Archive for July, 2017

July 31 Energy News

July 31, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet” • In Siberia, temperature rises are causing mysterious giant craters, but more dire consequences could be in store. Permafrost melting is causing collapses of railways and roads and sinking building foundations, as powerful greenhouse gasses are released. [South China Morning Post]

Siberian crater

Science and Technology:

¶ A study from Aalto University found that solar energy could be used to cover between 53% and 81% of annual domestic heating energy consumption in Finland. The study considered heat that could be stored seasonally. The findings relate, in approximation, to the potentials in neighboring countries at the same latitude as well. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Alphabet Inc’s secretive X skunk works has another idea that could save the world. This one, code-named Malta, involves vats of salt and antifreeze. It can be located almost anywhere, has the potential to last longer than lithium-ion batteries and compete on price with new hydroelectric plants and other existing clean energy storage. [Bloomberg]

Malta’s grid-scale energy storage technology (Source: X)

¶ Researchers at the Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka in Malaysia incorporated demand response scenarios in simulated network case studies based on 100 urban low-voltage network samples. Their research showed the significance that demand response can have on network operations with different levels of PV penetration. [pvbuzz media]

World:

¶ A Dene hamlet in the Northwest Territory made history last year by becoming the first in Canada’s North to replace its old diesel generator with a combination of diesel, batteries and a solar array. It used diesel as a backup and during the winter, and use the sun for everything else. Twelve months later, things have worked out as planned. [National Post]

Colville Lake, NWT (Wikipedia Commons)

¶ The European passenger plug-in market had a near-record month in June, with 28,000 registrations, up 54% over the same month last year. For the year through June, the market is up 30% this year, with the EV share now standing at a record 1.5%. The Renault Zoe hatchback is once again the continent’s best seller. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A Japanese consortium has taken a 60% stake in a portfolio of five wind farms owned by Invis Energy in Ireland. Invis will retain a 40% stake. Together, the wind farms constitute a 223-MW portfolio. Four of the wind farms are operating; the final project is under construction and due to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2018. [reNews]

Wind farm in County Kerry (Image: Invis Energy)

¶ Microgrids are networks that connect and co-ordinate power sources and loads in a small area, They are not as publicized as renewable energy from the sun and the wind, energy storage, or electric vehicles, but they are becoming increasingly important. Horizon Power manages more than 40 of them across Western Australia. [The West Australian]

¶ French energy major EDF has pointed towards a more renewable future after collapsing nuclear power prices in the UK sent its earnings down by one-fifth. In its results disclosure for the first half of the year released late last week, the firm reported EBITDA for the period of €7 billion, down one-fifth year-on-year. [Clean Energy News]

Renewable energy

¶ Delegates at both the New South Wales and Tasmanian Labor Conferences held over the weekend kept up the pressure on the Federal Labor Party to stick with a carbon price policy. They urged the party’s leadership to take immediate steps to meet the emissions target outlined by Australia’s Climate Change Authority. [Energy Matters]

¶ The Met Office’s State Of The Climate study for 2016 said last year was 0.5° C warmer across the UK than the average between 1981 and 2010. There was 4% more sunshine. The summer was drier and the winter was wetter, but the overall amount of rainfall was below normal. These changes are not isolated. They are part of a growing trend. [The Weather Channel]

The sunniest year on record

¶ A government advisory body has compiled a draft blueprint for recovering nuclear fuel debris from the three reactors that melted down at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it has been learned. The aim is to start the project in 2021 and to complete decommissioning sometime 30 to 40 years after the disaster occurred. [The Japan News]

US:

¶ The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to save ARPA-E, the advanced energy research division President Donald Trump proposed eliminating. The House budget plan would eliminate ARPA-E, but the Senate committee’s report recommended not only maintaining the division, but also increasing its budget 8% to $330 million. [Houston Chronicle]

Photobioreactor

¶ An obscure state rule is being used to prevent Massachusetts private companies and property owners from getting net-metering credits for multiple sources of renewable energy on a single parcel of land. One company is pushing back against the rule, arguing that the Department of Public Utilities erred in its interpretation. [The Salem News]

¶ Plug Power Inc, makes hydrogen fuel cells, and for years has struggled to find customers. No longer. In April, Amazon.com Inc agreed to try out the technology in forklift fleets at 10 of its warehouses. And in July, Wal-Mart Stores Inc committed to double, to 58, the number of its warehouses that use forklifts running on Power Plug cells. [Bloomberg]

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July 30 Energy News

July 30, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will lead a new $9 million project to address technical barriers to commercializing enhanced geothermal systems. The clean energy technology has a potential to power 100 million American homes. The effort is to develop field experiments to understand and model rock fractures. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Testing rock samples (Credit: Marilyn Chung | Berkeley Lab)

¶ Levels of some forms of particulate air pollution present in car cabins while driving may be twice previous estimates, according to a study performed as part of the Atlanta Commuter Exposures Study. The air quality study was based on actual readings in cabins of operating cars, instead of on roadsides as earlier studies had done. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to a study from Columbia University, the high temperatures we can expect in many parts of the world over the coming decades as a result of anthropogenic climate change will drive up aviation industry operating costs considerably. Takeoff weights will have to be reduced whenever temperatures climb too high. [CleanTechnica]

Air transportation

World:

¶ As Europe battles biblically extreme weather, experts say it is linked to climate change. From intense heatwaves to severe flooding, Europe is a continent of extremes at the moment. Severe weather conditions have caused mayhem and destruction in many countries. Some parts of Italy have seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. [Yahoo News UK]

¶ After 24 days at sea and a journey of over 10,000 km (6,214 miles), the icebreaker MSV Nordica set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. The Arctic route linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change. [Houston Chronicle]

Northwest Passage (Photo: David Goldman, STF)

¶ The Vietnamese government has approved several programs to encourage renewable energy development. As many as five wind farms with total capacity of almost 200 MW are operating. More than 50 other projects are in construction or being planned. However, a number of regulatory and market barriers need to be addressed. [VietNamNet Bridge]

¶ Landmark robot footage Fukushima Daiichi’s unit 3 nuclear reactor is helping TEPCO understand the damage and forcing it to rewrite of the road map for decommissioning. The first images indicate melted fuel did not burn through the pressure vessel, but exited through the holes used to insert the control rods. [The Japan Times]

Robot used to survey the damaged reactor (KYODO)

¶ Opposition to a proposed coal plant in eastern Myanmar, has exposed an energy security dilemma in the country. Activists argue the project will have a range of negative impacts, such as encouraging land grabbing, polluting the air and water, ruining local livelihoods, and exacerbating already poor public health in the region. [Global Risk Insights]

US:

¶ Tesla has rolled out its new Model 3 vehicle, its least costly car to date. The first 30 customers, mostly company employees, received their cars on Friday. Chief executive Elon Musk said the Model 3 was the “best car for its cost, either electric or gasoline.” Prices start at $35,000, which the firm hopes will bring mass market interest. [BBC News]

Tesla Model 3 (Tesla Motors via Reuters)

¶ Citing the importance of the legislation as a support for the solar industry, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed HB589 into law. It establishes a moratorium on new wind farm permits through 2018. However, Cooper has also signed an executive order aimed at mitigating the moratorium’s effects. [North American Windpower]

¶ Minnesota utility regulators greatly increased the “social cost” of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but not as much as requested by two state agencies and environmental groups. It voted 3-2 to raise that cost from the current range of $0.44 to $4.53 per short ton to a range of $9.05 to $43.06 per short ton by 2020. [Duluth News Tribune]

Wind farm in Minnesota (Windtech, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Maui Electric Co has been given the green light to expand its “Fast Demand Response” program from four to a projected 13 Maui businesses, which would receive bill credits to reduce their energy use with 10 minutes’ notice. The program is designed to help stabilize the grid with increased levels of renewable energy generation. [Maui News]

¶ With a limited lifetime for traditional oil drilling, Weld County, Colorado, is doing its part to prepare for the future. It is easing regulations for solar development and attracting developers to put up utility-scale solar farms. And the demand is great as utilities try to meet state goals for renewable-energy generation and consumer preferences. [The Denver Post]

Oil pump in Colorado (Greg Goebel, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ New Mexico faces job losses and reduced revenue from taxes as the electric utility industry changes. These effects will be spurred by closures of two coal-fired generating stations in San Juan County. Utilities across the country are increasing their reliance on renewable energy and natural gas, as they move away from coal. [Farmington Daily Times]

¶ BuildZoom reports that Tesla applied for several building permits, including one to add a microgrid lab to its colossal Gigafactory near Reno. It is not yet clear what the purpose is, but the lab’s relatively small price tag of $460,000 suggests that it is intended to be a design or testing facility rather than to provide for off-grid power. [ENGINEERING.com]

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July 29 Energy News

July 29, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Electric trucks and vans cut pollution faster than cars” • The clock may be ticking for petrol and diesel-powered cars, but it’s vans, trucks and buses that are driving the electric vehicle revolution on the world’s roads. The larger vehicles are far bigger polluters than cars, and the need to switch the fleets over to electric power is greater. [BBC News]

Electric garbage truck in Sacramento (Electrek image)

¶ “Al Gore Returns with an Ever-More Inconvenient Truth” • An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006. Since then more polar ice has melted, and global temperature and carbon dioxide levels have climbed. Hurricanes are growing stronger, droughts more intense and flooding more extensive. And Al Gore has an urgent, but hopeful, message. [Scientific American]

Science and Technology:

¶ The western US is ablaze as the wildfire season has gotten off to an intense start. More than 37,000 fires have burned more than 5.2 million acres nationally since the beginning of the year, with 47 large fires burning across nine states as of Friday. The fire season comes earlier and lasts longer than it used to, partly due to climate change. [Climate Central]

Fire in Arizona (Credit: Prescott National Forest | flickr)

World:

¶ The Indian government reviewed the status of 34 stressed thermal power projects with an estimated debt of nearly ₹1.8 lakh crore ($15.6 billion), according to the country’s energy minister. NTPC, India’s largest utility has no proposal to acquire stressed power projects or enable their lenders to operate on a contract basis. [BloombergQuint]

¶ A report by Health and Environment Alliance has assessed the subsidy spending and health costs of seven economically powerful countries. India spent $16.9 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2013 and 2014, but health costs to meet the burden of diseases linked to air pollution are eight times the fossil fuel subsidies, at $140.7 billion. [Times of India]

Air pollution in India

¶ Air conditioners are cranked up and summer power use is at an all-time high as Saskatchewan continues to bask in a heat wave. SaskPower reported Saskatchewan broke its summer power use record Thursday, with a peak usage of 3,419 MW. The previous record was set earlier this month, on July 10, with a peak use of 3,360 MW. [CTV News]

¶ Energy giant Emera Inc is upping the amount of electricity it wants to carry on a proposed $2-billion transmission line from New Brunswick to Massachusetts from 900 MW to 1,000 MW. The 563-km HVDC transmission line would have two converter stations, one at Coleson Cove and the other near the Pilgrim nuclear plant. [TheChronicleHerald.ca]

The pulling end of the submarine cable

¶ EDF Energy suffered a drop in half-year profits amid rising competition, unexpected outages, and lower UK nuclear energy prices. A breakdown of regional operations showed that its UK operations suffered the biggest drop in earnings for the period, falling 34.4% to €627 million (£560 million) partly due to lower nuclear prices. [East Anglian Daily Times]

¶ Next year, Santiago’s subway system will buy 60% of its energy from solar and wind projects. A 100-MW solar farm in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, with 254,000 panels and covering an area the size of 370 football fields, will produce 42% of the subway system’s power, and a recently built wind farm will supply 18%. [MarketWatch]

Subway in Santiago (Photo: Bloomberg)

US:

¶ When Tesla’s Gigafactory was first announced, it was shared that it would be able to produce more batteries than the rest of the world could build at the time combined. Now, in an update, Tesla shared that when it is running at full capacity, the Gigafactory will produce more batteries than the rest of the world combined – by a factor of 2! [CleanTechnica]

¶ Throughout Vermont, customers are signing up for a program that will allow them to power their homes while disconnected from the grid. The projects are part of a bold experiment aimed at turning homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants. Behind this movement is the local electric company, Green Mountain Power. [New York Times]

CEO Mary Powell of GMP (Jacob Hannah | The New York Times)

¶ New York banking giant JPMorgan Chase announced it plans to switch all its facilities to 100% renewable power by 2020. In Texas, 75% of JPMorgan Chase’s facilities will run on wind energy by the end of this year. That covers 584 branches and 8 million square feet, including a new 1.2 million-square-foot Plano campus. [Dallas News]

¶ The Trump administration may have to reconsider its proposal from earlier this month to curb biofuel use after a US appeals court in Washington ruled that the EPA does not have the authority to cut quotas while citing inadequate domestic supply. The decision was a unanimous ruling by a panel of three judges. [Bloomberg]

Loading ethanol (Photo: Daniel Acker | Bloomberg)

¶ SCANA Corp and state-owned utility Santee Cooper said Toshiba agreed to pay nearly $2.2 billion to cap its liabilities from the unfinished VC Summer nuclear project in South Carolina. Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse, which was building two nuclear units at the Summer site, filed for bankruptcy in March. [POWER magazine]

¶ South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper said there are “significant challenges” to completing two 1,150-MW partly built nuclear generating units at their Summer station. The likely cost to complete the units will “materially exceed” previous estimates, and they may not be completed in time to meet a December 2020 deadline for tax credits. [Platts]

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July 28 Energy News

July 28, 2017

World:

¶ Enormous quantities of toxic mercury are now accumulating in the Arctic tundra as a result of industrial activity and emissions in the temperate parts of the globe, according to a study from UMass Lowell. With the Arctic tundra warming, mercury that is accumulating there will increasingly make its way into the Arctic Ocean. [CleanTechnica]

Researcher in the Tundra

¶ Royal Dutch Shell is bracing for a peak in oil demand. Shell boss Ben Van Beurden said the oil major had changed its company mindset to a “lower forever” oil price environment and is focusing on being “fit for the forties,” in reference to the faltering oil price, which has struggled to remain above the $50 a barrel mark. [Telegraph.co.uk]

¶ A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute has concluded that a collection of factors have created a “groundbreaking” opportunity for decarbonizing the global mining industry by transitioning to renewable energy. The Sunshine for Mines program facilitates use of renewables for mines and aims to see 8 GW of capacity built by 2025. [CleanTechnica]

Levelized Cost of Energy: Gas Peaker and Diesel vs Solar
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

¶ Mexico hit an installed PV capacity of around 389 MW as of the end of December 2016, according to a report published by the country’s energy department. New grid-connected PV systems installed in Mexico in 2016 totaled 219 MW. This result represents a 128% year-on-year growth, the largest ever for the Mexican solar sector. [pv magazine]

¶ The pioneer of floating solar power plants, French company Ciel & Terre International has collaborated with Portuguese energy firm EDP  Group to design and build the first floating solar project at an existing hydro-electric power station at a dam located at the mouth of Rabagão river in Montalegre, Portugal. [PV-Tech]

Floating PV system in Portugal

¶ The New South Wales minister for planning  said solar projects have been approved for development in four locations in central and northern parts of the state. Their total rated capacity is 275 MW. The four new large-scale solar projects bring the total number now approved by the NSW government to 16 across the state. [RenewEconomy]

¶ With climate change, water scarcity and warmth could begin impacting European electricity generation as soon as 2030, causing production to decrease or to stop altogether, according to a study, published in the journal Nature. It concludes that traditional generation sources such as coal, gas, and nuclear will be increasingly vulnerable. [CleanTechnica]

Coal power plant (Credit: iStockphoto ©Michael Utech)

US:

¶ Analysis of sediments and porewaters from a lake downstream from two facilities that treat fracking wastewater in Pennsylvania led to the detection of highly elevated levels of radium, alkaline earth metals, salts, and organic chemicals. Peak concentrations correlate with a local peak of fracking wastewater disposal 5 to 10 years ago. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kansas is the fifth state to have at least 5000 MW of wind power capacity installed. The state is behind California, Oklahoma, Iowa and Texas, which has a capacity of a whopping 21,000 MW. Kansans get 30% of their power from wind and solar. The state now has enough wind power capacity to supply 1.5 million average homes. [KMUW]

Kansas wind farm (Sean Sandefur | KMUW File Photo)

¶ Marin Clean Energy set up Deep Green, California’s first community choice aggregation, program in 2010. Individual customers may opt out of the program, but can also “opt up” for more clean energy than standard – 100% renewable energy costs 1¢/kWh extra. Eleven communities have signed up with Deep Green in the last three months. [pv magazine USA]

