Archive for September, 2017

September 30 Energy News

September 30, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “A Call For Help For Puerto Rico” • Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, the island is entirely without grid power. It faces the prospect of remaining without grid power for months. It is appalling that citizens of the US are so exposed to hardship. But we could crowdfund microgrids in large numbers and get them up quickly. [CleanTechnica]

Old San Juan in better days (flickr image, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Trump’s Plan to Prop Up Coal and Nukes Would Drive Up Utility Bills” • Energy Secretary Rick Perry is urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue new rules to force regional electricity suppliers to pay premium prices for coal and nuclear power. This would drive up our monthly electricity bills. [Environmental Working Group]

Science and Technology:

¶ Researchers in Japan are working to create a strong material out of wood pulp that could replace steel parts in vehicles within a decade. Work is also charging ahead in the country to develop plastics that can withstand high temperatures, to replace metal for parts near the engine. These innovations are part of a wider industry push to make cars lighter. [BBC]

Replica Citroen 2CV crafted out of fruitwood (Getty Images)

World:

¶ European governments and the European Union itself are together handing out more than €112 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies, with almost all of it going towards the transport sector, according to a report published by the Overseas Development Institute and Climate Action Network that details all subsidies for the first time. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Siemens Gamesa is to supply 4.2 MW turbines to the 96.6-MW Sorfjord wind farm in the far north of Norway. A total of 23 SWT-DD-130 machines will feature at the project, which is being built by Fortum. The deal includes a five-year service package and hardware will include the so-called OptimaFlex optimisation kit. [reNews]

Siemens Gamesa turbines (Siemens Gamesa image)

¶ The European Commission has approved four schemes to support onshore wind and solar on buildings and on the ground in France under EU state aid rules. The schemes will allow France to develop over 7 GW in renewable energy. France has a target of producing 23% of its energy needs from renewable sources in 2020. [EU News]

¶ Thai BCPG Pcl, the renewables arm of oil and gas company Bangchak Corporation, said  that its energy generation capacity under commercial operation rose by 94% to 394 MW in the year to date. New capacity includes a 9-MW Thai solar farm, a 20-MW Philippine wind farm, and a 182-MW geothermal power plant in Indonesia. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind farm

¶ Nuclear power is emerging as a key policy issue ahead of Japan’s Lower House election, with Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike saying her new party will aim to phase it out. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party view nuclear power as a stable source of energy and want to restart more of Japan’s idled reactors. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ The diesel emissions cheating scandal in the US will cost Volkswagen an extra $3 billion because engines are proving “far more technically complex and time consuming” to adapt, the company said. The additional cost for fixing engines takes the total bill to $30 billion. VW is still struggling to put the two-year old crisis behind it. [BBC]

Cars VW repurchased because of the scandal (Photo: AFP/Getty)

¶ In a blatant money-grab for the coal industry, Rick Perry’s Energy Department is pushing for direct subsidies to dirty, un-economical coal-fired power plants. So much for “The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” So much for “Let market forces decide.” According to Rick Perry, dirty plants are needed as for “security.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new study commissioned by the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium concludes the largest city in the US has a near-term opportunity to clean up its electric grid by replacing older steam generation units with batteries. About 2,860 MW of older steam and combustion turbines, are nearing retirement age. [Utility Dive]

Battery system (Convergent image)

¶ Car and energy company Tesla, striving for a world in which renewables play a more prominent role, is eyeing an expansion into storm-ravaged islands of the Caribbean. Hurricanes Irma and Maria wrought destruction on electric grids in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. More resilient renewable grids could replace them. [Florida Today]

¶ Pattern Energy Group has reported “no material damage” to its wind farms in Texas or Puerto Rico as a result of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria. However, it expects production in the third quarter of 2017 to below the long-term average, because of the weather conditions. The hurricanes made it necessary to evacuate wind farm employees. [reNews]

Gulf wind farm (Pattern image)

¶ The 2,250-MW coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona is set to shut down in 2019 unless a new owner can be found. The deadline for interested buyers is Sunday. The utility and other owners voted this year to shutter the plant, but Peabody Energy, the owner of the coal mine that feeds the power plant is looking for buyers. [Gillette News Record]

¶ The US DOE said it has offered conditional loan guarantees worth $3.7 billion to help save efforts to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, bringing the total federal backing for the delayed and over-budget project to $12 billion. The guarantees will go to three of the four owners of the plan to add two 1,150-MW reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. [Platts]

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September 29 Energy News

September 29, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “4 Utilities Betting Billions on Renewable Energy” • Utilities will soon be facing more disruption than they have ever seen. Customers are switching to solar and storage. The wholesale power markets being disrupted by new technology. To adapt, utilities are spending billions to build or buy renewable energy power plants. [Motley Fool]

Solar panels at dusk (Photo: Getty Images)

¶ “Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do.” • Microgrids built around cheap renewable power and battery storage are now the fastest and cheapest way to restore power, and they build resilience. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is proposing small modular nuclear reactors, which might come in the mid 2020s. [RenewEconomy]

¶ “Smoke, mirrors and coal dust” • Something akin to a poor magic show is going on in Eurelectric with their latest attempt to show that handing over taxpayer money for decades to keep the European coal sector on its feet is in fact the best way to support the decarbonisation of European electricity, with no increase in emissions. [EURACTIV]

Ember (Shutterstock image)

Science and Technology:

¶ The National Weather Service reported on the heat wave in the Midwest and Northeast, calling it “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September” on record. It may have happened because the behavior of the jet stream was impacted by climate change, causing increasing numbers of long-lasting events. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Major countries – like China, India, France, the UK, and even the state of California – are talking about banning all cars with internal combustion engines. Now, Silicon Valley has spawned another startup, Impossible Foods, that wants to eliminate all animal-based food products by 2035. And its reasons to do so are much the same. [CleanTechnica]

Impossible foods

World:

¶ Around a third of all iron ore mining licenses in China are to be cancelled as part of a bid to reduce associated emissions, and thus to reduce levels of the country’s deadly air pollution, an official from China’s mining association has announced. Most of the cancellations relate to small, relatively heavily polluting mines. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Scotland’s renewable energy generation was 17% higher in the first half of 2017 than the same period last year and is on course for a record year for clean power, according to UK government figures. The data show that renewables delivered the equivalent of 54% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2016, the Scottish government said. [reNews]

The Harestanes wind farm in Scotland (Iberdrola image)

¶ Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, visiting South Australia for a space conference, owed to install a huge battery within 100 days of signing a grid connection agreement or give it to the state for free. South Australia’s Energy Minister said that construction at the site is already well underway, and the batteries are on track to be operational by December 1. [CNBC]

¶ A Domino’s Pizza franchise in the western Sydney suburb of Plumpton has laid claim to the world’s largest commercial Tesla Powerwall 2 battery storage system, after installing 10 of the US company’s 13.5-kWh units – and not to store rooftop solar power, but to get around the expense of fixing an existing network supply problem. [One Step Off The Grid]

Domino’s Pizza and Tesla batteries

¶ Contaminated water may have leaked from the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant since as early as April, the owner said. According to TEPCO, it is still unknown whether radiation-contaminated water actually leaked from damaged reactor buildings, because of a problem with monitoring equipment. [Japan Today]

¶ Coal is on the way out years ahead of schedule in China and India. A report by CoalSwarm (an Earth Island Project), Sierra Club, and Greenpeace showed that, in 2016, that Asia’s two fastest growing economies are closing mines, scrapping coal plant plans, and building renewables far faster than nearly anyone had expected. [Earth Island Journal]

Coal barge in Indonesia (Photo: Andrew Taylor | WDM)

US:

¶ New York-based Consolidated Edison continues to expand its use of clean energy. It plans to invest $1.25 billion in renewable energy sources over the next three years. The company, which provides energy for New York City and areas of the states of New York and New Jersey, has invested $3 billion in renewable energy in recent years. [Daily Energy Insider]

¶ New Jersey can have renewable energy produce a third of its electricity by 2030 while keeping energy costs stable, a report commissioned by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation said. By aggressively increasing renewable energy and efforts to reduce energy use, the state can cut carbon dioxide emissions from its power sector in half. [NJ Spotlight]

Maintenance vessel (Photo: Arnold Price, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Tampa Electric Co is making a major commitment to solar energy, pledging to build 600 MW of solar energy capacity, enough to power 100,000 homes, by 2021. Other major Florida utilities are also pushing for solar. Duke Energy Florida is adding 700 MW in four years, and Florida Power & Light is adding 2,100 megawatts by 2023. [TBO.com]

¶ The planned closure of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan will be delayed until spring of 2022, Entergy Corp said. This came after the Michigan Public Service Commission said that Consumers Energy could opt out of buying power from the plant but couldn’t recover all of the $172 million requested as part of the deal. [The Detroit News]

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September 28 Energy News

September 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The most effective clean energy policy gets the least love” • Though they aren’t as sexy as perpetually-discussed-but-rarely-passed carbon taxes, and they are flawed and insufficient in a number of ways, renewable portfolio standards have been the quiet workhorses of renewable energy deployment in the United States. [Vox]

Renewable energy (Shutterstock image)

¶ “US Courts Taking Climate Change Seriously” • Hallelujah! The judicial branch of the federal government is finally getting serious about climate science. No longer can the executive branch and the legislative branches cave in to pressure to avoid the inconvenient truth that climate change adaptations will be hugely expensive. [Hartford Courant]

World:

¶ Major European carrier EasyJet announced that it is teaming up with US startup Wright Electric to build an all-electric airliner. The aircraft they have in mind would handle short routes of 335 miles or less – think New York to Boston or London to Paris. EasyJet said the new aircraft would cover 20% of its passenger journeys. [CNN]

Rendering of an all-electric airliner

¶ The first utility-scale solar power facility in Egypt will be built by General Electric Power Conversion. The GE subsidiary will provide both equipment, including 1,500-volt inverters, and the financing. The 50-MW solar project will generate enough power for up to 15,000 homes. Egypt has developed a new government-sponsored feed-in tariff policy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ New South Wales is getting a fifth of the its electric power from renewable sources. The latest figures obtained by the ABC show that the state’s electricity mix includes 19.6% from hydro, solar, wind, bioenergy, and small hydro. Coal-fired power generation now accounts for 75.8% of the state’s electricity, with natural gas providing 4.6%. [ABC Online]

Solar panels in New South Wales (Repositpower image)

¶ An executive of one the top mining firms in the world, BHP, was quoted as saying that 2017 represented the “tipping point” for electric vehicle adoption. He said the first impacts of the expected mainstream embrace of electric vehicles would be observed in the metals market, with impacts to the oil market only being observed much later. [CleanTechnica]

¶ France plans to increase carbon taxes to boost support for renewable energy, the government said, and it will repay a longstanding renewables-related debt to utility EDF. The 2018 draft budget sets higher carbon taxes on fossil fuel, part of a tax on transport and heating fuels paid by all consumers, with exemptions for corporations. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Windpower

¶ France has launched what it is calling its “Great Investment Plan 2018-22.” The €57 billion plan will include €20 billion for its energy transition plan, which has three components: €9 billion for energy efficiency measures, €7 billion for renewable power sources, and €4 billion to expedite the switch to electric vehicles. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the US economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a report found. This does not include the recent three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in Western states, which are estimated to cost over $300 billion. [National Geographic]

Hurricane debris (Luke Sharrett, Bloomberg, via Getty Images)

¶ California may join the growing list of places where vehicles powered by internal combustion engines will soon no longer be welcome. China is an important model for the idea, as it has the largest new car market in the world. But France, the UK, and India are also banning cars powered by internal combustion engines. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Regulators in the state of Washington have denied a permit to Millennium Bulk Terminals for a coal export facility located on the Columbia River in the town of Longview, about two and a half hours north of Portland, Oregon. The decision was based on an environmental impact study by the Washington Department of Ecology. [CleanTechnica]

Coal train (Source: Think Progress)

¶ MidAmerican Energy Co is upgrading hundreds of wind turbines in Iowa. GE is retrofitting older wind turbines with newer, more efficient components, such as longer blades. The upgrades move MidAmerican Energy closer to its vision of providing renewable energy equal to 100% of its customers’ annual energy use. [North American Windpower]

¶ Philadelphia officials unveiled a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, reduce energy use from the built environment and use 100% renewable energy for city properties by 2030. The goals are part of the new Municipal Energy Master Plan which aims to help the city meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. [StateImpact Pennsylvania]

Installing a solar system (Photo: Emma Lee | WHYY)

¶ Thermal power plants, including all those that have coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactors heating water in boilers, require cooling, often from water. Research published in Nature Scientific Reports found that by the 2030s, about 27% of the US power production will be severely impacted by droughts and warmer, scarcer water. [Tech Xplore]

¶ Westinghouse Electric has asked a New York bankruptcy court to stop Georgia Power from terminating Westinghouse’s contract to continue construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power has said Westinghouse’s bankruptcy filing showed it had abandoned the Vogtle project, voiding its contract. [POWER magazine]

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September 27 Energy News

September 27, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ In the first evaluation of evaporation as a renewable energy source, researchers at Columbia University find that US lakes and reservoirs could generate 325 GW of power, nearly 70% of what the US currently produces. The researchers’ calculations are outlined in the September issue of the journal Nature Communications. [Eurasia Review]

Reservoir in Arizona (Photo: Central Arizona Project)

World:

¶ Research from Lappeenranta University of Technology, in Finland, concluded that developing countries with abundant renewable energy resources are in a position to bypass reliance on fossil fuels to increase living standards. India can transition to a fully 100% renewable energy system by 2050 while improving quality of life. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Record hurricanes and rains have struck throughout the world, bringing chaos to many places. There are many indications that more storms and persistent rainfall events are coming with climate change. But more accurate data, supercomputer modelling, and machine learning are giving us a clearer picture of which areas are likely to be most affected. [BBC]

Launch of a Japanese weather satellite (Getty Images)

¶ Siemens Gamesa is to develop a 78.8-MW wind-solar hybrid project in the Indian state of Karnataka. The company will provide a turnkey solution to connect a 28.8-MW solar project to an existing 50-MW wind farm. The project, which will be the first large-scale solar-wind hybrid scheme in India, is scheduled to be running by the end of 2017. [reNews]

¶ The star of The Thick Of It and Doctor Who said offshore wind “may just save the planet” as he helped unveil a campaign advertising the fall of offshore wind prices. Central London’s Westminster Tube station has been taken over with posters for the campaign, as companies and environmental groups joined in support of offshore wind power. [Energy Voice]

Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who (Photo: Simon Ridgway, ©BBC)

¶ British renewable energy developer Anesco has officially unveiled the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm. Located in the southern English county of Bedfordshire, the 10-MW Clayhill solar farm is the UK’s first ground-mounted installation to operate without any form of government support. Notably, it has a 6-MW battery unit onsite. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Ormat Technologies, Inc announced that its 35-MW Platanares geothermal project in Honduras is in commercial operation. The Platanares project will be selling its power under a 30-year power purchase agreement with the national utility of Honduras, ENEE. Its annual revenue is expected to be approximately $33 million. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Ormat geothermal plant in New Zealand (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ AGL has stuck to its decision to close the Liddell coal-fired power station, despite government pressure. Speaking at its annual general meeting, chairman Jerry Maycock and chief executive Andy Vesey outlined the company’s rapid turnaround in finance and ongoing commitment to the closing the Liddell plant. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Wales set a target to get 70% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The goal includes plans for 1 GW of renewable energy capacity in Wales to be locally-owned by 2030 and that by 2020 new renewables projects will have “at least an element of local ownership.” Wales got 32% of its electricity from clean power sources last year. [reNews]

Pen Y Cymoedd wind farm (Vattenfall image)

US:

¶ New York has received over 200 large-scale renewable energy proposals totaling 13 GW in response to two requests for proposals to help meet its goal of getting 50% of the state’s electricity demands from clean power sources by 2030. The state expects to invest up to $1.5 billion in new clean energy projects through the two RFPs. [reNews]

¶ Georgia has leapt into the PV gigawatt club, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Georgia now has 1,500 MW installed. More is expected, because Georgia Power has enacted its Commercial and Industrial Renewable Energy Development Initiative, which calls for 1,200 MW of renewable energy systems to be installed by 2021. [pv magazine USA]

Solar system in Atlanta

¶ Ameren Missouri’s 20-year Integrated Resource Plan calls for significant cuts to the utility’s coal-fired generation, increased investment in renewables, and grid modernization that will allow the electric system to be used in new ways. Ameren Missouri is among the few utilities with an IRP that includes dramatic carbon reduction goals. [Utility Dive]

