Archive for May 5th, 2017

May 5 Energy News

May 5, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life. The worry is that diseases that have been absent for millennia could reappear, infecting people who have lost resistance to them. [BBC]

Melting Permafrost (Gertrud & Helmut Denzau |

¶ In the UK, Tokamak Energy says it activated its newest fusion reactor, the ST40, and it has already managed to achieve “first plasma” within its core. The reactor’s developers believe it will be safe and inexpensive to run, once they demonstrate that they can handle plasma successfully, at a temperature of 100,000,000° C. [CleanTechnica]


¶ Oil prices are down by about 15% since the start of the year, despite OPEC’s agreement in November which cut output by 1.8 million barrels a day. Oil is at its lowest level since November, when producers’ cartel OPEC struck a deal to cut output. Most recently, Brent crude has fallen to $47.49 a barrel, while US crude dropped $44.58 a barrel. [BBC]

Oil rig and sail boat (Reuters image)

¶ India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has announced the launch of second round of wind energy auction for 1,000 MW. Electricity distribution companies of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi, Assam and Odisha will buy wind power from PTC to meet their renewable purchase obligation, which is mandated by law. [Hindu Business Line]

¶ Official data revealed that India fell 5 GW short of hitting its new renewable energy installation target in financial year 2016-17. The MNRE data, compiled by Mercom Capital Group, shows that combined new renewable energy capacity grew 11,320 MW in FY 2016-17, while the national target for that period was set at 16,660 MW. [pv magazine]

Small solar system in India (Photo: Asian Development Bank)

¶ Taxpayers will wear tens of millions of dollars in losses on the botched refurbishment of the Muja AB power station after the Government of Western Australia decided to close the ageing coal-fired plant. The Energy Minister confirmed that the 52-year-old plant would be shut in September of next year. [The West Australian]

¶ Combined, Queensland and New South Wales have 1980 MW of large-scale renewable energy projects under construction or slated to begin construction in 2017, a Clean Energy Council report says. Politics kept Western Australia to only 20 MW, but now it must close 240 MW of aged coal-fired units. Now, it must turn to solar and wind. [RenewEconomy]

Collapsed wall at the Muja CD plant

¶ The United Arab Emirates was forced to delay by a year the start-up of its first nuclear reactor as the company set up to run it has not yet received an operating license. The world’s largest single nuclear project, the Barakah nuclear plant will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity when completed around 2020. [Reuters]


¶ The Vermont Public Service Board held a series of meetings on proposed sound standards for wind turbines. The board released its draft version of the new rules in March, and its members held four meetings this week to hear from the public and from wind and sound experts as they get ready to finalize the sound standards. [Vermont Public Radio]

Wind turbines in Sheffield (Toby Talbot | AP File)

¶ The US has no plan yet for how to meet its 2020 climate target and has made no analysis of the impact of recent policy changes, according to an official submission to the UN. The US submission for the Multilateral Assessment, which was published this week, says “jobs, economic growth and energy independence” are its priority. [Carbon Brief]

¶ Competition from cheap natural gas accounts for nearly half the decline in domestic US coal consumption in recent years, Columbia University researchers said. Lower electricity demand electricity and growing use of renewable energy also took a bite out of coal’s market share. Environmental regulations took a smaller share yet. [Lexington Herald Leader]

Loading coal into a truck to be taken to a rail
facility (Bill Estep

¶ Utility-scale solar installations grew at an annualized rate of 72% from 2010 to 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration. Though the first utility-scale solar plants were installed in the mid-1980s, but more than half of all currently operating solar capacity came online over the last two years. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ According to the Arizona Republic, Arizona Public Service Commissioner Andy Tobin sent a letter to US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking the federal government to pick up half of maintenance costs of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. Tobin hopes the plant would keep running at least five more years. [Utility Dive]

Navajo Generating Station

¶ BYD announced a new electric long-range class 8 refuse truck at the ACT Expo in Long Beach. It is estimated to save operators more than $13,000 per year in fuel and maintenance when compared to a diesel-based refuse truck. The new 10-ton payload trash truck can achieve 76 miles per charge with minimal battery degradation. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Feeling heat from environmentalists, residents, and politicians, supervisors of Contra Costa County, California, took the big step of picking a solar power plant developer that may be able to help consumers on average cut monthly bills up to 55%. On a 4-1 vote, they selected San Rafael-based MCE Clean Energy to develop solar power plants. [Antioch Herald]

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