2017-09-28 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, September 21:

Wind farm

  • Every General Motors manufacturing plant in Ohio and Indiana will now be completely powered by wind energy thanks to a 200-MW power purchase agreement. The automaker is now the sole user of the 100-MW Northwest Ohio Wind Farm, and another 100 MW will come from the HillTopper Wind Project in Illinois. [Power Engineering Magazine]
  • Reports from Nicaragua say that President Daniel Ortega has confirmed his country will finally sign the Paris Climate Agreement. This means the US and Syria would be the only two countries in the world that are not active parties to it. The Nicaraguan position had been that the Paris Climate Agreement it did not go far enough. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US Climate Alliance, a coalition of states backing the Paris Climate Accord, announced that North Carolina had joined in defiance of President Trump’s decision to exit the United Nations pact. Washington Gov Jay Inslee said, “If we were a country, we would be the third-largest economy of any nation in the world.” [Washington Examiner]

Friday, September 22:

San Francisco (Photo: Cicerone, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The cities of San Francisco and Oakland have filed separate lawsuits against five of the largest oil companies in the world, public documents show. They are suing Chevron Corp, BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, and Royal Dutch Shell, for the roles played by those companies in anthropogenic climate warming and rising sea levels. [CleanTechnica]
  • Georgetown University partnered with Origis Energy USA to build a solar power system to provide nearly 50% of the campus’s electricity by the 2019-20 academic year. Origis will install 105,000 solar panels on a 518-acre property in Maryland. The panels are expected to produce 75,000 MWh of power each year. [Georgetown University The Hoya]

San Juan after Hurricane Maria (Alex Wroblewski | Getty Images)

  • Hurricane Maria has dealt a new blow to Puerto Rico’s bankrupt electric company – causing widespread power outages and imposing costly repairs on a utility that was already struggling with more than $9 billion in debt, poor service and sky-high rates. Puerto Rico’s electric rates are already more than twice the national average. [Chicago Tribune]

Saturday, September 23:

  • “Are Hurricanes Winds of Change for Insurers’ Climate Risk?” • The insurance industry faces a long-term challenge as climate change makes natural disasters more severe. The Trump administration’s push to ax some of the tools insurers need to prepare for disasters could force companies to take a more public position on climate change. [Bloomberg BNA]

Solar array

  • “US Solar Industry Could Be Devastated By Today’s Tariffs Ruling – May Lead To Crushing Tariffs” • The US International Trade Commission granted a petition for relief from cheaper imported solar panels by two bankrupt US manufacturers. But the remedy will likely mean tariffs that are job-crushing for solar installers. [CleanTechnica]
  • A professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, has developed a solution for about half the plastic waste that goes to American landfills. After 10 years of research, he says he has found a biodegradable material that can be used in place of the plastic used to wrap and preserve food. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, September 24:


Drunken forest, the effect of supporting permafrost melting (Jon Ranson, NASA Science blog, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The world’s periglacial zones, home to nearly all of the world’s permafrost, will “almost completely disappear” by the year 2100 even in the most optimistic of scenarios about greenhouse gas emissions reductions, a study says. As all that permafrost melts, vast quantities of methane and carbon dioxide will be released. [CleanTechnica]
  • “They Voted For Trump. Obama’s Solar Panels Saved Them From Irma’s Wrath.” • Hurricane Irma knocked out the power while residents Titusville, Florida, sheltered in the Apollo Elementary School. But Classroom 408 had electricity, thanks to an economic stimulus program set in motion by President Barack Obama. [Daily Beast]
  • Two years ago, 85% of the electricity in Aztec, California, came from fossil fuels. Now, hydropower supplies 37% of its electricity and 6% comes from a solar farm. Last month, officials from Guzman Energy, which sells power to the city, told the City Commission that Aztec could get 40% of its power from wind in the near future. [Farmington Daily Times]

Monday, September 25:

 

Tuesday, September 26:

 

Wednesday, September 27:

 

 

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2017-09-21 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, September 14:

Sailboat in Georgia (Credit: Luke Sharrett | The New York Times)

  • “Harrowing Storms May Move Climate Debate, if Not GOP Leaders” • For years, climate change activists have faced a dilemma: how to persuade people to care about a grave but seemingly far-off problem and win their support for policies that might cost them in utility bills and at the pump. Now, people can see the problem for themselves. [New York Times]
  • The bristlecone pine tree, famous for its wind-beaten, gnarly limbs and having the longest lifespan on Earth, is losing a race to the top of mountains throughout the Western United States, putting future generations in peril, researchers said. Climate change is warming its territory, giving a competitive edge to another species. [The Columbian]

Tropical Storm Harvey (Image: Randy Bresnik | NASA)

  • “Will Hurricane Harvey Launch a New Kind of Climate Lawsuit?” • Scientists can now link “acts of God” to climate change. Researchers are getting good at determining how much humans have weighted the dice. The field of “extreme event attribution” could give victims the power to hold someone accountable, say lawyers. [Inside Science News Service]

Friday, September 15:

  • Donald Trump has indicated that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have not changed his view on climate change. When a reporter asked for his thoughts on the hurricanes and climate change, he said, “We’ve had bigger storms than this.” But he had earlier said of Hurricane Harvey, “There’s probably never been anything like this.” [Independent.ie]