¶ Xcel Energy has plans to add more wind power in its Texas-New Mexico service area. They would boost wind to about 40% of the region’s electricity supply by 2021 and begin reducing fuel costs on customer bills. Other companies across the nation are following Xcel Energy’s lead because of the falling capital costs of renewables. [EverythingLubbock.com]

Wind turbines in Texas (Photo: Leaflet, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ According to the Greenfield, Massachusetts, mayor’s office, residents and businesses enrolled in the Greenfield Light and Power program have saved a total of $208,000 in the first half of 2017, and municipal electricity accounts have saved $35,000. It is noteworthy that the savings all come while customers are using 100% “green” electricity. [Recorder]

¶ The South Carolina attorney general’s office declared  that a 2007 state law that allowed utility giant SCANA to hike electricity customers’ rates to pay for a bungled $14 billion, now-defunct nuclear power project is “constitutionally suspect.” He said Power company ratepayers have “paid billions of dollars and got absolutely nothing.” [The State]

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September 26 Energy News

September 26, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Wholesale market crisis” • Sustained low wholesale power prices are driving coal, nuclear and even gas plant retirements, pushing independent power producers into the red, and spurring reforms of wholesale market structures. But even PV is not immune to these trends. pv magazine looks at the implications for the solar industry. [pv magazine USA]

Natural gas and electric power

¶ “How Renewable Energy Can Accelerate the Microgrid Revolution” • Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas the US Energy Department has been flooding the media with news about its work on grid resiliency. Much of the message is about the importance of the microgrids that integrate distributed renewable energy resources. [Triple Pundit]

World:

¶ BYD, an auto and battery manufacturer based in China, is expecting that China’s shift to “new energy vehicles” – battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, etc – will be completed by the year 2030, according to recent reports. It will take slightly more than a decade to end reliance on internal combustion engines. [CleanTechnica]

BYD electric car

¶ A new major report from The Australia Institute’s newly-formed Climate & Energy Program concluded that Australia needs between 66% and 75% renewable energy by 2030 to meet its Paris Climate Agreement commitments. Otherwise, it will face delaying a necessary transition and increasing the eventual cost to the national economy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Only around 10% of the UK’s original offshore recoverable oil and gas reserves remain, according to a new study from the University of Edinburgh. At current rates of extraction, the UK’s reserves will last another decade or so. Once they run out, it will be necessary for the UK to import essentially all of the fossil fuels it uses. [CleanTechnica]

North Sea oil rig

¶ Enel’s subsidiary Enel Green Power Brasil Participações has begun operation of a total of 546 MW of solar capacity in Brazil. Ituverava, with a capacity of 254 MW, is located in Bahia, and Nova Olinda, with 292 MW capacity, is in Piauí state. They are expected to produce over 1,150 GWh per year once they are fully operational. [pv magazine International]

¶ Algerian renewable energy project developer Soliwind announced that it has started construction of a 1.39-MW rooftop PV system at Oran’s new airport. The system will be located on the airport’s roof and will use 5,362 solar modules. The company expects that the installation cover about 30% of the facility’s power needs. [pv magazine International]

Rooftop PV project at Oran’s new airport (Image: Soliwind)

¶ Europe’s wind power industry may attract €351 billion ($417 billion) of investment by 2030 if countries adopt reforms and targets for their energy systems in the next year, according to trade association WindEurope. The EU may create 716,000 jobs with a target for member states to produce 35% of their energy from renewables within 12 years. [Bloomberg]

¶ More than half of the UK’s electricity came from low carbon sources this summer, according to the National Grid. This makes it the “greenest” summer on record. Between late June and September, 52% percent of the UK’s electricity generation was met by low carbon sources, compared with about 35% four years ago. [BBC News]

Solar system in the UK (Getty Images)

¶ Popular Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike has announced a new national party, Kibo no To, or “Party of Hope.” Later, she met with former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and the two discussed such issues as using an exit from nuclear power to promote renewable energy. Gov Koike said Koizumi offered words of encouragement. [Nikkei Asian Review]

US:

¶ Using a state policy called community choice aggregation, small and mid-sized communities can take greater control over their energy futures by choosing their electricity suppliers or generating their own power. It is an especially compelling prospect in New York, as it dovetails with a wider effort to reorient state energy policy. [CleanTechnica]

White Plains (Photo: Steve Carrea, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled that the country’s Bureau of Land Management must reassess its analysis of the climate impacts of expanding two huge coal mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. It found that the existing analysis, which led to approval for expansion, was “glaringly insufficient.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Ameren Missouri has unveiled plans to add at least 700 MW of new wind power by 2020 and 100 MW of solar over the next 10 years, with the projects to be in Missouri and neighboring states. The new capacity will require an investment of about $1 billion. The company also said that the turbines will be manufactured in the US. [reNews]

Wind turbine in the Midwest (Pixabay image)

¶ The US nuclear power industry could be out of business by the middle of the century. The entire existing fleet of reactors may disappear by 2055 when the last operating license expires, S&P Global Ratings said in a report. That’s assuming there will be no license extensions. Half of the country’s 99 nuclear units may be retired in 17 years. [Bloomberg]

¶ A lawsuit alleges that SCANA violated a federal racketeering statute when it charged customers for the cost of an abandoned nuclear project. The federal lawsuit says SCANA and Santee Cooper knew the nuclear project was running off the tracks, but it continued to provide an optimistic view even as customers were billed for the work. [The State]

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September 25 Energy News

September 25, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Tony Abbott’s ignorance and the Coalition’s war on renewables” • Tony Abbot claimed that Australia needs “reliable baseload power” from coal or gas to keep steel plants and other heavy industries running. The next day, billionaire businessman Sanjeev Gupta announced a plan to cut costs by running a steel plant on renewables. [Independent Australia]

Wind farm in Victoria (Photo: Mattinbgn, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ Physicists at Washington State University announced their creation of a device that converts car exhaust into renewable energy. Thermoelectrics uses converted heat to generate alternative forms of energy. The device turns heat into electricity three times more efficiently than silicon. The heat can be stored to produce current. [Interesting Engineering]

¶ Thirty years ago this month the US and other industrialized countries signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Our global climate would be at least 25% hotter today without the Protocol, a co-author of two studies said. The same chemicals that destroy the ozone are power greenhouse gases. [National Geographic]

Out in the sun (Getty Images)

World:

¶ The Indian state of Karnataka may have major power shortages in the coming days, as the state’s thermal power plants are on the verge of a crisis. Officials say power plants are facing a critical drop in coal supply, with sufficient stocks available for just one day. Karnataka’s coal mines have been depleted, so all the coal it uses is imported. [The News Minute]

¶ ScottishPower Renewables has installed 2 GW of wind power in the UK, following a £650 million ($880 million) investment program to build eight new onshore projects. The company called on politicians and regulators to support increasing Scottish onshore windpower to meet carbon reduction goals and support anticipated demand increases. [reNews]

Scottish windpower (Image: ScottishPower Renewables)

¶ Origin Energy, one of Australia’s largest utility providers, has teamed with blockchain startup Power Ledger to trial a blockchain-based energy sharing platform. Power Ledger is a peer-to-peer marketplace for renewable energy. It provides transparent, audit-able, and automated trading of energy directly from producer to consumer. [BlockTribune]

¶ Residential renewable power generation and storage will become profitable even for households in cloudy UK cities like London by 2030. This could cause a major disruption to the UK utilities sector, report researchers from the Center for Climate Finance & Investment at Imperial College Business School, in a new study. [Imperial College London]

Urban solar array

¶ Almost 4500 sites in Victoria, including many in Gippsland’s mountainous regions, have been identified as potential pumped hydro storage locations that could provide the country with as much as 100% renewable energy in as little as 20 years. They offer much more than the capacity required for a zero-emissions grid. [Gippsland Times]

¶ Countries with large quantities of waste from forestry, manure, or straw from farms are looking for economic ways to turn them into forms of renewable energy. Most of these so-called wastes can be burned directly as an alternative to fossil fuels in power stations or for district heating, but increasingly they are being turned into biogas. [eco-business.com]

Swedish farm field (Image: Olof Senestam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

¶ Excess wind and solar electricity generated at times of oversupply could be regularly used to produce synthetic gas, providing a convenient way of storing renewable energy that would otherwise be lost. The potential is huge, and it could provide 76% of gas demand by 2050, according to the Secretary General of the trade association Eurogas. [EURACTIV]

¶ Israel’s supply of natural gas has been halted after a crack was discovered in the single pipeline linking the Tamar field to Israeli users. The fault in a pipe at a processing platform forced the Tamar partners to stop supplies of natural gas, which is used to generate more than half of Israel’s electric power, until repairs are completed this week. [Haaretz]

Tamar natural gas rig (Credit: AP)

US:

¶ The University of Hawaii Maui College is on track to reach a goal of 100% renewable portfolio standard for the electricity by 2020 at the latest. Thanks to a tremendous effort, both on campus and in the community, it is actually aiming to reach that goal in 2018. Doing so, it may be the first college campus in the US to reach net zero. [Maui News]

¶ When Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast in 2012, Princeton University was kept going by a microgrid. The resilience afforded by microgrids has captured attention even in areas shielded from hurricanes, such as Illinois, where the St. Louis-based utility, Ameren, is testing applications of the technology. [STLtoday.com]

Ameren microgrid in Champaign, Illinois (Ameren photo)

¶ Employees of US nuclear power firm Westinghouse Electric Co LLC, which is bankrupt due to a failed reactor project, got a nasty surprise recently. The US government’s pension insurer said its retirement plan has a massive shortfall. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp estimated the pension plan is unfunded by $937 million. [Nasdaq]

¶ The Kansas City Board of Public Utilities in Wyandotte County has built a one megawatt solar farm. Power from the 3,780 solar panels will go into the existing grid. The utility will dedicate the new solar farm on Tuesday. The BPU said it already generates about 45% of its power from renewable sources like wind and water. [KSHB]

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September 24 Energy News

September 24, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Wind, other renewable energy sources are the answer to climate change” • America’s wind energy industry feels the pain inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. Wind companies have pledged $1 million to Habitat for Humanity to help Texas communities recover from the disaster. But wind power helps in other ways that are important. [Houston Chronicle]

West Texas wind farm (Photo: Spencer Platt | Getty Images)

¶ “They Voted For Trump. Obama’s Solar Panels Saved Them From Irma’s Wrath.” • Hurricane Irma knocked out the power while residents Titusville, Florida, sheltered in the Apollo Elementary School. But Classroom 408 had electricity, thanks to an economic stimulus program set in motion by President Barack Obama. [Daily Beast]

Science and Technology:

¶ The world’s periglacial zones, home to nearly all of the world’s permafrost, will “almost completely disappear” by the year 2100 even in the most optimistic of scenarios about greenhouse gas emissions reductions, a study says. As all that permafrost melts, vast quantities of methane and carbon dioxide will be released. [CleanTechnica]

Drunken forest, as underlying permafrost melts
(Jon Ranson, NASA Science blog, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ More than 800 biomass projects have won approval of the Japanese government, offering 12.4 GW of capacity. This is equal to about 12 nuclear power stations. The sheer number of projects has raised questions about how they will all find sufficient fuel, and some experts question the environmental value of such large-scale plants. [Japan Today]

¶ Tapping solar energy, Bangladesh has been able to provide access to electricity to over 12% of her population outside the grid network. Over 4.5 million solar home systems have been installed. But with net metering, all of the on-grid users could install solar PVs on their rooftops to provide electricity to the power grid. [The Daily Star]

Irrigation with PVs (Photo: Infrastructure Development Company)

¶ With a national energy system that chiefly runs on fossil fuels, Iran finally looks set to unlock some of its tremendous potential in clean energy through foreign investment. However, one official believes that domestic bottlenecks could slow down the country’s push for green energy. He says renewables need to be prioritized. [Financial Tribune]

¶ Japanese researchers are looking into a new technology to turn the power of ocean waves into energy and the energy. The blades of turbines are made of a soft material and rotate when the waves hit them. The initial phase of the project has proven successful and researchers are now preparing to install turbines for the first commercial experiment. [I4U News]

Wave power (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology)

¶ India is third in the world in the number of nuclear reactors being installed, at six, while China is leading at 20, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 shows. The number of nuclear reactor units under construction is, however, declining globally for the fourth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 53 by mid-2017. [The Hindu]

¶ The Japanese government plans to submit a law to the ordinary session of the 2018 Diet, in an effort to facilitate offshore power generation by setting out wind turbine installation standards. Japan is an island nation, and some experts estimate that offshore wind turbines can generate five times as much electricity as land-based ones. [Nikkei Asian Review]

Japanese offshore wind power generation facility test (Photo: New
Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization)

¶ Bahrain is making plans to build a 100-MW solar power plant as part of its renewable energy agenda. The solar plant will be developed in conjunction with the private sector. The plant is expected to be ready to start power production by the end of 2018, according to Bahrain’s minister of electricity and water affairs. [Utilities-ME.com]

US:

¶ Two years ago, 85% of the electricity in Aztec, California, came from fossil fuels. Now, hydropower supplies 37% of its electricity and 6% comes from a solar farm. Last month, officials from Guzman Energy, which sells power to the city, told the City Commission that Aztec could get 40% of its power from wind in the near future. [Farmington Daily Times]

Solar farm for Aztec, New Mexico (Daily Times file photo)

¶ The US solar industry installed 2,387 MW of solar facilities for the quarter, a record increase of 8% over the year-earlier quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Mississippi ranked ninth in the country in solar power growth in the second quarter by adding 92.9 MW, thanks largely to utility projects. [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal]

¶ Southern California Edison is collaborating with Tesla at a battery storage facility in Ontario, California. The batteries can store enough energy to power 15,000 homes for four hours. SCE provides electricity to over 14 million people in a 50,000 square mile area across California, and sees potential for batteries to support renewable power. [CNBC]

California wind farm (Carol M. Highsmith, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The clean energy revolution continues and solar is leading the charge. In a recently published report, the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories has documented that the cost of utility-scale solar, generated from large plants has decreased by 30% within the past year. Utility-scale solar power is a potential game-changer. [Gears Of Biz]

¶ Bills in the Ohio legislature that would subsidize the state’s two nuclear power plants have stalled, but similar energy credits approved in Illinois and New York have won their first round of legal battles. FirstEnergy has been lobbying for a Zero Emission Nuclear Resource Program or “ZEN” for its nuclear power plants. [News-Herald.com]

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September 23 Energy News

September 23, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “US Solar Industry Could Be Devastated By Today’s Tariffs Ruling – May Lead To Crushing Tariffs” • The US International Trade Commission granted a petition for relief from cheaper imported solar panels by two bankrupt US manufacturers. But the remedy will likely mean tariffs that are job-crushing for solar installers. [CleanTechnica]

Solar array

¶ “Are Hurricanes Winds of Change for Insurers’ Climate Risk?” • The insurance industry faces a long-term challenge as climate change makes natural disasters more severe. The Trump administration’s push to ax some of the tools insurers need to prepare for disasters could force companies to take a more public position on climate change. [Bloomberg BNA]

¶ “Taking back full control of your home energy needs” • Eaton, a maker of power management solutions, recently partnered with Manchester City Football Club on a research project. They found that 10% of football fans have had power cuts during a major match. Energy storage can prevent fix that as it enables renewable technology. [Information Age]

Manchester City FC (Werner100359, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “What’s next for offshore wind in the US?” • US offshore wind farms could potentially generate more than 2,000,000 MW, about twice as much as Americans currently consume. But so far, only the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island is operating. What’s holding us back, and why is there reason to hope for a better future? [Phys.org]

Science and Technology:

¶ Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of decline in kidney function and kidney disease, study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology says. It found that effects of particulate matter exposure on the kidneys are seen starting at fairly low levels, and rise linearly with exposure to rising levels of particulate air pollution. [CleanTechnica]

Air pollution

¶ A professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, has developed a solution for about half the plastic waste that goes to American landfills. After 10 years of research, he says he has found a biodegradable material that can be used in place of the plastic used to wrap and preserve food. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ MPI Offshore jack-up vessel MPI Enterprise has completed installation of 54 Senvion 6.2M-126 turbines at the 332-MW Nordsee 1 offshore wind farm in the German North Sea. Turbine installation had kicked off in early March. All 54 monopile foundations and all of the offshore substation and infield cables were installed last year. [reNews]

Nordsee 1 wind farm (Image: Nordsee 1 GmbH)

¶ According to a new report from independent analyst firm Verdantix, on-site energy generation could help UK businesses save around £33 billion and significantly cut their carbon emissions in the process. It can also give business greater control over their electricity costs, as it acts as an effective hedge against unpredictable power prices. [Telegraph.co.uk]

¶ In the wake of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, Japanese communities have quietly built systems that help them function without grid electricity, rather than relying on large power stations. Japan’s National Resilience Program offers ¥3.72 trillion ($33.32 billion) each fiscal year to rebuild and increase local resilience. [My Modern Met]

