2018-03-22 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, February 15:


  • Researchers at the University of Maryland claim to have found a way to strip away lignin and hemicellulose from wood. They say that the result, which they call “nanowood” costs less and has insulating qualities that are superior to many insulation materials commonly used in building construction today. Nanowood is also stronger. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Solar saves carbon faster and more effectively than nuclear power” • Renewable electricity, chiefly from wind and solar power, adds electricity generation and saves carbon faster than nuclear power does or ever has, according to a data-rich new study by Amory Lovins and three colleagues at Rocky Mountain Institute. [Solar Builder]
  • US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed the “carbon footprint on wind [energy] is significant.” But wind power’s carbon footprint is among the smallest of any energy source. The carbon footprints of coal and natural gas are close to 90 and 40 times larger, respectively, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory says. [FactCheck.org]

Friday, February 16:

Storm at Lynn, Massachusetts

  • Massachusetts Gov Charlie Baker released a $1.4 billion bond bill that would authorize spending on climate change preparedness and environmental protection. The bill provides $300 million to respond to the impacts of climate change, including $170 million to repair dams and sea walls and help coastal communities. [MassLive.com]
  • The Southern Environmental Law Center and Environmental Defense Fund are suing the EPA for failing to release information about the Heartland Institute’s efforts to attack climate science. Officials at the Heartland Institute, a promoter of climate denial, publicly stated that EPA requested their assistance in a review of climate science. [Augusta Free Press]
  • The New Hampshire Senate has passed a bill allowing larger businesses to get into net metering. The bill would increase five-fold the size of net metering systems, from 1 MW, perhaps a size for a midsize store or a town hall, to 5 MW, which might be used by facilities like those of BAE Systems or Foss Manufacturing. [New Hampshire Business Review]

Saturday, February 17:

Open pit mine in 2004 (Adam Amato | The Chronicle)

  • The former site of a coal mine could be producing solar power by the end of 2020. Plans were unveiled by electricity provider TransAlta for a mine shut down in 2006. Reclamation work had begun the following year to restore it to forest and pasture land. But now, TransAlta believes it’s a prime location for a new solar project. [The Olympian]
  • Some Rwandans in remote areas of the country have decided not to wait for the government to provide them with electricity. Instead, they invested in off-grid energy to change lives in their villages. One village will soon bid farewell to darkness, thanks to a hydropower project that was designed by a local entrepreneur and built by local people. [KT Press]

Solar panels in China

  • Chinese suppliers of solar panels may be facing epic headwinds in the year ahead, as rising production capacity is set to coincide with growing trade protectionism in the US and India and a downturn in domestic demand. Chinese solar manufacturing supplied 55% to 83% of global demand for various solar products last year. [South China Morning Post]

Sunday, February 18:

  • The conservative Liberal Party has won the election of South Australia state, ending the Australian Labor Party’s streak of 16 years in power in the state. Along with promises of tax cuts for small businesses, Marshall’s campaign promised to scaling back the Australian Labor Party approach to renewable energy which he described as reckless. [Xinhua]

Corsa Coal’s Acosta Deep Mine in Pennsylvania, with a US flag draped over the mud (Justin Merriman | Getty Images)

  • President Trump’s nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, has spent much of his career working for less oversight from the agency. He is a longtime aide to Sen James Inhofe, known for his climate-denying antics on the Senate floor. After that job, Wheeler became a lobbyist for the fossil fuels industry. [89.3 KPCC]
  • North Korea’s Foreign Minister went to Sweden, prompting speculations about a meeting between US President Trump and Mr Kim Jong-Un, leader of North Korea. Sweden is happy to help resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula arising from the North Korean construction of a nuclear reactor and pursuit of nuclear military power. [The Straits Times]

Monday, February 19:


Tuesday, February 20:


Wednesday, February 21:




2018-03-15 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, March 8:

Normal high tides to be as high as today’s storm surges (Ryan McBride | AFP | Getty Images)

  • A major report released this week by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration highlights a growing threat facing coastal communities in all parts of the United States. As sea levels rise due to global warming, the kind of flooding currently experienced only in storms will happen during normal high tides. [CNN]
  • “China’s Power Move” • Over the past decade, Beijing has undeniably dealt a blow to the United States in the clean energy technology market. China is now the world’s dominant producer of solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries as it continues to capture strategic, advanced technology markets. Beijing has its eye on power lines next. [Scientific American]
  • Groups of Republican college students, “Students For Carbon Dividends,” are organizing support for a plan put forth by James Baker, and George Schultz, Secretaries of State under George W. H. Bush and Ronald Reagan, respectively. The Baker/Schultz plan is simple. It would impose a tax of $40 a ton on all carbon emissions. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, March 9:

California pumpjacks (Arne Hückelheim, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The US will supply much of the world’s additional oil for the next few years, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Over the next three years, the US will cover 80% of the world’s demand growth, the IEA says. Canada, Brazil, and Norway will cover the remainder, leaving no room for more OPEC supply. [CleanTechnica]
  • Software Motor Company claims its switched reluctance motors will cut energy use by 20–50% compared to Nema Premium motors in the 1-5 hp (0.75-3.7 kW) range, and will typically pay for themselves within 6 to 36 months. SMC and the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Labs are presenting a webinar on March 12 2018. [CleanTechnica]
  • The companies currently committed to the RE100 campaign will need to procure an estimated 172 TWh (172,000 GWh) more clean energy generation by 2030 to meet their renewable energy targets, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “RE100 Signatories to Spur $94 billion Investment Opportunity.” [Windpower Engineering]
  • David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables, Inc, announced that the proposed Kidder Hill Community Wind installation in Lowell, Vermont has been suspended. Citing a turbulent climate for renewable wind energy in Vermont and the urgent need for renewables to be built, he said resources will go elsewhere. [AltEnergyMag]

Saturday, March 10:

Kudzu grows near a coal preparation plant in eastern Kentucky (Photo: Jeff Young | Ohio Valley ReSource)

  • “Changing Course: Coal Country Students Working For A Power Switch” • Arlie Boggs Elementary sits between Kentucky’s two tallest mountains in a remote area that once had a booming coal economy. Ten years ago there were over a thousand coal miners employed here in Letcher county. Today, there are just 28. [Ohio Valley ReSource]
  • Florida Power & Light Co has integrated a 40-MWh battery-storage system into its 74.5-MW Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County, Florida. FPL notes that this is the largest solar-plus-storage system in the US. The batteries will extend power delivery into evening hours and add power as needed to meet peak demand. [Solar Industry]

Wind farm in New York (Windtech, Wikimedia Commons)

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydro project were selected for contract awards at an average price of 2.117¢/kWh ($21.17/MWh) to help the state meet its clean energy goals. The renewable energy projects will collectively add over 1,380 MW of capacity. [Platts]

Sunday, March 11:

The Power of Nature (Zacarias Pereira da Mata | Shutterstock)

  • “As The Climate Changes And The Earth Warms, Where’s The Safest Place On Earth To Live?” • From the most populous cities to the loneliest, isolated islets, everyone, everywhere will be affected in some way by climate change. Not everyone’s circumstances are equal, though, and climate change resilience varies widely from place to place. [IFLScience]
  • French President Emmanuel Macron today said $1 trillion will be needed to achieve one TW of solar power capacity by 2030. Speaking alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the first conference of the International Solar Alliance, he mentioned the financing and regulation hurdles for achieving the target that need to be cleared. [Economic Times]
  • Climate change is expected to drive demand for clean energy in the decades ahead, giving an edge to countries that invest in low-carbon technologies. President Trump is pushing to cut spending on clean energy research, undermining any hope for US competitiveness as the chief economic rivals aim to double public funding for the same. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, March 12:

Bearded seal in the Bering Sea (NOAA image)

  • In a shocking melting event, half of the ice in the Bering Sea disappeared during a two-week period in February, according to Rick Thoman, a climate scientist with the National Weather Service in Alaska. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist based in Alaska, posted “overall sea ice extent on February 20 was the lowest on record.” [DesMoinesRegister.com]
  • Heads of the states from 23 nations hailed the efforts of the International Solar Alliance at its founding summit for providing a common platform to work for clean energy. They underlined the importance of clean energy, particularly for developing countries who want to save huge fuel costs and give the planet a cleaner future. [Economic Times]

Tuesday, March 13:

California solar array

  • The three largest California electric utilities are well on their way to meeting the state’s mandate of sourcing 33% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. But they did not procure any new renewable energy capacity last year, and the California Public Utilities Commission has proposed they procure nearly none in 2018. [Inhabitat]
  • “Clean Energy Is Key to New England’s Fuel Security” • ISO New England, which operates the New England power grid, filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, raising concerns that reliance on natural gas could undermine grid security due to potential wintertime shortfalls in gas supply. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Liddell Power Station

  • AGL, the biggest coal generator in Australia, says there will still be too much baseload power in New South Wales, even after the ageing Liddell coal plant is closed in 2022. AGL vowed to replace Liddell with a mixture of wind, solar, battery storage, demand management, a new generator, and an upgrade of the Bayswater coal-fired power station. [RenewEconomy]

Wednesday, March 14:

Indian tigress wearing a radio collar 

  • About half of all plants and animals in 35 of the world’s most biodiverse places are at risk of extinction due to climate change, a report claims. The report was published the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF. It projected loss of nearly 80,000 plants and animals in 35 diverse and wildlife-rich areas. [CNN]
  • An Australian first trial is taking wind farms from passive producers that sell all their output in a slab to more active participants in the energy market. Neoen Australia’s South Australian Hornsdale 2 wind farm carried out a trial that could see wind replace coal, gas, and even pumped hydro in providing energy stability. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger is steaming mad at oil companies. He plans to do something about their reprehensible, irresponsible behavior that has put billions of people at risk around the world. During an interview with Politico, he said he is personally going to take them to court “for knowingly killing people all over the world.” [CleanTechnica]

2018-03-08 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, March 1:

Snow in Rome (Alessandra Tarantino | AP)

