Archive for December, 2017

December 31 Energy News

December 31, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Macro Grids May Be the Future of Renewable Energy” • Increasing numbers of countries are employing DC lines to move energy across continents. Since the sun and wind are always producing energy somewhere, they could deliver clean energy where it’s most needed at any time, helping solve the problem of intermittent supply. [Futurism]

Electric power grid

¶ “5 major changes to US environmental policy in 2017” • It has been a noteworthy year for US environmental policy. Obama-era rules and regulations governing the US approach to climate change and its natural resources have been the target of President Donald Trump’s deregulatory fervor. Here is a look at some of the most notable changes. [CNN]

¶ “Burning wood for power is ‘misguided’ say climate experts” • Policies aimed at limiting climate change by boosting the burning of biomass contain critical flaws that could actually damage attempts to avert dangerous levels of global warming in the future. That is the stark view of one of Britain’s chief climate experts. [The Guardian]

Burning wood pellets (Photo: Alamy)

¶ “A great year for clean energy in Australia ends, while bad news for coal continues” • The coal building spree is fast winding down in China and India. The head of infrastructure investment at BlackRock, the world’s largest investment manager, announced in May, “coal is dead.” Meanwhile renewable energy was setting records. [The Guardian]

World:

¶ Nissan has begun offering some Japanese buyers of the new, refreshed Leaf free installation of home solar PV systems, if they sign up for specific retail electricity plans with Ecosystem Japan. The joint PR campaign aims to offer adopters of the new long-range Nissan Leaf in the Kanto region the chance to power their new cars with solar energy. [CleanTechnica]

Nissan Leaf

¶ As year 2017 nears to an end, India’s power woes are slowly cooling off, thanks to large capacity addition in renewables, improved coal availability for conventional plants and increasing demand for electricity. The peak hour power deficit has also come down from a -12.7% in 2009-2010 to -2% in 2017-2018. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ Considering the future of offshore windpower for the next decade, TenneT proposes a man-made island on Dogger Bank in the middle of the North Sea to provide for a distribution hub for electricity. At the island, AC current from the wind turbines would be converted to DC, which would then be sent to shore via undersea cables. [CleanTechnica]

Proposed TenneT island

¶ Construction of China’s 600-MWe demonstration fast nuclear reactor at Xiapu, Fujian province, has officially begun with the pouring of the first concrete for the reactor’s basemat. The reactor is scheduled to begin commercial operation by 2023. It will be a demonstration of its sodium-cooled pool-type fast reactor design. [Next Big Future]

¶ China has joined France and the Netherlands in testing solar expressways, opening a one kilometer (0.6 miles) stretch of photovoltaic roadway in Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province.The biggest objection to solar highways has been the cost, as naysayers point out the energy requirement of making the thick glass needed. [Digital Journal]

France’s Wattway project (Colas)

US:

¶ Wyoming is one of the epicenters of coal production in the US, but it is also blessed with rich wind resources. Wind farms have plenty of room to blossom in Wyoming. And though the state’s population is low, power-thirsty California is not too far away to use its energy. Now, a new transmission line is being developed. [CleanTechnica]

¶ US renewables developer SunEdison Inc announced on Friday that it has emerged from Chapter 11 as a privately held company after offloading more than $2.3 billion (€1.9 billion) worth of assets during the process. The assets sold include two of its most valuable, interest in TerraForm Power Inc and TerraForm Global Inc. [Renewables Now]

SunEdison PV park in India (See article for rights)

¶ Around 5 billion trips were made by transit rail services in the US during 2016, according to data published by the American Public Transportation Association. The number of transit rails trips in the US in 2016 was nearly twice the number for 1992. The increase is despite the decrepit condition of US public rail systems. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The projected 3.2 feet of sea-level rise by 2100 could submerge or destroy 300 structures, 11 miles of coastal highway, and 3,130 acres of land on the Hawaiian island of Maui. It would cause $3.2 billion in economic losses on the island and threaten its tourism industry. The projections are in a report commissioned for the state Legislature. [Maui News]

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December 30 Energy News

December 30, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Is climate change making hurricanes worse?” • The past year has been a busy one for hurricanes. There were 17 named storms in 2017, 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). It was an above average year in each respect. But are these storms getting worse? And does climate change have anything to do with it? [BBC ]

Climate Extremes Index (NOAA graph)

¶ “How Corporations ‘Bypassed the Politics’ to Lead on Clean Energy in 2017” • When President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord attention quickly turned to corporate America. Would business leaders forge ahead in the fight against climate change without federal backing? In 2017, the answer is yes. [Greentech Media]

Science and Technology:

¶ Rising humidity levels will greatly worsen the effects of rising temperatures in many parts of the world. The rise may preclude the possibility for survival in the southeastern US, Amazon, northern India, eastern China, and parts of Africa and the Middle East, according to a study from the Earth Institute at Columbia University. [CleanTechnica]

Problem areas (Map by Ethan Coffel)

¶ As much of the country braced for the cold snap, President Trump weighed in on Twitter, seeming to dismiss the effects of climate change and conflate the the latest weather with the broader issues around climate. What are the differences? What are the facts? John Yang learns more from Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University. [PBS NewsHour]

World:

¶ Shanghai is a port city on the edge of the ocean. Vulnerable to flooding from both sea and rain, it is to become one of the Chinese “sponge cities.” It will be able to absorb large quantities of water quickly then slowly release it. The concept involves green roofs, wetlands, natural vegetation, and, especially notably, permeable concrete. [CleanTechnica]

Sponge city concept rendering

¶ Ehang, based in Guangzhou, China, is a maker of video-flying drones that is entering the autonomous aerial vehicle market. It says its Ehang 184 AAV is “the safest, smartest, and eco-friendly low altitude autonomous aerial vehicle, aiming on providing medium-short distance communication and transportation solution.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Alberta’s economy was so invested in fossil fuel production that to suggest that wind, solar, geothermal, or hydro could be used for generating electricity instead of coal and natural gas was tantamount to treason. But times have changed, and renewable energy developers are lining up to get in on Alberta’s electricity markets. [Toronto Star]

Wind farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta (Photo: David Dodge)

¶ South Korea has finalized a power supply plan that aims to make renewables the country’s fuel of choice for power generation for the next 15 years, its energy ministry said. The plan is largely unchanged from an earlier draft that outlined the gradual reduction in use of coal and nuclear fuel in favor of gas and renewables through 2031. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ In 2017, about 33.7% of the power generated in Spain came from renewable energy sources, mainly wind turbines, according to provisional figures. Nuclear power plants produced 22.6% of the country’s electricity, ranking first. Then came wind farms with a share of 19.2%, ahead of Coal at 17.4%. Hydro had 7.3%, and solar had 5.4%. [Renewables Now]

Alstom ECO 110 wind turbines in Spain (Photo: © Alstom)

¶ National Grid said electricity is flowing through a cable taking renewable energy from Scotland to England and Wales. It said, however, that further work would be required to get the £1 billion Western Link project up to full capacity. The cable runs from Hunterston, where a converter station is based, to Flintshire Bridge in Wales. [Energy Voice]

US:

¶ The US DOE’s proposed rulemaking on power grid resiliency may have been directly influenced by Murray Energy executive Robert Murray, a major figure within the coal industry, news media reported. Murray denied any influence peddling and slammed “green groups” for making the allegations, The Hill website said. [Electric Light & Power]

Coal train

¶ A subsidiary of National Grid is seeking a presidential permit to bring Canadian wind power into the US at a border crossing between Quebec and Norton, Vermont. The Granite State Power Link would bring 1,200 MW of electricity to southern New England through transmission lines to be built alongside existing power lines. [New Delhi Times]

¶ A wind farm in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge that will serve as Apple Inc’s single biggest source of renewable energy will use 51 turbines made by Vestas Wind Systems. Apple says the Montague project will provide it 560,000 MWh of electricity annually. That is equal to the electricity use of about 52,000 Oregon households. [9news.com]

Vestas wind turbine construction (Vestas Wind Systems image)

¶ Avangrid Renewables started commercial operations at the Deerfield Wind Farm. Readsboro and Searsburg will receive direct annual payments expected to total $6.8 million over the life of the project, and the wind farm will generate an estimated $6 million in tax payments to the state to support education funding. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Santee Cooper board Chairman Leighton Lord, the executive who led South Carolina’s state-owned utility during the scuttled multibillion-dollar project to build two nuclear reactors, is stepping down after fighting the governor’s efforts to fire him. Ratepayers have already paid nearly $2 billion for the failed nuclear plant. [The Times and Democrat]

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December 29 Energy News

December 29, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The Power of Water, Wind, and Solar (and Nothing Else)” • From more frequent wildfires to devastating hurricanes to persistent droughts, we are already seeing the effects of climate change. It is not just the planet that is at risk. Air pollution causes 4–7 million human deaths each year, and energy security is a concern. [Eos]

Storm at Porthleven, England (Photo: Tony Armstrong, flickr)

Science and Technology:

¶ Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, announced that his company will invest $50 million over the next 5 years to democratize access to the data available about the environment available from the thousands of land, sea, and atmospheric sensors in place around the world using AI or artificial intelligence. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The International Energy Agency published “Getting Wind and Sun onto the Grid – A Manual for Policy Makers.” It lays out two theses for integrating PV and wind power into the grid. Twenty countries’ grids were used as references, from Mexico, with a low percentage of PV and wind in its grid, to Denmark, with its high percentage. [pv magazine USA]

PV and wind power (Public domain image)

World:

¶ Britain’s effort to scrap coal as a power generation fuel and spur renewables means its electricity industry is on track for its greenest year ever. Renewable-energy production broke 13 records this year in the UK, including the first day with zero coal power, according to data compiled by National Grid Plc and WWF. [Bloomberg]

¶ The government of China has elected to extend the current tax rebate program for so-called “new energy vehicles,” including all-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, etc. A tax exemption will not be phased out at the turn of the new year as had been planned. Instead, it will be extended until December 31st 2020. [CleanTechnica]

BAIC EV200

¶ The fissures in the Canada-U.S. relationship will be more apparent than ever this week during the United Nations climate change talks in Germany. Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, ahead of her trip, said, “If the US is going to step back, we’ve said we‘re going to step up, and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing.” [Oakwood Herald]

¶ Element Power will identify a route to market early next year for its 41-MW Windy Rig and 27-MW Twentyshilling wind farms in south-west Scotland. Local authority councillors approved the larger project earlier this month after a positive planning recommendation while the smaller scheme was permitted in 2014. [reNews]

Wind farm built by Element Power (Kevin Arkins)

¶ The government of the state of Victoria is ready to build a major new wind farm with battery storage at Bulgana that will power the expansion of Stawell’s Nectar Farms. The project would make the advanced agriculture facility the world’s first ever crop farm to be completely powered by renewable energy. [The Stawell Times-News]

¶ Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy received orders for two new onshore wind projects in southern Italy. The company will deliver 13 SWT-3.0-113 direct-drive units to European Energy’s 39 MW project in Tolve and 10 G97-2.0 MW turbines to a further 20 MW project near Capoiazzo. Both wind farms are located in the Basilicata Region. [Trade Arabia]

Siemens wind farm in Italy

US:

¶ Air pollution originating in the US Midwest region is being blown into the Northeast region, leading to harmful effects on the region’s population, according to a lawsuit filed against the US EPA by 8 Northeastern states. The lawsuit seeks to impose stricter controls on emissions in the Midwestern states in question. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Puget Sound Energy announced plans to reduce its carbon emissions in half by 2040. The utility, which serves energy to more than 1.5 million customers, said it will accomplish this through a variety of different initiatives. However, the Sierra Club, an environmental group with a Seattle chapter, objects to the plans. [Mercer Island Reporter]

Snoqualmie Falls plant, built in 1898 (Photo: Puget Sound Energy)

¶ The Vermont Public Utility Commission approved a 5% rate increase for Green Mountain Power. The approval ratified an agreement between GMP and the Department of Public Service, the state agency that represents the public interest in utility rate cases. GlobalFoundries, GMP’s largest customer, unsuccessfully disputed the increase. [vtdigger.org]

Block Island wind farm

¶ Avangrid Renewables is pursuing two new wind projects, one in the heart of New Mexico, and another off the coast of Massachusetts. Avangrid Renewables is working with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners on a bid to build an offshore wind farm in waters of the Bay State. That partnership is known as Vineyard Wind. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Duke Energy Florida filed a petition with the Florida Public Service Commission to recover from customers an estimated $381 million in costs associated with the company’s response to Hurricane Irma in Florida. The company also is seeking $132 million to replenish its storm reserve fund for use in responding to future storms. [BOE Report]

¶ South Carolina Electric & Gas Co has formally asked federal authorities to let it withdraw its operating licenses for a failed nuclear reactor construction project in the state. The move was expected as the power company seeks to show it has given up on the unfinished reactors and is eligible for a $2 billion tax write-off. [WSPA.com]

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December 28 Energy News

December 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “2017: The year climate change hit” • “Crazy” weather has been a hot topic for elevator conversations this year, as extremes are becoming the new normal. No continent was spared by 2017’s extreme weather. From droughts to hurricanes, from smog to forest fires, events killing thousands of people have been directly linked to climate change. [Deutsche Welle]

Flooding in the Philippines

¶ “Green tech will be everywhere in 2018” • With climate change problems mounting, national and local governments are pushing for more renewable energy and an end to fossil-fueled cars, despite hostility from President Donald Trump. People want fewer gas-powered vehicles and coal plants, and more EVs, solar panels and wind turbines. [Yahoo Finance UK]

World:

¶ The Loeriesfontein and Khobab wind farms in South Africa are operational, with 280 MW of capacity. Lekela Power said the commercial operations were achieved “on schedule, on budget, and without a single incident of lost-time over the two million man-hours expended on construction that began on 1 September 2015.” [Farmers Weekly]

Wind Turbines (Lekela Power | Mainstream Renewable Power)

¶ With cheap shale gas, petrochemical companies have invested about $186 billion in 318 new facilities to turn shale gas into feedstocks for plastics since 2010, according to the American Chemistry Council. Half have already been completed. As a result, production of plastics is set to rise 40% from today’s levels over the next 10 years. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Five years ago, an electric-utility think tank issued a dire warning to its members: Your century-old business model is ending. The falling costs of renewable energy generation, especially solar panels, would begin to erode revenues. Now, in Germany, hardly known for its sunshine, utilities are starting to see the impact. [Green Car Reports]

PV installation at a VW plant in Tennessee

¶ European charging company Allego announced that it now has four ultra-high-speed EV charging stations operational near Frankfurt am Main. Each can service 4 cars at once and is rated at 175 kW, with a plan to boost that to 350 kW. The new chargers are capable of adding enough energy to drive an additional 60 miles in just 5 minutes. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Ashalim Solar Thermal Power Station, located in Israel’s Negev desert, is one of the largest projects of its type in the world. The generator will sit on top of the central tower, which, at 787 feet, will be the tallest in the world. Construction is currently underway and the project is expected to be completed in early 2018. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Ashalim Solar Thermal Power Station

¶ The Indian state of Bihar has 39,073 villages, and now all of them are electrified. Every household in the state would have a free power connection by the end of the next calendar year, its Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said. The efforts in this regard were a part of Kumar’s seven resolutions (“saat nischay”) of good governance. [Doordarshan]

¶ Armenia has long relied on Russia for its energy needs, but the government is hoping to reduce that dependence by tapping a resource that is plentiful in the region: the sun. With few fossil fuel resources of its own and its sole nuclear power plant nearing the end of its working life, Armenia is banking on renewable energy. [Daily Times]

Looking to the sun for power

¶ Chinese vertically integrated solar power company Canadian Solar has this week connected to the Japanese grid a 19.1 MW solar PV installation on the island of Honshu, Japan. The Gunma Aramaki solar plant lies some 100km northwest of Tokyo and is comprised of 59,544 CS6X MaxPower Canadian Solar panels. [pv magazine International]

¶ On 75% of days this year, British wind farms generated more electricity than coal plants, the analysis website MyGridGB said. It also said that over the year solar power outperformed coal more than half the time. Overall, renewables provided more power than coal plants on 315 days in 2017, or more than 90% of the year so far. [Metro]

Wind farm (Photo: Gareth Fuller | PA Wire)

US:

¶ Solar power is growing in Pennsylvania, as individuals, businesses, and communities take action to reduce carbon emissions. Since the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, local and state efforts to combat climate change have increased. One clean energy company director also pointed to returns on investment. [Public News Service]

¶ A study from the University of California system found that developing solar energy arrays on alternative sites like buildings, lakes, and contaminated land would allow the state to meet its 2025 electricity demands without sacrificing farmland. The study’s authors focused their analysis on California’s Central Valley. [Yale Environment 360]

