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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