Energy Policy

So crazy it just might work

Bingaman tells the truth about gas prices, is lonely in doing so

So I’m reading in Politico about Democratic fecklessness. (Yes, half my posts begin this way.) The problem is, whenever gas prices go up, Republicans benefit. They have a simple, powerful message ready to go, right off the shelf: drill here, drill now, pay less. Not enough drilling: that’s why gas prices are high. Drilling more: that’s how to lower them. If a Republican is president, congressional Democrats and hippie enviro groups are blocking new drilling. If a Democrat is president, he and his cronies in Congress are pandering to liberals by blocking new drilling. It’s the same every time, so …

Germany’s solar panels produce more power than Japan’s entire Fukushima complex

Germany is the world leader in installed solar photovoltaic panels — and they also just shut down seven of their oldest nuclear reactors. Coincidence? Maaaaybe… Anyway, it's worth noting that just today, total power output of Germany's installed solar PV panels hit 12.1 GW — greater than the total power output (10 GW) of Japan's entire 6-reactor nuclear power plant. Now before the trolls come out, let me just note that 12.1 GW is max power (the output whose name you'd love to touch). The panels generated that much at one instant in time — when the sun was at …

Five reasons every wonk in DC is humping the leg of natural gas right about now

The Times wants you to know that our energy crisis is over, because there’s at least one abundant fossil fuel still standing between civilization and the abyss of energy poverty. In a piece remarkable for its complete failure to mention the option of renewables, a bunch of old-economy energy analysts describe a 21st century that looks only vaguely different than our recent past.  1. So much for nuclear power. Now that Fukushima is right on the cusp of becoming a verb, (“The insurance company cut me a check ‘cause it’s completely Fukushima’d, so, hello Carribean vacation!”) you cannot throw a …

"I'd hate to see out of control"

At Chernobyl, it was all under control

A memorial rests in the shadow of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.Photo: Matti PaavonenThis piece was written by John Perlin. As a visiting scholar last year at the Linz Institute for Organic Solar Cells, I met Valery N. Bliznyuk, a visiting professor at Linz and a permanent faculty member at Western Michigan University. His fascinating work in materials at molecular and nanotech levels includes work on polymer photovoltaics. Over dinner, he told me he hailed from Kiev (or Kyiv in Ukrainian), and the subject of Chernobyl inevitably arose. And now, with the disaster at Fukushima dredging up memories of that meltdown 25 years ago, …

Snake oil

Drilling down on oil

It may be true, but domestic oil drilling won’t help.This post originally appeared on the Great Energy Challenge blog, in partnership with National Geographic and Planet Forward.  It’s an unfortunate fact that stress has a way of making people crazy. At the moment, rising oil prices are creating a lot of stress. One of the problems with our deep dependence on oil is that oil prices can (and do) swing wildly in relatively short periods of time. Between January 2007 and July 2008, the average price of crude oil paid by U.S. refineries went from about $51 to $129 per …

Nuke nukes

What we can learn from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Nuclear plants: unsafe, uneconomic, and unnecessary.Photo: Thomas AndersonCross-posted from the Rocky Mountain Institute. As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror — radioactive fallout — some truths known for 40 years bear repeating. An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can’t contain 90 percent of meltdowns. The U.S. has six identical and 17 very similar plants. Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down. Fukushima …

cool hand nuke

Lesson from Japan: We don’t need nuclear power to solve the climate crisis

Anyone watching the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan can see: The human and ecological costs of nuclear power far outweigh those of any renewable energy.Cross-posted from New Deal 2.0. On March 14, an editorial in The New York Times stated, “This page has endorsed nuclear power as one tool to head off global warming. We suspect that, when all the evidence is in from Japan, it will remain a valuable tool.” I want to argue that, to the contrary, the lesson to be learned from the catastrophe in Japan is that nuclear power is not even part of a sustainable solution to …

might as well face it

Sorry, but the U.S. isn’t about to wean itself off of nuclear

The reality is, the United States doesn’t have the option to walk away from nuclear power, which supplies almost 9% of the nation’s energy and about 20% of its electricity. [...] Nuclear energy’s drawbacks are glaring at the moment, but it’s worth remembering that no major source of energy the United States is using comes without a heavy cost. Read more: “Nuclear, oil, gas or coal? Pick your energy poison,” USA Today   

Act up

Why does Congress have Clean Air Act phobia?

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. It’s a sad state of affairs when members on both sides of the aisle in Congress seem to think it is a good idea to attack the Clean Air Act — the landmark law that Richard Nixon signed and George H. W. Bush strengthened. Yet the hits on the Clean Air Act just keep on coming in this Congress in spite of the act’s incredible record of cutting deaths and illness caused by air pollution — a record that has earned the strong support of the American people and the admiration of others …

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