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)


¶ 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]


¶ 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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