Archive for March, 2018

March 31 Energy News

March 31, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “How Well Did Wind Energy Perform During the Bomb Cyclone?” • Extreme weather events offer opportunities to take stock of our power system. Earlier this year, much of the US faced one of these trials, as the “Bomb Cyclone” blasted the East with frigid air for days. What we saw was a power system holding strong. [EcoWatch]

Proposed Vineyard Wind project (Vineyard Wind image)

¶ “Will We Ever Harness Fusion Power?” • Scientists have been chasing fusion energy since the early 20th century as a source of safe, clean, and virtually unlimited power source. They have yet to find a way to capture and sustain the energy produced in any viable manner. But MIT claims to have a way to move forward on fusion. [Electronic Design]

Science and Technology:

¶ The Sahara, the world’s largest desert, has grown in size by around 10% since 1920. Scientists say climate change is one of the most likely reasons why the sands are shifting into new regions. This expansion of dry and arid landscapes is going on elsewhere around the world, based on variations in weather patterns and rising temperatures. [ScienceAlert]

Sahara Desert (Photo: Îll55shadows, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Indian automobile manufacturers, working in collaboration with government entities, are pushing for clean transportation options because of increased pollution and high petroleum import bill. India’s largest fuel retailer, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, launched the country’s first-ever hydrogen fuel cell-based bus in New Delhi. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Canadian province of Alberta is seeking proposals for the procurement of 700 MW of renewable energy capacity as part of a plan to reach 30% renewable power from renewables by 2030. The Alberta Electric System Operator invited Expressions of Interest for Rounds 2 and 3 of the state’s Renewable Energy Programme. [Renewables Now]

Bull Creek (BluEarth Renewables Inc, All Rights Reserved)

¶ Japanese retail giant AEON this week became the 131st member of a growing international collective of corporates pledging to move to 100% renewable energy. The RE100 campaign counts the likes of IKEA, Bank of America, eBay, and the BMW Group among the leading brands that have committed to 100% green energy. [Innovators Magazine]

¶ The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian state-owned electricity firm PLN plans to boost its geothermal power generation by setting up a new subsidiary to manage geothermal development. The new subsidiary, PLN GG, is planned to develop geothermal projects on eight working areas with an expected potential of around 300 MW. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Darajat Unit I (source: wienblog-growingtree | blogspot)

¶ TEPCO announced the launch of TRENDE Inc, an online renewable energy retailer selling electricity to residential customers in Japan. Customers will be able to sign up online or with their smartphones for the new service. TRENDE offers a simple and affordable flat rate plan to its customers. TEPCO also offers other plans. [AltEnergyMag]

US:

¶ Southern Power has launched commercial operations at its 20-MW Gaskell West 1 solar park in California. The PV park is in Kern County and is powered by around 85,710 Canadian Solar modules. The plant will sell its output and associated renewable energy credits to Southern California Edison under a 20-year contract. [Renewables Now]

Solar farm (Image: Recurrent Energy)

¶ Since Volkswagen’s diesel cheating scandal broke in 2015, it has taken a $25 billion hit in the US alone. Part of that is for fines imposed by various government regulators, and part of it is the cost of buying back 300,000 of the more than 500,000 diesel cars it sold in America after 2008. Storing all those cars is a problem in itself. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Ohio-based utility giant FirstEnergy wants the DOE to bail out its uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, along with all other ailing plants in the 13-state PJM Interconnection region. They claimed plant closings would threaten grid resilience. Federal regulators and many, many experts agree there is no imminent threat to the electric grid. [Environmental Defense Fund]

Coal plant (Public domain)

¶ A coalition of strange bedfellows came together to urge Energy Secretary Rick Perry to reject the request First Energy made for emergency relief for its ailing coal and nuclear fleet. The groups signing the letter included the American Council on Renewable Energy, American Petroleum Institute, and many other energy organizations. [Washington Examiner]

¶ With the hours winding down for FirstEnergy Solutions to repay its $98.9 million senior unsecured bond that matures on Monday, all signs point toward the power generating subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp filing soon for bankruptcy protection. FirstEnergy has warned about the possibility since November 2016. [Akron Beacon Journal]

Perry nuclear plant (AP Photo | Mark Duncan)

¶ DTE Energy Co is proposing new wind and solar projects in Michigan that would double the utility’s renewable energy capacity. The plan includes $1.7 billion in investments and would increase DTE’s renewable energy capacity by 2022 from 1,000 MW to 2,000 MW. That is enough clean energy to power over 800,000 homes. [ABC 12 News]

¶ A central Texas town that already uses 100% renewable energy is working out a plan to generate more electricity locally so it can stop buying power to meet demand. The city of Georgetown wants to start paying property owners to let the city-owned utility install solar panels on their roofs and feed the energy into the grid. [Big Country Homepage]

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March 30 Energy News

March 30, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “As China’s nuclear power industry flounders, should India and Pakistan take note?” • As countries around the world abandoned nuclear power, China had bucked the trend, embracing nuclear power as a reliable and cheap energy source that would help reduce air pollution. Now nuclear development in China is floundering. [Scroll.in]

Chinese nuclear plant

World:

¶ According to data released by the federal government agencies, more than 93% of the power generation capacity added in India between October and December 2017 was renewable. This marks a continuation in the trend seen in the third quarter last year when just over 92% of the power generation capacity added in India was renewable. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Mining giant Rio Tinto sold its last coal mine in Australia to the private equity manager EMR Capital and to the Indonesia-based Adaro Energy Tbk for $2.25 billion. Regulatory approval for the sale of Rio Tinto’s 80% stake in the Kestrel mine is anticipated, and the sale is expected to be completed by the second half of the year. [CleanTechnica]

Kestrel coal mine

¶ A South African court dismissed a bid to block $4.7 billion (R11.86 billion) in renewable power contracts, an energy ministry spokeswoman said, removing an obstacle to the first major investment deal under President Cyril Ramaphosa. The court in Pretoria said the legal application by Numsa and Transform RSA should be set aside. [Moneyweb.co.za]

¶ A deposit return scheme for single-use plastic drink bottles will be introduced this year in the UK, with the idea being to improve the rate of plastic bottle recycling and thus to reduce litter. The new plans echo some of those put into place in recent years in a number of other countries in the region and elsewhere in the world. [CleanTechnica]

Bottled drinks on sale

¶ Renewables met the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland last year, compared to 54% in 2016, according to the Scottish government. Renewable electricity generation in Scotland rose 26% year-on-year to 24.8 TWh and set a new record, exceeding the previous annual record year in 2015 by 14%. [Renewables Now]

¶ India’s largest power generation company, NTPC Limited, is predominantly dependent on thermal power. It has issued its first federal-level wind energy tender, which is to auction 2 GW of wind energy capacity across India. The tender is very similar to the ones floated by the Solar Energy Corporation of India over the one year. [CleanTechnica]

Wind Energy Project

¶ Work to scrap the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and deal with radioactive water buildup at the site is expected to cost around ¥220 billion ($2.07 billion) annually over the next three-year period, a source close to the matter said. About ¥70 billion will be to deal with water waste, and ¥30 billion for removing fuel. [Japan Today]

¶ The 353-MW Galloper offshore wind farm off the Suffolk coast in the UK has achieved full power generation, Germany’s Innogy SE said. The milestone for the project’s 56 turbines was achieved on schedule and within budget. The wind farm now moves into its operation phase. Its 6.3-MW turbines were built by Siemens Gamesa. [Renewables Now]

Offshore wind power (Source: Twitter, @innogy_uk)

US:

¶ The EPA has circulated new talking points instructing staffers to say that “clear gaps” exist in understanding whether human activity contributes to climate change. Without addressing any shift in the agency’s stand, an EPA spokesperson said in a statement, “The talking points were developed by the Office of Public Affairs.” [CNN]

¶ Tri Global Energy has announced this week that its 148-MW Blue Cloud Wind Energy Project in Texas reached financial close. Construction will begin on 19,000 acres of privately-owned farmland. Investment is from Denmark-based Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and wind turbines supplied by Danish manufacturer Vestas. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines in Texas

¶ A Duke Energy power plant is using renewable natural gas from North Carolina hog farms to produce electricity in a new process. The Optima KV project in Duplin County captures methane gas from the hog waste of five local farms. It is piped to a central location where the gas is cleaned and converted to pipeline-quality natural gas. [Biomass Magazine]

¶ The Virginia Supreme Court upheld a decision by state regulators that large electricity users seeking all-renewable power can shop for it without regard for a daunting requirement that they give five years’ notice if they want to return to utility service. Dominion Energy had appealed the state regulators’ ruling. [Richmond.com]

Solar array (Mark Gormus | Times-Dispatch)

¶ Lockheed Martin and Cypress Creek Renewables have commissioned 12 MWh of GridStar lithium energy storage for 12 solar-plus-storage projects in North Carolina. The solar-plus-storage systems will provide power to communities served by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation in the state’s southeastern areas. [Solar Power World]

¶ FirstEnergy Corp said that it will shut down two nuclear plants in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania within the next three years. The utility said it plans to close its Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo in 2020. The following year, it will shut down the Perry plant near Cleveland and its Beaver Valley nuclear plant in Pennsylvania. [Huntington Herald Dispatch]

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March 29 Energy News

March 29, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Trump Is Already Losing The Trade War” • Donald Trump has failed to understand one essential point about a trade war. To win it, you need friends. In that ignorance, he antagonizes customers at the very time strong Chinese competition is courting them. And he is pushing obsolete technology while the competition sells better things cheaper. [CleanTechnica]

Raspberry Pi computer (Sven.petersen, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ Researchers from Oregon State University have developed and begun testing a bird detection and deterrent system for wind turbines. They seek to better analyze the impact of wind turbines on birds and begin protecting them in the process. One system they developed records all impacts by a turbine, delivering an accurate count. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The burgeoning offshore wind industry in Taiwan has received yet another massive boost. It came as one of the world’s leading offshore wind energy companies, MHI Vestas, announced that it has signed four Memorandums of Understanding with leading local companies to begin building out their supply chain in the region. [CleanTechnica]

MHI Vestas wind turbine

¶ The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced $7.7 million in funding for Simply Energy to build a second virtual power plant in Adelaide. The $23 million project will put 6 MW of Tesla Powerwall 2 home batteries in 1200 Adelaide households and 2 MW in 10 businesses. The VPP will be up and running in 2019. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ The cost of wind and solar energy continued to drop in 2017, falling another 18% across the globe, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report also highlights the falling cost and growing uptake of battery storage, which is now encroaching on the flexibility and peaking revenues enjoyed by those fossil fuel plants. [RenewEconomy]

Renewable energy

¶ The under-sea cable linking Tasmania’s electricity market to that of the Australian mainland has been accidentally damaged during maintenance work, taking it out of action until mid-April. The operator of the cable, Basslink, said that during planned maintenance, a contractor damaged a vital piece of equipment at a transition station. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Low carbon sources accounted for 50.4% of electric power generated in the UK last year, according to latest government data, overtaking fossil fuels. Coal generated only 6.7% of the mix. However, the UK’s total energy consumption remains more than 80% reliant on fossil fuels, and transport consumption continues to rise. [The Energyst]

Pen y Cymoedd wind farm

¶ The world’s biggest-ever solar project, a $200 billion venture in Saudi Arabia, comes with a “batteries included” sticker that signals a major shift for the industry. Surging battery supplies to feed electric-car demand have sent prices plunging, and solar developers from California to China are adding storage to projects like never before. [Bloomberg]

¶ More than seven years after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive water is continuing to flow into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at a rate of around 2 billion becquerels a day, a study has found. The amount of leaking cesium 137 has decreased from some 30 billion becquerels in 2013. [The Japan Times]

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (KYODO image)

US:

¶ Massachusetts announced that the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project of Central Maine Power Co will proceed in the Massachusetts Clean Energy solicitation process. Northern Pass, which previously had been chosen as winner, was denied Certificate of Site and Facility by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee. [Renewables Now]

¶ EPA chief Scott Pruitt is prepared to roll back the automotive emissions standards, it seems. The auto industry had agreed to them in 2010, when General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were facing bankruptcy. Now, GM wants to renege on its promises, and the EPA head is only too glad to oblige. But California officials are ready to push back, hard. [CleanTechnica]

Auto emissions

¶ In Michigan, the commissioners who run the Lansing Board of Water and Light have unanimously approved the construction of a new natural gas plant. The public utility says the new plant will complement its renewable energy projects and will allow it to close its two remaining coal-fired plants, Eckert in 2020 and Erickson in 2025. [Michigan Radio]

¶ Michigan City Area Schools today celebrated the addition of new solar arrays to its facilities in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Krueger Middle School. The school corporation expects the new solar panels, which have been placed at seven of its 16 facilities including the main administration building, to offset utility costs by at least $704,000 per year. [WFYI]

Solar array at Krueger Middle School (Barbara Anguiano | WVPE)

¶ Canadian firm Innergex Renewable Energy Inc commissioned the 200-MW Flat Top wind farm in Texas, jointly owned with a fund managed by BlackRock Real Assets. The Flat Top wind farm, located near the town of Priddy in central Texas, uses 100 V100 turbines supplied by Danish manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems. [Renewables Now]

¶ Even if Maine converted all activities currently powered by gasoline, natural gas and other fossil fuels (like transportation and home heating) to electricity, the energy provided by offshore wind turbines could still produce 13.7 times as much power as the state would use, according to a report released by Environment Maine. [Environment Maine]

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March 28 Energy News

March 28, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “What does ‘subsidy-free’ renewables actually mean?” • People can debate whether any form of new power generation is without some sort of support. But Rachel Ruffle, Renewable Energy Systems’ managing director for UK and Ireland, told Carbon Brief, “There’s no trade-off now … The cleanest electricity is the cheapest.” [eco-business.com]

Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, Suffolk, England (Image:
Department of Energy and Climate Change, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

¶ “Gas ‘crisis’ prompts calls for fantasy solutions” • Whether it really was a crisis is debatable, but winter cold brought calls for both policy changes and fantasy solutions. Fracking is a fantasy solution; the experience thus far is not encouraging. And small modular nuclear reactors provide another, whose economics are a complete unknown. [Utility Week]

¶ “Natural Gas: An Underrated Driver of Saudi Hostility Towards Iran and Qatar” • Saudia Arabia’s problem is that Iran and Qatar have the gas reserves it does not. Renewables figure prominently in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform program for reasons that are both economic and political. [International Policy Digest]

Infrastructure construction (Shell image)

Science and Technology:

¶ UPS has announced that a coalition of companies it pulled together to work on its Smart Electric Urban Logistics project has developed a “radical new charging technology” that promises to allow for the charging of a large number of vehicles in a single area without the requirement for massive upgrades to electrical infrastructure. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Vestas and Energias de Portugal Renováveis are installing a hybrid demonstration combining wind and solar PVs at an EDPR wind farm in Cádiz, Spain. DC Power from a 372-kW array of solar PVs will be fed to a Vestas V112 3.0-MW turbine, where it is converted and transformed before the power is exported to the grid. [CleanTechnica]

Vestas V112 3-MW turbine (Credit: Vestas)

¶ North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to achieving “permanent denuclearisation” when US President Donald Trump agreed to meet him. He reaffirmed his desire for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula during his historic visit to Beijing. A satellite image showing activity at a North Korean reactor suggests work is expanding. [9news.com.au]

¶ The 25,000-tonne Asian Hercules III floating crane successfully completed installation of a pioneering suction bucket jacket foundation at Vattenfall’s 92.4-MW European Offshore Wind Deployment Center in just 15 hours. EOWD is a demonstration facility for next-generation technologies for building offshore wind farms. [CleanTechnica]

Asian Hercules III

¶ Saudi Arabia and SoftBank Group Corp signed a memorandum of understanding to build a $200 billion solar power project that is two orders of magnitude larger than any project in history. At 200 GW, the Softbank project planned for the Saudi desert would be about 100 times larger than the next biggest proposed development. [Bloomberg]

¶ Investors are putting money into solar power generation in Spain. Iberdrola, Spain’s largest power company, has launched a solar project with a capacity of 425 MW. And Spanish renewable energy firm Cox Energy has signed a deal for the construction of 495 MW of capacity in Spain, and another 165 MW just across the border in  Portugal. [Times LIVE]

Sunset at a solar array in Africa (Image: Gallo Images | IStock)

¶ China met its 2020 carbon intensity target three years ahead of schedule last year, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the country’s top climate official Xie Zhenhua. China cut the amount of climate-warming carbon dioxide it produces per unit of economic growth, by 46% from its 2005 figure, with 5.1% in 2017 alone. [ETEnergyworld.com]

US:

¶ FedEx has announced that it has placed a reservation for 20 Tesla Semi trucks. This news follows announcements of large orders from a number of other large firms, perhaps most notably from those involved in the food and beverage industries. They include Sysco, PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Loblaws, and others. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Semi (Tesla image)

