Market conditions will continue to drive a movement toward de-carbonization of the nation’s electric grid despite the rescinding of stringent anti-pollution measures put in place by former President Obama, noted panelists at the 2017 Austin Electric Conference. Experts drawn from academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations engaged in a debate of economic, engineering, legal, and policy issues related to a steep growth trajectory in renewable energy that poses challenges for electric grid operators, regulators, policymakers, and industry participants. [Read more…]
By Roger Duncan
Due to a variety of factors largely outside of their control, the traditional business model for the nation’s investor-owned electric utilities is in trouble. Deep trouble. [Read more…]
UT Energy Journalism Fellow Lorne Matalon has published an article in ReVista, the prestigious Harvard Review of Latin America, on an under-reported and controversial aspect of Mexico’s energy reform program, the subject of his yearlong fellowship at UT. As Matalon reports, residents in the Valle de Juárez, southeast of El Paso, have been victimized by violence for more than a decade from a shadowy mix of land speculators and organized crime figures who have forced people from their land in anticipation of energy production in the region. The story centers on construction of pipelines that will send U.S. natural gas to the Mexican interior. For more, read the entire article.
Nearly half of Americans want President Donald Trump to take actions to revive the flagging U.S. coal industry, despite strong market signals that coal will continue to be displaced by cheaper and cleaner forms of energy, according to the latest UT Energy Poll. The findings reflect a disconnect between energy market conditions, which show a steady decline in the use of coal for electricity generation, and statements made by Trump, who has pledged to revitalize the industry and create coal-mining jobs. For more, read the press release or download the complete survey findings.
New research from UT Austin Government Department Prof. Nathan Jensen reveals that billions of dollars in tax abatements awarded to companies as an incentive to move to Texas have resulted in no net benefits to the state. In fact, Jensen writes in an op-ed published in several news outlets, most of the companies receiving funds under the economic development program known as Chapter 313 would have moved to the state anyway. For more, read Prof. Jensen’s working paper and news coverage of his work in the Texas Observer and the Houston Business Journal.
Forces disrupting electric power markets are under the microscope in an analysis conducted by the Center for Energy Economics (CEE) as part of its Electric Power Research Forum. Economists at the CEE used the Center’s dispatch modeling to test the retirement of 43 GW of nuclear capacity by 2025. The analysis also examines state interventions to save nuclear plants, which have supplied roughly 20 percent of domestic electricity since 2001, and the implications of those initiatives on competitive electricity markets. Read more.
Research Professor Bob Hebner argues that the advent of distributed generation and automated transactions will change how we produce and consume electricity in a new paper published by IEEE Spectrum. Hebner, director of UT’s Center for Electromechanics, asserts that while 20th century infrastructure needs to be modernized, technology is providing a path to upgrade the grid rather than simply replace it. To accomplish this lofty and thorny goal, he adds, a spate of technical, financial, and regulatory challenges must be overcome to combine infrastructure enhancement with continuous capability improvement. Read more.
UT Austin Chemical Engineering Prof. Gary Rochelle joined a panel of experts from academia and industry for a Congressional briefing, “Carbon Capture: Tomorrow Just Happened,” hosted by the American Energy Society. The briefing was designed to provide policymakers a non-partisan discussion emphasizing the technical aspects of carbon sequestration, utilization, and commercialization. Rochelle noted that, “Amine scrubbing for CO2 capture from gas and coal-fired is technically feasible and can be deployed in five years, if there is a financial or regulatory driver,” and that “advanced technologies will not provide significantly improved economics or energy use.” Read more about this event.
Three UT energy researchers were among eight UT Austin faculty members selected for National Science Foundation Early Career Development Awards, the most prestigious honor offered under the organization’s CAREER Program. The awards provide up to five years of funding to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through the integration of outstanding research and excellent education. Faculty members honored include: Vaibhav Bahadur, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, for his project, Influence of electric fields on liquid-to-solid phase change associated with clathrate hydrate formation; Sean Roberts, assistant professor of chemistry, for his project, Tracking Charge and Energy Transfer at Buried Organic Interfaces; and Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz, assistant professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering, for her project, Air-Quality Effects of Atmospheric Chlorine Chemistry. Read more.
ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America, has published an article by 2016-2017 UT Energy Journalism Fellow Lorne Matalon. (read here)
The narrative focuses on one effect of Mexico’s energy reform program in the Valle de Juárez, an area that hugs the border with the United States southeast of El Paso, Texas. Pipelines that will send natural gas to the Mexican interior are under construction as is a major highway designed to accommodate the transportation of equipment used in oil and natural gas fields. [Read more…]