News Article | March 29, 2016
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. Note:Data include facilities with a net summer capacity of one megawatt and above except for solar, which also includes small-scale distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. Distributed solar PV additions in 2014 exclude January 2014 additions. All data reported in alternating-current megawatts (MWAC). Wind, natural gas, and solar made up almost all new electric generation capacity in 2015, accounting for 41%, 30%, and 26% of total additions, respectively, according to preliminary data. The data also show a record amount of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added on rooftops throughout the country in 2015. The trend of wind, natural gas, and solar additions making up most new capacity is likely to continue in 2016. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. Note:Data include facilities with a net summer capacity of one megawatt and above. Wind. Wind installations steadily increased in 2014 and 2015 from less than 1,000 megawatts (MW) added in 2013. Uncertainty surrounding the extensions and modifications of the federal production tax credit (PTC) over the past several years led to large fluctuations in annual wind additions. The record amount of additions in 2012 was followed by a precipitous drop-off in 2013 and a subsequent rebound in 2014 and 2015—a pattern also visible with previous years’ PTC expiration and renewal cycles. Texas added the most wind capacity (42% of total wind additions), followed by Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and North Dakota. All of these states are located in the central part of the country, where wind resources are the strongest. In Texas, new wind power records are continuously being set as the wind fleet continues to grow. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. Note:Data include facilities with a net summer capacity of one megawatt and above. Natural gas. Natural gas additions, mainly combined-cycle plants, were lower in 2015 than in recent years. New Jersey and Texas together made up half of all natural gas additions. In New Jersey, most of the new capacity came from two combined-cycle plants, the Newark Energy Center (685 MW) and the Woodbridge Energy Center (795 MW). Both plants will be supplied by the Transco natural gas pipeline, which recently completed expansions to bring larger volumes of Marcellus natural gas to market areas. In Texas, the second phase of the combined-cycle Panda Temple Power Station (734 MW) and three combustion turbine plants totaling 716 MW (Ector County Energy Center, Montana Power Station, and Elk Station) came online. Utility-scale solar. California added more than 1,000 MW each of utility-scale and distributed solar PV capacity, accounting for 42% of overall solar additions in 2015. North Carolina added 720 MW of utility-scale PV, more than double the amount added in the state in the previous year. In Nevada, the 110 MW Crescent Dunes concentrating solar thermal plant with energy storage came online in 2015 along with several solar PV plants totaling 236 MW. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly. Note: All data reported inalternating-current megawatts (MWAC). Distributed solar PV. Distributed PV saw significant growth in 2015, particularly in the residential sector, where total installed capacity rose much faster over the year than in the industrial or commercial sectors. While still far behind top distributed solar PV states, several states saw notable growth in 2015, including Nevada, where distributed PV capacity more than doubled from 49 MW to 129 MW. Further growth of Nevada’s distributed PV sector, however, is uncertain because Nevada’s Public Utility Commissionrecently approved several changes to the net-metering tariffs, including phasing in lower net-metering compensation rates and higher monthly fixed charges for distributed PV customers. These changes are an effort to address concerns about grid maintenance costs being shifted disproportionately from customers with solar systems to non-solar customers. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. Note:Data include facilities with a net summer capacity of one megawatt and above except for solar, which also includes small-scale distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. All data reported in alternating-current megawatts (MWAC). Principal contributors: April Lee, David Darling Original article
News Article | April 21, 2016
More than a year after Prime Minister David Cameron publicly announced support for the Perpetuus Tidal Energy Center (PTEC), Great Britain’s Marine Management Organization (MMO) issued a license on April 20 to Royal HaskoningDHV to deploy and operate a proposed 30-MW tidal array at the center, located off the Isle of Wight.
