Sustainable Energy Security for India: An Assessment of the Energy Supply Sub-System

by Forrest Fulgenzi

As one of the world’s foremost developing countries, India provides a unique case in which to examine energy security. India defines its sustainable energy security (SES) policy as “provisioning of uninterrupted energy services in an affordable, equitable, efficient, and environmentally friendly manner.” According to India’s energy security policy, the end goal of any developing country should be to achieve this level of energy security and resource independence. The World Energy Outlook forecasts that India’s energy demand will significantly change during the period of 2014-2040 (IEA 2015.), where it will experience a move to the center stage of the world energy system which will cause a shift in demand. Thus, India needs policies for rapid expansion of energy systems while also looking for a sustainable means to achieve these goals. Continue reading

Energy Monitoring Revamped

by Sagarika Gami

Mark Chung, an electrical engineer trained by Stanford University, began his venture butting heads with climate change seven years ago. It is widely thought that in order to combat the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon emissions must be cut by 40 to 70% by mid-century. Chung’s company, Verdigris, seeks to aid the process by providing a solution to inefficient energy monitoring and usage. Verdigris came about as a response to “smart meters,” which track where energy is being used in houses, buildings, hospitals, etc. The “smart meters,” unlike Verdigris’ software, are unable to create electrical maps on a large scale to monitor appliances, machinery, lights, and more, and are thus unable to pinpoint the exact sources of energy usage. Continue reading

Emitter Passivation of Silicon Solar Cell via Organic Coating at Room Temperature

by Michael Crowley

Silicon photovoltaics are a proven sustainable energy solution and take up 90% of the solar cell market. Silicon cells have many practical advantages associated with them, including high cell efficiency, stability and longevity. They are also extremely cost effective. The cost of mass produced silicon cells has dropped below $1/W, in some cases as low as $0.3/W. At the same time, efficiency continues to increase to 20%. The biggest hindrance to further increases in efficiency are high rates of recombination at the surface of the cells, which is what Shinde et. al (2016) have been working on.

In order to lower the rates of recombination, the technique of passivation has been employed. SiNx and SiO2 compounds have been used for passivation in the past. Although the desired surface passivation is accomplished, these compounds require high process temperatures (300° – 1000° C). At these temperatures, the properties of the silicon crystalline structure are affected. If these temperatures are reduced, efficiency and longevity are expected to increase.

To combat high process temperatures, new techniques have been presented. It has been shown that passivation can be achieved by using Si-O and Si-H and organic passivation. Shinde et. al (2016), look at passivation of n-type emitter by organic cover layer Oleylamine (OLA). This passivation technique will increase efficiency and has the ability to be processed at room temperature. Continue reading

Improving technology of Li-Ion Cells for Rechargeable batteries


by Sloan Cinelli

The lithium-ion battery is the power source for most modern electric vehicles. Each battery is made up of many smaller units, called cells. The electrical current reaches these cells via conductive surfaces, including aluminum and copper. There is a positive electrode, the cathode, and a negative electrode, the anode. The battery is filled with a transport medium, the electrolyte, so the lithium ions carrying the battery’s charge can flow freely from one electrode to the other. This electrolyte solution needs to be extremely pure in order to ensure efficient charging and discharging.

Virtually every lithium ion cell produced today uses ethylene carbonate (EC), and most battery scientists believe it is essential. Petibon et al. (2016) tested electrolyte systems other than this within Li-Ion battery cells. Surprisingly, totally removing all ethylene carbonate from typical organic carbonate-based electrolytes and adding small amounts of electrolyte additives creates cells that are better than those containing ethylene carbonate. Petibon et al. (2016) used different surface coatings, electrolyte additives, and new solvent systems, and the impact was substantial. Continue reading

Putting Tesla to the Test

by Ethan Fukuto

The Aliso Canyon gas leak of 2015 in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley caused not only an environmental crisis—fuel shortages affected the region’s supply and source of energy. The crisis was a turning point for Southern California’s energy industry, the start of an experiment in the use of batteries to meet energy demands. Tesla’s contribution to the effort, 396 batteries at Mira Loma in the city of Ontario, went online on the 30th of January and is capable of providing power to around 15,000 homes for four hours. The batteries themselves are built at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, and the company’s process of vertical integration now means each component of the battery is built in-house. They are designed to store energy during the day and release at night during times of highest demand in the evening. California’s increasing demand and funding for renewable energy projects allowed the Mira Loma project to come together in just a few months’ time, with the threat of climate change and the impending closure of the last of California’s nuclear plants pushing the industry towards alternative sources of renewable energy. Continue reading

Shale Gas Fracking Causing Friction in the UK

by Dominique Curtis

Controversy in the UK community has sparked over shale gas. Whitmarsh (2015) discusses how shale gas is the newest project the UK government has suggested to help reduce their reliance on energy ports. The community has questioned the UK’s method of fracking to extract the shale gas because fracking is known to use large amounts of water and the chemicals used in the process are toxic. Researchers and the UK government have tried to explain the great benefits that shale gas will have on the economy and the environment while attempting to pacify the communities’ concerns. Environmental groups still protested about how fracking will contaminate and decrease the availability of water supply, and cause erosion and changes in the temperature of the water in aquatic habitats. Continue reading

Call for a Holistic Understanding of Energy Consumption in Urban Cities

by Alejandra Chávez

The article begins by explaining that 80 percent of the world’s total energy production is consumed by urban areas, which are expanding and becoming increasingly complex. The largest energy-consuming areas are residential and commercial buildings, which are plentiful in urban areas and account for about one-third of the world’s total energy consumption. Although energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy investments are often common in residential and urban buildings —mainly for economic reasons— the authors stress that a “holistic” understanding of all the factors that influence consumption rates must be developed. Continue reading

Bangladesh to Expand Coal Capabilities to Meet Growing Energy Needs

by Aurora Brachman

Bangladesh has plans to dramatically expand its energy production through coal in the next few years with the assistance of China, Japan, and India. But has not indicated any plans to expand renewable energy development. Other Asian nations have been setting their sights on renewable forms of energy because of an increasingly worsening pollution crisis in the region. The government hopes to expand its use of coal from 2% to 50% of Bangladesh’s electricity supply by 2022. There have been vehement protests about this expansion, particularly against a specific plant currently under construction; several people have lost their lives amidst the protests. Continue reading

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.”

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






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 []. 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