December 19 Energy News

December 19, 2014

Science and Technology:

¶   Two recent studies disproved the ideas that wind farms affect health and property values, and now a review by the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Highlands and Islands’ Environmental Research Institute found that 99% of seabirds are likely to alter their flight paths to avoid collision with offshore wind turbines. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶   Senator Nick Xenophon has brought back a carbon trading scheme to Australia and nobody seems to have noticed. Quietly tucked behind the headlines from the Palmer United Party and the government was the mention of Senator Xenophon inserting a ‘Safeguard Mechanism’ into the Direct Action legislation. [CleanTechnica]

¶   Bloomberg reported that European coal dropped to the lowest in more than 5 years amid weaker demand for the power-plant fuel. Preliminary electricity consumption in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, dropped about 4% this year on weak economic growth of energy-intensive industries and milder weather. [SteelGuru]

¶   Japan’s trade ministry said on Thursday it plans to change a feed-in-tariff scheme by making it possible for utilities to limit renewable power output more flexibly while trying to lower guaranteed payments to providers of such power. The changes follow a rush of applications for solar projects since the Fukushima Disaster. [Reuters]

¶   Energy demand in Germany is set to fall by nearly 5% over the course of this year, new figures this week predict, providing further evidence the government’s Energiewende transition to a low carbon energy system is starting to build momentum. German energy use fell to 445.5 million tonnes of coal equivalent this year. [Business Green]

¶   The amount of clean power made in Scotland has matched that produced from fossil fuels for the first time, in a record year for renewables, ­according to the latest figures. Renewable sources accounted for 32% of all Scottish electricity  – equal to the output from oil, coal and gas. Nuclear power stations provided 34.9 per cent. [Scotsman]

¶   In a budget forecast punctuated by fiscal belt tightening, Australia’s fossil fuel sector is set to receive a whopping $47 billion in federal government subsidies over the next four years, a new report has found. The analysis, released on Thursday by the Australian Conservation Foundation, is based on federal budget data. [RenewEconomy]

¶   GE today announced that it will supply Lewandpol Company with 27 GE 2.5-MW wind turbines for the Galicja Wind Farm in Poland. Once operational, the 120 MW Galicja Wind Farm will generate the equivalent energy needed to power approximately 52,000 Polish homes. The wind farm is expected to be completed in 2015. [Windpower Engineering]

¶   A group of EU-funded researchers are investigating the development of a “super grid” specifically designed to transfer wind-generated electricity across EU Member States. Such a project would “help reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and enable Europe to move closer towards achieving energy independence.” [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶   Utility San Diego Gas and Electric announced it has passed the 1 GW milestone for renewable power supplied to the city. The addition of 150 MW from the Solar Gen 2 solar project in Imperial Valley means that the utility’s power portfolio has more than 30% of SDG&E’s power generated from renewables such as solar and wind. [pv magazine]

¶   SunPower and Sunverge just announced a big solar+storage partnership, which follows a partnership between SolarCity and Tesla as well as the announcement of several energy storage companies beginning to hit the market. If you think solar power was disruptive, wait until solar+storage beats the price of grid electricity. [CleanTechnica]

¶   A coalition of utilities and clean energy advocates, including Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, the Great Plains Institute, and the Center for Energy and the Environment, will recommend to the state’s legislature ways to give electricity customers more options for power sources while keeping energy reliable and affordable. [Minnesota Public Radio News]

¶   In largely positive review of US energy policy, the International Energy Agency scolded the federal government for failing on consistent long-term policy support for energy with low carbon emissions, such as nuclear power and renewables. The IEA recommends a 5-year extension of the wind tax credit, gradually reduced to zero. [Forbes]

¶   The Green Party of New York and its recent gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins join the chorus of New Yorkers celebrating what appears to be an imminent fracking ban, arising from today’s reports from Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. [Green Party Watch]

¶   About to lose their biggest employer and taxpayer, local leaders in Vernon, Vermont are hoping a gas-fired power plant will be built to replace the soon-to-close Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. But any such project would face big questions — including whether enough gas would be available to fuel it. [Rutland Herald]

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