News & Events


Energy in the News: Friday, February 12

EVs continue to underperform in present era of cheap oil
MBiz, feat. John DeCicco

Despite a growing number of plug-in electric vehicles on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, industry analysts say the segment has failed to reach the “aspirational” levels many had hoped.

Electric vehicles now must compete with sub-$2 a gallon gasoline prices, while Midwestern states like Michigan continue to lag behind places like California with more progressive incentives meant to encourage EV purchases. Despite those challenges, the sector’s volatility and its low-volume sales haven’t really hurt West Michigan auto suppliers, which currently have plenty of business opportunities in an era of high capacity utilization.

“The growth of plug-in electric vehicles has been impressive, but it’s not at aspirational levels that President Obama articulated a few years back,” said John DeCicco, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute who has studied transportation issues since the 1970s. The recent EV sales growth also occurred during a period when gas prices inched near $4 a gallon, DeCicco added.

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Kotov receives UNESCO Medal for contributions to the development of nanoscience and nanotechnologies ceremony

UNESCO, feat. Nicholas Kotov

In Paris on February 5, Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Chemical Engineering, received a UNESCO Medal for contributions to the development of nanoscience and nanotechnologies.

The Medal was established in 2010 at the initiative of the International Commission responsible for developing the Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies theme for the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Since then, 24 Medals have been awarded to prominent scientists, institutions and public figures, such as Zhores Alferov, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000, and Chunli Bai, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This Medal is designed to highlight the tremendous benefits of progress in nanoscience and nanotechnologies for our societies, for our economies, for all of us” explained UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova. “This is a new branch of science, pushing ever further back the frontiers of knowledge — and UNESCO is committed to nurturing its full potential, to support every woman and man, especially the most vulnerable.”

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US Scholar maps progress in India’s night lights

NDTV, feat. Brian Min

A US researcher has processed thousands of images taken by satellites every night from the last 20 years to show the electrification history of India. In doing so, Brian Min, a professor of Political Science at University of Michigan has tracked satellite images of light output from more than 600,000 villages over 8,000 nights and more than 4.4 billion data points, a media release said. “The project shows dramatic changes in the brightness of villages across India,” said Min.

“While many rural areas in states like Punjab and Haryana have become much brighter, many states like Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have seen only small improvements in those decades,” Min said. While villages using cow dung and kerosene lamps for their lights has decreased from 1993 to 2013, there are still vast areas that remain in darkness, the researcher says.

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Michigan corporations seek to break down obstacles to renewable energy

Midwest Energy News, feat Erb Institute, Energy Institute

While corporations across the country increase their commitments to run on renewable energy, companies in Michigan still face significant obstacles.

Many large businesses in the state are limited in their ability to purchase renewable energy due to a law that restricts shopping for electricity to one-tenth of a utility’s load. When it comes to self-generation, large users are also restricted by the state’s prohibitive solar net metering law on large installations, advocates say.

But businesses and utilities here are increasingly active in working together around those restrictions, multiple corporate leaders said on Feb. 2 in Detroit at the third annual Michigan Energy Conference, which focused on corporate pathways to renewable energy.

“I think businesses have done a pretty good job figuring out ways to get it done,” said Dan Scripps, senior advisor with the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, which hosted the event.

But given Michigan’s limited Retail Open Access law, which is already filled with those who can purchase energy from alternative suppliers and includes thousands on a waiting list to participate, there currently is no clear path for major energy users to follow.

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Massive gas leak plugged; residents seek return to normal

Associated Press

The massive gas leak that spewed uncontrollably for nearly four months drove thousands of Los Angeles residents to pack up and leave their homes, while others rode it out.

Vicky Walker did both, turning her life upside down shuttling between hotels and home every few days, where she lived like a shut-in and stopped walking her dog to avoid the foul stench of gas.

While others blamed the leak for nosebleeds, nausea, headaches and other woes, Walker said she developed a persistent cough and packed on at least five pounds.

So it was with a measure of relief that she greeted the news Thursday that the blowout had been stopped for the first time in 16 weeks.

“I want to get back to life as I knew it as soon as possible,” Walker said. “It’s been horrible. You want the adjective? It’s been horrifying.

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