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U.S. Department of Energy
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Aug 8, 2014

Report: New Nuclear Power Technology Would Siphon Resources Away From Renewable Energy

Promoters of developing mini nuclear reactors claim the new technology would be a potential game changer for the stagnant U.S. nuclear industry and cheaper to construct than traditional, larger reactors. Small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs, could also play a part in combating climate change by providing a carbon-free energy source and possibly replacing antiquated fossil-fueled power plants, proponents say.

But one nuclear financing expert argues in a new report that SMRs, which have yet to be built in the United States, would be no cheaper than their larger counterparts. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at the Vermont Law School, also warns that SMR development would suck up funding that could otherwise be used for what he says are more attractive energy options like wind and solar.

"Large reactors have never been economically competitive and there is no reason to believe that smaller reactors will fare any better," Cooper said. "Giving nuclear power a central role in climate change policy would not only drain away resources from the more promising alternatives, it would undermine the effort to create the physical and institutional infrastructure needed to support the emerging electricity systems based on renewables, distributed generation and intensive system and demand management."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Jun 6, 2014

Renewable Gasoline From Wood: A Transportation Fuel Of The Future?

An innovative process to convert wood waste directly into renewable, high-octane gasoline has been developed successfully at the Des Plaines-based Gas Technology Institute (GTI), a non-profit that researches and develops energy technologies.

The recently-developed technology was crafted over a four-year period at GTI's gasification campus as part of a public-private pilot project supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) integrated biorefineries program.

At GTI's pilot plant, some 700 tons of woody biomass, such as mill and logging residue, were gasified and about 10,000 gallons of gasoline were produced.

"Gasification has a very checkered past," explained Jim Patel, president of the California-based biomass gasification company Carbona Corporation, a partner of the DOE-backed project. "People have made promises of gasification technology but (there have not been) too many successes. Here, we've proved that gasification works. We can clean up the gas, and the gas can be converted into gasoline." 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Feb 18, 2014

Obama's Former Energy Chief Talks Cap & Trade, Disappointing Energy Efficiency Standards

Steven Chu, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, said the 2009 landmark climate and energy bill that would have set up a cap-and-trade system got too complicated, which contributed to its downfall in Congress.

The mammoth bill was designed to address climate change and limit carbon emissions by placing a cap on greenhouse emissions, among other provisions. Essentially, companies that emit greenhouse gases would have had to comply with emission limits or be required to buy or trade credits to continue polluting. The measure, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, narrowly passed the House in June 2009 but it died in the Senate.

"The House bill got way too complicated," Chu said at a discussion Thursday night at the University of Chicago. "They let all the special interest(s) …make an 800 page bill to make little advantages here and there, and that just was wrong."

PI Original
by Steven Ross Johnson
Tue Sep 18, 2012

Lobbying For Wind Energy Tax Credit Intensifies As Expiration Nears

Supporters of wind energy are predicting that what happens in Congress over the next several days could be crucial to the fate of the industry, warning that more than 37,000 jobs could be in jeopardy if lawmakers fail to extend a vital tax credit for renewable power producers. Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of the tax credit are intensifying their calls for the credit's extension or demise.