Floating solar panels on an irrigation pond in Oakville
(Photo: Far Niente Winery | UC Riverside)

¶ Numerous for-rofit, non-profit, and public sector organizations have filed objections to the Illinois Power Agency Long-Term Renewable Resource Procurement Plan, which has been filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission. There were fifteen specific objections, but the petitioners supported the overall plan. [pv magazine USA]

¶ Missouri is the latest state where rules around clean energy are being reevaluated. Regulators are assessing outdated rules about customer-owned solar energy along with various distributed energy sources. The experiences of two neighboring states show that the effort will not necessarily be favorable for renewable power. [Edition Truth]

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December 27 Energy News

December 27, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Mark Kelly: This year has been an unequivocal disaster for the future of the planet” • As an astronaut, I’m often asked about the climate, our environment, and how we are destroying the Earth. My response often surprises people. “Don’t worry about the planet, the Earth will be just fine,” I tell them. “What you need to worry about is us – all of us.” [CNN]

Earth (Photo: NASA’s Earth Observatory)

Science and Technology:

¶ For years, scientists have known that 4% of the global methane budget consists of methane that is released from the Earth’s oceans into the atmosphere, but not its exact source. A team of researchers from the University of Illinois and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may have found the answer to that question. [Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette]

World:

¶ Wärtsilä will retrofit the world’s first energy storage solution on board a large offshore supply vessel. The North Sea Giant, one of the world’s most advanced subsea construction vessels, will be fitted with an energy storage system to reduce the vessel’s energy consumption, operating costs, and exhaust emissions. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

North Sea Giant

¶ A US-trained Kenyan engineer came up with a new way to deal with plastic: Pay locals to gather up plastic debris and pollution, and then repurpose them as a binder in composite construction materials (fence poles, roof tiles, road signs, flooring, containers, etc). He explained, “Basically we are substituting plastic for cement.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ As wind farms are being built in the Thar Desert, a very rare bird, the great Indian bustard, is under increased threat. The birds are not being killed by wind turbines, but by collisions with the much lower power lines. The bustards have poor frontal vision, and do not notice the power lines until it is too late to avoid hitting them. [Mongabay.com]

Great Indian bustard in Naliya grasslands, Kutch, India
(Photo: Prajwalkm via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

¶ State-run Rural Electrification Corporation said a scheme was launched in Madhya Pradesh to provide additional electrical connections for about 45 lakh (4.5 million) families that are not now electrified. All states and Union territories of India are required to complete household electrification by March 31, 2019. [Moneycontrol.com]

¶ Pattern Energy and the Henvey Inlet First Nation broke ground on a 300-MW wind farm on the northeast shore of Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. The milestone follows completion of a C$1 billion ($791 million) financing deal for the Henvey Inlet project, which will feature 87 Vestas V136-3.45MW turbines with 132-meter hubs. [reNews]

Vestas turbine reaching for the skies (Vestas image)

US:

¶ Elon Musk sent out some tweets that more or less confirm that Tesla has plans for a pickup truck in the foreseeable future. At the same time, he offered information on Tesla’s growth goals for clean and sustainable energy. Though he offered no hard dates or financial estimates, he provided a rather bullish outlook on the projects. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Solar power will soon be an option for many Hawaii residents and businesses, regardless of whether they rent, live in a condo, or lack a rooftop to install their own solar panels. The Public Utilities Commission issued a decision directing Hawaii’s electric utilities to implement a community-based renewable energy program. [Maui Now]

MACC Solar project (Photo: Wendy Osher)

¶ Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, is in the midst of constructing a 2-MW solar PV system, which is being added to an existing 1-MW solar array. The system will be one of the largest solar arrays of any retirement community in the US, once it is complete in February, and it is expected to save Masonic Village $250,000 annually. [Quebec Daily Examiner]

¶ Remote villages in Alaska provide an example of how safeguards could build resilience into a larger electrical grid. Nine articles in the recent issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, from AIP Publishing, provide the first reviews of energy technologies and costs for microgrids in Alaska. [Science Daily]

Wind turbines supplying power to a microgrid in Alaska
(Photo: Chris Pike, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

¶ Throughout 2017 the City of Fremont, Nebraska, focused on harnessing the power of the sun, with concept becoming reality as a new Community Solar Farm broke ground in October. A survey of residents in 2017 indicated that 70% of them were interested in participating in a community solar farm. Now, that solar farm is a reality. [Fremont Tribune]

¶ In South Carolina, Santee Cooper and SCE&G customers could be stuck paying as much as $9 billion thanks to a 2007 law. A similar law was passed in Florida, but no one has applied for permission to build a nuclear power plant there since it was altered with the addition of two words, “reasonable” and “feasible.” [Charleston Post Courier]

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December 26 Energy News

December 26, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Wind Power Means Jobs in Texas, and Partisan Politics Isn’t Going to Stop It” • As discussions around climate change in America have become partisan, so have those around kilowatts, but not in Texas. There is money to be made with windpower, and Texans are not going to miss out on the chance to make it.[InsideClimate News]

Kaitlin Sullivan on a turbine (Photo: Meera Subramanian)

¶ “Annus mirabilis: all the things that went right in 2017” • This was a year of Trump, Twitter, terrorism, Yemen, Libya, and environmental degradation. But the big, bold headlines tell only part of the story. Away from the news hysteria, it is possible to discern progress, joy, breakthroughs and that rarest commodity of all: optimism. [The Guardian]

World:

¶ India auctioned 750 MW of utility-scale solar power capacity at the Bhadla solar power park over the last few days to wrap up a highly eventful 2017. An auction of 500 MW had 3.1 GW of bids between ₹2.47/kWh (3.80¢/kWh) and ₹3.29/kWh (5.07¢/kWh). There was also a smaller auction of 250 MW that had similar results. [CleanTechnica]

Azure Power solar park in Rajasthan

¶ Most Australians believe that human activity contributes to climate change. One in two believe it is already damaging the Great Barrier Reef and causing more extreme storms, floods and droughts. But only 18% think the Turnbull government is doing a good job tackling global warming, a new poll by Ipsos has found. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited, a state government agency, recently issued tender documents for 860 MW of solar PV power capacity. The capacity will be allocated in blocks of 20 MW each across 43 locations in the Indian state. The state plans for 6,000 MW of operational solar power capacity by March 2022. [CleanTechnica]

Charanka Solar Park

¶ India’s civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju recently told media outlets that 200 MW of solar power capacity is planned for airports across the country over the next few years. He was speaking at the inauguration of the 15-MW solar power project at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata, West Bengal. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A total of 2,130 MW of wind power capacity will be auctioned over four days for plants to be built in 32 different places in Turkey. On the first day of tenders, bids for 430 MW of wind power were collected for eight regions. There were 110 energy firms participating in the tender. The auction will run through Dec 29. [Daily Sabah]

Wind turbines

¶ The biggest solar power park in the world today is of 850 MW in Longyangxia Dam, China. But Madhya Pradesh is aiming to pip China by setting up a new record largest solar power park with an installed capacity of 1050 MW. Half the power will be supplied to Delhi Metro, with the remainder going to boost Indian Railways. [NYOOOZ]

¶ Officials from Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy have announced a new project that will provide a boost to the local renewable energy sector by electrifying three key provinces with the use of small-scale solar and wind power devices. The Khmer government has a goal to provide electricity to every village in the country by 2020. [Khmer Times]

Solar system on the roof of a building

¶ The government of South Korea unveiled plans for the country to boost its solar energy generation 5 times over by 2030, as revealed by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy. The president, Moon Jae-in had promised in electoral campaigns to cease support for new nuclear energy projects and to embrace “eco friendly” energy modalities. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy are both clean-energy suppliers. Both have agreements with PG&E to purchase electricity from sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower from alternative sources, and feed it through PG&E’s wires to customers. Both are increasing wind and biogas capacities. [North Bay Business Journal]

Wind farm

¶ Interest in solar energy development is being generated throughout Illinois, and having an ordinance in place is like having the infrastructure built out for attracting a new business, according to Lee County Assessor Wendy Ryerson. There are a number of solar projects under development in the county, providing a needed economic boost. [SaukValley.com]

¶ Since the crash of the steel industry in the early 1980s, the city of Pueblo, Colorado, has been searching for an economic identity to help restore prosperity. In recent years, the city has seen a steady building of momentum behind a sector of industry that’s become increasingly promising. And that sector is renewable energy. [Pueblo Chieftain]

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December 25 Energy News

December 25, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ The Arctic saw its smallest winter sea ice coverage on record in 2017. Drawing attention to this fact, NOAA’s annual report has the interesting subtitle, “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” In fact, NOAA even has a new name for the area at the top of the world, which it calls “New Arctic.” [CleanTechnica]

Sea ice plunging

World:

¶ In 2016, non-hydro electric generation in Canada grew by 8%. Canada’s electricity generation was 66% renewable, with non hydro renewables accounting for 7.2% and hydro accounting for 58.8%. When nuclear power generation is added, a total of 80.6% of Canada’s electricity was non-emitting in terms of greenhouse gases. [SteelGuru]

¶ Another 500 MW of onshore wind and solar power will be in the portfolio of a French joint venture, energy company ENGIE said. The company said its joint venture with insurance company Crédit Agricole Assurances would work to increase its energy holdings with around 500 MW of onshore renewables by the end of next year. [Infosurhoy]

Wind turbines

¶ Saudi Arabia’s Alfanar Energy is to build a solar power plant in Bangladesh with a capacity to generate 40 to 100 MW of electricity, Saudi-based Arab News reported. The plant will be located near Chittagong and require an investment of $51 million,  a commercial officer at the Bangladeshi embassy in Riyadh, told the Saudi daily. [SteelGuru]

¶ A hydro-electric plant in the UK’s Lake District finished its first year of operation. The Hayeswater micro hydro plant, which is owned by the National Trust, generated more than one million kWh of electricity, enough to meet the power needs of more than 300 properties. The plant sells power to provide income for a conservation charity. [The Westmorland Gazette]

Hayeswater micro hydro plant

¶ Next year, a solar panel scheme in Oman will target residential customers with the promise of subsidized installations and huge savings on current energy bills. Residents who opt to install panels will be able to sell excess power back to the national grid, all the while enjoying cheaper electricity, with some saving as much as 42%. [Times of Oman]

¶ German spot power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day. Thanks to the country’s effort to encourage investment in green power generation, German electricity prices have dipped below zero more than 100 times this year, according to the EPEX Spot trading exchange. [The New York Times]

Renewables (Photo: Gordon Welters for The New York Times)

¶ The energy division of Toshiba Corp has just showcased a telescopic pipe that holds a pan-tilt camera designed to gather important information from inside the chambers of nuclear reactors that melted down in Fukushima. The 13-meter-long device is designed to give better insight into the full extent of the damage. [Interesting Engineering]

US:

¶ California still gets a small part of its electricity from three out-of-state coal plants in Oregon, New Mexico, and Utah. For the last 24 years, some of that highly polluting coal-fired electricity has powered parts of the Coachella Valley. But the shutdown of a unit at the San Juan coal plant in New Mexico makes Coachella Valley coal-free. [The Desert Sun]

Desert Sunlight solar farm (Photo: Jay Calderon | The Desert Sun)

¶ Southern California Edison proposed to meet energy needs in Ventura County with a new transmission and power storage. The plan, submitted to a division of the California Public Utilities Commission, is seen as a significant road block or even a dead end to fossil fuel power plants proposed in Oxnard and Santa Paula. [Ventura County Star]

¶ After the Trump administration ordered a halt to work on a study of the health effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences is pursuing private funding to complete the work. A spokesperson for the National Academies said private donors have expressed interest in paying to complete the study. [WKU Public Radio]

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December 24 Energy News

December 24, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Year of reckoning for climate change” • The Thomas Fire has demonstrated to Southern Californians how climate change can be consequent for us. One event is not typically attributable to climate change, but it is just the latest in a series of $1 billion weather events and climate disasters that has made 2017 the worst year on record. [Ventura County Star]

Thomas fire, just another $1 billion weather event in 2017
(Mike Eliason | Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP

Science and Technology:

¶ Earlier this month, the director-general of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) announced that construction of the project had reached the halfway point. It is an important milestone for the multi-billion-dollar nuclear fusion facility being constructed in southern France. The goal is to begin generating plasma by 2025. [Digital Trends]

¶ Energy startups have been using blockchain for sharing electricity in microgrid trials from Texas to Tasmania for a year or so. But now companies are moving from trials to commercial projects, leveraging the distributed ledger technology for trading and payments on scales ranging from neighborhoods to city-wide and even national. [Daily Times]

PowerPod used to record data for blockchain transactions

World:

¶ The first all-electric e-Crafter vans have now been delivered to customers by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. Initial deliveries in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and Sweden will be used as test vehicles until the middle of 2018, when a widespread rollout may follow with design changes based on test fleet operator feedback. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity will offer tenders in the first quarter of 2018 to establish 500 MW of solar power plants. The Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company has set a cap on the price for purchasing electrical power at 3.8¢/kWh, the same price agreed upon with Sky Power to establish 600 MW of solar power. [MENAFN.COM]

Keeping solar panels clean in Egypt

¶ The world’s largest spark plug manufacturer, Japan’s NGK Spark Plug Co, has now revealed that it is shifting its focus towards solid-state battery tech. Apparently, execs at NGK Spark Plug had seen the writing on the wall in 2010, following the launch of the Nissan LEAF and right as the Tesla Roadster was making waves. [CleanTechnica]

¶ RES Australia and Macquarie Capital are to supply power to a Telstra-led consortium from the 226-MW first phase of the Murra Warra wind farm near Horsham in western Victoria. The consortium also includes ANZ, Coca-Cola Amatil and the University of Melbourne. The wind farm is expected to be operational by mid-2019. [reNews]

Wind farm (Pixabay image)

¶ Kuujjuaq, the largest Inuit community of the Nunavik territory, is leading the way on solar energy for the region with a project that saved more than 400 liters (105.67 gallons) of diesel between September and October, by providing 1,100 kWh from solar panels. This follows successful use of solar power in Alaska as a model. [Futurism]

¶ State-owned Swedish utility Vattenfall expects to be carbon neutral sooner than planned, its Chief Executive Magnus Hall told German weekly Welt am Sonntag. “Believe that 2050 is not enough. We can manage that sooner,” the paper quoted him as saying. “Whether it will be 2040 or 2045, we can’t and won’t define that exactly.” [ETEnergyworld.com]

Thermal power plant

¶ Sri Lanka on its drive to meet its current and future electricity demand by use of renewable energy has planned to set up several solar and wind power plants in the country’s northern areas. A 300-MW wind energy park is expected to be built in Mannar Island. And solar arrays totaling 220 MW are under construction. [Colombo Page]

US:

¶ Alliant Energy Corp’s Iowa utility company is adding a wind farm in central Iowa to serve its customers in that state. The wind farm will have 69 turbines with a capacity 170 MW. Output is expected to be enough to provide for the annual needs of about 50,000 homes. Construction will start in 2018 at a cost expected to be $300 million. [Madison.com]

Alliant Energy wind farm (Photo: Alliant Energy Corp)

¶ Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and its electric energy supplier, Guzman Energy Partners, announced a land-lease agreement and 30-year solar Power Purchase Agreement to build up to a 4-MW solar array at the Taos Regional Waste Water Treatment Plant. It will be the largest solar array built in KCEC’s service area to date. [Los Alamos Daily Post]

¶ California’s freakish, “rainy-season” Thomas Fire is only 65% contained. It is expected to burn into the new year, during what is normally the area’s wettest season. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Thomas Fire has done that despite a record number of firefighters (8,500) and amount of money spent ($175 million). [National Observer]

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December 23 Energy News

December 23, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Under Trump’s Nose, US Offshore Wind Energy ‘Revolution’ Stirs Like A Mighty Beast” • US President Donald Trump is famously not a fan of renewable energy. Nevertheless, under his watch the US offshore wind industry is beginning to realize its potential for killing off the nation’s dwindling stock of coal and nuclear power plants. [CleanTechnica]

Fishing near the Block Island wind farm

¶ “Meet the Lawyer Trying to Make Big Oil Pay for Climate Change” • Steve Berman won a $200 billion settlement from tobacco companies in the ’90s.  Now he represents Oakland and San Francisco in a lawsuit demanding that Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP pay billions for sea walls and other defenses against ocean rise. [VICE]

