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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