Archive for February, 2018

February 28 Energy News

February 28, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ Temperatures in the Arctic have soared well above freezing this week, marking the highest temperatures recorded in the region during winter, scientists from the Danish Meteorological Institute said. Temperatures from February in eastern Greenland and the central Arctic are averaging about 15°C (27°F) warmer than seasonal norms. [CNN]

Sun pillar forming as the sun rises over the Arctic (Rear Admiral Harley D Nygren, NOAA Corps, ret, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Energy Efficiency Services Limited, which is owned by the government of India, announced that it will procure 10,000 electric cars through a global tender to supply them to the government of Andhra Pradesh. EESL has already given orders for 500 electric sedans last year and is planning to float additional tenders. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A report from Coal India, a state-owned coal mining company that supplies 84% of the country’s coal, said, “With the increasing threat of climate change impacting humanity (irrespective of the US position) and the global funding focus on renewables, it is a matter of time when alternative clean energy would displace coal.” [CleanTechnica]

India

¶ Sharp Corporation and Vietnam’s Gia Lai Electricity JSC agreed to build a 48-MW solar plant in Thua Thien Hue Province on Vietnam’s central coast, the Japanese JCN Newswire said. The plant is expected to start operations in September 2018, to generate enough power for 32,628 average households in Vietnam. [VnExpress International]

¶ Siemens Gamesa announced that it had signed an agreement securing the right to implement up to 1 GW of onshore wind capacity in Turkey. Siemens Gamesa will supply, install, and commission up to 1 GW of wind turbines. The agreement also includes the possibility of at least 700 MW worth of extra wind projects by 2022. [CleanTechnica]

Siemens Gamesa wind farm

¶ Indian Railways will soon launch tenders to set up large-scale solar power projects working towards its overall solar power target of 5 GW. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has announced that Indian Railways will soon float solar power tenders to set up 3 GW of capacity, to be set up over surplus land that the Railways owns. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A 90 hectare solar farm capable of powering 15,000 households has been proposed for Gregadoo, New South Wales. Solar energy company Green Switch Australia’s commercial director Simon Grasby said the farm would be made up of about 122,000 solar panels. It would have a capacity of 47 MW and would be on what is now grazing land. [Daily Advertiser]

Solar farm in Australia

¶ In Tokyo District Court, a TEPCO employee testified that in 2008 he was in charge of estimating the height of a tsunami that might hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. He estimated that it could be as high as 15.7 meters. He testified that he was asked to decrease his estimate. The tsunami that wrecked the plant was nearly that size. [NHK WORLD]

US:

¶ A Rocky Mountain Institute report says the community-scale solar segment in the US has shown itself to be the fastest growing part of the industry, thanks to a 40% decline in the levelized cost of energy for these systems over the last two years. The report is careful to highlight that remaining institutional barriers are inhibiting growth. [CleanTechnica]

Community solar garden in Colorado

¶ Shaun O’Rourke, director of stormwater management and climate resiliency at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, said that the financing agency is halfway through writing a state resiliency plan, which will be sent to Gov Gina Raimondo on behalf of the Executive Climate Change Coordination Council by July 1. [ecoRI news]

¶ Wind and solar power could meet 80% of US demand for electricity, as long as improvements are made in transmission and storage, researchers said. Until a few years ago, these energy sources were thought to be capable of supplying only about 20% to 30% of US needs, the report in Energy and Environmental Science said. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Hybrid power plant

¶ The University of California launched its Carbon Neutrality Initiative in 2013, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2025. Now, a 27-member team of researchers, students, facilities managers, and sustainability officers has released a feasible strategy showing how to replace its fossil-fuel natural gas with climate-friendlier options. [University of California]

¶ North Carolina has had remarkable growth in solar power. Now, a report by Southern Alliance Clean Energy shows that solar power is growing in other southeastern states. Neighboring South Carolina is also on a path for ambitious solar deployment, with Florida and Georgia also emerging as significant state markets. [pv magazine USA]

South Carolina solar array (South Carolina Electricity & Gas)

¶ Xcel Energy has reached an agreement with rural electric cooperatives and others as it looks for regulatory approval to build two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border. Proposed deals with a number of parties would guarantee that customers see a positive net benefit from the wind farms for the first 10 years of operation. [KVIA El Paso]

¶ Lightsource BP has signed a 25-year power purchase and asset acquisition agreement with Mid-Kansas Electric Company. The 20-MW project will be built starting in 2019, and will be owned and operated by Lightsource BP. Mid-Kansas will purchase all of the energy from the facility. It will be the largest solar facility in the state. [Solar Power World]

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February 27 Energy News

February 27, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “China Will Lead In Autonomous Cars Despite Advances In US Testing & Technology” • The technology that makes it possible for cars to drive themselves is getting better all the time. As with electric cars, much of the push for autonomous vehicles comes from China, and odds are that China will be where AVs will gain widespread popularity first. [CleanTechnica]

Waymo AV arriving in Michigan

World:

¶ The Generali Group, a leading European insurers, announced that their Board of Directors approved a new climate change strategy of divesting from coal-related activities and investments while ramping up involvement in “green” sectors. By 2020, they will divest €2 billion worth of coal assets and put €3.5 billion into green investments. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Danish tech news magazine Ingeniøren reports today that 18 years of hard work has resulted in the startup infinityPV finally commercializing products with printed solar PV foil. The polymer solar cells are non-toxic and at the end of their useful life they can be burned without creating any contaminating byproducts. [CleanTechnica]

Organic solar cell production (Credit: infinitypv.com)

¶ Philippine power generating company Phinma Energy Corp will next year start building a 40-MW wind park in Guimaras province, aiming to switch on the facility by 2020, according to a report in BusinessMirror. The proposed facility will use 16 turbines. Each of those machines will have a capacity of between 2.3 MW and 2.5 MW. [Renewables Now]

¶ Ontario is partnering with Toronto Hydro and Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc to design and build a battery energy storage facility for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line at a new station in Toronto. Energy-Storage News reported the energy storage system will be 10-MW/30-MWh, using lithium-ion batteries. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Artist’s rendering of Light Rail Transit car (Ontario.ca)

¶ A fast-growing pipeline of large-scale PV projects is creating thousands of jobs in Australia. In Renewable Energy Index, Green Energy Markets reported that 2,273 MW of solar farms are being built in the country. Combined with the rooftop solar segment, there are over 10,000 Australians working in the solar installation and construction. [pv magazine International]

¶ The number of cities reporting they are mainly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015. Data published by the not-for-profit environmental impact researcher CDP found that 101 of the more than 570 cities on its books sourced at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, compared to 42 in 2015. [The Guardian]

The Nesjavellir geothermal plant in Iceland (Photo: Alamy)

¶ India had a 22% growth in power generation from renewable energy sources in the first ten months of the current financial year (April-December 2017), thanks largely to the recent massive ramp up in solar capacity, data from Central Electricity Authority indicated. Renewable energy’s share in total generation stood at 8%. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ After becoming the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy, Cochin International Airport Limited in India is set to help counterparts in Ghana take this clean energy path as well. According to reports published earlier this month, CIAL will help set up 1.5 MW of solar power projects at three airports in the country.  [CleanTechnica]

New terminal at Cochin International Airport

¶ The Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak announced that the ministry will hold a tender for Turkey’s first offshore wind power plant, and that the wind farm will be the largest of its kind in the world. The wind power farm will be built in the Aegean Sea. Turkey has potential for 32,000 MW in offshore wind power. [Daily Sabah]

US:

¶ The New York Public Service Commission last week approved two measures that will to help the state achieve its target of 1,500 MW of energy storage target by 2025. One was a Consolidated Edison Co plan to expand the use of battery storage systems in its service territory by simplifying the process for private owners. [Utility Dive]

New York

¶ American solar manufacturer SunPower has announced plans to restructure in the wake of Donald Trump’s imposition of a 30% tariff on solar modules and cells following a Section 201 trade case. The plans will see the company cut up to 250 jobs, and it will incur restructuring costs of between $20 million and $30 million. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Limiting fossil fuel production on federal lands would reduce both global oil consumption and overall carbon emissions, according to a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute, a research organization focused on sustainable development. The study specifically examined the policies proposed in the “Keep It in the Ground Act.” [DeSmog]

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: Alaska
Region US Fish & Wildlife Service, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

¶ Two new lawsuits have been filed by groups of residents of St Louis living near radioactive waste sites, according to recent reports. Named as the defendants are Exelon Corp, Republic Services, Cotter Corp, and 7 others. The nuclear waste materials have come from a number of sources, some dating all the way to the Manhattan Project. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Energy Secretary Rick Perry will travel to London to discuss nuclear energy with officials from Saudi Arabia, as the Trump administration pursues a deal to build reactors in the kingdom, according to two people familiar with the plans. Perry scrapped a trip to New Delhi to create an opening for him to lead an inter-agency delegation. [Bloomberg]

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February 26 Energy News

February 26, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing twice as fast as the global average and sea ice is retreating quicker than predicted. While humans react slowly to the problem at hand, evidence suggests that animals are on the move. In the cold Arctic, invasive species are drawn to regions where they could not previously have survived. [ScienceNordic]

Researchers in the Arctic (Photo: Kristine Engel Arendt)

World:

¶ The Asia Pacific region is expected to add more than 500 GW of non-hydro renewables capacity by 2027. This is almost twice the 290 GW addition expected in Western Europe and North America combined. The Asia Pacific share of total global renewables capacity is likely to increase from 45% in 2017 to 51% in 2027. [Singapore Business Review]

¶ Last week, 16 Volkswagen e-Golf sedans began patrolling the streets of Paris. They are part of a one-year test to determine the suitability of electric cars for the demands of police work, according to New Mobility. The electric patrol cars will be used in all districts of Paris except three without adequate charging infrastructure. [CleanTechnica]

Paris electric police car

¶ Iran plans to build a new solar power plant in the Zarandieh town of Markazi Province as part of a project mainly funded by a South Korean company. The company will provide 70% ($44 million) of the money needed to build the plant. The solar power plant will be built within the next 15 months with a production capacity of 17 MW. [IFP News]

¶ Vestas topped the wind turbine supplier charts in 2017, boosted by a wide geographic diversification strategy, according to preliminary data from consultancy FTI Intelligence. Siemens Gamesa came in second, mainly due to the merger between Siemens Wind Power and Gamesa. Chinese supplier Goldwind ranked third. [reNews]

Vestas V112 turbine (Credit: Vestas)

¶ Clean energy player Avaada Power plans to invest ₹25,000 crore ($3.76 billion) in the sector and develop 5,000 MW capacity in largely solar and wind projects in the next four years, a senior company executive said. The plan is to add 1,000 MW to 1,500 MW of new power capacity each year, with aggressive rooftop solar investment. [Economic Times]

¶ A city awash with electric vehicles driven by workers on their way home from high-tech, cutting edge digital businesses powered by renewable energy – it sounds like San Francisco but if Adelaide’s Lord Mayor has his way, it could be South Australia’s capital. The city has quickly become Australia’s green leader. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

San Francisco, an image to emulate

¶ ReNew Power, a leading Indian clean energy company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the CII Partnership Summit to invest ₹13,000 crore ($1.95 billion) in renewable energy projects. The MoU envisages developing 1,000 MW of installed capacity for solar power and another 1,000 MW of windpower over the next five years. [The Hindu]

¶ Groupe Renault has announced a program where it will show how re-employing second-life batteries can support a local “smart island” ecosystem. Renault announced the small Portuguese island of Porto Santo is getting a pilot program, teaming up with Empresa de Electricitade da Madeira and the Madeira Regional Government. [Tech Xplore]

Porto Santo (Photo: Moxmarco, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Saudi Arabia is in talks with American nuclear firms to enter the nuclear power business and erect as many as 16 nuclear reactors, purportedly only to generate electricity over 25 years, a New York Times report said. But the report also said there are growing signs that the Saudis want to have the option of building nuclear weapons. [Tasnim News Agency]

¶ The head of TEPCO said the Japanese company remains committed to renewables development, and he vowed to expand the company’s business beyond its home market. The future of the company has been in question since its nuclear fleet was shut down in the wake of the March 2011 meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. [pv magazine International]

Japanese solar installation (Image: Canadian Solar)

US:

¶ All across America, states and utility companies are including energy storage options in their planning. GTM Research sees battery storage growing nearly tenfold in the next 5 years, from 295 MW in 2017 to 2.5 GW in 2022, of which almost half is projected to be “behind the meter,” operating as part of microgrids. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Beech trees are dominating the woodlands of the northeastern United States as the climate changes, and that could be bad news for the forests and people who work in them, according to a group of scientists. The scientists say the move toward beech-heavy forests is associated with higher temperatures and precipitation. [Maine Public]

Some are unhealthy. (Brian E Roth | University of Maine | via AP)

¶ A large swath of the utility industry, including 2,000 public utilities represented by the American Public Power Association, is facing a familiar fight with the federal government over the Trump administration’s proposed sell-off and privatization of federally owned utility companies such as the massive Tennessee Valley Authority. [Washington Examiner]

¶ Natural gas will continue to replace coal due to its competitive edge in prices, according to energy experts on Sunday. As the price of natural gas maintains a competitive edge over coal for fueling power plants, three coal-fueled power plants have retired in the Texas so far this year. The retirements are not expected to lead to shortages. [Xinhua]

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February 25 Energy News

February 25, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Higher power bills? How a SCANA bankruptcy could affect ratepayers, South Carolinians” • A SCANA bankruptcy resulting from the failure of the VC Summer nuclear plant’s expansion, could take years to resolve, drive up rates, destroy the value of investments, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees alone. [The State]

SCANA nuclear expansion project (Sammy Fretwell | The State)

Science and Technology:

¶ Untangling the causes of mass mortality events is difficult. In some cases, there is a clear connection to climate change. In other cases, there might be no connection, or a masked connection might exist. Nevertheless, climate change will cause the events to become more common, and scientists worry that they may lead to extinctions. [The Guardian]

¶ The commercial proliferation of organic polymer solar cells has been halted by expensive raw materials, longevity issues, and lower efficiency compared to inorganic solar cells. However, their light weight, transparency, flexibility and roll-to-roll production capability suggest they may find potential niche market opportunities. [pv magazine India]

Organic solar cells (Image: Phys.org)

¶ The Amazon rainforest is undoubtedly a significant part of the Earth. Its health is directly linked to the health of the planet as well, as it holds huge amounts of carbon. Sadly, it has been adulterated by deforestation and the effects of climate change, and some scientists wonder if there is still a chance to save our biggest tropical rainforest. [Tech Times]

¶ University of Colorado researchers found that drier summers and a decline in average snowpack over the past four decades have hindered the establishment of spruce and fir trees in subalpine regions of the Front Range. The study, published by the journal Ecology, suggests that climate warming is taking its toll on forest health. [Boulder Daily Camera]

Colorado forest (Courtesy of the University of Colorado)

World:

¶ An exec at DHL (Deutsche Post) is quoted as saying that the payback period on the Tesla Semi, the period of time that it takes to pay off the difference in initial costs as compared to a conventional diesel semi truck, would be under 1.5 years. So after only 1.5 years, the company is already experiencing net savings … while using cleaner trucks. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Argentine people can now generate their own energy through clean and unconventional sources, incorporating surpluses into the public grid, thanks to a new law. This is an important novelty in a country embarked on a slow and difficult process, with a still uncertain end, to replace fossil fuels with cleaner power generation. [Inter Press Service]