Last week, we heard often that if the Doha, Qatar meeting between most OPEC members and several major non-OPEC oil producers, like Russia, fell apart, then oil prices could tank. After all, the meeting was supposed to demonstrate some coordination between major producers who were willing to freeze their production at January levels, and so allow prices to recover by not worsening an already large global oil glut. Participants in Doha over the weekend failed to reach an agreement, due to tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The latter country has no intention of freezing production — after emerging from international sanctions, Iran is trying to rebuild its oil exports. The oil price response to this news, though, has been something a surprise — an initial plunge, but prices largely recovered yesterday and are even rising today. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was recently up 2 percent, or over $ 44.00. So what’s going on? A number of experts consulted this morning pointed to two main themes: a drop in oil production out of Kuwait due to a strike that has put a floor under prices, and the fact that the long term outlook, as epitomized by a recent report from the International Energy Agency, is for a tightening market by the end of the year that should support higher prices. “The lack of a decision at Doha is more than offset by, at least for now, the loss of output from a major Arab Gulf oil exporter – Kuwait,” said Daniel Yergin, vice-chairman of IHS, by email. “The strike is a response to cuts in wages and benefits, which shows that the fiscal pressures on even the financially-strong oil exporters are growing.” Kuwait normally produces close to 3 million barrels of oil per day. But the strike has taken offline over 1 million barrels of oil per day, according to Reuters. To see how neatly the Kuwait loss of production may have offset fears following Doha, consider that a drop of some 1 million barrels per day “is more than Iran’s total capacity for crude oil production rise after the sanctions,” said Sara Vakhshouri, a fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and president of SVB Energy International, an energy consulting company. As if that’s not enough, Nigeria, which produced 1.7 million barrels per day in March, has also had oil production issues recently. “Nigerian outages also inched up yesterday,” noted Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy. So, oil is dropping off the market in key places, and that naturally helps the market rise, or prevents it from falling as much as it might otherwise. Yet this is not the only issue. A broader matter is that there are signs that markets could be moving back into a more balanced relationship between supply and demand, as U.S. shale production has suffered from continuing low prices. The International Energy Agency’s influential Oil Market Report released last week forecast that “the oil market looks set to move close to balance in the second half of this year.” “There are signs that the much-anticipated slide in production of light, tight, oil in the United States is gathering pace,” said the IEA. Ultimately, this may be the bigger issue. “Doha was a distraction. For weeks analysts were saying that the market was reading what it wanted to into the freeze. However, over that period of time the fundamentals became more price supportive – U.S. crude production is down, inventory builds are down,” said Sarah Ladislaw, director of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “‘Doha’ was a buy-time strategy,” Yergin said. “With or without it, the market is moving towards a more balanced position in the autumn. And, going forward, the market will be focused not on what countries do or don’t do, but what is actually unfolding in terms of supply and demand.”
« LeEco showcases autonomous EV concept LeSEE at Auto China 2016 | Main | New silicon-sulfur battery built on 3D graphene shows excellent performance » Supported by partners, Clean City Coalitions and corporate sponsors, Alliance AutoGas is embarking on a 5300+ mile, 12-city, cross-country road trip—the Alliance AutoGas Coast-to-Coast Clean Air Ride—with its record-setting propane autogas F-150. The event is being hosted by the Metropolitan Energy Center/Kansas City Regional Clean Cities in conjunction with Veolia/Kansas City Transportation Group and Alliance AutoGas. The converted F-150 will travel across the country from Kansas City to Seattle, WA, and back through the US, stopping along the way, to complete its journey in Jacksonville, FL, on 18 May, followed by a Homecoming event in Asheville, NC, on 23 May. Alliance’s new Engineered Conversion System, installed on a Bi-Fuel 2016 3.5-liter Ford F-150 V6, was converted to propane autogas almost 30 minutes faster than the predicted 2 hour window at the recent Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. Behind the autogas truck, they will be trailering a propane mower. The propane mower is a 2013 Exmark Lazer Z Ultra Cut 60. It is powered by a 25.5 horsepower Kawasaki FX801 V-Twin gasoline engine, converted to propane by Alliance Small Engines. Alliance AutoGas Coast- to- Coast Clean Air Ride Partners and Sponsors include: Propane Education Partner: the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC); Media Partner: Bobit Business Media/Work Truck Magazine; Charity Partner: the American Lung Association of the Southeast, Inc. Three of the city stops—in Fort Collins, CO, Salt Lake City, UT, and Seattle, WA—will be hosted by Alliance AutoGas member Blue Star Gas in conjunction with their local Clean City Coalitions. Alliance AutoGas member Pinnacle Propane will also be hosting 3 additional stops in Albuquerque, NM, Oklahoma City, OK, and Little Rock, AR, in conjunction with local Clean Cities Coalition partners. Local Clean Cities Host Partners include: Metropolitan Energy Center/Kansas City Regional Clean Cities; Northern Colorado Clean Cities; Utah Clean Cities Coalition; Western Washington Clean Cities; Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition; Land of Enchantment Clean Cities; Central Oklahoma Clean Cities/Association of Central Oklahoma Governments; Arkansas Clean Cities; Clean Cities- Georgia; North Florida Clean Fuels Coalition and Land of Sky Clean Cities Coalition.