¶ US wind-power projects under construction or in advanced development in the second quarter are up 40% from the same quarter last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. In April through June, 29 wind projects, for a total capacity of 3,841 MW, either began construction or entered advanced development. [Windpower Engineering]

Wind turbines at sunrise

¶ In an op-ed essay in Crain’s, New York City council candidate Keith Powers argues that the city should follow the lead of international farmers, power companies, and businesses that put floating solar panels on bodies of water. “We can do the same,” Powers writes, “in Central Park and across our upstate network of reservoirs.” [Habitat magazine]

¶ Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued a statement in support of proposals to supply Massachusetts with 1,000 MW of clean power via the TDI New England Clean Power Link. The TDI project would run from the Canadian border and under Lake Champlain for nearly a hundred miles before connecting to the New England grid in Ludlow. [Vermont Biz]

Lake Champlain (Aaron danielg, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ National Grid is offering two proposals for increasing the supply of renewable energy in Massachusetts. One project would upgrade transmission lines in Vermont and New Hampshire to deliver wind power from Quebec. The other project would build new lines to carry 500 MW between Nassau, New York, and Hinsdale, Massachusetts. [wwlp.com]

¶ Central Maine Power has submitted several proposals for transmission line investments to deliver energy from hydro and other resources from Quebec to the New England electric grid. CMP took this action in response to the Massachusetts Request for Proposals for delivery of clean energy, according to a press release. [HydroWorld]

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July 27 Energy News

July 27, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Coastal mangroves are among the most imperiled ecosystems on earth. Current estimates say up to 67% have been lost to date, according to the United Nations science wing. UNESCO highlighted their role in sequestering significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and ocean, which is crucial for mitigating climate change. [UN News Centre]

Planting mangrove on Tarawa (UN Photo | Eskinder Debebe)

¶ The weather has always been an unpredictable element of agriculture, but climate change is expected to make matters significantly worse. Determining how much worse has historically been a challenge. A new study, however, says climate-induced drought could hit several of the world’s major corn producing regions all at once. [BloombergQuint]

¶ A ship with renewable energy panels instead of sails is set for trials next year. The EnergySail, a rigid sail that sits on a pole and rotates to harness both wind and solar energy, could help lower toxic gas and carbon emissions. The EnergySail can also be used when a ship is at anchor or in port to help reduce fuel costs. It can withstand high winds. [Daily Mail]

Eco Marine Power system

World:

¶ Moves including scrapping new diesel and petrol cars from 2040 and £255 million for councils to tackle air pollution locally have been welcomed. The UK Transport Secretary said the government was determined to deliver a “green revolution.” But environmental groups criticized the lack of a scrappage scheme and immediate clean air zones. [BBC]

¶ Highlands and Islands Enterprise has awarded £250,000 to a project aimed at providing power 24 hours a day on Fair Isle in Scotland. The £2.6 million project, which is being led by community group Fair Isle Electricity Company, plans to install three 60-kW wind turbines, a 50-kW solar farm and battery storage on the island. [reNews]

Fair Isle’s old turbine  (Wikimedia Commons | Dave Wheeler)

¶ Renewables and battery storage will replace gas as South Australia’s main source of electricity within eight years, according to industry analysts. The state’s energy transition could be a “leading case study on managing a power system in transition for other mature markets to follow”, says a report by Wood Mackenzie. [The Guardian]

¶ Around 3,516 MW of solar projects were selected in Spain’s renewable energy auction for large-scale solar and wind power plants held by the Spanish Ministry of Energy, Tourism, and the Digital Agenda. Provisional data provided by the spokeswoman of Spanish solar association UNEF, the share of wind power was just 720 MW. [pv magazine]

Sonnedix PV plant in Spain (Sonnedix image)

¶ A total of 6.1 GW of new wind power capacity was installed in Europe in the first half of 2017, according to WindEurope. Some 4.8 GW of onshore wind capacity was installed in the first six months of the year, with the majority in Germany, the UK, and France. A total of 1.3 GW of new offshore capacity was installed in 18 projects. [reNews]

US:

¶ According to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center, the US generates nearly eight times as much electricity from the sun and the wind as it did in 2007. This is enough to power more than 25 million homes. The average American uses 10% less energy than he or she did 10 years ago. [North American Windpower]

Wind farm on the prairie

¶ Two California governors, a Republican and a Democrat, celebrated extending one of the state’s key global warming programs. Governor Jerry Brown signed a law extending the state’s cap-and-trade program, as former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger slammed the federal government for abandoning the climate fight. [Governing]

¶ The latest proposed roadmap for Connecticut’s energy future is out, and it is likely to spark debate in the coming months, much of it over the Millstone nuclear plant and solar energy. The release of the proposed 2017 Comprehensive Energy Strategy is the first step in a months-long process with several public hearings before it is approved. [New Haven Register]

Millstone nuclear plant (NRC photo)

¶ South Carolina Electric & Gas Co has announced its customers are producing 43 MW of electricity from their own solar generating systems. That is more than 1% of the five-year retail peak demand on SCE&G’s system, meaning it exceeds the goal set forth in South Carolina’s landmark solar legislation (Act 236) in 2014. [Solar Industry]

¶ Power development company Invenergy LLC and General Electric Co announced plans to build the largest wind farm in the United States in Oklahoma, part of a $4.5 billion project to provide electricity to 1.1 million utility customers in the region. The 2-GW Wind Catcher wind farm is scheduled to come online in 2020. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind turbines in Oklahoma (USGS photo, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ In a move that will probably surprise no one, recent reports indicate Donald Trump will nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to serve as deputy administrator of the EPA. Wheeler was not only a key DC advocate for the coal industry, but also used to be an aide for everyone’s “favorite” climate-denying senator, James Inhofe. [HuffPost]

¶ A group representing several energy companies and ratepayers said it would appeal a federal judge’s ruling that upholds New York’s plan to subsidize nuclear power plants in the state. US District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan had ruled that federal law does not preempt use of zero-emissions credits to support nuclear power. [POWER magazine]

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July 26 Energy News

July 26, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Small nuclear power reactors: Future or folly?” • Nuclear energy companies are proposing small nuclear reactors as a safer and cheaper source of electricity. A physicist with nearly two decades of experience researching and writing on nuclear reactor designs believes that one should be skeptical of these claims. [CanadianManufacturing.com]

Unfinished Bellefonte nuclear plant (Photo: TVA)

¶ “‘Clean Coal’ Is A Political Myth, Says Coal Company Owner” • Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, America’s largest privately owned coal-mining company, told the press at a conference on clean coal, “Carbon capture and sequestration does not work. It’s a pseudonym for ‘no coal.’ It is neither practical nor economic.” [CleanTechnica]

Science:

¶ Scientists are sucking carbon dioxide from the air with giant fans and preparing to release chemicals from a balloon to dim the sun’s rays as part of a climate engineering push to cool the planet. Backers say the risky, often expensive projects are urgently needed to find ways of meeting the goals of the Paris climate deal to curb global warming. [Reuters]

Facility to capture atmospheric CO2 (Arnd Wiegmann)

World:

¶ New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government is set to announce. Ministers will also unveil a £255 million fund to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles. A £3 billion package of spending on air quality responds to a High Court deadline. [BBC News]

¶ Toyota is not giving up on the hydrogen fuel cell technology that powers the Mirai, but is busy working in the background on an all-electric car with solid-state batteries that offer long range and fast recharging. The plan is to introduce the car, which will be built on an all new chassis, to the Japanese market in 2022. [CleanTechnica]

Toyota Concept-i

¶ Nordex, a German manufacturer, has signed a pair of contracts to supply turbines rated at 3.6 MW and 3.3 MW to EDF Energies Nouvelles projects in France. The 18-MW Espiers wind farm will feature five N117 3.6-MW turbines while the 17.7-MW Guilleville will feature four N117/3600s and a single N100 3.3-MW machine. [reNews]

¶ A slowing of jobs in the UK’s renewable energy sector can be blamed on inaction by lawmakers after a turbulent year of politics, according to a study. Just under 126,000 people were employed in the UK’s renewable energy industry in 2015/16. This is just a 2.5% increase compared to 2014/15, after two years with 8.8% growth in each. [CNBC]

Offshore wind farm (Christopher Furlong | Getty Images)

¶ Siemens Gamesa has entered into an agreement with the independent developer, Fuerza y Energía Limpia de Tizimín, to install 36 of the firm’s G114-2.1-MW turbines this year. The Tizimín wind farm, in the state of Yucatán, will have a total capacity of 76 MW. It is scheduled to be commissioned in 2018. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ SunPower and independent renewable power producer Tenergie announced that SunPower will supply 29.9 MW of its high-efficiency SunPower E-Series solar panels for projects Tenergie is developing in France. The panels will be installed at 157 rooftop projects totaling 26.8 MW and two ground-mounted systems totaling 3.1 MW. [PV-Tech]

SunPower solar system (SunPower image)

¶ The Mayor of Kashiwazaki said he will agree to the restart of two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, but on the condition that TEPCO “presents a plan to decommission the remaining five in two years.” The demand was made in the mayor’s first meeting with TEPCO’s new president, along with other conditions for a restart. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ The California Department of Transportation, Caltrans, has already begun altering California’s roadways so as to better accommodate the rollout of self-driving vehicles. It is doing so mostly by better accommodating the way that many self-driving vehicles navigate. This news comes from recent comments from the director of Caltrans. [CleanTechnica]

Waymo Chrysler

¶ A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit to stop the state of New York from subsidizing struggling nuclear power plants. The judge said the subsidy program was “plainly related to a matter of legitimate state concern,” the production of clean energy, and reduction of emissions from other energy that could add to global warming. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Documents released by the California-based Energy and Policy Institute show that a member of President Lyndon B Johnson’s administration warned the Edison Electric Institute industry group at its 1968 annual convention that carbon emissions from fossil fuels could change the climate and trigger “catastrophic effects.” [The Wire]

ConocoPhillips oil refinery (Credit: Reuters | Bret Hartman | Files)

¶ Connecticut Governor Dannel P Malloy ordered a study of the Millstone Power Station’s future economic viability. But a top official at Richmond-based Dominion Energy, which owns the nuclear power plant, said “the time for a study without action has passed,” and Dominion will make a “business decision” regardless of Connecticut’s study. [Richmond.com]

¶ A dairy farmer in northern California says he’s been working on a way to reduce dairy methane emissions for several years, and has succeeded in making his dairy operations carbon positive. Albert Straus, well known for sustainable agriculture practices, revealed what he says is the world’s first first full-scale electric truck powered by cow manure. [Triple Pundit]

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July 25 Energy News

July 25, 2017

Opinion:

Chimpanzee hooting in western Uganda (Suzi Eszterhas | Minden Pictures)

¶ “A Cheap Fix for Climate Change? Pay People Not to Chop Down Trees” • A team of researchers has shown that there is a surprisingly cheap and easy way to slow the pace of deforestation in Uganda: Just pay landowners small sums not to cut down their trees. Their study was published in the journal Science. [The New York Times]
(Thanks to Tad Montgomery.)

¶ “Time for Europe’s financial community to join the climate fight” • There is a growing awareness that climate risk could pose a threat to financial stability. Not only do the physical effects of climate change raise the prospect of massive financial losses, but the move from fossil fuels towards a low-carbon economy could become a rush for the exit. [EURACTIV]

Science and Technology:

¶ Research scientists are “very worried” that the melting of the Greenland ice sheet could accelerate and raise sea levels more than expected. They say warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly. [BBC News]

Greenland (Photo: Kate Stephens)

¶ Scientists in Finland are working on a process that creates protein using electricity and carbon dioxide from the air. This means it might be possible for people to feed themselves anywhere on earth using nothing but electricity from solar or other renewable energy sources, without fertilizers, animal wastes, deforestation, or emissions. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Increasingly severe weather, triggered by climate change, is putting hundreds of millions of people at risk across southern Asia. As the rains fall harder, more than 137 million people in India, Bangladesh and China will be put at risk of coastal or inland flooding, more people than in the rest of the Asia-Pacific combined, a study in 2012 found. [CNN]

Loudi, Hunan province, July 2017

¶ The ongoing melting of permafrost in Siberia has produced some strange events. One is massive methane blowouts making craters in the previously frozen tundra. Another is the return of microbial illnesses that haven’t been present in the region for quite some time, including recent outbreaks of anthrax after over 75 years’ absence. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Batteries and renewable power are on the verge of bringing about an “epochal transformation” of the UK that could make energy clean, abundant, and very cheap, according to a cabinet minister. He said government plans for a more flexible energy system and £246 million of funding for battery research would “radically” bring down bills. [The Guardian]

UK wind turbines (Photo: Danny Lawson | PA)

¶ Enel Green Power Brasil Participações has started commercial operations at its 90-MW Cristalândia wind farm in Brazil. The 45-turbine project is located in the municipalities of Brumado, Rio de Contas and Dom Basilio in the north-east state of Bahia. Cristalândia is expected to generate about 350 GWh of electricity each year. [reNews]

¶ Ten Australian indigenous communities are set to be powered by hybrid solar PV and diesel systems in the first phase of an A$55 million (US$43.8 million) project.  The off-grid projects commissioned today consist of 10,000 solar panels, with a total of 3.325 MW capacity, saving over one million liters of diesel fuel every year. [PV-Tech]

Uluru, or Ayers Rock (Photo: Flickr | Robert Young)

¶ India’s Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, in a written reply to a question said information provided by the States indicated that 13,872 un-electrified villages have been reported to be electrified up to June 30, 2017, out of 18,452 un-electrified villages in the country as of April 1, 2015. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ Researchers from ETH Zürich and Imperial College London concluded that the variability of electricity supply from wind turbines in Europe is due to a lack of planning by individual countries. They suggest in Nature Climate Change, that nations look beyond their own boundaries when deciding where to site wind energy projects. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines (Photo: Master Wen | Unsplash)

¶ The Japanese government hopes to decide around September on a method for extracting fuel debris from Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor 3, based on findings from a recent robot inspection, the industry minister said. Last week, the robot captured images of what is thought to be melted fuel debris scattered around the crippled reactor. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report, Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System,  claiming that the US electrical grid remains vulnerable to natural disasters, cyber attacks, and physical attacks. It says immediate action is needed to improve the resiliency of the power system. [CleanTechnica]

Transmission lines

¶ Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary has gobbled up utilities and natural gas pipelines and tapped into clean energy production, including from Southern California’s abundant geothermal resources. Its latest move is the planned $9-billion purchase of Dallas-based Oncor, with 10 million customers. [Los Angeles Times]

¶ The midterm congressional elections are still a year away, but hundreds of rookie candidates are crafting policy positions for the first time. Most of them are Democrats, spurred by polls showing their party with the edge for 2018. In previous elections, many candidates glossed over their positions on climate change, but that looks like it could change. [The Hill]

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July 24 Energy News

July 24, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Clean, Green And Profitable, A Look At Malaysia’s Switch To Renewable Energy” • According to the National Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, adopted in 2011, Malaysia aims to have 11% of its energy sources to be from renewables by 2020. It may seem small, but Malaysia is still a developing country. [malaysiandigest.com]

Clean energy in Malaysia

¶ “California Shows How States Can Lead on Climate Change” • California, which has long been a pioneer in fighting climate change, renewed its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions last week by extending, to 2030, its cap-and-trade program, which effectively puts a price on emissions in a bold, bipartisan action. [New York Times]

Science and Technology:

¶ In September of 2013, severe storms struck Colorado with prolonged, heavy rainfall, dumping more than 17 inches of rain, causing the Platte River to reach record flood levels. Now, in a paper that appeared online at Weather and Climate Extremes, a team of scientists reports that climate change greatly increased the storm’s severity. [Phys.Org]

September 2013 flood of the Platte River (Photo: US EPA)

World:

¶ The EU is to spend almost €10 million on researching renewable energy off parts of Ireland and Scotland. The work will focus on the use of tidal power at Strangford Lough and the north Antrim coast, ocean energy sites off western Scotland, and the potential for wave and tidal power generation in Donegal in the Republic. [Belfast Telegraph]

¶ The world’s first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland. The technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines, especially in Japan and the west coast of the US. This will open new markets for offshore wind power. [BBC News]

Towing turbines into place

¶ The Government of the UK is poised to invest £246 million in battery technology that it says will be a key to power its industrial strategy. In its first major move to support the storage revolution, the Government will set up a “battery institute” to award funds to companies on the brink of major research and development breakthroughs. [Telegraph.co.uk]

¶ When it comes to tackling rising energy prices, a Queensland council has taken an innovative approach and built its own $50 million solar farm to fully offset all its power needs. The Sunshine Coast Council is now the first local government in Australia with 100% of its electricity consumption from a renewable source. [ABC Online]

