Proper Assessment of Shale Oil

by Catherine Parsekian

According to the results of a study done in China by Li et. al (2016), there is no method for measuring oil potential in shale reservoirs that includes both residual oil contents in the rocks as well as hydrocarbon expulsion and migration conditions. Li and his colleagues developed soon an index for determining oil potential. If the index is greater than zero, then some of the oil has migrated to external reservoirs which means that it has poor shale oil potential. Li et. al. argue that because current methods include absorbed, as well as free hydrocarbons, they are overvaluing the shale oil and not looking at oil that can readily be used. The method developed in this paper has multiple parameters and is a more comprehensive measurement since it takes into account oil saturation, free oil content, and shale oil expulsion. Continue reading

Two Companies Innovate Electric Buses in the United States

by Nadja Redmond

Transit vehicles are mostly powered by unrenewable power sources, such as gasoline, compressed natural gas (CNG), or diesel, with batteries only encompassing 1% of the market. Bus manufacturer Proterra claims that its Electric transit buses are cheaper than the alternative diesel and CNG options. It’s CEO, Ryan Popple, is making predictions that, in the next 10 years, electric transit buses powered by renewable energy will dominate the market. Specifically, he predicts that the majority of bus sales will be electric by 2025, and all new bus sales to transit agencies will be electric by 2030. [https://electrek.co/2017/02/13/electric-buses-proterra-ceo/]. King Country Metro Transit signed a deal for 73 buses with the company for use in and around the Seattle area. These buses can travel 23 miles between charges, with charges taking 10 minutes or less. Continue reading

Comparison of Carbon Footprints of Electric and Gasoline Vehicles

by Bradley Newton

Authors Yuksel, Tamayao, Hendrickson, Azevedo, and Michalek (2016) have conducted a study concerning the carbon footprints of electric and gasoline vehicles. They cite several past studies looking at a similar topic, but point out that none of those studies accounted for grid emissions (pollution created by generated electricity), people’s driving patterns, and how diverse temperatures are in different regions. It is also pointed out that past studies used vehicles of differing battery life spans, which can make comparisons harder. The factors that the authors of the study look at for their comparisons are: availability of electricity for Plug-in electric vehicles, temperatures of studied regions, vehicle miles traveled, and driving conditions (meaning whether it is city or highway driving). The vehicles they used were a mix of conventional, hybrid electric, plug-in electric, and battery-electric vehicles. They were driven to the end of their life-cycle (complete depletion of gas tank or battery) and had their respective CO2 emissions measured. Continue reading

How Puerto Rico’s Energy Sector Can Revitalize the Island’s Struggling Economy.

by Byron R. Núñez

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has more than $70 billion of debt, most of which can be attributed to the United States’ decision to cut corporate tax breaks. The current financial crisis has created a mass exodus by U.S. companies and people from the Island. To ameliorate the situation, President Barack Obama signed the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which led to the creation of a committee design to manage the island’s finances. This economic instability has forced Puerto Rico’s energy sector to reinvent itself and become more cost-effective and efficient. Currently, Puerto Ricans pay two to three times more for electricity than average Americans. The strongest factor for the island’s high energy costs is that 80% of the energy used on the island comes from imported petroleum as the island itself does not produce nor refine crude oil. Sustainable energy is key to Puerto Rico’s future as the island hopes to comply with a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) that hopes to supply 20% of electricity with green energy by 2035. One company that is hoping to revitalize the island’s struggling economy though the energy sector is Green Kinetic Power (GKP), LLC. Continue reading

Scotland, London Propose New Low Emission Zones

by Kieran McVeigh

Scotland may become the latest country in Europe to institute low emission zones in their major urban centers. In January of 2017 the Scottish ministers proposed piloting a “low emissions zone” in the most polluted areas of Scottish cities to reduce pollution and help meet Scotland’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. These goals are among the most aggressive in the world with an end goal of an 80% reduction in green house gases by 2050. The proposed low emission zone would prevent vehicles that create higher then average amounts of pollution like trucks or “lorries” as they’re referred across the pond, from driving in the low emission parts of the city. Continue reading

