Illuminating National Energy Priorities
The Research Triangle Energy Consortium was created in 2007 by Duke University, NC State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International to collaboratively address the nation’s energy priorities, and those of the world by extension. Today it stands as a platform to discourse on these matters and to disseminate understanding on them. Financial support for the effort is now provided solely by RTI International.
Over the past few years, our thrust areas have remained much the same, and can be found in the Current Activity section. There we detail the areas of emphasis, including specific activity related to each objective.
Our Director Vikram Rao wrote the book Shale Gas: the Promise and the Peril published by RTI Press in 2012. A revised and updated edition, including shale oil and other recent occurrences, was released in 2015. The original book has been used in nine courses in 7 universities. Free PDF copies are made available to students in such courses. His book with Rob Knight, Sustainable Shale Oil and Gas, Analytical Chemistry, Geochemistry and Biochemistry Methods, was published by Elsevier Press in October, 2016. Particulates Matter, written with Will Vizuette, is a book on airborne particulates, released by Elsevier Press in December 2020. His latest book, with Chris Gould, is Carbon-Free Power, the Role of Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactors, released by RTI Press in November 2022.
The big story in energy in 2021 and 2022 was the climate change and Ukraine war related price shocks in natural gas in Europe. LNG has increased in importance and sets the price in net importing nations. The situation also underlined the use of energy as a weapon of political will. Vulnerabilities of energy related supply chains are now receiving greater scrutiny.
Since we began this site solar and wind power have reached a high level of maturity and caused prices to plummet. The prices are often lower than from any other source, clean or otherwise. In many jurisdictions these are in effect the new base load to which all other forms of power production must conform. But both sources have low capacity factors due to diurnal and seasonal fluctuations. The temporal gaps are currently filled by batteries (short term) and natural gas (longer durations). Carbon-free means to fill these gaps urgently need development. This issue is a focal point of the book Carbon-Free Power.
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