Sunshine Coast Council array (Photo: Sunshine Coast Council)

¶ Following the recent commissioning of Flanders’ first megawatt-sized PV project after the revision of the green certificate scheme in 2013, the Minister of Energy of Belgium’s Flemish-speaking region has revealed that he is planning to introduce a fiscal incentive for community solar and wind power projects. [pv magazine]

¶ Scottish wind power output has helped set a new record for the first half of the year, according WWF Scotland analysis. Wind turbines provided 6,634,585 MWh of electricity to the National Grid, which analysts say could on average supply the electrical needs of 124% of Scottish households, or more than three million homes. [The Independent]

Wind turbines outside Stirling Castle (Photo: Getty)

¶ Geminor, based in Norway, has an agreement to supply refuse-derived fuel to the Amager Bakke energy-from-waste plant in Copenhagen. The first delivery has been made, marking the agreement’s commencement. Going forwards, Geminor will manage the transport of the fuel material from producers in the UK and Ireland. [Bioenergy Insight Magazine]

¶ A PV power project is launching this week in the city of Mahan, Kerman Province, Iran, marking the completion of a Swiss-German venture in the Iranian renewable industry after last year’s lifting of sanctions. The solar units are made up of over 76,000 PV panels with 260-W capacity mounted on 27,000 metal poles. [Financial Tribune]

Mokran Solar Power Complex (Photo: Javad Esmaeilzadeh)

¶ South Korea’s new energy minister on Monday said he plans to support the country’s push to sell nuclear reactors overseas, even as the nation curbs nuclear power at home. State-run KEPCO is building the first of four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates in an $18.6 billion deal, and is scouting for more business in other countries. [Reuters]

US:

¶ The Long Island Power Authority has reportedly backed away from plans to build a second New York offshore wind farm with US developer Deepwater Wind. The utility reviewed a number of potential projects including the 210-MW East End wind farm before concluding it already had sufficient renewables in the pipeline, according to Newsday. [reNews]

Block Island (Deepwater Wind image)

¶ Drivers who charge their electric vehicles at Palo Alto’s public garages will soon have more stations at their disposal, though they will be charged for the privilege. The new chargers at two garages are powered by solar panels. In August, however, the city will start charging a fee of 23¢/kWh, which will cost an average driver $2 per charge. [Palo Alto Online]

¶ Former Vice President Al Gore helped shape the conversation about climate change with An Inconvenient Truth. Now he’s back with a sequel, called An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, due out next month. It follows Gore as he continues the crusade he made famous with that first film. And it shows his hope, despite setbacks. [NPR]

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July 23 Energy News

July 23, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Myths and facts to know ahead of Rick Perry’s study on the electrical grid and renewable energy” • Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered his department to produce a study on whether shifting to renewable energy affects grid reliability. Many experts believe the study is intended to be biased in favor of fossil fuels and nuclear power. [Salon]

San Onofre, closed (Photo: Northwalker, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Trump May Have Unintentionally Killed US Nuclear” • The President’s March 28th Executive Order could damage the US nuclear power industry. As it undermines the idea that we should consider the social cost of air pollution from power generation, it also undermines the arguments of those who favor of expensive nuclear power. [OilPrice.com]

Science and Technology:

¶ One farmer in Georgia said the past two years brought the worst weather he has ever seen. There were catfish in his corn fields one year and drought the next. Until recently, he hadn’t considered global warming too deeply. He is paying attention now, as climate scientists are predicting increasingly difficult weather. [Chattanooga Times Free Press]

Georgia farmer (Photo: Doug Strickland | Times Free Press)

World:

¶ South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.3% in 2016 from the previous year, industry data showed. The data put more urgency on Seoul’s efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel to meet its energy needs. The new Moon Jae-in government has vowed to retire both nuclear and coal-fired thermal power plants as they age. [Yonhap News]

¶ Solar prices have fallen 73% in India since 2010. Renewable energy could generate 49% of electricity in India by 2040 because more efficient batteries will provide flexibility of use and boost the reach of renewables, cutting the cost of solar energy by a further 66% over current costs, according to a Bloomberg report. [Hindustan Times]

Solar system (Wikimedia Commons | Binu Jayakrishnan)

¶ According to an alternative environment-friendly power generation proposal, the price of electricity in Bangladesh in 2021 could be Tk7.65/kWh (9.49¢/kWh), as opposed to the government’s projected price of Tk11.56/kWh (14.34¢/kWh). Implementation the draft alternative proposal would save $19 billion from 2016 to 2041. [The Daily Star]

¶ The Middle East and North Africa region is looking to develop more than 67 GW of clean energy projects that are currently at various stages of the design and study, according to Renewable Energy in the MENA Region 2017, a new report from MEED. The report estimates that this will require investment upwards of $200 billion. [Technical Review Middle East]

Tracking solar system (Image: James Moran | Flickr)

¶ Live Mint reported that US-based investment company Warburg Pincus is planning to invest $75 million in Indian residential solar power developer CleanMax Solar. That would mark one of the largest investments in India’s rooftop/residential solar power market as India works towards adding 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022. [Microgrid Media]

US:

¶ The Michigan Public Service Commission is expected to rule on fair rates that a utility has to pay to small companies that get power from renewables such as hydroelectric, biomass, waste-to-energy, and landfill gas. The market is one in which renewable energy is increasingly dominated by utility-owned wind and solar projects. [Crain’s Detroit Business]

Privately owned dam of White’s Bridge Hydro Co

¶ In his farewell earnings report, Jeffrey Immelt ended his 16-year tenure as CEO of GE by telling investors that GE’s earnings are likely to be disappointing the rest of this year. The culprit: sputtering energy markets. Oil has become a source of headaches for GE investors since the company put billions into that sector. [Bloomberg]

¶ Guam Power Authority’s newest power purchase agreement is with a consortium that plans to build an estimated $200 million solar power plant. The investors’ partnership, called KEPCO-LG CNS Consortium, is expected to build a 60-MW solar power plant that would also include a system that stores power for nighttime use. [The Guam Daily Post]

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July 22 Energy News

July 22, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “A Beach Town’s Dilemma: Protect Homes or Save the Shore?” The sandy beach in front of homes in the north San Diego County town of Del Mar is shrinking, and the high tide is edging closer. A report to the town says seas will rise 5 to 12 inches by 2030, and 1 to 2 feet by 2050. None of the options addressing this is ideal. [Scientific American]

California Beach (Credit: Tim Buss Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Science and Technology:

¶ More than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced by humans since large-scale production began back in the 1950s, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances. The bulk of this is now litter, micro-plastics pollution, or buried in landfills. As of 2015, 9% of the plastics made was recycled, and 12% incinerated. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Heat waves generated by global warming could ground nearly a third of flights during the hottest days, forcing carriers to jettison cargo in order to take off, according to a study in this month’s Climatic Change. Cargo stalwarts, such as the Boeing 777-300, are expected to experience the greatest impact, due to their size. [Air Cargo World]

Boeing 777-300 (Photo: Terence Ong, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ A group of businesses and investors have written to Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to raise the UK’s ambitions. The group represents thousands of companies with hundreds of billions in revenue, and hundreds of investors managing assets worth more than £19 trillion. The letter is a clarion call from the UK business sector. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Under Brexit, UK Farm subsidies, which total £3 billion, will have to be earned rather than just handed out, the Environment Secretary said in a speech. Farmers will only get payouts if they agree to protect the environment and enhance rural life. Under the current EU policy, farmers are paid based on the amount of land they farm. [BBC]

Farm in the UK (Getty Images)

¶ With the Tolo 1 wind project, Siemens Gamesa secured its first order in Indonesia for the gearless SWT-3.6-130 wind turbines. The onshore wind project is being developed by Equis Energy, the largest renewable energy independent power producer in the Asia-Pacific region. It will be installed by late 2017, and it is to be commissioned in early 2018. [PennEnergy]

¶ Vattenfall is to inaugurate the 288-MW Sandbank wind farm off Germany with a public barbecue in Hamburg. Offshore construction at the project, located 90km west of the island of Sylt, began in June 2015. MPI jack-up Adventure wrapped up installation of the project’s 72 Siemens 4-MW turbines three months ahead of schedule. [reNews]

MPI Adventure (Photo: Wikipedia)

¶ Asset management group BlackRock has taken its Renewable Income UK fund up to £1.1 billion ($1.43 billion), making it one of the largest single investments in renewable energy. The fundraiser, for its third reopening, secured an additional £475 million, building on the £600 million already invested in 40 UK wind and solar projects. [PV-Tech]

¶ Hanwha Q CELLS has signed an MOU with Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power to build an 80-MW rotating floating solar project on a reservoir in South Korea, which would be the largest of its type in the world. Recently, China completed the largest floating solar project in the world, at 40 MW, and it has a 70-MW project under way. [PV-Tech]

At 40 MW, the world’s largest floating solar project

¶ The discovery of apparent icicle-shaped melted nuclear fuel within a reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could be an important first step toward decommissioning the facility. Images taken by a submersible robot under the pressure vessel of the No 3 reactor showed what appeared to be fuel debris. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Infrastructure investment group Foresight has snapped up a consented 10-MW Nevendon battery storage project in the UK. Construction work will start immediately with full commissioning in the first quarter of next year. Foresight acquired the project just one month after its acquisition of the 35-MW Port of Tyne storage project. [reNews]

A Foresight solar array (Foresight image)

US:

¶ The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued its first approval of an offshore wind Site Assessment Plan to the Bay State Wind offshore wind farm being developed by DONG Energy and Eversource Energy. The area off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, that has the potential for at least 2 GW of capacity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to rebuild 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure in the North Country. It will help New York meet the Governor’s Clean Energy Standard that mandates that 50% of the state’s consumed electricity comes from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. [LongIsland.com]

Transmission lines (Photo: blickpixel)

¶ There are now 60 solar panels on the roof of the HooDoo Brewing Company in Fairbanks, Alaska. They are the first installed at any brewery in the state. HooDoo’s owner said brewing beer is an energy intensive business, as cooling the beer is a major energy expense. The solar panels has cut the energy bill by a third. [Fairbanks Daily News-Miner]

¶ A scientist accused the Trump administration of demoting him for speaking out about climate change. Joel Clement was the former director of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis under the Obama administration and advised on Arctic issues. He was recently reassigned to work in an “accounting office.” [The Weather Channel]

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July 21 Energy News

July 21, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Monsoon season now brings more extreme wind and rain to central and southwestern Arizona than in the past, according to new research led by the University of Arizona. Although there are now fewer storms, the largest monsoon thunderstorms bring heavier rain and stronger winds than did the monsoon storms of 60 years ago. [AZ Big Media]

Arizona Monsoon

World:

¶ China installed a record 24.4 GW worth of new solar capacity across the first half of 2017, according to new figures from the country’s solar PV association. The figure is 9% up on 2016’s own record installation numbers. This pushes the country’s installed solar capacity up to 101.82 GW, of which 84.39 GW is utility-scale. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Germany’s offshore wind farms delivered to the grid 8.48 TWh of electricity in the year’s first six months, Deutsche Windguard figures show. German offshore wind has already produced more electricity in 2017 than in the whole of 2015, which had 8.29 TWh. About 900 MW of new offshore capacity is expected to be added in 2017. [reNews]

Riffgat offshore wind farm (EWE image)

¶ Major wind power developers including Adani and Mytrah Energy signed Power Purchase Agreements with Power Trading Corporation for supply of 550 MW of power as part of India’s first wind power auctions scheme. The wind power projects under first wind auction are likely to be commissioned by September 2018. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ A report by energy market analysts EnAppSys says renewable energy sources set a host of records in the UK in the second quarter of 2017. Renewable energy was up 56% from the same period last year. Meanwhile the report also showed coal plants struggled in the quarter and produced less than 2% of total generation. [Power Engineering International]

Houses of Parliament

¶ Solarcentury, will partner with the European Union and United Nations Development Programme to build two solar-powered mini-grids with lithium batteries in Eritrea. The 2.25-MW project sounds small, but it will provide grid-quality power to 40,000 rural people and businesses, who are used to living off the grid or live with diesel power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Irish utility ESB and new partner REG Power Management have taken the wraps off a pair of early-door Scottish onshore wind farm projects totaling up to 200 MW. A development services agreement signed today covers the 50-turbine Knockodhar and 15-unit Greenburn projects, described as being in the “concept stage.” [reNews]

Wind project in Wales developed by REG (REG image)

¶ Amidst lobbying by environmentally conscious stakeholders, the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka approved a revised coal-free power generation scenario for the next 20 years at a present value of $15.52 billion. In the process of doing this, it saves $1.13 billion over the Ceylon Electricity Board’s coal-heavy option. [Daily Mirror]

US:

¶ Just as the Trump Administration was celebrating its “Made in America Week,” the Financial Times reported that CSX is not planning to buy new locomotives to haul additional coal. In fact, it is laying off 700 workers. Its CEO told the Financial Times that “Fossil fuels are dead,” and that “coal is not a long-term issue” for the company. [CleanTechnica]

CSX train (Photo: Don O’Brien, flickr.com, Creative Commons)

¶ Under a newly approved settlement agreement between Microsoft Corp and utility Puget Sound Energy, the tech giant will be able to purchase clean energy from the wholesale market to power its Puget Sound facility in Washington state. Under the terms of the contract, Microsoft will buy only carbon-free energy. [North American Windpower]

¶ Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co and SunPower Corp announced the two companies have signed a contract to build a 10-MW (AC) solar PV power plant in Covington, Oklahoma. Construction on the plant is expected to start next month. SunPower will design and build a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system at the Covington site. [Electric Light & Power]

Solar array in the Midwest

¶ Governor Phil Scott affirmed Vermont’s commitment to meeting the state’s long-term goal of getting 90% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, and he created a commission to advise him on the best way to do it. He asked the 21-member commission to report back to him with an action plan by July 31, 2018. [Valley News]

¶ Vestas is to supply 200 MW of turbines for the Flat Top 1 wind farm in Texas. An order for 100 V110 2MW turbines came from a subsidiary of Alterra Power Corp. Vestas will manufacture turbine components at its Colorado factories. Deliveries should start in the fourth quarter of 2017, with commissioning planned for the first quarter of 2018. [reNews]

V110 2MW wind turbine Credit Vestas

¶ The University of Virginia is continuing to expand its portfolio of carbon-free generation and achieve key sustainability targets. It has announced another partnership with Dominion Energy. Under a 25-year agreement, the University will purchase the entire output of a proposed 120-acre solar facility in Middlesex County. [Augusta Free Press]

¶ In an application to the NRC, PSEG Nuclear, which operates in New Jersey, is seeking approval to increase the power output of its Hope Creek nuclear plant by 1.6%. With few new plants being built, the industry has used power uprates to add capacity; over the years, it has added capacity equivalent to seven new nuclear plants in this way. [NJ Spotlight]

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July 20 Energy News

July 20, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ The energy costs of operating the world’s largest oil fields can rise dramatically as extraction rates begin dropping, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. As extraction begins to ramp down, the net energy from the process can begin to fall rapidly, so that each unit of oil becomes more carbon intensive. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore oil structure

¶ Global asset manager Schroders launched a Climate Progress Dashboard designed to provide investors “a unique insight” into the global progress towards limiting global warming to the 2°C target and the overall progress of the transition to a low-carbon global economy. It currently says we are on path for a 4°C rise in temperature. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Eddie O’Connor’s Mainstream Renewable Power’s plans to develop a £2 billion ($2.59 billion) wind farm off the Scottish coast passed a significant legal milestone. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was denied the right to appeal an earlier court decision to the Scottish supreme court, paving the way for the development. [Irish Times]

Moon over wind turbines

¶ The European Investment Bank has this week approved new financing worth a total of €12.4 billion for projects all over the world, including €4.3 billion for new renewable energy and security of energy supply schemes. It is also investing in support of rail, road, air, and maritime transport systems around the world. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Toyota announced a “Virtual Power Plant” project in Toyota City, Japan utilizing its popular 2nd generation Prius Plug-In (called Prius Prime in the US), focusing on local production and local consumption of renewable electricity. Delayed charging of the cars provides one of several elements for regulating power on the demand side. [InsideEVs]

Toyota Prius Plug-In at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show

¶ Major utility EnergyAustralia has signed a long-term deal to buy 100 MW of the output from a yet to be built solar farm in New South Wales, marking its fifth renewable energy PPA in just seven months. The deal is yet another coup for Neoen, a French renewables developer, which is building the solar farm in New South Wales. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The Nordex Group won an installation contract for the Pays Chaumontais wind farm, 250 km southwest of Paris in Jonchery. With a capacity of 14.4 MW, the project will comprise six N117/2400 turbines to be installed in the first quarter of 2018. The contract includes delivery, operation and maintenance for a period of 16 years. [North American Windpower]

