Volume 6, Issue 2
September 30, 2018 – October 6, 2018
Anushka Dasgupta '19 | Amy Amatya '21 | Neha Chauhan '21 | Joseph Kawalec '21


  Fuel From Thin Air: The Catch To A Startup's Sunny Claims   September 25, 2018 | Forbes | Robert Rapier   This past summer, a Cornell University startup named Dimensional Energy made the bold claim that they could “pioneer artificial photosynthesis to produce green polymers and chemicals.” However, they are not the first groups to make announcements about breakthroughs in “artificial photosynthesis” technology; previous researchers have made findings that date as far back as 2009. Artificial photosynthesis would improve upon the efficiency of the natural process, using electricity instead of solar energy to power the process. But the economic viability of the idea lies in question, in part because the project would require a greater input of energy than would be produced in the fuel. Until someone can balance the technical and economic viability of artificial photosynthesis technology, it is not clear when it will achieve “lasting success.” -JK   Saudi Arabia Shelves Work on SoftBank’s $200 Billion Solar Project   September 30, 2018 | The Wall Street Journal | Rory Jones and Summer Said  Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. have put a hold on their collaborative $200 billion plan to build the world’s largest project for solar power generation, announced last March. Saudi energy officials said that key details of the project, such as location and finances, had not yet been worked out. The goal for the project had been a capacity of 200 gigawatts by the year 2030, three times that of the country’s current daily usage. According to officials, this is not indicative of a shift away from renewables. Rather, the kingdom is working to create a broader, more practical renewable energy strategy that will be announced in late October. -NC

Fuel From Thin Air: The Catch To A Startup's Sunny Claims
September 25, 2018 | Forbes | Robert Rapier
This past summer, a Cornell University startup named Dimensional Energy made the bold claim that they could “pioneer artificial photosynthesis to produce green polymers and chemicals.” However, they are not the first groups to make announcements about breakthroughs in “artificial photosynthesis” technology; previous researchers have made findings that date as far back as 2009. Artificial photosynthesis would improve upon the efficiency of the natural process, using electricity instead of solar energy to power the process. But the economic viability of the idea lies in question, in part because the project would require a greater input of energy than would be produced in the fuel. Until someone can balance the technical and economic viability of artificial photosynthesis technology, it is not clear when it will achieve “lasting success.” -JK

Saudi Arabia Shelves Work on SoftBank’s $200 Billion Solar Project
September 30, 2018 | The Wall Street Journal | Rory Jones and Summer Said
Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp. have put a hold on their collaborative $200 billion plan to build the world’s largest project for solar power generation, announced last March. Saudi energy officials said that key details of the project, such as location and finances, had not yet been worked out. The goal for the project had been a capacity of 200 gigawatts by the year 2030, three times that of the country’s current daily usage. According to officials, this is not indicative of a shift away from renewables. Rather, the kingdom is working to create a broader, more practical renewable energy strategy that will be announced in late October. -NC


  Iceland is Bringing Geothermal Heating to China   CNN | Ivana Kottasova | September 27, 2018  Iceland and China have reached a $250 million dollar agreement on providing China, the world’s worst carbon emitter, with geothermal energy. Topography in Northern China is promising for geothermal energy, which aligns with the nation's relatively recent attempts at going green. The venture aims to replace the energy that would be generated from 50 million tons of coal with geothermal energy by 2020. Despite recent troughs in its  energy policy  and an escalating trade war with the U.S., the Chinese government has increasingly shown interest towards undoing years of fossil fuel abuse with lofty investments and ambitious quotas (such as the aim to go 20% renewable by 2030). -AA   Bill Gates has added a geothermal startup to his clean energy fund’s first bets   September 26, 2018 | MIT Technology Review | James Temple  Bill Gates’ $1 million fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures will be investing in a portfolio of companies including Fervo Energy, a Berkeley-based startup applying fracking techniques to geothermal energy. According to Fervo’s founders, both engineers with experience working at natural gas drilling sites, these techniques can increase underground permeability. The startup will employ a network of sensors as well as simulations to visualize underground structures. -AD

Iceland is Bringing Geothermal Heating to China
CNN | Ivana Kottasova | September 27, 2018
Iceland and China have reached a $250 million dollar agreement on providing China, the world’s worst carbon emitter, with geothermal energy. Topography in Northern China is promising for geothermal energy, which aligns with the nation's relatively recent attempts at going green. The venture aims to replace the energy that would be generated from 50 million tons of coal with geothermal energy by 2020. Despite recent troughs in its energy policy and an escalating trade war with the U.S., the Chinese government has increasingly shown interest towards undoing years of fossil fuel abuse with lofty investments and ambitious quotas (such as the aim to go 20% renewable by 2030). -AA

