World Bank Accused of Incentivizing Fossil Fuel Industries Across the Developing World

by Lauren Bollinger

The World Bank has been incentivizing fossil fuel dependence across the developing world, despite commitments to cut funding in such sectors, charges a January 2017 report by the advocacy group Bank Information Center (BIC). The report, which examines the Bank’s support of coal, gas, and oil projects in Peru, Indonesia, Egypt, and Mozambique, points out a contradiction between its pronouncements on climate change and its lending activities. The Bank has notably promised to work towards reducing subsidies for fossil fuels while incentivising investments in renewable energy. Most notably, in 2013, the Bank vowed to end virtually all support for the creation of coal-burning power plants, supporting them only in “rare circumstances” where there are no viable alternatives. Nonetheless, the BIC argues the World Bank has knowingly funded national policies to subsidize such fossil fuel industries.

The BIC’s report comes after similar reports in October of last year by several US and Europe-based advocacy groups, on World Bank-backed coal projects throughout developing countries in Asia, from Bangladesh to the Philippines. In the Philippines, where the Bank has funded at least 20 new coal projects since 2013, such projects have drawn widespread criticism from human rights and indigenous advocacy groups, as the country’s coal industry has resulted in an estimated thousand premature deaths annually and the displacement of thousands of indigenous peoples.

International finance institutions like the World Bank, which facilitate the loaning of millions of dollars to developing nations annually, carry immense political and economic clout in the developing world.

 

“World Bank accused of incentivizing investments in fossil fuels through $5B policy loans portfolio.”

https://www.devex.com/news/world-bank-accused-of-incentivizing-investments-in-fossil-fuels-through-5b-policy-loans-portfolio-89528

“World Bank accused of funding Asia ‘coal power boom’”

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/world-bank-accused-funding-asia-coal-power-boom-161003045753947.html

 

 

 

 

 

State-level Renewable Energy Regulations

by Emily Audet

States have often passed environmental regulations that extend past and are more stringent than federal regulations. With the current administration and Congress appearing to not prioritize sustainability nor clean energy regulations and legislation, pushes at state-level policy could be a viable political strategy for those concerned with advancing clean energy. As of January 2017, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a type of regulation that bolsters use and production of renewable energy [http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/01/09/report-benefits-of-state-renewable-energy-policies-far-outweigh-costs/]. State-level RPSs significantly impact the nation’s energy landscape—RPSs caused the creation of the majority of all renewable energy projects established from 2000 to 2017, and if states fully implement existing RPSs, a projected 40% of the energy for the whole country will come from renewable sources by 2050. Continue reading

Clearer Waters Ahead for Blue Energy

by Justin Wenig

A captivating article published by an international team of scientists in the August issue of Nature magazine could make blue energy a powerhouse sustainable energy source in the near future. Blue energy, or osmotic power generation, refers to energy derived from the difference in salt concentration between freshwater and saltwater. At river estuaries, where river water and sea water meet, blue energy can be captured when molecules from the saltwater side move toward the freshwater side and spin a turbine.

Unfortunately, scientists have long struggled to develop a commercially viable generator with a positive return on investment. Case in point, the world’s first commercial osmotic power generator, commissioned by a Norwegian company Statkraft, could only produce enough energy to power one-tenth of one electric car battery before it was shunned in 2014. The cost? Ten years and over $100 million lost at sea.   Continue reading

Harvesting Wind Energy with Invelox Technology

by Chloe Soltis

In September 2011, Dr. Daryoush Allaei founded Sheerwind, an energy start-up focused on using wind power to generate electricity. Dr. Allaei realized that current wind turbines are obsolete in the sense that they must passively wait for wind to operate (Breunig). Dr. Allaei believes that wind’s velocity should be accelerated so that electricity can be generated from wind energy in areas that are not suitable for turbines. Therefore, he created the Invelox, a system that can both capture and accelerate wind power. Continue reading