¶ A solicitation by Xcel Energy for new generation in Colorado produced incredibly cheap prices for renewable power with batteries. After President Trump announced a tariff on imported solar panels, Xcel gave bidders an opportunity to refresh their bids. Xcel has reported on the updated bids. They show minimal changes. [Environmental Defense Fund]

¶ California’s grid operator signed off on the state’s 2017-2018 Transmission Plan, which approved 17 new transmission projects combined at a cost of nearly $271 million. But 20 projects were canceled and 21 were revised due to energy efficiency and residential solar power altering local area load forecasts, saving about $2.6 billion. [pv magazine USA]

Transmission lines (Image: Oran Viriyincy | Flickr)

¶ A bill that would alter Minnesota’s approval process for costly investments needed at Xcel Energy’s nuclear plants was passed by a Senate committee. Xcel said the new process is needed to give it more certainty for $1.4 billion in costs expected over the next 17 years. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

¶ FirstEnergy Corp’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant returned to service from what will likely be its final refueling outage. The corporation has said repeatedly over the past year that the plant’s days are numbered, barring an unlikely buyer emerging in today’s highly competitive electricity market. A decision is expected by June. [Toledo Blade]

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March 27 Energy News

March 27, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Is the IEA underestimating renewables?” • The World Wind Energy Association said 52.6 GW of wind capacity was installed in 2017. Solar Power Europe put PV installations at 98.9 GW. The World Nuclear Industry report said 2.7 GW of nuclear was installed. But the International Energy Agency still issues high projections for nuclear. [Deutsche Welle]

Renewable energy (Getty Images)

¶ “Nuclear power plant construction in Britain: A bottomless swamp” • Doubts about the costs and related problems at Hinkley C surfaced again, creating fear that the government may reexamine the project. Such concerns present a serious threat to Japanese firms betting their futures on building nuclear power plants in Britain. [The Japan Times]

¶ “Success Of Paris Climate Accord Depends On Local Action” • A recent blog post on Yale Environment 360 argues, “Much of the progress in reducing CO2 emissions is being driven by mayors, governors, premiers, and corporate executives.” It suggests “allowing cities, states, and companies to officially sign on to the Paris Agreement.” [CleanTechnica]

Target has 147.5 MW of PV capacity installed on its
buildings, the most of any US company. (Credit: SEIA)

¶ “You should be scared if you own natural gas stocks” • CNBC’s Jim Cramer has noticed a new group becoming “hated” on Wall Street: the natural gas cohort. And when he dug deeper, he realized that the weakness went beyond gas as a commodity. Companies that produce natural gas or even use it to produce electricity show the same weakness. [CNBC]

World:

¶ MAKE Consulting, which is now a part of research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie, has predicted that annual wind power capacity additions will average out at more than 65 GW between 2018 and 2027, thanks partly to the increasing demand in offshore wind and the expanding contribution of emerging markets. [CleanTechnica]

Vestas offshore wind turbines

¶ Mark Osborne, the Senior News Editor for PV Tech, reported that the fourth quarter of 2017 saw the highest ever recorded levels of new solar PV manufacturing expansion announcements for a quarter, totaling around 40 GW across the thin-film, the solar cell & module assembly, and the integrated cell & module manufacturing segments. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Asian Development Bank is to loan of about $175.3 million to PT Supreme Energy Rantau Dedap to help finance the second phase of a geothermal power project in Indonesia. The deal is part of ADB’s continued effort to scale up private sector investments in clean energy infrastructure in the Asia and Pacific region. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Indonesia (Courtesy of ADB)

¶ Repowering UK wind farms that are scheduled to end operations in the next five years could increase the country’s generating capacity by more than 1.3 GW, according to a new report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. The report said upgrading the projects would yield more than 3 TWh of electricity per year. [reNews]

¶ Iceland’s Arctic Green Energy Corporation and China’s Sinopec secured a $250 million loan from the Asian Development Bank to develop geothermal resources in China. The loan was granted to a new joint venture company. It will be used to expand geothermal heating in cities near Beijing and reduce the area’s reliance on coal. [WBAP News/Talk]

Geyser

¶ Renewable energy generated more power than brown coal, gas, or oil during Australia’s long hot summer. The 9,880 GWh from renewables exceeded that from brown coal by 8% and gas by 40% in Australia’s main grids. Renewables also delivered much of this power when it was needed most, during the peak demand periods. [Echonetdaily]

¶ Britain has cut its power station carbon emissions by a quarter in only 12 months according to data by Imperial College London. A study in the journal Nature Energy, said that if the other main coal-consuming countries mirrored Britain’s approach, it would reduce global emissions by roughly a gigatonne, or 3% every year. [Telegraph.co.uk]

Coal-burning power plant (Reuters image)

¶ The Western Australian government has rejected the federal National Energy Guarantee in favour of its own renewable energy policy. WA Energy Minister Ben Wyatt says WA is determined not to be dragged into the east coast energy market “nightmare.” He said WA’s energy market is on-track to reduce carbon emissions. [Energy Matters]

US:

¶ The US Army is using clean energy projects to begin targeting resiliency through microgrids, executive director of the US Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives Michael F. McGhee said at the recent Microgrid Global Innovation Forum in Washington, DC. Renewable energy projects can provide resilient power sources for the military. [Energy Manager Today]

Los Alamitos Army Airfield (California
National Guard | Flickr Creative Commons)

¶ Arizona’s largest utility is working with lawmakers to put its own renewable energy alternative on the November ballot. It has the same goal as the initiative having 50% of electricity from renewable sources. But it prohibits the commission from implementing the new requirement if it would have any effect at all on cost or reliability. [Arizona Capitol Times]

¶ The Town of Hartford, Vermont, commissioned two rooftop solar projects on Town buildings in February. Norwich Solar Technologies of White River Junction installed a 98-kW DC, net-metered solar PV system on the roof of the town’s Wastewater Treatment Plant as well as a 37-kW DC system on the Public Works building. [Vermont Biz]

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March 26 Energy News

March 26, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Enough With The Lies – Electric Cars Are Far Greener Than Gas Cars #Basta” • The US EPA published data in February that the Union of Concerned Scientists used to compare greenhouse gas emissions from internal combustion machines with those of EVs in the US, considering everything from electric generation to production and use of gasoline. [CleanTechnica]

Chevy Bolt and wind turbines

¶ “Farming the Earth to Death” • Pollution from Big Ag farms doesn’t produce dramatic photos like goo-covered seagulls or river otters. That makes it all the worse. The invisibility of the poisons already dumped into our environment by industrial farming cloaks the damage. And ethanol is the worst. It is just renewable pollution. [Omaha Reader]

World:

¶ The state-run Norwegian aviation firm Avinor, which runs 45 airports in Norway, is planning to embrace electric aircraft as soon as they hit the market, an exec has been quoted as saying. Because electric planes can accelerate quickly, they do not need long runways. This makes them ideal for Norway, with towns along mountain-flanked fjords. [CleanTechnica]

Alta Airport (Photo: HenrikJ, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Armech Africa Limited, a subsidiary of the Armech Group, is to construct a $300 million waste-to-energy power plant in Ghana to generate 60 MW of clean energy. Armech Group will pre-finance the project through the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China without any sovereign guarantee from the Government of Ghana. [Ghana Business News]

¶ Australian trash collection agency East Waste wants to explore the viability of harnessing solar and wind energy to run a fleet of electric-powered trucks for its member councils. A draft business plan said “rapid” technological advancements meant 100% electric trucks were a “real and potential” alternative to petrol-powered vehicles. [News.com.au]

Chinese-built electric garbage trucks (Image supplied)

¶ BP has released its most recent outlook study, BP’s 2018 Technology Outlook. It shows that renewable energy is cost-competitive with fossil fuels, even without subsidies. The same report suggests that technology alone won’t be enough to curtail climate change; policy changes, including carbon taxes, are also necessary. [Engineering.com]

¶ Geopolitical risks are weighing on oil prices as Saudi Arabia and Iran jockey for influence in the Middle East. These concerns escalated just over a week ago when Saudi Arabia’s young Prince Mohammed bin Salman said his country would acquire nuclear weapons if Iran developed them. Higher oil prices could bring an offshore oil boom. [OilPrice.com]

Offshore oil platform

¶ Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp is investing ¥650 billion ($6.2 billion) in offshore wind power projects in the UK and the Netherlands, as falling costs bolster high hopes for the field as a key energy source. The Japanese trading house reached deals on investments including a 33.4% stake in a 950-MW wind farm about 22 km off the Scottish coast. [Nikkei Asian Review]

¶ Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited’s tender for 500 MW of grid-connected solar projects has been oversubscribed three times, the Times of India reports. The tender attracted proposals from 11 companies. Next in the process is a reverse auction, to be held on March 28. GUVNL launched the 500-MW tender in February. [Renewables Now]

Azure Power Solar Power Plant (Photo: Business Wire)

¶ One of most aggressive campaigns to fight global warming is happening in Alberta. But it is the same place is also home to some of the dirtiest oil in the world. Alberta is boosting its use of renewable energy, closing coal-burning power plants, and increasing a tax on carbon emissions. But it is also increasing its tar sands oil output. [Bloomberg]

¶ New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a business audience in Wellington that gas was used as a “crutch” which slowed the move to renewable energy, attendants said. Ardern personally accepted a petition from Greenpeace calling for an end to exploration, and she said the Government was “actively considering” the issue. [Stuff.co.nz]

Drilling rig in New Zealand

US:

¶ Solar power projects throughout the United States may be put on the back burner as federal tariffs on imported solar panels could drive up the price to invest in them. Some already have been, but some utility experts hope that the costs will stabilize to an affordable rate that will benefit solar customers and domestic producers. [Farmington Daily Times]

¶ A New Jersey legislative panel has advanced a bill to allow a small pilot offshore wind farm off Atlantic City to move forward despite concerns from a couple of organizations that usually back such efforts. The bill would revive the Fishermen’s Energy proposal, a $210 million, 24-MW project three miles off the city’s coast. [NJ Spotlight]

Offshore windfarm dawn (Mat Fascione, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Three top generators in Maine have asked the state’s Public Utilities Commission to allow them to intervene late as full parties in the proceeding on New England Clean Energy Connect. It is a 1,200-MW transmission line proposed by Central Maine Power and Hydro-Quebec to run through 145 miles of northwestern Maine. [RTO Insider]

¶ During the 2017 session, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill allowing Xcel Energy to negotiate a shutdown of three biomass plants. Xcel says the cost of biomass power is too high and customers should not have to pay higher rates when cheaper alternatives are available. But the forestry industry will suffer as plants close. [Duluth News Tribune]

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March 25 Energy News

March 25, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Watching Nature Collapse” • I remember walking out the door of my grandmother’s house in New Hampshire in 1959. Three stretches of telephone lines across the street were covered by resting barn swallows, sitting about five inches apart. When I moved out of that house in 2004, there were no barn swallows left. [CleanTechnica]

Covered bridge over the Ashuelot River
(Photo: John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Why Going Green is Big Business” • Bankers, insurers, and others whose job it is to assess and manage risk are increasingly aware of the threat that climate change may pose to assets. Indeed, big companies without environmental, social, and governance may find themselves liable for lack of “fiduciary responsibility.” [PlanetSave.com]

¶ “Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster In Space … Because It’s Fun” • After last month’s jaw-dropping spectacle from SpaceX, many are asking: What’s the real reason Elon Musk chose to send a Tesla Roadster, set up to blast David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” at top volume from its speakers. into outer space on his almighty Falcon Heavy rocket? [CleanTechnica]

“Printed on the circuit board of a car
in Deep space” (Image via Elon Musk)

¶ “Good news about renewables: but the heat is still on to cut fossil fuel use” • For optimists, it was tempting to view three years of flatlining global carbon emissions, from 2014-16, as the new normal. Celebrations should be put on hold, as global emissions from energy have jumped back up again, but there is hope. [The Guardian]

World:

¶ The first scheduled non-stop flight between Australia and the UK has touched down in London’s Heathrow Airport. Qantas Flight QF9 completed its 14,498-km (9,009-mile) journey from Perth in just over 17 hours. The airline is using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that was adapted for comfort on long flights. It is twice as fuel-efficient as a Boeing 747. [BBC]

Qantas airliner

¶ Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is attempting to arm-wrestle battery giant Tesla away from Adelaide. The battery, worth $50 million, capable of powering up to 30,000 homes for an hour. The premier is insistent on bringing the Tesla battery to Queensland, if the new South Australian Liberal government no longer wants it. [9news.com.au]

¶ The Coimbra Municipal Public Transportation Service has become the first transit district in Portugal to migrate to fully-electric buses with a newly signed contract for 8 of BYD’s 12-meter buses. The contract finalizing the deal was signed by the President of the Coimbra Municipality and BYD’s managing director of Europe. [CleanTechnica]

BYD electric bus in Shenzhen

¶ The Barbados Light & Power solar farm in Trents, St Lucy, is saving the country an estimated $10 million a year. The solar farm started production two years ago, pumping solar-generated electricity into the grid. BL&P is still developing plans for another solar farm and a wind farm to put more power into the country’s network. [Nation News]

¶ The potential of drones for making a variety of tasks faster, cheaper, and safer in energy sector is something numerous people have talked about and detailed. Nevertheless, though many people are excited about the subject, energy companies want to see results. Now, the Austrian Power Grid has results they can show off. [Commercial UAV News]

European transmission line

¶ Singapore’s Powering the Future study is examining how to boost solar energy production from the current 2% of power that currently comes from the sun. Though Singapore has limited land for PV panels and intermittent sunshine because of its heavy cloud, the aim is to meet 15% of peak demand through solar power. [ASEAN Economist]

¶ A team of US researchers has confirmed that St Kitts and Nevis can move forward with a planned geothermal project on the volcanic island of Nevis. According to Nevis Pages, the team from GeothermEX assessed a geothermal test well at Hamilton to determine its potential to supply of geothermal energy and found it promising. [Loop Cayman]

Nevis Peak, a dormant volcano on Nevis

US:

¶ Two US firms with global outreach, Reebok and Gensler, partnered to develop concepts for “an adaptive reuse of gas stations across the country as Fitness Hubs.” Alfred Byun, a designer at Gensler, envisions “a [new] network of fitness oases between home and work where you could stop and recharge more than just your car.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ In Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Solar Holler has a motto, “Mining The Sun.” It has been working with the nonprofit Coalfield Development Corp to help train workers to install solar panels. They are putting photovoltaic panels up on everything from nonprofits and businesses to increasing numbers of homes. [Huntington Herald Dispatch]

Shepherdstown (Wallygva, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Recently, the study, Cultural Perspectives, Geopolitics & Energy Security of Eurasia: Is the Next Global Conflict Imminent? came to light. It states that a primary driver for US-led interference in Russian politics since the 1990s has been a US desire to dominate the oil and gas reserves of Central Asia. It was prepared by the US Army. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A team led by Southwest Research Institute is now developing unmanned aerial system technology to fly into the containment vessels of the damaged units at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and assess conditions. TEPCO Holdings contracted SwRI, based in San Antonio, to explore the use of drones in the containment vessels. [POWER magazine]

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March 24 Energy News

March 24, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Culture Shift: Redirecting Humanity’s Path to a Flourishing Future” • A tax on carbon, big investments in renewable energy, a livable minimum wage, and accessible healthcare – we need all of them. But even taken together they are utterly insufficient to redirect humanity away from impending doom. We need to address the system. [Common Dreams]

Rice Terraces in Yunnan Province, China (Photo:
Jialiang Gao | peace-on-earth.org | Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Grid security falls to industry to self-regulate” • The US power grid is coming under increasing attacks from hackers. A cyber attack against the grid could do as much damage as a bomb, but security experts say rules on dealing with cyber threats are being written mostly by the energy industry, leaving the public in the dark. [The Salem News]

Science and Technology:

¶ A world addled by climate change has seen a four-fold increase in major flooding events since 1980, and a doubling of significant storms, droughts, and heat waves, Europe’s national science academies jointly reported. In Europe, where precise data reaches back decades, the number of severe floods has jumped five fold since 1995. [Sin Chew Jit Poh]

Extreme weather (Photo courtesy: AFP)

¶ Data in a study published this week shows that extreme weather events have become more frequent over the past 36 years. The study shows that man-made climate change has resulted in increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as excess rainfall leading to flooding, coastal flooding, heatwaves, and increased risks of wildfires. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Earth’s life support system is failing. Nearly everywhere, the various forms of non-human life are in decline, according to a series of landmark international reports. This ongoing decline endangers economies, livelihoods, food security, and the quality of life of people everywhere. Nevertheless, there are reasons to hope, the reports say. [National Geographic]

Specimens (Frans Lanting, National Geographic Creative)

¶ Silicon-Valley based Software Motor Company has built a new type of electric motor demonstrating 30% energy savings, with potentially dramatic impact for the HVAC industry. Internet of Things technology has shown promise for industries from manufacturing to healthcare, but had not yet seen broad use in the HVAC industry. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ County Durham company Banks Group has been granted permission to build the 22-turbine Lethans wind farm in East Ayrshire, Scotland. The developer has been given approval by ministers for turbines ranging from 136 meters to 176 meters in height. The top power at the wind farm near New Cumnock is expected to be 88 MW. [reNews]

