big yikes

Texas falls short on list of most energy efficient states

Texas ranked as the 40th most energy efficient state, according to a recent report. Photo via Getty Images

The Lone Star State again failed to perform well on an annual ranking of the most energy efficient states.

Texas ranked as the 40th most energy efficient state, according to WalletHub's annual report. Only eight continental US states ranked poorer, including Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and South Carolina, respectively.

Source: WalletHub

The report looked at home and auto energy efficiency, as the report's methodology outlines.

"We obtained the former by calculating the ratio of total residential energy consumption to annual degree days. For the latter, we divided the annual vehicle miles driven by gallons of gasoline consumed to determine vehicle-fuel efficiency and measured annual vehicle miles driven per capita to determine transportation efficiency," reads the study.

Texas scored a 36 out of 50 points for home energy efficiency and 41 points for auto energy efficiency.

The report's experts were asked about federal incentivization of energy efficiency for customers, and all were in agreement that this is key to the future of energy.

"Energy conservation is a big piece that needs to be tackled efficiently for us to make any progress on energy transition. Incentivizing consumers and businesses is necessary but only if there is a clear demonstration of changes in personal and business work/living habits that reduce the energy footprint," says Sanjay Srinivasan, director at EMS Energy Institute and professor at Pennsylvania State University.

Another recent report looked at Texas from the solar perspective, and Houston failed to place in the top 15 most "solar" cities in the United States. However, Austin led the way for Texas, ranking the No. 3 most “solar” city in the U.S., per Thumbtack. Austin, with the highest net-new solar panel installations within the past year in Texas, split up four Californian cities in the top five. Only San Diego (No. 1) and Los Angeles (No. 2) outranked Austin.

While there's room for improvement for efficiency, Texas has among the best prices for energy, as WalletHub found in a report this summer. Texas ranked No. 49 on the list of the 2023 Most Energy-Expensive States.

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A View From HETI

The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to Rice University. Photo via Rice.edu

A team of Rice University physicists has been awarded a prestigious grant from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics for their work in high-energy nuclear physics and research into a new state of matter.

The five-year $15.5 million grant will go towards Rice physics and astronomy professor Wei Li's discoveries focused on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a large, general-purpose particle physics detector built on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in France and Switzerland. The work is "poised to revolutionize our understanding of fundamental physics," according to a statement from Rice.

Li's team will work to develop an ultra-fast silicon timing detector, known as the endcap timing layer (ETL), that will provide upgrades to the CMS detector. The ETl is expected to have a time resolution of 30 picoseconds per particle, which will allow for more precise time-of-flight particle identification.

This will also help boost the performance of the High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider (HL-LHC), which is scheduled to launch at CERN in 2029, allowing it to operate at about 10 times the luminosity than originally planned. The ETL also has applications for other colliders apart from the LHC, including the DOE’s electron-ion collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.

“The ETL will enable breakthrough science in the area of heavy ion collisions, allowing us to delve into the properties of a remarkable new state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma,” Li explained in a statement. “This, in turn, offers invaluable insights into the strong nuclear force that binds particles at the core of matter.”

The ETL is also expected to aid in other areas of physics, including the search for the Higgs particle and understanding the makeup of dark matter.

Li is joined on this work by co-principal investigator Frank Geurts and researchers Nicole Lewis and Mike Matveev from Rice. The team is collaborating with others from MIT, Oak Ridge National Lab, the University of Illinois Chicago and University of Kansas.

Last year, fellow Rice physicist Qimiao Si, a theoretical quantum physicist, earned the prestigious Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship grant. The five-year fellowship, with up to $3 million in funding, will go towards his work to establish an unconventional approach to create and control topological states of matter, which plays an important role in materials research and quantum computing.

Meanwhile, the DOE recently tapped three Houston universities to compete in its annual startup competition focused on "high-potential energy technologies,” including one team from Rice.

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