Volume 3, Issue 7
April 3, 2017 – April 10, 2017
Jason Mulderrig | Will Atkinson | Rohit Dilip | Anushka Dasgupta

Energy Policy:
100% Renewables by 2050 – Germany Pays the Price for its Ambition
March 31, 2017 | Forbes | Paul Gregory
In 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved Energiewende, a program which set targets to reduce Germany’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and to have the electric grid entirely powered by renewables by 2050. Germany has since become a global leader in renewable energy and saw an incredible 25 percent reduction in emissions from 2007 to 2012. However, it is important to notice the economic costs incurred by the transition, since other nations “going green” will have to account for these as well. Germany’s public faces high electricity costs, while its energy companies are struggling to make payments for the safe storage of nuclear waste. -AD

Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies
March 28, 2017 | New York Times | Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin
A major news item this week was Trump’s Executive Order, which intends to nullify Obama’s environmental regulations that would have lowered greenhouse gas emissions. Trump has promised to put coal miners back to work, but a related analysis argues that this promise will be unfulfilled. Now, the U.S. seems to be unwilling to lead the fight against climate change; time will tell whether countries like China can fill the void. -WA

Nuclear Energy – Fusions:
A Dream of Clean Energy at a Very High Price
March 27, 2017 | The New York Times | Henry Fountain
Construction on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), located in France, is in full swing now that it is under the leadership of a new director-general Bernard Bigot. Bigot, previously the head of France’s atomic energy agency, has the pleasure of supervising the construction of the world’s largest nuclear fusion unit to date, which requires the precision of watch-making to build an airline carrier sized object. Nuclear fusion is the process by which ionized hydrogen isotopes collide and fuse in an extreme plasma state, which release high energy neutrons which are then converted into heat. The heat is then collected to drive a steam-powered turbine. The goal is that more energy is created by fusion than is used to operate the fusion process. -JPM

Solar Energy:
Thin-film photovoltaics: Buffer against degradation
March 27, 2017 | Nature Energy | Supratik Guha
The study of photovoltaics, which are materials capable of converting light to electricity, has grown rapidly due to the potential for relatively cheap, renewable energy. This paper uses inexpensive solar cells and demonstrates promising power output and stability. -RD

The Grid:
Nanogrids, Microgrids, and Big Data: the Future of the Power Grid
March 31, 2017 | IEEE Spectrum | Robert Hebner
Last week’s Power Surge included a case study of how renewable microgrids are getting electricity to rural areas in Alaska. This article provides a fascinating look at what the author claims is a quiet, radical transformation of the electric grid from one dominated by legacy power plants and long-distance transmission to one made up of connected solar, gas, and wind-powered microgrids, which reduce transmission costs and provide extra security against natural disasters and cyber attacks. -AD

Coal Energy:
Lacklustre power demand in Asia throws a cloud over coal
April 1, 2017 | The Economist
The coal power industry in east Asia has taken a hit in recent years for three main reasons. First, electricity demand in not growing quickly, or at all, in east Asian countries due to increased use of LED lighting and energy-efficient appliances. Second, many east Asian countries are seeking alternative sources of power to curb carbon emissions and pollution. Third, liquefied natural gas imports, mainly from Australia, pose a cleaner and cost-effective option to coal power plants. As a result, many coal-powered plants in East Asia have been closed down or put on hold from construction. -JPM