What ties America’s second-biggest energy company, ConocoPhillips Co., to a small Houston-based shale driller, Halcón Resources Corp.? They had some of the worst carbon pollution rates among their peers in 2012. Oil and gas operations have come under scrutiny for their climate impacts primarily because they leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The fossil fuel sector is the second-biggest emitter of the gas, which is 86 times as bad as carbon dioxide for the climate on a 20-year time scale. Where carbon dioxide works over centuries to wreak climate havoc, methane is its speedier cousin, working much more rapidly before decaying into less virulent gases. For climate change, both gases matter.
Coming boom in energy storage will make technology companies rich but harm traditional utilities, Citigroup predicts
Advances in energy storage technology over the next 15 years will allow for significant reductions in both costs and payback time for renewable energy systems and allow self-generation to become even more competitive with traditional utility-delivered electricity, a new report from Citigroup states.
Three-quarters of the way through 2014, Kansas’ wind energy industry is shifting from ice cold to red hot. The state has nearly 3,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in 25 wind farms, placing it among the top states in the nation. This year started slowly, with months going by with little activity. But at this point, there are four wind farms under construction, with about 475 megawatts of capacity. They are Slate Creek wind farm in Sumner County, Waverly wind farm in Coffey County, Alexander wind farm in Rush County and Marshall wind farm in Marshall County.
Last month, Chevron Corp. announced the sale of its renewables subsidiary, following a trend by several oil majors to move away from clean energy investments. On today’s The Cutting Edge, EnergyWire reporter David Ferris discusses the shift in clean energy strategy at several oil companies and explains how it is impacting the renewable energy industry.
One Iowa State University professor is leading the development of a new way to increase national wind energy production. Sri Sritharan, ISU’s Wilson Engineering professor in civil, construction and environmental engineering and leader of the College of Engineering’s wind energy initiative, is developing new details for his Hexcrete project, a concrete alternative to create taller wind turbines across the country.
But the hemorrhaging of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands has gone largely unremarked upon beyond state borders. This is surprising, because the wetlands, apart from their unique ecological significance and astounding beauty, buffer the impact of hurricanes that threaten not just New Orleans but also the port of South Louisiana, the nation’s largest; just under 10 percent of the country’s oil reserves; a quarter of its natural-gas supply; a fifth of its oil-refining capacity; and the gateway to its internal waterway system. The attenuation of Louisiana, like any environmental disaster carried beyond a certain point, is a national-security threat.
A wind turbine project on North Dakota’s Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indian Reservation is getting $90,000 in federal funds. U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced the funds from the U.S. Department of Interior in a statement Thursday. The money will reinstall a wind tower, update a feasibility study and get land for the project.
But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms. The tension could have broad implications for the expansion of wind power in other parts of the country.“What we’ve got in this state is a time bomb just waiting to go off,” said Frank Robson, a real estate developer from Claremore in northeast Oklahoma. “And the fuse is burning, and nobody is paying any attention to it.”
The wind is so strong in Iowa and Kansas that more wind farms there could power the country’s largest cities if only there was a way to move that electricity to where most people live. Enter Michael Skelly, a Houston businessman who envisions building five superhighways — transmission lines — to carry vast amounts of wind-generated power across more than 3,000 miles, multiple states, hundreds of jurisdictions and thousands of pieces of privately owned land. The lines, the diameter of a human arm, would be hoisted on 150-foot-tall structures, about the height of the Statue of Liberty foot to top of torch.
Some of U.S. EPA’s environmental justice advisers are unhappy with the agency’s proposal to clamp down on greenhouse gases from power plants, arguing that it doesn’t do enough to protect already overburdened communities. Tensions over the rule were running high this week during a gathering of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council in Arlington, Va.