department of energy

Among the arguments against hydrofracking in New York State and across the U.S. is that drillers will be taking the gas from New York and elsewhere and exporting it to countries like China and India, throwing a giant wrench in the argument that fracking is the path to energy independence.

But it's not clear that much gas will be exported.

Department of Energy approval is required before gas can be sent to countries where the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. With the price of natural gas at around $3.00 in the U.S., the debate is raging over whether gas companies should be able to export their product.

Just a few weeks after President Obama visited the Capital Region, an important member of his cabinet was also in town.

Energy Secretary, and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Steven Chu was in the area to tour the GE Global Research center outside of Schenectady. He also received an honorary degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

During his visit, Chu sat down with New York NOW to talk about national energy policy, and some of the issues facing New York - like the future of hydrofracking and nuclear power.

Steven Depolo / via Flickr

In its Energy Outlook for 2012, the Department of Energy has reduced its estimate of unproven "technically recoverable reserve" (TRR) natural gas in the Marcellus Shale from 410 trillion cubic feet to 141 trillion cubic.

For those of you playing at home, 141 trillion down from 410 trillion represents a nearly one-third  two-thirds reduction in natural gas across the whole Marcellus Shale formation.

But it's still pretty far off from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) competing estimate, of about 84 trillion cubic feet.

Beacon Power Corporation, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy company, is declaring bankruptcy - after receiving federal funds from the same program that subsidized the failed solar firm Solyndra. 

The company also received funding from New York State.

Last July, Beacon Power celebrated the opening of its new flywheel plant in Stephentown, N.Y.

The flywheels were designed to help modernize the state’s power grid. They act as a sort of shock-absorber, to quickly store and release energy to the grid.

m eagle / via Flickr

The possibility of large scale offshore wind on Lake Erie was shelved late this summer, but a group of international scientists still believe the site has potential.

Through a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE), half a dozen researchers from the U.S. and Europe will test new methods of better harnessing wind energy, especially in farms with more than a few rows of turbines.

The team will employ remote sensing technologies, like unmanned aerial vehicles controlled from offshore. The custom devices will produce a three-dimensional analysis of the behavior of winds in Lake Erie.

Turbines and wind farms could be designed differently in the future as a result.