  • The sun has not shone on Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland’s northernmost point, since October 11. These should be among the coldest weeks of the year for the cape. But over the weekend, the weather station there recorded an air temperature of 43° F, more than 50° above normal for this time of year. Meanwhile, Europe is freezing cold. [The Atlantic]
  • The CEO of Hydro-Québec said it has “received hundreds of applications” from cryptocurrency miners in the past few weeks, for a total of over 9,000 MW of energy. That is about one-quarter of the utility’s total generating capacity of 37,000 MW. Hydro-Québec said last month it was in talks with more than 30 such companies. [Montreal Gazette]

Bitcoin mining computer (Jacob Hannah | The New York Times)

  • “Is Bitcoin a Waste of Electricity, or Something Worse?” • Money is supposed to be a means of buying things. Now, the nation’s hottest investment is buying money. And while Bitcoin mining may not be labor intensive, it diverts time, energy and capital from other, more productive activities that economists say could fuel faster growth. [New York Times]

Friday, March 2:

Artificial island in Bangladesh

  • “Bending to the water’s will” • In flood-prone Bangladesh, resilience can mean letting water have its way. As climate change brings threats of rising seas and stronger storms, people who have spent years building barricades are considering what was once unthinkable: letting the water in and be resilient by bending, not resisting. [Science Magazine]
  • “Trump’s attack on booming clean energy sector hurts American workers” • A rapidly growing US clean energy sector means good jobs across the country. The fastest growing jobs are in solar and wind power. But despite all the rhetoric about supporting American jobs, the Trump Administration keeps trying to downshift. [The Hill]

GE Haliade-X wind turbine (GE image)

  • GE Renewable Energy has unveiled a 12-MW offshore wind turbine, named the Haliade-X, that it claims will produce 45% more power than any machine currently on the market. The direct drive machine will feature a 220-meter rotor with blades of 107 metres, made by LM Wind Power. It will offer a gross capacity factor of 63%. [reNews]

Saturday, March 3:

  • The world’s largest solar park, set up at an investment of ₹16,500 crore ($2.48 billion) in Karnataka, was launched by the state’s Chief Minister. The 2,000 MW park, called “Shakti Sthala,” covers 13,000 acres spread over five villages and is a benchmark in the unique people’s participation in power model put on ground, according to officials. [NYOOOZ]

Downtown Los Angeles (Thomas Pintaric, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Facing the risks of earthquakes, rising heat, and increasing energy demands, Los Angeles is kicking off a strategy to make itself more resilient, city officials said. The plans to strengthen infrastructure and promote renewable energy aim to combine preparations for earthquakes and wildfires with chronic stresses such as climate change. [Reuters]

Sunday, March 4:

  • Scientists have found dramatically declining snowpack across the American West over the past six decades that will likely cause water shortages in the region that cannot be managed by building new reservoirs, according to a study led by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of California, Los Angeles. [The Register-Guard]
  • Scientists have installed ocean acidity sensors in Alaska, in the Kachemak Bay. Ocean water acidification is due to high levels of carbon dioxide that are absorbed by the water and this leads to lowering the pH levels in addition to climate change. Lower pH levels of the seawater have been proved to negatively impact marine animals. [Health Thoroughfare]

Kachemak Bay

  • More than $200 million worth of materials are expected to arrive in Puerto Rico this month to help the Army Corps of Engineers hit its goal of 95% power restoration goal by the end of the month. Over 7,000 poles and nearly 400 miles of conductor wire are expected in the next two weeks, the Corps district commander said. [CNN]

Monday, March 5:

  • The first community solar garden on the Near North Side of Minneapolis will rise this spring on a church rooftop, thanks to a coalition of faith partners, clean-energy advocates, industry experts, job trainers, and community members. It will provide enough electricity for the church, a mosque, and 26 households. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Unhappy Notre-Dame Gargoyle (Chosovi, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “Notre-Dame: Cracks in the Cathedral” • The Catholic Church in France has launched an urgent appeal for funds to save the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. Parts of the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece are starting to crumble, because of pollution that is eating the stone. There are fears the structure itself could become unstable. [BBC]
  • Roving jellyfish and seaweed are unwanted guests at nuclear power stations. Now the marine algae have hit again, forcing one plant in Scotland to partially power down just as freezing temperatures were pushing up demand for electricity. During the cold weather, excessive amounts of seaweed shut one reactor at the Torness station down. [The Guardian]

Tuesday, March 6:

Kemper “clean coal” plant

  • Opinion: “How Lies, Greed, & Mismanagement Blew Up The ‘Clean Coal’ Myth” • The clean coal and carbon capture process was promised to make electricity with the lowest carbon footprint of any fossil fuel. The problem is, they lied. Despite investments of hundreds of millions of dollars by the federal government, the technology does not work. [CleanTechnica]
  • The Internal Revenue Service released a private letter ruling determining that a residential energy storage facility may qualify for federal solar tax credits, as it is charged completely by an onsite solar array. The ruling only applies to a single case, but it indicates how agency staff views application of tax law in a specific situation. [Utility Dive]
  • There is only one member of Congress who currently holds a PhD in science, but Bill Foster (D-IL), a physicist who formerly worked at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, may soon have some company. More than 60 candidates running for federal office in 2018 have backgrounds in science and technology, according to HuffPost. [The Scientist]