Off-grid and Mini-grid Energy Production in Rural Tanzanian Communities Receives Grant from African Development Bank

by Genevieve Kules

Tanzania is challenged by poor energy access in rural parts of the country. Access to energy in these rural communities will require off-grid and mini-grid projects. The Tanzanian government has set a goal of establishing 1.3 million electrical connections by 2022, especially in rural areas. This would raise their connected population to about 35% from 20% in urban areas and 7% in rural ones. Tanzania’s energy goals come around the same time as the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) are setting goals for the continent and the world. The UN stated their goal of Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 and the AU began the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative in 2015. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has been supportive in achieving these goals. In January they approved a grant of $870,000 to support off-grid energy systems in Tanzania. Continue reading

The Benefits of Cleaner Cookstoves for Climate and Human Health

by Natalie Knops

Widespread use of traditional wood and coal-burning cookstoves has resulted in a significant source of anthropogenic emissions. Reductions in these emissions could be deeply beneficial to impact climate change and public health. It is estimated that cleaner technology to replace traditional wood and coal-burning stoves could decrease the global temperature by nearly a tenth of a degree and save more than 10 million lives by 2050 (Pidcock, 2017). Exposure to household air pollution is responsible for an overwhelming number of preventable illnesses and deaths. It is estimated that exposure to cooking smoke in poorly ventilated homes is the cause of 370,000 to 500,000 premature adult deaths per year. Cooking smoke is a source of risk for burns, eye and respiratory diseases. Traditional cooking methods use solid fuels such as wood, animal dung, coal and biomass as fuel for an open fire. Methods like these release methane and carbon dioxide. Emissions from wood-fuels alone are approximated at 2% of global emissions (Robert Bailis, 2014).When wood and coal are burnt, aerosols are released along with greenhouse gases—the climate effect of these aerosols being strongly regional. Cooking fires are a primary source of black carbon soot. This black soot can be carried as far as the Arctic atmosphere, bringing about ice and permafrost melt (What is Black Carbon?, 2010). Continue reading

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

by Dena Kleemeier

My family has worked for Saudi Aramco, a national petroleum and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for the past 16 years. In my time living in Saudi, I have experienced first hand the way in which the Kingdom uses/wastes their resources, providing oil to their citizens at a cheaper price than water, and subsidizing electricity to their populations. However with the decline in the price of crude (lost 67% of value since September 2014), the growing domestic oil demand of 7% per year, and the state of the environment, Saudi Arabia is in an awkward geopolitical situation, and is in need of comprehensive economic reform. Continue reading

Regional Consequences of Solar Installations

by Matt Johnson

Forecasts about the future of solar energy tend to be rosy and optimistic, but is the solar revolution really a nobody-loses scenario? A study lead by Aixue Hu (2017) titled “Impact of solar panels on global climate” addresses some infrequently mentioned concerns.

It turns out that solar energy systems have consideration-worthy regional consequences. But you may ask: why? Solar panels are not 100% efficient, they are actually fairly far from it. The most efficient solar panels on the market today run at around a 40% efficiency, with some new technologies promising around 60%, however most are much lower. A few issues arise in the conversion of solar energy into electricity. Firstly, a small percent of the solar radiation is reflected, as a result of solar panels’ glare. Then, another few percent are lost in the conversion of direct-current into alternating current and along the transmitting wires to centers of population. The authors estimate the mentioned causes to sum to about a 10% loss. Continue reading

Report Unveils that U.S. Solar Industry Employs More People than Fossil Fuel Industry

by Genna Gores

The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, reveals that the renewable energy industry employs more people than the entire fossil fuel industry (including petroleum oil, natural gas, and coal). The report goes on to compare employment opportunities between 2015 and 2016 for all types of energy within the Electric Power Generation sector, which includes: solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy, hydropower, nuclear, fossil fuels, and other generation/fuels. It is evident with this report that solar and other renewable energies are a rapidly growing industry with increasing employment opportunities for Americans. Continue reading