Archive for February, 2017

February 28 Energy News

February 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Energy security from “clean coal”, CCS & CSG. What could possibly go wrong?” • Every few years the fossil fuel industry, via supporting politicians, have another go at forcing “clean coal”, carbon capture and storage, and more recently coal seam gas, on an increasingly sceptical community. What could go wrong? Pretty much everything. [RenewEconomy]

Coal Plant (AAP Image / Mick Tsikas)

Coal Plant (AAP Image / Mick Tsikas)

Science and Technology:

¶ Science educator Bill Nye and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held a Facebook Live conversation on Monday morning about climate change. In the two hours after it aired, the interview has already been viewed about 2 million times, drawn about 100,000 “Reactions” and 52,000 “shares.” You can watch the video here. [EcoWatch]

¶ Oil giant Shell’s farsighted 1991 film, titled Climate of Concern, set out with crystal clarity how the world was warming and that serious consequences could well result. It said climate change was happening “at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the ice age – change too fast perhaps for life to adapt, without severe dislocation.” [The Guardian]

Severe dislocation in Bangladesh  (Photo: Mufti Munir / AFP/Getty Images)

Severe dislocation in a flood in Bangladesh
(Photo: Mufti Munir / AFP/Getty Images)

World:

¶ Competitive power contract auctions around the world are helping to drive down the cost of wind power, according to a new report from Navigant Research. The report, “Global Wind Energy Policy and Market Risk Assessment,” examines the strengths and weaknesses of the policies promoting development of wind energy in 28 countries. [reNews]

¶ Russia has used oil dependence as a weapon to subvert democracies that border it. Estonia, however, has countered this. The country had been importing all of its natural gas for heating and hot water from Russia, but that ended last year. It has shifted its fossil fuel buying to Norway’s Statoil, and is developing offshore wind power. [CleanTechnica]

Baltic Sea off Estonia (Credit: Wikimedia)

Baltic Sea off Estonia (Credit: Wikimedia)

¶ A joint venture by JFE Engineering; Mitsui Oil Exploration; the government-backed Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corp; and Japan Metals & Chemicals will break ground on a roughly 7-MW geothermal plant in Iwate Prefecture in March. The facility is expected to begin operation in 2018, at a cost ¥8.5 billion ($75.8 million). [ThinkGeoEnergy]

¶ Pattern Energy has completed the 184.6-MW Meikle wind farm in British Columbia. The project has 61 GE turbines in a mix of 3.2-MW and 2.75-MW machines. It has a 25-year power purchase agreement with BC Hydro. It is expected to generate $70 million in payments for property taxes and other benefits over its first 25 operating years. [reNews]

Meikle wind farm (Pattern Energy image)

Meikle wind farm (Pattern Energy image)

¶ Airex Energy has opened a biomass torrefaction plant in Bécancour, Quebec. It showcases the latest biomass torrefaction technology, CarbonFX™. The torrefaction process transforms biomass residues into biocoal pellets, a clean and renewable fuel that can replace coal and oil, without major changes to existing systems. [Your Renewable News]

US:

¶ Minnesota’s renewable energy standard would increase to 50% by 2030 under a bipartisan plan unveiled Monday by Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith. The state’s current renewable energy standard, or RES, stands at 25% by 2025 for all utilities, with a more aggressive target for the state’s largest investor owned utility, Xcel Energy. [Midwest Energy News]

Minnesota wind turbines (photo: Michael Janke)

Minnesota wind turbines (photo: Michael Janke)

¶ Tesla will end up hiring around 54% more workers for the Gigafactory project than was initially supposed, according to the executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Initial estimates were that 6,500 jobs would be created by the Gigafactory project. Now, the forecast is for more than 10,000. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Tampa Tank Inc-Florida Structural Steel, a large industrial manufacturing facility in the Tampa bay area, flipped the switch last Friday on its new, 507-kilowatt solar system. As the largest industrial PV system of its kind in Hillsborough County, it will enable TTI-FSS to meet 60% of its on-site power needs with solar energy. [83degreesmedia]

Tampa solar facility

Tampa solar facility

¶ Legislation to require all California electricity providers to supply power generated 100% from renewable resources such as wind and solar by 2045 has been introduced by Senate President Kevin de Leon as Senate Bill 584. Current standards require 33% renewable power by 2020 and 50% by 2030. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ Pacific Gas & Electric announced modifications planned for the Diablo Canyon joint proposal, based on impute from energy industry stakeholders or parties, who participated in the California Public Utilities Commission review of the joint proposal. PG&E still plans to replace the plant with resources that are free of greenhouse gasses. [KEYT]

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (file photo)

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (file photo)

¶ Renewable energy company Soltage LLC and independent power producer Tenaska have completed a 3.68 MW ground-mounted solar project in Billerica, Massachusetts. The project is on a brownfield site and will generate 4,445 MWh annually for four school systems and one local government through virtual net-metering. [Solar Industry]

¶ Duke Energy Indiana has begun commercial service at its first large-scale solar power plant at Naval Support Activity Crane. The $41-million facility consists of about 76,000 solar panels and can generate up to 17 MW of power. The plant sits on about 145 acres of land leads to Duke Energy by the Department of the Navy. [Inside INdiana Business]

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February 27 Energy News

February 27, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Even Trump Can’t Stop the Tide of Green Jobs” • With a policy of climate denial, Trump promised to boost coal and oil jobs and dismantle the Clean Power Plan. But green jobs are a key hope for revitalizing communities, and experts say he isn’t to stop the growth of clean energy jobs entirely (or efforts by unions to organize its workers). [Truth-Out]

Green jobs are rising. (Photo: alfre32 / Flickr)

Green jobs are rising. (Photo: alfre32 / Flickr)

¶ “Man Who Moved Oil With His Words Won’t Talk About It Anymore” • Now that he’s done with his near 21-year stint as Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, during which his utterances could move markets worldwide, al-Naimi says he doesn’t want to talk about the oil market anymore. Now, he is focused on solar power and solar panels. [Bloomberg]

World:

¶ Enthused by the world’s biggest solar power project in Rewa, which is set to produce India’s least costly power, the Union government wrote to all states to have them incorporate initiatives taken by Madhya Pradesh, so the target of generating 100 GW of solar power is achieved quickly and at affordable rates. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Solar array

Solar array

¶ Renewable energy will fill the demand for power in India in the next seven to eight years. According to an estimate by The Energy and Resource Institute, power produced by renewable energy sources will increase from 5.6% to 34% by 2030 whereas production share of coal based energy will decrease from present 73% to 56%. [Web India]

¶ In 2019, a program designed to buy back solar power flowing from rooftop panels at above-market rates will start becoming less enticing, potentially leaving homeowners who signed up with excess power on their hands. Osaka-based Panasonic is anticipating that installations of energy storage systems for solar panels will rise. [The Japan Times]

House in the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Bloomberg)

House in the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Bloomberg)

¶ The Australian Government says Labor’s renewable energy policy is increasing power prices. Power prices for Queensland small businesses have doubled over the past decade, but despite Queensland having about 4.4% of its power supply coming from renewables, it has the highest average wholesale electricity prices in the country. [Courier Mail]

¶ A new study by energy experts from the Australian National University suggests that a 100% renewable energy electricity grid, with 90% of power coming from wind and solar, will be a less expensive future option than a coal or gas-fired network in Australia. Most of the current fleet of coal generators are due to retire before 2030. [RenewEconomy]

Windy Hill Wind Farm (Carole Mackinney, Wikimedia Commons)

Windy Hill Wind Farm (Carole Mackinney, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Buoyed by drop in tariff to record low of ₹3.46 per unit (5.2¢/kWh) in the first auction of wind power, the Indian government is mulling putting on the block more such projects next fiscal year. The auction assumes significance because India has set an ambitious target of having 60 GW of wind power capacity by 2022. [ETEnergyworld.com]

US:

¶ Tesla announced that its SolarCity solar panel factory in Buffalo is expected to begin production of the solar roofing tiles soon so that the flagship products can hit the market by the end of the year. The solar roof will be offered in four styles: Textured Glass Tile, Slate Glass Tile, Tuscan Glass Tile, and Smooth Glass Tile. [The Urban Developer]

House with solar roof tiles

House with solar roof tiles

¶ In Apple Valley, California, the town will become its residents’ default energy provider on April 1, a move officials say will result in lower rates and an approximate $21 million revenue surplus by 2026. In the lead-up to implementation, the Town Council has made several approvals related to the Apple Valley Choice Energy program. [Hesperia Star]

¶ With electricity prices depressed, Public Service Enterprise Group, based in Newark, New Jersey, has been quietly lobbying policymakers to help its nuclear plants, much the way New York has approved subsidies to keep reactors in the state operating. PSEG, which owns three units in South Jersey, is in discussions with policymakers. [NJ Spotlight]

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February 26 Energy News

February 26, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How to Support Renewable Energy (and Why You Really Should)” • Even with the divided US political climate, most people agree on public support for increasing our use of renewable energy sources. Some are concerned about pollution, others about the national security. But many are attracted to benefits of renewable energy. [Scientific American]

Sonoma Calpine 3 geothermal plant  (Stepheng3, Wikimedia Commons)

Geothermal power plant (Stepheng3, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Conservative group’s carbon plan gives us hope for climate change action” • The Climate Leadership Council, a conservative panel including former Secretaries of State George Schultz and James Baker and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, is challenging climate skeptics in their party with a market-based approach. [Hawaii Tribune Herald]

¶ “Wind Energy Boom Hits The US” • It’s free, plentiful, carbon neutral and in the right hands could have a radical impact on the future. Installed wind capacity was greater than hydroelectric, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The AWEA points out that, with a new site in North Carolina, there are now wind farms in 41 states. [Yahoo Finance]

Wind turbines in Wyoming  (CGP Grey, Wikimedia Commons)

Wind turbines in Wyoming (CGP Grey, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ Digging for blood and sand worms along the Maine coast can pay well, particularly in areas of the state where it can be hard to make a living. Maine’s annual harvest of these popular bait worms, however, continues to decline, posing a quandary for marine biologists who cite climate change and predation as possible factors. [Bangor Daily News]

¶ A study by a British and French team of climate scientists has challenged the previously held notion that any significant change in temperatures here was unlikely before the end of the century. Writing in Nature Communications journal the team judged the chance of a significant change in the region as being as high as 50%. [MyBroadband]

Ocean Ice

Ocean Ice

World:

¶ After earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns devastated Fukushima communities, local people took power generation into their own hands, creating a co-operative, Aizu Power. Now it operates a dozen small-scale solar power facilities across inner Fukushima. They demonstrate that even in a snowy region, solar is a viable option. [Truth-Out]

¶ Work has begun on Genex’s $126 million Kidston Solar Project in North Queensland, the first solar farm to be built under the state government’s Solar 150 program. Visiting the site of the former Kidston Gold Mine, the Energy Minister said the project was a sign of investor confidence in Queensland’s renewable credentials. [The North West Star]

Genex Kidston solar farm

Genex Kidston solar farm

¶ According to the chairman and managing director of Suzlon Group, wind and solar energy do not compete but rather complement each other. Solar in India is in addition to wind and not a substitute. In India, wind power is at grid parity, solar power is getting there, and development of conventional power has stalled. [Telangana Today]

¶ The number of electricity users who voluntarily purchased green power in Taiwan has grown from 531 to more than 7,000 in three years. Consumption of green power has grown from less than 5 million kWh to more than 270 million kWh since 2014 when the Green Power Pilot Program, a three-year promotional scheme, was initialed. [Taiwan News]

Green power in Taiwan (Photo from Wikipedia)

Green power in Taiwan (Photo from Wikipedia)

US:

¶ In late 2015, Houston agreed to a 20-year deal to buy 30 MW of power from the Solaire Holman plant. Last week, the City Council ramped up that purchase to accept all 50 MW the plant will produce, at $44.68 per MWh over 20 years. That will cover 10.5% of the city’s annual electricity needs, replacing coal-generated power. [Houston Chronicle]

¶ Manchester, Ohio is a mass of closed storefronts, with a couple of restaurants and one bar. Its 2,000 residents rely on two coal-burning power plants to provide jobs and keep the local economy afloat. Both are closing in 2018, and the closest town with available work is an hour away. They are looking to Donald Trump to save them. [CNN]

In the distance, the coal-burning Stuart station, near Manchester

In the distance, the coal-burning Stuart station, near Manchester

¶ For 40 years the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has conducted unique scientific research and worked with industry to make sources such as solar, wind and biofuels increasingly big parts of America’s energy supply. But the Trump administration has roughly 1,700 NREL employees wondering what’s ahead. [Colorado Public Radio]

¶ In filings this week, Duke Energy said its actual avoided costs for solar power have dropped, largely because of falling fuel prices for natural gas, to $35 per megawatt-hour of energy. But it’s paying solar developers $55 to $85 under long-term contracts based on avoided costs the commission previously set. [Winston-Salem Journal]

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February 25 Energy News

February 25, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Trump’s draconian budget proposals will destroy US clean energy innovation” • Voters who expected Trump to prioritize revitalized manufacturing may be disappointed, as his opening budget proposals will stymie progress toward the critical jobs of the 21st century: developing, manufacturing, and installing renewable energy. [Quartz]

Hey Trump: Europe is beating you on clean  energy – bigly. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

Hey Trump: Europe is beating you on clean
energy – bigly. (Reuters / Denis Balibouse)

¶ “Here’s Why the US Nuclear Industry Is in Jeopardy” • The Spiraling construction costs at new facilities and planned closures of decades-old plants highlight why the nuclear industry in the United States remains in trouble, even as the quest for zero-carbon energy sources grows. Nuclear plants are facing financial meltdowns. [Seeker]

¶ “The Economist embraces renewables” • In this week’s cover story, The Economist thoughtfully argues for expanded use of renewable energy, noting, “It is no longer far-fetched to think that the world is entering an era of clean, unlimited and cheap power. About time, too.” But some issues require clarification. [Into the Wind – The AWEA Blog]

Rolling Hills (Credit: IA Ashley)

Rolling Hills wind turbines (Credit: IA Ashley)

Science and Technology:

¶ As the US basks in some of the warmest February weather it’s seen in decades, the US Geological Survey has been quick to point out that the early spring conditions are just another symptom of climate change. Analysis from the USA-National Phenology Network shows that an early spring is working its way across the country. [Chicago Tribune]

¶ Scientists at Duke University have used rhodium for a solar powered system that converts carbon dioxide into methane, which can be used as a replacement for natural gas. The idea could enable capturing waste gas from industrial operations and converting it to fuel. Rhodium is a rare element used in the jewelry trade. [CleanTechnica]

 Rhodium nanoparticles (Photo: Chad Scales)

Rhodium nanoparticles (Photo: Chad Scales)

World:

¶ The UN’s new climate chief says she’s worried about President Trump but confident that action to curb climate change cannot be stopped. Former Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa said China’s stated willingness to lead the world in curbing emissions might cause American diplomats to ponder the implications of giving up its leadership role. [BBC]

¶ According to WindEurope, Denmark generated a total of 70 GWh from onshore wind and another 27 GWh from offshore wind on February 22. This is enough wind energy to power the entire country’s electricity needs. By the end of 2015, Denmark had a total of just over 5 GW of wind energy installed, a number that increased during 2016. [CleanTechnica]

Horns Rev wind farm of Danish coast

Horns Rev wind farm of Danish coast

¶ ElecLink Limited has awarded Siemens an order to supply a link between the French and British power grids through the Channel Tunnel. The high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) link will enhance power supply reliability in both countries and promote the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid. [Environmental Expert]

US:

¶ GE Renewable Energy is to supply wind and solar components for the first US commercial integrated solar-wind hybrid project, a 4.6-MW community project set for Red Lake Falls, Minnesota. GE Renewable Energy has been contracted to supply two 2.3-116 onshore wind turbines and 1 MW of solar power conversion equipment. [CleanTechnica]

