California’s record drought has parched crops, but hasn’t yet dimmed lights or choked the flow of electricity, even though the Golden State, with more than 300 dams, has long been a hydroelectricity leader among U.S. states.
The huge Ivanpah solar plant is part of a push to expand renewable energy on U.S. federal land. The developer took steps to relocate a population of the threatened desert tortoise.
Much of the petroleum produced in California over the past 150 years has sprung from a jumble of rocks known as the Monterey shale formation. To some, the costs of using advanced technologies to unlock oil that remains tightly bound in the Monterey appear too high. Landscapes atop the shale include habitats for protected species such as the San Joaquin Kit fox, the California Condor, and blunt-nosed leopard lizard.
Drought, rampant wildfire in the outback, and the degradation of the treasured Great Barrier Reef have forever altered how Australia views its energy endowment. Facing a future as one of the places on Earth most vulnerable to climate change, and one of the nations with the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions, Australia has taken steps to change its fate.
Would brand-new reactors have fared better in the power outage that triggered dangerous overheating at one of Japan’s oldest power plants? Not necessarily. The vast majority of plants under construction around the world are the same 1970s vintage as Fukushima Daiichi, and without integrated passive safety systems.