Good News (and Mostly Bad) for Nuclear Power

There’s good news and bad news for nuclear power in recent weeks. On balance, it looks like the bad news is more telling. First the good. The Tennessee Valley Authority says it expects to bring its Watts Bar 2 unit in service sometime this year. That will add 1,150 MW to TVA’s generating capacity. Then [...]

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Politics and Federal Research: The Nexus

Anyone who has ever worked for a federal government research agency knows that politics can interfere with unbiased research. It’s not a sound practice; many agencies resist. It happens nonetheless. In my experience as a journalist, it happens often at the Department of Energy. When I worked for the National Institutes of Health in the [...]

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Are Smart Homes Cyber Attack Risks?

Some of the anxieties about the smart grid go to the possibilities of security breaches, particularly at the interface of the distribution grid to the customer. Interest in the smart grid seems to be fading, as consumer-controlled electric devices, the “internet of things,” or, in our acronym-infected world, the IoT. These smart devices give homeowners, [...]

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Can Tesla Tame the Duck Curve?

Unless you’ve been in a cave the last 24 hours (or at least off the internet), you’ve no doubt heard about Tesla’s move into the battery storage field. I attended the event last night and reported on it for POWER in the wee hours afterward. (The announcement came at night so Tesla CEO Elon Musk [...]

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Remember the Volt?

Remember the Edsel? Most readers probably don’t, as they aren’t old enough to recall car events in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But I’m a geezer, as well as a car guy. I well remember Ford’s monumental failure, producing a mid-range car designed to compete with General Motors’ Buick and Oldsmobile lines. When Ford [...]

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Michael Bloomberg Gets Something Right

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Democrat, Independent, Republican mayor of New York City, is not one of my heroes. I don’t know whether he was a good or bad mayor of a difficult city to govern. His “stop-and-frisk” policies give me the willies. Beyond New York, I found his $50 million support of the Sierra [...]

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The Map that Changed the World Bicentennial

This spring marks the 200th anniversary of the first publication of William Smith’s stratigraphic map of the England. It was, as geologist and splendid writer Simon Winchester titled his 2001 book, “The Map that Changed the World.” The remembrance is getting a low-key acknowledgement in both the U.K. and U.S., to my chagrin. In this [...]

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The Mystery of Methane Hydrates

Are fossil fuels finite, eventually doomed to run out as mankind exploits them? That’s the conventional wisdom, regardless of one’s views on how long that might be, and whether it really matters (as the higher prices of a diminishing resource should bring on new resources and technologies). But the frequent handwringing about peak gas, following [...]

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Climate McCarthyism or Just Stupidity?

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is a fool. Is he a dangerous fool or just a typical political buffoon? My suspicion is the latter. But I could be wrong. Here’s the story. Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, late last month sent letters to seven universities seeking information about the funding for [...]

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On Climate Debate, Skepticism and Public Intellectuals

A long posting and following discussion on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog on the topic of “Public intellectuals in the climate space” prompted me to recall an apposite thought, written long before the heated (and often overheated) arguments over global warming. A postcard on my office bulletin board, which I’ve had for at least a [...]

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