August 5 Energy News

August 5, 2015

World:

¶ The city of Oslo intends to become “an example for the world” in cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation. Walking, cycling, and public transit come first. Public vehicles will be emissions-free. All municipal vehicles will be electric this year. But private vehicles are a fact of life, and so private emissions-free vehicles will be given a huge menu of incentives. [Green Car Reports]

Oslo street scene: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Tesla Model S, July 2015

Oslo street scene: Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Tesla Model S, July 2015

¶ A major report published by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency predicts a 40% to 60% price plunge for certain battery technologies by 2020. The 130-page report says that we will see the costs of lithium-ion batteries fall by 60% in less than five years, and by 40% for flow batteries. The change is driven by market demand by everyone from producers to ratepayers. [CleanTechnica]

¶ At least three utility companies are hoping to capitalize on hydroelectric energy opportunities along the Trent Severn Waterway in Selwyn Township, Ontario, and the surrounding area. The utilities are proposing to put the facilities at three of the waterway’s locks. The plants will not be large, but one utility’s proposal for two plants could produce a total of 6 MW. [Kawartha Media Group]

¶ Scientific American reports that by 2030, total energy consumption in France is to be reduced by 30%, while the share of renewables is to more than double to 32%. Repeated large increases in the carbon tax could go a long way toward achieving this goal. The interesting part about France, however, is that it’s the country’s nuclear mix that’s going to lose out the most. [Green Chip Stocks]

¶ The largest contiguous solar farm in Canada has begun producing electricity for the power grid in Ontario. The 100-MW Grand Renewable Solar Project has ability to power approximately 17,000 homes in the province. It incorporates 445,000 high-performance solar modules, covering 736 Ontario acres and is Canada’s largest photovoltaic project. [CanadianManufacturing.com]

Photo: CNW Group/s2e Technologies

Photo: CNW Group/s2e Technologies

¶ China has reportedly started construction of its first commercial large scale solar power plant located in the Gobi desert. The plant, spreading across 25 square kilometres of abandoned land in the Qinghai province, will generate 200 megawatts of power, enough to supply one million homes with electricity. The development underlines China’s commitment to renewable power. [E&T magazine]

¶ A £25-billion contract to build the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in 25 years is expected to be signed within weeks. Ministers in the Department of Energy and Climate Change have reached an agreement with the French energy company EDF to develop Hinkley Point C, near Bridgwater in Somerset, and are ready to approve the project after parliament’s summer recess. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ The National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently released data showing that the capacity factor for wind power can reach 65%, which is close to that of fossil fuel based generation. NREL’s new report suggests wind could become a dominant and possibly the primary source of electricity in the US because it implies reduced need for storage and peaking power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Official EPA ratings for the 2016 Chevy Volt are out. GM lived up to its promise that its electric range would be at least 50 miles, as the EPA has rated its range at 53 miles. That is more than enough for about 80% of people on any given day, so a lot of owners might drive on electricity almost all the time. GM is anticipating that 90% of trips will be entirely on electricity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Colorado environmental advocates are confindent the state can cut the state’s carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030, compared to 2012 levels. The state is about 75% toward the 2030 goal, based on actions already taken and programs implemented and expected, according to John Nielsen, the clean energy program director for Western Resource Advocates. [Denver Business Journal]

Thinkstock

Thinkstock

¶ One of the largest tech companies in the US soon will power its five Texas data centers with 100% renewable energy. Hewlett-Packard recently announced a 12-year contract to buy 112 MW of wind power from a SunEdison wind farm in Texas. The purchase means HP will reach its 2020 operational greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal five years ahead of schedule. [GreenBiz]

¶ Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission approved four utility-scale solar projects on Oahu, placing conditions to make sure residents won’t have to pay if developers miss out on a federal tax credit. The power purchase agreements approved for the four projects could produce 137.2 MW. Developers want to proceed quickly to take advantage of federal incentives. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ Alpha Natural Resources, once a powerhouse of American coal industry, filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 to get relief from a $3 billion debt, particularly with utilities switching to natural gas and coal prices moving south. It had borrowed heavily to acquire assets it hoped would increase in value as China’s coal use continued to grow, a strategy that failed. [The Market Business]

¶ Ameren Missouri has dropped plans to build a second nuclear unit at its Callaway Energy Center, citing shaky economics in the context of cheaper renewables, low demand, and other factors for its decision. During an earnings call, the CEO said the company is moving to a “cleaner, more diverse generation portfolio,” such as a new 13-MW solar facility west of St. Louis. [POWER magazine]

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