February 19 Energy News

February 19, 2016

Science and Technology:

¶ It’s official: 2015 was the hottest year on record, beating out 2014 by the widest margin in 136 years of record keeping, US government agencies announced Wednesday. The last globally record cold year was 1911, while 15 of the 16 hottest years on record have occurred since 2001, according to NASA. [Climate Central]

The top 10 hottest years on record.

The top 10 hottest years on record. Temperatures are in Fahrenheit.


Climate protection through nuclear power plants? Hardly. • In 2013 nuclear provided 10.6% of global electricity, and just 1.7% of global final energy consumption. Even if generation in nuclear power plants could be increased significantly, nuclear power will remain a marginal energy source. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]


¶ The world is moving more quickly towards renewable energy than people thought even a year ago, and Australia can expect an imminent boom in large-scale solar investment, according to the CEO of Australian energy utility Origin Energy. He expects solar to be cheaper than most gas-fired generation. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A national poll, conducted by Essential, found that a majority of Australians were more likely to vote for a party with ambitious goals for renewables technology. It found that 63% would prefer a party with a policy to ensure solar is installed on every suitable home and commercial or public building. [RenewEconomy]

Rooftop solar in Australia

Rooftop solar in Australia

¶ RattanIndia Power is reportedly planning to use 324 hectares of land in the northern state of Punhjab originally earmarked for a coal-based power plant to set up a 200 MW solar power plant. The company has dropped plans for the coal-based power plant after it failed to receive assurance of domestic coal supply. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Austria’s biggest utility is seeking to expand a network of “virtual power plants” where energy flows from customers with their own generators. Purchases from solar, wind, biomass and hydro plants, often located at the premises of existing power customers, rose to 100 MW last year from 4 MW in 2014. [Bloomberg]

A weir in Austria. Built in 1843 it was converted to be a 15-kW hydroelectric power station in 1940. Photo by Herzi Pinki. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Built in 1843, this Austrian wier became a 15-kW hydroelectric power station. Photo by Herzi Pinki. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ China’s environment minister said the government needs more power to go after polluters and local government officials that impede compliance with environmental regulations. China’s pollution crisis has become increasingly severe, bringing about school closures and limited factory production. [VICE News]

¶ Japan’s wind-power capacity is expected to grow threefold as two developers invest tens of billions of yen. The total would be equivalent of 10 nuclear reactors. Eurus Energy Holdings and Electric Power Development each plan to invest around ¥60 billion ($528 million) in new facilities by 2020. [Nikkei Asian Review]


¶ New satellite data and surface observations analyzed by Harvard researchers confirm previous data and observations: US methane emissions are considerably higher than the official numbers from the EPA. Significantly, the EPA numbers are mostly based on industry-provided estimates, not actual measurements. [ThinkProgress]

Credit: AP Photo / Eric Gay, file

Gas flair. Credit: AP Photo / Eric Gay, file photo

¶ Palo Alto’s outlook for expanding its supply of cheap, green energy brightened this week. A City Council committee has enthusiastically approved a new 25-year contract with Hecate Energy that would allow the city to buy solar power at a price of less than 3.7¢/kWh. The price may set a record. [Palo Alto Online]

¶ At the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Winter Meeting this week, it was announced that the addition of wind resources surpassed both solar and natural gas in 2015. Wind resources accounted for 8.6 GW of capacity while solar and natural gas came in at 7.3 GW and 6.0 GW, respectively. [JD Supra]

Image Courtesy of Martin Abeggien. Used under Creative Commons license.

Image Courtesy of Martin Abeggien. Used under Creative Commons license.

¶ Four elementary schools serving low-income communities in northern Nevada will blossom with greener classrooms. A press release says Nevada-based non-profit Black Rock Solar is working with Open Energy, a commercial solar debt finance provider, for solar projects on the four elementary schools. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A leaking gas well near the US city of Los Angeles which has been polluting the air for four months has been “permanently sealed,” officials say. The Southern California Gas Company had been pumping in heavy fluids and cement to seal the well. The natural gas leak has caused thousands to relocate. [BBC]

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