Posted on 27 December 2012.
Natural gas production is spiking in the US
Natural gas production is one the rise in the U.S. While natural gas is still considered a fossil-fuel, it burns much more cleanly than petroleum and coal, making it a suitable alternative to traditional energy systems, in terms of environmentally friendliness. The federal government has begun tapping into the country native natural gas reserves in order to better support the energy needs of its citizens. As the U.S. inches closer to becoming a major energy exporter through its increased production of natural gas, engineers and scientists from the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science believe that the time is right to begin focusing on methane.
Efficient use of methane to produce natural gas
Matthew Neurock, a chemical engineering professor with the University of Virginia, notes that petroleum reserves are declining all over the world. This decline is expected to open up a promising future for natural gas, especially as the U.S. begins to shift away from oil as its primary source of energy. Though petroleum may one day be replaced as a source of energy, it still has a wide range of uses, including the production of other fuels, such as natural gas. Methane is one of the primary components of natural gas, but there is currently not efficient way to make use of methane in the production of natural gas.
Researchers make use of “soft” catalytic materials
Neurock and his team have begun working with scientists from Northwestern University in order to make use of catalytic materials that can activate methane in an efficient manner, thereby producing ethylene. The team has focused its attentions of catalytic materials that contain sulfur, as research suggests that sulfur acts as a “soft” oxidant for the conversion of methane into ethylene. Oxygen had once been considered a viable option, but it proved much to reactive and would often over-oxidize methane into simple carbon dioxide.
Research team may be able to unlock a new way to efficiently produce natural gas
Neurock suggests that “soft” catalytic materials that have a weak affinity to hydrogen may be the solution to efficient natural gas production. It will be some time before Neurock and his team provide a system that can make use of this concept in a viable fashion, but the science behind the concept is sound. If successful, Neurock may be able to unlock a new generation of natural gas production.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Research, Science, United States
Posted on 26 December 2012.
Energy efficiency in homes continues to be an issue, according to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a non-profit organization that focuses on energy efficiency in Northwest states, has developed a new database that may help energy utilities craft better energy efficiency programs for homeowners. The database is called the Residential Building Stock Assessment and it provides information concerning measures that can be taken to reduce the energy consumption of homes. According to the organization, many energy utilities companies are capable of meeting the energy efficiency standards of the federal government, but they are not well versed in the physical characteristics of homes.
Study shows many homes do not have proper insulation
According to a study from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, 13% of homes in the Northwestern U.S. do not have any wall insulation. Approximately 42% of homes in this region has inadequate insulation that does not meet modern standards. This means that many energy efficiency initiatives coming from state and federal governments are not as effective as they could be. Improving the efficiency of electric appliances could also help improve the effectiveness of energy efficiency campaigns.
Appliances are part of the problem
Appliances are a significant part of why energy efficiency campaigns are not doing all they can to help cut down energy costs of homes. Dryers and hot water heaters consume a significant amount of energy and are also quite costly. These appliances may become less expensive in time, but until they are made more efficient in terms of energy consumption, they may continue contributing to the problem. Homes are also seeing a higher number of plug loads, such as televisions, game consoles, and other entertainment systems. Excessive plug loads are keeping energy consumption in homes high.
Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance notes that more work can be done to improve energy efficiency
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance suggests that more can be done to improve energy efficiency. Implementing better building standards to ensure that home insulation is up to part with efficiency standards and improving the energy efficiency of home appliances could go a long way in helping reduce energy consumption in the residential sector.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental, Featured News, Research, Residential Energy, United States
Posted on 18 December 2012.
Domestic energy production could help revolutionize the country
The U.S. is looking for a way to break its reliance on fossil-fuels. Until a suitable alternative can be found, however, the federal government will continue to focus on using these fuels for the sake of energy production. Though the time may not be right for a complete transition away from fossil-fuels, the U.S. government is keen to stop relying on foreign countries for its energy needs and has been investing heavily to support domestic energy production.
Report highlights the possibilities for the US in terms of energy production
A new report from Exxon, one of the largest oil companies in the world, notes that domestic energy production in the U.S. is expected to continue gaining momentum well into the future. The report shows that the country has already made several advances in producing its own energy, largely thanks to the multiple alternative energy projects that are taking form throughout the U.S. Exxon suggests that if domestic energy production continues gaining strength, the U.S. will become a powerful exporter of power by 2025.
