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Alternative Energy

  • Is There Any Hope Left For Nuclear Energy?

    Can nuclear help avoid the worst effects of climate change? The International Energy Agency recently provided a roadmap for nuclear power, detailing how the technology could help keep global temperature increases within a 2-degree scenario. According to the IEA report, between 2015 and 2050 total installed nuclear power capacity around the world would need to more than double from 396 gigawatts (GW) to 930 GW. To get there, the IEA says that the world will need to see an additional 20 GW of new nuclear capacity each year, a scenario that from today’s vantage point seems highly unlikely. The IEA…

  • Solar Really Can Be Cheaper Than Coal

    The ongoing volatility in the oil markets has led many major companies to dramatically slash their capex budgets and workforces in a bid to survive. The knock on effect of this can be seen in a burgeoning solar industry that is seizing the opportunity to finally make a significant breakthrough into the market, regardless of subsidies. Research and consultancy group Woods Mackenzie believes we may have a shale-like boom on our hands. According to their new report “Is solar the next shale?” distributed and utility scale solar is nearly ready to transform power markets. And for this, we can thank…

  • Shape Shifting Robot To Inspect Damaged Fukushima Reactor

    Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered three reactor meltdowns from an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, can’t be decommissioned until its ruined reactors are inspected. But because of deadly radiation, no human can get close to the facility to survey the damage. So the Japanese electronics giant Hitachi and an affiliate, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, have designed a snaky-looking, remotely controlled robot to do the job, perhaps as soon as April, to gather information about the state of the No. 1 reactor building to prepare for the removal of its radioactive rubble. The utility that operates the power plant,…

  • The World's 10 Biggest Solar Farms

    Solar power may have its critics, with many pointing out the intermittency limitation compared to traditional energy stalwarts like coal, oil and gas. But there is no denying that the photovoltaic (PV) industry is on the move, with many developed nations – notably China, Japan, Germany and the United States – making huge investments into ground- and roof-mounted solar panels. A study by the Global Climate & Energy Project concluded that if current growth rates continue, by 2020 about 10 percent of the world's electricity could be produced by PV systems. A big part of the solar story is the…

  • New Report Destroys Biofuel Claims

    Despite their promise over the past decade or so, biofuels have been found to be a very inefficient way to generate energy, are bad for the environment and even contribute to world hunger, according to a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI). In fact none of these conclusions is new. Research into biofuels for years has focused on making them more potent. And no one has ever thought cutting down trees, for example, is good for the environment, even if more trees can be grown. And as for nutrition, who benefits more from corn: a hungry child or…

  • Iran Drops Dollar As Congress Threatens More Sanctions

    The clock is ticking on the Iranian nuclear deal, but it may all be for naught. A meddling Congress aside, Iran appears to lack faith in US President Barack Obama’s ability to ease long-standing sanctions and is cutting what ties it can. According to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Iran no longer uses the US dollar in trade with foreign countries. Instead, Iran employs other currencies like the Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, and Russian ruble, explained Deputy Head of the Central Bank of Iran Gholamali Kamyab. In November, Iran and six world powers – the United States, Great Britain, China,…

  • Europe And Iran: The Nuclear Dispute And The Syrian Crisis

    Following a meeting of the EU foreign ministers in late December 2014 the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini stated, “Iran is not only the country with which we have nuclear talks, it is also a regional important player [sic] and this practically means that we will have to engage with Iran also on its neighborhood.” This statement highlights the two issues under intense discussion between the EU and Iran – the nuclear dispute and the crisis in Syria. In recent months much attention has been focused on potential rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.…

  • Scotland’s Wind Dream May Turn Into A Nightmare

    I last looked into the details and consequences of Scottish energy policy in the pre-referendum post Scotch on the ROCs. The expansion of Scottish renewables is progressing at breakneck speed and the purpose of this post is to update on where we are and where we are heading whether anyone likes it or not (Figure 1). Objections to wind power normally come from rural dwelling country folks whose lives are impacted by the construction of wind turbine power stations around them. My objections tend to be rooted more in the raison d’être for renewables (CO2 reduction), their cost, grid reliability…

  • Natural Gas Threatens U.S. Nuclear Future

    This will be an unhappy new year for Vernon, a small town in the state of Vermont. It is losing its economic mainstay. The owner of its proud, midsized nuclear plant, which has sustained the community for 42 years, Entergy, is closing the plant. Next year the only people working at the plant will be those shuttering it, taking out its fuel, securing it and beginning the process of turning it into a kind of tomb, a burial place for the hopes of a small town. What may be a tragedy for Vernon may also be a harbinger of a…

  • Ethanol Producers Poised To Gain From Oil Price Drop

    Energy stockholders have been watching in horror as their investments tank and those with a short time frame are considering cutting their losses, as the oil price rout looks certain to continue into 2015 and possibly beyond. But one area that could be poised to withstand the oil price carnage and might even toss out some gains for investors is the sector that produces an important, yet controversial element of gasoline: ethanol. As the prices of oil and gasoline have plummeted, so has ethanol, taking ethanol equities down with it. While that may seem like a good time to hit…