GE Renewable Energy 2-MW wind turbine

GE Renewable Energy 2-MW wind turbine

¶ A bill introduced to the Georgia House of Representatives promises to touch off a tug of war over renewable energy. If it is made law, the Public Service Commission could no longer recommend changes to the plan for the energy mix. One commissioner warned that it would shut down an ability to push for solar power. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

¶ California utility San Diego Gas & Electric put into service the largest lithium-ion storage battery in the world, wrapping up a fast-track procurement process that began less than a year ago. The 30-MW, 120-MWh system is part of an expedited response by the state to the loss of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility last year. [POWER magazine]

San Diego Gas & Electric’s new 30-MW, 120-MWh  battery storage system (Source: POWER / Tom Overton)

San Diego Gas & Electric’s new 30-MW, 120-MWh
battery storage system (Source: POWER / Tom Overton)

¶ New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is again pushing for ExxonMobil to disclose how climate change will impact its corporate bottom line. He voice a concern that Exxon has not ensured its resilience in a lower carbon future. The state pension fund has investment in ExxonMobil valued at $973.6 million. [Albany Times Union]

¶ The union that once represented hundreds of employees at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant now represents a mere 13 workers. Even so, Local 300 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers wants to have a say in upcoming hearings about the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee to an industrial demolition company. [Recorder]

Vermont Yankee (Recorder File Photo)

Vermont Yankee (Recorder File Photo)

¶ The Florida Supreme Court on Friday turned down an appeal by Florida Power & Light in a case about whether the utility could be required to install underground transmission lines as part of a nuclear-power project in Miami-Dade County. The dispute relates to FPL’s proposal to build two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. [News Chief]

¶ Nuclear energy startup Transatomic Power has backed away from bold claims for its advanced reactor technology after an informal review by MIT professors highlighted serious errors in the company’s calculations, MIT Technology Review has learned. The company has admitted the error and is working to correct it. [MIT Technology Review]

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February 24 Energy News

February 24, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Will fossil fuels and conventional cars be obsolete by 2030?” In 2016, solar power became the cheapest form of energy in 58 lower-income countries, including China, India, and Brazil, and the cost is still dropping. In Europe, in 2016, 86% of the newly installed energy capacity was from renewable sources. Is it all over for fossil fuels? [Huffington Post]

Solar power rising

Solar power rising

World:

¶ London has air pollution levels that sometimes exceed those of Beijing. NOx levels have gone well beyond EU legal limits; over a 5 day period in January, their levels exceeded the EU’s legal limit for a full year. The Mayor announced that central London will institute a £10 charge for entering vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The government of France is reportedly now offering a state subsidy of €200 to buyers of certain electrically powered bicycles. This state subsidy will be on the table until January 31, 2018, though there possibly may be an extension. The new state subsidy does not apply to electric bikes relying on lead-acid batteries. [CleanTechnica]

Wave e-bike (Image of Wave Electric Bike)

Wave e-bike (Image of Wave Electric Bike)

¶ The UK’s energy policy is beset by failures, according to a report from the House of Lords economic affairs committee. The report says the UK should put energy security, ahead of climate policy. Energy experts say the report is “confused”, the summary is “very misleading” and the auction it proposes “doesn’t really make sense.” [Carbon Brief]

¶ A new report by Australia’s Climate Council, State of Solar 2016: Globally and in Australia, talks of a “huge” year ahead for the country’s large-scale solar sector, with more than twenty utility-scale solar plants totaling more than 1 GW set to come online in 2017, and with a further 3.7 GW of new capacity in the pipeline. [pv magazine]

Kidston solar farm in Australia

Kidston solar farm in Australia

¶ Indian wind power tariffs fell to a record low in an auction, just a few days after solar power rates also hit an all-time low. In the auction, which was conducted by state-controlled Solar Energy Corporation of India for various wind projects totaling 1 GW, five companies separately quoted ₹3.46 per unit (5.2¢/kWh) for the tariff. [BW Businessworld]

¶ Swedish developer Minesto struck a deal with shipping outfit Stena Line to use a new assembly hall in the Welsh port of Holyhead for the commercial roll out of the Deep Green tidal kite. Minesto is planning a first commercial array at Holyhead Deep and is currently also seeking to up top power at the site from 10 MW to 80 MW. [reNews]

Deep Green tidal kite (Minesto image)

Deep Green tidal kite (Minesto image)

¶ Renewable energy companies from three EU member nations, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands have just announced they will finance and build a total of 735 MW of wind power in Russia. All three have been victims of Putin-backed campaigns boosting anti-democratic candidates in an attempt to split and weaken the European Union. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ A solar project in Kearney, Nebraska will be the largest solar array in the state when its panels go online in the fall. It will have a capacity of 5.8 MW, at a cost of $11 million. Consumers will be allowed to buy shares in the array, for up to 80% of their usage, at a slight premium above regular rates, 86¢ per month for a 150-kWh share. [Kearney Hub]

Solar array in Nebraska (Courtesy photo)

Solar array in Nebraska (Courtesy photo)

¶ The main Standing Rock protest camp near the Dakota Access Pipeline was cleared Thursday, a day after a deadline to leave the area expired, authorities said. There were arrests, but no major conflict after police did not enter the camp. About 100 protesters left voluntarily. Protesters chanted, waved flags, and played drums as they left. [CNN]

¶ In the years of 2000 to 2014, Colorado River flows declined to around 81% of the 20th-century average. Researchers found that the higher temperatures in the region since 2000 are responsible for between one-sixth to one-half of the river flow reductions seen since 2000. Forty million people rely on the river for their survival. [CleanTechnica]

Relying on the Colorado River for survival  (Erik A Ellison, Wikimedia Commons)

Relying on the Colorado River for survival
(Erik A Ellison, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ California’s building standards mandate all new residential homes and commercial buildings under 10 stories to have a “solar ready” roof. The proposed California bill SB 71 would shift the focus from “solar ready” to “solar installed”. California would be the first US to requiring renewable energy installations by law. [Sun & Wind Energy]

¶ A bill aimed at classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source in New Mexico stalled Thursday afternoon in committee on a tie vote. House Bill 406 would have amended the state’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires energy companies provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. [New Mexico Political Report]

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant (NRC photo  Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant (NRC photo
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Township Council of Willingboro, New Jersey voted to award a power purchase agreement to Eznergy of Toms River. The PPA calls for the company to install solar panels on certain township rooftops at no cost to the municipality, which will buy the power produced at 7¢/kWh, about half of what it currently pays, for 15 years. [Burlington County Times]

¶ Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council claim a new study it commissioned puts to rest any lingering doubts over replacement power and shows that the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant can be done clean and green, without big increases in electric bills. Indian Points power units will be offline by 2021. [Mid-Hudson News]

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February 23 Energy News

February 23, 2017

World:

¶ For the first time ever, a study by climate research institute Climate Analytics calculated what a cost-effective fossil fuel exit strategy would look like. The study focused on keeping global warming at 1.5° C until the end of this century. All coal-fired power plants in the EU need to be shut down by 2030, but that is just a start. [Deutsche Welle]

The cheapest way to reduce fossil fuel emissions  is to phase out coal and replace it with renewables.

The cheapest way to reduce fossil fuel emissions
is to phase out coal and replace it with renewables.

¶ The German city of Stuttgart will have occasional selective bans of diesel cars during periods of high pollution beginning in 2018, state officials in Baden-Württemberg say. The intent of the selective-bans is to limit diesel pollution within the state’s capital city during periods when air pollution levels are already quite high. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A ComRes survey has found 85% of British adults are in favor of price support for renewables including onshore wind and solar. The survey for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit showed less than 30% think gas power should be subsidised, the same proportion as for nuclear, with 19% wanting support for coal. [reNews]

Goole Fields (Image: Innogy UK Renewables)

Goole Fields (Image: Innogy UK Renewables)

¶ Countries in the EU, including the UK, are throwing away money by subsidizing the burning of wood for energy, according to an independent report. While burning some forms of wood waste can indeed reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in practice the growing use of wood energy in the EU is actually increasing emissions. [New Scientist]

¶ In a direct challenge to the Australian Coalition’s coal-based political campaign, Labor would put fossil fuels in a secondary place. It is calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to join a major promotion of wind and solar investment. The objective is to get a slice of the worldwide investment in renewables over the next 20 years. [NEWS.com.au]

Toora Wind Farm in South Gippsland, Victoria

Toora Wind Farm in South Gippsland, Victoria

¶ The Indian government has approved a plan to double the capacity of solar parks and ultra-mega solar power projects to 40,000 MW from 20,000 MW. The power minister told news reporters a roadmap would be finalized shortly to set up at least 50 solar parks, each with a capacity of 500 MW except in hilly areas. [Times of India]

¶ In Nepal, some communities are looking to harness the energy water produces with micro-hydropower systems. According to the Nepal Micro Hydropower Development Association, over 3,300 micro hydro plants are providing energy to villages around the country. In many places, impact has been significant for villagers. [CNBC]

River in Nepal (Anil Simkhada, Wikimedia Commons)

River in Nepal (Anil Simkhada, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Pakistan’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources has opposed a proposed ban on setting up new power plants using natural gas, which is being considered as part of a plan of capping consumption of different fuel sources for power generation. It supports restrictions on the installation of power plants using imported coal or oil. [The Express Tribune]

¶ The Indian government approved a 900-MW hydro power project to be set up in Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal at a cost of ₹5,723.72 crore ($860 million). The decision to approve the Arun-III project was taken in New Delhi at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. [News Nation]

Hydro dam (Image: PTI)

Hydro dam (Image: PTI)

US:

¶ Over 7,500 pages of emails from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office shed light on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s relationship with Devon Energy, including allowing its top lobbyists to draft and edit letters sent to top federal officials on his behalf. They were obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy through an open records request. [CNN]

¶ The future of ethanol, which critics deride as a boondoggle and backers laud as crucial to the nation’s energy mix, was thought to be in jeopardy, given some of the Trump administration appointments. But the new president sent a message to the ethanol industry that delighted its members. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Pumping ethanol into a truck (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Pumping ethanol into a truck (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

¶ In the years from 2005 to 2014, there were at least 6,648 spills at hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells in just four of the states where fracking is done, according to analysis published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The states that were in the study were New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The historic St Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan has activated a geothermal heating plant, part of a series of environmentally friendly upgrades. The Archdiocese of New York said that the geothermal plant is comprised of ten wells, up to 2,200 feet deep, that were drilled along the north and south sides of the cathedral. [PennEnergy]

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan (Jean-Christophe BENOIST, Wikimedia Commons)

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan
(Jean-Christophe BENOIST, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Madison Gas and Electric announced plans to build and operate a 66-MW wind farm near Saratoga, Iowa. The project would consist of 33 turbines at a site in Howard County and serve MGE customers in Wisconsin. Construction would be complete by the end 2018, the company said. The project would cost about $107 million. [reNews]

¶ FirstEnergy, based in Akron, Ohio, made it clear that it is leaving the competitive power plant business, closing or selling all of its plants, including its nuclear plants, by the middle of next year. Closing the plants, which would probably take several years, would also have little impact on customer bills or power supplies. [cleveland.com]

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February 22 Energy News

February 22, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How South Australia can function reliably while moving to 100% renewable power” • Despite the criticism leveled at South Australia over its renewable energy ambitions, the state is aiming to be carbon neutral by mid-century, which will mean moving to 100% renewable electricity over the next 15-20 years. It can do that. [The Conversation AU]

Australian wind farm

Australian wind farm

World:

¶ Almost every railway station in India will soon be fed with solar power if the plans in India’s new union budget are implemented. The Indian Finance Minister announced that the 7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 MW of solar power capacity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Energy company RWE has cancelled its dividend for the second successive year, after writedowns of €4.3 billion ($4.5 billion) on its power plants and a surprise net loss of €5.7 billion euros ($6 billion) during 2016. RWE faces competition from renewables at the very time that Germany is moving away from nuclear power. [BBC]

RWE's Niederaussem power plant in Bergheim, Germany (EPA)

RWE’s Niederaussem power plant in Bergheim, Germany (EPA)

¶ Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to enact a national carbon tax by 2018. After meeting with US president Donald Trump, he said that Canada would aggressively pursue its climate change goals. But according to a study by four leading environmental groups, Canadian fossil fuel subsidies totaled $3.3 billion last year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Iberdrola announced it has completed the installation of the first of 70 5-MW Adwen wind turbines at the 350-MW Wikinger offshore wind farm off the coast of Germany. The turbines are being installed by Fred Olsen’s Brave Tern, one of two self-elevating, self-propelled jack-up vessels dedicated to installing offshore wind turbines. [CleanTechnica]

Brave Tern

Brave Tern

¶ As the world’s number one exporter of crude oil, renewable energy may be the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of Saudi Arabia. But it is now turning to solar and wind power in a SGD 71 billion ($50 billion) bid to cut dependency on oil amid growing energy demands domestically, according to the Saudi energy minister. [VR-Zone]

¶ A new report on Australia’s rising power prices over the past decade, from the Australian National University, has undermined claims that South Australia’s high electricity prices have been driven by the state’s uptake wind and solar. It shows that its rises have been less in SA than in the states that are dependent on coal. [RenewEconomy]

Wattle Point wind farm near Edithburgh (Wikimedia Commons)

Wattle Point wind farm near Edithburgh (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ China’s Plans to green-light eight nuclear reactors this year, in the world’s fastest-growing nuclear market, could depend on whether it’s able to complete some of the world’s most-advanced facilities, including Westinghouse Electric Co’s AP1000 and Areva SA’s EPR, neither of which has an operational track record. [BloombergQuint]

¶ Faced with the choice of replacing the ageing undersea electricity cable that powers South Australia’s Kangaroo Island or building a renewable grid on the island itself, mayor Peter Clements wants both. And he’s backing a radical “community ownership” model from Denmark’s Samsø Island to help pay for it. [InDaily]

Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island

US:

¶ In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, a former conservative Republican congressman said President Trump would be forced to change his mind on climate change. Bob Inglis changed his position on global warming after extensive briefings with scientists. He founded a conservative movement lobbying for action. [Perth Now]

¶ Caterpillar announced that Cat dealer Altorfer commissioned a 1000-kW solar PV system in Rantoul, Illinois. The system fulfills a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency. It was built on an 8.5-acre site near Heritage Lake Park and the University of Illinois Transportation Lab. [Decentralized Energy]

Caterpillar Tucson Regional Offices

Caterpillar Tucson Regional Offices

¶ Iberdrola Renewables announced a 15-year contract to supply Southern California Edison with renewable energy from the planned Tule Wind Power Project in eastern San Diego County. SCE will purchase the entire output of the 132-MW wind farm. The project is expected to be completed and operational in late 2017. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ A new study says Pacific Northwest utility ratepayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars if the region’s only commercial nuclear power plant is closed and its output replaced with renewable energy. The Portland-based McCullough Research consulting firm estimated savings from $261.2 million to $530.7 million over 10 years. [The Columbian]

Columbia Generating Station

Columbia Generating Station

¶ New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo announced state-supported solar power in New York increased nearly 800% in five years, leveraging nearly $1.5 billion in private investment. Solar growth is critical to the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard that 50% of New York’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. [Eagle News Online]

¶ Injecting large amounts of offshore wind power into the grid is manageable, will cut costs, and will reduce pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, according to researchers from the University of Delaware and Princeton University who completed a first-of-its-kind simulation with the electric power industry. [Science Daily]

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February 21 Energy News

February 21, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have built a better flow battery. Using a predictive model of molecules and their properties, University of Utah and University of Michigan chemists developed a charge-storing molecule around 1,000 times more stable than current compounds. Their results are reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. [Phys.Org]