Bus stop in Buenos Aires (Courtesy of Sustentator)

¶ The Philippine province of Guimaras has been bent on leading the country away from burning coal. On February 24, during the visit of Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin and the municipal mayors of the island made a brave declaration: Guimaras is the first coal-free province in Visayas. [Rappler]

¶ The Benban Solar Park near Aswan, Egypt, aims to reach 1.6 GW to 2.0 GW of solar power capacity by the middle of 2019. The projects will receive no incentives, however, it will be given a 25 year contract to sell its electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, with the cost pegged to the US dollar. [Electrek]

Solar array in Egypt

¶ This year the University of Newcastle will switch on what may be one of the largest projects of rooftop solar PV installations at any Australian university. The 2.0-MW system will see more than 6000 panels installed across about 25 buildings at the Callaghan campus with additional panels being installed at the Ourimbah campus. [Newcastle Herald]

US:

¶ Yuri Horwitz, co-founder and CEO of Sol Systems, says he and his company expect solar power to be the dominant form of new electricity generation by 2022. A report dated February 15, 2018 lists three reasons why we might believe solar will be ascendant in the US market over the next 4 years in spite of new tariffs on imported solar products. [CleanTechnica]

Solar farm

¶ Electric power is expensive in Hawaii, and with high humidity and temperatures, classrooms need air conditioning. Together, sets of solar panels and 300 Tesla Powerwall batteries will provide 1,000 Hawaiian classrooms with affordable AC, so students can focus on lessons, instead of dreaming about class trips to Alaska. [Digital Trends]

¶ Virginia lawmakers are set to vote on a major overhaul of how the state regulates Dominion Energy. The legislation makes it easier to get approval for renewable energy projects and grid upgrades. It also gives Dominion new ways to account for various costs, and this could ultimately cost customers an average of $120 per year. [The Charlottesville Newsplex]

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February 24 Energy News

February 24, 2018

World:

¶ Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced the winners from its first onshore wind and solar auctions for 2018, awarding more than 900 MW to over 100 separate projects. The successful wind energy bids were up slightly from those of a similar auction in November, but solar power prices have fallen below those of windpower. [CleanTechnica]

Solar power in Germany

¶ A new report published this week by GTM Research, Global Solar PV Tracker Market Shares and Shipments 2018, shows that the amount of solar PV trackers shipped in 2017 has increased 32% year-over-year, to 14.5 GW. The California-based company NEXTracker retains its top spot and accounted for a third of all trackers sold last year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Asian Development Bank signed a loan equivalent of up with $235 million to B Grimm Power Public Company Limited, one of the largest power producers in Thailand, to develop and enhance renewable energy capacity in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Viet Nam. [Modern Diplomacy]

Wind turbines along a shore

¶ The Irish Government has announced plans to spend €22 billion over the next four years to aid the country’s journey to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy. Energy efficiency, renewables, agriculture, transport, and climate adaptation are all covered under the scheme, which has an initial target date of 2021. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ Austria filed a legal complaint with the European Court of Justice against the European Union’s approval for the expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary. Nuclear power already currently meets 40% of the country’s electricity needs. Paks 2 would add two more nuclear units with a capacity of 1.2 GW each. [CleanTechnica]

Paks Nuclear Plant

¶ A paradigm shift from depleting conventional to sustainable resources for electricity generation will drive the global solar PV module market size, MarketStudyReport.com said in its research report, Solar PV Module Market. The report projects that the solar PV module market size will exceed $30 billion worldwide by 2024. [The Financial]

US:

¶ A study by the Environmental Defense Fund finds that methane escaping from fracking operations in Pennsylvania “causes the same near term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants” and is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state. An earlier assessment found similar results for New Mexico. [CleanTechnica]

Gas Well (via EDF)

¶ BlackRock has almost $5 billion invested in the renewable power sector, according to Jim Barry, the global head of BlackRock Infrastructure Investment Group. Barry offered an insight into why this shift was taking place. “What’s driving it now, is not that people want to be green, it’s not about climate – it’s cost,” he said. [CNBC]

¶ Residents of the Alaskan island of Unalaska know the island’s wind is strong. It can blow over 100 miles per hour. In 2005, a study funded by the city council to look at the potential of windpower found that there was no technology strong enough to withstand Unalaska’s wind. Now, the technology has changed, and they are looking again. [KUCB]

Unalaska (Credit: Berett Wilber | KUCB)

¶ The mayors of Honolulu, Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai counties joined 236 mayors from 47 US states and territories in signing a joint letter opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan. Together, they represent over 51 million Americans, according to a press release sent jointly by all four mayors’ offices. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

¶ For the third time in three years, California energy officials are working to expand governance of the electric power grid to become a regional function covering up to 14 states. Opponents of the plan, which would fundamentally rewrite how electricity is managed across most of the West, are steeling for another fight. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

CAISO control center (David Butow | For The Times)

¶ Despite robust growth in earnings, the head of New Jersey’s largest power utility told Wall Street analysts he would make good on his pledge to close the state’s remaining nuclear power plants unless lawmakers agree to a surcharge to keep them profitable. That surcharge would come in the form of higher utility bills for customers. [NorthJersey.com]

¶ In Washington state, the Snohomish County Public Utility District plans to locate a microgrid and technology center, a new local office and training center, a vehicle-to-grid charging station for the utility’s electric fleet, battery storage, a substation, and a backup data center on 25 acres east of the Arlington Municipal Airport. [Arlington Times]

Arlington Municipal Airport (Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Rhode Island Convention Center Authority will buy more than half of its power from a local renewable energy company by the end of this year. They made an agreement with Green Development, LLC to buy up to 8.3 million kWh of wind energy each year at a discounted rate. They use about 11 million kWh annually. [Rhode Island Public Radio]

¶ South Carolina’s electric cooperatives plan to sue Santee Cooper to stop the public utility from charging customers for VC Summer. The two business groups had a long-held relationship, but an economic crisis is consuming the state. The decision to file a legal claim comes half a year after the nuclear project was abandoned. [Charleston Post Courier]

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February 23 Energy News

February 23, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “How General Electric gambled on fossil fuel power, and lost” • Last March, executives at GE’s power-plant business gave Wall Street a surprisingly bullish forecast for the year. Despite flat demand for new natural gas power plants, they said, GE Power’s revenue and profit would rise. But GE’s forecast turned out to be a mirage. [Daily Times]

Nodding donkey

¶ “The new power generation” • The way nations power themselves is changing, and Britain is no exception. Advances in technology and the continued fall in the cost of renewable power mean that the potential for new, green power systems in Britain is much greater than even a decade ago. And now, batteries open a whole new potential. [Prospect]

Science and Technology:

¶ Conservationists say two iconic New Hampshire animals, moose and loons, show how climate change will reshape the region. On the same day they talked about their research at the Audubon Society in Concord, New Hampshire set new records for winter warmth. It was 48° on the snowless Mount Washington summit. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

Loons (Credit: AcrylicArtist | Morguefile)

¶ Siberia’s permafrost is melting, with huge holes appearing in it. One of the biggest craters, known by the local Yakutian people as the “doorway to the underworld,” is growing so rapidly that it’s uncovering long-buried forests, carcasses, and 200,000 years of historical climate records. The Batagaika crater is what is termed a megaslump or thermokarst. [ScienceAlert]

World:

¶ Solar storage batteries are projected to grow at a rate of up to 300%. The news is that a battery manufacturing plant will be built in South Australia, and a residential battery power rebate will also kick off in that state. German battery maker Sonnen will have its new manufacturing plant near Adelaide, creating hundreds of jobs. [Tech Guide]

House with rooftop solar power

¶ Aiming to reduce the dependence on coal and gas for power generation, the government of Gujarat will begun working on a new hybrid energy policy. Under the new policy it will provide greater focus on solar and wind-based power, and promote wind and solar power based units that share the same land and transmission grid. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ Southeast Asian countries are on course to meet their aspirational renewable energy target of a 23% share of total primary energy supply by 2025, according to analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Achieving this target would also significantly improve the access to affordable clean energy in the region. [Modern Diplomacy]

Wind turbines along the shore

¶ Coal power plants are likely to end up as underutilized or stranded assets in 10 years or less, given the rapid pace of renewables, a top official of First Philippine Holdings said. As more renewables come onto the grid, the shape of demand changes, and renewable-energy technology, though intermittent, can adapt better than coal. [Business Mirror]

US:

¶ UPS been evaluating 50 Workhorse vans. They are up to four times more efficient than the diesel-powered vehicles they replace and have far lower tailpipe emissions. Importantly, those 50 trucks have acquisition costs comparable to conventional vehicles without subsidies, according to a joint press release from Workhorse and UPS. [CleanTechnica]

Workhorse UPS prototype

¶ Numerous organizations have filed lawsuits against Exxon in recent times in relation to anthropogenic climate change. Now, the oil giant has filed lawsuits against a large collection of people associated with these suits, alleging conspiracy. Among those being sued are the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Grape grower Sun World International, LLC, published its first corporate social responsibility report. It details the goals that The Better Future Project, Sun World’s CSR program, aims to achieve by 2022 and progress made to date. Sun World’s environmental initiatives focus on renewable energy, water conservation and soil and bee health. [FreshPlaza]

Sun World CEO Merrill Dibble

¶ Altus Power America, Inc and Reservoir Road Holdings LLC completed two 648 kW DC solar systems in Highgate, Vermont. Converting unusable land into renewable energy, the two arrays are built over old gravel pits. Altus funded the construction and development of the projects and will serve as the long-term owner and operator. [Solar Industry]

¶ The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and AES Distributed Energy held a groundbreaking for the Lawai solar and energy storage project on the Garden Isle’s south shore. The project will consist of a 28-MW solar system and a 100 MWh energy storage component, which will be able to deliver peak power for up to five hours. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

Preparing for site blessing and dedication (Courtesy of KIUC)

¶ In a win for solar power in New York, the state’s Public Service Commission released an order expected to encourage more communities to pursue shared solar projects. It increases the maximum size of community solar projects eligible for credits from 2 MW to 5 MW. This is expected to reduce soft costs of solar power. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ A plan to subsidize now-profitable New Jersey nuclear plants with higher rates for customers moved forward and is now part of a larger piece of legislation that includes additional ratepayer-funded incentives for renewable power and energy efficiency. Democratic leaders in both houses wanted renewable energy subsidies in a separate bill. [NorthJersey.com]

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February 22 Energy News

February 22, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ A study found that the methane escaping from oil and gas industry sites in Pennsylvania “causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.” And that is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state, according to Environmental Defense Fund analysis based on 16 peer-reviewed studies. [ThinkProgress]

Flaring gas (Photo: Carolyn Cole | LA Times via Getty Images)

World:

¶ The High Court in London ruled the UK government’s current stance on air pollution is “unlawful.” It is the third court case the UK government has lost to ClientEarth, an organization of environmental activist lawyers. According to the Royal College of Physicians, air pollution contributes to nearly 40,000 deaths in the UK each year. [Futurism]

¶ The British government pushed to weaken EU controls on biomass energy, even though the technology will undermine efforts to contain global warming, researchers found. The UK successfully rewrote a proposal to almost quadruple the potential size of wood burning plants before they had to meet efficiency criteria. [DeSmog UK]

Drax and Eggborough power stations (Photo: Alan Murray Rust)

¶ According to Autocar, Porsche has stopped installing diesel engines in any of its vehicles, effective immediately. The move is certainly tied to recent developments that have tarnished the once glittering reputation of diesel. German regulators ordered Audi to recall 127,000 cars fitted with the latest Euro 6 spec diesel engines last month. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Indian renewable energy company Avaada Power Pvt Ltd said it signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Uttar Pradesh to develop 1.6 GW of solar projects in the state. The company will invest $1.55 billion (€1.26 billion) to develop the projects, which will be located across four of the state’s districts. [Renewables Now]

Welspun solar park (Photo: Welspun Renewables)

¶ Germany’s Senvion has been awarded a 101.2-MW project from India’s ReNew Power to deliver the Bhuwad Wind Project in Gujarat. The project will comprise 44 Senvion 2.3M120 turbines. They are expected to produce enough clean energy to supply the power needs of almost 100,000 Indian homes. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ The Scottish Government has awarded a development team funding to carry out a feasibility study into developing a hydrogen-powered ferry service to some of Scotland’s remote island communities. Point and Sandwick Trust is leading the project. The hydrogen would be manufactured using local community-owned wind power. [reNews]

Wind power (Pixabay image)

¶ ReNew Power Ventures said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Uttar Pradesh government to invest ₹8,000 crore ($1.2 billion) for 1,200 MW of renewable energy capacity, a move which can create 12,000 jobs in the state. The projects include 1,000 MW of solar and 200 MW of waste-to-energy projects. [ETEnergyworld.com]

US:

¶ A high estimate of the number of birds killed by collisions with US wind turbines and their towers each year is 573,000, though researchers said the actual number is probably between 140,000 and 328,000. Even the highest of those numbers is very small compared to the number killed generating the same amount of power from fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines

¶ First Solar has planned an enormous 200-MW solar project, using its new Series 6 modules, for Central Georgia. A 30-year power contract for the project has been approved by Georgia regulators. It is one of several projects awarded under Georgia Power’s latest solicitation through its Renewable Energy Development Initiative. [pv magazine USA]

¶ A new solar farm is to be constructed to provide Walt Disney World in Florida with more renewable energy. Disney World already receives 5 MW of energy from the 9-hectare Hidden Mickey solar farm. The new solar complex will be made up of 518,000 solar panel modules across 110 hectares, providing a much greater energy output. [Blooloop]

Solar array

¶ A group looking to promote solar in Arizona will seek to amend the state’s constitution to get a huge uptick in the amount of renewable energy required to be produced by state utilities. They are promoting a ballot initiative so the voters could decide to have the state get 50% of its power from renewable sources by 2030. [Phoenix Business Journal]

¶ California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co, part of PG&E Corporation, announced that it has achieved its home state’s 2020 renewable energy goal three years ahead of schedule. The company said that 33% of its electricity in 2017 came from renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric sources. [Renewables Now]

Solar panels in California (Photo: Walmart Corp)

¶ The New Orleans City Council’s utility committee approved a proposal on February 21 to build a $210 million gas-fired peaking power plant in the city. This is over the objections of opponents that included affordable energy advocates and environmental and social justice groups. Entergy New Orleans has long pushed for the plant. [NOLA.com]

¶ The NRC proposed a $145,000 fine for safety violations at Plant Vogtle, saying investigators found at least 13 system operators at the plant who on multiple occasions neglected to perform required rounds, then made false log entries saying the checks were completed. The civil penalty was filed against Southern Nuclear Co. [Chattanooga Times Free Press]

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February 21 Energy News

February 21, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Why 2018 Is The Year That Divestment Is Finally Going Mainstream” • Counterintuitively, divestment need not harm portfolio performance. Multiple studies found that portfolios that divest from fossil fuels and utilities and invest in clean energy instead perform better than those with conventional investment strategies. [CleanTechnica]

