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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