2017-05-25 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, May 18:

The Everglades National Park is in Carlos Curbelo’s district. (National Park Service photo, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “The first GOP member of Congress to say ‘impeachment’ after Trump’s latest scandal is a climate hawk.” • Representative Carlos Curbelo’s district in low-lying South Florida is especially vulnerable to rising seas and climate change. He has bucked his party to become one of the most vocal proponents for climate action in Congress. [Grist]
  • Among thousands of delegates meeting in Bonn to develop the rule book for the Paris deal, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, representing 48 countries, said the deal was crucial to their survival. In a swipe at President Donald Trump’s oft-used phrase, they said that “no country would be great again” without swift action. [BBC]

Desert wind farm (Photo: Steve Boland | flickr | cc)

  • The Trump administration is weighing huge cuts to the budget of the DOE’s renewable energy and energy efficiency program. It has a proposal to slash it by 70%, from $2,073 million in 2017 to a proposed $636 million for 2018. That’s according to a draft 2018 budget proposal obtained by the news and information company Axios. [Common Dreams]

Friday, May 19:

  • One of the world’s most beloved toy makers, the LEGO Group, announced that it had reached its 100% renewable energy goal three years ahead of schedule thanks to the completion and commissioning of the 258-MW Burbo Bank Extension Offshore Wind Farm. LEGO has not stopped, as it still has solar panels going up in China. [CleanTechnica]

Green Antarctica (Photo: Matt Amesbury)

  • Researchers in Antarctica have discovered rapidly growing banks of mosses on the ice continent’s northern peninsula, providing striking evidence of climate change in the coldest and most remote parts of the planet. Because of the warming of the last 50 years, they found two species of mosses growing at an accelerated pace. [ScienceAlert]
  • A planned coal-fired 4,000-MW ultra-mega power project plant in India has been scrapped because the government wants to focus on green energy. Gujarati state officials had planned it, but the government decided the state was already sufficiently supplied with energy and focusing on renewables was a better longer term strategy. [malaysiandigest.com]

Saturday, May 20:

Dutch offshore wind farm (Credit: AP | Peter Dejong, File)

  • “Offshore wind won a German power auction without needing any subsidies” • The price of offshore wind power has been dropping so quickly that it threatens to upend the electricity industry around the world. Choosing free zero-pollution power over costly dirty power isn’t a tough choice for utilities or most countries. [ThinkProgress]
  • The Global Seed Vault, which was built under a deep mountain in Arctic Svalbard to secure a million packets of the world’s most precious seeds from all natural and man-made calamities, has been flooded by melting permafrost. The seeds are safe, for the time being, but scientists are alarmed. No one envisioned that this would happen. [International Business Times UK]
  • President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request would slash EPA spending by almost a third, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by CNN. The budget blueprint, which the White House plans to submit to Congress next week, would cut the EPA’s total budget by more than 30% and its operational budget by 35% from current levels. [CNN]

Sunday, May 21:

Pen y Cymoedd wind project near Swansea (Photo: Vattenfall)

  • The Upper Afan Valley near Swansea is already home to the biggest windfarm in England and Wales, but in July work will begin there on one of the UK’s largest battery storage schemes. Co-locating the plant with the windfarm reduced needs for power lines, so it was about £5 million cheaper than building it on a standalone site. [The Guardian]
  • A study by scientists at the NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, predicts the warming of the Gulf of Maine will cause a dramatic contraction of suitably cool habitat for a range of key commercial fish species there. The species negatively affected include cod, haddock, redfish, plaice and pollock. [Press Herald]

Sugar River and Mt Ascutney (Photo: TrunkJunk, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Sugar River Power, a small power producer, has restored a hydro dam in Claremont, New Hampshire. The company bought the dam in January. When the twin turbines of the hydroelectric plan operate at full capacity, they are capable of generating 1.35 MW of power, enough to power 1,300 homes, one of the company’s owners said. [Valley News]

Monday, May 22:

  • Swiss voters have backed the government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum. Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2% under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues. [Newshub]

The fastest growing renewable energy source (Thinkstock image)

  • Scottish Power won the right to build two offshore wind farms in the US, which it says could eventually power 400,000 homes. The two sites combined are more than double the size of the energy giant’s operations in the UK. One farm, off the coast of Massachusetts, is expected to be complete in 2022 and the other, off North Carolina, in 2025. [BBC]

Tuesday, May 23:

  • “Congress vs. Trump: Are the President’s Anti-Science Budget Priorities Headed for Another Defeat?” • The president is expected to release his full fiscal year 2018 budget this week, without any surprises. It will likely track the earlier “skinny budget” pretty closely, which means it’s going nowhere in Congress. [Union of Concerned Scientists]

Wind turbine above a corn field (Image: Pixabay)

