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]


¶ 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. []

¶ 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]


¶ 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. []

¶ 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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