April 28 Energy News

April 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Big, young power plants are closing. Is it a new trend?” • Many of the US coal plants retired in recent years were geezers by industry standards. They trended old and small, and ran a fraction of the time. But in a vexing sign for the industry, those in the next round of retirements are decidedly younger. In fact, they are just middle-aged. [E&E News]

San Juan Generating Station could close in 2022, three
decades earlier than anticipated. (Doc Searls, Wikipedia)

¶ “How much storage and back-up do high renewable grids need?” • It’s a question at the heart of electricity planning and the subject of many of the myths peddled by vested interests in the fossil fuel lobby and reported by the gullible media. The answer is: not nearly as much as the naysayers would have you think. [RenewEconomy]

World:

¶ The Australian Photovoltaic Institute, with data from the Clean Energy Regulator, says the country has a new solar energy record. There are now 6 GW of solar power across the country, enough to meet the electricity needs of 1.3 million households. Solar power now makes up 11% of Australia’s installed capacity. [Energy Matters]

Australian rooftop solar (public domain image)

¶ South Australia set a new record for wind output on Tuesday, April 25, reaching 1,540 MW. The previous record of 1,400 MW was set just two weeks earlier. At its peak, the wind output equated to 96.6% of its registered capacity. Under new rules imposed since last September’s blackout, two gas-fired generators were kept on line. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Australian government is being told that “green fuel” exports, powered by wind and solar, could reach $40 billion a year in the next few decades, a market equivalent in size to the export coal industry, and essential if Australia is to maintain its pivotal position as a major fuel supplier in a decarbonized world. [RenewEconomy]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ The 1,805 MW of solar PV capacity on the rooftops of Queensland homes and business now amount to be the biggest power station by capacity in the state, overtaking the 1,780 MW of the Gladstone coal-fired power station. Homeowners and business owners in Queensland added 25 MW of rooftop solar capacity in March. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Electricity generated by offshore wind in Germany increased almost 37% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to new figures. Some 4,800 GWh of electricity was generated from offshore wind in the first three months of the year, up from 3,500 GWh in the first quarter of 2016. [reNews]

Riffgat offshore wind farm in Germany (EWE image)

¶ According to the International Energy Agency, oil discoveries declined to 2.4 billion barrels in 2016, compared to the previous average over the last 15 years of 9 billion barrels a year. The IEA reported that because of low oil prices, the number of projects receiving final investment decision has fallen to the lowest levels seen since the 1940s. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Geothermal’s contribution to New Zealand’s total renewable energy generation increased from 11.5% in 2007 to 21% in 2015. Over the same period, its value rose from $1.3 billion to $2.9 billion (US$ 2.0 billion). The value of wind jumped from $238 million (2% of total renewable energy generation) in 2007 to $884 million (6%) in 2015. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Te Mihi geothermal plant, New Zealand (source: Contact Energy)

US:

¶ Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to build a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050. It was called “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen” by 350.org. Others caution that it is not enough to deal with climate change. [Common Dreams]

¶ New England Hydropower Company has commissioned the first Archimedes screw generation facility in the country. The turbine, installed in Meriden, Connecticut, late last year, is expected to generate 920,000 kWh of electricity annually for the city, saving it $20,000 a year in power costs and property taxes over 20 years. [Meriden Record-Journal]

Archimedes screw turbine (Dave Zajac, Record-Journal)

¶ More than 1,000 US companies are calling on the Congress and administration to strengthen the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, instead of following through on its proposed elimination, as per Trump’s recent budget proposals. The companies signed a joint letter, organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, to congressional leaders. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Lindahl wind farm, Enel Green Power’s first project in the state of North Dakota, has started generating energy. Lindahl has an installed capacity of 150 MW and can generate approximately 625 GWh annually, enough for over 50,000 US households, while avoiding the emission of about 450,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Lindahl wind farm

¶ Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced a call for proposals for renewable developers to build new projects for a clean-energy program available to PG&E customers. Those who participe will pay the developers for the new energy directly, and receive a bill credit from PG&E on their monthly energy statement. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The owners of the new nuclear reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina said the half-finished reactors might not be completed without changes to a proposed $800 million loan to Westinghouse, which is bankrupt. The utilities are evaluating how to complete them, or alternatively, whether they should be abandoned. [Reuters]

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