145 Energy Stories of 2014

These are my picks for the top 144 energy stories of 2014, ordered chronologically. You will also find another page with a shorter list, the Top 20 stories of 2014.

  1. The wind industry faces uncertainty again as a key federal incentive for wind farms expired, almost one year after getting a reprieve. Unlike last year, there’s no “fiscal cliff” deal to get Congress to act at the last minute to renew the wind production tax credit. [Tulsa World] 1-1
  2. Climate change may be far worse than scientists thought, causing global temperatures to rise by at least 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, or about 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a new study, published in the journal Nature. [Huffington Post] 1-1
  3. A report from the Edison Electric Institute paints a bleak picture for the future of investor-owned utilities. It essentially says their business model, in the current regulatory environment, is not sustainable, given expected growth in rooftop PVs. [energycentral] 1-3
  4. Three new nuclear reactors were connected to the grid in 2013 and four were permanently shut down, dropping the total number of reactors in operation around the world to 436 with an installed capacity of 372 GW. [Nuclear Engineering] 1-3
  5. UBS analysts say utilities in Europe need to shut down 30% of their gas, coal, and oil-fed power capacity by 2017, not to fight global warming, cut pollution, or cut fuel imports, but because renewable energy is pushing fossil fuels off the grid. [CleanTechnica] 1-6
  6. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued an unprecedented safety alert on the transport of hydraulically fractured oil from North Dakota’s booming Bakken oil fields that could also cool Canada’s unconventional oil rush. [Resilience] 1-10
  7. A chemical spill in West Virginia got into the water system of nine counties, with the result is that 300,000 people have tap water that can be used for no purpose at all, other than flushing toilets. The chemical was there to clean coal.[CleanTechnica] 1-10
  8. A look at peer-reviewed articles on climate change in scientific journals, from Nov. 12, 2012 through December 31, 2013, found 2,258 articles written by a total of 9,136 authors. Only one article, by a single author, rejected man-made global warming. [CleanTechnica] 1-11
  9. UN climate chief Christiana Figueres called on big firms that manage trillions of dollars of investments to dump fossil fuel stocks in favor of greener alternatives, arguing that such a shift would help the firms’ clients as well as the climate. [Grist] 1-17
  10. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of Connecticut analyzed more than 122,000 home sales near 26 wind facilities in densely populated Massachusetts, yet was unable to find any impacts to nearby home property values. [Windpower Engineering] 1-18
  11. Global subsidies for fossil fuels have returned to levels not seen since before the financial crisis in 2008, estimated at $523 billion to $1.9 trillion, according to a new report. This is about five times what all renewable resources get, combined. [FuelFix] 1-24
  12. It may sound far-fetched to some people, but the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports in the new study Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps, that wind turbines actually improve grid reliability. [CleanTechnica] 1-26
  13. Butanol, the gasoline substitute promoted by billionaire Richard Branson, is headed for its debut at US pumps as soon as next year in a challenge to ethanol’s domination of the $26 billion renewable fuels market. [San Francisco Chronicle] 1-30
  14. The Vermont House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to sharply expand the net metering program nearly four-fold. Current law requires utilities to accept customer-generated electricity up to 4% of their peak capacity that cap is being increased to 15%. [Product Design & Development] 1-31
  15. Why traditional utilities are like frogs in warming water” Jim Rogers, the recently retired head of Duke Energy, the biggest utility in the US, says regulations and business models will not change quick enough to save traditional utilities in face of solar. [RenewEconomy] 2-2
  16. The Ivanpah Solar Power Plant, the world’s largest solar thermal electric plant has begun operating its three generating units, which will soon deliver enough clean energy to power more than 140,000 homes in Northern and Southern California. [RenewablesBiz] 2-5
  17. In a decisive vote, 341 to 263, the European Parliament called for three binding targets for 2030: a 40% cut in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels; at least 30% of energy to come from renewable sources; and a 40% improvement in energy efficiency. [The Guardian] 2-6
  18. Chicago-based Exelon Corp. said Thursday on a conference call following its quarterly earnings results that it will shut down nuclear plants to save money if it doesn’t see a path to steady profits this year. [Chicago Tribune] 2-7