Wednesday, March 7:

Michigan wind turbines (NOAA image)

  • “Michigan farmers, residents praise wind power” • Research from the University of Michigan found that farmers with wind turbines on their property are more likely to pass their farm lands on to their children and twice as likely to continue investing in their homes and property as farmers lacking wind energy resources. [Yale Climate Connections]
  • A federal judge in San Francisco ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what may be the first-ever US court hearing on the climate science. The preceding, scheduled for March 21, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron, and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland. [McClatchy Washington Bureau]

Proposed Crystal Brook wind farm (Source: Neoen)

  • The South Australian government announced plans to help renewable energy developer Neoen build a 50-MW hydrogen “electrolyser.” It is to be powered by a new complex combining 300 MW of wind and solar with battery storage, enabling the manufacture of large quantities of “renewable hydrogen,” a green alternative to LNG. [RenewEconomy]

2018-03-01 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, February 22:

Flaring gas (Carolyn Cole | LA Times via Getty Images)

  • A study found that the methane escaping from oil and gas industry sites in Pennsylvania “causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.” And that is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state, according to Environmental Defense Fund analysis based on 16 peer-reviewed studies. [ThinkProgress]
  • According to Autocar, Porsche has stopped installing diesel engines in any of its vehicles, effective immediately. The move is certainly tied to recent developments that have tarnished the once glittering reputation of diesel. German regulators ordered Audi to recall 127,000 cars fitted with the latest Euro 6 spec diesel engines last month. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines

  • A high estimate of the number of birds killed by collisions with US wind turbines and their towers each year is 573,000, though researchers said the actual number is probably between 140,000 and 328,000. Even the highest of those numbers is very small compared to the number killed generating the same amount of power from fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, February 23:

  • “How General Electric gambled on fossil fuel power, and lost” • Last March, executives at GE’s power-plant business gave Wall Street a surprisingly bullish forecast for the year. Despite flat demand for new natural gas power plants, they said, GE Power’s revenue and profit would rise. But GE’s forecast turned out to be a mirage. [Daily Times]

Loons (Credit: AcrylicArtist | Morguefile)

  • Conservationists say two iconic New Hampshire animals, moose and loons, show how climate change will reshape the region. On the same day they talked about their research at the Audubon Society in Concord, New Hampshire set new records for winter warmth. It was 48° on the snowless Mount Washington summit. [New Hampshire Public Radio]
  • Solar storage batteries are projected to grow at a rate of up to 300%. The news is that a battery manufacturing plant will be built in South Australia, and a residential battery power rebate will also kick off in that state. German battery maker Sonnen will have its new manufacturing plant near Adelaide, creating hundreds of jobs. [Tech Guide]

Saturday, February 24:

Unalaska (Credit: Berett Wilber | KUCB)

  • Residents of the Alaskan island of Unalaska know the island’s wind is strong. It can blow over 100 miles per hour. In 2005, a study funded by the city council to look at the potential of windpower found that there was no technology strong enough to withstand Unalaska’s wind. Now, the technology has changed, and they are looking again. [KUCB]
  • A study by the Environmental Defense Fund finds that methane escaping from fracking operations in Pennsylvania “causes the same near term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants” and is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state. An earlier assessment found similar results for New Mexico. [CleanTechnica]

Solar power in Germany

  • Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced the winners from its first onshore wind and solar auctions for 2018, awarding more than 900 MW to over 100 separate projects. The successful wind energy bids were up slightly from those of a similar auction in November, but solar power prices have fallen below those of windpower. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, February 25:

  • Yuri Horwitz, co-founder and CEO of Sol Systems, says he and his company expect solar power to be the dominant form of new electricity generation by 2022. A report dated February 15, 2018 lists three reasons why we might believe solar will be ascendant in the US market over the next 4 years in spite of new tariffs on imported solar products. [CleanTechnica]

Solar array in Egypt

  • The Benban Solar Park near Aswan, Egypt, aims to reach 1.6 GW to 2.0 GW of solar power capacity by the middle of 2019. The projects will receive no incentives, however, it will be given a 25 year contract to sell its electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, with the cost pegged to the US dollar. [Electrek]
  • An exec at DHL (Deutsche Post) is quoted as saying that the payback period on the Tesla Semi, the period of time that it takes to pay off the difference in initial costs as compared to a conventional diesel semi truck, would be under 1.5 years. So after only 1.5 years, the company is already experiencing net savings … while using cleaner trucks. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, February 26:

Researchers in the Arctic (Photo: Kristine Engel Arendt)

  • Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing twice as fast as the global average and sea ice is retreating quicker than predicted. While humans react slowly to the problem at hand, evidence suggests that animals are on the move. In the cold Arctic, invasive species are drawn to regions where they could not previously have survived. [ScienceNordic]
  • The Asia Pacific region is expected to add more than 500 GW of non-hydro renewables capacity by 2027. This is almost twice the 290 GW addition expected in Western Europe and North America combined. The Asia Pacific share of total global renewables capacity is likely to increase from 45% in 2017 to 51% in 2027. [Singapore Business Review]
  • Saudi Arabia is in talks with American nuclear firms to enter the nuclear power business and erect as many as 16 nuclear reactors, purportedly only to generate electricity over 25 years, a New York Times report said. But the report also said there are growing signs that the Saudis want to have the option of building nuclear weapons. [Tasnim News Agency]