Smoke stacks rising in the countryside

¶ “If Climate Change Wrecks Your City, Can It Sue Exxon?” • Though scientists still warn that it is inaccurate to speak of weather events being “caused” by climate change, better technologies now allow researchers to quantify the severity of climate change’s impacts on weather, drawing a link between emissions and damage costs. [The Verge]

World:

¶ The amount of renewable power produced in 2017 could have powered Britain for the whole of 1958, a report shows. Britain’s output from wind, biomass, solar and hydro grew by more than a quarter to 96 TWh of power, according to the latest Electric Insights report, from researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax. [The Independent]

UK renewables (Getty image)

¶ Swedish furniture giant Ikea has partnered with the Big Clean Switch to encourage households to sign-up to a 100% renewable tariff. Big Clean Switch is a ‘profit for purpose’ firm that helps people move to renewable energy providers. The pair say that switching to a tariff with them could save households around £300 a year. [This is Money]

¶ The South Australian Premier has signalled to voters that Labor will continue its world-leading push into renewable energy, by committing his government to a 75% Renewable Energy Target by 2025 and, for the first time, a Renewable Storage Target. The state is already close to eclipsing its current 50% Renewable Energy Target, set in 2014. [ABC Online]

Wind and solar power (Photo: Tadgh Cullen | DP Energy)

¶ Globally, PV capacity will expand more over the next five years than any other renewable-energy technology, according to projections from accounting and financial services firm KPMG in its latest report, Great expectations: Deal making in the renewable energy sector. KPMG drew its findings from a survey of 200 renewable-energy investors. [pv magazine USA]

¶ South Australia is set to host its second hydrogen production and distribution facility, with the construction of a 1.25-MW Siemens electrolyser that will produce hydrogen using grid electricity potentially combined with on-site solar. The $11.4 million project will be built at the Tonsely Innovation District in Adelaide. [RenewEconomy]

Tonsely Innovation District

¶ In its benchmark annual Energy Outlook, BP forecast a 100-fold growth in electric vehicles by 2040. Its chief economist Spencer Dale painted a world in which we travel much more, but instead of using private cars, we increasingly share trips in autonomous vehicles. It is the first report in which BP forecast a peak in fossil fuel demand. [The Star Online]

US:

¶ California-based Sunpin Holdings LLC said it was selected to develop a 5-MW solar power plant in Blandford, Massachusetts, as part of the state’s SMART program. Eversource Energy has awarded the company a 20-year feed-in-tariff incentive contract. The SMART program is designed to support 1.6 GW of new solar power. [Renewables Now]

Massachusetts community solar project (Photo: 38 Degrees North)

¶ Rocky Mountain Power selected four new wind projects to fulfill plans to expand the amount of wind energy it provides by 2020. The four projects will expand Rocky Mountain Power’s owned and contracted wind power by more than 60% and add enough new wind energy to power about 450,000 average homes. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ A bipartisan group of city leader known as the Climate Mayors released a joint letter today imploring the EPA not to repeal the Clean Power Plan, a move they warn would damage public health, clean air initiatives, and efforts to combat climate change. The group’s 233 mayors represent 51 million Americans in 46 states and territories. [Curbed]

Solar power on a green rooftop (Shutterstock image)

¶ The New Hampshire House narrowly voted last week to “tap the brakes” on the state’s policy to expand use of renewable energy, though critics might say it could bring the policy to a screeching halt. The action would be a major pullback from requiring utilities to get 25% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. [New Hampshire Business Review]

¶ The Maine Renewable Energy Association is asking the Kennebec County Superior Court to nullify an executive order by Governor LePage. The order, issued on January 24, halted the issuance of new wind power permits and created a secretive advisory commission to explore potential changes to the permitting process. [Press Herald]

Wind turbines in Dixfield (Staff file photo by Gabe Souza)

¶ Legislation filed in the California Legislature would make it easier for businesses, schools, nonprofits and municipalities to access solar energy. In turn, this will help generate thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of investment in the state. The legislation expands access to offsite solar projects for non-residential customers. [YubaNet]

¶ A DOE official said the agency was conducting research and working with utilities seeking permission from the NRC to allow nuclear reactors built in the 1970s to keep operating to 2050 and beyond. The official asked not to be named to discuss its decision-making process. Some utilities are already planning to ask for 80-year licenses. [Bloomberg]

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February 20 Energy News

February 20, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s premier research organization, announced a new form of graphene it says can filter polluted water and make it drinkable in one step. It is a combination of graphene film and nanometer-size channels that allow water to pass but block pollutants. [CleanTechnica]

From Sydney Harbor to drinkable in one step (Credit: CSIRO)

¶ Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK say they have developed a device that can be inserted directly into a lithium-ion cell that will give instantaneous information about internal temperatures. The information from the cell can help chargers maintain the highest charging rates without danger of overheating. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK released a study that suggests using granulated basaltic rocks from volcanic eruptions could provide several positive benefits for agriculture and the climate. The benefits include improving soil fertility, cutting amounts of pesticides needed, and increasing carbon sequestration. [CleanTechnica]

Spreading basaltic rock

World:

¶ A new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis shows that major power systems can be able to cope well with increasing shares of intermittent renewables. The study says that increased generation of renewable resources does not make the grid less reliable or compromise the security of supply. [Business News Americas]

¶ The energy taxes that are currently in place in the world’s top economies are not extensive enough to aid in the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change to a large degree, a study said. The study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development looked at energy taxes in 42 different OECD and G20 economies. [CleanTechnica]

Pollution from a coal-burning power plant

¶ The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is, yet again, making headlines for its advances in clean energy. Since the Indian government began holding auctions for energy companies to bid for the lowest price per unit of wind energy, Tamil Nadu has risen to the world’s top fifteen markets in renewable energy production. [progrss]

¶ German grid regulator BNetzA has kicked off the first 200-MW combined wind and solar tender in the country. The auction, with a 3 April deadline, has a maximum price of €0.0884/kWh (10.9¢/kWh). BNetzA defined 98 administrative districts where bids will incur an additional charge. This is to reduce the need for reinforcing the distribution grid. [reNews]

Wind and solar together (Credit: Solarpraxis)

¶ There are 5.2 million properties in England at risk of flooding due to changes in the country’s climate, the UK’s Environment Agency warned. The agency launched its Flood Action Campaign after warning that intense bouts of flooding are set to become more frequent across England after changes to the country’s climate. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Spanish infrastructure group Acciona SA said it has signed an agreement to supply renewable power to the main facilities in Chile of local water and wastewater company Aguas Chanar. Through Acciona Energia, the company will deliver enough power to cover more than 70% of Aguas Chanar’s needs in the Atacama region. [Renewables Now]

Wind turbines (Photo: Acciona SA)

US:

¶ Solar manufacturer SunPower, based in California, reported tepid results in its Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 results last week. Revenues were down 35% year-over-year and First Quarter and Full Year 2018 revenues well below expectations. SunPower is still in the early days of looking to make the best of the solar tariff ruling. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Michigan generates 2.7% of US electricity, ranking 11th among states. But only 0.1% of its electricity comes directly from the sun, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and Michigan’s 107 MW of PV capacity in 2017 ranks it 31st in the US. But SEIA expects the Michigan market to grow by 668 MW in the next five years. [pv magazine USA]

Lapeer Solar Park in Michigan (DTE Energy)

¶ The Ohio Power Siting Board has approved construction of two large solar facilities. Hillcrest Solar I is authorised to build the 125-MW Hillcrest Solar Farm in Brown County. Invenergy Solar Development North America’s subsidiary Hardin Solar Energy has approval for the 150-MW Hardin Solar Centre in Hardin County on. [Power Technology]

¶ Michigan utility Consumers Energy will phase out electric generation from coal by 2040 to reduce greenhouse gases, its president and CEO told the Associated Press. The utility plans to generate 40% of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar, alongside natural gas, hydropower, and improved efficiency. [Jefferson City News Tribune]

BC Cobb Plant, which was closed in 2016
(Joel Bissell | Muskegon Chronicle via AP, File)

¶ The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition announced the launch of a new statewide effort aimed at encouraging Illinois to embrace renewable energy and carbon-free power. ICJC members said their policy goals include cutting carbon pollution from the Illinois power sector by 2030 and moving the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050. [CBS Chicago]

¶ The New Jersey legislature will try to advance a controversial nuclear subsidy bill again this week, the fourth version of the measure drafted this year, at least. Designed primarily to prop up Public Service Enterprise Group’s nuclear plants, the legislation has gone through drastic revisions to win backing. So far, it has not worked. [NJ Spotlight]

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February 19 Energy News

February 19, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Meet the new ‘renewable superpowers'” • A world powered by renewable energy will prize a very different set of resources than we do today. Which countries hold the key to unlocking wind and solar energy, and how will this shake up the world order? University of Swansea’s Andrew Barron discusses some of the issues. [eco-business.com]

Child looking at wind turbines (Image: Ben Paulos, CC BY 2.0)

¶ “La Plata Electric Association grapples with era of change” • Texas utility LPEA is locked into a contract for the next 30 years with its electricity provider, Tri-State. Tri-State generates most of its electricity by burning coal and only promises to increase prices. Expensive and dirty power is not what most LPEA members want. [The Durango Herald]

¶ “Why Electrification of Everything Can Combat GHG Emissions” • About 80% of the world’s GHG emissions relate to fossil fuels. Aggressive electrification of the ways we drive, power up our personal energy devices, and regulate the temperatures in our homes can make the difference we need to decarbonize our world. [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar systems

¶ “Tell the EPA: The economic cost of repealing the Clean Power Plan is just too high” • Repealing the CPP would deny Americans the opportunity to create 560,000 jobs and add $52 billion in economic value. That is in addition to the more than 3 million clean energy jobs in the US already, a nonpartisan environmental business group’s report says. [Kansas City Star]

¶ “Pushing the Limit: How demand flexibility can grow the market for renewable energy” • As coal’s share of US electricity generation continues its steady decline, there is still a question about what will end up supplying energy. Driven by technology and innovative business models, wind and solar give natural gas strong competition. [RenewEconomy]

Transmission infrastructure (istock image)

Science and Technology:

¶ A new thermoelectric device developed at MIT draws power from the daily cycle of temperature swings. In trials, the device reacted to a 10° C temperature difference, such as would happen between night and day, generating 350 millivolts of potential and 1.3 milliwatts of power. This can power communications systems and sensors. [Digital Journal]

World:

¶ Thailand has emerged as South-East Asia’s leading developer of renewable electricity, with providers obliged to guarantee minimum levels of supply. The country’s biggest wind power generator, Wind Energy Holdings, plans to invest in other power sources to back up its capacity, including solar, biomass, and hydro, its CEO told Reuters. [Star2.com]

Solar array (Photo: Filepic)

¶ Japan is falling behind other leading countries in renewable energy use, while its promotion of coal-fired plants risks hindering the competitiveness of domestic firms in a global market increasingly concerned about carbon emissions. Those were conclusions of a report to the Foreign Minister released by an expert panel. [The Japan Times]

¶ The government of the Netherlands plans to turn an offshore seaweed farm in the North Sea into a huge solar power farm that aims to supply energy to the Dutch mainland. They plan to finish the project in a span of three years. A pilot project costing €1.2 million ($2.48 million) will test environmental impacts and equipment performance. [GineersNow]

Solar array (Source: Lawyer Issue)

¶ Canada’s minister of Natural Resources, Jim Carr, announced a call for proposals for the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program. The program will provide approximately $220 million in funding for initiatives to reduce reliance on diesel fuel in rural and remote communities, most of which are Indigenous. [EP Magazine]

¶ The Lakeland project in far north Queensland, Australia’s first large-scale solar and big battery storage installation, has been officially connected to the grid. The 10.8-MW solar facility, combined with a 1.4-MW/5.3-MWh battery storage facility is located near the very edge of the grid and could be a model for similar projects. [RenewEconomy]

Lakeland project (Screen shot)

¶ For over a decade an energy revolution has been underway in Japan, spurred on by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear disaster that followed at Fukushima. Since then, microgrids have sprung up by the dozens around the country, in a number of different guises to help Japan meet its energy needs and build resilience. [Power Technology]

US:

¶ President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget request would slash funding for farm bill conservation programs by about $13 billion over 10 years, on top of cuts already sustained in the 2014 farm bill. In a study, we found that it is highly uncertain whether the benefits these programs have produced can maintained with such cuts. [The Conversation]

Black-necked stilts

¶ A planned community solar project could allow for Omaha Public Power District customers to power homes and businesses mostly with renewable energy. The district expects more than 50% of its retail electricity sales to be from renewable resources by 2020. Most of the energy would be generated by solar panels and wind turbines. [Lincoln Journal Star]

¶ While the rest of the world is warming, one part of the US is getting colder. The Corn Belt has seen summer temperatures drop 1°C (1.8°F) while rainfall increased by 35%. According to research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this time it is agricultural production, not greenhouse gases, that is to blame. [IFLScience]

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February 18 Energy News

February 18, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “With the US pursuing fossil fuels, alternative, renewable forms of energy could be an even bigger boon to China” • While President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to cut the US government’s clean energy budgets by up to 70%, China has been steadily moving in the opposite direction by exploring alternatives. [Jefferson Public Radio]

Goldwind wind farm (Photo: Pzavislak, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Australia currently mines the majority of the world’s lithium and also mines all of the minerals needed to make batteries on its home soil, but a report by Future Smart Strategies warns that a failure to look beyond this natural advantage, to opportunities that lie further down the supply chain, could cost the nation dearly. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Rojava, a Syrian enclave famed for its olives, has been bombed and water-starved for years, as jihadists and armies fought. Now Kurdish-led ecological committees and like-minded activists worldwide are working to plant tens of thousands of trees and are working with local farmers to build co-operative ecological structures. [New Statesman]

First tree in a Syrian planting effort

¶  Mobile phone tower company edotco Bangladesh has begun using renewable energy in remote areas, its officials said. The company has already installed around 672 mobile network sites that use renewable energy through its 8000 towers. The use of renewable energy cuts their carbon footprint up to 20%, they said. [Prothom Alo English]

¶ An evaluation by Asian Development Bank for Pakistan showed that about 10 GW of generation capacity will be commissioned before 2019. The report warns that diminishing natural gas reserves and sluggish hydropower development will result in increased reliance on coal and oil, exacerbating climate change in Pakistan. [The News on Sunday]

Dependence on fossil fuels

¶ The founders of a major clean energy fund have shrugged off Donald Trump’s shift away from renewable power, saying the global industry is too advanced for him to halt. The technical director of Glennmont Partners said the renewable energy sector has cut loose from state-backed subsidies and is attracting private investment. [Daily Mail]

¶ The Indian wind and solar energy sectors have been upgraded to a stable outlook by rating agencies. The environment for the two sectors is considered favorable, as bids are being driven by Central Government agencies, and power purchase agreements are becoming favourable to developers in terms of curtailment and termination issues. [EnergyInfraPost]

Indian wind farm

¶ With the continued power outages across the country, poor Malawians could find hope in solar power, which is both reliable and affordable, the director of the Fortuner Group of Companies said. He told Nyasa Times that solar panels in poor villages and neighbourhoods could be the solution for Malawians without access to electricity. [Nyasa Times]

¶ So far, Japan’s geothermal power does little more than provide the water for the country’s countless “onsen” hot springs. But the nation sits atop a treasure trove of renewable geothermal energy that can provide much more than bath water. And the Japanese government is getting serious about pursuit of geothermal power generation. [Nikkei Asian Review]

