2014-12-10 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, December 4:

¶   This year is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, year on record, a UN agency reported Wednesday. The head of the World Meteorological Organization pointed out that provisional information for 2014 means that 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, adding “There is no standstill in global warming.” [CNN]

¶   Toshiba Corporation announced the development of a new technology that uses solar energy to generate carbon compounds from CO2 and water, and to deliver a viable chemical feedstock or fuel with potential for use in industry. Toshiba introduced the technology at the 2014 International Conference on Artificial Photosynthesis. [PressReleaseNetwork.com]

¶   A recent Pembina Institute fact sheet discusses how wind energy is subsidizing Albertan ratepayers. During 2013, the average price for wind energy was 5.5¢ in Alberta, lower than hydro (9.8¢), natural gas (8.3¢), coal (7.7¢), and peaker (21.4¢). Generators usually prefer natural gas to wind because the profit margin is bigger and revenues are more certain. [CleanTechnica]

¶   US lawmakers today voted to reinstate renewable energy tax credits through the end of 2014, rather than a multi-year extension as the wind power sector and others had urged. The production tax credit expired in 2013. The House voted 378-46 in favor of the one-year extenders package and sent the legislation to the US Senate. [reNews]

Friday, December 5:

¶   PV arrays coupled with battery storage systems are becoming the “new normal” in Australia’s wide-open spaces. The number of installations continue to increase as governments and businesses begin to realize the new reality of off or edge-of-grid solar plus storage affordability. A key to change is increasing familiarity with the technology. [RenewEconomy]

¶   China State Grid Corp will spend about 400 billion yuan ($65 billion) this year on its electricity networks as the nation, which last month reached a deal with the US to curtail fossil fuels, copes with an unprecedented influx of clean energy and higher demand. Spending will need to be maintained at current levels for the next five years. [Businessweek]

¶   The USDA’s Rural Utility Service’s Energy Efficiency & Conservation Loan Program allows rural utilities to borrow money at low rates – 30 years at 3.3% – for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at their facilities or properties owned by the customers it serves. Utilities may re-loan the money at a slightly higher rate. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, December 6:

¶   Conventional natural gas is still a fossil fuel with significant carbon emissions that need to be contained. However, there is renewable natural gas, which can be blended into the natural gas supply. There is a wide variety of technologies and feedstocks that can be used to produce renewable natural gas at competitive costs. [Breaking Energy]

¶   Volvo Trucks North America’s New River Valley assembly plant in Dublin, Va., is now carbon neutral thanks to a switch to renewable fuels to produce power. The assembly plant uses landfill gas to generate electric power and replaces fossil fuels that produced over 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide last year. [Truckinginfo]

¶   Elon Musk’s so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be paired with rooftop solar panels to store power. Already, a second company led by Musk, SolarCity Corp, is packaging solar panels and batteries. [Businessweek]

Sunday, December 7:

¶   “Energy coming out of the woodwork” Biomass power plants pay taxes and provide jobs all across Maine. So the folk in Maine should understand EPA analysis, that biomass is “likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions, or even reduce such impacts, when compared with an alternate fate of disposal.” [Press Herald]

¶   While such technologies as batteries, pumped-hydro, and flywheels have their merits, none is able to offer seasonal deep storage at the terawatt scale. Power-to-Gas is an elegant innovation that simply takes excess renewable electricity to create renewable hydrogen and methane for injection into natural gas pipelines or use in transportation. [Energy Collective]

¶   Things are really cooking up in congress over the war on wind energy’s production tax credit. In the latest twist, a coalition of US Governors has waded into the fray with a letter to House leadership, citing a drop — yes, a drop — in electricity prices over the past five years, in states that have been producing more wind energy. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, December 8:

¶   2014 is currently on track to be hottest year on record, according to new reports from both the World Meteorological Organization and the UK’s Met Office Wednesday. Similarly, NOAA reported two weeks ago that 2014 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record. The last time a record was set was 2010. The time before that was 2005. [Energy Collective]

¶   The European Environment Agency published a report recently stating that air pollution cost the EU up to $235 billion for the year 2012. Most of this air pollution is generated by coal-fired power plants. (In the US, the cost of coal-based pollution has been estimated to be $500 billion, but that goes beyond air pollution.) [CleanTechnica]

¶   November was a “big month” for Scottish wind power, according to new figures. Scottish wind turbines produced enough electricity to power 2.6 million homes for the month, equivalent to 107% of households, while eleven days in November saw wind power generate enough electricity to supply every home in the country. [Deadline News]

Tuesday, December 9:

¶    Ceres, a nonprofit promoting investor support for efforts on climate change, has sent a letter endorsed by 223 companies to President Obama, in support of EPA’s controversial proposed standard for existing power plants to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Combined assets of the companies is $10 trillion. [National Legal and Policy Center]

¶   Revenues from renewables for electric power generators jumped by 49% to $9.8 billion from 2007 to 2012, while revenues  from the fossil fuel sector fell by 6.7% according to the Census Bureau. But wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass and solar accounted for just 8.2% of all industry revenues in 2012. [Electric Co-op Today]

¶   The Georgia Public Service Commission has warned for at least two years that Southern Co subsidiary Georgia Power is relying on an outdated project schedule for two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia that contains almost no detail after December 2015, even though construction will continue for several more years. [Access North Georgia]

¶   Right now only a couple of stations in Oklahoma and Texas are selling $2 gas. But the price of both oil and wholesale gas declined again Monday. Oil is already at a 5-year low, at less than $65 a barrel, and analysts think it could bottom out at $35 next year. Next year’s full-year average could be as low as $53, said Morgan Stanley analysts. [CNN]

Wednesday, December 10:

¶   Proponents of carbon capture and storage (CCS) say it is the only feasible way to mitigate climate change because coal and natural gas are cheap. A study has now revealed how much it CCS would cost. It would be $17.6 trillion for the initial investment, and CCS power plants will use 10% to 40% more energy than non-CCS ones. [CleanTechnica]

¶   Oil prices have plummeted in recent months, from $115 a barrel in June to less than $70. That dramatic shift could increase greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, as consumers take advantage of cheap fuel. It also gives policymakers a “golden opportunity” to scrap fossil fuel subsidies and bring in carbon pricing. [RTCC]

¶   The US installed 1,354 MW of solar PV in the third quarter of 2014, up 41% over the same period last year. The country’s cumulative solar PV capacity is now 16.1 GW. The US residential segment exceeded 300 MW for the first time for the quarter, with more than half coming online without any state incentives to help it along. [CleanTechnica]

¶  Mary Powell, President & CEO of Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest utility, was just named Power-Gen 2014 Woman of the Year. Judges selected Powell because of how she has advanced the power generation industry, the positive impact she has made on her community, and her leadership. [Marketwired]

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