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Two of the world's wealthiest men have put their vast resources behind what the nuclear industry calls small modular reactors (SMRs) in the quest for the perfect carbon-free energy source. TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, and PacifiCorp, owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, are sponsors of the project. The first SMR from TerraPower, the Natrium reactor project, will be built in Wyoming--the nation's primary coal producer--at the very location that once housed a coal station, where the infrastructure for a steam-cycle power plant and distribution to the electrical grid already exist. Last year, the state legislature passed a law authorizing utilities to replace coal or natural gas generation with small nuclear reactors and the US Department of Energy awarded TerraPower $80 million in initial funding to demonstrate Natrium technology; the department has committed additional funding subject to congressional approvals. Just ask anyone in Texas where a combination of frozen wind turbines and unprecedented demand last winter darkened the state for days.
Natural gas may be facing an uphill battle in proving itself as a suitable bridging fuel between conventional hydrocarbons and renewable energy sources, especially in Europe where urgency over climate change has ramped up and the call for a quicker path to decarbonization grows louder. As a result, natural gas plant projects across the region are having a harder time finding financing as lenders are pressured to ratchet up the emissions criteria required for funding. Utility providers across Europe have already predicted the potential of supply issues as they work to phase out aging infrastructure, including coal-powered and nuclear plants. Producers have felt for years that gas would be the natural feedstock for new power generation as scientists played catchup in the world of green energy. However, with the cost of renewable energy falling and the promise of new breakthroughs in hydrogen technologies coupled with the drive for a zero-emission future, the natural gas "bridge" may be bypassed altogether.
Demayo, T. N. (Chevron Corporation (Corresponding author) | Herbert, N. K. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)) | Hernandez, D. M. (Chevron Corporation) | Hendricks, J. J. (Chevron Corporation) | Velasquez, B. (Chevron Corporation) | Cappello, D. (SunPower Corporation) | Creelman, I. (SunPower Corporation)
Summary This paper outlines one of the first efforts by a major oil and gas company to build a net-exporting, behind-the-meter solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to lower the operating costs and carbon intensity of a large, mature oil and gas field. The 29 MWAC (35 MWDC) Lost Hills solar plant in Lost Hills, California, USA, commissioned in April 2020, covers approximately 220 acres on land adjacent to the oil field and is designed to provide more than 1.4 TWh of solar energy over 20 years to the field’s oil and gas production and processing facilities. The upgrades to the electrical infrastructure in the field also include new technology to reduce the risk of sulfur hexafluoride emissions, another potent greenhouse gas (GHG). Before the solar project, the Lost Hills field was importing all its electricity from the grid. With the introduction of the Innovative Crude Program as part of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) and revisions to the California Public Utilities Commission Net Energy Metering program, Lost Hills was presented with a unique opportunity to reduce its imported electricity expenses and reduce its carbon intensity, while also generating LCFS credits. The solar plant was designed to power the field during the day and export excess power to the grid to help offset nighttime electricity purchases. It operates under a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the solar PV provider and, initially, will meet approximately 80% of the oil field’s energy needs. Future plans include incorporating 20 MWh of lithium-ion batteries, direct current (DC)–coupled with the solar inverters. This energy storage system will increase the amount of solar electricity fed directly into the field and reduce costs by controlling when the site uses stored solar electricity rather than electricity from the grid. The battery system will also increase the number of LCFS credits by 15% over credits generated by solar alone. Together, solar power and energy storage provide a robust renewable energy solution. This project will generate multiple cobenefits for the Lost Hills oil field by lowering the cost of power, reducing GHG emissions, generating state LCFS credits and federal Renewable Energy Certificates, and demonstrating a commitment to energy transition by investing in renewable technology. Conceivably, the Lost Hills solar project can be a model for similar future projects in other oil fields, not only in California, but across the globe.
Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy issued an update to its interactive China Energy Map launched last year. The goal of the map project is to provide an open, comprehensive, and regularly updated source of energy infrastructure data to help facilitate improved analysis by a broad range of participants. The map provides an online visualization of key energy infrastructure. Since the first release of the Baker Institute China Oil Map in February 2019, the map has evolved significantly and continues to grow. In addition to the existing oil infrastructure layers, including crude oil pipelines, refined product pipelines, oil refineries, crude oil, and products storage facilities, and oil ports, the map also tracks coal power plants, nuclear power plants, and EV battery factories to give a more accurate picture of China's complete energy system. By clicking an icon or line on the map, facility-level information is displayed in the popup tooltip, including facility name, operator, status, year online, designed capacity, and additional infrastructure details.
Abstract Energies may be described as brown, blue or green. Brown energies are CO2-emitting fossil fuels. Blue energies employ carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to remove the emitted CO2 from brown energies. Green energies are zero or low CO2-emitting renewable energies. Likewise, energy carriers such as electricity and hydrogen may be described as brown, blue or green if they are produced from brown, blue or green energy, respectively. The transition from a high carbon intensity to a low carbon intensity economy will require the decarbonization of three major sectors: power, transport and industry. By analyzing the CO2 intensity and levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of energy and energy carriers of different colors, we show that renewable energies are best used in replacing fossil fuels in the power sector where it has the most impact in reducing CO2 emission. This will consume the majority of new additions to renewable energies in the near to medium future. Consequently, the decarbonation of the transport and industry sectors must begin with the use of blue electricity, blue fossil fuels and blue hydrogen. To achieve this, implementation of large-scale CCS projects will be necessary, especially outside of USA and northern Europe. However, this will not happen until significant financial incentives in the form of carbon tax or carbon credit becomes available from national governments. Furthermore, private-public partnership and intergovernmental cooperation will be needed to implement these CCS projects.
After being battered by withering criticism of its management of the power grid during last month's winter storm, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas saw several of its board members resign and fired its CEO. The chair of the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the grid operator, was forced to resign. The political fallout from the long-lasting Texas power outages have hit both entities hard after Gov. Greg Abbott blamed ERCOT's leadership for the near-collapse of the electric grid and made its reform a legislative priority, and state lawmakers hammered the PUC for what they called a failure of oversight. Yet politically powerful natural gas companies, along with their regulators, appear so far to have escaped the wrath of the governor and the Legislature. From the natural gas wellheads in West Texas to the power plants that burn gas to generate electricity to the companies that deliver power to Texans, multiple systems failed during the storm and made what should have been a mild inconvenience into a statewide crisis, executives, regulators, lawmakers and experts said.
Abstract Approximately 370 000 tons of high-level radioactive waste exists. Some nations have mature projects for disposing of such waste in mined repositories hundreds of meters below ground. Emplacement in boreholes of greater depth could be a cost-efficient and fast alternative, particularly for nations with relatively small amounts of waste. A borehole repository could be developed via an iterative process, which would ultimately end with the completion of a comprehensive safety case and a fully operational disposal facility which would be sealed and decommissioned in a reliable manner. Each design should be adapted to the properties of the waste in question, site-specific geological conditions, and regulatory requirements. This variability causes designs and cost estimates to differ. Overall, borehole disposal of high-level radioactive waste is an opportunity for the drilling industry to expand its service portfolio in a way that is beneficial to the environment and the safety of current and future generations.
Seattle-based Zap Energy received an investment from Chevron Technology Ventures' (CTV) Future Energy Fund to continue development of its next-generation modular nuclear reactor. The investment marks the tenth investment by Chevron's Future Energy Fund, which was launched in 2018 to explore breakthrough technologies enabling decarbonization, the mobility-energy nexus, and energy decentralization. Founded in 2018, Zap Energy's technology stabilizes the plasma used in the fusion process by using sheared flows. Because the high-temperature, high-density plasma flows at different velocities, the goal is to effectively confine and compress it until fusion reactions occur. The company's plasma-confinement technology is an extension of work pioneered by the FuZE team at the University of Washington and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Many major oil and gas operators have announced their intentions to achieve various emissions goals. Obviously, the transition cannot be achieved with a simple flip of a switch and will require some time. What is also becoming more apparent is that the global variability in governments, populations, politics, and economics affects the implementation of measures necessary to achieve a macro-level "energy transition." While this is a simple statement, it does not capture the zoomed-in view. Consider the use of coal combustion in power generation.