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Thursday, October 02, 2014

37
votes
Crude prices fall as Saudi Arabia cuts prices

Bloomburg -- Brent crude dropped to the lowest level in more than two years Wednesday after Saudi Arabia cut its November official selling prices to all areas. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped to a 17-month low.

Both grades retreated after the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. trimmed its benchmark Arab Light prices to customers in Asia, Europe and the U.S. WTI rose as much as 2 percent earlier as the U.S. Energy Information Administration said the country’s crude supplies slipped 1.36 million barrels to 356.6 million.

November gasoline futures increased 1.24 cents, or 0.5 percent, to settle at $2.4497 a gallon on the Nymex. The expiring October contract tumbled 10.94 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $2.5869 Tuesday.
Ultra low sulfur diesel for November delivery rose 0.51 cent to close at $2.6763 a gallon.  (read more)

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330 Comments

33
votes
Microgrids emerging as a global phenomenon

fiercesmartgrid.com -- Dramatic change is occurring in the area of global microgrids and microgrid enabling technologies, including diesel generators, natural gas generators, fuel cells, solar photovoltaic, distributed wind, advanced energy storage, and others, according to Navigant Research, as a greater emphasis is being placed on the economic value these systems bring to the overall power grid and, at the same time, new business models, designed to support full commercial deployment of microgrid systems, are being investigated and implemented.

"Microgrids are emerging as a global phenomenon," said Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. "These systems offer compelling features, including the ability to isolate themselves from the utility distribution system during power outages,  (read more)

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284 Comments

28
votes
MA clean energy sector reporting economic gains

fierceenergy.com -- The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has released its annual industry report prepared by BW Research Partnership, detailing the impressive growth of the state's clean energy industry and the impact it is having on jobs and economic activity across Massachusetts.

The Clean Energy States Alliance is hailing the report as an "essential tool for quantifying and understanding the results of state policies to advance markets for clean energy technologies."

(snip)

The report forecasts that the Massachusetts clean energy sector -- a $10 billion industry responsible for around 2.5 percent of the state's gross product -- will exceed 6,000 employers and 100,000 workers by early 2015. Solar deployment alone is creating more than 12,000 jobs, driving the need for qualified employees.
 (read more)

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9 Comments

27
votes
Oklahoma reconsiders wind subsidies as industry power grows

AP -- A decade ago, states offered wind-energy developers an open-armed embrace, envisioning a bright future for an industry that would offer cheap electricity, new jobs and steady income for large landowners, especially in rural areas with few other economic prospects.

To ensure the opportunity didn’t slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks.

But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms. The tension could have broad implications for the expansion of wind power in other parts of the country.

 (read more)

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200 Comments

27
votes
Not in Anybody’s Backyard

onearth.org -- The most polluted communities in the country are more likely to be home to people of color. That’s been true for decades, despite many efforts (albeit ineffective ones) to change it. Now the Environmental Protection Agency is trying again, with a proposed rule that would require oil refineries—many of which border poor and largely minority neighborhoods—to measure some forms of pollution along their boundaries and upgrade their facilities.

It’s a step in the right direction. But when viewed through the lens of history, it seems long overdue and rather feeble. Consider how long we’ve recognized the problem:

In 1983, the U.S. General Accounting Office observed that three out of four communities near hazardous waste landfills in the Southeast were predominantly African-American, though the
 (read more)

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126 Comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

57
votes
Fed Up With Federal Inaction, States Act Alone on Cap-and-Trade

Wall St. Cheat Sheet -- Unsatisfied with the pace at which the federal government is acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, several U.S. states and a few Canadian provinces are forging ahead with their own initiatives.

In 2013, California kicked off a cap-and-trade program in an effort to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The first year of the program was a resounding success, with the state’s economy expanding while at the same time adding renewable energy. But carbon markets are more effective — and far more efficient — when they involve more entities in more places.

California is by far the largest generator of renewable energy, but capping emissions only within its borders could lead to “leakages” — dirty generators moving across the border to Nevada, for example, and selling power back to...  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1401 Comments

56
votes
Offshore Wind Turbines Could Tame Hurricanes

Wall Street Journal -- Could an armada of giant windmills reduce damage from the next big hurricane?

