June 18 Energy News

June 18, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A team of scientists working on studies in microbiology at Columbia University have devised tiny engines powered by evaporation. The devices generate electricity from the energy produced by bacterial spores known as Bacillus subtilis, which exhibit strong mechanical responses to changing relative humidity. [Mashable]

Photo from YouTube video Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water by ExtremeBio

Photo from YouTube video Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water by ExtremeBio

World:

¶ Pope Francis has clearly embraced what he calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that is endangering the planet. The pope has also lambasted global political leaders for their “weak responses” and lack of will over decades to address the issue. [National Catholic Reporter]

¶ A new report from GTM Research forecasts 55 GW of solar PV to be installed globally in 2015, up 36% on 2014’s installation figures. The United States will be the third-ranked solar PV market in 2015 behind China and Japan, according to GTM, installing approximately 8 GW, equating to 14% of the global PV market. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Denmark has launched a new tender round for 350 MW of near-shore wind farms off the east coast of Jutland. The turbines must be a minimum of 7 MW, which would provide a capacity factor of 60% and produce low cost electricity. This is in contrast to what would come from the Hinkley nuclear plant. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The UK’s Conservative government is to end subsidies to onshore windfarms from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than set out in the previous Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement. There will be a grace period for projects already having planning permission, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. [The Guardian]

¶ The Scottish government has warned Whitehall of the threat of a lengthy legal battle if they push ahead with anticipated cuts to subsidy support for the onshore wind industry. Scotland’s Energy Minister said any funding reduction would likely be challenged by an application for Judicial Review. [Click Green]

¶ Record installations for wind power and solar PV helped uncouple global growth from CO2 emissions, according the Global Status Report on the renewable energy industry from REN21. The report finds 135 GW of clean energy capacity was added over 2014, more than coal and gas combined. [Business Green]

¶ AspectSolar announced that the company’s solar energy products will be used to aid disaster relief efforts in earthquake-torn Nepal. AspectSolar’s lightweight, durable solar charging panels and battery systems are being used by high-elevation skiers to bring power to remote villages. [Your Renewable News]

¶ German energy group RWE AG will officially open the 576-MW Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm near the Wales coast on June 18. The park, worth over £2 billion ($3.2 billion), uses 160 turbines of 3.6-MW each, made by Germany’s Siemens AG. Construction works were initiated in January 2012. [SeeNews Renewables]

View out to sea from the North Wales Path near Llanddulas.  Photo by Eirian Evans. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

View out to sea from, solar farm in the distance.  Photo by Eirian Evans. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Professor Hans Schellnhuber, head of the highly regarded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research outside Berlin, told reporters Australia’s reliance on coal exports to China was a “suicide strategy.” Professor Schellnhubner is the adviser to Pope Francis on the effects of global warming. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ A report says Australia’s “big four” banks have bucked a global trend by heavily favouring investment in fossil fuel projects over renewable energy by $6 to $1 since the global financial crisis. Analysis by Market Forces revealed ANZ led in funding coal, oil and gas projects since 2008, pouring in $12.6 billion. [The Guardian]

¶ Germany’s wind power association BWE is urging the German government to take legal steps against the subsidization of new nuclear power capacity in the EU. The organisation’s president Hermann Albers spoke specifically about planned subsidies for the 3.2-GW Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. [SeeNews Renewables]

US:

¶ Rocky Mountain Power is hoping to offer customers a way soon to purchase all or part of their power from a solar source without having to put solar panels on their roof. The utility is proposing a Blue Sky subscriber solar program. It’s now seeking approval from the Utah Public Service Commission to supply subscribers. [KUER]

Typical solar farm. RMP's newly proposed subscriber farm will be 15 megawatts in capacity. Photo by Rocky Mountain Power.

Typical solar farm in the Rocky Mountains. RMP’s newly proposed subscriber farm will be 15 megawatts in capacity. Photo by Rocky Mountain Power.

¶ Within two decades, Iowa wind energy could power the equivalent of more than 6.3 million homes. That’s from a new report released by the DOE. The report says the American wind industry can rapidly expand over the next two decades, comprising one-fifth of the domestic electricity market by 2030. [DesMoinesRegister.com]

¶ Nuclear energy is a costly failure, and Ohio and other states should focus on alternative energy, according to a report by the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. Upgrading old nuclear and coal-burning power plants will cost ratepayers, and ultimately the utilities, more money. [Port Clinton News Herald]

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