Flow battery in operation

Flow battery in operation – color represents charge

¶ Research from the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz found a strong association between the diagnosis of acute lymphocytic leukemia among children and levels of nearby oil and natural gas development. Children living near oil and gas wells are far more likely to develop the leukemia than those that aren’t. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Researchers from the University of California Irvine studied data collected from 1991 to 2015 on glaciers found in the Queen Elizabeth Islands in the Arctic. They found that, from 2005 to 2015, surface melt off of these glaciers rose by 900% – something they say is attributable to warming air temperatures in the region. [CBC.ca]

Petermann Glacier (NASA / NOAA / Aqua - MODIS)

Petermann Glacier in Greenland (NASA / NOAA / Aqua – MODIS)

World:

¶ The 497-MW EnBW Hohe See offshore wind farm off the coast of Germany is set to proceed, as Canadian energy infrastructure company Enbridge has decided to invest in the project, and German engineering company Siemens is committing for the first time to provide complete the project’s construction work. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Tocardo Tidal Power is preparing to deploy the InToTidal project at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. The company said the Universal Foundation System is the start of Tocardo’s planned 20-year commercial demonstration project at the site. The semi-submersible platform features five 300-kW devices. [reNews]

Tocardo turbines (Tocardo image)

Tocardo turbines (Tocardo image)

¶ South African utility Eskom is defying an “injunction” of president Jacob Zuma by attempting to negotiate tariffs with preferred bidders instead of signing existing PPAs, according to the South African Renewable Energy Council. The council says Eskom will “drag its feet wherever possible to resist signing … with renewable producers.” [PV-Tech]

¶ Wind energy developer Gamesa has reinforced its position in India with seven new orders totalling 278 MW. Gamesa has been ranked as the leading original equipment manufacturer in India for the last three years. The projects are scheduled for commissioning between March and October 2017. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Gamesa wind turbines (Gamesa image)

Gamesa wind turbines (Gamesa image)

¶ A survey by Essential on energy policy found that Australia’s Turnbull government is failing to persuade people of either its performance or its arguments on energy security. More than seven in ten (71%) said the government was not doing enough to ensure “affordable, reliable and clean energy” for households and businesses. [The Conversation AU]

¶ The additional costs intermittent renewables impose on the electricity system are “modest” according to a report published by the UK Energy Research Council. The UKERC said studies which found significantly higher costs are usually related to particularly inflexible systems, or where very little system re-optimisation was assumed. [reNews]

Kirkby Moor wind farm in Cumbria (Innogy UK Renewables)

Kirkby Moor wind farm in Cumbria (Innogy UK Renewables)

¶ Saudi Arabia has launched the first stage of its ambitious renewables tenders, including 400 MW of wind projects and 300 MW of solar. The kingdom plans to have 3.45 GW of renewables by 2020 and 9.5 GW by 2023. The projects will be backed by power purchase agreements of 25 years for solar and 20 years for wind. [Power Engineering International]

¶ In Gujarat, subdued demand and surplus electricity availability reduced additions of new capacity for generating power from conventional power sources such as coal and gas. The installed generating capacity of non-renewable energy sources grew by just 0.7% in 2015-16, compared with 6.2% in 2013-14 and 5.2% in 2013-14. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Solar and wind power

Solar and wind power

¶ The prolonged closure of a major French atomic reactor after an explosion this month probably costs EDF at least £1 million a day, according to experts. The nuclear plant operator, which will spend £18 billion building the UK’s first new nuclear power station in a generation, shut unit 1 at its Flamanville plant after a fire in the turbine hall. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ Wind energy has become the largest renewable power sector in the United States, but its adoption has lagged in the Southeast. One of the reasons is that wind currents in the area are relatively weak. Wind turbines are becoming more efficient, however, and this may help bring new wind energy projects to the Southeast. [Hydrogen Fuel News]

Wind turbines at sunset

Wind turbines at sunset

¶ The president of the University of Iowa announced that the UI will be coal-free by 2025. The university has already taken steps to reduce its dependence on coal; in 2008, it established seven “sustainability targets” to be achieved by 2020. Since the 2020 vision’s inception, the UI has managed to reduce its use of coal by 60%. [The Daily Iowan]

¶ Kevin de León has promised to lead the resistance to President Trump, and a new bill could make good on that promise. The California Senate leader has introduced legislation that would have the Golden State get 100% of its electricity from climate-friendly energy sources by 2045. The current renewable energy mandate is 50% by 2030. [KHOU.com]

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February 20 Energy News

February 20, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Easy as Two Plus Two: How to Regain our Democracy” • We can get our democracy back, and improve our lives as we do. If those who disapprove of the Washington establishment we have turn down residential thermostats by 2° F and drive two miles fewer per day, it will cost those who bought this government $10 billion per year. [Green Energy Times]

¶ “Expect to see more emergencies like Oroville Dam in a hotter world” • Like many extreme events, the Oroville emergency is a combination of natural weather likely intensified by climate change. California regularly sees “atmospheric rivers” that deluge the state with rainfall, but a hotter world will make them worse, scientists say. [The Guardian]

¶ “Jobs and Prosperity Are in Clean Energy, Not Destroying the Planet” • The Republican Party is almost entirely united in their claims that defunding, crushing, and abolishing the EPA as well as other regulatory measures will benefit the American people and the prosperity of the country overall. This could not be further from the truth. [Paste Magazine]

Destroying the planet

Destroying the planet

World:

¶ Africa will see a “solar revolution” comparable in scale to the rapid surge in mobile phone use there two decades ago, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency predicts. Fast-dropping costs, plenty of sun, and a huge need for electricity where many are still without it, means solar has huge potential in Africa. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Local Aboriginal tribes – the Ngadjuri and Nukunu – have both recognized and celebrated the abundance of South Australian wind and solar power resources. They added huge artworks to the base of two of the 105 massive wind turbines that will form the Hornsdale wind project outside Jamestown, near Port Pirie. [Aboriginal Art Directory News]

Celebrating wind power

Celebrating wind power

¶ The number of applications for large-scale solar power projects to be connected to the Irish grid before 2020 has doubled over the last five months, as market confidence that the government is poised to subsidize the industry continues to grow. The projects range in size between 25 MW and 95 MW and now total almost 1.2 GW in capacity. [ICIS]

¶ One of the Australia’s biggest and most recent wind farms will conduct a major trail in South Australia in June to try to dispel one of the biggest myths about wind energy – that wind farms are unable to add to energy security. The intention is to show that wind farms can provide frequency control and ancillary services. [RenewEconomy]

Hornsdale wind farm

Hornsdale wind farm

¶ Three PV power plants with a combined capacity of 320 MW have begun construction in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. A joint venture between Overland Sun Farming and the UK’s Island Green Power is behind the A$500 million ($384 million) project, which is going ahead despite the its not having yet signed PPAs. [pv magazine]

US:

¶ Hundreds of scientists, some in lab coats, held a rally in Boston Sunday to draw attention to their concerns about the Trump administration’s policies. Speakers and signs criticized those in the administration who deny that climate change is real, who question the collection and distribution of data on science, and other policies. [Inside Higher Ed]

Scientists Protest

Scientists Protest

¶ The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of the country’s governors, currently representing twenty states, sent an open letter to President Donald Trump, calling on him to support development of wind and solar energy. The letter was written by the governors of Rhode Island and Kansas, on behalf of the Coalition. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Conservation advocates are celebrating Presidents Day at rallies in Las Vegas and in Carson City. They’re calling on the Nevada Legislature to pass Assembly Bill 206. The bill would raise the renewable portfolio standard to require utilities to generate 50% of their power from renewables by the year 2030, and 80% by 2040. [Public News Service]

Nevada wind and solar (adamkaz / iStockphoto)

Nevada wind and solar (adamkaz / iStockphoto)

¶ Nebraska’s Net Metering laws are currently very restrictive. As they stand, the laws only allow for the development of 25 kW of solar and place a cap on each respective utility at 1% for the amount of renewables that can be developed. Senator Carol Blood hopes to address this issue with LB 87 and raise the net metering limit. [1011now]

¶ Business is booming for solar companies in Maryland, as sun-sourced energy becomes more affordable and accessible. The state added 1,160 solar jobs in 2016. This is a 27% jump from the previous year, bringing the industry’s employment to more than 5,400, according to an annual solar jobs census by the Solar Foundation. [Baltimore Sun]

Installing solar panels (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Installing solar panels (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

¶ Nevada lawmakers will debate a number of energy-related issues soon, including the state’s renewable portfolio standards and efficiency programs. NV Energy, a major utility in the area, is asking regulators to boost incentives for rooftop solar customers, arguing that it would make solar economically advantageous for customers. [Las Vegas Sun]

¶ Toshiba had been contracted to build the third and fourth reactors for US utility NRG Energy’s South Texas Project, taking the Japanese manufacturer’s advanced boiling water reactors abroad for the first time. Toshiba looks to pull out of the project, and will decide later what to do with its developing stake in the joint venture. [Nikkei Asian Review]

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February 19 Energy News

February 19, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists revealed that the extent of the Antarctic sea ice has shrunk and is getting increasingly erratic. According to the British Antarctic Survey, this year’s minimum sea ice level in the region is the smallest so far. Meanwhile, another report disclosed that the latest recorded sea ice extent had been the lowest in the last 38 years. [Telegiz News]

Record minimum Antarctic sea ice (Robert Woods, US Navy)

Record minimum Antarctic sea ice (Robert Woods, US Navy)

World:

¶ A competitive auction for the 750-MW solar power park in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, has yielded the lowest-ever tariff for a solar power project in India. The three units of the solar power park have been awarded at tariffs of ₹2.970 to ₹2.979 per kWh (4.4¢/kWh). The lowest bid was placed by ACME Cleantech Solutions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside government offices in Bangkok since Friday to demonstrate against a decision to green-light a 800-MW coal plant on the coast of Krabi, a region known for its beaches and natural beauty. The three protest leaders were detained by police on and handed over to the military. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Loading coal

Loading coal

¶ As coal’s future in Australia continues to dominate the national political debate, returns lodged by “third party campaigners” to the Australian Electoral Commission show a little-known group called ACA Low Emissions Technologies Limited, which is a promoter of coal mining interests, was one of the top spenders. [Bombala Times]

¶ An Australian company says it will build solar and battery facilities in South Australia this year with enough storage capacity to meet the power shortfall that caused blackouts in the state 10 days ago. A partner of Lyon Group said he was “very confident” his firm would install two 50-MW battery storage facilities this year. [The Australian Financial Review]

Solar PV panels in China's Fujian province (AP)

Solar PV panels in China’s Fujian province (AP)

¶ Australia is considering altering legislation to enable funds for clean energy developments to be used to bankroll construction of new low emission, coal-fired power plants. This comes after a major power outage during a heat wave in South Australia state worsened a row with the national government over energy security and renewable power. [AsiaOne]

¶ The air Indians breathe is turning more toxic by the day and an average of two deaths happen each minute due to air pollution, says a new study based on 2010 data. According to medical journal The Lancet, over a million Indians die every year due to air pollution and some of the worst polluted cities of the world are in India. [thenortheasttoday.com]

Air pollution (Internet sources)

Air pollution in India (Internet sources)

¶ Before a robot investigating the state of a reactor at Fukushima Daiichi became stuck in deposits and other debris that are believed to have interfered with its drive system, it took radiation measurements that indicate TEPCO, operator of the plant, was too optimistic about the state and location of the melted fuel within the reactor. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Strong winds and stormy seas have helped the Shetland Islands produce more power than it knows what to do with. The tidal power underwater turbines that were completed last month are only the latest green energy project. Even homeowners are acting, putting in small wind turbines in their gardens and solar panels on their roofs. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind turbine, Fair Isle (Dave Wheeler, Wikimedia Commons)

Wind turbine, Fair Isle (Dave Wheeler, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ The threat of a catastrophe at California’s Oroville Dam may be over. California’s Department of Water Resources lifted the evacuation order. But the dam’s troubles have also temporarily brought down one of the state’s major renewable energy assets, likely replacing 819-MW of hydro capacity with natural gas for a time. [POWER magazine]

¶ An energy trade association that includes Apple supports a proposal that would make it easier to participate in wholesale markets for energy storage and distributed energy resources. Advanced Energy Economy hopes that the removal of barriers on energy storage at the regulatory level will make it easier and cheaper to store energy. [9 to 5 Mac]

Apple facility in Mesa, Arizona

Apple facility in Mesa, Arizona

¶ The Iowa Lakes Regional Water board of directors hopes renewable energy will a great fit for a water and wastewater treatment plant. The district is trying to offset rising electrical costs. They hope teaming with Trusted Energy will lead to status as a net producer of clean energy, putting excess production on the power grid. [Dickinson County News]

¶ A 3.9-MW solar array is being installed by GenPro Energy Solutions in Lexington, Nebraska on a site owned by the city. Once operational, the power generated by the system of nearly 12,600 panels will meet about 3% of the city’s annual needs. The city also purchases power from Nebraska Public Power District. [Lexington Clipper Herald]

Lexington's solar array (C-H photo, Malena Ward)

Lexington’s solar array (C-H photo, Malena Ward)

¶ Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources accepted 30 new cities and towns into the state’s Green Communities program, an initiative that provides grants to municipalities that adopt a series of energy efficiency policies and set a goal of reducing their energy consumption by 20% within five years. [SouthCoastToday.com]

¶ Nevada lost over 2,500 rooftop solar installation jobs in 2016 after less generous net metering rates were approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. Both the Assembly and the Senate have created special subcommittees on energy to focus on ways to make rooftop solar financially attractive for homeowners again. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

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February 18 Energy News

February 18, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Americans rally to support wind power” • Hundreds of Americans from across the country traveled to Washington, DC to show their support for wind energy. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan penned an op-ed in The Hill looking at why they decided to make the trek. Here are a few highlights and a link to the original article. [Into the Wind – The AWEA Blog]

Wind power

Wind power

¶ “Australian Conservatives Attack Chief Scientist For Failing To Toe Fossil Fuel Party Line” • Australia’s conservative media commentators have found a new target for their anti-renewables angst, this week launching what was regarded as an almost inevitable attack, on Alan Finkel – Australia’s chief scientist. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Is peak oil demand coming faster than expected?” • The expansion of electric vehicles and solar power could curtail growth in the world’s demand for fossil fuels by 2020, putting the future of the some of the world’s leading energy companies into jeopardy, according to a study released by a British climate change research center. [Houston Chronicle]

Charging stations (Photo: Paul Chinn, Staff)

Charging stations (Photo: Paul Chinn, Staff)

¶ “Edsels of energy? Duke Energy may find new AP1000 nuclear plants are already outdated” • Duke Energy won long-pursued federal operating licenses for cutting edge nuclear power plants at sites in Florida and South Carolina. Duke has no current plans to proceed on either project. But the AP1000 is starting to look outmoded. [TBO.com]

World:

¶ The first phase of a solar array on the Caribbean island of St Eustatius, which has been operational since April 2016, already generates 23% of the island’s electricity, and this increases to even 90% at peak moments during clear, sunny days. The second phase of the solar panel field in St. Eustatius should be ready by this September. [The Daily Herald]

Saint Eustatius solar array

Saint Eustatius solar array

¶ Coal and gas dependent Queensland (it has just one large scale solar plant and no big wind farms) recorded over 40 more high-priced events than renewables-rich South Australia so far this year. Electricity from rooftop solar systems helped reduce grid stress and keep power prices down, but their owners were paid a pittance. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Hibiki consortium, led by utility Kyuden Mirai, has won a tender to develop an offshore wind farm in southern Japan for about ¥175 billion ($1.5 billion). The group will build and operate the Hibikinada wind farm near the Port of Kitakyushu City in Kyushu island. The scheme is expected to have up to 44 turbines. [reNews]

Offshore wind turbines (reNews image)

Offshore wind turbines (reNews image)

