Sep 18, 2009 | 31
At least some members of the Obama administration plan to call for an end to fossil-fuel subsidies as part of next week's G20 economic leaders summit, citing positive impacts ranging from improved energy security to combating climate change. But how much does the U.S. government pay? Well, according to a new analysis from the Environmental Law Institute released today, roughly $72 billion between 2002 and 2008.
More than $54 billion of that was in the form of 23 different tax credits for oil, coal and natural gas producers, including those overseas, most of which are permanent provisions of the U.S. Tax Code. Just $18.3 billion was grants and other direct cash for research and development and other pursuits, such as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Aug 24, 2009 | 3
Chevron will tap sunlight to help it get more oil out of the ground in California. The company will partner with BrightSource Energy—a solar start-up that Chevron helps fund—to develop 29 megawatts of thermal power from the sun's rays.
The idea is simple (and ancient): use mirrors to concentrate the sun's rays onto a water tank, turning said water to steam. The steam can then be used to turn a turbine and produce electricity or, in this case, pumped down a well to loosen heavy oils.
The plant slated for the Coalinga Oil Field near Fresno will employ at least 3,000 mirrors to concentrate light on a more than 300-foot tower with water inside. Chevron hopes it will be fully operational by the end of next year. "The only problem we have is when it's cloudy," said Sergio Hoyos, a business developer at Chevron Technology Ventures, at the city council meeting last week where the plan was unveiled, according to Reuters.
Aug 18, 2009 | 13
Mining is the second most dangerous occupation in the U.S., averaging roughly 27 deaths for every 100,000 workers per year. That's nearly nine times higher than the overall fatality rate for U.S. industry as a whole, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau (pdf).
So it stands to reason that energy derived from renewable resources such as the sun and wind might cause fewer workplace deaths than energy industries—coal, oil and natural gas—that rely on mining, drilling and otherwise extracting fossil fuels. And that's exactly what doctors from Medical College of Wisconsin and Duke University Medical Center found in an analysis published in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association on August 19.
May 13, 2009 | 5
Duke Energy wants to put a power plant on your house.
Over the next year, the utility plans to spend $50 million to plop a variety of photovoltaic panels on commercial buildings, the roofs of private homes, and other property in North Carolina.
Once installed, the 10 megawatts worth of solar panels are expected to produce enough alternating-current electricity to power 1,300 homes. But the utility’s main goals for the demonstration project are to gain experience with distributed generation—putting the power plant closer to the customer—and with integrating intermittent, renewable resources like sunshine into the grid.
Apr 2, 2009 | 6
The Obama administration needs more research before it can tailor a strategy for harvesting available energy resources in the U.S., according to a report released today by the Interior Department. President Obama has made clear that he's big on alt energy options – but said during his campaign that he would consider off shore drilling on leased land in combo with development of renewable energy sources in a push to make the U.S. independent of foreign oil.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement that the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy resources report points to "huge information gaps about the location and extent of offshore oil and gas resources" that need to be filled in before officials can make any policy decisions on oil exploration and renewable energy research. He noted, for instance, that in some cases seismic and related data (in the Atlantic OCS and Eastern Gulf of Mexico) is more than 25 years old and would have to be updated to determine whether drilling would be safe.
Mar 25, 2009 | 17
Do the potential benefits of plants that use renewable sources such as wind and solar to generate energy outweigh the environmental damage that could be caused to make way for them? Californians are grappling with that very question as the state moves ahead with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to have utility companies generate one-third of the state's energy from renewable sources by 2020; today renewables account for 12 percent of their output.
The facilities and infrastructure needed to meet the governor's goals, however, require the state to turn over acres of previously undeveloped land (to install fields of solar panels, for example), something residents near the Carrisa Plains region (about 170 miles northwest of Los Angeles) fear may destroy the area's natural beauty, not to mention habitats of endangered animals such as the San Joaquin kit fox, Time reports.
Mar 9, 2009 | 4
It looks like the U.S. isn't the only North American country planning to pump tens of millions of dollars into developing renewable forms of energy. The Canadian government has announced it will spend $41 million ($53 million Canadian) on 16 projects that promise to deliver new forms of clean energy or to help citizens reduce existing energy use.
Among them: (Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), which will administer the funds, didn't provide specific funding amounts, nor did it specify when the funds will be available.)
Fusion technology—General Fusion Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia, working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Powertech Labs Inc., will now have more money to develop its fusion technology, which uses sound waves to create a fusion reaction. The hope is that this approach will enable fusion to deliver on its promise of generating electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, pollution or radioactive waste.
Feb 12, 2009 | 16
The world needs a "revolution" in science and technology to solve global warming, says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, made the remarks in today's New York Times. The article was short on specifics, but Chu, former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said Nobel-level breakthroughs were needed in electric batteries, solar power and crops that could be turned into fuel. "Science and technology can generate much better choices,” Chu, a long-time proponent of alternative energy development, told the newspaper. “It has, consistently, over hundreds and hundreds of years.”
Feb 5, 2009 | 6
How green is your kitchen? If you’re part of what today’s New York Times describes as a “small segment” of the eco-conscious, you don’t have a fridge.
Here in New York, it’s not uncommon to help the environment by burning less natural gas; you eat out and use your oven as it was meant to be used in tiny apartments – to store sweaters. But some folks – apparently, ones who give up readily cold beer and live in chilly climes where they can store their mayo on the porch – have gone the extra mile by disconnecting their refrigerators.
“It seems wasteful to me to use even an Energy Star-rated fridge,” one satisfied, fridge-less woman, Rachel Muston of Ottawa, tells the newspaper, “because I’m getting along fine without one.”
Jan 20, 2009 | 1
In his inaugural address today, Pres. Barack Obama underscored his campaign promises to reform health care and develop alternative energy. Here are some excerpts, from the prepared text:
“Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet … .
“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act —not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.…
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