Open-air hot spring resort (Photo: © Reuters)

US:

¶ Orange & Rockland Utilities, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, New York state’s largest utility company, filed a proposal with the state’s Public Utilities Commission to test whether adding Tesla Powerpack grid storage batteries “can provide a range of services with costs and benefits shared by multiple stakeholders.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ After Massachusetts chose a $950 million project headed by Maine utility Central Maine Power as its backup option to bring Canadian power to their state, Maine Gov Paul LePage’s energy czar said his boss would “push this right through” the rest of the permitting process that is handled by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. [Maine Public]

Power lines (Photo: Colin Perkel | The Canadian Press via AP)

¶ Pacific Power is to install “smart meters” in about 15,000 homes in Oregon’s Santiam region. The upgrades are part of a statewide effort to replace 590,000 meters by fall 2019. Pacific Power sources said the new meters will afford electricity consumers more current and detailed monitoring of their usage, right down to the hour. [Statesman Journal]

¶ With state officials eyeing $56 billion of wind farm projects off the American coastline, developers are worried the turbines will need to be stamped with a big “Made in the USA.” Most are made in Europe, but the states in the Northeast that are jumping into wind power are betting they can create their own wind turbine industry. [WatertownDailyTimes.com]

Block Island Wind Farm (Bloomberg photo)

¶ EPA chief Scott Pruitt staged a quiet visit to Massachusetts, along Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Neal Chaterjee. The two toured the Northfield Mountain Generating Station pumped storage facility in Northfield. The visit was one day before FERC finalized new rules to benefit energy storage facilities. [MassLive.com]

¶ In Ohio, Lake County Commissioner Jerry Cirino told a crowd of 300 residents he is expecting bad news about the future of the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in the next several weeks. Two of the state’s uncompetitive nuclear plants are currently under strategic review, as the owner, FirstEnergy, determines a course for their futures. [fox8.com]

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February 17 Energy News

February 17, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Clean energy – not natural gas – drove decarbonization in 2017” • Last year, for the first time, power sector emissions were reduced more by energy conservation and renewable energy than switching from coal to natural gas. This happened despite all Trump administration and fossil fuels industry attempts to limit clean energy. [Environmental Defense Fund]

US wind farm

Book Review:

¶ Peter Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth’s, “Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival” is a fascinating exposé of the climate crisis. It looks at the climate crisis comprehensively from a legal perspective, with a focus on the perpetrators of the climate emergency that confronts us all. [Center for Research on Globalization]

Science and Technology:

¶ Researchers hope to discover how solar and plant life interact and find effective ways for solar arrays and agricultural lands to co-exist. One special aim of a new partnership between Enel Green Power North American and the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is to develop pollinator-friendly practices. [pv magazine USA]

Poppy (Pixabay image)

¶ Critics of renewable energy, lobbyists for fossil fuels, and those promoting nuclear power, often use solar and wind fluctuations as their major argument to hold on to the old system. A study by the Lappeenranta University of Technology, in Finnland, and the Energy Watch Group, based in Berlin, refutes this argument once and for all. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Powershop Australia signed a huge deal for the output of a 200-MW solar farm and two big wind farms, after being “stunned” by the low prices offered in market proposals. Exact figures were not disclosed, but Powershop’s CEO said, “If you said two and a half years ago that this is where solar will be, we would not have believed it.” [CleanTechnica]

Windpower in Australia

¶ Australia’s first large-scale solar farm co-located with a wind farm was formally opened this month. The 10-MW Gullen Range solar farm south of Crookwell in NSW is the first large-scale solar farm on Australia’s main grid to be co-located with a major wind farm. It shares facilities with the 165-MW Gullen Range wind farm. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The renewables division of Italian energy company Enel SpA announced that it commissioned the 103-MW Horizonte PV power plant in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Plant construction started last September, after Enel won the project together with two other large PV plants in a public tender, held in August 2015. [Renewables Now]

Solar farm in Brazil (Otávio Nogueira, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

¶ According to project developer Statoil, the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, has been generating electricity at a level that surpasses expectations through its first three full months of production. Where bottom-fixed offshore wind farms operate at 45% to 60% of rated capacity, Hywind Scotland has averaged 65%. [CleanTechnica]

¶ EDF pledged to step up its renewable energy efforts as its sliding nuclear business sees revenues fall. The French energy giant’s annual results for 2017 show a 16% drop in earnings before interest and tax. Earnings in the UK fell by around a third as the company received lower prices than it expected for its nuclear power output. [Energy Live News]

Cooling towers (Shutterstock image)

¶ The Australian Capital Territory is expected to commission enough wind and solar farms by 2020 to reach the equivalent of 100% renewable energy for its electricity supply. Now it is turning attention to eliminating gas. A major development will start with 350 homes with efficient electric heating, cooling, and cooking. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ As US president Donald Trump throws his support behind “beautiful clean coal,” the state of Arizona, a Republican Party stronghold, is poised to take the lead on energy storage. A proposed clean energy overhaul would impose an 80% clean energy target by 2050, including 3 GW of energy storage to be installed by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

Nestle Purina’s solar farm in Arizona

¶ Despite the current Presidential regime’s attempts to defend the coal industry, the US is home to a utility breaking world records for renewable energy development. With 47 GW of renewable capacity already built, NextEra plans to double its rate of install in the next few years, aiming for a total of 10.1 to 16.5 GW for the 2017-2020 period. [CleanTechnica]

¶ During a Board of Light & Power trustee meeting, the Grand Haven, Michigan, utility’s staff recommended that the coal-fired JB Sims power plant be closed June 1, 2020. The staff also recommended to the board that the municipal utility transition to a more “economical, sustainable and diversified” selection of energy sources. [Grand Haven Tribune]

Grand Haven Light (Photo: Daveth121864, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Massachusetts regulators said that Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect will bring power from Canada to the Bay State if Eversource does not resolve its Northern Pass permitting problems in New Hampshire by March 27. The 1,200-MW New England Clean Energy Connect would run through 145 miles of western Maine. [MassLive.com]

¶ FirstEnergy Corp announced that its Allegheny Energy Supply subsidiary notified the regional transmission organization, PJM Interconnection, of its plan to deactivate the coal-fired Pleasants Power Station in West Virginia. The 1,300-MW plant will be sold or closed on January 1, 2019, subject to a PJM review for impacts on reliability. [Parkersburg News]

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February 16 Energy News

February 16, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “The Trump Budget Is Full of Giveaways to Coal and Oil Companies” • The Trump administration’s proposed budget for funding the federal government in 2019 has extensive cuts to health care, schools, scientific research, and nutrition assistance, but it would benefit clear winners in the fossil fuel industry. [Center For American Progress]

Coal at a Pacificorp power plant (Photo: George Frey | Getty)

¶ “Heartland Institute’s pro-coal lobbying isn’t working in Missouri” • The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank known for its efforts to promote climate science denial, is lobbying to keep one of the country’s oldest coal-fired power plants alive. But it doesn’t seem to be working. Not even the owner wants to keep the plant open. [ThinkProgress]

World:

¶ Eviation Aircraft is now aiming to bring its 9-seat electric aircraft to market by 2021 after it closed a battery supply agreement with South Korea’s Kokam, the company’s CEO has revealed. The Israel-based firm went with Kokam because it could expect  a relatively high degree of flexibility and access to customization. [CleanTechnica]

Eviation Aircraft prototype

¶ The EU is to provide a record amount of funding to build a renewable power link between Spain and France. The submarine cable, costing €578 million, will run for 230 miles across the Bay of Biscay, easing a transmission bottleneck. Carrying renewable energy between the two countries, it hopes to double current power capacity to 5,000 MW. [Olive Press]

¶ Blasting the Spanish Government for its lack of renewables action, the Balearic Government has today issued an ambitious Climate Change Law designed to kick-start a renewable energy transition on the four islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera. It aims to cover 100% of energy demand with renewables by 2050. [pv magazine International]

Solar PV array (G-Ener Soluciones)

¶ The northern New South Wales city of Lismore has formally opened the country’s largest floating solar installation, and flagged plans to increase its size five-fold or more and to add battery storage. The 100-kW floating solar farm is a key part of the local council’s plan to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2023. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Tasmanian Labor Party pledged to take the state to “120% renewables,” aiming to lock in lower electricity prices and secure the island’s status as a clean power exporter. Labor leader Rebecca White said if her party wins in the March 3 election, it will “restore” and capitalise on Tasmania’s renewable energy advantage. [RenewEconomy]

Tasmanian Wind Farm

¶ Egypt has officially awarded electricity generation licences to four wind farms with a combined capacity of 1,420 MW, the Daily News Egypt reports. One of the wind farms receiving a 20-year power generating license is the Gulf of Suez project, to be located in the municipality of Ras Ghareb, in Cairo’s Red Sea Governorate. [Renewables Now]

US:

¶ Southern California Edison, which serves customers in the greater Los Angeles area, has just announced it is cooperating with BMW to offer a $10,000 rebate to customers who purchase a BMW i3 electric car between now and April 30. To qualify, customers must prove they are an SCE customer and the car must be purchased, not leased. [CleanTechnica]

BMW i3 electric car

¶ The top US intelligence official warned Congress about the threat of “abrupt” climate change, despite Trump administration efforts to drive climate out of national security discussions. The Director of National Intelligence submitted written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee identifying climate change as a significant concern. [Vox]

¶ Federal regulators are allowing Anbaric Development Partners to move ahead with a shared transmission system for offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts. The US company plans to solicit customers and sell transmission rights to the 2-GW to 2.4-GW Massachusetts Ocean Grid. Three developers already hold leases off the coast. [reNews]

Offshore wind substation (Credit: Statkraft)

¶ A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, announced that during the previous four months, five new community solar gardens have been brought online in southeastern Minnesota. The solar-gardens are part of a larger Minnesota community solar-gardens portfolio totaling 66 MW including projects in development. [Markets Insider]

¶ US regulators have removed all market barriers to electric storage, so operators can dispatch power from multiple storage systems, including batteries. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has completed a ruling that allows energy storage companies to directly compete against power plants in wholesale power markets. [Digital Journal]

Offshore wind installation

¶ Maryland, an early adopter for solar electricity, opened a energy-storage tax credit program. The program is now taking applications for $750,000 in tax credits to support energy storage systems for existing renewable energy systems, with $225,000 reserved for residential solar customers and $525,000 reserved for commercial taxpayers. [pv magazine USA]

¶ Florida-based power behemoth NextEra Energy is floating a $15.9 billion proposal to buy Santee Cooper to South Carolina lawmakers. The state-owned utility went on the auction block after it and Cayce-based SCANA abandoned a decade-long, $9 billion effort to build two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County. [The State]

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February 15 Energy News

February 15, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Stalling Clean Energy – American Silence in the Green Revolution” • “You’re all going to be a part of this exciting new future,” Donald Trump told us. As China reconfirmed its $367 billion investment in renewable energy, the US has been content to promote the 1,200 coal mining jobs it’s scrapped back together. [Intelligencer Post]

Panda Solar Power Plant in Shanxi province, China
(Photo: Roman Pilipey | EPA | REX | Shutterstock)

Science and Technology:

¶ Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published preliminary analyses from a three-year study using survey data from 1,705 randomly selected individuals within five miles of modern wind turbines, reflecting distance and attitudes. The findings highlight a generally positive attitude, regardless of how closely they live to a wind turbine. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The government of Germany is currently mulling the idea of making public transportation system use in heavily polluted cities free as a means of reducing emissions and thus improving air quality, Reuters has reported. Several cities in Germany are persistently home to levels of air pollution that exceed legal limits in the European Union. [CleanTechnica]

Interior of a German bus

¶ InfraCo Asia Development Private Limited, a developer of infrastructure is Southeast Asia, and Sunseap International have reportedly entered a deal to build a 168 MWp solar power project in the Ninh Thuan province of Vietnam. The power generated will help fill the demand for electricity of nearly 200,000 homes in the country. [AlgosOnline]

¶ Petroleum Development Oman and GlassPoint Solar this week inaugurated and officially opened the 1-GW Miraah solar plant. It is located atop the Amal oilfield in the south of Oman. The first four of 36 blocks have been completed, and they are currently delivering 100 MWt of steam, which is used to extract heavy oil from the oilfield. [CleanTechnica]

Miraah solar power

¶ Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has been awarded exclusivity by Danish energy group Ørsted for supply and service of wind turbines for the Hornsea Project Two offshore wind power project, which is being developed in British waters. SGRE will install its SG 8.0-167 DD turbines with total capacity of 1,386 MW. [PennEnergy]

¶ Renewables firm Equis Energy has achieved financial close on the 127-MW Tailem Bend Solar Project in South Australia, which has a reserved area to hold a battery storage installation of up to 100 MWh in the future. Construction of the $200 million (US) project is due to start in February 2018, with completion due in early 2019. [PV-Tech]

Solar power plant (Credit: Equis Energy)

¶ Australians are in love with batteries and the bond of storage is only expected to grow stronger over coming years. A report from the Climate Council finds the market for household batteries tripled in 2017, with more than 20,000 installations. The year before, there were just 6,750 households that put in battery systems. [Echonetdaily]

¶ NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project. It aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands, off western Ireland. [Irish Tech News]

Offshore wind power

US:

¶ The Rocky Mountain Institute released a report on the demand flexibility equation, modeled on the grid in Texas, America’s version of an islanded energy market. The results indicate that the investment in demand flexibility would more than pay for itself in reduced curtailment, flattened peaks, and power plants never built. [Greentech Media]

¶ The board of county commissioners of Summit County, Colorado, unanimously approved a resolution committing the county to shift away from fossil fuels and to transition to 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2035. According to the Sierra Club, 58 cities and towns have committed to 100% renewable energy. [North American Windpower]

Colorado

¶ In a case of strange political bedfellows, a conservative lawmaker from San Juan County and the leader of a Santa Fe environmental group not known for compromising came together to back a bill aimed at easing the economic woes of New Mexico communities hit by the closing of large coal-burning power plants. [Los Alamos Monitor]

¶ Coal once dominated Michigan. But in 2016, coal-fired plants provided just 36% of the state’s electricity, down from about 50% two years before. Since 2010, Michigan utilities have retired 26 coal generators at 15 power plants. At least 17 generators at six plants are set to retire there by 2025, and no new coal-burning plants are being built. [Bridge Michigan]

The 1,429-MW St Clair coal-fired power plant,
built in 1953 (Bridge photo by Jim Malewitz)

¶ A Kansas-based solar company officially announced it is going to build its second 75-MW solar farm in Orangeburg County. Tradewind Energy said that it will build an $89 million solar production facility on about 1,000 acres south of the town of Bowman. The solar farm will generate enough power for 15,000 homes. [TheTandD.com]

¶ While US clean energy installations lagged in 2017, they did increase the amount of renewably generated electricity to its highest level ever, at 18% of the overall energy mix. Rachel Luo, senior analyst for US utilities and market reform at BNEF, said 18% brings clean energy “within striking distance” of nuclear’s 20% generation contribution. [Greentech Media]

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February 14 Energy News

February 14, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Why Cooperatives and Municipal-owned Electric Systems Should Embrace Distributed Change” • Many big businesses are embracing change. And member-owned cooperatives, as well as many municipal-owned electric systems, stand to benefit by leveraging the trend toward distributed generation, instead of resisting or denying it. [Electric Light & Power]