¶ New South Wales is one of the most coal-dependent states in Australia, with renewable energy contributing less than 10% to its electricity mix on average. Over the weekend, however, wind and solar may just have helped keep the lights on. Solar power systems contributed more than 1 GW to the grid during much of the day. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Victoria Labor government is calling for expressions of interest to build a 20-MW battery storage array, in what would likely be Australia’s first grid scale battery storage facility. The facility is earmarked for western Victoria, where the Australian Energy Market Operator has identified opportunities to improve grid stability. [RenewEconomy]

Battery storage array

Battery storage array

¶ Institutions in Hamburg are proposing to build a large underground thermal heat storage system that could supply roughly a quarter of the city’s heating needs with waste heat from industrial and power plants. If successful, it could make Vattenfall’s plans to realise a CO2-neutral district heating network superfluous. [CleanTechnica]

¶ For the first time, the total installed capacity of wind energy in Europe now exceeds that of electric power plants fueled with coal. That imbalance is likely to grow as more wind generation comes online over the next decade, both on land and offshore. The statistics, collated by WindEurope, were posted by Navigant Research. [Green Car Reports]

Wind farm

Wind farm

¶ EU member states have approved a €90 million grant for a compressed air energy storage project in Larne in Northern Ireland. The Larne project converts excess energy from renewable generation into compressed air to be stored in geological caverns within salt layers underground for later release to generate electricity. [reNews]

US:

¶ A coalition of dozens of local lawmakers, environmental groups, and businesses is urging the New York state Public Service Commission to maintain fair rates for power sold from so-called “community solar” projects. Larger than the typical rooftop system, such systems can have many owners, rather than just one. [Albany Times Union]

Solar panels in Halfmoon, NY (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)

Solar panels in Halfmoon, NY (Skip Dickstein/Times Union)

¶ The GM plant in Arlington, Texas makes more than 1,000 SUVs a day. While these vehicles tend to burn more gas, the plant where they’re made will be entirely powered by wind energy by the end of 2018. The Arlington facility already gets about half of its power from wind, and reaching 100% sets GM on its path to the larger goal. [Yale Climate Connections]

¶ EPB has started construction on Solar Share, Chattanooga’s first community solar installation through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority. By summer, Solar Share is expected to begin generating 1.35 MW of solar power, which is enough to meet the needs of about 200 average households in the area. [WDEF News 12]

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February 17 Energy News

February 17, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ The future is expected to hold more deadly heat waves, the fast spread of certain infectious diseases and catastrophic food shortages. These causes of premature deaths are all related to climate change, according to a panel of experts who gathered at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Thursday for the Climate & Health Meeting. [CNN]

Climate change is driving drought.

Climate change is driving drought.

World:

¶ First Solar, Inc announced that Photosol, a French PV company, has selected its thin-film modules to power 14 utility-scale solar power plants with a total capacity of 106.5 MW DC. The projects, developed and owned by Photosol, are part of the third procurement round initiated by France’s Commission de Régulation de l’Energie. [Your Industry News]

¶ In scoring the sustainable energy policies of 111 countries, the World Bank finds Mexico, China, India and Brazil are emerging as leaders in the field, delivering robust policies to support energy access. However, there is vast room for improvement, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where 600 million people have no electricity. [pv magazine]

Many developing nations have proactive energy policies.

Many developing nations have proactive energy policies.

¶ The first phase of Gannawarra, which has been approved for 300 MW and is being co-developed by Solar Choice and Edify Energy, is set for construction in north-western Victoria. The solar farm’s first phase is slated for completion in early 2018. Its capacity will be about 60 MW, enough to power more than 25,000 Victorian homes. [RenewEconomy]

¶ It sounds like renewable energy might be going from a pipe dream to an investment theme. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that renewables, primarily solar and wind, could jump from 4% of global power generation to as much as 36% by 2035, reshaping global electricity markets in the process. [Barron’s]

Wind farm (Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

Wind farm (Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

¶ Federal and state energy ministers will today be told by the South Australia’s Weatherill Labor government that it will “retake control” of the state’s fragile power network so blackouts “do not happen again.” The Energy Minister said, “We are going to use every inch of our authority, everything we can, to retake our sovereignty.” [The Australian]

¶ The latest robot attempting to find the 600 tons of nuclear fuel and debris that melted down six years ago in the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant met its end in less than a day. Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. [The Japan Times]

Robot developed by Toshiba Corp and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (Image: AFP-JIJI)

Robot developed by Toshiba Corp and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (Image: AFP-JIJI)

¶ Australia’s financial regulator has warned that climate change poses a material risk to the entire financial system, and has urged companies to start adapting. Geoff Summerhayes, from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, says it is unsafe for companies to ignore the potential physical risks of climate change. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to accept a Comprehensive Renewable Energy Plan unanimously. The plan will give industries and communities an idea of where renewable energy projects would be best suited, reduce costs and alleviate some of the conflicts between property owners and developers. [Patch.com]

Hummingbird in San Diego County  (Scott Cameron, Wikimedia Commons)

Hummingbird in San Diego County
(Scott Cameron, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Minnesota Legislature sidestepped utility regulators and approved a new Xcel Energy power plant in central Minnesota. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had sidelined Xcel’s proposal, but the Legislature passed bills saying the plant can move forward without researching renewable energy options. [Bristol Herald Courier]

¶ Consolidated Edison Development is continuing a fight to force a South Dakota utility to buy the output from three wind projects. Under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act, a federal program designed to stimulate markets for small alternative energy generators, Northwestern Energy is required to buy the output at “avoided cost” rates. [reNews]

Wind farm (Morgue File)

Wind farm (Morgue File)

¶ Nearly 800 former EPA officials urged the US Senate to reject President Donald Trump’s nominee, Scott Pruitt, to run the agency, as the chamber moved closer to approving his pick. The 773 former officials signed a letter that said Pruitt’s record and public statements suggest he does not agree with underlying principles of environmental laws. [AOL News]

¶ The state that gave us Scott Pruitt and James Inhofe just saw temperatures near 100° in the dead of winter. Climate change is loading the dice for record-breaking heat in Oklahoma. Here, the human fingerprint is clear. Carbon pollution traps heat, warming the planet. This, in turn, shifts the entire distribution of temperatures. [CleanTechnica]

Parched Oklahoma land (Al Jazeera English, Wikimedia Commons)

Parched Oklahoma (Al Jazeera English, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ TransCanada Corp has rebooted its effort to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline across Nebraska, where it had met with opposition before it withdrew its application when the Obama administration denied the company a federal permit in late 2015. TransCanada’s latest move had been expected since Donald Trump was elected. [MarketWatch]

¶ President Donald Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, will be forced to hand over more than 3,000 emails to the Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group, after a district judge ordered their release. The state’s Attorney General’s Office has until Tuesday, February 21 to turn over the emails. [DeSmog]

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February 16 Energy News

February 16, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Solar vs Nuclear: Is this the Last Chapter?” • Last year’s solar deployment numbers just came in, and they are, in a word, phenomenal. Utilities bought more new solar capacity than they did natural gas capacity. At the same time, there is grim news about delays in construction and associated cost over-runs for US nuclear plant projects. [The Equation]

Neighbors with solar (Courtesy of Grid Alternatives)

Neighbors with solar (Courtesy of Grid Alternatives)

Science and Technology:

¶ A study published this week in the science journal Nature found that the ocean’s worldwide oxygen content declined by more than 2% between 1960 and 2010. Scientists have long warned about the potentially deadly consequences of the ocean’s declining oxygen levels on marine life, and its resulting impact on humans. [CNN]

¶ Delivery vans get between 5 and 8 miles per gallon. Vans powered by Workhorse’s hybrid electric E-GEN powertrain have now completed 250,000 miles of service and have achieved an astounding 30 MPGe rating in daily, real life, stop and go operation. Workhorse calculates each van will save the owner $165,000 during its lifetime. [CleanTechnica]

Workhorse E-GEN powertrain (Workhorse image)

Workhorse E-GEN powertrain (Workhorse image)

World:

¶ The Indian government announced plans to double the energy output of its solar power parks. Their goal is to reach 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. India believes it is more economical and effective to use solar parks to gather energy rather than rooftop solar panels. Comparatively speaking, the response to rooftop solar has been weak. [Sputnik International]

¶ A research paper examined the future of UK wind power. A simulation of changing wind resources by 2100 found that the UK’s capacity for generating wind power will become more changeable, with some regions benefiting and others losing out. The year-on-year variation of wind power capacity will increase, the authors say. [eco-business.com]

Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, Suffolk, England (Image: Department of Energy and Climate Change, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, Suffolk, England (Image: Department of Energy and Climate Change, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

¶ China plans to develop floating nuclear power plants to ensure a stable power supply for its offshore projects and boost ocean gas exploration, according to a high-rank government official. The development of the floating power facility is an important part of China’s five-year economic development plan, running through 2020. [Chinatopix]

US:

¶ The latest US Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association showed that 2016 almost doubled the installations of 2015, itself a record-breaking year. Solar installations grew 95%, for a total of 14,625 MW. With 39% of new capacity across all fields, with wind placing second at 25%. [CleanTechnica]

Growth in solar installations

Growth in solar installations

¶ Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said she will vote against President Donald Trump’s pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. Collins is the first Republican to break ranks over Pruitt. “The fact is, Mr. Pruitt and I have fundamentally different views of the role and mission of the EPA,” Collins said in a statement. [CNN]

¶ In 2015, Kansas City Power & Light decided to pony up $20 million to install 1,000 EV charging stations in and around the city. They are being installed in places people often visit in their daily lives. That program is now nearly complete and it has turned Kansas City into one of the fastest growing EV markets in America. [CleanTechnica]

KCPL Clean Charge (Image: Kansas Public Radio)

KCPL Clean Charge (Image: Kansas Public Radio)

¶ All electric service providers in Michigan met their renewable energy targets, with wind providing most, a public commission found. Michigan’s governor had been criticized last year for suspending state efforts for the Clean Power Plan. The state standard had each utility get 10% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. [UPI.com]

¶ Avangrid Renewables has agreed a power purchase agreement with Dairyland Power Cooperative for electricity from the 160-MW Barton wind farm in Iowa. Under the terms of the deal, Dairyland, which provides wholesale electricity to 24 members and 17 municipal utilities, will buy 80 MW of power from the project. [reNews]

Wind turbine (credit: SXC)

Wind turbine (credit: SXC)

¶ The city council of Pueblo, Colorado committed the city to 100% renewable energy by 2035. Pueblo is now the third city in Colorado and the 22nd in the nation to make the promise. The city doesn’t yet have a route for its destination, partly because it doesn’t have ownership of its electricity provider. It is looking at its options. [The Coloradoan]

¶ Moab, Utah officials say they have taken a major step toward creating a more sustainable city. The Moab City Council passed a resolution, committing to using 100% renewable electricity by 2032. The mayor said the move is driven by the community’s passion for Moab’s natural environment and a sustainable future. [RadioWest]

Moab, Utah (Saro17 via istockphoto.com)

Moab, Utah (Saro17 via istockphoto.com)

¶ UPS will invest around $18 million in new onsite solar PV projects in the US, expected to be completed by the end of the year. The 26,000 solar panels will increase the company’s total onsite solar capacity almost five-fold. Altogether, the new projects will generate 10 MW, enough to power around 1,200 homes. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ Competitors of Chicago-based Exelon Corp filed a federal lawsuit opposing legislation that provides billions of dollars in subsidies to the power giant. The legislation approved in December provides as much as $235 million per year to Exelon to keep unprofitable nuclear plants running in Clinton and the Quad Cities. [PennEnergy]

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February 15 Energy News

February 15, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “An Oroville message: As climate shifts, so will water strategies” Even when everything is going right, managing a large dam is a juggling act. What the flooding this week at California’s Oroville Dam may be demonstrating is how that juggling act is growing even more complicated due to climate change. [Christian Science Monitor]

Oroville dam (Randy Pench / The Sacramento Bee via AP)

Oroville dam (Randy Pench / The Sacramento Bee via AP)

¶ “Local energy groups do a power of good” • Remember the outcry against wind farms? These days commercial wind harvesters are a lot more strategic when planning wind farms. They involve nearby communities from the get-go, opening up limited shareholdings to some rural communities in Australian wind farm companies. [Weekly Times Now]

Science and Technology:

¶ A study conducted by the University of Queensland found that climate change has greater impact on lives of animals than reported. The team led by Associate Professor James Watson has found concerning evidence showing that nearly 700 birds and mammals have responded to the climatic changes in a negative way. [Tech Times]

Mountain gorillas are among the most  affected (Brent Stirton / Getty images)

Mountain gorillas are among the most
affected (Brent Stirton / Getty images)

World:

¶ Saudi Arabia plans to develop almost 10 GW of renewable energy by 2023, starting with wind and solar plants in its vast northwestern desert. The effort could replace the equivalent of 80,000 barrels of oil a day now burned for power. With growth in industry, Saudi peak demand increased 10% last year. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

¶ Carbridge, the onsite provider of airport ground transportation services for the Sydney Airport, announced that it has placed orders for 40 more pure electric buses from BYD. The contract was finalized at the end of January – just 3 months after the first BYD Electric Blu bus was first put to use at the Sydney Airport. [CleanTechnica]

BYD electric bus at Sydney harbor

BYD electric bus at Sydney harbor

¶ In a move that further illustrates the company’s commitment to being a socially responsible corporation, French multinational electric utility Engie announced that it will join Watts of Love in a critical initiative to bring sustainable solar lighting to remote villages in Guatemala without any access to electric power. [Your Renewable News]

¶ The construction value of UK offshore wind farms reached a record £4.1 billion in 2016, up from £2.45 billion the previous year, according to construction industry analysts Barbour ABI. The trend is likely to continue for offshore wind developments, with £23.2 billion worth of construction contract value now in planning. [reNews]

London Array (Credit: reNews)

London Array (Credit: reNews)

¶ Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced plans to use renewable power sources to provide 20% of the nation’s energy by 2025. The government intends to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2025 and announced last October plans to shut down Nuclear Power Plant No 1 in New Taipei City by 2019. [Taiwan News]

¶ Genex Power Limited achieved financial close for the Kidston Phase One Solar Project in Queensland, Australia, on land next to the proposed Kidston pumped storage project. First Solar will supply 63 MW of advanced thin-film PV modules. The project will produce about 145,000 MWh of electricity in its first year of operation. [Electric Light & Power]

Australian solar array

Australian solar array

¶ In the UK, MPs have urged the Secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to open price support negotiations for Tidal Lagoon Power’s 320-MW Swansea Bay project. 107 MPs have signed a letter to Clark following the publication last month of the Hendry Review commissioned last year by the then DECC. [reNews]

US:

¶ Coal power is no longer the best energy bargain. And on Monday, the four private utility owners of the Navajo Generating Station, led by the Salt River Project, voted to shut down the plant at the end of 2019, some 25 years ahead of schedule. The closure will deeply hurt the employees, 90% of whom are Native American. [Grist]

Navajo Generating Station (Shutterstock image)

Navajo Generating Station (Shutterstock image)

¶ While the Trump administration appears to have affection for the fossil fuels industry, some states are moving in a different direction, especially on plug-in electric vehicles (PEV). From Massachusetts and New York to California, they and are setting, and achieving, goals to put PEVs on the road, replacing those that burn fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Dominion Energy is ahead of schedule with its plans to build 400 MW of solar power in Virginia by 2020. The company is investing more than $800 million in solar in the state, and said additional projects are now in the planning stages. The additions of solar power would have little effects on power rates, according to a spokesman. [reNews]

17-MW Powhattan solar array (credit: Dominion)

17-MW Powhattan solar array (credit: Dominion)

¶ Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation to move Nevada away from fossil fuels more quickly than planned. Democratic Assemblyman Chris Brooks of Las Vegas introduced a bill this week that would double the amount of renewable energy Nevada will mandate by 2025, raising the goal to 50%. [U.S. News & World Report]