Wind farm in France

¶ Major transmission company Transgrid says 100% renewable energy is both feasible and affordable. It is urging policy makers to “step out in large ways” because incremental change will not deliver climate goals or potential cost savings. Transgrid’s head of regulation said the company would benefit from such a move, but so would consumers. [RenewEconomy]

¶ SolarReserve has received an environmental approval from the Chilean government to build a 390-MW solar thermal power station with 5,100 MWh of energy storage. This is SolarReserve’s third approval of a solar thermal project that will provide Chile with a continuous, 24-hour supply of energy, at a competitive price. [PennEnergy]

SolarReserve solar station (Rendering: Business Wire)

¶ New images of inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant taken by a swimming robot reveal previously unseen damage from the meltdown. Almost all of the nuclear fuel in the No 3 reactor likely melted and dropped from the pressure vessel and accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessel, TEPCO said. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ SaskPower says it will rely on power generated by wind to achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The power company plans to reduce emissions by 40% from 2005 levels by 2030. It wants to have added an additional 1,600 MW of wind power by then. There are currently just 225 MW of wind power installed in Saskatchewan. [CBC.ca]

Wind turbine (Credit: Rick Bowmer)

US:

¶ Agricultural yields in certain “hot spots” in the US will be severely diminished by 2050 as a result of the impact that climate change will have on water availability, according to an MIT study. The hot spots are mostly within the Southwestern US, where agriculture is highly dependent upon unsustainable groundwater extraction rates. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The San Diego County Water Authority issued a request for proposals for a pumped storage facility, which would provide energy when needed by releasing water it has pumped into a reservoir during low demand times. The facility will be up to 500 MW in capacity. The DOE says US pumped storage capacity is 184 GW. [pv magazine USA]

San Vicente Reservoir (Photo: H Hooks)

¶ A closed landfill in Berkley, Massachusetts has made the leap from disposable to renewable. It is now home to a 3.6-MW solar farm that began generating power on April 27, according the owner of the landfill site. Including the landfill, Berkley now has four working solar farms up and running, the town’s Selectmen Chairman said. [Taunton Daily Gazette]

¶ An attorney for a group fighting the Keystone XL pipeline says the organization plans to appeal a South Dakota judge’s decision upholding state regulators’ approval for the pipeline to cross the state. Dakota Rural Action, a conservation and family agriculture group, plans to raise the issue to the South Dakota Supreme Court. [PennEnergy]

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July 19 Energy News

July 19, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Renewables on the grid: Putting the negative-price myth to bed” • A new study evaluated 2016 price data for all retiring power plants in the main wholesale electricity markets with large amounts of wind generation. It confirms that renewable policies incentivizing wind power have a trivial impact on retiring power plants. [Into the Wind – The AWEA Blog]

Oklahoma wind farm

World:

¶ German utility company EWE says it is planning to build the world’s largest battery based on flow technology in a pair of salt caves currently used to store natural gas. The caves have a total volume of 3.5 million cubic feet – enough to store up to 700 MWh of electricity with an output capacity of 120 MW, according to Digital Trends. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A major solar power project in the Middle East will provide electricity during the night. The $1 billion (£770 million) scheme will provide up to 200 MW to Dubai between 4 pm and 10 am. The CEO of the company behind the project said he expects concentrated solar power to be competitive with natural gas within 18 months. [The Independent]

Sunset in Dubai (Ahmed Jadallah | Reuters)

¶ As federal authorities debate emissions targets, Australian councils and community groups are taking the lead on climate action, a report from the Climate Council says. One out of five local governments already have 100% renewable energy goals, and they could collectively cut emissions associated with energy by 70%. [Energy Matters]

¶ Coal mining has become a way of life for Inner Mongolia but a new wave of green energy is about to change that. Last year it had 154 wind farms with 17% of the total Chinese capacity. For China as a whole, electricity production generated by wind farms was 46.6 billion kWh or 19.3% of the overall total production. [China Daily]

Farmers in Inner Mongolia (Photo: Su Weizhong | China Daily)

¶ Green bonds issued by Indian companies are gathering pace as India’s ambitious target for renewable energy fuels interest from investors. Greenko Energy Holdings raised $1 billion earlier this week, making it the largest corporate green bond issuer in Asia, Bloomberg data shows. Indian green bonds are likely to grow even more important. [Livemint]

US:

¶ Google set up an independent business outside the Alphabet umbrella called Dandelion. The new company was created to promote new geothermal system technology. Dandelion will attempt to do for residential heating and cooling what SolarCity has done for rooftop solar. It uses new, less expensive, drilling technology. [CleanTechnica]

Dandelion geothermal system

¶ Responding to the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, California Governor Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg have launched America’s Pledge. It is a new initiative that they hope will gather together and quantify all the action being taken by states, cities, and business across the US to meet the agreement’s goals. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Northern Power Systems, a wind turbine maker based in Vermont, says it has seen a surge of interest in wind power in distributed energy (behind-the-meter, on-site power generation) applications in the US. Specifically, the advantages have become evident in dairy and farming operations, the company says. [North American Windpower]

Northern Power Systems turbine

¶ Regulators granted a site-certificate amendment for turbines with rotor diameters of 136 meters and generating capacities of 3.6 MW at the Montague Wind Power Facility, Apple’s project in Oregon. They may be the largest ever in the Pacific Northwest. Avangrid Renewables has not made a final decision on which turbines it will use. [Portland Business Journal]

¶ In Nebraska, the Beatrice City Council approved a 25-year power purchase agreement with Cottonwood Wind Project. The wind project is planned to be constructed by NextEra Energy in Webster County. Under the agreement, Beatrice will acquire 16.1 MW of wind energy at a fixed price of $15.85/MWh (1.585¢/kWh). [Beatrice Daily Sun]

Turbines near Odell (Lee Enterprises file photo)

¶ A plan by Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp to build two natural gas-fired power plants totaling 183 MW capacity has drawn criticism from several quarters. They include at least one electric co-op, along wth environmentalists, who say the utility failed to consider other “increasingly viable options,” such as energy storage and renewables. [Platts]

¶ In California, Marin County, San Mateo County, and the city of Imperial Beach, sued 37 fossil fuel companies for damage they claim the companies knew would occur as a result of their contribution to rising sea level and global warming. The lawsuits seek compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits, and punitive damages. [Shadowproof]

Flooding in Imperial Beach (Photo: Sher Edling LLP)

¶ Last December, after several earlier attempts failed, Hawaiian Electric Companies issued a new Power Supply Improvement Plan. It would put Hawaii on the road to get 100% of its electricity by 2040 from renewable sources, with no fossil fuel assets on the islands by 2045. Now, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has approved the PSIP. [pv magazine USA]

¶ A report on two new reactors being built at the VC Summer Nuclear has been released. It says the Public Service Commission could save utility customers up to $10 billion by “pulling the plug” on the project and ordering at least some prepaid costs refunded. The report was funded by the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. [Sumter Item]

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July 18 Energy News

July 18, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How China Floated to the Top in Solar” • After years of growth and pollution, China is changing tact and embracing sustainability – no longer beholden to the singular tenet of growth at any cost. China is now the world’s largest renewable energy investor. And the US has relinquished its leadership role, following the policies of Donald Trump. [Time]

Fisherman and solar panels (Kevin Frayer | Getty Images)

¶ “Big oil’s electric fight against coal and nuclear” • The powerful American Petroleum Institute is fighting nuclear power subsidies, opposed to any efforts to expand renewable electricity, and telling the Trump administration that its study on the power grid better not hurt natural gas in an effort to help coal and nuclear energy. [Axios]

¶ “Big oil sees salvation in gas, but what if it’s wrong?” • Oil executives are pitching natural gas, but with the sharply falling costs of renewable technologies, some experts are warning that the outlook may not be so rosy. Forecasters are beginning to talk about peak gas demand, spurred by the growth of alternative power supplies. [Energy Voice]

Oil refinery valves (Photo: Shawn Baldwin | Bloomberg)

¶ “Rise of energy storage set to drive down energy prices, McKinsey says” • Grid and power operators face the potential of disruption much sooner than many anticipate, according to a McKinsey & Company study. It explores the rapid rise of battery storage systems, and their potential impact on consumers’ behavior and power operators. [Consultancy.uk]

World:

¶ A Scottish renewable energy leader teamed up with a Welsh organisation, YnNi Llyn, to develop a tidal energy project off the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales. Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation has been awarded an Agreement for Lease for the initiative. This enables the company to start site surveys and feasibility studies. [The National]

Work at Bardsey Sound in north Wales

¶ El Salvador’s energy watchdog Siget announced that the tariff of electricity will be reduced by 3.09% in the quarter from July 15 to October 15. Siget explained that the price drop was mainly due to an increase of 22.9% of power production from hydro sources and the connection to the grid of a 60-MW solar power plant. [pv magazine]

¶ A 40-MW park will be built at Woodington Farm, near Romsey, Hampshire, on land surrounding Hive Energy’s head office. Permission was granted for the park for 25 years subject to a number of conditions, including the restoration of the site to its original state. The project is expected to supply energy to about 9,100 homes. [BBC]

Woodington Farm (Hive Energy photo)

¶ Despite its polar climate and its proximity with the North Pole, the Canadian province of Nunavut has decided to support the installation of small-sized PV and wind power generators through net metering. The program will be open to residential and municipal customers’ renewable energy power stations not exceeding 10 kW. [pv magazine]

US:

¶ Long Island businesses, unions, environmental groups, and elected officials joined with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to support New York state’s offshore wind plans. The coalition came together at a news conference at the Long Island Association offices in advance of a public meeting hosted NYSERDA. [reNews]

Long Island (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Green Mountain Power, the largest utility in Vermont, is promoting another aggressive clean energy offer to its customers. Now through September 30, GMP customers can visit Freedom Nissan in South Burlington and claim a $10,000 rebate on the purchase of a new 2017 Nissan LEAF, by presenting a special code supplied by GMP. [CleanTechnica]

¶ It has been more than a month since President Trump announced a withdrawal from the Paris Climate agreement. Part of that agreement included a goal of replacing coal-fired plants with natural gas and renewable energy. But in Idaho, there is a move away from coal energy, and this is largely driven by the economy. [Boise State Public Radio]

Boardman Coal plant close in 2020 (Nigel Duara | AP Images)

¶ By early 2018, Florida Power & Light Company will have almost doubled its use of clean solar energy through the construction of eight new solar parks. With each station producing 74.5 MW, 120,000 Floridian homes will be powered statewide. The new power stations resulted from the lower solar power costs. [The Independent Florida Alligator]

Western energy imbalance market

¶ Seven electricity providers in the western US and Canada plan to join the California Independent System Operator’s western energy imbalance market. CAISO dispatches generating units every five minutes to balance supply and demand. The rapid response allows for better integration of wind and solar resources. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ ThinkProgress obtained a copy of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s grid study, and it has many surprises  for those who are not energy experts. They may be unpleasant surprises to Perry and the White House. For instance, a large fraction of America’s aging fleet of coal and nuclear plants are simply not economic to operate anymore. [RenewEconomy]

¶ States’ authority to enact clean energy policy was significantly bolstered last week in an important federal district court decision. The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed a challenge from fossil fuel companies that objected to an Illinois program to support nuclear generation because it hurt their bottom line. [Solar Industry]

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July 17 Energy News

July 17, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Heritage at Risk: How Rising Seas Threaten Ancient Coastal Ruins” • The shores of Scotland’s Orkney Islands are dotted with ruins that date to the Stone Age. But after enduring for millennia, these archaeological sites, along with many others from Easter Island to Jamestown, are facing an existential threat from climate change. [Yale Environment 360]

Ruins on Scotland’s Rousay Island coast (Adam Markham)

World:

¶ Saudi Arabia has plans for a 400-MW wind farm and for further tenders to kick off this year as part of a $50 billion spending program on renewables within six years. The program is intended to help meet the Saudi target of producing enough electricity from renewables to power 3 million homes within six years. [The National]

¶ More than half of India’s gas-based capacity of about 25,139 MW remains stranded due to unavailability of natural gas. To bring respite to 26,000-MW gas and hydro power plants that are stranded, the government is planning to introduce what is called “peaking power policy,” giving distribution companies better ability to manage power. [EnergyInfraPost]

Indian thermal power plant

¶ Commercial vehicles wing of Tata Motors showcased the first Bio-CNG or bio-methane bus at the Urja Utsav event in Pune, Maharashtra. Along with the new alternative fuel bus, Tata Motors also showcased three engines compatible with bio-methane fuel for light, intermediate, and medium commercial vehicles. [Financial Express]

¶ A pioneering project to produce power from hot rocks several kilometers under the ground in Cornwall will begin drilling early next year, if a multimillion-pound fundraising drive succeeds. Abundance, a crowdfunding platform, is launching a bond to raise £5 million for the UK’s first commercial geothermal power station. [The Guardian]

The Earth is hot below the granite boulders of Bodmin Moor
(Nature Picture Library | Getty Images | Nature Picture Library)

¶ The US-based masterminds behind a microgrid in Brooklyn unveiled their first Australian project in South Australia. They say it could herald the start of an industry-changing, renewable energy sharing revolution. The project will see up to 6 MW of distributed solar generation made available on a local peer-to-peer trading platform. [RenewEconomy]

¶ TSO TenneT has awarded Siemens a contract to build and install the 900-MW DolWin6 grid hub in the German North Sea. The grid hub is slated to go online in 2023 and will cost less than €1 billion, TenneT said. Siemens will deploy its direct current compact switchgear technology for DolWin6, greatly reducing its weight and size. [reNews]

DolWin Gamma grid hub (reNews image)

US:

¶ It might sound counterintuitive that the Trump administration is contemplating a “replacement” version of former President Barack Obama’s climate change rules, but that’s what miners and major labor groups are pushing in meetings with the EPA and the White House. They want a Trump Clean Power Plan based on “clean coal.” [Washington Examiner]

¶ Florida generates less solar energy than some cloudier states, including Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. Four electric utilities, which  supply power to around 75% of Florida ratepayers, effectively, control Florida’s power market, dictating how and at what price residents get their energy, and they see rooftop solar as a threat to their bottom line. [CleanTechnica]

Groups funding Consumers for Smart Solar (Source: Energy
and Policy Institute) Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Last month, the Missouri Supreme Court decided not to review a Western District Court of Appeals opinion that overturned the Public Service Commission’s approval for the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Nevertheless, the PSC could still give the developers a right to take land under eminent domain. [Columbia Daily Tribune]

¶ PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric pitched plans to regulators that include major investments in renewable energy. PacifiCorp would build 1,100 MW of new wind farms in Wyoming and upgrade another 1,000 MW. PGE touted a 525-MW wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge. But there is disagreement on the issue. [OregonLive.com]

PGE’s Tucannon River Wind Farm (Courtesy PGE)

¶ Renewable energy stakeholders have been deeply concerned that the Trump administration will slow or even halt progress on decarbonizing the US economy. However, the DOE continues to roll out new federal investments supporting renewable energy. A new round of $46.2 million has come to fund advanced solar power technology. [Triple Pundit]

¶ Federal regulators signed off on a plan for a nuclear plant proposal in Florida to pump wastewater underground despite concerns the facility could contaminate drinking water. The decision by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board means Florida Power & Light is a “step closer” to obtaining a license for adding two new reactors. [Water Online]

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July 16 Energy News

July 16, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “What You Can Actually Do To Fight Climate Change, According To Science” • Collective action starts with individual choices, and for all the data-driven decision makers out there, the path forward just got a bit clearer. A study in Environmental Research Letters determined which life choices reduce our carbon footprints the most. [Gizmodo Australia]

Twilight (Image: Dennis Yang | Flickr Creative Commons)

¶ “Are Deeper Cuts OPEC’s Only Option?” • Despite the November, 2016 Vienna crude oil agreement among OPEC and certain non-OPEC producers and its subsequent May 2017 extension, the global crude oil market is still burdened with excess supply and may be far from re-balancing. Observers worry about another price crash. [OilPrice.com]

¶ “Six Years After Fukushima, Japan Tries To Quell Its Energy Angst” • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promoted a policy of restarting nuclear reactors, but he is now politically at the weakest point since his 2012 return to power. It is worth assessing how just far Japan’s nuclear revival can go, especially as costs for renewable energy keep falling. [EnergyInfraPost]

Cleanup workers at Fukushima Daiichi

Science and Technology:

¶ Governments may be seriously underestimating the risks of crop disasters. Research by UK Met Office scientists used advanced climate modelling to show that extreme weather events could devastate food production if they occurred in several key areas at the same time. Such an outcome could trigger widespread famine. [The Guardian]

World:

¶ So far, more than 13,000 subscribers have signed up for the 2017 green power program initiated by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs in 2017, topping the goal of 10,000 for the year, the ministry said. Program subscribers receive a certain amount of green power at a premium price of NT$1.06/kWh (3.5¢/kWh). [Focus Taiwan News Channel]

Wind power in Taiwan (Maggie Chou, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Nearly 100 homes in Uttar Pradesh’s Sarvantara village have been electrified, thanks to an initiative by a student from the UK’s prestigious Imperial College. Clementine Chambon, a final year PhD student, has helped connect the homes with a mini eight-kWh solar energy grid providing around 1,000 people with energy for affordable lighting. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ Russian hackers are thought to have attacked the UK’s national grid sparking fears that electricity supplies could be cut by cyber terrorists. Security analysts say that a group backed by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin also targeted the Republic of Ireland’s energy sector and tried to infiltrate control systems. Hacking energy systems is a worldwide problem. [Daily Mail]

UK power grid (Daily Mail stock photo)

US:

¶ President Trump may want to expand offshore oil, but he is facing pushback in a region that is one of the most at risk of climate change and where residents are increasingly turning to renewable energy. Officials of San Mateo County, California, are urging the federal government to maintain protections for three marine sanctuaries. [San Mateo Daily Journal]

¶ Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which had its 40th birthday on July 5, have been innovating and contributing to the Colorado and national economy through seven presidential administrations. The laboratory’s future is uncertain under President Trump, but workers are keeping up hopes. [The Denver Post]

Wind Technology Center (Helen H. Richardson | Denver Post)

¶ Energy legislation in North Carolina presents the governor with a choice between buttressing the state’s bright solar industry and nurturing its nascent wind power business. The legislation could make solar power production more competitive. But the bill includes a moratorium on wind projects through the end of 2018. [Asheville Citizen-Times]

¶ The Energy Information Administration’s monthly Short Term Energy Outlook projects coal will fuel 31.3% of electricity in the US in 2017, compared with 31.1% for natural gas. Coal stood at 30.4% last year, and natural gas was at 33.8%. The coal industry takes the change, small as it is, as welcome news. [Huntington Herald Dispatch]

Coal installation (Lon Wolfe | The Herald-Dispatch)

¶ In Georgia, homeowners with solar power installed buy electric energy at the retail rate of 15¢/kWh. But when they sell power to the electric company, they do so at the wholesale rate of 5¢/kWh. That makes it hard to pay off a solar installation when the system favors utilities. And county commissioners are not helping. [Valdosta Daily Times]

¶ Husqvarna Group, Stockholm, is preparing to build its first solar power generating facility at its current injection molding site in Nashville, Arkansas. The new facility will have a capacity of 1.3 MW. It is expected to reduce the CO2 footprint by approximately 1,000 tons during each year over the 25 years it will operate. [Rental Pulse]

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July 15 Energy News

July 15, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Climate Change Could Make The Earth ‘Practically Ungovernable'” • Former NASA climate chief James Hansen believes climate change’s most dangerous effect may be a continuous rise in sea level. Because so many people live in coastal cities, the mass migrations inland that will follow this rise could leave the world in ungovernable chaos. [ScienceAlert]

Miami (Photo: Brian W. Schaller, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Bloomberg: Tesla Set To Win” • It looks like bad news for Big Oil as electric cars gained traction this past week. Bloomberg reports, “France plans to end the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040” and, “Volvo Car Group became the first major manufacturer to say it will start phasing out vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels.” [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ A research project conducted in the Netherlands found that just attaching newly designed tips to wind turbine blades can increase power output by as much as 6%. The project looked at three new designs. One design has a bend on the tip, another has wake-reduction geometry, and the third improves characteristics of flow around the tip area. [reNews]

Working on the tip of a wind turbine blade (Image: ECN)

World:

¶ The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation announced that it awarded solar power projects with cumulative capacity of 1,500 MW to 16 developers. All these projects have been awarded at ₹3.47/kWh (5.4¢/kWh), the lowest tariff bid committed by 25 participating developers. Developers had offered 2.67 GW. [CleanTechies]

¶ Record low renewable energy prices in Chile are here to stay and will likely push power prices even lower, Chile’s energy minister told Reuters, a development that would pressure the nation’s already squeezed diesel and natural gas industries. Chile, with ample solar and wind resources, has become a poster child for renewable energy. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind turbines on a beach

¶ Siemens Gamesa got a contract to supply 118 MW of wind turbines to the Baglar and Ardicli wind farms in Turkey. The order is for 36 wind turbines. This marked the first order of turbines from Siemens Gamesa’s 3.3 MW platform in Europe. The design is intended to minimize the cost of energy across a wide variety of wind farm sites. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A $640 million biorefinery is scheduled to start early next year in Ingham, Queensland after eight years of development. It promises to provide electricity to more than 28,000 homes. The biorefinery, which is owned by the North Queensland Bio-Energy Corporation, will use sugar cane bagasse to generate renewable energy. [Townsville Bulletin]

Cane harvester (Picture: Hitchcock Ian MM337802)

¶ Wind power tariffs are expected to fall to a record of around ₹3.30 per unit (5.38¢/kWh), in a 1 GW tender by state-run Solar Energy Corp of India. SECI has received bids for three times the grid-linked capacity on offer. Wind power tariffs in India followed the solar route and hit a record low of ₹3.46/kWh in February. [Livemint]

¶ Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has decided to temporarily suspend construction of units 5 and 6 at the Shin Kori nuclear power plant in south-eastern Korea. The move comes two weeks after South Korean President Moon Jae-in issued an order to halt construction. Construction of the reactors was due to start this year. [World Nuclear News]

Artists impression of Shin Kori 5 and 6 (Image: KHNP)

¶ Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister said he opposes releasing treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power into the sea, citing the possible repercussions for local fishermen. His remarks came shortly after a top official from TEPCO said he is ready to see the tritium-containing water dumped into the sea. [The Mainichi]

US:

¶ Republicans are not all united against renewable energy. The House of Representatives voted down an amendment to block a requirement in the pending National Defense Authorization Act for the armed services to study the impact of climate change on the military. Those who voted against the measure included 43 Republicans. [CleanTechnica]

US Capitol

¶ National Grid is holding “community meetings” to gather input and discuss details of its proposed Granite State Power Link project, which would bring hydropower from Canada through New Hampshire to southern New England. The Granite State Power Link project would also cross northeastern Vermont. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

¶ Hesperia Unified School District, in San Bernardino County, California, will soon have more than 5.7 MW of high-efficiency SunPower carport systems generating solar power for 29 of its sites. Construction of the carports is underway at 15 locations now, and SunPower expects to complete all installations by the end of 2017. [Parking Network]

Solar parking system

¶ A draft version of the DOE’s highly anticipated grid study states that wind and solar do not represent a serious threat to electric grid reliability, running counter to comments made by Energy Secretary Rick Perry earlier this year. Perry ordered the grid study to examine negative effects of Obama-era clean energy incentives. [Greentech Media]

¶ Duke Energy will build three utility owned and operated solar projects in Kentucky. Construction will start by the end of the summer and the projects are likely to be on line by early 2018, Duke says. Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Florida, and Duke Energy Indiana all have solar farms already. [Charlotte Business Journal]

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July 14 Energy News

July 14, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Japan’s Renewable-Energy Revolution” • A set of images from a series of flights over the Tokyo and Kobe/Osaka regions of Japan show a range of PV projects on former golf courses, quarries, dams, man-made islands, and floating projects on ponds and reservoirs. They add a new look on energy and climate change. [Bloomberg]

Solar farm on the face of a dam (Photo: Jamey Stillings)
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

¶ “Why Nuclear Power, Once Cash Cow, Now Has Tin Cup” • A decade ago, nuclear power plants in the US were cash cows. Now more than half of them are bleeding cash. The industry used to look down on the subsidies needed by its clean-energy rivals, wind and solar power, but now, some states are offering subsidies to nuclear plants. [Bloomberg]

¶ “Want to live in a zero-carbon home? Maybe try Texas” • In 2015, the city council of Austin pledged to achieve net zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, shifting its energy grid away from natural gas and coal to renewable energy. Now, the city and property developers are putting their money where their mouths are. [National Observer]

Austin (Photo: Earl McGehee on Flickr Creative Commons)

World:

¶ The growth of electric vehicles in the UK has the potential to increase peak electricity demand by 3.5 GW by 2030 and 18 GW by 2050, National Grid says in its latest Future Energy Scenarios analysis. Without smart charging technology the 2030 figure could be as high as 8 GW. Peak UK demand today is around 60 GW. [Platts]

¶ The UK should focus on using waste products like chip fat if it wants to double production of biofuels according a new study. A report from the Royal Academy of Engineering says that making fuel from crops like wheat should be restricted. Incentives should be given to farmers to increase production of fuel crops like Miscanthus on marginal land. [BBC]

Crop-based biofuels

¶ The Brazilian Senate approved a draft resolution authorizing an external credit of $750 million for financing the country’s incentive program for renewables. The additional program funds will be used mainly for projects of small and medium-sized companies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. [pv magazine]

¶ In Pakistan, rumors are being spread that solar arrays raise ambient temperatures of the buildings they are attached to. Allegedly, utility company installers, fearing lost income, are trying to dissuade potential solar buyers even as the country reels under power shortage. And the rumors are slowing the switch to renewables. [Scroll.in]

Solar workers in Islamabad (Credit: Aamir Qureshi | AFP)

¶ Both France and Germany are heavy in baseload generating capacity. They should work together towards a clean energy future, as they are set to exit coal and nuclear, according to Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende and the French Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. [Platts]

¶ Indian Railways launched the first solar-powered DEMU (diesel electrical multiple unit) train from the Safdarjung railway station in Delhi. The train will run between railway stations in Delhi and Haryana. Each of six coaches has sixteen 300-W solar panels. The train also has battery backup power, on which it can run for at least 72 hours. [Economic Times]

Solar power on its first train in India

¶ Toyota and several partners have announced the beginning of its Low-carbon Hydrogen Technology Demonstration Project, which aims to implement and evaluate an efficient hydrogen fuel supply chain. This supply chain would rely on renewable energy and would provide hydrogen fuel for various purposes in Japan. [Hydrogen Fuel News]

US:

¶ A new wind farm in Nebraska will boost wind power to about 40% of the Omaha Public Power District’s electricity generation by the end of 2019. That’s up from less than 20% in 2016. Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources will build a 160-MW wind farm, from which OPPD will purchase the electricity generated. [Omaha World-Herald]

Grande Prairie wind farm (Megan Farmer | The World Herald)

¶ Waste water from fracking has contaminated a watershed in Pennsylvania with organic chemicals, salts, radium, and alkaline earth metals. Some pollutants are associated with endocrine system changes and others with carcinogens. Fracking produces half of the oil and two-thirds of the natural gas extracted in the US. [CleanTechnica]

¶ EDF Renewable Energy acquired the 179-MW Switch Station 1 and 2 solar projects in Nevada from First Solar. The projects will both sell electricity and renewable energy credits to subsidiaries of NV Energy. Switch Station 1 is scheduled to come online later this month, while Switch Station 2 start commercial operations in late September. [reNews]

Switch Station solar project (Credit EDF RE)

¶ Switching to an alternative energy program called community choice will help the city of San Diego use more renewable sources of energy and could lower electricity costs, according to a study published this week. The long-anticipated study was paid for by the city and conducted by the firm Willdan Financial Services. [KPBS]

¶ The University of Bridgeport successfully installed a megawatt-class microgrid. The 1.4-MW fuel cell power plant can make the university grid independent. The microgrid was tested by disconnecting the University from the electric grid with the fuel cell power plant powering the school’s critical infrastructure. [Energy Manager Today]

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July 13 Energy News

July 13, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Why the Antarctic ice shelf broke apart and what it means” • A bit of good news is that the calving of the Larsen C ice shelf, creating this new iceberg, won’t contribute to rising sea levels as the ice was already floating in the water. But scientists will definitely be keeping an eye on what happens of the Larsen C ice shelf. [CBC.ca]

Growing gap (British Antarctic Survey via Associated Press)

¶ “America’s Leadership on Climate Is Still Strong” • Though President Trump is turning his back on the 2015 Paris climate agreement and putting fossil fuels first, others are still standing strong. More than 2,100 states, cities, universities, businesses, and investors have pledged to take action on climate change. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

World:

¶ The largest solar park in the world is being grid-synchronized at Kurnool in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is the first ever solar park to reach 1 GW of grid-tied capacity. The Andhra Pradesh Solar Power Corporation noted on its website that the final 20 MW of the park is scheduled for commissioning by 13 July. [PV-Tech]

Sunrise in Kurnool (Flickr | Pranav)

¶ Welsh Water awarded a five-year contract to DONG Energy to provide green power across its operational sites, of which there are more than 4,000. The not-for-profit company, the fifth largest business in Wales, supplies 828 million liters of water daily to more than three million people, including 1.4 million homes and businesses. [Energy Live News]

¶ A new report, the “Carbon Majors Report,” has found that just 100 companies have emitted more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Moreover, the 25 biggest emitters, including ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and many state-owned giants, have been responsible for more than half of all emissions. [Business Insider Nordic]

Offshore oil (Statoil | Asa Harald Pettersen)

¶ According to one Australian Liberal MP, the chairman of the Coalition’s backbench energy and environment committee, renewable energy is killing Australian people this winter. He said people will not use heating in winter because of price of power. Labor said Mr Kelly’s comments were insulting and accused him of scare-mongering. [ABC Online]

¶ Australian state energy ministers are threatening to “go it alone” with their own clean energy target, independently of the federal government. They are ramping up pressure on the Coalition, which is fracturing from the hard right response to the Finkel Review and the prospect of a growing share of wind and solar power. [RenewEconomy]

Royalla Solar Farm (Grahamec, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ Following Trump announced he would pull the US from the Paris climate agreement, Lyft announced that to drive climate action and EV use forward, its shared platform will provide at least 1 billion rides per year using electric autonomous vehicles by 2025. Lyft’s autonomous vehicles will be powered by 100% renewable energy. [EcoWatch]

¶ For the past several years, scientists have been trying to get people to wake up to the dangers that lie ahead in rising seas due to climate change. A study from the Union of Concerned Scientists includes a list naming hundreds of US cities, large and small, that may not make it through the next 20, 50 or 80 years due to sea level rise. [CNN]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Though it has been over thirty years since former US president Jimmy Carter was in office, he is still paving the way for a brighter future. The solar array on 10 acres of land Carter leased out for the city of Plains, Georgia is now operating, The panels will generate over 5,500 GWh of clean energy over the next 25 years. [Good News Network]

¶ Many Nebraska landowners are opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline slashing through their land. So they’re fighting the proposed oil pipeline with clean, renewable energy. Activists launched the Solar XL campaign to install solar panels on land that Nebraska locals refuse to sell – directly in the path of the pipeline. [Inhabitat]

Nebraska landowner

¶ A report, “Modernizing Minnesota’s Grid: An Economic Analysis of Energy Storage Opportunities,” shows that increasing the deployment of energy storage combined with renewable energy would help Minnesota meet its statutory goal of 80% carbon reduction by 2050 sooner and at a lower cost than other technologies. [Phys.Org]

¶ For the second year in a row, Governor LePage has vetoed a measure aimed at boosting Maine’s rooftop solar resources while creating middle ground between utilities and solar interests over compensation for excess energy. Solar advocates say the governor has a “crusade” against solar energy; he says he is protecting ratepayers. [Utility Dive]

Installing a rooftop solar system

¶ NRG announced the results of its corporate transformation review, hoping to reduce its debt by $13 billion and raise up to $4 billion in revenue from selling off a set of both conventional and renewable assets. NRG will divest from 6 GW of conventional generation and sell off 50%-100% of its NRG Yield renewable energy business. [Utility Dive]

¶ The announcement that the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant would close forced the town of Vernon into some difficult decisions as the plant’s employees started moving away. The town’s $2 million budget had to be cut in half. Vernon’s dilemma is faced by other towns where nuclear plants close across the USA. [The Journal News | LoHud.com]

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July 12 Energy News

July 12, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Can Urban America Save Paris Agreement?” • Hundreds of mayors have pledged to remain committed to reducing US greenhouse gas emissions. But how much can cities do on their own, without the federal government supporting the Paris accord, to curb climate change? We talked with climate experts to find out. [Live Science]

New York City (Credit: Songquan Deng | Shutterstock)

