Posts Tagged ‘renewable power’

April 28 Energy News

April 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Big, young power plants are closing. Is it a new trend?” • Many of the US coal plants retired in recent years were geezers by industry standards. They trended old and small, and ran a fraction of the time. But in a vexing sign for the industry, those in the next round of retirements are decidedly younger. In fact, they are just middle-aged. [E&E News]

San Juan Generating Station could close in 2022, three
decades earlier than anticipated. (Doc Searls, Wikipedia)

¶ “How much storage and back-up do high renewable grids need?” • It’s a question at the heart of electricity planning and the subject of many of the myths peddled by vested interests in the fossil fuel lobby and reported by the gullible media. The answer is: not nearly as much as the naysayers would have you think. [RenewEconomy]

World:

¶ The Australian Photovoltaic Institute, with data from the Clean Energy Regulator, says the country has a new solar energy record. There are now 6 GW of solar power across the country, enough to meet the electricity needs of 1.3 million households. Solar power now makes up 11% of Australia’s installed capacity. [Energy Matters]

Australian rooftop solar (public domain image)

¶ South Australia set a new record for wind output on Tuesday, April 25, reaching 1,540 MW. The previous record of 1,400 MW was set just two weeks earlier. At its peak, the wind output equated to 96.6% of its registered capacity. Under new rules imposed since last September’s blackout, two gas-fired generators were kept on line. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Australian government is being told that “green fuel” exports, powered by wind and solar, could reach $40 billion a year in the next few decades, a market equivalent in size to the export coal industry, and essential if Australia is to maintain its pivotal position as a major fuel supplier in a decarbonized world. [RenewEconomy]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ The 1,805 MW of solar PV capacity on the rooftops of Queensland homes and business now amount to be the biggest power station by capacity in the state, overtaking the 1,780 MW of the Gladstone coal-fired power station. Homeowners and business owners in Queensland added 25 MW of rooftop solar capacity in March. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Electricity generated by offshore wind in Germany increased almost 37% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, according to new figures. Some 4,800 GWh of electricity was generated from offshore wind in the first three months of the year, up from 3,500 GWh in the first quarter of 2016. [reNews]

Riffgat offshore wind farm in Germany (EWE image)

¶ According to the International Energy Agency, oil discoveries declined to 2.4 billion barrels in 2016, compared to the previous average over the last 15 years of 9 billion barrels a year. The IEA reported that because of low oil prices, the number of projects receiving final investment decision has fallen to the lowest levels seen since the 1940s. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Geothermal’s contribution to New Zealand’s total renewable energy generation increased from 11.5% in 2007 to 21% in 2015. Over the same period, its value rose from $1.3 billion to $2.9 billion (US$ 2.0 billion). The value of wind jumped from $238 million (2% of total renewable energy generation) in 2007 to $884 million (6%) in 2015. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Te Mihi geothermal plant, New Zealand (source: Contact Energy)

US:

¶ Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to build a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050. It was called “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen” by 350.org. Others caution that it is not enough to deal with climate change. [Common Dreams]

¶ New England Hydropower Company has commissioned the first Archimedes screw generation facility in the country. The turbine, installed in Meriden, Connecticut, late last year, is expected to generate 920,000 kWh of electricity annually for the city, saving it $20,000 a year in power costs and property taxes over 20 years. [Meriden Record-Journal]

Archimedes screw turbine (Dave Zajac, Record-Journal)

¶ More than 1,000 US companies are calling on the Congress and administration to strengthen the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, instead of following through on its proposed elimination, as per Trump’s recent budget proposals. The companies signed a joint letter, organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, to congressional leaders. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Lindahl wind farm, Enel Green Power’s first project in the state of North Dakota, has started generating energy. Lindahl has an installed capacity of 150 MW and can generate approximately 625 GWh annually, enough for over 50,000 US households, while avoiding the emission of about 450,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Lindahl wind farm

¶ Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced a call for proposals for renewable developers to build new projects for a clean-energy program available to PG&E customers. Those who participe will pay the developers for the new energy directly, and receive a bill credit from PG&E on their monthly energy statement. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ The owners of the new nuclear reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina said the half-finished reactors might not be completed without changes to a proposed $800 million loan to Westinghouse, which is bankrupt. The utilities are evaluating how to complete them, or alternatively, whether they should be abandoned. [Reuters]

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April 27 Energy News

April 27, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Future of Westinghouse may hinge on fate of its new Shanghai reactor” • The start-up of a nuclear power plant south of Shanghai later this year has a lot riding on it. It will be the first to use an AP1000 reactor, the model that has been disastrous for Westinghouse, leading to bankruptcy and doubts over the future of its owner Toshiba Corp. [The Japan Times]

Rendering of the Westinghouse AP1000 (Westinghouse)

World:

¶ China’s installed wind energy capacity grew 13% in the first quarter over the same time last year, bringing the country’s capacity to 151 GW. Wind energy generated 68,700 GWh of electricity in the first quarter, an increase of 26% over the same quarter a year earlier. Curtailments fell from 13,500 GWh last year to 5,700 GWh. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Previously known as Turanor Planetsolar, the 31-meter electric trimaran Race For Water has been relaunched in Lorient, where its latest round-the-world mission will begin. The four-year trip will be powered by a 160-hp hybrid solar-hydrogen propulsion system, with a 40 square meter skysail kite providing additional wind power. [Boat International]

The boat, Race For Water

¶ India is making a big push for solar energy, with power capacity expected to double this year. But some of the gains could be lost to air pollution. A study, the first of its kind in India and one of a handful globally, has found that dust and particulate matter may be reducing the energy yield of solar power systems in north India by 17-25% annually. [Times of India]

¶ London’s largest electric vehicle charging network, Source London, will only use renewably-sourced electricity in the future. Source London is working with energy supplier SSE Energy to see its electricity come entirely from wind and hydro. Source London plans to reach 1,000 charger points by the end of this year. [Clean Energy News]

Source London charger station

¶ Apple is building a new data center in Denmark, and it has some interesting ideas on how to power the data center with renewable energy, while also giving back to the community. Excess heat generated by the data center will be captured and returned to the local district’s heating system, which will warm up homes in the community. [Networks Asia]

¶ Solar power now makes up 11% of Australian generating capacity. South Australia has the highest penetration among dwellings at 32%, with Aberfoyle Park the state’s “solar rooftop hotspot.” The market is driven by increased knowledge, high electricity prices, and fear the Federal Government will cut incentives in the future. [The Advertiser]

Installing solar panels

¶ Bord na Mona and the ESB are joining forces to develop four solar farms in Ireland that are likely to cost about €500 million and generate enough power for 150,000 homes. The four solar farms will have a total capacity of 570 MW of electricity. All Ireland’s commercial renewable power generation is currently sourced from wind. [Irish Independent]

¶ Green energy company Energia has started supplying energy from five new windfarms to power homes and businesses across Ireland. Two windfarms are in County Antrim and three in county Tyrone. The new facilities will have a total of 73 MW of capacity. They should produce enough electricity for about 36,000 homes. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Energia wind power (Energia image)

¶ At the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York on April 25, chief economist for oil giant Total, predicted that sales of electric cars will surge from about 1% globally in today’s new car market to up to 30% of the market by 2030. If that happens, he says, demand for petroleum-based fuels “will flatten out, maybe even decline.” [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ An energy startup, LO3 Energy, is developing and running the Brooklyn Microgrid, an effort to create a localized, sustainable energy market in the neighborhoods of Park Slope and Gowanus. It is a test run in small-scale energy trading, which has already recruited and linked up dozens of consumers and residents with solar panels. [Curbed]

Solar panel installation in Brooklyn (LO3 image)

¶ The US electricity sector faces many uncertainties in the spring of 2017, but the resurgence of coal-fired generation is not among them – it will not happen. Those were points made by speakers at S&P Global Platts’ 32nd annual Global Power Markets Conference in Las Vegas. Coal-burning plants are just not economical. [Platts]

¶ There is a strong renewable energy target set by almost 50% of the major companies of the US. A report from the World Wildlife Fund, Ceres, Calvert Research and Management shows that increasing numbers of investors are promising to rely on clean energy. In the process, they are already saving $3.7 billion per year. [Insider Tradings]

Solar farm

¶ The Great America amusement park in Santa Clara will cover 100% of its electricity use with renewable energy through Silicon Valley Power’s Green Power program. The 100-acre amusement park, which features roller coasters, family rides, Boomerang Bay Water Park, and shows, uses 12,810 MWh of electricity annually. [InterPark]

¶ As industries go, agriculture is one of the worst environmental offenders, research by the United Nations Environment Programme says. Now a major US agricultural player, Taylor Farms, is making an effort to shrink its environmental footprint. A facility in Gonzales, California, now employs: solar, wind and co-generation systems. [TechCrunch]

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April 26 Energy News

April 26, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Is Trump warming to wind power?” • Trump’s position on wind may be shifting. During the election, the narrative on wind wasn’t looking good. Trump promised a national energy policy that prioritized domestic fossil fuels over renewables. But the narrative seem to be shifting, and the biggest game-changer for Trump seems to be jobs. [WorkBoat]

Brave Tern at work (Photo: Deepwater Wind)

¶ “100 days of Trump: Round 1 to renewables” • Despite battle cries to end the ‘war on coal’, Trump’s first 100 days as president have done very little to dismantle progress in renewable energy and climate action materially, according to energy and national security expert Kevin Book. He and other experts spoke at a webinar. [PV-Tech]

World:

¶ ABB has won the contract to provide fast chargers that will support the 8 fully electric Volvo buses being brought to the city of Harrogate in northern England. In just a short 3 to 6 minute stop, the chargers will supply enough power for the fully electric buses to complete the route. “Opportunity charging” has a number of advantages. [CleanTechnica]

Electric Bus at Harrogate

¶ In November, the UK’s highest court found the government’s proposed clean air rules were deficient, and it ordered the government to present a new plan to the court by April 24. After calling for new elections, the government claimed that revealing its plans would be improper during an election campaign. The court was not impressed. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Global wind power capacity stood at almost 487 GW at the end of 2016 and is on track to reach 800 GW by the end of 2021, according to a report from the Global Wind Energy Council. The report, “Global Wind Report: Annual Market Update,” predicts 60 GW of new annual capacity in 2017, rising to 75 GW annually in 2021. [reNews]

Wind farm (Image: FreeImages | Hyoung Il So)

¶ A proposal from struggling Indian multinational Adani Group to develop a new coal mine in Australia’s north-east is becoming increasingly difficult to justify, not least because Adani is unlikely to be able to contribute much in the way of equity for the $5 billion project. The entire coal mining industry is in decline worldwide. [CleanTechnica]

¶ India has pledged to the international community to reduce its emissions intensity by as much as 35% from 2005 levels by 2030, and to increase the percentage of renewable energy in its power grids. US researchers warn that it will be nearly impossible to achieve the goal if the country builds 65 GW of coal-burning plants it plans. [Livemint]

Indian coal-burning plant (Photo: Bloomberg)

¶ The Western Cape High Court set aside all nuclear deals with South Africa, ruling they were unlawful and unconstitutional, including deals with the United States, Russia, and South Korea. Two NGOs had sued when the energy department moved the procurement of the nuclear energy to the South African utility Eskom. [Huffington Post South Africa]

¶ South Africa’s Ministry of Environmental Affairs announced that it has simplified the procedure to conduct environmental impact assessment for large-scale PV and wind power projects that would be in any of the country’s eight Renewable Energy Development Zones or its associated Strategic Transmissions Corridor. [pv magazine]

Solar farm built by Acciona in South Africa (Acciona)

US:

¶ US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the US should renegotiate the Paris accord on climate change instead of abandoning it, while criticizing Germany for allowing its fossil-fuel emissions to rise. The remarks put Perry among a group of advisers urging President Donald Trump to stick with the United Nations accord that he vowed to scrap. [BOE Report]

¶ The City of Hartford, Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, and Bloom Energy announced the completion of a fuel cell microgrid that will generate clean energy, manage electricity costs, and supply emergency power for public buildings and businesses in the city’s Parkville neighborhood. [Asia Cruise News]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ President Donald Trump will order the Interior Department to review locations for offshore oil and gas exploration and consider selling drilling rights in territory that former President Barack Obama put off limits, according to people briefed on the order, who spoke on the condition of anonymity before it is issued. [Bloomberg]

¶ The Tennessee Valley Authority is adding more solar to its generation portfolio with the construction of a solar power facility at a combined cycle gas site in Memphis. The 1-MW facility will be the largest TVA-owned solar project in its service area. Construction is under way, and the plant should be operating by September. [Electric Light & Power]

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April 25 Energy News

April 25, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Tory windfarm policy endangers cheap energy in UK, commission finds” • A Shell-sponsored group says wind is “increasingly the cheapest form of electricity.” Conservative opposition to windfarms risks the UK missing out on one of the cheapest sources of electricity, according to the head of the Shell-funded industry group. [The Guardian]

By 2040, wind and solar would account for 45% of
the global power mix. (Photo: Alamy Stock Photo)

¶ “The train has left the station on renewable energy” • Obscured by debate and hype about the merits of renewable energy, an important change has quietly taken place: Unsubsidized renewable energy is economically viable in many regions. Powerful economic and technological forces have permanently altered the energy landscape. [GreenBiz]

¶ “Exelon-style nuke bailouts threaten wind, solar” • The push to save US nuclear plants for the sake of fighting climate change is threatening support for the bread and butter of clean power: wind and solar. New York and Illinois have already approved as much as $10 billion in subsidies to keep struggling reactors open. [Crain’s Chicago Business]

Wind turbine technician at work (Bloomberg image)

World:

¶ UK renewable energy companies secured billions of pounds of exports for their goods and services last year. Research by RenewableUK found UK firms are now taking a leading role in the growing global market for wind and marine power now valued at £290 billion. More than 500 contracts were signed by 36 firms on projects in 43 countries. [The Planner]

¶ An Icelandic exploration company is looking into tapping an enormous new source of green renewable energy in Iceland, submarine geothermal energy. The company envisions using the energy to generate electricity on off-shore geothermal power plants on platforms not unlike those used in off-shore oil drilling. [Iceland Magazine]

Steam – not smoke: Geothermal power in Iceland (Photo | Valli)

¶ Following a sharp correction in tariff rates for wind energy projects in the first competitive auction in India, several states have refused to sign power purchase agreements at higher feed-in tariffs. A total capacity of 500 MW is now reportedly stranded due to the unwillingness of power distribution companies to enter into PPAs. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Mexico will soon have a starring solar project, the largest in the entire Americas, showing off a new leading role in renewables, driven by a major energy market reform. Italian power giant Enel is set to develop the record 754-MW project, adding to the largest solar plants completed or under construction in both Chile and Brazil. [PV-Tech]

Site of the 754-MW solar project (Credit: Enel)

¶ The Energy Transitions Commission, a group of companies and nonprofit agencies including energy giants Royal Dutch Shell and BHP Billiton, said greenhouse gas emissions could be cut in half by 2040 without impeding economic development, in part by converting grids to use mostly renewable power. [Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly]

¶ Vestas has expanded its 2-MW turbine platform to include machines with 116 and 120-meter rotors. The V116 and V120 2-MW turbines have steeper power curves to increase output in medium to ultra-low wind conditions. They are particularly suited for the US, India, and China, the company said. The first deliveries will be in 2018. [reNews]

Vestas wind turbines (Image: Vestas)

¶ Jamaica is on course to getting 30% of its energy demand met by renewables by 2030, according to the country’s Minister of Science, Energy and Technology. He said as of last year, 10.5% of net electricity generated was obtained from renewables, and 80 MW of generating capacity from renewable sources were added. [Climate Action Programme]

US:

¶ Salt River Project has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources for a project in Arizona that will combine a solar array with energy storage. NextEra plans to build the Pinal Central Energy Center near Coolidge, which will pair a 20-MW solar array with a 10-MW lithium-ion storage system. [Utility Dive]

Hualapai Mountains (Image: Wikipedia)

¶ The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis published its new research brief last week, working through the implications inherent in the expected coal-fired generating closures over 2017 and 2018. It concludes that the expected closures will eliminate about 28.2 million tons of annual coal demand by the end of 2018. [CleanTechnica]

¶ St Paul’s city officials have approved an agreement with GreenMark Solar to power a fourth of the city’s municipal buildings with electricity from community solar gardens. The agreement allows the city to buy up to 8 MW of electricity from the Minneapolis-based solar company. This is expected to save $165,000 next year. [TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press]

GreenMark solar garden (GreenMark Solar)

¶ If anyone doubts renewable energy is the future, they need only to look at job numbers. According to a recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund, employers in the renewables sector are hiring people 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. Within the sector, small businesses dominate, with 70% of jobs. [Sustainable Brands]

¶ To mark Earth Day 2017, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are highlighting their progress in replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. Importantly, they reached a milestone last year when 26% of the electricity used by its customers came from renewable energy. This is up from 23% the year before. [North American Windpower]