Scene in Japan

US:

¶ Novato, California, has pledged to help its residents and businesses transition to 100% clean energy by 2050. The city opted to join “Mayors for 100 Percent Clean Energy,” an initiative of the Sierra Club. The enterprise calls on mayors across the nation to support wind, solar and other clean energy approaches. [Marin Independent Journal]

¶ Arizona’s rural electric cooperatives have dedicated a new, 20-MW solar farm near the Apache Generating Station in Cochise County. Initial interest among member co-ops was higher than expected, and the project grew from a proposed maximum size of 14 MW to 20 MW by February, before site clearing work began in March. [Arizona Daily Star]

Apache Solar Project (Arizona G&T Cooperatives photo)

¶ New York City hopes to use innovative technology to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2050 by installing 100 MWh of energy storage. This may also allow the city’s consumers to avoid buying dirtier power – something that could save electricity customers there millions each year, according to a new study. [Forbes]

¶ Imports of solar panels have harmed US manufacturers, the US International Trade Commission ruled. The decision was a win for the two US-based producers who said their business had been hurt by a flood of foreign products, but US firms that install and assemble panels worry that more expensive products could slow the industry’s growth. [BBC]

Installing solar panels (Getty Images)

¶ Public Service Co of New Mexico submitted its 2018 renewable energy plan to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. It calls for 50 MW more of solar energy, and increased use of current wind and geothermal resources. The state has a goal of getting 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. [Albuquerque Journal]

¶ According to experts who spoke at the Texas Renewable Energy Summit in Austin, power surpluses are driving electricity prices in Texas so low that most of the state’s coal-fired power plants are losing money, nuclear power is struggling, and new wind farms may be hard to finance when tax credits expire in 2020. [Houston Chronicle]

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September 22 Energy News

September 22, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Anthropogenic climate warming could lead to temperatures of the water in some parts of the world exceeding the survival limits of their fish species, according to research from the University of Washington. Water temperatures in the tropical parts of the oceans are already nearing the upper temperature range for many fish living there. [CleanTechnica]

Fish at a coral reef

World:

¶ Conservative Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Piñera, who leads in the polls for upcoming elections, pledged to move the country toward a fully renewable electricity grid by 2040. Piñera, who was Chile’s president from 2010 to 2014, would seek to build on investments his country has made in wind and solar energy. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

¶ Defying the policy uncertainty that has held back utility-scale solar across most of the rest of Australia, renewables investment is gathering pace in Queensland, a region known as coal country. At a Townsville new-energy conference last week, attendees learned of 31 renewable projects under development in the state. [Corporate Knights Magazine]

Windy Hill wind farm in Queensland (Photo: Magnus Manske)

¶ Victoria is one step closer to having its renewable energy target of 40% by 2025 written into law, after the Andrews government’s Renewable Energy Jobs and Investment Bill 2017 passed the lower house, despite a lack of backing of the state opposition. If passed, it will lock in the state in to successive targets of 25% by 2020, and 40% by 2025. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has secured a contract from Parque Eólico Arauco SAPEM to deliver 28 turbines for Phase III and IV of the Arauco wind complex. The project will generate a total of 97 MW through the G132-3.465MW turbines. The project is already being developed, and delivery is scheduled to be completed by Q2, 2018. [Power Technology]

Cloud over a windfarm (Photo: Richard Walker | Flickr)

¶ A district court ordered TEPCO to pay ¥376 million ($3.3 million) in compensation to evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster but absolved the central government of responsibility. Forty-five people in 18 households who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the Fukushima Disaster sought a total of about ¥2.8 billion. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ The cities of San Francisco and Oakland have filed separate lawsuits against five of the largest oil companies in the world, public documents show. They are suing Chevron Corp, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Royal Dutch Shell, for the roles played by those companies in anthropogenic climate warming and rising sea levels. [CleanTechnica]

San Francisco (Photo: Cicerone, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Georgetown University partnered with Origis Energy USA to build a solar power system to provide nearly 50% of the campus’s electricity by the 2019-20 academic year. Origis will install 105,000 solar panels on a 518-acre property in Maryland. The panels are expected to produce 75,000 MWh of power each year. [Georgetown University The Hoya]

¶ The Natural Resources Defense Council released an ambitious blueprint to dramatically increase energy efficiency, cut greenhouse gas pollution 80% from 1990 levels, raise wind and solar power generation to 70%, and usher in a clean energy future for the United States by 2050 – and it delivers benefits seven times the cost. [Windpower Engineering]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ The Virginia Citizens Consumer Council called on Dominion Energy to abandon its stalled plans to build a new nuclear reactor at its North Anna Power Station, the latest in a long-running campaign to convince the utility to shelve the expensive project for good. The group’s president called the reactor a “$19 billion or more white elephant.” [Roanoke Times]

¶ Next year, the electric utility in Banning, California, will get 77% of its power from renewable energy sources. Nuclear and hydro facilities, neither of which is counted as renewable in the state, will provide 15% of the power. Only 8% of the Banning Electric Utility’s electricity will come from grid sources that may include natural gas. [The Record Gazette]

Hoover Dam (Courtesy of the city of Banning)

¶ Facebook switched all electric accounts at its Menlo Park headquarters to Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 option, making Facebook the largest participant in Peninsula Clean Energy’s 100% renewable energy option. PCE is San Mateo County’s electric supplier, formed as a Joint Powers Authority of all 20 cities in the county. [InMenlo]

¶ Hurricane Maria has dealt a new blow to Puerto Rico’s bankrupt electric company – causing widespread power outages and imposing costly repairs on a utility that was already struggling with more than $9 billion in debt, poor service and sky-high rates. Puerto Rico’s electric rates are already more than twice the national average. [Chicago Tribune]

San Juan after Hurricane Maria (Alex Wroblewski | Getty Images)

¶ After President Trump’s policy reversals on clean energy and the environment, individual states have stepped up their focus on policies aimed at boosting carbon-free energy. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, states have enacted 59 key energy-related policies through August 2017, with a clear trend toward clean energy. [Utility Dive]

¶ Federal authorities have subpoenaed documents from both companies that abandoned the VC Summer nuclear power construction project in South Carolina, the utilities confirmed, signaling the first concrete evidence of a federal probe into the failure. Both companies said they were cooperating fully with investigators. [Electric Light & Power]

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September 21 Energy News

September 21, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Climate Devastation In Sequoia National Park” • Surveying the desiccated forest with tourists from all over the world, I felt as though we were among the last people able to enjoy the sequoia as a forest. The desertification of this area seems to be progressing rapidly. The trees might be able to adapt, but many have died already. [CleanTechnica]

Devastation among the sequoia

¶ “Epic – Wind Turbines On Steroids, + Idiotic Clean Energy Forecasts (Charts)” • Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit just wrapped up in London. In his keynote presentation, Michael Liebreich stimulated many thoughts about renewable energy, and about far it has exceeded many industry forecasts. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Following in the wake of initiatives such as RE100 and EP100, ten big-name businesses launched EV100 to fast-track the uptake of electric vehicles and accompanying infrastructure. Members of EV100 commit to transitioning from diesel and petrol vehicles to electric vehicles, and installing battery charging infrastructure, by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

Electric car fleet (Image via ecartestdrives)

¶ Reports from Nicaragua say that President Daniel Ortega has confirmed his country will finally sign the Paris Climate Agreement. This means the US and Syria would be the only two countries in the world that are not active parties to it. The Nicaraguan position had been that the Paris Climate Agreement it did not go far enough. [CleanTechnica]

¶ France is set to become Europe’s second biggest generator of electricity from wind power by 2030, overtaking the UK and Spain and only behind Germany, thanks to policies being put in place by its government, industry association WindEurope’s chief executive said. He rates the French outlook for wind power projects as the best in Europe. [Reuters]

Wind turbines near Marseille (Reuters | Jean-Paul Pelissier)

¶ A survey conducted by the European Commission in March found that 92% of European Union citizens consider climate change a serious problem, with 74% calling it “very serious.” An impressive 89% of Europeans believe that it is important for their own national government to set targets to increase renewable energy use by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In April 2016, Pakistan signed a $20 billion deal for liquefied natural gas from Qatar, 2.75 metric tons per year for 15 years. The price is 13.3% of the prevailing price of the a barrel of Brent Oil, used as a benchmark. Today the going spot price for LNG is around 25% less than the contract rate. At that rate, Pakistan is losing over $1 million per day. [Newsline]

LNG carrier

¶ India can surpass its target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, the New and Renewable Energy Secretary Anand Kumar said. Though India will use offshore wind energy and large hydro-electric projects, Kumar cited lower prices of solar and wind power, as he said he expected India to exceed the target. [The Hans India]

¶ The £173 million Snetterton Renewable Energy Plant, situated in Norfolk, officially opened last week. It will generate an estimated 44 MW by burning straw, woodchips, and miscanthus. Miscanthus is a perennial bamboo-like plant that thrives on unproductive land, with the potential to yield 15 tonnes per hectare. [Norfolk Eastern Daily Press]

Crop of miscanthus (Photo: Antony Kelly)

¶ In the latest Renewable Energy Index, Australian large-scale power project construction work has broken through 10,000 jobs. Meanwhile rooftop solar PV installs almost broke 100 MW for the month. Given they will deliver something close to $180 million in bill savings the large lift in solar should not come as much surprise. [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ Every General Motors manufacturing plant in Ohio and Indiana will now be completely powered by wind energy thanks to a 200-MW power purchase agreement. The automaker is now the sole user of the 100-MW Northwest Ohio Wind Farm, and another 100 MW will come from the HillTopper Wind Project in Illinois. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Wind farm

¶ Officials celebrated the opening of a landfill gas-to-energy plant in Novato, California. It will provide renewable electricity to customers in four Bay Area counties. The $14.5 million state-of-the-art renewable energy power plant uses methane gas produced at a landfill to power two reciprocating engines that generate 3.9 MW of electricity. [Patch.com]

¶ Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the island of Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million people, officials have said. The head of the disaster management agency said none of the customers of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority had power. The US National Hurricane Center said “catastrophic” flooding was sweeping parts of the island. [BBC]

San Juan after Hurricane Maria

¶ The US Climate Alliance, a coalition of states backing the Paris Climate Accord, announced that North Carolina had joined in defiance of President Trump’s decision to exit the United Nations pact. Washington Gov Jay Inslee said, “If we were a country, we would be the third-largest economy of any nation in the world.” [Washington Examiner]

¶ Georgia’s Public Service Commission set hearings to determine whether the Vogtle nuclear facility will be completed. A decision should come in February. After two reactors at VC Summers were abandoned, Georgia Power Company told the regulators it wanted to complete the two-reactor project. Vogtle is now the sole new nuclear construction in the US. [The Nerve]

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September 20 Energy News

September 20, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Clean Energy Is America’s Next Frontier & Path to a Safer Climate” • A new report from the NRDC shows how the United States can meet our short- and long-term climate goals relying primarily on today’s proven clean energy solutions – and with tremendous climate and health benefits that far surpass the cost. [Common Dreams]

Proven clean energy solutions (Photo: istock)

Science and Technology:

¶ Eradication of the world’s wildlife is not slowing. The most recent IUCN Endangered Species List includes numerous examples that were recently common but now are “disappearing faster than they can be counted.” Among noteworthy species are North American ash trees, as they fall to invasive beetles driven by a warming climate. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A team of scientists from the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has figured out a way to convert CO2 directly into ethanol and ethylene, using a process powered by solar energy. The team made ethanol, skipping all the steps that involve planting corn, growing it, harvesting it, and processing it into biofuel. [CleanTechnica]

Conversion process (Image: Clarissa Towle | Berkeley Lab)

World:

¶ More than 300 companies worldwide have now committed to setting ambitious Science Based Targets to reduce emissions, with more than 90 new companies joining this year alone. They now include 50 US businesses. Companies that have signed up to the initiative currently represent an estimated $6.5 trillion in market value. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Siemens Gamesa has been selected to supply 28 of its G132-3.465MW turbines to the Arauco wind complex in La Rioja, Argentina. The deal for the third and fourth phases totals 97 MW and marks the South American debut of the turbine model for state-led developer Arauco Sapem. The wind farm is due to be operating by the end of 2018. [reNews]

First phase of the Arauco wind farm (Metalúrgica-Calviño)

¶ Renewable fuels company Velocys has entered into a partnership to prepare the business case for a commercial-scale waste-to-renewable-jet fuel plant in the UK. The prospective plant would take post recycled waste destined for landfill or incineration, and process it into clean-burning, sustainable aviation fuel. [Biofuels International Magazine]

¶ Australia has more than 22,000 sites around the country that could be suitable for pumped hydro storage, according to a study by the Australian National University. Interest in pumped hydro has increased in the wake of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s much-publicised twin visits to the Snowy Hydro scheme since March. [Brisbane Times]

Hydro scheme in the Snowy Mountains (Photo: Supplied)

¶ Renewable electricity is close to reaching a tipping point almost everywhere in the world and “nobody is going to make coal great again,” BNEF founder Michael Liebreich told a clean energy industry event in London. He said solar and onshore wind power had surpassed all orthodox expectations over the past two decades. [www.businessgreen.com]

¶ The City of Fremantle, in Western Australia, has earmarked 2025 as the year they will become fully reliant on renewable energy. Working with a business consortium, the city created a Corporate Energy Plan that outlines the steps needed to make all corporate operations run on 100% renewable energy in the next eight years. [Community Newspaper Group]

Solar power in Western Australia

¶ Global bank Citigroup is to source all its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020. Citigroup said it will consider onsite electricity generation, power purchase agreements for energy-intensive properties, such as data centers, and renewable energy credits. The bank owns or leases more than 7900 properties in 94 countries. [reNews]

¶ Japan’s Resilience Program is mainly for building municipal back-up capabilities to prepare for disasters like the earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The city of Higashi-Matsushima has chosen to construct micro-grids and de-centralized renewable power generation. [VietNamNet Bridge]

Sunrise in Matsushima Bay (Photo: Shift, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ Mississippi Power and Silicon Ranch have commissioned a 50-MW solar project in Hattiesburg, Mississippi that is operating and providing energy to the Mississippi Power grid. The installation, which can produce enough energy to supply power to approximately 6,500 homes, is located on 182 hectares in south Hattiesburg. [PV-Tech]

¶ Over $2 billion has been spent by the federal government on fire suppression efforts so far this budget year, according to the US Forest Service. The predictions that wildfires will become increasingly common and severe over the course of the century as a result of anthropogenic climate change have something substantial to them. [CleanTechnica]

California wildfire (Image: Andrea Booher | FEMA)

¶ Soltage LLC has completed the 4.75-MW Bird Machine Solar Farm on a brownfield in Walpole, Massachusetts. Its 14,600 panels are expected to produce nearly 6,000 MWh of energy per year, equivalent to the power needed for roughly 623 homes. The town will purchase the power at a fixed-price below utility energy costs. [Solar Novus Today]

¶ Georgia Power Co launched a voluntary renewable energy program aimed at the Atlanta-based utility’s commercial and industrial customers. To qualify, a customer must have an aggregate peak demand of 3 MW or greater. The utility has committed to adding up to 1,600 MW of renewable energy capacity by 2021. [Atlanta Business Chronicle]

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September 19 Energy News

September 19, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Renewable energy is coming fast. Australian planners are struggling to keep up” • Renewable energy is driving profound changes in cities. Responding to climate change, networks of decision-makers have begun adopting strategies to promote the uptake of renewable energy. Yet land use planning has seemingly begun to lag behind. [CityMetric]

Wind farm in South Australia (Image: Getty)

¶ “What Hurricane Harvey Taught Us About Risk, Climate & Resilience” • People know the climate is changing, but they don’t know how serious it is. Over 70% of Americans agree that the climate is changing, but less than half of us believe it will affect us personally. Why? Perhaps because the when we imagine it, it is always far off. [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have long speculated on the possibility of a planetary thermostat keeping climate change in check. A study published in the journal Geochemical Perspectives Letters provides the first-ever evidence of its existence. The authors refer to a mechanism they call the “weathering thermostat,” which regulates long-term levels of carbon dioxide. [CleanTechnica]

Geological carbon cycle (Source William Ruddiman)

¶ A new analysis found that the agreement’s most ambitious goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels isn’t just aspirational – it is still a scientific possibility the world can realize if we act right away. This means the most optimistic target envisaged by the Paris climate deal is still within our reach. [ScienceAlert]

World:

¶ Early this year, the Mail on Sunday ran a hyperbolic article on climate change, claiming that world leaders had been “duped” by manipulated climate data. But the Mail on Sunday belongs to the Independent Press Standards Organization, which ruled that the article violated its code of ethics. The paper has been ordered to display the article’s inaccuracies. [Ars Technica UK]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Globally, a majority of people are optimistic about our ability to address climate change, according to a survey. Of those polled, 64% believe we can address climate change if we take action now. Overall, 33% strongly agree this is the case, and 32% tend to agree. Only 11% disagree that we can address climate change if we take action now. [The Climate Group]

¶ Britain is phasing out its coal-burning power plants, with the last one set to close by 2025. It is a startling development for the nation that founded an industrial revolution powered by coal. The Drax coal-burning plant will live on, but only by burning biomass – mostly wood chips imported from the southern United States. [Yale Environment 360]

Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire (Shutterstock image)

¶ Last week, the biggest fatberg on record was discovered in a Whitechapel sewer. The 130-tonne mass of cooking fat, oil, and waste had set as hard as concrete and stretched for 250 meters beneath the streets of east London. Thames Water is currently blasting it with high-pressure hoses and pumping it out, with plans to turn it into biodiesel. [Time Out]

¶ Global nuclear power generation grew by 1.4% in 2016, the 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report said. By comparison, solar power output grew by 30% and wind by 16%. Of all capacity additions, 63% were renewable, as renewable energy auctions hit record low of prices of $30/MW in many places worldwide. [pv magazine International]

Solar installation (Tenaska)

¶ Five Japanese nuclear power plants that have passed safety clearances by the Nuclear Regulation Authority may be at risk of having their cooling systems crippled during huge eruptions of nearby volcanoes. The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan found volumes of volcanic ash could be 100 times previously estimated amounts. [Japan Today]

US:

¶ Despite Trump’s pro-coal rhetoric, the US DOE has been pitching renewables just as much as it did under the Obama Administration. In the latest development, the agency just offered a juicy $50 million in seed money for technologies that modernize the US grid – and renewables take front and center in that initiative. [CleanTechnica]

Grid infrastructure (DOE photo, cropped)

¶ The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has announced a new $55 million grant program that will see funding provided to various regional transit organizations for the purchase of low- and no-emissions buses and associated infrastructure. US-based electric bus maker Proterra may benefit greatly from the program. [CleanTechnica]

¶ While politicians elsewhere waffle on climate change, officials in Los Angeles are tackling the problem head on with a radical plan to lower the temperature of the city. Mayor Eric Garcetti intends to cut the average temperature in LA by 3° F over the next two decades. As part of that effort, LA streets are getting a new coat of white paint. [CleanTechnica]

Painting LA’s streets white (Twitter | LA Street Services)

¶ A Canadian company, Capital Power Corporation, says it’s ready to pursue a big wind power plant in Oregon, not far from where the nation’s largest generator of renewable energy wants to build its own major wind farm. If it is built, the Nolin Hills Wind Power Project, will be capable of producing up to 350 MW of power. [Portland Business Journal]

¶ Idaho Power wants to retire two coal-fired power plants as part of a 20-year plan to provide electricity in Idaho and Oregon. The plants have a combined capacity of 700 MW. The decision to close them was based on economics, because they will be unable to operate at competitive prices, according to an Idaho Power spokesman. [Power Engineering Magazine]

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September 18 Energy News

September 18, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Scientific models saved lives from Harvey and Irma. They can from climate change too.” • The impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma were blunted because weather models accurately predicted the hurricane paths days in advance. Scientific models for climate change use the same core physics as those for weather prediction. [The Guardian]

Evacuation ahead of Irma (Photo: Stephen M. Dowell | AP)

¶ “The transformational power of corporate clean energy purchasing” • This summer, over 1,500 businesses with annual revenues of $1.6 trillion signed the “We Are Still In” declaration, pledging to help the US deliver on its Paris Agreement targets. Their unprecedented coalition shows the importance of non-state actors for climate action. [GreenBiz]

¶ “Accountants are the real renewable energy heroes” • Engineers may have cut the cost of solar modules and new wind generation by more than half in five years, but the true heroes of the renewables revolution may be a group that is rarely recognized: accountants. Consider the growth of corporate power-purchase agreements to see why. [The National]

Renewable generation (Ken James | Bloomberg)

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have learned that urban trees  –  or even just a single tree  –  can help homes and office buildings save energy by blunting the wind’s chilling power. Trees keep pedestrians more comfortable as they walk down the street, and they help lower building heating costs by cutting the wind. Even trees without leaves can slow the wind down. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Despite the Central Pollution Control Board directive to all state pollution boards saying that hydropower projects of less than 25 MW are exempt from having to go through lengthy application processes, the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board continues to put projects of independent power producers on hold for years, developers say. [The Tribune]

Small hydro project in India

¶ Ho Chi Minh City has strong solar radiation, ranging from 4.3 kWh/m2 per day to 6.6 kWh/m2 per day, according to statistics from city authorities. The HCM City Power Corporation has installed four solar power plants with total installed capacity of 226 kW. Now it is looking to install about 800 kW more by year’s end. [VietNamNet Bridge]

¶ The Indian government has decided to postpone the second wind power auction for 1 GW capacity, which was scheduled for 19 September, 2017, to 4 October, 2017 instead. The government is waiting for clarification on inter-state power transmission connectivity from the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. [Energy Sector News in India]

Wind turbines in India

¶ Robinsons Land Corp has unveiled plans to install solar farms on the roof decks of more of its shopping malls, making it the dominant renewable energy generator among Philippine property developers. RLC is now in the process of installing 10,000 solar panels, sufficient to generate almost 4 million kWh, in four of its shopping malls. [Inquirer.net]

¶ Siemens Gamesa has won a 300-MW turbine order for the Xilinhot wind complex in Inner Mongolia, China. The turbine manufacturer will deliver 150 of its G114-2MW machines starting in the second quarter of next year. Full operations are expected at the end of 2018. The deal is “one of its largest ever in this market”, said Siemens Gamesa. [reNews]

G114 turbine (Siemens Gamesa)

¶ The new CDU/FDP coalition government in North-Rhine Westphalia has issued an amended decree with new setback distance rules for wind farms. Developers would need to consider a minimum distance of 1.5 km from municipalities and would no longer be allowed to install wind farms in forests. A comment period lasts until October 20. [reNews]

¶ The National Aluminium Company has commissioned wind power plants with over 100 MW total capacity in Rajasthan and Maharastra, at a cost of Rs 669 crore ($100.56 million). The company is considering sites for another windpower plant of 50 MW capacity and plans to set up a 20-MW solar power plant in Madhya Pradesh. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wind farm on a beach

¶ Renewable energy sources will exceed the level of fossil sources in Finland next year thanks to current investments, according to an official at a Finnish center for business and environment. Progress is much faster than expected. The current government had set the target of getting half of Finnish energy production from renewable sources by 2030. [Xinhua]

US:

¶ Last week, the US Energy Department was gushing about its latest report on solar costs, with a record-breaking 29% decline in utility-scale solar leading the charge. Enjoy it while you can. A big tariff decision is coming down the pike as early as next week, and that could throw a Hoover Dam’s worth of cold water on the US solar industry. [CleanTechnica]

Solar panels (Photo vial NREL)

¶ Virginia regulators rejected Appalachian Power’s bid to offer electricity from 100% renewable sources at an undetermined rate, as APCo failed to prove the tariff “is in the public interest and that its costs and associated rate are reasonable, just, and not likely to unreasonably prejudice or disadvantage renewable energy customers.” [Southeast Energy News]

¶ An attorney for a legislative panel investigating the failure of the VC Summer nuclear power project in South Carolina said a report on the reactors was “designed to never see the light of day.” He said it shows that the owners intended to keep the report secret, while they knew for two years that the reactors could not be completed as planned. [WBTW]

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September 17 Energy News

September 17, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Did the Hurricanes Change the Climate Debate?” • Strident denial is meeting vivid reality. Never before has the mainland United States been hit by such a powerful combination of hurricanes in the same season. Never before have we had an administration so loudly and unapologetically deny the reality of pollution-caused climate change. [HuffPost]

Hurricane Harvey’s landfall (NOAA image, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “We need net-zero buildings by 2050” • Earlier this summer, global banking giant JPMorgan Chase announced a commitment to source 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020. The strength of the business case for action on climate change is such that decisions like this are becoming more regular in a post-Paris Agreement world. [GreenBiz]

Science and Technology:

¶ A survey of 903 Canadian vertebrate species spanning over four decades has found that half are in serious population decline. Declining species lost a total of 83% of their numbers between 1970 and 2014, says the report from the World Wildlife Fund. Causes include pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species. [The Weather Channel]

St Lawrence beluga (Nick Caloyianis,
National Geographic Creative | WWF-Canada)

¶ Hydrogen has huge potential as a clean energy source, but so far we have not been able to make fuel cells cheaply or efficiently enough. Scientists are using quantum technology to explore how solar power could unlock all that potential. Photoelectrochemical cell technology could make hydrogen available for use at a low cost. [Gears Of Biz]

World:

¶ Dubai has officially launched the world’s largest single-site concentrated solar power project at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The project, which will be built at a total cost of $3.9 billion, was unveiled by the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. [Gulf Business News]

Solar power in Dubai

¶ Premier Lai Ching-te reiterated the government’s resolve to move away from nuclear power and make Taiwan a nuclear-free homeland by 2025. Speaking at an energy forum held in Tainan, Lai said that to achieve the goal, the country will have to increase the proportion of electricity generated by green energy to 20% of the total. [Focus Taiwan News Channel]

¶ The recent submission of proposals for the construction of a new solar park project in Tunisia highlight the country’s potential as a location for renewable energy projects at a time when domestic demand for power is rising rapidly. UK company TuNur submitted a proposal to build the 4.5-GW solar park in the south of the country. [OilPrice.com]

Solar system

US:

¶ Following a meeting of environment ministers, the EU climate commissioner said Trump officials had indicated the US would either stay in the 2015 accord or review its terms. But the White House had insisted it will leave the Paris climate accord, and despite reports to the contrary, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that its position was unchanged. [BBC]

¶ The book Solutionary Rail proposes a plan to solve two critical infrastructure challenges with a single effort. Electrifying the US rail system and installing electrical transmission lines that serve both to provide power to the rail system and to transport electricity from distributed generation sources to the destination of most rail traffic, urban centers. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines could supply power to a rail system.

¶ Several motions to dismiss or delay a proposed fossil-fuel power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island, were denied by the Energy Facilities Siting Board. The town of Burrillville argued that Invenergy Thermal Development LLC failed to submit blueprints and renderings for 52 structures it wants to build on a 67-acre wooded site. [ecoRI news]

¶ On Thursday morning, Florida Power and Light tweeted that all substations and 1,000 main power lines have been restored in Florida in the wake of Irma. And the process of allowing people to return to homes was underway in most areas outside the storm-ravaged lower Florida Keys. FPL is working to fix over 12,000 cases of damage. [ExpressNewsline]

Miami during Irma

¶ Looking to increase its use of green energy and to significantly reduce emissions, Northfield Mount Hermon School in Gill, Massachusetts, has entered into three-year electricity and renewable energy credit contracts. According to the school, the purchase of renewable energy credits will offset 100% of its electricity use. [The Recorder]

¶ California lawmakers will go home for the year without voting on a landmark renewable energy bill. The bill would have required state regulators to chart a path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045, though this could have included such energy sources as nuclear plants and gas-fired power plants that capture their carbon emissions. [The Desert Sun]

 

September 16 Energy News

September 16, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Yes, climate change made Harvey and Irma worse” • Warm water feeds energy to hurricanes, increasing their intensity, and oceans have warmed on an average 1° to 3° F over the last 100 years. Sea levels have risen about 7 inches in that time. Throw in compound flooding from seal level rise and storm surge, and you have a perfect mix for record flooding. [CNN]

Flooding after Irma

¶ “Sachs: Big Oil will have to pay up, like Big Tobacco” • Here is a message to investors in the oil industry, whether pension and insurance funds, university endowments, hedge funds or other asset managers: Your investments are going to sour. The growing devastation caused by climate change is going to blow a hole in your fossil-fuel portfolio. [CNN]

¶ “What can Kodiak teach the world about renewable energy? A lot.” • Since 2007, Kodiak Island has transformed its grid so that it now generates almost 100% of its power with renewable energy. The electric rates are stable and have actually dropped slightly since 2000. It is a model with lessons for remote communities from the Arctic to the equator. [KTOO]

Kodiak Island wind turbines (Eric Keto | Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Science and Technology:

¶ MetStat is a company that provides analysis on precipitation and weather event frequency to industries like utility companies that need to know where to put their infrastructure so it won’t be damaged by extreme weather events. It has now released an analysis of Hurricane Harvey. It found that the storm was a once in 25,000 year event. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ In Araria, a rural district in eastern India, this monsoon season has been unlike any other. A flash flood swept away houses, collapsed bridges, swamped farmland, and killed at least 57 people. Power to parts of Araria was cut off for days or weeks. But thanks to the power of the sun, some villagers managed to keep their lights on. [CleanTechnica]

Though flooded, DESI Power had electricity. (DESI Power image)

¶ New nuclear power stations may not be the best option for keeping Britain’s lights on and meeting the country’s carbon targets, according to Liberal Democrats. They have concerns over nuclear’s cost and the risks it would not be delivered on time. This comes just days after windfarms secured state support at a record low cost. [The Guardian]

¶ Finnish engineering services company Neste has collaborated with Switzerland’s Genève Aéroport to support the use of sustainable and renewable jet fuel for aircraft operations from Geneva International Airport. The airport intends to use increasing amounts of renewable jet to reduce carbon emissions, starting late next year. [Airport Technology]

Geneva International Airport (Neste photo)

US:

¶ A report from Carbon Tracker concluded that phasing out unprofitable coal plants in the United States could end up saving consumers $10 billion per year by 2021, while boosting the country’s competitiveness. It said that by the mid-2020s it will be cheaper to replace 78% of the existing coal power plants in the US than keep them running. [CleanTechnica]

¶ For over a decade, plans have been underway to expand the coal-fired electrical generating station in Holcomb, Kansas, owned by Sunflower Electric Power. Now, it appears those plans are being taken off the table. The reason is simple. Compared to wind power, the price building and feeding more coal-fired generating facilities is too high. [CleanTechnica]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Hurricane Irma cut the power to about 6.7 million customers across Florida, and though about two-thirds of them had power back by Thursday, the outages could last weeks in some areas. Some homeowners, some businesses, and even some cities were able to take advantage of the Sunshine State’s solar power while the grid was down. [InsideClimate News]

¶ Somerset Operating Company announced plans to construct one of New York’s largest solar farms at the site of its coal-burning power plant. If the plans go forward, Somerset Solar, will generate 18 MW, the power demands of about 3,100 homes, the company said. The project cost is estimated at $25 million. [Lockport Union-Sun & Journal]

Somerset Operating Company coal-burning plant (Joed Viera)

¶ Sources say the Trump administration is starting to accept arguments from industry and business groups that some limits on carbon emissions from power plants may be a good idea. It is planning to pursue a less ambitious, more industry-friendly climate change rule for coal-fired power plants as it works to scrap the Clean Power Plan. [The Hill]

¶ According to a press release from the Salt Lake City mayor’s office, investment in solar power on seven separate municipal facilities, including five fire stations, brings the city’s total for sites with solar energy to 14. The city government is getting roughly 12% of the annual electricity needs for its facilities met by solar energy. [Solar Industry]

Solar system on the roof of a Salt Lake City fire station

¶ For at least two years before work at VC Summer was abandoned, its owners had a secret report showing the nuclear reactors could not be completed as planned, an attorney for a legislative panel said. Essentially, the report says “this wasn’t going to work. … If things don’t change dramatically, you’ll never finish these projects.” [The Augusta Chronicle]

¶ Unwilling to allow a nuclear plant in Connecticut to close, the state Senate passed legislation that asks energy regulators to examine the Millstone facility and determine if it’s necessary to give them the power to bid on energy contracts. The bill passed 23-8 with five members not voting, but its fate in the House is an unknown. [CT News Junkie]

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September 15 Energy News

September 15, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Is Oil Industry Threatened By More Than Electric Vehicles?” • Execs at a number of top fossil fuel companies have suggested that even after demand for oil and natural gas peaks, demand for petrochemical feedstocks for plastics, fertilizers, and other chemicals will stay strong. But plastics pose serious problems that have to be addressed. [CleanTechnica]

Oil and agriculture

World:

¶ Emerging markets including India and China could be the best bets for investors hoping to fight climate change and boost returns, according to a report by Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing and The Economist Intelligence Unit. If the planet is allowed to heat up by 5° C (9° F), it may mean $7 trillion in losses for investors. [Livemint]

¶ Renewable microgrids are cropping up all around the world as developing and developed countries alike turn to them for their increased resiliency and flexibility. The speed with which they can bring electricity to the unelectrified makes them decisive for countries with lower electrification rates. Kenya provides one example. [CleanTechnica]

