Annual wind power additions in the U.S. achieved record levels in 2012, while wind energy pricing is near an all-time low. Roughly 13.1 GW of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2012, well above the previous high in 2009, and motivated by the scheduled expiration of federal tax incentives at the end of 2012.
Americans are increasingly installing wind turbines near their homes, farms and businesses to generate their own energy, concludes a new report released by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE). The 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications is the first comprehensive analysis on a growing field called distributed wind.
A team of Univ. of Michigan researchers has been awarded a $2 million federal grant to identify and test naturally diverse groups of green algae that can be grown together to create a high-yield, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective system to produce next-generation biofuels.
Could there come a time in which the carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants is harvested and used to produce clean, green and renewable liquid transportation fuels? A pathway to that possibility has been opened by a team of researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute who have engineered a microbe now being used to produce biodegradable plastic into a strain that can produce a high-performance advanced biofuel.
On June 6, 2013, the U.S. Dept. of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Brazilian Coal Association (BCA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Florianopolis, Brazil. By signing the MOU, both parties agree to work together over the next five years to assess the potential of CCS in fossil fuel–based systems.
Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.
Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the most recent U.S. energy charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Natural gas use is up in the electricity generation sector, where it has basically substituted directly for coal, while sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector.
Each year, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases energy flow charts that track the nation's consumption of energy resources. According to the most recent charts, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012.
Mississippi electric and natural gas utilities will soon be paying for their customers to cut energy use. The state Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to adopt energy efficiency rules requiring all gas and electric companies with more than 25,000 customers to begin offering programs within six months.
Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received six R&D 100 awards. The six awards bring ORNL's total of R&D 100 awards to 179 since their inception in 1963. This year, ORNL received awards for the following technologies: ClimateMaster Trilogy 40 Q-Mode Geothermal Heat Pump, Distribute The Highest Selected Textual Recommendation, V-shaped External Cavity Laser Diode Array, and more.
A generator that uses a virus to convert mechanical energy to electricity and a new material that will boost power storage in rechargeable batteries by 30% are among eight inventions by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists that were honored with a 2013 R&D 100 Award, often dubbed the “Oscars of Innovation.”
Three technologies from the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and its partners were honored with 2013 R&D 100 Awards. MiniMAX is a battery-powered, digital x-ray imaging system that is completely self-contained, lightweight, compact and portable. KiloPower uses a nuclear fission system as a heat source that transfers heat via a heat pipe to a small power convertor to produce electricity from uranium.
Japan is moving a step closer to restarting nuclear reactors as utilities are set to ask for safety inspections at their idled reactors, the clearest sign of Japan's return to nuclear energy nearly two and a half years after the Fukushima disaster. With all but two of its 50 reactors off line since the crisis, Japan has been without nuclear energy that once supplied about a third of its power.
Researchers in the Pacific Northwest are testing and evaluating a new power storage system that could help store excess electricity generated by the region's many wind farms. The system announced Monday at south-central Washington's Nine Canyon Wind Project includes lithium-ion batteries that can store 500 kilowatt-hours of power—enough energy to meet the demand of about a dozen homes for at least half a day.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to recent research. Hydroelectric dams are controlled by guide curves that account for drinking water and droughts. They cannot simply release water to meet some electricity demand or hold back water when electricity is in low demand.
Hydrogen fuel cells are already powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks, among other applications. Now, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have found that hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for ships at berth, replacing on-board diesel generators.
A nuclear power plant on Thursday received the first shipment of reprocessed reactor fuel to arrive in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, although it will not be used until the facility gets government approval to restart its reactors. The fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium oxide called MOX, arrived aboard a freighter from France at the Takahama nuclear power station on the Sea of Japan coast in western Japan.
America is slowly moving toward cleaner sources of energy and using less of it overall. President Barack Obama's plan to fight climate change will accelerate those trends. The plan aims to reduce power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide, increase America's reliance on natural gas and renewables and make trucks, homes and businesses more efficient.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to Penn State Univ. researchers. The U.S. Dept. of Energy recently examined the feasibility of producing 20% of U.S. electricity from wind by 2030.
It's a dilemma for drivers: Do they choose a gasoline that's cheaper and cleaner even if, as opponents say, it could damage older cars and motorcycles? That's the peril and promise of a high-ethanol blend of gasoline known as E15. The fuel contains 15% ethanol, well above the current 10% norm sold at most U.S. gas stations.
Univ. of Delaware chemist Joel Rosenthal is driven to succeed in the renewable energy arena. Rosenthal and his team have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels for powering cars, homes and businesses.
Improved methods for breaking down cellulose nanofibers are central to cost-effective biofuel production and the subject of new research from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Scientists are investigating the unique properties of crystalline cellulose nanofibers to develop novel chemical pretreatments and designer enzymes for biofuel production from cellulosic—or non-food—plant derived biomass.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have devised a cheaper way to synthesize a key biofuel component, which could make its industrial production much more cost effective. The compound, known as gamma-valerolactone (GVL), is attractive because of its versatility. It has more energy than ethanol and could be used on its own or as an additive to other fuels.
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. A Penn State Univ. research team has found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered—or catalyzed—by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth.
Making cars more fuel-efficient is great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but rather than promoting sales of electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, policymakers should turn their focus to cutting emissions in other energy sectors—from oil wells and power plants to farms and forests affected by biofuels production—says a Univ. of Michigan researcher.