Chicago-area scientists hope to empower women in STEMM fields and promote their role in developing clean energy sources. “Chicago is the coldest place I’ve ever been,” said Jing Hu, who came from southern China to do her postdoctoral work in materials science at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.So she is “excited and terrified” about spending three weeks in Antarctica, among almost 100 women in STEMM fields who were recently announced as fellows in the Homeward Bound program to raise awareness of climate change and promote the role of female scientists, engineers and other experts in addressing it.The program was started in 2015 by an Australian activist and an Antarctic marine scientist. The participants raise much of the funding for the trip themselves. Over the next 11 months they will collaborate and strategize on leadership development and science education before going to Antarctica in November 2019.They come from a wide range of disciplines, including agricultural science, molecular biology, epidemiology and geochemistry. The only other representative of the Midwest is Krissa Skogen, a conservation scientist and botanist at the Chicago Botanic Garden whose specialty is studying the effects of climate change on evening primroses in the Southwest.
The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative is asking for proposals as part of its “Community Based Renewable Energy Programs” – and companies are responding. The program aims to expand access to renewable energy to those living in apartments, as well as small business owners and community groups. The idea is to make clean power available to those who have not had a chance to take advantage of it because of the type of building they live in, or where they are on the island.The energy providers need to produce a minimum of 250 kilowatt hours of energy to take part in the program.The utility cooperative will sign the contracts with the companies, and then individual customers can subscribe to the program — receiving credits on their electric bill for the amount of capacity they purchase. There are financial incentives for delivering electricity between 4 PM and 9 AM —when the sun is not at peak power.
After winning control of the House of Representatives Tuesday night, Democrats plan to counter the Trump administration on climate change policy, aiming to convince the American public of the seriousness of the problem ahead of the 2020 presidential election and the urgency of addressing it. “Climate change has to be one of our highest priorities,” Rep. Ro Khanna of California, the newest Democrat to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, told Josh. “We should be voting on a bold new green deal to tackle climate change as one of the first three things we do during our first 100 days.”
The administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights and rolling back regulations, raising environmental concerns in states like Wyoming.Reversing a trend in the final years of the Obama presidency, the Trump administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas developers, a central component of the White House’s plan to work hand in glove with the industry to promote more domestic energy production.Seeing growth and profit opportunities at a time of rising oil prices and a pro-business administration, big energy companies like Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, and Anschutz Exploration are seizing on the federal lands free-for-all, as they collectively buy up tens of thousands of acres of new leases and apply for thousands of permits to drill.In total, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels were offered for lease in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, triple the average offered during President Barack Obama’s second term, according to an analysis by The New York Times of Interior Department data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that advocates budget discipline.
A national scorecard released today by the independent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) grades the nearly 20 state shared renewable energy programs (aka community solar). IREC’s National Shared Renewables Scorecard uses specific criteria to evaluate how each program stacks up against national best practices.“More states are adopting shared renewable energy programs so more consumers can benefit from clean, renewable energy – including lower income households, multi-family dwellers and underserved communities,” says IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “And they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of these programs.”
Sustainability has taken a new turn with O-Wind, an omnidirectional, single-axis wind turbine catered to serve apartment buildings facing chaotic winds in urban environments. Patent pending, the O-Wind takes advantage of horizontal and vertical winds without requiring steering. It would enable apartment block residents to sustainably generate electricity. Due to its unique design, the turbine makes use of wind approaching from all directions in three dimensions. This is not the case for other wind turbines available at present. The simplistic design of a single axis requires less maintenance than traditional wind turbines. The size and shape of the turbine also means it can be placed in various locations compared to traditional turbines, which require more space. Created by Nicolas Orellana Olguin and Yaseen Noorani, the structure of the turbine is lined with vents that have large entrances and smaller exits for air. In the presence of wind, there is a pressure difference between the two terminals and this causes the turbine to move. The vents are placed all across the sphere, making it receptive to wind from all directions. This turbine rotation is used to power a generator that can produce electricity.
The $1.2 million biogas machine is basically an internal combustion engine that’s similar to a diesel but can burn both methane and natural gas. It’s not using natural gas just yet, but turns methane into electricity. That’s generating about $8,000 worth of electricity at the plant each month, which is about 25 percent of the plant’s monthly electric bill.“This was an idea that staff had made, and is one of the actions — if you go back to the city’s climate change and energy conservation plan — that was in the plan,” said Bryan von Lossberg, president of the Missoula City Council. “I think everyone who is familiar with NorthWestern Energy knows it’s not surprising they’re considering another rate increase. So that $8,000 per month, when electricity costs almost $100,000 a year, would be even higher.”They brought the biogas converter online in June.
General Motors says it will ask the federal government for one national gas mileage standard, including a requirement that a percentage of auto companies' sales be zero-emissions vehicles. Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of product development, said the company will propose that a certain percentage of nationwide sales be made up of vehicles that run on electricity or hydrogen fuel cells."A national zero emissions program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future," Reuss said.
More than 60,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel is stored on the shores of four of the five Great Lakes — in some cases, mere yards from the waterline — in still-growing stockpiles. \“It’s actually the most dangerous waste produced by any industry in the history of the Earth,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the nonprofit Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.The spent nuclear fuel is partly from 15 current or former U.S. nuclear power plants, including four in Michigan, that have generated it over the past 50 years or more. But most of the volume stored along the Great Lakes, more than 50,000 tons, comes from Canadian nuclear facilities, where nuclear power is far more prevalent. It remains on the shorelines because there's still nowhere else to put it. The U.S. government broke a promise to provide the nuclear power industry with a central, underground repository for the material by 1998. Canada, while farther along than the U.S. in the process of trying to find a place for the waste, also doesn't have one yet.But the remote possibility of a worst-case scenario release — from a natural disaster, a major accident, or an act of terrorism — could cause unthinkable consequences for the Great Lakes region.
The U.S. government is taking steps to develop offshore wind farms off both coasts. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced this week the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold an offshore wind auction Dec. 13 for nearly 390,000 acres (157,831 hectares) of ocean off Massachusetts.Zinke said the area, if fully developed, could supply power to nearly 1.5 million homes.He also announced the bureau is opening its environmental review of a 15-turbine project off Long Island, New York, proposed by Deepwater Wind, operators of the nation's lone commercial wind farm off Rhode Island.And in California, Zinke announced the bureau is seeking comment on possible areas for wind development off the state's central and northern coasts.The administration hopes that will lead to the West Coast's first offshore wind auction.