¶ “The Future Of American Jobs Is Renewable Energy” • The Trump administration has promised to bring back coal jobs, but the future of work won’t be fossil fuels. No, renewable energy is where it’s at, if you’re looking for a job in the energy industry; just look for a job where state and local governments are already renewable-friendly. [PayScale Career News]

Renewable Power (Photo: Dimitry Anikin)

Science and Technology:

¶ New research published this week in Geophysical Research Letters finds that an algae-ice melt feedback loop is a considerably bigger deal than scientists previously realized: On the Greenland ice sheet, the second-largest in the world, “algal darkening” is responsible for 5% to 10% of the total ice-sheet melt each summer. [Quartz]

¶ Beavers are accelerating climate change, according research presented at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting. Warmer temperatures enable the rodents to take up residence farther and farther north, and as they settle into their new digs and build dams, the floods thaw once permanently frozen ground. [Science Magazine]

Beaver

World:

¶ Driven by a historic low solar and wind power tariff, India is lining up green project auctions to the tune of about ₹2.7 lakh crore ($15 billion) in 2018. The government has drawn up a plan to auction 30 GW of solar, 10 GW of wind and 5 GW of offshore wind projects next fiscal, with an average equipment cost of ₹6 crore/MW ($0.90/watt). [Millennium Post]

¶ The Turkish wind energy sector attracted $12.3 billion over the past 11 years, according to Turkish Wind Energy Association data. Installed windpower capacity in the country was around 146 MW in 2007 and has now reached a capacity of approximately 6,500 MW. Turkey’s investment will reach around $5 billion in 2017 alone. [Brinkwire]

Wind power in Turkey

¶ Russia has agreed a deal to build a nuclear power station in Sudan, weeks after President al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, visited President Putin. The deal comes despite Mr Bashir facing charges of genocide and war crimes at the court in the Hague, and the US accusing Sudan of being a sponsor of terrorism. [The Times]

¶ In what could be a significant development for both Russia and India, two VVER-1200 reactors of Russian design will be built near Rooppur in Bangladesh. Signalling the start of construction, the first pour of concrete for the foundation of the first unit took place on November 30, 2017, at Ishwardi village, near Rooppur, about 160 km from Dhaka. [Frontline]

The first pour of concrete (Photo: Rosatom)

US:

¶ More than three months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and destroyed much of its rickety utility grid, a third of the island is still without electricity. The new tax plan passed by congress adds insult to that injury by making Puerto Rican companies pay a 12.5% tax on intellectual property as foreign corporations. [CleanTechnica]

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
donate at [
Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

¶ California’s Thomas fire, now the largest in the state’s history, has burned more than 1000 square kilometers, an area greater than New York City, Brussels and Paris combined. Most of California’s largest wildfires have been recorded this century. Scientists say the warming climate and spread of buildings into wilderness areas have been factors. [BBC]

Satellite view of the Thomas Fire (Image: NASA, EPA)

¶ Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency employees have exited their posts at the agency over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, a report by the New York Times and ProPublica said. An internal memo obtained by CNN in April revealed a buyout program that was aimed at curbing employment. [CNN]

¶ A bill that would recognize the environmental and fuel diversity attributes of New Jersey’s nuclear power plants has been approved by House and Senate utility committees. The bill will now go forward to the full legislative bodies. The two state legislative committees approved the legislation unanimously. [World Nuclear News]

The Salem-Hope Creek nuclear complex (Image: @PSEGNews)

¶ Communities throughout New Hampshire may have warrant articles on their spring ballots urging the governor to create a task force to study the feasibility of developing offshore wind power. Three communities, Portsmouth, Dover and Durham, have already signed resolutions asking the governor to form the task force. [The Union Leader]

¶ A study published in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management and reported by Lehigh University, showed that shutting down eastern Pennsylvania’s Portland Generating Plant reduced the likelihood of a low birth weight baby by about 15% and reduced the likelihood of a preterm birth by about 28% among those near the plant. [CleanTechnica]

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December 22 Energy News

December 22, 2017

World:

¶ The new extended-range electric taxi model being made by the London Electric Vehicle Company will be exported to various parties in Norway beginning in 2018, the company announced. This follows an earlier agreement for the LEVC to supply the electric taxis to a transportation service for elderly and disabled persons in Amsterdam. [CleanTechnica]

London Electric Vehicle Company taxi (Screen shot)

¶ Transitioning the world to 100% renewable electricity is not just some environmentalist pipe dream, a study from Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology asserts. It is “feasible at every hour throughout the year” and is more cost-effective than the current system, which largely relies on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. [AlterNet]

¶ Enel has won the rights to develop wind farms totalling 718 MW in Brazil and Argentina, in the Latin American countries’ latest renewables auctions. In Brazil, Enel will develop three projects totalling 618 MW, after securing 20-year power supply contracts in the tender organised by the country’s energy regulator ANEE. [reNews]

Wind farm in Brazil (Image: Enel Green Power)

¶ Saskatchewan’s power generation by coal is decreasing, though it still remains the largest source, according to the National Energy Board’s Renewable Power Landscape report. In 2005, coal accounted for 67% of energy production in the province. It is now down to 49%. In one year alone, from 2015 to 2016, it fell by 6.5 per cent. [CBC.ca]

¶ German developer Innogy has completed turbine installation at its 353-MW Galloper wind farm off the Suffolk coast of the UK. The project’s final Siemens Gamesa 6.3-MW turbine was installed by Fred Olsen jack-up Bold Tern. Galloper exported first power on 5 November and 12 of the project’s 56 turbines are already sending power to the grid. [reNews]

Final turbine at Galloper (Innogy image)

¶ Wind is now the cheapest source of renewable energy in India. Auctions conducted in Gujarat on Dec. 21 revealed a record-low tariff of ₹2.43 a unit (3.8¢/kWh). That is nearly 8% cheaper than the previous low of ₹2.64 that the industry saw in October. This tariff is also less than the lowest solar power tariff of ₹Rs2.44 recorded in May. [Quartz]

¶ The Brooks project, which launched last week off the Trans-Canada Highway in southeast Alberta, is the first utility-scale solar facility in Western Canada, far surpassing any other solar project currently operating. This is the first of several renewable energy projects to be constructed in Alberta as the province shifts away from coal power. [CBC.ca]

Brooks solar project and a pump jack (Photo: Kyle Bakx | CBC)

¶ More than half of the UK’s electricity came from renewable resources and nuclear power stations between July and September, official figures show. The record high share of 54.4% of power from low carbon sources was a result of the rapid growth in solar and wind power, according to the Office for National Statistics. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ The California Public Utilities Commission was scheduled to make a decision on PG&E’s application to decommission Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear power plant in the state, on Dec 14 vote, but put the vote off to a Jan 11 meeting. The commissioners made the decision to delay the vote without explaining their reasons. [New Times SLO]

Diablo Canyon Power Plant (Photo: New Times SLO)

¶ PNM Resources has shuttered two of four coal-fired units at its San Juan Generating Station near Farmington, New Mexico, in order to comply with federal visibility regulations, Kallanish Energy reports. The company’s Public Service Co of New Mexico, the state’s largest utility, made the announcement on December 20. [Kallanish Energy]

¶ Swedish heat power technology company Climeon announced an order for a small-scale geothermal power plant in California. The market for small-scale geothermal plants has seen a surge in interest. It is expected to provide opportunities for development and investment with an estimated market volume of billions of dollars. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Susanville, California (flickr | David Prasad, creative commons)

¶ Deepwater Wind, the developer of the nation’s first offshore wind farm, proposed to the state of Massachusetts a multi-phase wind project in conjunction with the owner of Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project and National Grid. The state had called for companies to supply at least 400 MW of offshore wind power. [The Recorder]

¶ Staff of the Georgia Public Service Commission asked Georgia Power whether it had considered a microgrid “for such a critical customer” as the Atlanta airport before this week’s 11-hour electrical outage. The airport lost power after a fire broke out in a service tunnel under the airport, and over 1,000 flights had to be cancelled. [Microgrid Knowledge]

Atlanta airport power outage

¶ Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has received permission to complete the first new nuclear units in the US in 30 years. A press release said the Georgia Public Service Commission has given the company unanimous approval to finish work on Vogtle 3 and 4, which are near Waynesboro, Georgia. [Investing News Network]

¶ The “Clean Energy Industry Report” from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center said that the Massachusetts clean energy sector grew by 4% between 2016 and 2017. According to figures from MassCEC, the number of clean energy jobs in the state has increased by a whopping 81% since 2010, and it now employs 109,226 workers. [North American Windpower]

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December 21 Energy News

December 21, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant” • Many British observers agree that the deal to build the Hinkley Point nuclear plant is ludicrously favourable to EDF – “a dreadful deal, laughable,” said one expert. But the irony is that by the time it eventually starts working, it may have become obsolete. [The Guardian]

A view toward the Hinkley Point site in Somerset
(Photo: Deeplyvibed | Alamy Stock Photo)

¶ “Tesla’s big Powerpack battery just propped up a coal power station in another state” • Tesla’s giant battery is already proving its worth, bailing out a 560-MW coal power station nearly 620 miles (1,000 kilometres) away. The battery is powered by a wind farm. Ironic, isn’t it, that wind power bailed out a coal-burning plant? [Mashable]

World:

¶ Germany’s renewable electricity production is set to reach a record 36% in 2017, according to the country’s Federal Energy and Water Industry Association. By the end of the year, 217 billion kWh of electricity will be produced by renewable energy sources in the country. In 2016, renewables produced 188 billion kWh, a 31.6% share. [reNews]

German sunset (Pixabay image)

¶ Queensland’s new Energy Minister Anthony Lynham backed the Turnbull government’s National Energy Guarantee to end the impasse over climate policy between the federal Coalition and state Labor governments. But he said the state’s Labor government will not back down from its 50% renewable energy target. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, a source of division in Australian politics, has already been met from wind, solar and hydro energy projects under construction or in the pipeline, new research shows. The clean energy projects that are proposed and in the pipeline could supply over half of Australia’s needs by 2030. [The Australian Financial Review]

Capital Wind Farm (Photo: Ian Waldie)

¶ The cause of the December 2015 failure of the Basslink cable, which transmitted power between Tasmania and the Australian mainland, has finally been identified; two experts said it failed because Basslink Pty Ltd exceeded its design limit. The cable had been allowed to run at 630 MW; the recommended maximum is now 500 MW. [iTWire]

¶ South Korea’s plan to triple its renewable energy share by 2030 requires investments of about KRW 110 trillion ($101.7 billion, €85.8 billion), Yonhap news agency reported. The government’s plan is to get more solar and wind farms nationwide and add total of 48.7 GW of new green power capacity, growing from 7% now to 20% of capacity. [Renewables Now]

Wind farm in South Korea (Author: Carmine.shot)

¶ The Department of Energy and Infrastructure for the Spanish southern region of Extremadura has signed a memorandum of understanding with an international consortium formed by Solarcentury, Genia Global Energy, and Canopy Energies for the development of a 300-MW solar power plant in the province of Cáceres. [pv magazine International]

¶ The first biogas plant under a framework agreement between the government of Belarus and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has started operation in the city of Baranovichi. The facility which will generate 4,380 MWh of electricity and 3,880 Gcal of heat per year from wastewater sludge. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Baranovichi biogas plant

¶ Corbetti Geothermal plc, the Government of Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Electric Power have signed an implementation agreement  and a power purchase agreement for Corbetti geothermal power project. The project is planned to deliver up to 520 MW of baseload renewable power to Ethiopia’s national electricity grid. [cce online news]

¶ Figures released by the UK Government today reveal the growth in Scottish renewables, which accounted for 42.9% of total Scottish energy generation in 2016. Scotland generated 24% of the total renewable power used in the UK. The government of Scotland will doubtless welcome the figures; they just released the country’s first Energy Strategy. [Energy Voice]

Windpower and deer

US:

¶ As this year comes to a close, 2017 is on track to set the all-time record for the most billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in any single year in US history. There were 15 in the first nine months, equal to all of 2011, which set the record. Remarkably, the five costliest billion-dollar disaster years have all been in the past 15 years. [CNN]

¶ Three developers have submitted bids to authorities in Massachusetts to develop up to 800 MW of offshore wind capacity off the state’s coast. The Bay State Wind partnership between Orsted and Eversource has submitted a bid including a 55-MW battery storage project. The state plans to install 1.6 GW of offshore windpower by 2027. [reNews]

Westermost offshore wind farm (Image: Orsted)

¶ Cows are now powering one of New England’s most popular ski resorts. The green mountains of Vermont, dressed in winter white, are home to Killington Resort, visited by hundreds of thousands of skiers each season. Now, Killington is making renewable energy a priority and it all starts, not at a mountain, but on the farm. [My Fox Boston]

¶ South Carolina’s utility regulators refused to throw out two cases against SCANA Corp, as the utility owner and state officials continue to argue over who should pay for two abandoned nuclear reactors at VC Summer station. The commission will consider whether the utility or its customers must take up the losses. [Charleston Post Courier]

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December 20 Energy News

December 20, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Utility regulators call for changes to PURPA” • We have seen the Clean Power Plan abandoned, a proposed coal and nuclear bailout, the tax overhaul and trade action under Section 201. Now we have to worry about reform of the Public Utilities Regulatory Power Act of 1978, a big driver of utility-scale solar in the US. [pv magazine USA]

Near Chattanooga (Phoenix Solar AG, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ This year will almost certainly rank as one of the planet’s top five warmest years on record, according to new data from the NOAA and NASA. In fact, the top NASA climate scientist reported that 2017 is likely to be the second-warmest year on record, behind 2016, which in turn displaced 2015 from the top spot. [Mashable]

¶ Fierce hurricanes, heatwaves, floods and wildfires ravaged the planet in 2017, as scientists said the role of climate change in causing or worsening certain natural disasters has grown increasingly clear. It was also the year the world’s second largest polluter, the US, turned its back on the 196-nation Paris climate deal. [The National]

Lighting a backfire in California (Mark Ralston | AFP)

World:

¶ China’s Tus-Wind, TusPark Newcastle, and the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult have made a deal to work together to accelerate technology growth in the UK and China. The deal could lead to benefits for UK-based businesses and universities worth £220 million ($294 million) with access to the Chinese offshore wind market. [Energy Digital]

¶ The Germany luxury auto manufacturer BMW has achieved its goal of selling at least 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles in 2017, the company revealed in an email sent to CleanTechnica. That means that BMW experienced year-on-year plug-in electric vehicle sales growth of over 60%, as compared to 62,255 sold worldwide in 2016. [CleanTechnica]

BMW 740Le

¶ China announced it is officially beginning its nationwide carbon trading scheme, to meet its obligations specified by the Paris Agreement. Under the new system, firms involved in the scheme need either to cut their emissions using green technology or to offset their carbon emissions by buying spare quotas from other companies. [GBTIMES]

¶ Dutch power provider Nuon has a 200-MW PV project pipeline in the Netherlands, according to a press release from its parent company, Swedish electric utility Vattenfall. Nuon, which has specialized in the developing wind power projects, said that co-location of solar and wind technologies is “many times a great idea.” [pv magazine International]

Solar array (Vattenfall image)

¶ South Korea said it plans to increase its solar-generated power five-fold from the current level by 2030 to boost renewable sources in the nation’s energy mix. South Korea is reducing reliance on nuclear power, and this year the government has torn up plans to build six more reactors in favour of “eco-friendly” energy sources. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Kansai Electric Power Co is set to decommission the first large-scale reactors outside of Fukushima Prefecture since the 2011 nuclear disaster, a move that could affect the government’s Basic Energy Plan. The utility apparently decided that it would not be worth the effort and money to upgrade two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant. [Asahi Shimbun]

Oi nuclear power plant (IAEA Imagebank, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ The EPA issued a formal proposal on December 18 asking stakeholders how they would change the Clean Power Plan, which currently would require industry to reduce CO2 emissions by 32% by 2030. This is the Trump administration’s first official act to find an alternative to the rule. It is now being held up in the federal court system. [Environmental Leader]

¶ Great River Energy, a Minnesota cooperative, is offering a commercial green tariff program in response to growing demand from business customers.  The program was requested by the Dakota Electric Association, which will offset all of the electricity use at its Minneapolis headquarters with wind energy credits. [Midwest Energy News]

Midwest wind farm

¶ The Trump administration has dropped climate change from a list of global threats in a new national security strategy President Trump unveiled on Monday. The exclusion of climate change as a national security threat appears, however, to conflict with views previously expressed by the defense secretary, James Mattis. [The Guardian]

¶ In New Mexico, the Otero County Electric Cooperative signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with SoCore Energy for electricity from the 3-MW Carrizozo solar project. The Rocky Mountain Institute said the price was the lowest for distributed energy in the country, at 4.5¢/kWh. The project is expected to come online in March. [pv magazine USA]

Solar array (Public Service Company of New Mexico image)

¶ UPS announced that it has placed a pre-order for 125 Tesla Semi electric trucks, beating PepsiCo’s record for a pre-order of 100 units. The Tesla trucks are expected to sell for $200,000 each, $75,000 more than UPS pays for a typical diesel-powered tractor, but the electric trucks will save them money because of low maintenance costs. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A small eastern Aleutian community is now getting nearly all of its electricity from renewable sources. With a second hydro facility that began producing power late this spring, the city of King Cove has dramatically reduced its dependence on diesel. Electricity costs 30¢/kWh in King Cove, one of the lowest rates in rural Alaska. [KDLG]

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December 19 Energy News

December 19, 2017

(This post was prepared on a Raspberry Pi computer. It draws 2 watts.)

