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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