July 19 Energy News

July 19, 2015

World:

¶ Wouldn’t it be ironic if the biggest oil exporters in the world became the biggest solar energy investors with plans to export solar energy? That may seem like a far-fetched idea but it’s exactly what Saudi Arabia has in mind. What’s driving the world’s largest oil exporter to solar may tell us a lot about the future of energy. Saudi Arabia could be a net importer of oil by 2038. [Motley Fool]

First Solar's thin-film panels are perfect for the Middle East's hot, desert climate. Image: First Solar.

First Solar’s thin-film panels in a hot, desert climate. Image: First Solar.

¶ With relentless construction, a booming aviation sector and nearly permanent air conditioning, Dubai is not an obvious contender for the title of one of the world’s most sustainable cities. Nevertheless, this is the goal the emirate has set for itself. The worst effects of the recession gone, building has again taken off, but this time, the emphasis is on being ‘green’. [ArabianBusiness.com]

¶ Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology are collaborating to test and refine a model of hydrogen-supply infrastructure based on chemically bonding the hydrogen rather than attempting to store it as a gas or liquid. A functioning hydrogen supply center will be opened in the prefecture in 2016. [The Japan Times]

A quarter-century after the fall of communism, Central Europe sees irreconcilable visions of nuclear power that pit nations from opposite sides of the Iron Curtain against one another. Germany and Austria have long decided to go strictly nuclear free, while eastern EU members avidly look to increase reliance on nuclear power so they can grow their economies. [Northwest Georgia News]

US:

¶ Hydrogen-powered vehicles are beginning to roll onto the scene in Hawaii. Hydrogen-powered buses soon will be shuttling tourists at Volcanoes National Park, and hydrogen will possibly soon fuel the Wiki-Wiki shuttles at Honolulu Airport. Oahu has two hydrogen fueling stations, though they are not available to the public. [Longview News-Journal]

¶ Otter Tail Power Co, based in Fergus Falls, South Dakota, announced last week that it is nearly finished and under budget with its $384 million pollution-control upgrade of the coal-burning Big Stone power plant, which it co-owns with two other utilities. The plant, which supplies 36% of Otter Tail customers’ power, is expected back online in August. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Workers at the Big Stone power plant near Milbank, SD, as the pollution-control project at the coal-fired generator winds down. Photo from an on-site security camera. Courtesy of Otter Tail Power Co.

Workers at the Big Stone power plant, as the pollution-control project at the coal-fired generator winds down. Security camera photo, courtesy of Otter Tail Power Co.

¶ A recent federal decision may allow Colorado’s Kit Carson Electric Cooperative to get past a current cap on the amount of renewable energy it can generate on its own. In June, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that Delta-Montrose Electric Association is compelled to buy energy from small energy facilities, including renewable plants. [taosnews]

¶ Three new reports look at Wisconsin’s hits and misses on renewable energy. The reports, from consulting firm Clean Edge, the state Public Service Commission and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, say Wisconsin utilities are meeting the state’s renewable energy goals, but many other states are moving more aggressively on clean energy. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

¶ Iowa could meet 40% of its energy needs from wind power within five years, according to an industry report on the state’s wind potential. The state could push its wind-energy mix to 41% in 2020 and supply enough power to more than match its energy usage by 2030, with excess energy to export to other states, the American Wind Energy Association says. [DesMoinesRegister.com]

¶ California Governor Jerry Brown will visit the Vatican this week for an international conference carrying a resolution from state lawmakers supporting the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change. He hopes the Legislature will send an even stronger message later this year by passing new environmental rules aimed at cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. [Los Angeles Times]

¶ Vermont’s Green Mountain Power and its CEO, Mary Powell, have been getting increasing national notice for moving from traditional one-way generation and transmission of power to an “energy services company,” providing customers with a new wide range of products and services. Tom Kuhn, head of the Edison Electric Institute, calls GMP “a real leader.” [Daily Journal]

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