A study by scientists at Stanford University and the University of Delaware suggests that U.S. coastal cities could be spared by installing tens of thousands of gigantic wind turbines offshore in arrays up to 20 miles long. The scientists say the turbines, as high as a football field is long, would suck much of the energy out of storms and pay for themselves with the clean electrical power they produce.

The idea is that if you take away enough wind speed and reduce the height of the waves, you will break the feedback loop that makes hurricanes more powerful.  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
1516 Comments

56
votes
Autumn brings fall in gasoline prices

Fuel Fix -- This year’s relatively good fuel price news continues as motorists steer into the fourth quarter.

The national average price for a gallon of regular was $3.33 Tuesday, AAA reported, the lowest average in seven months and about a dime less on the last day of September than on the first.

The Houston-area average price Tuesday was $3.12, down 13 cents from a month ago and 3 cents less than on Sept. 30, 2013, according to the motor club’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Gasbuddy.com, which also monitors prices, reported that the lowest price available in Houston Tuesday was $2.86 per gallon.

The main factor in the price of gasoline is the price of oil, which also has been dropping. U.S. benchmark crude fell $3.41 to $91.16 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was abo  (read more)

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901 Comments

53
votes
Blades of grass inspire advance in organic solar cells

Phys.org -- Using a bio-mimicking analog of one of nature's most efficient light-harvesting structures, blades of grass, an international research team led by Alejandro Briseno of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has taken a major step in developing long-sought polymer architecture to boost power-conversion efficiency of light to electricity for use in electronic devices.

Briseno, with colleagues and graduate students at UMass Amherst and others at Stanford University and Dresden University of Technology, Germany, report in the current issue of Nano Letters that by using single-crystalline organic nanopillars, or "nanograss," they found a way to get around dead ends, or discontinuous pathways, [...]  (read more)

Submitted Yesterday By:
612 Comments

50
votes
5 Policies That Would Make Gas Cheaper

The Daily Signal -- Sick of paying too much at the pump?

If you are, there’s good news: There are policies Congress and the Obama administration could implement that likely would lead to lower prices.

If you’re looking to lower gas prices, first look at crude oil prices.

Crude oil contributes the largest component to the price of gasoline. As of June 2014, crude prices made up 67 percent of the price of gas, with refining (14 percent), taxes (12 percent), and retailing and transportation (8 percent) accounting for the rest, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. States levy their own taxes, ranging from a low of 12.4 cents per gallon in Alaska to more than 52.6 cents per gallon in Califor  (read more)

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63 Comments

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

57
votes
Falling price of solar panels leads utilities to lobby for taxes

Bangor Daily News -- MADRID — A year after Spain, the sunniest country in Europe, issued notice of a law forcing solar energy-equipped homes and offices to pay a punitive tax, architect Inaki Alonso reinstalled a 250-watt solar panel on a beam over his Madrid roof terrace.

“The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven’t dared to actually pass the law,” Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.

“We’re tired of being afraid,” he said.

Halfway across the globe, in the “sunshine state” of Queensland, Australia, electrical engineer David Smyth says the war waged by some governments and utilities against distributed energy, the term used for power generated by solar panels, is alr  (read more)

Submitted Sep 30, 2014 By:
1449 Comments

56
votes
What Happens When Oil Drops Below $90 a Barrel?

24/7 Wall -- U.S. pump prices are expected to fall below $3 a gallon in many U.S. states and cities by the end of 2014. Consumers will finally get some relief from prices that rose above $4 a gallon in many cities earlier this year.

And it's not just gasoline pump prices. Airline fuel consumption has dropped almost 15% since its peak in 2005, partly due to cutting down on the number of flights, but also due to flying at slower speeds and reducing weight in order to consume less fuel. Between 2004 and 2011, the average ground speed of seven major U.S. air carriers decreased by 1.1%. Planes have cut weight by eliminating magazines, heating ovens and even safety equipment for water landings if the planes don’t fly over water.

