Posted on October 4, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Will fusion reactors be part of our energy future? Schematic courtesy ITER.
Advances in superconductor technology could help spur economic viability of fusion energy
Recent advances in superconductor technology could bring fusion reactors online within the next few decades, energy researchers said in a new study, advising policy makers to start making plans for replacing nuclear power plants.
The analysis compared building, running and decommissioning fusion power stations to traditional fission nuclear power, showing that fusion is close to being economically viable.
“Obviously we have had to make assumptions, but what we can say is that our predictions suggest that fusion won’t be vastly more expensive than fission,” said Professor Damian Hampshire, of the Centre for Material Physics at Durham University, who led the study. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment | Tagged: climate change, energy, Environment, fusion reactors | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Can the U.S. take advantage of its enormous potential for offshore wind energy? Photo courtesy Andy Dingley/University of Delaware.
University of Delaware study identifies key policy hurdles
The U.S. has fallen way behind on developing its potentially huge offshore wind energy potential, according to University of Delaware researchers, who identified some of the obstacles in a recent study.
According to their paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005.
“As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, it is disheartening to see that while land-based wind and solar have reached new heights, U.S. offshore wind has remained a missed opportunity,” the paper’s lead author, Jeremy Firestone, said in a release that summarized the study findings. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, renewable energy | Tagged: energy, Environment, offshore wind energy, renewable energy | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 28, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Regulatory hurdles cited as part of the reason for decision
Shell Oil is giving up on drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea.
One of Shell’s Arctic mishaps came in 2012, when a drilling rig escaped its tow ships and ran aground. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.
By Bob Berwyn
Shell Oil’s hotly contested Arctic oil-drilling operation will shut down for the foreseeable future, the multinational fossil fuel company announced today, drawing sighs of relief from environmental advocates who had described the exploration efforts in apocalyptic terms.
The company’s efforts have been stop-and-go for a long time. In 2013, for example, Shell announced a temporary pause in the program after a string of incidents, including failed tests of oil spill containment gear, runaway ships and notices for violations of environmental regulations. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, energy, Environment, oil drilling | Tagged: Chukchi Sea, climate change, energy, Environment, Shell Arctic drilling | 2 Comments »
Posted on September 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Mule deer populations in northwest Colorado have taken a bit hit from energy development
‘Just pointing fingers at the energy industry is not a helpful solution to this difficult issue’
FRISCO — A recent study showing that energy development in northwest Colorado significantly affects wildlife habitat drew national attention, and a curious reaction from Colorado’s wildlife agency, which seemed to be apologizing on behalf of the energy industry.
The study showed that the region’s dwindling mule deer population shies well away from active drilling, to a distance of at least 800 meters. Deer displayed more nuanced responses to other infrastructure, avoiding pads with active production and roads to a greater degree during the day than night.
When they added up the impacts, the researchers found that the responses equate to alteration of mule deer behavior by human development in more than 50 percent of the critical winter range in the study area during the day and over 25 percent at night. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands, wildlife | Tagged: Colorado, energy, fossil fuels, fracking, habitat fragmentation, Mule deer | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Coal mining in the bad old days …
Researchers look for more efficient ways to de-carbonize fossil fuels
FRISCO — Everybody loves to hate coal these days, and for good reason. Pound for pound, it’s responsible for more greenhouses than any other fuel. In 2013, coal generated 39 percent of the electricty produced in the USA, but contributed 77 percent of the electricity sector’s carbon dioxide emissions.
But what if coal could be de-carbonized before it’s burned? A research team led by University at Buffalo, State University New York, will try to find a new way to do just that by adding palladium nanoparticles to a filtration system that will remove carbon dioxide from gasified coal before it’s burned. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment | Tagged: clean coal, climate change, energy, Environment | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Careful planning is needed to maximize the benefits of large wind farms. Photo via DOE.
New modeling study shows a “slowdown” effect if too many turbines are clumped together
FRISCO — Wind turbine installations could some day reach a point of diminishing returns if they get too big, according to a new study that evaluated the effects of large wind farms on atmospheric flow and its implications for how much renewable energy the turbines can generate.
The researchers at the University of Kansas did their study in the context of the renewable energy boom. Wind energy accounted for 3.3 percent of electricity generation in the United States in 2011. The study was aimed at learning what happens to the wind when a larger number of wind turbines removes more and more of the energy of atmospheric motion. Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: energy, Environment, renewable energy, wind power | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 30, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Marine conservation advocates say new seismic airgun blasting in the Arctic Ocean threatens whales and other marine life. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Seismic blasting east of Greenland raises concerns about impacts to marine mammals
FRISCO — The Arctic Ocean north of Alaska isn’t the only area increasingly at risk from oil and gas exploitation. Oil companies are exploring the seabed off the eastern coast of Greenland, and the seismic blasting is likely harm whales and other marine life.
Oil companies use seismic equipment to map underground oil and gas reserves with airguns that emit 259 decibel blasts, a sound intensity would be perceived by humans as approximately eight times louder than a jet engine taking off. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, energy, Environment, gas drilling, Marine biology, ocean conservation, oil drilling | Tagged: Arctic Ocean, energy, Environment, marine mammals, narwhals, seismic blasting | 1 Comment »