  19. At a cost of $8 billion, a 3000 MW windfarm is being developed on a cattle ranch in Wyoming owned by Anschutz. Transmission lines will carry the power to southern California. Construction is expected to start in 2015. [Los Angeles Times] 2-9
  20. Decommissioning Sellafield nuclear power station in the UK will cost taxpayers at least £70 billion as costs hit “astonishing levels,” senior MPs said yesterday. “What’s worse is that the cost is likely to continue to rise.” [Morning Star Online] 2-11
  21. In his latest action to prevent a windfarm from being built off the coast of Aberdeen, within sight of his Scottish golf resort, Donald Trump has been once more rebuffed by a Scottish court. He claimed his human rights were being violated. It did not work. [EarthTechling] 2-12
  22. A new white paper report finds that wind energy is keeping electric bills low for American homes and businesses, thanks to plummeting wind energy costs driven by technological improvements. [CleanTechnica] 2-16
  23. Imperial College research says useful life of wind turbines may be longer than some people have asserted, countering claims machines need replacing after just 10 years. Wind turbines can remain productive for up to 25 years. [Business Green] 2-20
  24. EIA’s latest prediction that about 60 gigawatts of coal will retire by 2016 is up from about 40 gigawatts that it predicted just last year, and more than double the 27 gigawatts it predicted in 2012. [Energy Collective] 2-23
  25. As Exxon Mobil’s CEO, it is Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. Nevertheless, he joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences when it is near his home. [CleanTechnica] 2-24
  26. An Accident Waiting to Happen” Huge amounts of oil are being transported by rail from the shale oil fields. The probability of an accident with an oil spill over time is close to 100%. The possibility of recovering lost oil before it does heavy damage is small. [Resilience] 2-28
  27. Tesla has developed a battery to store power for homes, commercial sites and utilities. They have announced plans to invest up to $5 billion in the world’s largest battery factory, and want to cut battery prices by 30%. [Businessweek] 2-28
  28. When heat waves wracked Australia at the start of the year, driving up electricity demand, the presence of wind power in the country actually kept electricity costs 40% lower than they otherwise would have been, according to a new study. [ThinkProgress] 3-1
  29. According to Ethan Zindler of Bloomberg Energy Finance, recent price declines for solar energy have been “massive,” while merely “substantial” for wind, meaning that a global shift away from fossil fuels is no longer “theoretical.” [CleanTechnica] 3-2
  30. The number of very hot days have soared in the past 15 years, according to a study in the journal Nature Climate Change reports. A study from NASA agrees, and one from the World Meteorological Organization puts the increase at 500%. [Energy Collective] 3-2
  31. In China, wind power is leaving nuclear behind. Electricity output from China’s wind farms exceeded that from its nuclear plants for the first time in 2012, by a narrow margin. Then in 2013, wind pulled away-outdoing nuclear by 22%. [InvestorIdeas.com] 3-5
  32. China’s Premier Li Keqiang has declared war on pollution, outlining significant steps the Chinese government will take to improve air quality. China has suffered from truly epic smog over the last two winters. [EconoMonitor] 3-7
  33. With the launch of a wood-fueled downtown district heating system still six months away, officials in Vermont’s capital city on Monday set the goal of making Montpelier a “net-zero” user of fossil fuels by 2030. [Bennington Banner] 3-11
  34. AES Corp says its energy storage division is selling batteries that are actually powerful enough to replace peaking power plants in arrays that range from tens of megawatts to 500 MW, costing $10 million to $500 million. [SustainableBusiness.com] 3-11
  35. City-owned Austin Energy is about to sign a 25-year PPA with Sun Edison for 150 megawatts of solar power at “just below” 5¢ per kWh. The power will come from two West Texas solar facilities. [Energy Collective] 3-14
  36. The massive Cape Wind offshore wind farm scored a huge legal victory on Friday, when a US District Judge upheld the results of a ten-year permitting process and rejected a laundry list of claims brought by opposition groups. [CleanTechnica] 3-16
  37. Greenhouse gases must be cut 40% to 70% within 36 years to prevent cataclysmic environmental changes, according to a U.N. panel’s draft report that urges an immediate shift away from coal-fired power plants. [Asahi Shimbun] 3-18
  38. Available evidence does not support the notion that wind farms cause adverse health effects, according to a position statement published by the Australia Medical Association. By contrast, anti-wind “scare tactics,” cause unhealthy levels of anxiety. [Energy Matters] 3-19
  39. In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. [India.Com Health] 3-25