Opinion:

¶ “Why Tax Overhaul Can’t Kill The Renewable Energy Surge” • The tax credits renewable energy advocates worried over were restored in the reconciliation version of the bill now in front of Congress. Could this president kill off renewable energy by pulling the plug on tax rules that favor renewables down the road? Think batteries. [Forbes]

Wind turbine (Photo: Patrik Stollarz | AFP | Getty Images)

Science and Technology:

¶ Solid Power, a developer of solid-state rechargeable batteries, announced that the BMW Group is partnering with it to develop its solid-state batteries for use in BMW’s future electric vehicle models. BMW will assist Solid Power to advance its technology to achieve performance levels demanded by its customers. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Researchers at the University of York in the UK are putting forward an idea they say could capture almost a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year at relatively low cost and turn it into the mineral Dawsonite, which is chemically sodium aluminium carbonate hydroxide. Unfortunately, Dawsonite has no known practical uses. [CleanTechnica]

Dawsonite (Photo: Modris Baum, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Seemingly in anticipation of surging demand for electric light-duty commercial vehicles as stricter regulations go into effect, Renault has formed a new joint venture in China with the firm Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. The plan is for the new joint venture to sell 150,000 vehicles a year by 2022, according to reports. [CleanTechnica]

¶ One of the top mining firms in the world, Rio Tinto, has been operating a fleet of autonomous trucks in various parts of Australia. Building on these earlier and current deployments, the company is now planning a large increase of the size of the autonomous truck fleet in Australia’s Pilbara iron-ore region, as part of a cost-cutting program. [CleanTechnica]

Rio Tinto autonomous trucks

¶ The EEA report, “Renewable energy in Europe – 2017 update,” provides an overview of progress in renewable energy in Europe, based on official statistics until 2015 and preliminary estimates for 2016. An updated report confirms that the EU and most Member States remain on track to reach their renewable energy targets. [MilTech]

¶ Brazil has awarded more than 674.5 MW of renewable power supply contracts, the Power Trading Chamber announced. Solar power was the biggest seller with 574 MW contracted across 20 projects. Wind and hydropower each won contracts for two projects, representing a total capacity of 64 MW and 11.5 MW, respectively. [Renewables Now]

Solar panels (Image: pornvit_v | Shutterstock.com)

¶ BP will put $200 million into solar energy firm Lightsource, thereby acquiring a 43% stake in it, the company has revealed. Lightsource is the largest solar energy project developer in Europe. It aims to quadruple its project capacity to around 8 GW over the coming years in Europe, the US, the Middle Ease, and India. [CleanTechnica]

¶ European Union environment and energy ministers agreed on renewable energy targets for 2030. This is ahead of negotiations next year with the European Parliament, which has called for more ambitious green energy goals. Ministers said they would aim to source at least 27% of the bloc’s energy from renewables by 2030. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Solar and windpower

¶ The South Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has announced its 8th long-term plan for electricity supply and demand. The plan’s target is to generate 20% of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The aim for natural gas’ share is 18.8%, with coal’s expected to be at 36.1% and nuclear power’s at 23.9%. [PV-Tech]

US:

¶ Plans for Alliant Energy’s latest wind project would add another 170-MW wind farm to Iowa’s growing population of turbines. This is on the back of Alliant’s 2016 pledge to spend $1 billion on 500 MW of wind power. The Poweshiek County project is expected to receive final approval this week and be completed in 2020. [The Gazette]

MidAmerican wind project (MidAmerican Energy photo)

¶ The Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum was unveiled last week. Its director said its sole purpose is to educate Republicans that “renewable” and “clean” are not dirty words that should make right-thinking people recoil in horror. The chairman of the group is Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin’s longest serving governor. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A solar company plans to invest $115 million in construction of a 75-MW solar farm in Orangeburg County, South Carolina. Cypress Creek Renewables’ facility will be located on 550 acres near Bowman. No new jobs are promised with the investment, but there will be employment related to the ongoing operation of the facility. [The Tand D.com]

Solar power (see article for rights)

¶ Susquehanna University entered into an agreement with WGL Energy Systems to develop a 3.9-MW DC ground-mounted solar array that will supply 30% of the university’s electricity needs. Construction has already begun on the 12,000-panel, 14-acre project. It will be the largest university-sponsored solar array in Pennsylvania. [Newsroom]

¶ Puerto Rico’s electric utility company has appointed two Hawaii energy leaders to the newly created advisory council Transformation Advisory Council. The council is set to assist in rebuilding and strengthening the island’s power grid following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, according to a press release. [Pacific Business News]

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
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Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

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December 18 Energy News

December 18, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Why Truck Fleet Buyers Are Keen On The Tesla Semi (Calculations)” • An increasing number of companies have shown interest in Tesla Semi with pre-orders. That includes large corporations like Sysco, Anheuser-Busch, Walmart, Loblaw, Deutsche Post / DHL, and PepsiCo. Recognize any of those names? [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Semi (Tesla image)

Science and Technology:

¶ Systems design and energy technology company Faraday Grid launched its prototype Faraday Exchanger, which it says can be used to integrate significantly high levels of renewable energy onto the grid. The technology is intended to be integrated into existing electricity networks, smoothing out the volatility of intermittent renewables. [Clean Energy News]

World:

¶ Power prices in Australia rose almost 11% during 2017, but a new forecast says they will fall over the next two years because of the entry of 5,300 MW of new generation capacity into the national electricity market, most of it renewable. The Australian Energy Market Commission predicts a fall in power prices beginning in mid-2018. [The Guardian]

New South Wales (Photo: Jonny Weeks | Guardian)

¶ Venezuela awarded licences to Russian energy giant Rosneft to develop two offshore gas fields in the Caribbean Sea. The deal, which allows a subsidiary to export gas from the fields for the next 30 years, still needs final official approval before production begins. Russia is a close ally of Venezuela and seeks to expand its influence in Latin America. [BBC]

¶ Wales generated 43% of its electricity through renewables in 2016. That’s according to a new government report, which says this was up nearly a third from the previous year. There are 62,420 projects of renewable energy under local ownership in Wales. They generate 575-MW, with solar making up 81% of the total installations. [Energy Live News]

Y Ddraig Goch (Shutterstock image)

¶ The Jamaican Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology announced that work has begun on what will be the country’s largest PV plant. The 37-MW project is being developed by French independent power producer Neoen. It owns a 50% stake in the plant, and is building it through its unit Eight Rivers Energy Company. [pv magazine International]

¶ The Assam Energy Development Agency under the state’s science and technology department aims to provide solar energy to around 7,000 families. The project will be implemented to reduce dependence for power on other sources. It is now waiting for a no-objection certificate from the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd. [EnergyInfraPost]

Solar power for Assam

¶ The International Energy Agency has once again forecast that world coal demand will rise, despite halving its outlook for growth in India. The report says the increase will be small. Since 2011, the IEA has consistently forecast rising coal demand, even as it has repeatedly adjusted its figures downwards in light of lower-than-expected growth. [Carbon Brief]

¶ For all the new wind parks, solar farms, and hydro plants that will help Germany generate yet another renewable energy record this year, the world’s dirtiest power fuel still sets the price for how much factories are paying for electricity. The average German day-ahead power price is expected to rise this year for the first time since 2011. [BloombergQuint]

Windpark Wildpoldsried (Richard Mayer, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ South Korea aims to lift the share of renewables in its total power mix to 20% by 2030 under a new plan to cut dependence on coal and nuclear power. The country will bet on liquefied natural gas and renewable energy, mainly by investing in wind and solar projects, and will fight to lower greenhouse its gas emissions 26% by 2030. [Renewables Now]

US:

Wind turbine

¶ A proposed Montana wind farm moved one step closer toward breaking ground after receiving the go-ahead from the state regulators. The Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the sale of electricity from the facility to Northwestern Energy under the terms of a 15-year power purchase agreement. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants to insure grid reliability got a response from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. NERC’s 2017 Long-Term Reliability Assessment said renewable power and natural gas could match conventional generators for important metrics of reliability. [Kallanish Energy]

¶ US Wind has contracted Oceaneering International to carry out geophysical marine surveys of the site of the up to 750-MW Maryland offshore wind project. The work is scheduled to start in the second half of 2018 at the lease area about 40 km off the coast of Ocean City. The wind farm is planned to be built in stages, the first will be 248 MW. [reNews]

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December 17 Energy News

December 17, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Tesla vs. Tesla: The Juice In Your Car Will Increasingly Come Through HVDC, Edison’s Preferred Current” • This is partially a Thomas Edison vs Nikola Tesla story. Edison was committed to direct current, but Tesla liked alternating current. Edison did some ugly things to try to win the fight, but lost. Now the world is moving his way. [CleanTechnica]

Converter Transformers

¶ “The year is 2037. This is what happens when the hurricane hits Miami” • After the hurricane hit Miami in 2037, hotel lobby floors in Miami Beach are covered by a foot of sand. A dead manatee floats in a pool where Elvis had swum. Most damage came not from the hurricane’s 175-mile-an-hour winds, but from the twenty-foot storm surge. [The Guardian]

¶ “Canada’s Oil Capital Making Leap to Renewable Energy” • The government of Alberta, home to the world’s third-largest oil reserves, auctioned off 595 MW of renewable energy capacity, exceeding its target of 400 MW. The government billed moving toward renewables as a continuation of the province’s leading position in energy. [Financial Tribune]

Sunset with wind turbines and solar panels

World:

¶ India plans to boost solar module manufacturing by providing ₹11,000 crore ($1,653 million) of direct support together with concessions to cut reliance on imports from China. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims to provide a 30% subsidy for setting up new plants and expanding the existing ones, according to its website. [BloombergQuint]

¶ In an attempt to revive aging farming communities and put clean energy on the local electric grid, two farms in northeastern Japan are growing cloud-ear mushrooms underneath arrays of solar panels. Together, the farms will produce a combined 4,000 kW of solar power and 40 tons of cloud-ear mushrooms every year. [GOOD Magazine]

Installing solar panels

¶ As part of its campaign to promote green energy, the Central Railway has installed 28 solar power plants with a capacity of 924 KW on its five divisions and at a workshop. In addition, LED lights, which save energy as compared to conventional lights, have already been provided at 250 railway stations on Central Railway. [Times of India]

¶ The South Australia government decided to fast-track its switch to 100% renewable energy through a contract with Adelaide-based SIMEC ZEN Energy. The company plans to build 1 GW of solar, storage, and demand management to power the Whyalla Steelworks, which expects to cut its costs by 40% with a switch to renewables. [RenewEconomy]

Solar thermal system in Nevada

¶ Siemens Gamesa is set to add 380 MW to the Egyptian national electricity grid with the Gabal Al-Zayt wind farms during the first quarter of 2018. Sources at the New and Renewable Energy Authority said that Gab al Al-Zayt project implementation rate stood at 80%, surpassing the time schedule set for the project by Gamesa. [Daily News Egypt]

¶ Tasmanian residential energy prices could drop up to 6.5% over the next two years, the Australian Electrical Market Commission said. The AEMC’s annual report on price trends indicated a national fall in prices from mid 2018 as variable wind and solar generation comes online. Australia has seen an 11% price rise in the past year. [Tasmania Examiner]

Wind farm (Tasmania Examiner file photo)

US:

¶ The US renewable energy industry expressed relief after a compromise Republican tax bill released late on Friday preserved key tax credits that had been at risk of being removed, but it raised concerns about a provision that may threaten investment in the sector. Solar industry group SEIA called the tax bill a “great victory” for the sector. [The Japan Times]

¶ Batteries plus solar energy could topple natural gas peaker plants. A GTM Research senior adviser said 10 GW of the 20 GW of the plants projected to be constructed between 2018 and 2017 could be taken over by energy storage. More aggressive estimates suggest the gas peaker plants may not even have a place after 2020. [Inhabitat]

Tesla battery storage at a solar array

¶ Health leaders say they are alarmed about a report that officials at the CDC are being told not to use certain terms in official budget documents, including “fetus,” ”transgender,” and “science-based.” Climate change is just one of several topics on which federal agencies have downscaled data collection since President Trump took office. [Press of Atlantic City]

¶ Hundreds of US colleges and universities are taking action to combat global warming, but so far just one residential college has turned 100% to renewable energy: Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts. The college has installed a 19-acre solar farm, with 15,000 panels and a capacity of about 4.7 MW of power. [Jefferson Public Radio]

The Harold F Johnson library at Hampshire College

¶ The rate of new thyroid cancer cases in the four counties just north of New York City, which was 22% below the US rate in the late 1970s, is now 53% above the US rate, a study said. The Indian Point nuclear plant may be to blame. A study co-author said, “The only known cause of thyroid cancer is exposure to radioactivity.” [San Francisco Bay View]

¶ It’s a question few in the Atlanta area want to think about: What happens if state regulators pull the plug on Plant Vogtle’s units 3 and 4? The first thing to empty would be the 42-acre lot where Vogtle’s 6,000 construction workers park. Then there would be an exodus of RVs, travel trailers, and campers the workers called home. [The Augusta Chronicle]

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December 16 Energy News

December 16, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ In a paper published Friday in Diversity and Distributions, a professional journal, researchers in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University reported that the more sensitive a bird species is to rising temperatures during the breeding season, the more likely it is to be affected positively by being near old-growth forest. [KTVZ]

Wilson’s warbler (Photo: Amado Demesa, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Europe’s new Sentinel-5P satellite has captured a dramatic image of the smoke billowing away from the devastating California wildfires. It is a powerful demonstration of 5P’s ability to sense the atmosphere. The plume is seen to sweep westwards out over the Pacific Ocean near Los Angeles and then turn north towards the State of Oregon. [BBC]

World:

¶ Canada is close to approving the first Pipistrel e-plane, Alpha Electro, for legal flights in the country. After the final phase of approval in the advanced ultra-light category, the e-plane will be able to roam the Canadian skies. This was made easier due to Canada having already allowed the Alpha Trainer to operate as an ultra-light category aircraft. [CleanTechnica]

Charging the Pipistrel Alpha Electro

¶ The National Australia Bank, one of the country’s leading banks, announced this week that it will cease financing new thermal coal mining projects, becoming the first major bank in the country to make such a decision. This is in a country that is historically and globally renowned as utterly reliant on coal production. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Netherlands has launched the world’s first “zero subsidy” tender to build 700 MW of offshore wind. Shortly after the announcement, the country already had its first bidder. Zero subsidy tenders have been labeled as a “game-changer” because potential bidders would rely entirely on the market, without government incentives. [EcoWatch]

Offshore wind farm (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ BP announced acquisition of a 43% interest in solar power company Lighthouse for $200 million. This follows in the footsteps of peers Shell and Total, which have been very active in the renewables sector recently. Lighthouse is the largest utility-scale solar developer in Europe. BP already has investments in other renewables. [OilPrice.com]

¶ The UK government opened a consultation on proposals to allow remote island wind projects to apply for a Contract for Difference in the next auction for less established renewable technologies in 2019. The consultation proposes definitions for remote island wind, includes impact assessment, and seeks views on effects on island communities. [reNews]

Orkney (Image: Heriot Watt University)

¶ Northvolt, a battery manufacturer, and sustainable energy company Vestas announced a technology collaboration on the development of a lithium-ion battery platform for Vestas power plants. As an initial phase of the partnership, Vestas is investing €10 million. Both providers are looking for ways to accelerate product integration. [Windpower Engineering]

US:

¶ The journal Science Advances released a report, “Discriminating between natural versus induced seismicity from long-term deformation history of intraplate faults,” which addresses the causes of an unnatural number of earthquakes that hit Texas in the past decade. The authors suggest activities associated with fracking as a cause. [CleanTechnica]