Banks wind farm in the UK (Banks image)

¶ Austria’s largest power provider has announced a plan to invest approximately €100 million ($124 million) in solar and €15 million in recharging stations over the next five years. The plan is part of a €870 million investment program that will address security of supply, renewable energy, and a number of other innovations. [pv magazine International]

¶ Kyushu Electric Power Co reactivated the No 3 reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture. The 1,180-MW reactor resumed operations for the first time since December 2010, when it went offline for a routine inspection. It is the seventh nuclear reactor to be restarted since the Fukushim Disaster. [The Japan News]

Genkai nuclear plant (IAEA Imagebank, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ San Francisco and Oakland sued five major oil companies, claiming they kept secret for decades their knowledge that their operations were causing global warming. Lawyers for Chevron say they will not contest that climate change is real and accept findings reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Houston-based solar power company Sunnova has this week expanded its offerings to bring it into the solar-plus-storage market alongside its bigger-name competition Tesla and Sunrun, with the introduction of its Sunnova SunSafe solar and home battery storage service. Sunnova’s move follows similar offerings by Tesla and Sunrun. [CleanTechnica]

Installing a solar system (Sunnova)

¶ Despite a surprise veto threat that rattled Congress, President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill, avoiding a federal government shutdown and sparing energy-related programs the steep cuts once envisioned by the White House. The Senate had worked through the night, passing the legislation by a vote of 65-32. [Platts]

¶ Rod Cushing, of Johnson Controls in North America, said that the University of Hawaii Maui College would most likely be the first campus to supply 100% of its energy requirements. This is sixteen years earlier than expected. The college plans to achieve this through use of “on-site photovoltaic systems coupled with battery storage.” [Study Breaks]

The University of Hawaii (Image via UH)

¶ The state of Colorado has granted electricity users the right to store energy without being subjected to compounded rates for power or unfair barriers in connecting to the grid. Gov John Hickenlooper said reductions in the price of batteries in recent years have now made energy storage a more affordable option for ratepayers. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ Arizona utilities could violate the state’s clean energy standards for nominal penalties under a law Gov Doug Ducey (R) signed March 23. Lawmakers debated the bill for less than two weeks as the bill was fast-tracked. It was preemptively aimed to declaw higher renewable energy mandates a group wants to bring to voters this year. [Bloomberg BNA]

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March 23 Energy News

March 23, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Wood pellets: Renewable, but not carbon neutral” • In the race to meet clean energy standards, biomass energy is often touted as carbon neutral. To satisfy European Union demand, forests in the United States are clear-cut and turned into wood pellets and shipped overseas, to the tune of 7 million metric tons of pellets annually. [Phys.Org]

Mountains in the southern US (Credit: David Allen)

¶ “California Utilities Say Climate Change Caused Recent Fires, Not Them” • California’s largest public utility companies are defending themselves against lawsuits claiming they were negligent in the way they dealt with debris and brush under power lines. The utilities insist the culprit is climate change and fossil fuels companies. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Global energy demand increased by 2.1% in 2017 at more than twice the previous year’s rate. At the same time, carbon emissions increased for the first time since 2014, jumping by 1.4%. These are the two key messages from the International Energy Agency’s newest resource, the Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2017. [CleanTechnica]

Cape Town at sunset (Shutterstock image)

¶ The development of coal-fired power plants continues to fall, with new construction down by 73% between 2015 and 2017, thanks in large part to tighter restrictions in China and a lack of private financing in India. Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and Coal Swarm found a 41% drop in newly completed coal plants in the same time. [CleanTechnica]

¶ US developer Pattern Energy has completed the 33-MW Ohorayama wind farm in Japan’s Kochi prefecture on the island of Shikoku. The project consists of eleven GE 3-MW turbines and will supply electricity to Shikoku Electric Power under a 20-year power purchase agreement. It is Pattern’s first wind farm in Japan. [reNews]

Ohorayama wind facility (Pattern Energy image)

¶ Government authorities in Spanish regions are currently reviewing project proposals with a combined capacity of around 24 GW, according to the Spanish solar association UNEF. The organization’s president said over €4 billion in new investments in solar energy projects will be made in Spain over the next two years. [pv magazine International]

¶ Danish developer Floating Power Plant and Ireland’s DP Energy are moving forward with plans to develop the Katanes wave/wind hybrid project off the coast of Scotland. The partners said they have completed environmental impact assessment screening and are now preparing an EIA scoping report to be submitted to the statutory authorities. [reNews]

Floating power point concept

¶ Engie SA, the 184-year-old power and gas giant, supplied coal that fueled the French Industrial Revolution and excavated the Suez Canal. Now it sees its greatest potential for growth in helping large energy users like hospitals, schools, and airports reduce their bills and carbon emissions, its CEO said in an interview in Singapore. [Bloomberg]

¶ Construction has begun on an 80-MW wind farm in Victoria. It marks the fruition of a Melbourne-based bulk buy renewables project developed by a consortium of 14 of leading local universities, cultural institutions, corporations, and Councils. The milestone comes just months after the project was announced, in November 2017. [RenewEconomy]

Wind Farm in Victoria (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The opening of the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear reactor, planned to happen last year, has been pushed back to 2019 due to training delays and a failure to meet a tight schedule, two sources told Reuters. The $24.4 billion Barakah power plant is the world’s largest nuclear project under construction and will be the first in the Arab world. [Reuters]

US:

¶ A focus on renewable energy has become top-priority across the US, as dozens of cities have committed to getting 100% of their power from renewables. A bipartisan group of 180 mayors called for increased solar energy usage in an updated letter released by Environment America. The first version was signed by 70 mayors in December. [Smart Cities Dive]

Solar roof

¶ Congress passed a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill after Republicans, in order to get needed Democratic support, agreed to remove provisions that would have gutted environmental and campaign finance laws. EPA funding was not reduced, and the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy saw an increase. [InsideClimate News]

¶ A bill that could give fresh impetus to Fishermen’s Energy’s stalled 24-MW offshore wind project off the coast of New Jersey passed the committee stage in the state’s assembly, according to local media. The bill would require the state Board of Public Utilities  to consider an amended application for a qualified wind energy project. [reNews]

Atlantic City

¶ Environment Massachusetts says the state has the potential to generate more offshore wind energy than any other on the East Coast. They released a report that said if wind turbines were placed in every suitable location off the coast of Massachusetts, they could generate nearly 20 times more electricity than the state used in 2016. [Rhode Island Public Radio]

¶ The Arizona Senate voted in favor of a bill aimed at thwarting a proposed constitutional amendment that would require half of the state’s energy come from renewables by 2030. Th bill provides for a small fine for utilities that violate the standard. According to an Arizona Public Service spokesman, that utility helped craft the legislation. [KJZZ]

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March 22 Energy News

March 22, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ Under a memorandum of understanding, shipping operator Star Bulk will conduct a two-year study to assess the feasibility of installing solar panels, batteries, and other renewable energy technology provided by Eco Marine Power. The study will examine power from renewable sources for selected ship types on specific routes. [The Motorship]

Shipping

¶ Scientists from Princeton University proposed a plan in the journal, Nature, to stabilize the continental ice shelves that extend outward from Greenland and Antarctica. They say focusing on those areas will be less expensive and more effective than building sea walls around continents and would buy time to examine other actions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Siemens Gamesa and start-up Stiesdal Storage Technologies are developing thermal energy storage that uses excess wind, solar, and other renewable energy to heat a “pack bed” of crushed rocks to as high as 600° C. The heat can be used to generate electricity to be sold at prices far below those from gas peakers or batteries. [Recharge]

Siemens Gamesa demonstration project (Siemens Gamesa)

World:

¶ The government of New South Wales identified three priority renewable energy zones that potentially have seven times the capacity of the state’s coal-fired power plants. In a submission to the Australian Energy Markets Operation, it said developing them “could unlock 77,000 megawatts of new generation capacity.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ The UK offshore wind industry committed to working with the Government on a “transformative” sector deal that could spur £48 billion in new investments in the country’s infrastructure and increase offshore wind capacity to 30 GW by 2030. The deal is expected to  reduce costs for electricity by 9% while more than doubling industry employment. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind farm (Shutterstock image)

¶ In a step towards a cleaner environment, the number of coal-based fired power plants under development has seen a steep decline, especially in India and China, according to a report by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm. The report warns, however, that emissions from operational plants are still far too high. [Business Standard]

¶ Chinese new energy giant BYD has kicked off its bus chassis production operations in Brazil with the launch of a new electric bus model in the nation’s capital, Brasília. The new BYD D9W was introduced at the 8th World Forum on Water, marking the launch of BYD’s bus chassis production facility in Campinas, Brazil. [CleanTechnica]

BYD D9W

¶ Tesla and Fluence are to build two new big battery storage installations in Victoria, with some funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Tesla will build a 25-MW/50-MWh battery to be near the 60-MW Gannawarra solar farm. Fluence will build a 30-MW/30-MWh grid-connected battery at the Ballarat terminal station. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Tesla has deployed its Powerpack batteries to the Philippines, helping a local solar company construct a 2-MW/2-MWh micro-grid for the town of Paluan, which has been notoriously suffering from power outages for years. The project went online back in December, giving the town round-the-clock electric power for the first time. [Teslarati]

Celebrating solar panels and batteries (Credit: Solar Phils)

US:

¶ Renewable energy is getting cheaper and more popular, even among Republican voters, and that makes now a better time than ever for conservative candidates to support clean energy policies. At the annual Michigan Conservative Energy Forum in Lansing, Republicans rallied around renewable energy and free-market principles. [Energy News Network]

¶ In January, the natural gas tanker Gaselys pulled into a port near Boston. In came from the UK, where it had just topped off. It had come because a series of cold snaps had momentarily made gas prices in New England the highest in the world. The ship’s cargo included gas from Russia. “Sanctions? What sanctions?” teased a Russian tweet. [E&E News]

Russia’s Yamal LNG project (Yamal LNG image)

¶ From Maine to Florida, the winds blowing off the Atlantic Coast could be the power source for a clean energy future, according to a report, Wind Power to Spare: The Enormous Energy Potential of Atlantic Offshore Wind, released by Environment America and Frontier Group. So far, only one wind farm is operating in the country. [Environment America]

¶ Microsoft announced what it calls “the single largest corporate purchase of solar energy ever in the United States,” buying 315 MW from two new solar projects in Virginia as part of its ongoing renewable energy efforts. The power will come from 750,000 solar panels spread across 2,000 acres at the Pleinmont I and II projects. [GeekWire]

Microsoft’s renewable energy footprint (Microsoft Image)

¶ The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved unanimously a $1.6 billion plan to build two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border. The vote is a key step needed for Xcel Energy to move forward with its plans. Texas regulators are expected to act on the proposal in the coming weeks. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Opposition to a deal for the US to provide nuclear power technology to Saudi Arabia is growing after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the kingdom would develop a nuclear weapon if Iran did. The reaction in Washington, from members of congress of both parties, is increasingly opposed to the deal. [South China Morning Post]

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March 21 Energy News

March 21, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Puerto Rico went dark 6 months ago. Here’s how solar energy may speed the recovery” • Six months after Hurricane Maria, and whole towns in Puerto Rico still remain without power. Dozens of organizations work to provide renewable energy to create a resilient future, but there are also a monopoly and Congress to contend with. [PBS NewsHour]

Renewable power for Puerto Rico

¶ “Companies Showing Disconnect Between Climate Risk Awareness & Action” • A report from the CDP (formerly, Carbon Disclosure Project) and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board shows that more than 80% of companies oversee climate change at the board level, but only 1 in 10 give management incentives to act on climate change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Lying Car Companies Would Rather Poison You With Emissions Than Build Cleaner Cars” • An Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers report offers reasons why the US government should weaken fuel economy and emissions standards put in place by the Obama administration. The report was written by fossil fuels shills. [CleanTechnica]

Traffic (Union of Concerned Scientists image)

World:

¶ Swedish wave energy company Seabased said it has signed one of the first and largest commercial contracts in the wave energy sector, for the delivery of a 100-MW plant near Ada, Ghana. Ghanaian renewable energy company TC’s Energy will own and operate the wave plant, selling electricity under a power purchase agreement. [Renewables Now]

¶ Just yesterday we were talking about an innovative 3D printing company that is making an electric car that cost less than $10,000, largely because it uses only 57 parts compared to the thousands most ordinary cars require. Now, Siemens plans to build a $37 million 3D-printing manufacturing facility in the UK to build parts for cars and aircraft. [CleanTechnica]

Siemens 3D-printing plant

¶ Just minutes before his swearing-in, South Australia premier Steven Marshall commented that the Tesla virtual power plant, the biggest planned aggregated installation of solar and battery storage in the world, was not part of his agenda. The reaction by the public was powerful, and Marshall’s team is already reassuring the community. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The European Union’s scientific research centre has explored the idea of linking the power grids of Europe and China, in order to tap into the immense clean energy potential of the Middle Kingdom and the countries of Central Asia. A study by the EU’s Joint Research Centre into a super-grid link has mapped three potential routes. [EURACTIV]

Benefits and challenges (Shutterstock image)

¶ French renewable energy developer Neoen, the owner of the Tesla big battery in South Australia, has begun work on the Bulgana green power hub in Victoria, again combining a major wind farm with battery storage. The $350 million project will include a 194-MW wind farm and a 20-MW/34-MWh Tesla battery facility. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The UK is well on the way to a new era of subsidy-free renewable energy projects that will largely kill off prospects for new gas power stations, according to industry analysts. Falling costs of wind and solar projects combine with advances in battery technology to unlock about £20 billion of investment between now and 2030. [The Guardian]

UK wind farm (Photo: Alamy)

¶ Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, broke ground on the world’s biggest concentrated solar power project. The 700-MW project, with the world’s tallest solar tower, is the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai. [Gulf Business News]

US:

¶ US electric generation last year was down 1.5% from the year before, a drop of 105,000 GWh. But both coal and natural gas saw larger declines. Coal use was down by 2.5%, a smaller decline than it has seen recently. But coal’s decline will continue; no new coal plants were opened, and 6.3 GW of coal capacity were retired in 2017. [Ars Technica]

Wind turbines in Colorado (Getty Images)

¶ After reviewing the video recordings from the Uber self-driving car that struck and killed a pedestrian, the chief of police issued a statement saying “it’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how [the pedestrian] came from the shadows right into the roadway.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ McDonald’s, one of the planet’s most recognizable companies, has become the first restaurant chain in the world to set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative. Its goal is to reduce emissions by 36% at all McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 2030 from a 2015 baseline. [CleanTechnica]

McDonald’s

¶ A spokesman for Michigan utility Consumers Energy said, “By 2040, we’re going to stop burning coal here in Michigan to generate electricity, we’re also going to reduce our carbon footprint by 80 percent.” Consumers Energy says its goal was set because renewable sources are less expensive than burning fossil fuels. [Newburgh Gazette]

¶ Santee Cooper’s electric rates will rise sharply as the bills for its failed nuclear project come due, increasing the amount each customer makes puts into the unfinished reactors to $8 to $9 per month. That is the finding of a study of Santee Cooper’s future rates by a conservative think tank, and it is and the utility’s own estimate. [Charleston Post Courier]

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March 20 Energy News

March 20, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Don’t Bet On A Decline In Chinese Solar PV Production” • China’s the “One Belt One Road” initiative is promising $1.2 trillion for struggling economies worldwide. One of the goals of the program is to marginalize American world influence. The solar panels and other goods the US has subjected to a tariff are tools for the program. [CleanTechnica]

Chinese destroyer Qingdao visiting Pearl Harbor
(Photo: US Navy, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “Solar Surprise: Small-Scale Solar A Better Deal Than Big” • For a Public Utilities Commission eyeing the least cost solar energy, the greatest benefit will be at a scale of less than about 10 MW to 20 MW. For a city or community looking to maximize the value of the citizens’ solar investment, smaller systems are best. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “The unholy alliance that explains why renewables are trouncing nuclear” • If recent trends continue, the global share of electricity from renewables excluding hydropower will overtake nuclear in two years. This is only partly because the costs of solar and wind have plunged while nuclear has become almost astoundingly expensive. [RenewEconomy]

Solar power

Science and Technology:

¶ XEV, a company few have ever heard of, is showing off its LSEV 3D-printed electric car at the China 3D Printing Cultural Museum in Shanghai this week. It will be featured next month at the Beijing auto show, according to a China Daily report. The diminutive two-seater could be the world’s first mass-produced 3D-printed EV. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The Danish municipality of Roskilde is stepping into the future. The city council voted that all 20 of the buses serving all of its municipal bus lines will be electric starting in April 2019, it was announced. Achieving this milestone, the Roskilde Municipality is becoming the first in Denmark to convert its fleet to fully electric buses. [CleanTechnica]