Rooftop solar installation

World:

¶ Three Canadian solar manufacturers, Silfab Solar, Heliene, and Canadian Solar, filed a lawsuit with the US Court of International Trade in New York against Donald Trump’s imposition of 30% tariffs on all imported solar cells and modules. They have cited “immediate, severe, and irreversible injuries” for the Canadian solar industry. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Following on the successful electrification of three earlier bus routes in the region of London in partnership with China’s BYD, London’s Route 153 has now gone all-electric following the deployment of eleven new BYD ADL Enviro200EV single-decker buses (10.8 meters each), according to an email sent to CleanTechnica. [CleanTechnica]

BYD electric bus in London

¶ The Canarian island of El Hierro has met its electricity needs with 100% renewable energy for 18 consecutive days, Spain’s grid operator Red Electrica de Espana announced. Between January 25 and February 12 the island has used 100% renewable energy thanks to the Gorona del Viento pumped hydro energy storage plant. [Renewables Now]

¶ Tesla, fresh from the success of its newly opened big battery in South Australia, has joined 18 other groups competing for the right to build another big battery. This time, the battery will be in the Northern Territory. The big battery in the Darwin-Katherine network will have a nominal capacity of between 25 MW and 45 MW. [CleanTechnica]

Solar project at Darwin Airport

¶ Innogy is laying the groundwork to start onshore construction at its 860-MW Triton Knoll wind farm off Lincolnshire this summer. Site preparation along the project’s onshore cable route includes removal of hedgerows, trees and vegetation, and this will happen before the spring to reduce the impact on breeding birds. [reNews]

¶ Indian Coal-based power plants are feeling the heat of spikes in thermal grade coal prices and railway freight costs. Prices of thermal grade coal have moved up by 15% to 18% this year. Also, the levy of evacuation charge of ₹50 per tonne may increase the cost of generation for coal-based power plants by up to ₹0.15 per unit (0.23¢/kWh). [EnergyInfraPost]

Thermal plant under stress

US:

¶ The US Chamber of Commerce is proposing that the federal government raise the gasoline tax by 25¢ per gallon, in 5¢ increments over 5 years. In theory, the tax hike would go to pay for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, the thousands of roads, bridges, and tunnels that are so substandard they are increasingly unsafe. [CleanTechnica]

¶ MidAmerican Energy announced that it had completed two wind farms in Iowa and that both projects are now generating electricity. Together, the 170-MW Beaver Creek wind farm and the 168-MW Prairie wind farm are expected to generate enough electricity to meet the power needs of more than 140,000 Iowa homes. [CleanTechnica]

Beaver Creek Wind Farm (Credit: Mortenson Construction)

¶ The tourism hotspot of Catalina Island, off the California coast, will soon be home to its first all-electric bus fleet. This follows the recent closing of a deal between the Catalina Island Company and BYD, which will see 3 BYD C6 electric buses deployed as tourist shuttles, according to an email sent to CleanTechnica. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Tenaska, an independent US power producer, signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc that will result in competitive renewable energy prices for co-op members. The PPA has a capacity of about 236 MW of renewable power from a wind project in northwest Missouri. [Energy Manager Today]

Wind farm

¶ A pro-renewable energy coalition received the green light to gather signatures in pursuit of a November ballot measure that would mandate Michigan energy companies get at least 30% of their power from wind, solar, or other renewable sources by 2030. Officials with the state’s two biggest utilities are already pushing back. [Detroit Free Press]

¶ Vineyard Wind completed the first step of a multi-phase approval process for a proposed 800-MW offshore wind farm to be connected to the grid with a subsea transmission system. Massachusetts regulators issued a preliminary certificate outlining potential impacts and issues and can move ahead with a draft environmental impact report. [reNews]

Offshore wind turbine (reNews image)

¶ Clean energy groups are among those speaking out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, which includes cuts to programs at the DOE and EPA. For the DOE, the budget requests $2.5 billion specifically for “energy and related programs,” which is $1.9 billion below that of FY 2017. [North American Windpower]

¶ Two nonprofits filed a petition to reverse a Georgia Public Service Commission decision to allow the continued expansion of Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power. The nonprofits claim the commission violated its own rules and state law by allowing Georgia Power to continue its $25 billion nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle. [Courthouse News Service]

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February 13 Energy News

February 13, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ Researchers in Australia and the US have discovered a new class of materials called metal-organic frameworks, which have the largest internal surface area of any known substance. They can capture, store, and release chemical compounds. One potential use is removing the dissolved minerals in sea water to make it drinkable. [CleanTechnica]

“Not a drop to drink”

¶ Sea level rise is happening at rate that is rising is increasing every year, according to a study released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A professor of aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado-Boulder led researchers, who used satellite data dating to 1993 to observe ocean levels. [CNN]

World:

¶ Following a Memorandum of Understanding signed in December with the Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy has signed another MoU in Taiwan with the express purpose of helping to develop the Taichung Harbor for offshore wind activities. Other facilities are planned. [CleanTechnica]

Port of Taichung Harbor

¶ In 2017, 20% of all new cars in Norway were EVs. The country’s ambition is that only electric cars will be sold from the year 2025. A survey reveals that almost half of Norwegians expect their next new car to be electric. But is the electric grid ready for this? One expert says it probably is, but it might be best not to charge on Thursday nights. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Siemens Gamesa, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of wind turbines, announced this week that it is expanding its solar business, after successfully securing an order to provide a turnkey EPC solution for 160 MW of solar in India. Like some other technology-specific renewable energy companies, it is diversifying. [CleanTechnica]

Siemens Gamesa solar array (Siemens Gamesa image)

¶ Additions of 52.6 GW in 2017 took the total capacity of global installed wind turbines to 539 GW by the end of December, according to figures published by the World Wind Energy Association. The statistics reveal that last year’s installations were the third annual largest ever, after the record years of 2015 and 2014. [Power Engineering International]

¶ Marine Renewables Canada is a national association for wave, tidal and river current energy. It represents technology and project developers, utilities, researchers, and the energy and marine supply chain. It has made a strategic decision to grow its focus by officially including offshore wind energy in its mandate. [North American Windpower]

Offshore wind turbine

¶ Fuel loading at the world’s first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor on China’s east coast has been delayed due to “safety concerns.” It is the latest in a long line of setbacks for the project, the China Daily reported. The third-generation reactor, located in Zhejiang province, was originally expected to make its debut in 2014. [CNBC]

US:

¶ On the outskirts of Denver, not far from Denver International Airport, a grand experiment is underway. Panasonic has partnered with a consortium of local partners to transform a 400-acre patch of greenfield land into a smart district. One goal of the project is that the smart district be built as a carbon-neutral microgrid. [Power Technology]

Solar canopies in a Denver car park (Panasonic image)

¶ The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census shows that Vermont lost 232 full-time solar jobs between November 2016 and November 2017. Vermont’s solar sector was the most affected by the changes to net metering, and the organization says that the federal tariff on most imported solar panels will make matters worse. [pv magazine USA]

¶ First Solar and Arizona Public Service are collaborating on a 50-MW battery storage project linked to a 65-MW PV plant in Arizona. The project will be built by First Solar, while APS will buy the power generated and stored under a 15-year agreement. The project is expected to be operational in 2021, the partners said. [reNews]

Installing a solar system (First Solar image)

¶ Florida Power & Light has integrated a 4-MW battery storage system with its Citrus solar energy center. The battery system will increase the PV plant’s overall output. The Citrus center in DeSoto County has been operational since 2016, and FPL said the DC-coupled battery storage facility should increase output by 500,000 kWh a year. [reNews]

¶ EDP Renewables is to supply Nestle with 50 MW of wind power from the Meadow Lake 6 project in Indiana. The 15-year agreement will provide electricity to cover 80% of the energy needs of five Nestle facilities in Pennsylvania. EDPR will expand Meadow Lake 6 to 200 MW from the existing 150 MW as a result of the deal. [reNews]

Meadow Lake wind farm Indiana (Chris Light)

¶ A group of Massachusetts lawmakers unveiled a bill that aims to increase the state’s use of renewable energy. The bill released by the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change sets a goal of making the state 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2050, expanding renewable generation and electric transportation. [New Haven Register]

¶ With 85% of votes cast, it appeared Boulder’s quest to control its energy future was ending. But in overnight counting, the tally reversed. Measure 2L passed with 51.7% of the vote, keeping Boulder on course to be the first city to municipalize its electric company in years, and the only one ever to do it with clean, local power. [CleanTechnica]

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February 12 Energy News

February 12, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “The New Age of Renewable Energy” • Renewable energy is moving from niche to mainstream markets. One of the clearest signs yet: the Middle East is embracing it. Renewable energy is undergoing a revolution. It is surging in scale and plummeting in price, and in the process it is reshaping global energy markets. [The Cairo Review of Global Affairs]

Solar park in Dubai (Ashraf Alamra | Reuters)

¶ “Fight Climate Change, While Earning Up To 7.5% Annually?” • Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the solar energy market through 2040 will be worth about $2.8 trillion. Governments and institutions are supporting small systems and large, but Wunder Capital supports a middle market they have failed to see. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “How a Tasmanian community is taking the power back” • A proposed project would see $150,000 worth of solar panels and battery storage installed across six residential aged-care units in Nubeena, Tasmania. The reason is pretty straight forward: to deliver more reliable electricity in a way that will benefit the whole community. [One Step Off The Grid]

Nubeena, Tasmania

World:

¶ After successfully completing bidding to source 500 MW solar power last year, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited has floated another tender to procure 500 MW from grid-connected solar PV power projects through competitive bidding. There is also a greenshoe option for the purchase of an additional 500 MW of solar power. [EnergyInfraPost]

¶ Five major pumped hydro energy storage projects and another big battery have received government support in South Australia as the state moves to advance its position as a global renewable energy leader. The projects, mainly in the state’s Mid North, would provide more than 1 GW of generating capacity to the South Australian grid. [PACE Today]

Australian windpower (Photo: Tony Lewis | InDaily)

¶ South Australian energy storage company 1414 Degrees spent almost a decade developing its Thermal Energy Storage System technology to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon at a cost estimated to be up to 10 times cheaper than lithium batteries. It is now building a plant near Adelaide. [Climate Control News]

¶ Greenpeace’s Unearthed website reported on a confidential Cabinet Office report that suggests the medium term prospects for fracking in the UK could be far less bullish than previously admitted. The report suggests that the government expects just 17 shale gas and oil sites to be up and running by the end of the decade. [www.businessgreen.com]

Pumping jacks

¶ With massive amounts of electricity needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, large virtual currency mining companies have established a base in Iceland, which blessed with abundant renewable energy. Iceland is expected to use more energy mining bitcoins and other virtual currencies this year than it uses to power its homes. [Independent.ie]

¶ AGL will spend about A$900 million ($705 million) to buy wind farms to replace some of the power lost when it closes the Liddell coal-fired power plant. The company is to announce an expression of interest to replace the 8,000 GWh hours of power from its plant every year. It is also bringing more renewable energy on board. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Liddell Power Station (Photo: Janie Barrett)

¶ South Australia’s first green hydrogen plant, one of the biggest of its kind worldwide, will be built near Port Lincoln. The plant will use solar and wind energy from Eyre Peninsula to create hydrogen to be used for fuel for electricity. Proponents say the industry could eventually surpass the value of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar gas exports. [InDaily]

¶ State-run South Korean energy firm Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has today signed a memorandum of understanding with local renewable energy company Hwaseong Solar Energy to develop a 100-MW floating solar PV plant near the western coastline of the country. It would be nation’s largest floating solar farm. [pv magazine International]

South Korean floating solar PV plants (Image: Ciel & Terre)

¶ More grid-aches plagued Australia’s National Electricity Market over the weekend – none of them anything to do with renewables – as extreme weather flattened power lines in Queensland, faults in the poles and wires caused blackouts in Victoria, and ageing Latrobe Valley coal power generators proved once again that they are unreliable. [RenewEconomy]

US:

¶ Solar power prices have been dropping faster than people expected, even faster than experts expected, and even faster than bullish experts expected. A leading expert at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that their expectations have dropped to about 37¢/watt. At this price, the cost of electricity from new solar PVs can be disruptive. [CleanTechnica]

Alaskan outhouse (Nick Bonzey, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ As expected, half of the power output from the proposed Burrillville, Rhode Island, fossil-fuel power plant was excluded from the recent power-purchase auction held by the operator of the New England power grid, ISO New England. The exclusion from the bidding was ultimately because of construction and permit delays. [ecoRI news]

¶ Spirits and wine producer Brown-Forman signed a 15-year deal with energy developer Infinity Renewables for 30 MW of power from a wind project that is now under construction in Kansas. The firm expects the power from the 474-MW Solomon Forks wind farm will provide for more than 90% of its US electricity needs. [www.businessgreen.com]

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February 11 Energy News

February 11, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Climate Change Threatens Neighborhoods of the Port of Providence” • In Providence, Rhode Island, rising seas, flood waters, and storm surge have potential to unleash buried and stored toxins along the working waterfront. Concerns about climate change have been met with reassurances that ignore the most important issues. [ecoRI news]

Providence skyline (Kenneth C Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ Cape Town is in the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. But there will soon be others. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress.” Here is a list of 11 cities likely to run out of water. [BBC]

World:

¶ The DBS bank will stop financing ‘dirty-coal’ or low-grade coal projects by the end of this year, though it will continue to support ventures in emerging markets that uses higher-quality coal, a top bank official said. The Singapore bank, which is rated among the largest in Asia, will also focus on funding renewable energy projects. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Cooling towers

¶ The CEO of Saudi Arabian utility developer ACWA Power said it expects to submit tenders for projects this year worth $4.5 billion in Saudi Arabia and will also target projects in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The company is looking to sell a 30% stake to investors and list in Riyadh, banking sources have told Reuters. [ArabianBusiness.com]

¶ Indian State-run power giant NTPC may borrow about ₹16,000 crore ($2.5 billion) next financial year for adding 6,900 MW of fresh electricity generation capacity by March 2019. NTPC is ramping up the share of renewables, especially solar, in its energy mix. Currently, renewables account for roughly 2% of its total energy portfolio. [Moneycontrol.com]

NTPC power plant

¶ Aker Solutions ASA, a Norwegian oil services company, invested in floating wind power technology company Principle Power. Their alliance expands Aker Solutions’ position in offshore oil and gas field engineering into the fast-growing market for windpower in sites where water had been too deep for development. [The Maritime Executive]

¶ Construction started on the 453-MW Adani Mine wind farm, which is due to be completed in 2019. The wind turbine project will produce 1.5 million MWh of renewable energy annually – enough to provide power for 260,000 homes. The Queensland Labour government is committed to a 50 % renewable energy target by 2030. [The Urban Developer]

Wind farm in Australia

¶ President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s military forces to divest themselves of assets related to oil, gas, and energy. This could mean a direct confrontation between ‘liberal’ forces under Rouhani and the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Khamenei forces, of which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the most battle hardened. [Oilprice.com]

¶ Westinghouse will extend nuclear fuel deliveries to seven of Ukraine’s fifteen nuclear power units to 2021–2025, in line with a contract signed between this firm and Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company Energoatom. Deliveries to Ukraine under the new deal are to begin immediately after the current contract expires in 2020. [OilPrice.com]

