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Shifting the paradigm: Synthetic liquid fuels offer vehicle for monetizing wind and solar energy

Shifting the paradigm: Synthetic liquid fuels offer vehicle for monetizing wind and solar energy

The steady decrease in the cost of wind and solar energy technologies in recent years has greatly intensified the market penetration of renewable energy. The ongoing renewable energy discussion assumes, almost by default, that wind and solar energy is converted to electricity and supplied into the existing electricity grid to be delivered to the consumers. This leaves aside nearly 80% of total energy demand that is currently satisfied by natural gas and petroleum fuels.
Integration of wind and solar electricity generation with water electrolysis, CO2 capture and liquid hydrocarbon synthesis - all developed commercial technologies - would allow converting renewable wind and solar energy into liquid fuels compatible with existing infrastructure. Systems producing and accumulating renewable liquid fuel, independent of the electrical grid, can be located in remote areas where cheap and reliable wind or solar resources are available. Cost estimates of renewable fuel production suggest that the cost for renewable methanol produced from wind electricity can be in the range of market prices for methanol made from natural gas and coal. Maxim Lyubovsky, ORISE Fellow at the Fuel Cell Technologies Office of the US Department of Energy, explains.


OPEC’s Strategies in an Expanding Energy Market

According to the US Energy Information Administration, 35 percent of gross US oil imports in 2014 came from OPEC countries. OPEC's role in supplying US oil consumption, as well as the organization's history of taking collective action to manipulate the price and supply of oil, make it a prime subject for study. Given OPEC's relevance to US energy security, how can we begin to predict how OPEC may interact with the oil markets of the future, as well as respond to shifting production and consumption trends within those markets? This article studies past OPEC production strategies, synthesizes a theory of OPEC production tendencies from past market interactions, and then applies these derived principles of OPEC production strategies to the contemporary global market.


ISIS Libya foothold threatens EU

International attention has been focused on the military confrontation in Syria and Iraq, where a Western-Arab coalition and the Russian led Syria-Iran coalition are cutting down the infrastructure of ISIS. The Russian military operation is strengthening Assad’s overall position while bringing rebel forces and ISIS to the point of defeat.  Meanwhile, a new Islamist extremist front has emerged; North Africa is on the brink of disaster. While the West and Russia have focused on Syria after initial military successes in Iraq, it looks as if the world has forgotten to pay attention to the ongoing military build-up of extremist forces in Libya.


Japan's Nuclear Trilemma

Japan fell into the following trilemma after the Fukushima Accident: first, without restarting nuclear reactors, reprocessing lacks enough justification; second, without having the reprocessing plant in operation, restarting nuclear reactors will only produce more spent fuel that does not have a final destination; and third, without having the MOX fuel plant and reactors using MOX fuel in operation, reprocessing alone will add more plutonium to the existing stockpile that is already overwhelming. Technical difficulties that relate to every pillar of the trinity in the Japanese national project bogs the central government down to a stalemate. Eunjung Lim analyzes, explains the backstory, and charts a possible path forward.


Saudi Iranian crisis: Religion, power and oil

The explosion of diplomatic warfare between Saudi Arabia and Iran, caused by the execution of 47 prisoners by Riyadh, has come for some as a surprise, but the writing has been on the wall for some years.  The current diplomatic row, fueled by Riyadh’s decision to execute Saudi Shi’ite Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, together with 46 others, and the ransacking by Iranian protesters of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, is just a sign of the internal and external conflicts in both countries.  Since the execution of the Shi’ite sheikh, tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has reached the boiling point. Cyril Widdershoven discusses.

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