October 11 Energy News

October 11, 2016


¶ “Wind Turbines To The Rescue, Family Farm Edition” • An article from Bloomberg speaks to the impact that income from wind turbines can have on struggling family farms. The article describes how wind leases offer farmers significant new source of revenue, without the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction. [CleanTechnica]

Illinois farm (Photo by Tom via  flickr.com, creative commons license.)

Illinois farm (Photo by Tom via
flickr.com, creative commons license.)

¶ “The Missing ‘Why’ in Vermont’s Energy Transition” • We have a responsibility and an opportunity to meet far more of our energy needs through resources carefully deployed in our own backyards. Act 174 creates a way to articulate how that happens. The oft-missing reason why is an essential part of the equation. [vtdigger.org]

Science and Technology:

¶ Celebrating the tallest wood-frame building of its kind anywhere in the world, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr recently attended the “topping out” ceremony of the Brock Commons Residence. The new University of British Columbia student housing tower rises 18 stories to reach 178.8 feet (53 meters) tall. [CleanTechnica]

Brock Commons topping off celebration was on 15 Sept 2016. (Credit: Acton Ostry Architects, Inc)

Brock Commons topping off celebration was on 15 Sept 2016.
(Credit: Acton Ostry Architects, Inc)

¶ Human-caused climate change caused twice as much forest to burn in the West over the past 32 years, researchers at the University of Idaho and Columbia University said. An additional 16,000 square miles of Western forests burned from 1984 to 2015 because of conditions caused by the rise of greenhouse gases. [Idaho Statesman]


¶ ABB announced a modular and scalable plug-and-play microgrid solution to address the globally growing demand for flexible technology in the developing market for distributed power generation. The system can help maximize the use of renewable energy sources while reducing dependence on fossil fuels. [Windpower Engineering]

ABB’s Microgrid Plus control system

ABB’s Microgrid Plus control system

¶ Russia has said it will support a proposal by Opec to freeze oil production in order to reverse the slump in global prices. The move lifted the price of oil, with Brent crude hitting a one-year high. In late afternoon Brent Crude oil was trading up by 2.5% at $53.21 a barrel, just off the $53.73 high hit earlier in the day on Monday. [BBC]

¶ For almost 300 days, the country of Costa Rica has run on a combination of hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar energy. It has not used fossil fuels at all. No other country of its size or larger has come close to this. For example, Portugal was recently praised in the news for running on 100% renewables for 4 days. [Q Costa Rica News]

Costa Rican wind farm

Costa Rican wind farm

¶ Bolivia’s Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, Luis Alberto Sanchez, said the country will reach 545 MW of renewable power generation by 2020. Through Bolivia’s National Electricity Company, the ministry is also expected to invest around $1.05 billion (€941 million) in renewable energy by the same year. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Coal and oil are headed for a downward spiral in the next 20 years, when energy demand is projected to reach its peak due to government policies and renewable energy technologies, according to a major international report. Some experts who used to talk of “Peak Oil,” are now talking about “Peak Demand.” [Washington Examiner]

Gas well (photo by Battenbrook, CC BY SA, Wikimedia Commons)

Gas well (photo by Battenbrook, CC BY SA, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ A top research institute in mainland China is developing what is being called the world’s smallest nuclear power plant. The nuclear plant could fit inside a shipping container and might be installed on an island in the disputed South China Sea within five years. The reactor is said to be capable of supplying 10 MW of heat. [CNBC]
(The article has a clear miscalculation in it. It says 10 MW of heat could supply 50,000 households, which means 200 watts of heat, or about 70 watts of electricity, per household.)


¶ Taking a small step into the energy future, the City of Sonoma, California, voted last week to become the first jurisdiction in Sonoma County, and perhaps the North Bay, to adopt the zero-emissions EverGreen plan from Sonoma Clean Power. The optional premium plan uses 100% local renewable power sources. [Sonoma Index-Tribune]

Sonoma U-3 geothermal power plant (Photo courtesy of Calpine Corporation)

Sonoma U-3 geothermal power plant
(Photo courtesy of Calpine Corporation)

¶ Six biorefineries in Ohio and Indiana belonging to Poet, LLC, are installing a new energy generation system using combined-heat-and-power. These systems will reduce reliance on the electrical energy grid, recover waste energy for additional use in the plant and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [Ethanol Producer Magazine]

¶ A $260 million solar project opening near Roswell, New Mexico, will have the capacity to provide enough power for more than 40,000 homes. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the 1,400-acre solar project is the biggest in the state. Xcel Energy will purchase power under a 25-year contract with project builder NextEra Energy. [KUNM]


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