Power Surge 6.8

Power Surge 6.8

Volume 6, Issue 8
December 2, 2018 – December 8, 2018
Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Neha Chauhan '21 | Joseph Kawalec '21 | Amy Amatya '21 | Melanie Porras ‘21 | Patrick Huang ‘21


  New Project Tests Whether Oxygen Is Key To Cheaper, Cleaner Hydrogen   Forbes | November 29, 2018 | John Parnell  The production of hydrogen via electrolysis, which involves using electricity to split water molecules, is promising for the development of fuel cell electric vehicles and other applications. However, a third of the energy in electrolysis is lost as heat and oxygen, leading organizations like the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to search for a more efficient and sustainable process. One possible means of making hydrogen generation commercially attractive is to sell the oxygen by-product. The market for oxygen is being studied in a new project in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Overall, decreasing the cost of green hydrogen production is a step towards bringing down energy production costs and reclaiming hydrogen as a viable source of renewable energy. -JK

New Project Tests Whether Oxygen Is Key To Cheaper, Cleaner Hydrogen
Forbes | November 29, 2018 | John Parnell
The production of hydrogen via electrolysis, which involves using electricity to split water molecules, is promising for the development of fuel cell electric vehicles and other applications. However, a third of the energy in electrolysis is lost as heat and oxygen, leading organizations like the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to search for a more efficient and sustainable process. One possible means of making hydrogen generation commercially attractive is to sell the oxygen by-product. The market for oxygen is being studied in a new project in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Overall, decreasing the cost of green hydrogen production is a step towards bringing down energy production costs and reclaiming hydrogen as a viable source of renewable energy. -JK


  Pro-Nuclear Activists Win Landslide Electoral Victory In Taiwan   Forbes | November 24, 2018 | Michael Shellenberger  On Saturday, November 24, pro-nuclear activists secured a victory that would end Taiwan’s phase-out of nuclear energy. Despite the recent Fukushima reactor accident in Japan in 2011, 59% of the voters for the referendum believed that solar and wind energy were not sufficiently stable or inexpensive to support the country’s energy needs. Taiwan suffered a major blackout in 2017 after a nuclear reactor was shut down. Efforts from grassroots organizations seemed to have a significant impact on the final results, with volunteers trying to raise awareness by hosting events and spread their initiative across technology and social media. -PH

Pro-Nuclear Activists Win Landslide Electoral Victory In Taiwan
Forbes | November 24, 2018 | Michael Shellenberger
On Saturday, November 24, pro-nuclear activists secured a victory that would end Taiwan’s phase-out of nuclear energy. Despite the recent Fukushima reactor accident in Japan in 2011, 59% of the voters for the referendum believed that solar and wind energy were not sufficiently stable or inexpensive to support the country’s energy needs. Taiwan suffered a major blackout in 2017 after a nuclear reactor was shut down. Efforts from grassroots organizations seemed to have a significant impact on the final results, with volunteers trying to raise awareness by hosting events and spread their initiative across technology and social media. -PH


  The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?   November 24, 2018 | Scientific American | Somini Sengupta  Moving away from coal-fired power is crucial to achieving carbon emissions targets worldwide, but coal is what Sengupta calls “a powerful incumbent.” Last year, global coal consumption and production actually increased. Abundant, cheap, and compatible with existing energy infrastructure, coal remains an appealing option for many corporations and political entities despite its devastating environmental impacts. Asia is leading the coal expansion effort, with China, consumer of half the world’s coal, at the helm with new coal projects in 17 countries. -AD   Crude Just Had its Worst Month in a Decade, and its Next Move Depends on Saudi Arabia and Trump   CNBC | December 2, 2018 | Keris Lahiff  Last month, oil prices fell to the lowest in a decade in the wake of President Trump’s sanctions against Iranian oil and decreased exports to China as a result of the ongoing trade war. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will decide its next move at a meeting on Thursday, though it’s suspected that they will pull over a million barrels from the market in an attempt to restore prices. What happens depends on whether Saudi Arabia heeds Trump’s request to keep production open. Though Saudi Arabia will most likely act in their own economic interest, some countries are hesitant to cut production for fear of losing their market share. -AA

