• Energy securityReducing U.S. Fossil-Fuel Dependence: Left, Right Agree on Goal, Differ on Means

    Both sides of the political spectrum recognize a need to reduce American dependence on carbon-based energy sources, but how the nation does so remains a divisive issue, a new study found.

  • Better protectionProtecting U.S. Energy Grid and Nuclear Weapons Systems

    To deter attempts to disable U.S. electrical utilities and to defend U.S. nuclear weapon systems from evolving technological threats, Sandia researchers have begun two multiyear initiatives to strengthen U.S. responses.

  • Nuclear powerFusion Researchers Endorse Push for Pilot Power Plant in U.S.

    By Peter Dunn

    The growing sense of urgency around development of fusion technology for energy production in the United States got another boost this week with the release of a community consensus report by a diverse group of researchers from academia, government labs, and industry. High among its recommendations is development of a pilot fusion power plant, an ambitious goal that would be an important step toward an American fusion energy industry.

  • Geoelectric hazardsGeoelectric Hazards to High-Voltage Power Grid

    Geomagnetic storms are caused by the dynamic action of the Sun and solar wind on the space environment surrounding the Earth. Magnetic disturbance during such a storm generates electric fields in the Earth’s crust and mantle. These electric fields can interfere with the operation of grounded electric power-grid systems. A new report analyzes geoelectric hazards for two-thirds of the contiguous U.S., spanning from the northeast to the west coast of the United States.

  • Energy securityCoal Developers Risk $600 Billion As Renewables Outcompete Worldwide

    Coal developers risk wasting more than $600 billion because it is already cheaper to generate electricity from new renewables than from new coal plants in all major markets, the financial think tank Carbon Tracker warns in a new report. The report also finds that over 60 percent of global coal power plants are generating electricity at higher cost than it could be produced by building new renewables. By 2030 at the latest it will be cheaper to build new wind or solar capacity than continue operating coal in all markets.

  • BridgesA First: New Bridge Building Technology Successfully Used in Austrian Alps

    There are many different methods for erecting bridges, but the new technique — the balanced lowering method — is quite spectacular: the bridge is not built horizontally, as would normally be case, but erected in a vertical position and then rotated into the horizontal position. The new bridge construction technology has now been successfully used in the construction of the Fürstenfeld Motorway in the Austrian Alps.

  • GridThe Modern Electric Grid Needs Smarter Modeling for Improving Resilience

    Today’s smart grid involves components that talk to each other, sending signals over communication networks to keep power flowing smoothly and efficiently. But what happens when the “conversation” goes quiet? The growing interdependence of power systems and communication networks can affect the response and recovery times when problems occur.

  • Climate challengesMore Accurate Climate Change Model Reveals Bleaker Outlook on Electricity, Water Use

    By 2030, global warming alone could push Chicago to generate 12 percent more electricity per person each month of the summer. If the city generated any less electricity, it would be risking a power shortage that may require drastic measures to avoid rolling blackouts, according to projections from a model designed by Purdue University researchers.

  • Western hemisphereAmerican Observers Threatened over Guyana Election Results

    Tensions are rising in newly oil-rich Guyana with nearly 100 percent of the votes now reported from Monday’s national election. The governing APNU party appears to have lost to the opposition Peoples Progressive Party (PPP). International elections observers – mostly Americans – are now being menaced and threatened by APNU to leave or face arrest. Guyana’s election is being watched closely because the winner will be in control of a coming oil boom which will transform Guyana. In December Exxon began commercial exploitation of a huge 2016 oil discovery off the coast, and production is expected to grow from 52,000 barrels per day to over 750,000 by 2025.

  • FloodingNew Flooding Prediction Tool

    By incorporating the architecture of city drainage systems and readings from flood gauges into a comprehensive statistical framework, researchers can now accurately predict the evolution of floods in extreme situations like hurricanes. With their new approach, the researchers said their algorithm could forecast the flow of floodwater in almost real-time, which can then lead to more timely emergency response and planning.

  • ResilienceBuilding a Flood Resilient Future

    By Tom Almeroth-Williams

    Seven of the United Kingdom’s ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.

  • Climate mitigationA Dam Across the North Sea to Protect Europeans from Sea-Level Rise

    Engineers say that a 475-km-long dam between the north of Scotland and the west of Norway. and another one of 160 km between the west point of France and the southwest of England, could protect more than 25 million Europeans against the consequences of an expected sea level rise.

  • MineralsIdentifying the Greatest Risk to U.S. Mineral Resource Supplies

    Policymakers and the U.S. manufacturing sector now have a powerful tool to help them identify which mineral commodities they rely on that are most at risk to supply disruptions. The risk tool identified 23 mineral commodities whose supply poses the greatest risk, including those used in consumer electronics, renewable energy, aerospace, and defense applications.

  • Climate & securityClimate Change Poses “High-to-Catastrophic” Security Threats to U.S. Security: Experts

    A comprehensive report finds that plausible climate change trajectories pose “High-to-Catastrophic” threats to U.S. national security. An expert panel analyzed the globe through the lens of the U.S. Geographic Combatant Commands, and concluded that “Even at scenarios of low warming, each region of the world will face severe risks to national and global security in the next three decades. Higher levels of warming will pose catastrophic, and likely irreversible, global security risks over the course of the twenty-first century.”

  • Floods“Natural” Flood Management Would Be Overwhelmed by Britain’s Winter Super-Floods

    By Robert Wilby and Simon Dadson

    As large swathes of the U.K. endure the worst floods in living memory, hearts and minds are rightly focused on protecting people and property. Once the floods recede, there will doubtless be a period of reflection on what could have been done better. It may be tempting to point the finger of blame or to promote a particular solution. But the hard truth is that there is no silver bullet for “preventing” floods.