  • DTE Energy plans to build an additional 6 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2050 in Michigan, on top of the 1 GW it has built since 2009. The company also plans to invest in grid modernization as part of plans to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 80% by 2050. DTE’s chairman said the utility’s transformation is already underway. [reNews]
  • “India-China climate hope” • India’s and China’s pledged actions to curb their greenhouse gas emissions are likely to overcompensate by 2030 the impacts of US President Donald Trump’s policies that appear set to flatten America’s emissions, according to European researchers at the Climate Action Tracker. [Calcutta Telegraph]
  • Global production of the four most important staple crops in the world – maize/corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans – will be reduced by around 23% by the 2050s as a result of worsening anthropogenic climate change, according to new research published in the journal Economics of Disasters and Climate Change. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, May 24:

Solar plus storage

  • Tucson Electric Power signed a power purchase agreement for a system with 100 MW of PVs and 30-MW, 120-MWh of storage. Exact prices are confidential, but a release pegged the PPA for the solar portion of the project at below $0.03/kWh. Both solar and storage are to be developed by an affiliate of NextEra Energy. [Utility Dive]
  • FPL is the nation’s third-largest electric utility. It boasts a typical household bill 25% below the national average and is closing coal plants to keep its rates going down. In a filing to the Florida Public Service Commission to close its St Johns River Power Park coal plant, the company detailed exactly why coal is not coming back. [CleanTechnica]

Screen shot (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment)

  • “Study: Sea level rising 3x as fast since 1990 as figured before. Meanwhile, feds censor climate info.” • A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says sea level is rising three times as fast as it was before 1990. Trillions of dollars are at risk. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is censoring references to climate change. [Daily Kos]

2017-05-18 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, May 11:

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

  • The town of Hanover, New Hampshire voted to establish a goal of transitioning to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050. The article approved at town meeting sets a community-wide goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and a 2050 goal of transitioning heating and transportation to clean sources of energy. [EcoWatch]
  • The 37 glaciers remaining at Glacier National Park are vanishing. In the past half century, some of the ice formations in Montana have lost 85% of their size, and the average shrinkage is 39%, a study released by the US Geological Survey and Portland State University says. One scientist said, “The glaciers will be gone in decades.” [CNN]

Gas being flared (Andrew Burton | Getty Images)

  • Republicans’ bid to roll back an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from drilling rigs on public lands narrowly lost in the Senate after three GOP senators voted against the repeal in a 49-51 vote. The rule limited the amount of methane that can be vented and burned from oil and gas extraction sites on federal lands. [Huffington Post]

Friday, May 12:

  • President Donald Trump’s efforts to dilute US climate policies put Tillerson in an awkward position at a meeting of Arctic nations in Fairbanks. Tillerson signed an agreement recognizing the Paris climate accord, but he said Trump was not rushing to decide whether to leave or weaken US commitments to the pact. [Financial Express]

Offshore Wind in Denmark

  • Maryland regulators approved plans for the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind projects. The Maryland Public Service Commission awarded renewable energy credits for two projects off Maryland’s Eastern Shore near Ocean City. The PSC says the decision allows US Wind and Skipjack Offshore Energy to build 368 MW of capacity. [PennEnergy]
  • Each year the intelligence community puts together a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report. This year’s report makes for particularly disquieting reading. While it focuses on the increasing danger that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program poses as well as cyberterrorism threats, one environmental concern stands out: climate change. [Yahoo News]

Saturday, May 13:

Needing to adapt to climate change

  • “The Casual Gardener: Adapt your garden for a changing climate” • According to the RHS’s “Gardening in a Changing Climate” report, the lush, green, “quintessentially British” lawn could become a thing of the past. It also warns that pests and diseases not yet established in some areas could become commonplace. [the Irish News]
  • Indian solar power tariffs dropped to a new low of ₹2.44 per unit (3.8¢/kWh) in an auction for the 500-MW Bhadla solar power park in Rajasthan. ACME Solar Holdings won the bid at ₹2.44 per unit for 200 MW, and SoftBank Energy, quoting ₹2.45 per unit, won the remaining 300 MW. Two days ago, the lowest bid was at ₹2.62 per unit. [Scroll.in]
  • China will suspend approvals for new coal-fired power plants in 29 provinces to reduce overcapacity, the official China Securities Journal reported. The National Energy Administration put as many as 25 provinces on “red alert”, meaning that new projects would create severe overcapacity or environmental risks. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

Sunday, May 14:

Tucson rooftop solar (Ron Medvescek | Arizona Daily Star)

  • Last December, after years of legal wrangling, the Arizona Corporation Commission set a new solar policy phasing out net metering. Now, Tucson Electric Power Co proposed a rate structure for future customers with PVs that would cut credits for excess solar production and mandate time-of-use rates with new monthly charges. [Arizona Daily Star]
  • Environment advocates said Philippine coal-fired projects under construction could cause 70,000 deaths per year by 2030. Residents of Ozamiz City protested the impending construction of a 300-MW coal-fired power plant, saying the it will also prevent people from enjoying clean and cheap energy from renewable resources. [Manila Bulletin]

Monday, May 15:


Professor Paul Dastoor and printed PVs (ABC News | Kerrin Thomas)

