2017-10-26 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, October 19:

Trees and power lines downed by Hurricane Maria (Photo: SSgt.Michelle Y Alvarez-Rea, USAF)

  • “A more climate-resilient Puerto Rico?” • As Puerto Rico faces a devastating humanitarian crisis, an emerging viewpoint is that the island should think twice about restoring its electrical system as it’s existed in the past. Instead, this reasoning goes, Puerto Rico should plan for more resilient, distributed infrastructure. [Yale Climate Connections]
  • “What is electricity resilience worth to you?” • Power outages are a nuisance to some, an economic burden to others, and even lethal in some cases. It is impossible to place a price on electric resilience that could be applied to everyone. So it is crucial that customers know what power loss could cost them as they weigh needs for microgrids. [Microgrid Knowledge]

Looking at insects

  • It’s known as the windscreen phenomenon. When you stop your car after a drive, there seem to be far fewer squashed insects than there used to be. Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this. German research suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75% over almost 30 years. [BBC News]

Friday, October 20:

  • Green Mountain Power wants to build Vermont’s second commercial renewable energy storage battery near its solar array in Panton. The $3 million Tesla battery will store about 1 MW of power which will come off of the solar array nearby. The new battery will allow GMP to store renewable energy for helping meet peak grid demand. [Vermont Public Radio]
  • Assembly of the ITER reactor, a nuclear fusion project costing €20 billion ($24 billion), will begin in France in May of 2018. But with wind-farm developers starting to promise subsidy-free power by 2025 and electricity demand stagnating, even the project’s supporters are asking whether ITER will ever make sense. [The Edge Markets MY]

Inner Mongolian landscape (Photo: Kevin Frayer | Getty Images)

  • “Pollution’s Annual Price Tag? $4.6 Trillion and 9 Million Dead” Pollution in all its forms killed 9 million people in 2015 and, by one measure, led to economic damage of $4.6 trillion, according to a new estimate by medical researchers who hope to put the health costs of toxic air, water and soil higher on the global agenda. [Yahoo News]
  • A nuclear power plant in Switzerland is set to operate flexibly after a software upgrade. The 1010-MW Goesgen pressurized water reactor plant can vary its output between 50% and 100% per cent of its installed capacity, with power ramps of up to 30 MW per minute, responding to changing supply and demand. [Power Engineering International]

Saturday, October 21:

 

Sunday, October 22:

 

Monday, October 23:

 

Tuesday, October 24:

 

Wednesday, October 25:

 

 

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2017-10-19 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, October 12:

Energy Storage

  • MIT researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long periods for about one-fifth the cost of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions. Systems that could store electricity for multiple days to entire seasons would cost about $20 to $30 per kWh of storage capacity. [Gears Of Biz]
  • EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to “withdraw” the Obama-era Clean Power Plan is intended as a sign to coal miners that “the war on coal is over.” Nevertheless, experts are confident the repeal will not bring coal back, and a number of states are continuing to move forward with their own climate change initiatives. [CleanTechnica]

Floating solar array in China (Reuters image)

  • China aims to boost its large-scale energy storage capacity over the next decade, the government’s central planner said, in a major push to deal with stranded renewable power in the west of the country. China generated 5.9 trillion kWh of power in 2016, of which 25.6% came from hydro, wind, nuclear and solar power stations. [Nasdaq]

Friday, October 13:

  • Southern California Gas Co and the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory installed a bioreactor to test power-to-gas technology as a way to store excess renewable power. In the facility, renewable energy produces hydrogen, and archaea microorganisms in the bioreactor consume hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce methane. [Renewables Now]

Solar power in winter (Photo: 1010uk via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

  • “Pioneering Community Solar in the Granite State” • Legal and regulatory roadblocks forced solar advocates in Keene, New Hampshire, to develop a comprehensive framework for adding a 43-kW rooftop array to Monadnock Food Co-op, whose focus on sustainability and downtown location made it a natural partner. [ilsr.org]
  • Queensland’s tender for 400 MW of large-scale renewables and 100 MW of energy storage has received 115 proposals from 79 different entities with a wide range of technologies. Proposals included 2.2 GW of wind, 6.4 GW of solar, around 500 MW of other renewable energy technologies, and 6 GW of energy storage proposals. [Energy Storage News]