Crimea

US:

¶ President Donald Trump said in the State of the Union address that the administration has “ended the war on beautiful, clean coal,” but in Texas, that seems to be a losing battle. Texas said goodbye to 455 coal-mining jobs last year, and the new year began with the shut down of yet another coal-fired Texas power plant. [Jacksonville Daily Progress]

¶ When a tariff was applied to most imported solar panels, most installers worried about the future of their industry. Growth in the solar industry, which was robust before the tariff, may see decline, but for small-scale installers and homeowners, the impacts of the tariff may not be as dire as predicted. Connecticut provides examples. [theday.com]

The Mountain Ash Solar Farm (Sean D Elliot | The Day)

¶ Dandelion is trying to expand the market for geothermal heating by lowering the price, and it just got a big boost from the federal government. Congress voted to extend a 30% federal tax credit for geothermal heat pump installations. With the state incentives included, a $26,000 system in New York would be more competitive. [InsideClimate News]

¶ With the addition of a large wind power contract in January 2017, Columbia, Missouri, surpassed its 2017 year-end target for renewable energy use, according to a recently released draft of the city’s 2018 Renewable Energy Report. Last year, about 15.7% of the city’s electricity came from renewable sources, surpassing the 2018 goal. [Columbia Daily Tribune]

Ronnie Tennill inspecting a Jenbacher J320 engine at the City
of Columbia Biogas Energy Plant. (Don Shrubshell | Tribune)

¶ Utilities in Massachusetts have been given more time to decide whether to continue with the Northern Pass transmission project after New Hampshire regulators rejected it last week. The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts officials have extended a deadline for the state’s three big electric utilities to decide on their course of action. [Press Herald]

¶ A strong market, improving technology and expiring federal incentives have brought a renewable energy boom to McLean County, Illinois. After nearly a decade of dormancy, wind development has returned to the county in force in 2018, and a solar market is emerging as well. But that burst of activity might be short-lived. [Bloomington Pantagraph]

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February 10 Energy News

February 10, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ A research team at the University of Maryland has developed a wood-based material that can compete with steel in the strength category. The secret is compressing the wood after removing the lignin (the tough part that “glues” wood cells together). The remaining material is packed in so closely that it forms strong hydrogen bonds. [CleanTechnica]

Researchers Liangbing Hu and Teng Li (University of Maryland)

¶ Ionic Materials is focused on making a polymer it says will replace the liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries. Ionic raised $65 million in investment, which it will use to create a polymer production facility at its headquarters in Woburn, Massachusetts. Rather than making batteries itself, it will sell the polymer to battery manufacturers. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Thailand’s largest solar energy company, Superblock Pcl, plans to invest 56 billion baht ($1.76 billion) to install 700 MW of wind farms in Vietnam, the company’s Chairman Jormsup Lochaya told Reuters. The first phase of the investment will consist of three near-shore wind farms with a combined capacity of 330 MW in southern Vietnam. [DealStreetAsia]

Wind energy (Pixabay image)

¶ The Solar Energy Corporation of India floated a tender for the allocation of 2 GW of solar PV capacity. Prospective project developers are free to chose the location for the development of the projects. The maximum tariff allowed for bids is ₹2.93/kWh (¢4.6/kWh). The lowest current solar power tariff in India is ₹2.44/kWh (3.8¢/kWh). [CleanTechnica]

¶ Ørsted received environmental approval from the Taiwanese authorities for four offshore wind farms totalling 2.4 GW off the Asian island’s Changhua coast. With Environmental Protection Administration approval, the Danish company has secured exclusivity over the development of the four sites between 35 km and 60 km from shore. [reNews]

Ørsted offshore turbine (Ørsted image)

¶ According to Allied Market Research, the Global Renewable Energy Market was valued at $ 1,405,646 million in 2016, and is projected to reach at $2,152,903 million by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 4.9% from 2017 to 2025. The report indicates that in recent years, the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix is on a continuous rise. [Broadway World]

¶ India-headquartered solar EPC company Sterling and Wilson is to build a 54.3-MW solar PV plant in Zambia under the International Finance Corporation’s Scaling Solar program. The project will be the first utility-scale solar farm in Zambia, and the first under the Scaling Solar program to be built exclusively for grid connection. [pv magazine India]

Zambia’s Kafue District (Image: Dz217 | Wikipedia)

¶ New electricity cables across the Channel to France and Belgium will be a key part of keeping Britain’s lights on during winter in the early 2020s, after their owners won backup power subsidies in a government auction this week. Three new interconnectors are currently being built to Europe, almost doubling existing capacity. [The Guardian]

¶ At the Intercontinental Hotel in Zambian capital Lusaka, the GET FiT Zambian program today hosted its official launch. The program is to implement a renewables feed in tariff strategy, REFiT, in Zambia. REFiT provides an allocation of 200 MW to small and medium renewable energy projects up to a maximum size of 20 MW. [pv magazine International]

More Zambian landscape (Image: Harvey Barrison | Flickr)

US:

¶ The budget bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in the early hours of February 9 extends a host of tax credits for energy technologies, including provisions to help the Vogtle nuclear expansion in Georgia as well as US carbon-capture projects. The legislation also provides support for renewable energy. [POWER magazine]

¶ The makeup of the future electric generation mix will depend largely on the price of natural gas, according to new findings from the Energy Information Administration. The mix of fuels used to generate electricity changes in response to differences in the relative costs of electricity-generating technologies, including the cost of fuel. [Solar Industry]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Dartmouth College is engaging consultants at the investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore ways in which a private firm might finance, and even build, a new power plant to help meet the school’s renewable energy goals. Dartmouth College is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. [Valley News]

¶ Hawaiian Electric Cos said it will ask state regulators for approval to issue requests for proposals for development and construction of new renewable energy projects across its service territory. The utility seeks to procure 220 MW of renewable generation on Oahu, 60 MW on Maui, and 20 MW on the Big Island. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

Renewable energy in Hawaii (YangPhoto)

¶ Overall US energy consumption decreased slightly to 97.4 quadrillion BTU in 2016, a 0.3% decline from 2015. Compared to 2015, energy consumption increased in 2016 for renewables (+7.3%), natural gas (+3.8%), nuclear (+1.0%), and petroleum (+1.2%). Consumption from coal continued to decline, dropping by 8.5%. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The latest software release from Sunverge Energy makes it easier for electric utilities to use real-time data to better enable more comprehensive demand management while offering and co-optimizing both consumer and grid services. The additional features and enhancements to the company’s Virtual Power Plant platform. [AltEnergyMag]

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February 9 Energy News

February 9, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Economic collapse: The real message of the fall of Troy” • The fall and sack of the city of Troy at the hands of an avenging Greek army is one that has been told for some 3,000 years, but within that story are some clues to a much wider collapse of multiple civilizations. The events of that time have lessons for our own 21st Century. [BBC]

Fall of Troy (BBC | Wild Mercury)

¶ “Could plant-based plastics help tackle waste pollution?” • One company trying to eliminate plastics pollution is Biome Bioplastics. It developed a fully compostable and recyclable plastic using natural materials such as potato starch, corn starch, and cellulose, the main constituent of plant cell walls, instead of materials from oil. [BBC]

Science and Technology:

¶ Damless hydropower plants divert a section of the running body of water into a pipe that runs through a turbine. People at the Belgian company Turbulent believe that micro-hydropower plants could be important in the future of electric generation. Last year they built a 15-kW system that could be a model for distributed power generation [AZoCleantech]

Running river (Image: InnaVar | shutterstock)

¶ Last August, a team led by Mark Jacobson published a roadmap to a world powered by 100% renewable energy. That report got some pushback from a number of scientists who questioned its assumptions. Now, Jacobson and his colleagues have published a new report they believe thoroughly addresses the skeptics’ concerns. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ France added a record of almost 2.8 GW of new renewables capacity to the mainland grid in 2017, according to a report. It said 2,763 MW of new capacity was installed last year, with wind and solar representing 65% and 32% respectively. Total installed capacity of 48,685 MW takes France 94% of the way its 2018 target. [reNews]

French countryside

¶ China filed complaints with the World Trade Organization this week, seeking talks on compensation with the United States for the recent tariffs that President Donald Trump signed off on for imported solar cells and modules and washing machines. China claims the tariffs are inconsistent with two international trade agreements. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Latest quarterly data confirms continued strong performance for UK renewables sector. The renewables sector continued to perform strongly during the third quarter of last year, according to new official data, which shows that increased capacity and availability helped push its share of the electricity mix to 30%. [www.businessgreen.com]

UK onshore windpower (Credit: SSE)

¶ Wind overtook nuclear to become the UK’s second biggest power generator in January. Independent energy market monitoring specialists, EnAppSys, released data showing high wind generation has recently propelled wind energy to second from the top in the UK’s energy pecking order, after gas-fired power. [Power Engineering International]

¶ Renewables developers are celebrating after South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises unexpectedly signed off on power-purchase agreements, ending years of uncertainty for winners in the country’s renewable energy procurement program. The uncertainty had been made worse recently by financial troubles of state-owned utility Eskom. [Greentech Media]

Wind turbines in South Africa

¶ Germany’s coalition government partners have concluded an agreement that may set a final deadline for coal-fired power production in Germany, a report in Clean Energy Wire say. A commission will decide the timeline for phasing out coal, under a coalition deal agreed between the social democrats and Angela Merkel’s conservatives. [Energy Collective]

US:

¶ A Finnish company, Taaleri Energia, acquired its first US wind project, the 277-MW Truscott-Gilliland East Wind Project in Knox County, Texas. This represents approximately $350 million of investment in the North American renewable power sector. The project is planned to reach commercial operations by the end of 2019. [Windpower Engineering]

Wind turbines above the fog

¶ AT&T announced that it is buying a large amount of wind power from two wind farms with a combined capacity of 520 MW. The projects, in Texas and Oklahoma, will be operated by subsidiaries of Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources. The electricity they will generate is roughly the amount needed for a quarter-million homes. [Dallas News]

¶ The American Wind Energy Association and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition submitted comments to the Ohio Power Siting Board to oppose changes to a wind farm setback waiver process proposed by State Rep Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, saying they would be detrimental to the state’s wind industry. [North American Windpower]

Storm at a windfarm

¶ ISO New England, the non-profit organization that operates the region’s six-state power grid, announced that it had secured 34,828 MW of capacity to meet peak demand in the 2021-2022 season. The target was 33,725, leaving a 1,103-MW surplus. The forward capacity auction produced the lowest clearing price in five years. [MassLive.com]

¶ Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, who has previously denied that carbon dioxide is a key driver of climate change, suggested that global warming may be beneficial to humans. It is another departure from mainstream climate science, and his suggestion that warming temperatures could benefit civilization caused consternation among scientists. [Grist]

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February 8 Energy News

February 8, 2018

World:

¶ Yingli Green Energy (also known as Yingli Solar) announced that it had secured an agreement from Latin American-focused independent power producer Jenner Renewables to provide Engineering, Procurement, and Construction services for 12 ground-mounted PV plants in Chile. On completion, their total capacity will be 146 MW. [CleanTechnica]

Solar array

¶ Edinburgh start-up Gravitricity secured a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK to help with plans for energy storage projects at the sites of disused mines in Scotland. The technology would use weights of up to 2000 tonnes suspended in mine shafts by cables attached to winches. Energy is stored by raising the weights and released by lowering them. [reNews]

¶ Navigant Research has published new figures that show a total of 3.3 GW of new offshore wind energy capacity was installed worldwide in 2017, bringing the cumulative capacity up to almost 17 GW. There is an additional 7.9 GW in the pipeline. The figures appeared in the report, Offshore Wind Market and Project Assessment 2017. [CleanTechnica]

Ship at an offshore windfarm

¶ According to Mercom India Research, a record 9.5 GW of Indian solar power capacity was likely added in 2017, taking the total solar power capacity operational in India to over 20 GW. The figures do not match those of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Mercom attributes the figures to its “India Solar Project tracker.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ A community of Queensland farmers hopes a wind farm being built, the Coopers Gap project, will drought-proof their futures. Ten years in the making, it is set to be the southern hemisphere’s largest. A total of 123 turbines will be built across a dozen farm properties, and the landowners will benefit from leasing arrangements. [ABC Online]

Gullen Range wind farm (Photo: Gavin Coote | ABC Central West)

¶ Australia’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under increasing threat from climate change, a study warned. Some of the nation’s top natural wonders are in danger as temperatures and sea levels rise. The Climate Council report said carbon emissions are harming Australia’s beaches, national parks, and the Great Barrier Reef. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ AC Energy Holdings, Inc expects the investments for its solar power venture in Vietnam to reach around $300 million as the Ayala-led company ramps up spending for power generation projects this year. AC Energy had said the target capacity in Vietnam could increase by 300 MW, as it expects a cost of about $1 per watt. [InterAksyon]

An AC Energy solar farm

US:

¶ The National Solar Job Census 2017, published this week by The Solar Foundation found that the US solar industry employed 250,271 people in 2017. This is a 3.8% decline on 2016 figures, or around 9,800 fewer jobs. It was the first year that jobs have decreased since the Solar Foundation began publishing its census in 2010. [CleanTechnica]

¶ One of the most important reservoirs in the southwestern US will likely collect less than half its normal amount of spring runoff this year because of a warm, dry winter across much of the region, forecasters said. Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is expected to get 47% of its average inflow because of scant snow. [KDWN]

Drought in the American West

¶ For the fourth year in a row, new US electricity capacity from renewable sources surpassed those from natural gas. They accounted for nearly half of all new capacity additions, according to recent figures published by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Out of 24,614 MW of new capacity, 12,270 MW was renewable. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Moving toward renewable power, American Electric Power is planning to add 8.36 GW of new renewable capacity by 2030. Of this, 5,295 MW is wind power, including the 2 GW Wind Catcher project planned for Oklahoma, which will feature 800 GE 2.5-MW turbines. AEP also aims to develop 3,065 MW of new solar capacity. [reNews]

Farm with wind turbines (Pixabay image)

¶ Cash-strapped NRG Energy is selling its stakes in power generation and renewable divisions nationwide to raise $2.7 billion, the New Jersey utility company reported. Global Infrastructure Partners will buy NRG’s ownership in NRG Yield and its renewables platform for $1.375 billion in cash, according to reports. [Electric Light & Power]

¶ Data center company Switch will help create a 1-GW solar energy project in Nevada. It will be the largest solar array in the US, the company said. The huge project underscores both Switch’s commitment to 100% clean energy. It also showcases how the data center industry has taken a leadership role in sustainable energy. [Data Center Frontier]

Solar array supporting a data center (Photo: Rich Miller)

¶ Sierra Club San Diego launched a partnership with a local solar installer in what they say is a declaration of “war” against San Diego Gas & Electric’s use of non-renewable energy sources. For each Sierra Club member or supporter who signs up for an energy project, Sullivan Solar Power will donate $500 to the local chapter. [CBS 8 San Diego]

¶ NextEra Energy, parent of Florida Power and Light and owner of several US nuclear power stations, launched a lawsuit against the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s trade group, claiming extortion. Among other things, NextEra accused the NEI of trying to instill a false panic about the reliability of renewable energy sources. [OilPrice.com]

