Energy in the News: Friday, February 19

Friday, February 19, 2016

Michigan researchers issue guidelines for sustainable energy storage

Midwest Energy News, feat.  Levi Thompson, Jeremiah Johnson, Gregory Keoleian

As energy storage deployment grows across a variety of sectors and fuel sources, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan has published a set of 12 principles to help guide projects on the most sustainable path forward.

A main driver of the research is that energy storage can still have negative environmental consequences in certain grid applications, particularly in producing batteries. The principles provide a “qualitative framework” as entities deploy and operate energy storage, researchers say, whether it’s a lithium-ion battery or a large utility-scale pumped storage facility.

“These are guidelines or principles you can take into account to make sure there is the least environmental impact in terms of optimizing solutions,” said Maryam Arbabzadeh, a graduate assistant at U-M’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. She is also author of “Twelve Principles for Green Energy Storage in Grid Applications,” which was recently published in Environmental Science and Technology.

Arbabzadeh said the study is published with “very good timing as utilization of energy storage is growing rapidly.”

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Groundbreaking research leads to advancements in the mass storage of sustainable energy

MLive, feat. Levi Thompson

A recurring issue in the sustainable energy discussion is the issue of storage. Appearing on Greening of the Great Lakes to discuss his cutting-edge research in energy storage is Dr. Levi Thompson, Richard E. Balzhiser Collegiate Professor of Chemical and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Thompson explains the uses and future possibilities of several different technologies, such as flow batteries and nanomaterials, and he emphasizes that the key to success in this industry is the cross-disciplinary collaboration that has sprung from new questions on the topic of energy storage.

Dr. Thompson and other researchers agree that the lithium ion batteries used in automobiles, laptops, and cellphones are not the right technologies for large-scale storage. Significant success in storage research has moved their focus to systems that are more similar to chemical plants.

"One of the areas we're working on here in Michigan is in the area of flow batteries. These devices can store tremendous amounts of energy. They are similar to a fuel cell, except that the energy is stored in liquids as opposed to gases," says Thompson.

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Michigan to suspend Clean Power Plan compliance effort pending federal court decision

Crain’s Detroit

Michigan will suspend its effort to comply with new federal carbon rules while it waits for courts to decide the future of the plan, the state said Tuesday.

State energy administrators, however, will finish work underway to develop benchmarks it intended to use to determine when Michigan would meet targets under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce emissions from coal-based power plants.

Under the plan, Michigan’s required emissions cut is 31 percent by 2030. The state had been required to submit a plan to the EPA by September detailing how it would comply with the plan.

But the U.S. Supreme Court last week issued a stay, halting implementation of the Clean Power Plan until federal courts rule in a lawsuit brought by more than 20 states.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined the lawsuit, which challenges the carbon rule as an overextension of the EPA's authority. Schuette's position, however, contrasts with that of Gov. Rick Snyder, who directed the state to develop its own compliance plan or risk having a federal decision imposed on Michigan.

"We will continue to support the development of an energy policy that it is adaptable, affordable, reliable and protective of the environment," the Michigan Agency for Energy said in a news release.

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How affordable is our energy? Here’s what consumers say

University of Michigan Energy Institute, feat. John DeCicco

As part of the U-M Energy Survey’s ongoing reports regarding the affordability of energy, this brief focuses on the newest wave of data through October 2015. We measure American consumers' views of their energy costs with two indices, one for home energy and the other for gasoline. Each index is based on the costs that consumers say they would find unaffordable compared to their actual energy costs—that is, their own home energy bills and the national average price of gasoline—during the month they were surveyed. As shown in the graph below, the affordability index for home energy in October 2015 was 122 (±10), remaining statistically similar to its average over the previous eight quarters. In October 2015, consumers said that they spent an average of $170 per month on home energy bills. They also responded, on average, that they would find a monthly energy bill of $342 to be unaffordable.

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Regents appoint new engineering dean to succeed Munson

Michigan Daily, feat Alec Gallimore

At Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting, Alec D. Gallimore was appointed as the University of Michigan's next Dean of Engineering, effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2021.

“As a successful scholar, educator and administrator who has dedicated his entire career to advancing the study and profession of engineering, Alec D. Gallimore is uniquely qualified to lead the College of Engineering,” University Provost Martha Pollack said in a statement.

Gallimore is currently a tenured professor of areospace engineering, and the recipient of two named professorships: he is an Arthur F. Thurnau professor and the Richard F. and Eleanor Towner Professor of Engineering.

He will be succeeding Engineering Dean David Munson, who announced he would step down as dean in 2015. Munson began his tenure in 2006, and over the past 10 years has formed interdisciplinary collaborations with the Medical School and other schools, as well as brought about more entrepreneurship efforts. He has also aimed to unite students and faculty on North Campus through videos and Halloween parties.

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Want to fight climate change? Here are the 7 critical life changes you should make
Grist, feat. Michael Sivak

A few months ago, the U.S. and 195 other countries signed this thing in Paris in which all parties involved kind of sort of agreed to stop messing with the world’s climate. It was very exciting.

So what if we, as Americans, were going to join in as individuals in order to help the U.S. meet its emissions goals? What would we do differently? Two researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, recently set out to answer those questions. (Here is the abstract of their report.) Their conclusion: The largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions is making things (industry, clocking in at 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions). After that, there’s moving people and things around (transportation, 27 percent), then the energy we use at home (17 percent) followed by the energy used by non-industrial businesses (17 percent) and the energy used in agriculture (10 percent).

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