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.”

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