Posted by Rich Sweeney on November 11, 2008
1. EPRI has announced two new projects to evaluate adding solar thermal energy to existing coal and natural gas plants. These hybrid plants could prove to be the cheapest way to get large scale solar energy on the grid. Not only do these solar installations take advantage of existing capital and transmission, but subsidizing their installation at dirty sites might reduce political opposition from incumbents.
2. I’ve written about the potential water resource constraints on the electricity industry before. Power plants, especially nuclear plants, use a lot of water, and drought or increased temperatures could pose a big problem for utilities in many parts of the country. This weekend Green Inc. had a post on the possibility of using treated wastewater in power generation. The piece cites C’s adviser, Dr. Michael Webber of UT Austin, who has a great article on the relationship between energy and water in Scientific American.
3. Over on the World Bank’s Doing Business Blog, Simeon Djankov links to a new paper which concludes that the adoption of potatoes in the Old World explains 17% of the post-1700 increase in population growth and 37% of the increase in urbanization growth.
4. Finally, GCC reports that coal is still the fastest growing fuel in the world. Great.