Department Of Energy

World's Largest Solar Plant Comes Online

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System officially came online on February 13, becoming the world’s largest source of solar power. With a capacity of 392 megawatts, the solar system will be able to generate enough power for 140,000 homes in California. Ivanpah uses concentrated solar power (CSP), which uses hundreds of thousands of mirrors to reflect the sun towards a tower. This heats a boiler in the tower, which creates steam to drive turbines and make electricity. Ivanpah can be seen as a success story and a cautionary tale, highlighting the inevitable trade-offs between the need for cleaner power and the loss of fragile, open land. The speed at which solar expands will depend on incentives from Congress, many of which are set to expire in 2016.

Guest Post: Nuclear Restarts Spell Trouble for LNG

There are two major factors that have emerged in the last five years that have sparked a surge in LNG investments. First is the shale gas “revolution” in the United States, which allowed the U.S. to vault to the top spot in the world for natural gas production. This caused prices to crater to below $2 per million Btu (MMBTu) in 2012, down from their 2008 highs above $10/MMBtu. Natural gas became significantly cheaper in the U.S. than nearly everywhere else in the world.  The second major event that opened the floodgates for investment in new LNG capacity is the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Already the largest importer of LNG in the world before the triple meltdown in March 2011, Japan had to ratchet up LNG imports to make up for the power shortfall when it shut nearly all of its 49 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. In 2012, Japan accounted for 37% of total global LNG demand. The future of LNG may indeed be bright, especially when considering that global energy demand has nowhere to go but up. But, investors should be aware of the very large threat that Japanese nuclear reactors present to upstart LNG projects.

UBS On The Importance Of 3D Printing

Over a year ago we discussed the "next Industrial Revolution" and where it might appear from. 3D printers were envisioned among Goldman's top disruptive themes earlier this year and as UBS notes, 3D printing – or additive manufacturing – has been catching investors’ imaginations in recent months. Some commentators have suggested the technology has the potential to literally transform the world economy and dismantle global supply chains; while UBS points out that, others have suggested the technology is hyped and has little promise beyond a few niche product areas in manufacturing. The truth, Andrew Cates believes, probably lies somewhere in between but he is nevertheless more sympathetic to those who champion the technology’s disruptive – even revolutionary - qualities.

Is There A Radioactive Waste Land In Your Back Yard?

While nearly three years after the Fukushima disaster the world is finally focused, rightfully so, on the epic ecological and radioactive clusterfuck unfolding in Japan, where in a desperate effort to distract the population from what is going on in its back yard, the Premier has launched the most ridiculous monetary experiment doomed to failure, the reality is that the US itself harbors a veritable waste land of radioactive fallout, much of it hidden in plain sight. As the following interactive map from the WSJ shows, of the 517 active sites in the continental US, found on the Department of Energy's listing of facilities "considered" for radioactive cleanup through its Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program, some 43 have a "potential for significant radioactive contamination" through the time of the study. Find out if your state, city, or town is located next to a potential dormant and largely secret Fukushima, using the following handy interactive map.

Government Shutdown? 36 Facts Which Prove That Almost Everything Is Still Running

There really is very little reason why this "government shutdown" cannot continue indefinitely because almost everything is still running.  63 percent of all federal workers are still working, and 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded during this "shutdown". It turns out that the definition of "essential personnel" has expanded so much over the years that almost everyone is considered "essential" at this point.  In fact, this shutdown is such a non-event that even referring to it as a "partial government shutdown" would really be overstating what is actually happening. In the end, this shutdown could turn out to be very good for America.  We have a government that is wildly out of control and that desperately needs to be reigned in.

Guest Post: What Happens When The Oil Runs Out?

The world supply of crude oil isn’t going to run out any time soon, and we will be producing oil for decades to come. However, what we won’t be doing is producing crude oil – petroleum – at the present rate of around 30 billion barrels per year. For a global civilization that is based almost entirely on a plentiful supply of cheap, crude oil, this is going to present some considerable challenges.

Don't Get Carried Away By The Shale Oil Boom

North American crude oil has been in the news on several fronts this week, including some rapid price moves and an unexpected intervention by President Obama. Despite the publication of a new report projecting a much more rapid rate of tight oil supply growth than is generally expected and the entire Buffet-Railroad-Traffic-Pipeline meme relying on increasingly exponential dreams of the Bakken et al. saving us from our excess-energy-consuming selves, Barclays questions just how realistic these forecasts are, noting "it is perhaps wise to exercise a degree of caution over longer-term shale oil forecasts... partly because of the steepness of decline rates for shale oil wells, a lot of the very big productivity gains have already been made, and finally, skepticism around some of the more ambitious projections of US shale output due to the existence of numerous logistical barriers."

Pivotfarm's picture

Gas: They Want Our Bacon!

It has just been released that the UK came within 6 hours of seeing itself deprived of its eggs and bacon as gas supplies across the entire country depleted to danger levels on March 22nd.