Energy systems need to also be measured according to the potential risks associated with them in the advent of failure. And the actuarial costs of these risks need to be better understood and included into the market price for the energy that these systems produce. This post examines this catastrophic downside risk of nuclear and fossil energy focusing on the recent events in Japan and on the BP oil spill as two recent examples of hugely expensive catastrophes. It poses the question why should the taxpayers and the public bear the burden of these costs in this manner artificially lowering the price these energy sectors are thus able to charge for their products.
Overtopping wave energy systems are one of the pathways being investigated to capture this potential renewable energy source. An interesting an innovative approach has been adopted by the Norwegian company Wave Energy, which is now doing a technical feasibility study for building such a system in Oregon’s famous and famously stormy Tillamook Bay. Waves form a potentially large world-wide energy resource, estimated at more than 2 Terawatts, but formidable technical challenges have long stood in the way of realizing this potential.
California’s Senate has just passed some important new renewable energy legislation that will, if approved in the Assembly and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, require utilities operating in the state to obtain one third of their electricity from renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar or geothermal. This is a big increase from the current 20% targets set by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a 2009 executive order.
Bio-domes are a sustainable low cost water treatment technology that uses just one third the energy of traditional mechanical aeration systems and is also suitable for rural and other communities that currently rely on essentially unimproved treatment lagoons. They work by providing an optimal environment that promotes flourishing communities of beneficial bacterial biofilms that naturally process the dissolved and suspended pollutants in order to cleanse the water.
The recent swings in the spot price for crude oil — especially in light of the currently rapid rising spot prices are cause for alarm. Noting that the current run up of prices looks a lot like period leading up to the sudden price spike that occurred in the summer of 2008. It goes on to argues that the global economy needs a better market regulating mechanism that can help manage these swings and reduce their amplitude so they become less damaging to the world’s economies. The energy business — whether it is alternative energy or oil, gas or coal exploration and development — has huge up front capital needs. This needed capital is much harder to raise in a climate of such extreme near term price uncertainty.
The DOE’s “SunShot” initiative which is modeled after the highly successful Apollo moon shot program aims to spur innovations and rationalizations that will together slash the total system cost of solar photovoltaic systems by three quarters within this decade. If it manages to achieve these goals then solar PV would become cost competitive with other […]
Sustainability begins within the self. Until we unlearn bad habits that arise from our acceptance of unquestioned notions that lead to these kinds of unsustainable behaviors we will be stuck in modes of behavior that will prevent us from achieving the kinds of changes we need to achieve.
A new study that is sure to create some controversy proposes that the world can provide for all of its energy needs, including electric, transportation, heating/cooling energy needs using only wind, water, and solar power by 2030.
In a troubling development for proponents of geologic carbon sequestration a Saskatchewan farmer has just made public an independent study that links high levels of CO2 found in their farm’s soil to the thousands of tons of CO2 that is currently being pumped into deep oil bearing deposits under their land by Canadian Energy giant Cenovus.