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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