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April 24 Energy News

April 24, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ For the first time, scientists have created a global map measuring the cooling effect forests have by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. According to a new paper, in many locations, this cooling effect works in concert with forests’ absorption of carbon dioxide. [Science Daily]

Working atop a 120-foot tower (Credit: Rob Alexander)

¶ Remember when the world was hoping we would never reach 400 ppm of CO2? Well, now we can wave 400 ppm goodbye, because it has come and been passed. Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first CO2 reading greater than 410 ppm. To be precise, it was 410.28 ppm. Yes, this is bad and yes, it will have even worse consequences. [ZME Science]

World:

¶ Ocean Power Technologies has deployed its PB3 wave energy device off the Japanese coast as part of a lease agreement with Mitsui. The US developer’s first commercial PB3 PowerBuoy unit arrived in Tokyo on 18 March and was shipped to Kozu island for six months’ testing following months of testing off the coast of New Jersey. [reNews]

PB3 PowerBuoy (Ocean Power Technologies image)

¶ Plans by the UK Conservative Party for a cap on household energy bills will lead to fewer benefits for consumers, says one of the UK’s biggest providers. A cabinet minister said the Tories planned to intervene in the energy sector “to make markets work better.” But Scottish Power told the BBC that the move would “stop competition.” [BBC News]

¶ Solar-powered beer is the latest trend among hipsters in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Punters are starting to see the benefit of solar power, with boutique beer producer Young Henrys hosting a 29.9-kW community solar array in Newtown which is owned by 54 local members of the Newtown community. [Energy Matters]

Solar powered beer (public domain)

¶ The University of Alberta is teaming up with research partners in China to develop low-carbon, sustainable energy solutions while tackling global environmental challenges. Officials from the university and Tsinghua University met in Beijing to sign an agreement to create the Joint Research Centre for Future Energy and Environment. [Korea IT Times]

¶ From Norway to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, big oil producers are becoming big backers of renewable-energy. Now, Nigeria has signed two agreements with solar developers to guarantee payment risks for 50-MW and 70-MW solar farms. The oil and gas sector makes up 35% of Nigeria’s GDP and 90% of its exports. [ImpactAlpha]

Solar array (Credit: Africa Energy Digest)

¶ A Thai plan to build a coal-fired power plant in the coastal province of Krabi has once again been put on hold after the Prime Minister scrapped the previous environmental health impact assessment and ordered the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to conduct another with greater input from nearby communities. [Bangkok Post]

¶ Affluent countries like Germany and Japan are typically the ones associated with renewables. But the nation with the highest portion of solar generation in its electricity mix last year was not affluent. It was Honduras, a nation of 8 million people with a gross domestic product of only $5,000 per capita and serious social problems. [pv magazine USA]

PV plant in Honduras (Grupo Ortiz)

¶ Toshiba is still in the midst of a severe financial crisis caused by losses at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. Toshiba has sold its medical business and spun off its chip operation already. Now the company says four additional key operations will also be spun off. [The Mainichi]

US:

¶ Many US cities are setting green energy goals. Some, like Chicago, shoot for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025. Further south, Houston says, “We have NO problem,” with nearly 90% of its municipal electricity already being generated by renewable sources. Part of that comes from the recently built SolaireHolman plant. [ENGINEERING.com]

Rows of solar panels (SolaireDirect image)

¶ New Appalachian Power Co President Chris Beam says the utility doesn’t plan to build coal plants anytime soon and that potential business customers want electricity from renewable energy sources. Beam is a Wheeling native who understands the role of coal in West Virginia’s economy and culture, but he says times are changing. [Wheeling Intelligencer]

¶ Apple revealed it is the company behind two big renewable-energy projects in Oregon. One of them is Apple’s largest ever. Apple said it had signed power purchase agreements with a wind power project that’s set to begin construction in Gilliam County, and with what will soon be Oregon’s largest solar power plant, in Crook County. [Portland Business Journal]

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April 23 Energy News

April 23, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “This Earth Day, 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible” • More than 25 US cities, 12 countries, and at least 89 companies have all committed to transition to 100% renewable energy. It is time to recognize that with the right mix of clean energy technologies and solutions, 100% renewable is 100% possible. [Environmental Defense Fund]

100% clean energy

¶ “Out of sight, out of mind: The energy department website shifts focus to the economy” • The US DOE’s pages on bioenergy and wind energy as well as transportation have both reduced their mentions of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing fossil fuel use in favor of language more geared toward jobs and energy independence. [Salon]

Science and Technology:

¶ And another vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft takes to the sky, this time it was the first successful test flight of the Lilium Electric VTOL Taxi. The Lilium Electric VTOL Taxi will have a range of 187 miles and a top speed of 187 MPH. It would be an on-demand, all-electric airway taxi system that is quiet and free of traffic. [CleanTechnica]

Lilium Electric VTOL Taxi, from behind (Courtesy: Lilium)

¶ Coral reefs aren’t just threatened by pollution, acidification, and rising temperatures. In some places, erosion of the seafloor is undermining them, US Geological Survey scientists said in a new study that looked at reefs in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii. In some sites, the reefs can’t keep pace with sea level rise. [Summit County Citizens Voice]

World:

¶ As part of a local effort to increase alternative energy sources, the Japanese city of Kobe teamed up with Starbucks and researchers at Kindai University to carry out tests on producing biomass fuel generated from such things as used coffee grounds. The plan is to produce a solid fuel called “biocoke” that uses waste for fuel. [The Japan Times]

Biomass fuel to come from used coffee grounds (iStock)

¶ With the inauguration of a new entrance gate, solar panels, a 3-D website and a new sales counter, the 87-year-old Allahabad Museum can now boast of many new facilities. Governor Ram said that Allahabad Museum, by using solar PV technology, has become the first museum in India to be self-reliant in power generation. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Seven renewable energy projects were cleared to proceed undertaking grid impact studies as of March, latest data from the Philippine Department of Energy showed. These projects are seen to generate 562 MW of power to the grid. They include three wind projects to be developed by Currimao Solar Energy Corp and three solar projects. [Philippine Star]

Solar project in the Philippines (Philstar.com | File)

¶ For more than four years, residents were barred from the hamlet of Naraha, in Fukushima, after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This month, six years after the disaster, and over a year since the evacuation order was lifted, 105 students turned up at Naraha Elementary and Junior High School. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

US:

¶ The Florida House and Senate are set to take up proposals to carry out a voter-approved expansion of a renewable-energy tax break, as bill language seems to be more agreeable to solar proponents. They are working on the proposals to carry out a renewable-energy constitutional amendment, which voters approved. [Orlando Weekly]

Solar array in Florida (Photo by Global Panorama via Flickr)

¶ Volkswagen AG has been sentenced to 3 years probation by a US federal judge in relation to the $4.3 billion diesel emissions cheating scandal. That includes independent oversight of the company. The company released a statement acknowledging fault and saying, “Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 19 months ago” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Macy’s has deployed 21 solar energy systems at a time on Earth Day. Altogether, there are 15 MW of solar energy stations distributed among the seven states of Bloomingdale’s locations. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Macy’s was ranked fourth for 2016 in terms of position in the world of renewable energy. [Ratings Alerts]

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April 22 Energy News

April 22, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Defend Science on Earth Day and Beyond” • On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans participated in the first Earth Day – a nation-wide demonstration to advocate for a healthier planet. This marked the start of the modern environmental movement. Indeed, the first Earth Day led to the passage of a slew of environmental laws. [Huffington Post]

Earth Day 2010, Washington Mall

¶ “Even Nixon was a ’70s environmentalist: How bipartisanship made Earth Day a success” • Republican Representative Paul “Pete” McCloskey is largely a footnote in the history of the modern environmental movement. Yet his partnership with Wisconsin Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson made the first one a success. [Idaho Statesman]

¶ “March for Science Chicago expects more than 45,000 to attend Saturday” • The first March for Science Chicago will take place on Earth Day on Saturday amid growing concern from environmental groups and scientists about climate change and other environmental issues. Similar events are scheduled around the world. [Chicago Tribune]

Chicago (Brian Cassella | Chicago Tribune 2015)

World:

¶ Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says. Friday is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world’s first centralized public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London. [BBC]

¶ The lithium-ion battery manufacturer LG Chem has launched a residential battery systems line in the North American market, following completion of UL certification. Two different voltage options are available, a low-voltage 48-V option and a high-voltage 400-V option. Several different sizes are available, up to 9.8 kWh. [CleanTechnica]

LG Chem home energy storage system

¶ French authorities have authorized plans for France’s largest offshore wind farm, over seven times the size of the current largest. The developer, Ailes Marines, will build off the coast of Brittany and has set the construction date for 2020. It will have a capacity of 493 MW, and will provide enough energy for 850,000 people. [The Local France]

¶ The Indian government plans to auction wind power projects of about 4 GW capacity in tranches this year, according to a senior official. The expectation is that five to six gigawatts of wind capacity will be auctioned off every year until 2022, to meet India’s commitment to have 60 GW of wind capacity installed by that date. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Indian wind farm

¶ Apple’s new data center in Denmark is set to distribute its heat into the local district heating network. The data center will be partly powered by recycling farm waste. Apple is working with Aarhus University on a system that passes agricultural waste through a digester to generate methane, which is then used to power the data center. [Decentralized Energy]

¶ Up to 200 jobs will be created as a Scottish dry dock comes out of a 23-year hibernation during the construction of what is said to be the world’s largest floating wind farm. Kishorn dry dock in the Highlands will be used to help build floating turbines for Kincardine Offshore’s 50-MW development off the coast of Aberdeen. [Aberdeen Evening Express]

Pumping out Kishorn dry dock (Kincardine Offshore | PA)

US:

¶ Oil giant Exxon Mobil will not be allowed to resume drilling in Russia after US President Donald Trump vowed to uphold sanctions. It had been reported that Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, had sought a dispensation. The US and European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014. [BBC News]

¶ Two natural-gas leaks in Rhode Island got the attention of the multinational companies that own the pipelines. But it’s unclear what is being done and what damage has been done. One leak, in South Providence, disrupted the gas service for National Grid customers. The other was in an Algonquin natural-gas pipeline in Burrillville. [ecoRI news]

Environmental crew (Tim Faulkner | ecoRI News)

¶ The Korea Electric Power Corp will enter the rapidly growing virtual power plant market in the US as part of efforts to find new growth engines. The state-run utility said it signed an agreement with KOKAM, a local lithium polymer battery maker for energy storage systems, and Sunverge, a renewable energy management firm. [koreatimes]

¶ NRG Energy, a power producer based in New Jersey, finished a 20-MW solar farm in California for leading IT and networking firm Cisco. The plant is on 60 hectares in the Lower Colorado River Valley region. It will generate power for use at the company’s San Jose headquarters under a 20-year power purchase agreement. [PV-Tech]

NRG solar farm (Source: NRG Energy)

¶ In 2015 the New Mexico utility PNM created a subsidiary to buy a coal mine that supplies its San Juan Generating Station. Now all of a sudden PNM has announced a new energy plan that shuts down part of the power plant in just a few months, with the remaining units following those into the dustbin by 2022. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Members of the planning commission in Vernon, Vermont, have drawn up a plan, “Re-energizing Vernon.” In it, they explore the possibility of a multi-fuel, clean-energy, affordable micro-grid on the site of the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Important components would include the 32-MW Vernon dam and batteries. [Rutland Herald]

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April 21 Energy News

April 21, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The great gas con: there are cheaper, cleaner alternatives” • Yet another Australian “gas summit” ended without a fix to soaring gas prices. Frankly, it beggars belief that the country’s industry is even bothering to ask for cheaper gas prices, when there are obviously cheaper alternatives available – for both electricity and for industrial gas users. [Echonetdaily]

Gas and oil refinery (shutterstock)

¶ “Plunging battery costs raise doubts over Tasmania’s $3 billion hydro plans” • Tasmania’s plans for a $3 billion investment in new pumped hydro schemes and a new submarine transmission link to the Australian mainland may turn out to be little more than damp squib, given concerns raised by two new studies in the proposal. [RenewEconomy]

Science and Technology:

¶ In March, NOAA saw something it has never seen before, a record high global temperature that exceed the 1981-2010 average by a full one degree Centigrade (1.8º F) “in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean.” NOAA says the reading is a sign the underlying global warming trend is stronger than ever. [CleanTechnica]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

World:

¶ In a new report examining how climate change will affect its bottom line, Calgary-based oil giant Suncor Energy is admitting its business will be turned upside down. The report notes that new technology and social change will trigger dramatic shifts in the market. But it isn’t ready to throw in the towel on oil any time soon. [National Observer]

¶ The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is projected to cost £1.3 billion and generate enough electricity for 155,000 homes, over a lifespan of 120 years. A report from Seafish takes a different look at it. Prospects for cultivating mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, cockles and seaweed in the proposed project are promising, it says. [TheFishSite.com]

Rendering of the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project
(Courtesy: Tidal Lagoon Power)

¶ A majority of India’s 28,000 MW of gas-based power plants are likely to turn idle, especially on the eastern coast of the country, after the Union government decided to terminate the subsidies provided under the gas price pooling mechanism to the power companies beyond March 31, Industry officials told Financial Express. [Financial Express]

¶ A Concentrated Solar Power system in Denmark has reached full capacity. The plant provides the city of Brønderslev with sustainable heating through the city’s district heating network, but it will soon also be contributing to power production. The 16.6-MWth solar energy plant is based on parabolic trough technology. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Concentrated solar power in Denmark

¶ Strike action is already being threatened at the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, which is under construction in the UK county of Somerset, despite a ground breaking industrial relations agreement being in place that had been considered a blueprint for future best practice. The dispute at Hinkley Point C is over bonus payments. [The Construction Index]

US:

¶ When it comes to clean energy, Vermont is second only to California, according to a nationwide assessment of states by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Vermont came in at the top in two of the 12 categories used in its study, including the per capita creation of jobs in the clean energy economy, and the state’s carbon reduction target. [Rutland Herald]

Vermont Law School solar array
(SayCheeeeeese, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Eos Energy Storage, producer of the cost Znyth battery, announced new forward pricing for the company’s Eos Aurora DC Battery System at a record-breaking low cost. The company is taking orders for volume purchases at a price of $160/kWh for shipment in 2017 and $95 per usable kWh for shipment in 2022. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Apple has pledged to end its reliance on mining, and to make its devices from only renewable or recycled materials, although it’s not announced any timeline to do so. The pledge was announced in the company’s Environmental Responsibility Report. Apple already gets nearly 100% of its energy from renewable sources. [Cult of Mac]

iPhone (Photo: Ste Smith | Cult of Mac)

¶ Enel Green Power has begun construction of the 300-MW Red Dirt wind farm in Oklahoma. It is Enel Green Power North America’s largest wind farm in the state, and will bring the company’s cumulative capacity up to nearly 1,500 MW. The wind farm will sell its electricity under two long-term power purchase agreements. [CleanTechnica]

¶ L’Oréal USA’s plant in North Little Rock is set to house the fourth largest solar power project in Arkansas. The installation of 3,600 solar panels will provide 1.2 MW of renewable energy and will reduce carbon emissions for the state by 556 metric tons per year. L’Oréal’s plant has been in the state for 40 years and has nearly 500 employees. [THV 11]

L’Oréal solar array

¶ Recycling at Werkhoven Dairy near Monroe, Washington, takes on a whole new meaning when you have more than 3,000 cows that generate an average of 65 pounds of poop a day each. They have been turning cow manure into cow power for nearly a decade, producing enough electricity for nearly 300 homes and then some. [News3LV]

¶ One of the largest solar projects in Georgia has now been completed. The 52-MW solar facility in Hazlehurst is expected to generate more than 134 GWh of renewable energy annually for customers of Green Power EMC for the next 30 years, according to a news release. Construction began in April 2016 on the 480-acre utility. [The Telegraph]

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April 20 Energy News

April 20, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Unsubsidized wind and solar now the cheapest source for new electric power” • Last year, the average “levelized cost” of electricity from solar worldwide dropped 17% percent, onshore wind costs dropped 18% and offshore costs fell 28%. Unsubsidized wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power. [Computerworld]

Italian village in a wind farm (NASA photo)

¶ “Rick Perry’s Memo Is A Minefield” • Rick Perry directed the Department of Energy to do a 60-day study of the US electric grid. The memo clearly tries to look innocuous. Nevertheless, it is a minefield full of hidden traps for those who do not parse it carefully and a groundwork for an attack on low-cost solar and wind power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Trump Admin. Outlines Global Solar Plan: 10 Terawatts By 2030” • President Trump talks a great game when it comes to coal jobs. But the latest item in the flood of renewable energy news from the Energy Department is a study that charts a do-able path for global energy producers to harvest 5-10 TW of solar power by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

Hybrid perovskite solar cells (Photo via NREL, cropped)

