Portal:Energy/Selected article

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Article 1

Potlatch gas Crop1.jpg
The 1973 oil crisisbegan in earnest on October 17, 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countriesannounced, as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship petroleumto nations that had supported Israelin its conflict with Syriaand Egypt(i.e., to the United Statesand its allies in Western Europe).

At about the same time, OPEC members agreed to use their leverage over the world price-setting mechanism for oil in order to quadruple world oil prices, after attempts at negotiation failed. Due to the dependence of the industrialized world on OPEC oil, these price increases were dramatically inflationary to the economies of the targeted countries, while at the same time suppressive of economic activity.

This increase in the price of oil had a dramatic effect on oil exporting nations, for the countries of the Middle East who had long been dominated by the industrial powers were seen to have acquired control of a vital commodity. The traditional flow of capital reversed as the oil exporting nations accumulated vast wealth. Meanwhile, the shock produced chaos in the West, and shares on the New York Stock Exchange lost $97 billion in value in six weeks. Read more...

Article 2

Nellis AFB Solar panels.jpg
Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels composed of a number of cells containing a photovoltaic material. Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, the manufacturing of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced considerably in recent years.

Solar photovoltaics is growing rapidly, albeit from a small base, to a total global capacity of 40,000 MW at the end of 2010. More than 100 countries use solar PV. Installations may be ground-mounted (and sometimes integrated with farming and grazing) or built into the roof or walls of a building (building-integrated photovoltaics).

Driven by advances in technology and increases in manufacturing scale and sophistication, the cost of photovoltaics has declined steadily since the first solar cells were manufactured. Net metering and financial incentives, such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity, have supported solar PV installations in many countries. Read more...

Article 3

Four-stroke internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is widely used to power a great variety of vehicles and other devices. It is an engine in which the burning of a fuel occurs in a confined space called a combustion chamber. This exothermic reaction of a fuel with an oxidizer creates gases of high temperature and pressure, which are permitted to expand.

The defining feature of an internal combustion engine is that useful work is performed by the expanding hot gases acting directly to cause movement, for example by acting on pistons, rotors, or even by pressing on and moving the entire engine itself.

Internal combustion engines are most commonly used for mobile propulsion systems, where their high power-to-weight ratios, together with excellent fuel energy-density, are advantageous. They have appeared in almost all automobiles, motorbikes, many boats, and in a wide variety of aircraft and locomotives. Where very high power is required, such as jet aircraft, helicopters and large ships, they appear mostly in the form of gas turbines. They are also used for electric generators and by industry.

The most common fuels in use today are hydrocarbons derived from petroleum including diesel, gasoline and liquified petroleum gas. Most internal combustion engines designed for gasoline can run on natural gas or liquified petroleum gases without modifications except for the fuel delivery components. Liquid and gaseous biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel can also be used, and trials of hydrogen fuel have been in progress for some years. Read more...

Article 4

World primary energy consumption 1998-1999
In 2004, the worldwide energy consumption of the human race was on average 15 terawatts (TW; 1 TW = 1 x 1012 W) with 86.5% from burning fossil fuels. This is equivalent to 471,000 PJ (1 PJ = 1 x 1015 J) per year. There is at least 10% uncertainty in these figures due to national variations in tracking consumption, and due to variations in energy content between particular barrels of oil or tons of coal.

The remaining worldwide energy resources are large, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 YJ (1 YJ = 1024 J) and the available nuclear fuel such as uranium exceeding 2.5 YJ (1 YJ = 1024 J). Mostly thanks to the Sun, the world also has a renewable usable energy flux that exceeds 120 PW (8,000 times 2004 total energy usage), or 3.8 YJ/yr, dwarfing all non-renewable resources.

Despite the abundance of fossil fuels there are a number of pressures that may move the world’s energy consumption to alternative energy sources. These include political considerations over energy security and potential pressure from energy superpowers, environmental concerns related to global warming and sustainability, and economic pressure resulting from energy price rises, carbon emissions trading and green taxation.

