Energy


Wind farms like this one probably wouldn't exist if the government didn't provide a hefty subsidy. Shutterstock

By Randy Simmons, Utah State University

Congress passed the wind production tax credit (PTC) more than two decades ago to spur development in an industry still in its infancy. The wind sector has since matured into adulthood, prompting thousands of turbine farms to sprout in fields across the country.


All aboard. Ben Birchall/PA

By Sarah Jewitt, University of Nottingham

A British “poo bus” went into service last week, powered by biomethane energy derived from human waste at a sewage plant.


Roof-top solar panels are just one part of the micropower revolution. Presidency Maldives, CC BY-NC

By Morgan Saletta, University of Melbourne

There is no shortage of shouting and dire warnings about the state of the climate and our need to phase out fossil fuels. But there is a more silent revolution happening too — in micropower.


Well, maybe it's not quite this electrifying, but the  electrochemical cell prototype is pretty cool. Florian F.  (Flowtography)/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Tessa Evans, The Conversation

Bacteria are everywhere and so efforts to make cleaner energy using them are ongoing.

A report today shows how electrons hop across otherwise electrically insulated areas of bacterial proteins, and that the rate of electrical transfer is dependent on the orientation and proximity of these electrically conductive 'stepping stones'. It is hoped that this natural process can be used to create viable 'bio batteries' which could produce energy for portable technology such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops - powered by human or animal waste. So using your tablet on the toilet would then make even more sense.

Without question American CO2 emissions have plummeted, even after being driven into more coal usage due to political concerns about nuclear energy. Cleaner natural gas made the difference but environmental critics say the energy emissions burden simply shifted to developing nations - poor people can't have air conditioning. 

Yet a new study in Nature Climate Change shows that environmentalists don't need to be criticizing the world's poor.  Improving household electricity access in India over the last 30 years contributed only marginally to the nation's total carbon emissions growth.   

Natural gas finally fulfilled its environmental promise this century. Long touted by environmentalists for being much cleaner than coal, hydraulic fracturing - fracking - made it economically viable as well.

The resulting boom also offset the lingering economic malaise in America for states, like Pennsylvania, that embraced it. Poor people could still afford energy but CO2 emissions went back to early 1990s levels, while coal, which had skyrocketed in use when nuclear energy was banned in America, was suddenly back at 1980s levels.

A new device invented at The Ohio State University is the world's first hybrid solar generator and battery - it solves the problem of finicky solar power generation by having the storage built in.

The key is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.


BedZED in Hackbridge, London. Credit: Tom Chance, CC BY-SA

By Melissa C. Lott, University College London

The primary goal of home energy efficiency initiatives might be to reduce total energy consumption, but these projects could have a negative impact on public health if we do not take care.