Yutong Super Limousine

¶ Australia’s Energy Minister needs unanimous support from the states and territories to implement the federal government’s energy plan. Labor’s defeat in the South Australian state election left only one strong objector, but the Australian Capital Territory insists that the electricity sector cut greenhouse gas pollution. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Scottish renewables firm Natural Power announced that it has completed the construction of a 10-MW wind park in Ireland for UK-based renewable power producer Element Power. The four-turbine Meenwaun wind farm started generating electricity in December 2017, and this month it is expected to kick off its commercial operations. [Renewables Now]

Wind turbines (Photo: Element Power)

¶ European wind-turbine manufacturers, hungry for growth, have set their sights on Argentina’s booming renewable-energy market. The latest example is Nordex SE, a German turbine supplier that is planning its first assembly plant in Argentina. It is the second time in the past week the country has attracted a European manufacturer. [Bloomberg]

¶ A Victorian border town wants 100% renewable energy by 2022, and the federal Coalition is offering surprise support. Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg described the plan for the Yackandandah minigrid as an “exciting” example of Australia’s transformed energy landscape when he dropped in this month. [Energy Matters]

Yackandandah (Image: Chamber of Commerce)

¶ The Dutch government has begun to follow through on its renewable energy pledges by awarding Swedish firm Vattenfall two contracts for what will be the world’s first wind farms to be built entirely without public money. The Dutch government announced that its call for tender for zero-subsidy offshore wind bids had paid off. [EURACTIV]

US:

¶ The first fatality in the US involving a collision between a pedestrian and a self-driving car happened in Tempe, Arizona. A 49-year-old woman who stepped off a sidewalk to cross the street was struck by an oncoming Uber self-driving car operating in autonomous mode with a human driver on board. Police are investigating. [CleanTechnica]

Uber self driving car, a Volvo XC90

¶ In New York City, St Patrick’s Cathedral is undergoing a $200 million renovation. A geothermal heating and cooling system to replace the steam boiler and air conditioning system, installed nearly 60 years ago, is part of that upgrade. The geothermal system will have 10 wells, 8″ in diameter, drilled into the bedrock beneath the cathedral. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Bay State Wind signed a letter of intent to work with NEC Energy Solutions to develop energy storage system for its 800-MW offshore wind farm. Massachusetts-based NEC Energy Solutions will develop a 55-MW/111-MWh storage system to support the proposed offshore wind farm off the coast near Martha’s Vineyard. [CleanTechnology News]

Offshore windpower

¶ With fracking, the US poised to become the world’s largest oil exporter, and rail shipments will soon increase dramatically. Considering the dangers, the Baltimore city council voted to ban more oil storage facilities and export terminals. All that remains is for the mayor to approve the city council’s action for the ban to go into effect. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Enel Green Power North America Inc has signed new power purchase agreements with Facebook and Adobe for the sale of the energy produced by the 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Nebraska. Rattlesnake Creek is currently under construction and is expected to start operations by the end of this year. [North American Windpower]

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March 19 Energy News

March 19, 2018

Interview:

¶ “GE Aims Coal-Killing Energy Storage Solution At Willing Customers” • The US DOE recently floated the idea of carving out a place for small coal power plants in the distributed energy landscape of the future, but it looks like the agency’s latest attempt to save coal is a day late and a dollar short. GE is pitching energy storage. [CleanTechnica]

GE energy storage

World:

¶ The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is to set up India’s first offshore wind turbines at an estimated investment of ₹300 crore ($45 million), the ministry’s Joint Secretary said. The MNRE proposed to install four to five wind turbines, each with the capacity to generate minimum of 6 MW of power, possibly starting within six months. [NYOOOZ]

¶ South Korea will draw out a long-term energy plan that aims to reduce its high dependence on nuclear and coal power and expands the portion of renewable sources in the next 22 years, the energy ministry said. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said a working group is discussing an energy plan for the years 2019-2040. [Yonhap News]

Floating solar farm near Seoul

¶ Incoming South Australian Premier Steven Marshall revealed that the new Liberal government will not continue with Jay Weatherill’s plan to install batteries in thousands of low-income households. The Liberal plan will instead focus on means-tested subsidies for battery systems and inter-connectivity with New South Wales. [Gizmodo Australia]

¶ Suzlon announced it has won two projects of 300 MW and 200 MW under the Solar Energy Corporation of India bidding process. The projects are to be implemented in Kutch district in Gujarat. The projects will provide electricity to about 3 million households and curb about 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. [Business Line]

Suzlon wind turbines

¶ A state government clean energy program means Queensland schools solar energy systems could save more than $10 million a year in power bills each year. Over the next three years, $97 million will be spent to help schools across the state cut their combined energy bill by around 20%. Their annual power bill tops $50 million. [Energy Matters]

¶ Shell is taking tentative steps away from the oil and gas sector, in which it has flourished for over a century, and toward more renewables. In an effort to move towards a less carbon-intensive energy system, Shell has been investing in biofuels, carbon capture and storage technologies, as well as green energies such as wind and solar. [Power Technology]

Bradenstoke solar park (Photo courtesy of Shell)

¶ Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was not holding back any punches: “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” The crown prince is visiting the United States this week. Washington could refuse to support Arabian nuclear power ambitions, but Arabia could take its business elsewhere. [Stratfor Worldview]

¶ March 17, was a perfectly cloud-free spring day, with high solar production and low overall consumption, and it was perfect for Israel to break its solar power record. At 12:07 PM, solar energy was producing 13.4 % of the total electricity being consumed in the country. It was a new record, according to the Israel Electric Corporation. [The Times of Israel]

Solar tower in the Negev desert (AP | Oded Balilty)

¶ A Japan-led nuclear power plant project in Turkey may cost more than twice as much as initially projected. Japan and Turkey agreed to the project in 2013. The estimated total cost, pegged at around ¥2 trillion ($18.8 billion) at the time, has since ballooned to more than ¥5 trillion yen, according to sources close to the matter. [Nikkei Asian Review]

US:

¶ Worldwide, 1.2 billion people have little or no access to electricity. A man in Grass Valley, Nevada, is on a mission to help solve the energy poverty crisis. Angelo Campus is the CEO of BoxPower Inc, a startup company that provides off-grid communities with affordable microgrid systems in shipping containers. [The Union of Grass Valley]

BoxPower unit at the Nevada County Fairgrounds

¶ The DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy announced $32 million of funding for solid oxide fuel cell research, an idea aimed partly at propping up the US coal industry. The DOE recently floated the idea of putting up money for small modular coal power plants. And Arizona voted a $12 million tax cut for a coal plant. None of these ideas is likely to work. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Each year, the San Diego County Water Authority will save about $100,000 with the commercial-scale storage batteries that were recently installed at the agency’s Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant near San Marcos. The batteries were installed at no charge as part of an agreement with Santa Clara-based ENGIE Storage. [Times of San Diego]

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March 18 Energy News

March 18, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “How A Handful Of Community Organizers Got NYC To Take On One Of The Most Powerful Industries On Earth” • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio kicked off 2018 by declaring war on the oil industry. But at the start of the story were people who had never had a voice sending a message that could be heard around the world. [CleanTechnica]

New York City

¶ “4 Psychology Lessons That Can Teach Us About Inspiring Climate Action” • We know it is important to educate the public so people understand why climate change is happening, what regions are most at risk, and how its impacts continue to harm our health and economy. Education, however, is the easy part. Behaviors need to change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “A Contentious Debate: Green Energy vs. Green Space” • Each year, Rhode Island’s forests absorb, on average, 88 tons of carbon dioxide per acre. The state’s 400,000 acres of forest sequester 35 million tons of carbon. But the state’s forests are being cut to build everything from a possible fossil-fuel power plant to solar arrays. [ecoRI news]

Clear-cutting to make room for a solar facility (Douglas Doe)

¶ “Black Ministers In Virginia Tell Koch Brothers To Shove Their Petrodollars” • If anyone wonders why my Irish ire gets inflamed by these two charlatans, perhaps this story will explain why they may be the most dangerous pair in America and why Arnold Schwarzenegger said they deserve to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ February is traditionally the slowest selling month in China, but with electric car sales at around 34,000, there’s not much to complain about. Numbers were up 88% year over year, making this by far the best February ever. During the month, BYD stepped into first place, dethroning the Beijing brand BAIC from its leading position. [CleanTechnica]

BAIC EC180

¶ Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, a joint venture of the Delhi government and Tata Power, is introducing the Internet of Things to India. It will start with smart meters and an Android app. In the first phase, 250,000 smart meters would be installed in parts of the city. By 2025, 1.6 million smart meters are to be operational. [Economic Times]

¶ Belgium has agreed to provide Mozambique with €12 million ($14.76 million) to promote projects for the production of new and renewable energy in a number of the country’s regions. To that effect, an agreement was formalized by Mozambique’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Belgian ambassador. [Journalducameroun.com]

Delivering charcoal (Vanderspuyr, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ An Indian solar panel manufacturing company, Waaree Energies Ltd, has launched a first of its kind, do-it-yourself solar kit called “Pronto.” The kits are available at all Waaree Solar Experience Centres. The company claims that a Pronto solar PV power generating system can deliver at least 30% savings on electricity bills. [Web India 123]

¶ The conservative Liberal Party has won the election of South Australia state, ending the Australian Labor Party’s streak of 16 years in power in the state. Along with promises of tax cuts for small businesses, Marshall’s campaign promised to scaling back the Australian Labor Party approach to renewable energy which he described as reckless. [Xinhua]

Kimberly Clark mill and the Lake Bonney windfarm
(Photo: Fairv8, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ North Korea’s Foreign Minister went to Sweden, prompting speculations about a meeting between US President Trump and Mr Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea. Sweden is happy to help resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula arising from the North Korean construction of a nuclear reactor and pursuit of nuclear military power. [The Straits Times]

US:

¶ One of the most famed Apple analysts, Gene Munster, has recently turned his attention to Tesla. His firm, Loup Ventures, made projections on the company’s future.  He predicts growth from 0.5% of the market to 1.5% this year, “Longer-term (10 yrs from now) we believe Tesla can capture 17% of the US auto market share…” [CleanTechnica]

Tesla lineup (Source: Tesla.com)

¶ In a closed-door meeting at the Heritage Foundation, EPA chief Scott Pruitt told a group of conservatives that he has plans for additional science reform at the agency, attendees said. The EPA has not formally shared details of the plan, but it is widely expected to resemble an efforts that Republican lawmakers have been pushing. [Scientific American]

¶ President Trump’s nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, has spent much of his career working for less oversight from the agency. He is a longtime aide to Sen James Inhofe, known for his climate-denying antics on the Senate floor. After that job, Wheeler became a lobbyist for the fossil fuels industry. [89.3 KPCC]

Corsa Coal’s Acosta Deep Mine in Pennsylvania, with a US 
flag draped over the mud (Justin Merriman | Getty Images)

¶ Home improvement superstore Lowe’s announced that it was making progress towards reducing its carbon footprint and increasing the energy efficiency of its stores. In 2014, Lowe’s set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020. Recently, the company announced that it is on track to achieve its emissions goal. [Artvoice]

¶ Opposition to a Trump administration proposal to allow oil and gas drilling in coastal waters, including those off the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts, continues to grow on Beacon Hill. The state’s Attorney General, Maura Healey, has announced that she is considering taking legal action against the administration over the issue. [Lexington Herald Leader]

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March 17 Energy News

March 17, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Microbes, Drones, & AI May Be Keys To Farms Of The Future” • Fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds are doing a dance of death that is making it harder for farmers to grow crops without using more fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds. And they are turning farms into land that is barren for agriculture. [CleanTechnica]

Glennoe Farms, Arkansas

¶ “‘Keep It In The Ground’ Activists Optimistic Despite Oil Boom” • A day after Trump failed to mention climate change in his State of the Union speech, Vermont Sen Bernie Sanders fired up a crowd of activists by mentioning Trump and his Cabinet appointees who lead the administration’s policies for energy and the environment. [Colorado Public Radio]

¶ “Hope from chaos: could political upheaval lead to a new green epoch?” • We face a “cumulative problem”, with temperatures rising relative to the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Based on this, the Paris 1.5° C and 2° C commitments demand total emissions remain within a small and rapidly dwindling “carbon budget.” [Phys.Org]

Offshore windpower (Credit: Dominic Alves | flickr, CC BY)

Science and Technology:

¶ The global ocean power market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 10% during the period 2018-2022, according to a market research study, Global Ocean Power Market 2018-2022, by Technavio. The report presents a comprehensive research of the global ocean power market by technology. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

World:

¶ Chinese suppliers of solar panels may be facing epic headwinds in the year ahead, as rising production capacity is set to coincide with growing trade protectionism in the US and India and a downturn in domestic demand. Chinese solar manufacturing supplied 55% to 83% of global demand for various solar products last year. [South China Morning Post]

Solar panels in China

¶ Google confirmed it is investing a further €500 million in expanding a Dutch data center. Google says the expansion is necessary to service the needs of both businesses and consumers as the take up of its cloud services increases. The expansion will take the company’s total investment in the data centre so far to about €1.5 billion. [Data Economy]

¶ Some Rwandans in remote areas of the country have decided not to wait for the government to provide them with electricity. Instead, they invested in off-grid energy to change lives in their villages. One village will soon bid farewell to darkness, thanks to a hydropower project that was designed by a local entrepreneur and built by local people. [KT Press]

Hydropower project in Rwanda

¶ The Canadian federal government’s Western Economic Diversification Ministry announced $7.5 million dollars for projects in the province driven by fourteen First Nations. First Nations Power Authority of Saskatchewan received $600,000 for renewable energy partnerships in First Nations communities and SaskPower. [CTV News]

US:

¶ The former site of a coal mine could be producing solar power by the end of 2020. Plans were unveiled by electricity provider TransAlta for a mine shut down in 2006. Reclamation work had begun the following year to restore it to forest and pasture land. But now, TransAlta believes it’s a prime location for a new solar project. [The Olympian]

Open pit mine in 2004 (Adam Amato | The Chronicle)

¶ In addition to the US federal tax credit for plug-in electric vehicle purchases, there is a smorgasbord of state incentives and policies that affect electric drivers. In fact, according to a report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, 43 states and the District of Columbia took some type of action having to do with EVs during 2017. [CleanTechnica]

¶ An expansion underway at the McGinness Hills Geothermal Facility near Austin, Nevada, will make the Ormat Technologies Inc complex the largest geothermal power generating facility in the state, and the largest located on Bureau of Land Management property. Ormat has developed eleven geothermal power plants in Nevada. [Elko Daily Free Press]

McGinness Hills Geothermal Facility

¶ Officials from state and local governments, Alabama Power, and Walmart celebrated the launch of AL Solar A, a 79.2-MW solar energy project developed by Alabama Power to help Walmart reach its corporate renewable energy goals. The project features more than 338,662 solar panels spread across 1,100 acres just south of LaFayette. [AL.com]

¶ In Florida, Gulf Power customers may be surprised to learn that some of the energy they use comes from wind. At the beginning of 2016, Gulf Power became the leading purchaser of wind energy in the state. That year it provided more than 1.7 million MWh of wind-generated energy, enough to power 131,842 houses. [NorthEscambia.com]

Wind turbines

¶ Despite a disaster-stricken 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency dropped discussions of climate change from its strategic plan, the document intended to guide the agency’s response to hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires through 2022. The plan projects that “rising natural hazard risk” will drive higher disaster costs. [InsideClimate News]

¶ Russia was behind a cyber intrusion of the business network tied to a nuclear power plant in Kansas, according to allegations made by the DHS and the FBI. The attacks on the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp in Burlington, Kansas, was one target of numerous cyberattacks against electric, water, and power plants in the US. [Kansas City Star]

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March 16 Energy News

March 16, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “US utilities have finally realized electric cars may save them” • This year, the Tennessee Valley Authority scrapped its 20-year projections through 2035. It was clear they had drastically underestimated how much renewable energy would depress demand for grid electricity. But EVs offer a bright spot for utilities in the future. [Quartz]

Transmission lines (Reuters | Mike Hutchings)

World:

¶ BayWa is entering the Dutch solar market by taking a 70% stake in a 2-GW project pipeline owned by the GroenLeven Group. GroenLeven will continue to hold a 30% interest. Tariffs have already been secured for about 800 MW of the pipeline, BayWa said. The deal is still subject to final approval from the relevant antitrust authorities. [reNews]

¶ Sumitomo Forestry Co recently released a plan to build the tallest wooden high-rise in the world. At a height of 350 meters and comprised of 90% wood, the building has been dubbed the W350. Wood is considered more environmentally friendly than most other building materials, and much of Japan is covered by unmanaged forest. [CleanTechnica]

Sumitomo Skyscraper (Image via Sumitomo Forestry Co)

¶ German chemicals producer BASF will use 100% renewable power at its headquarters in Ontario and its production plants in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, under a deal with local wind and hydropower producer Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog said it will produce power renewably to match BASF’s electricity consumption. [Renewables Now]