Oil and agriculture

  • “Is Oil Industry Threatened By More Than Electric Vehicles?” • Execs at a number of top fossil fuel companies have suggested that even after demand for oil and natural gas peaks, demand for petrochemical feedstocks for plastics, fertilizers, and other chemicals will stay strong. But plastics pose a serious problems that have to be addressed. [CleanTechnica]
  • Drax, a UK power company, announced that it is seeking planning permission to install a 200-MW battery onsite. If approved and commissioned, the storage facility would be the biggest in the world, dwarfing the 129-MW lithium-ion battery project that is currently being built in Australia by Tesla and Neoen. [RenewEconomy]

Saturday, September 16:

Turbines on Kodiak Island (Photo: Eric Keto | Alaska’s Energy Desk)

  • “What can Kodiak teach the world about renewable energy? A lot.” • Since 2007, Kodiak Island has transformed its grid so that it now generates almost 100% of its power with renewable energy. The electric rates are stable and have actually dropped slightly since 2000. It is a model with lessons for remote communities from the Arctic to the equator. [KTOO]
  • MetStat is a company that provides analysis on precipitation and weather event frequency to industries like utility companies that need to know where to put their infrastructure so it won’t be damaged by extreme weather events. It has now released an analysis of Hurricane Harvey. It found that the storm was a once in 25,000 year event. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Sachs: Big Oil will have to pay up, like Big Tobacco” • Here is a message to investors in the oil industry, whether pension and insurance funds, university endowments, hedge funds or other asset managers: Your investments are going to sour. The growing devastation caused by climate change is going to blow a hole in your fossil-fuel portfolio. [CNN]

Sunday, September 17:

St Lawrence beluga (Nick Caloyianis, National Geographic Creative | WWF-Canada)

  • A survey of 903 Canadian vertebrate species spanning over four decades has found that half are in serious population decline. Declining species lost a total of 83% of their numbers between 1970 and 2014, says the report from the World Wildlife Fund. Causes include pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species. [The Weather Channel]
  • Following a meeting of environment ministers, the EU climate commissioner said Trump officials had indicated the US would either stay in the 2015 accord or review its terms. But the White House had insisted it will leave the Paris climate accord, and despite reports to the contrary, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that its position was unchanged. [BBC]
  • On Thursday morning, Florida Power and Light tweeted that all substations and 1,000 main power lines have been restored in Florida in the wake of Irma. And the process of allowing people to return to homes was underway in most areas outside the storm-ravaged lower Florida Keys. FPL is working to fix over 12,000 cases of damage. [ExpressNewsline]

Monday, September 18:

Evacuation ahead of Irma (Photo: Stephen M. Dowell | AP)

  • “Scientific models saved lives from Harvey and Irma. They can from climate change too.” • The impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma were blunted because weather models accurately predicted the hurricane paths days in advance. Scientific models for climate change use the same core physics as those for weather prediction. [The Guardian]
  • Scientists have learned that urban trees  –  even just a single tree  –  can help homes and office buildings save energy by blunting the wind’s chilling power. Trees keep pedestrians more comfortable as they walk down the street, and they help lower building heating costs by cutting the wind. Even trees without leaves can slow the wind down. [CleanTechnica]
  • Last week, the US Energy Department was gushing about its latest report on solar costs, with a record-breaking 29% decline in utility-scale solar leading the charge. Enjoy it while you can. A big tariff decision is coming down the pike as early as next week, and that could throw a Hoover Dam’s worth of cold water on the US solar industry. [CleanTechnica]

Tuesday, September 19:

Painting LA’s streets white (Twitter | LA Street Services)

  • While politicians elsewhere waffle on climate change, officials in Los Angeles are tackling the problem head on with a radical plan to lower the temperature of the city. Mayor Eric Garcetti intends to cut the average temperature in LA by 3° F over the next two decades. As part of that effort, LA streets are getting a new coat of white paint. [CleanTechnica]
  • “What Hurricane Harvey Taught Us About Risk, Climate & Resilience” • People know the climate is changing, but they don’t know how serious it is. Over 70% of Americans agree that the climate is changing, but less than half of us believe it will affect us personally. Why? Perhaps because the when we imagine it, it is always far off. [CleanTechnica]

  • Early this year, the Mail on Sunday ran a hyperbolic article on climate change, claiming that world leaders had been “duped” by manipulated climate data. But the Mail on Sunday belongs to the Independent Press Standards Organization, which ruled that the article violated its code of ethics. The paper has been ordered to display the article’s inaccuracies. [Ars Technica UK]

Wednesday, September 20:

 

Conversion process (Image: Clarissa Towle | Berkeley Lab)

  • A team of scientists from the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has figured out a way to convert CO2 directly into ethanol and ethylene, using a process powered by solar energy. The team made ethanol, skipping all the steps that involve planting corn, growing it, harvesting it, and processing it into biofuel. [CleanTechnica]
  • Renewable electricity is close to reaching a tipping point almost everywhere in the world and “nobody is going to make coal great again,” BNEF founder Michael Liebreich told a clean energy industry event in London. He said solar and onshore wind power had surpassed all orthodox expectations over the past two decades. [www.businessgreen.com]

Proven clean energy solutions (Photo: istock)

  • “Clean Energy Is America’s Next Frontier & Path to a Safer Climate” • A new report from the NRDC shows how the United States can meet our short- and long-term climate goals relying primarily on today’s proven clean energy solutions – and with tremendous climate and health benefits that far surpass the cost. [Common Dreams]