Tuesday, February 27:

Steam rising from the Nesjavellir geothermal plant in Iceland (Photo: Alamy)

  • The number of cities reporting they are mainly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015. Data published by the not-for-profit environmental impact researcher CDP found that 101 of the more than 570 cities on its books sourced at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources in 2017, compared to 42 in 2015. [The Guardian]
  • The Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak announced that the ministry will hold a tender for Turkey’s first offshore wind power plant, and that the wind farm will be the largest of its kind in the world. The wind power farm will be built in the Aegean Sea. Turkey has potential for 32,000 MW in offshore wind power. [Daily Sabah]
  • American solar manufacturer SunPower has announced restructuring plans in the wake of Donald Trump’s imposition of a 30% tariff on solar modules and cells following a Section 201 trade case. The plans will see the company cut up to 250 jobs, and it will incur restructuring costs of between $20 million and $30 million. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, February 28:

Sun pillar forming as the sun rises over the Arctic (Rear Admiral Harley D Nygren, NOAA Corps, ret, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Temperatures in the Arctic have soared well above freezing this week, marking the highest temperatures recorded in the region during winter, scientists from the Danish Meteorological Institute said. Temperatures from February in eastern Greenland and the central Arctic are averaging about 15°C (27°F) warmer than seasonal norms. [CNN]
  • In Tokyo District Court, a TEPCO employee testified that in 2008 he was in charge of estimating the height of a tsunami that might hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. He estimated that it could be as high as 15.7 meters. He testified that he was asked to decrease his estimate. The tsunami that wrecked the plant was nearly that size. [NHK WORLD]
  • Wind and solar power could meet 80% of US demand for electricity, as long as improvements are made in transmission and storage, researchers said. Until a few years ago, these energy sources were thought to be capable of supplying only about 20% to 30% of US needs, the report in Energy and Environmental Science said. [ETEnergyworld.com]

2018-02-22 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, February 15:

Texas wind power

  • The Rocky Mountain Institute released a report on the demand flexibility equation, modeled on the grid in Texas, America’s version of an islanded energy market. The results indicate that the investment in demand flexibility would more than pay for itself in reduced curtailment, flattened peaks, and power plants never built. [Greentech Media]
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published preliminary analyses from a three-year study using survey data from 1,705 randomly selected individuals within five miles of modern wind turbines, reflecting distance and attitudes. The findings highlight a generally positive attitude, regardless of how closely they live to a wind turbine. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind power

  • NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project. It aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands, off western Ireland. [Irish Tech News]

Friday, February 16:

  • The top US intelligence official warned Congress about the threat of “abrupt” climate change, despite Trump administration efforts to drive climate out of national security discussions. The Director of National Intelligence submitted written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee identifying climate change as a significant concern. [Vox]

Offshore wind substation (Credit: Statkraft)

  • Federal regulators are allowing Anbaric Development Partners to move ahead with a shared transmission system for offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts. The US company plans to solicit customers and sell transmission rights to the 2-GW to 2.4-GW Massachusetts Ocean Grid. Three developers already hold leases off the coast. [reNews]
  • US regulators have removed all market barriers to electric storage, so operators can dispatch power from multiple storage systems, including batteries. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has completed a ruling that allows energy storage companies to directly compete against power plants in wholesale power markets. [Digital Journal]

Saturday, February 17:

  • According to project developer Statoil, the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, has been generating electricity at a level that surpasses expectations through its first three full months of production. Where bottom-fixed offshore wind farms operate at 45% to 60% of rated capacity, Hywind Scotland has averaged 65%. [CleanTechnica]

US wind farm

  • Despite the current Presidential regime’s attempts to defend the coal industry, the US is home to a utility breaking world records for renewable energy development. With 47 GW of renewable capacity already built, NextEra plans to double its rate of install in the next few years, aiming for a total of 10.1 to 16.5 GW for the 2017-2020 period. [CleanTechnica]
  • Massachusetts regulators said that Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect will bring power from Canada to the Bay State if Eversource does not resolve its Northern Pass permitting problems in New Hampshire by March 27. The 1,200-MW New England Clean Energy Connect would run through 145 miles of western Maine. [MassLive.com]

Sunday, February 18:

Goldwind wind farm (Photo: Pzavislak, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “With the US pursuing fossil fuels, alternative, renewable forms of energy could be an even bigger boon to China” • While President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to cut the US government’s clean energy budgets by up to 70%, China has been steadily moving in the opposite direction by exploring alternatives. [Jefferson Public Radio]
  • EPA chief Scott Pruitt staged a quiet visit to Massachusetts, along Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Neal Chaterjee. The two toured the Northfield Mountain Generating Station pumped storage facility in Northfield. The visit was one day before FERC finalized new rules to benefit energy storage facilities. [MassLive.com]