¶ Cost overruns at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant are threatening a financial tsunami at Toshiba Corp. The company projected a $6.3 billion write-down, postponed its earnings report because of allegations of impropriety, and announced that its chairman was resigning – all on the same day, the Wall Street Journal reported. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

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February 14 Climate News

February 14, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How Did the Oroville Dam Crisis Get So Dire?” • On Sunday, authorities ordered 188,000 people near the Oroville dam in California to evacuate. Extreme weather, which scientists say was exacerbated by human-caused climate change, moved from drought to saturated in just months, filling a reservoir to levels that proved dangerous. [The Atlantic]

Spillway at the Oroville dam (California Department of Water Resources via Reuters)

Spillway at the Oroville dam (California
Department of Water Resources via Reuters)

Science and Technology:

¶ A report in Ward’s Auto dated February 7th says EV battery prices are falling faster than expected and could be lower than the magic $100 per kWh mark by 2020. A US Department of Energy goal of achieving a price of $125 by that year is turning out to be much too conservative. Some experts are expecting $80 per kWh. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Enel Green Power reported that it added a record-breaking 2,018 MW of renewable energy capacity last year, a 124% increase from around 900 MW capacity added in 2015. Understandably, a good majority of the new capacity was added in developing markets, including Brazil, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and others. [CleanTechnica]

Enel wind turbine in Costa Rica (Richie Diesterheft, Wikimedia Commons)

Enel turbine in Tilaran, Costa Rica
(Richie Diesterheft, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ China installed a total of 23 GW of wind energy in 2016, nearly half the total 54 GW that was brought online around the world. China continues to expand its lead over its nearest competitors, the United States and Germany. The worldwide total of 54 GW installed brings the global cumulative total up to nearly 487 GW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Farmers across Australia are choosing to invest in on-farm renewable energy sources to cut costs and reduce reliance on electricity providers. While farm lobby groups have stepped up their campaign to reduce electricity costs, some irrigators are taking things into their own hands and have adopted solar panels to help cut expenses. [ABC Online]

Solar powers irrigation (ABC Rural / Bridget Fitzgerald)

Solar panels for irrigation (ABC Rural / Bridget Fitzgerald)

¶ One of Australia’s largest operators of coal-fired power plants has weighed into the national energy debate, calling for a non-partisan push to clean energy and reminding policy makers that the shift to renewables is “a reality” that must be addressed. The managing director said the way the country generated energy “had to change.” [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ ABB is to provide an innovative microgrid, combining battery and flywheel based storage technologies, to around 300,000 people in Anchorage, Alaska. The small scale project aims to identify technologies that enable integration of renewables, such as wind power from a 17-MW wind farm on a nearby island. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Anchorage

Anchorage

¶ NV Energy announced that the 50-MW Boulder Solar II power plant, which was developed, designed, and built by SunPower, achieved its commercial operation status and is now serving NV Energy customers in Nevada. Boulder Solar II is one of 43 diverse renewable energy projects providing power to NV Energy. [solarserver.com]

¶ An innovative project developed at the University of Vermont has received a $1.8 million award from the US DOE’s SunShot Initiative. It is for research aimed at improving the electric grid’s ability to accommodate power generated from renewable energy sources. The award is one of only 13 to be awarded nationally. [Vermont Biz]

The 4.7-MW solar project in Williston, Vermont (groSolar photo)

The 4.7-MW solar project in Williston, Vermont (groSolar photo)

¶ The entire supply chain of the solar and wind industries, including those who manufacture, install and run turbines and panels, now employs 476,000 workers. Meanwhile fossil fuel companies employ 187,117 people. Solar energy, which provides a small percentage of American energy needs, creates twice as many jobs as the coal industry. [OilPrice.com]

¶ Massachusetts would need to get all of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2050 under legislation filed last month. That legislation is now backed by more than a quarter of state lawmakers. The bill would make Massachusetts the first state to commit to 100% renewable energy throughout its economy. [wwlp.com]

Solar array in Massachusetts

Solar array in Massachusetts

¶ A group of governors from both ends of the political spectrum is urging President Donald Trump to support renewable energy, saying it provides crucial economic engines for impoverished rural regions. The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition is seeking to modernize local power grids and boost clean-energy research. [NorthJersey.com]

¶ Xcel Energy will spend $4 million on a test project in Colorado. The utility is installing special batteries around Stapleton, which has one of Denver’s highest concentrations of rooftop solar panels. Currently, power from those panels returns straight to Xcel’s larger electricity grid. Now the batteries will store power until it is most needed. [Denverite]

A photo simulation showing green cabinets at locations where the batteries in Stapleton will be (Courtesy Xcel)

A photo simulation showing green cabinets at locations
where the batteries in Stapleton will be (Courtesy Xcel)

¶ Southwest Power Pool set a wind-penetration record of 52.1% at 4:30 a.m., Feb. 12, becoming the first regional transmission organization in North America to serve more than 50% of its load at a given time with wind energy. The milestone beats a previous North American RTO record of 49.2% that SPP set April 24, 2016. [Satellite PR News]

¶ A bill before the Connecticut Senate would presumably give Dominion Energy the ability to compete for long-term energy contracts. Dominion owns the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Waterford. A similar bill was introduced at the last-minute and passed by the state Senate last year without a public hearing process. [CT News Junkie]

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February 13 Energy News

February 13, 2017

World:

¶ Officials told Malcolm Turnbull a major gas plant shut down during the freak storm that sent South Australia into blackout last September. Documents obtained by the progressive think-tank the Australia Institute suggest a failure of gas power played a significant role in both the blackout and efforts to restart after the storm event. [The Guardian]

Torrens Island plant (Photo released to the public domain by the author, Wikimedia Commons)

Torrens Island plant (Photo released to the
public domain by the author; Wikimedia Commons)

¶ An Australian company boasting what it claims to be cutting-edge technology is raising $12 million from wealthy investors to develop a series of 1-MW generators that convert wave energy into electric power. Australian Maritime College claims the technology is 60% more efficient than previous ocean-wave/air-turbine generators. [The Australian]

¶ India has an opportunity to shift completely to green energy, a study by The Energy and Resource Institute said. If the country can halve storage technology prices in 10 years, it can do without the need for new coal based plants. The report said capacity that is installed or under construction would be able to meet demand till about 2026. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Azure Power array in India

Azure Power array in India

¶ Opposition politicians in Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria promised to axe state renewable energy targets after Prime Minister Turnbull called for a unified national approach. This comes despite revelations that he ignored confidential public service advice that renewables were not responsible for power blackouts in South Australia. [The Fifth Estate]

¶ With the end of load shedding, the South African government is now more committed to the Independent Power Producers Program, President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation Address to the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces in Parliament. He said work is continuing to ensure energy security. [Bizcommunity.com]

South African wind turbines (© Sandor-Jackal / za.fotolia.com)

South African wind turbines (© Sandor-Jackal / za.fotolia.com)

¶ A coal price spike last year, driven by a Chinese regulation that capped local mining operations, has shown how easily markets can swing from oversupply to shortfall. While many analysts and investors see the long-term outlook for coal as bleak, the shorter-term outlook for the industry has seen a reversal of fortunes. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

US:

¶ A Hawaiian utility co-op is aiming to produce 70% of its energy from renewables by 2030. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative had already set a target of 50% renewables by 2023 but is set to hit that goal 2018, five years earlier than expected. As recently as 2011 KIUC had a 92% dependency on fossil fuels for generation. [Co-operative News]

A hydro generator run by KIUC

A hydro generator run by KIUC

¶ Maui Electric Co is marching toward 100% renewable energy for Maui County, Hawaii, and without an undersea interisland cable, the utility’s president said. Maui County residents have told MECO plainly that they don’t support an undersea cable to transmit electricity among islands, but she said MECO can reach 100% without it. [Maui News]

¶ A Montana solar farm would produce 80 MW of electricity, enough for 14,400 homes. It would be built on trust land, so Montana’s public schools would receive money from the lease. It would provide over $1 million taxes. But it might not happen. The Legislature is considering weakening state laws that support renewable energy. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Renewable energy in Montana is mostly wind power. (Photo by David J Laporte, Wikimedia Commons)

Renewable energy in Montana is mostly wind power.
(Photo by David J Laporte, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ New Hampshire is behind most of its neighbors in use of renewable energy, and several groups are using this legislative session make sure it stays behind. Led by the Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire Koch brothers, they support a bill that would pull the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. [Foster’s Daily Democrat]

¶ If you want to understand why Toshiba Corp is about to report a multi-billion dollar write-down on its nuclear reactor business, the story begins and ends with a onetime pipe manufacturer in Louisiana. The Shaw Group Inc, based in Baton Rouge, looms large in a story of business acquisitions and lack of experience. [The Japan Times]

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February 12 Green Energy News

February 12, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Scott Pruitt’s Misleading Senate Testimony: Will ‘Alternative Science’ Replace Real Science at EPA?” • Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the US Environmental Protection Agency, is misrepresenting the scientific data clearly showing that the earth’s atmosphere is warming. He said he believes that global warming is in a “hiatus.” [Energy Collective]

Earth as seen from a NOAA weather satellite (Photo: NOAA / NASA)

Earth, from a NOAA weather satellite (Photo: NOAA / NASA)

Science and Technology:

¶ Friday’s temperatures very near the North Pole are about 50° F warmer than normal, according to a temperature analysis by NOAA. The warmth is being funneled toward the North Pole as winds converged winds between a monster storm in the North Atlantic and a giant area of high pressure over northern Europe. [Washington Post] (Thanks to Tad Montgomery)

World:

¶ In the Philippines, the Cebu Provincial Board has urged all electric cooperatives in the province to consider the use of renewable energy as an alternative source of power. The board cited language of an act that encourages exploring the use of renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, and ocean energy. [Philippine Star]

"Renewable energy … is is vital to addressing the challenge of climate change, energy security and access to energy.” (Philstar.com / File)

Addressing the challenge of climate change, energy
security and access to energy (Philstar.com / File)

¶ More than 20 Australian large renewable energy projects are already under construction or will start this year, delivering an unprecedented program of works. It will create almost 3000 direct jobs and generate more than $5 billion of investment, according to new analysis from the Clean Energy Council released on Sunday. [Daily Liberal]

¶ Bangladesh is betting on coal to support its quickly growing economy, even as other countries in Asia try to shift away from the dirty fuel amid a pollution crisis. The government hopes coal use will jump from 2% to over 50% of the Bangladesh’s electricity supply by 2022, with 23,000 MW of new coal powered plants in the pipeline. [Scroll.in]

Protesting coal in Bangladesh (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Protesting coal in Bangladesh (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Higashi-Matsushima City was one of the areas worst-hit by the tsunami that killed some 18,000 people on March 11, 2011. It is moving entire neighborhoods to higher ground, maintaining peoples’ ties to each other. It has a 2-km no-build zone along the shoreline. And it is turning to renewable sources for its electric power. [Japan Today]

¶ Sri Lanka has opened its first hybrid power plant in Eluvathivu Island in Jaffna. The plant has a capacity of 60 KW and generates electricity using wind, solar and diesel. It had financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank and the Ceylon Electricity Board for the project, which cost 187 million Sri Lankan rupees ($1.87 million). [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind and solar power

Wind and solar power

¶ The Ceylon Electricity Board secured funding from the Asian Development Bank for a 100-MW wind farm in the north-western district of Mannar. Tenders to build it are expected to be floated within two months. The Mannar location could be able to generate 375 MW of wind power, and private capital could the rest. [The Island.lk]

¶ Europe’s top utilities are planning to invest tens of billions of euros over the next three years to catch up with the green energy revolution. The rise of solar and wind power has increased the need for intelligent IT systems that can balance out demand and supply swings while meeting energy needs and carbon emissions targets. [Gulf Times]

(European utility investments)

US:

¶ Fixing leaks from natural gas lines, capping power-plant emissions, and providing incentives for switching to electric vehicles are among new aims for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts. New regulations target especially the energy and transportation sectors to reduce emissions by 7.2% over the next three years. [Eagle-Tribune]

¶ Recently, one of the largest construction cranes on the planet gently hoisted a 750-ton steam generator into place for a new reactor at the VC Summer Nuclear Station. The heavy lifting isn’t over. It could be just beginning for the $14 billion project, with unanswered questions about Westinghouse, the reactor designer. [Charleston Post Courier]

Huge crane at the VC Summer nuclear plant

Huge crane at the VC Summer nuclear plant

¶ ISO New England agreed to buy only half of the electricity for 12 months of 2020 and 2021 from the proposed 900-MW Burrillville fossil-fuel power plant in Rhode Island. While some say this points to a lack of need for the plant, the developer interpreted the news to mean the power plant will be most needed after 2020. [ecoRI news]

¶ A group of American students, one as young as nine, is suing President Trump over the US government’s climate-change policy that they claim puts their future in jeopardy. His policies have his administration opposed to an overwhelming majority of scientists who say use of fossil fuels is causing destructive climate change. [The Independent]

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February 11 Energy News

February 11, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ A new type of battery has the ability to revolutionize all the smart devices that rely on storage electricity. Harvard professors at the Engineering Faculty created a flow battery that stores the energy in primary molecules dissolved in water with a neutral pH. The new battery has a long life, losing 1% of its capacity after 1,000 charge cycles. [Stоck Nеws USА]

Flow battery in laboratory

Flow battery in laboratory

World:

¶ According to media reports, the state government of Andhra Pradesh is considering setting up a floating solar project of 100 MW of capacity. The project could come up at Penna Ahobilam Balancing Reservoir which has a live capacity of 305 million cubic meters. The dam also has an installed capacity of 20 MW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Enel Green Power will shortly commence construction of the largest solar power installation in South America, at 292 MW. Located in Piauí in the Brazilian state of Nova Olinda, the solar panel farm will cover 1,700 acres and will generate more than 600 GWh of electricity a year, enough to power 300,000 area homes. [CleanTechnica]

Enel solar farm in Brazil (Ciclovio image)

Enel solar farm in Brazil (Ciclovio image)

¶ Encouraged by Chinese and EU commitments to low carbon energy, European utilities will not reduce their renewable energy investments if US President Donald Trump lowers US climate goals, electricity lobby Eurelectric said. Trump said during the campaign he would pull the US out of the Paris agreement of 2015. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ The EU will need to shut all of its coal power plants in the next 15 years if it is to meet the Paris agreement’s long-term climate goals, according to a report by Climate Analytics. A stress test for coal in Europe under the Paris Agreement shows that emissions from coal in the EU’s electricity sector will need to be ended by 2031. [The Actuary]

Coal plants will  have to close. (©Shutterstock)

Coal plants will have to close. (©Shutterstock)

¶ Oriental Renewable Solutions has formed a 50:50 equity partnership with GreenWish Partners to co-develop a 50-MW solar PV project in Jigawa State, Nigeria. The Jigawa solar project will have an output of around 96 GWh per year. It will create 300 jobs during construction and 25 permanent jobs during operations. [PV-Tech]

¶ The Global Wind Energy Council released its annual market statistics: the 2016 market decline somewhat from 2015. It was more than 54 GW, bringing total global installed capacity to almost 487 GW. The market was led by China, the US, Germany, and India, and it had surprisingly strong showings from France, Turkey and the Netherlands. [EU Reporter]

Wind farms continue to grow.

Wind farms continue to grow.

