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Oil prices have dropped to levels not seen in years. It’s not all good news. Reuters

Oil price drop offers short-term gains but long-term pains

The recent drop in crude oil and gasoline prices in the United States is a nice stocking stuffer for consumers this holiday season, but it could turn into a lump of coal. A global oil glut has caused the…
Coal seam gas is only one issue for managing one of Australia’s most important geological resources. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Coal seam gas is just the latest round in an underground war

In a recent article on The Conversation, Queensland coal seam gas (CSG) researchers argued that the industry is progressing faster than the science, leading to concerns over fugitive emissions and impacts…
Wind farms like this one probably wouldn’t exist if the government didn’t provide a hefty subsidy. Shutterstock

Congress shouldn’t revive the failed policy of subsidizing wind farms

Congress passed the wind production tax credit (PTC) more than two decades ago to spur development in an industry still in its infancy. The wind sector has since matured into adulthood, prompting thousands…
Reach for your wardrobe, not your thermostat. midnightcomm

Why room temperature needed to be taken down a notch

What is a healthy room temperature? On releasing its Cold Weather Plan for 2014, Public Health England has recently revised its recommended minimum levels to keep in good health. No longer, they say, do…
The people are angry, but the politicians aren’t worried. Dave Weaver/Reuters

Keystone XL debate: how pipeline politics divide Nebraska

In Nebraska, the intensity of the Keystone XL debate is second only to that over the chance that the Nebraska Cornhuskers will win the Big Ten football championship. Raging for several years now, controversy…
The G20’s impressive declaratory record on energy cooperation hides serious practical shortcomings. www.shutterstock.com

Global commitment issues on display at the G20

With the Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit only a matter of weeks away, Australia is increasingly succumbing to G20 fever. Rarely does a self-declared middle power such as Australia get to play host to such…
Economic reforms such as a national carbon price could usher in dramatic changes on China’s energy landscape. Vmenkov/Wikimedia Commons

China heads for price on carbon; energy market overhaul is next

In the lead-up to the UN leaders’ summit on climate change, China is shifting up a gear in its drive towards national emissions trading. Yet for carbon pricing to be effective, market reform in China’s…
As early as 2015 China’s use of thermal coal for electricity could peak. Bret Arnett/Flickr

Ross Garnaut: China to reach ‘peak coal’ for electricity by 2015

China’s use of coal for electricity could peak as early as next year, then decline until 2020 in a turnaround of “global importance”, according to economist Ross Garnaut in a lecture presented at the Melbourne…
The cat that got too fat. But let’s talk about you. Yukari

Ten things you didn’t know about fat

Our understanding of fats – including which ones are actually good for us – is evolving. We know for example that red meat and meat products, cakes and biscuits, which are rich sources of saturated fatty…
Big may be beautiful but it’s also inflexible and expensive. Andrew Parsons/PA

Small nuclear reactors may be the key to a low-carbon future

Take a hard look at the painful process of de-carbonising the UK’s electricity supply, and it’s clear that the options on the table are not great. From the outset, changes to the system generate further…
You spin me right round, and power the lights too. Simon Syon

Relying on renewables need not mean dealing with blackouts

For all the huge, hulking buildings of concrete and steel that house coal, gas or nuclear power stations, or towering 100-metre-tall wind turbines, generating electricity is in fact a very precise and…
Installations of the main natural gas pipeline in the Boyarka village near Kiev. Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

Russia’s game of chicken with Ukraine leaves Europe on the edge

As with the previous Russia-Ukraine gas disputes in 2006 and 2009, how we describe the current stand-off between the two countries is a matter of semantics. Those earlier disputes found solutions based…

Human urine: a wee energy producer?

Carbon from dried human urine has been extracted for use in chemical fuel cells. These cells traditionally use platinum as…
While there may be gold beneath the surface, it’s hard to reach. Wu Hong/EPA

US-style fracking success far from guaranteed on British soil

Britain’s energy-hungry population is highly dependent on oil and gas, which powers around two thirds of the UK’s energy needs. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) projects that by 2030…
Methane hydrates - fire ice from deep under the sea. Wusel007

Japan’s quest to tap the natural gas beneath the ocean floor

Last year Japanese scientists announced they had for the first time extracted gas from offshore deposits of methane hydrate, an ice-like substance made of natural gas (methane) trapped inside water crystals…
It depends if the price is right, it seems. Peter Byrne/PA

Fracking will be tried in the court of public opinion in 2015

There has been an anxious search for new sources of fossil fuels, and shale gas appears to offer Britain a key national resource. But the nation’s new-found hydrocarbon wealth has met with far from universal…
Many long-promised renewable and low-emission energy programs have been scrapped or cut back in the Coalition’s first budget. Lukas Coch/AAP

Billions axed in clean energy: renewable target is next

There are billions of dollars of broken promises in the Abbott government’s first budget for low-emission and renewable energy programs – and wiggle room to break even more in the next few years. Among…

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