¶ “Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be” • After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at fusion more dispassionately. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]

World:

¶ According to analysts, China, home to the world’s largest installations of solar farms, will install fewer panels in 2017, taking a breather for the first time in five years, amid arrears in subsidies and bottleneck problems with the country’s power grids. Chinese solar farms will add between 26 GW and 28 GW of capacity this year. [South China Morning Post]

Zhejiang solar fish farm

¶ The long goodbye for coal in Europe is accelerating as the cost of shifting to green energy plunges. Companies including Drax Group Plc, Steag GmbH, and Uniper SE are closing or converting coal-burning generators at a record pace from Austria to the UK, as they are made obsolete by competition from cheaper wind and solar power. [BloombergQuint]

¶ The 240-MW Ararat wind farm in the Australian state of Victoria has been completed, with all 75 of its GE turbines now feeding energy into the grid. The project, powered by GE 3.2-103 machines, will provide the Australian Capital Territory with 40% of electricity produced from the site. Construction commenced in late 2015. [reNews]

Ararat Wind Farm (courtesy photo)

¶ Niigata’s Governor said a longer period may be needed to verify safety at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, destroying TEPCO’s schedule to restart reactors. He said it will take time to confirm that the nuclear plant can withstand major earthquakes, especially a building that would be headquarters in the event of a severe accident. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has extended his vision of large-scale pumped hydro and storage to Tasmania, outlining plans to expand the island’s existing hydropower system, and possibly add 2,500 MW in pumped hydro, and describing the possibility that the state could become the “renewable energy battery” for Australia. [RenewEconomy]

Gordon Dam in Tasmania

US:

¶ EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has told oil and gas industry leaders that the agency will reconsider its methane emissions rule following a petition from industry leaders, a move decried by environmentalists. The move will reconsider an Obama-era regulation meant to curb methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. [CNN]

¶ South Lake Tahoe, California became the 26th municipality in the US and the latest in a growing coalition of communities to commit to 100% renewable electricity. The city council approved a measure that sets a goal to switch entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2032. Winter tourism is the region’s leading industry. [Windpower Engineering]

Lake Tahoe

¶ San Francisco reached an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gases locally two years ahead of schedule, according to city officials. Recently compiled figures show the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions had fallen to 28% below 1990 levels by 2015. The city’s goal, set in 2008, was to hit 25% below 1990 levels by 2017. [SFBay]

¶ Sound Transit has signed a 10-year agreement with Puget Sound Energy that will enable Seattle’s Link light rail network to operate on 100% renewable energy from 2019. Sound Transit will purchase electricity generated by wind turbines through PSE’s Green Direct Program, reducing its exposure to fluctuations in utility prices. [International Railway Journal]

Seattle Link light rail

¶ Thanks to another strong year for wind energy growth, US wind power added jobs over nine times faster than the overall economy in 2016, the American Wind Energy Association said. Installing more than 8 GW of new wind power for a second straight year, the industry supports a record-high 102,500 jobs in the country. [North American Windpower]

¶ As part of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision program, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced that $15.5 million in funding is available for energy storage projects that can support renewable energy technologies, save customers money, and ease peak electric demand. [LongIsland.com]

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April 19 Energy News

April 19, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The State & Promise of the Electric Airplane” • The electric airplane industry truly is the final frontier. Hauling a battery pack in a car for propulsion is fairly easy compared to dragging one around in the air. This article provides a glimpse of the state and promise of the electric airplane – the new wild frontier. [CleanTechnica]

Hamilton aEro

¶ “What America’s workers know about climate change” • Unions and environmental advocates have had our differences over the years, but increasingly we are finding common ground based on our shared concerns. And more than ever, union members are experiencing firsthand the threat the climate crisis poses to those core values. [CNN]

¶ “To Build A More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small” • Nearly half a million miles of high-voltage transmission lines cross the country, but the people planning the future of America’s electric grid are thinking small. They say we should build microgrids – small systems that can connect and disconnect. [WBUR]

Brooklyn substation, hit by Hurricane Sandy
(Bebeto Matthews | AP)

Science and Technology:

¶ The herbicide Paraquat became a household word for all the wrong reasons during the Vietnam War, but now it is helping solve an EV battery “dendrite” problem that has stumped researchers for 40 years. If all goes well, the result will be a new generation of lithium-based EV batteries with five to 10 times the range of today’s. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Acciona has started building the 132-MW Mount Gellibrand wind farm in the Australian state of Victoria. The project, estimated to cost A$258 million ($194 million), will feature 44 Nordex AW125/3000 turbines mounted on 87.5 meter steel towers. The developer has an agreement to sell power into the wholesale electricity market. [reNews]

Waubra wind farm (Acciona image)

¶ Non-fossil fuels – renewables, nuclear and large hydroelectric power plants – will be 56.5% of India’s installed power capacity by 2027, according to a draft of the third National Electricity Plan. It notes that if India achieves its target for 2022, it will not need to begin construction of coal-fired capacity until after 2027, if then. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Scottish Labour says its proposal to ban fracking was backed by 87% of the public in a recent consultation. A greater percentage worries over fracking. When asked if fracking poses “too many risks relating to pollution of the earth, water and air, and increased seismic activity”, 95% of respondents agreed, and 4% disagreed. [insider.co.uk]

No fracking (Getty image)

¶ According to a report in, the Financial Times, the fourth largest pension fund in Denmark divested itself of investments in five Canadian oil producers, and is assessing another 44 oil and gas companies. Its managers worry that fossil fuel companies are at risk of becoming stranded assets. The fund has assets worth €33.6 billion. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ A former strip mine would be converted into a solar farm under a proposal to use it for hundreds of thousands of panels. The Berkeley Energy Group, EDF Renewable Energy, and former Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen said they are looking at two mountaintop removal sites in the heart of Kentucky’s coal country. [Paducah Sun]

Mountaintop removal site near Pikeville
(Kenny Stanley | Berkeley Energy Group via AP)

¶ A pro-Paris bloc within the administration recruited energy companies for support ahead of a high-level White House meeting, according to two people familiar with the effort who asked not to be identified. ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are among those endorsing the pact. So are Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband. [Livemint]

¶ Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation to end the state’s tax credit for new wind developments, StateImpact Oklahoma reported. One of the bill’s sponsors said the state can no longer afford the tax credit due to extraordinary budget challenges. Fallin also called for an end to the subsidy in her 2017 budget proposal. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Oklahoma wind farm

¶ Portland Commissioner Nick Fish is asking the Portland, Oregon, City Council to commit $12 million in sewer ratepayer funds to convert waste methane from the city’s sewage treatment process into renewable natural gas. The proposal calls for the fuel to be sold in Portland and elsewhere to replace diesel fuel in trucks. [Portland Tribune]

¶ Despite the hit that many investors in the shale oil industry have taken in recent years because of producers going bust, about $19.8 billion was invested in the sector by private equity funds during the first quarter of 2017, the financial data provider Preqin says. This is a roughly 3-fold increase, year on year, in private investment. [CleanTechnica]

Oil and gas wells (Image via US EPA)

¶ Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC, has struck a deal with now-defunct Madison Paper Industries to purchase the 8-MW Anson and 20-MW Abnaki hydroelectric projects in Maine. The pair of small hydropower plants on the Kennebec River had been used for power generation from 1978 until they were shuttered last year. [HydroWorld]

¶ Federal regulators ruled that the owners of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station will not have to re-evaluate the risks of floods and earthquakes to the Plymouth nuclear plant or upgrade the vent system intended to prevent explosions in accident scenarios. The decision was blasted by the state’s two US senators, Warren and Markey. [Recorder]

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April 18 Energy News

April 18, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Rick Perry targets wind, solar after overseeing renewables explosion in Texas” • US Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t mention renewable energy by name. But his request for the DOE to investigate how federal subsidies boost renewables at the expense of baseload generation was clearly meant as a swipe at wind and solar energy. [RenewEconomy]

The Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas at sunrise
(Fredlyfish4, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “How Trump could make US a climate pariah over Paris pact” • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is arguing to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is arguing to stay. If Trump goes with Pruitt instead of Tillerson, he will create a worldwide consensus: to oppose the US for climate inaction. [KBZK Bozeman News]

World:

¶ Renewable energy has hit a new record in Germany. It made up just over 41% of Germany’s power supply last month, the most ever at around 19.5 TWh. It’s a good thing, too, because nuclear power production may have fallen to its lowest monthly level since the 1970s – even though no nuclear plant has been shut off since 2015. [CleanTechnica]

Generation from hydro, biomass, wind, and solar
Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ Fortum Corporation, based in Finland, recently announced that it commissioned its largest solar power project. The project, located in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is also among the cheapest solar power projects in the country. Fortum said it commissioned the 70-MW solar project under India’s National Solar Mission. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In March, Germany conducted successful tests of the world’s first “Hydrail,” a hydrogen powered, zero-emission train. “The new train is 60% less noisy than a traditional diesel train, completely emission free,” said Jens Sprotte of Alstom, train’s producer. “The only sound it gives off comes from the wheels and air resistance.” [CNN]

Screenshot

¶ The Middle East and North Africa will need investments of $302 billion over the next five years to cover the rising demand for electricity, estimates by APICORP Energy Research say. Of this, $179 billion, a little less than 60%, will be needed to add generating capacity. The rest, $123 billion, is for transmission and distribution. [Zawya]

¶ Gaza’s only power plant has run out of fuel, leaving 2 million residents of the coastal enclave with only four hours of electricity a day in what the UN cautions could be the tipping point to making Gaza “unlivable.” The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza blame each other for the energy shortage. [CNN]

Darkened street in Gaza

¶ Egypt aims to increase its use of renewable energy to 22% by 2020, according to its investment and international cooperation minister, Sahar Nasr. She discussed investments in Egypt with the regional director of Norway’s Scatec Solar, Morten Langsholdt. He said various investors were interested in making $3 billion in investments. [Ahram Online]

US:

¶ Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered the DOE to conduct a study of renewable energy on the US electric grid. His Monday morning memo said that the review would assess whether federal environmental policies have hurt the power grid’s ability to supply baseload power, which depends on fossil fuels, over the past few years. [Washington Examiner]

Refinery

¶ President Donald Trump’s top advisors will meet today, April 18, to discuss whether to recommend that he withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, a White House official said. The accord, agreed upon by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015, aims to limit planetary warming in part by slashing carbon dioxide and other emissions. [The Wire]

¶ As part of its carbon-reduction plans, Boston-based nonprofit Partners HealthCare signed a contract to buy power from a 28.8-MW wind project to be built in Antrim, New Hampshire. Partners will purchase 75% of the project’s capacity. The wind farm, owned by Walden Green Energy, is to be completed in 2019. [North American Windpower]

Visual simulation of the Antrim wind farm
(Courtesy of Partners HealthCare)

¶ Southern California Edison, General Electric Co, and Wellhead Power Solutions partnered to install 10-MW lithium-ion batteries at two of the utility’s gas generators. During periods of peak demand, the batteries can provide instant power while gas turbines ramp up. They are expected to reduce emissions by at least 60%. [BloombergQuint]

¶ Hearings for PG&E’s proposal to close Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will begin Wednesday. The California Public Utilities Commission will begin hearing testimony at 10 AM in San Francisco. The Commission has scheduled a total of eight hearings from April 19 and April 28 to hear testimony. [The San Luis Obispo Tribune]

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant
(Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com)

¶ Saving money is at the core of the business case for going green. And in a lot of places around the country, solar and wind are now the cheapest energy option. In coal-loving Kentucky, General Motors, Ford, Walmart, L’Oreal, and even the state’s beloved bourbon makers are starting to look at renewables. [Minnesota Public Radio News]

¶ With federal clean energy programs under attack, local environmental activists gathered in Beverly, Massachusetts, last week to launch a statewide campaign calling on cities and towns in Massachusetts to commit to 100% clean, renewable energy. Many worry about effects on the environment from burning fossil fuels. [Wicked Local Beverly]

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April 17 Energy News

April 17, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “NREL is a driver of cutting-edge research and industry” • Thanks in part to a federally funded lab that does cutting-edge energy research, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve ever been in modern times. So it’s a shock that in the president’s proposed budget, that lab is on the chopping block. [The Denver Post]

Wind turbines at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center
south of Boulder (Helen H Richardson, Denver Post)

¶ “Grid unlocked: Consumers are driving Asia’s energy revolution” • All across Asia, rising expectations from consumers are driving the disruption of utilities, forcing well-entrenched electricity providers to change. Ahead of Asian Utility Week 2017, Eco-Business looks at the trend and its implications for the electricity supply. [eco-business.com]

Science and Technology:

¶ The Tesla Gigafactory produces lithium-ion batteries for Tesla vehicles and alternative energy sources. And, in a recent video, CEO and founder Elon Musk was actually quoted as saying: “We actually did the calculations to figure out what it would take to transition the whole world to sustainable energy. You’d need 100 Gigafactories.” [Futurism]

Leonardo DiCaprio at the Gigafactory (screen shot)

¶ Vermont is famous for its natural and mesmerizing landscape that includes a big forest. Unfortunately, a recent report has revealed a decrease in the bird population there. ABC News reported a sharp decline of 14.2% in the bird population over the last 25 years. Climate change, invasive species, and acid rain are among the causes. [Science Times]

World:

¶ Some Japanese farmers have begun looking to biogas technology to allow them to turn their properties into power plants, giving them a way to transform animal and other waste into profits. Biogas is consists mainly of methane that can be produced through fermentation of organic materials such as livestock waste or food waste. [The Japan Times]

A potato field using liquid residues from a
local biogas power plant as fertilizer (Kyodo)

¶ Indian mobile infrastructure and telecom tower companies are aiming to further cut their carbon footprint by reducing dependency on fossil fuel as a part of a ‘Go Green’ initiative. The sector has already deployed 90,000 diesel-free mobile sites, according to a lobby group Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association. [ETTelecom.com]

¶ Record low temperatures and unseasonable rainfall over the past week were a glimpse into the potential, intensifying effects of climate change in Cambodia, experts said, a phenomenon that studies suggest could seriously hinder future agricultural productivity through flooding, unpredictable rains and warming of up to 5° C by 2050. [The Cambodia Daily]

Storm-felled tree outside The Cambodia Daily’s office
in Phnom Penh (Douglas Steele | The Cambodia Daily)

¶ Three more Apple suppliers committed to using 100% renewable energy to manufacture its components, an executive of the company told Bloomberg Technology. Biel Crystal Manufactory, based in Hong Kong; Compal Electronics, of Taiwan; and Sunwoda Electronics, of Shenzhen City, China, have made the pledge. [Energy Manager Today]

¶ WWF, Greenpeace and other UK environmental groups urged the prime minister not to water down legislation on climate change and wildlife protection after Brexit. The UK government had promised it would leave the environment in a better state for future generations, but the groups expressed concerns about backtracking. [BBC]

Over half of UK wildlife is in decline. (Science Photo Library)

¶ Saudi Arabia will develop 30 solar and wind projects over the next 10 years as part of the kingdom’s $50 billion program to boost power generation and cut its oil consumption. The world’s biggest crude oil exporter will get 10% of its power from renewables by 2023, its Energy Minister said. It also plans to build nuclear plants. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ The story of a solar push and pull in Florida goes on, this time with a good note: Floridians for Solar Choice writes that a Gulf Power settlement means customers will not have to face a huge fixed charge for having rooftop solar power. Gulf Power had proposed a charge was $50 every month, making it hard to save money with solar power. [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar in Florida

¶ Cities across the US are working to limit their emissions of climate-change gases, turning to solar power, and using other tactics. A report, Shining Cities 2017, rates cities for solar power. It says that solar-energy policies are more critical to successful solar adoption than any other factor, even including the number of days of sunshine. [Green Car Reports]

¶ Carbon fuels cause climate change and pollution, costing all of us money. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby is advocating for a fee to be charged against carbon at the point it enters the US economy. The group’s single mission is to lobby all 535 members of Congress each year for a carbon fee. Indiana has seven chapters working on that. [Terre Haute Tribune Star]

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April 16 Energy News

April 16, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The Nuclear Industry Is Heading Into a Financial Black Hole That Threatens Any Future Expansion” • Any lingering hope that a nuclear power renaissance would help combat climate change appears to have been dashed by the Westinghouse bankruptcy. “There is no one left to invest anymore because renewables are just cheaper.” [Truthdig]

Sunset at the Sellafield nuclear plant (Dom Crayford | Flickr)

¶ “Why scientists are fighting back. We’ve had enough of Trump’s war on facts” • Next Saturday, in Washington, DC, and in rallies around the world, scientists and their supporters will stage what is likely to be the largest gathering of its kind in history. The March for Science has mobilised scientists and their supporters as never before. [The Guardian]