Post-2008 seismicity rate change in the CUS

¶ The US solar industry installed 2,031 MW in the third quarter of 2017, in its eighth consecutive quarter in excess of 2 GW, but its smallest quarter for two years, as political uncertainty and increasing prices shuttered the industry’s recent success. The figures are from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in favor of an appeal brought by Earthjustice on behalf of the Sierra Club. The court held that Sierra Club had a due process right to be heard to protect its environmental interests. The Hawaii Constitution declares, “Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment.” [Maui Now]

Central Maui plain (Photo: Wendy Osher | Maui Now)

¶ The city of Tacoma wants to turn sewage poop into fuel. The city’s Environmental Services Department also is hoping to make a little money from the endeavor. A project they proposed would convert methane, a byproduct of the solid waste processed at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, into renewable natural gas. [The News Tribune]

¶ Congressional Republicans released the text of a tax proposal that includes incentives for electric vehicles and wind power, as well as a fix to the so-called BEAT provision critical to renewable energy. Nuclear tax credits, however, were excluded from the bill. The legislation combines of bills passed by the House and Senate. [Utility Dive]

US Capitol

¶ Austin Energy will buy the solar power produced by a 150-MW facility to be built by Intersect Power. Austin Energy would pay $150 million over the life of the 15-year contract. When this solar array comes online in 2020, Austin Energy estimates that more than half of the city’s power needs will be covered by renewable energy. [MyStatesman.com]

¶ Three state senators in New Jersey sponsored a bill that could cost electric ratepayers about $320 million a year to subsidize nuclear reactors that could otherwise be closed. Last week, the CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc, which operates three reactors in the state, said he may be forced to shut the units if there are no subsidies. [Reuters]

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December 15 Energy News

December 15, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Data processing machines often have algorithms judging whether data is sufficiently outside the normal range that it will contaminate a study. Because of climate change, a weather recording site in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, rejected all of the data it received for the entire month of November because it was made up of nothing but outliers. [CNN]

Retreating glacier in Greenland (Mario Tama | Getty Images)

World:

¶ Battery storage and smart technologies are to be rolled out to homes in the Irish town of Dingle as part of a new trial to test their potential for a virtual power plant on the Irish electricity grid.  Twenty homes will be selected to take part in the €1.12 million ($1.32 million) StoreNet project, which will last up to two years. [Energy Storage News]

¶ The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy in India chosen the district of Anantapur in the state of Andhra Pradesh for a solar-wind hybrid project that will be the world’s largest. The mega project will have a capacity of 160 MW and will cover 1000 acres. The project is expected to entail an investment of approximately ₹1000 crores ($155 million). [CleanTechnica]

Indian solar array

¶ Hungary will relax rules on the construction of small solar power plants and subsidize loans to landowners as part of efforts to promote renewable energy, a government official said. Over half of Hungary’s electricity comes from its sole nuclear power plant, and 29% of its electricity is imported. The government wants to change this. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Between January 2014 and September 2017, big banks provided $630 billion in financing to the 120 top coal plant developers studies say. And major institutional investors, many of which are members of groups that warn about investing in companies whose products cause climate change, have put $140 billion into the same companies. [CleanTechnica]

Coal trains

¶ Dozens of Australian businesses are actively seeking alternative ways to source energy that is much cheaper and cleaner than what they are currently getting from the grid, a new report from a major Australian bank has claimed. This includes power purchase agreements for the procurement of renewable energy generation. [RenewEconomy]

¶ A report published by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that UK onshore windpower showed a 50% increase in energy generation between 2016 and 2017. The 2.0 TWh increase is due to increased windpower capacity, the most significant increase of all renewable technologies, over the time period. [Energy Voice]

Drone Hill wind farm in the Scottish Borders

¶ The Clean Energy Finance Corporation reached 1 GW of big solar investment in Australia, after committing $207 million to two new projects being developed in Victoria and Queensland. The CEFC announced investments in the 110-MW Wemen Sun Farm in Victoria, and the 90-MW Clermont Solar Farm in Queensland. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Boskalis’ Asian Hercules 3 giant floating crane has arrived in its port in Peterhead ahead of foundation installation at Vattenfall’s 92.4-MW Aberdeen Bay offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland. The 25,000-tonne crane will be used to transport and install the 77-metre-high, 1800-tonne steel suction bucket jacket foundations. [reNews]

Asian Hercules 3 (EOWDC image)

¶ The former energy secretary who signed off on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has told Unearthed he doubts the project will ever get built. Sir Edward Davey said the lower cost of renewables today means “the economics have clearly gone away” from the project. Only a year ago, he said it was a “good deal.” [Unearthed]

US:

¶ A trash incinerator in Southwest Baltimore is the city’s largest single source of air pollution. But a state law has nonetheless allowed it to collect roughly $10 million in subsidies over the past six years through a program intended to promote green energy. The subsidies exist because lawmakers classified trash as a renewable power source. [Baltimore Sun]

Incinerator in Baltimore (Jerry Jackson | Baltimore Sun)

¶ According to Deloitte’s annual “Resources 2017 Study – Energy Management: Sustainability & Progress,” cost declines and technology advancements have made renewables competitive with conventional energy, giving consumers and businesses more clean energy options and pushing utilities to offer smarter, high-tech offerings. [Energy Manager Today]

¶ Idaho officials have reached a tentative agreement approving a utility company’s $216.5 million in relicensing expenses for a three-dam hydroelectric project on the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will take public comments through January 5 on the proposed agreement. [McClatchy Washington Bureau]

Hells Canyon Dam (Idaho Power image)

¶ EDF Renewable Energy announced commercial operations at its 154-MW Rock Falls Wind Project in northern Oklahoma have begun. Kimberly-Clark Corporation has agreed to purchase 120 MW of the power generated at the facility. Rock Falls is EDF’s second wind project in Oklahoma, following the Great Western Wind Project. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ If the controversial Millstone nuclear plant were to close within a few years, its many highly-skilled employees would have no trouble finding new jobs, according to a new draft report commissioned by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. [CT Post]

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December 14 Energy News

December 14, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Arctic temperatures are continuing to rise while sea ice declines, a NOAA-sponsored report has found, with the region showing no sign of returning to its “reliably frozen” state. The report shows that a warming trend continued in the Arctic in 2017, resulting in higher surface and water temperatures and melting sea ice. [CNN]

Helheim Glacier, eastern Greenland

¶ Climate change is partly to blame for the record rainfall that fell over Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, according to new scientific analysis. Air can hold about 7% more moisture per degree Celsius of warming, so there is more water vapor to be squeezed out of the air as rainfall in a world warmed by climate change. [CNN]

World:

¶ The UK and Canada announced that membership to their Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was only launched last month at COP2, has blown past 50 countries, regions, and businesses. Members include the State of California, Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, and France, as well as high-profile corporations such as Unilever, Virgin Group, and EDF. [CleanTechnica]

Coal train

¶ This week, on the sidelines of the One Planet Summit being held in France and hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, three of the world’s leading financial institutions announced their own fossil fuel divestment targets. The World Bank, ING, and AXA all announced plans to divest from fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and gas. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Norway plans to offer one or two sites for the development of floating offshore wind projects. The ministry of petroleum said it will ask the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate to reassess five areas identified in 2013 as having potential for offshore windpower. The government intends to act quickly on the projects. [reNews]

Floating wind turbine (Statoil image)

¶ The government of Alberta, home to the world’s third-largest oil reserves, auctioned off 595 MW of renewable energy capacity to be built in the province. That exceeded the government’s target of 400 MW. The weighted average bid was 3.7 Canadian cents per kWh (3¢/kWh), the lowest price for wind power ever in Canada. [Bloomberg]

¶ Liquified natural gas is running out of steam. Natural gas demand in Europe is 12% lower than it was 10 years ago. Chinese and Indian demand continues to grow, but the dramatic gains by solar power and wind, where costs have fallen 85% since 2009, have severely limited the prospects for natural gas as a power source. [MetalMiner]

Liquefied natural gas ship (Photo: donvictori0 | Adobe Stock)

¶ Canada and the World Bank Group announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris on December 12 that they are teaming up in partnership to support effective climate action in developing countries and small island developing states and spurring the acceleration away from coal-fired electricity toward clean energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ IFA2, a high-voltage direct current electrical interconnector project, is set to proceed after receiving all required consents in the UK. The UK’s Marine Management Organisation issued a comprehensive decision for the 1,000-MW link project. IFA2 will run between the transmission systems in Hampshire, UK, and Normandy, France. [Power Technology]

Power link (Photo: © Crown copyright)

¶ The landmark Hiroshima High Court ruling ordering a suspension of operations at the Ikata nuclear power plant focused the possibility of a nuclear calamity occurring due to a massive eruption at a volcano that is 130 km (80 miles) away. This may put the future of nuclear power in doubt, because Japan has 111 active volcanoes. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Southern California Gas Co is partnering with the University of California-Irvine’s Advanced Power & Energy Program to design an “Advanced Energy Community.” The community is being planned to provide replicable model that optimizes a variety of energy options, including solar, wind, and renewable natural gas. [North American Windpower]

Southern California

¶ Multinational oil and gas megalith ExxonMobil has this week agreed to increase its level of climate disclosure. This follows shareholders voting to instruct the company to produce an annual report on the risks of climate change and government policies. The vote for disclosure took place at the annual meeting earlier this year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Energy Information Administration’s “Short Term Energy Outlook” projects that renewable energy resources, excluding hydropower, will gain about two percentage points, reaching 10% of the US electricity generation market in 2018. The EIA expects generation from gas-fired power plants to drop to 32% in 2017 from 34% in 2016. [Utility Dive]

Wind turbines

¶ Tax provisions critical to the electric power sector remain in flux as Republicans try to reconcile competing House and Senate versions of tax reform, Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. The status of production tax credits for wind and nuclear energy, incentives for electric vehicles and a host of other “orphan” energy resources remain “in flux.” [Utility Dive]

¶ Moody’s Investors Service is telling cities that they must prepare for increasingly worse storms due to climate change or their credit ratings could suffer. Lower credit ratings mean a city has to pay more to borrow money. The warning comes after studies showed climate change worsened damage from Hurricane Harvey. [Houston Public Media]

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December 13 Energy News

December 13, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “A Hand Writing on the Wall for Natural Gas” • September of 2016 was the last month in which US natural gas generation exceeded what it had been for the same month of the previous year. Since September 2016, every single month has seen a decline for electricity generation from natural gas, which has dropped 10% overall. [CleanTechnica]

Belshazzar’s Feast (Rembrandt, 1635)

World:

¶ A day before French Presidents Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit launches, two French multinationals, Schneider Electric and EDF Group, signed up to The Climate Group’s corporate leadership campaigns RE100, EP100, and EV100, sending a strong signal that businesses are stepping up to fight climate change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Nepal’s largest wind-solar hybrid power system was installed at a village of 85 families in the Sindhuli district. The system has 20 kW of wind turbines and 15 kW of solar PV panels. The system produces 110 kWh of electric energy per day. This will easily meet the electricity demand of 87 kWh per day of the village. [Himalayan Times]

Largest wind-solar hybrid power system in Nepal (Photo: THT)

¶ Vestas secured an order for 54 MW of turbines from BKW Energie for a wind farm at Marker in Norway. The contract covers the supply, installation and commissioning of 15 V136-3.6MW machines. Delivery is expected to start in the third quarter of 2018. BKW Energie also owns a stake in the 1-GW Fosen Vind project. [reNews]

¶ The world is quickly abandoning coal. But that’s not the end of the road for coal mines. In many countries they’re coming back to life as solar farms. The world’s biggest floating solar project began operating in the eastern Chinese city of Huainan, which accounted for nearly 20% of the country’s coal reserves in a 2008 estimate. [Quartz]

World’s biggest floating solar project

¶ A Japanese high court for the first time has banned operations at a nuclear power plant. The high court concluded there was a chance the Ikata plant could be affected by a pyroclastic flow from Mount Aso if an eruption occurred similar in scale to a massive one 90,000 years ago on the southern island of Kyushu. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Thai renewables developer Wind Energy Holdings Co Ltd raised $1.1 billion to finance five new onshore wind farms in what may be Southeast Asia’s biggest wind energy project yet. Located in Thailand’s northeastern provinces, the wind farms will add up to 450 MW of energy to the grid on completion, slated for early 2019. [eco-business.com]

Chaiyaphum Wind Farm (Image: © Asian Development Bank)

US:

¶ In what amounts to the largest order yet for the Tesla Semi Truck, PepsiCo has placed a pre-order for 100 units. The order is twice as exactly large as the previous largest order, in which Sysco ordered 50 units. The number of reservations taken to date, according to a tally that Reuters is maintaining, is now at least 276. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Chautauqua County, New York, has deployed its first all-electric terminal truck at the North County Transfer Station in Fredonia, as it works to meet goals of the its Comprehensive Plan. Chautauqua County is the first county government in the US to deploy an all-electric Class 8 truck in its commercial fleet operations. [CleanTechnica]

Orange EV T-Series truck

¶ Duke Energy Florida customers are now benefiting from an additional 8.8 MW of solar, a carbon-free renewable resource in the Sunshine State. The company’s newest solar power plant contains nearly 44,000 solar panels on 70 acres in Suwannee County. The facility is in Live Oak, Florida, near the existing Suwannee power plant. [Solar Power World]

¶ Solar is becoming an increasingly important part of the US electric mix, and the most recentt data from the DOE’s Energy Information Administration shows that the solar leaders are still Western states. During the first nine months of 2017, Hawaii and Nevada joined California among the states that get more than 10% of their power from solar. [pv magazine USA]

Wind, solar, sun, and clouds (Pixabay image)

¶ New York Gov Andrew Cuomo and Puerto Rico Gov Ricardo Rosselló are calling for a new, modern electrical system for Puerto Rico following devastation and widespread outages caused by Hurricane Maria. Cuomo has created a working group to assist the island on its electrical repairs, which proposed a significant overhaul of the system. [WGRZ-TV]

¶ NextEra Energy Resources and American Electric Power marked the official commissioning of the 120-MW Bluff Point Wind Energy Center in Indiana. The $200 million project features 57 GE wind turbines, and will provide electric power to Appalachian Power customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Wind farm

¶ Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power, announced its first solar PV generation project will be built in Rustburg, Virginia. The 15-MW Depot Solar Center will be built and operated by Coronal Energy, a provider of renewable energy with a large portfolio of existing US solar and battery storage projects. [Solar Power World]

¶ Hawaii was the first state in the nation to commit to a 100% renewable transportation future. Now Hawaii’s four mayors have come together to sign proclamations committing to an all renewable transportation system by 2045. And three county governments pledged to transition all fleet vehicles to 100% renewable power by 2035. [KITV Honolulu]

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December 12 Energy News

December 12, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Birds are increasingly threatened. Overfishing and changing sea temperatures are pushing seabirds to the brink of extinction, new data on the world’s birds shows. Birds that are now globally threatened include the kittiwake and the Atlantic puffin. And on land, the Snowy Owl is struggling to find prey as Arctic ice melts, say conservation groups. [BBC]

Black-legged kittiwake (Photo: Ed Marshall)

¶ Here’s another good news item that will certainly bother EV critics. Though most people seem not to know it, the batteries that power EVs keep getting cheaper. The average price of a lithium-ion battery pack is down to $209/kWh and the prices are set to fall below $100/kWh by 2025, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance survey. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A joint study by the highly respected Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research finds that plug-in hybrid cars with at least 36 miles of electric-only range (eg Chevy Volt) are just as good at keeping carbon emissions out of the atmosphere as pure battery electric cars (eg Chevy Bolt). [CleanTechnica]

Chevy Volt

¶ Independent assessment group Climate Action Tracker has published a new study outlining 10 key short-term sectoral benchmarks for climate action that must be taken by 2020-25 if we are to simply “keep the window open for a 1.5°C-consistent GHG emission pathway.” It appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Policy. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ One of the UK’s most important oil pipelines is being closed after a crack was discovered. It carries crude North Sea oil across land to a processing plant. More than 80 platforms will have to suspend production. The price of Brent crude rose about 2% to $64.69 a barrel amid surprise that the pipeline could be shut for about three weeks. [BBC]

Oil processing plant (Photo: Mat Fascione)

¶ French President Emmanuel Macron announced the first 18 winners for his “Make the Planet Great Again” initiative, which he announced in June after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. The grants will provide recipients with funding of up to $1.8 million over a three to five year period. [CNN]

¶ German offshore wind farms put power on the country’s grid 363 days a year, a Fraunhofer IWES report said. The authors of the report, which was commissioned by the German Offshore Wind Foundation, said that if Germany wants to achieve the acting government’s zero-carbon emissions target, it needs 25 GW of offshore wind by 2030. [reNews]