Becoming an energy exporter could have serious benefits
There are many economic implications for the country if it manages to become a net energy exporter. Exxon suggests that the U.S. could become a major player in the oil market, becoming a new source of energy for countries that have yet to make the transition away from fossil-fuels. These countries would buy domestically produced oil, thus introducing a new revenue stream to the country. The report notes that the demand for oil in developed countries is on the decline, but developing countries are still in need of fossil-fuels due to the energy production technologies that are available to them.
Focus on exports may boost adoption of alternative energy
The report suggests that the U.S. is one track to becoming an energy exporter for the first time in its history. Exxon suggests that this will also spur the country toward using less fossil-fuels, or at least transition toward cleaner versions such as natural gas. Alternative energy, in its various forms, is expected to become the primary source of power for the country in the future.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Financial, Research, United States
Posted on 17 December 2012.
Yingli Green Energy to help bolster domestic solar energy in China
Yingli Green Energy, one of the leading solar energy companies in China, has announced that it will be participating in the country’s Gold Sun Program. The program aims to promote standards for China’s emerging solar energy market. The project itself will establish a strong solar energy system in the country, which will be used as a foundation for the establishment of governing standards for the use of solar technologies, such as photovoltaic panels and energy storage systems. Yingly Green Energy will be providing the project with solar panels that will help the program take form.
China becoming a powerful force in the solar energy sector
China is quickly becoming a major player in the global energy market. The country has long had a strong dependence on fossil-fuels, but a growing economy and population is pushing the Central Government to look for alternatives that are less damaging to the environment. Solar energy has won a great deal of support from the government, largely because of its economic prospects. Generating energy domestically will reduce the country’s need to obtain power from foreign sources, thus reducing the amount of money it spends on imports.
Company to provide 288 megawatts of solar panels
Yingli Green Energy will provide some 288 megawatts worth of solar panels to the Gold Sun Program. The company notes that it is heavily committed to helping develop the solar energy market in China, believing that the country will see major benefits through the use of renewable power. Government officials suggest that the company’s participating in the Gold Sun Program will help accelerate the completion of the project. When the project is fully completed, it is expected to have a total capacity of 2.8 gigawatts.
China continues to spark concerns in Europe and elsewhere
Though China has a keen interest to bolster domestic solar energy production, the country has also been working to establish a foothold in the global solar market. Yingli Green Energy, as well as other energy companies, have been producing solar panels at a rapid pace and introducing them to European and American markets. The pace at which these products are coming to these markets have sparked concerns that China is attempting to push other companies out of the market by making it impossible for them to generate profit. These concerns have sparked trade disputes between China and several European countries.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Business, Featured News, Industry, International, Solar Energy
Posted on 14 December 2012.
Report highlights the capabilities of comprehensive alternative energy systems
There have been many reports over the years suggesting that alternative energy systems could meet 100% of the energy needs of a full-scale energy grid. Many of these reports suggest that it is feasible to run the world on existing alternative energy technology currently, but other claim that this is not possible for several decades. A new study from the University of Delaware and the Delaware Technical College suggests that the U.S. itself could be meet 99.9% of its energy needs through wind, solar, and energy storage technologies by 2030.
Various forms of renewable power make promising combination
According to the report, alternative energy systems, including storage technologies, could power a large-scale energy grid in an affordable manner. One of the primary concerns regarding alternative energy is the fact that renewable power systems require a large upfront investment, and that the administrative and maintenance costs associated with such systems make them less economically viable than traditional forms of power. The report suggest that solar, wind, energy storage technology, and even hydrogen fuel cells will reach the point where they can meet the needs of the U.S. without introducing exorbitant costs.
Data shows that alternative energy could cut the cost of electricity
For the report, researchers used a model of 28 billion combinations of energy storage projects and renewable energy sources. Each combination provided data concerning the energy consumption of the country over a four-year period. Researchers suggest that many of the combinations showed that a comprehensive mix of fuel cells, solar energy systems, wind turbines, and storage technologies could effectively cut the costs of energy in large areas of the U.S., especially those home to dense population centers, such as New York.
Advanced technology dropping the cost of renewable power
Alternative energy technology is advancing at a rapid pace. As these technologies become more advanced, their cost is actually dropping, largely due to their heightened efficiency and their use of less expensive materials. This combined with various other factors paint a promising future for the state of alternative energy in the U.S.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Financial, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Research, Solar Energy, United States, Wind Energy
Posted on 13 December 2012.