¶ Indian solar tariffs hit a new low of ₹2.97 per unit (4.44¢/kWh) at the completion of bidding for three 250 MW units of Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa Solar Power Plant, continuing a steady downward trend in prices. Though low tariffs are good news for consumers, experts believe that their record low levels may spell trouble for the industry. [The Hindu]

¶ Ireland is facing a bill of up to €75 million each year after official predictions that it will fall short of its EU renewable-energy targets. The country is one of only four currently in the European bloc that is expected to miss its legally binding 2020 goals, according to European Commission forecasts released this week. [thejournal.ie]

Dark times on a wind farm

Dark times on a wind farm

¶ A remotely controlled robot sent in to inspect and clean at a damaged reactor at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant had to be pulled early when its onboard camera went dark, the result of excess radiation. The abbreviated mission suggests that radiation levels inside the reactor are even higher than was reported last week. [Gizmodo Australia]

US:

¶ Former President Jimmy Carter leased 10 acres of his land to Atlanta-based SolAmerica to develop a 1.3-MW solar farm in Plains, Georgia. The project is projected to produce more than
55 million kWh of energy in the next 25 years. The project will provide more than half of the power needs for the 683 residents of Plains. [EcoWatch]

The 1.3-MW solar farm in Plains (SolAmerica image)

The 1.3-MW solar farm in Plains (SolAmerica image)

¶ The EPA’s website has begun to transform under Trump’s leadership. Researchers found that Federal climate plans, tribal assistance programs, and references to international cooperation have been stricken. A mention of carbon pollution as a cause of climate change has also been removed and adaptation has been emphasized. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A New Mexico State Senator wants electric companies in New Mexico to go for low cost power sources, and he wants the state to use more renewable energy. He introduced a bill that would require publicly owned electric utilities to choose the least-costly alternative when proposing purchases of new energy sources. [New Mexico Political Report]

A solar array at Nellis Air Force Base (Photo: Wikicommons)

A solar array at Nellis Air Force Base (Photo: Wikicommons)

¶ Oklahoma added almost 1,200 MW of wind capacity in the last three months of 2016, as it passed California to take third place among the states for wind capacity. The American Wind Energy Association released its latest market report amid a policy discussion in Oklahoma over state incentives and taxes relating to wind power. [Public Radio Tulsa]

¶ Amazon Web Services has committed to getting 100% of the energy used for its cloud data centers from renewable energy sources. Amazon said it is on track to exceed its 2016 goal of 40% renewable energy use. AWS said it plans to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017. [Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)]

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February 10 Energy News

February 10, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “An Unlikely Union With The Power To Transform The Energy Economy” • Legacy utility companies are increasingly finding themselves eclipsed by startups that are quick to experiment with new and more effective technologies. Energy leaders who gathered in Dubai are determined to turn those adversaries into allies instead. [Huffington Post]

The sun is rising

The sun is rising

World:

¶ India has reached another major milestone in its renewable energy sector. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has announced that the country’s operational grid-connected clean power capacity surpassed 50 GW. More than half of this capacity comes from wind power, with solar energy coming in second. [Hydrogen Fuel News]

¶ Greenhouse gas emissions fell 38% in the UK from 1990 to 2015, the National Statistics authority said. The decline of emissions is one of the fastest by any developed country, almost surpassing the European Union target of 40% carbon pollution cuts. Widespread closure of coal power plants was a key for the reduction. [Climate Action Programme]

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

¶ Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation has said it is “very unlikely” it would invest in new coal-fired generators and poured cold water on a federal government push to support “clean coal.” This means the government will have to change the CEFC’s investment rules or directly subsidize new coal plants if it wants to support them. [The Guardian]

¶ Energy efficiency in the Western Balkans, Albania and five countries formerly in Yugoslavia, is to get a €30 million ($31.9 million) boost. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the EU are stepping up joint efforts for the next phase of the Regional Energy Efficiency Program. [Energy Live News – Energy Made Easy]

Town in Albania (Shutterstock image)

Town in Albania (Shutterstock image)

¶ This week as India was crossing the 50-GW threshold for cumulative installed renewable energy capacity (excluding large hydro), the initial bids for its first major solar auction of 2017 were announced, and came in as low as ₹3.59/kWh (5.37¢/kWh). That’s down 16% year on year against the previous record low bid. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The UK’s government was accused of trying to kill off the solar energy industry just as it is about to become one of the cheapest suppliers of electricity. The Government’s own projections say that soon only onshore windfarms would provide less costly power, but the Conservatives pledged in their election manifesto to “halt their spread.” [Belfast Telegraph]

UK solar array

UK solar array

¶ A fire led to a blast in the machine room of a nuclear power plant on France’s northwest coast on Thursday morning but there was no radiation leak or casualties, operator EDF said. The Flamanville plant in Normandy immediately brought the fire under control. The cause of the fire, in a reactor building, was not immediately clear. [CBS News]

US:

¶ The first wind farm in North Carolina is now 100% operational even though the state’s top politicians wanted President Donald Trump to nix the $400 million project because they said it’s a national security threat. Avangrid Renewables today announced the wind farm is now generating power, enough to provide for 61,000 homes. [CIO]

North Carolina wind farm (Avangrid Renewables image)

Tower base in North Carolina (Avangrid Renewables image)

¶ The troops are mobilizing for a second “deployment.” The Veterans Stand group is once again raising funds for protesters who oppose construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The funds will go toward supplies for the North Dakota protest camp and transportation of veterans to and from Standing Rock Indian Reservation and operations. [CNN]

¶ New figures from the American Wind Energy Association show that the United States installed a total of 8,203 MW in 2016. As a result, wind energy has now surpassed hydropower to become the largest source of renewable electric capacity in the United States, and the fourth largest source overall, with a total of 82,183 MW. [CleanTechnica]

US Annual and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity Growth

US Annual and Cumulative Wind Power Capacity Growth

¶ The Climate Reality Project will hold a Climate & Health Meeting on February 16 in Atlanta, Georgia, in partnership with the American Public Health Association and the Harvard Global Health Institute. The event will provide a crucial platform for stakeholders in the public health and climate communities to seek solutions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A pair of proposals from a Nebraska state senator aim to help those who want renewable power but who do not have a good site for it. One would establish guidelines for shared community solar programs, and another would create a process for counties to be designated as “wind-friendly” by state agencies. [Omaha World-Herald]

GE wind turbines in Nebraska (Matt Dixon / The World-Herald)

GE wind turbines in Nebraska (Matt Dixon / The World-Herald)

¶ In an auction, Invenergy failed to sell the second half of the power output of its proposed power plant in Rhode Island. This is a blow to the controversial power plant, which would burn primarily natural gas, and undermines Invenergy’s claim that the region needs the facility of up to 1,000 MW as older generators retire. [The Providence Journal]

¶ Duke Energy Renewables completed its large-scale wind power plant in Oklahoma. The 200-MW Frontier Wind-power Project increases Duke Energy’s US wind capacity to 2,300 MW. Vestas supplied 61 turbines, each of 3.3 MW. Wanzek Construction was the contractor, and Amshore US Wind provided development support. [Windpower Engineering]

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February 9 Energy News

February 9, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “All The King’s Men Cannot Put King Coal Together Again” Even before the new administration took over, it had been widely argued that coal plants would continue shutting down irrespective of whether the Clean Power Plan was implemented. Old coal plants are retiring, and new ones are not being installed. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

Declining capacities of new coal plants

Declining capacities of new coal plants were
going to zero before the Clean Power Plan

¶ “‘America First’ Energy Plan Challenges Free Market Realities” During President Barack Obama’s term in office, much of the focus was on addressing climate change and renewable energy. Trump is focused on coal, oil, and gas and putting the people who extract them to work. But experts say coal is simply too costly to be competitive. [KUNC]

World:

¶ Renewable energy made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels, Euractiv’s media partner The Guardian reports. Of the 24.5 GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1 GW (86%) was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro. [EurActiv]

Wind farms accounted for over half of the capacity installed. (Shutterstock)

Wind farms accounted for over half
of the capacity installed. (Shutterstock)

¶ Chile’s Environmental Assessment Service has approved Mainstream Renewable Power’s 245-MW Escondido Solar PV facility, making it one of the largest approved projects in the Atacama region. It will involve an investment of $290 million to construct and is split into two solar parks located separately. [Power Engineering International]

¶ Many renewable power generation technologies are now cost competitive with fossil fuels, according to a report by Lloyd’s Register. The report examines the outlook for renewables, grid and infrastructure, nuclear, and energy storage. It found that 70% of renewables respondents felt the sector is reaching cost parity with fossil fuels. [reNews]

Onshore wind farm (credit: MorgueFile)

Onshore wind farm (credit: MorgueFile)

¶ Australian energy provider AGL Energy is looking to invest in large-scale battery storage installations as a potential alternative to new gas peaking plants, suggesting that storage will play a critical role in the changing nature of the electricity grid. AGL had an overwhelming response to market testing for large-scale battery storage. [RenewEconomy]

¶ European wind power grew 8%, to 153.7 GW, now making up 16.7% of installed capacity and overtaking coal as the continent’s second-biggest potential source of energy, according to figures published by the WindEurope trade group. Gas-fired generation retained the largest share of installed capacity, though it is not growing. [Bloomberg]

Wind and coal are moving in opposite directions.

Wind and coal are moving in opposite directions.

¶ Just north of Provost, Alberta, you can see 17 wind turbines, each 80 meters tall, poking their heads above the aspen tree line. They are powering the future of Alberta’s children. In a unique agreement, the Bull Creek Wind Farm, with a 29-MW capacity, provides 500 schools around Alberta with 100% of their energy needs. [Huffington Post Canada]

¶ Vattenfall’s 54.4-MW Ray wind farm in Northumberland has generated power for the first time 18 months after construction began. The wind farm near Kirkwhelpington features 16 Senvion turbines each rated at 3.4-MW. Ray will produce enough power every year to meet the equivalent electricity needs of around 30,000 UK households. [reNews]

Ray wind farm (Vattenfall image)

Ray wind farm (Vattenfall image)

¶ Flood-prevention measures are lacking at ten Japanese nuclear power plants, utilities’ inspections have revealed. The Nuclear Regulation Authority told nuclear power companies to inspect reactor buildings and certain other important equipment after 6.5 tons of rainwater entered a reactor building in September of 2016. [The Japan Times]

¶ The first turbine at the 402-MW Dudgeon offshore wind farm off the Norfolk coast has started supplying electricity to the UK grid. A2Sea jack-up Sea Challenger completed the installation of the first 6-MW Siemens turbine a month ago and the remaining 66 machines are expected to be installed by the fourth quarter of this year. [reNews]

Offshore wind installation (Statoil image)

Offshore wind installation (Statoil image)

US:

¶ On February 7th, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to stop doing business with Wells Fargo Bank. This is because Wells Fargo has investments in the companies behind the Dakota Access pipeline project. Seattle currently does about $3 billion a year in business with Wells Fargo. The pipeline has 17 investors. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The US Army Corps of Engineers has granted an easement in North Dakota for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing the project to move toward completion despite the protests of Native Americans and environmentalists. Long against the project, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe promised a legal fight. [CNN]

Activist at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

Activist at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

¶ The city of San Diego issued permits for over 2,200 solar energy systems last year, compared to just over 1,200 the year before, according to the mayor’s office. City officials credited lower costs, technological innovations and streamlined solar permit processing services for the increase in the numbers of permits. [Times of San Diego]
Solar panels in Southern California (Courtesy LA Solar Group)

¶ The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs finalized a contract to build a solar panel farm that will provide Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, with clean renewable solar energy for the next 20 years. This will reduce the facility’s power demand costs and is expected to provide annual power needs for 525 homes. [Proud Green Building]

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February 8 Energy News

February 8, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Trump’s Despotically Dispensed ‘Truth’ Doomed by Reality” EPA staff and scientists are being muzzled, federal funds frozen, and ludicrous extractive industry speaking points are now official government policy. But ultimately, Trump’s triumphant hubris will be answerable, like that of all would-be despots before him, to reality. [TheTyee.ca]

One era ends - another begins.  (Photo: Peter Thoeny, Creative Commons)

One era ends – another begins.
(Photo: Peter Thoeny, Creative Commons)

World:

¶ Rooftop and large-scale solar contributed to an estimated 1% reduction in Australian power consumption in 2016, prompting 1.3% fall in greenhouse gas emissions. Analysis by Green Energy Markets has highlighted the growing impact solar power is having on the nation’s electricity consumption rates and patterns. [pv magazine]

¶ Australian Federal government agencies are investing $71.4 million in seven solar farms and a wind farm in Queensland. They are set to deliver a total of 2,218 jobs, analysis by 350.org shows. Australia’s largest coal mine got conditional approval for
a $1 billion federal infrastructure loan, which is predicted to deliver 1,464 jobs. [The Guardian]

Solar panels (Photo: Lukas Coch / AAP)

Solar panels (Photo: Lukas Coch / AAP)

¶ China has become the world’s largest producer of solar energy, according to a report from the country’s energy administration. The most populous nation on Earth nearly doubled their solar power capacity in 2016. Now China intends to add 110 GW of solar capacity by 2020, bringing the total capacity to 190 GW. [AZERTAC News]

¶ In a country where much of the rural population lives off the grid, villages on the Indonesian island of Flores boast their own renewable energy sources, all built by local communities. Faced with unreliable and costly diesel power, they have started to set up their own generating plants, based on renewable resources. [Mongabay.com]

The Mbakuhau micro-hydro plant supplies 30 kW  to power 334 homes. (Photo by Eko Rusdianto)

The Mbakuhau micro-hydro plant supplies 30 kW
to power 334 homes. (Photo by Eko Rusdianto)

¶ For Korea, Renewable energy is imperative in the long term. The Seoul Administrative Court has ordered the nuclear safety regulator to cancel its decision to extend the operation of the Wolseong-1 reactor, about 400 km southeast of Seoul. The ruling is the first court decision to halt the extension of a reactor’s operating life. [Korea Times]

¶ The Swedish city of Malmö is one of the greenest in Europe. The Västra Hamnen district uses 100% renewable energy, for power and heat. It is climate neutral, with absolutely no carbon emissions. The area has extensive bike trails, and a public bus system that runs entirely on biogas, a methane-based alternative to gasoline. [Beloit College Round Table]

Rooftop solar takes on a new meaning.