Domestic jet fuel prices have fallen from around $2.90 a gallon to around $2.7  (read more)

Submitted Sep 30, 2014 By:
1604 Comments

53
votes
Sun may be our main energy source by 2050: IEA

CNBC -- Solar power could trump alternatives like fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear to be the world's largest source of electricity by 2050, according to a prominent energy watchdog.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), which is best known for its monthly oil updates, published two reports on Monday detailing how greater use of solar energy could radically cut the need to use polluting carbon dioxide. The Paris-based agency said that if countries embraced solar energy, carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by more than 6 billion tons per year by 2050.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 30, 2014 By:
54 Comments

53
votes
Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven't Come True

WSJ -- Have we beaten "peak oil"?

For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world's oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves.

U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn't predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn't stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.

To the peak-oil adherents, this is just a respite, and decline is inevitable. But a growing tide of oil-industry experts argue that peak oil looks at the situation in the wrong way. The real constraints we face are technological and ec  (read more)

Submitted Sep 30, 2014 By:
868 Comments

50
votes
Rosneft, ExxonMobil Open New Oil Field In Arctic Ocean

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty --
R
ussia's largest oil company, Rosneft, says it has opened a new oil field in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean with U.S. partner ExxonMobil.

The announcement comes after the United States targeted Rosneft and its chief Igor Sechin with sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Rosneft said in a statement September 27 that the estimated deposits exceed 100 million tons of light crude oil.

Light crude oil is has a low density and is more expensive than heavy crude oil because it produces a higher percentage of gasoline and diesel fuel when refined.

It said the new field, named Pobeda (Victory), also contains an estimated 338 million cubic meters of gas.

However, it remained unclear if commercially viable quantities of oil could be recovered from the well and its d  (read more)

Submitted Sep 30, 2014 By:
78 Comments

Monday, September 29, 2014

61
votes
America’s Favorite Place to Fill up on Gas (Hint: It’s not Costco)

The Motley Fool -- How satisfied were you with your most recent trip to the gas station; Do you expect to return to the same place next time?

If you answered "very" and "yes" to those two questions then it's a safe bet that you drive past a few gas stations on your way to a totally different type of retailer to buy your fuel.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 29, 2014 By:
1068 Comments

60
votes
Why China stays out of Islamic State fight, for now

YAHOO NEW ZEALAND -- China is the top oil investor in Iraq, and Islamic State leaders say they have Chinese recruits. But Beijing is reluctant to get involved due to limited military capability in the Middle East and mistrust of US intentions.

One might expect China to be heavily invested in the international fight to stop Islamic State jihadists from taking over Iraq and Syria: For starters, China is the number one investor in Iraq's oil industry.

Yet, Beijing is almost nowhere to be seen in anti-IS coalition discussions. Why?

There are reasons enough for China to get involved.

The Asian giant’s economy depends on the Middle East for half its imported energy.

China now imports more oil from the region than the United States does, and is the largest investor in the Iraqi oil industry.

 (read more)

Submitted Sep 29, 2014 By:
1447 Comments

54
votes
Watch This Trooper Shockingly Shooting a Driver With No Reason [Video]

AutoEvolution -- police officer from Columbia, South Carolina is facing a 20-year charge after he shot an unarmed man at a gas station, earlier this month. The dashcam video released today shows the cop exiting his vehicle and asking a driver for ID. The man goes to his car to get it, when, apparently for no reason, the cop starts shooting him in the thigh. Fortunately the driver survived.

Lance Corporal Sean Groubert, a state trooper who was fired after shooting an unarmed man at a gas station on the 4th of September, has been charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, jail records show. The incredible shooting happened in the parking lot of a Circle K in Colombia, South Carolina, after Groubert pulled Levar Edward Jones over for a seatbelt violation.

According to an arrest  (read more)

Submitted Sep 29, 2014 By:
1484 Comments

43
votes
Predicting electric power outages before they happen

Science Daily -- The largest power outage in United States history, the 2003 Northeast blackout, began with one power line in Ohio going offline and ended with more than 50 million people without power throughout the Northeast and the Canadian province of Ontario.

Despite the apparent failure of the electric grid during such cascading events, blackouts aren't necessarily grid failures. Blackouts are often the result of automated protection measures that ensure power surges or downed power lines don't damage trees, people, appliances or other parts of the grid.

