Energy resources

  • Demonstrating bioenergy technology

    Researchers plan to demonstrate an innovative bioenergy technology that converts wastewater treatment plant byproducts into hydrogen gas to produce electricity. The demonstration project will start in mid-October, and in about a year the wastewater treatment plant will be processing one ton per day of wet biosolids and will be producing up to thirty kilowatts of electricity. The electricity, in turn, will be used to power select functions at the plant.

  • Extracting maximum energy from currents

    In the long sprint to find new sources of clean, low-cost power, slow and steady may win the race — the slow-moving water of currents and tides, that is. Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing air to generate electricity, hydrokinetic devices produce power from moving masses of water.

  • World's first grid-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage system

    A New Hampshire company has completed construction and begun startup of the world’s first megawatt-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage (ICAES) system. The system stores and returns megawatts of electricity to provide long-term grid stability and support integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Unlike chemical battery systems, ICAES performance does not degrade over its lifetime or need frequent replacement. No hazardous materials are used.

  • Calculating the cost of a ton of mountaintop removal coal

    To meet current U.S. coal demand through surface mining, an area of the Central Appalachians the size of Washington, D.C., would need to be mined every eighty-one days. This is about sixty-eight square miles — or roughly an area equal to ten city blocks mined every hour. A 1-year supply of coal would require converting about 310 square miles of the region’s mountains into surface mines.

  • Canada addresses environmental concerns over Keystone XL

    Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper sent a letter to President Barack Obama last month offering to participate in joint efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in order to win approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Harper’s offer may allow Obama to approve the project without having to confront environmental groups.

  • Calculating the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid

    Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There are times, however, when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution, but a new study from Stanford University suggests that might not always be the case.

  • Future of coal in Australia riskier than renewables

    Coal-fired electricity may have little or no economic future in Australia, even if carbon capture and storage becomes commercially available, a new analysis has found. The study shows that coal with carbon capture and storage scenarios are likely to struggle to compete economically with 100 percent renewable electricity in a climate-constrained world, even if carbon capture and storage is commercialized by 2030.

  • Shale gas threatens U.S. nuclear power industry

    The U.S. nuclear industry is facing a new enemy, and it is not anti-nuclear peacenicks. It is the shale gas boom, which on Tuesday claimed yet another victim when Entergy Corporation said it would close its Vermont Yankee reactor ahead of schedule. It is the fourth U.S nuclear plant to be closed this year, as utilities have concluded that investing in refurbishing older reactors is no longer economically viable.

  • New reactor design makes nuclear power competitive with natural gas

    San Diego-based General Atomics has applied for funding of several hundred millions from the U.S Department of Energy to commercialize a nuclear reactor which, the firm claims, could cut the cost of nuclear power by as much as 40 percent. The new design replaces water with helium as a coolant, allowing the plant to operate at higher temperatures, thus increasing the efficiency of the power plan and reducing the amount of waste needing storage.

  • Breakthrough fuel cell technology: the future of electricity generation

    We currently rely upon an increasingly vulnerable electrical grid to provide the energy we need. The best way to decrease that vulnerability is through distributed energy, that is, by making our own energy on-site. A breakthrough fuel cell technology promises to provide always-on electricity to businesses, homes, and eventually automobiles, at about one-tenth the cost and one-tenth the size of current commercial fuel cell systems. The technology allows people to generate their own electricity with a system nearly impervious to hurricanes, thunderstorms, cyberattacks, derechos, and similar dangers, while simultaneously helping the environment.

  • Small modular reactors (SMEs) a “poor bet” to revive U.S. nuclear renaissance: report

    A shift to small modular reactors (SMRs) is unlikely to breathe new life into the troubled U.S. nuclear power industry, since SMRs will likely require tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies or government purchase orders, create new reliability vulnerabilities, as well as concerns in relation to both safety and proliferation, according a report issued last week.

  • Aging grid limiting exploitation of wind power potential

    Energy firms and utility companies continue to invest in wind power, as evident in the increasing number of wind turbines on the prairies of the Midwest, but the aging infrastructure of the nation’s power grid is limiting the potential of this clean energy source.

  • Mapping out an alternative energy future for New York

    New York governor Andrew Cuomo will soon decide whether to approve hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state. To date, no alternative to expanded gas drilling has been proposed.A new study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York’s all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).

  • Testing feasibility of deep geological storage of CO2 emissions

    An injection of carbon dioxide, or CO2, has begun at a site in southeastern Washington to test deep geologic storage. Researchers are injecting 1,000 tons of CO2 one-half mile underground to see whether the greenhouse gas can be stored safely and permanently in ancient basalt flows. The United States and portions of Canada have enough potential capacity in geologic formations to store as much as 900 years of CO2 emissions.

  • Powering 1,000 homes would require using 32 acres for solar power plants

    The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report on the land use requirements of solar power plants based on actual land-use practices from existing solar facilities. Powering 1,000 homes would require setting aside 32 acres for solar power plants.