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Energy in the News: Friday, October 28

Will US energy policy push fossil fuels or renewable energy? Six essential reads

The Conversation, feat. John DeCicco

The United States is blessed with many energy resources: huge fossil fuels reserves and substantial renewable energy potential, from offshore wind to geothermal power. It’s also a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change and has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025.

Will the U.S. meet those objectives and be a global leader on addressing climate change? Or will it abandon those commitments and expand energy production across the board in the name of energy independence?

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Pascal Van Hentenryck elected as INFORMS Fellow

Michigan Engineering News, feat. Pascal Van Hentenryck

Pascal Van Hentenryck, Seth Bonder Collegiate Professor of Industrial & Operations Engineering, was one of 12 Fellows announced on October 22, 2016 by the The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). Please join us in congratulating him on this award!

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CASL second phase underway

Michigan Engineering News, feat. William Martin

Now in its second phase after renewed five-year funding was authorized in 2015, the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light water reactors, or CASL, is continuing to make progress toward its goal: developing a “virtual reactor” for the predictive simulation of LWRs to help ensure safety, improve efficiency and speed innovation.

The U-M is a founding partner of CASL, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). In addition to U-M and ORNL, the effort includes MIT and North Carolina State University, three other national laboratories and three industry partners.

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Lithium Ion Batteries: Why They Explode

Michigan Engineering, featuring the Battery Lab

Lithium ion batteries are all around us. In our homes, our cars, even on our person at nearly all times. And so when a cell phone, laptop, or car battery explodes it can rightfully be a cause for concern. However, there’s a lot that goes into the creation of any single lithium ion cell and even a small error at a given point in that process could lead to big problems during the battery’s life cycle. Greg Less, Michigan Engineering’s Battery User Facility’s Manager discusses not only why and how the lithium ion batteries that we all use so frequently might explode, but how researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to change the way batteries are made for a safer and more efficient future.

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Raise the renewable energy standard, because conserving is what conservatives do

MLive

The Republican Party in Michigan and nationally is at a crossroads. The presidential campaign has exposed serious challenges with independent voters — millennials, minorities, and college educated women in particular — especially on issues such as America’s energy future.

Embracing our transition toward clean, renewable energy should not be a partisan issue, and the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum has been leading the charge to depoliticize it.

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Obama administration sends $28 million to aid coal regions

Reuters

The U.S. government released $28 million in federal grants to 13 coal-producing states on Wednesday to help them cope with the decline of the coal industry, driven by the move toward cleaner energy.

With the Obama administration’s announcement, over $66 million has been awarded this year to 71 projects that aim to aid workers displaced from coal company bankruptcies and create new industries in these areas.

The competitive grants are part of President Barack Obama’s POWER Initiative that provides federal resources to fund locally-created initiatives that help communities affected by coal job losses to prepare them for new economic activity.

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We howled when hackers took down Netflix and Twitter. The greater cyber threat is to our power system.

Forbes

The massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that took down Twitter, Netflix and other online services across much of the United States on Friday showed just how vulnerable our increasingly Internet-driven lives are. It was a little scary not being able to tweet for a few hours or re-watch episodes of Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. But as Halloween approaches and you ponder the stranger things that are genuine threats, experts suggest you think about a similar attack on the U.S. energy sector.

The World Energy Council’s Issues Monitor offers insight into what keeps chief executives, government ministers and experts awake at night globally. A key finding from the seventh annual report, is “the risk from cyber threats has moved up the agenda this year, specifically in North America and Europe.”

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Energy poverty is a real problem. Coal is a bogus solution.

Vox

Some 1.2 billion people around the world lack access to electricity. 2.8 billion burn charcoal, wood, or other biomass to cook and heat their homes. Lack of access to clean, reliable energy services, or “energy poverty,” is a terrible problem for those who face it, leading to hours of drudgery gathering fuels and high mortality from indoor pollution (which kills around 4 million people a year).

Energy poverty stands in the way of better health, better education, and better jobs. Development experts increasingly agree that there is no way to end extreme poverty without making energy access universal. That’s what the UN and the World Bank have set out to do by 2030 with the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

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How America sets energy policies

Clean Technica

37 years ago, the United States was poised on the edge of an energy revolution. The interdepartmental plan that Dr. Allan Hoffman presented President Jimmy Carter outlined how the nation could derive 20% of its power from renewables (principally wind & solar) by the year 2000. What could have happened, if Carter’s successors had pressed forward, is another of the great “ifs” of history. Hoffman answers another question in his book The U.S. Government & Renewable Energy: how America adopts energy policies.

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Zombie wind and solar? How repowering old facilities helps renewables keep cutting costs

Utility Dive

Renewable energy is a growth industry, so most media attention goes to installment numbers, expansion rates, and cost declines. Less is paid to the other side of the equation — what happens to facilities when they reach the end of their productive lives.

For most fossil facilities, reaching a retirement age means being decommissioned and demolished, if not retrofitted with a new turbine and cleaner fuel. But despite some persistent media rumors of “abandoned” wind turbines or assertions from a certain presidential candidate that “half of [turbines] are broken” or “rusted and rotting,” the end of one renewable energy facility’s life most often marks the beginning of another.

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