The continuing quest for advanced biofuels based off of synthetic biology has made an important advance with researchers at the Joint BioENergy Institute (JBEI) — based at the Lawrence Livermore Lab — announcing that they have bio-engineered a combination of two microbes, a yeast and a bacteria, which working together can produce a viable bio-sourced drop-in replacement for D2 diesel fuel.
Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-yourself kits and other innovative installation approaches now on the market, residential solar is having modest growth.
This post makes the argument that changing the conversation about global warming — a conversation that has become politically charged — into a conversation about energy conservation, which will not cause immediate and sometimes hostile reactions that speaking about climate change does, is a more effective strategy to pursue for those concerned about climate change. […]
Solar power continues along its firmly established downward cost curve and edges ever closer to achieving the historic milestone of grid parity. Today it just got a huge boost that will help it scale out in this country and will go a long way towards tipping the long term balance in favor of solar. In fact as the industry achieves scale it is cutting per unit costs down. This post outlines the announcement of a large DOE initiative to promote rooftop direct grid connected solar power in the US.
This post reports on the newly announced loan guarantees for the concentrated solar power (CSP) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project that is to be built in Nevada. This kind of solar power, because it is paired with a molten salt thermal energy storage capacity has the ability to be a load following generation source that is somewhat insulated from intermittency issues as well. For large concentrated solar thermal energy this decoupling of the energy collection from electricity generation makes a lot of sense, because the molten salt is already being used as the working fluid that captures the sun’s heat.
In this post, Dallas writes about bio natural gas a potentially disruptive renewable energy technology that may be poised to expand out of the niche markets it has so far been constrained in. After describing what bio natural gas is and is not, the post delves into some of the specifics for why this sector may be ready to take off, and why it has a big upside potential. The study, which this post summarizes suggests that bio natural gas may emerge as the lowest cost renewable power in the future, once available at scale.
Meeting the challenges of climate change and a global transition towards a sustainable economy is such a monumental task that it requires the suitable governance structures that are able to channel corporate and other resources toward sustainability. This post covers some of the issues in this important subject including carbon lock-in, shorthand for the “interlocking technological, institutional and social forces…that perpetuate fossil fuel-based infrastructures in spite of their known environmental externalities”. It suggests a four pronged approach combining regulatory requirements, economic incentives for sustainability, public pressures, and finally to restructure the foundations of corporate governance to serve multiple stakeholders.
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.
Are mandated renewable energy standards the most efficient way to promote renewable energy. In this post, David argues that legislating goals for renewable energy is picking winners and losers, because many of these renewable energy standards laws mandate specific percentages for say wind or solar. He questions why so many people, in light of the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, have rejected nuclear power and he makes the claim that renewable sources of energy cannot provide baseload electric energy supplies. These are arguments that advocates of wind and solar need to address head on.