• Bolstering Cybersecurity for Systems Linking Solar Power to Grid

    DOE has awarded researchers $3.6 million to advance technologies that integrate solar power systems to the national power grid. “As U.S. energy policy shifts toward more diverse sources, particularly solar, the Energy Department understands the critical importance of protecting these systems and technologies,” said Alan Mantooth, U Arkansas Professor of electrical engineering and principal investigator for the project.

  • Understanding the Hidden Impact of Disasters

    The September 2017 Hurricane Maria killed people, demolished homes, and destroyed infrastructure. But Maria also damaged the manufacturing plants of a major IV bag maker, plunging hospitals into supply shortage that didn’t ripple across the mainland United States until six months after the hurricane made landfall. Given the highly integrated nature of supply chains in the U.S., natural and man-made disasters can have unanticipated consequences that are every bit as serious as the immediate damage of the event itself.

  • Wind Energy Expansion Would Have $27 Billion Economic Impact

    Wind, which generates less greenhouse gas emission than burning fossil fuels, is making up an increasing share of the energy production portfolio in the United States. But wind is not as efficient as coal or natural gas, causing some concern about its economic impact. A new study that models increased wind production in 10 states shows significant economic impact in those states, as well as billions of dollars spread over the rest of the country.

  • New Website Will Help Steer the U.S. Away from Fossil Fuels

    A new website, Model Laws for Deep Decarbonization in the United States, was launched on Tuesday to help accelerate a sustainable U.S. transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. It will provide policy makers at the federal, state and local levels with the legal tools needed to transition away from fossil fuels.

  • Cybersecurity Requires International Cooperation, Trust

    Most experts agree that state-sponsored hackers in Russia are trying to use the internet to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid and sabotage elections. And yet internet security teams in the U.S. and Europe actively seek to cooperate with their Russian counterparts, setting aside some of their differences and focusing on the issues where they can establish mutual trust.

  • Coronavirus: People in Tall Buildings May Be More at Risk – Here’s How to Stay Safe

    The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged health systems and public health authorities worldwide. When you have a rapidly spreading virus with a high transmission rate, you have to investigate all possible infection risks.
    Michael Gormley writes in The Conversation that one area of risk that is yet to receive any attention is big buildings such as tower blocks or hospitals. While direct person-to-person transmission is still the most common means of acquiring the illness, our research suggests that occupants in tall buildings could become infected if defects occur in the plumbing system. It’s important for people to be aware of this and take steps to keep themselves safe.
    His group’s work at the Institute for Sustainable Building Design at Heriot-Watt University stems from an outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003 at an apartment block in Hong Kong, known as Amoy Gardens. In a building complex ranging from 33 to 41 storeys with some 19,000 residents, there were more than 300 confirmed cases and 42 deaths – around one-sixth of all SARS infections and fatalities on the island as a whole.

  • COVID-19 and the Built Environment

    Social distancing has Americans mostly out of the places they usually gather and in their homes as we try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But some buildings, such as hospitals and grocery stores, have to remain open, and at some point, most of us will go back to the office or workplace. What is the role of building design in disease transmission, and can we change how we design the built environment to make it healthier? Modern buildings are generally designed to promote social mixing — from open plan living areas in homes to open offices where many workers share space. By promoting interaction and chance encounters, these layouts are thought to generate more creativity and teamwork. At the same time, they are probably also really great for spreading viruses around.

  • Floating Wind Turbines on the Rise

    Over 26,000 megawatts (MW) of planned offshore wind capacity exists in the offshore wind development pipeline. Rapidly falling technology costs for offshore wind, including floating offshore wind technology, have aided the growth of this pipeline and promise to help wind become a significant part of the power mix in coastal communities.

  • Uncertain Climate Future May Disrupt Energy Systems

    Extreme weather events – such as severe drought, storms, and heat waves – have been forecast to become more commonplace and are already starting to occur. What has been less studied is the impact on energy systems and how communities can avoid costly disruptions, such as partial or total blackouts.

  • How Fire Causes Office-Building Floors to Collapse

    Engineers and technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) spent months meticulously recreating the long concrete floors supported by steel beams commonly found in high-rise office buildings, only to deliberately set the structures ablaze, destroying them in a fraction of the time it took to build them.

  • Reducing 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.

  • Protecting 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.

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

    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 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.

  • Coal 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.