Indigenous Communities Resist Hydroelectric Dam Projects in Guatemala

by Sara R. Roschdi
The government of Guatemala has approved hydro electric dams to be built on indigenous territories.  Fitzpatrick-Behrens reports in the article, “Electrifying Guatemala: Clean Energy and Development” that these hydroelectric dam projects are expected to produce 181 megawatts of energy for the country [https://nacla.org/news/electrifying-guatemala-clean-energy-and-development]. For indigenous communities like the Ixcán community, these dams mean the pollution of their waters and the corporatization of their sacred lands. Telesur reports that on January 17th, two Indigenous Guatemalan activist, were assassinated by the state as they engaged in a peaceful protest against the building of a hydroelectric dam in San Mateo Ixatan, Guatemala [http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemalan-Activist-Killed-Protesting-Hydroelectric-Project-20170118-0013.html].   Continue reading

2017 Brings More Tesla Superchargers and New Usage Regulations

by Bianca Rodriguez

Tesla Superchargers are currently the best and fastest charging option for long-distance travelers driving one of Tesla’s all-electric vehicles. A Supercharger takes a mere 30 minutes to replenish batteries from 10% to 80% charge, enough time to take a restroom break or grab a coffee during a long trip; or 75 minutes to reach a full 100% charge, enough time for a meal at a nearby restaurant. A battery charged at 80% will provide about 170 miles of driving range, which should be enough to reach the next Supercharger along some of the more popular routes. Even so, Tesla is continuing to increase the number of Supercharger locations around the world to fill the need of an increasing population of Tesla drivers. This is especially necessary due to the new Tesla Model 3, which is expected to be available after 2018. Starting at $35,000, the Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable car and will most likely increase the number of Tesla drivers as more people will be able to afford these high-tech full electric vehicles. Continue reading

Tidal and Wind Energy Companies Share a Power Grid to Provide Reliable, Renewable Energy

by Mary-Catherine Riley

Atlantis Resources partnered with Lockend Wind Energy to spearhead the world’s largest grid connection of any commercial tidal project (https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2016/11/meygen-tidal-power-project-poised-to-feed-scottish-highland-electricity-grid/). This initiative is thought to be the first combination of electricity to power an existing grid. Currently, MeyGen is in the first phase of construction, installing 86 turbines to generate 86 megawatts (MW). However, the project has room for growth. Atlantis hopes to expand the facility’s capability to power 175,000 homes using 269 turbines producing almost 400 MW (3,4). The glaring downside is the cost. Funds for the first stage of the MeyGen project are £51million ($82m) (http://www.meygen.com/the-project/meygen-news/). Moreover, while the power of strong currents in the Pentland Firth in northern Scotland makes it an ideal location for tidal generation, the area’s harsh storm and wave conditions could destroy the turbines. Lastly, the grid connection is limited until further expansion occurs in future years due to limited grid capacity. Continue reading

Municipal Solid Waste: To the Landfill or the Incinerator?

by Nadja Redmond

A global phenomenon is slowly beginning to pick up traction and conversation in the United States: energy recovery through use of waste to energy facilities. WtE, the waste management process that involves generating electricity and/or heat from waste through combustion, is already widely used in Europe. By 2014, Europe had 452 such facilities [http://www.cewep.eu/information/data/studies/m_1488], and compared to the United States’ 71, it is no secret there is an ongoing debate on whether WtE facilities are effective or hazardous for the environment and for the communities they inhabit. When the country produces over 250 million tons of municipal solid waste a year [https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=25732], alternative routes of waste management and energy recovery that utilizes that waste that have proved effective overseas are worth considering. Continue reading

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

CO2 Conversion System Converts Greenhouse Gases

by Byron R. Núñez

Sustainable Innovations, Inc. (SI) was awarded a contract from the United States Department of Energy to continue working on its electrochemical process that converts greenhouse gases into usable byproduct. The rising levels of greenhouse gases has increased a demand for new energy solutions that address geopolitical concerns as well as economic ones. Stakeholders, for example, are actively searching for economically viable pathways that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions while developing means to produce fuels that decrease global reliance on oil. This includes, but is not limited to, searching for more efficient ways to utilize traditional fuels such as coal, as well as to capture and recycle the national production of greenhouse gases. Continue reading