follow us like us subscribe contact us
Loading, please wait

Alternative Energy

  • Big Oil And Renewables: Not So Strange Bedfellows

    In most conversations about energy, the topic of Big Oil versus renewables usually becomes a zero-sum game. Renewable advocates accuse Big Oil of conspiring to shut out wind, solar and other alt-energy sources in the pursuit of greater profits driven by fossil fuels. Big Oil defenders say that renewables, while an important adjunct, can never meet the global demand for energy provided by traditional sources: coal, oil and gas. In fact, the big oil companies have never shunned renewable energy in their mix of business operations, and only recently have pulled back investments in solar and wind. But the reasons…

  • Is France’s Love Affair with Nuclear Over?

    French President Francois Hollande has promised to limit the growth of the country’s nuclear power, many older reactors have been targeted for decommissioning, and Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been relentless in their anti-nuclear campaigning. But until now, it seemed unlikely that France would ever truly rethink its love affair with nuclear power. Last week, it did. On Oct. 10, France’s parliament voted to begin moving to undo decades of nuclear growth and to reduce its importance to the country’s energy mix. Over the next 11 years, France will reduce the amount of electricity coming from nuclear by one-quarter…

  • How Fusion Energy Could One Day Disrupt Energy Markets

    Fusion is thirty years away…and always will be. That is an oft-repeated cliché concerning one of the world’s most coveted – and so far unreachable – sources of energy. However, some recent developments in fusion energy technology could one day make that phrase obsolete. Fusion energy is the phenomenon that powers the stars. Unlike conventional nuclear fission, where a uranium atom is split, giving off enormous volumes of energy, nuclear fusion is the process by which two hydrogen atoms are slammed together. This also gives off a vast quantity of energy, and with it, the promise that man can harness…

  • Is Fusion Power Closer Than We Thought?

    The promise of generating energy with nuclear fusion is tantalizing because it would be free of toxic emissions and nuclear waste, and would have a virtually infinite fuel supply. On the downside, though, it is extremely costly compared with fossil fuels like natural gas and coal.Now engineers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a design for a fusion reactor that could be even less expensive than a coal-fired plant but boast similar generating capacity. The current design is for a reactor too small to generate much electricity, but the team is confident it can be scaled up to…

  • New Nuclear Fuel Rod Could Increase Output Of Existing Plants

    A U.S. nuclear engineering company is preparing to hold the first safety tests of new nuclear fuel rods designed to significantly increase the generating output of existing nuclear power plants.The development is important the United States is trying to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and needs clean alternatives, now. CO2-emitting natural gas is now abundant and widely used, and planned emission-free nuclear plants won’t be operational for decades.Enter Lightbridge of Tysons Corner, Va., which says its rods can improve the generating capacity of existing nuclear power plants by between 10 percent and…

  • Epic Drought Impacting California’s Clean Energy Goals

    California has just entered its fourth year of drought -- a slow-rolling crisis that is showing no signs of abating.All of California is now affected, with more than half of the state considered to be in “exceptional” drought, the worst designation handed out by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Reduced rainfall means that California reservoirs are continuing to shrink, with water levels at just 52 percent of their historic average.That’s not just a problem for California’s $42.5 billion agricultural industry, which grows and produces much of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables. It is also is cutting into the state’s electricity…

  • Could Solar Provide 27% Of World’s Energy By 2050?

    Rapid Expansion of Solar Depends on Massive Subsidies and High Carbon PriceThe International Energy Agency updated their technology roadmaps for solar PV and solar thermal energy, suggesting that, with significant policy and technological progress, solar could collectively contribute 27 percent of global electricity by 2050. Some commentators were quick to exclaim victory, but let’s remember that the IEA has provided a “roadmap” not a set of predictions, nor projections. To achieve that 27 percent requires a high global carbon price – which doesn’t yet exist – and for average annual solar PV deployment to quadruple from 36 GW installed in…

  • India Is Committed To Solar, But Don’t Invest Just Yet

    In an interview this week with the Guardian newspaper, India’s power and coal minister, Piyush Goyal, claimed that India would become a “renewable superpower” in the next few years. Before we get too excited about the environmental impacts of that ambitious goal, however, it should be noted that Goyal also envisages a simultaneous huge ramp up in coal-powered electricity production. This illustrates once again that while India sees renewable energy, and solar in particular, as part of the country’s long term energy plan, the country’s priority is an urgent need to expand the electricity supply any way possible.For this and…

  • How A Mistake May Lead To More Efficient Solar Power

    Despite how it sounds, the concept of an “organic solar cell” wasn’t dreamed up in some marketer’s hyperactive imagination. An organic solar cell is actually “a type of polymer solar cell that uses organic electronics -- a branch of electronics that deals with conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules -- for light absorption and charge transport to produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect.”They can match, and even better, the performance of conventional solar cells, and they cost less.They have drawbacks, though: specifically, pathways that lose energy. This means researchers need to find the right architecture for organic…

  • New Technology Could Have Us Generate Power As We Walk

    You may have heard how the jaw movement from talking or chewing can be turned into useable energy. Now scientists have found a way to harness the energy of something equally simple: walking.The amount of energy produced by it isn’t nearly enough to power something like an electric car, but watch batteries -- yes. Researchers at the Center for Research in Advanced Materials (CIMAV) have designed a small, flat cylinder that fits in a shoe and stores the mechanical-vibrational energy that a human creates by walking.The scientists then used the captured energy to recharge AAA batteries and even self-powered clocks.Related:…