¶ “The de-electrification of the US economy” • The initial drop in electricity use in 2008 and 2009 could be attributed partly to the economic downturn. But the economy grew again in 2010, and every year since. Meanwhile, electricity use in the US is still below its 2007 level. Per-capita electricity use has fallen for six years in a row. [Livemint]

Transmission lines (Photo: Bloomberg)

World:

¶ India will add nearly 600 million new electricity consumers by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Taking the increasing population into account, along with a high policy priority to make power accessible across India, renewable forms of energy offer the best solution. DC solar products are seeing good traction in rural India. [Firstpost]

¶ Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd announced that it is on track to develop Malaysia’s first geothermal power plant project in Sabah, in 2019. The company has received all requisite approvals to develop, construct, operate, and maintain a geothermal power plant, exporting 30 MW to the Sabah Grid at a feed-in tariff of RM0.45/kWh (10¢/kWh). [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Geothermal project site in Sabah (source: Tawau Green Energy)

¶ The Energy Minister for the Indian state of Telangana said the state government will announce a new program to encourage solar power generation in every house. He inaugurated a 143-MW solar power generation project that was established ReNew Power, with an investment of ₹1,000 crore ($150.3 million). [The New Indian Express]

¶ Madhya Pradesh government will sign a power purchase agreement with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on April 17 to supply 24% of electricity generated from the Rewa ultra mega solar project to be set up in the state. The 750-MW project will have three units of 250 MW. They are planned be operational in 18 months. [Hindustan Times]

Delhi Metro (Reuters photo)

US:

¶ EPA administrator Scott Pruitt may have to back up his false claims on greenhouse gases and climate change in court. A lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility wants him to produce studies backing up his statements questioning the role of CO2 in climate change. [Summit County Citizens Voice]

¶ Several new jobs are coming to a power plant in Lynchburg, Virginia, that has sat dormant for five years, according to Eagle Creek Renewable energy. Appalachian Power transferred the Reusens hydroelectric plant, which had closed in 2011, to Eagle Creek. An Eagle Creek spokesman said the plant will provide about 40,000 MWh per year. [WSET]

Reusens hydroelectric plant (Appalachian Power)

¶ Two Albuquerque City Council members announced that they will soon file legislation that will allow the city to issue $25 million in renewable energy bonds. The money will go toward installing solar panels on city buildings throughout the city. Albuquerque is committed to getting 25% of its energy from solar by 2025. [Albuquerque Journal]

¶ California’s famously congested freeways may soon do more than create headaches. State officials agreed last week to fund an initiative to generate electrical power from traffic, a plan that involves harnessing road vibrations with the intent of turning the automobile, like the sun and wind, into a viable source of renewable energy. [WatertownDailyTimes.com]

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April 15 Energy News

April 15, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Welcome to the post-apocalyptic National Parks” • National parks in the US are already seeing the effects of climate change. Glaciers are melting, whitebark pines are under attack by pests, and wildfires are eating away at acres of land across the US. What will happen to our treasured parks by 2050 if we don’t address climate change? [The Verge]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Science and Technology:

¶ The Arctic sea ice death spiral is continuing to accelerate, with March 2017 setting new record lows (for the month) with regard to extent and thickness, according to data released by the National Snow and Ice Data Center. In March, there was an area of about 452,000 square miles of open ocean that would have been ice in past years. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A study published in Nature Communications shows countries that have signed the Paris Climate Accord must reduce their carbon emissions much sooner than anticipated to reach the agreement’s goal. The authors, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, show that the shift must come well before 2040. [ColorLines magazine]

Old windmill (Frazer Harrison | Getty Images for Stagecoach)

World:

¶ The government of Punjab province in Pakistan has reiterated its commitment to install rooftop solar power systems on about 20,000 schools. The government-backed Khadam-e-Punjab Ujala Programme aims to set up rooftop solar power systems at schools, health centers, and higher education centers such as Bahawalpur University. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As Australia’s renewable energy industry awaits the outcome of the South Australian government’s inaugural large-scale energy storage auction, the CFO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has described two key competing technologies – large-scale battery systems and pumped hydro – as neck and neck on pricing. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla batteries at a sub-station

¶ ReNew Power Ventures Pvt Ltd, an Indian renewable energy independent power producer, commissioned a 143-MW solar farm in the village of Dichpally, Telangana. It is one of the first to use tracker technology at such a large scale. This increases electric generation by up to 20%. The project was finished three months ahead of the schedule. [Telangana Today]

¶ Australia’s energy debate seems to be focused on the ability of its generation fleet to meet peak demands next summer when the heat-waves are most intense. The lesson from the past summer is: Don’t count on fossil fuels keeping your air-con on when it is needed most. And unlike the sun and wind, fossil fuels’ failures are unpredictable. [CleanTechnica]

Australian coal-burning plant

US:

¶ Responding to what they see as “an all-out assault on our environment by the Trump administration,” a coalition of green-energy advocates launched an effort calling for Massachusetts communities to commit to 100% renewable energy while pressing the Legislature to get all its energy from sources like wind and solar. [Recorder]

¶ The official numbers from the EPA are in and the Tesla Model S 100D range came in at 331.1 miles in city driving, alongside a highway range of 337.2 miles and a combined rating of 335 miles. MPGe ratings are impressive as well – 101 city, 102 highway, 102 combined. The lowest price of the Model S 100D is $92,500. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Model S (Image: Cynthia Shahan | CleanTechnica.pics)

¶ The US DOE unveiled a new version of its PV System Toolkit, a complete package of development tools designed to make it easier for cooperative utility companies in rural areas to transition to renewable solar power. Because they are non-profit organizations, co-ops are not eligible for the sizable federal solar power incentives. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Central Arizona Project, which uses power to transport water to the desert areas of Arizona, will be turning away from coal plants, like the Navajo Generating Station, and looking towards a future of new energy solutions. Official decisions have not yet been made about how the Central Arizona Project will be powered. [Breaking Energy]

Arizona countryside (Photo by David Cannon | Getty Images)

¶ Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) plans to introduce legislation outlining how the United States can completely wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050, his office said. The bill will be introduced during the week of April 24, shortly before the People’s Climate Movement. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) will co-sponsor the bill, called the “100 By ‘50 Act.” [Huffington Post]

¶ A lawsuit has been filed by a group of power suppliers saying that a deal reached to keep the Clinton nuclear power plant open is illegal. The lawsuit says the Zero Emissions Credits and the Future Energy Jobs Act aims to reverse wholesale energy markets, and that this new law would hurt the consumers, increasing their electricity rates. [WAND]

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April 14 Energy News

April 14, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Nuclear plant shutdown divides Great Lakes community” • There are nine nuclear plants on the US side of the Great Lakes, but cheaper energy sources are forcing some to shut down. About half of the funding for Covert Public Schools, in Covert, Michigan, comes from taxes on Palisades Nuclear Plant, but many residents want to see it close. [WBFO]

Palisades Nuclear Plant (NRC image)

¶ “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s claim that China and India have ‘no obligations’ until 2030 under the Paris Accord” • The EPA administrator denounced the Paris Climate Accord as a “bad deal for America,” claiming China and India had no obligations until 2030. We have good news for him. That problem is solved! [Washington Post]

Science and Technology:

¶ A research paper examines a previously unknown influence of humans on extreme weather. Carbon emissions lead to warming of the atmosphere in polar regions, and this leads to the jet stream getting stuck in place. This, in turn, leads to extended periods in which the weather persists, producing drought and other extreme weather. [CleanTechnica]

Jet stream (NOAA image)

World:

¶ EnBW has secured the bulk of the 1.5-GW on offer with its 900-MW He Dreiht project in the German North Sea. The developer won with a bid of zero, which means it is pledging to build and operate the wind farm without the support of a feed-in tariff and relying instead on the market rate. The wind farm is expected to be operational in 2023. [reNews]

¶ Scotrenewables has produced full power from its 2-MW SR2000 tidal turbine off the north coast of Scotland. The 500-tonne floating device reached the milestone earlier this week at the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney following a phased testing program. Device results to date are said to be in line with forecasts. [reNews]

SR2000 tidal machine

¶ The number of solar panels being installed in the UK has fallen by more than 80%, according to an analysis of new figures. It is the latest sign that the industry is being strangled by government policies despite being one of the cheapest sources of electricity. The number of people putting solar panels on their homes is now at a six-year low. [The Independent]

¶ The Edge, a new 10 story office building in Edmonton, Alberta, will be covered with 500 solar panels on its south side. Together with daylight gathered from north facing windows, they are expected to supply 80% of the building’s electrical needs, says Dub Architects, the company responsible for the design of the building. [CleanTechnica]

The Edge (Credit: Dub Architects)

US:

¶ The Sierra Club’s Executive Director visited the Hanover, New Hampshire, Town Hall to describe national sustainability efforts. Next month, Hanover’s Town Meeting will vote on using 100% renewable energy by 2050. Hanover’s proposed goal, part of the “Ready For 100” campaign, would include electricity, heat and transportation. [Valley News]

¶ Sonnen, a battery company based in Germany, is planning to open a new innovation hub in Atlanta as part of its mission to become a supplier of residential storage batteries in America. The lithium iron phosphate chemistry used in the battery eliminates the risk of fire or explosion associated with traditional lithium-ion batteries. [CleanTechnica]

Sonnen residential battery (Sonnen Battery image)

¶ Tesla will unveil an electric articulated truck in September, Elon Musk has said, and an electric pick-up truck would be shown off in around 18-24 months. However, analysts are concerned the company will not meet demand for its current projects. Tesla has 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, which is yet to go into production. [BBC]

¶ Advanced Microgrid Solutions announced it will design, install and operate its Hybrid Electric Building systems for Walmart, providing 40 MWh of battery systems for 27 stores in Southern California. AMS says these will improve energy efficiency, guarantee the retailer electricity savings and provide grid services to local utilities. [Energy Matters]

Solar panels on the roof of a Walmart store

¶ Leading US power company NRG has announced it will work with a leading provider of distributed ice battery storage, Ice Energy, to deploy Ice Bear storage systems on qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in Orange County. The Ice Bear system makes ice when grid demand is low and uses it for air conditioning. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Cloud computing giant Salesforce first committed to achieving net-zero emissions in 2015 as part of a “Net Zero by 2050” initiative led by the B Team, a group of global business leaders. The San Francisco firm just announced that said it has reached its 2050 environmental milestones and is offering a “carbon-neutral cloud” for its customers. [Mashable]

Turbine in a wind farm

¶ Microsoft could bypass Puget Sound Energy to secure clean power from another source under a tentative settlement. It is a striking shift in the relationship between Washington’s largest private utility and its largest corporate customer. It was spurred by Microsoft’s quest to combat climate freeing itself of energy from fossil fuels. [The Seattle Times]

¶ The Arizona Republic reports Peabody Energy is working to save the 2,250-MW Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, which purchases coal from the mining company. Peabody has offered coal at a lower fixed price through 2025, and believes new ownership could keep the plant running profitably. [Utility Dive]

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April 13 Energy News

April 13, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm” • President Donald Trump brags about bringing back coal jobs, but tends to gloss over the fuel’s negative health effects for workers and those who live nearby. The Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada know all about those harmful health effects. And they did something about it. [Inhabitat]

Solar project of the Moapa Band Of Paiutes

¶ “President Trump, it’s time we left coal behind” • In the wake of President Trump’s latest executive orders to undo Obama’s efforts on climate and energy, it has become clear that climate science denial isn’t the only blind spot of this administration. It also suffers from what Australian commentator Waleed Aly calls “commercial denialism.” [The Guardian]

¶ “Understanding Trump’s Energy Plan: Three things to know” • By way of an executive order, US President Donald Trump recently signed off on reviving the coal industry and taking the first steps toward his America First Energy Plan. Here are three things to know about a power plan that critics call a “colossal mistake.” [The Weather Network]

Wind turbines

Science and Technology:

¶ Manure-to-biogas, capturing methane gas from decomposing manure and using it as renewable fuel, is old news. But now, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has figured out a new high-tech twist that takes it up to the next level, converting it into an energy-rich substance that can be used as the basis for biofuels and specialty chemicals. [CleanTechnica]

¶ There will be a large increase in the number of large, high-intensity forest fires that occur in the coming years and decades, according to a study from the South Dakota State University. The findings are the result of an analysis of around 23,000 fires that occurred worldwide between 2002 and 2013, including 478 “large, high-intensity” fires. [CleanTechnica]

Wildfire (John McColgan, US DA)

World:

¶ Transgrid, the owner and operator of the main transmission line in New South Wales, reports that is has received “enquiries” about more than 6,000 MW of large scale solar so far in 2017. The figure is more than a six fold increase over 2016. It shows a huge interest in solar as it matches wind on costs and beats new gas by a big margin. [CleanTechnica]

¶ India is shedding its reputation as an outlier in the fight against climate change. At the same time, President Trump is pledging support for the US coal industry and threatening to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement, which requires signatories to take steps to cut the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. [Los Angeles Times]

Indian coal-fired power plant partly financed by the US
Export-Import Bank (Shashank Bengali | Los Angeles Times)

¶ The UK government could deliver 1 GW of new onshore wind capacity at no additional cost to consumers over and above the long-term wholesale price of power, according to a new report for Scottish Renewables. The report said delivery is dependent on mature renewables being able to bid in auctions for long-term contracts. [reNews]

¶ With a solar plant winning a contract to sell to the grid at the country’s lowest price ever, India’s power minister hailed a new clean energy record. A French company, Solairedirect, will to sell electricity from a 250-MW plant in Kadapah, Andhra Pradesh at ₹3.15/kWh (roughly 5¢) to India’s state power company, National Thermal Power Corporation. [Climate Home]

Kids in Dharnai village (Greenpeace image)

¶ No matter who is elected as South Korea’s new leader next month, it is clear that coal and nuclear power generation will likely be scaled back, with most of the candidates laying out plans to address public concerns over pollution and safety. The two leading candidates both plan to lower South Korea’s reliance on coal and nuclear power. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation rejected National Fuel Gas’ proposed Northern Access pipeline, a pipeline that would have moved gas from the Marcellus shale to markets in Western New York, the Midwest and Canada. The denial of a water quality certification drew a stern response from National Fuel. [Utility Dive]

Pipeline

¶ The Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Union for Concerned Scientists plan to file a motion jointly to intervene in a lawsuit filed by fossil fuel groups that asks the EPA to delay or reconsider a rule that places more regulations on chemical plants. The chemical plant regulations were a direct response to a fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas in 2013. [CNN]

¶ Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume, yet it has the highest number of people living along its shores of all the Great Lakes. It provides drinking water for 12 million people. Trump’s latest EPA budget proposal would eliminate funding for programs that monitor water quality of the it, the other Great Lakes, and Chesapeake Bay. [CleanTechnica]

Lake Erie Algal Bloom (Credit: Great Lakes Now)

¶ The Northern Pass transmission project takes a critical step forward today, March 13, when a hearing begins on the $1.6 billion plan by Eversource to bring power from Canada to markets mostly in southern New England. New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee will determine whether it can be built. The hearing could last for months. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Maryland is the first US state to pass legislation that will provide tax credits to consumers and businesses that invest in energy storage systems. Senate Bill 758 will offer a 30% tax credit on the costs of installing an energy storage system. Installations done in 2018 through 2022 will net up to a $5,000 tax credit for a residential property. [Triple Pundit]

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April 12 Energy News

April 12, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “States And Cities Are Fighting Climate Change, With Or Without Nations” • The Under2 Coalition counts more than 150 local and regional governments as members, including huge cities like Beijing and small, rural, developing counties like Laikipia, Kenya. It is just one of several such organizations fighting climate change. [Capital Public Radio News]

Emissions (United Nations Photo | Flickr)

¶ “Power prices are at record highs – but there’s a pleasant solution to fix that” • Tony Abbott promised that Australia would become a low cost energy superpower, so the carbon price was abolished and the renewable energy target was cut. Now, wholesale electricity prices have doubled, and prices for solar and wind power keep dropping. [The Guardian]

Science and Technology:

¶ February 2017 was the second warmest February in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. Last month was 1.1° C warmer than the mean February temperature from 1951-1980. Only February 2016 was warmer. [CleanTechnica]

February 2017 land-ocean temperature index

World:

¶ Hartek Power, based in the Indian city of Chandigarh, said its solar grid EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) orders increased to 1,025 MW in 2016-17, compared to 123 MW in the previous fiscal year. Among the orders, the company won 30 substation projects of up to 220 KV spread in 10 Indian states, the company said. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ The world’s biggest solar and battery storage plant could begin construction this year, after the project was formally launched in Adelaide. The plant will include 330 MW of solar PV and a 100-MW/400-MWh battery storage system. Lyon Group, developer of the $1 billion project, said the plant should be operational this year. [CleanTechnica]