This move is already starting to happen in some countries, notably as a result of the Kyoto Protocol, and further steps in this direction are proposed. For example, the European Commission has proposed that the energy policy of the European Union should set a binding target of increasing the maximum level of renewable energy in the EU’s overall mix from less than 7% today to 20% by 2020. Read more...

Article 5

A spiral-type integrated compact fluorescent lamp, which has been in popular use among North American consumers since its introduction in the mid-1990s.
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature. Installing fluorescent lights or natural skylights reduces the amount of energy required to attain the same level of illumination compared with using traditional incandescent light bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights use one-third the energy of incandescent lights and may last 6 to 10 times longer. Improvements in energy efficiency are generally achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production processes or by application of commonly accepted methods to reduce energy losses.

There are many motivations to improve energy efficiency. Reducing energy use reduces energy costs and may result in a financial cost saving to consumers if the energy savings offset any additional costs of implementing an energy efficient technology. Reducing energy use is also seen as a solution to the problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, improved energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world's energy needs in 2050 by one third, and help control global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Energy efficiency and renewable energy are said to be the twin pillars of sustainable energy policy and are high priorities in the sustainable energy hierarchy. In many countries energy efficiency is also seen to have a national security benefit because it can be used to reduce the level of energy imports from foreign countries and may slow down the rate at which domestic energy resources are depleted. Read more...

Article 6

Hydroelectricity is electricity produced by hydropower. Hydroelectricity now supplies about 715,000 MWe or 19% of world electricity (16% in 2003). It is also the world's leading form of renewable energy, accounting for over 63% of the total in 2005. Although large hydroelectric installations generate most of the world's hydroelectricity, small hydro schemes are particularly popular in China.

Most hydroelectric power comes from the potential energy of dammed water driving a water turbine and generator. The energy extracted from water depends on the volume and on the difference in height between the source and the water's outflow. Pumped storage hydroelectricity schemes produce electricity to supply high peak demands by moving water between reservoirs at different elevations. They currently provide the only commercially important means of grid energy storage. At times of low electrical demand, excess generation capacity is used to pump water back into the higher reservoir, from where it can be released through the turbines at short notice. Less common types of hydroelectricity include run-of-the-river, waterwheels, and tidal power schemes.

A major advantage of hydroelectricity is the elimination of fuel costs and the associated carbon emissions although, in tropical regions, decaying plant material behind the dam can sometimes result in greater greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional power station. Other issues include the need to relocate people from areas to be flooded and disruption caused to aquatic ecosystems. Read more...

Article 7

The 781 MW Roscoe Wind Farm at sunrise.
Wind power in Texas consists of many wind farms with a total installed nameplate capacity of 12,355 MW from over 40 different projects. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. Wind power accounted for 9% of the electricity generated in Texas during 2014.

The wind resource in many parts of Texas is very large. Farmers may lease their land to wind developers, creating a new revenue stream for the farm. The wind power industry is also creating thousands of jobs for local communities and for the state. Texas is seen as a profit-driven leader of renewable energy commercialization in the United States. The wind boom in Texas was assisted by expansion of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, use of designated Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, expedited transmission construction, and the necessary Public Utility Commission rule-making.

The Roscoe Wind Farm (781 MW) is the state's largest wind farm. Other large wind farms in Texas include: Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, Sherbino Wind Farm, Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm, Sweetwater Wind Farm, Buffalo Gap Wind Farm, King Mountain Wind Farm, Desert Sky Wind Farm, Wildorado Wind Ranch, and the Brazos Wind Farm. Read more...

Article 8 The Energy policy of Russia is contained in an Energy Strategy document, which sets out policy for the period up to 2020. In 2000, the Russian government approved the main provisions of the Russian energy strategy to 2020, and in 2003 the new Russian energy strategy was confirmed by the government. The Energy Strategy document outlines several main priorities: an increase in energy efficiency, reduced impact on environment, sustainable development, energy development and technological development, as well as an improved effectiveness and competitiveness.