  40. Wholesale power prices in Germany have plunged 34% since 2010 amid record output from renewables, while electricity demand last year slumped to the weakest since 2009, according to energy researcher AG Energiebilanzen e.V. [Bloomberg] 3-26
  41. Wind generation in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Thursday set a record for power production at one time for the second time this month. Wind generators met 10,296 MW, or nearly 29% of ERCOT’s demand. ERCOT manages power for 23 million customers. [Platts] 3-29
  42. The UN IPCC report said that during the next 100 years, bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration could pull 125 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the sky, while biochar energy systems could draw down 130 billion tonnes. There were 40 billion tonnes emitted in 2013. [Environment & Energy Publishing] 4-4
  43. Two studies released by the Alberta government separately show that the incidence of cancer downstream of tar sands development is higher than expected and that air emissions from a certain type of drilling tar sands operation is likely causing health problems. [Energy Collective] 4-6
  44. In many parts of the U.S., wind energy is now the cheapest form of electricity generation – cheaper than natural gas and even coal, NextEra chief financial office Moray P. Dewhurst recently stated on an earnings call. [Triple Pundit] 4-7
  45. Unilever, Shell, BT, and EDF Energy are among 70 leading companies today calling on governments across the globe to step up efforts to tackle climate change. The companies say the world needs a “rapid and focused response” to the threat of rising global carbon emissions. [The Guardian] 4-9 (posted 4-18)
  46. Are We Halfway to Market Dominance for Solar?” Electricity output from solar PVs is approaching 1% of total global electricity production, according to the IEA. That may not seem like much, but that 1% is actually halfway to the goal of market dominance. [Greentech Media] 4-12
  47. Eminent bishop and Nobel peace prize winner Desmond Tutu has called on businesses to cut ties with the fossil fuels industry, in the same way as they did with South African companies during apartheid. [Blue & Green Tomorrow] 4-12
  48. The IPCC report says catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards. It concludes the transformation to a world of clean energy, ditching dirty fossil fuels, is eminently affordable. [Business Green] 4-13
  49. The IPCC report says greenhouse gases need to be cut 70% before 2050 to control climate change, and the job will become harder and more expensive unless the transformation is made within 15 years. [Daily Mail] 4-13
  50. ISO New England reported today that the volatile natural gas market in this region pushed wholesale electric prices up by 55% last year. We’re already seeing some of this at the retail level, but the real impact will likely be seen in our monthly bills next winter.[Boston Business Journal] 4-16
  51. California’s recent revisions to Title 24 put in place ambitious performance goals: all new residential buildings must be Zero Net Energy by 2020, and commercial buildings by 2030. This is likely to have ripple effects through the whole nation’s construction industry.[CleanTechnica] 4-16
  52. A small county in Northern California has become the first county government in the state to become grid energy positive. Yolo County (population 200,000), just west of Sacramento County, now produces 152 percent more energy from solar panels than it uses. [Christian Science Monitor] 4-18
  53. HELMETH EU is an power-to-gas process that can be more than 85% efficient. First, power from solar or wind turns water into oxygen and hydrogen. Then, hydrogen reacts with carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide to methane, the main constituent of natural gas. [Nanowerk] 4-22
  54. According to analysis, new wind and solar can provide power at up to 50% lower cost than new nuclear and carbon capture and storage. A reliable generation system of wind, and solar with gas as backup is 20% cheaper than a system of new nuclear power combined with gas. [Energy Matters] 4-24
  55. In yet another signal that era of fossil fuels is drawing to a close, a jury has just awarded a whopping $3 million to a Texas family for health and property impacts linked to a nearby Aruba Petroleum fracking operation. [CleanTechnica] 4-26
  56. In Australia, up to $4 billion worth of gas-fired power stations are in danger of being “stranded” as gas prices explode and the renewable energy target pushes extra generation into a grid already oversupplied with excess power, a new report has found. [The Australian] 4-28
  57. A key part of the Obama administration’s green policies received surprisingly strong Supreme Court support over efforts to curb air pollution. A 6-2 majority of justices issued a decision upholding federal agency rules to control coal-fired power plant emissions from 28 states. [CNN] 4-30
  58. A new report from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that there is potential for over 65 GW of new hydropower development across more than three million rivers and streams in the United States. [International Water Power and Dam Construction] 4-30
