Archive for the ‘electricity’ Category

As the US nuclear fleet ages, one lab group hopes to give it a second wind

January 14th, 2019
A pair of nuclear towers against a blue sky.

Enlarge / The Watts Bar nuclear power plant in Tennessee. (credit: Tennessee Valley Authority / Flickr)

Nuclear power provides roughly 20 percent of the United States' electricity and about half of its low-carbon electricity. Whether you think nuclear power is a good or a bad thing, the fact is that the existing nuclear power fleet contributes a significant amount of energy to the US grid, and all that capacity is rapidly approaching its sunset years.

Most nuclear power plants were built in the 1970s and '80s and were planned around a 40-year lifespan. Only one new nuclear reactor has been put into commission since the '90s. This presents a problem: the US is facing a fast-approaching loss of a significant source of zero-carbon electricity, which it can either replace with intermittent renewables or fossil fuels. The first option may require expensive storage to smooth out the times when wind or sun are not available, and the second is undesirable given the nature of climate change.

One group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is trying to help utilities and energy companies extend the lives of their aging reactors. The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (or CASL, for short) has been building and refining a reactor modeling program called VERA (an acronym for Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications), which offers high-resolution computer modeling of nuclear reactor equipment.

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Posted in electricity, Energy, Nuclear, Policy, regulation, science | Comments (0)

Natural gas is now getting in the way; US carbon emissions increase by 3.4%

January 8th, 2019
PINEDALE, WY - MAY 3: A natural gas facility stands on the Pinedale Anticline, on May 3, 2018 in Pinedale, Wyoming. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)

Enlarge / PINEDALE, WY - MAY 3: A natural gas facility stands on the Pinedale Anticline, on May 3, 2018 in Pinedale, Wyoming. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

"The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019."

That's the dire news from Rhodium Group, a research firm that released preliminary estimates of US carbon emissions in 2018. Though the Trump administration said it would exit the Paris Agreement in 2017, the US is still bound by the agreement to submit progress reports until 2020. But the administration has justified regulatory rollbacks since then, claiming that regulation from the US government is unnecessary because emissions were trending downward anyway.

But it appears that emissions have increased 3.4 percent in 2018 across the US economy, the second-largest annual increase in 20 years, according to Rhodium Group's preliminary data. (2010, when the US started recovering from the recession, was the largest annual increase in the last two decades.)

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Posted in carbon emissions, electricity, Energy, Policy, power sector, science, Transportation | Comments (0)

Residential batteries may save households money, but rarely reduce emissions

December 28th, 2018

Another year, another reason to take the promises of residential home batteries with a grain of salt.

This month, a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) published a paper in Environmental Science and Technology reporting that there are very few cases in which operating a residential home battery reduces overall emissions—assuming that households are economically rational and trying to minimize costs.

Of course, if the battery is only discharged during periods of peak emissions and only charged when fossil fuel use is low, then a household might reduce emissions. But across 16 representative regions, operating a battery this way ended up being costly.

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Posted in batteries, cost, Economics, electricity, Energy, science | Comments (0)

Trump’s coal rescue is getting more complicated

October 16th, 2018
Uncovered coal trains

Enlarge / An eastbound Norfolk Southern Corp. unit coal train passes through Waddy, Kentucky. (credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to four people who spoke to Politico on conditions of anonymity, the Trump administration's plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants has hit a speed bump within the White House itself.

The most recent plan from the Department of Energy (DOE) involved invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, a wartime rule that allows the president to incentivize and prioritize purchases from American industries that are considered vital to national security.

Another potential plan involved invoking Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to mandate that struggling coal and nuclear plants stay open either through compulsory purchases by grid managers or through subsidies. FirstEnergy, a power corporation whose coal and nuclear units are under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, petitioned the DOE to use this power in April.

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Posted in coal, electricity, Energy, Exports, fossil fuels, Nuclear, Policy, renewables, science | Comments (0)

Researchers Create Device That Produces Electricity When You Walk

January 10th, 2016

By Ryan De Souza

Now You Can Produce Electricity While Walking – Claims New

This is a post from Read the original post: Researchers Create Device That Produces Electricity When You Walk

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