Kevin Eber's Comments

February 13, 2014

Plans Submitted for 320-MW Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project

I agree with Frank's comments, but perhaps the writer meant to say "the world's first tidal LAGOON project in the world." The first barrage-style tidal project, which uses a dam or barrage across the entire width of an estuary, is the 240-MW La Rance Barrange built in Brittany, France , back in 1966 (Google the project name for more details; it's still operating). I believe much smaller tidal barrage plants have also been built in Canada, Russia, and China.

November 06, 2013

Ivanpah Solar Project Stars in New Video from The Fray

FYI, the trough-based Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS) plant in Barstow, California, was also featured in the 1997 movie Gattaca (although in the future, it's located next to a busy highway). Available on YouTube, of course:

Oh, and the positioning of the mirrors doesn't make any sense! Chalk that up to artistic license ...

August 21, 2013

Analyzing the Hype of Musk's Solar-powered Hyperloop Transportation System

I think the Achilles's heel of this proposal is that it can only go to and from San Francisco and Los Angeles, with no stops in between. Most transit projects have to include local stops for two reasons: it boosts ridership, and it gives the communities that your train is passing through a reason to support the project. Without local support, the project would have difficulty gaining approval. This is the devil's bargain that transit planners have to deal with: more local stops help the economics and the politics, but they slow down the system as a whole. So I'd say that this is a great idea technically, but I think it would be hard to deliver on economic and political grounds.

March 30, 2012

The Power of the Dammed: How Small Hydro Could Rescue America's Dumb Dams

I agree with most of what this author says, but there is one point that needs to be made: a lot of these dams are flood-control dams that often stand empty, so their generation potential is essentially nil. Unfortunately, I have no idea what percentage of the "untapped" dams fall in this category.

Regardless, there is indeed a huge untapped potential.

March 07, 2012

FERC Approves Plans for New 300-KW Ocean Power Plant

This isn't on FERC's list of pending or issued licenses, so I don't see how this could be true:

A little fact-checking here, please???

April 13, 2012

FERC Approves Plans for New 300-KW Ocean Power Plant

Well, the company link was good, but that FERC link was for the East River project, not the Maine project. But after digging a bit, I found the project listed in the Excel spreadsheet on this page:

The thing is, it's not listed in the table below that, but I contacted FERC and they gave me these links:

P-12711-005 Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project February 27, 2012 - license order
March 15, 2012 - errata notice
April 4, 2012 - order amending license

So yes, indeed, this is the real thing. It's funny, though, that FERC did a press release on the East River project but not on Cobscook Bay. Go figure.

September 23, 2011

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Set to Begin

Best wishes for this year's Solar Decathlon teams!

Too bad the weather won't be cooperating:

September 23, 2011

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 Set to Begin

From the Solar Decathlon website:
Appalachian State University
Florida International University
Middlebury College
New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington
The Ohio State University
Parsons The New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology
Purdue University
The Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology
Team Belgium: Ghent University
Team Canada: University of Calgary
Team China: Tongji University
Team Florida: The University of South Florida, Florida State University, The University of Central Florida, and The University of Florida
Team Massachusetts: Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell
Team New Jersey: Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey and New Jersey Institute of Technology
Team New York: The City College of New York
Tidewater Virginia: Old Dominion University and Hampton University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Maryland
The University of Tennessee.

(Hawaii didn't make it.)

August 12, 2011

Balancing the Grid with Pumped Storage

I agree with the gist of this article, but I disagree with referring to pumped hydro as a renewable energy technology. Just like batteries or compressed air, pumped storage is an energy storage technology, and storage technologies are not a source of renewable energy. It may look like a hydropower plant, but it's not.

Likewise, it bugs me when people lump energy production from pumped storage plants in with true hydropower production. That hydropower came from the renewable energy from flowing water, but that pumped storage plant was probably "pumped up" with nuclear power. They're separate and distinct technologies and should be treated as such.

July 05, 2011

Why Solar-Gas Partnerships Are Worth Exploring

Lighten up! The SEGS plants in California have been using natural gas as a backup energy source for decades:

The main difference in Florida is that the natural gas plant is much larger and more central to the power plant, so the solar part ends up augmenting the natural gas plant, instead of the other way around. I say congratulations to any system that makes good, efficient use of solar energy.

June 01, 2011

The Good News: Climate Change Doesn't Matter Anymore

Sorry, Tam, but you're just plain wrong. Yes, clean energy is a winning proposition regardless of the climate change issue, and yes, the industry is growing rapidly, but the truth is that no credible projections of global energy use show renewable energy and energy efficiency making a significant dent in the current energy infrastructure anytime soon.

The problem is the speed and scale needed to change our energy system before our carbon loading on the atmosphere commits us to "dangerous levels" of climate change (though there are some indications that it's already too late ... see the latest Arctic Report Card, for instance). It'll require a massive effort to shutdown coal plants and replace them with low-carbon energy sources. See this IEA news, for instance:

Yes, things are looking better in the United States, at least based on recent trends. And although China is building lots of wind power (much of which, unfortunately, is useless because it's not connected to the grid), China is also starting up one new coal-fired power plant per week. Those are some massive infrastructure investments to go up against with only market forces.

Kevin Eber

Kevin Eber

I write "high profile" documents for DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), including things like R&D 100 award nominations. From 1999-2010, I was editor of the EERE Network News, a weekly newsletter for the U.S. Department...

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