Russia, one of the world's two energy superpowers, is rich in natural energy resources. It has the largest known natural gas reserves of any state on earth, along with the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is the world fourth largest electricity producer after the USA, China, and Japan. Russia is the world’s leading net energy exporter, and a major supplier to the European Union.

Renewable energy in Russia is largely undeveloped although there is considerable potential for renewable energy use. Geothermal energy, which is used for heating and electricity production in some regions of the Northern Caucasus, and the Far East, is the most developed renewable energy source in Russia. Read more...

Article 9

Global Warming Predictions.png
Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. Global average air temperature rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.3 ± 0.32 °F) during the past century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes, 'most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.'

The effects of global warming are expected to include sea level rise, floods, drought and changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Other effects may include changes in agricultural yields, reduced summer streamflows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.

Concentrations of greenhouse gases are now considerably higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years, the extent of the ice core record. It is believed that CO2 concentrations were last this high 20 million years ago. The primary international agreement on combating global warming is the Kyoto Protocol, which covers more than 160 countries and over 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The United States, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter; Australia; and Kazakhstan have refused to ratify the treaty. China and India, two other large emitters, have ratified the treaty but are exempt from cutting emissions. International talks on a successor to the treaty, which ends in 2012, have begun. Read more...

Article 10

Mitigation of global warming involves taking actions aimed at reducing the extent of global warming. This is in contrast to adaptation to global warming which involves minimizing the effects.

To avoid dangerous climate change, the energy policy of the European Union has set a 2 °C [3.6 °F] limit to the temperature rise, compared to pre-industrial levels. Of this, 0.8 °C has already taken place and another 0.5 °C is already committed. The 2 °C rise is associated with a carbon dioxide concentration of 400-500 ppm by volume; as of January 2007 it was 383 ppm by volume, and rising at 2 ppm annually. Unless significant action is taken soon the 2 °C limit is likely to be exceeded.

Strategies for moving to a low-carbon economy include development of new technologies, particularly renewable energy; electric and hybrid vehicles; fuel cells; public transportion; zero-energy buildings; Zero-Net-Energy USA Federal Buildings; energy conservation; carbon taxes; enhancing natural carbon dioxide sinks; population control; and carbon capture and storage. Environmental groups also encourage individual-lifestyle and political action, as well as action by business.

The Kyoto Protocol, covering more than 160 countries and over 55% of global emissions provides an international mitigation framework. The United States, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter; and Kazakhstan have refused to ratify the treaty. China and India, two other large emitters, have ratified the treaty but are exempt from cutting emissions. International talks on a successor to the treaty, which ends in 2012, have begun. Read more...

Article 11

Nuclear power is the controlled use of nuclear reactions to release energy for work including propulsion for ships and submarines, and for the generation of electricity. Nuclear energy is produced by a controlled nuclear chain reaction and creates heat which is used to boil water, produce steam, and drive a turbines.

Nuclear (fission) power stations, provided 11% of the world's electricity in 2012, somewhat less than that generated by hydro-electric stations at 16%. Nuclear energy policy differs between countries, and some countries have no active nuclear power stations, or have phased them out. The first nuclear generated electricity, used to power four 200-watt light bulbs, was produced at the EBR-I reactor near Arco, Idaho, in 1951. This was followed in 1954 by the first grid-connected plant (in the USSR), and in 1956 by the first commercial plant (in the United Kingdom).

During the last decades of the 20th century, concerns about nuclear waste, nuclear accidents, radiation and nuclear proliferation led to an anti-nuclear movement. The 1979 Three Mile Island accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and the 2011 Fukushima disaster also played a part in stopping new plants in many countries, while the economics of nuclear generation and of nuclear decommissioning have also been factors. Despite this, some countries including China and India have continued to remain active in developing nuclear power, Germany will close its 19 nuclear plants by 2020, and is investing heavily in renewable energy commercialization instead. Read more...

Article 12

Strip coal mining.jpg
Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black rock composed primarily of carbon and formed from plant remains. It is the world's largest single source of fuel for electricity generation, and its fastest growing energy source. It is also the world's largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, one of the key greenhouse gases that are believed to be the primary cause of global warming.

