Phys.Org: Could Hemp Nanosheets Topple Graphene for Making the Ideal Supercapacitor?

As hemp makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, a team of scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long touted as the model material for supercapacitors. They're presenting their research, which a Canadian startup company is working on scaling up, at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

WFAE: Year-End Decision Holds Big Impact For NC Solar In 2015

North Carolina energy regulators quietly released one of their most significant, long-awaited decisions of 2014, just as the year was ending. The state utilities commission had spent nearly the entire year re-evaluating the rules for solar energy. On Wednesday, the commission decided to leave substantially intact the rules which have driven a solar energy boom in North Carolina.

National Geographic: Another Reactor Closes, Punctuating New Reality for U.S. Nuclear Power

As another nuclear power plant closed this week, the United States faced a dwindling fleet of aging reactors, few new projects, and the challenge of safely mothballing radioactive fuel for decades.

Almost all its nearly 100 remaining reactors will be more than 60 years old by 2050. Plant owners will have to decide whether the investments needed to keep them running are worth it, given the influx of cheap natural gas that has reshaped the U.S. energy economy.

So far, nuclear isn't winning. Vermont Yankee, which shut down Monday after 42 years of operation, is the fourth U.S. nuclear facility to close in two years. For the owners of each recent retiree -- from Vermont Yankee to San Onofre in California, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, and Crystal River in Florida -- the math just didn't work.

Vice: Low Oil Prices in the New Year Are Screwing Petrostates

Low oil prices in 2015 could spark an economic revival in the United States while impoverishing Russians, Venezuelans, and other petrostate citizens.

The new year starts with oil prices at their lowest since 2009. This week they dropped around $1, to $53.11 for West Texas crude and $56.75 for Brent traded in London.

The low cost of oil has already tipped OPEC founding member Venezuela into a recession that will almost certainly linger into 2015, prompting President Nicolas Maduro to speak darkly of a U.S. conspiracy to dismantle the oil cartel.

Russia, meanwhile, is facing a potentially devastating recession. The ruble lost half its value against the U.S. dollar in 2014.

Washington Examiner: Shakeup on House Natural Resources Panel Signals Tougher Oversight

Incoming House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop has shaken up the panel by firing longtime staff, a move that portends a more aggressive oversight direction for the committee. The shift will include an emphasis on the Obama administration's energy and environment policies, sources with knowledge of the changes told the Washington Examiner.

The Utah Republican is known for his fiery rhetoric and a laser-like focus on White House public lands policies. A source familiar with the committee said Bishop will look to position the panel as a more conservative voice to its Senate counterpart, whose chairman is the more moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.