The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?
November 24, 2018 | Scientific American | Somini Sengupta
Moving away from coal-fired power is crucial to achieving carbon emissions targets worldwide, but coal is what Sengupta calls “a powerful incumbent.” Last year, global coal consumption and production actually increased. Abundant, cheap, and compatible with existing energy infrastructure, coal remains an appealing option for many corporations and political entities despite its devastating environmental impacts. Asia is leading the coal expansion effort, with China, consumer of half the world’s coal, at the helm with new coal projects in 17 countries. -AD

Crude Just Had its Worst Month in a Decade, and its Next Move Depends on Saudi Arabia and Trump
CNBC | December 2, 2018 | Keris Lahiff
Last month, oil prices fell to the lowest in a decade in the wake of President Trump’s sanctions against Iranian oil and decreased exports to China as a result of the ongoing trade war. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will decide its next move at a meeting on Thursday, though it’s suspected that they will pull over a million barrels from the market in an attempt to restore prices. What happens depends on whether Saudi Arabia heeds Trump’s request to keep production open. Though Saudi Arabia will most likely act in their own economic interest, some countries are hesitant to cut production for fear of losing their market share. -AA


  French President Holds Firm On Clean-Energy Goals, Despite Protests   November 27, 2018 | NPR | Camila Domonoske  For the past month, France has been rocked by grassroots protests over a proposed national tax on gasoline. Nonetheless, President Macron will proceed with the tax, which is intended to facilitate the country’s transition away from fossil fuels. The protests did lead to some modifications of the tax, including adjustments in the case of high oil prices and incentives for switching to eco-friendly cars. The situation in France shows that the long-range effects of climate change seem abstract to the average voter when compared to the more immediate need to get food on the table and keep one’s household running. -AD

French President Holds Firm On Clean-Energy Goals, Despite Protests
November 27, 2018 | NPR | Camila Domonoske
For the past month, France has been rocked by grassroots protests over a proposed national tax on gasoline. Nonetheless, President Macron will proceed with the tax, which is intended to facilitate the country’s transition away from fossil fuels. The protests did lead to some modifications of the tax, including adjustments in the case of high oil prices and incentives for switching to eco-friendly cars. The situation in France shows that the long-range effects of climate change seem abstract to the average voter when compared to the more immediate need to get food on the table and keep one’s household running. -AD

Power Surge 6.7

Power Surge 6.7

Volume 6, Issue 7
November 18, 2018 – November 24, 2018
Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Neha Chauhan '21 | Joseph Kawalec '21 | Amy Amatya '21 | Melanie Porras ‘21 | Patrick Huang ‘21


  Tesla Slashes Prices on Home Solar Systems to Spur Sales   The New York Times | November 15, 2018 | Reuters  About two years ago, Tesla acquired SolarCity, one of the biggest residential solar energy companies in the U.S. Since then Tesla has majorly cut the price of their solar panels by not selling door to door or to big corporations such as Home Depot. While this has cut residential solar panel costs by as much as $5000 per project, Tesla has also seen a decrease in sales from 200 MW of solar a quarter in 2016 to less than 93 MW now. Tesla's executives believe that the price cuts will enable consumers to buy from their website directly and eventually make Tesla competitive in the solar market again, with the goal of ultimately being the lowest-cost solar provider in the U.S. -MP

Tesla Slashes Prices on Home Solar Systems to Spur Sales
The New York Times | November 15, 2018 | Reuters
About two years ago, Tesla acquired SolarCity, one of the biggest residential solar energy companies in the U.S. Since then Tesla has majorly cut the price of their solar panels by not selling door to door or to big corporations such as Home Depot. While this has cut residential solar panel costs by as much as $5000 per project, Tesla has also seen a decrease in sales from 200 MW of solar a quarter in 2016 to less than 93 MW now. Tesla's executives believe that the price cuts will enable consumers to buy from their website directly and eventually make Tesla competitive in the solar market again, with the goal of ultimately being the lowest-cost solar provider in the U.S. -MP


  Renewable Energy is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Stop Warming   Scientific American | November 14, 2018 | Benjamin Storrow   Wind and solar energy costs have been steeply declining for the past nine years, even overtaking natural gas and coal in some areas of the United States. However, a recent report by the International Energy Agency found that at the current rate of energy use, energy demand will rise 25 percent by 2040 - too high to be satisfied by renewables alone if we want to prevent the worst of climate change. The solution lies beyond economics: it will take a global re-evaluation of the energy system to combat emissions. While the US is making progress in retiring coal plants and incentivizing fossil fuels, real change can’t occur without cooperation from Asia, the continent with the  highest CO₂ emissions  where coal plants have decade-long lifespans and are continually being built. The executive director of the IEA said that suppressing irreversible global warming requires not cheaper renewables, but a “systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies.” -AA