Lots of rooftop solar in Sweden

US:

¶ The US Army Corps of Engineers will grant an easement
in North Dakota for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, allowing the project to move toward completion despite the protests. President Donald Trump had signed executive actions to advance approval of this pipeline and others almost as soon
as he took office. [CNN]

¶ With former Secretary of State Jim Baker leading, a group
of Republican senior statesmen are pushing for a carbon tax
to combat the effects of climate change. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, they argued, “there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore.” [Voice of America]

Flaring gas at an oil refinery in Washington

Flaring gas at an oil refinery in Washington

¶ Greenfield, Massachusetts has been honored by American City & County magazine as a 2016 Crown Community for pioneering the purchase of locally generated renewable energy certificates into the Greenfield Light and Power Program. Keeping energy dollars local is one goal in Greenfield’s Sustainable Master Plan. [The Recorder]

¶ DTE Energy Co, which provides electricity to 2.2 million customers in southeastern Michigan, is launching a new pilot program to financially support clean energy sources by offering customers to help fund DTE-owned wind and solar farms. Now, Customers will be able to buy up to 100% of their power from renewable sources. [Crain’s Detroit Business]

Solar power in Michigan

Solar power in Michigan

¶ New York’s Cuomo Administration wants to create a $15 million program offering up to $6,000 in rebates for people wishing to install geothermal heat pumps. The geothermal industry earlier sought tax breaks worth about $5,000. In addition to the energy efficiency of such systems, installing
them creates jobs. [Albany Times Union]

¶ Last year was very good for GE Renewable Energy. They had
a record 7 GW of onshore wind orders, representing an increase of 19% from 2015. The company previously announced that its onshore wind business booked over $3 billion of orders in the fourth quarter alone; this was due in part to a strong market in the US. [North American Windpower]

GE wind turbines

GE wind turbines

¶ Vermont Electric Cooperative announced its 2017 Energy Transformation Program. The 2017 opportunities include financial incentives for members who install cold-climate heat pumps, purchase or lease electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or transition away from generators to power their homes or businesses. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Ohio’s solar industry added more than 1,000 jobs last year,
an industry trade group report says. The Solar Foundation, a promoter of the energy source, tallied up jobs in every state
and found employment in the sector increased 25% nationwide. Ohio’s solar industry rose to 5,831 jobs from 4,811 in 2015, a 21% increase. [Columbus Business First]

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February 7 Energy News

February 7, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trump’s blessing” • As much as Trump and his oil-soaked administration want to make fossil fuels great again, the global clean energy revolution is getting to the point of being unstoppable. Here are a few reasons the renewables revolution will continue without Trump’s blessing. [Inhabitat]

Solar powered house in Germany

Solar powered houses in Germany

¶ “Data busts the myth of cheap fossil fuels” • Carbon Tracker Initiative has released a global study that might surprise the general public, “End of the Load for Coal and Gas?” It found renewable energy is now more cost-effective than fossil fuels, conflicting with conventional wisdom that coal and gas are the cheapest fuels available. [GreenBiz]

¶ “Even Trump can’t dismiss the success of renewables” • What impact will the climate-sceptic, coal enthusiast President Trump have on the prospects for renewable energy? How will Brexit affect the UK’s renewable sector? And what’s driving the growth of clean energy in Asia? These were key questions at a Guardian roundtable. [The Guardian]

The answer is blowing in the wind  (Photo: Billy Hustace / Getty Images)

The answer is blowing in the wind
(Photo: Billy Hustace / Getty Images)

World:

¶ Vestas received a firm and unconditional order to supply 29 V126 3.45-MW turbines for the 100-MW Corti wind park from Greenwind SA, a subsidiary of Pampa Energia. Turbine delivery is planned for the third quarter of this year, and commissioning is expected less than a year later, in the second quarter of 2018. [North American Windpower]

¶ Finnish retailer of food and goods Kesko has announced that it will source 100% sustainably produced, renewable electricity for all of its operations, from January 2017 onwards. The company will source “green” electricity, which is certified by the northern European “renewable energy guarantee of origin.” [ESM – The European Supermarket Magazine]

Finland's Kesko to use 100% renewable electricity

Finland’s Kesko to use 100% renewable electricity

¶ DP Energy has submitted a marine licence application to Northern Ireland authorities for its 100-MW Fair Head tidal array. The Irish developer is seeking permission from Belfast’s Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs to install tidal turbines on the seabed and associated infrastructure to bring the power ashore. [reNews]

¶ Enel Green Power has brought online two new utility-scale PV plants in South Africa, at 82.5 MW each. Together the plants are capable of generating more than 300 GWh per year. The Adams and Pulida solar PV plants, located respectively in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces, are supported by a 20-year PPA with Eskom. [PV-Tech]

Enel Green Power project in South Africa (Source: Enel)

Enel Green Power project in South Africa (Source: Enel)

¶ Eskom, the public electric utility in South Africa, will not oppose court action challenging the legality of government decisions around the procurement process for a fleet of new nuclear reactors. The utility said in papers filed in the Western Cape High Court that it would abide by the court’s decision in this matter. [Daily Maverick]

US:

¶ According to Greentech Media, SunShot has shattered its 2020 goal of reaching $1.00 per watt for utility-scale solar utility costs 3 years earlier. Founded back in 2011 when Stephen Chu was the US DOE Secretary, the SunShot goal was to get utility-scale costs down to $1.00/watt. In 2011, the costs stood at about $4.00/watt. [CleanTechnica]

Solar power plant (photo via lbl.gov)

Solar power plant (photo via lbl.gov)

¶ Southern California Gas Co, Los Angeles, along with CR&R Environmental, a waste management company in Stanton, California, announced they have begun construction of an eight-inch pipeline that will bring carbon-neutral renewable natural gas into the SoCalGas distribution system for the first time. [Waste Today Magazine]

¶ Rough terrain, isolated homes and vast distances add to the costs of extending grid lines to more homes of Navajo people. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority uses off-grid solar systems as a more cost-effective way to bring power to homes. They cost less than half of the $35,000 to $50,000 it could cost to extend grid lines by one mile. [Cronkite News]

Navajo solar system (Photo: Katrin Mehler / Cronkite News)

Navajo solar system (Photo: Katrin Mehler / Cronkite News)

¶ The plunging cost of solar power is leading US electric companies to capture more of the sun just when President Donald Trump is moving to boost coal and other fossil fuels. Solar power represents just about 1% [actually 2% – ghh] of the utility power today, but that will grow as major utilities take up smaller solar projects. [Electric Light & Power]

¶ Power producers are set to announce their opposition to legislation that would guarantee markets for the Millstone nuclear plant. Calpine Corp, Dynegy, NRG Energy, and the Electric Power Supply Association all say state assistance to the nuclear plant could drive up energy costs for businesses and residents. [Hartford Courant]

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February 6 Energy News

February 6, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The clean energy juggernaut can’t be stopped now” • Investors have always held concerns about policy risk in renewable energy, but the basic direction of travel now seems set. As costs continue to fall and economic fundamentals now compete with other forms of power generation, the importance of subsidies is falling away. [The Fifth Estate]

Wind turbines in Iowa (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

Wind turbines in Iowa (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ South Australian company 1414 Degrees developed technology to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, at a tenth of the cost for lithium-ion batteries. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and one tonne can store enough energy to power
28 houses for a day. [Electronics News]

World:

¶ Spanish wind turbine-maker Gamesa will facilitate around ₹17,500 crore ($2.63 billion) of investment in wind, solar and wind-solar hybrid power projects in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, a top official said. He said Gamesa intends to facilitate investors setting up wind, solar and wind-solar hybrid power projects. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Suzlon wind turbine

Suzlon wind turbine

¶ Being rich in fossil energy resources the Islamic Republic of Iran has opted to turn its attention to renewable energy. The country plans to establish renewable energy power plants with
a total capacity of 5,000 MW. The Energy Minister said that foreigners will invest some $3 billion in Iranian solar power plants in the near future. [AzerNews]

¶ Gamesa has opened a new wind turbine blade factory in the Nellore region, in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Construction of the new factory, which will be one of the company’s largest in India, has been supported by the company’s growth plans, which predict a capital expenditure of more than €100 million through 2017. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Blade making

Blade making

¶ China’s smog-hit capital Beijing plans to cut coal consumption by a further 30% in 2017 as part of its efforts to combat its air pollution, the official Xinhua news agency said. Beijing promised to implement “extraordinary” measures this year in a bid to tackle choking smog from traffic congestion and the heavy use of coal. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ The Australian Energy Market Operator says it is confident that adjustments made to wind farm software will prevent the South Australia blackout from being repeated. He said the blackout in South Australia in September, which has set off a huge political debate about renewable energy across the country, would not be repeated. [RenewEconomy]

Australian wind turbines

Australian wind turbines

¶ Another robot has been developed for the elusive goals of locating the melted fuel and surveying the interior of the No 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO, operator of the plant, plans to deploy the robot into the No 1 reactor before the end of March to find melted nuclear fuel and assess its condition. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ In America’s breadbasket, the economic realities of climate change are a critical business issue, but frank discussion is often complicated by politics and social pressure, so they get disguised as something else. Perhaps no one is as aware of the climate and its impact on the earth than a farmer, and the New York Times recently featured one from Kansas. [HPPR]

Soy beans (Credit: US Department of Agriculture)

Soy beans in a no-till field (Credit: US Department of Agriculture)

¶ Altus Power America, Inc announced the completion of a
1,672-kW rooftop-mounted solar energy system in Framingham, Massachusetts. The solar system is sited on the rooftops of the Shoppers World complex, a large retail shopping center owned by DDR Corp. The system is expected produce 2,133,000 kWh
in its first year. [Your Renewable News]

¶ Three scientific advocacy groups have filed a legal brief in support of federal climate scientists who are being sued by the conservative organization Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch has sought to force the NOAA to release 8,000 pages of researchers’ communications regarding a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Science. [InsideClimate News]

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February 5 Energy News

February 5, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The West’s Largest Coal Plant Could Soon Go Dark” • It’s big. It’s coal-fired. And it’s about to go bye-bye. The West’s largest coal-fired power plant, the Navajo Generating Station, is facing closure because burning coal is no longer a cost-effective method of generating energy. A changing administration could mean it gets saved. [Care2.com]

Navajo Generating Station (Photo: Bill Morrow)

Navajo Generating Station (Photo: Bill Morrow)

¶ “The Wind Blows, the Sun Shines, and Coal Struggles” • We may not want to admit it, but the problem of energy has always come down to one thing: money. Renewable energy used to be an exorbitant cost for companies and virtually impossible for residential use. But over the last 10 years things have flipped upside down. [Energy and Capital]

Science and Technology:

¶ An article in the Mail on Sunday stunningly claims, “World leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data.” It accuses the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of manipulating data. However, a fact check by independent researchers validates the data that NOAA published. [Carbon Brief]

Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean (Credit: Tiago Fioreze, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean
(Credit: Tiago Fioreze, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

World:

¶ The Saudi Arabian minister of energy, industry, and mineral resources announced that the country will invite international and domestic firms to bid for renewable energy projects this April. He said contracts for the projects, including two new solar and wind power plants with a 700-MW capacity, would likely be awarded in September. [Al-Bawaba]

¶ Australia’s resources minister said the federal government
is considering providing public funds for building “clean coal” power stations in the country’s north, according to a report in The Australian. He said some of the A$5 billion ($3.84 billion) Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund could be used to help build them. [Jakarta Globe]

Coal is Clean. War is peace. Freedom is slavery…

Coal is Clean. War is peace. Freedom is slavery…

¶ The Australian Labor Party will oppose the Coalition’s embrace of so-called clean coal for power generation, calling the policy shift a cynical exercise designed to keep Tony Abbott at bay. Shadow environment minister Mark Butler said the Opposition would not allow itself to be wedged over the politics of coal. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Urgent action is needed to prevent salt intrusion causing severe damage to rice production and loss of drinking water in Vietnam and Bangladesh, according to reports by the World Bank and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. The reports say sea level rise threatens large areas of land that is currently highly productive. [The Daily Star]

Ninh Binh Province (Dinkum, Wikimedia Commons)

Paddy fields, Ninh Binh Province (Dinkum, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ US electric car sales continue to climb to new heights in 2017. Growing 59% year over year, about 12,000 electric cars were sold across the country in January, accounting for roughly 1% of US auto sales. Models from Tesla and GM’s Chevy Bolt are pulling the market forward. Toyota’s Prius Prime shows impressive sales growth. [CleanTechnica]

¶ While Republican President Donald Trump has said his focus will be on reviving the long-struggling coal industry by stripping federal environmental regulations, many states have their sights set elsewhere. Energy analysts say they expect states to continue to advance initiatives that reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. [SouthCoastToday.com]

Wyoming's Black Thunder mine (AP photo / Matthew Brown / File)

Wyoming’s Black Thunder mine (AP / Matthew Brown / File)

¶ The town of Montague, Massachusetts has approved plans for
a 23-acre solar power farm. The project with more than 18,000 solar panels is scheduled to be built on land already owned by electric utility Eversource. It will be constructed 200 feet from the road with trees creating a visual barrier a between the road and the panels. [wwlp.com]

¶ A group of Republican lawmakers is touting an advancing
clean energy legislative package that will, though critics say
only modestly, crack open the door for more renewable energy options in Virginia. Solar industry groups and big corporations have called for easier access to increased options for renewable energy. [Roanoke Times]

Solar power in Virginia (Richmond Times-Dispatch | File 2016)

Solar power in Virginia (Richmond Times-Dispatch | File 2016)

¶ The Trump administration’s strict restrictions on immigration, declarations about climate change, reported overtures to an anti-vaccine activist, and pledge to repeal of the Affordable Care Act have turned some in the science community into militants. They will march in Washington, and perhaps in other cities, on April 22, Earth Day. [NBCNews.com]

¶ A bill considered crucial to the future of the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, Connecticut, and one that is among the most noteworthy of the state Legislature’s current session, will be taken up in what is expected to be the first of two Energy and Technology Committee public hearings on it. A sponsor says it would not subsidize the plant. [theday.com]

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February 4 Energy News

February 4, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The government is right to fund energy storage: a 100% renewable grid is within reach” • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a speech that the key needs for his country’s electricity system are affordability, reliability, and ability to help meet emissions-reduction targets. With storage, the sun and wind are ready. [EconoTimes]

The grid could go fully renewable at the same cost and reliability as fossil fuels. (Pixabay/Wikimedia Commons)

The grid could go fully renewable at the same cost and
reliability as fossil fuels. (Pixabay/Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “France’s Next President May Face $3 Billion Nuclear Hangover” • Whoever succeeds Francois Hollande as France’s president may find one of their first tasks in office will be selling off some of the nation’s prized assets to prop up the state’s nuclear industry, fixing the financial problems of Areva SA and Electricite de France SA. [Bloomberg]

World:

¶ The Scottish government has granted planning consent for an extension of the Falck Renewables’ 35-MW Millennium South wind farm in the Highlands. The wind power project, located near Fort Augustus, will consist of 10 turbines. It is an extension to the 65-MW Millennium wind farm, which was completed by Falck in 2011. [reNews]

Millennium wind farm (Image: Falck Renewables)

Millennium wind farm (Image: Falck Renewables)

¶ The much-discussed report “Expect the Unexpected…The Disruptive Power of Low Carbon Technology,” paints the future of coal and oil production as a picture that is not pretty. The researchers also basically accuse fossil energy companies of using alternative facts to project relatively slow growth in the clean energy sector. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Global solar power developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures reached financial closure for its 100-MW solar farm project at Clare in Queensland, Australia. It is the first utility-scale solar generation project in Australia to secure financing entirely on
the basis of a power purchasing agreement, without government funding. [Power Technology]

Solar power in Queensland (Image: courtesy of FRV)

Solar power in Queensland (Image: courtesy of FRV)

¶ The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board has decided to utilize solar power in order to save on power bills. The Water Board is seeking ₹50 crore ($7.5 million) in the state budget that will be presented during the assembly session later this month. Currently, the Water Board is paying nearly ₹55 crore. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Endesa, a power company owned by Enel, has taken the first steps to add battery storage to one of the largest coal-fired generation plants in Spain. The innovation will help make the plant more efficient and flexible, reducing emissions and the need for maintenance in order to prolong the plant’s useful life, the company says. [Greentech Media]

Carbon Emissions (Image: Shutterstock)

Carbon Emissions (Image: Shutterstock)

¶ China will launch green certificates trading for solar and wind power on July 1, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. Under a pilot program, solar and wind producers would be issued certificates, which could be traded, proving that electricity has been generated through renewable energy sources. [The News International]

¶ Denmark’s DONG Energy, already a leader in green energy technologies, has announced that they will become 100% coal-free by 2023. DONG Energy had ditched oil and gas last year. The company has created a portfolio of renewables, based on leading technologies in offshore wind, bioenergy, and energy solutions. [Digital Journal]

A wind farm in Copenhagen (Kim Hansen)

A wind farm in Copenhagen (Kim Hansen)

US:

¶ A group of US Senators from western states with windpower resources has re-introduced the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, S. 282. This bipartisan legislation works toward an “all of the above” energy strategy by simplifying the permitting process for wind, solar, and geothermal projects on public lands. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The President of Audi of America commented at a conference that the brand’s auto dealers need to promote plug-in electric vehicles more actively. A lack of dealership knowledge and an unwillingness to stock and sell these cars remain a major hurdles to higher plug-in electric vehicle sales for most manufacturers in the US. [CleanTechnica]

Audi e-tron concept car

Audi e-tron concept car

¶ NRG Energy and subsidiary Reliant are to provide renewable electricity to power the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston. The game will take place at NRG Stadium on 5 February between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. The deal with the NFL also includes the provision of clean power to the George R Brown Convention Center. [reNews]