Saturday, October 14:

Renewable energy technology (Photo: SolarCity)

  • Congress has approved a loan of nearly $5 billion loan that will further burden the already bankrupt US territory of Puerto Rico. But various solar companies and nonprofits are continuing to work together to offer aid to the storm-ravaged island while also promoting a more sustainable future and resilient energy system. [Common Dreams]
  • California has put its utilities on notice: When you’re putting together your next integrated resource plans, you’d better have non-gas generating options for meeting peak demand. That’s what Governor Jerry Brown mandated to utilities when he signed SB 338 into law yesterday, requiring that peak loads be met by alternatives to fossil fuels. [solarpaces.org]
  • Wind energy is expected to overtake coal in Texas news that two large coal-fired power plants are set to close in the next year. The utility firm Luminant announced that it would close the Sandow Power Plant and the Big Brown Power Plant in early 2018. The plants have a capacity of 2,300 MW, enough to power 2.1 million Texas homes. [Washington Examiner]

Sunday, October 15:

Solar array seeded with a pollinator habitat by Prairie Restorations, Inc (Photo: Courtesy of PRI)

  • “Clean energy provides jobs boom in state” • Clean Energy Economy Minnesota released an analysis showing that Minnesota gained 2892 clean energy jobs over the last year, a growth rate almost four times faster than the rest of the economy. The clean energy sector now employs over 57,000 people across the state. [St. Cloud Times]
  • “Zombie oil” that ought to stay in the ground is kept alive thanks to federal and state governments feeding it billions of dollars, a study shows. The subsidies are not cash handouts. They’re a mix of tax breaks, tax credits, and regulations that forego government revenue, transfer liability, or provide services at below-market rates. [Motherboard en_us]

The Nuna 9 solar car (Photo: David Mariuz | AAP)

  • A futuristic car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid has been hailed as “the future” as the annual World Solar Challenge wrapped up in Australia. The Dutch entrant, Nuna 9, won the race for the third-straight time, crossing the finish line after travelling at an average speed of 81.2 kmh (55.5 mph). [The Guardian]

Monday, October 16:

  • The news of Luminant closing coal-burning power plants in Texas boosts the expected capacity of 2018 power plant closures to over 13,600 MW, or a whopping 79% more than the known closures for this year. It is not a record high (nearly 18,000 MW went offline in 2015), but it is clear that Trump administration claims that it will save coal are foundering. [Engadget]

Inside the nacelle of a Vestas turbine (Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune)

  • Wind technician is the fastest growing occupation in the US. As utilities rapidly increase the amount of power they get from wind farms, workers who climb hundreds of feet to keep turbines running smoothly are in high demand. Students in Minnesota’s wind power training programs sometimes get jobs before they graduate. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
  • The France-based energy giant Total, along with partner energy group Erg, is now looking to expedite the sale of its Italian gas/petrol station network, TotalErg, due to investor worries about the impact of the growing electric vehicle market. TotalErg operates around 2,600 gas/petrol service stations throughout Italy. [CleanTechnica]

Tuesday, October 17:

Large solar array in the Southwest (Credit: Array Technologies Inc)

  • Increasing amounts of renewable energy has sparked worries in the federal government over grid reliability and resilience. But some grid operators are successfully demonstrating that large amounts of intermittent resources can be integrated and sustain system reliability as successfully as, for example, a natural gas plant. [Utility Dive]
  • Arizona had faced some of the nation’s steepest emissions cuts under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. But Arizona utilities and regulators said they plan to continue working toward the lower carbon emission goals that had been set in the plan, even though EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said this week that the agency is scrapping the program. [Arizona Daily Sun]

Battery storage (AES image)

  • Ireland and Northern Ireland’s integrated electricity system could save €19 million a year from 2019-20 by using battery-based energy storage to stabilize the grid, according to a report by Queen’s University Belfast. It showed that 360 MW of battery storage could provide the same fast frequency response as 3 GW of conventional power. [reNews]

Wednesday, October 18:

AR1500 at MeyGen Phase 1A (Atlantis image)