Lyon Group’s solar plus storage

¶ In February 2017, India’s solar power capacity generated a total of 1,355 billion kWh of electricity, according to the Central Electricity Authority of India. It is the first time that monthly solar power generation exceeded the 1 billion kWh mark. The new figure represents an 80% increase from February of 2016. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ China’s wind and solar sectors could attract as much as ¥5.4 trillion ($782 billion) in investment between 2016 and 2030 as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a report published by Greenpeace. China has pledged to increase non-fossil fuel energy to at least 20% of its total by the end of the next decade. [EnergyInfraPost]

Solar and wind power in China

¶ The Japanese Prime Minister ordered ministers to formulate a strategy to transform Japan into an emissions-free “hydrogen society,” and called for more efforts on renewable energy. The Environment Minister separately said his ministry will begin drawing up a long-term strategy for increasing renewable energy use. [Japan Today]

¶ Toshiba Corp, whose US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co filed for bankruptcy protection, raised doubts about its ability to survive as a company. In an unaudited financial report, Toshiba projected a $9.2 billion loss for the fiscal year that ended in March of 2017, largely because of the troubles at Westinghouse. [Albany Times Union]

Construction at the Vogtle Nuclear Plant, 2011
(Charles C Watson Jr, Wikimedia Commons)

US:

¶ The Salt Lake City Council and Mayor jointly published a plan to tackle climate change and carbon pollution after both made a promise last year on sustainability. The city promises 100% renewable energy sources for electricity by 2032 and an 80% reduction in energy and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. [KUTV 2News]

¶ This winter and spring, the large and growing amount of solar generation has sometimes driven power prices on the California Independent System Operator’s exchange to very low prices, and even negative prices. But California’s consumers continue to pay average retail electricity prices that are among the highest in the nation. [CleanTechnica]

Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has signed an agreement with Standard Solar, Inc to install solar field on approximately 10 acres of its Horn Point Laboratory campus in Cambridge, Maryland. The system will have a capacity of 2 MW and generate approximately 3.5 MWh of electricity each year. [Solar Novus Today]

¶ Americans used more renewable energy in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Overall, energy consumption in the US was nearly flat. Americans used 0.1 quads (quadrillion BTU), more in 2016 than in 2015. [Patch.com]

Wind turbine (image via Pixabay)

¶ Last month coal got a break in Kansas, where the state Supreme Court ruled against Earthjustice and the Sierra Club, granting a permit to the Sunflower Electric Power Corporation to build an expansion to its coal-fired power plant in Holcomb. Interestingly, Sunflower did not celebrate. Instead, it said it would continue to assess the project. [ThinkProgress]

¶ Nevada’s monopoly utility NV Energy exceeded the state’s energy mandate for 2016. It is the seventh year in a row that it has done so. The utility achieved a 26.6% renewable energy credit level in northern Nevada, and 22.2% in southern Nevada. The state’s mandate for 2016 is that utilities get 20% of their power from renewable sources. [PV-Tech]

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April 11 Energy News

April 11, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ E.ON is collaborating with Dutch company Ampyx Power to develop the latter’s airborne wind energy system. The agreement aims to further development of the system towards commercial deployment. Ampyx is moving toward building and operating a demonstration site for the airborne wind energy concept in County Mayo in Ireland. [reNews]

Ampyx Power system (image: Ampyx Power)

World:

¶ The BBC has seen evidence that top executives at Shell knew money paid to the Nigerian government for a vast oil field would be passed to a convicted money-launderer and had reason to believe the money would be used to pay political bribes. The deal happened while Shell was operating under a probation order for separate Nigerian corruption. [BBC]

¶ Electricity generated at Barrow’s Walney Wind Farm will help to power one of the UK’s biggest building materials companies. Its owner, Dong Energy, has signed a deal with Leeds-based firm Weinerberger to supply it with “clean” electricity. This will come from the company’s eight UK offshore windfarms, including Walney. [NW Evening Mail]

Walney Wind Farm (Photo: Janet Ellen Smith)

¶ Auto manufacturers should be held to a minimum electric vehicle sales quota, the head of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency, Maria Krautzenberger, recently argued in an interview with the German paper Die Zeit. Without such an EV quota, the country won’t achieve its climate agreement targets, according to Krautzenberger. [CleanTechnica]

¶ ERM Power and Nexif Australia have signed two long-term, large-scale generation certificate agreements to support the construction of a new 212-MW wind farm in South Australia, 15 km from Port Augusta. Work on the 220-MW Bungala Solar Project is also expected to begin shortly. It is 10 kM north of Port Augusta. [ABC Online]

Solar panels in the Australian Capital Territory

US:

¶ Tesla has inched ahead of General Motors to become the most valuable car company in the United States. The electric-car maker hit a market value of $50.84 billion on Monday, edging past GM, with its market value of $50.79 billion. It’s another milestone for Tesla, which passed Ford, valued at about $45 billion, last week. [CNN]

¶ In Florida, speaking before a field hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, one expert after another warned about the dangers that rising sea levels pose to Florida’s coast. They were and gave a clear signal: Much of Florida’s coastline could one day be underwater, including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. [CNN]

Florida coast (Screenshot from CNN video)

¶ Native American and Environmental Groups filed suit in Federal District Court challenging the Presidential Permit President Trump issued allowing construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline. “We have asked Federal Courts to order him to comply with our nation’s environmental laws,” the attorney filing the suit said. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A report, commissioned by the Clean Water Fund found there are several oil and gas wastewater wells that could be injecting into drinking water supplies in Oklahoma. In addition, there are private wells whose supply could be overlapping with wastewater disposal wells that were permitted by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. [ThinkProgress]

Jars of brine on display at the state Capitol in
Oklahoma City (Credit: AP Photo | Sue Ogrocki)

¶ Elon Musk tweeted at the end of last week that SolarCity will begin accepting orders for its new SolarRoof product in April. The SolarRoof is not a conventional rooftop solar system. It is the roof. Glass tiles with solar cells embedded in them replace conventional roofing materials like asphalt shingles, terra-cotta tiles, or slate. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The only US sector where emissions of carbon dioxide increased last year was in the transportation sector, the US Energy Information Administration reported. CO2 emissions from the transportation sector increased 1.9% from 2015 levels. The EIA reported overall energy-related CO2 emissions last year were down 1.7% from 2015 levels. [UPI.com]

Transportation (Photo: AJ Sisco | UPI | License Photo)

¶ The viability of 100% renewable energy is a raging debate in energy circles, but for political leaders in the Oregon region, the answer is clear: Portland and Multnomah County need to be at all-renewable electricity by 2035 and all-renewable everything else by 2050. That’s community-wide, not just for city and county operations. [Portland Business Journal]

¶ The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association commissioned a new solar array at the Common Ground Education Center in the town of Unity, where more than 300 panels are spread out over five barn roofs. The 102-kW array, with other renewable resources, will provide all electricity and offset fossil fuel consumption. [Press Herald]

Barns with solar panels (Staff photo by David Leaming)

¶ The Vermont Public Service Board has approved the sale of 13 TransCanada-owned hydropower facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers to a Canadian company, ArcLight Capital Partners. The amount of the purchase is not immediately available, but TransCanada had previously estimated its value at more than $1 billion. [HydroWorld]

¶ Vermont State Representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas unveiled a plan to phase out the Vermont sales tax and replace it with a carbon tax, helping the state reach its energy goals while supporting local retail business. She will introduce legislation to remove the sales tax as part of a revenue-neutral scheme that would bring in the carbon tax. [Valley News]

¶ The Ohio Senate has taken up a bill to bail out two struggling nuclear power plants, Perry and Davis-Besse. Senate Bill 128 would generate some $300 million in annual revenue for FirstEnergy, which is based in Akron. That windfall would come through rate hikes forced onto electricity customers across Northeast Ohio. [Cleveland Scene Weekly]

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April 10 Energy News

April 10, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “10 to 20-MW wind turbines offshore are the future of the industry” • The next generation of renewable energy may be 10 to 20-MW wind turbine generators, direct-drive designs that have been freed from the depth constraints of bottom-mounted offshore wind farms thanks to conventional floating foundation substructures. [Windpower Engineering]

A design for offshore wind power

¶ “Corporates hold the keys: Climate leadership under Trump” • In comments to SustainAbility, the Director of Ceres Corporate Program said, “You might think that the shift in the US political landscape is creating an opportunity for companies to back off from their climate goals and related strategies, but there’s no evidence that’s happening.” [eco-business.com]

Science and Technology:

¶ Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It now affects a stretch of reef 1,500 km (900 miles) long. The bleaching, loss of algae, is caused by rising water temperatures resulting from two natural warm currents and is exacerbated by man-made climate change. [BBC]

Coral bleaching (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)

World:

¶ Green energy production in South Australia has reached record levels, with the state poised to meet its 50% renewable energy target almost eight years ahead of schedule. Latest figures obtained from sources including the Australian Energy Market Operator indicate SA has derived 53% of its electricity in the past 12 months from sun and wind. [The Advertiser]

¶ The number of Scottish jobs provided directly and indirectly in the low carbon and ‎renewables sector rose to 58,500 in 2015, up from 43,500 in the year before. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics the low carbon and renewables sector generated £10.5 billion. Now, the Government is cutting the sector’s incentives. [CommonSpace]

Onshore wind farm

¶ UK government agency CDC Group is to invest up to $100 million to support projects in India’s renewable energy sector. The development institution is to establish an independent energy company in the country as part of joint efforts focused on green finance. The move was announced after a dialogue on economic and financial issues. [reNews]

¶ UK grid operator National Grid is warning of surplus of electricity this summer as slumping power demand collides with surging renewables generation. This weekend’s hot weather produced a surge in clean power generation that broke records across the country, as wind and solar power produced at the best ever rates. [www.businessgreen.com]

Sheep grazing among solar panels

¶ A new poll has revealed the scale of the disconnect between the Turnbull government and the Australian public on the subject of renewable energy, revealing that a majority of people, including Coalition voters, think not enough is being done to wean the nation from fossil fuels, switch to renewables, and combat climate change. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Sembcorp said its renewable energy business in India bagged a 250-MW wind power project in Tamil Nadu. Sembcorp Green Infra got a letter of award for the project after the country’s first national wind power tender conducted by Solar Energy Corp of India. Output will be sold under a power purchase agreement to Power Trading Corp. [India.com]

Sembcorp windpower

¶ National Front leader Marine Le Pen would look for ways to pull Electricite de France SA out of its £18 billion ($22.3 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear contract in the UK if she’s elected France’s president, one of her aides said. The National Front is against a project that diverts the utility’s resources when it needs to support nuclear plants at home. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ A request by the state of Massachusetts for a supply of clean, renewable electricity boosts a handful of proposals to cross Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine with transmission lines to help energy-hungry Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut make use of the renewable energy available in Canada. [New Jersey Herald]

High voltage power lines (Nyttend, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Most Americans believe climate change is real. Addressing the Congress, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island pointed out that 70% of people hold that global warming is real and already happening. This is despite the Trump administration’s view that climate change is not convincing and its budget cuts on science agencies. [Tech Times]

¶ Fresh off victories in Illinois and New York, the nuclear power industry is now lobbying lawmakers in Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Efforts are bubbling up into proposals, even as court battles in Illinois and New York crank up over the billions of dollars that ratepayers would pay to keep nuclear plants open. [Sharonherald]

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April 9 Energy News

April 9, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The new sun kings: How China came to dominate solar power” • For much of the past century, the ups and downs of the American economy spelled the difference between jobs or poverty for people in the rest of the world. Now China’s policy shifts can have the same kind of impact. And China has half the solar market. [The Kathmandu Post]

Installing solar panels in Wuhan (New York Times photo)

Science and Technology:

¶ A recent survey reveals the increasing mode of temperature in the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean. The cold water beneath the ice is not as salty as the somewhat warmer water below it, so it is lighter and floats on it to shield the ice. Now, that inversion is being reversed, and the Arctic Ocean is becoming more like the Atlantic. [Science Times]

World:

¶ With a wind farm, solar park, biogas plant, and Germany’s largest battery system, the village of Feldheim is independent of the utility grid, getting all its electricity and heat – a significant factor in an area with sub-zero winter temperatures – from a local grid paid for by residents, the municipality, EU subsidies and loans. [The Hindu]

Wind turbines at Feldheim (Photo: Odd Andersen)

¶ The share of renewable energy in the Philippine power mix already reached as high 31.4% on combination of emerging and conventional technologies, according to the Energy Secretary. Hydropower has a 16.7% share, followed by geothermal with a 8.8% share, solar with a 3.1% share, wind power at 2.0%, and biomass at 0.8%. [Manila Bulletin]

¶ The Gulf Cooperation Council states, which have huge proven crude oil reserves, are now on a journey to develop renewable energy sources to better serve the planet. Since the COP21 conference held in Paris in 2015, the nations have been rolling out strategies to fight climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. [AMEinfo]

MASDAR buildings with solar panels on the roofs

¶ The French government issued a decree on the Fessenheim nuclear plant, fulfilling a campaign pledge by President Francois Hollande to shut it down. It said the plant will cease operations when a new reactor being built at Flamanville enters service in 2019. But construction of the new reactor has its own serious problems. [Luxemburger Wort]

US:

¶ When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and the Legislature changed the state’s renewable energy standard from a mandate to a goal two years ago, some feared it could put the brakes on alternative energy development in Kansas. But that hasn’t happened. Kansas wind power generation grew 18 percent in 2016. [Wichita Eagle]

Wind turbines in Kansas

¶ At the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation’s Burlington headquarters, numerous stakeholders met to review the key findings of the Vermont Solar Pathways study and participate in a roundtable discussion about implications for utility planning, economic development, land use, and sustainable energy goals in the state. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Tesla inaugurated a solar farm with a capacity of 13 MW on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It has 54,000 panels connected to 272 Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion batteries for a storage capacity of 52 MWh. The new farm can store surplus energy harvested during sunny days, to supply electricity island at any time, including when it rains. [The Quebec Times]

Tesla batteries on Kauai

¶ PacifiCorp, a division of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, issued a three-year, $3.5 billion plan for its renewable energy system from Wyoming to California. The six-state plan will add 900 MW of capacity by upgrading wind turbines, build a 140-mile-long power line in Wyoming and add 1,100 MW of new wind projects. [Omaha World-Herald]

¶ NRG, a leading independent power producer whose fleet once depended heavily on coal, has made big bets on low-carbon energy technologies and publicized its embrace of sustainability as essential to its future. It has aggressive carbon emissions goals. Now it has a member of its board of directors who says climate change is a myth. [Longview News-Journal]

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April 8 Energy News

April 8, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “US Coal Companies Think Trump Plan To Pull Out Of Paris Accord Is A Dumb Idea” • Donald Trump said he would pull the US out of the Paris climate accords, but US coal companies are begging the administration to rethink that position. They want a seat at the table as world leaders debate how to implement the agreement. [CleanTechnica]

Coal worker in China

Science and Technology:

¶ Three startup companies, Carbon Engineering, Climeworks, and Global Thermostat, are touting carbon removal technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What they need now is a way to make that technology carbon removal technology commercially viable, but first, they need practical business models. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ After months of public consultation, the City of Sydney has fast-tracked the adoption of an action plan that will help it get to net zero emissions by 2050, tackle waste and water usage, and scale up renewable energy use. The plan is to run the city entirely on renewable energy and gas from renewable sources, such as biogas. [eco-business.com]

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore with the City’s
sustainability director Chris Derksema (Image: City of Sydney)

¶ E.ON has begun installing a 10-MW lithium-ion battery at a biomass combined heat and power plant at Blackburn Meadows near Sheffield, South Yorkshire. The new energy storage project will help keep power supplies stable and balance the range of power generation sources feeding into the UK’s national grid. [Decentralized Energy]

¶ To promote renewable energy, the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency has undertaken a project to install solar water heater systems in 89 buildings across the state. The solar water heating systems would be installed at various hostels, schools, government buildings, and even in homes of destitute people. [Millennium Post]

Solar hot water system in India

¶ EDF’s board of directors voted against the imminent closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power as demanded by the current government. President Francois Hollande pledged in the 2012 election to limit nuclear’s share of French generation at 50% by 2025 and to close Fessenheim by the end of his term in May, 2017. [World Nuclear News]

¶ The boss of Australia’s fifth-largest electricity distributor hinted that residential solar-plus-storage could help prevent blackouts like the one in South Australia last September. The CEO of SA Power Networks predicted that 50% of his company’s customers would have home battery storage by 2035, and 30% would have electric vehicles. [Greentech Media]

Sunverge home battery system

US:

¶ The Senate, dominated by Republicans, is engaging in the rather dramatic maneuver of having a field hearing on climate change right in President Trump’s own backyard. West Palm Beach has agreed to host a hearing on climate change for the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation this coming Monday. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The coast of Florida is flooding worse and more often as time goes by, and the change is happening more and more quickly. Just down the coast from Donald Trump’s weekend retreat, the residents and businesses of southern Florida are experiencing regular episodes of water in the streets and flooding in basement parking lots. [BBC]

