Do the Math told us about space-based solar power. Many see this as a solution for Earth-based solar power which is subject to night, weather, and seasons, simultaneously introducing intermittency so that massive storage is required to make it work on an economic scale. The author concludes that space-based solar is not a solution either. “On balance, I don’t expect to see this technology escape the realm of fantasy and find a place in our world. The expense and difficulty are incommensurate with the gains.” Among the costs, the prospect of failures and having to fix them.  Building in redundancy only adds to those costs. Moreover, it is almost as hard to get energy back to the ground as it is to get the equipment into space in the first place. The microwave link faces problems with transmission through the atmosphere. And diffraction of the downlink beam, together with energy density limits, means that very large areas of the ground still need to be dedicated to energy collection. Read the thoughtful comments.

Speaking of the Sun, Forbe’s wanted to know if Desertec is the answer to the energy woes facing Europe and Africa. And RECHARGE informed us that a Japanese group wants to turn Mongolia into the Desertec of Asia. For those of you not familiar with Europe’s Desertec Project, you can read more about it here and here.

The San Diego Reader wrote about nuclear power as a source of hydrogen fuel. Can we create hydrogen fuel from the steam generated by the cooling process for nuclear reactors? The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) thinks so.  Hydrogen production using nuclear energy could reduce dependence on crude oil for fueling motor vehicles and the use of coal for generating electricity. In doing so, hydrogen could have a beneficial impact on climate change, since burning hydrogen releases only water vapor and no carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. At present, most hydrogen production is generated using natural gas or coal, which released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Because steam is already generated in the water cooling system for nuclear reactors, and electricity is produced on site, hydrogen could be produced at nuclear sites with minimal waste. The IAEA is currently working through its Hydrogen Economic Evaluation Program to assess the technical and economic feasibility of converting nuclear plants for such use. See also The Green Optimistic, Nuclear Power Could Provide Heat for Hydrogen Production.

Red Orbit posted an article on the future of baseload power. This was a main topic at the recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference on the MIT campus. The discussion heard from representatives of large regional electric power companies, General Electric in their capacity as a worldwide electric power generator, and academia. Baseload power refers to the minimum amount of electricity that must be produced to maintain power to the grid at all times. Your local electric grid is constantly energized at a pre-determined minimum level. Failure to maintain this level leads to brown-outs and black-outs. In most countries around the world baseload power is produced using hydro, fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, crude oil), and nuclear reactors. Until recently, these power sources operated on a 24/7 schedule.  But with the addition of intermittent solar and wind power, they are now required to ramp up and down to accommodate that intermittent power and, in some cases, shutting down. The discussion focused on the future of baseload power in light of these technological changes and environmental concerns with fossil fuels and nuclear. There appeared to be agreement that technology and fuel choice can effect carbon emissions in the US and other developed countries, but there was little confidence that China, India, and other developing countries will make any effort at all in reducing greenhouse emissions.

On the same topic, smart planet argued why baseload power is doomed and Science Daily wanted to know how the increasing use of electric cars will impact the electric grid. It tells us that a new grid capacity calculator has been developed by the UK’s Northumbria University to enable policy makers to predict and prepare for the increased use of electric cars and their affect on the electric grid.

Waste Management World told us that US industry is moving from expensive crude oil to cheap natural gas. Tom Whipple at the Falls Church News-Press also covered this story.

Robert Rapier set the record straight on US oil and shale reserves at Consumer Energy Report. To help us understand the US reserve situation the author explains the difference between oil resource, oil reserve, oil shale, shale oil and tight oil. Also, just because an area is identified as a reserve it may not be technologically or economically possible to develop that reserve.

The EU Energy Policy Blog told us that Peak Oil is driving the global shift to natural gas. The shale gas “revolution” was also discussed. CleanBiz Asia told us that China has set targets for recovering its shale gas and has set a goal of producing 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas a year by the end of 2015.  Yet Poland appears to be a disappointment. Bloomberg reported that Poland’s shale reserves may be 85% below initial estimates.See also Shale Boom in Europe Fades as Polish Wells Come Up Empty.

Denmark wants half of its electricity from wind by 2020 said CleanTechnica and noted that wind will be key to Ireland’s energy future. Ireland has set a goal of getting 40% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by the end of this decade, up from 18% today.

Domestic Fuel told us that hydropower is favoured in Africa and Latin America. A new report by GBI Research says that Africa will be a leading hydropower market by 2020 due to the large amount of water on the continent, especially in Mozambique and Ethiopia. The report says that South and Central America also hold high levels of untapped hydropower energy.








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