Are DOE’s most effective problem solvers outside the Department itself?

In the fall of 2011, the Department of Energy’s Inspector General issued a sobering report calling for a major restructuring of operations. Keep reading →

If Congress and President Obama are ever going to get serious about tax reform, they will have to rethink some of the biggest and most popular tax breaks. It won’t be easy. Those tax breaks mostly benefit powerful voting blocs: the middle-class and the wealthy. The federal government gives up $1 trillion in revenue every year because of the hundreds of tax credits, deductions, exemptions and exclusions in the tax code. And the top 10 account for most of that $1 trillion. (Table of Top 10 below.)

It is rare to hear “we can’t do that” in the world of information technology today. Given the scale of potential technology investments and the flood of resulting information the challenge today is more often answering the question “what would you like to do?”

Designing ways to help companies, institutions and cities answer that question has become the mission for big data experts at IBM, the company’s Smarter Cities General Manager Michael Dixon told Breaking Energy in a recent briefing. “The obstacles to progress are cultural and organizational, not financial or technological,” Dixon said. “Individual leaders are asking what to do with data and finding areas of resonance for their communities.” Keep reading →

The development cycles for projects using established technology are famously lengthy in the energy sector, while the length of time it takes for new technology to be developed and brought to commercial scale runs to decades, if not longer.

The advanced biofuels business, lent a generous mandate by US politicians against the background of fears over energy security and rising oil prices in the middle of the last decade, has managed to accelerate the development cycle to a degree that would have been unimaginable a decade ago, representatives for the industry said on a call with reporters recently. Keep reading →

Last October, Lux Research analyst Edward Cahill wrote: “As hype for [high concentration photovoltaics] dwindles, companies are starting to look into low concentrating PV (LCPV) as an intermediate technology between expensive, highly efficiency HCPV and cheap, less efficient flat panel PV.”

Just a few months later, low concentration photovoltaics has a big new project to hang its hat on, the world’s largest LCPV project in the world, in fact: A 4.1-megawatt ground-mounted array with tracking at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Keep reading →

Six months ago two Louisiana sheriffs were shot to death and two more injured in the parking lot of a Valero oil refinery. Six years ago Saudi police halted a pair of armed terrorist attacks on the world’s largest refinery, in one case opening fire on a car that exploded near the facility’s gates.

Guns are more than a theoretical issue for the energy business, which controls much of the world’s most vital – and most vulnerable infrastructure. As the US contends with a public debate given new urgency by a series of high-profile shootings, the issue of security and gun control in and around key energy infrastructure is once again front of mind for many of the bodies charged with monitoring energy security and devising responses to potential threats. Keep reading →

The wind power industry wasn’t the only renewable energy winner in the fiscal cliff deal that cleared Congress late Tuesday – the legislation also showered taxpayer largess on the producers of various categories of biofuels.

The bill [PDF] included tax credits and depreciation rules that support cellulosic ethanol and revived, retroactively, a biodiesel tax credit that had expired at the end of 2011. Algae also won a spot as a favored biofuel. Keep reading →