Canals in a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood (Credit: Alamy)

¶ A partnership between Minnesota Power and the Minnesota National Guard has produced a solar array at Camp Ripley in Morrison County. It boosts clean energy production for Minnesota Power customers and provides energy security for Camp Ripley. The $25 million, 10-MW solar farm covers more than 60 acres. [Brainerd Dispatch]

¶ Ohio regulators need more information about the 20.7-MW Icebreaker offshore wind project in Lake Erie before going ahead with a permit application. The state Power Siting Board said the proponent must submit information to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for project impacts on birds, bats, fisheries and other aquatic resources. [reNews]

Icebreaker offshore wind test installation (Leedco image)

¶ More than 900 government buildings in Chicago will shift their electricity use to “100 percent renewable energy” by 2025 under an ambitious mayoral plan that contrasts sharply with President Donald Trump’s retreat on environmental issues. All together, they consume 8% of all the electricity used in Chicago, nearly 1.8 billion kWh. [Chicago Sun-Times]

¶ In the desolate quiet of West Texas, miles from any post office or gas station, sits an ocean of glass and silicon pointed skyward. The new solar plant, a half-hour’s drive east of Fort Stockton, is Austin’s latest salvo in its years-long push to combat climate change by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy generation. [MyStatesman.com]

1,000 acres of solar panels at the East Pecos Solar Facility

¶ A proposal to subsidize two FirstEnergy Corp nuclear plants is shaping up to be the latest divisive Ohio policy battle. A drawn out fight to subsidize coal plants is over but the Statehouse is still squabbling over attempts to cut renewable energy standards. Here’s a roundup of what stakeholders are saying about Senate Bill 128. [Columbus Business First]

¶ Federal officials are considering approving a plan to truck about 200,000 gallons of low-level radioactive waste water from the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to Idaho. The NRC said an environmental assessment found no significant impact in storing the radioactive waste about 40 miles south of Boise. [Bonner County Daily Bee]

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April 7 Energy News

April 7, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Stunning drops in solar and wind costs turn global power market upside down” • For years, opponents of renewable power, like President Donald Trump, have argued it isn’t affordable. But unsubsidized renewables have become the cheapest source of new power   by far, a report from the UN and Bloomberg New Energy Finance says. [Think Progress]

Solar farm in Chile (Credit: ACERA)

World:

¶ Netherlands-based power provider Eneco and Japanese multinational company Mitsubishi Corporation are planning to install a 48-MW lithium-ion storage system in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The 50-MWh battery would be the largest of its kind in Europe, the two companies said. It would store power from wind farms. [pv magazine]

¶ The world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, according to the UN, but the bill was almost a quarter lower than the previous year, because of the falling cost of renewables. Investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuels. The cost of offshore wind power has fallen about a third since 2012. [BBC]

Offshore wind power (Getty Images)

¶ In a surprise announcement at a press conference this week in Brussels, the European electricity sector has come out and committed to ensuring there are no new coal plants built after 2020. Member of the industry association Eurelectric have made a commitment to invest in no more coal-fired power plants after 2020. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Azuri Technologies’ entry level solar system provides eight hours of lighting each day for off-grid African customers. They pay a one-off installation fee, then use scratch cards or mobile phone payments to top up on a weekly or monthly basis. The program gives them power for phones and regular access to the media and the internet. [malaysiandigest.com]

Solar power in Africa (Credit: Azuri Technologies)

¶ The Alberta government says that its $5-million program to encourage municipalities to use solar energy is a success, with 18 participating communities receiving nearly $2 million in rebates so far. Since the program began last year, 28 projects have been given the go ahead to install solar panels on public buildings, fire halls and community centers. [Yahoo News]

¶ Wello’s Penguin wave energy device has generated electricity for the UK national grid during tests off the coast of Scotland. The Finnish developer’s machine was connected to the grid at the European Marine Energy Test Centre off Orkney as part of EU Horizon 2020-backed Clean Energy from Ocean Waves project. [reNews]

Penguin wave energy converter under tow

¶ The Dominican State Electricity Corporation announced that three PV projects with a combined capacity of 133 MW could be built in 2018. The three plants, along with five wind power projects, will be developed under the renewable energy plan to add 361 MW of renewable energy capacity in the Dominican Republic. [pv magazine]

US:

¶ Tucson Electric Power announced it is moving to develop a more responsive and sustainable resource portfolio. TEP plans to expand its solar and wind generation, with a goal set to provide at least 30% of its power from renewable resources by 2030, twice the amount required by 2025 under Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard. [PV-Tech]

Solar panels in Arizona (Image: TEP)

¶ Environmentalists are calling on Massachusetts to help keep the air clean by reducing emissions from fossil fuels like coal and gasoline. They want the governor to follow through on his promise to double the reduction rate for power plant emissions from 2.5% to 5% per year. Pollution went down 4.8% in 2016, but smog is still a problem. [wwlp.com]

¶ UniEnergy Technologies has installed a new large flow battery on the grid in Washington state. The 2-MW/8-MWh battery system is smaller than recent projects in Southern California and Hawaii, but it is the largest capacity containerized flow battery system in the world. It is housed in 20 connected shipping containers. [Ars Technica UK]

Installing flow battery containers (Snohomish PUD)

¶ The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, Kentucky, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is modernizing with a new form of cheaper energy. The museum, which memorializes Kentucky’s history in coal mining, is switching to solar power to save at least $8,000 to $10,000 per year. [CNN]

¶ James City County, Virginia, is one step closer to harnessing the power of sun with the approval of proposed 20-MW solar farm in Norge. The Planning Commission voted 5-2 in favor of the proposal from SunPower Devco, LLC. SunPower claims the proposed facility will generate enough electricity annually for 4,000 homes. [Williamsburg Yorktown Daily]

SunPower solar panels (Courtesy SunPower)

¶ Schneider Electric unveiled an advanced microgrid at its Boston One Campus, its North American headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts. The microgrid was built by Schneider Electric and REC Solar, a unit of Duke Energy Renewables. It was funded through the Microgrid as a Service business model. [Electric Light & Power]

¶ The Vogtle nuclear power plant project has had major setbacks, and they are getting worse. On Monday, project team members announced that the estimated completion dates of December 2019 and September 2020 cannot feasibly be met. Then, on Wednesday, Westinghouse, the construction contractor on the project, filed for bankruptcy. [Breaking Energy]

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April 6 Energy News

April 6, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Trump’s Dirty Energy Policies Face Backlash in States Across the Country” • On December 9, as the Obama administration rushed to preserve what it could of its climate legacy before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, signed a bipartisan energy reform package. Illinois is not alone. [Truth-Out]

The Fisk Generating Plant in Chicago, now closed
(Photo: Seth Anderson / Flickr)

¶ “TEP can help Navajo and Hopi by buying their renewable energy” • I am a Diné (Navajo) woman who came to Tucson to study microbiology at the University of Arizona. Even though it’s 400 miles away, Tucson Electric Power gets some of its electricity the Navajo Generating Station. It could support Navajo solar and wind instead. [Arizona Daily Star]

Science and Technology:

¶ While lithium-ion batteries sold by Tesla and others are perhaps the most widely known storage technology, several other energy storage options are either already on the market, or are fast making their way there. Salt, silicon, and graphite are also hoping to claim a slice of what, by all indications, will be a very large pie. [The Guardian]

Power for batteries (Photo: Tim Phillips Photos | Getty Images)

World:

¶ European emissions from coal fell by an impressive 11% in 2016, according to analysis of new figures published by the European Commission this week. Almost half of the fall in coal emissions during 2016 came due to plant closures in the UK, which itself saw a massive 58% year-on-year fall in coal emissions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ GTM Research’s new Global Solar Demand Monitor: Q1 2017 report projects a global total of 85 GW of new solar capacity installed in 2017. The concentration of global solar demand has contracted to the point where the world’s top four markets – China, the US, India, and Japan – are expected to account for 73% of a global total. [CleanTechnica]

Global PV Demand (Please click on the image to enlarge it.)

¶ Indian Railways could draw up to 25% of its electric power needs from renewables and achieve the target of 5 GW of solar by 2025, according to a study released by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water. An investment of $3.6 billion would be needed by Indian Railways to meet the 5-GW target. [Daily News & Analysis]

¶ UK telecoms operator BT has announced signing a power agreement with a Scottish wind farm. The power purchase agreement is worth £185 million ($230.79 million) over 15 years. In a statement earlier this week, BT said that 13 wind turbines in the north of Scotland were providing the business with 100 GWh hours of electricity annually. [CNBC]

Wind turbine (Phil McLean | Corbis Documentary | Getty Images)

¶ German battery developer Dynavolt has inaugurated its new mass production lithium battery facility in the Southern Chinese province of Fujian. The company has invested €400 million in the factory, which will have a yearly production of 6 GWh and could be used to build 200,000 electric vehicles per year. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ Spanish power provider Iberdrola has begun construction of a 100-MW solar facility in the Mexican state of Sonora. The announcement was made by the local government, which said that State Governor Claudia Pavlovich met with representatives of the company this week to discuss details of the $135 million project. [pv magazine]

Pirâmide do Sol (Wikimedia Commons)

¶ French Energy Minister Segolene Royal warned EDF’s board against trying to prevent the closure of France’s oldest nuclear plant, as a long-running conflict between the state-controlled utility and the government comes to a head. EDF scheduled a board meeting to decide the fate of the 1,800-MW Fessenheim plant. [Reuters UK]

¶ The world’s first airport to be solely powered by solar energy is set to increase its capacity from 15.5 MW to 21.5 MW to power its new international terminal. The 46,000 solar panels already in place have provided more electricity than was required by the airport, and the excess electricity has been sold to the grid. [Climate Action Programme]

Cochin International Airport

US:

¶ US State Attorneys have filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for illegally blocking energy efficiency standards that the claimants believe not only cut costs but cut pollution levels as well. They are “common sense standards” and would, over time, save consumers and businesses approximately $24 billion.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Florida Power & Light is making up for lost time, and now expects to have 2.1 GW of new solar capacity installed on its system within the next seven years. In addition to the utility’s renewables announcement, FPL said it has also reached a deal to close down a coal-fired plant in the state. FPL currently operates 335 MW of solar energy. [Utility Dive]

Solar dawn

¶ State officials are allowing two Native American tribes to get involved in the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee. The Vermont Public Service board has ruled that both the Elnu Abenaki and Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi can act as “intervenors” in the state’s review of the plant’s purchase by NorthStar Group Services. [Commons]

¶ Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co, has announced commercial operation of the 120-MW East Pecos Solar Facility in Pecos County, Texas. Construction of the approximately 1,000-acre project began in February 2016. The facility consists of approximately 1.2 million solar panels manufactured by First Solar. [Solar Industry]

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April 5 Energy News

April 5, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Donald Trump’s climate fantasies” • In less than 100 days, we have learned that Trump is a man living in a fantasy world. He issues decrees, barks orders, sends out midnight Tweets, but to no avail. The facts – real facts, not “alternative” ones – keep intervening. There is physics; there is law; and there are voters, who increasingly disapprove. [MENAFN.COM]

Deepwater Horizon oil spill

World:

¶ Solar PV is the favorite energy generation technology among the UK’s Conservative voters, a new study by right-leaning think tank Bright Blue has found. The report said Tory voters wanted the government to do more to encourage renewable energy deployment. Bright Blue surveyed nearly 2,000 Tory voters for the report. [Solar Power Portal]

¶ Following two years of trials of the world’s first electric car ferry, operators are making the transition from diesel to comply with new government requirements for all new ferry licensees to deliver low-emission alternatives. Ferry company Fjord1 ordered three fully electric ferries that are scheduled to enter active service in January 2018. [BBC]

Ferry on a fjord (Getty Images)

¶ Enel has commenced the construction of a 238-MW Don Jose capacity solar power plant in Mexico, with an investment of $220 million. The solar PV plant is in the State of Guanajuato. Enel is working with its Mexican subsidiary Enel Green Power México. The Don José solar facility is expected to be operational in 2018. [Energy Business Review]

¶ Anesco has grown its portfolio to over 100 sites in England alone after adding 28 new solar farms before the Renewable Obligation closed. The company’s 101 installations have total capacity of 481 MW, marking a significant milestone for the company as the UK ground-mount solar industry moves into a subsidy-free landscape. [Solar Power Portal]

Anesco solar farm

US:

¶ Reuters surveyed 32 utilities with operations in the 26 states that sued former President Barack Obama’s administration to block its Clean Power Plan. Most of them have no plans to alter their multi-billion dollar, years-long shift away from coal, suggesting demand for the fuel will keep falling despite Trump’s efforts. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

¶ A sweeping piece of legislation that aims to improve forecasts for everything from Category 5 hurricanes to El Nino has passed both houses of Congress. The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, HR 353, will become the first major weather legislation enacted since the early 1990s if signed by the president. [Washington Post]

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 (NASA)

¶ President Trump’s recent executive order to thwart the EPA’s climate-change plan will ultimately cut short thousands of American lives, according to the department chairman at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, who coauthored some of the most influential studies on air pollution. The plan would have reduced soot and smog. [CNN]

¶ The US Energy Information Agency just issued a report stating that coal production in 2016 fell to its lowest level since 1978. It cites several factors that are responsible for the decline, but it comes down to basic economics. There are other sources of energy, including natural gas, wind, and solar power, that are cheaper than coal. [CleanTechnica]

Please click on the image to enlarge it,

¶ The CEO of FedEx is also heavily involved with SAFE (Securing America’s Energy Future), a group whose primary mission is to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. As such, he is urging the Trump administration not to roll back the fuel economy standards set in place by the EPA of the Obama administration. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Wind energy is going big in Texas. In the town of Sweetwater, home to four of the state’s largest wind farms, the tax base has grown from $400 million to $3 billion since 2000. Republican ranchers may not care that much about CO2 emissions, but they likely will appreciate the 14.7 billion gallons of water saved. [GreenBiz]

Texas landscape (Shutterstock | Dallas Events Inc)

¶ Facebook announced that it will construct a data center in Papillion, Nebraska. The 970,000 square foot campus will generate 1,000 construction jobs and 100 positions within the center once it is online. A wind farm will be built to power the data center, making it powered through 100% renewable wind-generated electricity. [Silicon Prairie News]

¶ PacifiCorp, which now generates nearly 60% of its electricity from coal, is planning to make a big new commitment to wind power. The six-state utility released a long-range power plan that foresees building 1,100 MW of new wind power capacity while also retrofitting an additional 900 MW, all by the end of 2020. [Portland Business Journal]

Vestas turbines at PacifiCorp’s Marengo Wind Farm

¶ A report from the Environment America Research and Policy Center, shows that San Diego was at the top of US cities for installed solar in 2016, followed by Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Jose, Phoenix, and Indianapolis. Among the top 20 cities for solar installed per capita were Burlington, VT, New Orleans, and Newark. [Environment America]

¶ The Trump administration is so alarmed that Chinese investors may try to buy Westinghouse Electric Co’s nuclear business that it is trying to find an American or allied buyer for the company, two people familiar with the matter said. The issue is set to come up during President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. [Bloomberg]

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April 4 Energy News

April 4, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater, possibly with only minimal energy input. The development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water. The graphene oxide sieve will now be tested against desalination membranes. [BBC]

A need for clean water (EPA photo)

World:

¶ A surge in the use of wind and solar energy helped Europe to cut its fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10% in 2015, an authoritative new report found. Energy use from renewables rose to 16.7% of Europe’s total, up from 15% in 2013, and accounted for 77% of the continent’s new power capacity. [The Guardian]

¶ Vattenfall signed a new grid storage agreement with BMW for the purchase of new lithium-ion batteries to store electricity generated by the company’s wind turbine facilities. The batteries will be the same 33-kWh batteries used by BMW to power its i3 electric sedans. The contract calls for the delivery of 1,000 batteries a year. [CleanTechnica]

Egmond aan Zee wind farm (Vattenfall photo)

¶ Gamesa and Siemens Wind Power have completed their merger. The transaction creates a giant new player with a presence in more than 90 countries, an industrial footprint in key wind markets, and an installed capacity of 75 GW. The company has an order backlog of €21 billion (£17.91 billion, $22.38 billion). [Energy Live News]

¶ Scottish wind turbines sent more than 1.2 million MWh of electricity to the National Grid in March, according to new analysis of data. In a news release, WWF Scotland said that turbines produced enough electricity to meet the electrical needs of 136% of Scottish households, an increase of 81% compared to March 2016. [CNBC]

Scottish wind turbines (Stephen Wilkes | Iconica | Getty Images)

¶ Germany has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2020, and to halving emissions from energy production by 2030. Experts say the only way to reach these targets is moving from fossil fuels to renewable energies. But the mining company RWE is planning the expansion of some of Europe’s biggest coal mines. [Deutsche Welle]