2017-09-14 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, September 7:

Indonesian power plant (Image: peggydavis66, CC BY-SA 2.0)

  • A recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis warns that Indonesia’s coal-based electricity strategy risks wasting $76 billion over the next 25 years. New generating technology and changing energy markets are making it easier and cheaper to supply electricity with small distributed power stations. [eco-business.com]
  • France plans to pass legislation by the end of 2017 to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production on its mainland and overseas territories by 2040, according to a draft bill. It will no longer issue exploration permits and the extension of current concessions will be gradually limited until they are phased out by 2040. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]
  • “Our Hurricane Risk Models Are Dangerously Out-of-Date” • More than half of the deluge associated with Tropical Storm Harvey happened “outside of any mapped flood zone,” even including 500-year events, in areas with only “minimal flood hazard.” The Houston area suffered from something more than random bad luck. [MIT Technology Review]

Friday, September 8:

Princes Street, Edinburgh

  • The government of Scotland is now planning to phase out the sale of new petrol/gasoline and diesel cars by the year 2032, a full 8 years earlier than the current plans of the UK government. The plan was revealed by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland currently accounts for roughly 10% of the UK’s total auto market. [CleanTechnica]
  • Solar roof tile production at Tesla’s “Gigafactory 2” production plant in Buffalo, New York, has now begun, as of the end of August, according to the company’s Chief Technical Officer. Up to this point, for development reasons, Tesla’s new solar roof tiles have only been produced on a small scale in a plant in Fremont, California. [CleanTechnica]
  • A study from Denver’s Department of Environmental Health shows that moving to 100% clean energy by 2030 or earlier is an achievable strategy that Denver can pursue to meet its 80% by 2050 carbon-reduction goal. The report comes just weeks after the mayor issued a vision for powering all of Denver with renewable energy. [North American Windpower]

Saturday, September 9:

Mill at Old Sturbridge Village (Keitei, Wikimedia Commons)

  • A living-history museum depicting a rural New England town from the 1830s, is now powered by a 1.8-MW solar ground mount, owned and operated by Green Street Power Partners, LLC. The solar system will provide power at a discounted rate for 25 years to Old Sturbridge Village, which welcomes more than 250,000 visitors annually. [Broadway World]
  • New documents show that Connecticut-based Freepoint Solar has plans to develop three arrays, each capable of generating 20 MW of power, in Vernon, Shaftsbury, and Fair Haven, Vermont. Only one array of that size has been approved in Vermont at this point. Large photovoltaic projects have spurred debates about siting and transmission capacity. [vtdigger.org]

Hurricane Irma (NOAA photo)

  • “How Hurricane Irma Became So Huge and Destructive” • As Hurricane Irma barrels dangerously toward Florida, scientists say that a perfect mix of meteorological conditions has conspired over the past week to make the storm unusually large and powerful. In a season expected to have powerful hurricanes, Irma stands out. [New York Times]

Sunday, September 10:

  • The Nebraska State Board of Education approved new science standards that challenge kids to think and act like scientists. Under the new standards, students will “analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate and scale of global or regional climate changes.” [Omaha World-Herald]

Tampa in 2003 (Christopher Hollis, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “Irma takes aim at America’s most vulnerable, unprepared city: Tampa” • Hurricane Irma appears to have Tampa in its cross-hairs, potentially hitting the city as a Category 3 storm Monday morning. Unfortunately, Tampa is unprepared. Climate science denial has thwarted efforts to plan for rising seas and worsening storms. [ThinkProgress]
  • JP Morgan Cazenove has joined the ranks of those who believe the electric vehicle revolution will happen sooner rather than later. JP Morgan noted that the price differential between legacy vehicles and EVs is gradually narrowing as battery prices fall, but that once a certain tipping point is reached, things could start happening quickly. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, September 11:

Irma at Boynton Beach (Jim Rassol | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

  • As Hurricane Irma swept through South Florida, power utility officials warned Sunday that restoring electricity to more than 2 million homes and businesses will be a slow, dangerous, and time-consuming process. A Florida Power & Light spokesman said that he expects full power restoration after the storm to take “multi-weeks.” [The Recorder]
  • “Good news! Energy demand will peak for the first time in human history” • Global energy demand will plateau from 2030, oil demand will flatten from 2020 and then decline significantly, the shift to renewable energy will be quicker and more massive than most people realize, according to findings of DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook. [HuffPost]
  • Offshore wind is now cheaper than nuclear and gas in the UK. The second Contracts for Difference subsidy auction that saw two developers win the rights to build offshore wind farms for just £57.50/MWh ($75.83/MWh). This compares to the rate of £92.50/MWh agreed for the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. [pv magazine International]

Tuesday, September 12:

Damage done by Hurricane Irma

  • The ongoing natural disasters ravaging the western and gulf coasts of the US should serve as a dire warning about climate change, according to Washington Gov Jay Inslee. He said the damage of hurricanes wildfires show that “we are seeing, in real time, a slow-motion disaster movie that we are now living through that is not hypothetical.” [CNN]
  • A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study published in Nature Energy finds that wind power in the United States is responsible for saving tens of billions to hundreds of billions of dollars from prevented health care costs and saved lives from 2007–2015. The savings come from reduced pollution that causes asthma attacks and other diseases. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Hurricane Irma: Climate change deniers’ chickens come home to roost” • Recently, US right-wing media personality Rush Limbaugh was still enthusiastically pushing the climate change denial barrow. Two days later, he was evacuated from his Palm Beach residence along with his neighbours at Mar-a-Lago. He has not been heard from since. [Independent Australia]

