August 31 Energy News

August 31, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Harvey sparks debate over hurricanes, climate change” • The question, “Did climate change cause Harvey?” is not really the right one. A better way to frame thinking about the connection is through the question, “Does climate change make storms like Harvey more likely?” In several respects, the answer to this question is yes. [Houston Chronicle]

Flooded oil refinery (Photo: David J. Phillip, Associated Press)

World:

¶ Australian households and businesses are now generating enough electricity from solar panels on their roofs to power every home in Sydney. There are almost 2.8 million small-scale solar systems in Australia with a collective capacity of 6000 MW. It is a capacity the Clean Energy Regulator calls a remarkable milestone. [TheBull.com.au]

¶ While the disaster unfolding in Texas and Louisiana is of course worth keeping an eye on, it should be realized that there are disasters occurring elsewhere as well. More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in recent days as a result of the flooding accompanying the worst monsoon season in years, according to recent reports. [CleanTechnica]

Monsoon flooding

¶ Siemens and several project partners have successfully tested a microgrid system in Germany that may help connect distributed renewable energy to consumers. The project, in Wildpoldsried, in the Allgäu region, is aimed to technically and economically optimize a smart energy system with distributed power generation, the company said. [reNews]

¶ India has barred state authorities from unilaterally cancelling or modifying solar power purchase agreements after six state governments pushed developers to lower tariffs, threatening to derail projects worth $7.5 billion. The government will impose a minimum penalty of 50% of the tariff on arbitrarily scrapped PPAs. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Solar power plant

¶ Methane leaks around oil and gas well boreholes in the North Sea may be much more common than was previously thought, according to research from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel and the University of Basel. Researchers say gas leaks at boreholes could constitute one of the main sources of methane in the North Sea. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Australian states and territories are powering ahead on developing policies that will meet the federal government’s internationally agreed greenhouse gas emission targets, with South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania leading the race. They are doing this despite being chastised by the federal government for unilateral action. [The Guardian]

Australian windfarm (Photo: Tim Phillips Photos | Getty Images)

US:

¶ The largest oil refinery in the US is shutting down as Hurricane Harvey causes more catastrophic flooding. The Port Arthur refinery, which is on the Texas-Louisiana border, is closing in response to worsening local flood conditions. In all, at least 12 refineries, a significant part of the US refining capacity, are currently offline. [CNN]

¶ A chemical plant near the flooded city of Houston is expected to explode and catch fire in the coming days. Forty inches (102 cm) of rainfall in the area flooded the site, cutting off its power, and back-up generators were flooded. The plant lost its ability to refrigerate chemical compounds that need to be kept cool to prevent explosion. [BBC]

Helicopter rescuing people in Beaumont (Reuters image)

¶ The flooding in the Houston area caused by Hurricane Harvey is just the latest problem for the troubled National Flood Insurance Program. After a series of major storms caused floods in the last 12 years, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the Federally funded program is roughly $25 billion in debt. [CNN]

¶ Houston’s relaxed approach to development should not be blamed for Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, as critics are saying, but rather the unprecedented nature of a storm that dumped as much as 50 inches of rain on the city, say planning experts and engineers. Nevertheless, it is the third 500-year flood in Harris County in three years. [Washington Examiner]

Flood in Houston (AP Photo | David J. Phillip)

¶ The largest wastewater treatment agency in Rhode Island is on its way to getting all of its power from renewable sources after signing an agreement with a company building large solar farms in Coventry and Richmond. The Narragansett Bay Commission announced the deal with Green Development for 9.69 MW in two solar projects. [The Providence Journal]

¶ Cuttyhunk Island off Massachusetts is in its first summer with most of its electricity from PVs and battery backup. A microgrid system developed Solar Design Associates Inc has provided most the electricity for both Cuttyhunk residents and boats visiting its harbor. Cuttyhunk previously relied solely on diesel-powered generation. [Electric Light & Power]

The Market, Cuttyhunk (John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Engine and power firm, Cummins, has taken the wraps off its AEOS all-electric semi truck concept, beating Silicon Valley’s Tesla to the punch. Instead of a conventional 12-liter turbo-diesel engine, the standard Cummins AEOS uses a 140-kWh battery pack that gives it a range of around 100 miles (160 km) on a single charge. [CarAdvice]

¶ Southern Co and other utilities building the Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Georgia are prepared to finish the reactors but will lay out a set of assurances that must be met in a filing with state utility regulators, E&E News learned. The nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle are the only ones under construction in the US, at least for now. [E&E News]

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