January 12 Energy News

January 12, 2018


¶ “Diversity! Diversity! Diversity! What Bomb Cyclones Teach Us About Our Fuel Sources” • Extreme cold hammered almost half of America’s power plants, but most of those hardest hit were fossil fuel plants. Coal stacks froze, and diesel generators failed in the low temperatures. Gas choked up, as pipelines could not keep up with demand. [Forbes]

Bomb cyclone (NOAA-CIRA image)

¶ “Denmark Positions Itself as the Flag Bearer for Wind Power” • Denmark just set a world record for using wind power to drive its economy, and its government predicts that anyone betting against the technology is on the wrong side of history. Denmark has made a point of bypassing Washington in talks with state leaders to promote wind. Bloomberg]

Science and Technology:

¶ Climate change has made severe cold spells like the one that recently gripped the US Northeast far less common than they used to be, a team of researchers has found. The Arctic has warmed, and cold snaps are warmer. So a spell of extremely cold weather like the recent one is rare, about 15 times rarer than a century ago, the scientists said. [The Straits Times]

Cold snap (AFP image)


¶ Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy announced this week that it will supply 62 of its new 8-MW direct-drive offshore wind turbines to the 500-MW Saint Brieuc project in France, bringing the company’s total supplied capacity in French waters up over 1.5 GW. The SG 8.0-167 DD turbine has blades nearly 82 meters long. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Renewable power met about 44% of Portugal’s electricity demand in 2017, data from the Portuguese Association of Renewable Energy shows. In 2017, thanks to renewable power plants, the average price of electricity in the wholesale market fell to €18.3/MWh (US 2.18¢/kWh), for savings to the consumer of €727 million. [Renewables Now]

Wind farm in Portugal (StockPhotosArt | Shutterstock.com)

¶ Prime minister Theresa May and environment secretary Michael Gove have unveiled a “green Brexit” strategy that aims to significantly reduce pollution and aid natural resources over the next 25 years. The strategy includes a crackdown on some disposable plastic goods, with target to “eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.” [Civil Service World]

¶ More than 40% of Victoria’s energy needs during last Saturday’s heat wave were met by renewables, an energy expert has found. Dylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College at the University of Melbourne, used Australian Energy Market Operator data to show renewable power set a record during the heat wave. [The Weekly Times]

Wind turbine in Toora, Victoria (Fir0002/Flagstaffotos)


¶ The Trump administration’s proposal to open vast portions of US coastline to oil drilling was met with ferocious opposition from a number of the coastal governors it would affect. At least one governor, Florida’s Rick Scott, a Republican, asked for and received a waiver from the administration. The waiver drew accusations of favoritism. [CNN]

¶ Climate change in Alaska has the potential to create serious physical and mental health problems for Alaskans, according to a report from the Alaska Division of Public Health. Melting permafrost damages infrastructure, increases wildfire smoke, disturbances harvests of wild fish and game, and spreads disease, the report said. [Huron Daily Tribune]

Damage from melting permafrost (Photo: Diana Haecker, AP)

¶ Superstorm Sandy caused more than $71 billion in economic damage, according to the National Hurricane Center. New York City has spent billions on repairs. Now, the city wants the five largest oil companies to reimburse it for its losses and pay for the infrastructure improvements needed to protect the city for the future. [CleanTechnica]

¶ With the federal government promoting fossil fuels, cities and towns in New Hampshire are among the leaders in boosting renewable energy. Hanover became the first municipality in the country to commit to achieving 100% renewable energy by community vote. The movement is spreading in New Hampshire and beyond. [Public News Service]

Large scale solar farm (Photo: mrganso | Pixabay)

¶ In the early days of the Trump administration, the head of one of America’s largest coal companies sent a four-page “action plan” to the White House calling for rollbacks of Obama-era environmental and mine safety regulations. A copy of his four-page plan has become public. Much of the action plan has been put into effect. [Power Engineering Magazine]

¶ Renewable energy, primarily derived from wind whistling across the Nebraska plains, accounted for 30% of the Omaha Public Power District’s retail energy sales in 2017. That is a significant milestone for the traditionally coal-heavy utility, especially considering that renewables accounted for just 13% of its retail sales in 2016. [Omaha World-Herald]

Grande Prairie wind farm (Megan Farmer | The World-Herald)

¶ A report released by the National Institute of Building Sciences, found that every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems, or strengthening buildings against earthquakes, reduces future costs by an average of $6. [Insurance Journal]

¶ Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear plant in California, will begin shutting down operations in six years. State regulators approved a plan outlining details of the closure unanimously. The decision comes after the nuclear plant’s operator made an agreement with a collection of environmental and labor groups to shutter the plant. [Thegardenisland.com]

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