  59. Australian network operators have begun to accept that new technologies – mostly centred around localised renewable generation, energy storage, and some smart software – are a better and cheaper option than just adding more poles and wires. [RenewEconomy] 5-2
  60. According to the International Monetary Fund, when you factor in implicit subsidies from the failure to charge for pollution, climate change and other externalities, the post-tax cost of support for fossil fuels comes in at close to $2 trillion each year. [CleanTechnica] 5-3
  61. The global fossil fuel industry faces a loss of $28 trillion in revenues over the next two decades, if the world takes action to address climate change, cleans up pollution and moves to decarbonise the global energy system, according to European broking house Kepler Chevreux. [CleanTechnica] 5-3
  62. For the first time in at least 800,000 years, the average level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm for a full month in April. Measurements made at a NOAA observatory in Hawaii showed that the monthly average in April reached 401.33 ppm. [Blue & Green Tomorrow] 5-5
  63. Indoor vertical farms are on the rise, thanks partly to new high efficiency LED growing lights that cut electricity costs to the bone. LED farming translates into new opportunities for siting year-round hyperlocal, organic farm-to-table operations, sustainably powered. [CleanTechnica] 5-12
  64. The complete melting of a major section of West Antarctica’s ice sheet appears inevitable, and the process could lead to higher end-of-century global sea levels than previously anticipated, according to NASA researchers. [CNN] 5-13
  65. The Collaborative Commons is the first new economic paradigm to take root since the advents of capitalism and socialism. The Collaborative Commons is already transforming the way we organize economic life, with profound implications for the future of the market. [MarketWatch] 5-16
  66. Dutch trains will start running on wind energy from next year and the country’s entire rail network could be fully powered by green electricity by 2018. Wind farms in Holland, along with some in Belgium and Scandinavia, will supply 1.4 TWh for the trains. [Business Green] 5-19
  67. Wind is going head to head with natural gas at the heart of the fracking boom—and wind is winning. In 2003, wind made up less than 1% of the power supply. By 2013, that share had risen to roughly 10%. [National Journal] 5-23
  68. The US energy world was rocked by a new Energy Information Agency report that significantly cut the projection of recoverable oil from the massive Monterey Shale formation in California. The cut was 96%. [CleanTechnica] 5-24
  69. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables as the world’s primary source of energy will not only save the planet from dangerous levels of warming – it will also save the global economy $71 trillion by 2050, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency. [CounterCurrents.org] 5-25
  70. Because the current automotive industry is likely unsustainable, General Motors recently announced it is aiming to overhaul many of its operations. Now GM is more or less on track to achieve its goal of 500,000 electrified vehicles on the roads by 2017. [CleanTechnica] 5-25
  71. Are Shales a Bubble?” Hype works. Hype has been the primary tool used by the oil and gas industry with regard to shales and it has worked brilliantly. There is just one problem. When considering shale economic viability, hype was the only aspect that actually existed. [Resilience] 5-28
  72. Germany’s Energiewende is very much alive. The biggest “winners” in the first quarter were solar power, whose production was up 82.5%, and offshore wind, up 33%. Natural gas production was down 19.7%, hard coal down 17.4%, and nuclear energy down 4.6%. [CleanTechnica] 5-29
  73. Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans arrived on the scene, and the world is on the brink of a sixth great extinction, according to a new study published by the journal Science. [Huffington Post] 5-30
  74. Vermont is the only state not covered by the Obama administration’s sweeping new plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent over the next 15 years, but the state will still benefit by working with other states to meet the goals. [Greenfield Daily Reporter] 6-3
  75. A decision by parties to an obscure convention has huge implications for Europe’s ageing nuclear reactors. Licence extensions for nuclear reactors must follow EIAs which compare the potential impacts to those of alternatives – including wind, solar and other renewables. [The Ecologist] 6-10
  76. Elon Musk has made yet another highly interesting and somewhat unpredictable move/announcement (in a long line of such moves) — Tesla Motors will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, uses the company’s technology. [CleanTechnica] 6-14
