MIT Plan for Action on Climate Change

On October 21st the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) issued its Plan for Action on Climate Change. This document was the culmination of a year of discussions within the MIT community on the risks of climate change and the role that MIT should play as a leader on climate sciences and energy innovation. MIT’s position is that overwhelming evidence shows that the world is warmer than it was in the pre-industrial age, and that present-day climate change is due to human activity, in particular the emission of greenhouse gasses. MIT supports the 2C Challenge which aims to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and sees the need for a world-wide, aggressive but pragmatic transition plan to achieve a zero-carbon energy system. Continue reading MIT Plan for Action on Climate Change

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Senate approves MOX funding, but future remains cloudy

Most of the energy news recently has been focused on renewables, particularly solar and wind, which makes it particularly interesting when a different energy source makes the headlines. This article regarding the MOX (Mixed Oxide) fuel fabrication plant, currently under construction in South Carolina, addresses a relatively obscure offshoot of the topic of nuclear power, that of fuel reprocessing. What makes it triply interesting is that it has geopolitical ramifications with regard to a 2000 treaty between the US and Russia to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium and also illustrates how incredibly complicated and expensive it is to do anything with the word “nuclear” in it. Continue reading Senate approves MOX funding, but future remains cloudy

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Solar Power International 2015: A Volunteer’s Perspective

Our World of Energy is proud to introduce Alyssa Parr to our website visitors as our Higher Education Contributor. Alyssa is an architecture student and solar energy enthusiast studying at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and has co-led Solar Cal Poly, a multidisciplinary team designing and constructing INhouse, a net-zero home for the Solar Decathlon 2015. The following is her first guest blog for OWOE, and we hope to be hearing much more from her in the future.

Alyssa-Parr

As human beings, everything we encounter and experience grows from the sun’s energy. Similar to how plants receive nourishment from the sun through photosynthesis, solar photovoltaic power converts the sun’s direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) to provide electric energy. Imagine a gathering of thousands of humans — inventors, entrepreneurs, investors, policy-makers, and enthusiasts — in which the ultimate goal is to transition our planet toward clean energy through solar power.

September 14th-17th, 2015, I experienced Solar Power International (SPI) from the perspective of an exhibit hall volunteer. Continue reading Solar Power International 2015: A Volunteer’s Perspective

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California – 50% renewable energy by 2030

On Wednesday California’s Governor Jerry Brown dramatically increased California’s climate-change goals by signing a bill that commits the state to use renewable energy for half its electricity and make existing buildings twice as energy-efficient by 2030. California already has some of the world’s toughest air quality standards, and in 2006, under Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, mandated that renewable energy should make up one-third of its electricity by 2020. The state is well on its way to meet that goal with 25% of electricity coming from renewables last year, driven by significant increases in solar and wind power.  Continue reading California – 50% renewable energy by 2030

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Solar Power International Conference – Successes and Challenges

The Solar Power International (SPI) Conference was held in Anaheim, CA from September 14-17. Billed as the largest solar trade show in the nation, SPI had approximately 15,000 attendees and over 600 exhibitors. The solar power industry has had two outstanding years in 2014 and to date in 2015, and the conference reflected the energy and excitement of  a vibrant and growing industry. Walking around in the exhibit hall, one could definitely feel the energy both from the attendees and exhibitors.   For anyone who hadn’t been exposed to what happens behind-the-scenes to convert sunlight into electricity, the show would have been an eye-opener. From the tiniest electrical switch or solar photo-voltaic cell manufacturers, to product distributors  and installers, to technology integrators, to engineering and construction companies, to financial institutions, to industry advocacy groups and support organizations, the range of products and number of companies and individuals are truly impressive. Although the mood of the conference was definitely upbeat, it was clear, when you dug a bit deeper, that the industry has a number of significant challenges ahead. Continue reading Solar Power International Conference – Successes and Challenges

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Texas’ Luminant to Purchase 116 MW Of Utility-Scale Solar

In an announcement made on September 8th, Luminant has agreed to buy 116 megawatts  of solar power from SunEdison’s new 800-acre Castle Gap solar facility in West Texas. Luminant is the largest generator of electricity in Texas and had total generating capacity at the end of 2014 of 15.4 GW, including coal, nuclear, and natural gas powered electrical generating plants. Total generation for 2014 was approximately 75% from coal and 25% from nuclear. Luminant is also one of the largest utility purchasers of wind power in the United States with approximately 700 MW of wind power under contract in 2014. Continue reading Texas’ Luminant to Purchase 116 MW Of Utility-Scale Solar

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