Archive for November, 2011

Nov 24 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

Everlasting Batteries?

Filed under Uncategorized

Energy storage has long been a challenge in the energy sector, whether for electricity load balancing, increasing the viability of intermittent energy sources or transportation. Batteries are already currently used in the electricity sector, but are expensive and wear out quickly. Stanford University researchers have come up with a battery electrode that should last 40,000 charge/discharge cycles, or 30 years. Read more here.

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/106539-stanford-creates-everlasting-nanoparticle-battery-electrode-free-water-based-electrolyte

No responses yet

Nov 22 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

A Gold Rush of Subsidies in Clean Energy Search

Filed under Uncategorized

Thanks to Ariel Horowitz for this New York Times article on the large amount of taxpayer subsidies for Renewable Energy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/12/business/energy-environment/a-cornucopia-of-help-for-renewable-energy.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=us

Some highlights

  • The Federal government has a number of policies in place to reduce risk to Renewable Energy project developer, including loan guarantees, grants from the treasury and other incentives
  • From 2007 to 2010, federal subsidies jumped to $14.7 billion from $5.1 billion, according to a recent study.
  • The Obama administration defends this use of taxpayer funds, arguing significant environmental and economic benefits to the projects.
  • One project California, being brought online by NRG Energy will have nearly 1 million solar panels, power nearly 100,000 homes and cost taxpayers $1.6 billion dollars
  • State Utility Commissions participate by determining the rates that the companies will receive for the electricity – in California, the NRG project will receive prices an estimated 50% higher than market value, paid by taxpayers.
  • Most of these major renewable energy projects also benefit from state legislation that requires utilities to purchase a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources (known as Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards)

What do you think about this?

No responses yet

Nov 22 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

Ameren in talks to Hand over Carbon-capture project

Filed under Uncategorized

This article on potential significant changes in one of the most significant, high-profile Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects in the nation hits somewhat close to home, as the moderator (I), worked on assessing risk on the Futuregen project this summer at the Department of Energy. Futuregen is one of the United States’ most politically visible CCS projects. It started under George W. Bush, but was eventually abandoned in 2007. It was resurrected by the Obama administration as “Futuregen 2.0,” and has been a major part of the administration’s push to bring 5-10 CCS demonstration projects online by 2016, receiving over $1 billion in two separate Recovery Act (stimulus) grants, accounting for most of the $1.3 billion total cost.

Ameren, a major utility company which owns the plant in Meredosia where the retrofit to a new form of coal combustion with Carbon Capture is to take place, has indicated it plans to reduce its role in the project, aiming to hand over control to the Futuregen Alliance, the group in charge of building and maintaining the pipeline, storage facility and visitor’s center. The Department of Energy “remains committed to the demonstration of carbon capture and storage technologies at commercial scale and has been working to make FutureGen a reality,” according to a Department spokesperson.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-16/ameren-said-to-be-in-talks-to-hand-over-carbon-capture-project.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Is Carbon Capture and Storage a viable option for a low-carbon future? Is it too risky? Should the government be spending large sums to bring it online? In the absence of a price on carbon, is there any way that CCS will make sense?

No responses yet

Nov 20 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

UBS analysts predict “collapse” in EU CO2 permits

Filed under Uncategorized

The world’s most studied cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide, the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, may be facing a collapse in the price of CO2 emissions, according to this article by Reuters.  Analysts at both UBS and Deutschebank have indicated a prediction that, starting next month additional permits will push prices lower on an already oversupplied market for CO2 permits, and have indicated that further price cuts may occur in connection with the specter of a full-blown double-dip recession in the EU, precipitated by debt crises in Italy and Spain.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/us-carbon-deutschebank-idUSTRE7AH19S20111118

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Has the EU ETS proven to be effective in reducing CO2 emissions? Do low carbon prices burden the economy without incentivizing a transition to cleaner forms of energy?  Should the EU alter/abandon its approach to regulating emissions?

No responses yet

Nov 20 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

Professor Moomaw presents IPCC report on renewable energy

Filed under Uncategorized

Last week, Professor William Moomaw of the Fletcher School, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented the IPCC’s newest report on renewable energy, for which he was a Convening Lead Author. Speaking to a packed Mugar 200, Prof. Moomaw addressed a spectrum of topics, including whether renewables can meet our energy needs, inadequacies in the current approach toward evaluating primary energy, and the distinction between “clean,” “renewable,” and “sustainable” energy production, among others. A full writeup of the event can be found here, on the Center for International Environmental and Resource Policy’s website.

No responses yet

Nov 17 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

Energy Costs Rising under Mass. Renewables Law

Filed under Uncategorized

According to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, energy prices are set to rise under the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Boston Globe reports. The act, signed by Governor Deval Patrick, was intended to wean Massachusetts off reliance on fossil fuels. However, according to Coakley, it could lead to a 7% increase in the cost of delivered electricity, in a state that already pays among the highest rates for electricity in the nation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Would you be willing to pay more for renewable electricity? How much is too much? Does it make more sense to deploy renewable energy technology now, or invest in research and development so as to increase technological efficiency, in the hope that clean energy technologies will become cost-competitive on their own?

No responses yet

Nov 17 2011

Profile Image of Paolo L Cozzi

DOE Secretary Chu testifies about Solyndra

Filed under Uncategorized

An article in the New York Times today covers Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu’s appearance in front of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce regarding the bankruptcy of the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which had received a substantial loan guarantee from the government. Chu defended the decision to guarantee the Solyndra loan, arguing that the United States must stay competitive in the race for clean energy, while critics have accused the department of knowing that the company would go bankrupt in 2011, and of succumbing to political pressure leveraged by one of Obama’s fundraising “bundlers.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/business/energy-environment/energy-secretary-defends-solyndra-loan.html?ref=energy-environment

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What does the Solyndra affair mean? Are loan guarantees an effective use of taxpayer funds? Should the government be supporting “push” mechanisms to support the creation of a clean energy technology manufacturing market? Would taxpayer dollars be better spent on “pull” policies that stimulate demand for renewable technologies?

No responses yet