  • Final trials of printed PVs on sheets of plastic are underway at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. Conventional printing technology is used to print electronic ink on clear plastic sheets. The finished product is very lightweight. Printed PVs are expected to be available commercially in about three years. [ABC Online]
  • Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered a temporary shutdown of outdated coal-fired plants, aged 30 years or over, as part of an emergency measure to combat fine dust. Under the plans, 10 out of 59 coal-fired plants will stop operating for a month in June. He has also pledged to close nuclear plants and increase renewable generation. [The Korea Herald]

Battery storage (Horizon Power image)

  • Western Australia network operator Horizon Power announced plans to take more remote regional customers off grid, offering stand-alone solar plus battery storage systems and back-up diesel generators as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to poles and wires. Five test systems installed last year were successful. [One Step Off The Grid]

Tuesday, May 16:

 

North sea oil platform (Image: Berardo62, some rights reserved)

  • Over 1400 oil and gas platforms in the North Sea might eventually be used to fight the problem they helped to create: unsustainable energy generation. Both fossil fuels and renewable companies are working on a system design that could make the platforms part of the energy revolution as hydrogen production and storage facilities. [CleanTechnica]
  • Global solar investment is to be higher than coal, gas and nuclear combined in 2017, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. Global Power Industry Outlook, 2017 examines power market trends, installed capacity, investment, and regional growth across coal-fired, gas-fired, nuclear, hydro, solar PV, wind, and biomass. [Your Renewable News]


Indian renewable energy (Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar | Mint)

  • Thanks to strong government support, India has moved up to the second spot in the “Renewable energy country attractiveness index” 2017, according to a report released by Ernst & Young. The report released globally stated that China and India have surpassed the US, which has fallen to third place on Trump administration policy. [Livemint]

Wednesday, May 17:

Tesla Powerwall

  • Tesla and Vermont’s Green Mountain Power are offering GMP customers a Powerwall battery for $15 a month for 10 years, or a one time charge of $1500. The normal price of a 10-kWh Powerwall with built-in inverter is $5,500, plus installation. The batteries will provide backup power to customers and balancing to the grid. [CleanTechnica]
  • 8minutenergy Renewables, the largest independent solar power developer in the US, announced it has expanded into the energy storage market with a 1-GW project pipeline. The company has a storage leadership team with decades of experience building large energy storage, renewable energy, and transmission projects. [MilTech]

Offshore wind farm (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

  • Scotland’s most senior judge has reversed a decision to halt construction of four giant offshore wind farms in the Forth and Tay, which could power 1.4 million homes and create thousands of jobs. Construction of the £2 billion 450-MW Neart Na Gaoithe scheme in the outer Forth estuary may soon begin, as it is already fully funded. [The Scotsman]

2017-05-11 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, May 4:

Indian Point nuclear plant

  • “With Renewables Surging, Nuclear And Petroleum Battle Over Subsidies” • If the petroleum industry keeps fighting subsidies for nuclear power, the nuclear industry will go after petroleum-industry tax breaks, the president of the Nuclear Energy Institute said. He said if people compare nuclear subsidies with petroleum tax breaks, nuclear will fare well. [Forbes]
  • “Carbon Capture And Storage: An Expensive Option For Reducing U.S. CO2 Emissions” • While many technologies can reduce power sector emissions, carbon capture and storage has gained support in Congress. Analysis shows coal with CCS will always need significant subsidies to complete economically with wind and solar. [Forbes]
  • Legal issues are now the sticking point in discussions in the Trump administration over whether to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to a person close to the talks. The lawyers aren’t sure whether the US would expose itself legally if it remains in the Paris agreement, but decreases its carbon reduction goals. [CNN]

Friday, May 5:

Wind turbines in Sheffield (Toby Talbot | AP File)

  • The Vermont Public Service Board held a series of meetings on proposed sound standards for wind turbines. The board released its draft version of the new rules in March, and its members held four meetings this week to hear from the public and from wind and sound experts as they get ready to finalize the sound standards. [Vermont Public Radio]
  • The US has no plan yet for how to meet its 2020 climate target and has made no analysis of the impact of recent policy changes, according to an official submission to the UN. The US submission for the Multilateral Assessment, which was published this week, says “jobs, economic growth and energy independence” are its priority. [Carbon Brief]
  • Utility-scale solar installations grew at an annualized rate of 72% from 2010 to 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration. Though the first utility-scale solar plants were installed in the mid-1980s, but more than half of all currently operating solar capacity came online over the last two years. [Power Engineering Magazine]

Saturday, May 6:

The Fort McMurray fire caused C$3.7 billion in damages. (Credit: Jonathen Hayward | The Canadian Press)

  • Decades of increasing temperatures in Alaska have lengthened the fire season and dried out vegetation, especially in the forest floor, and created conditions for busier fire season with bigger and more frequent wildfires, according to one study. Other studies say increased lightning strikes will bring more fires and that they will be bigger. [KUAC]
  • “Missing EPA Webpage Could Be Violation of Federal Law” • When EPA’s climate change pages were shuttered for revisions reflecting the administration’s views, users are told they can check out a snapshot of the entire EPA site from the day before Trump took office. But in the archived snapshot, pages relating to climate change are missing. [Seeker]
  • US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said grid reliability is threatened by potential over-reliance on gas-fired electric generation. He said he believes we have a need for power plants to have fuel stockpiles (ie, coal) nearby in the event of supply disruptions. The US has lost 54 GW of coal capacity and added 34 GW of gas capacity since 2012. [Argus Media]