Lake Victoria

¶ The Premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, announced that single-use plastic bags would be banned in the territory, effective July 1, 2018. South Australia had banned them in 2009, and both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory banned them in 2011. So now, the bags have been banned in much of Australia. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Australian renewables firm Windlab bagged a 10-year power purchase agreement with CS Energy to offtake power from a major hybrid 60.5-MW solar, storage and wind park in northern Queensland. The Kennedy Energy Park Phase I includes 43.5 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar and 2 MW/4 MWh of lithium-ion battery storage. [Energy Storage News]

German wind and solar installation (Image: Kuebi | Wikimedia)

¶ Danish offshore wind energy giant DONG Energy is moving beyond the seas where it has worked. It has signed a Letter of Intent with the Canadian NaiKun Wind Energy Group for exclusive rights to the Haida Energy Field Offshore Wind Project in British Columbia, an offshore wind location with up to 2 GW of potential capacity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Renewable energy is continuing its record-breaking surge. On September 11, 19.8% of European electricity demand was met by wind energy. Over the entire day, onshore wind produced 1,360 GWh of electricity and offshore wind produced 251 GWh. The amount of electricity produced was rather steady over the course of the day. [ZME Science]

Romanian wind farm (Credit: Sandri Alexandra | Wikipedia)

¶ Climeon AB, based in Sweden, announced that it received a conditional order valued at up to €30 million ($36 million) to produce distributed geothermal electricity in Iceland. Modules will be installed at 10 to 15 sites over a period of 30 months. The total installed capacity, 15 MW, will provide power for 2,500 households. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

¶ Drax, a UK power company, announced that it is seeking planning permission to install a 200-MW battery onsite. If approved and commissioned, the storage facility would be the biggest in the world, dwarfing the 129-MW lithium-ion battery project that is currently being built in Australia by Tesla and Neoen. [RenewEconomy]

Drax power plant (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ Donald Trump has indicated that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have not changed his view on climate change. When a reporter asked for his thoughts on the hurricanes and climate change, he said, “We’ve had bigger storms than this.” But he had earlier said of Hurricane Harvey, “There’s probably never been anything like this.” [Independent.ie]

¶ A federal appeals court granted the Trump regime’s request to stop implementation of an Obama era EPA plan requiring new pollution controls at two coal-fired power plants in Utah. The underlying rule, dating back to 1999, is an attempt to reduce visible pollution at US national parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas. [CleanTechnica]

Haze at Canyonlands National Park (NPS photo)

¶ Kimberly-Clark entered into long-term power purchase agreements to take 120 MW of electricity to be generated by the Rock Falls Wind project, under development by EDF Renewables in Oklahoma, and 125 MW of the electricity to be generated by the Santa Rita Wind Energy Center, being built by Invenergy in Texas. [North American Windpower]

¶ A US district judge cited tribal sovereignty in dismissing a lawsuit aimed at shutting down a coal-fired power plant and adjacent mine near the Arizona-New Mexico border. The lawsuit targeted the 2015 approval by the US government of a lease extension for the Navajo Mine and the Four Corners Power Plant. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Four Corners power plant

¶ Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority signed off on power purchase contracts between the Connecticut’s two utilities and developers of 28 renewable energy generation projects, selected by bid. In all, the projects are expected to generate just over 700 GWh of electricity per year for the state, PURA documents say. [Hartford Business]

¶ Workers are setting the groundwork at Three Mile Island for a refueling outage this month. But TMI’s biennial refueling outage has a tinge of melancholy this year. It could be the last time fuel is ever loaded into Unit 1, whose neighboring twin reactor shut down in 1979 after the nation’s worst commercial nuclear accident. [Philly.com]

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September 14 Energy News

September 14, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Harrowing Storms May Move Climate Debate, if Not GOP Leaders” • For years, climate change activists have faced a dilemma: how to persuade people to care about a grave but seemingly far-off problem and win their support for policies that might cost them in utility bills and at the pump. Now, people can see the problem for themselves. [New York Times]

Sailboat in Georgia (Credit: Luke Sharrett | The New York Times)

¶ “Nuclear industry jeopardized” • Nuclear power financing is embroiled in a global bankruptcy with two top reactor makers in financial debacles. After Toshiba-Westinghouse went bankrupt, its French equivalent, the state-owned AREVA went technically bankrupt after losing $12.3 billion over six years. The whole industry is facing repercussions. [Millennium Post]

¶ “Will Hurricane Harvey Launch a New Kind of Climate Lawsuit?” • Scientists can now link “acts of God” to climate change. Researchers are getting good at determining how much humans have weighted the dice. The field of “extreme event attribution” could give victims the power to hold someone accountable, say lawyers. [Inside Science News Service]

Tropical Storm Harvey (Image: Randy Bresnik | NASA)

Science and Technology:

¶ The bristlecone pine tree, famous for its wind-beaten, gnarly limbs and having the longest lifespan on Earth, is losing a race to the top of mountains throughout the Western United States, putting future generations in peril, researchers said. Climate change is warming its territory, giving a competitive edge to another species. [The Columbian]

World:

¶ Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched work to build India’s first high-speed train. Mostly funded by a $17 billion loan from Japan, the bullet train will run between Ahmedabad city and Mumbai. When the service starts operating in five years, the time needed for the 500-km (310-mile) journey is expected to be cut from the current eight hours to three. [BBC]

Japanese high-speed rail transport (AFP)

¶ The 2016 Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance was published this week. It represents data from the world’s six largest multilateral development banks. The report says that a total of $27.4 billion was invested into climate financing in developing and emerging countries, up from $25 billion in 2015. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The European Marine Energy Centre has produced hydrogen gas using electricity generated from tidal energy in Orkney, Scotland. This is the first time that hydrogen has been created from tidal energy. Tidal turbines fed power into an electrolyzer, which used the electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. [The Maritime Executive]

Tocardo tidal turbine (Credit: Colin Keldie)

¶ A new study concludes that there is no economic or strategic case for coal-to-biomass conversion in the United Kingdom. With new economic modeling, it shows not only that solar and wind can reliably meet the United Kingdom’s new electricity needs, but that they can do so more cheaply than new biomass. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ The work to install 67 Siemens 6-MW turbines at the Dudgeon offshore windfarm has been completed. One operator calls the project its toughest to date. Denmark’s A2SEA completed the work using its Sea Challenger vessel at the 202-MW windfarm on behalf of Statoil, Masdar, and Statkraft. It will provide power for over 400,000 UK homes. [Maritime Journal]

A2SEA’s Sea Challenger

¶ Enel and Chilean outfit ENAP have inaugurated the 48-MW Cerro Pabellón geothermal plant in Chile. The facility consists of two 24-MW units and is the first geothermal plant in South America, Enel said. Cerro Pabellón, which cost $320 million to build, will deliver 340 GWh of electricity a year. It is located in the Antofagasta region. [reNews]

¶ Tidal developer Scotrenewables provided nearly 7% of Orkney’s electricity demand from a single 2-MW floating SR2000 device during a week-long period of continuous generation The Kirkwall outfit said its tidal turbine, which was installed at the European Marine Energy Center’s Fall of Warness site off Eday, produced more than 116 MWh over a seven-day period. [reNews]

2-MW SR2000 tidal device (Scotrenewables)

US:

¶ A coalition of environmentalists, clergy and solar and wind energy companies launched a campaign calling for half of Maryland’s electricity to come from renewable sources. A policy adopted last year requires that renewable energy account for 25% of the state’s electricity portfolio by 2020. The new campaign calls for 50% by 2030. [Baltimore Sun]

¶ Enel Green Power and Anheuser-Busch announced an agreement under which Anheuser-Busch will purchase more than half the energy capacity of the Thunder Ranch wind farm, currently under construction in Oklahoma. Anheuser-Busch will purchase 152.5 MW of power from the 298-MW facility once it’s operational. [Enid News & Eagle]

Thunder Ranch wind farm (Photo provided)

¶ California lawmakers are running out of time to decide on Senate Bill 100, which commits the state to using 100% renewable or carbon neutral energy by 2045. If the bill is approved, California would be the second state to set the 100% carbon neutral energy goal. But the fossil fuel industry and two investor-owned utilities oppose it. [KPBS]

¶ The Fort Custer Training Center near Battle Creek Michigan will be the site of a project aimed at reducing costs for reliable energy among military facilities. Go Electric Inc announced that it will be implementing the demonstration project to show how microgrids can maintain power resources during extended outages. [MLive.com]

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September 13 Energy News

September 13, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ A paper published in the journal Climatic Change builds on earlier research finding that nearly two-thirds of historical greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to just 90 companies. Researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists and two universities calculated how much of the actual change in the climate can be tied to those emissions. [InsideClimate News]

Source of climate change (Credit: Christopher Furlong)

World:

¶ The Climate Group announced that Kellogg Company, DBS Bank Ltd, and Clif Bar & Company joined its RE100 campaign and committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity across their global operations. The total demand of the 105 campaign members is now around 150 TWh annually, more than enough to power New York State. [The Climate Group]

¶ BYD announced that the first commercial application of its SkyRail monorail mass transit solution opened for operation in Yinchuan, China, on September 1, 2017. The SkyRail system in Yinchuan is the first monorail solution installed in China that uses a straddle design where the vehicle sits on top of the monorail, hanging over both sides. [CleanTechnica]

BYD SkyRail

¶ BYD announced the world’s first installation of its high-voltage B-Box energy storage system in Germany. BYD’s B-Box is a modular energy storage system that allows customers to add battery modules to the B-Box unit as demands increase over time. The first installation has 9 battery modules for a total storage capacity of 11.5 kWh. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint, a new analysis from UK nonprofit InfluenceMap, measures “the extent to which a corporation is supporting or obstructing the climate policy process.” It ranks Koch Industries as the company with the strongest opposition to the Paris climate agreement, as it lobbies intensely against the accord’s policies. [EcoWatch]

Corporate Policy Footprint (Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

¶ Australia’s first ever large-scale renewable corporate Power Purchase Agreement has been signed between Flow Power and Australia’s third-largest wind generator, Ararat Wind Farm. The agreement is to supply 50 MW, but Flow Power’s managing director said, “We’d like to get to thousands of megawatts over the coming years.” [EcoGeneration]

US:

¶ As was expected, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) has been granted an impressive EPA all-electric range rating – 47 miles (76 kilometers) per full charge. The EPA’s range ratings are essentially real-world figures. Honda brags that the car “earned the highest all-electric range rating among all midsize plug-in hybrids.” [CleanTechnica]

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)

¶ It’s official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative – three years early. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6¢/kWh. [Greentech Media]

¶ The US solar industry had its largest second quarter ever this year, adding 2.4 GW of solar capacity, but the country’s residential segment was lackluster. It grew only 1% over the first quarter and declined year-over-year. GTM Research predicts that the US residential solar segment will shrink 3%, which would make this its first ever down year. [CleanTechnica]

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

¶ Vermont Gas Systems will begin offering renewable natural gas – methane produced from landfills, cow manure, and other organic sources – this heating season, regulators said. The company was required to develop a plan to do so as part of the approval for its recently completed 41-mile natural gas pipeline into Addison County. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions per square foot by 56%. This significantly exceeds the Paris Climate Agreement goal of a 26% to 28% reduction by 2025. Phipps reduced its carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy and sustainable, building designs. [InvestorIdeas.com]

The Broderie Room (Cbaile19, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ 8minutenergy Renewables announced that it has closed the financing for its 26-MW Redwood 4 Solar Farm in Kern County, California and that construction has already begun. The plant is expected to be completed in late 2017 and will stand as the fourth 8minutenergy project in the combined 100-MW Redwood solar cluster near Bakersfield. [PV-Tech]

¶ Recurrent Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar, has signed a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement for a 100-MW solar project in California with community choice utility Peninsula Clean Energy. PCE gives consumers in San Mateo County various options to use renewable energy. The project is expected to be operating in 2019. [PV-Tech]

Solar array in California (Credit: Recurrent Energy)

¶ Yet another major rate payers’ lawsuit against SCANA and Santee Cooper has been filed. The lawsuit, filed in South Carolina state court in Richland County, says not only were the two companies’ plan to build VC Summer’s two nuclear reactors a “fictitious project,” but that rate payers were billed monthly for “fictitious costs” for construction. [The State]

¶ Several reactors at Florida Power & Light’s nuclear power plants remained inactive, despite sustaining no damage from Hurricane Irma. FPL officials declined to disclose when they would power up three of its nuclear reactors – one at the St Lucie plant and both at Turkey Point.  The reactors were shut down before and after Irma struck. [TCPalm]

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September 12 Energy News

September 12, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Liddell power station: The true cost of keeping the coal-fired plant open” • Australian governments have long believed the private sector should run the electricity sector. Now, the government is trying to find a way to keep the ageing Liddell plant open, just as AGL’s chief executive said the company could find the best solution by closing it. [ABC Online]

Liddell power plant (Photo: AAP, Dean Sewell | Greenpeace)

¶ “Hurricane Irma: Climate change deniers’ chickens come home to roost” • Recently, US right-wing media personality Rush Limbaugh was still enthusiastically pushing the climate change denial barrow. Two days later, he was evacuated from his Palm Beach residence along with his neighbours at Mar-a-Lago. He has not been heard from since. [Independent Australia]

¶ “Hinkley nuclear power is being priced out by renewables” • Hinkley Point C nuclear power station was conceived in the days when offshore wind cost £150 per MWh and a few misguided souls, some of them government ministers, thought a barrel of oil was heading towards $200. Now, the obscenity of its costs is plainer than ever. [The Guardian]

Hinkley Point C (Photo: Stefan Wermuth | Reuters)

Human Stupidity:

¶ Climate change denials amid catastrophic hurricanes are a reminder that humans are not a particularly smart species, Pope Francis said while flying over areas in the Caribbean decimated by Hurricane Irma. “Man is stupid,” he said, referencing a passage in the Old Testament. “When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.” [HuffPost UK]

World:

¶ Finnish developer Suomen Hyötytuuli announced that it had completed the 42-MW Tahkoluoto wind farm in the Baltic Sea, Finland’s first offshore wind farm. Finland has a relatively small amount of renewable energy capacity, with around 3 GW of large-scale hydropower, 2 GW of bioenergy, and 1.6 GW of onshore wind energy. [CleanTechnica]

Tahkoluoto wind farm construction

¶ Japanese company Pacifico Energy has started construction of the 42-MW Iwaki solar plant in Japan. The project will be built on 50 hectares of land in Fukushima prefecture and will generate approximately 48,000 MWh a year of electricity for Tohoku Electric Power Company. The Iwaki project is expected to come online in August 2019. [reNews]

¶ China’s first commercial concentrated solar power plant is doing a test run, its operator said. It is to send power to the grid by the end of this year. The Delingha solar thermal power station, operated by the China General Nuclear Power Group in northwestern province of Qinghai, made its first test run with all equipment running normally. [solarpaces.org]

Delingha concentrating solar project

¶ Danish offshore wind firm DONG Energy was awarded a contract to build 1.4 GW of capacity at its Hornsea 2 wind power project during a British auction for renewables, creating the world’s largest offshore wind farm. The guaranteed price for the power was set 50% lower than the allocations at auction just two years ago. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Australia’s biggest utility AGL, which has committed to phasing out coal by 2050, has said it is likely to replace the capacity provided by one ageing power station with batteries, peaking plants, demand response and pumped hydro. The utility said it will spend US$2 billion across networks to “build new energy supply.” [Energy Storage News]

Panels at an AGL solar plant in New South Wales (Image: AGL)

¶ Work began on the $10 million first phase of a solar power plant in Cambodia in a joint venture of Cambodian, Thai and Lao investors. They plan to invest $400 million in solar power projects producing about 225 MW for businesses, factories, and industrial zones. Cambodia aims to provide power to all 14,168 villages by 2020. [en.vietnamplus.vn]

US:

¶ The ongoing natural disasters ravaging the western and gulf coasts of the US should serve as a dire warning about climate change, according to Washington Gov Jay Inslee. He said the damage of hurricanes wildfires show that “we are seeing, in real time, a slow-motion disaster movie that we are now living through that is not hypothetical.” [CNN]

Damage done by Hurricane Irma

¶ The Turkey Point nuclear plant in Homestead, along the southeast Florida coast, was in the midst of a region with 5 million power outages –”unprecedented,” according to Florida Power and Light CEO Eric Silagy – yet kept operating even though the risk of a serious accident rises significantly in a power outage, according to the NRC. [Newsweek]

¶ About 6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after Hurricane Irma cut a deadly path through the state, officials say. Relief operations are under way and engineers are working to restore power, but many areas remain stranded. The Keys and western parts of the state bore the brunt of the category-four hurricane. [BBC]

