February 20 Energy News

February 20, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Nuclear power plants increasingly face a new enemy: the jellyfish. Screens prevent aquatic life and debris from being drawn into the power plants’ cooling systems, but more and more often, they get blocked by large volumes of jellyfish or other aquatic life, forcing reactors to shut down. Climate change is a suspected cause. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]

¶ No matter how fast the cost of oil drops, it just can’t keep up with the pace of improvements in electric vehicle batteries. In the latest development, a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, has come up with a paper-like material that could bring in a new generation of high-range batteries. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Pumped storage has been around a long time, much longer than renewables’ intermittent nature required it. In July 1930, the magazine Popular Science ran an article announcing start of operations at the first US “ten-mile storage battery,” or pumped-hydro energy storage plant, in Connecticut. [Scientific American]

World:

¶ Private sector developers in India’s rapidly growing renewable energy will be happy to have the backing of the country’s largest bank as they get ready for competitive bidding. The State Bank of India has committed to provide $12.5 billion in debt funding to renewable energy projects over the next few years. [CleanTechnica]

¶ GTM Research has released some key findings pertaining to the PV inverter industry. One is that global shipments could reach 50.6 GW in 2015. Reaching this amount means an increase of about 30% over the previous year. The global market for inverters will increase to about $7.1 billion, despite falling prices. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In Australia, Origin Energy warned that major electric retailers were likely to choose paying a penalty price, the equivalent of a fine, rather than contracting to new renewable energy projects, now that it is apparent that the renewable energy target would not be cut as much as the power companies had wanted. [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ Citigroup Inc said it would set aside $100 billion to fund environmental projects over the next decade, doubling the amount it had earmarked for such projects in 2007. Citigroup said it would fund projects related to renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions and sustainable transportation. [eco-business.com]

¶ A bill before the Illinois legislature creates new standards for the state’s utilities to use efficiency measures to reduce electricity demand 20% by 2025. It also sets a higher figure for renewable energy purchased by updating the state’s regulation for the production of energy from renewables, such as wind and solar. [Northwest Herald]

¶ Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. The resources announced today are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. [Imperial Valley News]

¶ The second study in a few days has been released that finds that implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will not negatively affect grid reliability. The report from Analysis Group addresses the impact of ongoing changes in the energy industry for stakeholders and offers recommendations to ensure reliability. [Domestic Fuel]

¶ Environmental Working Group Executive Director Heather White said today that Monday’s West Virginia oil spill and explosion, following derailment of a train load of shale oil, shows that it’s absolutely critical for the US to reduce its dependence on oil and base our future economy on clean energy. [Environmental Working Group]

¶ BlackRock Inc closed its acquisition of half of the 200-MW Hereford project in Deaf Smith County and agreed to buy the stakes in the 200-MW Longhorn and 194-MW Spinning Spur 3 wind farms after they’re completed later this year, the New York-based firm said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. [Bloomberg]

¶ The House Energy and Power Subcommittee heard testimony from Secretary Moniz on the DOE FY 2016 budget request, which outlined over $1 billion in renewable energy program funding increases but a decrease to fossil energy research and development. (The decrease for fossil fuels, however, is tiny.) [Breaking Energy]

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