In 1896 Svante Arrhenius published On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground which laid out the foundation of how carbon dioxide affects global climate. His suggestion that global coal production (then 500 million tons per year) could be so disruptive has been verified, hastened by soaring fossil fuel consumption, including a 17-fold increase in coal…
Renewable energy-based grids of the future face technical challenges on a large scale, the most obvious of which is the intermittent nature of most renewable sources of power: Solar and wind power both vary throughout daily and yearly cycles, while both are subject to highly unpredictable weather conditions. While past studies have demonstrated that this variability can be balanced with fast-ramp…
Luke Tonachel, Senior Vehicles Analyst, Energy & Transportation Program for the NRDC discusses the progress made in fuel efficiency standards in the last six years, and the work remaining to reduce transportation sector oil and gas dependence in order to meet CO2 reduction goals.
Clouds, air pollutants, and the underlying landscapes all impact Earth’s energy budget in complex and competing ways. Atmospheric scientists from Yale and Tokyo’s Todai University gathered at a YCEI sponsored forum in September to share how they use climate models to study how humans affect this nuanced system—and how we can possibly counteract global warming by manipulating cloud formation.
Over the last decade, the world’s solar photovoltaic (PV) industry grew robustly – bucking the trend of other industries during the downturn of 2008 - with a sustained annual growth rate of 52%. Over the same period, Chinese production of the dominant PV product, crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV, increased from negligible to nearly two-thirds of global output.
Geophysicist and YCEI postdoctoral researcher Christopher MacMinn will join the University of Oxford in October as a University Lecturer in Engineering Science. The appointment comes at an exciting time, as the world looks for economically and environmentally viable ways to store captured CO2, just one potential application for his research into the physics of fluid flows in the earth’s subsurface.
A key challenge in large-scale carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration is that injecting large amounts of CO2 pressurizes the subsurface. This pressurization is one fundamental limit on reservoir capacity because of the risk of reservoir damage and leakage. A new study by Kyung Won Chang and colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin will help to clarify this limitation. They study the role of pressure dissipation through the low-permeability layers that surround the injection reservoir.
Large-scale carbon sequestration involves capturing carbon dioxide emitted from power plants and injecting it into underground reservoirs for long-term storage. Leakage from these storage reservoirs could lead to groundwater contamination, requiring that the spread of CO2 be monitored during and after injection. Seismic surveys are one key monitoring tool, but inferring the distribution CO2 deep in the subsurface from seismic reflection data can be very challenging.
Solar panels on the market today are almost universally limited to less than 20% efficiency at converting sunlight to electricity, and generally get more expensive as efficiency goes up. Numerous reasons exist for this low photovoltaic efficiency, but one of the most fundamental is the Shockley-Queisser Limit. As Shockley and Queisser explained in their famous 1957 paper, the efficiency of even a perfect semiconductor solar cell is fundamentally limited by how a particular semiconductor material absorbs and emits light.