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    More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives
  • How Does Oil and Gas Drilling Raise Electricity Prices in West Texas?

    Often, oil and gas drilling occurs in rural areas without sufficient electricity infrastructure. (Photo by Richard Childress)

    In July 2012, Frontier Texas, an Old West museum located in Abilene, received an electric bill nearly $4,000 higher than expected. Oddly enough, the museum hadn’t used an unusual amount of power that month. Rather, the cause of the high bill was the fact that Abilene lies in Texas’s western power trading zone, which happens [...]

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    Used Tires Could Find Second Life in Batteries


    Hundreds of millions of tires reach the end of their first life each year in the United States. The majority of these tires are recycled into road paving materials, plastic additives, and other useful materials. But, a significant waste stream remains, providing an opportunity for new applications for wasted rubber. This month, the chemistry journal [...]

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    The Sun is Shining Bright in Texas as Solar Becomes a ‘Default’ Generation Resource


    This week, the Austin City Council approved a resolution that brings solar to the foreground in Texas. And, perhaps most interestingly, they did so because it made business – and not just environmental – sense in current energy markets. In May, Austin Energy signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Recurrent for solar at a cost [...]

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    The World’s Largest Oil Producer Is…


    ..the United States. Have you heard? Computer scientist and data whiz Randy Olson dove into the UT Energy Poll data and noticed that the American public is pretty confused about where we get out energy. I can’t say I’m surprised, but Randy highlights the need for raising energy literacy across the U.S. He points out [...]

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    Did Congestion Charging Just Go Viral?

    Congestion charging point in Stockholm. Image courtesy of Transport Styrelsen.

    What is congestion charging? Congestion charging or pricing is the practice of setting up cordon tolls around the city on a large-scale to charge entrants for entering during peak hours. Ideally, this is done in an automatic fashion with cameras registering your license plate and directly billing you. This is different from low emissions zones, [...]

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    The Importance of Debating Energy Policies—Not Technologies

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) documents the source of all U.S. primary energy use, and then approximates to which sector energy from each source flows. (Source: EIA)

    As a researcher working in the area of energy technology and policy, I often find myself drawn into debates surrounding certain energy technologies, and what role they should play in the future energy system. People are quick to list the specific benefits or drawbacks of one technology over another: “Wind energy is fine at the [...]

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    UK wind sets new record and supplies more power than domestic coal, hydro and biomass


    On Sunday night, wind power in the United Kingdom supplied more electricity than domestic coal, biomass, and hydropower (combined) and set a new record for maximum hourly output. According to RenewableUK, this record was reached at 10pm when wind supplied an hourly average of 5 GW over an hour (17% of the total electricity demand [...]

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    The Cyclic Nature of “Crazy Bad” Air Pollution and Fuel Transitions

    Photo of Beijing Skyline (2005) by Bobak

      China has become an icon for global air quality discussions – with its infamously horrible airpocolypses leading to widely publicized health impacts on the local population including widespread headaches, respiratory distress, and anxiety. On January 14, 2014 one such event led to air quality that was so “crazy bad,” measurement tools housed at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing [...]

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    The Water Intake Crib: A Primer

    So Toledo and environs goes through a terrible water crisis when nutrient-rich water from farms, lawns, and other nonpoint sources flows into Lake Erie. This causes hideous algae blooms that turn whole portions of Lake Erie a frightening bright green. Nasty enough, but the algae also release a toxin, microcystin, that can make you seriously [...]

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    German, U.S. Home Energy Storage Incentives Offer Divergent Visions for the Smart Grid

    Germany’s solar feed-in tariff not only incentivizes a homeowner to install solar panels, but also to store solar energy for later use in the home. (Photo credit: Flickr user thetimchannel)

    Previously, I’ve written about the potential for a future smart grid, where homes with solar panels and batteries intelligently interconnect to form a cleaner, more-robust distributed power system. While we’re still far from a full-fledged smart grid, recent years have seen wider deployment of distributed energy storage. Today, Germany already boasts over 7,000 home solar [...]

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