Volume 7, Issue 6
April 7, 2019 – April 13, 2019
Neha Chauhan '21 | Joseph Kawalec '21 | Amy Amatya '21 | Patrick Huang ‘21 | Rei Zhang ‘21 | Sabrina Reguyal ‘22

First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish    April 3, 2019 | Bloomberg | Jonathan Tirone  Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactor facility was identified in Google Earth satellite imagery by Robert Kelley, a nuclear technology expert who was a former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director and a remote sensing expert for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh and was sold in 2013 by the Argentinian state-owned firm INVAP SE. The Saudi energy ministry published a statement saying they intend to “engage in strictly peaceful scientific, research, educational and training activities in full compliance with international agreements.” However, the Saudi government has not adopted the most recent set of inspection guidelines put out by the IAEA, which will severely limit its ability to acquire nuclear fuel. This news comes after the recent revelation that the U.S. DOE permitted the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia without consulting Congress, as well as a past statement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the country would pursue nuclear armament if Iran developed a nuclear bomb. - SR

First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish
April 3, 2019 | Bloomberg | Jonathan Tirone
Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear reactor facility was identified in Google Earth satellite imagery by Robert Kelley, a nuclear technology expert who was a former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director and a remote sensing expert for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). It is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh and was sold in 2013 by the Argentinian state-owned firm INVAP SE. The Saudi energy ministry published a statement saying they intend to “engage in strictly peaceful scientific, research, educational and training activities in full compliance with international agreements.” However, the Saudi government has not adopted the most recent set of inspection guidelines put out by the IAEA, which will severely limit its ability to acquire nuclear fuel. This news comes after the recent revelation that the U.S. DOE permitted the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia without consulting Congress, as well as a past statement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the country would pursue nuclear armament if Iran developed a nuclear bomb. - SR


A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’    April 5, 2019 | New York Times | Jill Cowan  Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plans to retire three natural gas plants in Los Angeles, CA, by 2029 are leading to talk of replacing this output with virtual solar plants. Such plants would involve thousands of new solar panels connected to a cloud, from which people can buy and sell power on the electricity market. Currently, only 2.5% of Los Angeles homes are outfitted with solar panels, and it’s estimated that it would take over twice as many solar homes to replace just one natural gas plant, with hopes of this happening in 2030. The switch to virtual power plants, however, has the potential to gain momentum before 2030 because it both provides a backup energy source, and counters the up-front costs that push potential participants away from traditional solar. Engineer Bill Powers says that the main roadblock is the challenge virtual plants pose to long-standing modes of operation in the energy industry, but Powers remains confident that “[virtual solar power] is the future, and it will happen.” -AA

A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’
April 5, 2019 | New York Times | Jill Cowan
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plans to retire three natural gas plants in Los Angeles, CA, by 2029 are leading to talk of replacing this output with virtual solar plants. Such plants would involve thousands of new solar panels connected to a cloud, from which people can buy and sell power on the electricity market. Currently, only 2.5% of Los Angeles homes are outfitted with solar panels, and it’s estimated that it would take over twice as many solar homes to replace just one natural gas plant, with hopes of this happening in 2030. The switch to virtual power plants, however, has the potential to gain momentum before 2030 because it both provides a backup energy source, and counters the up-front costs that push potential participants away from traditional solar. Engineer Bill Powers says that the main roadblock is the challenge virtual plants pose to long-standing modes of operation in the energy industry, but Powers remains confident that “[virtual solar power] is the future, and it will happen.” -AA


Renewable Energy Now Accounts for A Third of Global Power Capacity    April 3, 2019  | GreenTechnica  | Joshua S. Hill  The International Renewable Energy Agency recently released its annual report on renewable energy statistics, which revealed that for the first time ever, renewable energy accounts for one-third of global power capacity. The increase in renewable energy generation was primarily driven by increases in the solar (55 percent of the increase) and wind (29 percent of the increase) fields. Asia accounted for the most growth (61 percent of all renewable energy increase), while Oceania added the most renewable energy relative to its size, increasing its energy generation from renewables by 17.7 percent. -RZ   ‘Historic breakthrough’: Norway’s giant oil fund dives into renewables   April 5, 2019 | The Guardian | Damian Carrington  Following Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund’s (SWF’s) selling of its last investment in oil and gas, Norway’s SWF followed suit by selling its last oil and gas assets. These SWFs describe the financial assets in a state-owned fund. Norway’s government is allowing the fund to invest in renewable energy projects that are not listed on global stock markets but make up a significant portion of the renewable energy market. This transition reflects a larger trend of divestment of fossil fuel funds, including in Middle Eastern countries that are now seeking to diversify in renewable energy. Hopefully, these changes will not bring about not only a decent rate of investment for the SWFs but also provide the resources to industries striving to help combat fossil fuels’ negative environmental effects. -PH   Industrial Hemp Is The Answer To Petrochemical Dependency   April 4, 2019 | Forbes | Ellis Talton and Remington Tonar  Petrochemical products are crucial to our ways of life, but incidents involving petroleum-based products are reinforcing the need to find environmentally-friendly solutions to the loads of plastics and paper waste piling up in our landfills and oceans. Even though most synthetic biology research is still quite a ways from commercialization, industrial hemp as a naturally-occuring and biodegradable material is gaining popularity. Recyclable, hemp-based products could considerably reduce the environmental impact of the petro-industrial complex, but a number of infrastructural challenges, including regulatory uncertainty, lay in the way. As Smart says, “If we can develop hemp products as a bio-based replacement for fossil fuels, there’s tremendous potential.” - JK

Renewable Energy Now Accounts for A Third of Global Power Capacity
April 3, 2019  | GreenTechnica  | Joshua S. Hill
The International Renewable Energy Agency recently released its annual report on renewable energy statistics, which revealed that for the first time ever, renewable energy accounts for one-third of global power capacity. The increase in renewable energy generation was primarily driven by increases in the solar (55 percent of the increase) and wind (29 percent of the increase) fields. Asia accounted for the most growth (61 percent of all renewable energy increase), while Oceania added the most renewable energy relative to its size, increasing its energy generation from renewables by 17.7 percent. -RZ

‘Historic breakthrough’: Norway’s giant oil fund dives into renewables
April 5, 2019 | The Guardian | Damian Carrington
Following Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund’s (SWF’s) selling of its last investment in oil and gas, Norway’s SWF followed suit by selling its last oil and gas assets. These SWFs describe the financial assets in a state-owned fund. Norway’s government is allowing the fund to invest in renewable energy projects that are not listed on global stock markets but make up a significant portion of the renewable energy market. This transition reflects a larger trend of divestment of fossil fuel funds, including in Middle Eastern countries that are now seeking to diversify in renewable energy. Hopefully, these changes will not bring about not only a decent rate of investment for the SWFs but also provide the resources to industries striving to help combat fossil fuels’ negative environmental effects. -PH

Industrial Hemp Is The Answer To Petrochemical Dependency
April 4, 2019 | Forbes | Ellis Talton and Remington Tonar
Petrochemical products are crucial to our ways of life, but incidents involving petroleum-based products are reinforcing the need to find environmentally-friendly solutions to the loads of plastics and paper waste piling up in our landfills and oceans. Even though most synthetic biology research is still quite a ways from commercialization, industrial hemp as a naturally-occuring and biodegradable material is gaining popularity. Recyclable, hemp-based products could considerably reduce the environmental impact of the petro-industrial complex, but a number of infrastructural challenges, including regulatory uncertainty, lay in the way. As Smart says, “If we can develop hemp products as a bio-based replacement for fossil fuels, there’s tremendous potential.” - JK