Wednesday, September 13:

The Broderie Room (Cbaile19, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions per square foot by 56%. This significantly exceeds the Paris Climate Agreement goal of a 26% to 28% reduction by 2025. Phipps reduced its carbon footprint through the use of renewable energy and sustainable, building designs. [InvestorIdeas.com]
  • It’s official. The solar industry has met the 2020 utility-scale solar cost target set by the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative – three years early. The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory released new research today that shows the average price of utility-scale solar is now under $1 per watt and below 6¢/kWh. [Greentech Media]
  • Vermont Gas Systems will begin offering renewable natural gas – methane produced from landfills, cow manure, and other organic sources – this heating season, regulators said. The company was required to develop a plan to do so as part of the approval for its recently completed 41-mile natural gas pipeline into Addison County. [vtdigger.org]

2017-09-07 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, August 31:

  • A chemical plant near the flooded city of Houston is expected to explode and catch fire in the coming days. Forty inches (102 cm) of rainfall in the area flooded the site, cutting off its power, and back-up generators were flooded. The plant lost its ability to refrigerate chemical compounds that need to be kept cool to prevent explosion. [BBC]
  • The flooding in the Houston area caused by Hurricane Harvey is just the latest problem for the troubled National Flood Insurance Program. After a series of major storms caused floods in the last 12 years, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the Federally funded program is roughly $25 billion in debt. [CNN]

Flood in Houston (AP Photo | David J. Phillip)

  • Houston’s relaxed approach to development should not be blamed for Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, as critics are saying, but rather the unprecedented nature of a storm that dumped as much as 50 inches of rain on the city, say planning experts and engineers. Nevertheless, it is the third 500-year flood in Harris County in three years. [Washington Examiner]

Friday, September 1:

Siem Moxie

  • Siem Offshore Contractors installation support vessel Siem Moxie has started work at Statoil’s 30-MW Hywind floating wind farm off Scotland. The vessel arrived at the Buchan Deep site last week and is supporting ongoing commissioning work on the project’s five Siemens 6-MW Turbines, which are mounted on soar-buoy floating foundations. [reNews]

Siem Moxie (Photo: Port of Hamburg)

  • “The Week the Earth Stood Still” • When normally sober scientists start draining the barrel of awful superlatives to describe a summer day off the Gulf Coast, it’s time to pay attention. And today, the smartest military men count the global insecurity and chaos of climate change as an existential threat on a par with nuclear disaster. [New York Times]

Flooded neighborhood (Getty Images)

  • The White House says it will ask the Congress for emergency funding to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. President Donald Trump is expected to propose an initial $5.9 billion (£4.56 billion). The amount will be followed by other aid, though it is not known how quickly. Texas authorities say the state might need more than $125 billion. [BBC]

Saturday, September 2:

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk foresees the market for Model 3 vehicles swelling to 700,000 vehicles, as EVs become more common. However, having EVs selling in these larger volumes could have some unintended side effects. For starters, a sudden, large-scale surge in electric vehicle charging will have an impact on our electricity grid. [CleanTechnica]

EPA headquarters (Creative Commons)

  • Washington DC has become the world’s first LEED Platinum city. This is in part because of what it has done installing solar energy on its municipal buildings. In the past two years, solar power installed on the roofs of 28 public schools, other educational buildings, police and fire facilities now produce as much as 7 MW of solar power. [pv magazine USA]
  • Empowered by Illinois’ new Future Energy Jobs Act, solar companies have approached farmers around Will County about using some of their property for solar farms. With offers of $800 per acre, compared to $160 to $180 for a really good crop yield, some older farmers are considering the steady cash flow as they head into retirement. [Chicago Tribune]

Sunday, September 3:

PVs in Utah (Photo: Governor’s Office of Energy Development)

  • “Is Utah missing the renewable energy boat?” • Rocky Mountain Power intends to invest $3.5 billion for renewable energy infrastructure to supply power for Utah. The bad news for Utah is that the money will be spent in Wyoming and Idaho. So the question for elected leaders and legislators from Utah’s more rural counties is, “Why?” [Deseret News]
  • Aside from the massive recurrent national grid investments in Nigeria, with costs running into several billion US dollars, the country is said to be spending N5 trillion ($14 billion) each year on distributed diesel generation, which has no connection with the national utility grid, but provides electricity for homes and businesses. [TODAY.NG]

Coal being loaded into hopper cars (Associated Press)

  • Montana coal production is more than 2 million tons ahead of where it was this time last year, although analysts say the future is far from bright for the fossil fuel. “A company that lost 30% of its market in the last couple years and gains back two points is technically doing better,” one analyst said. And new plants are just not being built. [Billings Gazette]

Monday, September 4:

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the bill for reconstruction after Hurricane Harvey could be as high as $180 billion (£138 billion). The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina was about $120 billion. The head of FEMA, the government’s disaster management agency, warned that flood-hit states should not rely on Washington to pay the bill. [BBC]