Accident linked to Hurricane Irma

¶ A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study published in Nature Energy finds that wind power in the United States is responsible for saving tens of billions to hundreds of billions of dollars from prevented health care costs and saved lives from 2007–2015. The savings come from reduced pollution that causes asthma attacks and other diseases. [CleanTechnica]

¶ GE Renewable Energy has unveiled a new 4.8-MW turbine with an 158-meter rotor diameter for the onshore wind market. The 4.8-158 model is GE’s first onshore machine in the 4-MW space and is available with tips heights up to 240 meters. The turbine is suited to those regions that have low to medium wind speed. [reNews]

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September 11 Energy News

September 11, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The constant risk from the Bruce Mansfield plant” • On Aug. 29, an accident at the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant that claimed the lives of two workers who were exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas. A spokesperson for FirstEnergy, the owner, stated that the plant posed no threat to the public. That statement is not completely true. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Bruce Mansfield Power Plant (Post-Gazette image)

¶ “Good news! Energy demand will peak for the first time in human history” • Global energy demand will plateau from 2030, oil demand will flatten from 2020 and then decline significantly, the shift to renewable energy will be quicker and more massive than most people realize, according to findings of DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook. [HuffPost]

¶ “Nationals demand “coal target” as energy politics spirals into loony fog” • It seems unbelievable, but the politics of energy just got worse. A week that began with a bizarre push save the life of a decrepit, 50-year-old coal-burning power plant, finished with the Nationals demanding that subsidies intended for renewable energy go to coal instead. [RenewEconomy]

Clean coal

¶ “Plastics Have Become The Bane Of All Humanity” • From a golden age where plastics made anything possible, the world has descended into a living hell of plastic detritus that has totally infiltrated the earth and its oceans. A study by Orb Media shows that 83% of the earth’s population is drinking water contaminated by plastic particles. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans. The country’s vice minister of industry said it had started “relevant research” but that it had not yet decided when the ban would come into force. China made 28 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total. [BBC]

Chinese traffic (Getty Images)

¶ Sales numbers from August show that nearly 2% (1.88% to be exact) of new vehicle sales in Germany were plug-in vehicles, with fully electric vehicles up 137%. That’s a higher percentage share of new vehicle sales than in the United States. The data show that diesel continues to lose share as electric and plug-in vehicle sales rise. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time. That development, revealed in government figures, has been seen as a milestone in the advance of renewable energy. The plummeting cost of offshore wind energy has caught even its most optimistic supporters by surprise. [BBC]

Burbo Bank wind farm (Getty Images)

¶ Surging prices for grid-supplied electricity have placed considerable pressure on Australian businesses, particularly in sectors such as retail and commercial property. Large shopping centers, other businesses, and the communities around them have a desire to reduce their carbon footprint with renewable energy. [EcoGeneration]

¶ Offshore wind is now cheaper than nuclear and gas in the UK. The second Contracts for Difference subsidy auction that saw two developers win the rights to build offshore wind farms for just £57.50/MWh ($75.83/MWh). This compares to the rate of £92.50/MWh agreed for the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. [pv magazine International]

Growing renewable sources

¶ The Turnbull government is under renewed pressure from some conservative MPs to use the $5 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to help bankroll either a new coal-fired power plant or upgrades for existing coal-fired power stations. There is also speculation about a rail line for another mining project. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Wind power has set a new Scottish national record, generating enough electricity to serve as many as nine out of ten homes in the country. Turbines generated 846,942 MWh of electricity to the national grid last month. The new stats from WWF Scotland and WeatherEnergy say the wind provided 48% of all Scottish electricity needs for the month. [The Scottish Sun]

Wind farm

US:

¶ Candy giant Mars is investing $1 billion to tackle emissions across supply chain. The company has previously taken steps to become more sustainable. Wind farms in Texas and Scotland already generate enough to power USA and UK Mars operations. The new investments are in renewable energy, the food-supply chain, and farming. [HiTechFacts]

¶ As Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida, power utility officials warned Sunday that restoring electricity to more than 2 million homes and businesses will be a slow, dangerous, and time-consuming process. A Florida Power & Light spokesman said  that he expects full power restoration after the storm to take “multi-weeks.” [The Recorder]

Boynton Beach (Jim Rassol | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

¶ With Kentucky lagging behind most states in the production of sustainable energy, the Sierra Club is making a push at the community level to spike interest in solar and other renewable sources. According to the US DOE, 2.35% of the energy produced in Kentucky comes from renewables. By comparison, it is 42% in neighboring Missouri. [Public News Service]

¶ The Sierra Club is pushing Durango, Colorado to commit to 100% locally produced, renewable electricity by 2050. The goal no longer seems so far-fetched. Major utilities are rapidly investing in renewables because of tumbling prices for wind and solar. And the Xcel-owned local utility wants to close two coal-burning power plants. [Mountain Town News]

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September 10 Energy News

September 10, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Irma takes aim at America’s most vulnerable, unprepared city: Tampa” • Hurricane Irma appears to have Tampa in its cross-hairs, potentially hitting the city as a Category 3 storm Monday morning. Unfortunately, Tampa is unprepared. Climate science denial has thwarted efforts to plan for rising seas and worsening storms. [ThinkProgress]

Tampa in 2003 (Christopher Hollis, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “People power: how households can help the energy crisis” • With rising electricity prices and dire predictions about summertime blackouts and brownouts, Australia is widely understood to be in grip of an energy crisis. But as politicians argue about what to do next, people are quietly making their own difference. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ “President Trump’s War on Science” • From Day 1, the White House and its lackeys in certain federal agencies have been waging what amounts to a war on science. In nearly every case the principal motive for decisions seemed the same: to serve commercial interests whose profitability could be affected by health and safety rules. [New York Times]

White House matches (Image: Celia Jacobs)

World:

¶ Plans to build the £8 billion Cardiff tidal lagoon, which would be the UK’s largest ever renewable energy project creating and sustaining 8,000 manufacturing jobs, has been boosted with a National Grid connection agreement. The agreement ensures that if the project gets the go-ahead then electricity generated would flow into the grid connection. [WalesOnline]

¶ The government of the Netherlands has been ordered by a court in the country to take immediate action to reduce air pollution levels. In some parts of the country, air pollution is in breach of legal European Union particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide levels, according to recent reports. The order is a victory for environmentalists. [CleanTechnica]

Oudezijds Voorburgwal

¶ India may produce surplus power in the current financial year but sporadic outages continue to plague the country and 24% households are yet to be electrified, according to Fitch Ratings. Distribution utilities are shying away from signing new long-term power purchase agreements for both thermal and wind capacity. [Business Standard]

¶ Indian renewable energy firm ReNew Power Ventures targets to double its generation capacity to 5 GW in the next two years, a top company official said. The company has planned to add 1 GW capacity this fiscal. The company invested ₹6,700 crore ($1 billion) to add 430 MW of solar and 626 MW of wind capacity in 2016-17. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Renewable energy

¶ The New England area of New South Wales is in a renewable energy boom. And it is not just big companies building huge solar and wind farms; everyday residents are getting in on it by the droves. Farming the Sun, a local charity helping people get discounted solar panels, has dished out 1.5 MW since it started in 2008. [The Northern Daily Leader]

¶ Offshore wind power may emerge as a major post-Brexit success for the UK economy as technology costs plummet and the weaker pound increases its export potential. The technology is likely to be the major winner in the Government’s renewable support auction, which will award £295 million to low-carbon power schemes. [Telegraph.co.uk]

Offshore wind farm

¶ The International Atomic Energy Agency has issued its International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017 report. It sees high potential for nuclear power in the long term, but expansion is projected be slow for some years, due to early retirements and lack of interest in extending the life of nuclear power plants in some countries. [The National]

US:

¶ Helicopters will start flying this month between a Schoharie County electrical facility and the Capital Region as part of a $1 billion smart grid plan by the New York Power Authority. They will help ground crews install fiber optic lines connecting the Blenheim-Gilboa Storage Power Project to a new command center in White Plains. [Albany Times Union]

Schoharie Valley (Photo: Will Waldron/Times Union)

¶ JP Morgan Cazenove has joined the ranks of those who believe the electric vehicle revolution will happen sooner rather than later. JP Morgan noted that the price differential between legacy vehicles and EVs is gradually narrowing as battery prices fall, but that once a certain tipping point is reached, things could start happening quickly. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Virtual power purchase agreements are gaining steam around the country, with companies such as General Mills, Yahoo, Target and T-Mobile jumping into long contracts with solar farms, wind farms and hydro-electric projects. For Indiana, that could mean a significant boost to wind farms, perhaps adding hundreds of new turbines. [The Republic]

Meadow Lake Wind Farm

¶ South Carolina’s Clemson Area Transit agency placed an order for 10 all-electric 40′ Proterra Catalyst E2 buses, along with all the charging equipment they require, a press release revealed. The 10 all-electric Proterra buses will be manufactured at the firm’s East Coast Manufacturing Facility near Greenville, South Carolina, it is reported. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Nebraska State Board of Education approved new science standards that challenge kids to think and act like scientists. Under the new standards, students will “analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate and scale of global or regional climate changes.” [Omaha World-Herald]

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September 9 Energy News

September 9, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How Hurricane Irma Became So Huge and Destructive” • As Hurricane Irma barrels dangerously toward Florida, scientists say that a perfect mix of meteorological conditions has conspired over the past week to make the storm unusually large and powerful. In a season expected to have powerful hurricanes, Irma stands out. [New York Times]

Hurricane Irma (NOAA photo)

¶ “Let’s Fund Disaster Relief – And Fight Climate Change – With A Tax On Carbon” • Texas, Louisiana, and Florida are in dire need of funds to haul debris, fix houses and schools, replace cars, and build better flood protection, after record-breaking storms. A carbon tax for disaster relief could accomplish multiple interlinked goals. [Forbes]

World:

¶ Norway is a place where the oil industry often seems to operate outside of the law and cultural norms. The most recent example of this is the plan by the government of Norway to force the taxpayers to pay the special fees accompanying offshore production in remote parts of the Arctic, rather than the state-run oil companies themselves. [CleanTechnica]

Fjord in Norway

¶ Finnish energy company Fortum and Swedish power company Skellefteå Kraft have inaugurated the 247.5-MW Blaiken wind farm in Sweden. The wind farm, which consists of 99 of 2.5-MW turbines can produce about 714 GWh of clean energy annually. That energy is enough for more than 161,000 Swedish homes. [CleanTechnology News]

¶ Germany will not even come close to achieving its 2020 carbon dioxide emissions reductions goals, according to a study from Agora Energiewende. Chancellor Angela Merkel has openly admitted that Germany will end up missing its 2020 climate goals, but the margin of the miss could be much greater than was previously thought. [CleanTechnica]

Bicycles in Berlin

¶ Central Delhi could soon be generating up to 20 MW of power on the rooftops. The Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, a union ministry of power venture, and the New Delhi Municipal Council signed a memorandum of understanding to install 65,000 solar modules on major buildings located in the areas under the civic body’s jurisdiction. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ The developers of the 140-MW Khobab wind farm in South Africa have completed turbine installation ahead of schedule. Installation of the 61 2.3-MW Siemens Gamesa hardware started in March and was completed on 8 September. The turbines stand 100 meters tall and have 53-meter blades. The Khobab wind farm was built by Lekela Power. [reNews]

Erecting a turbine at Khobab (Mainstream Renewable Energy)

¶ An unusual combination of wind and solar resources is set to make a small northwest Queensland town the epicenter of Australia’s renewable energy boom, with the first grid-connected baseload wind, solar, and battery project. Together, they will provide “near baseload power”, Kennedy Energy Park proponents say. [Townsville Bulletin]

US:

¶ A living-history museum depicting a rural New England town from the 1830s, is now powered by a 1.8-MW solar ground mount, owned and operated by Green Street Power Partners, LLC. The solar system will provide power at a discounted rate for 25 years to Old Sturbridge Village, which welcomes more than 250,000 visitors annually. [Broadway World]

Mill at Old Sturbridge Village (Keitei, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Washington State University announced that it will be the US lead of a consortium of nationwide universities and industry partners in a five-year joint research project with India. The $30 million project, announced in a university news release, aims at advancing the development of the power grid in both the US and India. [India West]

¶ New documents show that Connecticut-based Freepoint Solar has plans to develop three arrays, each capable of generating 20 MW of power, in Vernon, Shaftsbury, and Fair Haven, Vermont. Only one array of that size has been approved in Vermont at this point. Large photovoltaic projects have spurred debates about siting and transmission capacity. [vtdigger.org]

Power lines in Vermont (Photo: Josh Larkin | VTDigger)

¶ In June 2017, the New York Power Authority issued a Large Scale Renewables Request For Proposals for the procurement of 1 million MWh or more of power. This is to support developing the state’s power infrastructure and large-scale, cost-effective renewable projects. Hydro-Québec is submitting two options for consideration by NYPA. [Quebec Daily Examiner]

¶ Schneider Electric will work with Faith Technologies to deploy an advanced microgrid at the new environmental center at the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve. The fully islandable microgrid will provide power to the nature preserve’s 18,000 square-foot environmental center and help meet resiliency and sustainability goals. [Electric Light & Power]

Rendering of the Environmental Center

¶ Minnesota added almost 2,900 clean energy jobs from 2015 to 2016, bringing its total to 57,351, according to a news release from Gov Mark Dayton’s office. The 5.3% growth meant clean energy jobs grew 3.8 times faster than overall jobs in the state, or about 2% of the state’s workforce, according to the group behind the annual study. [INFORUM]

¶ Florida governor Rick Scott, the utility Florida Power & Light, and the US NRC have all provided assurances that Florida’s nuclear plants will be able to withstand Hurricane Irma. But we are about to witness a giant experiment in the effectiveness of the NRC’s strategy for protecting nuclear plants from natural disasters. [All Things Nuclear]

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September 8 Energy News

September 8, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Why the smart money is now on renewables” • When it comes to the energy sector, the Australian investment community has clearly decided that renewable energy is not only viable, but is the way of the future. This year alone, renewable energy projects worth more than A$7 billion will either commence construction or be completed in Australia. [Business Insider Australia]

Wind turbine technicians (Photo Mark Kolbe | Getty Images)

¶ “Wired Japan woefully unprepared for EMP attack” • North Korea’s announcement that it has a hydrogen bomb raised fears of a new kind of attack that completely bypasses many hurdles of delivery technology: an electromagnetic pulse. An EMP attack would damage or destroy power and communications systems, and disable nuclear power plants. [The Japan Times]

World:

¶ The government of Scotland is now planning to phase out the sale of new petrol/gasoline and diesel cars by the year 2032, a full 8 years earlier than the current plans of the UK government. The plan was revealed by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland currently accounts for roughly 10% of the UK’s total auto market. [CleanTechnica]

Princes Street, Edinburgh

¶ Energy storage is seen as a technology critical to the effective deployment of renewable energy. In Australia, the government of the Australian Capital Territory is undertaking the second-largest roll-out of household batteries in the world (after Germany), through a program specifically aimed at boosting energy storage capacity. [Petroleum Economist]

¶ Researchers from the UK and China are to collaborate on five projects aimed at developing next generation offshore renewable energy technologies. The three-year initiative, which will include offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy projects, aims to maximise the environmental and socio-economic benefits of renewable energy. [reNews]

Offshore wind project (reNews image)

¶ The Asian Development Bank’s Board of Directors approved the disbursement of a loan of up to $2 million to develop solar energy capabilities and coverage in Samoa. The project is also getting other funding. It will install up to 4 MW of solar power generating capacity, which will save an estimated 1.7 million liters of diesel per year. [pv magazine International]

¶ German energy company Innogy has officially opened its 2-MW Grudie run-of-river hydro scheme at Kinlochewe in Scotland. The scheme, which cost £7.6 million, is on the Grudie river near Loch Maree, about seven kilometres from Kinlochewe. It took 15 months to construct and became operational in April 2016. [reNews]

Grudie hydro scheme in the Highlands (Innogy image)

¶ In Kenya, efforts to produce wind power on a grand scale are underway. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project is a 12-hour drive from Nairobi and, once operational, is set to provide 310 MW of renewable power to the Kenyan national grid. With 365 turbines, it is the largest wind farm in Africa, according to the project’s director. [CNBC]

¶ The small Greek island of Tilos, in the Aegean Sea, not far from the coast of Turkey, has a population of just over 500 people, and 13,000 tourists a year. It has focused efforts on renewables and by the end of the month will be able to achieve energy autonomy. It is the first island in the Mediterranean to have achieved such a result. [EURACTIV]

Tilos, an island with 500 inhabitants (Shutterstock image)

