Energy in the news: Friday, October 23

Friday, October 23, 2015

Learning from others, Michigan considers best options for future fracking

The Conversation

With the rapid rise in hydraulic fracturing activity, numerous government, industry, academic and environmental organizations have rushed to examine the potential benefits and impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. In fact, one review of the available scientific peer-reviewed literature on the impacts of shale gas development found that the bulk, or 73%, of the studies have been published only since January 1 2013.

Last month the University of Michigan (U-M) published a comprehensive report on the options for Michigan for high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

The report takes into account both the sometimes-problematic development of shale gas elsewhere in the US as well as the projected growth in natural gas production in the US. It also identifies a number of issues related to environment, the economy, health and communities that other states – or countries – should consider before expanding natural gas development.

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Utility supporters say ‘clock is ticking’ on aging Michigan coal plants

Midwest Energy News

In what critics are calling misleading “scare tactics” to push utility-backed legislation in Michigan, a nonprofit advocacy group has launched a new ad campaign with a ticking clock counting down coal plant closures.

The website for Citizens for Michigan’s Energy Future — a 501(c)(4) advocacy group backed by the state’s two largest investor-owned utilities — features a clock counting down the months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until the last in a group of coal plants are scheduled to close. Television ads follow a similar theme.

The campaign says nine coal-fired power plants “will go cold and dark” by April 15, 2016, “helping to create a 1.3GW capacity shortfall.” The plants are closing due to old age and environmental regulations.

But critics point to more recent projections from the grid operator MISO showing its regional footprint actually faces a capacity surplus next year. Staff at the Michigan Public Service Commission also reported this summer “there is not likely to be a shortfall” in the Lower Peninsula next year.

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Director of University of Michigan Energy Institute talks about catalyst design strategies at NCKU

​Business Wire

Director of University of Michigan Energy Institute Mark A. Barteau gave a talk on Catalyst Design Strategies for Chemicals and Fuels at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Tainan, Taiwan, on the afternoon of October 21.

Prof. Barteau talked at a seminar hosted by Prof. Yu-Chun Lin from the Department of Chemical Engineering at NCKU.

The professor gave a brief introduction to the Energy Institute at the University of Michigan and then go on to talk about some examples of work he had done in catalysis over the years to illustrate the numbers of ways there are to solve interesting problems in catalysis.

The message of the talk is there is no single way to get the answer, according to Barteau. Depending on the problems, there may be different routes to the solution.

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After buying lithium-Ion battery producer Sakti3, Dyson plans $1B factory

Greentech Media

Last week, Dyson announced it was acquiring advanced lithium-ion battery producer Sakti3 for $90 million. The company now confirms it will use the Sakti3 technology for home appliances, rather than grid or vehicle applications. For now, anyway.

“For the past five years, Dyson’s in-house battery team has been optimizing and developing battery technology for cordless machines and robots in its advanced battery labs at its Malmesbury headquarters,” said Dyson’s founder and chief engineer, James Dyson, in a press statement issued today. “They will now work with the team at Sakti3 to develop the prototype technology and incorporate it into new and existing technologies.”

The acquisition follows Dyson’s £200 million (USD $310 million) spend on research and development of digital motors, “a technology that now powers our most successful machines,” said Dyson. “We will do the same with batteries.”

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Michigan's energy evolution: a special report

Detroit Free Press

Michigan Business Sunday is dedicated this week to the state's energy evolution. With 25 coal-fired power plants to be retired, and utilities required to produce more energy from renewable sources, the state's energy profile is evolving. Read about the pros and cons, the environmental implications, the jobs produced, and the energy debates underway.

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