Top Breaking Energy Stories of 2014

on December 29, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Revelers Celebrate New Year's Eve In New York's Times Square

Here are our top stories of the past year – enjoy the holidays!

At Ivanpah Solar Power Plant, Energy Production Falling Well Short of Expectations

Whether scorched birds are a major issue at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California is a matter of dispute. But the “power tower” solar plant and its owners – NRG Energy, Google and BrightSource Energy – might have an even more fundamental problem on their hands: generating adequate electricity.

The Mojave Desert plant, built with the aid of a $1.6 billion federal loan guarantee, kicked off commercial operation at the tail end of December 2013, and for the eight-month period from January through August, its three units generated 254,263 megawatt-hours of electricity,according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. That’s roughly one-quarter of the annual 1 million-plus megawatt-hours that had been anticipated…

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Power Cycles Starting to Hit the Market

Supercritical CO2 power cycles are gaining increasing attention in the engineering world. sCO2 is an ideal working fluid for use in power generating turbines because it offers high efficiency in a compact footprint and can be matched to many different heat sources. sCO2power turbines could potentially replace steam cycles in a wide variety of power generation applications resulting in higher efficiencies and lower cost of electricity…

Want a Job in the Oil & Gas Industry? Options Abound on the Gulf Coast

The US oil and gas industry has seen tremendous growth over the past several years, following a period of low oil prices and declining production. And job growth in the sector reflects a robust and growing need to both replace retiring workers and fill new positions.

Forbes’ latest rankings of the 15 most valuable college majors includes geology at #7 and petroleum engineering at #9. Environmental engineering, physics and finance – also integral to the US oil and gas industries – appear on the list as well…

How Much Does a Shale Gas Well Cost? ‘It Depends’

A satellite photo of the Earth at night taken 10 years ago with natural gas reserve concentrations superimposed depicts a world where the resources are not located near the major population centers, which are clearly identified as large visible light clusters. Fast-forward a decade and superimpose shale gas resources on current nighttime satellite images and one observes natural gas resources much closer to the world’s major metropolitan areas where power generation demand is highest.

This is how Ken Medlock, Senior Director of Rice University’s Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies set the stage for his natural gas market presentation at last week’sUSAEE/IAEE North American Conference held in Anchorage, Alaska…

Where Does Solar Make Sense? New State Study Shows Big Differences and Surprises

If you aren’t going solar in Connecticut, you might want to rethink that. New research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory puts Connecticut a lofty and surprising third – behind only Hawaii and California – among the 50 states in a measure of the unsubsidized economic potential of a residential solar system.

The state of Washington, meanwhile, is dead last, with a solar power system’s 25-year “lifetime revenue potential from net metering” pegged at 85 cents per watt, less than a quarter of Connecticut’s $3.49/watt…

The Top Ten Ways We Waste Energy And Water In Buildings

Last week, one third of the country saw thermometers hit triple digits. Across the nation, air conditioners are cranking and sprinklers are chugging away as millions continue to seek relief from the summer heat.

While grateful for the welcome relief provided by utilities, many of us are increasingly mindful of the precious resources we are tapping. Just looking around at the buildings where we live and work, it is all too easy to identify ways we waste energy and water. In fact, it has been estimated that we throw away as much as 30-50% of the energy and water that flows into our buildings. Multiply that by the nearly 5 million buildings in the US alone and I’m sure you’ll agree we have a big opportunity to better conserve energy and water…

Energy Quote of the Day: ‘Halliburton has Already Left the Market and Schlumberger is Likely to Follow’

As US- and EU-led economic sanctions against Russian energy players crank up, the degree to which Western interests could be collaterally damaged is again being called into question. The EU has shied away from sanctioning Russian gas industry participants because the bloc is so reliant on Russian gas supply, but oil market pressure could also have negative knock-on effects for western governments and companies.

Major oilfield service providers Halliburton and Schlumberger are reportedly feeling sanction pressure and distancing themselves from Russian companies. This appears to be opening the door to domestic Russian service companies that have lost out on contracts to Halliburton and Schlumberger even though they are typically more expensive…