Offshore wind farm (Pixabay)

¶ Renewables company Lekela said it has signed key project documents for a 250-MW wind project in the Gulf of Suez region of Egypt. Lekela, which focuses on Africa, is a 60/40 joint venture between private equity firm Actis and a consortium led by wind and solar developer Mainstream Renewable Power, based in Ireland. [Renewables Now]

¶ South Africa’s Khobab and Loeriesfontein wind farms began their 20-year commercial operations, the firm spearheading the projects Lekela Power has announced. Lekela Power said that the 280-MW wind farms will help power 240,000 households in South African. The projects’ 122 turbines are located in Northern Cape province. [cce online news]

Wind turbines

¶ French state-controlled utility EDF said it plans to speed up its roll-out of solar energy in France to help the government’s fight against climate change. EDF’s chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy said the utility and associated investors will put about €25 billion into development 30 GW of solar capacity in France between 2020 and 2035. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ After spending tens of billions of euros each year, German emissions have decreased much slower than the EU average between 2000 and 2016. EU average reduction was almost 15%, while Germany managed around 10%, almost a third slower. The main reason for this is the accelerated shutdown of nuclear power. [Energy Collective]

Canal at a nuclear plant (Assenmacher, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is highlighting how greenhouse-gas emissions in Iowa dropped for the second year in a row, primarily with decreasing power plant emissions. This includes notable increases in windpower and decreases in the use of coal. GHG emissions statewide decreased 9% from their peak in 2007. [North American Windpower]

¶ Two large solar-powered generating plants were dedicated near Las Vegas. Together, the power plants are designed to generate the equivalent amount of electricity to meet the needs of 46,000 Nevada homes, according to a company statement. The 179-MW output will be used by Switch plants, however, in Reno and Las Vegas. [Danbury News Times]

Solar array north of Las Vegas (Photo: Michael Quine, AP)

¶ South Carolina Electric and Gas announced last week that it had reached its state-mandated goal of building 42 MW of utility-scale solar capacity by 2020 three years ahead of schedule. Before SCE&G breaks its arm patting itself on the back, however, it should be noted that 42 MW is an exceedingly modest goal. [pv magazine USA]

¶ The parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas Co is offering the site of a failed nuclear reactor project to the state-owned utility Santee Cooper. SCANA has proposed giving the Fairfield County site to Santee Cooper so the project could be preserved and perhaps finished at some point in the future, The State newspaper reported. [Charleston Post Courier]

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December 11 Energy News

December 11, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Canada Is Ready To Be a Global Environmental Leader Using Blockchain” • Blockchain technology could not have arrived at a better time. It can enable developing nations to leapfrog developed nations and with the recent quickly falling prices in solar and wind power, a future of renewable power grids is coming fast. [Coinsquare Discover]

Moraine Lake

¶ “ITER fusion project lies about the dates, budget and power levels” • The expected cost of the nuclear fusion project risen from $5 billion to $20 billion. The timeline for operation at full power was moved from 2016 to 2027. But it looks like they will not even be able to complete the deuterium and tritium experiments by 2035. [Next Big Future]

¶ “Footing The $9 Trillion Renewable Bill” • Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that zero-carbon power generation is expected to attract $9 trillion of investment from now to 2040. Who will foot the bill? Basically, the money is out there, it just needs to be realigned to the demand for investment in renewable energy. [OilPrice.com]

Renewable energy

World:

¶ Solar & Benefit, a Bulgarian renewable power developer, signed a memorandum of understanding to expand solar PV systems in the Iranian city of Jahrom. The company intends to develop power projects in Iran with a total output capacity of 400 MW in collaboration with Grass Group, a German solar energy EPC contractor. [Financial Tribune]

¶ Construction on Australia’s first utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage hybrid project to be connected to the national grid is about to start near the town of Hughenden, in northwest Queensland. The A$160 million ($120 million) park includes 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar on single-axis trackers, and two lithium-ion batteries. [PV-Tech]

Kennedy Energy Park (Winlab image)

¶ A call to action, signed by some of the world’s most prominent economists, urges wealth fund managers, professional financiers, and all investors to stop investing in businesses that extract, process, distribute, manufacture, and sell fossil fuel products, including any form of oil, gas, or coal, to generate power. [Sputnik International]

¶ Power company Top Energy, in New Zealand’s Far North district, has let the contracts for the expansion of its Ngawha geothermal power plant. It has awarded the Ngawha drilling contract to Iceland Drilling. The project worth $176 million will almost double the capacity of the 28-MW station near Kaikohe. [Radio New Zealand]

Ngawha power plant (Photo: Top Energy)

¶ Clean energy, including nuclear power and renewable energy, is expected to exceed coal in China’s electricity generating capacity in about ten years, a senior official in the National Energy Administration said. China’s installed capacity of clean energy has reached 660 GW, while installed thermal power capacity stood at 900 GW. [China.org.cn]

¶ More than 8 in 10 South Australians want increased SA solar farm investment, according to a survey by the Sunday Mail. And 64% say solar panel installation should be compulsory on newly constructed homes. Around 62.5% of participants also want more wind farms, the survey shows. More than 4,000 people took part in the study. [Energy Matters]

Solar Farm

¶ A unit of China Three Gorges Corp. is building a ¥1 billion (£113 million, $150 million) floating solar power plant, the world’s biggest, in the nation’s eastern province of Anhui. China Three Gorges New Energy started building the 150-MW project in July. The entire facility is expected to come online by May 2018. [The Independent]

¶ The One Planet Summit currently taking place in Paris is bringing together the President of France, the President of the World Bank Group, and the UN Secretary-General, and many other leaders. It aims to mobilize new announcements of bold projects and substantial financial commitments to combat climate change. [UN Environment]

Sunrise (Pixabay image)

¶ Australia’s emissions over the past year were the highest on record, when relatively unreliable emissions from land use are excluded, according to estimates by the carbon consultancy NDEVR Environmental. The Climate Council called on the government to end what it called “climate censorship,” because it has failed release data. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ Missouri’s utility regulators are reviewing outdated rules on customer-owned solar power and other distributed energy sources. Commissions have been playing catch-up in other states, and the experience of two of them shows there is no guarantee the resulting policies are more favorable for renewable power. [Midwest Energy News]

Rooftop solar

¶ Months after putting the project on hold, the backers of the Vermont Green Line have pulled the plug on their proposal for a power cable under Lake Champlain. The estimated $650 million project ran afoul of concerns that Vermont’s grid wasn’t prepared to handle the quantity of electricity the cable was slated to carry. [vtdigger.org]

¶ The US  DOE approved Georgia Power’s new agreement with Toshiba to complete the $3.2 billion in payments for the $19-billion Vogtle nuclear expansion project. Of the total parent guarantees, Georgia Power will receive about $1.4 billion. Toshiba is the parent company of Westinghouse Electric, the project’s bankrupt contractor. [Energy Business Review]

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December 10 Energy News

December 10, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Utahns won’t benefit from more oil and gas production – just the companies that operate here” • The Trump administration’s retrograde policies to increase fossil fuel subsidies will damage our air, land, water and public health. Trump’s Energy, EPA, and Interior directors are moving to further privilege coal, gas and oil with taxpayer money. [Salt Lake Tribune]

Oil well on public land (Josh Ewing | Friends of Cedar Mesa)

¶ “India faces painful move to cleaner energy” • Hundreds of millions of people in India are forced to live with the fallout of the dirtiest fuels. It is not just air pollution that is killing people and animals. Coal waste is getting into fields and causing underground fires. The government blames a lack of funds to pay for greener power. [The Straits Times]

Science and Technology:

¶ The worst-case predictions regarding the effects of global warming are the most likely to be true, a new study published in Nature has warned. It said that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93% per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4°C by the end of this century. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Pollution (AP Photo | Andy Wong, File | for the AJC)

¶ A bio-battery powered by bacteria could one day be used for wearable electronics, and your sweat could power it. Researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York have developed a textile-based, bacteria-powered bio-battery, that stretches and twists like a piece of fabric, so it could be worn as part of clothes. [Newsweek]

World:

¶ India’s ultra-mega solar project will be up for discussion at the One Planet Summit in France this week, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said. The ultra-mega solar power projects, also known as ultra mega solar parks, are a series of solar power projects planned by India to increase its capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW. [The Hans India]

Ultra-mega solar project

¶ Renewable energy developer Maoneng Australia said it has landed the biggest ever power purchase agreement for solar power in Australia, as part of AGL’s plans to replace the ageing Liddell coal generator with renewables and storage in 2022. It signed a 15-year PPA with AGL for 800,000 MWh of renewable energy per year. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The renewable energy sectors of Ivory Coast and Morocco have received boosts to further develop their planned projects. The African Development Bank approved $324 million in loans to support renewable energy projects in these two countries, which are expected to increase power supplies significantly and keep economic growth on track. [ESI Africa]

Noor phase 1 solar thermal plant (AfDB image)

¶ Laos can build hydroelectric dams, but will not do so without foreign investment. Vietnam is currently the only neighboring country which has high demand for electricity and is a potential importer. There are problems with the arrangement, however, as Vietnamese officials are reluctant to have dams installed on the Mekong River. [VietNamNet Bridge]

¶ Japan is reviewing future energy sources as climate advocates call on the government to enable easier access to the grid for the renewables sector. Renewables, including solar and hydropower, are projected to make up between 22% and 24% of the energy mix in 2030, an official blueprint says, and that needs to be increased, according to the advocates. [MENAFN.COM]

Signs on a wall

¶ With the energy increasingly a key factor in the geopolitical relation, the US Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission expressed its interest in updating a 2009 agreement with India on enhancing energy cooperation. The agreement identifies energy-related issues and agendas for exchange of information and regulatory practices. [Economic Times]

US:

¶ Devastating wildfires fueled by climate change are “the new normal,” California Governor Jerry Brown said. He continued, “We’re facing a new reality in this state,” and said they could happen “every year or every few years.” He made the comments after surveying damage from a 180-square mile fire in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles. [BBC News]

Thomas fire in Ventura County (Photo: AFP | Getty Images)

¶ Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed subsidizing coal-fired and nuclear power plants to compensate them for the reliable energy they provide to the nation’s grid. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which Perry directed to study the issue, is scheduled to deliver a decision on the proposed rule on Monday, but asked for more time. [Financial Tribune]

¶ Colorado Springs’ Martin Drake power plant is the least efficient coal plant in the state, according to a study conducted by the Applied Economic Clinic at Tufts University, but the plant has also seen its energy output drop significantly in the past decade. One issue cited by the study was the lack of information from the owners. [KRDO]

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December 9 Energy News

December 9, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “A Spectacle At The Coliseum – US To Hold Public Climate Change Debate As Soon As January, EPA Head Says” • Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA may launch a “public climate debate.” So, spectacle and entertainment worthy of ancient Rome will be used to distract the people from actual discussion of the issues threatening our civilization. [CleanTechnica]

Coliseum, a theater of distraction

¶ “Solar and Wind Power Face Serious Threats From the Trump Administration” • Less than a year into President Trump’s time in office, clean energy developers face a slew of unanticipated threats from the White House and Republicans in Congress that could slow the industry’s growth in ways unimaginable just a year ago. [TIME]

¶ “No stabilization without flexibilization” • Power networks need more and different sources of flexibility to maintain a safe and stable system of operations. This is the main point of the report “Flexibility in the Power System – The need, opportunity and value of flexibility” released by Dutch consultancy DVN GL. [pv magazine International]

Transmission lines (Photo: Flickr | Gavin Fordham)

Science and Technology:

¶ The melting of the Arctic region will very possibly result in a further drying out of California, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications. Warming of the Arctic will produce high-pressure atmospheric ridges in the Northern Pacific off of the coast of California, steering storms towards Canada and Alaska. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Eighteen-year-old Ethan Novek has invented a CO2 capture technology that could capture CO2 at about $10 per metric ton – around 85% less than the industry standard. It works by reacting the exhaust gases at a fossil fuel plant with ammonia. Water and CO2 react with the ammonia to form a salt, which can the be used industrially. [Inhabitat]

Emitting CO2 and other pollutants

World:

¶ Eurelectric represents the interests of 3,500 electric companies all across the European continent on major issues. Its members create more than €200 billion in revenue each year. Its members agreed unanimously to commit to an ambitious program of making all electricity generated in Europe carbon neutral by 2050. It will save them money. [CleanTechnica]

¶ AGL has confirmed it will close its Liddell coal-fired power plant, replacing it with a mix of renewable sources. The decision serves as an embarrassment to Australia’s Coalition Government, which had publicly and privately pressured AGL’s CEO, Andy Vesey, either to sell the plant or keep it open for another five years. [The Guardian]

Liddell coal-fired plant (Photo: Jonny Weeks | Guardian)

US:

¶ A new chairman was sworn in on December 7 at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. With Kevin McIntyre’s swearing-in, the FERC panel has five members and can vote on issues. He will lead the agency as it considers a directive from the Trump administration to subsidize ailing coal and nuclear power plants. [E&P]

¶ Nevada is now the nation’s number one producer of both solar and geothermal power per capita. Speaking at the ninth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican, said “$734 million in incentives has attracted a return of $7 billion in capital investments, payroll, and taxes paid.” [HuffPost]

Las Vegas rooftop (Photo: Ballonboy101, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Massachusetts has awarded $20 million in grants to 26 projects designed to grow the state’s energy storage market. Governor Charlie Baker’s administration doubled the available funding from the initial $10 million commitment. The awarded projects will benefit 25 communities and draw in $32 million in matching funds. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ CleanTechnica reported that Anheuser-Busch had placed the largest pre-order yet for Tesla’s new Semi Trucks, with 40 units being reserved. Then, on the following day, Sysco Corporation, one of the world’s largest food service distribution firms, announced that it has reserved 50 units of the upcoming Tesla Semi Truck. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Semi event

¶ As far back as a dozen years ago, when gas supplied less than 40% of Florida’s electricity, then-Governor Jeb Bush said utilities needed to stop depending so heavily on it. The state, which has abundant sunshine, must import gas from elsewhere. Florida’s power providers and state regulators, however, are doubling down on the strategy of buying gas. [Florida Today]

¶ Open water in the Arctic causes rapidly elevating temperatures in Arctic areas because water is absorbs heat faster than ice. The effect is particularly strong between October and December, a time that used to have sea ice, but now often does not. Octobers in Utqiaġvik are now nearly 8° warmer than Octobers in the 1980s and ’90s. [Grist]

Barrow, Alaska (David L Ryan | The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

¶ The Boston University Board of Trustees voted to pass the BU Bold Climate Action Plan. It commits the university to 100% renewable electricity by 2018 and net zero carbon emissions by 2040. It would quickly scale up increasing energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy, and improving the resilience of the campus. [Environment America]

¶ New Jersey lawmakers are exploring legislation after the state’s biggest utility warned that its nuclear reactors are at risk of being shut down in the next two years without a “safety net” because they’ll be unable to cover their costs. Nuclear power accounts for almost half of the electricity generated in New Jersey. [BloombergQuint]

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December 8 Energy News

December 8, 2017

World:

¶ Total Gas & Power and Reactive Technologies believe they can maximize the value of solar through a hybrid power purchase agreement that exploits flexibility markets. The companies say their ‘Enhanced PPA’ gives solar generators scope both to secure long-term revenues for their output, but also additional income by using flexibility opportunities. [The Energyst]

Solar array at sunset

¶ With a more ambitious energy development plan, Thailand’s share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption could surpass its national target by a quarter and reach more than 37% by 2036, according to a new report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency and the Ministry of Energy of Thailand. [solarserver.com]

¶ More than half of the European Union’s 619 coal-fired power stations are losing money, according to a new report from the analysts Carbon Tracker. As a result, the industry’s slow plans for shutdowns will lead to €22 billion ($25.8 billion) in losses by 2030 if the EU fulfills its pledge to tackle climate change, the report warns. [The Guardian]

Coal-fired plant in Germany (Photo: Sascha Steinbach | EPA)

¶ Alberta’s minister of environment and parks, announced a plan to adopt an output-based allocation system for large emitters in Alberta. The a move is applauded by the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which point out that the plan supports Alberta’s efforts to move to zero-carbon wind energy and other renewable generation. [North American Windpower]

¶ At its national conference in London, the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, a trade body in the UK, launched a voluntary, industry-led scheme to support operators of AD plants to improve their operational, environmental, and health and safety performance, especially in terms of energy generation and digestate quality. [FarmingUK]

Biogas facility

¶ Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning committee has given consent to two wind farms in Scotland totaling 66.4 MW. Element Power has received approval for the 40.8-MW Windy Rig wind farm north of Carsphairn, while Muirhall Energy has the go-ahead for the 25.6-MW Loganhead project northwest of Langholm. [reNews]

