2015-06-25 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, June 18:

  • Pope Francis has clearly embraced what he calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that is endangering the planet. The pope has also lambasted global political leaders for their “weak responses” and lack of will over decades to address the issue. [National Catholic Reporter]
  • A team of scientists working on studies in microbiology at Columbia University have devised tiny engines powered by evaporation. The devices generate electricity from the energy produced by bacterial spores known as Bacillus subtilis, which exhibit strong mechanical responses to changing relative humidity. [Mashable]
Photo from YouTube video Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water by ExtremeBio

Photo from YouTube video Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water by ExtremeBio.

  • Denmark has launched a new tender round for 350 MW of near-shore wind farms off the east coast of Jutland. The turbines must be a minimum of 7 MW, which would provide a capacity factor of 60% and produce low cost electricity. This is in contrast to what would come from the Hinkley nuclear plant. [CleanTechnica]
  • The UK’s Conservative government is to end subsidies to onshore windfarms from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than set out in the previous Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition agreement. There will be a grace period for projects already having planning permission, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. [The Guardian]

Friday, June 19:

  • North Elba, New York, has decided to use a small-scale anaerobic digester designed for source-separated municipal food and organic wastes at a regional level. BIOFerm Energy Systems/Viessmann Group will supply the system, the first of its kind in the US. The project is expected to begin this year. [Biomass Magazine]
This small-scale EUCOlino digester will be used at North Elba to generate power from community food waste. BIOFerm Energy Systems/Viessmann Group photo.

This small-scale EUCOlino digester will be used at North Elba to generate power from community food waste. BIOFerm Energy Systems/Viessmann Group photo.

  • The annual overview of the European electricity market, from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, says 33% of electricity produced in the EU now comes from renewables, of which 18.5% is hydropower and 14.4% “other renewables” (mostly wind and solar power). [CleanTechnica]
  • The California Senate passed SB 350, legislation that sets a goal of 50% electricity from renewables in the Golden State by 2030. The bill doesn’t stop there, though; it also calls for doubling the energy efficiency of buildings in the next 15 years, and cutting petroleum use in transportation by half. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, June 20:

  • Sixty-five million years ago, the dinosaurs disappeared in what’s known as the Earth’s fifth mass extinction. Today, a sixth mass extinction could be well underway and humans are most likely the culprit, through environmental changes including deforestation, poaching, overfishing, and global-warming. [CNN]
Moho nobilis, extinct. Others will follow. Painting by John Gerrard Keulemans, 1842-1912. Copyright expired in the US. Wikimedia Commons.

Moho nobilis, extinct. Many more will follow to extinction. Painting by John Gerrard Keulemans, 1842-1912. Public domain; copyright expired in the US. Wikimedia Commons.

  • “The Pope Is an Energy Wonk. Engineers Agree with His Assessment.” The Pope’s teachings are supported by the most comprehensive engineering analyses of the US power grid. The National Renewable Energy Lab summarized nine in-depth engineering analyses. [The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists]
  • According to the Carbon Brief, the EU’s energy usage is at 1990 levels despite “a 6% increase in population and a 45% expansion of economic output.” This results from better building insulation and product energy efficiency, uptake of renewables, vehicle fuel efficiency standards and economic changes. [CleanTechnica]
  • The NRC has cleared the way for Entergy Nuclear to take $220 million of the $660 million Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust fund to help pay for handling spent nuclear fuel. NRC regulations prohibit such a use of the funds, but the NRC has been granting exemptions to nuclear power plants. [Rutland Herald]

Sunday, June 21:

  • The government of the Australian Capital Territory is on track to reach its 90% renewable energy target by 2020 despite needing to quadruple its current supply in just 4½ years. The current figure of 18.6% is set to dramatically increase over the next two years, with wind playing a dominant role. [Brisbane Times]

Monday, June 22:

  • A little-known startup energy storage company called UET just announced a major milestone for its latest flow battery project. The company’s CEO says, “The Uni.System’s levelized cost ($/total GWh delivered over 20 year life) is multiple times lower than the cost of lithium-ion systems such as Tesla.” [CleanTechnica]
  • A report from the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy says the proposed Hudson Valley power line project only serves utility companies and their suppliers. It says New York consumers gain more with locally generated renewable energy sources, and better reliability without the lines. [Public News Service]
  • The sixth annual US Clean Tech Leadership Index has been released. The index, prepared by Clean Edge, a research and indexing firm founded in 2000, tracks and ranks clean-tech activities in all 50 states and the largest 50 metro areas in the US. This year, four states in the Northeast are in the top ten. [CleanTechnica]

Tuesday, June 23:

  • The mayor of Los Angeles announced that the city will sell its shares in the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, based in Arizona. The sale is part of Garcetti’s pledge to make LA coal-free by 2025. Instead of relying on coal-fired power, the city is turning to renewable geothermal power. [LA Magazine]
The Navajo Generating station emitting flue gas. Photo by Myrabella. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Wikimedia Commons.

The Navajo Generating station emitting flue gas. Photo by Myrabella. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Wikimedia Commons.

  • A survey by the financial services firm Wiser Capital indicates roughly two-thirds of large US investment firms plan to prioritize solar energy over the next 5 years. Roughly 80% of the firms queried stated interest in solar energy that was based at least partly on desire “to support a cleaner energy future.” [CleanTechnica]
  • Presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has proposed an ambitious clean energy plan that would call for the United States to use all renewable sources by 2050. O’Malley tied his proposal to Pope Francis’ recent call to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. [Utility Dive]

Wednesday, June 25:

  • This month, Lake Mead, the 112-mile reservoir created by the Hoover Dam, is projected to hit 1,074.73 feet above sea level, the lowest it has been since 1937. Thanks to a 16-year drought and serious over-allocation, Lake Mead is now just 37% full. This means higher electricity costs for 29 million people. [High Country News]

Lake Mead in 2014, showing its low-water bathtub ring. Photo by Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia Commons.

  • The impact of climate change is so great that it could undermine the last 50 years of gains in global health. That is the assessment of a new report from the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate, an independent, international and multi-disciplinary research group. Similar findings come from the US EPA. [Voice of America]
  • The renewable-energy boom is here. Trillions of dollars will be invested over the next 25 years, driving some of the most profound changes yet in how humans get their electricity. That view is according to a new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that plots out global power markets to 2040. [Livemint]



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