Monday, February 19:

Child looking at wind turbines (Image: Ben Paulos, CC BY 2.0)

  • “Meet the new ‘renewable superpowers'” • A world powered by renewable energy will prize a very different set of resources than we do today. Which countries hold the key to unlocking wind and solar energy, and how will this shake up the world order? University of Swansea’s Andrew Barron discusses some of the issues. [eco-business.com]
  • “La Plata Electric Association grapples with era of change” • Texas utility LPEA is locked into a contract for the next 30 years with its electricity provider, Tri-State. Tri-State generates most of its electricity by burning coal and only promises to increase prices. Expensive and dirty power is not what most LPEA members want. [The Durango Herald]
  • While the rest of the world is warming, one part of the US is getting colder. The Corn Belt has seen summer temperatures drop 1°C (1.8°F) while rainfall increased by 35%. According to research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this time it is agricultural production, not greenhouse gases, that is to blame. [IFLScience]
  • “Tell the EPA: The economic cost of repealing the Clean Power Plan is just too high” • Repealing the CPP would deny Americans the opportunity to create 560,000 jobs and add $52 billion in economic value. That is in addition to the more than 3 million clean energy jobs in the US already, a nonpartisan environmental business group’s report says. [Kansas City Star]

Tuesday, February 20:

Spreading basaltic rock

  • Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK released a study that suggests using granulated basaltic rocks from volcanic eruptions could provide several positive benefits for agriculture and the climate. The benefits include improving soil fertility, cutting amounts of pesticides needed, and increasing carbon sequestration. [CleanTechnica]
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s premier research organization, announced a new form of graphene it says can filter polluted water and make it drinkable in one step. It is a combination of graphene film and nanometer-size channels that allow water to pass but block pollutants. [CleanTechnica]

Pollution from a coal-burning power plant

  • The energy taxes that are currently in place in the world’s top economies are not extensive enough to aid in the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change to a large degree, a study said. The study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development looked at energy taxes in 42 different OECD and G20 economies. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, February 21:

Wind and solar power (Photo: Tadgh Cullen | DP Energy)

  • The South Australian Premier has signalled to voters that Labor will continue its world-leading push into renewable energy, by committing his government to a 75% Renewable Energy Target by 2025 and, for the first time, a Renewable Storage Target. The state is already close to eclipsing its current 50% Renewable Energy Target, set in 2014. [ABC Online]
  • The amount of renewable power produced in 2017 could have powered Britain for the whole of 1958, a report shows. Britain’s output from wind, biomass, solar and hydro grew by more than a quarter to 96 TWh of power, according to the latest Electric Insights report, from researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax. [The Independent]
  • In its benchmark annual Energy Outlook, BP forecast a 100-fold growth in electric vehicles by 2040. Its chief economist Spencer Dale painted a world in which we travel much more, but instead of using private cars, we increasingly share trips in autonomous vehicles. It is the first report in which BP forecast a peak in fossil fuel demand. [The Star Online]



2018-02-15 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, February 8:

  • Moving toward renewable power, American Electric Power is planning to add 8.36 GW of new renewable capacity by 2030. Of this, 5,295 MW is wind power, including the 2 GW Wind Catcher project planned for Oklahoma, which will feature 800 GE 2.5-MW turbines. AEP also aims to develop 3,065 MW of new solar capacity. [reNews]

Farm with wind turbines (Pixabay image)

  • The National Solar Job Census 2017, published this week by The Solar Foundation found that the US solar industry employed 250,271 people in 2017. This is a 3.8% decline on 2016 figures, or around 9,800 fewer jobs. It was the first year that jobs have decreased since the Solar Foundation began publishing its census in 2010. [CleanTechnica]
  • NextEra Energy, parent of Florida Power and Light and owner of several US nuclear power stations, launched a lawsuit against the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s trade group, claiming extortion. Among other things, NextEra accused the NEI of trying to instill a false panic about the reliability of renewable energy sources. [OilPrice.com]

Friday, February 9:

French countryside

  • France added a record of almost 2.8 GW of new renewables capacity to the mainland grid in 2017, according to a report. It said 2,763 MW of new capacity was installed last year, with wind and solar representing 65% and 32% respectively. Total installed capacity of 48,685 MW takes France 94% of the way its 2018 target. [reNews]
  • China filed complaints with the World Trade Organization this week, seeking talks on compensation with the United States for the recent tariffs that President Donald Trump signed off on for imported solar cells and modules and washing machines. China claims the tariffs are inconsistent with two international trade agreements. [CleanTechnica]
  • Wind overtook nuclear to become the UK’s second biggest power generator in January. Independent energy market monitoring specialists, EnAppSys, released data showing high wind generation has recently propelled wind energy to second from the top in the UK’s energy pecking order, after gas-fired power. [Power Engineering International]

Saturday, February 10:

Liangbing Hu and Teng Li (Image: University of Maryland)

