Volume 1, Issue 6
March 7, 2016 – March 13, 2016
Jason Mulderrig | Anushka Dasgupta

Oil and Gas:
Duke Energy Ditching its Coal Plants While Embracing Natural Gas and Renewables http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2016/03/10/duke-energy-ditching-its-coal-plants-while-embracing-natural-gas-and-renewables/2/#12f9c83720e7
March 10, 2016 | Ken Silverstein                                                                                                          As of recent, electric utilities have been transitioning from coal-based electricity generation to natural gas-based electricity generation – with some renewables in the mix here and there. This switch has been made to meet the new environmental regulations of the Obama administration. However, the nation’s largest electric utility, Duke Energy, has been quietly transitioning from coal-based to natural gas/renewables based electricity generation for the last decade. In addition, Duke has also been investing in regional natural gas distribution companies as a continued push for diversification of its capital. As a result, Duke is in a proactive position to continue to make its electricity generation cleaner across the board in order to satisfy its customers and the government. -JPM

Market Rises on Energy Companies’ Gains                                                     http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/12/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?_r=0
March 11, 2016 | Associated Press                                                                                                             Renewed action from the European Central Bank – including loans to banks and cuts on interest rates – has increased investor confidence in European markets. The U.S. energy market has also been making a comeback over the last month, with oil and gas companies restructuring in the wake of plummeting prices. The dollar is on the rise, and some say that the price of oil has finally bottomed out. Partly due to the rallying energy market, the S&P is up 11 percent from mid-February. Still, it’s been a quick turn of events and policy changes after presidential election could spell trouble. Interestingly, natural gas could buoy up the markets even if nations such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia fail to set restrictions on their oil production. In light of climate talks, natural gas is being touted as a desirably “clean-burning” fossil fuel, and the U.S. continues to exploit ample natural gas reserves through fracking. -AD

MIT Researchers Turn Waste Gas into Liquid Fuel                                                  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/07/mit-researchers-turn-waste-gas-into-liquid-fuel
March 7, 2016 | Damian Carrington                                                                                                         Researchers at MIT have recently developed a technique that converts waste gas emissions into oil at a commercial scale. The researchers have tested the process at a pilot plant outside of Shanghai, China for the past six months, and are set to begin construction of a full sized demonstration plant that mirrors current power plants, steel mills, and garbage dumps. This process serves as an alternative to biogas production plants by running cleaner than biogas plants, by producing oil, which is used at a much larger scale than biogas is today, and by having the potential to use a wide variety of materials as ingredients for the process as compared to biogas. -JPM

Whole Foods Plans 100 Rooftop Solar Systems                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/09/business/energy-environment/whole-foods-plans-100-rooftop-solar-systems.html
March 8, 2016 | Diane Cardwell                                                                                                  SolarCity and NRG, which happens to have headquarters here in Princeton as well as in Houston, TX, will soon be installing solar systems at Whole Foods stores in nine states. For Whole Foods, the move both keeps with the company’s green image and cuts utility costs as the retailer braces for competition from other specialty stores. NRG is also looking forward to the collaboration since large-scale installations make for economies of scale; while residential solar systems must be customized to each home, the Whole Foods will use a similar design at all its stores. On the other hand, NRG may reconsider ventures for home solar and vehicle charging stations. -AD

Fukushima: Five Years After Japan’s Worst Nuclear Disaster                   http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/08/asia/fukushima-five-year-anniversary/
March 8, 2016 | Will Ripley, Junko Ogura, and James Griffiths                                                                                                 This week saw the five-year-anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. What’s been taking place at the site since? An astonishing 400 tons of water is pumped into the plant daily to cool its reactors; the water is then dumped in tanks at the site. Contaminated soil around the site has been collected and bagged, but it’s unclear how the government will eventually dispose of the highly radioactive waste. After the disaster, the nation which once sourced 30 percent of its power from nuclear plants essentially shut down nuclear power until last August, when a reactor was reopened in Sendai. There is strong opposition to going back to nuclear power despite the cripplingly high cost of importing fossil fuels. Environmental organizations in Japan are pushing for investment in solar, wind, and thermal energy. -AD