Sunday, May 7:

Gloucester, Massachusetts (Fletcher6, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Some communities in Massachusetts are boosting their use of renewable energy, bypassing basic electric service to negotiate contracts with third-party generators. Two of the programs are running, and eight more are under development. Those 10 communities’ plans could result in 17 MW of new wind turbines. [Wicked Local Brewster]

Installing solar panels in Millvale, Pennsylvania (Reid Frazier | The Allegheny Front)

  • The reality coal miners face is that coal jobs have shrunk by 40% since 2011. What is growing is the number of jobs in renewables. Solar power accounts for just under 1.5% [actually, well over 2% – ghh] of electricity in the US, and yet, according to the DOE, there are more than twice as many jobs in solar as in coal. [Tri States Public Radio]

Monday, May 8:

  • The European Commission approved three schemes to support electricity generation from small-scale onshore wind, solar, and sewage gas installations in France. The schemes will enable France to develop over 17 GW of additional renewable energy over the next decade, including 15 GW of onshore wind power and 2.1 GW of solar. [Power Technology]

Arctic melt ponds (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

  • “Trump failure to lead on climate doesn’t faze UN policymakers in Bonn” • Policymakers from nearly 200 countries are gathering in Bonn for talks aimed at fulfilling the Paris Agreement. They are unfazed by Trump’s threat to withdraw from the accord. It seems likely China would step into the leadership gap left by the US. [Mongabay.com]
  • The Climate Solutions Caucus, is a place representatives concerned about climate change can meet to exchange ideas about how the federal government should respond to environmental challenges. We might assume that most of those people would be Democrats, but in fact half of the caucus members are Republicans. [CleanTechnica]

Tuesday, May 9:

  • Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, pro-EU French presidential candidate, won two thirds of the vote in a run-off against the far right’s Marine Le Pen. He promised to promote international cooperation on climate change in his victory speech. He supports ending the use of coal, a carbon price, and trade sanctions on polluting countries. [Climate Home]

Antelopes in Wyoming (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)

  • The US added more than 11 GW of solar power last year, according to a report released by the Energy Information Administration. This means the US has nearly 50% more solar power than it did a year earlier. And the American Wind Energy Association says the wind industry had its best first quarter since 2009. [The Desert Sun]
  • More than two hundred institutional investors worth the tidy sum of $15 trillion have just put the Trump Administration on notice that climate change has put their assets at risk. The notice comes in the form of a newly published letter to the G7 group of seven industrialized nations and the G20 group of 20 major economies. [CleanTechnica]
  • The School for International Training, in Brattleboro, Vermont, received a $100,000 grant from Windham Regional Commission to install a solar energy system. Its benefits will include enhancing the curriculum at the SIT Graduate Institute. The project will be installed in partnership with Dynamic Organics, based in Putney, Vermont. [vtdigger.org]

Wednesday, May 10:

Casco Bay Lobster boat (KPWM Spotter, Wikimedia Commons)

  • New restrictions are coming to Southern New England’s lobster fishery in an attempt to save their populations in the area. Numbers of lobsters have dwindled as climate changed has warmed waters. An arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted to pursue new management measures to try to slow their decline. [The Providence Journal]
  • Solar power tariff dropped to a record low of ₹2.62 per unit (4.05¢/kWh) in an auction for Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan. This price is lower than the average rate of power generated by the coal-fuelled power generation utility, NTPC Ltd, at ₹3.20 per unit. The price is considered a major milestone toward powering India. [Deccan Herald]

Distributed and remote off-grid solar plus storage growth

  • Navigant Research published its latest Distributed Solar PV Plus Energy Storage Systems report this week. It says the global annual market for the deployment of distributed solar PV plus energy storage is expected to exceed $49 billion and reach 27.4 GW by 2026. The largest growth is expected to be in the Asia Pacific region. [CleanTechnica]

2017-05-04 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, April 27:

Solar panel installation in Brooklyn (LO3 image)

  • An energy startup, LO3 Energy, is developing and running the Brooklyn Microgrid, an effort to create a localized, sustainable energy market in the neighborhoods of Park Slope and Gowanus. It is a test run in small-scale energy trading, which has already recruited and linked up dozens of consumers and residents with solar panels. [Curbed]
  • There is a strong renewable energy target set by almost 50% of the major companies of the US. A report from the World Wildlife Fund, Ceres, Calvert Research and Management shows that increasing numbers of investors are promising to rely on clean energy. In the process, they are already saving $3.7 billion per year. [Insider Tradings]

Installing solar panels

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

Friday, April 28:

  • According to the International Energy Agency, oil discoveries declined to 2.4 billion barrels in 2016, compared to the previous average over the last 15 years of 9 billion barrels a year. The IEA reported that because of low oil prices, the number of projects receiving final investment decision has fallen to the lowest levels seen since the 1940s. [CleanTechnica]
  • Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation to build a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050. It was called “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen” by 350.org. Others caution that it is not enough to deal with climate change. [Common Dreams]
  • More than 1,000 US companies are calling on the Congress and administration to strengthen the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, instead of following through on its proposed elimination, as per Trump’s recent budget proposals. The companies signed a joint letter, organized by the Alliance to Save Energy, to congressional leaders. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, April 29:

Protest at the White House (Image: Paul J Richards | AFP | Getty Images)

  • For the second time in a week, activists will take to the streets of Washington, DC, and hundreds of other locations worldwide. This time, the issue at hand will be global warming, and the backdrop in the nation’s capital on Saturday could not be more appropriate. The weather forecast for Washington calls for potentially record-shattering heat. [Mashable]
  • The website of the US EPA, EPA.gov, is getting a makeover to reflect the views of President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The agency said in a statement, “As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.” [The Indian Express]

Canary Islands pumped hydro project (Image: Gorona del Viento)

  • A 500-MW energy storage facility with “5-8 hours” storage duration could be built in San Diego, with a local water authority seeking detailed proposals for such a project to support the grid and help integrate renewable energy. The facility would support the electric grid’s stability in a region struck consistently with drought. [Energy Storage News]
  • “How A Professional Climate Change Denier Discovered The Lies And Decided To Fight For Science” • It might seem like an impossible transition, but Jerry Taylor, who used to be staff director for the energy and environment task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council and vice president of the Cato Institute, made it. [UPROXX]

Sunday, April 30:

A pair of walruses (Dan Beecham | BBC)

  • “Yes, I am a climate alarmist. Global warming is a crime against humanity” • Most of us have wondered about the human context of past crimes against humanity: why didn’t more people intervene? How could so many pretend not to know? The principled condemnation of large scale atrocity is, too often, a luxury of hindsight. [The Guardian]
  • Iowa’s largest utility is in the midst of a $3.6 billion investment in wind power with a goal of producing 100% of its energy from renewable sources. MidAmerican Energy plans to build 1,000 more turbines over the next couple of years on top of the more than 2,000 it already has around the state, the Des Moines Register reported. [Omaha World-Herald]
  • Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says climate marches taking place around the country are part of a fight for the future of the planet. The former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination addressed an adoring crowd of about 3,000 people who turned out for a rally at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. [WCBI]

Monday, May 1:

Tourists on Block Island taking in the wind farm (Credit: Phil McKenna | InsideClimate News)

  • For decades, the Block Island Power Company ferried up to a million gallons of diesel fuel a year from the Rhode Island mainland to power Block Island. The fuel is a costly and dirty energy source whose CO2 emissions are second only to burning coal. Now, America’s first offshore wind farm is delivering it electricity. [InsideClimate News]
  • Negotiators have reached a bipartisan agreement on a spending package to keep the US federal government funded until the end of September, according to congressional aides. It is very different from what the president proposed. The EPA’s budget is at 99% of current levels and also includes increased infrastructure spending. [The Guardian]

Power lines in Vermont (AP Photo | Wilson Ring)

  • A proposal to build an electric transmission line to carry Canadian power through Vermont on its way to southern New England would reopen public debate about the use of the land that began nearly two decades ago. The proposal by National Grid would install the power line alongside an existing transmission line. [The Recorder]

Tuesday, May 2:

  • “New Mexico’s Largest Electricity Provider Proposes Going 100% Coal-Free” • The Public Service Company of New Mexico has issued a landmark finding. After a routine assessment of future power supply scenarios, the utility made an anything-but-routine conclusion: the best version of its future self was coal-free. [Union of Concerned Scientists]

Offshore wind power (Image: Pixabay)

  • Massachusetts has taken the wraps off plans to solicit up to 800 MW in its first call for offshore wind. A draft request for proposals seeks 400 MW, but up to 800 MW will be considered if the evaluation team determines that a larger-scale proposal is “superior” to other bids or is likely to produce “significantly more” economic net benefits. [reNews]
  • Australia’s largest integrated energy company, AGL Energy, says Australia’s transition away from a grid dominated by coal to low-carbon generation will largely bypass “baseload” gas. The prediction is based on the now fairly well accepted economic view that gas power is becoming less competitive with large-scale solar and wind. [RenewEconomy]

Wednesday, May 3:

Countryside near Moab, Utah (John Fowler, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “How The Small Community Of Moab, Utah, Is Making A Big Difference” • The city of Moab, Utah, with a population of 5,325 and a per capita income of $23,586, has committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2032. You can find out how Moab made the dream of going renewable into reality and how your community can do the same. [CleanTechnica]
  • An industry report said energy from renewable sources provided the majority of the power over the weekend in Germany. For the first time, most of the country’s coal-fired power plants were offline. Renewable energy sources provided the majority of the power over the weekend, producing over 85% of the electricity on Sunday. [malaysiandigest.com]

2017-04-27 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, April 20:

Lake Tahoe

  • South Lake Tahoe, California became the 26th municipality in the US and the latest in a growing coalition of communities to commit to 100% renewable electricity. The city council approved a measure that sets a goal to switch entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2032. Winter tourism is the region’s leading industry. [Windpower Engineering]
  • “Fusion reactors: Not what they’re cracked up to be” • After having worked on nuclear fusion experiments for 25 years at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, I began to look at fusion more dispassionately. I concluded that a fusion reactor would be far from perfect, and in some ways close to the opposite. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]
  • San Francisco reached an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gases locally two years ahead of schedule, according to city officials. Recently compiled figures show the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions had fallen to 28% below 1990 levels by 2015. The city’s goal, set in 2008, was to hit 25% below 1990 levels by 2017. [SFBay]

Friday, April 21:

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

  • The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon is projected to cost £1.3 billion and generate enough electricity for 155,000 homes, over a lifespan of 120 years. A report from Seafish takes a different look at it. Prospects for cultivating mussels, oysters, scallops, clams, cockles and seaweed in the proposed project are promising, it says. [TheFishSite.com]
  • Eos Energy Storage, producer of the cost Znyth battery, announced new forward pricing for the company’s Eos Aurora DC Battery System at a record-breaking low cost. The company is taking orders for volume purchases at a price of $160/kWh for shipment in 2017 and $95 per usable kWh for shipment in 2022. [Windpower Engineering]

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

Saturday, April 22:

  • Oil giant Exxon Mobil will not be allowed to resume drilling in Russia after US President Donald Trump vowed to uphold sanctions. It had been reported that Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, had sought a dispensation. The US and European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014. [BBC News]
  • Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says. Friday is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world’s first centralized public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London. [BBC]
  • Members of the planning commission in Vernon, Vermont, have drawn up a plan, “Re-energizing Vernon.” In it, they explore the possibility of a multi-fuel, clean-energy, affordable micro-grid on the site of the closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Important components would include the 32-MW Vernon dam and batteries. [Rutland Herald]

Sunday, April 23:

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

  • And another vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft takes to the sky, this time it was the first successful test flight of the Lilium Electric VTOL Taxi. The Lilium Electric VTOL Taxi will have a range of 187 miles and a top speed of 187 MPH. It would be an on-demand, all-electric airway taxi system that is quiet and free of traffic. [CleanTechnica]
  • Volkswagen AG has been sentenced to 3 years probation by a US federal judge in relation to the $4.3 billion diesel emissions cheating scandal. That includes independent oversight of the company. The company released a statement acknowledging fault and saying, “Volkswagen today is not the same company it was 19 months ago” [CleanTechnica]

Monday, April 24:

Rows of solar panels (SolaireDirect image)

  • From Norway to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, big oil producers are becoming big backers of renewable-energy. Now, Nigeria has signed two agreements with solar developers to guarantee payment risks for 50-MW and 70-MW solar farms. The oil and gas sector makes up 35% of Nigeria’s GDP and 90% of its exports. [ImpactAlpha]
  • Many US cities are setting green energy goals. Some, like Chicago, shoot for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025. Further south, Houston says, “We have NO problem,” with nearly 90% of its municipal electricity already being generated by renewable sources. Part of that comes from the recently built SolaireHolman plant. [ENGINEERING.com]
  • Affluent countries like Germany and Japan are typically the ones associated with renewables. But the nation with the highest portion of solar generation in its electricity mix last year was not affluent. It was Honduras, a nation of 8 million people with a gross domestic product of only $5,000 per capita and serious social problems. [pv magazine USA]

Tuesday, April 25:

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

  • Mexico will soon have a starring solar project, the largest in the entire Americas, showing off a new leading role in renewables, driven by a major energy market reform. Italian power giant Enel is set to develop the record 754-MW project, adding to the largest solar plants completed or under construction in both Chile and Brazil. [PV-Tech]
  • If anyone doubts renewable energy is the future, they need only to look at job numbers. According to a recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund, employers in the renewables sector are hiring people 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. Within the sector, small businesses dominate, with 70% of jobs. [Sustainable Brands]

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

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

Wednesday, April 26:

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

Brave Tern at work (Photo: Deepwater Wind)

  • “Is Trump warming to wind power?” • Trump’s position on wind may be shifting. During the election, the narrative on wind wasn’t looking good. Trump promised a national energy policy that prioritized domestic fossil fuels over renewables. But the narrative seem to be shifting, and the biggest game-changer for Trump seems to be jobs. [WorkBoat]
  • US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the US should renegotiate the Paris accord on climate change instead of abandoning it, while criticizing Germany for allowing its fossil-fuel emissions to rise. The remarks put Perry among a group of advisers urging President Donald Trump to stick with the United Nations accord that he vowed to scrap. [BOE Report]

2017-04-20 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, April 13:

Wildfire (John McColgan, US DA)