¶ India’s renewable energy capacity was 65 GW at the end of February 2018, government data shows. The country has set a goal of adding 175 GW of renewables capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW will be solar PV. The lowest tariffs have dropped to ₹2.43/kWh (3.7¢/kWh) for windpower, and solar power is close to matching this. [Renewables Now]

Cleaning solar panels in India (Photo: IBC Solar AG)

¶ British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta revealed plans to build the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in South Australia. Since its completion last year, the big Tesla battery in South Australia has surpassed expectations, regularly supplementing the state’s power grid to prevent widespread blackouts. Gupta’s battery would be about 20% larger. [Economic Times]

US:

¶ Massachusetts Gov Charlie Baker released a $1.4 billion bond bill that would authorize spending on climate change preparedness and environmental protection. The bill provides $300 million to respond to the impacts of climate change, including $170 million to repair dams and sea walls and help coastal communities. [MassLive.com]

Storm at Lynn, Massachusetts

¶ Georgia Power said that it awarded power purchase agreements for three new solar projects totaling 510 MW to be built in Central, South, and Southwest Georgia through the company’s Renewable Energy Development Initiative. The company expects to add up to 1,600 MW of additional renewable energy by 2021. [Daily Energy Insider]

¶ Xcel Energy filed a stipulation with a coalition of 14 diverse groups, asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to approve a process that could lead to $2.5 billion in clean energy investments in rural Colorado, without bill increases. Upper portfolio estimates are 1,000 MW of wind, 700 MW of solar and 700 MW of natural gas. [Windpower Engineering]

Denver, Colorado

¶ The Southern Environmental Law Center and Environmental Defense Fund are suing the EPA for failing to release information about the Heartland Institute’s efforts to attack climate science. Officials at the Heartland Institute, a promoter of climate denial, publicly stated that EPA requested their assistance in a review of climate science. [Augusta Free Press]

¶ Allete Clean Energy will construct, own, and operate an 80-MW wind energy facility near Great Falls, Montana. ACE acquired the South Peak project from Peak Clean Energy and is managing construction. It will supply electricity to NorthWestern Energy under a power sale agreement. The facility is scheduled to be online in 2019. [Electric Light & Power]

Wind farm

¶ The DOE wants to spend $175 million on a program that would include designing at least two small-scale, coal-fired power plants. The units would have a capacity of about 200 MW, roughly one-third the size of a typical generator that uses coal. The assistant secretary for fossil fuel claimed that mini plants could be fired up quickly. [Bloomberg]

¶ According to an alert from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Russia has hacked into many of our government entities and domestic companies in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors. This is essentially most of what makes our country go. [Forbes]

Browns Ferry control room (Archives of Les Corrice)

¶ The Arizona Corporation Commission has voted 3-2 not to acknowledge the 15-year plans by electric utilities Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power, and Unisource Energy Services. The body also put a 9-month halt to natural gas development via a 4-1 vote. The ACC suggested a plan calling for 80% clean energy by 2050. [pv magazine USA]

¶ The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill allowing larger businesses to get into net metering. The bill would increase five-fold the size of net metering systems, from 1 MW, perhaps a size for a midsize store or a town hall, to 5 MW, which might be used by facilities like those of BAE Systems or Foss Manufacturing. [New Hampshire Business Review]

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March 15 Energy News

March 15, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “South Australia’s renewable energy future hanging by a thread” • It is an election that is impossible to call. And too important to ignore. Just two days out from the South Australia state election, a three-way race, the result is in the balance. And so is the fate of South Australia’s status as a world leader in renewable energy. [RenewEconomy]

Artist’s impression of a plant to be built by SolarReserve

¶ “Solar saves carbon faster and more effectively than nuclear power” • Renewable electricity, chiefly from wind and solar power, adds electricity generation and saves carbon faster than nuclear power does or ever has, according to a data-rich new study by Amory Lovins and three colleagues at Rocky Mountain Institute. [Solar Builder]

Science and Technology:

¶ Exposure to common levels of residential air pollution during fetal development is linked with cognitive impairment and the presence of brain abnormalities, a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry found. Notably, the levels of residential air pollution in question are lower than levels currently considered to be “safe.” [CleanTechnica]

Air pollution

¶ A study published on March 13th in Nature Communications suggests that the northeast region of the US may experience more frequent and stronger winter storms due to rapidly rising temperatures in the Arctic. The study was done by researchers from Atmospheric and Environmental Research and Rutgers University. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Researchers at the University of Maryland claim to have found a way to strip away lignin and hemicellulose from wood. They say that the result, which they call “nanowood” costs less and has insulating qualities that are superior to many insulation materials commonly used in building construction today. Nanowood is also stronger. [CleanTechnica]

Nanowood

¶ US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed the “carbon footprint on wind [energy] is significant.” But wind power’s carbon footprint is among the smallest of any energy source. The carbon footprints of coal and natural gas are close to 90 and 40 times larger, respectively, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory says. [FactCheck.org]

World:

¶ The 226-MW Murra Warra Wind Farm Stage One announced financial close after securing investments from developer Renewable Energy Systems and banking giant Macquarie Group. Construction my commence immediately on the 61-turbine development. The Murra Warra Wind Farm Stage One is in northwestern Victoria. [CleanTechnica]

Macarthur Wind Farm

¶ Volkswagen, which is embroiled in ongoing disputes with German diesel car owners, is pushing ahead with plans to introduce an electrified version of all 300 models it sells by 2025. To make that happen, it has committed to buying $25 billion worth of batteries and associated components from three global battery manufacturers. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has committed to provide partial funding for a A$1 million ($788,900) project in Tasmania, seeking to determine whether wind farms can provide frequency control services to the power grid and whether this is economically viable. The trial will be carried out at the 168-MW Musselroe wind park. [Renewables Now]

Tasmanian wind turbines (Ian Cochrane, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

¶ Renewable power plants generated over 100% of Portugal’s power for a period of 69 hours in March, local media report. The Portuguese Association of Renewable Energy said Portuguese renewable plants cover 54% of power demand on average, reducing annual imports of fossil fuels by €750 million ($928 million). [Renewables Now]

US:

¶ Encore Renewable Energy has commissioned a 200-kW roof-mounted solar array at the von Trapp Brewing & Bierhall in Stowe, Vermont. The electricity generated by the array will provide a clean source of electricity for Stowe Electric Department, with all renewable energy credits associated with the array being retired. [Solar Power World]

Von Trapp solar array

¶ After breaking a few energy storage records with its battery system projects in Australia, Tesla looks to come back to the US to build a new world’s largest Powerpack battery system in Colorado. Xcel Energy had requested bids for major renewable energy and storage projects in Colorado, and Tesla is one of the companies bidding. [Electrek]

¶ Boston-based developer WinnCompanies has completed the largest community solar project in Washington, DC, with a renewable energy facility installed on the community’s roofs. There are also plans for additional solar projects throughout the city in the near future, with a goal to reduce energy bills for low-income residents. [Curbed DC]

Community solar (Photo via WinnCompanies)

¶ Georgia Power, which announced a goal of 1.6 GW of renewable energy by 2021, is going to hit that goal with solar alone before the end of 2019. The company’s current goal for 2021 includes residential, community solar, and larger projects. Georgia Power already has 970 MW of solar capacity online and 649 MW of large scale project coming. [pv magazine USA]

¶ Southern California electricity provider NRG Energy has announced that it will retire three natural gas-fired power plants across Southern California over the next 10 months. California continues to make progress toward its bold renewable energy generation goals as residents increasingly oppose fossil fuel fired power plants there. [CleanTechnica]

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March 14 Energy News

March 14, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “What I Learned from 14 Years of Shooting ‘Images from a Warming Planet'” • After spending 14 years taking photos of the effects of climate change, Ashley Cooper, spoke of the Paris Agreement. “Having witnessed the scale of the destruction currently being wreaked around the world at a 1° rise and under, this is too little and too late.” [Sustainable Brands]

Lake Hume, Australia

Science and Technology:

¶ About half of all plants and animals in 35 of the world’s most biodiverse places are at risk of extinction due to climate change, a report claims. The report was published the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF. It projected loss of nearly 80,000 plants and animals in 35 diverse and wildlife-rich areas. [CNN]

World:

¶ In Australia, the Greens proposed mandatory fuel efficiency standards, ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and imposing a four-year 17% tax on luxury petrol and diesel cars as part of an electric vehicle policy. They propose that Australia adopt a mandatory fuel efficiency standard of 105 g of CO2 per kilometer by 2022. [The Guardian]

Australian highway (Photo: Southern Stock | Getty Images)

¶ The United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding that commits the two countries to working together on developing new technologies to reduce carbon emissions. They will share technical knowledge with each other, including information on smart grids, electric vehicles, and carbon capture technology. [CleanTechnica]

¶ An Australian first trial is taking wind farms from passive producers that sell all their output in a slab to more active participants in the energy market. Neoen Australia’s South Australian Hornsdale 2 wind farm carried out a trial that could see wind replace coal, gas, and even pumped hydro in providing energy stability. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Wind plus storage at Hornsdale (Photo: Tesla)

¶ The UK’s Swindon Borough Council has given the planning green light to Public Power Solutions to build the 50-MW Mannington Depot battery storage project. PPS said it has kicked off discussions with storage developers seeking front-of-meter opportunities to take on the funding and construction of the project. [reNews]

¶ GE Renewable Energy announced the installation of the first GE Haliade 150-6-MW offshore wind turbine at the 396-MW Merkur Offshore Windfarm in Germany, located approximately 35 km north of the island of Borkum, in the North Sea. It will provide enough clean energy to power around 500,000 homes in the region. [Windpower Engineering]

Offshore wind farm

¶ GE Renewable Energy and Fina Enerji signed an agreement to work on eight potential wind projects in Turkey. Together, the wind farms will provide up to 410 MW of power. They will be located in different regions of Turkey. The agreement supports Turkey’s national goal of reaching a capacity of 20 GW of wind power. [North American Windpower]

¶ Transmission system operator 50Hertz Transmission GmbH said it got 53.4% of its power from renewables in 2017, surpassing 50% for the first time. The installed renewable energy capacity in the operator’s area rose to 31 GW last year from about 29 GW in 2016. Its area of distribution is the Northeast of Germany, the former East Germany. [Renewables Now]

Wind farm in the Baltic Sea

¶ The slow-moving small modular reactor market saw some positive activity in recent weeks. Ukraine signed a memorandum of understanding with Holtec International to have Holtec’s SMR-160 nuclear reactors built there. Canada may also develop a design. But one expert predicts the technology would never be commercialized. [Greentech Media]

US:

¶ Arnold Schwarzenegger is steaming mad at oil companies. He plans to do something about their reprehensible, irresponsible behavior that has put billions of people at risk around the world. During an interview with Politico, he said he is personally going to take them to court “for knowingly killing people all over the world.” [CleanTechnica]

Arnold Schwarzenegger

¶ Recently passed legislation in Virginia shifts the renewable energy landscape by finding 5.5 GW of solar and wind energy are in the public interest and expediting the state’s renewable energy project regulatory approval process. It also provides for energy storage. Now, Virginia Gov Ralph Northam signed the 2018 omnibus energy bill into law. [Platts]

¶ The City of Flagstaff and the Hopi Tribe have partnered up to explore development of a 19-MW renewable energy project on land leased from the tribe outside of the city. City officials say the partnership is aimed at helping the city achieve its 100% renewable energy goal for city government operations, with a power purchase agreement. [KAFF News]

Solar farm in Arizona (Purina employee, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Walmart, Inc, have reached a settlement agreement on PSO’s proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection project in the Oklahoma Panhandle. PSO and Walmart are requesting that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approve the windpower project under the terms of the agreement. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The largest community solar power project in the state of New York is now complete, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is located in the Sullivan County town of Callicoon. The 2 .7-MW solar array can produce enough power to provide electricity for 350 households and small businesses. It runs on 9,800 individual solar panels. [Albany Times Union]

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March 13 Energy News

March 13, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Clean Energy Is Key to New England’s Fuel Security” • ISO New England, which operates the New England power grid, filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raising concerns that reliance on natural gas could undermine grid security due to potential wintertime shortfalls in gas supply. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Block Island Wind Farm (National Renewable Energy Lab | flickr)

World:

¶ Late last month, the Solar Energy Corporation of India launched a Request for Proposal for what will be the single largest solar power auction in the country’s history. This tender for 3 GW of capacity will overtake a 2 GW tender launched by the state of Telangana in 2015 to become India’s largest solar power tender ever. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new analysis from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has revealed that cities are actually generating up to 60% more greenhouse gasses than currently estimated due to the impact of trade in goods and services, but this means cities now have even greater opportunities to deliver on the Paris Climate Agreement goals. [CleanTechnica]

Mexico City

¶ Norway has just two fully operational electric-powered ferries, but more are coming. By 2023 the country’s entire ferry fleet will be all-electric or hybrid technology, experts say. Electric cruise liners are also coming there, and elsewhere in Europe, the electrification of maritime travel is gradually beginning to take off. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

¶ Thirty ore trucks at Sweden’s Aitik mine work 24 hours per day, each hauling 310 ton loads of rocks up steep inclines. Each consumes 100 gallons of diesel oil per hour. Now, with a grant from the Swedish Energy Agency, Caterpillar is converting some of the trucks to run exclusively on electric power taken from overhead wires. [CleanTechnica]

Caterpillar 795F mining truck

¶ A South African court granted an order to stop the state-owned utility from signing deals for renewable power projects worth $4.7 billion, the applicants in the case said. They had argued that the utility already has excess capacity and signing the deals would force coal-fired power plants to shut down, resulting in job losses. [Bloomberg]

¶ The City of Sydney is supporting a $2.25 million Ausgrid program that could boost apartment solar uptake in the area. Ausgrid has the second lowest rate of solar uptake in Australia due to its large number of apartments and commercial buildings, but the project could increase the number of PV installations on such properties. [Energy Matters]

Sydney (Image: Pixabay)

¶ Media reports say Diu (2001 pop 21,576) has become the first union territory in India to be fully powered by solar power. The power department of Diu has set up a total solar power capacity of 13 MW. Of this, 10 MW is in ground-based systems and 3 MW in rooftop systems. The excess power generation is used to offset nighttime needs from the grid. [CleanTechnica]

¶ AGL, the biggest coal generator in Australia, says there will still be too much baseload power in New South Wales, even after the ageing Liddell coal plant is closed in 2022. AGL vowed to replace Liddell with a mixture of wind, solar, battery storage, demand management, a new generator, and an upgrade of the Bayswater coal-fired power station. [RenewEconomy]

Liddell Power Station

US:

¶ Each year, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance rates each state’s energy policies based on how they help or hinder local clean energy action. In 2018, 21 states had a failing grade, 17 were mediocre, 11 had a passing grade, and just 2 excelled at enabling residents to act individually and collectively to take charge of their energy future. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The three largest California electric utilities are well on their way to meeting the state’s mandate of sourcing 33% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. But they did not procure any new renewable energy capacity last year, and the California Public Utilities Commission has proposed they procure nearly none in 2018. [Inhabitat]

California solar array

¶ The Union of Concerned Scientists has updated its information on vehicle emissions and finds that a conventional car in America today needs an average fuel economy of 80 mpg to have the same carbon footprint as a typical EV. Last year, that number was 73 mpg. The reason for the change is that the electric utility grid is getting greener. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kentucky sunshine captured from about a dozen solar panels will be used to spin the carousel at the Louisville Zoo. The new project, which should be complete by the end of the week, will be among the most highly visible solar installations in the city. And organizers say that visibility is important to help inform the public about solar energy. [89.3 WFPL]

Carousel at the Louisville Zoo (Photo: Ryan Van Velzer)

¶ Calpine Corp wants to suspend its application to build a gas-fired plant near Santa Paula, California. Citing the recent request for offers on renewable energy projects by Southern California Edison, Calpine stated last week that there does not appear to be an opportunity for the Mission Rock Energy Center power plant project. [Ventura County Star]

¶ A three-judge federal appeals court panel heard arguments in a case regarding New York’s zero-emissions credit program for the state’s economically struggling nuclear plants. The legal battle highlights friction of state policy with federal jurisdiction and market integrity. The plaintiffs argue New York’s nuclear subsidy program oversteps its legal authority. [Platts]

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March 12 Energy News

March 12, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “14 Experts Share Their 2018 Electric Vehicle Predictions & Developments” • 2017 was the year the question around the future of EVs went from “If?” to “When?” And so far, 2018 sees continuing momentum. Not a week goes by without some announcement about a new EV, fast charging networks, and battery technology. [CleanTechnica]

2017 electric vehicle news headlines

Science and Technology:

¶ Utilities can increase their efficiency by using more artificial intelligence technology, such as software to predict demand swings in the power grid or control home appliances, according to consultancy Roland Berger. European utilities could achieve efficiency gains of up to a fifth over the next five years using such technology, it said. [Reuters]