¶ “G20 Communique: Strong On Climate Change, On Sustainability, On Environmental Justice” • It was a victory for climate change action and support for the Paris Climate Agreement. The G20 Communique at the end of the Hamburg summit was more: A statement about sustainability, income inequality, and human rights. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Koch Bros and ALEC Shout From the Rooftops: ‘Stop Rooftop Solar!'” • There is a nationwide push to make rooftop solar less attractive so utilities can continue to make money without competition from individual home owners. Spearheading the effort is the top energy lobbyist, Edison Electric Institute. [Tucson Weekly]

Installing a solar system (Courtesy of Bigstock)

Science and Technology:

¶ New rules are urgently needed to protect the open seas, scientists have warned. A report to a UN ocean conference in New York points out that more than 60% of the ocean has no rules because it’s outside national jurisdiction. It says the open ocean is at risk from climate change, over-fishing, deep-sea mining, farm pollution and plastics. [BBC]

¶ According to a study published in Nature Communications, carbon dioxide concentrations are heading towards values not seen in the past 200 million years. The sun has also been gradually getting stronger over time. Put together, these facts mean the climate may be heading towards warmth not seen in the past half a billion years. [The Conversation]

Desert (Neo Studio | shutterstock)

World:

¶ In an extraordinary speech, Don Harwin, the energy minister of the New South Wales Coalition government, has made a dramatic departure from the bulk of his state and federal colleagues by declaring that it was time to move on from the notion of “baseload” power as essential to the reliability of the future grid. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The future of fresh local produce could include distributed farming, with more foods being grown in smaller systems right near the point of sale, instead of everything being shipped in from larger growing operations. Now, Infarm, a Berlin startup, is aiming to put tiny vertical farms into the grocery stores themselves. [CleanTechnica]

Infarm’s in-store herb garden

¶ With four new additions of AkzoNobel NV, AXA, Burberry, and the Carlsberg Group, The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative has reached a 100-member milestone. Its members, large businesses transitioning to 100% renewable energy globally, include 30 Fortune Global 500 companies have a total revenue of $2.5 trillion. [Solar Industry]

¶ European power giants Engie and Uniper have withdrawn from a test project to capture and store carbon dioxide generated by one of several major new coal plants in the Netherlands, dealing yet another blow to the prospects of “clean coal” technology, in which the Australian government and fossil fuel lobbyists still hold much stock. [RenewEconomy]

Maasvlakte power plant in Rotterdam

US:

¶ Engineering giant Siemens and AES, an international power company based in Arlington, Virginia, are partnering to expand into the alternative energy market, selling industrial-scale batteries. They formed a company, Fluence, based in the District of Columbia, to compete against such established players as Tesla. [Standard-Examiner]

¶ Green Mountain Power can seem more like a disruptive high-tech start-up than Vermont’s largest electric utility. It has emerged as a leading national innovator in renewable energy, demonstrating how electricity can be generated, stored, and distributed in ways that are cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient to interruptions. [Triple Pundit]

Green Mountain Power solar array

¶ ViZn Energy Systems Inc is integrating its zinc iron flow battery storage system for a record low price of 4¢/kWh. A ViZn 30-MW, 4-hour system added to a 100 MW solar plant can generate a seven percent internal rate of return with a 4¢/kWh power purchase agreement, 20% below the lowest published values. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ Asset manager Capital Dynamics acquired the Mount Signal 3 solar plant in California from 8minutenergy Renewables. Development of the 328-MW plant started in 2011, and 8minutenergy will oversee construction. First Solar will supply 2.8 million thin-film solar panels, and commercial operations are expected to start by the end of 2018. [reNews]

California solar array (Image: 8minutenergy)

¶ Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has committed the state to greenhouse gas reductions consistent with the global accord reached in Paris, despite President Trump’s decision to pull the United States from that accord. Colorado has joined the US Climate Alliance, which now includes 13 states and Puerto Rico. [Grand Junction Daily Sentinel]

¶ Energy Secretary Rick Perry reversed course today and confirmed that hackers are targeting US nuclear power plants, though he said federal labs can safeguard the nation’s sprawling grid. When asked about FBI and Department of Homeland Security reports about hackers, Perry said, “Well, obviously it’s real, it’s ongoing … ” [E&E News]

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July 11 Energy News

July 11, 2017

World:

¶ EDF has floated out the first of five gravity-base foundations for its 41.5-MW Blyth offshore wind demonstration project off the Northumberland coast. EDF said they will be installed using a “float and submerge” method – the first time this process has been used for offshore turbines. Each foundation weighs over 15,000 tonnes. [reNews]

Blyth foundation (Credit EDF)

¶ China’s electric power generation capacity from renewable sources now represents 20.5% of the world’s total while the US share is 20%. China is now the world’s leading producer of electricity from renewable sources. Of the world’s annual growth of renewable resources last year, China contributed 40%, and the US contributed 16.9%. [24/7 Wall St.]

¶ New data has confirmed the effects of a second rooftop solar boom taking place in Australia – driven by falling technology costs and increasingly volatile electricity prices – with nearly one quarter of all Australian households found to have invested in solar panels. Uptake is was strongest in South Australia, where it is at 32.8% [CleanTechnica]

Percentages of homes with solar installations

¶ Sonnen unveiled what it calls a major assault on the traditional energy utility business model. It introduced a battery offer modeled on what consumers get from a mobile phone company. An average house consuming around 10,000 kWh a year, or nearly 30 kWh a day, can cut its annual bill of around A$3,400 to just A$480 a year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new UK company, UTM Consultants, will provide specialist staff to offshore sectors, including renewables. It aims to source and supply the staff required to deliver remote operated vehicles, survey, inspection, repair and maintenance projects to the oil and gas, renewable, hydrographic, marine, telecommunications, and power sectors. [reNews]

Offshore wind farm (reNews image)

¶ Power generation and electricity grid expansions took in $718 billion, 42% of the $1.7 trillion invested in energy last year, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Oil, gas and coal supply by contrast brought in $708 billion, a drop from last year reflecting lower prices and profits by major oil companies. [Bloomberg]

¶ The Italian solar market has grown by 19% in the first five months of this year with around 204 MW of newly installed capacity, according to provisional numbers released by the Italian renewable energy association Anie Rinnovabili. It based its information on data provided by the country’s grid operator Terna. [pv magazine]

Solar park by Meeco in central Italy (Meeco image)

¶ The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority told TEPCO’s top management he questions their attitude toward decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the company’s ability to resume operating its other reactors. “I feel a sense of danger,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said during a special meeting. [The Japan Times]

¶ The Polish government has contracted around 4.725 TWh of power in the renewable energy auction it held on June 29, a local PV analyst said. Bidding was open to PV, wind, and hydropower projects up to 1 MW, and solar is expected to have won the largest share of the 472 awarded projects. Bids ranged from $52.6/MWh to $107.6/MWh. [pv magazine]

Installing solar panels in Poland (Greenpeace Polska)

US:

¶ The US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord has been described as a major blow to the global carbon reduction effort. But a report from Morgan Stanley argues the move could cause barely a ripple, in the face of the “seismic shift” in renewable energy economics that is rapidly making wind and solar the cheapest new power sources. [RenewEconomy]

¶ In Massachusetts, Co-op Power has built up its credentials steadily over the past decade. In a significant milestone, it mounted a $4.3 million community-based fundraising campaign for a biodiesel plant set to go online early next year. It has supported hundreds of rooftop solar installations, and fueled the region’s green job growth. [ilsr.org]

New England countryside

¶ John Laing Group is acquiring a 90.5% interest in the 100.5-MW Buckthorn wind farm in Texas. The project will have 26 Vestas V126-3.45MW turbines with 87-meter hub heights and three V117 3.6MW machines with 91.5-meter hub heights. NRG Energy is developing the project and will operate it. It is set to be operational this year. [reNews]

¶ Dominion Energy Virginia has signed an agreement and strategic partnership with DONG Energy to build a 12-MW offshore wind demonstration project off the coast of Virginia Beach. The Coastal Virginia offshore development will consist of two 6-MW turbines. It will be built approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. [reNews]

DONG Energy wind farm (DONG Energy image)

¶ This summer, members and employees of Washington Electric Coop, a 100% renewable, 100% member-owned electric utility serving communities in north-central Vermont, are eligible to receive incentives totaling $10,000 on the purchase of a new 2017 Nissan Leaf all electric vehicle from Freedom Nissan in South Burlington. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Invenergy has officially pushed back from 2019 to 2020 the opening of fossil fuel-burning power plant it has proposed to build in Burrillville, Rhode Island. The Chicago-based company did not give a reason for the delay, but observers have long suspected that Invenergy would not meet its 2019 target date because of opposition. [The Providence Journal]

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July 10 Energy News

July 10, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “25 Fossil Fuel Producers Responsible for Half Global Emissions in Past 3 Decades” • A handful of big fossil fuel producers have been responsible for the majority of global greenhouse gas emissions in the years since climate change seized the world’s attention as a looming crisis, according to a report issued by CDP. [InsideClimate News]

Petroleum production (Cole Burston | AFP | Getty Images)

¶ “Everything you need to know about Tesla’s battery in South Australia” • Billionaire Elon Musk has put his money where his mouth is and has promised to solve South Australia’s energy issues by building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. His promise: If he fails to deliver on the battery within 100 days, it will be free. [NEWS.com.au]

¶ “Global Meltdown? Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilis” • Two of the industry’s worst-ever years have been in the past decade and there will be many more bad years ahead as the trickle of closures of ageing reactors becomes a flood ‒ the International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. [New Matilda]

Old nuclear and new wind (Image: Jeanne Menjoulet, Flickr)

World:

¶ Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to spend up to $1 billion a year on its New Energies division as the transition toward renewable power and electric cars accelerates. Shell sees opportunities in hydrogen fuel-cells; liquefied natural gas; and next-generation biofuels for air travel, shipping and heavy freight, for which batteries are not adequate. [Bloomberg]

¶ The world might be heading for an oil supply shortage following a steep drop in investments and a lack of fresh conventional discoveries, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive Amin Nasser told a conference in Istanbul. He said we should not assume that shale oil and alternative energy can be developed quickly enough to replace oil and gas. [CNBC]

Oil site in Saudi Arabia (Reza | Getty Images)

¶ For the second time, South Africa’s power utility Eskom refused to sign power purchase agreements with renewable energy project developers. The problem is that poor government planning has lead to an oversupply. With its decision not to sign contracts with planned projects, investments worth $4.45 billion are now stranded. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As high energy price rise across Australia, more households look toward renewable energy solutions. Closure of cheap coal-fired power stations and a high price of gas have been a key driver in the rising cost of electricity. One company put up five times as many solar installations in the first six months of 2017 as it did for the whole of 2016. [NEWS.com.au]

Sonnen home battery system

¶ Apple Inc said Monday it will spend 6 billion Danish crowns ($921 million) on a new data center in southern Denmark near the German border, its second in the country to run entirely on renewable energy. Facebook Inc in January also announced plans to build a data center in Denmark, only its third outside of the United States. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ The 100-MW/129-MWh battery bank Tesla will build in South Australia will smooth out power fluctuations from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and provide power during peak demand hours, a welcome relief for hot summers. The batteries are the same type of Li-ion cells that have logged more than a billion miles in Tesla vehicles. [ENGINEERING.com]

Tesla Battery system to be built in Australia (Courtesy of Tesla)

¶ France is to close up to 17 nuclear power stations to reach the government’s target of 50% nuclear power by 2025, the Ecology Minister said on Monday. He presented a “climate plan,” though it was short on details on reaching the commitment to reduce the amount of electricity produced in nuclear reactors from the current 75% to 50%. [RFI]

¶ Australia has recorded a significant “bounce-back” in renewable energy investment in the second quarter of 2017, with $1.5 billion poured into big solar and wind projects from April to June, a 77% year-on-year increase. The Australian up-tick in investment is one of a number worldwide highlighted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [RenewEconomy]

Australian wind farm

US:

¶ Last year nearly 40% of US wind contracts were signed by corporate power users, along with university and military customers. That’s up from just 5% in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association. These users also accounted for 10% of the market for large scale solar projects in 2016, up from 0% two years earlier. [Yahoo7 News]

¶ US Energy Information Administration said that in March, and April, US monthly electricity generation from utility-scale renewable sources exceeded nuclear generation for the first time since July 1984. What contributed to the rise? The report said it was “record generation from both wind and solar.” This resulted from new installations. [Tech Xplore]

Please click on the image to enlarge it. (Credit: EIA)

¶ As part of an awareness campaign to end human trafficking, the two friends have broken the record for the fastest coast-to-coast drive in an electric car. They set out from Los Angeles on July 1st and arrived in New York City 51 hours and 47 minutes later, beating the previous best (race driver Alex Roy’s 55 hours) by a comfortable margin. [Engadget]

¶ The goal of Appalachian Power Company is to rely 50% on coal and 50% on renewable energy, according to the company’s president. Businesses that wish to set up in West Virginia often have their own goals for greenhouse gas emissions. They will go elsewhere if Appalachian Power cannot offer ways to reduce emissions. [West Virginia MetroNews]

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July 9 Energy News

July 9, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Sell Your Fossil Fuel Stocks” • For people who claim to support states’ rights and the free market, the support for fossil fuels is the height of hypocrisy and delusion. When Republicans say they want to run the government “like a business,” what they apparently mean is, “run government like a Trump casino headed straight for bankruptcy court.” [HuffPost]

Nodding donkey (Greg Goebel, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ The collapse and melting of the Eurasian ice sheet at the end of the last ice age led to chaos all across the European continent, according to a new study published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. The collapse of the ice sheet led to serious changes to ecological systems and environments, and to the region’s human habitability. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new analysis has been published by researchers involved with Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution program and partners. It concluded that climate warming from anthropogenic greenhouse gasses increased the intensity and frequency of extreme heat in the June 2017 heat wave in Europe by as much as a factor of 10. [CleanTechnica]

Prague Castle

¶ A study using complex computational models finds that smart solid-state transformers could be used to make a stable, reliable “smart grid.” This may help realize the idea, which has been around for years, that a smart grid could handle power flows not just from the power company to our homes, but also from our homes to the power company. [pvbuzz media]

World:

¶ Engineering giant IHI Corp unveiled an “ocean current power generator” prototype, which harnesses the energy in ocean currents. It will be tested in a demonstration project off the coast of Kagoshima Prefecture. A similar experiment with wave power was announced by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co in April. [The Mainichi]

Prototype ocean current power generator (Mainichi)

¶ Negotiations over the wording of the final communiqué from the G20 meeting carried on late into Saturday morning. The sticking point? Disagreements over the US’s preferred phrasing for the group’s position on climate change and renewable energy. Bafflingly, the US wanted to state that it will help other nations with access to fossil fuels. [Gizmodo]

¶ Chile’s Santiago metro system will soon source as much as 60% of its energy requirement from renewable energy sources. The metro system, which serves 2.4 million people every day, will acquire 42% of its energy needs from a solar power project and 18% from a wind energy project. Both projects are located in the Atacama Desert. [CleanTechies]

Metro de Santiago (Credit: Ariel Cruz Pizarro | CC-BY-SA 2.0)

¶ The South African nation of Zimbabwe is planning a big push in the renewable energy sector with specific capacity targets and financial support to project developers, according to reports. A document reviewed by Bloomberg News says that Zimbabwe plans to have 1 GW of renewable energy capacity operational by 2025. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway agreed to pay $9 billion to buy the parent of Texas power transmission company Oncor Electric Delivery Co, as it pursues steady profits from utilities and infrastructure deals. Given federal and state approval, it will gain control of one of the largest US transmission companies. [The News International]

Transmission towers (From energy.gov, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ In the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have grown explosively – as much as 900% by one estimate. But that growth is projected to be reversed, with a decline in new installations of 2%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This is due in part to well-funded lobbying campaigns in state capitals. [WatertownDailyTimes.com]

¶ Coal mines have actually been hiring in North Dakota in recent years, a sharp contrast to other coal regions. Utilities have been investing significant money in coal-powered plants. The state’s coal industry “isn’t immune to what’s occurring in the rest of the US, but it may be the last place where it hits,” one economist said. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Refurbishing a turbine (Richard Tsong-Taatarii)

¶ Southwestern New Hampshire is on its way to becoming a solar-power mecca. Keene, Chesterfield, Fitzwilliam, and Hinsdale have projects at various stages of capturing energy from the sun. The developer of the Fitzwilliam and Hinsdale projects has proposed approximately 30-MW, and up to 65-MW, systems, respectively. [The Keene Sentinel]

¶ While hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen US power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, regional and local electric utilities say they have found no evidence that a recent wave of cyberattacks infiltrated any of their power plants and computer networks. [The Daily Nonpareil]

