December 14 Energy News

December 14, 2016

Science and Technology:

¶ When the EPA released its draft report in 2015 on the safety of hydraulic fracturing, industry groups seized on one sentence as proof that fracking is safe: a conclusion that the process has no national “widespread, systemic impact” on drinking water. Now, the final report is out – and that sentence has been removed. [Christian Science Monitor]

Fracking (Andrew Cullen / Reuters / File)

Fracking in a farm field (Andrew Cullen / Reuters / File)

¶ The Arctic is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world, triggering a “massive decline in sea ice and snow,” according to a new federal report. The study shows that the increase in average air temperature between October 2015 and September 2016 was the largest since 1995 at 6.3° F (3.5° C) above those recorded in 1900. [CNN]


¶ A Hundred meters above the flat, dry grain country in western Victoria, the wind blows strongly. Last week the farming region took a big step towards capturing the power of this wind when a 116-turbine wind farm at Murra Warra got planning approval. It will power 250,000 homes, and it will create 60 permanent jobs. [Weekly Times Now]

Eighteen Murra Warra families have banded together  to reap the benefits from hosting wind turbines.

Eighteen Murra Warra families banded together
to reap the benefits from hosting wind turbines.

¶ A new bid on solar power came in at an amazing price, given Denmark’s nascent solar market and its extremely northerly location. The auction brought in an average winning bid price of 38 Danish øre per kWh (5.4¢/kWh). This beats the LCOE from every other new power plant option except wind power – and it is in Denmark! [CleanTechnica]

¶ On some days Danish wind turbines produced 140% of the nation’s need, and they have solar energy and biomass. The Danish Energy Agency has said renewables produce 56% of Denmark’s electricity consumption. Their neighbours purchase any excess power they produce, and they can import power when the need to. [CleanTechnica]

Bottom of wind turbine at Avedore, Hovedstaden, Denmark  (by Drouyn Cambridge via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Bottom of wind turbine at Avedore, Hovedstaden, Denmark
(Photo by Drouyn Cambridge via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

¶ German energy group E.ON has invested in a British start-up business that uses sails instead of rotors to harness wind energy. Kite Power Solutions secured $6.36 million in a fresh funding round that, in addition, included oil industry services company Schlumberger and Royal Dutch Shell, according to E.ON. [Daily Times]

¶ The 20-MW Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm, Queensland’s largest solar power installation, is now supplying power to the grid, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The facility, developed by Elecnor Australia, a unit of Spain’s Elecnor SA, is expected to reach full generation by the end of 2016. [SeeNews Renewables]

Moree solar farm (Source: ARENA)

Moree solar farm (Source: ARENA)


¶ The US Department of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with California to help develop renewable energy projects on federal and state lands, as well as offshore. The MoU establishes objectives for all projects, including prioritizing the applications processing and making more efficient use of existing transmission systems. [reNews]

¶ Activists who have demonstrated for months against the Dakota Access Pipeline may have some fuel to justify their protests. A spill has occurred 150 miles from where protesters have fought construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. State officials estimate 4,200 barrels of crude oil have leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline. [CNN]

Most of the oil has flowed into Ash Coulee Creek.

Most of the oil has flowed into Ash Coulee Creek.

¶ An Arizona utility regulator suggested that nuclear energy should count as a renewable power source, allowing it to compete with solar and wind. One of the five members on the panel that regulates utilities proposed the change in a letter that also implies that he never supported the state’s Renewable Energy Standard. [Arizona Daily Sun]

¶ Good news for environmental campaigners: President-elect Trump has finally nominated someone to his cabinet who actually believes in climate change science. The bad news for those same campaigners is that this true believer happens to be CEO of ExxonMobil, who also sees fossil fuels as critical to humanity’s survival. [BBC]

Protestors young and old making their feelings heard at the Exxon Mobil annual general meeting in Texas

Protestors young and old making their feelings heard
at the Exxon Mobil annual general meeting in Texas

¶ In another sign that the transition isn’t proceeding as smoothly as President Obama professes, the Energy Department refused Tuesday to provide President-elect Donald Trump’s team with a list of federal employees who have worked on climate-change programs. Trump’s transition team did not explain the request. [Washington Times]

¶ Two power line projects that won federal approval Tuesday will give a big capacity boost to the Western energy grid, including power for up to 1 million homes from what’s on track to become the biggest wind farm to be built in the US, the 3,000-MW Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm in southern Wyoming. [Carlisle Sentinel]

Happy Jack Wind Farm, west of Cheyenne

Happy Jack Wind Farm, west of Cheyenne

¶ The San Roman Wind Farm, a 93-MW renewable energy project located near Brownsville, Texas, has begun commercial operation. It will produce sufficient electricity to power more than 30,000 Texas homes. It is expected to generate $30 million in tax revenues and $25 million in lease payments to landowners. [Commercial Property Executive]

¶ Donald Trump’s nominees for the secretaries of Energy and State, and administrator of the EPA, are creating a growing hydrocarbon council in his administration. While generally thought to be good for oil and gas, the ramifications remain unclear. The government perception of fossil fuel will doubtless change. [Oil and Gas Investor]


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