, called i-Petrogel, absorbs more than 40 times its weight in crude oil, and effectively stops the oil from spreading after a spill, according to the researchers.

  • Man-induced earthquakesFracking-related water storage tied to earthquake risk

    In addition to producing oil and gas, the energy industry produces a lot of water, about 10 barrels of water per barrel of oil on average. New research has found that where the produced water is stored underground influences the risk of induced earthquakes.

  • TransportationRevisiting federal safety regulations for liquid petroleum gas distribution systems

    Current federal safety regulations for small distribution systems used for propane and other liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs) should be improved for clarity, efficiency, enforceability, and applicability to risk, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Nuclear powerThe nuclear industry is making a big bet on small power plants

    By Scott L. Montgomery

    Until now, generating nuclear power has required massive facilities surrounded by acres of buildings, electrical infrastructure, roads, parking lots and more. The nuclear industry is trying to change that picture – by going small. Efforts to build the nation’s first “advanced small modular reactor,” or SMR, in Idaho, are on track for it to become operational by the mid-2020s. The debate continues over whether this technology is worth pursuing, but the nuclear industry isn’t waiting for a verdict. Nor, as an energy scholar, do I think it should. This new generation of smaller and more technologically advanced reactors offer many advantages, including an assembly-line approach to production, vastly reduced meltdown risks and greater flexibility in terms of where they can be located, among others.

  • Energy securityHere’s why Trump’s new strategy to keep ailing coal and nuclear plants open makes no sense

    By James Van Nostrand

    President Donald Trump recently ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take “immediate steps” to stop the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. The proposal is premised on these power plants being essential to national security. To be sure, the coal and nuclear industries are in trouble. Thirty-six coal plants have retired since Trump was elected, and another 30 will close in the coming months. More than 1 in 10 of the nation’s nuclear reactors are likely to be decommissioned by 2025. But experts are not worried about any electricity shortages or outages between now and 2025. The Energy Department’s own assessment of whether the ongoing wave of coal and nuclear plant retirements are threatening grid reliability, found no cause for alarm. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission unanimously rejected an earlier proposal for the tax-payers to subsidize these declining industries. In short, there is no emergency that justifies this unprecedented intrusion into the electricity markets that would warrant forcing taxpayers and utilities to pay a premium to keep coal and nuclear plants online. The only “emergencies” are the financial woes of the plant owners caused by the rapid decline coal consumption and the nuclear industry’s weak outlook.

  • Energy securityWe can get 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources: Scientists

    Is there enough space for all the wind turbines and solar panels to provide all our energy needs? What happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Won’t renewables destabilize the grid and cause blackouts? Scientists say that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100 percent renewable future.

  • EnergyAmericans use more solar, wind energy as use of coal declines

    Americans used more solar and wind energy in 2017 compared to the previous year. Solar energy accounted for 32 percent, driven by strong growth in large-scale installations and strong growth in residential installations. Wind energy also was up 11 percent. Coal plants continue to be taken offline due to environmental impacts and the high cost of operation relative to cheaper and cleaner natural gas.

  • EnergyNatural gas prices, not “war on coal,” key to coal power decline

    New research finds that steep declines in the use of coal for power generation over the past decade were caused largely by less expensive natural gas and the availability of wind energy – not by environmental regulations. “From 2008 to 2013, coal dropped from about 50 percent of U.S. power generation to around 30 percent,” says one researcher, adding that “the changes in coal power production were actually driven largely by capitalism.”

  • Climate mitigationCarbon taxes could make significant dent in climate change, study finds

    By David L. Chandler

    Putting a price on carbon, in the form of a fee or tax on the use of fossil fuels, coupled with returning the generated revenue to the public in one form or another, can be an effective way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. That’s one of the conclusions of an extensive analysis of several versions of such proposals, carried out by researchers at MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

  • Texas sink holesLarge swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates

    Two giant sinkholes near Wink, Texas, may just be the tip of the iceberg, according to a new study that found alarming rates of new ground movement extending far beyond the infamous sinkholes. Analysis indicates decades of oil production activity have destabilized localities in an area of about 4,000 square miles populated by small towns, roadways and a vast network of oil and gas pipelines and storage tanks.

  • Nuclear safetySandia transport triathlon puts spent nuclear fuel to the test

    Nuclear power supplies almost 20 percent of U.S. electricity and is the leading carbon-neutral power source. However, it produces between 2,200 and 2,600 tons of spent fuel in the United States each year. Fuel rods become brittle and highly radioactive while powering the nuclear reactor, making safe transportation important. Sandia National Laboratories researchers completed an eight-month, 14,500-mile triathlon-like test to gather data on the bumps and jolts spent nuclear fuel experiences during transportation.

  • Fuel spillsLiving sensor may prevent environmental disasters from fuel spills

    The Colonial Pipeline, which carries fuel from Texas to New York, ruptured last fall, dumping a quarter-million gallons of gas in rural Alabama. By the time the leak was detected during routine inspection, vapors from released gasoline were so strong they prevented pipeline repair for days. Now, scientists are developing technology that would alert pipeline managers about leaks as soon as failure begins, avoiding the environmental disasters and fuel distribution disruptions resulting from pipeline leaks.