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February 7 Energy News

February 7, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Why a Big Utility Is Embracing Wind and Solar” • Imagine that first-class airline seats sell for less than the cramped seats in economy. So you fly first class to New York, where you discover that every dish in the best French restaurant is cheaper than the burger and fries down the street. Something rather like that is happening with electricity. [New York Times]

Spring Canyon Wind Farm outside Peetz, Colorado 
(Credit: Ryan David Brown | The New York Times)

¶ “Healing with solar in Puerto Rico” • More than four months after Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico, over 450,000 people are still without power. For critical facilities like hospitals, the lack of electricity has meant cutting services and relying on generators until power is restored. Solar power has an important role in healing. [One Step Off The Grid]

World:

¶ Last month, Brazil announced its intention to begin the process of becoming a full Member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, and this month the Agency has welcomed the country’s intentions, saying Brazil’s decision “reflects the country’s strong commitment to multilateralism and sustainable energy.” [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar system in Brazil

¶ ACWA Power announced that it had been awarded the rights to develop the 300-MW Skaka IPP PV solar project. The project is to be built in the Al Jouf region of Saudi Arabia and cover a site with an area of over 6 square kilometres. ACWA Power was awarded the project at a record-low tariff of 8.782 halala per kWh, or around 2.34¢/kWh. [CleanTechnica]

¶ European wind power enjoyed a record year in 2017, as more offshore capacity was installed than ever before. Europe’s wind power generation had a bumper 12 months last year, after 3,148 MW was installed at sea and connected to the grid, twice the total for 2016 and 4% higher than 2015, the year with the previous record high. [publics.bg]

Wind turbine in the mountains

¶ Tilt Renewables will build a 300-MW pumped-hydro plant at a quarry near Adelaide, South Australia. The site was picked because of its existing reservoir and road infrastructure, the company’s CEO said. The company also announced plans for a $90 million solar farm and 21-MW battery near Snowtown in the state’s mid-north. [Yahoo7 News]

¶ Underlying operating profit at Vattenfall’s wind power division more than doubled to Skr2.1 billion ($260 million) in 2017, from Skr0.9 billion in 2016. The Swedish company’s annual results reveal net sales from the segment also increased to Skr9.4 billion ($1.18 billion), from Skr6.7 billion. Much of the growth was from wind assets. [reNews]

Pen y Cymoedd wind farm in Wales (Vattenfall image)

¶ One of China’s biggest makers of solar panels, Longi Solar Technology Ltd, said it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against a rising threat of import controls in the US and other markets. New US tariffs are to be applied against solar panels from most producing countries, but not India’s. [PennEnergy]

¶ As debate rages in Queensland over Adani’s controversial coal mine, the state is seeing a quiet start of construction of Australia’s largest wind farm. Due to be completed in 2019, the 453-MW wind project will produce 1.5 million MWh annually, as the state government moves towards a 50% renewable energy target by 2030. [Bendigo Advertiser]

Site of wind farm to be built in Queensland

¶ The Tokyo District Court ordered TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to pay ¥1.1 billion ($10.1 million) to 321 plaintiffs who claimed they had suffered psychological damage from losing their livelihoods in the Kodaka district of the city of Minamisoma. They had sought ¥11 billion. [The Japan Times]

¶ Far North Queensland is set to get another wind farm, after a 100-MW project got the green light from the state government for construction on the Cape York Peninsula. The project will include up to 30 wind turbines as well as electrical infrastructure. It will generate enough power to supply more than 50,000 homes. [RenewEconomy]

Collgar Wind Farm in Western Australia (Windlab image)

US:

¶ The Narragansett Bay Commission, operator of two wastewater treatment plants in Rhode Island, decided to turn the byproducts of wastewater treatment into energy, according to Jamie Samons, public affairs manager of the Bay Commission. Within the next month, a biogas generation facility will begin to convert waste into power. [The Brown Daily Herald]

¶ SpaceX’s big new rocket has blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red Tesla sports car which it released into orbit. The Falcon Heavy rocket rose from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA to send men to the moon. Falcon Heavy cut costs by returning the three main-stage boosters back to Earth to be reused. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Two booster rockets returning to Earth for reuse (Photo: SpaceX)

¶ Rhode Island Gov Gina Raimondo wants to ramp up the amount of renewable energy flowing to electric customers. Raimondo set a state target of 400 MW of new wind, solar, biomass, and small-scale hydropower by the end of summer. Rhode Island has promised to meet the carbon-reduction goals of the Paris Accord. [ecoRI news]

¶ Standard Solar, Inc announced it will finance a 9.8-MW solar project to provide power to the City of Gallup, one of the largest municipally-owned utilities in New Mexico. The single-axis tracker array is expected to generate more than 20 million kWh of power annually providing nearly 10% of the city’s energy use. [pv magazine USA]

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February 6 Energy News

February 6, 2018

World:

¶ Cape Town officials pushed back their projections for the day the South African city’s taps are expected to run dry from April 16 to May 11, citing a decline in agricultural water use. The farming sector, which uses the same supply system the city draws its water from, has already used its allotment, so there will be a drop over the coming weeks. [CNN]

Cape Town residents queue for water (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

¶ In a push to become one of China’s top auto makers, Nissan will pump 60 billion yuan ($9.5 billion) into its operations there over the next 5 years, company execs have revealed. The plan will reportedly focus on plug-in electric vehicles with the intention being to boost local sales volume to 2.6 million vehicles a year by 2022. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Official statistics report that grid-connected PV capacity in Chile reached 1.82 GW by the end of 2017, but the completion of two large-scale projects totaling 215 MW in early January raised Chile’s total installed power to around 2.04 GW. There are 281 MW of solar PV power plants currently under construction in Chile. [pv magazine International]

Javiera PV plant in northern Chile (Image: NEXTracker)

¶ Speaking to parliament, the French foreign affairs minister made his country’s stand on the US decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement quite clear: “One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ The renewables arm of General Electric Co announced that it signed a deal to supply turbines for a 360-MW portion of Engie SA’s Umburanas wind project in Brazil. Under the terms of the contract, GE Renewable Energy will deliver 144 units of its 2.5-116 turbines for the project, which is in the northeastern part of the country. [Renewables Now]

Wind farm

¶ Google announced plans to build a data center in Belgium that will have an on-site solar farm for energy generation. Google expects the data center to come online in mid-2019. The solar farm’s construction began in March of 2017, and it is already in operation. Its 10,665 solar panels can generate 2.9 GWh of energy per year. [Decentralized Energy]

¶ Installed offshore wind capacity in Europe grew 25% last year to 15.8 GW, an increase of 3.1 GW on 2016, according to figures released by WindEurope. The UK installed 1.7 GW, and Germany installed 1.3 GW. There are now more than 4000 offshore wind turbines operating in waters of 11 countries in Europe, the wind industry body added. [reNews]

Offshore windpower (reNews image)

¶ Vietnam is accelerating the construction of solar power plants to make up for an anticipated power shortfall due to the recent cancellation of several nuclear power projects. A conglomerate, Thien Tan Group, plans to build five large solar power plants in the southern province of Ninh Thuan at a cost of $2 billion by 2020. [VnExpress International]

¶ Innogy, owner and developer of the planned £2 billion ($2.8 billion) Triton Knoll wind farm off the coast of eastern England, is looking for partners to get it off the ground. The 860-MW  project has drawn interest from a number of infrastructure and pension funds. Though fewer offshore projects are being built, investor interest is growing. [ETEnergyworld.com]

European offshore windpower (Getty Images)

US:

¶ Wind power is forecast to surpass hydroelectricity for the first time as the nation’s top source of renewable electricity sometime in the next year, the Energy Information Administration said. The sector is expected to produce 6.4% of utility-scale electricity in 2018, and 6.9% in 2019, propelled by a construction boom of new turbines. [TCT]

¶ New York State has seen 1,000% growth in solar power since 2011, Governor Cuomo announced. Between December 2011 and December 2017, the growth was possible because of more than $2.8 billion in private investment into the state’s clean energy economy. According to Cuomo, the growth also fueled 12,000 jobs across New York. [WGRZ-TV]

Rooftop PV construction (Lucas Braun, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ GM appears to have adopted a new market strategy, which would be to split itself into two components. One would manufacture electric and autonomous cars in China for world markets, and the other would continue to double down on huge fossil-fueled trucks and SUVs for the domestic market, with new offerings to arrive in 2019. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A bipartisan group of New Hampshire lawmakers wants Gov Chris Sununu to support another big power line in the state, now that the future of the Northern Pass project is in doubt. They support National Grid’s Granite State Power Link, a competitor to Northern Pass that is still in the early stages of development. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

New Hampshire power line (NHPR photo)

¶ A number of Fortune 500 companies are driving the demand for renewable energy, and they are calling for a major upgrade to the country’s energy transmission lines. A report by the Wind Energy Foundation details renewable energy commitments by large corporations willing to purchase 60 GW of renewable energy by 2025. [KGWN]

¶ Squaw Valley is teaming up with Liberty Utilities and Tesla, with a plan for the ski resort to go off the grid and use 100% renewable energy. The Olympic Valley Microgrid Project would use state-of-the-art battery storage technology to create a new way to store surplus energy and deliver that stored energy to the utility’s grid. [KTVN]

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February 5 Energy News

February 5, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Why climate deniers target women” • Harassment is no stranger to the reporters, researchers and policymakers who work on climate change, but it is particularly severe for the women in those fields. Research into public understanding of climate change reveals an important link between sexism and climate denial. [eco-business.com]

2017 Women’s March (Image: Ted Eytan, CC BY 2.0)

¶ “How To Keep The Power On For A Booming Population” • Since 2000, Washington, DC’s population has surged, but its power grid has not. The city added renewable capacity instead of generators. It upgraded aged structures. It kept the lights on and costs down for the city’s poorest residents. Here is an interview telling how it was done. [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ We have heatwaves more often and researchers are responding with practical climate strategies. Potential techniques for climate engineering include planting crop varieties bred to be lighter in color, use of more reflective mulch, leaving lighter stubble on cropped land, and use of no-till practices that have soil absorb less heat. [North Queensland Register]

Lighter colored land

World:

¶ South Australia’s project to install solar power and batteries on 50,000 homes started with a call for proposals for innovation in renewables and storage. Tesla’s submission was a virtual power plant with 250 MW of solar PVs and 650 MWh of battery storage. The new project will be the largest virtual power plant in the world. [Interesting Engineering]

¶ A fast growing market for solar products is driving an energy revolution in Ethiopia. But with high taxes, high interest rates, and a lack of foreign exchange, the state approved market sector is struggling to sell products. The black market, on the other hand, is thriving and operates with sales an order of magnitude greater. [CleanTechnica]

Ethiopian market

¶ GE is teaming up with Arenko Group to build grid-scale energy storage projects in the UK. Arenko has invested in a 41-MW battery energy storage system supplied by GE in the Midlands. The project will be operational later this year. The aim is to provide flexibility and a more balanced energy system, the partners said. [reNews]

¶ The Cuba Sustainable Energy Forum 2018 was held on January 30 and 31. It provided a platform for the Cuban authorities to present the country’s sustainable energy and foreign investment opportunities, and for the EU to showcase renewable energy technologies, lessons learnt, and financing instruments available to Cuba. [Modern Diplomacy]

Cuban renewable energy

¶ Thailand’s biggest wind power generator, Wind Energy Holdings, plans to invest into other sources of electricity including solar, hydro, and biomass, its CEO told Reuters. Thailand has emerged as Southeast Asia’s leading developer of renewable electricity, with providers obliged to guarantee minimum levels of supply. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Four famous Sikh shrines in Delhi will go green by employing solar energy to meet their daily power needs from April. They will be provided with 3,125 rooftop solar panels having a total of 1 MW capacity. The expectation is that they will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 30,000 tons over a period of 20 years. [Millennium Post]

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi

¶ Last summer, the Belgian government revealed that seventy new cracks had been discovered in the boiler of the country’s Tihange 2 nuclear reactor. Though its people are alarmed, Germany is powerless to do anything about nuclear plants just across its borders, which pose the same safety risks to German citizens as domestic plants would. [Forbes]

US:

¶ Lake Tahoe’s iconic Squaw Valley ski resort and its sister resort Alpine Meadows plan to go 100% renewable by the end of this year and get a cleaner, more reliable and resilient grid, all at no added cost. Only weeks have passed since another major ski resort operator, Vail Resorts of Colorado, announced a goal of zero net emissions by 2030. [GreenBiz]

Squaw Valley

¶ As the coal industry continues to decline, many former fossil fuel workers across the US are training for new careers in renewable energy. In Casper, Wyoming, Goldwind Americas runs Goldwind Works as a wind energy technician training program that teaches former fossil fuel workers to operate and maintain wind technology. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Controlled Thermal Resources, an energy company from Australia, wants to develop 1,000 MW of electricity in the Mojave Desert over the next decade. And for a state that’s aiming to get half its electricity from renewable sources, that’s no small number. The geothermal potential of the area has been known for a long time. [WBUR]

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February 4 Energy News

February 4, 2018

Worth Reading:

¶ “This farmer gave 600 homes cheap electricity that the power company couldn’t” • At first, he was mocked by his family and neighbors for being “crazy,” but now, even the national electric company wants to buy his DIY hydro-power operation. It all began with a dream to give his remote Indonesian village a better life. [Channel NewsAsia]

The village of Andungbiru

Science and Technology:

¶ A report from the World Resources Institute and the Nature Conservancy says governments around the world have made commitments to reviving nearly 400 million acres of wilderness . As countries push to regrow forests, startups are dreaming up new and faster ways to plant trees. For some innovators that means using drones. [CleanTechnica]

¶ It appears that polar bears are being pushed to extinction faster than had been thought. An increasing number of polar bears cannot catch enough prey to feed them, researchers reported in the journal Science. The animals need to travel farther to get their food and require 1.6 times more energy than was estimated in the 1990s. [Deutsche Welle]

Polar bear

¶ A study led by researchers of the University of Texas at Austin addressed how the impacts of La Niña may change from the first winter to the second for double-dip La Niñas like this one. They found evidence that the North Pacific atmospheric circulation anomalies and US drought strengthen in the second winter of a double-dip La Niña. [Sierra Sun Times]

¶ Earth-sheltered homes are built with soil or substrate to provide insulation and various climate control properties. They can offer significant advantages over conventional approaches for reducing heating and cooling needs, and they have little indoor temperature variation. They are also resistant to high winds and storms. [CleanTechnica]

Earth-sheltered home (Derek Harper, Creative Commons)

World:

¶ A scheme to support small-scale solar energy generation in Irish homes will be rolled out this summer, a government minister announced. Grants will given be for roof-mounted solar PV panels. They will support “self consumption” of electricity in domestic properties, meaning that energy generated will not be fed into the national grid. [Irish Times]

¶ South Australia’s state premier Jay Weatherill announced a plan to create a network of 50,000 home solar systems backed by Tesla Powerwall batteries, ahead of a state election in March. The 5-kW solar PV panel installations and 13.5-kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 batteries are to be installed at no charge to the households that participate. [The Nation]

Jay Weatherill touring the Hornsdale battery system

¶ As the federal government of Nigeria moves to confront the endemic power crisis, there are strong indications that the decentralised mini-grid approach, will be widely adopted. It could get the 43% of Nigerians without access to electricity out of darkness as efforts intensify on a power sector reform agenda through 2018. [Leadership Newspapers]

