Are we too dependent on natural gas for electricity? It's a question that has been nagging at utility executives for quite some time. Prices are low, environmental opposition is minimal, but the potential for overextension is great. Meg Handley tackles the question in US News & World Report.
Writing in Quartz, on the other hand, Steve LeVine notes that the next decade could be disastrous for OPEC and Big Oil. A Citicorp report has predicted that oil demand may decline 18 percent and export-heavy countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia could be left hanging.
Energy policy is once again under debate in Washington as the Institute for Energy Research reports that the Department of Interior has heavily favored making federal lands available for huge solar installations while issuing 1000 fewer leases for drilling on federal lands. Congressional Republicans have put forth an energy program that is essentially drill, drill, drill while the GOP's "Idea Lab" has one idea - build Keystone. A bipartisan group of Senators, however, have suggested sharing federal offshore oil revenues with the states.
Wind energy took another step forward as GE introduced a high-efficiency turbine that uses information technology to wring every last drop of energy out of the wind. The towers still stand 60 stories high and are being touted as idea for forested landscapes since the bottom of the blades will clear the tops of trees (above). In New Hampshire, the state senate has turned down a moratorium on ridgeline construction so those 60-store towers could soon be gracing the White Mountains.
Finally, energy storage may have moved a step closer as a group of researchers at the University of Calgary have found that ruse, along with a few other ingredients, catalyzes the splitting of the water molecule, producing free hydrogen. Using solar and wind energy to produce hydrogen is seen as the best way to overcome the problem of their intermittency. In Nevada, lithium titanate batteries are being used to store 1.2 MW for a wind farm and in Seattle EnerG2 is using high-surface-area activated carbon that can be "tuned" for a range of storage applications. At this rate it may not be long before windmills and solar collectors are covering the entire American landscape.