  • There will be a large increase in the number of large, high-intensity forest fires that occur in the coming years and decades, according to a study from the South Dakota State University. The findings are the result of an analysis of around 23,000 fires that occurred worldwide between 2002 and 2013, including 478 “large, high-intensity” fires. [CleanTechnica]
  • Manure-to-biogas, capturing methane gas from decomposing manure and using it as renewable fuel, is old news. But now, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has figured out a new high-tech twist that takes it up to the next level, converting it into an energy-rich substance that can be used as the basis for biofuels and specialty chemicals. [CleanTechnica]
  • New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation rejected National Fuel Gas’ proposed Northern Access pipeline, a pipeline that would have moved gas from the Marcellus shale to markets in Western New York, the Midwest and Canada. The denial of a water quality certification drew a stern response from National Fuel. [Utility Dive]
    Pipeline

Friday, April 14:


Jet stream (NOAA image)

  • A research paper examines a previously unknown influence of humans on extreme weather. Carbon emissions lead to warming of the atmosphere in polar regions, and this leads to the jet stream getting stuck in place. This, in turn, leads to extended periods in which the weather persists, producing drought and other extreme weather. [CleanTechnica]
  • EnBW has secured the bulk of the 1.5-GW on offer with its 900-MW He Dreiht project in the German North Sea. The developer won with a bid of zero, which means it is pledging to build and operate the wind farm without the support of a feed-in tariff and relying instead on the market rate. The wind farm is expected to be operational in 2023. [reNews]
  • Advanced Microgrid Solutions announced it will design, install and operate its Hybrid Electric Building systems for Walmart, providing 40 MWh of battery systems for 27 stores in Southern California. AMS says these will improve energy efficiency, guarantee the retailer electricity savings and provide grid services to local utilities. [Energy Matters]

Saturday, April 15:

National Park posters, now and then

  • “Welcome to the post-apocalyptic National Parks” • National parks in the US are already seeing the effects of climate change. Glaciers are melting, whitebark pines are under attack by pests, and wildfires are eating away at acres of land across the US. What will happen to our treasured parks by 2050 if we don’t address climate change? [The Verge]
  • Responding to what they see as “an all-out assault on our environment by the Trump administration,” a coalition of green-energy advocates launched an effort calling for Massachusetts communities to commit to 100% renewable energy while pressing the Legislature to get all its energy from sources like wind and solar. [Recorder]
  • Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) plans to introduce legislation outlining how the United States can completely wean itself off fossil fuels by 2050, his office said. The bill will be introduced during the week of April 24, shortly before the People’s Climate Movement. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) will co-sponsor the bill, called the “100 By ‘50 Act.” [Huffington Post]

Sunday, April 16:

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

  • “The Nuclear Industry Is Heading Into a Financial Black Hole That Threatens Any Future Expansion” • Any lingering hope that a nuclear power renaissance would help combat climate change appears to have been dashed by the Westinghouse bankruptcy. “There is no one left to invest anymore because renewables are just cheaper.” [Truthdig]
  • EPA administrator Scott Pruitt may have to back up his false claims on greenhouse gases and climate change in court. A lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility wants him to produce studies backing up his statements questioning the role of CO2 in climate change. [Summit County Citizens Voice]
  • India will add nearly 600 million new electricity consumers by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency. Taking the increasing population into account, along with a high policy priority to make power accessible across India, renewable forms of energy offer the best solution. DC solar products are seeing good traction in rural India. [Firstpost]

Monday, April 17:

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

  • “NREL is a driver of cutting-edge research and industry” • Thanks in part to a federally funded lab that does cutting-edge energy research, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve ever been in modern times. So it’s a shock that in the president’s proposed budget, that lab is on the chopping block. [The Denver Post]
  • Vermont is famous for its natural and mesmerizing landscape that includes a big forest. Unfortunately, a recent report has revealed a decrease in the bird population there. ABC News reported a sharp decline of 14.2% in the bird population over the last 25 years. Climate change, invasive species, and acid rain are among the causes. [Science Times]
  • Indian mobile infrastructure and telecom tower companies are aiming to further cut their carbon footprint by reducing dependency on fossil fuel as a part of a ‘Go Green’ initiative. The sector has already deployed 90,000 diesel-free mobile sites, according to a lobby group Towers and Infrastructure Providers Association. [ETTelecom.com]

Tuesday, April 18:

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

Refinery

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered the DOE to conduct a study of renewable energy on the US electric grid. His Monday morning memo said that the review would assess whether federal environmental policies have hurt the power grid’s ability to supply baseload power, which depends on fossil fuels, over the past few years. [Washington Examiner]
  • Southern California Edison, General Electric Co, and Wellhead Power Solutions partnered to install 10-MW lithium-ion batteries at two of the utility’s gas generators. During periods of peak demand, the batteries can provide instant power while gas turbines ramp up. They are expected to reduce emissions by at least 60%. [BloombergQuint]

Wednesday, April 19:

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

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

  • A former strip mine would be converted into a solar farm under a proposal to use it for hundreds of thousands of panels. The Berkeley Energy Group, EDF Renewable Energy, and former Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen said they are looking at two mountaintop removal sites in the heart of Kentucky’s coal country. [Paducah Sun]
  • A pro-Paris bloc within the administration recruited energy companies for support ahead of a high-level White House meeting, according to two people familiar with the effort who asked not to be identified. ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are among those endorsing the pact. So are Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband. [Livemint]

