Posted by pfairley on December 28, 2012
The Arctic is melting faster than predicted. Is now the time to shut down the low-carbon nuclear power plants in France — the 20th Century’s staunchest proponent of nuclear energy? Is natural gas produced via hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ a gift that is buying time for a transition to renewable energy or a curse that reinforces fossil fuel dependence? Will carbon belching heavyweights such as the U.S. and China ever get serious about cleaning up their energy systems?
Such questions are top order in France, whose President kicked off a Grand Débat on energy this month. The national debate launched by François Hollande, the Socialist who put Nicolas Sarkozy out of work six months ago, could well set France on a path to put nuclear power out to pasture. It could also lift France’s current moratorium on fracking.
No surprise then that France 24‘s English network dedicated one of its year-end debates to Energy in 2013. Your editor was honored to be at the table, along with:
Part One focuses on the what, why and why nots of fracking to produce shale gas and shale oil. Part Two backs out to consider the fate of nuclear and renewable energy in a ‘fracked’ world awash in cheap oil and gas.
Posted in Climate Change, Climate Science, Climate skeptics, Energy Economics & Policy, Energy Efficiency, Energy politics, Energy vision, Environmental Journalism, Media, Natural gas, Nuclear Power, Nuclear safety, Renewable Energy, Shale gas, Solar energy, Wind power | Tagged: fracking, france, France 24, Francois Hollande, hydraulic fracturing, Natural gas, nuclear energy | Leave a Comment »
Posted by pfairley on May 10, 2011
Licensees of the much-hyped AirPOD minicar are pressing for results from Motor Development International, the Luxembourg-registered firm behind the compressed-air-powered vehicle. In recent postings to their websites and coverage by European news sources, some of MDI’s partners are now openly questioning the technology and MDI’s capacity to develop it — questions that Spectrum raised in November 2009 in the investigative feature, “Deflating the Air Car.”
When Spectrum’s feature went to print, MDI was guaranteeing mass-production of AirPODs within a few months at its development base on France’s Cote d’Azur. A year and a half later there is no sign of the promised minicars and their advertised 140-kilometer range, and outspoken licensees are blaming MDI. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Energy Efficiency, EVs, Fuels, Transportation | Tagged: air cars, AirPOD, Catecar, compressed air engine, MDI, motor development international, pneumatic propulsion | Leave a Comment »
Posted by pfairley on January 18, 2011
Despite the high levels of excitement surrounding electric vehicles, there is reason to worry about this nascent market’s capacity to fizzle in a big way. Most of the buzz surrounds electric vehicle introductions from major automakers, such as the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, for which consumer demand remains to be demonstrated. Today I’ve got a piece running at MIT’s TechReview.com site raising doubts about the likelihood that corporate fleets will soak up EVs if consumers leave these pricey machines languishing on showroom floors.
The TechReview story, a ‘news-you-can-use’ piece aimed at managers, concludes that big price reductions and adjustments to fleet management practices will be needed to make a business case for replacing gasoline and diesel fleet vehicles with EVs. In short, lithium battery costs push the purchase price too high for most corporate buyers to recoup their investment through efficiencies — especially if they continue to replace vehicles every three-to-five years. AT&T predicts a return on electric Ford/Azure Dynamics service trucks they are phasing in, but only because the company bucks standard fleet practice and uses its fleet vehicles for 10-12 years. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Energy Economics & Policy, Energy Efficiency, EVs, Hybrid vehicles, Lithium batteries, Transportation | Tagged: AT&T, Azure Dynamics, corporate fleets, electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles | Leave a Comment »