The use of coal dates back to the Bronze Age, but it was the Industrial Revolution that led to its large-scale use, as the steam engine took over from the water wheel. Today world coal consumption is about 5.3 billion tonnes annually, of which about 75% is used to produce electricity. The region including the China and India uses about 1.7 billion tonnes annually, forecast to exceed 2.7 billion tonnes by 2025. The United States consumes about 1.0 billion tons annually. Almost one-third of all coal used was supplied by China in 2005.

Coal mining causes a number of harmful effects, including the pollution of water sources by sulfuric acid caused by a chemical reaction between water and iron sulfide in the coal. In common with other fossil fuels, the burning coal produces carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. It also produces sulfur dioxide, the cause of acid rain. Coal contains traces of uranium, thorium, and other naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes which, due to the vast quantities of coal used, cause more radioactive contamination than nuclear power plants. To eliminate CO2 emissions from coal plants, carbon capture and storage technology has been proposed but has yet to be commercially used. Read more...

Article 13

Petroleum (crude oil) is a naturally occurring liquid fossil fuel found in rock formations in the Earth, consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various lengths. Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, petroleum has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid 1950s. Most petroleum is used for producing gasoline (petrol) and fuel oil, both important primary energy sources. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products.

Most petroleum is extracted from oil wells found in oil fields. Although it is also possible to extract petroleum from oil shale or tar sands, both of which are known to exist in large quantities, doing so at low cost and without impacting the environment remains a challenge. The first modern oil well was drilled in 1848 in Azerbaijan, but it was the introduction of the internal combustion engine in the early 20th century that provided the demand that has largely sustained the industry to this day. The top three oil producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States.

Burning oil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, one of the major greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Bioethanol and biodiesel are already used to some extent as alternatives, notably in Brazil, as are hybrid electric vehicles. Trials using hydrogen fuel are also in progress. There are further concerns about security of supply, oil price rises and whether world oil production may reach a peak, before declining, as predicted by Hubbert peak theory. Read more...

Article 14

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Ethanol fuel in Brazil provides a ~22% ethanol blend used nationwide, plus 100% hydrous ethanol for four million cars. The Brazilian ethanol program provided nearly 700,000 jobs in 2003, and cut 1975–2002 oil imports by a cumulative undiscounted total of US$50 billion. Brazil gets more than 30% of its automobile fuels from sugar cane-based ethanol.

The Brazilian government provided three important initial drivers for the ethanol industry: guaranteed purchases by the state-owned oil company Petrobras, low-interest loans for agro-industrial ethanol firms, and fixed gasoline and ethanol prices where hydrous ethanol sold for 59% of the government-set gasoline price at the pump. These pump-primers have made ethanol production competitive yet unsubsidized.

In recent years, the Brazilian untaxed retail price of hydrous ethanol has been lower than that of gasoline per gallon. Approximately US$50 million has recently been allocated for research and projects focused on advancing the obtention of ethanol from sugarcane in São Paulo. Read more...

Article 15

Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy.

Technologically advanced societies have become increasingly dependent on external energy sources for transportation, the production of many manufactured goods, and the delivery of energy services. This energy allows people who can afford the cost to live under otherwise unfavorable climatic conditions through the use of heating, ventilation, and/or air conditioning. Level of use of external energy sources differs across societies, as do the climate, convenience, levels of traffic congestion, pollution and availability of domestic energy sources. Read more...

Article 16 Natural gas, often referred to as simply 'gas', is a gaseous fossil fuel consisting primarily of methane. Natural gas is found in oil fields, natural gas fields, and in coal beds (as coalbed methane). Before use as a fuel, natural gas undergoes extensive processing to remove almost all materials other than methane.

Natural gas is a major source of electricity generation, and particularly high efficiencies can be achieved through combining gas turbines with a steam turbine in combined cycle mode. Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, producing about 30% less carbon dioxide than oil and about 45% less than coal, per unit of energy released. It is also expected that natural gas reserves will peak around 2030, some 20 years after peak oil production. Compressed natural gas is also used as a cleaner alternative to other automobile fuels such as gasoline (petrol) and diesel. Natural gas is also used domestically for cooking and for central heating.