¶ Tired of its citizens forking over hard-earned yen to regional utilities and keen to promote its own renewable energy, Miyama became one of the first municipalities to start its own electricity retailer amid the deregulation of Japan’s power market. Major cities like Kyoto, Yokohama, and Sapporo are considering similar moves. [Bloomberg]

¶ Two Australian corporate heavyweights, Telstra and Macquarie Group, are looking to build or purchase solar and wind farms in Australia in yet more signs that investment is moving beyond the world of utilities looking to fulfill legislated targets. And as their customers defect, Australian utilities are taking an increasing interest in renewables. [RenewEconomy]

Large solar farm

US:

¶ EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told CNN in an interview about Hurricane Irma that the time to talk about climate change is not now. “Here’s the issue,” Pruitt told CNN in a phone interview. “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm, versus helping people or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.” [CNN]

¶ President Donald Trump famously said he represented the citizens of “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” But for the citizens of today’s Pittsburgh, who have spent the last three decades remaking the Steel City into a multi-industry hub for education, healthcare, technology, and sustainable development, clean energy is playing a central role. [CleanTechnica]

Phipps Garden Center, Pittsburgh

¶ Solar roof tile production at Tesla’s “Gigafactory 2” production plant in Buffalo, New York, has now begun, as of the end of August, according to the company’s Chief Technical Officer. Up to this point, for development reasons, Tesla’s new solar roof tiles have only been produced on a small scale in a plant in Fremont, California. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A study from Denver’s Department of Environmental Health shows that moving to 100% clean energy by 2030 or earlier is an achievable strategy that Denver can pursue to meet its 80% by 2050 carbon-reduction goal. The report comes just weeks after the mayor issued a vision for powering all of Denver with renewable energy. [North American Windpower]

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September 7 Energy News

September 7, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Biggest threat to Australia’s energy supply – fossil fuel ideologues” • Australia’s Energy Market Operator might count the failure of large fossil fuel generators in heatwaves as one of the biggest threats to Australia’s electricity supply in coming years, but what about the threat from fossil fuel ideologues who control the generating assets? [RenewEconomy]

Transmission lines in a heat wave

¶ “Our Hurricane Risk Models Are Dangerously Out-of-Date” • More than half of the deluge associated with Tropical Storm Harvey happened “outside of any mapped flood zone,” even including 500-year events, in areas with only “minimal flood hazard.” The Houston area suffered from something more than random bad luck. [MIT Technology Review]

Science and Technology:

¶ The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has paired up with the University of Toronto to develop technology to convert carbon dioxide and water into hydrogen-rich syngas, a basic building block for high value chemicals and fuels, including synthetic gasoline. The process can be fueled with renewable energy. [CleanTechnica]

Improving synthetic carbon-neutral fuel technology

World:

¶ France plans to pass legislation by the end of 2017 to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, according to a draft bill. It will no longer issue exploration permits and the extension of current concessions will be gradually limited until they are phased out by 2040. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

¶ Every new Jaguar Land Rover vehicle line launched from 2020 will be electric or hybrid, the company has announced. The carmaker said that the first of the new models would be a fully electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace, to go on sale in 2018. In July, Chinese-owned firm Volvo said all its new models would have electric motors from 2019. [BBC]

Jaguar I-Pace (Nick Dimbleby | Jaguar Land Rover)

¶ One of Birmingham’s biggest office blocks is enhancing its environmental credentials after deciding to switch to 100% renewable energy sources. The move follows a £66 million refinancing deal under a Green Lending Initiative. The 160,000 sq ft scheme was taken on by Nurton Developments in a dilapidated state and transformed. [Insider Media]

¶ Zorlu Energy has commissioned the first unit of Kizildere III plant, Turkey’s fourth geothermal power project. Installation of the plant in Denizli Province was begun last year, and the plant has now been commissioned by Ministry of Energy. The first unit has a capacity of 99.5 MW. The plant will eventually generate 165 MW. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Kizildere geothermal power plant (source: Zorlu Enerji)

¶ Equis Energy, Asia-Pacific’s largest renewable energy IPP, has been awarded a contract by Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy to develop a 70.2-MW solar project in Chiayi County’s Yizhu Township. The project will be Taiwan’s largest solar project, with a capacity of 70.2 MW. It sits on 79.5 hectares of land. [AsiaOne]

¶ A recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis warns that Indonesia’s coal-based electricity strategy risks wasting $76 billion over the next 25 years. New generating technology and changing energy markets are making it easier and cheaper to supply electricity with small distributed power stations. [eco-business.com]

Indonesian power plant (Image: peggydavis66, CC BY-SA 2.0)

¶ The Irish state-owned electric company, ESB, is planning a major drive into offshore wind farm construction that is likely to run into billions of euros. It says it is planning to develop or acquire the wind farms from next year, ranging from 200 MW to 500 MW, though some could be bigger. The plan is to locate the wind farms in the Irish Sea. [Belfast Telegraph]

US:

¶ Under court order to overhaul its plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, San Diego County released a new proposal for cutting them in August. Among other things, the document would commit the county to using at least 90% renewable energy by 2030. It will hold a series of public workshops on the subject this week. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

Alpine Library (Chadd Cady | San Diego Union-Tribune)

¶ GRID Alternatives announced that it received a massive donation from Tesla Energy of a mix of 569 kW of solar panels that will be installed on the rooftops of low-income homes. The donation adds Tesla to an impressive list of donors to GRID Alternatives including Enphase, SunPower, IronRidge, Jinko Solar, and Schneider Electric. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Ohio voters, even including those in coal-producing areas, overwhelmingly support policies encouraging greater renewable energy production and increasing energy efficiency. This includes revising wind turbine set-back rules to accommodate wind farm siting better, according to the statewide poll. [North American Windpower]

Coal-burning power plant

¶ Thanks to community-based energy efficiency programs, Duke Energy has delayed plans to build a natural gas-fired peaker plant in North Carolina. The plant, will now be built in 2027 instead of 2023, as planned, the Citizen-Times reported. Duke said the transition to renewable energy could even eliminate its need entirely. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ Energy firm Florida Power & Light said on Wednesday it could shut its four nuclear reactors in the path of Hurricane Irma before Saturday if the storm stayed on its current path. Irma, which the US National Hurricane Center said was the strongest Atlantic storm on record, is on a somewhat uncertain path toward Florida. [Yahoo7 News]

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September 6 Energy News

September 6, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables Offers Lessons for the World” • At their height in the 1950s, mines in the Ruhr Valley employed about 600,000 workers, entwining the region’s identity with coal. Today, only two hard coal mines remain, and in 2018 they’ll both be shut down. But the miners have new jobs. [Scientific American]

Power plant (Credit: Krisztian Bocsi | Getty Images)

Science and Technology:

¶ In a paper published in July, James Hansen said that because of continued inaction since the Paris agreement was reached, limiting carbon emissions will no longer be enough. Now, he says, active measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be required. And those measures will impose staggering expenses. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Two recent reports indicate that the cost of wind power will continue to decrease, making it one of the most affordable green alternatives on the market. The US DOE’s Wind Technologies Market Report and a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory both say wind technology and efficiency continues to improve. [Interesting Engineering]

Offshore wind farm (Source: Rob Faulkner | Wikipedia)

World:

¶ Germany would have to shut 25 GW of coal-fired power capacity, about half its current total, by 2030 to meet carbon-cutting targets agreed under the Paris climate deal, the Deputy Economy Minister said. He told an energy conference that the measures would have to be worked out by the new government after this month’s general election. [Reuters Africa]

¶ The annual report from trade body Oil & Gas UK said 60,000 direct and indirect jobs were lost across the industry in 2016, more than the 40,000 it had predicted. The report said the sector could lose another 13,000 jobs in 2017. The oil and gas industry still supports more than 300,000 jobs in the UK, but that is 150,000 fewer than the peak in 2014. [BBC]

Oil platform (PA)

¶ In South Korea, hybrid plants with solar and storage are in high demand. Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction announced that is has constructed a solar energy & storage hybrid power plant by integrating a 300-kW solar generation system with a 1-MWh energy storage system on the rooftop of its Changwon head office. [pv magazine International]

¶ Australia’s energy market operator warned that the country faces more blackouts over the coming southern hemisphere summer with the closure of a major coal-fired power station, even with the world’s biggest battery in place. The report will be key to the federal government’s decision on how to set a clean energy target beyond 2020. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Transmission tower

¶ In anticipation of auctions that may be held in Portugal over the next years, several projects for solar parks have been submitted to authorities recently. The latest is a 20-MW PV plant planned for Vidigueira, in southern Portugal. The town council said the plant is expected to generate around 35 GWh per year. [pv magazine International]

¶ The Norwegian municipality of Arendal pledged to become 100% climate neutral. It is the world’s first municipality to join the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative, which means it will measure and reduce emissions “to the greatest extent possible” and offset other emissions. Municipal operations have been climate neutral since 2008. [Energy Live News]

Arendal (Image: Shutterstock)

US:

¶ E.ON has started constructing its Texas Waves power storage project. The 20-MW, 5-MWh storage facility is being built on the sites of the pre-existing E.ON wind farms Pyron and Inadale in West Texas. As an integral part of the wind farms, Texas Waves will be able to react quickly for the network operator as supply changes are needed. [Your Renewable News]

¶ Greenwood Energy has closed on $52.8 million of tax equity and debt financing for a 26-MW portfolio of solar PV projects. US Bancorp Community Development Corporation is providing tax equity financing, as Santander Bank provides debt financing. Greenwood Energy has an 84-MW solar portfolio with projects in Florida, Vermont and New York. [PV-Tech]

Solar project in Vermont (Credit: Greenwood Energy)

¶ A major Wyoming wind project designed to deliver energy to California faces growing competition from solar power. Solar development alone could succeed in meeting California’s renewable energy standard, which will require half of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030, Wyoming legislators were told. [Redwood Times]

¶ The Illinois Department of Natural Resources granted Kansas-based Woolsey Companies a permit to begin fracking at a site in White County, despite opposition from environmental groups saying the plan was faulty. They are taking the agency to task, saying demanding so little transparency in the permitting process is a gift to potential polluters. [WSIU]

Pyramid State Park, Illinois

¶ A partnership between the city of Washington, DC, and nonprofit GRID Alternatives is looking to give residents from underserved areas the skills they need to build careers while providing low-income families with the benefits of solar panels. After training, area residents will install solar panels on 300 low-income homes. [Atlanta Black Star]

¶ Dominion Energy has paused development activities on a fifth reactor at the North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia, according to a company spokesperson. The move comes amid ever-growing scrutiny now that construction on two reactors in South Carolina has stopped and plans for others in the region have been scrapped. [Southeast Energy News]

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September 5 Energy News

September 5, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Climate warming can reduce the number of plant species in the tundra, but plant-eating animals, such as reindeer and voles, can change the effect, according to a study published in Nature Communications. Reindeer eat tall and wide-leaved plants, increasing light availability so more plant species can grow together. [Science Daily]

Reindeer grazing in tundra (Credit: Elina Kaarlejärvi)

World:

¶ The Dutch Ministry of Economy said it has selected 4,386 PV projects with a total capacity of 2,353 MW in its current round of renewable energy biding. The total capacity of the round is 3,212 MW. The remainder includes 643 MW of wind projects, 110 MW of biomass projects, 50 MW of geothermal projects, and 52 MW of other technologies. [pv magazine]

¶ Work has been completed on the new hydroelectric power plant on the River Thames at Sandford. It cost more than £3 million ($3.88 million) and will power 450 homes in the autumn, winter and spring, when the river is sufficiently high. The three giant Archimedes screws will produce about 1,600 MWh of electricity per year. [Oxfordshire Guardian]

Sandford Hydro project (Photo: Low Carbon Hub)

¶ A study done by Indian and American researchers measured for the first time the effect of smog and dust deposition on the efficiency of solar cells in the world’s third largest polluter, India. An unexpectedly huge 25% to 30% of power is lost, equivalent to 3,900 MW. The amount of money lost to pollution that blocks light is enormous. [The Green Optimistic]

¶ Croatia will increase incentive fees for renewable energy producers in an attempt to boost the share of clean energy, although this will result in slightly higher electricity bills for households. Most of the domestic electricity demand is met by hydropower, but the former Yugoslav country still imports more than 40% of its electricity. [EURACTIV]

Croatia (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Denmark, the world’s top wind turbine producer, is selling off its last oil company. AP Moller-Maersk, the country’s famed industrial and shipping conglomerate, has agreed to sell its oil and gas division to French giant Total. Pending regulatory approval, the $7.45 billion deal is expected to close by next year, Bloomberg reported. [HuffPost]

¶ The 52-foot-diameter Cape Sharp Tidal turbine endured the winter and spring on the seabed in the Bay of Fundy, generating electricity. Now it is in port for upgrades. While the 1,100-ton machine looks as if it went through a couple of rounds with a powerful adversary, it did survive. That is an improvement over an earlier model’s performance. [Philly.com]

Cape Sharp Tidal turbine

¶ Enel Green Power Peru has started construction of a 132-MW wind farm in that country. The wind farm will be located in the district of Marcona in the Ica region. It is claimed that once it is completed it will be one of the largest wind farms in the country. Enel will invest around $165 million in the construction of the facility. [CleanTechnology News]

¶ Farmers in Japan could be in for a windfall if a new practice of combining agriculture with solar power generation takes root. In 2013, the Japanese government relaxed some restrictions on the use of farmland for solar power generation, provided it was also used for agriculture. Now, some farmers grow mushrooms under the solar panels. [Nikkei Asian Review]

Mushrooms growing under solar panels

¶ The Australian Energy Market Operator cited climate change, and the potential for fossil fuel generators to fail in summer heat waves as the biggest threat to Australia’s future electricity supply. It makes clear that there are plenty of alternatives to new baseload coal generators, and stresses a need for more wind and solar plants. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the Federal Government is trying to delay the closure of the Liddell coal-fired power station in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, keeping it open for at least five extra years. AGL currently has plans to close the plant in 2022, when it reaches more than 50 years of operation. [ABC Online]

Liddell power plant (Photo: Webaware, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ The Trump Administration’s decision to postpone compliance of a new rule on coal royalties after it was in effect was unlawful, a California district court ruled. Though the Administration does have legal authority to delay an effective date when a rule is contested or in litigation, it cannot do that retroactively, the judge wrote. [Casper Star-Tribune Online]

¶ Giant batteries are starting to make a mark on the electricity grid that serves all of New England. Their unique characteristics could supercharge solar and wind energy development in the region. The batteries reduce stress on the power grid, and at the same time they reduce customer bills through a process called “peak shaving.” [WBUR]

Battery array in Maine (Fred Bever | Maine Public)

¶ When Washington Gas and Light started up in 1848, street lighting was the primary market for natural gas. Then the electric light bulb was invented, and gas eventually beat out coal in other energy sectors. Now low-cost wind and solar are beginning to take the place once occupied by natural gas, and WGL is changing with the times. [Triple Pundit]

¶ Utility companies were warned more than a year ago that a South Carolina nuclear reactor project was doomed. Even so, they failed to heed warnings that could have saved the venture, according to a report by a major project management company obtained by The Associated Press. The warnings came from Bechtel in March 2016. [WSPA.com]

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September 4 Energy News

September 4, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The End of Fossil-Fuelled Cars” • The current growth rate of EVs looks to be higher than the 42% that gives a doubling time of 2 years. If it can maintain a 42% CAGR, and EV sales take the entire market in 2031, even without such revolutionary changes as driverless cars and the ubiquitous ridesharing that some analysts predict. [CleanTechnica]

1919 Rauch & Lang electric car

¶ “A New Metaphor” • There is a point at which climate deniers are exercising freedom of speech. And there is another point at which they are falsely endangering people. The question of whether a climate denier believed what he was saying may be irrelevant if he was acting in strong self-interest despite experts telling him he was wrong. [Green Energy Times]

¶ “America the Decrepit: The Trump Plan Won’t Fix the Infrastructure Deficit” • President Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure program as a key part of his plan to make the US economy great again. But as each month passes, the likelihood of the administration proposing an infrastructure program grows more remote. [Truth-Out]

Tacoma narrows bridge, 1940 (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ The artificial leaf is smaller than a playing card and as thin as a real leaf. At its core is a wafer of the silicon used in standard solar panels. It is sandwiched between two coats of chemical catalysts. The silicon’s job is to absorb sunlight and to pass the energy to the catalysts, and the catalysts use this to make hydrogen and oxygen from water. [The Press]

World:

¶ Gaza cannot run a new sewage facility for more than a few hours a day because of an ongoing electricity crisis, so raw sewage is contaminating beaches and groundwater in both Gaza and Israel. A group of local Israeli leaders is calling for help to provide Gaza with electricity to avert a crisis that “does not take into account political borders.” [CNN]