Renewable Energy is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Stop Warming
Scientific American | November 14, 2018 | Benjamin Storrow 
Wind and solar energy costs have been steeply declining for the past nine years, even overtaking natural gas and coal in some areas of the United States. However, a recent report by the International Energy Agency found that at the current rate of energy use, energy demand will rise 25 percent by 2040 - too high to be satisfied by renewables alone if we want to prevent the worst of climate change. The solution lies beyond economics: it will take a global re-evaluation of the energy system to combat emissions. While the US is making progress in retiring coal plants and incentivizing fossil fuels, real change can’t occur without cooperation from Asia, the continent with the highest CO₂ emissions where coal plants have decade-long lifespans and are continually being built. The executive director of the IEA said that suppressing irreversible global warming requires not cheaper renewables, but a “systematic preference for investment in sustainable energy technologies.” -AA


  California Utility Customers May Be on Hook for Billions in Wildfire Damage   The New York Times | November 14, 2018 | Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis  With California battling another fierce wildfire season, residents may also have to deal with the possibility of higher utility costs. The utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has in recent years accumulated great financial liability. Poor maintenance and safety issues regarding PG&E electrical equipment have been deemed responsible for at least 17 of 21 major fires in Northern California last fall. The estimated billions of dollars that PG&E may owe due to past and present fires may ultimately cause utility rates to be increased, causing businesses and consumers to bear the costs. In recent weeks, the stock value of PG&E has fallen sharply as the wildfires paint a grim picture for both PG&E and California residents. -PH

California Utility Customers May Be on Hook for Billions in Wildfire Damage
The New York Times | November 14, 2018 | Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis
With California battling another fierce wildfire season, residents may also have to deal with the possibility of higher utility costs. The utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)has in recent yearsaccumulated great financial liability. Poor maintenance and safety issues regarding PG&E electrical equipment have been deemed responsible for at least 17 of 21 major fires in Northern California last fall. The estimated billions of dollars that PG&E may owe due to past and present fires may ultimately cause utility rates to be increased, causing businesses and consumers to bear the costs. In recent weeks, the stock value of PG&E has fallen sharply as the wildfires paint a grim picture for both PG&E and California residents. -PH


  Despite Hurdles, Offshore Wind Energy Potential Is Generating Hype in the U.S.   Forbes | November 15, 2018 | Ken Silverstein   While the potential for offshore wind energy in the United States is quite large, the industry has faced mounting disappointments due to problems with cost and general logistics. The suspension of the Cape Wind project, along with the cancelling of offshore wind plans by groups such as NRG Energy and Siemens Gamesa, show how offshore wind farms have yet to prove themselves viable in the United States. Some of the obstacles that stand in the way of their implementation include the high cost of laying down underseas transmission cables and the cheaper price of building natural gas plants. However, Europe’s offshore wind deals account for 10% of its annual wind energy installations, which is evidence that offshore wind energy is possible elsewhere in the world. Since the coastline of New Jersey is looking like the ideal spot on the Atlantic coastline to construct offshore wind farms, offshore wind energy may be prevalent by as soon as 2020. -JK

Despite Hurdles, Offshore Wind Energy Potential Is Generating Hype in the U.S.
Forbes | November 15, 2018 | Ken Silverstein 
While the potential for offshore wind energy in the United States is quite large, the industry has faced mounting disappointments due to problems with cost and general logistics. The suspension of the Cape Wind project, along with the cancelling of offshore wind plans by groups such as NRG Energy and Siemens Gamesa, show how offshore wind farms have yet to prove themselves viable in the United States. Some of the obstacles that stand in the way of their implementation include the high cost of laying down underseas transmission cables and the cheaper price of building natural gas plants. However, Europe’s offshore wind deals account for 10% of its annual wind energy installations, which is evidence that offshore wind energy is possible elsewhere in the world. Since the coastline of New Jersey is looking like the ideal spot on the Atlantic coastline to construct offshore wind farms, offshore wind energy may be prevalent by as soon as 2020. -JK