May 1 Energy News

May 1, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Climate change is a notoriously difficult concept to visualize, but a paper from the Geological Society of America makes climate science more accessible by showing the impact that warming has had on glaciers around the world. The paper aims to improve public awareness of our planet’s disappearing glaciers. [ScienceAlert]

Six years’ change – Columbia Glacier in 2009 and 2015
(Image: James Balog | Extreme Ice Survey)

World:

¶ In what is part of a growing trend, Europe is accelerating its shift away from coal and to more renewable alternatives. According to Bloomberg, companies all over Europe are closing or converting existing coal-burning generators. The fast-paced phase out is a practical and economical choice, as the cost of renewable energy continues to drop. [Futurism]

¶ Australia’s government announced that it will restrict energy exports to avert a looming natural gas shortage. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said steps were needed to secure natural gas for domestic manufacturers and households. Previously, the gas had been sent to export facilities for sale around the world. [The National Interest Online]

Flaring natural gas (Credit: Creative Commons)

¶ At a conference titled “Powering Viet Nam” held in Ha Noi, leaders of US multinational conglomerate General Electric as well as global and local energy sector experts shared ideas, case studies and best practices with more than 200 attendees and industry experts, the Dau tu (Investment) newspaper reported. [VietNamNet Bridge]

¶ With electricity prices spiralling and a rush towards green energy, fresh figures show the rate of solar panel installations across Australia led by West Australia is gathering pace. The southern Perth postcode of Baldivis is Australia’s solar capital, with more than two-thirds of houses generating their own power from the sun. [The West Australian]

Solar panels on homes in Baldivis, West Australia
(Picture: Mogens Johansen | The West Australian)

¶ The Community Power Agency has produced a snapshot of community-owned energy projects and found Australians had financed more than 30 wind and solar projects to the tune of almost $24 million in the last six years. Community-owned projects are so popular, they are being funded within hours of being offered in many cases. [NEWS.com.au]

¶ A state-owned Swedish company has become the latest European firm to enter the UK’s lucrative energy market, as Britain’s appeal to continental power suppliers shows no sign of abating after the Brexit vote. Vattenfall is launching its first foray into UK energy supply as it joins a competitive field of European players. [The Guardian]

Vattenfall wind farm (Kapook2981 | Getty Images | iStockphoto)

¶ Construction is set to begin on one of the largest solar projects in Australia’s development pipeline, after the 148-MW Ross River Solar Farm this week achieved financial close. Large wind and solar farms can be planned and built in 2 to 3 years (compared with 10 to 15 years for nuclear) and are ready now to replace fossil and nuclear electricity. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Brazil’s government-run energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energética has conducted a study to assess the country’s potential for hybrid solar-wind power installations. EPE’s study was conducted after several developers expressed the desire to see a hybrid wind-solar category included in the national power auctions. [pv magazine]

Hybrid wind-solar power plant (Governo de Pernambuco)

¶ A new Global Wine Index outlines the most at-risk wine regions according to rising temperatures and other climate change factors. Unfortunately, some of the world’s finest grapes are unlikely to survive. A multidisciplinary research team of engineers, seismologists, meteorologists, scientists, and wine lovers created the index. [AlterNet]

US:

¶ A proposal to build an electric transmission line to carry Canadian power through Vermont on its way to southern New England would reopen public debate about the use of the land that began nearly two decades ago. The proposal by National Grid would install the power line alongside an existing transmission line. [The Recorder]

Power lines in Vermont (AP Photo | Wilson Ring)

¶ Negotiators have reached a bipartisan agreement on a spending package to keep the US federal government funded until the end of September, according to congressional aides. It is very different from what the president proposed. The EPA’s budget is at 99% of current levels and also includes increased infrastructure spending. [The Guardian]

¶ For decades, the Block Island Power Company ferried up to a million gallons of diesel fuel a year from the Rhode Island mainland to power Block Island. The fuel is a costly and dirty energy source whose CO2 emissions are second only to burning coal. Now, America’s first offshore wind farm is delivering it electricity. [InsideClimate News]

Tourists on Block Island taking in the view of the wind farm
(Credit: Phil McKenna | InsideClimate News)

¶ Californians who get electricity from one of the state’s community choice aggregators could face higher costs under a plan being proposed by the state’s three investor-owned utilities. The proposal calls for a new approach to apportioning the utilities’ costs for energy contracts among the departing and remaining customers. [RTO Insider]

¶ Over the past decade, battery storage has taken great leaps toward mainstream use, expanding exponentially alongside renewable technologies. In the US, battery storage is now clearly an established market. Battery storage deployments grew to 336 MWh in 2016, doubling the amount deployed in 2015. [POWER magazine]

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