Visitor at a beach with contaminated water

¶ Research and consultancy company Green Energy Markets has released its first Australian Renewable Index Report to help the whole community understand the contribution renewables are making to the energy market. The Index will report monthly on renewable energy usage, jobs creation, pollution reduction, and power bill savings. [ECU News]

¶ The Ktunaxa Nation Council announced it is partnering with Columbia Basin Trust, Accelerate Kootenays, and Solar Now to install solar arrays on the rooftop of the Ktunaxa Nation Government Building in Cranbrook, British Columbia. The grid-tied, 40-kW, 119-solar-panel system will generate 45,000 kWh of electricity annually. [BCLocalNews]

Solar installation

¶ The world is approaching a watershed moment as energy demand is set to plateau from 2030, driven by greater efficiency with the wider application of electricity. A rapid decarbonization of the energy supply is underway with renewables set to make up almost half of the energy mix by 2050, DNV GL’s inaugural Energy Transition Outlook said. [LNG Industry]

¶ Half of Romania’s national energy output was provided from renewable sources on Sunday, with wind power providing the biggest share. Wind turbines provided 30.73% of the national production output, hydropower provided 11.33%, solar energy contributed 6.63%, biomass provided 0.61%. Coal accounted for 24.36% and nuclear 19%. [Business Review]

Windfarm

¶ DONG Energy has got first power from its 659-MW Walney 3 wind farm, under construction in the Irish Sea. The first of 40 MHI Vestas V164-8.0MW turbines have begun exporting to the National Grid, the Danish company said. A further 47 Siemens Gamesa 7-MW machines will complete the project. Seajacks ships are performing installation. [reNews]

¶ No new coal-based power plants will be allowed by the Indian government, apart from those already under construction. This is in the national electricity plan. A recent Greening the Grid report said that by 2022, 175,000 MW of renewable energy can be integrated into the grid, minimizing the need for traditional sources of energy. [EnergyInfraPost]

Transporting coal by rail

US:

¶ Hog Power Energy, a new company in Sioux City, Iowa, aims to help pork producers reduce electricity costs through the use of renewable energy created with a self-contained solar generator system developed by its founder. The all-in-one solar powered system includes an 11-kW solar panel system and a 20-kW battery. [Sioux City Journal]

¶ Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the bill for reconstruction after Hurricane Harvey could be as high as $180 billion (£138 billion). The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina was about $120 billion. The head of FEMA, the government’s disaster management agency, warned that flood-hit states should not rely on Washington to pay the bill. [BBC]

Remaining floodwaters (Getty Images)

¶ The Rhode Island Department of Health wants climate change included in the decision-making for the proposed Burrillville power plant. It outlined a list of health threats from global warming, including increases in infectious diseases, asthma, respiratory diseases, and death, with greater harm to low-income earners, the elderly, and children. [ecoRI news]

¶ Edmonton-based Capital Power says it will to go ahead with a $182-million wind farm in North Dakota. The company expects the 99-MW New Frontier Wind project to begin construction immediately and start commercial operation in December of 2018. Capital Power says it signed a deal for a fixed price for 12 years. [Daily Commercial News]

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September 3 Energy News

September 3, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Is Utah missing the renewable energy boat?” • Rocky Mountain Power intends to invest $3.5 billion for renewable energy infrastructure to supply power for Utah. The bad news for Utah is that the money will be spent in Wyoming and Idaho. So the question for elected leaders and legislators from Utah’s more rural counties is, “Why?” [Deseret News]

PVs in Utah (Photo: Governor’s Office of Energy Development)

¶ “Will future storms will be worse than Harvey? The debate over climate and hurricanes” • At the time of Katrina, researchers published studies suggesting that more intense hurricanes were linked to rising ocean temperatures. After all, hurricanes get their energy from the warm waters. The big problem was a need for data, but that is no longer an issue. [Chicago Tribune]

¶ “Sen Kaine vows to help keep island’s Trump-backing residents from sinking below the waves” • Donald Trump’s numbskull minions continue to scrub “climate change” from government websites, documents, and grant proposals. But Tangier Island, whose people voted mainly for Trump, is disappearing, and climate denialism is not helping. [Daily Kos]

Tangier Island (Chesapeake Bay Program)

¶ “How Harvey has shown us the risks of climate change” • In a warmer world, heavy precipitation is on the rise, increasing the rainfall of a given storm. The sea level is rising, worsening the risks of coastal flooding. Now, scientists are exploring how human-induced change may affect storm intensity and the winds that steer the hurricanes. [Houston Chronicle]

World:

¶ Mexico is preparing for a third round of annual tenders for new supply projects to be auctioned in November. The first two rounds covered a combined 14.3 TWh of annual production. Mexico’s goal is to raise the share of renewables in the energy mix from around 20% currently to 35% by 2024 and to 50% by 2050. [OilPrice.com]

PV panels

¶ Warm temperatures have produced new high summer demand in Saskatchewan. SaskPower will invest approximately $1 billion in infrastructure projects this year across the province. New infrastructure projects over the next 13 years will also include doubling the power capacity that comes from the province’s renewable sources. [Weyburn This Week]

¶ Aside from the massive recurrent national grid investments in Nigeria, with costs running into several billion US dollars, the country is said to be spending N5 trillion ($14 billion) each year on distributed diesel generation, which has no connection with the national utility grid, but provides electricity for homes and businesses. [TODAY.NG]

Clifton Pier Power Station

¶ State-owned NTPC, based in New Delhi, recorded 12.55% growth in power generation in August this year as compared to the same month in 2016. The plant load factor increased 5.58%, and Koldam hydro power project generated electricity at its peak capacity during this period, but electricity from solar PVs rose by a factor of three. [Millennium Post]

¶ South African utility Eskom finds itself in the unusual position of having to find more customers as additional power from renewable energy companies becomes available to the grid by the end of October. Eskom has had an oversupply of electrical power with coal-burning power plants and new renewable projects. [Financial Mail]

Wind turbines (Photo: William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

¶ NRECA International selected Bandera Electric Cooperative to design and procure a solar and energy storage solution for Totota, Liberia, which is 160 km (100 mi) east of the capital, Monrovia. Power from 220 solar panels will be provided to about 400 homes. A 90-kWh battery system will be included in the system. [New Kerala]

¶ Solarplicity has revealed more details of its £1 billion solar program for social housing tenants. Details confirm that Maas Capital will invest £160 million to unlock a total of £1 billion. This will then be used for a residential installation program for 800,000 homes in England and Wales during the next five years. [Solar Power Portal]

Social housing install in Ealing (Credit: Solarplicity)

¶ According to the lead researcher of a study, 29.5% of workers at Fukushima Daiichi during the disaster have displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks. About one in five TEPCO workers at neighboring Fukushima Daini plant also developed PTSD, even though the four reactors there were not damaged. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ Montana coal production is more than 2 million tons ahead of where it was this time last year, although analysts say the future is far from bright for the fossil fuel. “A company that lost 30% of its market in the last couple years and gains back two points is technically doing better,” one analyst said. And new plants are just not being built. [Billings Gazette]

Coal being loaded into hopper cars (Associated Press)

¶ Significant rainfall and cooler temperatures may have dimmed the spirits of outdoor recreationists in Michigan this summer, but the weather has provided for an increase in the production of renewable energy from Upper Peninsula Power Company’s hydroelectric generation fleet, according to officials of the utility company. [Marquette Mining Journal]

¶ This year, the number of juvenile flounder caught by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in its annual survey hit an all-time low. For decades, the fish have been declining in numbers off the Texas coast. Over-fishing is one reason, but a main factor is environmental. Climate change has made the water too warm for spawning. [WRAL.com]

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September 2 Energy News

September 2, 2017

World:

¶ The renewables arm of General Electric announced that it has reached 5 GW of installed wind capacity in Brazil and that it will commission 600 MW during September. The 600 MW of turbines to be commissioned this month, which are included in the 5-GW milestone, are located at three previously announced projects. [Renewables Now]

GE wind turbine

¶ ABB has made two project supply deals to support wind and solar energy. ABB is a Swiss developer of power electronics and storage solutions for clean energy. It will install a 2-MW battery to support the 90-MW Burbo Bank offshore wind farm in the UK and has a supply contract to install its solar inverters at 750 Indian railway stations. [pv magazine]

¶ South Africa’s energy ministry is to sign delayed power purchase agreements by the end of October with several renewable energy projects, the South African Wind Energy Association said. The projects, from the country’s Round 3.5 and 4 renewable energy programs, have a total investment value of ZAR58 billion (€3.8 billion, $4.5 billion). [reNews]

Vestas wind turbines in South Africa (Vestas image)

¶ Voltalia, an international player in renewable energy, has announced starting construction on an 8.2-MW solar power plant in France. The 8.2 MW power plant is one of the projects won by Voltalia during the 2013 national solar tender. The plant will be located in the city of Alleins, in the Bouches-du-Rhône area. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ The Ethiopian Electric Power company is inviting qualified bidders to express interest for the procurement of full drilling services at the Dubti Field, for the Tendaho Geothermal Power Project. The project is to support the economic development of Ethiopia through the geothermal power, enhancing Ethiopian resilience to climate change. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Geothermal plant in Ethiopia (ThinkGeoEnergy image)

¶ Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas is working with US electric vehicle giant Tesla to develop an efficient means of linking up wind farms with battery storage. Vestas confirmed their partnership with Tesla to BusinessGreen. They said the partnership is part of a wider program consisting of around 10 projects. [www.businessgreen.com]

¶ Official preliminary data from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has revealed that the country added 900 MW of solar capacity in the first six months of the year. Cumulative installed PV capacity stood at 11,872 MW at the end of 2016, the BEIS data shows, rising to 12,720 MW by June 30. [pv magazine]

Rooftop solar system in the UK (Solarcentury image)

US:

¶ Tesla CEO Elon Musk foresees the market for Model 3 vehicles swelling to 700,000 vehicles, as EVs become more common. However, having EVs selling in these larger volumes could have some unintended side effects. For starters, a sudden, large-scale surge in electric vehicle charging will have an impact on our electricity grid. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Washington DC has become the world’s first LEED Platinum city. This is in part because of what it has done installing solar energy on its municipal buildings. In the past two years, solar power installed on the roofs of 28 public schools, other educational buildings, police and fire facilities now produce as much as 7 MW of solar power. [pv magazine USA]

EPA headquarters (Creative Commons)

¶ Petaluma, California, long a hotbed for rooftop solar electricity projects, is about to take renewable energy generation to the next level. Two area landowners are embarking on projects to build 1-MW solar arrays, which will be able to power 300 homes each. The projects are the first of their kind under a program from Sonoma Clean Power. [PennEnergy]

¶ The explosive expansion of Houston into prairies to the west helped make the city affordable for the 345 people who moved there on an average day. It also paved over thousands of acres that the Army Corps of Engineers had intended to be used for flood-control projects to help control deluges like the ones from Harvey. [Beaumont Enterprise]

Gordon Prendergast and the kayak he bought to
get to his home (Photo: Nomaan Merchant, AP)

¶ A group of 14 attorneys general and local officials are urging the EPA to retract a “legally incorrect” letter sent to states in March that said they do not have to comply with the Clean Power Plan. The officials wrote that the CPP “remains the law of the land” despite a Supreme Court hold on the rule, and asked the EPA to retract the letters from Pruitt. [EcoWatch]

¶ SolarWorld Americas has supplied solar panels totalling 14.2-MW to Cyrq Energy’s Patua PV project in Nevada.  The project is sited next to a geothermal plant to provide constant power generation, SolarWorld said. Sacramento Municipal Utility District is buying electricity generated by the solar and geothermal plants, both owned by Cyrq. [reNews]

Patua PV project in Nevada (SolarWorld image)

¶ Empowered by Illinois’ new Future Energy Jobs Act, solar companies have approached farmers around Will County about using some of their property for solar farms. With offers of $800 per acre, compared to $160 to $180 for a really good crop yield, some older farmers are considering the steady cash flow as they head into retirement. [Chicago Tribune]

¶ Georgia Power told state regulators this week that it wants to keep building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. Georgia Power will have Bechtel build the reactors. This will add billions of dollars of extra costs and additional years of delays, but Georgia Power says completing the project is the best choice. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

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September 1 Energy News

September 1, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “It’s not just Harvey: August marked by deadly floods around world” • Severe floods around the world are washing through cities and villages, sweeping away homes and leaving a deadly toll. Extensive flooding in Sierra Leone, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, in addition to Texas, raising questions about what role climate change is playing. [CNN]

Flooding in Mumbai

¶ “The Week the Earth Stood Still” • When normally sober scientists start draining the barrel of awful superlatives to describe a summer day off the Gulf Coast, it’s time to pay attention. And today, the smartest military men count the global insecurity and chaos of climate change as an existential threat on a par with nuclear disaster. [New York Times]

World:

¶ Siem Offshore Contractors installation support vessel Siem Moxie has started work at Statoil’s 30-MW Hywind floating wind farm off Scotland.  The vessel arrived at the Buchan Deep site last week and is supporting ongoing commissioning work on the project’s five Siemens 6-MW Turbines, which are mounted on soar-buoy floating foundations. [reNews]

Siem Moxie

¶ According to the Oxfam-funded study conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, solar-powered primary healthcare centres in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh admitted over 50% more patients and delivered almost twice the number of babies in one month as “power-deficit” health centres without solar systems. [Decentralized Energy]

¶ Volkswagen UK is offering customers discounts of up to £6,000 ($7,760) to trade in diesel vehicles when buying a new car. All the Volkswagen UK brands will participate, including Audi, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. VW launched a more generous scheme in Germany in August in the wake of its diesel emissions scandal. [BBC]

Other makers are also offering discounts. (Getty Images)

¶ Taiwan’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy outlined its new policy goals to focus on clean energy production, as part of President Moon Jae-in’s nuclear phase out pledge. The phase out of coal-fired power stations and the improvement in efficiency are expected to cut emissions of pollution materials by half by 2030. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ Underwater turbines in the Pentland Firth have set a new world record, according to developer Atlantis Resources. Two tidal turbines generated enough electricity to power 2000 homes last month, they said. Atlantis intends to install 269 turbines, with a total capacity of 398 MW in the strait between Orkney and Caithness. [STV News]

Tidal turbine being installed (Atlantis Resources)

¶ Australia has experienced its hottest winter on record (for mean maximum temperatures), as a result of intensifying climate change. The Bureau of Meteorology released its seasonal update confirming Australia has seen the hottest and one of the driest winters on record, with temperatures reaching almost 2° C above average. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Enel Green Power Brasil Participações has started commercial operations at the 180-MW Delfina wind farm in the Brazilian state of Bahia. The $400 million project is located in the municipality of Campo Formoso and was financed by Enel and a loan from the Brazilian Development Bank. Delfina is Enel’s largest wind farm in Brazil. [reNews]

Enel wind farm in Brazil (Credit: Enel Green Power)

¶ The Queensland Labor government has removed a 5-kW cap on solar systems able to access feed-in tariffs in regional areas, announcing that systems up to 30-kW will now be able to access the 11¢/kWh tariff. The higher cap should encourage installations of solar systems, which reduce grid stress, and so may help lower bills. [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ The White House says it will ask the Congress for emergency funding to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. President Donald Trump is expected to propose an initial $5.9 billion (£4.56 billion). The amount will be followed by other aid, though it is not known how quickly. Texas authorities say the state might need more than $125 billion. [BBC]

Flooded neighborhood (Getty Images)

¶ The price of the Tesla Model S or Model X equipped with a 100-kWh battery has dropped by $3,000. This is the second price cut for the Model X. Earlier this year, Tesla reduced the starting price for its SUV by $3,000 as well. Tesla said the drops reflect “cost efficiency improvements of approximately 3% in 100-kWh pack production.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Company completed the 70-mile (113-km) CapX2020 Big Stone South-Brookings County 345-kV transmission line in South Dakota. The $140 million line runs between the new Big Stone South substation near Big Stone City and the existing Brookings County substation about 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Brookings. [reNews]

Transmission power lines (credit: SXC)

¶ Hawaiian Electric Cos filed a final Grid Modernization Strategy with state regulators, laying out a plan to build a more resilient grid while meeting the state’s 100% renewables by 2045 mandate. The plan includes bringing on more renewable resources, both customer-sited and grid-sourced, increasing reliability, and giving customers more control. [Utility Dive]

¶ California is on the brink of approving a law to target 100% renewable electricity by 2045, in defiance of hostility to climate action from the Trump administration. The bill passed the senate in May and is set for a final assembly vote in coming days. It will make California the world’s largest test bed for creating an entirely clean power grid. [Climate Home]

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