December 20 Energy News

December 20, 2017


¶ “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)


¶ 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. []

¶ 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)


¶ 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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