Science & Environment

Energy
3:24 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California?

Strong gusts in Palm Springs, Calif., generate plenty of energy, thanks to turbine farms. But being able to store all of that energy is just as important.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:12 am

The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.

The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. And the shift in strategy could open up some big opportunities for small startups, including one called Stem.

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Science & Environment
1:05 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Duke Renewables President Talks Solar Prospects

Credit Duke Energy Renewables

Duke Energy is not known for embracing renewable energy in North Carolina. About one percent of the Duke Energy Progress’ and Duke Energy Carolinas’ electric capacities in the state come from renewables—mostly solar, as well as a small amount of wind and biomass. Duke’s favored plan projects that number to rise to just 3 percent, 15 years from now. At the same time, Duke has a subsidiary business solely focused on developing and selling renewable energy across the country. WFAE’s Ben Bradford spoke to the president of Duke Energy Renewables for a businessman’s perspective on the green revolution.


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Science
9:47 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Joe's Biggest Ideas From 2013

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 9:59 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

For the past year or so, NPR's Joe Palca has been on a new beat. He's calling it Joe's Big Idea. And it's been a chance for him to explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors, to find out what really makes them tick. We thought it might be a good time to check in with Joe and see what big ideas he has encountered along his journey. Hey Joe, thanks for being with us.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Oh, it's great to be here.

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The Salt
5:10 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Flying This Holiday? Here Are A Few Tips To Survive Airline Food

Dan Pashman of The Sporkful podcast suggests saucy pastas over meat: "They tend to hold up better to the chilling and reheating process."
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:56 am

When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.

There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.

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The Salt
5:05 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Grasslands Get Squeezed As Another 1.6 Million Acres Go Into Crops

Retired farmer Joe Govert looks at a parcel of family land near Tribune, Kan. It has been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 6:59 pm

As the year winds down, we here at NPR are looking at a few key numbers that explain the big trends of 2013.

Today's number: 1.6 million.

That's 1.6 million acres — about the area of the state of Delaware.

That's how much land was removed this year from the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, which pays farmers to keep land covered with native grasses or sometimes trees. Most of that land now will produce crops like corn or wheat.

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NPR Story
5:14 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Astronauts On Spacewalk Begin Space Station Repair

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 10:28 pm

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This morning, astronauts Michael Hopkins and Richard Mastracchio stepped outside the International Space Station. Their mission: to conduct one of three urgent spacewalks to repair a coolant system. Mission Control seemed happy with today's effort.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSION CONTROL RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK. Really nice work, guys. We're about an hour and a half ahead. Let's take some steps beforehand. First, we want to do an ammonia inspection.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Copy that.

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Number Of The Year
8:52 am
Sat December 21, 2013

And The Number Of The Year Is... The Lowly 2!

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 11:30 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

There are lots of lists as the year draws to a close: best films, best books, Persons of the Year. This year, NPR is looking at the numbers that tell this year's story. So, our math guy, Keith Devlin, has a nomination for number of the year. He joins us now from Stanford University, where he's a professor of something that's too long for me to state. Keith, thanks very much for being with us.

KEITH DEVLIN: Hi, Scott. Good to be with you again.

SIMON: All right. Drum roll, please: the number of the year is...

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:15 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Weekend Special: Name That Sound!

Number Of The Year
5:14 am
Sat December 21, 2013

For BP Cleanup, 2013 Meant 4.6 Million Pounds Of Oily Gunk

Jonathan Henderson of the Gulf Restoration Network holds a jar of tar balls.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 2:58 pm

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

On a breezy December morning, a work crew is scouring the surf line on Grand Isle, La., scooping up tiny tar balls and collecting them in a basket.

Foreman LeRoy Irving keeps track of what the 14-person team has collected in a half-day. "If I had to guess, maybe 10 pounds," he says.

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The Two-Way
6:23 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Astronauts Ready For Marathon Spacewalks

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy performs a spacewalk in May to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station. On Saturday, two astronauts will perform the first in a series of similar spacewalks to fix a broken cooling line on the ISS.
AP

Originally published on Sat December 21, 2013 6:46 pm

NASA astronauts will be heading out to conduct critical repairs on the International Space Station early Saturday morning. The 6 1/2-hour spacewalk, the first in a series, will replace a faulty piece of cooling equipment.

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