Abstract: Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego, in collaboration with the Materials Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), have created the world's largest database of elemental crystal surfaces and shapes to date. Dubbed Crystalium, this new open-source database can help researchers design new materials for technologies in which surfaces and interfaces play an important role, such as fuel cells, catalytic converters in cars, computer microchips, nanomaterials and solid-state batteries. "This work is an important starting point for studying the material surfaces and interfaces, where many novel properties can be found. We've developed a new resource that can be used to better understand surface science and find better materials for surface-driven technologies," said Shyue Ping Ong, a nanoengineering professor at UC San Diego and senior author of the study. For example, fuel cell performance is partly influenced by the reaction of molecules such as hydrogen and oxygen on the surfaces of metal catalysts. Also, interfaces between the electrodes and electrolyte in a rechargeable lithium-ion battery host a variety of chemical reactions that can limit the battery's performance. The work in this study is useful for these applications, said Ong, who is also part of a larger effort by the UC San Diego Sustainable Power and Energy Center to design better battery materials. "Researchers can use this database to figure out which elements or materials are more likely to be viable catalysts for processes like ammonia production or making hydrogen gas from water," said Richard Tran, a nanoengineering PhD student in Ong's Materials Virtual Lab and the study's first author. Tran did this work while he was an undergraduate at UC San Diego. The work, published Sept. 13 in the journal Scientific Data, provides the surface energies and equilibrium crystal shapes of more than 100 polymorphs of 72 elements in the periodic table. Surface energy describes the stability of a surface; it is a measure of the excess energy of atoms on the surface relative to those in the bulk material. Knowing surface energies is useful for designing materials that perform their functions primarily on their surfaces, like catalysts and nanoparticles. The surface energies of some elements in their crystal form have been measured experimentally, but this is not a trivial task. It involves melting the crystal, measuring the resulting liquid's surface tension at the melting temperature, then extrapolating that value back to room temperature. This process also requires that the sample have a clean surface, which is challenging because other atoms and molecules (like oxygen and water) can easily adsorb to the surface and modify the surface energy. Surface energies obtained by this method are averaged values that lack the facet-specific resolution that is necessary for design, Ong said. "This is one of the areas where the 'virtual laboratory' can create the most value--by allowing us to precisely control the models and conditions in a way that is extremely difficult to do in experiments." Also, the surface energy is not just a single number for each crystal because it depends on the crystal's orientation. "A crystal is a regular arrangement of atoms. When you cut a crystal in different places and at different angles, you expose different facets with unique arrangements of atoms," explained Ong, who teaches the course NANO106 - Crystallography of Materials at UC San Diego. To carry out this ambitious project, Ong and his team developed highly sophisticated automated workflows to calculate surface energies from first principles. These workflows are built on the popular open-source Python Materials Genomics library and FireWorks workflow codes of the Materials Project, which were co-authored by Ong. "The techniques for calculating surface energies have been known for decades. The major accomplishment is the codification of how to generate surface models and run these complex calculations in a robust and efficient manner," Tran said. The surface model generation software code developed by the team has already been extended by others to study substrates and interfaces. Powerful supercomputers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab were used for the calculations. Ong's team worked with researchers from the Berkeley Lab's Materials Project to develop and construct Crystalium's website. Co-founded and directed by Berkeley Lab scientist Kristin Persson, the Materials Project is a Google-like database of material properties calculated by supercomputers. "The Materials Project was designed to be an open and accessible tool for scientists and engineers to accelerate materials innovation," Persson said. "In five years, it has attracted more than 20,000 users working on everything from batteries to photovoltaics to thermoelectrics, and it's extremely gratifying to see scientists like Ong providing lots of high quality computed data of high interest and making it freely available and easily accessible to the public." The researchers pointed out that their database is the most extensive collection of calculated surface energies for elemental crystalline solids to date. Compared to previous compilations, Crystalium contains surface energies for far more elements, including both metals and non-metals, and for more facets in each crystal. The elements that have been excluded from their calculations are gases and radioactive elements. Notably, Ong and his team have validated their calculated surface energies with those from experiments, and the values are in excellent agreement. Moving forward, the team will work on expanding the scope of the database beyond single elements to multi-element compounds like alloys, which are made of two or more different metals, and binary oxides, which are made of oxygen and one other element. Efforts are also underway to study the effect of common adsorbates, such as hydrogen, on surface energies, which is key to understanding the stability of surfaces in aqueous media. "As we continue to build this database, we hope that the research community will see it as a useful resource for the rational design of target surface or interfacial properties," said Ong, This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences (grant no. EDCBEE). 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