“How Renewable Energy Is Taking Over the Electric Grid” – The Motley Fool, 6 September 2014

Renewable energy might very well beat out coal, nuclear, and natural gas as our number one source of energy. This July, every new power generating plant that opened in the US sources renewable energy.

Renewable energy is seeing an upsurge because it’s the cheapest energy alternative. Natural gas is beating wind and solar power by only a small margin in this year’s installed capacity (MW). If residential and commercial rooftops using solar power — called distributed solar energy — were added to the equation, then the number of solar units installed would be equal to natural gas in 2014.

US Energy Information Administration

US Energy Information Administration

While the previous table tells us the source of electricity generation, we should note that wind and solar energy only make a small percentage of the energy we actually use in the US.

US Energy Information Administration

US Energy Information Administration

Renewable energy’s climb is slow, but the trend is showing that renewables will soon replace coal and nuclear power. Natural gas remains a favorable source because it is still low in cost and can retain renewables and other energy sources for future use.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published further data that shows how the US’s electricity prices have grown over the year. While costs rose in New England and the Mid-Atlantic due to increased wholesale prices from electricity generators, costs decreased on the Pacific coast — California, Oregon, Washington — because these states have installed more solar energy in the last year.

Renewables are a superior energy source in comparison to fossil fuels. Not only can wind and solar energy become cheaper, but both also prevent more greenhouse gases from being released into our environment.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 8, 2014

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“Greens: Climate march shatters record” – Politico, 21 September 2014

Recently, Leonardo DiCaprio has joined the fight against climate change to promote clean and renewable energies. Last week, he addressed the UN Climate Summit after participating in a climate march that brought almost 400,000 people to the streets of New York. Al Gore, UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, New York Major Bill de Blasio, scientist Jane Goodall, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and former Ohio Democratice Rep. Dennis Kucinich joined Leonardo DiCaprio at the protest.

While 350.org — the climate activist group that pounced on the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and shined a light on the repercussions the pipeline will have on the environment — launched the march, over 1,500 environmental groups coordinated the march, expecting only 100,000 protestors to be in attendance. However, the turnout exceeded their expectations four-fold, to the tune of almost 400,000 people; the march was the biggest climate-related protest to ever take place. The organizing environmental groups chartered almost 500 buses to bring people to New York. London, Berlin, Rome, Rio de Janeiro and Melbourne, Australia also staged protests that day. None were as big as New York.

Protestors marched along Central Park West from 59th Street to 86th Street, waving flags, banging on drums, and holding signs that read, “No More Climate Change” and “Climate Action Now.”

The march was intended to bring more attention to the worsening effects of climate change — protestors, activists, and environmental groups feel like the issue hasn’t been getting enough press or enough attention from the federal government.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

September 24, 2014

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“Partnership seeks technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants” – The Lane Report, 21 July 2014

Kentucky is currently building its first carbon capture pilot unit at Kentucky Utilities Company’s E.W. Brown Generating Station in Harrodsburg. The $19.5 million project has been funded by national, state, and educational entities to help Kentucky’s lifeblood, coal, from becoming severely undercut by limits in carbon emissions.

Obama’s Climate Action Plan has introduced steep cuts in existing power plants’ emissions levels — Kentucky’s answer to new climate policy is to further explore carbon capture technology. The aim of the “catch and release” pilot system is to show how carbon capture technology can be advantageous to existing power plants, determine ways to improve the system, and analyze the practicality of producing carbon capture systems on a large scale. The system will be ready for testing in the fall; testing will end mid-2016.

Though pricey, the hope behind the carbon capture technology is that it will generate affordable, cleaner energy that will retain Kentucky’s coal industry. Coal has always been a cheap and abundant source of energy in the state, but the federal government’s changing regulations on how to improve the US’s environmental issues is altering coal’s role in Kentucky. Coal-supporters see Obama’s newly proposed climate policy as a “war on coal,” and this is Kentucky’s fight to preserve the state’s leading industry.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

August 1, 2014

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Underground Recovery, LLC Granted Patent for Innovative Process that Generates Electricity from Coal and Other Fossil Fuels without Carbon Emissions

Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas have been, are, and will remain some of the most abundant energy sources in the world, especially in the US. Despite the benefits of fossil fuel recovery — such as underground coal mining and combustion, and oil and natural gas drilling — and above-ground combustion for power plants, both historically present a threat to the environment and produce undesirable carbon dioxide emissions, greenhouse gas, and ash.

Coal is integral to many of the US’s state economies and is an industry these states can’t afford to lose. Coal is particularly plentiful in Kentucky; as of 2012, coal generates 41% of the world’s electricity, and in 2013, coal generated 93% of all Kentucky’s electricity. Kentucky is the third largest producer of coal in the US, and one of the largest exporters of coal to Asian markets.

Many projects in various stages of commercialization are under way to either process the above-ground released carbon dioxide or sequester underground carbon dioxide, all adding to the cost and environmental impact of generating additional electricity. However, the Lexington-based research and development company Underground Recovery, LLC has a reasonable solution for retrieving underground fossil fuels.

Since 2011, Underground Recovery has been devoted to environmentally friendly and cost effective recovery of energy and metals from underground resources. The company was granted a US patent in July for its innovative coal combustion process, which can eliminate atmospheric release of carbon dioxide emissions and ash. This new process may be a tremendous boon to coal industries in Kentucky and throughout the world, as it provides an economically feasible alternative to the current process of coal, oil, and natural gas mining, followed by above ground combustion and power generation with subsequent under- and above-ground carbon sequestration.

As a high-risk project, if viable, a successful implementation of this process, especially when coupled with hydraulic fracturing, can be ”game changing “ by lowering costs of energy environmental development, increasing fossil fuel reserves, and minimizing the negative environmental impacts of the atmospheric release of GHG, like CO2 and ash.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das

July 28, 2014

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