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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