Energy in the News: Friday, May 26

Friday, May 26, 2017

New way to test self-driving cars could cut 99.9 percent of validation costs

University of Michigan News, feat. Huei Peng

Mobility researchers at the University of Michigan have devised a new way to test autonomous vehicles that bypasses the billions of miles they would need to log for consumers to consider them road-ready.

The process, which was developed using data from more than 25 million miles of real-world driving, can cut the time required to evaluate robotic vehicles' handling of potentially dangerous situations by 300 to 100,000 times. And it could save 99.9 percent of testing time and costs, the researchers say.

They outline the approach in a new white paper published by Mcity, a U-M-led public-private partnership to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.

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America first, environment last? Examining the EPA in the Trump era

WNYC, feat. Joe Arvai

President Donald Trump’s “America first” budget cuts about one-third or 31 percent of the funding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) receives, even though Defense Secretary James Mattis believes climate change is a national security threat. In this special episode, we explore the future of the EPA in the Trump era.


Millennials are hesitant about purchasing cars, even here in the Motor City! See how attitudes toward autos are shifting #SB17Detroit

Great Lakes Now, feat. Thomas Lyon

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Ann Arbor wants to go solar in a big way to shrink carbon footprint


Ann Arbor officials are starting to think more seriously about harnessing the sun's energy to power city-owned facilities, and they're looking into options to allow residents to invest in "community solar" projects.

There are talks of potentially putting solar panels atop city-owned parking garages downtown and on a wide range of other public buildings.

The city has determined several city-owned facilities that consume a significant amount of energy have good solar potential.

That includes five city fire stations, the senior center at Burns Park, the Northside Community Center, Mack Indoor Pool, the Veterans Memorial Park bathhouse and ice arena, Buhr Park's bathhouse and ice rink, Cobblestone Farm's visitors center, the Fuller Park bathhouse, the downtown Farmers Market building and grounds, and the city's airport administration building.

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With a tight federal budget, here’s where to focus clean energy research funding

The Conversation

The U.S. Department of Energy spends US$3-$4 billion per year on applied energy research. These programs seek to provide clean and reliable energy and improve our energy security by driving innovation and helping companies bring new clean energy sources to market.

President Trump’s detailed budget request reportedly will ask Congress to cut funding for the Energy Department’s clean energy programs by almost 70 percent, from $2 billion this year to $636 million in 2018. Clean energy advocates and environmental groups strongly oppose such drastic cuts, but some reductions are likely. Where should DOE focus its limited funding to produce the greatest energy and environmental benefits?

My colleagues Laura Diaz Anadon of Cambridge University and Valentina Bosetti of Bocconi University and I recently reviewed 15 studies that asked this question. We found a number of clean energy technologies in electricity and transportation that will help us slow climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, even at lower levels of investment.

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Old coal mines have a place in the future of clean energy

Bloomberg News

Ben Chafin sees the future of clean energy in abandoned coal shafts.

The Virginia state senator, whose Appalachian district is pockmarked with empty mines, pushed through legislation in April that encourages companies to transform those tunnels into giant storage devices to hold vast amounts of renewable power.

The idea, which Dominion Energy Inc. has been studying, is to fill mines with water and then use electricity from wind and solar farms to pump it up to a reservoir on the surface. When utilities need power, operators open floodgates, letting water gush back into turbines on its way down.

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Does the free market or government regulation drive more use of renewables?

Michigan Radio

A new survey finds a majority of Americans (54%) lean toward regulations as the best way to increase our use of renewable energy versus relying on economic markets alone.

Cary Funk is the associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. She says a majority of Americans say that increasing the use of renewable energy sources should be a top priority for the country’s energy policies.

“But there’s a closer divide on whether or not government regulations are necessary or whether the private marketplace can ensure that businesses and consumers increase more reliance on renewables even without regulations,” she says.

Unsurprisingly, that divide is largely based on political affiliation.


How the GOP is slowly going green


Conservatives are slowly coming around on climate change.

Over the past few years, more than a half-dozen organizations have popped up pushing conservative climate-change and clean-energy policies, and the percentage of congressional Republicans going on the record acknowledging climate is a problem has gone from zero to 8%, as judged by a House caucus on the issue.

Why it matters: Since 2010, climate change has been an issue unilaterally pushed by the Democratic Party, but for any climate and energy policy to pass Congress, it must also get support from within the GOP ranks.

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