¶ In a shocking melting event, half of the ice in the Bering Sea disappeared during a two-week period in February, according to Rick Thoman, a climate scientist with the National Weather Service in Alaska. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist based in Alaska, posted “overall sea ice extent on February 20 was the lowest on record.” [DesMoinesRegister.com]

Bering Sea bearded seal (Photo: NOAA, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ Heads of the states from 23 nations hailed the efforts of the International Solar Alliance at its founding summit for providing a common platform to work for clean energy. They underlined the importance of clean energy, particularly for developing countries who want to save huge fuel costs and give the planet a cleaner future. [Economic Times]

¶ German energy giant EON plans to take over Innogy, the renewables subsidiary of competitor RWE, in a €20 billion deal, the companies said. The in-principle agreement involving asset swaps is part of a major restructuring of Germany’s energy market, as Europe’s top economy switches from conventional to renewable power. [The Local Germany]

German house with solar PVs (Photo: Andre Laaks | innogy SE)

¶ Forty years after the last streetlight was turned off at Kiritimati Island, a renewable energy company based in South Canterbury, New Zealand, is turning them on again. The 66 lights have been installed as part of the Kiritimati Renewable Energy Project, which includes a 150-kW solar PV plant, reducing dependence on diesel. [Timaru Herald]

¶ Italy’s Ministry of Development submitted to the country’s State-Regions Conference and the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment a draft decree for the introduction of a new incentive scheme. It includes a mixed wind-solar auction mechanism for about 4.8 GW of projects over 1 MW. [pv magazine International]

Italian solar array (Image: Meeco)

¶ Carnegie Clean Energy has revealed plans to develop a 10-MW solar farm, with up to 10 MWh of battery storage, in an industrial area of Western Australia. The developer said it had secured in-principle approval to negotiate a lease to build, own, and operate a battery equipped solar farm at  a heavy industry hub north-east of Bunbury. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Turkey’s first nuclear power plant is unlikely to be ready in 2023, as planned. Rosatom is looking for Turkish partners for 49% of the power plant, but has had difficulties in finding partners at a local level. Rosatom is negotiating with four Turkish companies the join financing of the project, but little progress has been made so far. [Finance Appraise]

Nuclear power plant

¶ After seven years, most of the nuclear refugees from Futaba, where the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown took place, have resigned themselves to the fact that they must build new lives elsewhere and will never be able to return home. They cling to memories of the past, while officials maintain optimism about a future for the town. [Kyodo News Plus]

US:

¶ For the Winnebago Tribe and people, the battle for sovereignty is taking place in a field and on roofs across their reservation. It is a battle for energy independence that can best be seen in the black solar panels that the tribe has installed on rooftops and at its solar farm. Since 2008, the tribe has installed nearly 1,000 of the panels. [Sioux City Journal]

Solar array of the Winnebago Tribe (Photo: Ho-Chunk Inc)

¶ Cherryland Electric Cooperative, a utility in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, is taking part in a pilot program to help low-income customers cut their power bills through renewable energy and energy waste reduction efforts. Officials say the coop expects to help lower energy bills for 50 low-income households. [Petoskey News-Review]

¶ SCANA Corp knew its contractors were mismanaging millions of dollars in construction materials soon after work at the VC Summer Nuclear Station began in 2013, but the company was unable to stop the waste before it had to abandon the $9 billion project. Records suggest SCANA never got its contractors to correct the problems. [Charleston Post Courier]

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March 11 Energy News

March 11, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “As The Climate Changes And The Earth Warms, Where’s The Safest Place On Earth To Live?” • From the most populous cities to the loneliest, isolated islets, everyone, everywhere will be affected in some way by climate change. Not everyone’s circumstances are equal, though, and climate change resilience varies widely from place to place. [IFLScience]

The Power of Nature (Zacarias Pereira da Mata | Shutterstock)

¶ “Electric Car Myth Buster – Efficiency” • The merchants of doubt paid for by the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry are out in full force, incorrectly publishing article after article about how electric cars are just as bad for the environment as gas and diesel ones, or possibly even worse than cars powered by gasoline or diesel engines. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Renewable Energy Has More Economic Benefits Than You Know” • Renewable energy is already cheaper than other energy options in most of the world, but it comes with other economic and societal benefits as well. Because of the number of countries investing in renewable energy, this article has just a short listing of benefits. [CleanTechnica]

Senftenberg Solarpark

Science and Technology:

¶ Increasing temperatures and glacial caving continue as Mother Nature gets hotter, at the top of our world as elsewhere. A recent update from The Guardian notes that the increasing temperature from recent weather data is worrying the scientists who firmly watch the effects of climate change and know what they could mean for human wellbeing. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ India and France announced before the International Solar Alliance summit that they will partner to start a solar revolution. India wants to be a leader for developing nations in clean energy. France is looking for markets to sell its innovations and try to bridge the gap United States left open when it exited from the Paris Agreement. [The Sunday Guardian]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron

¶ French President Emmanuel Macron today said $1 trillion will be needed to achieve one TW of solar power capacity by 2030. Speaking alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the first conference of the International Solar Alliance, he mentioned the financing and regulation hurdles for achieving the target that need to be cleared. [Economic Times]

¶ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a 10-point action plan to promote the use of solar energy at the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance in New Delhi. Addressing the conference, which was founded by India, he said India will generate 175 GW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2022. [The Statesman]

Indian solar thermal plant (Bkwcreator, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Traditional sources of energy are still favored in Japan. But seven years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Fukushima Prefecture remains committed to becoming an international center for renewable-energy research and a domestic pioneer by meeting 100% of its energy demand via renewables by 2040. [The Japan Times]

¶ They bowed their heads, hands clasped or palms firmly pressed together. They stood in grassy areas or roadsides overlooking the choppy sea. In Japan’s capital, they lit candles and offered flowers. Some dabbed at tears. Japanese marked the seventh anniversary of a tsunami that took more than 18,000 lives and triggered a nuclear disaster. [NBC4i.com]

Tsunami anniversary (Yusuke Ogata | Kyodo News via AP)

US:

¶ Climate change is expected to drive demand for clean energy in the decades ahead, giving an edge to countries that invest in low-carbon technologies. President Trump is pushing to cut spending on clean energy research, undermining any hope for US competitiveness as the chief economic rivals aim to double public funding for the same. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Although factors such as poor planning and population growth are exacerbating droughts in some regions, there is one common culprit that is behind the water crises around the globe: climate change. And climate change is not a future event. In fact, it is already affecting three big American cities and the daily lives of millions. [CleanTechnica]

Los Angeles

¶ Two years ago, residents of Maine’s Mount Desert Island formed A Climate to Thrive, seeking to help MDI “become an epicenter of citizen engagement, environmental sustainability and economic vitality.” A big part of that vision is to make MDI energy-independent by 2030, relying solely on local, renewable power. [Press Herald]

¶ Coal producer Murray Energy has lobbied on the latest bill to roll back what it called “expensive, job-killing Renewable Energy Mandates” in Ohio. Meanwhile the company has been fighting for government intervention to prevent the closure of the old and uncompetitive coal-fired power plants, which it depends on as customers. [pv magazine USA]

Coal-fired power plant (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ A regional developer and operator of large-scale commercial solar energy installations is proposing a $10 million, 7-MW project in Lenox, Massachusetts. Syncarpha Capital’s project could power 200 to 500 homes and small businesses through cost-saving community solar agreements, the project developer told the Planning Board. [Berkshire Eagle]

¶ Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been pushing the idea of nationally televised debates challenging climate science. But John Kelly, the embattled White House chief of staff, killed the idea for fear it could become “a damaging spectacle,” according to a report in The New York Times. [ThinkProgress]

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March 10 Energy News

March 10, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Changing Course: Coal Country Students Working For A Power Switch” • Arlie Boggs Elementary sits between Kentucky’s two tallest mountains in a remote area that once had a booming coal economy. Ten years ago there were over a thousand coal miners employed here in Letcher county. Today, there are just 28. [Ohio Valley ReSource]

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern
Kentucky (Photo: Jeff Young | Ohio Valley ReSource)

Science and Technology:

¶ A collaboration project between MIT and a private company, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, is using a new, relatively cheap material to make extra-strong magnets, a crucial part of nuclear fusion reactors. The head of the fusion company involved told the Guardian that he could “put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.” [Grist]

¶ A team of scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne have figured out to build rechargeable “proton” batteries from abundant carbon and water, instead of lithium. If the new battery technology is commercialized, it could allow for less expensive Powerwall-type home or grid storage to back up solar panels or windmills. [Engadget]

Battery demonstration (RMIT image)

World:

¶ Nitrogen oxides, pollutants that are closely associated with diesel fuel combustion in diesel cars and trucks, cause the early deaths of around 6,000 people a year in Germany, the country’s Federal Environmental Agency has revealed. Only recently, a German court ruled that cities have the right to ban diesel vehicles. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Some hydroelectric dams on European rivers are expected to see greatly reduced water flows with the decline of Alpine glaciers due to climate change. Executives at the Compagnie Nationale du Rhone hydropower group have reportedly begun planning to increase greatly their investments in renewable energy projects. [CleanTechnica]

European hydropower facility

¶ The European Investment Bank provided €1.05 billion ($1.29 billion) in new funding for global solar projects in 2017, the most finance it has provided in one year for the sector. India received most of the money, with a total of €640 million going to new PV investments. Mexico and Peru were also recipients in 2017, as well as 13 EU countries, EIB said. [reNews]

¶ The Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia closed 2017 with 7,895 MW of installed renewable energy capacity. Data from the Observatory of the Association of Renewable Energies of Andalusia said wind power is the region’s top green energy source with 3,338 MW, and it can supply power for 1.44 million households. [Renewables Now]

Wind turbines in Spain (petter palander, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

¶ Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy announced updates of conditions for contracting power supplies for consumer markets in the country’s isolated areas. The initiative was developed to guarantee the supply of electric power to over 200 localities in the north of Brazil that have no connection to the national grid system. [pv magazine International]

US:

¶ New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydro project were selected for contract awards at an average price of 2.117¢/kWh ($21.17/MWh) to help the state meet its clean energy goals. The renewable energy projects will collectively add over 1,380 MW of capacity. [Platts]

Wind farm in New York (Windtech, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ New York Governor Cuomo said he had formally asked for the state to be excluded from a federal offshore drilling program that proposes to make over 90% of the total US offshore acreage available to oil and gas drilling. Cuomo said drilling would threaten the state’s ocean resources and endanger efforts toward a cleaner energy economy. [Business Insider]

¶ While steel company CEOs say tariffs will bring back American jobs, numerous trade experts, industry groups, politicians and even members of the aluminum industry argue tariffs will not revitalize US manufacturing and could harm other segments of the economy in the process. The clean energy industry is one of those segments. [Greentech Media]

Steel working (Shutterstock image)

¶ In 2015, 21 children and young adults, in conjunction with Our Children’s Trust, filed a lawsuit claiming that US climate policies violated their constitutional rights. The government asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower courts’s refusal to dismiss the case. A three judge panel ruled that the case can proceed. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Florida Power & Light Co has integrated a 40-MWh battery-storage system into its 74.5-MW Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County, Florida. FPL notes that this is the largest solar-plus-storage system in the US. The batteries will extend power delivery into evening hours and add power as needed to meet peak demand. [Solar Industry]

Babcock Ranch solar array

¶ Officials at Same Sun of Vermont say that they are aware of concerns about the solar industry, but also that their business is doing well and expanding. They even hope to hire several new employees this year. Same Sun recently moved to a new space in Rutland, where it has been able to add a solar awning and an EV car-charging station. [Rutland Herald]

¶ The Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin held a press conference announcing results of independent testing of dust found covering homes, cars, and a neighborhood playground near coal-burning power plants in Milwaukee. It was coal dust. Coal dust contains toxic metals, including lead, mercury, and arsenic. [urbanmilwaukee]

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March 9 Energy News

March 9, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Offshore wind firms up the ante in Europe” • Offshore wind used to be portrayed as the costly renewable energy option that only got developed if onshore wind was too difficult to build or sell to the public. But, with the industry sinking money into ever more efficient technology, the sector is starting to stand on its own two feet. [Petroleum Economist]

Towing a floating wind turbine

Science and Technology:

¶ Software Motor Company claims its switched reluctance motors will cut energy use by 20–50% compared to Nema Premium motors in the 1-5 hp (0.75-3.7 kW) range, and will typically pay for themselves within 6 to 36 months. SMC and the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Labs are presenting a webinar on March 12 2018. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The city of Katowice in Poland has begun using drones outfitted with various air quality sensors to locate illegal emissions sources and otherwise hard-to-find offenders. Poland reportedly has something of a problem with regard to the burning of illegal fuel materials in households and buildings, leading to air pollution problems. [CleanTechnica]

Emissions

¶ The companies currently committed to the RE100 campaign will need to procure an estimated 172 TWh (172,000 GWh) more clean energy generation by 2030 to meet their renewable energy targets, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “RE100 Signatories to Spur $94 billion Investment Opportunity.” [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The right-wing Polish government seems to be making a 180-degree turnaround on sustainable energy in the country, and investors look eagerly forward to new renewable energy auctions later this year. The winners of the 2017 renewable capacity sell-off are set to erect the first PV plants under the scheme as early as this summer. [Renewables Now]

Wind turbines in Poland (Author: Karolina Kabat)

US:

¶ Fracking will make the US the largest supplier of oil and gas in the world by 2023, Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency told the press at the CERAWeek energy conference. At the event, which was hosted by IHS Markit in Houston last week, he said, “About 80% of the global oil production growth comes from the US.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ The US will supply much of the world’s additional oil for the next few years, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Over the next three years, the US will cover 80% of the world’s demand growth, the IEA says. Canada, Brazil, and Norway will cover the remainder, leaving no room for more OPEC supply. [CleanTechnica]

California pumpjacks (Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Ohio-based Fifth Third Bank has become the first Fortune 500 company, the first bank, and the first RE100 member to achieve its goal of securing 100% of its power with renewables in a single Power Purchase Agreement from a single project. The project is an 80-MW solar project in North Carolina being developed by SunEnergy1. [CleanTechnica]

¶ While California and other solar-heavy states are leading on energy storage targets, experts say Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, with political support, could quickly close the gap. A senior Union of Concerned Scientists analyst said we are “going there” because costs of storage and renewable technology are falling. [Energy News Network]

A 2-MW battery near Sterling, Massachusetts

¶ General Motors is powering its operations in Flint, Michigan, with clean energy from Consumer Energy’s 44-MW Cross Winds 2 wind farm. Electricity from the project located in Tuscola County is being supplied to GM’s metal center and engine operations in Flint. The wind farm has been operational since coming on line in January. [reNews]

¶ Last year, the Trump administration announced it would withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement and repeal the Clean Power Plan. But a study from a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that the US can meet its commitment to the international climate agreement without the Clean Power Plan. [Michigan Radio]

Wind turbine (cwwycoff1 | Flickr)

¶ David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables, Inc, announced that the proposed Kidder Hill Community Wind installation in Lowell, Vermont has been suspended. Citing a turbulent climate for renewable wind energy in Vermont and the urgent need for renewables to be built, he said resources will go elsewhere. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ A report by Synapse Energy Economics and Food & Water Watch shows that with new wind and solar sources, investments in storage, energy efficiency, and smart grid management, the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water can achieve a 100% clean energy system by the 2030 without raising costs for its ratepayers. [Windpower Engineering]

Los Angeles

¶ Oklahoma Gas & Electric and SunPower Corp have completed a 10-MW solar PV power plant in Covington, Oklahoma. The Covington solar plant is expected to generate enough electricity to serve the needs of over 1,000 average Oklahoma homes. OG&E owns the renewable energy credits associated with the system. [Solar Industry]

¶ By a 107-1 vote, South Carolina lawmakers advanced a measure addressing utility bills in the wake of failure of the VC Summer nuclear plant construction. Now the state’s Senate will consider the measure. That chamber has yet to agree to previous House measures that included cutting customers’ payments for the shuttered project. [Utility Products]

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March 8 Energy News

March 8, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “China’s Power Move” • Over the past decade, Beijing has undeniably dealt a blow to the United States in the clean energy technology market. China is now the world’s dominant producer of solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries as it continues to capture strategic, advanced technology markets. Beijing has its eye on power lines next. [Scientific American]

Solar power at a fish pond (China News Service, Getty Images)

¶ “FirstEnergy lobbying seeks to thwart the public’s interest in lower electricity rates” • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejection of the US DOE proposal to prop up coal and nuclear was a big win for American families, competitive markets, and the environment. But it was a setback for two politically powerful Ohio companies. [cleveland.com]

Science and Technology:

¶ In a paper in energy-related journal Joule, researchers said that some studies and models used to predict how whole energy systems may run on near-100% renewable energy by 2050 may fail to take into account “real-world challenges” or to consider power transmission, energy storage, and requirements for system operability. [Clean Energy News]