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July 8 Energy News

July 8, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ In recent years, some scientists have suggested that climate change will be less severe than the projections suggest. A study published in Science Advances joins a growing body of literature suggesting the models are correct. That may be worrisome for the planet, but it is good news for the scientists working to understand its future. [The Independent]

Tabular ice bergs off Antarctica (Reuters image)

World:

¶ German authorities have arrested an Audi manager in connection with the VW diesel scandal. This is the first arrest in Germany related to Volkswagen’s emissions-test cheating scandal. The person may have been former Audi manager Giovanni Pamio, who the US had just charged with directing staff to design emissions-cheating software. [BBC]

¶ France has announced plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, following India’s push to switch to entirely electric vehicles. The country’s Environment Minister revealed the plan as part of a national goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. The French Prime Minister wants France to be the European leader in clean energy. [Interesting Engineering]

Cars in Paris (Image: Pixabay)

¶ Internet giant Amazon is establishing an electricity trading unit in Dublin as it continues to expand its footprint in Ireland and plans a €1 billion data center complex. It is not clear what type of electricity trading the Amazon Web Services unit will engage in, but it is clearly linked to the large electricity consumption of its data centers. [Independent.ie]

¶ SSE’s latest wind farm development, Slieve Divena II in County Tyrone, is fully operational, generating enough green energy to power 16,500 homes. The Ballygawley wind farm’s capacity is 18.8 MW, and its eight turbines will help offset approximately 24,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year from fossil fuel generation. [the Irish News]

The Slieve Divena II windfarm in Co Tyrone

¶ According to research and ratings agency India Ratings, private developers are facing more challenges operating thermal power projects than renewable energy projects. With aggressive bidding and falling renewable tariffs, thermal power has become less economical, leading to muted demand for private thermal power projects. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Google is reportedly preparing to invest nearly €1 billion in the construction of a data center in Luxembourg, according to local media. The facility is to be built on a 25-hectare piece of land, making it the largest in the country. Local state-funded radio said further details on the project are to be revealed at the end of July. [Data Economy]

Luxembourg

¶ Ukraine is talking to one of France’s largest energy companies about building a giant, €1 billion ($1.25 billion) solar park in the uninhabited radioactive zone surrounding the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Engie is beginning a pre-feasibility study funded by the French government, with the results expected for the end of the year. [National Post]

¶ Officials in Portugal inaugurated the world’s first hydro-solar power station this week. The Alto Rabagão dam, near the country’s northern border with Spain, added 840 floating solar panels earlier this year, boosting the plant’s total peak capacity by 220 kW. The solar array is about the size of what might be put on a large warehouse. [HuffPost]

Floating solar array (Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images)

¶ A coal baron is delivering the world’s first solar train to Australia. The Byron Bay Railroad Company, operated by mining executive Brian Flannery, expects to have its two-carriage heritage train running before Christmas. It will operate on part of the disused Casino-to-Murwillumbah line, which closed in 2004. [Walcha News]

US:

¶ Massachusetts utilities, in coordination with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, issued a Request for Proposals for long-term contracts for offshore wind energy projects. The RFP, issued under the Energy Diversity Act, calls for bidders to offer from 400 MW to about 800 MW of offshore wind energy capacity. [EnergyOnline]

Block Island Wind Farm (Photo: Ionna22, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The North Carolina House and Senate voted to enact a compromise version a bill, “Competitive Energy Solutions for North Carolina.” This major new energy legislation evolves and, in some respects, expands solar business opportunities in North Carolina significantly. It establishes an 18-month moratorium on wind power permits, however. [JD Supra]

¶ The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s plan for a huge wind energy expansion in the Upper Midwest. Seven wind farms are planned for Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and the plan is for them to be operational by the end of 2020. The projects’ combined capacity is over 1,500 MW. [North American Windpower]

Wind farm in the Midwest

¶ On a tour of a coal-fired power plant, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry was asked about the economics of coal when natural gas is cheaper. He said, “Here’s a little economics lesson, supply and demand: You put the supply out there and the demand will follow that. The market will decide which of these they’re going to pick and choose.” [The Daily Times]

¶ Tucson Electric Power is seeking bids for the engineering, design, and construction of natural gas generators to help provide reliable electric service by supporting the expansion of renewable energy. A new facility will house 10 reciprocating engines, powered by natural gas, with a combined capacity of up to 200 MW. [BOE Report]

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July 7 Energy News

July 7, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have found evidence in computer simulations for a possible abrupt change to heavy seasonal rainfall in the Sahel, a region that so far has been characterized by extreme dryness. They detect a self-amplifying mechanism which might kick in beyond 1.5° to 2° C of global warming, the limits of the Paris Climate Agreement. [Eurasia Review]

The Sahel region (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

¶ Flooding is already one of the most costly perils for the re/insurance community and a recent report by AIR Worldwide shows flooding costs are set to skyrocket; it’s the risk with the most evidence from climate science supporting forecasts of an increase in frequency and intensity of both coastal and inland flood events. [Reinsurance News]

World:

¶ An Australian state will install the world’s largest lithium-ion battery in a “historic” deal with electric car firm Tesla and energy company Neoen. Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed a promise that Tesla would build the battery within 100 days, or it would be provided for free. The 100-MW/129-MWh battery should be ready this year. [BBC]

A need for storm resilience in South Australia (Getty Images)

¶ G20 countries continue to spend billions in public financing for fossil fuels, spending nearly four times as much as on clean energy, with the total coming to $215.3 billion in deals for oil, gas, and coal in the years 2013 through 2015. This is according to a report that a group of non-profit organizations published this week. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Google’s big data center campuses in Europe are to be powered using renewable energy sourced from Norway starting next September. A Google spokesman said the company expects a wind farm currently being built by Tellenes to be operational by then and ready to export power to be used in at least one of the Google data center. [Data Economy]

Rural European Windpower (Pixabay image)

¶ Nearly 400 global investors who together manage more than $22 trillion in assets have written to G20 leaders in advance of the G20 summit, urging them to commit to the Paris Agreement and help drive its implementation. This is not the first time that investors have spoken up and urged nations to support climate change action. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Scotland set a record for total wind power output in March, jumping more than 80% year-on-year. Wind power covered 136% of Scottish household demand, or 58% of the country’s total demand for the month. The news increases pressure on the UK Government to rethink its decision to withdraw new subsidies for onshore windfarms. [Power Technology]

Scottish wind power

¶ Electric vehicles are not just transforming the auto industry. They are also about to reshape the global power market. By 2040, more than half of all new cars sold will be plug-ins like those offered by Tesla, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That means electricity demand from vehicles will surge 300-fold. [Bloomberg]

¶ A report from Morgan Stanley predicts “surprisingly large” reductions in global power sector emissions – even in Trump’s America – as solar and wind energy hurtle towards being the cheapest new sources of electricity generation, with or without ambitious policy targets. The power industry will be steered by economics. [RenewEconomy]

Coal-burning power plant in New Mexico

US:

¶ Appalachian Power Co is asking state regulators in Virginia and West Virginia to approve 225 MW of new wind generation from facilities located in Ohio and West Virginia. With the approval of the two new projects, the company would have a total of 1,000 MW of renewable energy from a combination of wind and hydro power. [Bacon’s Rebellion]

¶ Hawaiian Electric Companies has to deal with the most ambitious renewable energy mandate in the nation, and one of the most ambitious in the world, which requires that it procure 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2045. If that weren’t daunting enough, it is dealing with limitations imposed by having a series of island grids. [pv magazine USA]

Hawaiian rooftop solar (RevoluSun image)

¶ In what is becoming a trend in the Western US, Public Service Co of New Mexico plans to exit coal-fired generation by 2031 in favor of renewables and natural gas-fired generation. Its integrated resource plan’s preferred portfolio replaces baseload resources with resources that have lower operating costs and greater flexibility. [Platts]

¶ The three primary power grids – the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas – have very little electricity moving among them. As Part of the Grid Modernization Initiative the DOE is working with researchers  to study ways to increase resilience by tying the eastern and western grids together. [Tech Xplore]

US grids (Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

¶ Speaking by videoconference to the Global Citizens Festival in Hamburg, California Governor Jerry Brown reinforced his reputation as America’s de facto leader on climate change, announcing to cheering crowds that his state would gather leaders from around the world for a global warming summit next year. [The New York Times]

¶ Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other US energy facilities. The Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation was one target, according to security consultants, and an urgent joint report was issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. [CNBC]

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July 6 Energy News

July 6, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Confronting the Himalayan environmental crisis” • Burning black carbon is accelerating glacial melt and disturbing weather patterns in the Himalayas. This has led to extreme droughts and flooding in the region. According to NASA, the black soot concentration in the Himalayas has increased three-fold in the last 20 years. [Online Khabar]

Avalanche on Everest (Photo: Chagai, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Is blockchain about to disrupt the electricity sector?” • When the leaders of Europe’s electricity industry gathered last month for their annual conference, they devoted a whole morning to technologies that promise a future “beyond utilities.” The buzziest such technology is blockchain, which brought us the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. [EURACTIV]

World:

¶ Wind and solar electricity will be the cheapest forms of power generation in every G20 country by 2030, according to a report commissioned by Greenpeace Germany. It also said that in about half of the G20 countries, renewables have produced electricity at rates equal to or lower than those from coal or nuclear since 2015. [reNews]

Wind Power (Pixabay image)

¶ The tallest wind turbines ever to be built in Australia will come through the Port of Newcastle next month. The 200-metre tall turbines will be transported to the Sapphire Wind Farm project in the New England area of New South Wales. Newcastle-based CWP Renewables is building the $588 million project, which will have 75 turbines. [Newcastle Herald]

¶ The Philippine Department of Energy has authorized Citicore Power Inc to proceed with the pre-development stage of its five proposed hydropower projects in Southern Luzon. The pre-development stage covers permitting and conducting various studies for the contracts, which potentially have a combined capacity of 2,300 MW. [Power Philippines]

Philippine hydropower

¶ Australia has been ranked as very low in its performance tackling climate change in a new Brown to Green report. Other countries that were singled out for poor performance include the US, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The best performers were China, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Mexico, and South Africa. [Energy Matters]

¶ Australia’s Climate Change Authority, a government board set up to advise on climate policy, has no climate scientists left. None. Not one. No climate scientists remain on the government agency appointed to advise on climate policy. The University of Melbourne’s Professor David Karoly lasted five years. He just left. [Gizmodo Australia]

Outback whirlwind (Image: iStock)

¶ Sanjeev Gupta, the flamboyant Indian-born billionaire who has agreed to buy the ailing steel producer Arrium, has promised to turn the ageing Whyalla steel plant “green” by getting electricity from renewables and pumped storage. A recent study found numerous potential pumped storage sites in South Australia, including a number near Whyalla. [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ A federal court has ruled that the EPA cannot suspend a methane emissions rule crafted by the Obama administration. Under EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA argued that the oil and gas industry has not been allowed to comment on the rules. An appeals court in Washington, DC, rejected that claim in a 2-1 ruling. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Pump jack in Midland, Texas (Photo: Michael Stravato, NYT)

¶ For automakers who report the monthly sales in the US of their plug-in models (which includes most big auto makers but not Tesla), fully electric car in June 2017 were up 102% from June 2016, and plug-in hybrid sales were up 11.5%. For the year through June, fully electric sales were up 96% and plug-in hybrid sales were up 42%. [CleanTechnica]

¶ To implement a renewable energy program, the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Utilities Corp will issue two requests for proposals for geothermal exploration and integrated-resource planning. The RFPs will focus on developing new energy sources. Project funding came from the US Department of the Interior. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Saipan, Marianas (source: flickr | Matt Watts, creative commons)

¶ A federal appeals court affirmed the legality of Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standard and related clean energy initiatives. The groundbreaking decision should boost states’ confidence that they can exercise climate and clean energy leadership at a time when the Trump Administration wants to move backwards. [Microgrid Knowledge]

¶ Dominion Generation Inc, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dominion Energy Inc, is expanding its solar portfolio with the acquisition of a 10-MW solar facility in Clarke County, Virginia. It also intends to purchase a 20-MW solar farm currently under construction in Northampton County, Virginia, from the same developer. [Commercial Property Executive]

Clarke County 10-MW solar facility
(Image courtesy of Dominion Energy’s Facebook Page)

¶ The Phipps Bend Nuclear Power Plant has sat abandoned since 1981, as one of over 100 nuclear plants that have been cancelled in the US. Today, however, the site is finally producing CO2-free electricity, which it is generating with a 1-MW solar power plant. Many other sites of nuclear or coal-burning power plants can be similarly developed. [Electrek]

¶ Idaho Power has plans to phase out most of its coal-fired generation, partly because its plants are running less often amid persistently low natural gas prices, and partly because of expanded renewable generating capacity. This is according to the integrated resource plan the utility filed with state regulators prior to the holiday weekend. [Platts]

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July 5 Energy News

July 5, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “If We Stopped Emitting Greenhouse Gases Right Now, Would We Stop Climate Change?” • What would happen to the climate if we were to stop emitting carbon dioxide today, right now? Would we return to the climate of our elders? The simple answer is no. [ScienceAlert]

Freedom to emit pollution (Aziz Acharki | Unsplash)

¶ “The Hinkley C nuclear power plant will be a costly mistake – we can still stop it” • News that the cost of building the new nuclear plant has risen by another £1.5 billion came shortly after the National Audit Office confirmed that the deal is overpriced and risky. [New Statesman]

Science and Technology:

¶ Over the past several months, historic shareholder resolutions have pushed oil giants, including Exxon, to disclose climate-related risks. Food companies are next, experts say, whether they use or produce palm oil, corn, soy or beef, to name some with the biggest climate impacts. [InsideClimate News]

Cutting forests for palm oil (Credit Dimas Ardian | Getty Images)

World:

¶ Volvo is phasing out cars that rely solely on combustion engines. Every new model launched from 2019 will have an electric motor, as the shift away from the technology dependent entirely on fossil fuels gathers pace. Volvo is owned by Chinese billionaire Li Shuf. [Bloomberg]

¶ Wood Group and Romax Technologies has improved the performance of EDF Energies Nouvelles’ 67.5-MW La Mata y La Ventosa wind farm in Oaxaca, Mexico by changing the control system. High turbulence and wind speeds had caused some turbines to be run at reduced power. [reNews]

La Mata y La Ventosa wind farm (Clipper image)

¶ India’s ambitious aim to install 160 GW of renewable energy by 2022 will have a positive impact on the country’s jobs market, a study showed. It says that more than 300,000 full-time workers will be needed, with a potential to create around one million job opportunities. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ The European Investment Bank is to loan the Belgian transmission system operator Elia €100 million to help link offshore wind to the country’s mainland grid. The offshore wind energy will be integrated to distribute electricity across the Belgian network by the end of 2017. [reNews]

Offshore wind substation (Elia Group image)

¶ Leading economist Ross Garnaut, who has authored two influential climate change reports, says Australia is being held back by those with “ideological or vested interests in old ways of supplying energy.” He said renewable energy is key to securing the nation’s economic future. [The New Daily]

¶ An investment of over $1 million investment has been “worth its weight in gold” for a Great Barrier Reef island resort that’s leading the charge in renewable power, according to the manager. Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is on track to being 100% renewably powered. [Gladstone Observer]

Lady Elliot Island solar array (Tegan Annett)

¶ NTPC, India’s biggest power producer, plans to invest $10 billion in new coal-fired power stations over the next five years despite objections and the electricity regulator’s assessment that thermal plants now under construction will be able to meet demands until 2027. [The Hans India]

¶ A 42-MWdc solar PV plant is to be built in Nonogasta, a municipality of Argentine province Nueva Rioja, the local government announced. It will have an estimated 132,000 solar PV panels. It will cost $40 million to bring to completion and create 150 jobs. [pv magazine]

Nueva Rioja region (Image: Roberto Fiadone | Wikipedia)

¶ The European Commission has allocated €4 million to a project that will link the French and Irish electricity grids via an undersea cable. The Celtic Interconnector project, called an “obvious solution,” would have a 600-km-long undersea cable with a capacity of 700 MW. [EURACTIV]

US:

¶ A wind power project in California aims to capture the Central Coast’s wind. Trident Winds proposes to build a wind farm of 60 to 100 turbines off the coast, from Cayucos to north of Piedras Blancas. The project would have a capacity of 1000 MW. [The San Luis Obispo Tribune]

Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Secretary of Energy Rick Perry could order Americans to pay more for electricity to keep his boss’s promises to coal miners, nuclear power plants and electric companies. He has authority to do that under a law that allows him to declare a national reliability emergency. [Houston Chronicle]

