Past energy sources continue plodding onward to an inevitable if slow demise, while the future of energy is researched in MIT labs, deployed in the California desert, and installed in Palestine even as Israel knocks it down.
Scientists Urge Caution of US Arctic Drilling Plans
TreeHugger's covered the significant risks over drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean —words to the effect of 'we have no way of responding to a spill in icy waters' have been uttered in Congressional hearings by the head of the Coast Guard. Now a group of 573 scientists have weighed in, calling for more research before the Obama administration plans for drilling proceed.
The Arctic is the last wild ocean on the planet. Its waters and the abundant life they support are simply too sensitive to be drilled, especially since neither the oil industry nor scientists have identified a proven way to contain or clean up a spill in the Arctic's extreme conditions. At the very least, there should be no plan to lease these areas until key scientific studies have been done and until the oil and gas industry can demonstrate its ability to contain and clean up a spill.
At the very least...
US Oil Production's Second Life Already Has An End In Sight
It's true that new technologies have allowed the US oil production to climb again. But even with these new technologies, another peak is coming. National Geographic News:
The US government's own energy analysts and many experts see a limit to this new gusher. The technological advances that have driven the revival—high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling—can only squeeze so much more crude out of the U.S. landscape, they say. Projections are that U.S. oil production will never again reach the lofty heights of the 1960s, even without environmental concerns slowing development or hampering industry with new costs. But most importantly for U.S. consumers, the new supply is not expected to provide relief at the pump. The price of gasoline, still governed by global geopolitical factors like Middle East conflict, burgeoning economic growth in Asia, and constraints on supply around the globe, is projected to increase at a rate of nearly 2 percent per year. In the United States and elsewhere, the only way to escape the ever-higher price of oil in the future, the experts agree, will be to use less of it.
How Do We Balance Building Solar Power on CA Public Lands With Conservation?
It's a perennial question and a contentious one, and personally I most often come down on the side of caution. Over at NRDC Switchboard, Johanna Wald weighs in, addressing an LA Times piece on solar power in the Mojave Desert. All of its worth a read; here's a taste:
I've spent my entire career—almost 40 years— protecting American's public lands. [...] About three years ago, I learned two things: The first one was that climate change was already having real impacts on the lands and resources that I have been working for so long to protect, and the second was that that there were more than 100 pending applications for renewable energy projects, both wind and solar, in areas of California that I had devoted a lot of time and effort to protecting.
And I had an epiphany – I realized that everything that I had worked for in my career was threatened directly by climate change or by unmanaged renewable energy development. So I switched not only the focus of my work but how I did it in order to facilitate environmentally responsible renewable energy development.
MIT Researchers Discovered New Energy Storage & Power Generation Source
PhysOrg sums up, quoting Associate Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh:
By coating a nanotube in nitrocellulose fuel and igniting one end, we set off a combustion wave along it and learned that a nanotube is an excellent conductor of heat from burning fuel. Even better, the combustion wave creates a strong electric current. Our discovery that a thermopower wave works best across these tubes because of their dual conductivity turns conventional thermoelectricity on its head. It's the first viable nanoscale approach to power generation that exploits the thermoelectric effect by overcoming the feasibility issues associated with minimizing dimensions. But there are multiple angles to explore when it comes to taming these exotic waves and, ultimately, finding out if they're the wave of the future.
Palestinians Secretly Building Wind & Solar Power Projects
Green Prophet reports:
Palestinians living in the Masafer Yatta village have been secretly pursuing wind and solar energy projects in order to mitigate a serious shortfall of energy in the village. But the 150,000 residents that live in Area C, which has been under Israeli control since 1993, live in constant fear that Israeli authorities will demolish their projects. Why? Because Israelis are opposed to any new infrastructure projects that are built outside of construction and planning laws.
The article goes on to say that the Israeli army has in the past six months demolished electricity pylons, cut electricity wires to renewable energy projects, and threatened to tear down solar power systems in the area.