• Germany to scrap nuclear power by 2022

    Germany yesterday announced plans to become the first major industrialized power to shut down all its nuclear plants in the wake of the disaster in Japan; phase-out due to be wrapped up by 2022; it means that the country will have to find the 22 percent of its electricity needs currently covered by nuclear reactors from another source; Monday decision is a U-turn for Chancellor Angela Merkel, and means that the current government has adopted the timetable for a nuclear phase-out set by the previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago; it also cancels Merkel’s decision from November 2010 to extend the lifetime of Germany’s seventeen reactors by an average of twelve years, which would have kept them open until the mid-2030s

  • Germany ends nuclear program

    Last Thursday German chancellor Angela Merkel declared that her government plans to close its nuclear power plants in a “measured exit”; the decision to end Germany’s nuclear power program was a result of the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan; some believe that Chancellor Merkel’s announcement is driven more by politics than safety concerns; recent polls show that 80 percent of voters are opposed to nuclear power; Merkel’s party faces close regional elections in states where nuclear plants are located; Switzerland, Venezuela, and China have also announced that they will suspend or delay plans to build new nuclear plants

  • U.S. nuclear program under greater scrutiny

    The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan has caused countries around the world to reconsider its nuclear plans; Germany recently announced that it was ending its nuclear program, while Sweden, Venezuela, and China have all announced that they were temporarily suspending their nuclear programs to conduct safety reviews; lawmakers and engineers in the United States are also pushing for greater scrutiny of nuclear power plants; in its latest report the Union of Concerned Scientists sharply criticized the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for not properly enforcing safety regulations at nuclear power plants;

  • Oil industry creates center for off-shore safety

    Following several accidents on off-shore oil rigs, the U.S. oil and gas industry will launch a center dedicated to investigating safety issues related to off-shore drilling; the center will be operated by the American Petroleum Institute (API) but will be walled off from the trade group’s lobbying work

  • Growth of geothermal energy market lags behind wind and solar

    According to a recently released report, the geothermal energy market is expected to grow over the next twenty years, but will still trail far behind wind and solar; currently only twenty-six countries in the world use geothermal energy to generate power, and as of 2010 there was a total global capacity of 10,715 megawatts; in June 2010, total global capacity of wind-powered generators was 175 gigawatts; by 2020 as much as 14.4 gigawatts of new geothermal capacity will be added at a 3 percent annual growth rate; the market value is estimated to be $6.8 billion by 2020; the expansion of geothermal energy still faces several impediments; at least 350 projects currently underway face financing, drilling rig, and skilled labor shortages

  • Growing worries about security of Suez Canal

    More than 35,000 ships crossed the Suez in 2009, about 10 percent of them oil tankers; if the Suez Canal were to close, oil tankers would be forced to sail around southern Africa — adding some 6,000 miles to the journey; this translates to an extra twelve days traveling from Saudi Arabia to Houston; based solely on speculation and risk, experts say the price of crude oil has gone up $5.00 a barrel since Friday; U.S. officials keep silent about how the United States might respond if Egyptian officials could no longer guarantee safe passage for the tens of thousands of ships that pass through the canal each year

  • U.S. lacks infrastructure to increase use of ethanol fuel

    Scientists at Purdue University say the United States lacks the infrastructure to meet the federal Renewable Fuel Standard with ethanol; researchers say the United States has hit the “blending wall” and lacks the ability to consume more ethanol than what is currently produced; less than 3 percent of vehicles on the road are equipped to handle ethanol fuels and there are only 2,000 pumps; the federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires nearly three times as much renewable fuel to be produced per year by 2022

  • Army seeks to go off the grid at Fort Bliss

    At Fort Bliss Army commanders seek to power the base using renewable power sources by 2015; plans include using solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass; military bases around the country are increasingly looking at renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid disruption in the event of a terrorist attack

  • China says it has mastered the process of reprocessing nuclear fuel

    One way to extend to energy productivity of nuclear fuel is to reprocess it after it has been used; reprocessing nuclear fuel costs significantly more than using it once and storing it as waste; it is also controversial because extracted plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons; China has just announced that it has mastered the technology for reprocessing fuel from nuclear power plants, potentially boosting the supplies of carbon-free electricity to keep the country’s economy booming

  • Debate over extending operation of aging NY reactor

    The Indian Point Energy Center is located on the banks of the Hudson River just twenty-four miles north of Manhattan; its reactors are aging: the first reactor at the center began operating in 1962 and shut down in 1974; two new reactors were built in 1974 and 1976; the plant operator seeks permission from the U.S. government to extend operations at the plant; many locals oppose the extension, citing what they say are inadequate emergency evacuation plans in the event of a disaster, and the damage the plant cooling system inflicts on aquatic life

  • Declining energy quality root cause of current recession

    A new concept — the Energy Intensity Ratio (EIR) — measures how much profit is obtained by energy consumers relative to energy producers; the higher the EIR, the more economic value consumers (including businesses, governments and people) get from their energy; to get the U.S. economy growing again, Americans will have to increase the U.S. EIR by producing and using energy more efficiently

  • Norway looking to osmotic power generation

    Water-based energy generation conjures up pictures of towering hydro-electric dams, submerged tidal turbines, and bobbing wave-energy converters; the energy embodied in moving water — which all of these technologies exploit — is one way to make electricity from the sea, but it is not the only one; in Scandinavia, a pilot power station is demonstrating that another of the sea’s defining characteristics, saltiness, could also be harnessed to provide electricity

  • Sea-based energy could supply 50% of Europe's needs by 2050

    By 2050 Europe could get up to 50 percent of its electricity needs from renewable marine sources; marine renewable energies include harnessing the power of offshore wind, waves, tides, and ocean currents as well as exploiting salinity and temperature gradients and using algae for biofuel production

  • MIT: No shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, more research needed

    New study challenges the assumption that the world is running out of uranium — and suggests that nuclear power using today’s reactor technology with a once-through fuel cycle can play a significant part in displacing the world’s carbon-emitting fossil-fuel plants, and thus help to reduce the potential for global climate change

  • Scientists call for a global nuclear power renaissance

    Scientists call for a 2-stage campaign to revive nuclear power; the first stage could see countries with existing nuclear infrastructure replacing or extending the life of nuclear power stations, followed by a second phase of global expansion in the industry by the year 2030; the team says their roadmap could fill an energy gap as old nuclear, gas, and coal fired plants around the world are decommissioned, while helping to reduce the planet’s dependency on fossil fuels