  77. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) dashed the hopes of environmentalists, leading manufacturers and renewable-energy businesses Friday and signed a bill shelving requirements for utilities to ramp up the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency. [Washington Post] 6-14
  78. Tesla has managed to bring down battery prices per kWh by half in just four years with plans to half the cost again when its gigafactory comes online in 2020. As electric cars become more affordable, demand should produce even more economies of scale. [ValueWalk] 6-17
  79. Despite being quite a grey country, with average solar irradiation levels worse than even the US Northwest and Alaska, Germany is the world’s solar power leader. In the past couple of weeks, it broke another three records, at one point getting 50.6% of demand from solar PVs. [Treehugger] 6-19
  80. Four former heads of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who served under Republican presidents urged lawmakers Wednesday to stop bickering over whether climate change is real and start finding solutions. [Tico Times] 6-19
  81. The use of executive powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions has been reaffirmed by the US Supreme Court in a ruling issued on Monday. This suggests President Obama’s climate policy has solid legal foundations. [Carbon Brief] 6-26
  82. Barclay’s rationale for the downgrade they gave the entire US utility industry is their expectation that for more than 20% of US electric consumers, solar combined with electric storage will be at least as cheap as power from utilities within 4 years.[Energy Collective] 6-21
  83. At long last, America’s first offshore wind project, Cape Wind, has secured its permits, leases and is finalizing financing. Once turbines are erected, miles off-shore, it will begin producing most of the electricity for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. [The Hill] 6-24
  84. Microgrids are attractive to universities, hospitals and military installations aiming to protect their critical loads. They are also attractive to communities looking to survive the next storm, a dynamic spurring development of a new, potentially controversial grid model. [Scientific American] 6-29
  85. The next decade and a half will see renewable energy raise its share of European electricity generation capacity from 40% in 2012, to 60% in 2030, while the share of fossil-fuel sources such as coal and gas falls from 48% to 27%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [Nanowerk] 7-1
  86. The German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern generates 120% of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new publication. Reportedly, there are over 1600 wind turbines in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which is also a top tourist destination. [CleanTechnica] 7-2
  87. After studying production data from 65,000 wells from 31 different unconventional shale rock formations in 2012, geologist David Hughes predicted big trouble ahead for North America’s unconventional hydrocarbon revolution. [Resilience] 7-2
  88. The American Council On Renewable Energy released the results of its “Business Leaders Opinion Polling.” It showed broad support for renewables in all areas , with 78% of business leaders saying renewable energy technologies are a real growth opportunity for the economy. [Electric Light & Power] 7-6
  89. After examining the publicly available compliance records of more than 41,000 wells in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Cornell-led researchers reported that 40% of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably leak methane into the atmosphere. [Energy Collective] 7-7
  90. “Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete” As early as 2018, solar could be economically viable to power big cities. By 2040 over half of all electricity may be generated in the same place it’s used. Centralised, coal-fired power is over. [The Guardian] 7-8
  91. For the first time, a large fraction of the world’s fossil fuels could be replaced at a lower cost by clean energy, with today’s renewable technologies and prices. And virtually no further investments in fossil fuels make long-term economic sense. [Huffington Post] 7-9
  92. On Saturday and Sunday in Oklahoma, there were seven earthquakes. As of last month, Oklahoma had surpassed California in the number of earthquakes. It’s possible that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could have played a role in causing them. [CNN] 7-14
  93. California-based Siva Power has an ambitious cost roadmap for its thin-film solar modules. Siva says its first 300-MW production line will manufacture modules at 40¢ per watt, but believes it can get all-in costs down to 28¢ per watt after another two years of operation. [Energy Collective] 7-15
  94. Rather than simply working against the (likely inevitable) spread of distributed generation, Vermont’s Green Mountain Power has been transforming itself into a company with a business model that puts renewable energy and distributed generation at its core. [CleanTechnica] 7-16