¶ Hitachi could stop funding development of a new nuclear plant on Anglesey unless the government agrees to a viable financial support package by the middle of next year, the head of the project has warned. He said the plant’s Japanese owners had already spent £2 billion and needed some certainty it can get to a successful conclusion. [The Times]

Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant (Christopher Furlong | Getty Images)

US:

¶ A judge of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued several orders concerning the Dakota Access pipeline. They address the possibility of a spill like the recent 200,000 gallons of oil lost by the Keystone pipeline. One order instructed the Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access to increase their pipeline monitoring. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Wildfires are raging just north of Los Angeles, destroying whole communities just a short drive from the city’s downtown area. The fires consume everything in their path and only go out when they reach the Pacific Ocean. Commuters accustomed to massive traffic jams on the Highway 101 are now forced to run a gauntlet of flames. [CleanTechnica]

Early morning commute in California (Rick Patrick, Twitter)

¶ Coal accounts for nearly 80% of the power generated by PPL Corp, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The company has issued a climate assessment saying that coal will provide about 10% by mid-century. The decline will be caused by market forces. The company now vows to use more distributed energy and cleaner-burning fuels. [Forbes]

¶ Anheuser-Busch, a company known for its popular beer brand Budweiser, has ordered 40 units of the recently unveiled Tesla Semi Truck, representatives have announced. Anheuser-Busch reps said the reason for the relatively large order is to help the company in its efforts to reduce fueling costs and to reduce its emissions. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Semi (Tesla image)

¶ The Platte River Power Authority, the electricity provider for the Colorado communities of Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park and Longmont, unveiled details about what could be the most affordable way to carbon neutrality. Members of the Platte River board said they were pleasantly surprised by the costs of carbon neutral electricity. [The Coloradoan]

¶ The latest confirmed initiative for power restoration in Puerto Rico is a donation of 6 MW of batteries from AES, which has suggested microgrids and large-scale solar could be the answer to long term stability issues. Other companies including Tesla, Sonnen, and Tabuchi America have made equipment and labor donations. [Energy Storage News]

Radar imagery of Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
donate at [
Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

¶ BART, the rapid transportation system in the San Francisco Bay area, will soon be powered almost entirely by renewable energy. The system will be 90% powered by wind, solar, and other renewables by 2021, after the BART Board of Directors approved two 20-year renewable energy power purchase agreements. [San Francisco Examiner]

¶ FuelCell Energy, based in Danbury, Connecticut, will enter into carbon negative territory under an agreement with Toyota. A fuel cell plant, which will be installed and operated by FuelCell Energy at the Port of Long Beach in California, will also generate renewable power to be sold to the grid under a tariff program. [Danbury News Times]

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December 7 Energy News

December 7, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Rebuilding Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands: Better energy infrastructure is key” • For two members of congress, the main takeaway from the trip to US territories in the Caribbean is that the federal government’s effort to help fellow Americans who live there needs to be sustained for months, or even years, to come. [The Hill]

Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria (Getty Images)

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
donate at [
Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

¶ “One Trump Buzzword to Seal Fate of $700 Billion Power Trade” • The Trump administration has a plan to achieve what it calls “resiliency”: Keep money-losing coal and nuclear plants running. But almost every other corner of the energy industry, including the $700 billion utility sector, is heading in another direction. [Bloomberg]

World:

¶ The Italian region of Tuscany gets about 40% of its electricity from geothermal power plants with expected further increase in the coming years. The region consumes just under 21,000 GWh of electricity, about 16,000 GWh of which are produced within Tuscany. About 53% of the region’s electricity is coming from renewable sources. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Florence (Photo: flickr | Maëlick, creative commons)

¶ The Moray Council has backed a development that could transform an abandoned airfield in northern Scotland into one of Europe’s biggest solar farms. Elgin Energy wants to cover the Milltown Airfield with about 200,000 solar panels. Moray’s attraction is due to its long summer days, the result of its being so far north. [Energy Voice]

¶ Iran’s Industrial Development & Renovation Organization  agreed with the Chinese Sunshine company and Hong Kong-based Konda Industry Co Ltd, to invest in a fully automated solar panel production project. Iran will have a 30% share in the company, while the rest will be equally divided between the other two companies. [Caspian News]

Large solar array

¶ West Australia’s Horizon Power has become the first major Australian utility to embrace the idea of “base-cost renewables.” The idea is to build the grid up from the base with installations of inexpensive renewables, then add storage and other smart technologies such as demand response and energy efficiency to fill in the gaps. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Thai company Wind Energy Holdings has borrowed $1.14 billion from Siam Commercial Bank to fund five onshore wind farms in the country. This huge financing will see the projects come online by the first quarter of 2019 and will significantly increase the 270 MW of energy the company is currently generating in Thailand. [Global Trade Review]

Wind turbines at sunrise

¶ General Electric Co is planning to cut 12,000 jobs in its power business, with most of the cuts happening outside the US, a person familiar with the matter said. The manufacturer has been hit hard by flagging demand for electricity generated with natural gas, in part due to a shift toward power from renewable sources. [BloombergQuint]

US:

¶ In 2015, the Missouri Auto Dealers Association sued to prevent the Missouri Department of Revenue allowing Tesla to sell its automobiles directly to consumers. The most recent ruling came an appeals court, which rebuked MADA, saying it looked more like a competitor seeking to avoid competition than a defender of the public interest. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla store in Texas

¶ The Energy Information Administration’s “Electric Power Monthly” report of December 1 had good news for renewable energy sources. Renewable electricity production increased by 14.69% in the first three quarters of 2017 as compared to a year previously. Electricity generation from fossil fuels and nuclear power declined by 5.41%. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Cincinnati has entered a contract with Dynegy to purchase 100% renewable electricity for most of its municipal facilities, starting next month and running through at least 2021. The green electricity will power police and fire stations, health clinics, recreations centers and most administrative buildings including city hall. [Smart Cities Dive]

Cincinnati

¶ For the past 40 years, the electricity sector of the US economy has been the biggest source of carbon emissions. But according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, that distinction now belongs to transportation. It is not that emissions from transportation are rising; they are not. It is that emissions from the electricity sector are falling. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Pacific Gas & Electric submitted six energy storage contracts, totaling 165 MW, to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval as part of its efforts to meet the state-mandated goal of adding 580 MW of storage by 2020. If these contracts are approved, PG&E will have already reached 42% of its energy-storage goal. [pv magazine International]

Storage at the Imperial Irrigation District

¶ Vermont Gas has announced that it is now generating its own renewable energy, thanks to nearly 100 solar panels it installed on its South Burlington Offices. The project, which is part of the Company’s commitment to sustainability, will allow the natural gas provider to produce clean energy and help contribute to a clean energy future. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Massachusetts House Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Chairman Thomas A Golden Jr took a tour of Greenfield. At the town hall, Energy and Sustainability Director Carole Collins and Mayor William Martin outlined the success of the town’s aggregation program, which is green and saved $208,000 in the first half of this year. [The Recorder]

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December 6 Energy News

December 6, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “South Australia’s battery is massive, but it can do much more besides” • The battery Tesla installed in South Australia has two systems. One has 70 MW of output capacity to provide grid stability and system security, for periods up to 10 minutes. The other has 30 MW, but can provide hours of storage to back up the Hornsdale wind farm. [Sun & Wind Energy]

South Australia (Tim phillips photos, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Costs of White House Bailout of Coal and Nukes: 27,000 Early Deaths, $263 Billion” • The Trump administration’s scheme to make utility customers subsidize coal and nuclear power plants would result in 27,000 premature deaths and a net cost of $263 billion by 2045, according to projections by independent researchers. [EcoWatch]

Science and Technology:

¶ Researchers at the University of Limerick discovered that glycine is a piezoelectric material. This means it can generate electricity in response to pressure, and vice versa. A common material, it can be made at less than 1% of the cost of currently used piezoelectric materials, which often contain toxic elements such as lead or lithium. [Siliconrepublic.com]

Dollop of hair gel made from glycerine (Wikipedia)

World:

¶ Europe’s biggest utility is betting on an Italian green power renaissance to lift business. Enel SpA expects Italy’s new national energy strategy to reverse a decline in green power generation by encouraging companies to help meet ambitious new goals, according to Antonio Cammisecra, the CEO of the utility’s renewables unit. [BloombergQuint]

¶ Tesla just built and installed the world’s largest battery, with 129 MWh of grid storage, in South Australia. Now Hyundai says it intends to build and install a battery that will be 50% larger than the South Australia facility near Ulsan on the southeast coast of South Korea. It is scheduled for completion in February of next year. [CleanTechnica]

Projected grid storage battery costs

¶ Biofuel firm Bio-Bean and oil giant Royal Dutch Shell have inked a partnership that will see the iconic double-decker London buses powered by biofuel generated from waste coffee grounds. A demonstration project set up by Bio-bean will supply 6,000 liters or 1,583 gallons of fuel for tests. Coffee grounds are about 20% oil. [TechNewsObserver]

¶ Europe’s electricity industry national associations and major power companies under the auspices of Eurelectric have committed to achieving carbon-neutral electricity in the EU “well before mid-century.” The commitment is part of Eurelectric’s long-term vision for the electricity industry in Europe, which was launched today. [reNews]

Wind farm (Pixabay image)

¶ Enel Green Power has been awarded a series of contracts to build four wind power plants in Mexico for a total cost of $700 million. Each of the projects will be supported by a contract to supply energy over a 15-year period to Mexico’s Cámara de Compensación. The power plants will have a combined capacity of 593 MW. [KHL Group]

¶ The authors of a report from Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab and the climate change charity 10:10 found that electric railways could be powered by subsidy-free solar power. Solar panels connected directly to the substations that provide power to the rail system could bypass the electricity grid altogether, they said. [Imperial College London]

PV powering a train

¶ India’s civil aviation ministry envisions generating 200 MW of solar power at airports in the country. The target is to achieve the 200 MW goal within five to six years, according to the Civil Aviation Minister, who spoke at the commissioning of a 15-MW solar system at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ France will reduce the share of nuclear energy in its electricity mix “as soon as possible,” French junior environment minister Brune Poirson said, although she did not give a target date. Last month, the French government dropped a legal target set by the previous government to reduce the share of nuclear to 50% by 2025, from 75% today. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Cooling towers

US:

¶ Exxon Mobil Corp urged Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to block the state’s attorney general from obtaining records to investigate whether the company concealed knowledge of the role fossil fuels have on climate change. An Exxon attorney told the court that the attorney general had no jurisdiction to seek the records. [Stabroek News]

¶ The US Department of the Interior approved the replacement lease at the Navajo Generating Station. It officially sets a firm retirement date. NGS, the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, will retire in December 2019. The Navajo Nation and the owners of NGS had agreed in June on terms to retire NGS in 2019. [White Mountain Independent]

Navajo Generating Station

¶ The city of Denton, Texas, wants to sell its stake in the Gibbons Creek coal-fired power plant, which it owns jointly with three other cities. At the same time, the city is planing to increase its investment in renewable energy sources. In addition, Denton is investing more than $200 million in a new gas-fired generation plant. [Denton Record Chronicle]

¶ The Borough of Manhattan Community College recently became Manhattan’s largest public PV facility, when New York Power Authority workers installed 947 solar panels on a vertical cooling tower enclosure and flat lower roof of BMCC’s main building. Now permits are pending for onsite solar power storage in two 100-kWh. [Daily Energy Insider]

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December 5 Energy News

December 5, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Senate Tax Bill Threatens Clean Energy & Public Health, Pays Fossil Fuel Industry To Wreak Environmental Havoc” • Senate Republicans passed their $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It is a hastily written that will increase the country’s deficit by as much as $1 trillion. It also threatens the country’s renewable energy industry. [CleanTechnica]

Creating environmental havoc

¶ “Three Reasons Why Renewable Energy Leaders Are Optimistic” • At Green Tech Media’s US Power and Renewables Summit, utility company executives, financiers, renewable energy developers, and regulators shared their research and different experiences of the rapidly evolving renewable energy industry. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Science and Technology:

¶ Dr Joanne Chory, a biologist from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and HHMI, created a type of plant infused with a compound called suberin that she says can cut CO2 in the atmosphere by 50% if just 5% of the planet’s cultivable ground planted them. Her study is on changing plants to modify the way they work. [International Business Times UK]

Farmland (Reuters image)

World:

¶ A decision to build a natural gas generating plant in Norway created such an uproar that the government was forced to specify the use of carbon capture technology to placate the voters. It opened in 2007, but it was so uneconomical to run that by 2014 it was shut down. Now it is being dismantled, its $240 million investment wasted. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Berlin (Germany) and China are working with nature to create sponge cities that absorb rainwater and cool the city. Even without the challenges of climate change, cities would do well to consider the benefits of imitating natural ecosystems to cool down and store rainwater, a precious resource. With climate change, they are essential. [CleanTechnica]

Yanweizhou Park in Jinhua, eastern China (via Turenscape)

¶ French utilities company Engie will ditch natural gas as a power source by 2050, opting instead for biogas, and renewable hydrogen to fulfill its green goals, according to a new report by Reuters. Engie has 70 biogas projects around the world, with just over half of them in France. The company has more projects lined up for development. [OilPrice.com]

¶ A report from the UK development company Crown Agents concluded that 2018 will be the year solar hits its commercial tipping point, resulting in a dramatic drop-off in price and making the technology viable for a billion people. It would open the door to save developing countries up to 80% by switching to solar from diesel and petrol. [CleanTechnica]

Solar power in South Africa

¶ German renewable energy asset operator Capital Stage has acquired a pipeline of PV projects in the Netherlands. The two facilities are located in Melissant and Ooltgensplaat in the province of South Holland, and have an output of 10 MW and 37.6 MW respectively. They are expected to be connected to the grid in October 2018. [pv magazine International]

¶ Italy could see over 400 MW of new PV capacity installed this year, for its best PV growth in the past four years. During that time new PV additions ranged between 300 MW and 350 MW. So far this year, newly installed PV capacity was 352 MW, a result that represented 12% growth from the same period last year. [pv magazine International]

A residential PV system in Italy

¶ Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources Dr Yuval Steinitz spoke today at the Israel Energy and Business Convention at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan, presenting his long-term vision for the energy sector in the country. “By 2030, Israel will no longer use any gasoline or coal,” he said. [Globes]

US:

¶ California might be known the world over as a clean energy leader, but information from the US Energy Information Administration, highlighted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the award for cleanest state in the country goes to Iowa, and they’ve done it without the aggressive clean energy policies California is famous for. [CleanTechnica]

US Clean Energy Mix (Please click on the image to enlarge it)

¶ A bill calling for a 2030 energy storage target in New York state was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Long Island Power Authority will administer the creation of the energy storage deployment program. The governor also called for more research on EVs. [Renewables Now]

¶ A survey of 600 Tennessee voters found 81% of respondents want Tennessee to increase its use of solar power, and 88% said they would use more solar energy if it was available at the same or lower price. By better than a 7-to-1 margin, the want to be able to buy power from other sources than the Tennessee Valley Authority. [Chattanooga Times Free Press]

Solar array (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

¶ The Cape Wind project is dead. It envisioned 130 turbines to be built off the Massachusetts coast and would have been the first US offshore wind farm. It would also have appeared in the views from the Kennedy family’s estate and that of the Democratic family’s billionaire neighbor, William Koch, owner of a nearby 26-acre estate. [Fox News]

¶ Georgia utility watchdogs want to pull the plug on a pair of nuclear reactors being built near Augusta, dealing a fresh blow to the future of the American nuclear industry. Georgia’s regulatory staff say two partially built reactors at Plant Vogtle could be canceled like the VC Summer expansion project in South Carolina. [Charleston Post Courier]

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December 4 Energy News

December 4, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have created a huge, yellow, doughnut-shaped device called “The Lifesaver,” which floats with the motion of the ocean. The device is full of gears, cables, and electronics, and it is in fact a wave energy converter. Wave energy converters are said to compare favorably with such renewable energy sources as wind or solar. [Business Recorder]

Wave

¶ From a wind farm off the coast of Scotland to a solar plant on a former coalmine in China, some record-breaking renewable energy schemes that have been built recently all have one thing in common: they float. As land becomes more expensive and planning consent for large-scale projects is more difficult to get, floating renewable projects are on the rise. [Real Views]

¶ For more than four years, McDonald’s has trying to find a way to produce “sustainable beef.” Now, the fast-food giant is setting out on a small but potentially significant project to measure and analyze the ability of cattle farming to sequester carbon in soil, using a style of grazing it has been researching called “adaptive multi-paddock.” [GreenBiz]