Renewable energy

¶ A major report released this week by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration highlights a growing threat facing coastal communities in all parts of the United States. As sea levels rise due to global warming, the kind of flooding currently experienced only in storms will happen during normal high tides. [CNN]

World:

¶ Finnish consultancy Poyry has been chosen by Clic Innovation to manage an energy storage project on the Aland archipelago in the Baltic Sea. The storage system is part of six pilot schemes backed by the Finnish government to supply the 30,000 inhabitants of the 6500 islands that make up Aland with renewable energy. [reNews]

Wind turbine (Pixabay image)

¶ UN Secretary-General António Guterres has announced the appointment of US businessman and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg as his Special Envoy for Climate Action. Bloomberg was a promoted from a position as Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. In the new position, he will engage leaders on a worldwide basis. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The UK has continued to reduce carbon emissions. Driving that decarbonization was a further 19% decline in coal use, marking the continuation of a trend that has seen emissions from UK electricity cut in half since 2012. (There are, it should be noted, legitimate questions to be had about biomass replacing coal in this transition.) [Treehugger]

Offshore windpower (Some rights reserved by NHD-INFO)

¶ The Climate Council has released its latest report, Clean & Reliable Energy: Roadmap To A Renewable Future. The report features 12 key policy principles for any national energy and climate policy framework, including calls for the rollout of a minimum 50%-70% renewable energy target across Australia by 2030. [EcoGeneration]

¶ Energy groups risk wasting $1.6 trillion, about a third of their investments to 2025, by assuming that current emissions-cutting policies will not be tightened up in the light of the latest science and international climate change goals, according to the think tank Carbon Tracker, in a report, Mind the gap: the $1.6 trillion energy transition risk. [Forbes]

Oil sands project in Alberta (AP | Eamon Mac Mahon)

US:

¶ Groups of Republican college students, “Students For Carbon Dividends,” are organizing support for a plan put forth by James Baker, and George Schultz, Secretaries of State under George W. H. Bush and Ronald Reagan, respectively. The Baker/Schultz plan is simple. It would impose a tax of $40 a ton on all carbon emissions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The US is making economic and energy efficiency gains as renewable and sustainable energy projects continue to get built, and Oklahoma is doing its part and then some, according to Ethan Zindler, the head of US research at Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance. He discussed Oklahoma’s role with legislators and state-based reporters. [NewsOK.com]

Oklahoma wind turbines

¶ The US energy storage market is officially growing up. GTM Research’s US Energy Storage Monitor 2017 Year in Review says it installed 431 MWh of grid-connected energy storage in 2017, surpassing 1 GWh of cumulative capacity installed between 2013 and 2017. Its forecasts predict that figure will nearly double re in 2018 alone. [CleanTechnica]

¶ ABB is to provide microgrids to the Alaskan communities of Deering and Buckland, which are both north of the Arctic Circle, to boost supplies of electricity generated by wind power and reduce costs associated with diesel power. The technology includes the ABB Ability Microgrid Plus automation system and PowerStore storage technology. [reNews]

Alaskan village of Buckland (NANA Archives)

¶ President Trump’s plans to slap a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% levy on non-American aluminum, if enacted, would likely trigger a rapid increase in prices that could force GE to re-value its $134 billion backlog across its power, renewable energy, and oil & gas businesses, a move its customers would likely resist. [TheStreet.com]

¶ The CEO of city-owned San Antonio utility CPS Energy said it wants to generate at least 50% of its power from renewable sources by 2040, part of a plan that includes 550 MW of battery storage, as it reduces its dependence on fossil fuels. But the utility will continue to operate its coal and natural gas-fired power plants. [POWER magazine]

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March 7 Energy News

March 7, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Michigan farmers, residents praise wind power” • Research from the University of Michigan found that farmers with wind turbines on their property are more likely to pass their farm lands on to their children and twice as likely to continue investing in their homes and property as farmers lacking wind energy resources. [Yale Climate Connections]

Michigan wind turbines

Science and Technology:

¶ Research from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, “Scenarios towards limiting global mean temperature increase below 1.5 °C“, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, says there are several ways to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement’s goal of 1.5° C by 2100, but the circumstances must be right. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ In December 2017, Gujarat had 5,526 MW of wind power generation capacity, the second highest state in India after Tamil Nadu, with a little over 7,800 MW. While the southern state is likely to remain at the top, Gujarat will see significant addition in wind power capacity over the next five years, and it is likely to cross 10,000 MW. [SteelGuru]

Gujarat wind power

¶ The European Commission said it approved the acquisition of sole control over Westinghouse Electric UK Holdings Limited of the UK and TSB Nuclear Energy Services Inc of the US (together Westinghouse), by asset manager Brookfield of Canada, under the EU Merger Regulation. Westinghouse is a supplier for the nuclear industry. [New Europe]

¶ France’s Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Sébastien Lecornu, announced that the government will launch a preliminary study into the feasibility of harnessing energy from tidal zones in Brittany and Normandy. The plan aligns with France’s commitment to developing a low-carbon economy. [South UE Summit]

Tidal Brittany (Massimo Shanti | Shutterstock.com)

¶ The South African Department of Energy said “very urgent attention” is being put on getting outstanding power purchase agreements signed with renewable energy independent power producers. The DoE director-general said agreement was needed on how to ensure that the program’s financial modelling was sustainable. [Creamer Media’s Engineering News]

¶ The South Australian government announced plans to help renewable energy developer Neoen build a 50-MW hydrogen “electrolyser.” It is to be powered by a new complex combining 300 MW of wind and solar with battery storage, enabling the manufacture of large quantities of “renewable hydrogen,” a green alternative to LNG. [RenewEconomy]

Proposed Crystal Brook wind farm (Source: Neoen)

¶ An auction to award 500 MW of windpower contracts in the Indian state of Maharashtra saw tariffs firming up, breaking a streak of plummeting prices for electricity generated from the wind. Adani Green Energy and KCT Renewable Energy offered to supply electricity at ₹2.85 per unit (4.39¢/kWh) in their bids for 75 MW each. [Economic Times]

US:

¶ The Supreme Court for New Mexico affirmed a final order by state regulators to allow Public Service Company of New Mexico to replace lost generation from two shuttered units at its 1,800-MW coal-fired San Juan Regional Generation Station with coal and nuclear resources. The replacement is planned to be from existing plants. [POWER magazine]

San Juan Generating Station (Courtesy: Kip Malone | PNM)

¶ Electricity in California would all come from sources like wind and solar if a bill in the Assembly becomes law. Senate Bill 100 boosts the state’s renewable electricity requirement to 60% by 2030. The bill also sets a goal of getting 100% of electricity from non-carbon emitting sources by 2045, Democratic state Senator Nancy Skinner said. [Capital Public Radio News]

¶ Solar power generation in Crook County, Oregon, took a big step forward this past fall and is poised to continue growing in the years ahead. SunPower Corp, which is headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley, announced construction of the Gala Solar Power Plant. By late October, the 56-MW facility was completed and operational. [OPB News]

Gala Solar Power Plant in Crook County (Courtesy: Avangrid)

¶ A federal judge in San Francisco ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what may be the first-ever US court hearing on the climate science. The preceding, scheduled for March 21, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron, and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland. [McClatchy Washington Bureau]

¶ On March 4, the California Independent System Operator saw a record percentage of demand served by solar, at 49.95%. The previous record was 47.2 %, set in May, 2017. On March 5, CAISO set another solar record, hitting a new peak for solar production of 10,411 MW. The previous record was 9,913 MW set in June, 2017. [Greentech Media]

Solar in the Golden State (Photo: Shutterstock)

¶ Kohler Co announced a 15-year agreement to purchase 100 MW of wind power per year from the Diamond Vista wind farm located near Salina, Kansas. Enel Green Power North America will construct the project this year and will be the long-term owner and operator of the nearly 300 MW wind project. The project is under construction. [EnerCom Inc.]

¶ A utility industry watchdog group claims that emails between Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and Georgia Power suggest Echols is too “cozy” with the company that he regulates. The decisions of Georgia PSC, the state agency that regulates natural gas and telecommunications, have a big impact on Georgians’ wallets. [WABE 90.1 FM]

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March 6 Energy News

March 6, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “How Lies, Greed, & Mismanagement Blew Up The ‘Clean Coal’ Myth” • The clean coal and carbon capture process was promised to make electricity with the lowest carbon footprint of any fossil fuel. The problem is, they lied. Despite investments of hundreds of millions of dollars by the federal government, the technology does not work. [CleanTechnica]

Kemper “clean coal” plant

World:

¶ It has been more than 40 years since Mazda licensed Wankel engine technology, and since then the company has used it in many applications. Now, Mazda says it may use a small version of its rotary power plant as a range extender engine for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Once again, its compact dimensions and low weight could make it ideal. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Costs have fallen in the latest French onshore wind tender. There were 22 projects awarded with a total capacity of 508.4 MW. The average winning price was €65/MWh (8.0¢/kWh), according to published results. Earlier auctions produced awards of over €72/MWh. Altogether, 900 MW of bids were submitted to the auction. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbine in France

¶ Tech giant Microsoft said it signed its first renewable energy deal in India for powering its new facility in Bengaluru. Microsoft will purchase 3 MW of solar-powered electricity from Atria Power for its new office building in the city, meeting 80% of the projected electricity needs at the facility, a statement from the company said. [India Today]

¶ Swedish power company Vattenfall announced that it plans to invest €100 million in large-scale solar energy generation over the next two years, as part of the company’s plans to become fossil free within a generation. Vattenfall plans to develop in areas where existing infrastructure can be used to reduce the overall cost of a project. [CleanTechnica]

Vattenfall’s Parc Cynog project in Wales

¶ In Australia, 3.5 million solar panels were installed on rooftops last year, surpassing the previous record, which had been set in 2012. Their total capacity of 1,057 MW will produce power equivalent to a medium-sized coal-fired power station. In Australia, a fully installed 5-KW system has an average price of A$5,930 ($4,610). [The Guardian]

¶ Australia’s top gas distribution network operator, Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, plans to mix hydrogen into its supplies to take advantage of excess renewable generation. The company announced plans for an A$11.4 million ($8.9 million) hydrogen power-to-gas demonstration plant, to be built in Adelaide, South Australia. [Greentech Media]

Gas infrastructure in Australia

¶ In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology based on research conducted by an international team of scientists, explicit evidence of uranium and other radioactive materials has been found in the surrounding environment of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. Clearly, it was released from the damaged reactor. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Albany, Western Australia, could be completely energy self-sufficient by 2028, Mayor Dennis Wellington says, with the city to take the first step in the green dream next week. Speaking to the Albany Advertiser, Mr Wellington said works to remove the city from the State power grid must start now, to be certain of future energy supplies. [The West Australian]

Albany Wind Farm (Photo: Ashvij Puta Photography)

US:

¶ Despite last week’s heavy snowfall, Tahoe ski resorts know they cannot predict how strong each winter will be. After they have suffered through drought years, out of nowhere, last year, Tahoe was deluged with so much precipitation that avalanches are now a regular concern. As the climate changes, business is becoming unpredictable. [Modesto Bee]

¶ A survey from SoonerPoll has revealed that Oklahomans are overwhelmingly in support of the 2-GW Wind Catcher Energy Connection set to be developed Invenergy and GE Renewable Energy. The $4.5 billion project will be the world’s second largest wind farm when it is finished. It will consist of 800 GE 2.5-MW wind turbines. [CleanTechnica]

Wind farm

¶ The Illinois Commerce Commission issued its draft order of the Illinois Power Agency’s Long Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan. Included are renewable energy programs and mechanisms to finance and regulate projects, such as community solar and assistance for lower-income households and non-profit organizations. [pv magazine USA]

¶ The Internal Revenue Service released a private letter ruling determining that a residential energy storage facility may qualify for federal solar tax credits, as it is charged completely by an onsite solar array. The ruling only applies to a single case, but it indicates how agency staff views application of tax law in a specific situation. [Utility Dive]

Installing a rooftop solar system

¶ There is only one member of Congress who currently holds a PhD in science, but Bill Foster (D-IL), a physicist who formerly worked at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, may soon have some company. More than 60 candidates running for federal office in 2018 have backgrounds in science and technology, according to HuffPost. [The Scientist]

¶ Newly-released communications highlight the high level of angst just months into construction of the VC Summer Nuclear Station. Westinghouse even asked that disagreements not be made public. But the problems that plagued the reactors from the start led to Westinghouse going bankrupt and doomed the $9 billion project. [Charleston Post Courier]

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March 5 Energy News

March 5, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “300 Electric Buses Make No News In Poland” • I was amazed to learn that one of the Polish cities, Katowice, is planning to purchase 300 electric buses and very little is said about it in the press or social media. This is a really big story for any city that is outside China. So, why was there no media frenzy in the local news? [CleanTechnica]

Polish electric buses (Source: Agencja Gazeta)

¶ “Climate Action Makes (Business) Sense for US Utilities” • DTE Energy, Consumers Energy, Duke Energy, and many other utilities are committing to cutting emissions, at just the time the Trump administration is working to roll back climate and clean energy action. Why? Because it just makes good business sense. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Video:

¶ “Notre-Dame: Cracks in the Cathedral” • The Catholic Church in France has launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. Parts of the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece are starting to crumble, because of pollution that is eating the stone. There are fears the structure itself could become unstable. [BBC]

Unhappy Notre-Dame Gargoyle (Chosovi, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ The Chilean energy regulatory agency, the Comisión Nacional de Energía de Chile, has announced that the country will use Blockchain technology for national energy grid. The CNE will use Blockchain to authenticate information, such as marginal costs, average market prices, fuel prices, and compliance with the renewable energy law. [TOINNOV]

¶ The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company received 28 requests for qualifications for a 500-MW tendered solar plant, to be located in Ibri, 300 km west of Muscat. The project will be the country’s first large utility-scale PV independent power project. It will be built at an estimated cost of around $500 million. [pv magazine International]

Oman (Image: Flickr, Jeffrey Zabinski)

¶ Sembcorp Energy India Ltd said it has been awarded a 300-MW project, in a wind power auction. With this order, SEIL has bagged a combined capacity of 800 MW from the three auctions, by far the largest combined capacity that has been won by an independent power producer. The Solar Energy Corporation of India confirmed the award. [Livemint]

¶ Jamaica Public Service Company announced the start of construction of a new hybrid storage facility set to provide reserve power to the country’s grid. The project will cost of $21.6 million and will feature a combination of lithium-ion batteries and flywheel technology, for a total energy storage capacity of 24.5 MW. [pv magazine International]

Jamaica (Image: James Willamor)

¶ The Australian government-owned Snowy Hydro 2.0 could flood the market with cheap energy, curbing investment in dispatchable capacity or storage in a few years’ time, analysts say. Energy analysts and generators are concerned that changes in price may be driven more by political issues rather than the market. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Roving jellyfish and seaweed are unwanted guests at nuclear power stations. Now the marine algae have hit again, forcing one plant in Scotland to partially power down just as freezing temperatures were pushing up demand for electricity. During the cold weather, excessive amounts of seaweed shut one reactor at the Torness station down. [The Guardian]

Torness nuclear power station (Photo: Alamy)

US:

¶ Onyx Renewable Partners, LLC, is installing 1,260 home solar systems at Fort Riley, in Kansas, at no cost to the military. The systems will reduce electric consumption at the homes by 37%. Corvias, a private company managing the post’s housing, will use the savings from reduced electricity costs to pay the energy company for its work. [Manhattan Mercury]

¶ New projections from the Energy Information Administration estimate that Americans will be less dependent on coal, that coal production will fall, and that coal capacity in the nation’s power plants is likely to decline in coming years, according to an annual report released last month. The war on coal, in short, is over. And coal lost. [The Hill]

Beautiful, clean coal (Getty Images)

¶ The first community solar garden on the Near North Side of Minneapolis will rise this spring on a church rooftop, thanks to a coalition of faith partners, clean-energy advocates, industry experts, job trainers, and community members. It will provide enough electricity for the church, a mosque, and 26 households. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

¶ Cities in California are suing ExxonMobil and other companies over climate damage, saying they hid risks they knew were real. Exxon responded with a novel legal tactic. Exxon alleges the local government officials are defrauding buyers of municipal bonds by not disclosing to lenders the climate risks they have claimed in their lawsuits. [McClatchy Washington Bureau]

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March 4 Energy News

March 4, 2018

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have installed ocean acidity sensors in Alaska, in the Kachemak Bay. Ocean water acidification is due to high levels of carbon dioxide that are absorbed by the water and this leads to lowering the pH levels in addition to climate change. Lower pH levels of the seawater have been proved to negatively impact marine animals. [Health Thoroughfare]

Kachemak Bay

¶ Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal have found a way to significantly reduce carbon emissions produced by both residential and non-residential buildings, while also cutting costs. They found that by prioritizing reducing carbon emissions rather than costs, they could cut costs by 75% while also reducing emissions by 59%. [Infosurhoy]