¶ Federal real property is getting greener, one system at a time. The Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program recently awarded 21 contracts to energy service companies to help the government increase energy savings and lower operating costs. [FederalNewsRadio.com]

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July 4 Energy News

July 4, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Larsen C breakoff could have ‘dire consequences'” • A massive piece of an ice shelf in West Antarctica is poised to break off any day now, creating an iceberg the size of the state of Delaware. The possible collapse of the Larsen C ice shelf has scientists worried. Why? Expert John Abraham explains – and speaks out about Trump. [Deutsche Welle]

Larsen ice shelf

World:

¶ An $8 million wind and solar farm has been announced in Western Australia by Advanced Energy Resources in conjunction with GMA Garnet. The construction of a 3-MW wind and solar farm with battery storage will supply electricity at a GMA Garnet mining location about 120 km from the nearest electric grid substation. [Energy Matters]

¶ The world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm, which will be sited 25 km off the coast of Scotland, is nearer to being a reality. According to a press statement, each of the five 5-MW wind turbines has been attached onto a floating substructure in Norway, and they are now ready to be towed into position and anchored to the seabed. [Gulf Today]

Building a floating wind turbine

¶ Viet Nam’s FECON Corporation and Saudi Arabi’s Acwa Power signed a memorandum of understanding for developing renewable energy projects in Viet Nam. The MOU says FECON and Acwa Power will evaluate renewable energy investment potentials, especially for wind and solar power in southern and central regions. [Viet Nam News]

¶ The UK faces a stiff challenge over the next three years if it is to meet its EU target of achieving 15% renewable energy penetration by 2020. Figures released by UK government ahead of the G20 Summit show that the UK had a renewable energy penetration of 8.9% at the end of 2016. This is far short of its EU target for 2020 of 15%. [pv magazine]

Working to meet the UK 2020 RE target (Image: Pfalzsolar)

¶ As a global technology leader in electrification, Siemens has reiterated its commitment to assisting Ghana in meeting the country’s expanding energy needs. Siemens is undertaking a new training program in Accra. The program is aimed at keeping Siemens’ partners in Ghana up to date on the company’s latest technology offerings. [News Ghana]

¶ German policymakers have outlawed negative bids in next year’s 1.6-GW offshore wind tender after the bulk of capacity in the country’s first auction in April was won by zero subsidy bids. The amendment to the Wind Energy at Sea Act has been made to prevent a downward spiral into negative prices. The price cap was lowered at the same time. [reNews]

Riffgat offshore wind farm in Germany (Credit: EWE)

¶ Photon Energy is developing a 316-MW solar power plant near Gunning, New South Wales. It would be the biggest PV project in the state and one of the largest planned in Australia, comparable in size to conventional utility scale power stations. The solar power plan would be constructed on 590 hectares of land as soon as 2019. [Sun & Wind Energy]

¶ Swedish state-owned power company Vattenfall has established a new business unit dedicated to solar plus storage. Additionally, the company will look to immediately capitalize on growth of the technology within Europe by lining up investments of €150 million in large-scale solar and battery storage projects on the continent. [Solar Power Portal]

Turbine in the Parc Cynog wind farm in Wales

¶ The US administration told India that Westinghouse Electric Co will emerge from bankruptcy and be sold by the year end, sources said, raising the prospect of a Washington-supported sale or bailout for the nuclear firm. Some form of US backing or involvement could avoid a Chinese or Russian buyer unpalatable to Washington. [The Indian Express]

¶ The amount of solar energy installed on the world’s power grids increased 50% year over year in 2016, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Between 70 GW and 75 GW solar panels came online, with close to half those installations coming in China, where solar capacity more than doubled last year. [Chron.com]

Alamo 6 solar farm in West Texas

US:

¶ Two key moves this year will propel San Francisco’s toward an all-renewable electricity mix by 2030. They could make San Francisco, the nation’s 13th largest city, a model for others. A 2012 report showed the city’s electricity was even then 41% renewable-generated, thanks to municipal solar, hydroelectric, and biogas facilities. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Goldman Sachs became the first US bank to sign a large-scale power purchase agreement for off-site renewable energy. The agreement will make it possible to build a new 68-MW wind farm in Pennsylvania. Goldman Sachs has established a goal to get 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. (Interview) [One Step Off The Grid]

Goldman Sachs buying power from a wind farm

¶ Rocky Mountain Power is asking regulators in three states to approve an initial plan to expand the amount of wind power serving its customers by 2020 by 1.1 GW. Regulatory filings have been made in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, though most of the new investments would be in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain Power said. [North American Windpower]

¶ PowerDocks LLC partnered with the city of Newport, Rhode Island, to launch the Blue Isles platform in Newport Harbor. It is the first aquatic microgrid platform built to power and recharge electric marine propulsion vessels using solar power. The solar panels provide free electricity and Wi-Fi to vessels docked within 300 feet. [ecoRI news]

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July 3 Energy News

July 3, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Wind Power Cost vs Fossil Fuels: Who Just Won?” • Over the last three years the cost of wind power generation has dropped by more than 20%. Today it is as cheap as coal and does not need subsidies to be competitive. And that does not consider the fact that wind power does not create any pollution as it captures power. [The Green Optimistic]

Offshore wind construction

Science and Technology:

¶ Stephen Hawking is not mincing words: President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris Accord could cause irreversible harm to the planet. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.” [HuffPost]

¶ Using surplus electricity from renewables to make hydrogen fuel is starting a new era for all forms of heavy transport. Trucks, trains and ships using hydrogen fuel cells for propulsion are no longer just theoretically possible: they have reached the trial stage. And using hydrogen for fuel has come to make economic sense. [eco-business.com]

An Electric train could be converted to use hydrogen
and fuel cells. (David Gubler, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Iran says French energy giant Total is to sign a contract worth close to $5 billion (£3.8 billion) to develop an offshore gas field in the Gulf. Oil ministry officials said Total would get a 50.1% stake in the deal, China’s CNPC would hold a 30% stake and Iran’s Petropars 19.9%. The deal will be signed in Tehran on July 3. [BBC]

¶ In Nigeria a 25-year-old woman developed a mini-grid powered by biogas made from organic waste, and the power it generates benefits 550 local people. The Rije biogas station produces the 20 kW of electricity and uses 1.2 tonnes of organic waste daily. Agricultural, kitchen, and human waste are all used to generate electricity. [Cleanleap]

Building a bio-digester

¶ Victoria looks set to get another wind farm, after New Zealand-based outfit Tilt Renewables confirmed it would proceed with plans to develop a 54-MW project in the state’s west. Tilt says the company has decided that the $105 million Salt Creek wind farm, near Mortlake, would go ahead without a power purchase agreement. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Germany raised the proportion of its power produced by renewable energy to 35% in the first half of 2017 from 33% the previous year, according to a renewable energy association. Germany has got up to 85% of its electricity from renewable sources on certain sunny or windy days, as it aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022. [Business Insider]

Wind turbines in the North sea (Photo: Thomson Reuters)

¶ Alberta’s NDP government has not wasted time on climate change policies. In the past six months, Albertans now pay a carbon tax and they are eligible for subsidies on efficiency improvements and solar panels. The coal phase-out has been negotiated, and an auction is underway to bring more renewable power to the province. [CBC.ca]

¶ Some 134 million people in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region do not have access to electricity, and for many of those who have electricity, the supply is unstable. Off-grid distributed energy systems using renewable energy could be a solution to this problem, thanks to the increasing availability of renewable energy technologies. [BRINK]

Green School, Indonesia (Photo: Putu Sayoga | Getty Images)

¶ The estimated completion cost for the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactors is now £19.6 billion, up from £18 billion pounds last September. EDF now says, however, that the final bill could come to more than £20 billion pounds ($26 billion). There are also risks of further delays for the two reactors. The nuclear plant is on the coast of Somerset. [BloombergQuint]

¶ Jan De Nul jack-up vessel Vole au Vent has completed turbine installation at Suomen Hyötytuuli’s 42-MW Tahkoluoto offshore wind farm off the coast of Finland. The vessel successfully lifted the project’s 10th Siemens 4.2-MW turbine onto its foundations slightly ahead of schedule. First power is expected on the grid this week. [reNews]

Turbine installation (Photo: Suomen Hyötytuuli)

US:

¶ Offshore wind power could provide 15 million homes in New York state with energy, according to a local authority body. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said wind farms in the Atlantic could transform the renewable energy landscape. It is working on a roadmap for offshore wind development. [Innovators Magazine]

¶ One of South Dakota’s most populated counties is deciding the future of wind power within its borders, and the outcome could provide direction for the future of wind generation in the entire state. Voters in Lincoln County will decide whether to keep the strict setback rules for wind projects county commissioners had adopted. [Sioux City Journal]

Wind turbines at sunset (Photo: USGS, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ With the country seemingly paralyzed by polarization, two separate announcements in California and Washington, DC last week heralded strange bedfellows coming together to advocate for climate dividends. They include environmentalists in California and big business – including some of the largest oil and gas companies. [HuffPost]

¶ In New York, capital markets this year are more willing than ever to finance green energy projects, according to a panel at the Renewable Energy Conference. The Business Council of New York State and the Hudson Renewable Energy Institute hosted the event at Marist College. Panelists spoke of pent-up demand pushing a new market. [RTO Insider]

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July 2 Energy News

July 2, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “1,800 tons of radioactive waste has an ocean view and nowhere to go” • The closed San Onofre nuclear power plant will loom for a long time as a landmark, its 1,800 tons of lethal radioactive waste stored on the edge of the Pacific. And like the other 79,000 tons of spent fuel in the US, San Onofre’s nuclear waste has nowhere to go. [Los Angeles Times]

San Onofre nuclear plant, seen from Camp Pendleton
(Photo: Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times)

¶ “Utility Spends $7.5 Billion To Prove Clean Coal Is A Cruel Hoax” • In 2010, Southern Company began construction of a “clean coal” generating facility in Mississippi. Working on a $3.5 billion budget, its mission was to prove that the technology worked. Now, 3 years overdue and $4 billion over budget, the company has given up. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year, even as President Trump vowed to “bring back coal,” the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s leadership in the fight against climate change. But China’s energy companies are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants worldwide. [New York Times]

Construction at a Chinese-owned coal-burning power
plant in Pakistan (Credit: Asad Zaidi | Bloomberg)

¶ The Indian state of Telangana is have over 5000 MW of solar power generation capacity by 2019, up from 1300 MW of capacity now. This is because the state adopted a distributed development model. Under this system, solar project developers are offered opportunities to develop projects based on demand. [Times of India]

¶ Botswana’s rural electrification currently stands at 80%, and the country is targeting to connect the remaining 20% of rural households to electricity by 2020, the energy minister said. Botswana’s production capacity will be augmented by renewable initiatives that the government is putting in place with the help of private players. [Xinhua]

Reservoir at Gaborone Dam (Athena Lao, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Four green technologies are growing fast enough that with a little help they can do their part in a zero-carbon-emissions world by mid-century, an International Energy Agency official said this week in Chicago. The technologies are electric vehicles, energy storage, solar PV, and wind power. All have rapidly falling costs. [Forbes]

US:

¶ The University of Oklahoma has long been known for weather and climate research, but a high-ranking administrator says an eight-year, $161 million project that has just formally begun puts OU in an entirely new orbit. The contract involves  development, deployment and operation of the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory. [Tulsa World]

Bizzell Library, University of Oklahoma
(Photo: tylerphotos, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ During a four-day period from May 4 to May 7, electricity pricing for some wholesale buyers in New England reached negative levels, as wind farms and solar arrays were producing large amounts of electricity and demand was low. A 2014 change in the energy market rules aimed at market flexibility made negative pricing possible. [The Union Leader]

¶ Climate change will aggravate economic inequality in the United States, essentially transferring wealth from poor counties in the Southeast and the Midwest to well-off communities in the Northeast and on the coasts, according to the most detailed economic assessment of the phenomenon ever conducted. The study was published in Science. [CityLab]

Effects of climate change (Tony Gutierrez | AP)

¶ Concord, New Hampshire, might be in line for a solar-power boom now that solar panels will no longer be subject to property tax assessments, especially after state regulators decided not to greatly change payments for electricity production. The city council unanimously voted to create a tax exemption for most solar installations. [Concord Monitor]

¶ New York and Massachusetts have joined a growing number of states that are setting targets for energy storage as wind, solar and other renewable energy sources are supplying increasing amounts of power to their electric grids. It is not a new idea. The first large scale storage facility in the US was built in Connecticut in 1929. [Digital Journal]

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July 1 Energy News

July 1, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Global warming is a clear and present danger, and the people who deny it are putting us and future generations at risk. But these deniers are losing one argument after the other. Earlier this week, data showed how quickly the oceans are warming. Now, new data shows that the small discrepancies between satellite and ground data are actually not there. [IFLScience]

Earth from the ISS (Reid Wiseman | NASA image)

World:

¶ German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the most influential and respected leaders in the world, has issued a shot across the bow of Donald Trump’s nascent US leadership in advance of next week’s G20 summit next week, raising the specter of a public and contentious clash over several issues, including the stance on climate change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As part of the Mayor of London’s ongoing efforts to reduce the city’s growing air pollution problems, a new retrofit program has been announced that will result in around 5,000 buses being upgraded so as to meet the Euro VI emissions standard. The program is reportedly expected to cut the emissions of the buses by up to 95%. [CleanTechnica]

London buses (Photo: Chris Sampson, some rights reserved)

¶ China appointed a new environment minister, Li Ganjie. On his first day in that job, he told staff to take environmental protection to “a new level” and wage a “protracted battle” to clean up the nation’s notoriously polluted air, water and soil. He takes over the job from Chen Jining, who was appointed acting mayor of Beijing. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

¶ Philippine environment groups filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to stop the government from approving more coal-fired power plants that contribute to harmful air pollution in the country. The group took two government departments to task for allegedly neglecting their duty and respective mandates on fossil fuels. [Business Mirror]

Coal pollution (Business Mirror file photo)

US:

¶ A natural-gas-infrastructure project slated for southern New England came to a screeching halt June 29, when Houston-based Spectra Energy Partners announced that the controversial Access Northeast project is being suspended. The Algonquin natural-gas pipeline included a series of extensions between New York and Massachusetts. [ecoRI news]

¶ Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted a draft of its plan to modernize the power grids on the five Islands it serves to bring more renewable resources online. The plan shows how the gird modernization will help achieve a consolidated renewable portfolio standard of 48% by 2020. The state mandated RPS calls for 30% by 2020. [Pacific Business News]

Rooftop solar in Hawaii (Photo Risource Energy)

¶ The White House is planning on using military concepts to conduct an “at-length evaluation of US climate science.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is pushing an initiative that will use so-called “red team, blue team” tactics, developed within the military to try to find vulnerabilities in ideas for field operations, to discuss climate science. [The Independent]

¶  A landmark lawsuit by a group of children against the Trump administration over climate change is headed to trial. The plaintiffs include 21 children and young adults who originally sued in 2015, arguing that the federal government encourages use of fossil fuels despite knowing about the dangers of climate change. [Scientific American]

Protesting climate change (Credit: Bill Wechter | Getty Images)

¶ A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said premature deaths resulting from air pollution are occurring in areas where levels are within National Ambient Air Quality Standards. It said that even a modest reduction in PM2.5 pollution particles could prevent about 12,000 premature deaths annually. [Yale Environment 360]

¶ Lately, crude oil hasn’t looked like a great investment. The Keystone XL pipeline’s operator, TransCanada, is struggling to track down oil producers and refiners who want to invest in transporting crude oil from Canada to the United States. When it proposed the pipeline extension in 2008, a barrel of crude cost $130. Now it’s down to $45. [Grist]

Keystone XL site in Nebraska (Photo: Shannon Ramos)

¶ The science division of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy was unstaffed as of Friday as the three remaining employees departed this week, sources told CBS News. The departures from the division highlight the different commitment to scientific research under Presidents Obama and Trump. [CBS News]

¶ The Edmonds, Washington, City Council has approved a resolution establishing a goal for the city to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2025. According to the Sierra Club, Edmonds represents the first municipality in Washington state, and the 37th city in the US, to commit to 100% renewable energy. [North American Windpower]

Renewable energy

¶ The Public Utility Commission of Oregon has approved community solar rules that will help to enable all citizens in the state to directly participate in, and benefit from, local solar projects. The new rules will enable state citizens to benefit from state projects without having to install solar panels on their own roofs. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ The US government warned industrial firms this week about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors, the latest event to highlight the power industry’s vulnerability to cyber attacks. Since at least May, hackers used tainted “phishing” emails to “harvest credentials” so they could gain access to networks. [Al-Arabiya]

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