2014-12-23 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, December 18:

  • The Australian Coalition government’s latest witch-hunt against wind energy has not produced a lot of fertile fodder for the anti-renewables brigade. In fact, after a month it has elicited a single contribution, from a pro-nuclear dooms-dayer who says nuclear energy will be helpful to keep us warm in the impending ice age. [RenewEconomy]
  • Over the next two years, America will build roughly 13 GW of utility-scale solar PV plants, more the country’s cumulative solar capacity across all sectors reached at the end of 2013. Why? Utilities are now able to consistently buy solar electricity from large plants for between 4.5 cents and 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. [Energy Collective]
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Dec. 17 that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York, following the release of a long-anticipated study that concluded fracking could pose “significant public health risks.” 96% of all papers published on health impacts of fracking indicate potential risks or adverse health outcomes. [Wisconsin Gazette]
  • The Senate voted 76-16 to extend the biodiesel and renewable energy production tax credits – as well as dozens of other tax breaks – in one of its final acts before adjourning Tuesday. The measure extends the tax breaks for a year – but retroactive to their expiration last January, so the clock runs out again on December 31. [Houston Chronicle]
  • As flagship nuclear projects run into long delays and huge cost overruns, solar and wind power are falling in price. Renewables already supply twice as much power as nuclear, and are winning out just about everywhere. They now supply over 19% of global primary energy and 22% of global electricity. Nuclear is at 11% and falling. [The Ecologist]

Friday, December 19:

  • In largely positive review of US energy policy, the International Energy Agency scolded the federal government for failing on consistent long-term policy support for energy with low carbon emissions, such as nuclear power and renewables. The IEA recommends a 5-year extension of the wind tax credit, gradually reduced to zero. [Forbes]
  • The amount of clean power made in Scotland has matched that produced from fossil fuels for the first time, in a record year for renewables, ­according to the latest figures. Renewable sources accounted for 32% of all Scottish electricity  – equal to the output from oil, coal and gas. Nuclear power stations provided 34.9 per cent. [Scotsman]
  • Two recent studies disproved the ideas that wind farms affect health and property values, and now a review by the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Highlands and Islands’ Environmental Research Institute found that 99% of seabirds are likely to alter their flight paths to avoid collision with offshore wind turbines. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, December 20:

  • In Scotland, developers have announced that construction work on the world’s largest tidal energy project is set to begin next month. The MeyGen project, a 269-turbine installation, is expected to power 175,000 homes. Atlantis has secured more than £51 million in funding for the first phase of the project. [stv.tv]
  • India has offered to set up an insurance pool to indemnify global nuclear suppliers against liability in case of a nuclear accident in a bid to unblock billions of dollars held up by US investors over concerns of exposure to risk. Currently, nuclear equipment suppliers are liable for damages from an accident. [domain-B]
  • Lincoln Electric System says it has agreed to buy additional supplies of wind energy. The customer-owned electric utility says it plans to buy 73 MW by 2016 from the Prairie Breeze II Wind Energy Center in northeastern Nebraska and 100 MW from the Buckeye Wind Energy Center in Kansas. It plans to add 5 MW of solar power by 2016. [Omaha World-Herald]
  • A new analysis lays out several detailed “pathways” to a low-carbon future for the US, and offers practical guidance for policy makers. There are multiple ways we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with known technologies and with an incremental cost equivalent of less than 1% of gross domestic product. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Sunday, December 21:

  • Global funds for India’s aggressive plan to install “ultra mega solar power plants” have begun to flow with the World Bank ready to support a 750-MW power plant. This is 200 MW more than the capacity of the largest PV plant in the world. The project would require a total investment of about $1.3 billion. [CleanTechnica]
  • TEPCO finished on Saturday removing all nuclear fuel assemblies from the cooling pool at the No. 4 reactor building at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO started the fuel removal work at the No. 4 reactor building in November 2013. Last month, it finished transferring spent fuel assemblies. [The Japan News]
  • Britain’s nuclear power stations are under threat from attacks by drones, it has been claimed. A London-based nuclear expert investigated the issue after a spate of mysterious and illegal flights by small unmanned vehicles over more than a dozen power stations in France. He warned that British nuclear plants were equally vulnerable. [Daily Mail]

Monday, December 22:

  • Southern California Edison retired its San Onofre nuclear reactors and will retire natural gas units with environmentally troublesome cooling systems, so it invited proposals for power storage and new gas-fired power plants. Storage won in a surprising number of cases. Demand response proposals also did well. [New York Times]
  • Solar and wind power projects are much less financially risky than other power projects, since cost overruns tend to be way lower, especially when compared to nuclear or hydropower plants, which have rather insane cost overruns. Aside from these, there are many economic reasons to favor power from the sun or wind. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US Department of Commerce announced its final findings in the 3-year long trade war between the US and China. Additional tariffs will be imposed on modules from China and Taiwan. Although this is good news for SolarWorld and other American solar PV manufacturers, some in the US solar industry are not celebrating. [AltEnergy Stocks]

Tuesday, December 23:

  • The current 45% drop in oil prices will only have a modest impact on renewables in many key markets, although the implications will vary significantly by geography and technology, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They point out that a decline in fracking will likely make renewables even more competitive. [Business Green]
  • US corporates are stepping up to do their part on climate change. As the costs of wind and solar energy continue to fall, corporate purchasing of clean energy is reaching new heights in 2014, creating a virtuous cycle where demand drives scale, which lowers prices, which then spurs more demand. And there are other improvements. [The Guardian]



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