  95. A new material developed at MIT is able to convert 85% of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. Very little heat is lost in the process, and it can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity. [Energy Collective] 7-23
  96. Though solar power is still far from surpassing coal as America’s primary energy source, the number of people employed by the solar industry has surpassed the number of coal miners. There are about 142,000 people in the US workforce working at least half time on solar. [CleanTechnica] 7-24
  97. The American Wind Energy Association has just come out with some facts and figures about the so-called hidden cost of wind power. According to AWEA’s calculations the “hidden cost” for conventional power plants in Texas is 17 times more than wind. [CleanTechnica] 7-29
  98. A lobbyist for Exelon Corporation recently bragged about killing the wind industry and claimed they would kill the solar industry next. Now the company favors extension of a net metering cap in Massachusetts, though in a watered-down form. It remains to be seen why. [CleanTechnica] 7–26
  99. About 25% of Australian power generation profits come from supplying power 0.4% of the time at peak prices. Renewable resources are destroying that profitability. Coal-burning power stations are being hit hardest, because they need to keep producing around the clock. [Sydney Morning Herald] 8-4
  100. Massive algae blooms on Lake Erie have robbed Toledo of clean drinking water, and boiling water with blue-green algae toxins just concentrates the poison. The causes include loss of wetlands, crumbling infrastructure, invasive species, and climate change. [Energy Collective] 8-9
  101. The US Department of Agriculture’s road map details the benefits installing 11,000 new anaerobic digestion plants across the US. They could be used to produce energy or transport fuels and also have major positive effects in the fight to reduce carbon emissions. [Energy Digital] 8-17
  102. Tesla has announced what they call the “Infinite Mile Warranty.” The infinite mile warranty is for the drive units of 85 kWh Model S’s, and it isn’t just for the first owner, but for anyone a Model S might be sold to. It also applies retroactively. [CleanTechnica] 8-17
  103. A just-released Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report pegs utility-scale wind power-purchase agreement pricing as averaging $25 per MWh for projects that negotiated contracts in 2013. That’s cheap power. [Greentech Media] 8-19
  104. The European Commission now expects final power demand in 2020 to be 11% lower than it did in 2009. The commission has prepared three growth scenarios for wind power, with growth projections ranging from 41% to 85.9% by 2020. [Maritime Journal] 8-21
  105. World energy markets will soon enter a period of “extreme flux,” according to a new report out from Citigroup. The report paints a bleak picture for the future of the oil industry, while predicting massive growth in the renewable sector. [OilPrice.com] 8-21
  106. Investment bank UBS says the addition of electric vehicles, and the proliferation of battery storage, will solve the problem of intermittency for rooftop solar and make it viable without subsidies. [CleanTechnica] 8-23
  107. The commander of the US Defense Logistics Agency Energy dismisses the denialism rampant in American politics and society with: “Call it climate change, call it the big blue rabbit, I don’t give a hoot what you call it — the military has to respond to those kinds of things.” [Japan Focus] 8-25
  108. Renewable energy sources accounted for 14.3% of net US electrical generation in the first half of the year, according to a new report by the EIA. Last year, the EIA forecast that the US would reach the 14% renewable mark in 2040. [pv magazine] 8-28
  109. The tar sands industry’s tailings problem is a growing liability and it is getting worse. For every barrel of tar sands bitumen produced (the semi-solid substance from which oil is eventually refined), 1.5 barrels of toxic liquid waste is added to the tailings ponds. [Energy Collective] 8-29
  110. One of the most important pieces of news of the summer made virtually no headlines at all, and seemed to only appear on the website of the US Energy Information Administration. It is that 127 of the world’s largest oil and gas companies are running out of cash. [Resilience] 8-31
  111. According to the latest report from the IEA, renewable energy now accounts for 80% of new generation among the 34 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Policy uncertainty remains a threat, however. [CleanTechnica] 9-2
  112. The transition to a global renewable energy economy could save $71 trillion by the year 2050, according to an IEA report. Put another way, $44 trillion in investment by the year 2050 would translate to about $115 trillion in energy savings ($71 trillion in net savings). [CleanTechnica] 9-7
  113. “Fusion Power: The Case of the Wrong Competitors” Startups hoping to bring fusion power to the market will fail for a simple economic reason. While their power plants may be competitive with traditional nuclear or fossil fuel plants, they will not be competitive with wind or solar. [Forbes] 9-8
