May 20 Energy News

May 20, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The Cost of Everything and the Value of Nothing: Falling Costs Are a Game-Changer” • When industry insiders were surveyed what the most compelling reason to invest in clean energy was, 15% said declining prices, and 11% said earnings growth. But the largest group, 20%, cited consumers’ preference for clean energy. [National Geographic]

Wind turbines on a ridge in West Virginia (Photo © Kent Mason)

¶ “Plant Vogtle: Georgia’s nuclear ‘renaissance’ now a financial quagmire” • Southern Company’s CEO has repeatedly said the project to build two more nuclear reactors would be history-making. He may be right, but not in the way he meant. Years behind schedule, billions over budget, it is fast becoming Exhibit A for why not to build a nuclear reactor. [MyAJC]

¶ “Offshore wind won a German power auction without needing any subsidies” • The price of offshore wind power has been dropping so quickly that it threatens to upend the electricity industry around the world. Choosing free zero-pollution power over costly dirty power isn’t a tough choice for utilities or most countries. [ThinkProgress]

Dutch offshore wind farm (Credit: AP | Peter Dejong, File)

Science and Technology:

¶ The Global Seed Vault, which was built under a deep mountain in Arctic Svalbard to secure a million packets of the world’s most precious seeds from all natural and man-made calamities, has been flooded by melting permafrost. The seeds are safe, for the time being, but scientists are alarmed. No one envisioned that this would happen. [International Business Times UK]

¶ In the iceberg filled waters of the Amundsen Sea Embayment, MeBo, a seabed drilling machine, obtained the very first cores to be drilled from just in front of some of the mightiest glaciers on Earth. Its job is to help find out whether deep, warm water is undercutting the Antarctic glaciers, possibly tipping them into an unstoppable retreat. [BBC]

The 120-meter Polarstern research vessel (T. Ronge | AWI)

World:

¶ Climate negotiators from nearly 200 nations gathered in Bonn this week to discuss implementing the Paris Agreement to limit global warming – and they expressed confidence and optimism, despite the threat of an American exodus from agreements. The 10-day session in Bonn this week served as preparation for COP23. [World Politics Review]

¶ Black & Veatch has been appointed by the Hong Kong government to explore the possibility of installing extensive floating solar farms on reservoirs. Development of large floating solar farms on its 17 impounded reservoirs could help Hong Kong reduce water loss and suppress algae growth while generating power. [The Construction Index]

Hong Kong reservoir

¶ The UK Conservative Party has published its policy manifesto in the lead-up to the surprise General Election called back in April. The policy manifesto gives a strong signal that the Conservative Government, if re-elected, will deliver a clean and diverse energy mix, but one without any new onshore wind farms. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Public Utilities Board of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved a net metering program. Net metering customers will now be permitted to install renewable energy systems sized to their electricity load, up to a maximum of 100 kW, six to ten times what an average homeowner uses. The program will have a 5-MW provincial cap. [The Packet]

Rooftop solar system in Nova Scotia (©File Photo)

¶ Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the seafloor. Experts said that large-scale production is many years away, and must be done with care not to release methane. [CTV News]

¶ Star Renewable Energy has been awarded funding to develop the UK’s first water source heat pump or medium temperature district heating to service existing buildings. The 2.5-MW water source heat pump on the Clyde at the Gorbals will be deployed by September 2018 and will be Britain’s largest inner city 80° C heat pump. [Energy Live News]

River Clyde in Glasgow (Image: Thinkstock)

¶ Germany approved 807 MW of capacity at onshore wind parks on Friday, saying the price at which it awarded the projects came below expectations in a sign that competition in the industry will lead to lower prices for consumers. The projects were approved at an average price requiring a subsidy of €0.0571/kWh (6.4¢/kWh) [Financial Tribune]

US:

¶ Avangrid Renewables is seeking a permit amendment for the Montague Wind Power Facility in Oregon to use a turbine with a rotor diameter of 136 meters and generating capacity of 3.6 MW. The most powerful turbines now used in the Northwest produce 2.5 MW. Montague Wind Power will supply power to Apple. [Portland Business Journal]

Avangrid wind farm in Gilliam County (Avangrid Renewables)

¶ President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request would slash EPA spending by almost a third, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by CNN. The budget blueprint, which the White House plans to submit to Congress next week, would cut the EPA’s total budget by more than 30% and its operational budget by 35% from current levels. [CNN]

¶ Pacific Gas and Electric Co announced the cost to participate in its 100% solar energy program has dropped by 30% for residential customers and by nearly 50% for some business customers. The cost reduction is thanks in part to PG&E’s continued investment in clean energy infrastructure throughout its service area. [Electric Light & Power]

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