Carbon farming (Shutterstock | NagyDodo)

World:

¶ In October this year Australia managed to install 100 MW of rooftop solar, a major milestone but still below the record set in June 2012, which was fueled by a rush to take advantage of a solar tariff before it was ended. Then last month the industry managed to install 120 MW, breaking the 2012 record without that tariff. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Indian consumers will be able to choose their power suppliers, after a proposed amendment to the existing Electricity Act is approved, the Power Minister said. The ministry will push an Electricity Amendment Bill that provides for separating the businesses supplying electricity from those that operate the distribution network. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Indian power line workers

¶ Miners could drive down energy costs by up to 50% by use of effective energy management programs, a paper from Deloitte said. Renewables in Mining explores the role renewable energy sources play in the sector and how they can offer an operator a distinct competitive advantage while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. [Global Mining Review]

¶ The governments of South Australia and the City of Adelaide will prioritize the growth of electric vehicle use in fleets, in keeping with new agreement made as part of a commitment to achieving the goals of the Climate Action Roundtable, the state’s press office announced. The roundtable include leaders of other states and cities. [CleanTechnica]

Nissan Leaf (Photo by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica)

¶ Rooftop solar is reducing pressure on the Australian national grid and making demand response more attractive, a new audit reveals. And Australian states with higher levels of clean energy have lower wholesale prices. The news is made clear in an electricity update by the Australia Institute for October and November. [Energy Matters]

¶ The International Solar Alliance will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organisation as a legal entity on December 6, 2017. The ISA was jointly launched, on November 30, 2015, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Francois Hollande, who was then President of France, on the side lines of COP21 in Paris. [EnergyInfraPost]

Solar parking canopy

¶ Over the past week, batteries in households of the Australian Capital Territory have fed their stored energy into the grid as part of a trial virtual power plant run by ActewAGL Distribution and Reposit Power. During the event, the virtual power plant trials allowed consumers to participate in the National Electricity Market. [The RiotACT]

¶ UK Ministers are expected to back the first generation of small nuclear power stations in Britain with tens of millions of pounds this week, in an attempt to give the UK a competitive edge on the technology and provide what they hope to be a source of clean power. Rolls-Royce and a number of other companies have been lobbying for the support. [The Guardian]

Hinkley Point C Construction (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US:

¶ In 2016, the Arizona Corporations Commission approved a plan of electric utility Salt River Project to charge extra fees for its customers with rooftop solar systems. SolarCity claims those fees are an illegal attempt to limit competition and are therefore prohibited by antitrust laws. The case will be going before the Supreme Court. [CleanTechnica]

¶ For the fourth time in five years, custom home builder BPC Green Builders, based in Wilton, Connecticut, received the US DOE’s 2017 Housing Innovation Award in the Custom Homes for Buyers category. The awards recognize builders in the DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program who innovate in energy efficiency. [The Wilton Bulletin]

BPC Green Builders’s award-winning colonial in Clinton, NY

¶ The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission has approved regulations for solar arrays with battery-storage systems. The rules only apply to solar arrays of 25 kW or less that connect to the power grid using a net-metering billing process. Solar and battery titan Tesla Inc has already indicated that it wants to amend the new rules. [ecoRI news]

¶ Borrego Springs, California, is a quaint town of about 3,400 people in the Anza-Borrego Desert, about 90 miles east of San Diego. Summers temperatures are often above 100°, and power losses can threaten lives. In the past, the town has suffered from frequent power outages, but today, Borrego Springs has its own microgrid. [InsideClimate News]

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December 3 Energy News

December 3, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Use solar panels and batteries to put the power back in your hands” • Australia’s power bills have increasingly become a threat to household budgets. From 2008 to 2016, power prices in Victoria and New South Wales more than doubled. Now, many Australians are looking to solar power to reduce, or even to end, electric grid reliance. [Brisbane Times]

Australian Peter Youll with a Tesla battery that paid for
itself before the warranty ran out (Photo: Louie Douvis)

Science and Technology:

¶ Because no two automated driving technologies are exactly alike, the Society for Automotive Engineers International issued standard J3016 in 2014. It outlined 6 levels of automation for automakers, suppliers, and policymakers to use to classify a system’s sophistication. Here is an explanation of what the levels of mean. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ China has launched the first all-electric cargo ship. According to China Daily, the 230 foot long vessel is equipped with a 2,400 kWh lithium-ion battery that stores enough electrical energy to transport 2200 tons of cargo a distance of 50 miles on a single charge at a top speed of about 8 miles per hour. It will be used to transport coal on the Pearl River. [CleanTechnica]

Electric cargo ship (China News)

¶ Saudi-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector and Shobak Wind Energy signed agreements for $26 million of financing to partly fund the construction of a 45-MW wind farm in Jordan, 160 km south of capital Amman. The project will deploy 13 wind turbines supplied by Vestas Wind Systems. [Ammon News]

¶ Taiwan’s central government is building a power grid on an island in the Penghu Archipelago to generate wind and solar energy. It will serve as a model for other island communities. The government hopes to have as much as 45% of Qimei Township’s electricity generated from renewable energy sources by 2019. [Focus Taiwan News Channel]

Wind turbines on Taiwan (Photo: courtesy of Taiwan Power Co)

¶ Last year, Vietnam abandoned plans to build the country’s first nuclear power plants with Japanese and Russian assistance. This was not due to cost, but rather because of heightened concern over nuclear energy in the wake of events such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, former President Truong Tan Sang said in an interview. [The Mainichi]

¶ The television service of Yemen’s Houthis has claimed the group fired a cruise missile towards a nuclear power plant under construction in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, though it provided no evidence. The UAE’s state-run news agency WAM denied the claim and said the country had air-defense systems that could protect it. [Daily Sabah]

Weapons bound for Yemen, intercepted by the US Navy
(Photo: Darby C. Dillon | US Navy, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ According to a report from the US Army Corps of Engineers, climate change will set off economic and environmental crises like nothing ever seen before across the 13-state region of the Ohio River. It will cause more frequent flooding, drought, and power failures in Kentucky, Indiana, and the rest of the Ohio River basin. [The Messenger]

¶ The tax bill passed by Republican senators elevates American fossil fuel production at the expense of renewable energy. The measures they approved included proposals to open the Arctic to oil and gas development, weaken investment incentives for solar and wind production, and end a big tax credit for new electric vehicles. [Los Angeles Times]

Solar installer (Keith Schneider | Los Angeles Times)

¶ All over the state, New Yorkers are experiencing the impacts of global climate change. Researchers at Cornell University project that summers in New York will increasingly see scorching high temperatures. State officials say the evidence supporting the idea that human activities cause global warming is overwhelming. [Plattsburgh Press Republican]

¶ Eversource customers are footing the bill for the company to pay $100 million over-market rate to buy energy from a biomass plant in Berlin, New Hampshire by 2020. But a spokeswoman for the plant’s manager said the 4-year-old Burgess BioPower plant provides more economic benefits than the cost of over-market rates. [The Union Leader]

Burgess BioPower plant in Berlin (Courtesy photo)

¶ A solar power initiative in America is putting communities at the heart of the renewable energy transition. GRID Alternatives is a non-profit that trains people on low incomes to install the solar technology themselves, for the communities they live in. The platform has just received a $500,000 grant from the Bank of America. [Innovators Magazine]

¶ Morningstar analysts broke with the pessimistic consensus on nuclear power this fall when they predicted the industry would not just hold its own against renewables and cheap natural gas, it might even grow up to 5%. They have changed their prediction, saying they had assumed the two new units at the VC Summer plant would be built. [Forbes]

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December 2 Energy News

December 2, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Puerto Rico faces a long road to a sustainable future” • Puerto Rico suffered an estimated $94 billion or more in damage, on top of an already sagging economy and $74 billion in debt. Its need for a total reboot is the subject of an ongoing conversation among non-profits, academics and private companies on and off the island. [Phys.Org]

Rebuilding Puerto Rico (Credit: Wikipedia | Creative Commons)

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
donate at [
Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

¶ “Climate policy innovation” • Instead of reducing emissions in the past five years, Vermont’s greenhouse-gas emissions have increased. Far from being on track to meet our goals, we are not even headed in the right direction. The release of an innovative new climate pricing policy brings hope to getting Vermont back on track. [Rutland Herald]

¶ “Defending Renewable Energy in New England” • The state renewable energy laws in New England provide numerous benefits and are key to the region’s efforts to combat climate change. Opponents seek to undermine these popular laws and prop up polluting energy instead, but NRDC has been pushing back. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Block Island wind farm

¶ “Battery Storage Steals The Spotlight At Nuclear Power’s Birthday Party” • Nuclear power had its birthday bash, 75 years after the first manmade nuclear reaction. The CEO of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear operator, named energy storage the most promising technology of the future, one that could render nuclear power unnecessary. [Forbes]

World:

¶ London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced his intentions to expand his city’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone standards to include London-wide buses, coaches, and lorries, and to expand the Zone to include North and South circular roads for all vehicles. London already has the T-Charge, a £10 Emissions Surcharge on the most-polluting vehicles [CleanTechnica]

Mayor Sadiq Khan

¶ Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy revealed that it was beginning construction on its first full-scale “Future Energy System – FES” at the Trimet SE aluminum smelter site in Hamburg-Altenwerder. The company has been working on R&D for thermal energy storage, specifically heating rock fill to store wind energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Executives from MHI Vestas and ESVAGT gathered at the Port of Oostende in Belgium to christen the Esvagt Mercator. It is the latest high-tech service vessel supporting Vestas offshore wind turbines in Belgian waters, including 50 turbines at Nobelwind, Belgium’s newest offshore wind park, and the 55 turbines at Belwind 1. [CleanTechnica]

Esvagt Mercator

¶ Germany has added 554 MW of new onshore wind capacity in October, the latest monthly data from the federal grid regulator showed. Onshore wind continues to boom with 4.5 GW added so far this year. Legacy projects are being rushed to come online ahead of further cuts to legacy feed-in-tariffs and a complete change to auctions in 2019. [Platts]

¶ As Kashmir falls short of around 700 MW during winters, with demand over 150% of capacity, a centrally sponsored scheme has been launched to address the problem. Under the scheme, customers can generate the electricity on their own and feed excess power into the power grid. Officials say the only other option is power cuts. [Free Press Kashmir]

Solar power in Kashmir

¶ Italian government-run renewable energy agency released a report that highlights a significant decrease in prices on the Italian Power Echange in 2016. Prices for solar and wind energy traded on the wholesale electricity market were, on average, lower than the average peak and off-peak wholesale power price. [pv magazine International]

¶ Elon Musk defied his doubters, beating a self-imposed 100-day deadline to install the world’s biggest battery in Australia. But he will probably relinquish that crown by February. South Korea’s Hyundai Electric & Energy Systems is building a 150-MW lithium-ion unit, 50% larger than Musk’s, and it will go live in three months. [Independent.ie]

Tesla battery (Photo: AFP | Neoen| Getty Images)

US:

¶ The Union of Concerned Scientists released a study that finds it is cheaper to drive an EV than a conventional car. It is about $770 a year cheaper, on average, with a range from $443 to $1,077 per year. The study looked at electricity prices in 50 metropolitan areas in the US and researched what off-peak rate plans were available. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, and Borrego Solar announced the completion of Gore Mountain Ski Resort’s 5.3-MW solar array, about 90 miles north of Albany. NYSERDA said the project is the largest solar system dedicated to a US ski resort. [Solar Industry]

Snow making at Gore Mountain

¶ Leaders of Platte River Power Authority, an electricity provider in northern Colorado, are considering closing the Rawhide coal plant in 2030, 17 years ahead of schedule. PRPA is the power provider for of Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Estes Park. It will unveil paths toward nearly 100% clean electricity for the service area soon. [The Coloradoan]

¶ The coal-fired Pulliam Power Plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is expected to close next fall. The decision comes at a time where renewable energy is becoming cheaper. There has also been limited to no growth in electricity demand, according to WEC Energy Group, the parent company of the plant’s owner, Wisconsin Public Service. [Fox11online.com]

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December 1 Energy News

December 1, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Burning wood under fire: Are forests going up our chimneys?” To meet the EU’s renewable energy target, countries have rediscovered wood as a fuel. But conservationists fear this new hunger for wood might have disastrous consequences for the forests, the people and the climate, as demand for wood drives deforestation. [Deutsche Welle]

Burning wood pellets

¶ “Denying the Truth Doesn’t Change the Facts” • Try as they may, clean energy innovation naysayers can’t change a simple truth: the cost of wind and solar power electrical power generation is plummeting and renewable energy is now cheaper than operating coal and nuclear power plants. It’s happening fast and there’s no stopping it. [HuffPost]

World:

¶ The world’s leading oil exporting nations have agreed to extend production curbs by nine months. OPEC members were joined by non-members, led by Russia, in agreeing the output limits would continue until the end of 2018. The curbs have been in place for a year and have helped to push up the price of crude oil by about 30%. [BBC News]

Oil worker at a valve (Reuters image)

¶ Renewable energy will account for more than half of the UK’s electricity generation by 2025, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Driven in part by the falling cost of generating energy from wind and solar, the change will make balancing supply and demand increasingly important for the grid operators. [BCW]

¶ To support its ambitious plan to generate 40 GW of rooftop solar power by 2022, the Indian government is planning to launch a “rent a roof” policy, an Energy Ministry source said. Under the “rent a roof” policy, the developer will take rooftops on rent and will offer a lease to each household, and then feed the solar power to the grid. [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar in Punjab

¶ There will be about $3.1 trillion worth of climate investment opportunities by 2030 in India, a report by the International Finance Corporation says. India’s ambitious plans to meet its climate targets will result in investment in renewable energy, green buildings, transport infrastructure, electric vehicles, and climate-smart agriculture. [New Kerala]

¶ A plan for zero tolerance of plastic pollution of the oceans may be agreed by nations at a UN summit on the environment. Governments are being asked to move towards a legal treaty banning plastic waste from entering the sea. Experts say ocean plastics are an obvious subject for a global treaty because plastics present a large-scale threat. [BBC News]

Plastic pollution

¶ The Asian Renewable Energy Hub is a proposal for a wind and solar hybrid power plant in Western Australia to send electric power to Indonesia via undersea high voltage DC transmission cables. It is being developed by a team including CWP Energy Asia, InterContinental Energy, and Vestas to provide up to 6 GW of power. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ A German court has ruled that it will hear a Peruvian farmer’s case against energy giant RWE over climate change damage in the Andes. The decision is labelled by campaigners as a “historic breakthrough.” Farmer Saul Luciano Lliuya’s case against RWE was “well-founded,” the court in the north-western city of Hamm said. [The Guardian]

Saul Luciano Lliuya (Photo: Anthony Kwan | Getty Images)

¶ Google is officially off-setting 100% of its energy usage with either wind or solar power. The company signed contracts on three wind power plants in recent days to bring them over 3 GW of production capacity. Google has invested over $3.5 billion in energy infrastructure globally, with about two-thirds of that being in the US. [Electrek]

¶ The Hornsdale Power Reserve, Tesla’s 100-MW/129-MWh Powerpack system, started delivering power to the grid a day early. It is connected to the Hornsdale Wind Farm, South Australia’s biggest renewable generator. The Powerpack project cost roughly around $50 million and can power around 30,000 homes for one hour. [Inhabitat]

Hornsdale Power Reserve

¶ An image taken by an underwater robot shows corroded tubes stuck in a hole created by melted nuclear fuel in the pressure vessel of the No 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi. The image offers clues on the extent of the damage caused when fuel rods in the reactor melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in March 2011. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Travel between O’Hare airport and downtown Chicago is an expensive and daunting task fraught with delays and congestion. Chicago would like to change all of that, making it possible to travel the distance in “twenty minutes or less.” Elon Musk has tweeted that The Boring Company is interested in getting in on the action. [CleanTechnica]

Congestion from downtown Chicago to O’Hare (Sun-Times photo)

¶ Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, will partner with GlassPoint Solar to build the State’s largest solar energy project at the Belridge oilfield. It is an 850-MW solar thermal facility to produce steam for oil extraction, combined with a 26.5 MW solar PV facility that will generate electric power. [CleanTechnica] (What?)

¶ Toyota of North America announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show that is it constructing the world’s first megawatt-scale carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with a hydrogen fueling station in Southern California. The Tri-Gen facility will use California-sourced agricultural waste to generate water, electricity, and hydrogen. [CleanTechnica]

One way to one help the people of Puerto Rico is to
donate at [
Sunnyside Solar’s crowdfunding website].

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