  114. Recently published analysis shows Chinese coal consumption fell for the first time this century in the first half of this year. Even more striking, China’s gross domestic product growth and coal consumption have decoupled, suggesting a structural shift in the Chinese economy. [Energy Collective] 9-13
  115. After a seven-year-long investigation, scientists at the National Audubon Society issued a grim report finding that more than half of the 650 or so bird species in North America may be threatened by global warming. [Canada News] 9-14
  116. For renewables power sources, nearly all energy inputs are original production and mitigating the waste from that production. More energy is produced than the fossil fuels used. Wind is the most efficient fuel for electricity, creating 1164% of its original energy inputs. [Wall Street Journal] 9-17
  117. A recent study by GE and NREL shows that the entire eastern US grid could achieve a dramatic increase in wind penetration without suffering any major destabilizing effects, without threatening electric reliability, and without installing any costly energy storage. [Scientific American] 9-17
  118. Ahead of a UN climate summit, institutional investors managing £15 trillion ($24.6 trillion) of assets are also calling on governments to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, an estimated £370 billion ($606 billion) worldwide a year, five times the £60 billion paid in renewables subsidies. [The Guardian] 9-19
  119. Rocky Mountain Institute’s Micropower Database documents the global progress of distributed, rapidly scalable, and no- or low-carbon generators. Its most astonishing finding: micropower now produces about one-fourth of the world’s total electricity. [Forbes] 9-20
  120. “Errors and Emissions – Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free?” Two reports both claim strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might even lead to faster growth. But will anyone believe the good news? [New York Times] 9-21
  121. On the eve of the UN Climate Summit, Desmond Tutu argues that tactics used against firms who did business with South Africa must now be applied to fossil fuels to prevent human suffering. [The Guardian] 9-21
  122. Google’s controversial decision to fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was a “mistake,” company chairman Eric Schmidt admitted on Monday, saying the group is spreading lies about global warming and “making the world a much worse place.” [ThinkProgress] 9-23
  123. In a highly symbolic gesture with real bottom line impact, the Rockefeller family, whose fortune came from oil, has announced that its eight hundred sixty million dollar philanthropic organization will sell off its assets linked to fossil fuel companies and invest in renewable energy. [3BL Media] 9-23
  124. Major new analysis produced by Australia’s ClimateWorks, along with Australian National University, shows that 15 of the world’s biggest economies can move to “net carbon zero” by 2050, and it need impose no extra costs over business as usual. In fact, electricity bills will be lower than what they are now. [CleanTechnica] 9-25
  125. Fresh statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimate renewables met a record-breaking 46.4% of electricity use in 2013, up from 39.9% in 2012. The Scottish government says this indicates Scotland is on track to meet its targets of 50% by 2015, and 100% by 2020. [Utility Products] 9-27
  126. Michael Renner, senior researcher with Worldwatch Institute writes that nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7% in 2000 to 22.7% in 2012. [Domestic Fuel] 10-1
  127. In line with a campaign promise by President Francois Hollande in 2012, the French parliament has voted to reduce the share of nuclear energy in electricity generation to 50% from the current level of 75% and has also adopted a program to drastically reduce energy consumption before 2050. [Kuwait News Agency] 10-10
  128. US-based aerospace giant Lockheed Martin says it has devised a new type of miniature nuclear fusion power generator. In the announcement of October 15, the defence technology company said its new compact fusion reactor could be developed and deployed in as little as ten years. [The Australian] 10-16
  129. A report from the EU on power prices is only the latest of a number coming to the same conclusion. Along with three earlier reports, it proved that “wind energy is one of the lowest cost options for reducing carbon emissions,” with each focusing on a different attribute of wind energy’s performance. [CleanTechnica] 10-21
  130. “Every­thing is im­pos­sible until it is done,” says an official of the German region of Rhein-Hunsruck. The district uses wind, sol­ar, bio­mass and hy­dro sup­ply 177% of its elec­tri­city, and sells the sur­plus. C02 emis­sions have fall­en by 64% since 1990 and the economy has $50 million per year more than it had. [Edmonton Journal] 10-29