1919 Rauch & Lang electric car

  • “The End of Fossil-Fuelled Cars” • The current growth rate of EVs looks to be higher than the 42% that gives a doubling time of 2 years. If it can maintain a 42% CAGR, and EV sales take the entire market in 2031, even without such revolutionary changes as driverless cars and the ubiquitous ridesharing that some analysts predict. [CleanTechnica]
  • The artificial leaf is smaller than a playing card and as thin as a real leaf. At its core is a wafer of the silicon used in standard solar panels. It is sandwiched between two coats of chemical catalysts. The silicon’s job is to absorb sunlight and to pass the energy to the catalysts, and the catalysts use this to make hydrogen and oxygen from water. [The Press]

Tuesday, September 5:

Mushrooms growing under solar panels

  • Farmers in Japan could be in for a windfall if a new practice of combining agriculture with solar power generation takes root. In 2013, the Japanese government relaxed some restrictions on the use of farmland for solar power generation, provided it was also used for agriculture. Now, some farmers grow mushrooms under the solar panels. [Nikkei Asian Review]
  • Giant batteries are starting to make a mark on the electricity grid that serves all of New England. Their unique characteristics could supercharge solar and wind energy development in the region. The batteries reduce stress on the power grid, and at the same time they reduce customer bills through a process called “peak shaving.” [WBUR]

Cape Sharp Tidal turbine

  • The 52-foot-diameter Cape Sharp Tidal turbine endured the winter and spring on the seabed in the Bay of Fundy, generating electricity. Now it is in port for upgrades. While the 1,100-ton machine looks as if it went through a couple of rounds with a powerful adversary, it did survive. That is an improvement over an earlier model’s performance. [Philly.com]

Wednesday, September 6:

Arendal (Image: Shutterstock)

  • The Norwegian municipality of Arendal pledged to become 100% climate neutral. It is the world’s first municipality to join the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative, which means it will measure and reduce emissions “to the greatest extent possible” and offset other emissions. Municipal operations have been climate neutral since 2008. [Energy Live News]
  • In a paper published in July, James Hansen says that because of continued inaction since the Paris agreement was reached, limiting carbon emissions will no longer be enough. Now, he says, active measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be required. And those measures will impose staggering expenses. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind farm (Source: Rob Faulkner | Wikipedia)

  • Two recent reports indicate that the cost of wind power will continue to decrease, making it one of the most affordable green alternatives on the market. The US DOE’s Wind Technologies Market Report and a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory both say wind technology and efficiency continues to improve. [Interesting Engineering]

2017-08-31 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, August 24:

  • The nine northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative have tightened greenhouse gas emission limits on electric power plants. The group announced that the plants will face a 30% cut on maximum total emissions allowed starting in 2020. By 2030, power industry greenhouse gas emissions will be cut 65% from 2009 levels. [Albany Times Union]

Exxon plant (Matt Brown | AP)

  • “Exxon Dared Critics to Prove It Misled the Public. These Researchers Just Called the Company’s Bluff.” • Science historian Naomi Oreskes and Harvard researcher Geoffrey Supran have published the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis of Exxon Mobil’s climate communications. It adds heft to charges of deceptive climate denial. [Mother Jones]
  • “Trump officials rewrite Energy Dept study to make renewables look bad, fail anyway” • Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s long-awaited grid study is finally out. Trump officials clearly rewrote the previously leaked staff draft to make it look like renewable energy is a threat to baseload power and grid resilience, but they mostly botched the job. [ThinkProgress]

Friday, August 25:

The tanker Christophe de Margerie (Sovcomflot photo)

  • A commercial LNG tanker has sailed across the cold northern route from Europe to Asia without the protection of an ice-breaker for the first time, carrying gas from Norway to South Korea. The specially built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker’s Russian owners. [BBC]
  • Green Lantern has received a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Utility Commission and plans to build and sell ownership shares in a new group-net-metered Community Solar Array in Guilford. The array will have a capacity of 252 kW AC, and will be able to serve between 50 and 100 homes or the equivalent. [Vermont Biz]
  • “This Stealth Terrorist Killed ~53,000 Americans Last Year” • An MIT study found that 200,000 premature deaths a year come from air pollution in the US Road transportation account for 53,000 of them. Electricity generation from coal and natural gas power plants accounts for another 52,000. These are real people; they are being murdered. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, August 26:

Square Roots farm

  • An increasing percentage of the world’s population are living in cities, and this number is set to keep growing. A startup based in Brooklyn, Square Roots, has just raised $5.4 million in seed funding that will be used to empower food entrepreneurs and increase urban farming to give city dwellers access to locally produced, healthy food. [CleanTechnica]
  • Those Schools around the northern Indian city of Bikaner that have no supply of electricity will soon be illuminated with power fetched through solar panels. The district administration in a recent review meeting of electrification took this decision to give schools situated at distant locations in rural areas renewable power. [Daily News & Analysis]
  • “The US coal industry is going out, not with a whimper, but with a burst of rent-seeking” • The US coal industry is dying, but not with any dignity. As the end approaches, its demands for government handouts increasingly frantic. The industry’s product is outmoded, and “picking winners” doesn’t look so bad when you’re losing. [Vox]

Sunday, August 27:

  • Apart from physical damage to facilities, hurricanes affect the energy industry due to flooding, power cuts, evacuation of workers and disruptions to the loading or unloading of tankers. Crude oil prices have actually fallen on the news, while petrol prices are up, with traders expecting refineries to be affected more than oilfields. [The National]

Hurricane Harvey (Jack Fischer | NASA via AP)