¶ Vikram Solar, an Indian solar manufacturer and developer, commissioned two 65-MW solar PV plants in Rajasthan for the National Thermal Power Corporation.Vikram Solar now has an installed solar portfolio in India of 275 MW. NTPC has a corporate goal of 1 GW of renewable capacity installed by the end of 2017. [pv magazine]

Bhadla Solar Park

¶ The bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Co may be a blow to Toshiba Corp’s international nuclear ambitions, but the Japanese conglomerate still has a profitable business at home. Toshiba has many businesses, from memory chips to railroads. It maintains nuclear reactors, and it gets income from the Fukushima clean-up. [Japan Today]

US:

¶ Iron Mountain Data Centers has announced that it has signed an agreement to power its data centers using renewable energy from a new wind farm in Ringer Hill, Pennsylvania. The 15-year wind power purchasing agreement will see the data storage and IT management company use 25 MW of the wind farm’s capacity. [The Stack]

The Allegheny Front wind farm

¶ At the urging of the Sierra Club, the EPA’s scientific integrity official is reviewing Trump-appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s comments to see if they violate the agency’s scientific integrity policy. The policy requires that all agency employees, including Pruitt, “communicate with honesty, integrity, and transparency.” [Mashable]

¶ The Wild Horse Wind Facility east of Ellensburg, Washington, can generate enough electricity each year to power 70,000 homes. It also generates plenty of curiosity as one of the few wind farms in the nation that lets people get close to the 220-foot turbines. Reportedly, visitors enjoy views of the turbines and like the sounds they make. [KING5.com]

Wild Horse Wind Facility (Wikipedia)

¶ Details behind Volkswagen’s dieselgate-funded Electrify America initiative have finally been revealed, as the global auto manufacturer continues to settle with governments around the world with settlements topping $22 billion. The initiative will go beyond installing electric vehicle chargers and promoting electric vehicles. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Tesla’s market value has overtaken that of Ford after shares in the electric car maker added more than 7%. At the close of trading Tesla had a market value of $49 billion (£38 billion), compared with Ford’s value of $46 billion. Tesla’s shares rose after the company announced record vehicle deliveries in the first three months of the year. [BBC]

People in line to reserve a Tesla Model 3
(Aaron Muszalski, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ 7-Eleven has agreed to power 425 of its Texas stores with nothing but wind energy for 96 months. The arrangement reached with Dallas-based TXU Energy, a residential and commercial energy provider, begins June 1, 2018, and is expected to reduce 7-Eleven’s carbon footprint by 6.7%. Texas has over 10,000 wind turbines. [CSPDailyNews.com]

¶ The US EPA withdrew a proposed framework to help states comply with the Clean Power Plan, days after President Donald Trump told the agency to reconsider the rule. The framework would have offered states a “model rule” they could use to set up emissions trading programs to meet their Clean Power Plan targets. [Argus Media]

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April 3 Energy News

April 3, 2017

Opinion:

The Tenth Anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA • On April 2, 2007, The Supreme Court forcefully rejected the Bush EPA’s “laundry list of reasons” not to address climate pollution. The high Court held that protection of human health and the environment from air pollution must be rooted in science, not expediency or politics. [Environmental Defense Fund]

Supreme court in 2006 (Steve Petteway, Wikimedia Commons)

World:

¶ The Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a snub to Donald Trump over his stance on the environment today, signing a climate change pact with one of the US President’s bitter rivals. She will pose with California Governor Jerry Brown in a show of unity against the ditching of Obama-era policies tackling global warming. [The Scottish Sun]

¶ In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, only 37% of households are electrified, compared with 67% nationwide. Help has come from private mini-grids from companies like OMC Power, which has 67 mini-grids of 10 to 500 kW in the state. A base home package from OMC Power costs ₹110 ($1.70) per month. [Reuters]

Solar power for a mini-grid
(Thomson Reuters Foundation / Rina Chandran / Files)

¶ India added a record 5,400 MW of wind power in 2016-17, exceeding its 4,000-MW target. Of about 50,018 MW of installed renewable power across the country, over 55% is wind power. India is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the US and China. About 16% of the 315,426 MW of installed capacity of is renewable. [Livemint]

¶ Infigen Energy announced it is proceeding with construction of the 113.2-MW Bodangora wind farm near Wellington, New South Wales. It will have 33 GE 3.43-MW turbines and will be built by a consortium including General Electric and civil-engineering construction company Civil & Allied Technical Construction. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Australian wind turbines

¶ Major European energy utilities are putting $14 billion of their earnings at risk by relying too heavily on fossil fuels, a CDP study found. Research by the non-profit organisation shows 14 major European utilities are set to exceed carbon targets by 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to Japan’s entire annual emissions. [www.businessgreen.com]

¶ Just over 1 billion people, or approximately one in seven, still have no access to electricity, a figure that has barely improved in two years, while the number cooking with health-harming fuels rose slightly to just over 3 billion, according to a tracking report from the World Bank and the International Energy Agency. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Transmission lines

¶ Australian Senator Nick Xenophon expects the deal he struck on tax cuts should guarantee that construction begins on the first large-scale solar thermal plant in the country before the next election. He is getting the Coalition government to deliver on its pre-election promise of facilitating solar thermal construction. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The German Ambassador to Saudi Arabia has invited the Saudis to join Germany as it shifts to green energy from oil and uranium. He said the Kingdom is “blessed abundantly with sun and wind,” and commended the Saudi government for taking bold steps to introduce renewables to the local energy portfolio. [Al-Bawaba]

Blessed abundantly with sun and wind (AFP)

US:

¶ The Natural Resources Defense Council has released a new analysis that shows that the federal tax credit extensions for wind and solar will add over 220,000 jobs and nearly $23 billion to the US economy in 2017. But the executive action to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan is a clear threat to this progress. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ In a record quarter, Tesla delivered just over 25,000 cars in the first three months of the year. That was a 70% rise on the same period of 2016. It is also a rebound for the company after production problems resulted in a 9% fall in deliveries in the fourth quarter. The Model 3 is due to go on sale in the US this year priced at $35,000. [BBC News]

Tesla cars at a Tesla office (Getty Images)

¶ While President Trump’s executive order rolling back the Obama administration’s efforts to combat climate change are upsetting, many officials of regional transmission organizations shrug their shoulders and vow to continue on without the federal government as market forces and state policies continue decarbonizing their generation mixes. [RTO Insider]

¶ In Wyoming’s Rock Springs Sweetwater County Airport, and nearly half the electricity needed to run the new hangar and terminal will come from the sun. The airport’s solar facility was given a $94,000 grant from Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky customers, who support renewable energy projects in Wyoming. [Casper Star-Tribune Online]

Solar panels on Jimmy Carter’s land in Georgia (AP)

¶ Energy efficiency and renewable energy company, Ameresco has opened a second municipal solar power generation facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The City contracted Ameresco to design and build the 2.91-MW facility on city land back in 2015. It is expected to generate more than 3 million kWh in its first year. [SmartCitiesWorld]

¶ Oblivious to the storm of fury it would arouse in Nevada, which has no commercial nuclear reactors of its own, President Trump has proposed spending $120 million to restart licensing Yucca Mountain to store spent nuclear fuel. He is restarting one of the most intractable political, legal and technical issues in modern US history. [The Recorder]

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April 2 Energy News

April 2, 2017

Opinion:

Trump is on the losing side of history on coal, climate change • Trump’s executive order does not fundamentally change the economics of power production. The natural gas boom, fueled by fracking, is a huge factor. But renewable power has surged. There for every job in US coal mines, there are almost 10 in renewable-energy. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]

250-ton coal truck (Photo: Matthew Brown, AP)

Why business is greener than Trump • Since Trump’s election, nearly 900 companies and investors have signed an open letter, “Business Backs Low Carbon,” calling on the administration not to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. These companies believe that failure to build a low-carbon economy would hurt America’s prosperity. [Gulf Times]

Science and Technology:

¶ A team of researchers from Kaneko, a company operating in Japan, has recently announced breaking the efficiency record of solar panels, which now stands at 26.6%. Other approaches have been able to reach even higher efficiency percentages, but they are not yet viable for consumer-friendly applications, as this one is. [Futurism]

Japanese solar power system (Image: Pixabay)

World:

¶ A report released on Wednesday by Clean Energy Canada reveals great news for the environment and supporters of clean renewable energy. The Transition Takes Hold, the latest report in Clean Energy Canada’s annual Tracking the Energy Revolution series, says renewable energy has been the preferred choice for new power since 2011. [KelownaNow]

¶ Utilities in the European Union may have to offer more flexible prices from 2020 to encourage consumers to use electricity more when supplies are abundant and cheap, under newly proposed rules, a top EU official said. At present, most European utilities sell at fixed prices, regardless of wholesale market price swings. [Jakarta Globe]

Wind and water power (Reuters Photo / Denis Balibouse)

¶ Morocco’s King Mohammed VI launched the final stage of Noor Ouarzazate, the world’s largest solar plant. The power station, scheduled to start operating in the first quarter of 2018, will be built as part of a partnership involving the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy and a consortium of private operators. [ETEnergyworld.com]

¶ Sydney-based Genex Power will transform the abandoned Kidston Gold Mine in Northern Queensland into a clean energy powerhouse combining solar and storage. The site will host a 50 MW solar project (KSP1), a 250 MW pumped-storage hydro project (KPSHP), and another 270 MW solar project (KSP2). [Energy and Mines]

Kidston gold mine (Photo: Marc McCormack, via Genex Power)

¶ A package of contracts on the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant with Russia’s involvement could be signed in May, a member of the Egyptian parliament’s Energy Committee said. Egypt is afraid of the depletion of traditional energy sources, and considers it necessary to switch to nuclear power. [Sputnik International]

¶ In Australia, Labor will abandon the renewable energy target after 2020 because an emissions intensity scheme will be sufficient to reach the goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030. The shadow assistant treasurer firmed the opposition’s plan to reach the goal while possibly ruling out extending the existing renewable energy target. [The Guardian]

Australian renewable energy (Tim Phillips Photos / Getty Images)

US:

¶ National Grid is keeping quiet about a March 29 natural-gas leak in Providence, Rhode Island. But critics of the major expansion of natural-gas infrastructure taking place across the region are speaking up. There are other projects nearby, parts of joint natural-gas expansion by Spectra Energy, National Grid and Eversource Energy. [ecoRI news]

¶ Mortenson Construction, based in Minneapolis, is perhaps best known for sports complexes. Less flashy, but keenly important to Mortenson’s bottom line, however, is work in renewable energy, particularly wind and solar power projects. Mortenson began in 1995, erecting a single turbine, and now it is a national leader. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Mortenson erecting a wind turbine (Mortenson image)

¶ The US Energy Information Administration has published data revealing that the country’s 2016 energy production dropped over year-over-year. This is the first such drop since 2009. Most of the decline was in coal, whose output fell 18% compared to 2015. Output from other energy sources also dipped, but solar and wind power grew. [Engadget]

¶ Annette Rose grew up in Stigler, Oklahoma, as a coal lover. Her father was a member of United Mine Workers of America and operated the third largest dragline crane in the United States at one time. But he died with black lung disease. Now, she teaches renewable energy, focusing on utility-grade wind power and concentrated solar power. [Muncie Star Press]

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April 1 Energy News

April 1, 2017

Opinion:

While Trump promotes coal, other countries are turning to cheap sun power • Last year when the Chilean government invited utility companies to bid on public contracts. The auction was dominated by solar producer offering to supply electricity at about half the cost of coal-fired plants. It wasn’t because of a government subsidy. [Prince George Citizen]

Concentrating solar power in Chile
(Tamara Merino for The Washington Post)

Toshiba debacle highlights huge risks in nuclear power business • The high-profile bankruptcy of Toshiba’s US nuclear subsidiary is graphic evidence of the gargantuan risk involved in the business. Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy under the weight of huge cost overruns at four nuclear reactors it has been building in the US. [Asahi Shimbun]

World:

¶ The top court in India has gone ahead and banned the sale of vehicles running on Euro III standards (and older) in a bid to reduce the country’s growing air pollution problems. The ban becomes effective as of April 1. According to one expert, there are around ₹120 billion ($1.85 billion) worth of unsold Euro III stock in the country. [CleanTechnica]

Diesel cars in Delhi (Image via Scott Dexter, some rights reserved)

¶ Siemens Wind Power received an order for a new onshore wind project in the southwest of France. The new wind power plant, owned by Futuren, will be installed near the towns of Courant and Nachamps in the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It will consist of seven units of the Siemens direct-drive onshore wind turbine SWT-3.2-113. [PennEnergy]

¶ Poland has large untapped potential for geothermal energy. The country estimates that up to 30% of its heating demand could be covered by geothermal heating. Currently, there are 56 documented thermal water deposits, including 17 thermal water reservoirs. Only 25% of that potential is currently being tapped from 27 locations. [ThinkGeoEnergy]

Pieniny Mountains, Poland (flickr / Ministry
of Foreign Affairs Poland, creative commons)

¶ The Indian Power Ministry has achieved the milestone of electrifying 13,000 unelectrified villages against a target of providing electricity to 18,452 such settlements as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In 2015, Modi announced in his independence day speech that all villages would be electrified by 1 May, 2018. [Hindustan Times]

US:

¶ At the recent Maui Energy Conference, officials from Hawaiian Electric Company detailed a plan that would make Molokai the first island in Hawaii to completely kick the fossil fuel habit. The 2,000 power customers on Molokai are currently drawing on the 12-MW oil-fueled Palaau Power Plant, as well as 2.36 MW of solar power. [Hawaiipublicradio]

Sunset over the Ocean, off of Molokai Hawaii
(Rose_Braverman, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ This week, a who’s who of leading brands all publicly committed to staying the course on fighting climate change. Mars, Anheuser-Busch, Nestlé, General Mills, Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, General Electric, the Gap, and Walmart all weighed in following the announcement of Trump’s executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan. [Forbes]

¶ Enel Green Power North America has brought online the second half of its 400-MW Cimarron Bend wind farm, in Kansas. Cimarron Bend can generate around 1.8 TWh per year, enough to meet the annual needs of over 149,000 households and avoid around 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. [North American Windpower]

Cimarron Bend wind farm

¶ The EPA has issued more details of a plan for laying off 25% of its employees and scrapping more than 50 programs. The lost programs include pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under NAFTA. The agency is considering a rollback in fuel efficiency standards. [Santa Fe New Mexican]

¶ The Intertubes are buzzing with news of an internal General Electric blog post that circulated earlier this week under the authorship of CEO Jeffrey Immelt. In response to the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Clean Power Plan, Immelt comes out swinging with a pledge that GE will soldier on to address climate change. [CleanTechnica]

GE “space frame” wind turbine tower (Image: Tina Casey)

¶ Navajo Nation leaders plan to ask the federal government for subsidies to keep the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona open. The plant’s owners voted to close it in 2019 because it is not profitable, which would lead to closure of the coal mine supplying it. Hundreds of jobs for Navajo and Hopi workers would be lost. [Gillette News Record]

¶ A repeat attempt by state lawmakers to soften Ohio’s renewable energy requirements cleared the Republican-controlled House. The latest bill would soften mandates for utility companies to get a percentage of their power from clean sources by set dates. It also would eliminate penalties they face for non-compliance. [Electric Light & Power]

Wind turbine in Ohio

¶ A report from PJM Interconnection, a transmission operator serving 65 million people in the eastern United States, confirms that its system can remain reliable with the addition of more natural gas and variable renewable energy sources. The report also says that increased reliance on any one energy source brings resilience risks. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Moody’s Investors Service on Friday joined a chorus of investment and energy analysts who say President Trump’s decision this week to renounce the Clean Power Plan will have little short-term effect on the beleaguered coal industry. Moody’s said Trump’s decision will have little immediate effect to increase the use of coal to produce electricity. [Philly.com]

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March 31 Energy News

March 31, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “Why Oil Is Not the Future” • While the oil market has stabilized a bit in recent months, there are many good reasons to believe that the industry is on the decline for good. In fact, petroleum consumption in the past couple of years is much lower than it was in the 90s, despite the fact that the economy grew close to 50% in this time. [Care2.com]

Train carrying coal in Wyoming

¶ “Why Donald Trump Can’t Save the Coal Industry” • President Donald Trump set off a panic among environmentalists and celebrations in coal country in an executive order he proclaimed would lead to a “new era in American energy.” The terror and revelry are both based on projections for a future that will never arrive. [Newsweek]

World:

¶ Installed renewable energy capacity around the world grew by 161 GW in 2016 bringing the global total to more than 2 TW, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency. Renewable energy now accounts for 8.7% of total energy capacity. Of the 161 GW installed last year, 71 GW was solar, and 51 GW was wind. [reNews]

Wind turbines (Image: sxc)

¶ It looks like the honeymoon with the world’s most notorious “carbon bomb” is winding down. ConocoPhillips has announced that it will join a growing list of major oil companies that are selling off Canadian tar sands oil assets. It looks like the company might not see much of a future in Canadian tar sands oil … or does it? [CleanTechnica]

