DOE: Tower of Power

In the Nevada desert near Las Vegas, more than 10,000 mirrors focus the sun’s energy on a 640-foot tower. This concentrating solar power, or CSP, plant can generate 110 megawatts of electricity (enough for roughly 18,000 homes) by using the sun’s energy to heat a salt solution. That solution boils water, producing steam that turns a turbine generator. But to run at night or on a cloudy day, the heat-transfer medium -- molten salt in this example -- must stay hot as long as possible, and that’s a challenge.

To get the most from CSP, the heat-transfer medium must remain stable above 600 degrees Celsius, about 50 degrees beyond when molten salt loses stability. “With molten salt, you can’t take advantage of all of the sun’s energy in the power tower because the heat-transfer medium becomes a bottleneck in the effectiveness,” researcher Christine Hrenya explains.

She wanted something stable over 600 degrees that would also provide good thermal storage. “If you go on the beach long after the sun goes down,” Hrenya says, “the sand is still warm.” So her team decided to try sand-like particles as the medium.

Guardian: Scottish Wind Farms Have 'No Effect' on Tourism, Research Finds

“Repels tourists” can now be added to the long list of criticism leveled at onshore wind farms that has been shown to be unfounded.

A new report by consultancy BiGGAR Economics, which analyzed the impact of Scottish wind farms on tourism-related employment in an area, this week concluded there was no evidence to suggest wind farms had an adverse effect on that outcome.

The potential impact on tourism is a common consideration during the planning process, and as such, the study set out to see if the impact could be quantified.

It analyzed the level of wind farm installations and the level of employment in tourism in Scotland between 2009 and 2013 at both a national and a local level.

Renewable Energy World: Scottish Offshore Wind Demonstration Project Triumphs Over Trump

Development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) is now firmly underway after a series of announcements confirmed a final investment decision from Vattenfall and several supply contracts for the project.

A test bed for the development of novel offshore wind energy technologies, EOWDC (a.k.a., the Aberdeen offshore wind farm) is to be built off the northeast coast of Scotland and will generate 92.4 MW when it comes into operation. The news has been well received in light of difficulties its developers had incurred owing to objections raised to the development by Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump.

McClatchy: ExxonMobil Research Driving Rift on Capitol Hill

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee used to be a place where science geeks talked tech. Now it’s more like a throwdown.

Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who disputes the science behind climate change, is going after the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts and eight environmental groups for their investigations into global warming. In July, Smith issued subpoenas to demand information about their inquiries into whether Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil hid its research -- some dating back decades -- into the impact of fossil fuels on the environment and misled the public.

Mashable: Oil and Gas Group Tries to Win Over Millennials With Questionable Fracking Memes

Nuanced debate? Scientific discussion? Yawn.

FrackFeed, a pro-fracking website from industry groups and oil and gas companies, is targeting millennials in their native tongues: Memes, quizzes and listicles.

Rihanna, Ron Burgundy, bloated toads and angry groundhogs serve as the backdrop for snarky messages extolling the virtues of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas -- without few other details to distract you from kitty gifs. The website is part of a bigger campaign by North Texans for Natural Gas, an advocacy group that is seeking to drown out the “small but vocal opposition that uses the internet to spread fear and bad information,” according to its website.