Quiz: Energy News 2011


Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev, NOOR/Time/Redux

How closely did you follow the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the controversy over natural gas "fracking," and the gyrations of the oil market in 2011? Try this quiz and see how much you know about this year's top energy news headlines.

How much did Tokyo Electric Power Company's electric power supply drop after the March 11 Tohuku earthquake and tsunami?

  • 20 percent
  • 30 percent
  • 40 percent
  • 50 percent

Because of loss of cooling power at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that resulted in the facility's catastrophic failure, and the temporary loss of other nuclear and thermal power plants, TEPCO's supply capacity fell 40 percent in the immediate wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

By 2035, how much of the United States' natural gas supply will come from hydraulic fracturing of shale, by the estimate of U.S. government energy forecasters?

  • 36 percent
  • 46 percent
  • 56 percent
  • 66 percent

At a projected 46 percent of U.S. supply in 25 years, hydraulically fractured shale will be the nation's largest single source of natural gas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected in 2011.

Libya's rebellion (see photo), and the resulting curtailment of exports, was blamed in part for rising global oil prices in 2011. How much of the world's petroleum production did Libya contribute before the conflict?

  • 1 percent
  • 2 percent
  • 10 percent
  • 20 percent

Libya, with Africa's largest proven oil reserves, produced 1.8 million barrels per day in 2010, or 2 percent of the 87 million barrels a day of oil produced globally.

What was the innovation for which Solyndra was known before its bankruptcy, which put U.S. taxpayers on the hook due to a $535 million federal government loan guarantee?

  • Thin film panels that cost substantially less than conventional photovoltaics
  • Innovative financing arrangements that resulted in immediate payback to customers
  • Cylindrical panels that capture reflected as well as direct sunlight
  • Panels that use lenses to concentrate light and require fewer photovoltaic cells

Solyndra boasted its design was "the new shape of solar," cylindrical modules that captured sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface. Although its panels used thin film PV, they were relatively pricey because the company bet on incorporating a non-silicon compound when silicon prices were plummeting.

Some of the biggest electric companies in the United States announced plans to shut down aging coal power plants in 2011. What factor was NOT among the reasons cited for the pullback from coal?

  • Competition from low-priced natural gas
  • Pressure from local residents
  • Pending federal regulations to control smog, mercury, other pollutants, and water intake
  • Pending national cap-and-trade program to control greenhouse gases

The electric power industry frequently cited a variety of pending new Environmental Protection Agency regulations for the decisions, but no federal cap-and-trade program was on the horizon. In some cases, the shutdowns came as the result of agreements with local authorities. Some companies said low natural gas prices gave them an opportunity to switch fuels.

All of the following countries moved to cut government subsidies to renewable energy in 2011 EXCEPT:

  • Germany
  • The United Kingdom
  • The Netherlands
  • China

A diverse array of subsidies helped propel China to a world-leading position in solar energy, including low-rate loans from state-owned lending institutions and cheap or free land from local governments. Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands all moved to reduce government support of renewable energy in 2011.

China's energy demand had edged past that of the United States by 2010. By 2035, how will China's consumption compare to that of the United States, by International Energy Agency projections?

  • It will be about the same.
  • It will be 28 percent higher.
  • It will be 48 percent higher.
  • It will be 68 percent higher.

The IEA forecasts that China's energy demand will exceed that of the United States by 68 percent in 25 years, when it projects that China and India together will be responsible for 31 percent of world energy consumption.

Following are a list of routes for new pipelines that have been proposed in North America. Which is the planned path of the Keystone XL pipeline, on which the Obama administration has delayed a decision pending study of alternate routes?

  • Hardisty, Alberta, to Nederland, Texas
  • Bradford County to Sullivan County, Pennsylvania
  • Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, British Columbia
  • Williston Basin, North Dakota, to Baker, Montana

Transcanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to the refining centers of Texas near Port Arthur. Environmentalists protested the route as a spur to further energy-intensive oil sands development, while the state of Nebraska objected to its path through environmentally sensitive areas.

In the United States, Russia, and Norway, there were moves in 2011 toward petroleum exploration in the Arctic. The area north of the Arctic Circle holds how much of the world's undiscovered oil, according to the U.S. Geological Survey?

  • 6 percent
  • 13 percent
  • 16 percent
  • 33 percent

A 2008 USGS assessment concluded the Arctic contains 90 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, or about 13 percent of the world total.

As of 2011, how many years does the world have to make a dramatic turnaround in policies to avoid severe impacts of climate change, in the view of the International Energy Agency?

  • Five
  • Seven
  • Ten
  • Twenty

The IEA's annual World Energy Outlook concluded that the world has a window of only five years to enact policies to keep global warming below 3.6°F (2°C), a threshold many countries have pledged to stay below.





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