August 22 Energy News

August 22, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Peak Oil Demand: Time To Get Agile Or Get Left Behind In The Race To Low-Carbon Fuels” • As low oil prices persist, global oil and gas companies are undertaking some serious self-examination. “Peak oil supply” concerns have been replaced by worries about “peak oil demand.” Anxiety is not about whether the peak will come, but when. [Forbes]

Oil exploration (Geoz, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ At a briefing on profit results, AGL’s Energy CEO made a point in its presentation that the most economic option to replace the 2000-MW Liddell coal-burning plant in New South Wales would not be coal or baseload gas, but a mix of energy from wind and solar, and various load shaping and firming capacity from other sources. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new floating solar farm went live in the Chinese city of Huainan above a retired coal mine, China Daily reported. The mine had been flooded with groundwater after it went out of service. The new solar farm generates 40 MW, which can power 15,000 homes for a year. The second biggest active floating farm has a capacity of 6.3 MW. [EcoWatch]

World’s biggest floating solar farm (Sungrow Power Supply)

¶ Electricity in Australia is some of the most expensive in the world. The cost of electricity from solar and wind is dropping so rapidly that renewables are pricing coal and natural gas out of the utility market and creating a pathway forward that will allow Australia to enjoy wide access to zero-emission power by the year 2033. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The first 7 months of 2017 has seen air quality in northern China continue to worsen at a rapid rate, going by newly released figures from the country’s environment ministry. The 13 largest cities in the northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region apparently saw PM2.5 levels climb 11.3% over this time period, going by the new figures. [CleanTechnica]

Air pollution in China

¶ At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, owner TEPCO opened valves to circulate coolant for the last remaining section of the 1.5-kilometer-long, 30-meter-deep wall around the four reactor buildings. The ice wall is designed to prevent groundwater from seeping through the facility carrying radioactive contaminants. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ Mining giant BHP Billiton will sell its US shale assets after pressure from shareholders to offload the underperforming business. The business was considered “non-core.” BHP’s entry into US shale came at the peak of the fracking boom in 2011. A slump in oil prices slugged the business and forced a $7.2 billion write-down last year. [BBC]

Petroleum extraction (BHP image)

¶ The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change. The advisory committee’s big work was coming up with the release of a congressionally mandated climate report. The advisory committee was to recommend actions based on it findings. [CNN]

¶ Advanced Rail Energy Storage, based in California, has a solution to the problem of energy storage. It is to run some old trains up and down a hill. When a wind or solar farm is producing excess energy, repurposed electric locomotives haul enormously heavy railroad cars to the top of a hill. When power is needed, they generate it coming down. [Seeker]

Energy storage train (ARES photo)

¶ Over the last several years, the Arizona Public Service Company, the largest power provider in the state, has tried thwarting rooftop solar by getting utility-friendly candidates elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state’s utility regulator. Now, APS is reportedly being investigated by the FBI over its political spending. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power approved an agreement with Doosan GridTech CA to build a 20-MW battery storage system. The lithium-ion battery system is sited north of Mojave, California, in a location that will enable it to mitigate the intermittency of 600 MW of solar power and 135 MW of wind power. [Utility Dive]

Downtown Los Angeles 

¶ There are only about a dozen countries on Earth that don’t recognize the right to a healthy environment. The US is one. Now, a small town in rural western Pennsylvania is asserting the legal right to clean air and water. In doing so, it’s challenging the foundation of US environmental law. Grant Township is a destination for fracking waste. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Monday’s partial eclipse statewide took a sharp, sudden bite out of solar power production in California. Shortly after 9 AM, the state’s fast-multiplying solar farms were plunged into semi-darkness, just when they would normally be revving up. And the electricity grid survived just fine. The slack was filled by hydro-power and natural gas. [SFGate]

Eclipse of 2017 (Photo: Douglas Zimmerman | SFGate)

¶ The Interior Department ordered a halt to a scientific study of the public health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining. West Virginia officials asked the Obama administration for the study. As part of the practice, mining companies dump the rubble into the surrounding valleys and streams, in many cases leading to extensive pollution. [New York Times]

¶ The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted for the $100 million solar farm to be built near the Alabama border in Lauderdale County, by Silicon Ranch of Nashville, Tennessee. Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Power, also got approval to buy electric power under a 25-year contract from the 52.5-MW solar project. [Digital Journal]

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