Tina Casey for CleanTechnica: The algae biofuel market is still in play even though the global petroleum market shows no real signs of lifting itself out of the doldrums, as two examples from different ends of the Earth illustrate. Over in Australia, researchers have come up with a new, low cost way to raise algae for biofuel, and here in the US the Department of Energy is moving forward with a new grant program to fund commercially viable algae production. Cont'd...
Overcoming the First Cost Barrier to Ground Source Heat Pump Technology: The Utility Ground Loop Service Provider Concept
Peter Dockrill for ScienceAlert: Urban environments are often hotter than rural areas due to the way city structures trap and generate excess heat. This phenomenon, called urban heat islands, was first observed in the 1800s, but a new way of gauging it could help us make the most of this untapped source of geothermal energy.
Scientists in Germany and Switzerland have developed a means of estimating groundwater temperature hidden under the surface of our cities, based on surface temperatures and the density of buildings as measured by satellites.
A range of factors, including population density, vegetation levels, surface sealing, industrial structures, and transport all contribute to why cities are often hotter than the country.
But while scientists have long used satellites to measure heat on the surface, the relationship between ground temperatures and underground temperatures has not been fully explored. Cont'd...
By Pete Danko for KQED News: In just a few short years, solar power has gotten big in California, and now it’s at the top of the renewable energy heap.
Data compiled from daily reports by the state’s major grid manager indicate that in 2015, solar became the No. 1 source of renewable energy in California. Not only did solar beat wind power for the first time, but it also topped drought-depleted hydropower, the long-standing leader in California electricity generation outside fossil fuels and nuclear.
The California Independent System Operator doesn’t cover the entire state, but it does manage about 80 percent of the California grid, including those portions served by PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, the state’s three big investor-owned utilities.
Every day, CAISO reports on the hourly electrical output from a long list of sources for the electricity used by 30 million Californians, ranging from biogas at the low end of generation to thermal — natural gas, essentially — at the high end. Cont'd...
Francois De Beaupuy for Bloomberg: Global Bioenergies SA, an unprofitable French maker of sugar-based gasoline, said oil’s recent slump to $35 a barrel is testing the financial viability of its technology even as it plans expansion in the U.S.
“The economic case doesn’t stand with oil at $35, except when there’s a tax incentive” as in various European countries and the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Marc Delcourt said in an interview. Without tax breaks, the company would need Brent crude well above $100 a barrel, he said.
Shares of Global Bioenergies, listed in Paris since 2011, have dropped more than 50 percent from their peak in May as oil’s collapse raised investor concern that biofuel makers couldn’t compete. Delcourt is counting on the end of European sugar production quotas in 2017 and changes in U.S. eating habits to keep the sweetener’s price low as it eyes additional capacity. Raw-sugar futures are trading at half their price five years ago. Cont'd...
Anmar Frangoul for CNBC: A common sight in the British countryside, bracken -- a type of fern -- is now being hailed as the next big source of biofuel.
Based in the south west of England, Brackenburn produces "brackettes" – biomass pellets made from bracken that they shred and compress into briquettes which produce much more heat when burnt than oak.
"In our estimation there's 2.5 million acres of bracken in the UK… it's a huge area," Barry Smith, Brackenburn's marketing and sales director, told CNBC in a phone interview.
"Left unchecked, bracken encroaches by three percent a year… at the end of the day there's no use for it whatsoever," Smith added. "It's a nuisance and to call it a crop is kind of giving it a status it doesn't deserve." Cont'd...
Thirty-six countries gave the official start Monday to an initiative to promote geothermal energy in developing economies as a cleaner alternative to oil, gas and coal.
The Global Geothermal Alliance, launched on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Le Bourget, aims at a sixfold increase in geothermal electricity production and a tripling of geothermal-derived heating by 2030.
At present, geothermal is growing modestly, at three to four percent per year, providing 12 gigawatts of electricity annually.
But this is just a fraction of its overall potential of 100 gigawatts, according to the industry. Only 24 out of 90 countries with geothermal potential actually use the resource.
The alliance said its members will seek to overcome "political uncertainty" about geothermal and strengthen the industry's skills base.
The Global Geothermal Alliance initiative was sketched out in September 2014 at a summit organised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Members include countries on thermal "hotspots" in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, ranging from Kenya and Tanzania to Malaysia, the Philippines and Guatemala. Cont'd...
By Emily Cassidy, Research Analyst for EWG.org: Biofuels produced from switchgrass and post-harvest corn waste could significantly reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change, according to an analysis by EWG and University of California biofuels experts.
EWG’s analysis found that the life cycle carbon intensity of cellulosic ethanol from switchgrass was 47 percent lower than that of gasoline. Ethanol made from corn stover – the leaves and stalks that remain in the field after the grain is harvested – has a life-cycle carbon intensity 96 percent lower than gasoline’s.
By contrast, studies have found that the life cycle carbon intensity of corn ethanol is greater than that of gasoline (Mullins et al. 2010, EPA, 2010a). Yet current federal policies strongly favor the production of conventional biofuels such as corn ethanol at the expense of lower-carbon alternatives. View full article...
By Brooks Hays for UPI: Researchers at the University of North Dakota believe geothermal energy production should be a significant part of America's future energy portfolio.
But to get the industry off the ground, proponents are looking to an industry not normally associated with renewable energy -- gas and oil drillers.
"Oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins in Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, and North Dakota contain formation waters of a temperature that is adequate for geothermal power production," researchers wrote in their new study on the subject, published this week in the journal Geosphere.
Geothermal energy requires heat, and natural sources of heat lie deep within the ground. Gas and oil drillers have already built the infrastructure to access deep-lying natural resources. Of course, gas and oil drillers want gas and oil, not heat. But in their quest for gas and oil, they get heat nonetheless. Cont'd...
By Teresa Meng for The Chronicle: A Duke University professor has been awarded a $5.2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore ways of making algae a cost efficient fuel source.
The Duke-led Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium, comprised of both universities and energy companies, aims to lower the cost of algae oil, which can be used in place of fossil fuels. The team is working to identify algae proteins that can be used in protein-based nutritional products in order to make the entire algae farming process more cost-efficient. Zackary Johnson, Arthur P. Kaupe assistant professor of molecular biology in marine science, is the principal investigator of MAGIC and has been researching algae biofuels for eight years.
“The goal of the research is to drive down the cost of algae biofuel by increasing the value of proteins within algae,” Johnson explained.
Johnson and his team at MAGIC are trying to use multiple ways so that algae grown for biofuel extraction can also be sold after oil is extracted from the algae. Proteins in algae could be used for nutritional products such as poultry feed, fish feed or even food for humans. Extracting and selling these proteins would lower the overall production cost of extracting oil from the algae. In the future, algae proteins as food sources might even be a sustainable approach to feed the world.
Algae biofuel has the potential to become a major source of sustainable energy because it can be produced quickly, easily and in high quality, Johnson said. Cont'd...
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