  131. European leaders agreed to cut carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2030, in a move that could pave the way for a global treaty on tackling climate change next year. The wording means that the target could be raised to 50% in the event an ambitious emissions reduction deal is agreed in Paris next year. [Business Green] 10-24
  132. US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades. The US would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28% before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions and get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon sources by 2030. [CNN] 11-12
  133. Fossil fuels see about $550 billion a year in subsidies, dampening investment in cleaner forms of energy, the International Energy Agency said. Crude oil, coal and natural gas received more than four times the $120 billion paid out in subsidies for renewables, according to the annual World Energy Outlook. [Live Trading News] 11-13
  134. India’s recently announced target to install 100 GW solar power capacity by 2022 could make it one of the largest solar power markets in the world and put it in direct competition with China. Essentially, India wants to do in five years what China plans to do in 10 years! [CleanTechnica] 11-23
  135. The cost of electricity from wind and solar has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas. The trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing power purchase agreements for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas. [Boston Globe] 11-24
  136. EON SE, Germany’s largest utility, will break itself up, spinning off fossil fuel power plants into a separate company so it can focus on renewable energy. EON also announced it will write down the value of assets by €4.5 billion, leading to a substantial full-year loss. Even so, the shares had the largest jump in more than two years on the plan. [Businessweek] 12-1
  137. The amount of electricity generated by US utility-scale solar PV power plants is up more than 100% in 2014 over the same period in 2013, thanks to big projects, many of them highly productive, that have been coming online. A number of major factors made this possible, including the steep decline in the price of PVs. [Breaking Energy] 12-2
  138. This year is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, year on record, a UN agency reported Wednesday. The head of the World Meteorological Organization pointed out that provisional information for 2014 means that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, adding “There is no standstill in global warming.” [CNN] 12-4
  139. Ceres, a nonprofit promoting investor support for efforts on climate change, has sent a letter endorsed by 223 companies to President Obama, in support of EPA’s controversial proposed standard for existing power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Combined assets of the companies is $10 trillion. [National Legal and Policy Center] 12-9
  140. Oil prices came crashing down Thursday to trade below $70 per barrel after OPEC announced it was leaving oil production levels unchanged. The low price is bad news for certain oil-producing countries like Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela, which depend on prices of at least $90 a barrel. While they last, lower oil prices could also halt the US shale oil boom. [CNN] 12-10
  141. Exelon says the EPA was “well within” its legal authority to require existing plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. An Exelon senior vice president said the Clean Power Plan was “legally and scientifically required.” She also called for more credit for nuclear plants. [Environment & Energy Publishing] 12-12
  142. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Dec. 17 that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York, following the release of a long-anticipated study that concluded fracking could pose “significant public health risks.” 96% of all papers published on health impacts of fracking indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes. [Wisconsin Gazette] 12-18
  143. Solar and wind power projects are much less financially risky than other power projects, since cost overruns tend to be way lower, especially when compared to nuclear or hydropower plants, which have rather insane cost overruns. Aside from these, there are many economic reasons to favor power from the sun or wind. [CleanTechnica] 12-22
  144. 2014 saw new records for German renewables, which produced 25.8% of the year’s power. Wind power hit a new record peak of 29.7 GW on December 12. Coal-fired power in Germany during 2014 was 10% less than in 2013. Gas-fired power plants dropped to 9.7% while nuclear energy’s share increased by half a percent to 15.9%. [Energy Matters] 12-30
  145. The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant stopped sending electricity to the grid Monday after producing total of 171 billion kWh over its 42-year lifetime. The shutdown came just after noon as the plant completed its 30th operating cycle when workers inserted control rods into the reactor core and stopped the nuclear reaction process. [Washington Times] 12-30

 

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