  • A research team at the University of Maryland has developed a wood-based material that can compete with steel in the strength category. The secret is compressing the wood after removing the lignin (the tough part that “glues” wood cells together). The remaining material is packed in so closely that it forms strong hydrogen bonds. [CleanTechnica]
  • The budget bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in the early hours of February 9 extends a host of tax credits for energy technologies, including provisions to help the Vogtle nuclear expansion in Georgia as well as US carbon-capture projects. The legislation also provides support for renewable energy. [POWER magazine]
  • Overall US energy consumption decreased slightly to 97.4 quadrillion BTU in 2016, a 0.3% decline from 2015. Compared to 2015, energy consumption increased in 2016 for renewables (+7.3%), natural gas (+3.8%), nuclear (+1.0%), and petroleum (+1.2%). Consumption from coal continued to decline, dropping by 8.5%. [Windpower Engineering]

Sunday, February 11:

Providence skyline (Kenneth C Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “Climate Change Threatens Neighborhoods of the Port of Providence” • In Providence, Rhode Island, rising seas, flood waters, and storm surge have potential to unleash buried and stored toxins along the working waterfront. Concerns about climate change have been met with reassurances that ignore the most important issues. [ecoRI news]
  • President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s military forces to divest themselves of assets related to oil, gas, and energy. This could mean a direct confrontation between ‘liberal’ forces under Rouhani and the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Khamenei forces, of which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the most battle hardened. [Oilprice.com]
  • Dandelion is trying to expand the market for geothermal heating by lowering the price, and it just got a big boost from the federal government. Congress voted to extend a 30% federal tax credit for geothermal heat pump installations. With the state incentives included, a $26,000 system in New York would be more competitive. [InsideClimate News]

Monday, February 12:

Solar powered Alaskan outhouse (Nick Bonzey, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Solar power prices have been dropping faster than people expected, even faster than experts expected, and even faster than bullish experts expected. A leading expert at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that their expectations have dropped to about 37¢/watt. At this price, the cost of electricity from new solar PVs can be disruptive. [CleanTechnica]
  • South Australia’s first green hydrogen plant, one of the biggest of its kind worldwide, will be built near Port Lincoln. The plant will use solar and wind energy from Eyre Peninsula to create hydrogen to be used for fuel for electricity. Proponents say the industry could eventually surpass the value of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar gas exports. [InDaily]
  • With massive amounts of electricity needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, large virtual currency mining companies have established a base in Iceland, which blessed with abundant renewable energy. Iceland is expected to use more energy mining bitcoins and other virtual currencies this year than it uses to power its homes. [Independent.ie]

Tuesday, February 13:

Solar canopies in a Denver car park (Panasonic image)

  • On the outskirts of Denver, not far from Denver International Airport, a grand experiment is underway. Panasonic has partnered with a consortium of local partners to transform a 400-acre patch of greenfield land into a smart district. One goal of the project is that the smart district be built as a carbon-neutral microgrid. [Power Technology]
  • The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census shows that Vermont lost 232 full-time solar jobs between November 2016 and November 2017. Vermont’s solar sector was the most affected by the changes to net metering, and the organization says that the federal tariff on most imported solar panels will make matters worse. [pv magazine USA]
  • Sea level rise is happening at rate that is rising is increasing every year, according to a study released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A professor of aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado-Boulder led researchers, who used satellite data dating to 1993 to observe ocean levels. [CNN]

Wednesday, February 14:

Solar project at Darwin Airport

  • Tesla, fresh from the success of its newly opened big battery in South Australia, has joined 18 other groups competing for the right to build another big battery. This time, the battery will be in the Northern Territory. The big battery in the Darwin-Katherine network will have a nominal capacity of between 25 MW and 45 MW. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US Chamber of Commerce is proposing that the federal government raise the gasoline tax by 25¢ per gallon, in 5¢ increments over 5 years. In theory, the tax hike would go to pay for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, the thousands of roads, bridges, and tunnels that are so substandard they are increasingly unsafe. [CleanTechnica]
  • Clean energy groups are speaking out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, which includes cuts to programs at the DOE and EPA. For the DOE, the budget requests $2.5 billion specifically for “energy and related programs,” which is $1.9 billion below that of FY 2017. [North American Windpower]

2018-02-08 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, February 1:

  • The Trump administration is reportedly seeking a 72% cut to the budget of Department of Energy programs related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. It will ask for $575.5 million, down from $2.04 billion in the fiscal year. Last year, Trump sought $636.1 million in spending for the office, a figure Congress rejected. [The Hill]

Oklahoma wind turbines (Photo: USGS, Wikimedia Commons)

  • New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy signed an executive order that will direct state agencies to implement the 2010 Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act to meet a goal of 3,500 MW of off-shore wind energy by 2030. The executive order will make New Jersey the national leader for off-shore wind commitments. [Environment America]
  • German conglomerate Siemens AG said its quarterly profit dropped at its core industrial division as a global switch to renewable energy ate into its gas-and-oil business. The industrial division, which makes traditional power-generation equipment such as gas turbines, recorded a 14% drop in profit in the three months to December 31. [Fox Business]

Friday, February 2:

Alley cropping walnut and soybeans in Missouri (USDA photo)