The major difficulty in the use of natural gas is transportation and storage because of its low density. Pipeline transport is economical, but is impractical across oceans. Liquefied natural gas can be shipped in LNG carriers, however the required liquefaction facilities add to the cost. The practice of flaring gas released in the course of recovering petroleum, so adding to greenhouse gas emissions, is now illegal in many countries. Read more...

Article 17

Solar arrays at the 550 MW Desert Sunlight Solar Farm
Renewable energy in the United States accounted for 13.2 percent of the domestically produced electricity in 2014, and 11.2 percent of total energy generation. As of 2014, more than 143,000 people work in the solar industry and 43 states deploy net metering, where energy utilities buy back excess power generated by solar arrays.

Renewable energy reached a major milestone in the first quarter of 2011, when it contributed 11.7 percent of total U.S. energy production (2.245 quadrillion BTUs of energy), surpassing energy production from nuclear power (2.125 quadrillion BTUs). 2011 was the first year since 1997 that renewables exceeded nuclear in US total energy production.

Hydroelectric power is currently the largest producer of renewable power in the U.S. It produced around 6.2% of the nation's total electricity in 2010 which was 60.2% of the total renewable power in the U.S. The United States is the fourth largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world after China, Canada and Brazil.

U.S. wind power installed capacity now exceeds 65,000 MW and supplies 4% of the nation's electricity. Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development, followed by Iowa and California. The largest solar thermal power station is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (392 MW), south west of Las Vegas, and the SEGS group of plants in the Mojave Desert with a total generating capacity of 354 MW. Large photovoltaic power plants in the USA include Solar Star (579 MW), near Rosamond, California, the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, a 550 MW solar power plant in Riverside County, California, and the Topaz Solar Farm, a 550 MW photovoltaic power plant, in San Luis Obispo County, California. The Geysers in Northern California is the largest complex of geothermal energy production in the world.

In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama restated his commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency, and mentioned the long-standing Interior Department goal to permit 10,000 MW of renewable energy projects on public land in 2012. Read more...

Article 18

According to Hubbert peak theory, peak oil is the date when the peak of the world's production of conventional petroleum (crude oil) is reached. After this date the rate of production is forecast to enter terminal decline, following the bell-shaped curve predicted by the theory. Due to the world's high dependence on inexpensive oil, it is thought that severe price increases may result, with serious implications for the global economy.

Acceptance of peak oil is far from universal, and the only reliable way to identify its existence will be in retrospect. One alternative scenario is that global production will eventually follow an 'undulating plateau' for one or more decades before declining slowly.

Having accurately predicted the date of peak production in the US petroleum industry, which occurred in 1970, M. King Hubbert, who devised the theory, forecast that the world peak would occur in 1995 'if current trends continue'. Various subsequent predictions have been made as trends have fluctuated in the intervening years. Two milestones have passed, however. The peak of world oilfield discoveries occurred in 1965 and, due world population growth, production per capita peaked in 1979.

The effects of peak oil could be mitigated through conservation and switching to alternative fuels or unconventional oil sources. Such changes would bring their own challenges, ranging from the need to development alternative technologies to potential increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Read more...

Article 19 Climate Change 2007, the fourth report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to evaluate the risks of global warming since 1990, is being published in sections throughout 2007. Prior to publishing, the report - which is the combined work of hundreds of experts - is reviewed by representatives from many of the world's governments.

Due to the accumulation of evidence, the report goes further than previous reports by stating that 'warming of the climate system is unequivocal'. It goes on to say that 'most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is 'very likely' due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations'. Fossil fuel use is given as the primary source of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, with the increase in methane being very likely caused by a combination of agricultural practices and fossil fuel use.

