February 9 Energy News

February 9, 2016


Why natural gas investments could spell trouble for electric utilities • Natural gas has been called a fuel to gently transition the US to a clean energy future. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims that while the fuel’s role may grow, it could result in many states becoming over-reliant on natural gas. [Utility Dive]

Image credit: Calpine

Natural gas plant. Image credit: Calpine

A renewable energy-powered Canada could be closer than we think • University of Colorado researchers released a study saying the US could get most of its energy from wind and solar power by 2030, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75%. Could the same be done in Canada? (Spoiler: yes) [Yahoo News Canada]

Science and Technology:

¶ Green power is cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels and will buck the trend of falling investment in oil and gas as it can offer long-term returns sheltered from political risk, industry analysts say. Oil prices have dropped 75% since mid-2014, leading to predictions of falling petro-chemical investment. [Reuters UK]

¶ With support from the US National Science Foundation, Oscilla Power is developing a utility-scale wave energy harvester called Triton. The technology shows promise for delivering utility-scale electric power to the grid at a price competitive with current fossil or renewable technologies. [National Science Foundation]

Ocean Wave. Credit: Andrew Schmidt, PublicDomainPictures.net

Ocean Wave. Credit: Andrew Schmidt, PublicDomainPictures.net


¶ As part of its principled shift away from diesel vehicles towards electrics following the diesel emissions cheating scandal (or, more likely, as part of its image rehabilitation strategy), Volkswagen recently revealed that it is now intending to release the world’s first high-volume, mass market electric car. [EV Obsession]

¶ Solar Frontier is partnering with the Japan Renewable Energy to develop 300 MW of new solar photovoltaic projects in Japan within the next 5 years, according to recent reports. But roughly 57 GW of solar PV projects in the country that have yet to go forward despite having won feed-in-tariff contracts. [CleanTechnica]

Solar System and Mt. Fuji. Image Credit: Solar Frontier

Solar System and Mt. Fuji. Image Credit: Solar Frontier

¶ About 8 GW of solar power systems were connected to European electric grids in 2015, according to estimates by SolarPower Europe. Demand for solar power systems in European countries increased by around 15% year-on-year, compared to 6.95 GW of new grid-connected solar power capacity in 2014. [reNews]

¶ The wind industry has surpassed the hydro industry as the third largest player in the European electricity grid in terms of capacity, and is fast closing the gap on the coal and gas sectors that continue to dominate the continent’s power mix. Wind energy now provides a total of 142 GW of capacity in Europe. [Business Green]

Wind power silhouette

Wind power silhouette

¶ A dispute among Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, centered on a pair of 40-year-old Belgian nuclear reactors roughly an hour’s drive from large cities across the border, is laying bare a growing European rift over nuclear energy. Nuclear power has fallen out of favor in some countries, but not others. [Washington Times]


¶ The fourth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook highlights the record year for utility-scale and distributed low-carbon electric generation. One of the most significant pieces of the report is the data on prices and decarbonization, which shows that decarbonizing has not led to higher prices. [Greentech Media]

Texas wind farm.

Texas wind farm.

¶ Solar rooftops could go a long way to strengthening California’s aging power grid, and save its residents more than $1.4 billion annually, according to a white paper published by SolarCity’s Grid Engineering team. “A Pathway to the Distributed Grid” evaluated the economics of distributed energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Connecticut may be getting more renewable energy. The first joint procurement by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island garnered 24 bids from developers and companies for solar, wind, fuel cell and hydro projects, including five offering power that would be generated in Connecticut. [Hartford Business]

Target store in Manchester, Connecticut. Greenskies Renewable Energy photo.

Target store in Manchester, Connecticut. Greenskies Renewable Energy photo.

¶ Vermont energy regulators completed an update of the state’s key energy and electricity plans. The updated Comprehensive Energy Plan reaffirms Vermont’s overall goal of achieving 90% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, adds interim goals, and provides greater detail on achieving goals. [JD Supra]

¶ Solar power increases for businesses and utilities in Wisconsin led to three times more solar power installations for 2015 than any other before, according to Renew Wisconsin. Enough solar to power 1,000 average sized homes, 7.5 MW, was installed in 2015, the organization’s director said. [UW Badger Herald]

Flickr user PROPortland General Electric

Solar in Wisconsin. Flickr user PROPortland General Electric

¶ President Obama said the US would tax each barrel of oil imported or exported, with some of that revenue can be used for transportation. He said, “Some of that revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future.” [CNSNews.com]

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