  • “Why Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google Are Flocking to Iowa” • Apple is the fourth tech giant to build a data center in Iowa, following Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Apple CEO Tim Cook said at an event in Waukee that one of the important attractions for business is Iowa’s “world-class power grid,” which is powered 36% by wind. [TheStreet.com]
  • The Power to Ammonia project, a study looking at the potential of CO2-free ammonia, shows that the electrochemical production of ammonia from renewable energy is a potentially attractive alternative to current technology and that it offers a very promising solution for large-scale seasonal storage and import of renewable energy. [Advanced Science News]

Monday, August 28:

Engineering software to find flight patterns (Eric Francavilla/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

  • Engineers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim, Washington, are working with open-source software ThermalTracker to find the best method for capturing flight patterns of winged creatures to help developers locate optimal sites for offshore wind projects. [Peninsula Daily News]
  • Electricity generators have rebuked the Turnbull government for delaying the introduction of a clean energy target, arguing a target will trigger new investment and bring down power bills. Now Mr Turnbull will meet bosses of some of Australia’s biggest power companies for discussions about rapidly rising power prices. [Brisbane Times]

Hurricane Harvey’s destruction

  • “Cyclones and climate change: connecting the dots” • Scientists freely acknowledge they don’t know everything about how global warming affects hurricanes like the one pummeling southeast Texas. But what they do know is enough to keep them up at night. The amplifying impact of climate change is basic, physics. [Phys.Org]

Tuesday, August 29:

  • CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen labeled Harvey a “one-in-1,000-years type of event.” By amount of rainfall, Harvey might set a new record. The sea level is about seven inches higher than it was a hundred years ago. And the temperature of the ocean is one to two degrees higher. The combination led to more rainfall and more flooding. [CNN]

Houston Flooded by Hurricane Harvey

  • Hurricane Harvey’s path through southeast Texas and the Gulf of Mexico hit almost half of US refining capacity and a fifth of its oil production. The drop in production is expected to cause a temporary spike in US gas prices. Analysts expect the storm’s economic impact to pass $40 billion, with direct losses of over $20 billion. [BBC]
  • A study produced by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change shows that the percentage of PVs in the global power supply could be three times higher in 2050 than previously projected. The share of solar energy will likely range between 30% and 50%, instead of 5% to 17%, as had been suggested earlier. [Nanowerk]
  • The US Energy Information Administration published its latest “Electric Power Monthly.” It says the US renewable energy is tied US nuclear energy, with each providing roughly 20% of the country’s electrical generation. However, experts predict nuclear’s share to decrease, while that of renewables is expected to continue growing. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, August 30:

Port of Long Beach

  • The Port of Long Beach in California has greatly reduced local air pollution levels, the most recent annual Emissions Inventory revealed. Compared to 2005 levels, it has reduced local diesel particulate matter air pollution by 88%, and nitrogen oxide air pollution by 56%. Local greenhouse gas emissions were also reduced by 22%. [CleanTechnica]
  • China has reached its 2020 solar power target three years ahead of schedule. New figures published by solar industry firm Asia Europe Clean Energy Advisory revealed that China has already exceeded its 2020 target of 105 GW of installed solar capacity, after new builds in June and July pushed it up beyond 112 GW. [EURACTIV]

2017-08-24 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, August 17:

A difficult year in Montana (Credit: Nate Hegyi | YPR)

  • The governor of Montana is worried about climate change. The eastern half of the Montana is now in the most severe drought in the nation. July farm losses are nearly $400 million more than last year’s, according to figures from the US Forest Service. And the state’s wildfire season is costing Montanans more than a million dollars a day. [MTPR]
  • Most Europeans can choose who they buy their power from and can choose to purchase power from renewable power plants, instead of accepting a “grey default” power offer. More and more consumers prefer to buy clean energy from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal or bio. Growth in demand for renewable power stands at 39% this year. [Press Release Rocket]

Stefano Boeri’s high-rise towers

  • In Milan, architect Stefano Boeri created two high-rise apartment blocks that are adorned with a massive number of trees and plants, including 800 trees and 16,000 other plants. Combined, the two towers can convert around 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into oxygen annually. They also filter dust from the air. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, August 18:

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that July was the second hottest month since record keeping began in 1880. At 61.89° F (16.63° C), last month was behind July 2016’s all-time record by just .09° F (0.05° C), and land temperatures in July were the hottest on record at 59.96° F (15.5° C). [The Japan Times]
  • “Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don’t buy the science” • In 50 years, Cameron Parish, Louisiana, will likely be no more, according to newly published calculations of the Louisiana government. Cameron Parish also has the greatest percentage of Trump supporters of any county in the US. [The Guardian]

Modular electricity and water supply

  • Getting electricity and clean water to remote villages can make a huge difference to those who live there. Running power and water lines from a central location can be expensive, but water filtration systems and electricity generation can be provided to remote locations at low cost. An Italian startup has a $15,000 all-in-one modular solution. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, August 19:

  • In a European test of vehicle-to-grid technology involving 100 vehicles, the owners of the electric Nissans earned an average of $1,530 a year from the program, more than the cost of charging the vehicles. The test also showed that vehicle-to-grid schemes may actually slow the rate at which lithium-ion batteries degrade in normal use.[CleanTechnica]
  • “Staying below 2 degrees is ‘possible and practical’ says RMI” • The latest UN Emissions Gap report showed that the world would still be heading for a temperature rise between 2.9 and 3.4 °C by 2100. A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute argues that staying below 2° C is both practical and possible given trends in renewable energy. [pv magazine]

