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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