Based on an analysis of computer climate models, the report states that average surface temperatures will rise during this century, most likely between 1.1 to 4.3°C (5.2 to 11.5 °F), depending on the mitigation actions taken. Excluding the effects of ice sheet flow, they also predict a sea level rise of 18 to 26 cm (7 to 23 inches), more heat waves and more heavy rain. An increase in areas affected by droughts, in the intensity of tropical cyclones and in extreme high tides is also likely. The IPCC believe that stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations is possible at a reasonable cost, with stabilization between 445 and 535 ppm costing less than 3% of global GDP. They do warn, however, that a 'large shift in the pattern of investment' is required. Read more...

Article 20

Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu National Park.jpeg
Nuclear testing, uranium mining and export, and nuclear energy have often been the subject of public debate in Australia, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. Its origins date back to the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.

Several groups specifically concerned with nuclear issues were established in the mid-1970s, including the Movement Against Uranium Mining and Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE), cooperating with other environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. But by the late 1980s, the price of uranium had fallen, and the costs of nuclear power had risen, and the anti-nuclear movement seemed to have won its case. CANE disbanded itself in 1988.

As of 2010, Australia has no nuclear power stations and the current Gillard Labor government is opposed to nuclear power for Australia. Australia has three operating uranium mines at Olympic Dam (Roxby) and Beverley - both in South Australia's north - and at Ranger in the Northern Territory. As of April 2009, construction has begun on South Australia's third uranium mine—the Honeymoon Uranium Mine. Read more...

Article 21

Oil shale, an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which technology can extract liquid hydrocarbons. The name oil shale represents a double misnomer, as geologists would not necessarily classify the rock as a shale, and its kerogen differs from crude oil. Kerogen requires more processing to use than crude oil, which increases its cost as a crude-oil substitute both financially and in terms of its environmental impact.

Deposits of oil shale occur around the world, including major deposits in the United States of America. Estimates of global deposits range from 2.8 trillion to 3.3 trillion barrels (450×109 to 520×109 m3) of recoverable oil.

The chemical process of pyrolysis can convert the kerogen in oil shale into synthetic crude oil. Heating oil shale to a sufficiently high temperature will drive off a vapor which processing can distill (retort) to yield a petroleum-like shale oil—a form of unconventional oil—and combustible oil-shale gas (the term shale gas can also refer to gas occurring naturally in shales). Industry can also burn oil shale directly as a low-grade fuel for power generation and heating purposes and can use it as a raw material in chemical and construction-materials processing.

Oil shale has gained attention as an energy resource as the price of conventional sources of petroleum has risen and as a way for some areas to secure independence from external suppliers of energy. At the same time, oil-shale mining and processing involve a number of environmental issues, such as land use, waste disposal, water use, waste-water management, greenhouse-gas emissions and air pollution. Estonia and China have well-established oil shale industries, and Brazil, Germany, Israel and Russia also utilize oil shale. Read more...

Article 22

Renewable energy in Iceland has supplied over 70% of Iceland's primary energy needs since 1999 - proportionally more than any other country - and 99.9% of Iceland's electricity is generated from hydroelectricity and geothermal power. In 1998 the Icelandic Parliament committed to convert the national vehicle and fishing fleets to hydrogen fuel produced from renewable energy by 2050. This would make Iceland the first completely energy-independent country in the world to use 100% renewable energy sources.

Iceland's location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge makes it one of the most tectonically active places in the world, with over 200 volcanoes and over 20 high-temperature steam fields. Geothermal energy for heating was first used in 1907 when a farmer piped steam from a hot spring into his house. In 1930, the first pipeline was constructed in Reykjavík, heating two schools, 60 homes, and the main hospital. In 1943, the first geothermal district heating company started. Geothermal power now heats 89% of the nation's houses, provides around 19% of electricity generation and over 54% of primary energy. The first hydroelectric plant was built in 1904 and produced 9 kW of power. Hydropower now provides 81% of Iceland's electricity supply.