  • Atlantis Resources has redeployed the fourth and final 1.5MW turbine at its MeyGen Phase 1A tidal array in the Pentland Firth in waters off northern Scotland. Following final completion testing, MeyGen Phase 1A is expected to formally complete its construction phase. It should enter into its 25-year operational phase within the coming weeks. [reNews]
  • Over a quarter of the 1,675 companies that owned or developed coal-fired power capacity since 2010 have entirely left the coal power business, according to research from CoalSwarm and Greenpeace. This represents nearly 370 large coal-fired power plants, and equivalent to nearly half a trillion dollars in assets retired or not developed. [Scoop.co.nz]

The final turbine being put into place at the wind farm

  • The world’s first floating wind farm is being opened today in waters off the northeast coast of Scotland. The £210 million ($277 million) development, which will be opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is a partnership between Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable power company, and Norwegian energy giant Statoil. It will power about 20,000 homes. [The Scotsman]

2017-10-12 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, October 5:

Solar power in China

  • Solar energy was the fastest-growing source of electric power last year, a new International Energy Agency report said, amid the “birth of a new era” for the renewable energy sector. Last year was the first time solar energy growth had surpassed any other fuel as a source of power, the report said, surpassing the net growth in coal. [Deutsche Welle]
  • China accounted for more than 40% of capacity growth in renewable energy in 2016, and this was in a record year for worldwide renewables, according to an International Energy Agency study. Last year, new solar capacity around the world grew by 50%, reaching more than 74 GW, with China accounting for almost half of that expansion. [China Daily]
  • American Wind Energy Association’s CEO Tom Kiernan appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee where he said that, thanks to technological advances, wind farms are now competitive with other energy technologies with regard to reliability and resiliency. AWEA endorsed market-based solutions. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Friday, October 6:

Transmission lines (Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

  • The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has released a report documenting the gathering momentum of the disruption of the electricity markets by renewables. It describes impacts of renewable resources on electricity prices as a key driver of this change, and provides eleven case studies revealing the trend. [RenewEconomy]
  • The California ISO identified eight trends shaping the power sector. Those trends include energy efficiency, decline of gas-fired generation, growth of wind and solar, and decarbonization. The grid operator called for a reduction in fossil-fuel use and a focus on regulatory policy to use clean energy resources to base operations. [Utility dive]

Wind turbines (Photo: Ian Rutherford)

  • Wind turbines generated over twice as much power as Scotland needed on October 2. WWF Scotland analyzed wind power data and found that wind turbines in Scotland provided 86,467 MWh of electricity to the National Grid on that day. Scotland’s total electricity consumption, including homes, business and industry, for the day was 41,866 MWh. [The Scotsman]

Saturday, October 7:

  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry addressed his agency’s recent proposed rule to provide cost recovery for baseload coal and nuclear generators, saying it is “not a directive” for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Washington Examiner reports. FERC Commissioner Robert Powelson said he would quit before voting for the rule. [Utility Dive]

Elon Musk at the unveiling of the Big Battery (Screenshot from Tesla presentation video)

  • Elon Musk did not need 100 days after obtaining a connection agreement to switch on the Tesla big battery in South Australia. The battery was up and running, providing power for unveiling the first demonstration, less than 100 minutes after the ink dried on the connection deal. Installation is still continuing, but Elon Musk made his point. [RenewEconomy]
  • The upside of Twitter showed in an exchange between Gov Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Gov Rossello was seemingly sending a desperate plea for help to someone increasingly asked for it. He needed support rebuilding the collapsed grid in Puerto Rico. Ever so swiftly, Elon Musk responded positively. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, October 8:

Cooling towers (Photo: Gerry Machen, CC BY 2.0)

  • The anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi saw about 40 Catholic institutions announcing their faith-centric divestment from the fossil fuel industry and its ancillaries. The value of the divestment was not disclosed, but thought to be in the tune of $5.5 trillion. This sum is four times more than any previous church records. [World Religion News]
  • Puerto Rico’s Gov Ricardo Rosselló and Tesla chief Elon Musk had a 25-minute phone conversation in which the two discussed relief efforts as well as Tesla playing a leading role, Rosselló said in an interview with USA TODAY. Teams from Tesla and Puerto Rico’s energy sector will continue the talks early next week, Rosselló said. [USA TODAY]
  • Elizabeth Mine, whose excavations left a moonscape of waste rock and tailings that leached orange effluent into nearby streams, is a “brownfield” that has been transformed into a “greenfield” that will generate 5 MW of electricity. It will power annual needs of about 1,200 Vermont homes for decades to come, its promoters say. [Valley News]