In the past, utility engineers have used static models of local electric grids to aim for single-contingency, worst-case scenario protection strategies rather than dynamic, real-time solutions to a unique grid disturbance.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 29, 2014 By:
53 Comments

40
votes
Nissan LEAF Cleans More Than Air Pollution in London

Torquenews -- A Nissan LEAF is powering a "reverse graffiti" artist in London, creating street art out of street grime.

Many people in London are helping to clear the air of the city by driving all-electric cars like the best-selling Nissan LEAF. As the number one selling electric car in the world, the LEAF can certainly help with that. Now, an artist is using the LEAF to create "Reverse Graffiti," which removes dirt and grime with art.

In this case, Moose, the man who says he invented the Reverse Graffiti idea, unveiled a mass-scale mural of the London skyline with hints at the plug-in future its transportation holds. The mural is a striking scene of familiar buildings interwoven with the promise of a cleaner, brighter future.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 29, 2014 By:
429 Comments

Sunday, September 28, 2014

63
votes
U.S. sanctions could leave Exxon with nothing from new Russian oil discovery

Examiner.com -- In a most ironic turn of events from the ongoing economic sanctions being imposed upon Russia by the U.S. over the Ukrainian proxy war, a massive new oil discovery in the Arctic Ocean by the world's largest energy producer on Sept. 27 could lead to a major U.S. oil firm receiving nothing from their partnership with Russia in finding this underwater reserve due to a deadline imposed by the Obama administration which restricts U.S. oil companies from assisting the Eurasian state beginning next month. Today's announcement of oil reserves found in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean are estimated to be larger than those known to be stored in the Gulf of Mexico, and are valued on the low end in the hundreds of billions of dollars, with a potential to become trillions dependent upon final...  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
301 Comments

63
votes
Electric bills heading up this winter

The Boston Globe -- Massachusetts consumers will pay significantly higher electric bills this winter as a persistent shortage of natural gas for generating plants drives power prices to record levels.

The cost for a typical household could top $150 a month, based on an announcement this week from one of the state’s two dominant utilities, National Grid. It said its rates will increase by a whopping 37 percent over last winter’s, solely because the cost of buying electricity from power plants has soared to the highest level in decades, according to a company spokesman.


Other utilities, including NStar, are also warning customers to brace for higher electric bills this winter, but they have not determined final rates for the winter.

“This is pretty bad, and it’s going to really have a bearing on a lot  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
994 Comments

61
votes
I-57/I-294 Interchange Won't Accept Cash

Chicago Heights Patch -- The Illinois Tollway will host three I-PASS roadshow events in August to give residents, business owners and stakeholders opportunities to learn about and provide feedback on the agency’s plans to open the new I-57/I-294 interchange this fall.

This is the first interstate-to-interstate connection on the Tollway system where there is no toll collection point on the mainline roadway for customers who wish to pay cash.  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
480 Comments

61
votes
Gas Prices Continue Pullback Despite Middle East Turmoil

Fox news -- Despite ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, gasoline prices have continued their summer-long descent.

The U.S. initiated air strikes in Iraq last month to target Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State militants. In recent weeks, the battle was extended to Syria, where American and allied fighter jets have conducted more air strikes.

But in an unusual contrast, prices at the pump are showing no signs of upward pressure. Travel group AAA said the average price for a gallon of regular gas currently sits at $3.34, nine cents below the month-ago average.

Friday’s gas prices are also at a four-year low for this time of year. Since June 28, the national average has dropped 34 cents a gallon.

Rapid growth in domestic oil production -- driven by unconventional shale plays -- has lessened the impact of  (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
1404 Comments

60
votes
Scientists revolutionize solar power with new "gold nanocluster" technology

Phys.org -- Scientists at Western University have discovered that a small molecule created with just 144 atoms of gold can increase solar cell performance by more than 10 per cent. These findings, published recently by the high-impact journal Nanoscale, represent a game-changing innovation that holds the potential to take solar power mainstream and dramatically decrease the world's dependence on traditional, resource-based sources of energy, says Giovanni Fanchini from Western's Faculty of Science.

Fanchini, the Canada Research Chair in Carbon-based Nanomaterials and Nano-optoelectronics, says the new technology could easily be fast-tracked and integrated into prototypes of solar panels in one to two years and solar-powered phones in as little as five years.
 (read more)

Submitted Sep 28, 2014 By:
55 Comments