¶ Indian companies and authorities are coming under pressure to step up efforts to fight climate change amid rapidly rising concerns about the implications of carbon emissions for the economy, following the revelation that India is one of the three worst offending countries when it comes to environmental performance. [The National]

Polluted cities (Altaf Qadri | AP)

¶ Lethal levels of radiation have been observed inside Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, possibly much higher levels than you might expect. According to TEPCO, radiation measured at eight Sieverts per hour have been discovered within the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was destroyed in March  of 2011. [Sputnik International]

US:

¶ After New Hampshire’s Northern Pass was unanimously rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, a Vermont-based electrical transmission project says it is ready to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy needs. The TDI-New England’s Clean Power Link, through Lake Champlain and Vermont, is fully permitted. [Caledonian Record]

Lake Champlain (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Climate activists rallied in Annapolis to support legislation requiring the state of Maryland to use 100% renewable energy by 2035. The event was attended by state legislators and grassroots activists alike. They called for an end to the use of fossil fuels and a switch to “green energy” sources to combat climate change. [The Western Journal]

¶ Over the last 15 years, Seattle has had more extreme rain, according to a newly published study by Seattle Public Utilities officials. They say the weather is a climate-change preview. One SPU meteorologist said, “For years, people have been saying, ‘I think the rain is getting worse around here,’ and now the data shows that.” [Seattle Times]

Heavy rain in Seattle (Steve Ringman | The Seattle Times)

¶ Gov Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York state will invest $24 million into power transmission projects headed by the New York Power Authority. The money will go toward a pair of transmission improvement projects at NYPA’s St Lawrence-Franklin D Roosevelt Power Project, which is powered by a dam in Massena. [WatertownDailyTimes.com]

¶ The White House plans to withdraw its controversial nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, according to two administration officials. One of them said that Hartnett White’s nomination had failed to gather momentum as some Senate Republicans raised questions about her expertise. [messenger-inquirer]

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February 3 Energy News

February 3, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “The end of energy scarcity” • Suddenly, the internet has brought the end of information scarcity. Similarly, the switch to renewable energy will, I believe, bring us to the quick and final end of energy scarcity. Once fully implemented over the next decade or two, or three, it will spell the end of energy scarcity. [Alaska Highway News]

Solar arrays in Hudson’s Hope, northeastern British Columbia

World:

¶ Numbers for Australia’s renewable energy installations in 2017 were outstanding, and PV installations produced what were called “eye watering charts.” The latest tally from PV market analysts SunWiz has revealed a record smashing total so far of 1.25 GW of solar PV installed across the year, eclipsing the former record set in 2012. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Delivery drones are proving their worth in the developing world. To have a drone infrastructure work in real life, electricity supply must be stable, and wireless communication must be very reliable. But that is becoming the norm many places on Earth earlier classified as off-grid. Drones can often deliver vital goods very efficiently. [CleanTechnica]

Vertical take-off and landing drone (Pexels image)

¶ The Indian Budget includes a ₹1,40,000 crore (sic, $21 billion) scheme to solarize agricultural pumps and encourage use of barren land for solar plants, according to the power and renewable energy minister. The scheme envisions setting up 10,000 MW of solar plants on barren lands and distributing 1.75 million solar pumps. [Economic Times]

¶ A major coal power station in Yorkshire will close at the end of September after it failed to secure a government subsidy to provide backup power next winter. Losing out on a capacity market contract sounded the death knell for Eggborough coal-burning plant, which supplies 1.96-GW, enough power for about 2 million homes. [The Guardian]

A major coal plant

¶ Indian Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said his country should strive for 50% of its power generation capacity from renewable sources by 2030 on the back of technological advancements in solar and wind energy. He also said the country is set to exceed the target of 175 GW in renewable energy and touch 200 GW by 2022. [The Hindu]

¶ Lynne Brown, South African Public Enterprises Minister has announced her approval of Eskom’s application to purchase increased amounts of renewable energy from Independent Power Producers. Minister Brown says South Africans ought to feel proud about progress made in adding renewable energy to the energy mix. [BizNis Africa]

Wind turbines

¶ Cuba is feeling the effects of both reduced deliveries of oil from Venezuela and climate change, with rising seas and more severe storms. Havana just hosted its first Renewable Energy Business Forum, attracting companies from 16 countries. Cuba’s goal is to increase its output of renewable energy from just over 4% today to 24% by 2030. [CGTN America]

US:

¶ A New York-based energy project built on blockchain, a distributed ledger or database, is currently attempting to create peer-to-peer marketplaces for distributed energy. As the global energy market is still trapped in a previous era and needs an urgent and thorough redesign, the Brooklyn Microgrid could be a game changer. [CleanTechnica]

Solar system in Brooklyn

¶ In Washington state, a version of Gov Jay Inslee’s carbon-tax proposal took a key step forward as lawmakers approved the legislation in a vote of the state Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. It passed out of committee on a 6-to-4 vote. The bill must go through other committees before it reaches the full legislature. [Seattle Times]

¶ Thompson Elementary School in Highland Park, Michigan, has been vacant for 20 years. It is a shell of a building, reflecting the economic troubles of the city overall. But now, there is a plan for it. The proposed Parker Village project will convert the school into a community center surrounded by energy efficient, net-zero homes. [Michigan Radio]

Parker Village community center (Rendering: Parker Village HP)

¶ Reduced state incentives and new US trade tariffs are likely to speed the decline of small and medium-sized solar power installations, trade group Renewable Energy Vermont said. The number of new net-metered PV panels declined by 50% last year, REV reported, citing data from the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. [BurlingtonFreePress.com]

¶ Exxon Mobil Corp has reported that it expects global oil demand to drop sharply by 2040 if regulations aimed at limiting the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate are fully implemented. Under this scenario, Exxon projected world oil consumption will drop 0.4% annually to 2040 to 25% below current levels. [The Star Online]

Exxon Desert Tanker (Image: azrainman, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ One of the oldest nuclear power plants in the country will be shutting down more than a year ahead of schedule. Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear utility, said that it would shut down the Oyster Creek power station in New Jersey in October of 2018, more than a year ahead of schedule. The plant is licensed to run until 2029. [Washington Examiner]

¶ In a report to Connecticut legislators, the state’s energy officials recommended that the Millstone nuclear power station be allowed to offer further evidence of financial distress. The plant’s owners hope that a new procurement process could enhance its profitability. Millstone is the state’s biggest source of zero-carbon electricity. [Hartford Business]

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February 2 Energy News

February 2, 2018

¶ Agroforestry, an agricultural system that combines trees with crops and livestock on the same plot of land, could play an important role in mitigating climate change because it sequesters more atmospheric carbon in plant parts and soil than farming with conventional methods, according to researchers at Penn State. [Science Daily]

Alley cropping walnut and soybeans in Missouri (USDA photo)

World:

¶ Danish developer Ørsted has fully commissioned its 573-MW Race Bank offshore wind farm in the UK North Sea. They hit the commissioning landmark in January following a 200-hour testing period and the project is now generating at full capacity. The work of installing the project’s 91 Siemens Gamesa 6.3-MW turbines began last May. [reNews]

¶ Chile will phase out coal power generation, president Michelle Bachelet declared. A working group will develop a plan to replace existing coal capacity. The fuel generated 35% of the South American country’s electricity in 2015. As of December 2017, the UK and Canada had signed up 24 other countries to end use of coal. [The Wire]

Replacing coal (Credit: Miguel MS | Flickr)

¶ Battery storage won 97.5 MW of T-1 capacity market contracts for delivery next winter from UK transmission system operator National Grid. Winning projects include VLC Energy’s facilities in Cleator in Cumbria and Glassenbury in Kent, which won 2.1-MW and 8.5-MW contracts respectively. One other contract winner will use compressed air storage. [reNews]

¶ Global heavy lift provider ALE has announced the successful completion of a project to deliver and install seven transformers, weighing approximately 225 tonnes each, for the NordLink Project in Tonstad, Norway. ALE described the mountainous route, for which it used 26-axle conventional trailers, as technically challenging. [KHL Group]

Transporting a 255 ton transformer

¶ The Australian government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee would fail in almost all of its stated goals, and would only benefit the owners of coal-fired power generators, a stinging report prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation has found. It would even fail on its core goal of boosting power system reliability. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Renewables are on a pretty hot run in Australia. Over 800 MW of utility-scale renewables have been confirmed in the past six weeks. That includes wind farms of 135-MW in New South Wales, a 225-MW in Victoria, and solar farms of 200-MW in Victoria and 250-MW in New South Wales. And these are just the larger installations. [RenewEconomy]

Renewable power

¶ Early results of the feasibility study of the undersea power grid linking Morocco and Portugal appear promising. The inter-continental electricity link could be operational by 2020, at a total cost of €700 million. With a capacity of 1000 MW, it will help create a regional energy hub and increase regional energy independence. [The North Africa Post]

US:

¶ With 2,200 stores, Home Depot is one of the largest retailers in America. By July of this year, 800 of those stores will have high-profile displays advertising Tesla products in them. Staffed by Tesla employees, the products they are to feature include Tesla’s solar panels, rooftop solar systems, and the Powerwall storage batteries. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Powerwall

¶ New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee voted 7-0 to reject an application for the Northern Pass project, which would have provided clean energy to Massachusetts but was seen as an eyesore by critics who feared it would tarnish scenic views and damage New Hampshire’s tourism industry. The rejection was not expected. [Yahoo News Canada]

¶ The Trump administration has made an unexpected announcement with potentially dramatic consequences for the California desert. It said it will reconsider an Obama-era conservation plan that blocks energy development across millions of acres and encourages solar and wind farms only in more limited areas. [The Desert Sun]

Joshua tree (Gooniesgrl4evr, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Argonne National Labs and the sustainable energy NGO Energy Vision released two case studies assessing the results of pioneering projects that were among the first to make renewable compressed natural gas vehicle fuel. They made the fuel by using anaerobic digesters and capturing the biogas from decomposing organic waste. [MENAFN.COM]

¶ A number of companies are trying to bring small nuclear reactors to market. In January, the NRC ruled that the design of the NuScale reactor, which relies on air circulation for cooling, is sufficiently safe that it does not need the expensive emergency pumps and backup electrical systems required of conventional reactors. [Los Angeles Times]

Reactor prototype (Keith Schneider | Los Angeles Times)

¶ Building on its earlier announcements about a new hydrogen fuel cell powered Class 8 semi truck, and having 8,000 pre-orders, Nikola Motor Company unveiled plans to develop a $1 billion manufacturing facility near Phoenix, Arizona. Once completed, it will be one of the world’s largest plants making semi trucks. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Two more US nuclear power plants are facing early retirement, joining a string of generators whose fate was determined by market conditions, political pressure, or financial stresses hitting the sector. They are the Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Iowa, and the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio. Several others may be poised to join them. [POWER magazine]

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February 1 Energy News

February 1, 2018

World:

¶ Lewis Wind Power is preparing to take part in the remote islands segment of Contracts for Difference auctions due to be held in spring 2019. The company, a joint venture of EDF and Wood, opened an office in Stornoway to spearhead community liaison for the 160-MW Uisenis and 180-MW Stornoway projects in Scottish waters. [reNews]

Canna Island in the Hebrides (Credit: Mi9)

¶ Recently, the Spanish government issued a “royal decree” that would allow it to overrule any decision to shutter a coal-burning power plant, on the pretext that they are needed to ensure the country has an adequate supply of electricity. The country’s energy regulator, however, has ruled that it will be unnecessary to keep all of them open. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Japanese company Eco Marine Power is moving ahead with plans to equip ocean-going cargo ships with rigid sails embedded with solar panels. Called Energy sails, they will allow the ships to take advantage of both wind and solar power at sea and while in port to provide emissions-free loading and unloading energy capability. [CleanTechnica]

Eco Marine Power system

¶ German conglomerate Siemens AG said its quarterly profit dropped at its core industrial division as a global switch to renewable energy ate into its gas-and-oil business. The industrial division, which makes traditional power-generation equipment such as gas turbines, recorded a 14% drop in profit in the three months to December 31. [Fox Business]

¶ Ireland is expected to hold its maiden renewable electricity auction in 2019, according to Denis Naughten, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. Ireland is estimated to have reached a renewables share in electricity of 31%-33% in 2017. The auction will help as it works towards a 2020 goal of 40%. [Renewables Now]

The Galway wind farm (Image: SSE)

¶ The number of people employed in Scotland’s offshore wind sector increased by 300% to 2000 in 2016, according to data from the UK government. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, the Scottish onshore sector supported 8000 jobs. But the number of people employed in solar power in Scotland fell from 2000 to 500. [reNews]

¶ Children at two New South Wales schools started the school year in modular classrooms powered by renewable energy. The classrooms, powered entirely by solar energy, were developed by New South Wales company Hivve Technology Pty Ltd with $368,115 in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. [pv magazine Australia]

Hivve modular classroom (Image: Hivve Technology)

¶ Korean President Moon Jae-in promised to speed up the country’s use and development of clean, renewable energy, partly to support local manufacturers of solar panels recently hit by US safeguard measures. The fresh pledge came during his visit to a production facility of a local solar panel maker, Hanwha Q Cells. [Yonhap News]

US:

¶ A market report released by the American Wind Energy Association confirmed that Oklahoma has become the nation’s Number 2 wind power state. The data in the association’s report said Oklahoma had 7,495 MW of installed wind power capacity at the end of 2017, putting the state behind only Texas, which boasts 22,637 MW of capacity. [NewsOK.com]

Oklahoma wind turbines (Photo: USGS, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit in Maine’s Superior Court in response to Gov Paul LePage’s recent executive order imposing a moratorium on new wind project permits, as well as creating what CLF calls a “secretive commission” to make recommendations on wind power development. [North American Windpower]

¶ Vigor, based in Portland, Oregon, will build a wave energy converter for Ocean Energy Group, of Cobh, Ireland, and its subsidiary, Ocean Energy USA. With a 31′ draft, the OE Buoy will be deployed at the US Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site on the windward coast of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu in the fall of 2018. [WorkBoat]

OE Buoy wave converter (Vigor photo)

¶ New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy signed an executive order that will direct state agencies to implement the 2010 Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act to meet a goal of 3,500 MW of off-shore wind energy by 2030. The executive order will make New Jersey the national leader for off-shore wind commitments. [Environment America]

¶ EDF Renewable Energy announced the 200-MW Red Pine Wind Project in Minnesota is fully operational and delivering electricity. Red Pine has 100 Vestas wind turbines, and its 200-MW capacity is sufficient to meet the consumption of 92,000 average Minnesota homes, according to the Energy Information Administration. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Wind farm

¶ The Trump administration is reportedly seeking a 72% cut to the budget of Department of Energy programs related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. It will ask for $575.5 million, down from $2.04 billion in the fiscal year. Last year, Trump sought $636.1 million in spending for the office, a figure Congress rejected. [The Hill]

¶ With pressure mounting, the South Carolina House voted Wednesday to temporarily halt $37 million in monthly payments to SCANA, threatening a proposed takeover by Dominion Energy. State representatives overwhelmingly supported a bill that relieves customers from paying for two useless nuclear reactors at VC Summer station. [Charleston Post Courier]

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