Wind and solar, sun and clouds (Public domain image)

  • The Baker-Polito administration in Massachusetts has awarded a $545,000 grant to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department to support the installation of a 436-kW solar canopy at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction in Greenfield. The grant is the seventh by the Leading by Example State Solar Canopy grant program. [Solar Industry]

Sunday, August 20:

  • While President Donald Trump continues to dismantle Obama-era climate policies, an unlikely surge of Republican lawmakers has begun distancing themselves from the GOP’s hard line on climate change. The House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan backwater when it formed early last year, has more than tripled in size since January. [Politico]

Eclipse, 2012 (Abby182000, Wikimedia Commons)

  • As Monday’s total solar eclipse sweeps from Oregon to South Carolina, US electric power and grid operators will be glued to their monitoring systems in what may represent the biggest test yet of the renewable energy era. Utilities and grid operators have been planning for the event for years and have lined up standby power sources. [ETEnergyworld.com]
  • Increasingly, solar companies work with farmers to install solar panels on their land. In North Carolina, solar companies pay rents up to $1,400 an acre, far more than what most farmers could earn from planting crops or raising livestock. But PV arrays are low-impact, so farmers can raise livestock or grow crops on land covered with PVs. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, August 21:

Visitors at a solar thermal power plant

  • “Why solar towers and storage plants will reshape energy markets” • The 150-MW solar tower and molten salt storage plant to be built in Port Augusta has been made possible by a ground-breaking pricing and contract structure that could help completely reshape Australian power markets, including the end of “baseload” power as we know it. [RenewEconomy]
  • The Trump administration has decided to withdraw the official estimate of the Social Cost of Carbon and disband the inter-agency working group that developed it. Despite this, a group of prominent economists and lawyers have highlighted the metric’s continued validity for policymaking in a letter published in the journal Science. [eco-business.com]

Solar panels

  • According to the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, starting in 2019 the overall cost of building grid-scale storage there will be less than that of building natural-gas plants to meet future energy demand in that state. Current plans for adding 1,800 MW of gas-fired “peaker” plants by 2028 may be unnecessary. [Yahoo Finance UK]

Tuesday, August 22:

World’s biggest floating solar farm (Sungrow Power Supply)

  • A new floating solar farm went live in the Chinese city of Huainan above a retired coal mine, China Daily reported. The mine had been flooded with groundwater after it went out of service. The new solar farm generates 40 MW, which can power 15,000 homes for a year. The second biggest active floating farm has a capacity of 6.3 MW. [EcoWatch]
  • Monday’s partial eclipse statewide took a sharp, sudden bite out of solar power production in California. Shortly after 9 AM, the state’s fast-multiplying solar farms were plunged into semi-darkness, just when they would normally be revving up. And the electricity grid survived just fine. The slack was filled by hydro-power and natural gas. [SFGate]

Energy storage train (ARES photo)

  • Advanced Rail Energy Storage, based in California, has a solution to the problem of energy storage. It is to run some old trains up and down a hill. When a wind or solar farm is producing excess energy, repurposed electric locomotives haul enormously heavy railroad cars to the top of a hill. When power is needed, they generate it coming down. [Seeker]

Wednesday, August 23:

  • Coal executives say President Trump pledged to enact an emergency order to protect coal-fired power plants, but his DOE has decided not to use its authority to offer temporary relief to the plants. This type of order is intended to protect the nation’s electricity supply and temporarily allows power plants to skirt environmental regulations. [ThinkProgress]
  • Scientists found that some bacteria have a natural defence to cadmium, mercury, or lead that lets them turn the heavy metal into a sulfide, which the bacteria express as tiny crystals on their surfaces. These turn out to be semiconductors that the bacteria can use to photosynthesize atmospheric carbon dioxide into acetic acid, a chemical feedstock. [BBC]

“Cyborg” bacteria

  • The US DOE issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Northern Pass transmission project. It concluded that the hydroelectric system is the “preferred alternative” and will result in minimal impacts. Northern Pass Transmission is developing a 192-mile transmission line to move power from Canada to a substation in Deerfield, NH. [Utility Dive]

2017-08-17 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, 10:

Dry Lake wind project in Arizona (DOE photo)

  • The wind energy industry reached an important milestone in 2016 when it passed the generating capacity of hydroelectric power for the first time to become the nation’s top renewable generating source. The total amount of wind capacity in the queue represents 34% of all generating capacity waiting to connect to the grid. [ThinkProgress]
  • Since oil prices collapsed in 2014, Canada has lost more than 40,000 jobs in oil, gas and related industries, according to data released last year by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Thousands of employees of fossil fuel businesses left jobless following a plunge in oil prices are finding work with solar or wind energy. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Wildfire in Greenland (Image: Pierre Markuse, some rights reserved)

  • Wildfires can happen even in Greenland. They are very rare there, but unfortunately they are becoming more common. This year has been unprecedented far as numbers of fires go. This is particularly bad, as wildfires release soot, and soot that has been deposited on ice sheets or snow greatly increases the speed at which the ice melts. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, 11:

