April 20 Energy News

April 20, 2017


¶ “Unsubsidized wind and solar now the cheapest source for new electric power” • Last year, the average “levelized cost” of electricity from solar worldwide dropped 17% percent, onshore wind costs dropped 18% and offshore costs fell 28%. Unsubsidized wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power. [Computerworld]

Italian village in a wind farm (NASA photo)

¶ “Rick Perry’s Memo Is A Minefield” • Rick Perry directed the Department of Energy to do a 60-day study of the US electric grid. The memo clearly tries to look innocuous. Nevertheless, it is a minefield full of hidden traps for those who do not parse it carefully and a groundwork for an attack on low-cost solar and wind power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Trump Admin. Outlines Global Solar Plan: 10 Terawatts By 2030” • President Trump talks a great game when it comes to coal jobs. But the latest item in the flood of renewable energy news from the Energy Department is a study that charts a do-able path for global energy producers to harvest 5-10 TW of solar power by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

Hybrid perovskite solar cells (Photo via NREL, cropped)

¶ “Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be” • After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at fusion more dispassionately. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]


¶ According to analysts, China, home to the world’s largest installations of solar farms, will install fewer panels in 2017, taking a breather for the first time in five years, amid arrears in subsidies and bottleneck problems with the country’s power grids. Chinese solar farms will add between 26 GW and 28 GW of capacity this year. [South China Morning Post]

Zhejiang solar fish farm

¶ The long goodbye for coal in Europe is accelerating as the cost of shifting to green energy plunges. Companies including Drax Group Plc, Steag GmbH, and Uniper SE are closing or converting coal-burning generators at a record pace from Austria to the UK, as they are made obsolete by competition from cheaper wind and solar power. [BloombergQuint]

¶ The 240-MW Ararat wind farm in the Australian state of Victoria has been completed, with all 75 of its GE turbines now feeding energy into the grid. The project, powered by GE 3.2-103 machines, will provide the Australian Capital Territory with 40% of electricity produced from the site. Construction commenced in late 2015. [reNews]

Ararat Wind Farm (courtesy photo)

¶ Niigata’s Governor said a longer period may be needed to verify safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, destroying TEPCO’s schedule to restart reactors. He said it will take time to confirm that the nuclear plant can withstand major earthquakes, especially a building that would be headquarters in the event of a severe accident. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has extended his vision of large-scale pumped hydro and storage to Tasmania, outlining plans to expand the island’s existing hydropower system, and possibly add 2,500 MW in pumped hydro, and describing the possibility that the state could become the “renewable energy battery” for Australia. [RenewEconomy]

Gordon Dam in Tasmania


¶ EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has told oil and gas industry leaders that the agency will reconsider its methane emissions rule following a petition from industry leaders, a move decried by environmentalists. The move will reconsider an Obama-era regulation meant to curb methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. [CNN]

¶ South Lake Tahoe, California became the 26th municipality in the US and the latest in a growing coalition of communities to commit to 100% renewable electricity. The city council approved a measure that sets a goal to switch entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2032. Winter tourism is the region’s leading industry. [Windpower Engineering]

Lake Tahoe

¶ San Francisco reached an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gases locally two years ahead of schedule, according to city officials. Recently compiled figures show the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions had fallen to 28% below 1990 levels by 2015. The city’s goal, set in 2008, was to hit 25% below 1990 levels by 2017. [SFBay]

¶ Sound Transit has signed a 10-year agreement with Puget Sound Energy that will enable Seattle’s Link light rail network to operate on 100% renewable energy from 2019. Sound Transit will purchase electricity generated by wind turbines through PSE’s Green Direct Program, reducing its exposure to fluctuations in utility prices. [International Railway Journal]

Seattle Link light rail

¶ Thanks to another strong year for wind energy growth, US wind power added jobs over nine times faster than the overall economy in 2016, the American Wind Energy Association said. Installing more than 8 GW of new wind power for a second straight year, the industry supports a record-high 102,500 jobs in the country. [North American Windpower]

¶ As part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision program, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced that $15.5 million in funding is available for energy storage projects that can support renewable energy technologies, save customers money, and ease peak electric demand. [LongIsland.com]

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