Tag Archives | Energy

‘Tactics as Dirty as Their Oil': Leaked Docs Reveal TransCanada’s Propaganda Plan

Keystone XL demonstration, White House, 8-23-2011 Josh Lopez, CC BY 2.0

Keystone XL demonstration, White House, 8-23-2011
Josh Lopez, CC BY 2.0

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

Internal strategy documents prepared by a public relations firm on behalf of Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada reveal details of an enormous and well-organized effort by the oil industry to neutralize the transnational grassroots movement which has grown up around the industry’s effort to expand tar sands mining and the building of huge infrastructure projects designed to get “the world’s dirtest fuel” to market.

Obtained by Greenpeace and given to The Guardian newspaper, the documents show that TransCanada—which has proposed building a pipeline called Energy East to bring tar sands from Alberta to New Brusnwick through the largest such pipeline ever built—is aligned with other oil and gas companies placing serious resources of time, money, and personnel into countering the growing climate justice movement which has so far successfully delayed building the Keystone XL pipelein and affirmed its commitment to stopping similar projects in the name of fighting global warming and the resulting threat of climate change.

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$548 Billion In Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies “Rig The Game” Against Renewables

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via Clean Technica:

In the same week that a new study found that G20 nations, including Australia, were providing $US88 billion ($A102 billion) a year in subsidies just for fossil fuel exploration, another report – this time from the highly conservative International Energy Agency – has put a number to the global value of subsidies that artificially lowered end-use prices for all forms of fossil energy in 2013: $US548 billion.

It’s a huge number, and although $25 billion less than in 2012, the IEA notes that the $548 billion spent in 2013 – over half of which was directed to oil products – remains more than four times the value of subsidies to renewable energy and more than four times the amount invested globally on improving energy efficiency.

In its 2014 World Energy Outlook report, released on Wednesday, the IEA says the subsidisation of fossil fuels remains a big problem globally, imposing enormous economic, social and environmental costs.

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A Solar Cell That Stores Its Own Power

Credit: Yiying Wu, The Ohio State University

Credit: Yiying Wu, The Ohio State University

Via ScienceDaily:

Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is both: the world’s first solar battery.

In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report that they’ve succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.

“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said.

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Terrestrial Energy Co.: Vanquish the Arrested Future of Nuclear Energy

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 8.42.00 PM

In a Sept 2014 talk at the Economic Club of Canada, Hugh MacDiarmid coolly lays out the groundwork of a new energy future, without the pie-in-the-sky wishes of fusion, the intermittent inadequacy of solar and wind, or the non-renewable carbon emissions of coal, oil, and gas.

Canadian company Terrestrial Energy is on track to make the first commercially viable molten salt nuclear reactor by early next decade, at first supplementing coal but ultimately supplanting it for electricity production. The molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of Generation 4 reactor with roots in the 1950s at Oak Ridge National Lab and has manifold advantages over existing reactors. The MSR uses a liquid salt loop to contain its fissile material such as uranium, thorium, or plutonium oxides. Since the reaction occurs in liquid fuel, it is literally impossible to melt down, and since it reacts at atmospheric pressure there is no need for a massive reinforced containment vessel.… Read the rest

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Nate Hagens – Limits to Growth: Where We Are and What to Do About It

Is the global economy hitting the limits to growth?

In this talk, Nate Hagens will synthesize the current landscape of global energy, environment and financial risks while offering suggestions on what to do as a hominid living on a full planet. He will raise the question of whether it is possible to degrow our economies with conscious effort before our options are constrained by external forces. After a quick summary of the situation, he will lead a conversation with the audience on appropriate responses to these challenges. Are large climate rallies accomplishing anything? If they aren’t, what is a better plan of action?

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Greenery Power: Charge Your Phone Using a Plant

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts. By Kelly Fike/USFWS via Flickr.

Coastal wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts. By Kelly Fike/USFWS via Flickr.

Anmar Frangoul writes at CNBC:

The way we power our towns and cities is changing. Solar, wave and wind energy are just some of the renewable sources that could, with time, make our current reliance on fossil fuels a thing of the past.

But what about clean, renewable energy from the planet’s lawns, plants, paddy fields and wetlands? It sounds a little outlandish, but for nearly a decade researchers in the Dutch town of Wageningen have been painstakingly working towards that very goal.

Plant-e, a Wageningen University spin-off company, uses technology that enables living plants to generate electricity.

“The idea of the technology is to produce electricity from a new source,” David Strik, Assistant Professor at Wageningen University’s Sub-department of Environmental Technology, and co-founder and CTO of Plant-e, told CNBC.com in a phone interview.

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Could Cannabis-Based Batteries Be The Future?

Marijuana031904_fig1

Another win for the cannabis industry.

via AlterNet:

On top of its vast medicinal benefits and a “high” that’s safer and mellower than alcohol, what if cannabis could also power a cheap, sustainable super battery and forever change the energy game? It sounds like a far-fetched dream cooked up by Cheech and Chong after a bong rip or three, but it’s possible, according to a team of researchers at the University of Alberta.

During the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, engineering professor David Mitlin (who now works at Clarkson University in New York) presented the findings. The study he led investigates the potential for industrial hemp (the non-psychoactive cannabis plant closely related to marijuana) to aid in the creation of extremely efficient batteries called supercapacitors, or “supercaps.” By heating hemp fibers, the researchers were able to rearrange the plant’s carbon atoms to create thin, two-dimensional sheets, or nanosheets.

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Surprising Material Could Play Role in Saving Energy

PIC: JURII (CC)

PIC: JURII (CC)

Megan Fellman writes for Northwestern University:

One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

An interdisciplinary team led by inorganic chemist Mercouri G. Kanatzidis found the crystal form of the chemical compound tin selenide conducts heat so poorly through its lattice structure that it is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. Unlike most thermoelectric materials, tin selenide has a simple structure, much like that of an accordion, which provides the key to its exceptional properties.

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Can Fire Ice Save The World?

A burning methane hydrate chunk - inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

A burning methane hydrate chunk – inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

Methane hydrate, colloquially known as Fire Ice, is being discussed as the energy of the future that will render peak oil and all the other expiring fossil fuel sources irrelevant. BBC News investigates the pros and cons of what is, after all, another hydrocarbon:

The world is addicted to hydrocarbons, and it’s easy to see why – cheap, plentiful and easy to mine, they represent an abundant energy source to fuel industrial development the world over.

The side-effects, however, are potentially devastating; burning fossil fuels emits the CO2 linked to global warming.

And as reserves of oil, coal and gas are becoming tougher to access, governments are looking ever harder for alternatives, not just to produce energy, but to help achieve the holy grail of all sovereign states – energy independence.

Some have discovered a potential saviour, locked away under deep ocean beds and vast swathes of permafrost.

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Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough: More Energy Out Than In

You have to love that one of the scientists at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory who has managed to get more energy out of a nuclear fusion experiment than was put in is named Omar Hurricane. ABC Australia reports the breakthrough from Professor Hurricane and his colleagues:

Scientists in the United States say they have taken an important step on a decades-old quest to harness nuclear fusion to generate nearly inexhaustible energy.

Nuclear fusion forces diagram

For the first time, two nuclear fusion experiments succeeded in producing more energy than was used to trigger the reaction, the journal Nature reports.

The researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, led by physicist Omar Hurricane, described the achievement as important but said much more work is needed before fusion can become a viable energy source.

They noted that they did not produce self-heating nuclear fusion, known as ignition, that would be needed for any fusion power plant.

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