Monday, October 9:

Puerto Rico is in Need

  • An appeal for help for Puerto Rico: Here is a chance to help people stand up to a president who makes light of disaster by throwing out paper towels, a moment right up there with “Let them eat cake.” We are all in this together, and together, we can make things better. Please help Joseph, Rosemary, and their family. [CleanTechnica]
  • Hurricane Nate, which pummeled the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama at Category 1 status early Sunday, has made the 2017 hurricane season one of the worst on record since 1893 and possibly earlier, just in terms of numbers of hurricanes. And US territories have never before been hit by three category 4 storms in one season. [Gizmodo]

Installing a large system in Rwanda (Credit: BBOXX)

  • Some 1.2 billion people around the world have no access to electric power. In Rwanda, for example, less than 20% of the population live in homes that enjoy electricity, a fact that stymies development and reinforces poverty. It is a huge problem, but to some people, it is a statistic that rings not of hopelessness, but of opportunity. [BBC News]

Tuesday, October 10:

Iowa wind turbines (Photo: Zach Boyden-Holmes | The Register)

  • EPA head Scott Pruitt’s plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan is unlikely to stop Iowa’s nation-leading adoption of wind energy, say environmental advocates, electric associations, and a number of government leaders. Iowa’s attorney general said he and other states’ attorneys general plan to challenge Pruitt’s efforts in court. [DesMoinesRegister.com]
  • In South Australia, a record was set with 47.8% of the state’s electricity demand being met by rooftop solar systems. This was a result of low grid demand, during a weekend with moderate early spring temperatures, with few air conditioners switched on, combined with excellent rooftop solar output, producing a stunning 538.54 MW. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind farm (Credit: © StockphotoVideo | Fotolia)

  • There is considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, according to research from the Carnegie Institution for Science published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In wintertime, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilization’s current needs. [Science Daily]

Wednesday, October 11:

Lapeer solar farm (DTE image)

  • Michigan, which experiences harsh, cold winters, is now home to a 200,000 panel solar array on a 250-acre site. The Lapeer solar park is operational and generating enough renewable energy to power 11,000 homes. It is one of the largest utility-owned solar parks east of the Mississippi River, Detroit based DTE Energy said in a statement. [CNBC]
  • “What’s the Real Story on the Future of Coal?” • Analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists tracks the changes in the nation’s fleet of 1,256 coal-fired electric generating units from 2008 to 2016, and concludes that 38% of the nation’s coal generating capacity is less economic to run than alternatives. [Union of Concerned Scientists]
  • A public-private partnership is pushing ahead with plans to build the nation’s largest wind farm, the second largest in the world, in western Oklahoma. The 2,000-MW Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project is a collaborative venture by Invenergy, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company. [KUAR]

 

2017-10-5 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 28:

Rendering of an all-electric airliner

  • Major European carrier EasyJet announced that it is teaming up with US startup Wright Electric to build an all-electric airliner. The aircraft they have in mind would handle short routes of 335 miles or less – think New York to Boston or London to Paris. EasyJet said the new aircraft would cover 20% of its passenger journeys. [CNN]
  • “US Courts Taking Climate Change Seriously” • Hallelujah! The judicial branch of the federal government is finally getting serious about climate science. No longer can the executive branch and the legislative branches cave in to pressure to avoid the inconvenient truth that climate change adaptations will be hugely expensive. [Hartford Courant]

Hurricane debris (Luke Sharrett, Bloomberg, via Getty Images)

  • Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the US economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a report found. This does not include the recent three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in Western states, which are estimated to cost over $300 billion. [National Geographic]

Friday, September 29:

  • “Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do.” • Microgrids built around cheap renewable power and battery storage are now the fastest and cheapest way to restore power, and they build resilience. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is proposing small modular nuclear reactors, which might come in the mid 2020s. [RenewEconomy]

