Can “Stranded” Fossil Fuel Reserves Drive Carbon Dioxide Capture?

by Emil Morhardt

Last week The Guardian ran a nice piece about the Boundary Dam power plant in Canada, the world’s first carbon-capture coal-fired power plant. The plant is in something of a specialized situation particularly suitable for such an operation—it has a large nearby source of coal, and it has a use for the captured CO2—injecting it into local oil fields to increase oil recovery.

Victoria Clark and Howard Herzog at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, used the Boundary Dam project as an example in a just-published paper examining the possibility that, should the world decide to cut back on CO2 emissions, the unused “stranded” fossil fuels might still be burned safely. Continue reading

Maximizing Flexible Electricity Use by Load Balancing of Smart Grids

by Stephanie Oehler

The electricity supply has traditionally been dictated by consumers. Consumers demand varying amounts of energy depending on their instantaneous needs and suppliers are left to use whatever resources are necessary to meet their demands. As populations grow and electricity demands per capita increase, the discrepancy between demand and sustainable supply levels continues to widen. The smart grid may have the potential to mediate the conflicting objectives of consumers, who prefer supply levels that correspond with high levels of convenience for them according to their preferences, and suppliers, who would benefit from producing at a more constant rate. Hassan et al. (2013) explore the plausibility of load balancing, which has been enabled by smart grid technologies, as a method of balancing demand to more closely align with reasonable supply levels. Continue reading

Do Smart Energy Monitors Decrease Usage?

by Stephanie Oehler

As energy demand continues to increase, more utilities are turning to smart grids to manage larger systems and the increasingly diverse array of energy sources. The first technology implemented in a system is typically the smart meter because it allows for greater communication between utilities and consumers. Giving consumers access to usage information allows them to play a role in demand-side energy management. Smart meters have been installed in many systems around the world with the intention of increasing awareness amongst consumers regarding energy use patterns, and empowering them to change their behavior in order to lower their electricity costs, and subsequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have revealed that smart meters Continue reading