World:

¶ In four burglaries, 600 bitcoin mining computers, valued at nearly $2 million, were stolen in Iceland. Authorities have already arrested 11 people, but have not recovered the machines. Reportedly, police are monitoring electric usage throughout the country, as the computers will use a lot of electricity when they are turned on. [CryptoGlobe]

Bitcoin miners (Shutterstock image)

¶ The CEO of Volkswagen reportedly said that while company execs are not “against” the retrofitting of old diesel car exhaust systems to make them cleaner, the company cannot afford to pay for such a course of action. The comment follows court ruling to allow German city authorities to ban diesel cars due to air pollution concerns. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The government of Egypt has revised up its 2018 economic growth forecast to between 5.3% and 5.5%, and nowhere is investor enthusiasm more evident than in the energy sector. Egypt’s Zohr gas field, the largest in the Mediterranean, will make it a net exporter. But renewables are the latest interest of the Egyptian government. [Arab News]

Zohr gas field (AFP image)

¶ The Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy have clinched a contract on the construction of a solar power station. The agreement was signed between Iran’s Industrial Development and Renovation Organization and the Italian Carlo Mascar Company in Tehran. The 100-MW plant is to be built about 90 km east of Tehran, the Iranian capital. [IFP News]

¶ A geothermal energy park, about 50 miles from Nairobi, sits over the East African Rift, a huge fracture in the earth’s crust that also cuts through Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and other countries. Steam from the area helped generate 47% of Kenya’s electricity in 2015, with hydropower, at nearly 35%, generating much of the rest. [The Independent]

KenGen Olkaria power plant (Getty Images)

¶ BBVA, a major bank based in Spain, pledged to help mobilize $122.7 billion (€100 billion) in sustainable infrastructures, green finance, social entrepreneurship, and financial inclusion through 2025 under its Pledge 2025 program. BBVA also promised that 70% of its energy consumption will be from renewable sources by 2025. [OilPrice.com]

US:

¶ More than $200 million worth of materials are expected to arrive in Puerto Rico this month to help the Army Corps of Engineers hit its goal of 95% power restoration goal by the end of the month. Over 7,000 poles and nearly 400 miles of conductor wire are expected in the next two weeks, the Corps district commander said. [CNN]

Linemen at work in Puerto Rico

¶ The Lawai Solar and Energy Project will install a 28-MW solar PV system and a 100 MWh, five-hour duration energy storage system on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Samsung SDI will be providing about 13,000 battery modules for the system. Energy storage systems combined with solar and wind power can reduce dependency on fossil fuels. [The Korea Herald]

¶ While large-scale commercial solar projects have been controversial in Kittitas County, Washington, residential solar is a different story. A county moratorium on commercial solar facilities does not apply to residential solar, and there is lots of interest in solar power among people who want to install solar panels on their homes. [Daily Record-News]

Kittitas County solar power (Brian Myrick | Daily Record)

¶ Scientists have found dramatically declining snowpack across the American West over the past six decades that will likely cause water shortages in the region that cannot be managed by building new reservoirs, according to a study led by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of California, Los Angeles. [The Register-Guard]

¶ The CEO of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems said his company partnered with NuScale Power to create what he called the county’s first nuclear production company. The company plans to create a small modular nuclear reactor at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, with an expected completion date of January 2026. [The Herald Journal]

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March 3 Energy News

March 3, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “The Koch Brothers Have Been Waging A War On America For 50 Years. This Is How They Are Winning.” • The Koch Brothers stand as a symbol of everything that is wrong with America today. If they have their way, America will still be using coal and fossil fuels to power its economy – what’s left of it – far into the future. [CleanTechnica]

Mt Rushmore reacts

World:

¶ The world’s largest solar park, set up at an investment of ₹16,500 crore ($2.48 billion) in Karnataka, was launched by the state’s Chief Minister. The 2,000 MW park, called “Shakti Sthala,” covers 13,000 acres spread over five villages and is a benchmark in the unique people’s participation in power model put on ground, according to officials. [NYOOOZ]

¶ A recent decision by the Supreme Court of Brazil upholds earlier changes to laws that were intended to weaken protections for the Amazon and other natural environments. To be more specific, the Supreme Court has upheld legal changes that greatly reduce the penalties for past illegal deforestation in the region, among other things. [CleanTechnica]

Amazon forest destruction

¶ Tunisia will invest about $5 billion in electricity and energy projects, between 2018 and 2020, according to its government. The electrical projects include the construction of a submarine power-transmission line to Italy, with a capacity of 600 MW. The infrastructure to link the country to Italy is expected to cost over $ 735 million. [The North Africa Post]

¶ Australia’s federal government announced it will acquire stakes in Snowy Hydro Ltd owned by New South Wales and Victoria. The deal may lead to the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project, increasing its size from 5 GW to 7.5 GW. The two state governments will get a total of A$6 billion ($4.6 billion, €3.8 billion) for their stakes. [Renewables Now]

Snowy Hydro power station (Image: Snowy Hydro Ltd)

US:

¶ Oregon utility Portland General Electric Co unveiled a draft request for proposals looking to add 100 MW of renewable power generation. The bids should be of at least 10 MW and can involve geothermal, biomass, biogas, solar, wind, and hydropower technologies. The utility’s timeframe for portfolio additions is 2020-2021. [Renewables Now]

¶ SunPower introduced Helix Storage, a new storage solution that utilizes intelligent software to manage electricity costs for commercial solar customers. The storage solution’s intelligent software control system predicts energy consumption from the grid and automatically dispatches stored solar electricity from the battery. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

SunPower solar array (SunPower image)

¶ Florida Power & Light Company has unveiled plans for four more solar plants in the state. They will have a combined capacity of 298 MW. All four plants, each of which will have a capacity of 74.5 MW, are scheduled to be up and running by mid-2019, FPL said. Construction on the plants will begin during this year. [reNews]

¶ Utilities on three Hawaiian islands have put out a request for proposals to build wind and solar projects, with an option of energy storage.Three of the four utilities that comprise HECO participated in the RFP, representing service areas on O’ahu, Maui and the big island. These seek 220 MW, 60 MW and 20 MW, respectively. [pv magazine USA]

University of Hawaii (Travis.Thurston, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it expects to see record-breaking prices and demand for power this summer that could require it to take emergency measures, possibly forcing customers to curb power usage. Factors it cited include delayed power supply projects and the closure of three major coal-fired power plants. [Denton Record Chronicle]

¶ In Oklahoma, the long-simmering tensions between the fossil fuel and renewable power industries have broken out into a statehouse policy war over windpower. It has eliminated the state’s renewable energy tax-credit program and threatens to further undermine financial support for the burgeoning wind industry. [Longview News-Journal]

Oklahoma (Edyta Blaszczyk | Odessa American File Photo)

¶ Significant energy legislation in Virginia awaits the governor’s signature. It could produce investments in efficiency of over $1 billion during the next decade, paving the way for the state to lower its rising electric bills, create jobs for a sound economy, and reduce costly climate change pollution from power plants. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ Facing the risks of earthquakes, rising heat, and increasing energy demands, Los Angeles is kicking off a strategy to make itself more resilient, city officials said. The plans to strengthen infrastructure and promote renewable energy aim to combine preparations for earthquakes and wildfires with chronic stresses such as climate change. [Reuters]

Downtown Los Angeles (Thomas Pintaric, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ M&T Bank has provided $22.4 million in equipment lease financing for Cianbro Corporation to complete the construction and commissioning of the largest solar producing energy facility in Maine. The Pittsfield Solar Project will be the largest solar array in New England. It will have a capacity of 9.9 MW-AC. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ A South Carolina judge has refused to dismiss five lawsuits alleging wrongful acts by SCE&G cost its ratepayers almost $2 billion in connection with the VC Summer debacle. A state law had allowed SCE&G to increase its ratepayers’ electric bills nine times to pay for two nuclear reactors, but construction of the reactors has been abandoned. [The State]

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March 2 Energy News

March 2, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Bending to the water’s will” • In flood-prone Bangladesh, resilience can mean letting water have its way. As climate change brings threats of rising seas and stronger storms, people who have spent years building barricades are considering what was once unthinkable: letting the water in and be resilient by bending, not resisting. [Science Magazine]

Artificial island in Bangladesh

¶ “Trump’s attack on booming clean energy sector hurts American workers” • A rapidly growing US clean energy sector means good jobs across the country. The fastest growing jobs are in solar and wind power. But despite all the rhetoric about supporting American jobs, the Trump Administration keeps trying to downshift. [The Hill]

Science and Technology:

¶ A report published in the journal Environmental Research Letters employed radiocarbon dating to examine the content of river and lake waters in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 2014. It found an increasing prevalence of older dissolved carbon and carbon dioxide in the waters as the summer advanced. This is not good news. [ScienceAlert]

Land in the Arctic (Kingrobby | iStock)

¶ The rate at which sea level rise is occurring is continuing to increase every year, according to a  study that was published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. What the new research suggests is that at current rates of increase, sea levels will rise by more than 65 centimeters (26 inches) by 2100. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The air pollution mitigation plans currently in place in the UK are not enough on their own, and they need to be improved, the union’s High Court has ruled, recent reports said. The ruling follows from a legal complaint issued by lawyers working for Client Earth, which was intended to spur the government to action on the growing problem. [CleanTechnica]

Air pollution in London

¶ Toy manufacturer Lego has announced it is to make some of its pieces, including leaves, bushes and trees, from sustainable, plant-based plastic. The material will be sourced from sugarcane and production of the pieces, or “elements,” has already started. They will be launched this year, the Danish business said in a statement. [CNBC]

¶ Switzerland’s ABB is supplying a microgrid and storage system to help Jamaica integrate renewable solar and wind energy into its power supply. ABB says the installation of its ABB Ability system, a 24.5-MW microgrid facility, will help the large tropical island reduce its use of fossil fuels and lower its carbon footprint. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Munro Wind Farm (© Jamaica Public Service Company)

¶ The “frozen soil wall” erected around the crippled reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant at huge taxpayer expense appears limited in keeping groundwater from flowing in. TEPCO, the plant’s owner, said that the flow of radioactive water has been reduced by half because of the underground barrier. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Canadian Solar has secured finance totalling $149 million from Shinsei Bank for the 53.4-MW Oita Hijimachi PV plant in Japan. Construction of the project, located on Kyushu Island in southern Japan, started in November last year. Oita Hijimachi, which will consist of 160,000 solar panels, is expected to come online in May 2019. [reNews]

Solar farm (Credit: Canadian Solar)

US:

¶ In a move with far-reaching implications for electric grids, Illinois regulators approved Commonwealth Edison’s cutting-edge microgrid cluster in Chicago. As the nation’s first utility-scale microgrid cluster, the $25 million project is expected to demonstrate what some believe will eventually become a grid-of-microgrids. [Microgrid Knowledge]

¶ US Independent power producer sPower is to sell electricity from its 220-MW Prevailing wind farm in South Dakota to an unnamed utility under a 30-year agreement. Construction of the project is scheduled to start later this year, sPower said. The wind farm is expected to generate over $56 million in tax revenue over the life of the project. [reNews]

sPower wind farm

¶ Florida Power & Light Company has completed construction of four solar plants in the state, totalling 298 MW. Each of the four projects has a capacity of 74.5 MW. They are added to four other facilities with the same capacity that came online in January. FPL said it now operates solar installations totalling 930 MW in the state of Florida. [reNews]

¶ GE Renewable Energy has unveiled a 12-MW offshore wind turbine, named the Haliade-X, that it claims will produce 45% more power than any machine currently on the market. The direct drive machine will feature a 220-meter rotor with blades of 107 metres, made by LM Wind Power. It will offer a gross capacity factor of 63%. [reNews]

GE Haliade-X wind turbine (GE image)

¶ L’Oréal USA announced its plans to achieve carbon neutrality in 2019 for all 21 of its US manufacturing and distribution facilities with a financially sustainable approach that could potentially serve as a model to support new renewable natural gas projects in the future. L’Oréal USA will buy landfill gas from a facility in Kentucky. [User-generated content]

¶ The NRC accepted a nuclear power plant part manufacturer’s proposal to build a high-level, underground nuclear waste facility in southeast New Mexico. Holtec International plans tostore up to 8,680 metric tons of waste at the site, initially. The 1,045-acre facility, if it is approved, would store spent nuclear fuel rods, according to the NRC. [Los Alamos Monitor]

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March 1 Energy News

March 1, 2018

Opinion:

¶ “Is Bitcoin a Waste of Electricity, or Something Worse?” • Money is supposed to be a means of buying things. Now, the nation’s hottest investment is buying money. And while Bitcoin mining may not be labor intensive, it diverts time, energy and capital from other, more productive activities that economists say could fuel faster growth. [New York Times]

Computer to mine Bitcoin (Jacob Hannah | The New York Times)

World:

¶ Environmental Action Germany sued authorities in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf last year to make them ban diesel-powered vehicles. The group argued that bans were needed to keep air quality in those cities within EU pollution limits. The court agreed with the environmentalists, opening the door to diesel bans in many German cities. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The sun has not shone on Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland’s northernmost point, since October 11. These should be among the coldest weeks of the year for the cape. But over the weekend, the weather station there recorded an air temperature of 43° F, more than 50° above normal for this time of year. Meanwhile, Europe is freezing cold. [The Atlantic]

Snow in Rome (Alessandra Tarantino | AP)

¶ The CEO of Hydro-Québec said it has “received hundreds of applications” from cryptocurrency miners in the past few weeks, for a total of over 9,000 MW of energy. That is about one-quarter of the utility’s total generating capacity of 37,000 MW. Hydro-Québec said last month it was in talks with more than 30 such companies. [Montreal Gazette]

¶ Microsoft Corp said it will buy solar power from the Sunseap Group in Singapore. It is Microsoft’s first renewable energy deal in Asia. Microsoft will purchase 100% of the electricity generated from Sunseap’s 60-MW solar power project for 20 years. The project consists of hundreds of rooftop solar arrays across the city-state. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Small solar system

¶ SENER, an engineering and technology group, and ACCIONA Industrial connected a 100-MW Concentrated Solar Power plant to 132-kV ESKOM Distribution line in South Africa. The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant will supply enough clean energy for about 179,000 homes, according to an estimate by the South African Department of Energy. [BizNis Africa]

¶ Victorian customers of electricity retailer Powershop can expect to pay around $70 less a year for their electricity costs starting this month, after the company announced a price cut it said was “all thanks to renewable energy.” The upstart retailer announced the price reductions of around 5% would begin on March 1. [RenewEconomy]

Kennedy wind and solar farm

¶ Nick Xenophon’s newly formed SA Best party says that having 90% renewable energy in South Australia by 2030 is perfectly feasible. But it stresses that this is not a target, unlike Labor’s 75% ambition for 2025. The debate in South Australia is very unlike that in the country as a whole, but then, SA is far ahead of the rest of the country. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The Ukrainian-German project Solar Chernobyl is preparing to launch a solar farm next to the Chernobyl nuclear reactors. Due to go online early in 2018, the 1-MW installation features 3,800 photovoltaic panels and will be capable of powering as many as 2,000 homes. A further 99 MW are planned for a future development. [Atlas Obscura]

Unfinished Reactor 5 building, now long abandoned

US:

¶ Visa has pledged to use 100% renewable electricity across global operations by the end of 2019. The payments giant has also joined the RE100, a global initiative of some of the world’s biggest businesses, all committed to renewable power.Other members of the RE100 include Apple, HSBC, Microsoft and Tetra Pak. [CNBC]

¶ The Students for Carbon Dividends, a new coalition of student groups, includes 23 College Republican clubs, 6 Democratic clubs, and 5 environmental groups from schools across the country. The inclusion of Republican voices in the climate-change discussion offers some hope of future bipartisan cooperation on the issue. [Curbed]

Smokestacks (Shutterstock image)

¶ California officials, schoolchildren and at least one billionaire denounced the Trump administration’s plan to scrap Obama-era limits on power plant emissions in blistering comments to US officials visiting a state leading the fight against climate change. Officials from Pacific coast states turned out to make clear the extent of their opposition. [The Japan Times]

¶ Massachusetts Gov Charlie Baker and all eleven members of the state’s congressional delegation urged that the Trump administration back away from its plan to open new areas off the US East Coast to oil and gas drilling. They note that the North Atlantic has largely not been eligible for oil and gas drilling for over 30 years. [MassLive.com]

Pelicans and an offshore oil rig (AP Photo | Mark J Terrill, File)

¶ Eversource is asking New Hampshire regulators to reconsider rejection of the Northern Pass project. The utility filed a motion with the state Site Evaluation Committee. Eversource says the SEC should rehear the case because it did not do required diligence in discussing all the criteria the project had to meet to get a permit. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

¶ The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved an order to put into effect Gov Phil Murphy’s executive order calling for full implementation of the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act. It is moving the state toward a 1.1-GW offshore wind solicitation. The BPU is starting with an offshore wind energy taskforce. [North American Windpower]

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