2017-04-13 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, April 6:

The Fisk Generating Plant in Chicago, no longer operating (Photo: Seth Anderson / Flickr)

  • “Trump’s Dirty Energy Policies Face Backlash in States Across the Country” • On December 9, as the Obama administration rushed to preserve what it could of its climate legacy before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, signed a bipartisan energy reform package. Illinois is not alone. [Truth-Out]
  • While lithium-ion batteries sold by Tesla and others are perhaps the most widely known storage technology, several other energy storage options are either already on the market, or are fast making their way there. Salt, silicon, and graphite are also hoping to claim a slice of what, by all indications, will be a very large pie. [The Guardian]
  • State officials are allowing two Native American tribes to get involved in the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee. The Vermont Public Service board has ruled that both the Elnu Abenaki and Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi can act as “intervenors” in the state’s review of the plant’s purchase by NorthStar Group Services.[Commons]

Friday, April 7:

Offshore wind power (Getty Images)

  • The world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, according to the UN, but the bill was almost a quarter lower than the previous year, because of the falling cost of renewables. Investment in renewables capacity was roughly double that in fossil fuels. The cost of offshore wind power has fallen about a third since 2012. [BBC]
  • The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, Kentucky, owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, is modernizing with a new form of cheaper energy. The museum, which memorializes Kentucky’s history in coal mining, is switching to solar power to save at least $8,000 to $10,000 per year. [CNN]

Installing flow battery containers (Snohomish PUD)

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

Saturday, April 8:

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

Canals in a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood (Credit: Alamy)

  • The coast of Florida is flooding worse and more often as time goes by, and the change is happening more and more quickly. Just down the coast from Donald Trump’s weekend retreat, the residents and businesses of southern Florida are experiencing regular episodes of water in the streets and flooding in basement parking lots. [BBC]
  • More than 900 government buildings in Chicago will shift their electricity use to “100 percent renewable energy” by 2025 under an ambitious mayoral plan that contrasts sharply with President Donald Trump’s retreat on environmental issues. All together, they consume 8% of all the electricity used in Chicago, nearly 1.8 billion kWh. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Sunday, April 9:

Wind turbines at Feldheim (Photo: Odd Andersen)

  • With a wind farm, solar park, biogas plant, and Germany’s largest battery system, the village of Feldheim is independent of the utility grid, getting all its electricity and heat – a significant factor in an area with sub-zero winter temperatures – from a local grid paid for by residents, the municipality, EU subsidies and loans. [The Hindu]
  • At the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation’s Burlington headquarters, numerous stakeholders met to review the key findings of the Vermont Solar Pathways study and participate in a roundtable discussion about implications for utility planning, economic development, land use, and sustainable energy goals in the state. [vtdigger.org]
  • Tesla inaugurated a solar farm with a capacity of 13 MW on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. It has 54,000 panels connected to 272 Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion batteries for a storage capacity of 52 MWh. The new farm can store surplus energy harvested during sunny days, to supply electricity island at any time, including when it rains. [The Quebec Times]

Monday, April 10:

High voltage power lines (Nyttend, Wikimedia Commons)

  • A request by the state of Massachusetts for a supply of clean, renewable electricity boosts a handful of proposals to cross Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine with transmission lines to help energy-hungry Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut make use of the renewable energy available in Canada. [New Jersey Herald]
  • Fresh off victories in Illinois and New York, the nuclear power industry is now lobbying lawmakers in Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Efforts are bubbling up into proposals, even as court battles in Illinois and New York crank up over the billions of dollars that ratepayers would pay to keep nuclear plants open. [Sharonherald]

Tuesday, April 11:

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

Florida coast (Screenshot from CNN video)

  • In Florida, speaking before a field hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, one expert after another warned about the dangers that rising sea levels pose to Florida’s coast. They were and gave a clear signal: Much of Florida’s coastline could one day be underwater, including Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. [CNN]
  • The Vermont Public Service Board has approved the sale of 13 TransCanada-owned hydropower facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers to a Canadian company, ArcLight Capital Partners. The amount of the purchase is not immediately available, but TransCanada had previously estimated its value at more than $1 billion. [HydroWorld]
  • Vermont State Representative Sarah Copeland Hanzas unveiled a plan to phase out the Vermont sales tax and replace it with a carbon tax, helping the state reach its energy goals while supporting local retail business. She will introduce legislation to remove the sales tax as part of a revenue-neutral scheme that would bring in the carbon tax. [Valley News]

Wednesday, April 12:


Solar and wind power in China

  • China’s wind and solar sectors could attract as much as ¥5.4 trillion ($782 billion) in investment between 2016 and 2030 as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a report published by Greenpeace. China has pledged to increase non-fossil fuel energy to at least 20% of its total by the end of the next decade. [EnergyInfraPost]
  • The Japanese Prime Minister ordered ministers to formulate a strategy to transform Japan into an emissions-free “hydrogen society,” and called for more efforts on renewable energy. The Environment Minister separately said his ministry will begin drawing up a long-term strategy for increasing renewable energy use. [Japan Today]

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

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