Imported oil provides most of Iceland's remaining energy. Replacing this with hydrogen was first suggested after the 1970s energy crisis, but the idea was not adopted until 1998. Iceland's small size makes it ideal for testing the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source for the future, while the plentiful renewable energy sources can be harnessed for its production. Iceland participates in international hydrogen fuel research and development programs, and many countries are following the nation's progress.

As a result of its transition to renewable energy, Iceland is ranked 53rd in the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita in 2003, emitting 62% less than the United States despite using more primary energy per capita. Read more...

Article 23

Escape E85 Flex Fuel Hybrid WAS 2010 8941.JPG
A flexible-fuel vehicle (FFV) (or flex-fuel vehicle) is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel, and both fuels are stored in the same common tank. The most common commercially available FFV in the world market is the ethanol flexible-fuel vehicle, with around 21 million automobiles, motorcycles and light duty trucks sold worldwide by mid 2010, and concentrated in four markets, Brazil (10.6 million), the United States (9.3 million), Canada (more than 600,000), and Europe, led by Sweden (199,000). Also a total of 183,375 flexible-fuel motorcycles were sold in Brazil in 2009. In addition to flex-fuel vehicles running with ethanol, in Europe and the US, mainly in California, there have been successful test programs with methanol flex-fuel vehicles, known as M85 flex-fuel vehicles.

Though technology exists to allow ethanol FFVs to run on any mixture of gasoline and ethanol, from pure gasoline up to 100% ethanol (E100), North American and European flex-fuel vehicles are optimized to run on a maximum blend of 15% gasoline with 85% anhydrous ethanol (called E85 fuel). This limit in the ethanol content is set to reduce ethanol emissions at low temperatures and to avoid cold starting problems during cold weather, at temperatures lower than 11 °C (52 °F). The alcohol content is reduced during the winter in regions where temperatures fall below 0 °C (32 °F) to a winter blend of E70 in the U.S. or to E75 in Sweden from November until March. Brazilian flex fuel vehicles are optimized to run on any mix of E20-E25 gasoline and up to 100% hydrous ethanol fuel (E100). Read more...

Article 24 Oil shale industry is an industry of mining and processing of oil shale—a fine-grained sedimentary rock, containing significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds), from which liquid hydrocarbons can be manufactured. The industry has developed in Brazil, China, Estonia and to some extent in Germany, Israel and Russia. Several other countries are currently conducting research on their oil shale reserves and production methods to improve efficiency and recovery. However, Australia has halted their pilot projects due to environmental concerns.

Oil shale has been used for industrial purposes since the early 1601 when it was mined for its minerals. Since the late 1800s, shale oil has also been used for its oil content and as a low grade fuel for power generation. However, barring countries having significant oil shale deposits, its use for power generation is not particularly widespread. Similarly, oil shale is a source for production of synthetic crude oil and it is seen as a solution towards increasing domestic production of oil in countries that are reliant on imports. Read more...

Article 25 High-level radioactive waste management concerns management and disposal of highly radioactive materials created during production of nuclear power and nuclear warheads. The technical issues in accomplishing this are daunting, due to the extremely long periods radioactive wastes remain deadly to living organisms. Of particular concern are two long-lived fission products, Technetium-99 (half-life 220,000 years) and Iodine-129 (half-life 15.7 million years), which dominate spent nuclear fuel radioactivity after a few thousand years. The most troublesome transuranic elements in spent fuel are Neptunium-237 (half-life two million years) and Plutonium-239 (half-life 24,000 years). Consequently, high-level radioactive waste requires sophisticated treatment and management to successfully isolate it from the biosphere. This usually necessitates treatment, followed by a long-term management strategy involving permanent storage, disposal or transformation of the waste into a non-toxic form.

Governments around the world are considering a range of waste management and disposal options, usually involving deep-geologic placement, although there has been limited progress toward implementing long-term waste management solutions. This is partly because the timeframes in question when dealing with radioactive waste range from 10,000 to millions of years, according to studies based on the effect of estimated radiation doses. Read more...