  • Agroforestry, an agricultural system that combines trees with crops and livestock on the same plot of land, could play an important role in mitigating climate change because it sequesters more atmospheric carbon in plant parts and soil than farming with conventional methods, according to researchers at Penn State. [Science Daily]
  • New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee voted 7-0 to reject an application for the Northern Pass project, which would have provided clean energy to Massachusetts but was seen as an eyesore by critics who feared it would tarnish scenic views and damage New Hampshire’s tourism industry. The rejection was not expected. [Yahoo News Canada]

Tesla Powerwall

  • With 2,200 stores, Home Depot is one of the largest retailers in America. By July of this year, 800 of those stores will have high-profile displays advertising Tesla products in them. Staffed by Tesla employees, the products they are to feature include Tesla’s solar panels, rooftop solar systems, and the Powerwall storage batteries. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, February 3:

  • Reduced state incentives and new US trade tariffs are likely to speed the decline of small and medium-sized solar power installations, trade group Renewable Energy Vermont said. The number of new net-metered PV panels declined by 50% last year, REV reported, citing data from the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. [BurlingtonFreePress.com]

Wreckage of the Exxon Desert Tanker (Image: azrainman, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Exxon Mobil Corp has reported that it expects global oil demand to drop sharply by 2040 if regulations aimed at limiting the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate are fully implemented. Under this scenario, Exxon projected world oil consumption will drop 0.4% annually to 2040 to 25% below current levels. [The Star Online]
  • Numbers for Australia’s renewable energy installations in 2017 were outstanding, and PV installations produced what were called “eye watering charts.” The latest tally from PV market analysts SunWiz has revealed a record smashing total so far of 1.25 GW of solar PV installed across the year, eclipsing the former record set in 2012. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, February 4:

The village of Andungbiru

  • “This farmer gave 600 homes cheap electricity that the power company couldn’t” • At first, he was mocked by his family and neighbors for being “crazy,” but now, even the national electric company wants to buy his DIY hydro-power operation. It all began with a dream to give his remote Indonesian village a better life. [Channel NewsAsia]
  • A report from the World Resources Institute and the Nature Conservancy says governments around the world have made commitments to reviving nearly 400 million acres of wilderness . As countries push to regrow forests, startups are dreaming up new and faster ways to plant trees. For some innovators that means using drones. [CleanTechnica]

Lake Champlain (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

  • After New Hampshire’s Northern Pass was unanimously rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, a Vermont-based electrical transmission project says it is ready to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy needs. The TDI-New England’s Clean Power Link, through Lake Champlain and Vermont, is fully permitted. [Caledonian Record]

Monday, February 5:

  • South Australia’s project to install solar power and batteries on 50,000 homes started with a call for proposals for innovation in renewables and storage. Tesla’s submission was a virtual power plant with 250 MW of solar PVs and 650 MWh of battery storage. The new project will be the largest virtual power plant in the world. [Interesting Engineering]

2017 Women’s March (Image: Ted Eytan, CC BY 2.0)

  • “Why climate deniers target women” • Harassment is no stranger to the reporters, researchers and policymakers who work on climate change, but it is particularly severe for the women in those fields. Research into public understanding of climate change reveals an important link between sexism and climate denial. [eco-business.com]
  • We have heatwaves more often and researchers are responding with practical climate strategies. Potential techniques for climate engineering include planting crop varieties bred to be lighter in color, use of more reflective mulch, leaving lighter stubble on cropped land, and use of no-till practices that have soil absorb less heat. [North Queensland Register]

Tuesday, February 6:

  • Speaking to parliament, the French foreign affairs minister made his country’s stand on the US decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement quite clear: “One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement.” [CleanTechnica]

New Hampshire power line (NHPR photo)

  • A bipartisan group of New Hampshire lawmakers wants Gov Chris Sununu to support another big power line in the state, now that the future of the Northern Pass project is in doubt. They support National Grid’s Granite State Power Link, a competitor to Northern Pass that is still in the early stages of development. [New Hampshire Public Radio]
  • GM appears to have adopted a new market strategy, which would be to split itself into two components. One would manufacture electric and autonomous cars in China for world markets, and the other would continue to double down on huge fossil-fueled trucks and SUVs for the domestic market, with new offerings to arrive in 2019. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, February 7:

Two booster rockets returning to Earth for reuse (Photo: SpaceX)

  • SpaceX’s big new rocket has blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red Tesla sports car which it released into orbit. The Falcon Heavy rocket rose from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA to send men to the moon. Falcon Heavy cut costs by returning the three main-stage boosters back to Earth to be reused. [The Sydney Morning Herald]
  • One of China’s biggest makers of solar panels, Longi Solar Technology Ltd, said it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against a rising threat of import controls in the US and other markets. New US tariffs are to be applied against solar panels from most producing countries, but not India’s. [PennEnergy]

Spring Canyon Wind Farm outside Peetz, Colorado (Credit: Ryan David Brown | The New York Times)

  • “Why a Big Utility Is Embracing Wind and Solar” • Imagine that first-class airline seats sell for less than the cramped seats in economy. So you fly first class to New York, where you discover that every dish in the best French restaurant is cheaper than the burger and fries down the street. Something rather like that is happening with electricity. [New York Times]