  • India has auctioned the largest capacity of rooftop solar power projects in history. The results are extremely promising and could provide a boost to the rooftop solar power market. In an auction of just over 503 MW of rooftop solar capacity, bids ranged from $1.01/W to $1.166/W with tariffs ranging from 3.4¢/kWh to 7.1¢/kWh. [CleanTechnica]
  • India’s total installed solar power generation capacity grew over threefold to 13,652 MW over the past two fiscal years, the country’s energy minister said. He also stated the government has revised the National Solar Mission target of Grid Connected Solar Power projects from 20,000 MW by 2022 to 100,000 MW by 2022. [ETEnergyworld.com]

Offshore wind power (Øyvind Holmstad, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Oil and gas operators are positioning for potential growth in US offshore wind projects. The US could generate more than 2,000 GW of offshore wind power, Stephanie McClellan with the University of Delaware said at Renewable Energy World’s inaugural Offshore Wind Executive Summit. Statoil and DONG may invest in the US. [Offshore Oil and Gas Magazine]
  • Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s Climate Advisory Commission hasn’t even held its first meeting, but it’s already taken a step that may alienate a broad swath of Vermont’s environmental community. The commission’s Technical Advisory Group will have Annette Smith, vociferous critic of wind turbines, as its co-chair. [Seven Days]

Saturday, 12:

Abandoned Salton Sea bait shop (Conn, Kit | Wikimedia Commons)

  • Sandia National Laboratories is testing whether one of the largest and most polluted lakes in California can be transformed into one of its most productive and profitable. The 350-square-mile Salton Sea has high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural runoff. Some algae that thrive on these elements may be used to make biofuel. [Biomass Magazine]
  • Last month, the New York Independent System Operator’s CEO told a House subcommittee that it planned to integrate a price on carbon into its market dispatch within three years after the Brattle Group published a report on potential impacts. The Brattle Group has released the report, so the clock has started on carbon pricing in the state. [Utility Dive]

Offshore wind farm (reNews image)

  • Growth in the deployment of offshore wind in Europe must triple if countries are to have any chance of meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement, a study said. Research by a joint team from Ecofys and parent company Navigant found that 45% of Europe’s power requirements would need to come from offshore wind to meet the target. [reNews]

Sunday, 13:

  • Records are being set in the UK. There was not a single major plant generating purely solar power in 2007, but now, there are 277. The current UK target calls for 30% of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020, and according to provisional figures, the number for the first three months of 2017 was 26.6%. [domain-B]

Solar array in New Mexico

  • A 1-MW solar array in Tres Piedras, New Mexico, started soaking in the sun and pumping power to the grid last week. Kit Carson Electric Cooperative announced plans earlier this year to eventually provide its 30,000 members with 100% renewable energy. The Tres Piedras solar array is the first of seven the co-op plans to build this year. [taosnews]
  • The clean energy standard, developed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, qualifies only zero-carbon producers that became operational after December 31, 2010, for clean energy credits. The Pilgrim nuclear plant is too old to get any subsidies. [SouthCoastToday.com]

Monday, 14:

Tesla Tiny House in Melbourne (iStock photo)

  • A tiny Tesla house is on a tour of Australia, showing off the Powerwall and educating the public on how to generate, store and use renewable energy. Oh yes, and the tiny home is towed by a Tesla Model X. The tiny home is completely powered by renewable energy courtesy of a 2-kW solar power system and a Powerwall battery. [Gizmodo Australia]
  • Last year, California’s 1.4 million dairy cows fell under a statewide mandate to find a way to curb their environmental footprint in order to achieve the state’s goal to reduce methane emissions 40% from 2013 levels by 2030. The state government says now it is receiving more applications for anaerobic digesters than it can currently fund. [Triple Pundit]

Wind turbines in Alberta (Todd Korol | Reuters)

  • Alberta produces about 80% of Canada’s oil. But as oil prices have dropped, there have been lay-offs, and the unemployment rate in the once-booming province stands at nearly 8%. Now Alberta’s renewable energy capacity is doubling roughly every two years, and interest in green energy training has been growing swiftly. [Huffington Post Canada]

Tuesday, 15:

  • “Huge Climate Opportunity If RGGI Governors Step Up” • The governors of nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states are about to make a momentous decision: how much they will cut power plant pollution, and how fast they will cut it. Big carbon cuts could add $3.2 billion to state coffers and reduce air pollution. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Wanukv River (Photo: CCIRA)

  • Residents of a remote community on the central coast of British Columbia got for funding to build a run-of-river hydroelectric plant. The Wuikinuxv Village, on the banks of the Wanukv River, has about 80 people in it. It is accessible only by float plane or boat, so life is challenging, and it has depended on diesel power in the past. [BCLocalNews]
  • A coalition of business, environmental and community leaders has backed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make offshore wind the focus of New York’s renewable energy plan. The New York Offshore Wind Alliance voiced its support for developing green energy off the state’s coastline ahead of a series of public meetings. [reNews]

Wednesday, 16:

Rochester, New York (Evilarry, Wikimedia Commons)

  • A year or so from now, electric customers of Rochester, New York, could have easy access to 100% renewable energy at a price lower than their current rates. The mayor is preparing legislation stating the city’s intent to pursue community choice aggregation, which would let the city negotiate an energy-supply contract. [Rochester City Newspaper]
  • A study from the University of California, Berkeley gives us more reason to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The study says the US wind and solar power boom has helped prevent the premature deaths of thousands of people and has saved the country billions of dollars in healthcare and climate-related costs in a single year. [AlterNet]