Article 26

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The Texas Oil Boom, was a period of dramatic change and economic growth in U.S. State of Texas during the early 20th century that began with the discovery of a large petroleum reserve near Beaumont, Texas. The find was unprecedented in its size and ushered in an age of rapid regional development and industrialization that has few parallels in U.S. history. Texas quickly became one of the leading oil producing states in the U.S., along with Oklahoma and California; soon the nation overtook the Russian Empire as the top producer of petroleum.

The major petroleum strikes that began the rapid growth in petroleum exploration and speculation occurred in Southeast Texas, but soon reserves were found across Texas and wells were constructed in North Texas, East Texas, and the Permian Basin in West Texas. By 1940 Texas had come to dominate U.S. production. Some historians even define the beginning of the world's Oil Age as the beginning of this era in Texas. Read more...

Article 27

Shell's experimental in-situ oil shale facility, Piceance Basin, Colorado
Shale oil extraction is an industrial process for unconventional oil production. This process converts kerogen in oil shale into shale oil by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution. The resultant shale oil is used as fuel oil or upgraded to meet refinery feedstock specifications by adding hydrogen and removing sulfur and nitrogen impurities. Shale oil extraction is usually performed above ground (ex situ processing) by mining the oil shale and then treating it in processing facilities. Other modern technologies perform the processing underground (on-site or in situ processing) by applying heat and extracting the oil via oil wells. The earliest description of the process dates to the 10th century. The industry shrank in the mid-20th century following the discovery of large reserves of conventional oil, but high petroleum prices at the beginning of the 21st century have led to renewed interest. As of 2010, major long-standing extraction industries are operating in Estonia, Brazil, and China. Its economic viability varies with the ratio of local energy input costs to energy output value. National energy security issues have also played a role in its development. Critics of shale oil extraction pose questions about environmental management issues, such as waste disposal, extensive water use and waste water management, and air pollution. Read more...

Article 28

Fukushima I by Digital Globe.jpg
On 11 March 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster began, following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami off the northeast coast of Japan. The tsunami disabled emergency generators required to cool the reactors. Over the following three weeks nuclear meltdowns occurred in units 1, 2 and 3; visible explosions, suspected to be caused by hydrogen gas, in units 1 and 3; a suspected explosion in unit 2, that may have damaged the primary containment vessel; and a possible uncovering of the units 1, 3 and 4 spent fuel pools. 50,000 households were evacuated after radiation leaked into the air, soil and sea. Radiation checks led to bans of some shipments of vegetables and fish.

On 5 July 2012, the Japanese National Diet appointed The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) submitted its inquiry report to the Japanese Diet. The Commission found the nuclear disaster was "manmade", that the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to 11 March 2011. The report also found that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was incapable of withstanding the earthquake and tsunami.

The Fukushima disaster was the worst nuclear accident in 25 years. The events at units 1, 2 and 3 have been rated at Level 7 (major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects r­equiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures) on the International Nuclear Event Scale. Read more...

Article 29

Abadan Catalitic facilities.jpg
Iran is an energy superpower and the petroleum industry plays an important part in it. In 2004 Iran produced 5.1 percent of the world’s total crude oil (3.9 million barrels (620,000 m3) per day), which generated revenues of US$25 billion to US$30 billion and was the country’s primary source of foreign currency. At 2006 levels of production, oil proceeds represented about 18.7 percent of gross domestic product. However, the importance of the hydrocarbon sector to Iran’s economy has been far greater. The oil and gas industry has been the engine of economic growth, directly affecting public development projects, the government’s annual budget, and most foreign exchange sources.

In FY 2009, the sector accounted for 60 percent of total government revenues and 80 percent of the total annual value of both exports and foreign currency earnings. Oil and gas revenues are affected by the value of crude oil on the international market. It has been estimated that at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota level (December 2004), a one-dollar change in the price of crude oil on the international market would alter Iran’s oil revenues by US$1 billion.

In 2012, Iran, which exports around 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, was the second-largest exporter among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In the same year, officials in Iran estimate that Iran's annual oil and gas revenues could reach $250 billion by 2015. Iran plans to invest a total of $500 billion in the oil sector before 2025. Read more...

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