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)


¶ 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]


¶ 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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