Bill Gates has added a geothermal startup to his clean energy fund’s first bets
September 26, 2018 | MIT Technology Review | James Temple
Bill Gates’ $1 million fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures will be investing in a portfolio of companies including Fervo Energy, a Berkeley-based startup applying fracking techniques to geothermal energy. According to Fervo’s founders, both engineers with experience working at natural gas drilling sites, these techniques can increase underground permeability. The startup will employ a network of sensors as well as simulations to visualize underground structures. -AD


  Saudi Arabia will quietly add extra oil to the market to offset a drop in Iranian production   September 27, 2018 | CNBC   OPEC reports show a decrease in Iranian oil production over the past few weeks, the result of U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil. As this trend is expected to continue over the next couple of months, Saudi Arabia will counteract the resulting shifts in global oil supply by increasing its own oil production. As the top oil producer in OPEC and the largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia has the greatest capacity of any major oil-producing country to quickly increase its oil production and balance global supply and demand. A collective, official decision by OPEC to increase production would also be sufficient, but Saudi Arabia decided against pushing for this. The country’s government is still examining such factors as a projected increase in United States oil production in order to decide upon its course of action for the next calendar year. -NC

Saudi Arabia will quietly add extra oil to the market to offset a drop in Iranian production
September 27, 2018 | CNBC
OPEC reports show a decrease in Iranian oil production over the past few weeks, the result of U.S. sanctions against Iranian oil. As this trend is expected to continue over the next couple of months, Saudi Arabia will counteract the resulting shifts in global oil supply by increasing its own oil production. As the top oil producer in OPEC and the largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia has the greatest capacity of any major oil-producing country to quickly increase its oil production and balance global supply and demand. A collective, official decision by OPEC to increase production would also be sufficient, but Saudi Arabia decided against pushing for this. The country’s government is still examining such factors as a projected increase in United States oil production in order to decide upon its course of action for the next calendar year. -NC


  New Jersey utility PSE&G proposes $4 billion plan to advance state's clean energy goals   September 27, 2018 | CNBC | Tom DiChristopher  A few months ago, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy  signed legislation  setting a 50 percent renewable energy target for 2030. It was authorized alongside a controversial subsidy made out to the utility giant PSE&G in support of its struggling nuclear power plants. This week, PSE&G proposed a 6-year plan, apparently in response to Gov. Murphy’s ambitious renewable energy pledge, to improve consumer energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions state-wide. The funding will mainly go towards infrastructure for electric vehicles, energy storage systems, and the installation of smart meters. -AD   The Sun Sets. The Wind Dies. But Energy Data Is Relentless.   September 26, 2018 | The New York Times | Ivan Penn  In this article, Ivan Penn, a New York Times journalist who covers alternative energy, answers questions about alternative energy technologies, how new technology has affected the power grid, and the impact of technology on his own life. Topics of discussion include a proposal to turn the Hoover Dam into a hydro-pumped storage plant, how the power grid must be re-imagined to account for electric cars on the road, and the effect of new forms of technology on his personal life. These run the gamut from Apple products in his house to innovative transportation apps that are sweeping Los Angeles. -JK

New Jersey utility PSE&G proposes $4 billion plan to advance state's clean energy goals
September 27, 2018 | CNBC | Tom DiChristopher
A few months ago, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed legislation setting a 50 percent renewable energy target for 2030. It was authorized alongside a controversial subsidy made out to the utility giant PSE&G in support of its struggling nuclear power plants. This week, PSE&G proposed a 6-year plan, apparently in response to Gov. Murphy’s ambitious renewable energy pledge, to improve consumer energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions state-wide. The funding will mainly go towards infrastructure for electric vehicles, energy storage systems, and the installation of smart meters. -AD

The Sun Sets. The Wind Dies. But Energy Data Is Relentless.
September 26, 2018 | The New York Times | Ivan Penn
In this article, Ivan Penn, a New York Times journalist who covers alternative energy, answers questions about alternative energy technologies, how new technology has affected the power grid, and the impact of technology on his own life. Topics of discussion include a proposal to turn the Hoover Dam into a hydro-pumped storage plant, how the power grid must be re-imagined to account for electric cars on the road, and the effect of new forms of technology on his personal life. These run the gamut from Apple products in his house to innovative transportation apps that are sweeping Los Angeles. -JK