¶ Italian power provider Enel announced that construction work has begun on the largest PV plant on the American continent. It is the 754-MW Villanueva project, which is in the Mexican state of Coahuila. The company is investing €650 million in the project, and it is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2018. [pv magazine]

Mayan temple

¶ A new solar farm to be built in Australia this year will consist of 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries which will be able to produce 330 MW (1 MW can power up to 1,000 homes) and store up to 100 MW. According to Lyon Group, its developer, this immense battery storage will make the farm the biggest of its kind in the world. [TNW]

¶ The 332-MW Nordsee 1 wind farm in the German North Sea has exported its first power to the mainland. The first Senvion 6.2M-126 turbine exported electricity to the German grid, developer Innogy said. So far, MPI Offshore jack-up vessel MPI Enterprise has installed seven machines. The wind farm is due to be complete by early October. [reNews]

Nordsee 1 (Image: Nordsee One GmbH)

¶ Vattenfall has confirmed plans for a 16-turbine extension to the 36.9-MW Clashindarroch wind farm in northeastern Scotland. The Swedish company aims to add 54 MW of capacity to the existing 18-turbine facility in Aberdeenshire. The proposed wind farm would be one of Vattenfall’s most competitive in the UK, it said. [reNews]

US:

¶ In an attempt to put the kibosh on the suits brought by New York and Massachusetts, Exxon filed its own suit seeking to have the cases transferred to a court in Texas, where it expected to receive a more sympathetic hearing. But that court ruled that Exxon’s complaints should be transferred to the Southern District of New York. [CleanTechnica]

Oil rig

¶ Researchers from the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have published what is in some ways the most cost detailed breakdowns for residential solar PV equipped with energy storage. The report also serves to quantify the previously unknown or uncertain soft costs for combined solar PV and energy storage. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Just after its merger with Solar City to build a factory that will be used for the production of Tesla battery cells, now as a part of the infrastructural plan, Tesla is in plans to build world’s largest solar panel rooftop on the roof of Nevada’s Gigafactory. The construction of this green energy facility will be completed by 2018. [The Legman News]

Gigafactory

¶ Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could help decide the fate of his moves to undo climate-related US regulations, but legal experts said Neil Gorsuch’s judicial record makes it hard to predict whether as a justice he would back a sweeping rollback. Gorsuch’s views on issues related to climate change are unclear. [AOL]

¶ A new Iowa Policy Project report claims that Iowa’s electricity prices, which are appreciably lower than the national average, can be attributed to the state’s growing wind industry. The project’s lead environmental scientist said the data shows the cost gap between Iowa and other states is increasing. [The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines]

Wind turbine technician students (Liz Martin / The Gazette)

¶ Donald Trump may have signed an order intended to save coal industry jobs by rolling back environmental protections, but officials with Oklahoma’s largest electric utilities say it likely won’t have a big impact on their future electricity generation plans. A spokesman for Public Service Company of Oklahoma says coal is not economically viable. [KOSU]

¶ States that value nuclear power’s low carbon emissions have begun throwing lifelines to struggling nuclear plants in the form of subsidies. Nevertheless, opponents contend that these schemes illegally interfere with power markets. Litigation is underway and some believe the arguments will reach the Supreme Court. [Forbes]

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March 30 Energy News

March 30, 2017

Opinion:

A Path To Prosperity That We Can All Embrace • Now, as President Trump charges through his first 100 days, there is a risky theme being pushed that a prosperous America comes with a choice between environmental protection and economic growth. This concept is not only false, but dangerous and short-sighted. [Forbes]

Shadow of a Montana wind turbine (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Undoing the Clean Power Plan Will Be a Legal Nightmare • When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, Trump’s words are “legally not all that relevant,” according to a senior attorney at the National Resources Defense Council. That’s because the EPA is legally required to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. [New Republic]

Trump’s Pro-Coal Orders Are Doomed to Fail • Between the cuts to the EPA budget, the executive order, and the Administration’s sweeping deregulatory agenda, it appears that the White House is trying to revive fossil fuels. But while the Administration could do a lot of damage to our health and businesses, its policies are doomed to fail. [Time]

Strip mining on Native American burial grounds by
Peabody Coal in 1972 (EPA photo, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ Climate change is stirring life in the Arctic Ocean as thinning sea ice lets in more sunlight, allowing microscopic algae to bloom there, scientists said. The micro-algae may now be able to grow under the ice across almost 30% of the Arctic Ocean at the peak of the brief summer in July, up from about 5% thirty years ago. [The News International]

¶ The rapid growth of solar arrays and wind farms is a win for the environment, but storing energy from them efficiently for the grid remains a challenge. EU scientists are turning to a cheap and plentiful natural resource for the answer: air, using surplus electricity to compress air, which is then stored in a cavern or abandoned mine. [New Atlas]

Old mine (Credit: svedoliver / Depositphotos)

World:

¶ While China has become a world leader in the fight against global warming, its severe winter air pollution has worsened. This is likely as a result of changing atmospheric circulation, resulting from decreasing Arctic ice and increasing snowfall caused by climate change, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Vestas has secured three contracts to supply turbines to wind farms in China. One deal is to deliver 22 V110 2-MW machines power optimised to 2.2 MW for an unnamed customer for a 48-MW project in Shandon province. The turbines will have hub heights of 137 meters and the order also includes a two-year service contract. [reNews]

Vestas V110 wind turbine (Vestas image)

¶ Vattenfall plans to invest around $1.94 billion in wind power during 2017 to 2018. The Swedish state-owned utility said wind power will account for 60% of an investment program displaying a strategic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Most of the rest of the funds will go on solar power and distribution. [Power Engineering International]

¶ In 2008, the Scottish island of Eigg became the world’s first community to launch an off-grid electric system powered by wind, water, and solar. Today, Eigg continues to set an example of how societies could meet their energy needs without grid access. Getting electricity without a grid is a challenge that affects nearly one-fifth of the world’s population. [BBC]

Cleadale church, Eigg (Credit: Alamy)

US:

¶ Vermont State regulators have approved a massive Windsor County solar array that will be four times the size of any such project built in Vermont so far. The Coolidge Solar project, to be built in Ludlow and Cavendish, will have a capacity of 20 MW. The largest existing array in Vermont is just under 5 MW, state officials said. [Valley News]

¶ Energy companies could pay the US government higher royalties for oil, gas and other resources extracted from public land, under a review Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke authorized. The two-year review is designed to determine whether Americans are getting a fair return for those natural resources, he said in an interview. [Chicago Tribune]

Drilling on public lands (Ed Andrieski / AP)

¶ As Trump was signing the order to roll back environmental protections, American Electric Power Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, focused foremost not on the boost for the coal industry but its “important transition to support a cleaner energy economy.” AEP was once one of the largest coal plant operators in the country. [Columbus Business First]

¶ A private Nebraska-based energy firm is proposing to build a wind farm with 70 to 150 wind turbines in Nodaway County, Missouri. The facility would have a capacity of 200 to 300 MW, and would be built at a cost of $200 million to $300 million. Construction would start in 2019 and be completed in 2020. [News-Press Now]

Wind and corn (File photo)

¶ Colorado will push ahead on development of more affordable renewable energy despite President Donald Trump’s order eliminating many restrictions on fossil fuels production, Governor John Hickenlooper said. He said, Colorado has already met its carbon pollution goals under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. [Hastings Tribune]

¶ Southwest Michigan residents can tell state officials how they feel about the proposed closure of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant when the Michigan Public Services Commission hosts several public meetings in May. The meetings will be presided over by an administrative law judge. There will be a court reporter to record the proceedings. [Herald Palladium]

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March 29 Energy News

March 29, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “The 150-Year-Old Energy Giant Ready To Disrupt The World (#CleanTechnica Original)” • Engie has been acquiring top startups in the various arenas it considers to be the biggest playing fields of the future. In energy, there are 5 “tsunamis” or 5 disruptive trends they see occurring all at approximately the same time. [CleanTechnica]

Thierry Lepercq, Engie’s Executive Vice President
of Research, Technology and Innovation

World:

¶ A summer of record high temperatures, heat waves, and unplanned electricity outages appears to have bolstered the Australian rooftop solar market in 2017. Installations at end of February are up nearly 50% on the same time last year. Growth in rooftop solar installs has not been limited to South Australia, but in all of the major states. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new $3.9 million project led by a company in South Canterbury, New Zealand, aims to have 95% of the Cook Islands running on renewable energy by the end of year. Infratec general manager Luke van Zeller said the project was the latest in a series of upgrades to overhaul the country’s dated power grids which relied on expensive fossil fuels. [Timaru Herald]

Solar farm at Rarotonga Airport (Supplied)

¶ Just three of Japan’s 42 usable reactors are running at present, according to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. That number is to rise after the Osaka high court backed a restart of reactors 3 and 4 at the Takahama power plant north of Kyoto. In doing so, it overturned the first ruling ordering an operating nuclear reactor to shut down. [The Guardian]

¶ Australia’s wind farms could soon become “core providers” of crucial grid stability services, assuming a role now dominated by fossil fuel generators. Australian Energy Market Operator principal Jenny Riesz said the growing need for frequency control and ancillary services presents an emerging opportunity for wind power. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines

¶ The UK’s nuclear regulator has granted its first consent for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant’s construction. The French utility’s £18 billion project will be the first nuclear plant to be built in Britain in a generation. The consent covers the placement of the structural concrete for the first nuclear safety-related structure at the site. [Energy Live News]

US:

¶ President Donald Trump has signed an executive order rolling back Obama-era rules aimed at curbing climate change. He said this would put an end to the “war on coal” and “job-killing regulations.” The Energy Independence Executive Order suspends more than half a dozen measures enacted by his predecessor, and boosts fossil fuels. [BBC News]

Donald Trump, possibly lobbying for a new job (AFP)

¶ Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest beer maker, plans to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, shifting 6 TWh of electricity away from fossil-fuel plants. The company’s announcement comes the same day President Donald Trump signed an executive order undoing the Clean Power Plan. [Salt Lake Tribune]

¶ A coalition of 23 US states and local governments has vowed to challenge in court President Trump’s latest Executive Order reversing a raft of President Obama’s climate change regulations. The coalition includes states such as California, Massachusetts and Virginia, as well as cities including Chicago, Philadelphia and Boulder, Colorado. [RTE.ie]

Stop

¶ Just last week, the California Air Resources Board voted to protect the environment even if the federal government refuses to. Now the governors of California and New York released a joint statement condemning the federal government’s move to harm the health of Americans and kill jobs by reversing Clean Power Plan. [Electrek]

¶ President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back clean power standards will probably have a minimal effect on Minnesota, since the combination of state policy with changing energy economics, has already been leading utilities away from coal. Trump can sign orders, but it is too late. They are already on a clean-power path. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Fenton Wind Farm (Windtech, Wikimedia Commons)

¶ Frustrated by bloated power bills and frequent shutoffs, citizens of Pueblo, Colorado, have lobbied the city council to abandon natural gas and switch to more affordable renewable energy. Based on cost of electricity from utility-scale wind farms in the region, ratepayers could save money by switching to clean energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Westinghouse, Toshiba’s US nuclear unit, has filed for US bankruptcy protection. The US firm has struggled with hefty losses that have thrown its Japanese parent into a crisis, putting the conglomerate’s future at risk.Westinghouse has suffered huge cost overruns at two US projects in Georgia and South Carolina. [BBC News]

Westinghouse plant in Waynesboro (Reuters)

¶ The US wind industry already supports more than 100,000 jobs, but Navigant Consulting believes that number will increase to 248,000 total jobs by 2020, helping to deliver 35,000 MW of new wind power capacity through 2020. Navigant said the state of Iowa could support more than 17,000 wind-related jobs by 2020. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Utility company National Grid says it wants to build a new transmission line that would bring 1,200 MW of renewable power from Canada into New England. The major new project would take a different route than the controversial Northern Pass proposal put forward by Eversource. Most of it would be in New Hampshire. [New Hampshire Public Radio]

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March 28 Energy News

March 28, 2017

Opinion:

¶ “A future after oil and gas? Norway’s fossil-free energy start-ups” • Norway already produces a lot of renewable energy. About 97% of electricity generated in the country comes from renewable sources, mainly hydropower, according to Innovation Norway. But petrochemicals are still king, as half of Norway’s exports relate to oil and gas. [The Guardian]

Offshore platform near the Stavanger, Norway
(Nerijus Adomaitis / File Photo: Reuters Staff / Reuters)

¶ “Trump’s Anti-Climate Crusade Can Still Be Stopped” • This is not just another Trumpwellian sideshow. The President is sounding the retreat from the promise of cleaner, smarter ways to power our future. Trump’s retreat, though, is not a done deal. Congress controls the budget and should fully fund responsible climate protections. [TIME]

Science and Technology:

¶ A team of climate scientists found a connection between many extreme weather events and the impact climate change has on the jet stream. The researchers’ interests included the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Pakistan flood and Russian heat wave, the 2011 Texas and Oklahoma heat wave and drought, and the 2015 California wildfires. [Telegiz News]

Jet streams

World:

¶ The former head of former head of GDF Suez Australia (now Engie) says solar PV and battery storage are already cheaper than gas-fired generation. He cited an estimate given to Reach Solar, which he now heads, in late December 2016 for solar PV and energy storage at A$110/MWh to $130/MWh (US$83.64/MWh to $98.85/MWh). [CleanTechnica]

¶ The 402-MW Veja Mate wind farm in the German North Sea has reached a half-way mark for turbine installations two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule, with 34 of the project’s 67 Siemens 6-MW turbines fully commissioned and producing power. The project is will produce over 1.6 TWh of electricity per year. [reNews]

Veja Mate wind farm (Veja Mate image)

¶ The UAE forecasts that savings from switching half its power needs to clean energy by mid-century will outstrip costs. The UAE plans to invest $150 billion in renewable power to 2050, weaning the country from subsidized natural gas power in stages, its Minister of Energy said. Clean energy sources will help it save $192 billion. [MENAFN.COM]

¶ Although the Amazon region is home to dozens of big hydroelectric dams, their energy is sent thousands of miles south to power the homes and factories in the big cities, or to feed electricity-intensive industries, many of them foreign-owned aluminium smelters. Local power is usually from diesel generators. But that is changing. [Climate Home]

Homes in the state of Amazonas (Pic: Flickr/Monica Posada)

¶ The Australian Energy Market Operator has issued a final report on the blackout that cut power to 850,000 customers in South Australia on September 28. It said two tornadoes were the likely cause of five electrical faults that led to the grid failure. Problems that caused wind farms to shut down have been identified and corrected. [NEWS.com.au]

¶ In Africa, while hydropower and fossil fuel power plants are favored approaches in some quarters, a new assessment by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found that wind and solar can be competitive options both economically and environmentally, and they can significantly contribute to rising demand. [Eurasia Review]

Ngong Hills Wind Farm in Nairobi, Kenya
(Credit: Grace Wu / Berkeley Lab)

US:

¶ China’s GCL New Energy is developing eight new solar projects in Wilson County, North Carolina. Six of the sites have a maximum power output at peak performance of 10 MW while two have an output of around 5 MW. Three of the facilities are expected to be producing power by the end of this month, and will sell electricity at fixed rates. [PV-Tech]

¶ In California, renewably sourced electricity has been setting production records since February 24. On March 23, renewables broke 56% of total demand. According to the daily report, solar peaked around 11:16 am. Three minutes later, the solar plus wind peaked at 49.2% of demand, and nine minutes later, total renewables peaked at 56.7%. [Electrec]

Wind turbines in Edelstal, Austria
(Photo: Matej Kova, National Geographic)

¶ According to American media watchdog Media Matters, the level of climate change coverage on evening newscasts and Sunday shows across broadcast networks in 2016 decreased significantly, dropping by 66% compared to 2015 levels, amounting to a total of only 50 minutes of coverage for the whole year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As part of court settlements with the California Air Resources Board and the EPA, Volkswagen will build around 400 electric vehicle fast-charging stations in the US, according to reports. The $2 billion settlement will see the majority of stations installed in metro areas with high expected demand for electric vehicles. [CleanTechnica]

EVgo Superfast Charging Station

¶ What is expected to be Illinois’ largest rooftop solar array is under construction in Joliet, but it isn’t the initiative of a utility or solar company. Instead, the system will be paid for and owned by Swedish retailer Ikea as the company boosts its renewable energy portfolio. Its almost 9,000 panels will have a capacity of 2.91 MW. [Midwest Energy News]

¶ For the small towns that are home to 61 US nuclear plants, each one has been like the golden goose supplying high-paying jobs and money for roads, police and libraries. But those same places and their residents are bracing for what may come next. Due to the soaring costs of running aging reactors, at least a dozen reactors may close. [Electric Light & Power]

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