December 30 Energy News

December 30, 2017


¶ “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]


¶ 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. []

¶ 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]


¶ 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. []

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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