Norwich Research Park aims to set a new standard in green construction
The United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia will soon be home to the most energy efficient building in the country. The Norwich Research Park Enterprise Center will be built at the university and cost approximately $30 million. The facility is expected to be the “greenest” building ever constructed in the United Kingdom, employing various energy efficient practices and environmentally friendly materials in its construction. The building may also consume very little energy, if it can meet with efficient construction standards.
Facility aims for prestigious certifications
The Norwich Research Park will serve as home to various offices, classrooms, meeting centers, and lecture halls. Students will find a variety of services within the building itself and the University of East Anglia is expected to see some savings on energy spending because of the efficiency of the building. If the building can achieve BREEAM Outstanding and Passivhaus Certification, its energy consumption would be among the lowest the United Kingdom has ever seen from a facility of this kind.
Local materials used to boost economic activity
The Norwich Research Park has been designed by Architype, a London-based architecture firm. The firm has partnered with several engineering and construction groups for the project. The aim is to ensure that the building will produce as little CO2 emissions as possible, even as it draws electrical power from energy systems that use fossil-fuels. Local materials are being used in order to avoid the emissions associated with transporting goods from foreign countries. This is expected to help spark economic activity for local businesses and craftsmen, as well as boost the countries flagging green construction industry.
Alternative energy may be used in the future
It is not yet clear if the Norwich Research park will make use of some form of alternative energy in the future. The building is not currently being designed around the concept of alternative energy, but the United Kingdom has been showing intense interest in solar and wind power. Solar may eventually become a power source for the new building, but such a system is likely to be installed well after the construction project itself is completed.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental, Featured News, Industry, International
Posted on 24 November 2012.
Energy Efficiency Strategy launched by UK government
The United Kingdom has several ambitious alternative energy and environmentally friendly initiatives it is currently pursuing. The country has become one of the largest supporters of wind and solar power in the world and continues to look for ways to promote energy efficiency and cut consumption and emissions. The UK government has launched a new strategy that aims to add further momentum to these initiatives. The strategy is called the Energy Efficiency Strategy and aims to save the country the equivalent of 22 power stations-worth of electricity by 2020.
New initiative aims to save county 22 power stations-worth of electricity by 2020
According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Energy Efficiency Strategy is meant to change the way energy is used in the United Kingdom. Much of the focus of the new initiatives will be in the realms of transportation and manufacturing in its earliest phases. This focus will expand to other sectors as the strategy matures in a few years. By 2020, the government expects that the Energy Efficiency Strategy will save the country a significant amount of money and significantly reduce energy consumption.
Some provisions take immediate effect
The initiative does introduce some provisions that have taken immediate effect. One of these provisions establishes a nearly $50 million fund for the examination of the energy demand coming from the residential sector and five business sectors. Another provision aims to drive financial support for energy efficiency practices for business throughout the country. This financing will help companies adopt energy efficient practices and equipment through a nationwide program called RE:FIT.
Energy Efficiency Strategy expected to boost support of alternative energy
The Energy Efficiency Strategy represents the United Kingdom’s first concerted effort to promote energy efficiency throughout the country. Depending on the success of the strategy, several other initiatives may take form in the future. The Energy Efficiency Strategy is also expected to help boost interest in and support of alternative energy.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental, Featured News, Financial, International, Political
Posted on 05 November 2012.
North-Rhine Westphalia launches plan to promote adoption and deployment of fuel cells
North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany and home to the country’s four largest cities, has launched a new subsidy plan designed to help commercial companies adopt micro-CHP energy systems that can produce 50 kilowatts of electricity or less. Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited has been chosen to participate in the pan by providing commercial customers with access to its BlueGen fuel cell systems. Through this plan, North-Rhine Westphalia officials believe that the adoption of alternative energy can be increased.
CHP energy systems are growing in popularity
Combined heat and power (CHP) energy systems are becoming very popular in numerous industries. These systems often take the form of fuel cells. Fuel cells are capable of producing large amounts of electrical power through chemical reactions. These chemical reactions also produce heat, which can be captured and used to heat water or produce yet more electricity. Moreover, fuel cells do not produce any harmful emissions, thus making them an environmentally friendly energy system.
Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited chosen as a participant in the plan
Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited expects that the subsidy plan coming from the North Rhine-Westphalia government will account for 45% of the extra cost of its products. The subsidy that customers receive depends largely on the product they are interested in. Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited predicts that the average savings each customer of its CHP products will receive will be around $12,000. Small and medium-sized businesses will receive a higher subsidy rate than individual commercial customers.
Financial incentive may successfully boost adoption of alternative energy
This particularly program is part of a much larger effort coming from the North-Rhine Westphalia government concerning the adoption of CHP energy systems. This branch of the plan will run throughout 2017 and is expected to help make CHP energy systems more popular amongst businesses in Germany. Providing a financial incentive for businesses to adopt alternative energy has worked well in the past and North-Rhine Westphalia hopes to mimic the success it has seen in other parts of the country through its new subsidy plan.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Featured News, Financial, Hydrogen Fuel Cell, International, Political
Posted on 22 September 2012.
3D solar cell produces 250% more electricity than conventional models
Solar3D, a leading solar energy technology company, has completed the first prototype of its 3D solar cell technology. The company has been working to develop a three-dimensional solar energy system for some time, believing that such a system would be profoundly more efficient than conventional systems. Initial tests of the new prototype system seem promising, as Solar3D claims that its new solar energy cell is capable of producing 250% more electricity than its conventional counterparts.
New solar energy system exceeds expectations
Solar3D researchers note that the performance of the 3D solar cell exceeds expectations. Researchers have tested the 3D solar cell alongside traditional solar energy systems and found that the Solar3D model is more efficient under a wide range of operating conditions. Tests have shown that the 3D solar cell is capable of producing large amounts of electricity in a variety of low-light conditions, largely due to the design of the solar cell itself.
3D solar energy systems growing in popularity
Three-dimensional solar cells are becoming more popular in the solar energy industry. These types of systems are capable of collecting sunlight more effectively than traditional solar panels. This is due to the design of the cell, which is meant to gather sunlight from all directions. This type of solar energy system has long been lauded for its promising potential, but relatively few of these systems are being used today. Solar3D is one of the few companies that is showing how effective a 3D solar cell can be.
Researchers to focus on reducing cost of energy system
Now that the company has shown that its 3D solar cell can produce 250% more electricity than conventional solar energy systems, researchers will begin working on reducing the cost of the technology. Cost will be a deciding factor in whether the solar energy system will be able to one day reach commercialization. Researchers will focus on manufacturing methods and materials that will help ensure that the production of the 3D solar cell will make the energy system accessible to a wide range of consumers.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Business, Featured News, Industry, Research, Solar Energy
Posted on 15 September 2012.
New study examines the potential of atmospheric wind energy
Wind energy could be enough to satisfy the entirety of the world’s energy demand, according to a new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science. With the help of researchers from the Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory, Ken Caldeira of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology has examined the potential of wind energy systems. Current technology may be lacking, but atmospheric wind energy systems of the future could sufficiently solve the world’s energy problems without introducing serious climatic consequences.
Researchers quantify capabilities of wind energy
Researchers from the Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory, led by Kate Marvel, collected data on surface wind energy systems as well as theoretical atmospheric wind energy systems. The latter refers to wind turbines that are used at high altitudes. These systems could harvest the powerful winds that occupy this region, which are typically constant and enough to keep a wind turbine generating electricity as long as the technology itself is functional. The study suggests that these wind energy systems could be sufficient enough to power the entire world.
Surface wind power systems could have environmental consequences
Surface wind energy systems may also be capable of powering the world, but not without cost. Wind turbines interfere with wind currents, creating drag and generally slowing down the flow of wind. Researchers note that there is a balance between the number of wind turbines that exist in the world and their ability to generate electricity. The more turbines there are, the more electricity is produced through these systems. Eventually, however, there will be too many turbines interfering with wind currents, making the flow of wind weaker and weaker. Thus, after a certain point, more wind turbines will no longer mean more electricity. Such a problem does not exist with atmospheric wind energy systems.
Atmospheric wind energy may be the solution to the energy problem
The study shows that more than 1,800 terrawatts of electricity can be harvested through the atmosphere. The entirety of the world uses, approximately, 18 terrawatts of electricity. The study suggests that this can be easily met with surface wind energy systems, which could produce up to 400 TW, but not without environmental consequences. Thus, atmospheric wind energy systems may be the best solution to the energy problem.
Posted in Alternative Energy, Environmental, Featured News, Research, Science, Wind Energy