Domino’s Pizza and Tesla batteries

  • A Domino’s Pizza franchise in the western Sydney suburb of Plumpton has laid claim to the world’s largest commercial Tesla Powerwall 2 battery storage system, after installing 10 of the US company’s 13.5-kWh units – and not to store rooftop solar power, but to get around the expense of fixing an existing network supply problem. [One Step Off The Grid]
  • The National Weather Service reported on the heat wave in the Midwest and Northeast, calling it “the only occurrence on record of 7+ consecutive 90°[F] days entirely within September” on record. It may have happened because the behavior of the jet stream was impacted by climate change, causing increasing numbers of long-lasting events. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, September 30:

Old San Juan in better days (flickr image, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “A Call For Help For Puerto Rico” • Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, the island is entirely without grid power. It faces the prospect of remaining without grid power for months. It is appalling that citizens of the US are so exposed to hardship. But we could crowdfund microgrids in large numbers and get them up quickly. [CleanTechnica]
  • In a blatant money-grab for the coal industry, Rick Perry’s Energy Department is pushing for direct subsidies to dirty, un-economical coal-fired power plants. So much for “The government shouldn’t pick winners and losers.” So much for “Let market forces decide.” According to Rick Perry, dirty plants are needed as for “security.” [CleanTechnica]
  • The US DOE said it has offered conditional loan guarantees worth $3.7 billion to help save efforts to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, bringing the total federal backing for the delayed and over-budget project to $12 billion. The guarantees will go to three of the four owners of the plan to add two 1,150-MW reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia. [Platts]

Sunday, October 1:

Hurricane Irma from space

  • The fossil fuel industry has cost the US around $240 billion per year over the last decade through the effects of extreme weather and air pollution, according to a new study from the non-profit Universal Ecological Fund. But that figure represents an average. This year, the bill for damage is estimated to be approaching $300 billion already. [CleanTechnica]
  • A storm of scientific information about sea-level rise threatens the most lucrative, commission-boosting real estate properties along US coastlines. But some real estate lobbyists are teaming up with climate change skeptics to block public release of sea-level rise predictions and ensure that coastal planning is not based on science. [Houma Courier]

Belted Galloway (Amanda Slater, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The US Department of Agriculture, the Joint Global Change Research Institute, and the US Department of Energy have just completed a study that shows the problem of methane emissions coming from cattle is worse than previously thought. There may be two possible solutions – feeding cows seaweed or stop eating beef. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, October 2:

  • DONG Energy, an oil and gas operator that shed its assets to focus on green projects, said its name does not “fit the company anymore.” The name stands for Danish Oil and Natural Gas. The new name, Ørsted, references the innovative Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who discovered electromagnetism in 1820. [Energy Voice]

Fire in California (Watchara Phomicinda | Associated Press)

  • “What the Trump administration doesn’t understand about wildfires” • The major fires erupting across the West this year have burned through over 8 million acres and $2 billion. It seems the right time to carefully assess wildland fire, its climate drivers and forest-health consequences. But the administration blames “radical environmentalists.” [Los Angeles Times]
  • In a humanitarian effort to help Puerto Rico’s devastated population, one of the companies stepping in to help is Tesla. Tesla is sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems to be paired with solar panels, Bloomberg reports. The joint systems will help the battered island territory restore electric power. Some systems are already there. [CleanTechnica]
  • “What civilians can learn from military investments in solar” • Without electricity from civilian power plants, the US military could be crippled. In January, the US DOE begged for new authority to defend against weaknesses in the grid in a nearly 500-page study warning that it’s only a matter of time before a massive grid failure. [GreenBiz]

Tuesday, October 3:

University of Utah (Photo: flickr | Edgar Zuniga Jr, creative commons)