¶ Two Democratics in the New Mexico Senate have proposed a dramatic expansion of the state’s renewable portfolio standards to 80% by 2040, from its current goal of 20% by 2020. The state would then be among the most aggressive on carbon emissions. Hawaii is targeting 100% renewables by 2045, and California wants to reach 50% by 2030. [Utility Dive]

Solar power in New Mexico (credit: Depositphotos)

Solar power in New Mexico (credit: Depositphotos)

¶ In California, Redwood Coast Energy Authority announced that the Community Choice Energy Program will go forward as planned and begin in May of this year. A senior energy specialist at RCEA said the prices for renewable energy are often more competitive and most consumers can expect a 2.7% cut in the monthly bill. [KRCRTV.COM]

¶ A new electric plant is providing for part of power supply for South Sioux City, Nebraska. Now, solar panels are helping meet the city’s energy needs. A solar array of 2.3 MW was set up on 21 acres of land, paid for by SolarCity, a national solar company. The array will produce enough power to covers about 6% of the city’s power needs. [KTIV]

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February 3 Energy News

February 3, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Not just Toshiba – the global nuclear industry is in crisis everywhere” • The collapse of Toshiba, the direct result of its failing nuclear ventures, is indicative of a crisis faced by nuclear contractors and utilities worldwide. Another sign of the poor outlook for the industry: no major commodity had a worse 2016 than uranium. [The Ecologist]

The Moorside nuclear complex (Image: Nugen)

Moorside nuclear complex (Image: Nugen)

Science and Technology:

¶ As the global climate heats up, so do Alaskan ocean waters, meaning big changes for marine ecosystems and bad news for some species. Scientists gathered in Anchorage last week for the Alaska Marine Science Symposium to review new research probing those changes and what may be ongoing shifts in the marine ecosystem. [Homer Tribune]

World:

¶ A new report from The Economist Intelligence Unit has concluded that Europe’s coal consumption has been in long-term decline, and the region’s reliance on it is not as uniformly high as many assume. Much of the decline in coal for Europe
has been centered in the UK, which has been closing coal power plants regularly. [CleanTechnica]

Decline in UK coal use

Decline in UK coal use

¶ India’s Ministry of Shipping decided to use renewable energy sources to power 12 of the country’s major ports. The directive was initiated under the government’s Green Port Initiative, and will see 91.5 MW of solar systems installed at the 12 locations. Plans also include 45 MW of wind energy capacity at two major ports. [Ship Technology]

¶ Energy firm Simple Power has installed more wind turbines
in rural Northern Ireland, with projects being completed in counties Down, Antrim, Tyrone, and Londonderry since last year’s closure of the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation subsidy for wind. The company is still furthering its projects where eligible. [Belfast Telegraph]

Simple Power turbine

Simple Power turbine

¶ Royal Dutch Shell has revealed it is considering opportunities in Australia to combine gas and renewable energy to support what chief executive Ben van Beurden says is an “unstoppable” transition to a cleaner economy. He pointed to many areas where the combination of gas and renewables made “a lot of sense.” [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Solar energy is set to advance in New South Wales after the Clean Energy Finance Corporation announced $150 million of investments in three upcoming solar projects. The three solar farms in Dubbo, Parkes, and Griffith are all being developed by independent power producer, Neoen. They will power about 41,500 homes. [OmniChannel Media]

Australian solar array

Australian solar array

¶ TEPCO announced that a radiation level of 530 sieverts per hour has been measured in the containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor 2. Also, based on its analysis of images taken by a remote-controlled camera, there is a 2-meter hole in the metal grating under the pressure vessel in the primary containment vessel for the reactor. [The Japan Times]

¶ Faced with blackouts, Pakistan’s largest public park has gone solar. City authorities in Islamabad installed 3,400 solar panels on a 2.5-hectare parcel of the 300-hectare (750-acre) park, at a cost of $4.8 million. The park also uses batteries to store solar energy to meet lighting and other electricity needs 24 hours a day. [Arab News]

Fatima Jinnah Park uses solar power.

Fatima Jinnah Park uses solar power.

US:

¶ Republicans in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee suspended committee rules in order to advance Scott Pruitt’s nomination as head of the EPA amid a Democrat boycott. The committee’s unanimous approval, with an 11-0 vote, now pushes his nomination to the full Senate floor for a final vote on approval. [UPI.com]

¶ Ohio regulators are reviewing an application for the Icebreaker freshwater offshore wind project in Lake Erie, about 13 km (8.1 miles) off the coast of Cleveland. Icebreaker Windpower plans to install six MHI Vestas V126 3.45-MW turbines, for a combined capacity of 20.7-MW. The Lake Erie Energy Development Co (Leedco) initiated the project. [reNews]

Icebreaker wind project (Leedco image)

Icebreaker wind project (Leedco image)

¶ The breakneck pace of solar energy Utah adopted over the past decade needs to continue on an accelerated course, advocates say. At a media event at the state Capitol, the Wasatch Solar Team, led by the advocacy organization Utah Clean Energy and Salt Lake City, unveiled a plan that recommends the removal of existing roadblocks. [KSL.com]

¶ State lawmakers and officials from Utah’s solar industry have reached an agreement for phasing out tax credits for residents installing rooftop arrays, partly by increasing those incentives while they are still available. Many said they have mixed feelings, however, about the compromise to eliminate the tax breaks by 2021. [Salt Lake Tribune]

Rooftop solar in Utah (Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Rooftop solar in Utah (Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune)

¶ A fund meant to spur Vermont’s small-scale renewable energy developments will expire by 2018 unless legislators find another source of revenue, according to a legislative report published this month. The state’s Clean Energy Development Fund holds more than $5 million, but the payments that generated that amount have ceased. [vtdigger.org]

¶ In Hawaii, the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative is aiming to reach 70% renewables by 2030 as part of a new long-term plan adopted this week by the utility’s board of directors. The goal builds on previous renewable goals as KIUC had targeted 50% renewables by 2023. But the co-op is ahead of schedule by five years. [Utility Dive]

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February 2 Energy News

February 2, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Surge in electric cars may blindside big oil” • Oil companies are underestimating the global market for electric vehicles and could be caught unaware by weakened demand for petrol within a decade, according to a report, jointly issued by financial think tank Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Institute, both based in London. [Guardian]

Faraday Future’s FF 91 prototype (Photo: AFP / Reuters)

Faraday Future’s FF 91 prototype (Photo: AFP / Reuters)

¶ “Moving Backward On Fuel Economy Standards Is A Bad Deal For America” • Automaker CEOs apparently lobbied President Trump to weaken strong fuel economy standards during a White House summit. Moving backward on fuel economy standards, however, would threaten our health, energy security, jobs, and investments. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “New coal plants wouldn’t be clean, and would cost billions in taxpayer subsidies” • Major Australian energy companies have ruled out building coal plants. The Australian Energy Council sees them as “uninvestable.” Banks and investment funds avoid them. But the Turnbull government wants new coal-burning plants. [The Conversation AU]

Coal plant (image: www.shutterstock.com)

Coal plant (image: http://www.shutterstock.com)

¶ “The dream of cheap, clean nuclear power is over” • The biggest problem with nuclear isn’t safety; it’s cost. And the main risk is rapid advances in competing technologies, including solar power and storage. The economics of nuclear are almost certain to keep it a marginal part of the energy mix, especially in the US. [Tulsa World]

World:

¶ At the end of last year, the Ukraine had 568 MW of operational solar capacity, with 107 MW of fresh addition in 2016. According to a recent report, 54 solar projects are set to be commissioned this year, with a cumulative capacity of 460 MW, thus taking the total operational capacity in the country to more than 1,000 MW. [CleanTechnica]

Solar array in the Ukraine  (Photo: Lujkin8, Wikimedia Commons)

Solar array in the Ukraine
(Photo: Lujkin8, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Iraqi government is warning that a pair of pending deals with GE could be at risk from President Donald Trump’s travel ban, according to internal State Department documents. GE has sizable interests in Iraq, including power contracts worth more than a billion dollars and hundreds of employees in the country. [POLITICO.eu]

¶ Asian developer Equis Energy has expanded into the Australian PV market with two large-scale projects, each of 100 MW. One will be at Collinsville, Queensland. The other is the Tailem Bend project in South Australia, which is expected to be one of the lowest cost solar projects on the continent, at around 40% less than current market prices. [PV-Tech]

Australian desert sunset (Source: Flickr / FreeAussieStock)

Australian desert sunset (Source: Flickr / FreeAussieStock)

¶ Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s leading financial services providers, has finished January by announcing plans to halt investment of all new coal financing, and to scale back existing exposure to the thermal coal mining sector. Not including this, global divestment reported by 350.org stands at about $5.44 trillion. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Today, Mexico ranks number 4 for geothermal resources, according to a US State Department report, “Overseas Business Insights.” The reports says Mexican resources are behind the US, the Philippines and Indonesia. The country is the sixth largest geothermal operator, with an installed geothermal capacity of 926 MW. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Geothermal power plant in Mexico  (source: ThinkGeoEnergy, creative commons)

Geothermal power plant in Mexico
(source: ThinkGeoEnergy, creative commons)

¶ A study that examines seven World Bank policy operations from 2007 to 2016 totaling $5 billion in four countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Peru, reveals that funds intended to boost low-carbon growth are instead supporting investment incentives for projects that put the climate, forests and people at risk. [Huffington Post]

¶ Enel Green Power installed a record 2018 MW of renewable capacity in 2016, more than doubling installations of the year previous. The Italian company, which installed about 900 MW
in 2015, completed large-scale projects in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and the US last year. This year, it will focus on Brazil and the US. [reNews]

Enel wind energy (Enel image)

Enel wind energy (Enel image)

US:

¶ 8minutenergy Renewables announced it has received approval on a Power Purchase Agreement to develop the over 90 MW-ac Springbok 3 Solar Farm, in Kern County, California. The project is the third installation in the Springbok cluster, joining two other 8minutenergy projects, 105 MW-ac Springbok 1, and 155 MW-ac Springbok 2. [SYS-CON Media]

¶ Swiss-based ABB is providing microgrid technology to help find ways to integrate more renewables in Alaska, including the 17-MW Fire Island wind farm, 4 km off the coast at Anchorage. ABB said the microgrid project combines battery and flywheel-based energy storage. It was initiated by the Chugach Electric Association. [reNews]

Alaskan landscape (ABB image)

Alaskan landscape (ABB image)

¶ Latest issue of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update,” tells us that newly installed capacity from renewable sources totaled 16,124 MW, or 61.5% of the total, surpassing combined installations for natural gas (8,689 MW), nuclear power (1,270 MW), oil (58 MW), and coal (45 MW). [Sun & Wind Energy]

¶ Invenergy has signed a power purchase agreement with the city of Denton in Texas for its 300-MW Santa Rita wind farm. The Chicago utility is developing the wind project in Reagan and Irion Counties in Texas using GE turbines. It will start delivering power to local supplier Denton Municipal Electric by 1 January 2019, Invenergy said. [reNews]

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February 1 Energy News

February 1, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ LM Wind and Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands designed new blade tips for offshore wind turbines that they claim can increase production by up to 6%. A blade featuring a tip with a zigzag shape was tested on a 2.5-MW turbine at ECN’s test centre at Wieringermeer and improved power generation
by 2% to 6%. [reNews]

Wind turbine blades (Image: LM Wind)

Wind turbine blades (Image: LM Wind)

World:

¶ Increasing business efficiency and cutting costs will be key once again in 2017, as the UK farming industry readies itself for falling incomes and the potential loss of income support in post-Brexit Britain. While some investors are cautious, experts believe there is still a good business case to make for introducing new on-farm technologies. [FG Insight]

¶ In an unpublished report viewed by the Nikkei Asian Review, Coal India says the industry faces a major domestic challenge as renewable energy makes more inroads into coal’s dominance. Representatives of Coal India’s workers say the report is a ploy to counter their demands for better pay and working conditions. [Nikkei Asian Review]

Coal India open-cast mine (Photo: 101Reporters.com)

Coal India open-cast mine (Photo: 101Reporters.com)

¶ The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, appears to be mulling over investments of as much as $5 billion in renewable energy, as part of plans to diversify from crude oil production, according to people with knowledge on the matter. Saudi Arabia as a whole is aiming to produce 10 GW of renewable power by 2023. [CleanTechnica]

¶ South Australia’s largest solar farm will be built at Tailem Bend this year, at a cost of more than $200 million. It will also have battery storage back up capacity. The solar farm would generate up to 100 MW of electric power, and its battery storage will also be up to 100 MW, enhancing energy security for the state. [The Advertiser]

Broken Hill solar plant, in South Australia (Jeremy Buckingham, Wikimedia Commons)

Broken Hill solar plant, in South Australia
(Jeremy Buckingham, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The EU’s renewable energy goals have long been criticized for being unambitious, but even a pan-union goal to reach 20% of renewable penetration by 2020 looks increasingly beyond the UK, as it begins to lose focus. This is according to the European Commission, in a pre-release report on EU member states’ clean energy progress. [pv magazine]

¶ France has unveiled plans to launch tenders for 3 GW of onshore wind over the next three years as part of new rules for the technology. The tenders will offer support to wind power projects with more than six turbines over 20 years, the energy ministry said. France aims to have 21.8 GW to 26 GW of onshore wind capacity by 2023. [reNews]

Clashindarroch wind farm in Scotland (Credit: reNews)

Clashindarroch wind farm in Scotland (Credit: reNews)

¶ Russian nuclear officials say they’ve fixed a generator glitch that more than two months ago shut down its prized, first of a kind AES-2006 reactor under a cloud of embarrassment and initial secrecy. The November 10 generator failure at the reactor, which began operating last year, was kept under wraps by the nuclear utility Rosenergoatom. [Bellona]

US:

¶ In Southern California, 396 refrigerator-size stacks of Tesla batteries have been hastily erected to supply power for peak demand periods. The installation, capable of powering roughly 15,000 homes over four hours, is part of an emergency response to projected energy shortages stemming from a huge leak at a natural gas storage facility. [Las Vegas Sun]

Tesla battery packs at the Mira Loma substation (Tesla image)

Tesla battery packs at the Mira Loma substation (Tesla image)

¶ The largest solar project in New Hampshire may be headed for Hinsdale. Selectmen approved a payment in lieu of taxes for the $50 million project. It is tentatively scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. The firm proposing it claims the project would offset more than 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years. [The Keene Sentinel]

¶ The Army Corps of Engineers has been directed to allow the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to North Dakota Senator John Hoeven. He said he was told the Acting Secretary of the Army “directed the Army Corps of Engineers
to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.” [CNN]

Dakota Access Pipeline section in Iowa (Carl Wycoff, Wikimedia Commons)

Dakota Access Pipeline section in Iowa
(Carl Wycoff, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Home Depot made its first major investment in a renewable energy project powered by the wind. The home improvement chain has signed a 20-year power-purchase agreement with the Los Mirasoles Wind Farm, which is owned and operated by EDP Renewables North America. Home Depot is buying 50-MW of the wind farm’s output. [Investopedia]

¶ Eos Energy Storage and Northern Power Systems Corp announced a strategic partnership to develop integrated energy storage systems and offer them to commercial or industrial customers and utilities. The integrated solutions provide 4 hours of usable energy using modular 250-kW battery building blocks. [Electric Light & Power]

Eos storage system

Eos storage system

¶ In a six-year settlement, in conjunction with nine intervening parties, Dayton Power and Light, a subsidiary of The AES Corp, filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio a settlement to its electric security plan that would end its ownership in 2,093-MW of coal-fired generation and bring more renewable energy to Ohio. [Solar Industry]

¶ The Maryland House has overridden Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2016, which would boost the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 20% by 2022 to 25% by 2020. The Senate is expected to take up the override vote in the coming days, according to the Maryland Climate Coalition. [North American Windpower]

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