• Breakthrough in continuous monitoring of CO2 leaks from carbon storage sites

    Underground storage of CO2 produced from fossil fuel burning, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, could play an important role in suppressing climate change. Ensuring that the CO2 does not leak from the storage site is key – but the high number of surveys necessary to make sure there is no CO2 leak  makes this a costly endeavor. A team of Japanese researchers may have found a means of achieving easier and lower-cost monitoring for leaks of CO2 stored in underground reservoirs.

  • Global learning required to prevent carbon capture, storage from being abandoned

    Governments should not be abandoning carbon capture and storage, argues a Cambridge researcher, as it is the only realistic way of dramatically reducing carbon emissions. Instead, they should be investing in global approaches to learn what works – and what doesn’t.

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  • Toxins found in fracking fluids and wastewater: Study

    In an analysis of more than 1,000 chemicals in fluids used in and created by hydraulic fracturing (fracking), researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information. The researchers say that further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.

  • Gov. Brown declares emergency in wake of massive L.A. natural gas leak

    California governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared an emergency in a Los Angeles neighborhood where a natural gas well has been spewing record amounts of stinking, global-warming methane gas. Energy experts said the breach at the natural gas storage reservoir, and the subsequent, ongoing release, are the largest known occurrence of its kind.

  • Global electricity production vulnerable to climate change, water resource decline

    Climate change impacts and associated changes in water resources could lead to reductions in electricity production capacity for more than 60 percent of the power plants worldwide from 2040-2069. A new study calls for a greater focus on adaptation efforts in order to maintain future energy security. Making power plants more efficient and flexible could mitigate much of the decline.

  • Making cleaner fuel cells

    There is a near unanimity in the scientific community that the average temperature on the planet is rising and this is happening because of the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Radically redesigning virtually all technological infrastructure is not possible without an acceptable alternative to internal combustion engines: either electric accumulators and electric motors, or fuel cells with electric motors. Fuel cells themselves will not solve the problem of rising temperatures on the planet, but they are part of a possible solution. Researchers have developed ion-exchange synthetic membranes based on amphiphilic compounds that are able to convert the energy of chemical reactions into electrical current.

  • Harnessing distributed energy devices to balance the power grid

    The electric grid has to balance power supply and demand nearly in real-time, requiring power plants to be adjusted on a second-by-second basis. This instantaneous balance is made significantly more complex by renewable energy such as wind and solar, which add more uncertainty and variability. A new research project is proposing a unique solution to this growing problem: employing the millions of distributed energy resources that already exist, such as solar panels on rooftops and heating and cooling systems in buildings.

  • Making the power grid more resilient, flexible

    “The biggest and most complex machine ever built by humankind” – this is how one researcher describes the U.S. power grid. A research team has been charged with the formidable task of transforming that big and complex machine from the inside out. Inverters convert DC (direct current) electricity to AC (alternating current) electricity, the kind that forms the basis of today’s power grid. To integrate more inverter-based distributed generation into the grid, the researchers are developing a dynamic distribution system (DDS) that supplements centralized power plants, instead of replacing them.

  • Idaho to become U.S. geothermal research hot spot

    For all the talk about energy shortages, the fact is the Earth is giant ball of energy that has been producing heat ever since the solar system was formed billions of years ago. The temperature at the core — 6,000 degrees Celsius — is roughly the same as the surface of the sun. All that heat radiates outward through the Earth’s mantle and crust. Less than 1 percent of the electricity in the United States comes from geothermal sources, and energy specialists believe that geothermal power should make a much greater contribution to U.S. electricity. A new consortium plans to pump water into the rock about 8,000 to 12,000 feet deep, fracture the rock and capture heat, then bring heated, pressurized water back to the surface to generate energy.

  • “Hydricity”: Using solar energy to produce power round-the-clock

    Researchers are proposing a new “hydricity” concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy, but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.

  • Fracking-induced earthquakes increase in magnitude over time

    A study by geophysicists shows that earthquakes resulting from fracking-related wastewater injection follow several indicative patterns that are starkly different from natural causes. One of the study’s main conclusions is that the likelihood of large-magnitude manmade, or “induced,” earthquakes in areas where fracking activity takes place, increases over time, independent of the previous seismicity rate. The study’s findings could have implications for both the oil and natural gas industry and for government regulators. Under current practices, extraction activities typically shut down in an area if a high-magnitude earthquake occurs. But according to the researchers, a better approach might be to limit production before a large quake occurs.

  • Coal plant plans could make it impossible to hold warming below 2°C

    There are 2,440 planned coal plants around the world, totaling 1428GW, which could emit approximately 16-18 percent of the total allowed emissions in 2030 (under a 2°C-compatible scenario, medium range). If all coal plants in the pipeline were to be built, by 2030, emissions from coal power would be 400 percent higher than what is consistent with a 2°C pathway, according to a new analysis.

  • Storing renewable energy underground for a reliable, affordable national grid

    A common criticism of a total transition to renewable energy — wind, water, and solar power — is that the U.S. electrical grid cannot affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable. Researchers propose an underground solution to that problem. The researchers use data from single-state calculations of the number of wind, water, and solar generators potentially needed in each state to show that these installations can theoretically result in a reliable, affordable national grid when the generators are combined with inexpensive storage and “demand response” — a program in which utilities give customers incentives to control times of peak demand.

  • Oklahoma Corporation Commission shuts down oil wells to reduce threat to Cushing oil hub

    Cushing, Oklahoma, is the site of an immense oil tank farm, which presently stores fifty-four million barrels awaiting transfer to coastal refineries and plants. The tank farm is considered an integral and vital part of our national energy infrastructure. According to scientists, the integrity of the Cushing hub is now at risk because of fracking. Studies document that the recent disposal of millions of barrels of water into disposal wells, including those adjacent to the Cushing hub, have caused the rapid rise of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Oklahoma earthquakes have thus become a very real national security issue. Until federal expertise and support reaches Oklahoma, a potential human-made catastrophe could conceivably also become a national security disaster.

  • Pre-drilling computer analysis could limit fracking-induced earthquakes

    Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is used to break the subsurface rock mass into pieces and is done by injecting high-pressure fluid. While this gives the fluid or gas more paths to reach production wells, it also leads to several environmental problems, one of which is the unwanted shaking of the ground structures caused by the movement of large faults. Using computer analysis prior to drilling could limit seismic events as a result of hydraulic fracturing.