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    More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives
  • 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

    14698937843_34e72aa530_b

    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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    Top 10 (Transport) Sights in Paris

    Image courtesy: Kathleen Sullivan

    Few tourists travel explicitly to see a city’s or country’s mode of transportation, but I dare say that besides transport nerds such as myself, there are examples which qualify as must-see, including Japan’s Shinkansen high-speed train, Lisbon’s old tram system, and the streetcars of New Orleans, among others. While Paris is most recently known for [...]

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    Country of imports – a closer look at Luxembourg’s energy sector

    1000px-Flag_of_Luxembourg.svg

    In the U.S., much of the energy dialogue has been around the inherent risk in depending on other countries to meet its energy needs. But, in Luxembourg – a country that imports essentially ALL of its energy supply – “energy security” takes an even more prominent role. According to a new report by the International [...]

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    What sectors use the most natural gas?

    primary_energy_consume_source_sector_2013_large

    The shale boom has been a big force in the energy industry in the United States. Not only has it had a significant impact on the country’s economy, it has managed to touch all of the energy sectors. In 2013, the United States consumed just over 97 quadrillion british thermal units (BTUs) of primary energy. [...]

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    The Shale Boom is Big and Good (Bad) for the Economy

    IEA unconventional gas production

    Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has flipped the global energy discussion on its head. Over the past five years, the world has watched the U.S. shift its focus from fears of peak oil and its level of oil imports to a new reality where domestic oil and gas production are up and imports are down. And, while [...]

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    Don’t Panic at the Pump

    gasoline

    Sometimes energy issues aren’t partisan, but are still poorly understood. According to the Spring 2014 UT Energy Poll, 84 percent of Americans say they are concerned about the cost of gasoline, including 83 percent of Democrats and 84 percent of Republicans. Nice to see something we can agree on. And it’s true that prices are [...]

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