  • The University of Utah is finalizing agreements to supply 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. A joint proposal from Cyrq Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables is to provide 20 MW of geothermal energy and 10 MW of solar energy, reducing the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25%. [ThinkGeoEnergy]
  • Tesla has promised to send hundreds of battery storage packs to help Puerto Rico, which is almost entirely without power after Hurricane Maria devastated the island two weeks ago, according to Bloomberg. About 5% of the grid is currently operating, The New York Times reports, it could be as long as six months before power is fully restored. [Utility Dive]
  • New York State has asked the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consider identifying and leasing at least four new Wind Energy Areas off New York’s Atlantic Coast, and it submitted an Area for Consideration to locate the new Wind Energy Areas. Each would be able to accommodate at least 800 MW of offshore wind. [North American Windpower]

Wednesday, October 4:

Offshore wind power (reNews image)

  • On October 2, European windfarms set a production record. According to data from WindEurope, offshore windfarms generated 265 GWh, and onshore windfarm provided 1235 GWh. The combined 1499 GWh covered 18.2% of electricity demand. It was enough electricity to provide for 151 million homes or 51% of average industrial demand. [reNews]
  • Metropolis Farms has constructed a 500-kW solar array made up of 2003 solar panels on the roof of a building in Philadelphia. On the fourth floor, it is constructing a vertical farm that will be powered entirely by electricity from the roof. It plans to grow the equivalent of 660 outdoor acres worth of crops in less than 100,000 sq feet. [CleanTechnica]
  • The Scottish Energy Minister confirmed that the government will ban fracking in Scotland, adding that the government must make decisions in the best interests of Scotland as a whole. The decision follows extensive consultation and consideration of its potential impact. Scotland has had a moratorium on fracking since January 2015. [Aberdeen Evening Express]

 

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:

Tamar natural gas rig (Credit: AP)

  • Israel’s supply of natural gas has been halted after a crack was discovered in the single pipeline linking the Tamar field to Israeli users. The fault in a pipe at a processing platform forced the Tamar partners to stop supplies of natural gas, which is used to generate more than half of Israel’s electric power, until repairs are completed this week. [Haaretz]
  • The University of Hawaii Maui College is on track to reach a goal of 100% renewable portfolio standard for the electricity by 2020 at the latest. Thanks to a tremendous effort, both on campus and in the community, it is actually aiming to reach that goal in 2018. Doing so, it may be the first college campus in the US to reach net zero. [Maui News]

Ameren microgrid in Champaign, Illinois (Ameren photo)

  • When Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast in 2012, Princeton University was kept going by a microgrid. The resilience afforded by microgrids has captured attention even in areas shielded from hurricanes, such as Illinois, where the St. Louis-based utility, Ameren, is testing applications of the technology. [STLtoday.com]

Tuesday, September 26:

BYD electric car

  • BYD, an auto and battery manufacturer based in China, is expecting that China’s shift to “new energy vehicles” – battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, etc – will be completed by the year 2030, according to recent reports. It will take slightly more than a decade to end reliance on internal combustion engines. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Wholesale market crisis” • Sustained low wholesale power prices are driving coal, nuclear and even gas plant retirements, pushing independent power producers into the red, and spurring reforms of wholesale market structures. But even PV is not immune to these trends. pv magazine looks at the implications for the solar industry. [pv magazine USA]

North Sea oil rig

  • Only around 10% of the UK’s original offshore recoverable oil and gas reserves remain, according to a new study from the University of Edinburgh. At current rates of extraction, the UK’s reserves will last another decade or so. Once they run out, it will be necessary for the UK to import essentially all of the fossil fuels it uses. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, September 27:

  • British renewable energy developer Anesco has officially unveiled the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm. Located in the southern English county of Bedfordshire, the 10-MW Clayhill solar farm is the UK’s first ground-mounted installation to operate without any form of government support. Notably, it has a 6-MW battery unit onsite. [RenewEconomy]

Launch of a Japanese weather satellite (Getty Images)

  • Record hurricanes and rains have struck throughout the world, bringing chaos to many places. There are many indications that more storms and persistent rainfall events are coming with climate change. But more accurate data, supercomputer modelling, and machine learning are giving us a clearer picture of which areas are likely to be most affected. [BBC]
  • According to the Greenfield, Massachusetts, mayor’s office, residents and businesses enrolled in the Greenfield Light and Power program have saved a total of $208,000 in the first half of 2017, and municipal electricity accounts have saved $35,000. It is noteworthy that the savings all come while customers are using 100% “green” electricity. [Recorder]

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]