2015-07-30 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, July 23:

  • Given the availability of solar power at 4¢ per kWh, a price with which crude oil could only compete if offered below $7 per barrel, the ‘carbon bubble’ is expected to burst, Wermuth Asset Management has warned. According to the company, this will have profound implications for the Middle East’s oil producing countries, global financial markets and the world. [Trade Arabia]
  • Renewable energy sources accounted for nearly 70% of new electrical generation placed in service in the US during the first six months this year. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Energy Infrastructure Update, wind alone accounted for nearly 2 GW of new generating capacity – or 50.64% of all new capacity year-to-date. [North American Windpower]
  • Scituate is the first community in Massachusetts to generate 100% of its power for public buildings from green energy sources. The town installed the solar farm at the former landfill 2 years ago and the wind turbine was erected 3 years ago on the Driftway. Vice-chair of the Scituate Board of Selectmen John Danehey said each project has earned the town over $250,000 annually. [95.9 WATD-FM]

Friday, July 24:

  • In June, Dutch district court ordered the Netherlands to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 25% lower than 1990 levels by 2020. This is several percentage points deeper than the 17% reduction the country had been envisaging. The same reasoning used by the Dutch judges for declaring tort law valid for dealing with climate change could be applied elsewhere. [CleanTechnica]

The Netherlands has long embraced renewable energy, but some judges say it must do more. Uberprutser, CC BY-SA.

  • Developers in Oklahoma and other windy states are ramping up construction on wind farms in the wake of a last-minute renewal of a key federal tax credit that took place at the end of 2014. The American Wind Energy Association said 13,600 MW of capacity was under construction across 101 projects in 24 states. Oklahoma is expected to add another 1,440 MW. [NewsOK.com]
  • The earlier revenue-neutral New York State Carbon Tax proposal has now transformed into a combined tax credit and investment proposal, according to the Network For Sustainable Financial Markets. The proposal would allow for tax credits to low-income groups, in addition to encouraging investments for reduced carbon emissions or climate change mitigation. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, July 25:

  • Up until mid-last year, oil prices hovered over $100 per barrel, but with its excessive production paired with falling demand, the prices have declined by half and stayed low. The coal industry has also been struggling. Years of buildup in the mining capacity have forced global coal prices to tumble and there’s little hope that the industry will be back firmly to its knees. [CleanTechnica]
  • The state of Massachusetts has a goal to produce 1,600 MW of solar power by the year 2020. To do this, the state Senate voted on Thursday to raise the maximum amount of solar power permitted to be resold by consumers to the main grid. This is part of a far larger bill intended to fight against climate change, called the Climate Change Preparedness Bill. [Apex Tribune]
  • Almonds, vilified during the current drought for being one of California’s thirstier crops, have a surprisingly small carbon footprint compared to other nutrient-rich crops, according to a report from a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis, and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. California grows about 80% of the world’s commercial almonds. [UC Davis]

Sunday, July 26:

  • “Coal is losing the war” While coal industry supporters blame the EPA for its decline, coal’s enemies also include the vast natural gas industry, rising renewable energy, decreased global demand, Wall Street and deep-pocketed nonprofits that deem coal a public-health threat. And they have recently notched a host of victories that show the war is becoming a rout. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Air pollution at a power plant before EPA-required updates. US National Park Service photo. This photo is in the public domain because it was prepared by a federal employee for the US government.

  • An IMF study says worldwide energy subsidies are much greater than previously known. The combination of direct and indirect subsidies is projected at $5.3 trillion in 2015, or 6.5% of global GDP. Most of this arises from countries setting energy taxes below levels fully reflecting damage to the environment associated with fossil fuel consumption. Country-level estimates are available. [imf.org]

Monday, July 27:

  • An Entrade Energiesystems E3 micro-scale biomass CHP plant has passed 1000 hours of operation (nearly seven weeks), with almost no human interference. The plant produces 22 kW of electrical energy and 55 kW of thermal energy, and plants can be connected in series. The unit fits in a standard shipping container, and can be installed in less than a day. [Renewable Energy Focus]

An Entrade Energiesystems E3 micro-scale biomass CHP plant has passed 1000 hours of operation (nearly seven weeks), with almost no human interference. The plant produces 22 kW of electrical energy and 55 kW of thermal energy, and plants can be connected in series. The unit fits in a standard shipping container, and can be installed in less than a day. [Renewable Energy Focus] Photo: © ENTRADE Energiesysteme AG

  • Although Kodiak Island relied on hydropower for 80% of the electricity, it also burned 2.8 million gallons of diesel oil, costing $7 million, per year. Kodiak Electric Association set a goal of producing 95% of the community’s electrical needs with renewable energy by 2020. They actually arrived there well ahead of time, and are now 99.7 % renewably powered. [GreenBiz]
  • Schneider Electric, S&C Electric Company, and Oncor, which does transmission and distribution, teaming up to put together a microgrid featuring nine separate distributed generation sources along with energy storage infrastructure. Oncor says the project is the “most advanced microgrid in North America,” and will provide insight into optimization strategies. [CleanTechnica]
  • Developers of a plan by a Swanton family for what could become Vermont’s latest large-scale wind power project want to ask for state approval before the end of the year in hopes that construction can begin on what may be a seven-turbine, 20-MW installation before the end of 2016. The Swanton Wind project would be on a ridge northeast of St. Albans. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]

Tuesday, July 28:

  • Norway is hoping to become the “green battery of Europe” by using its hydropower plants to provide instant extra electricity if production from wind and solar power sources in other countries fade. Engineers believe they could use the existing network to instantly boost European supplies and avoid other countries having to switch on fossil fuel plants to make up shortfalls. [Climate News Network]

Norwegian dam. Statkraft photo.

  • FERC issued its monthly report on new US generating capacity. CleanTechnica added a careful estimate of new rooftop solar capacity, and here are the numbers: 44% of new capacity came from wind power, 41.5% came from solar power, 13% was biomass, and 2% was natural gas. Overall, for the first half of 2015, renewables accounted for 78.4% of new capacity. [CleanTechnica]
  • Warren Buffett joined leaders of a dozen major US businesses at the White House in calling for robust action on global warming. Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, Walmart, General Motors, Cargill, Bank of America and others announced over $140 billion in investments in low-carbon projects and other actions as they shift toward greater reliance on renewable energy. [Omaha World-Herald]
  • Bill Fehrman, CEO of MidAmerican Energy, said Monday the company could get up to 57% of its energy from wind with its latest renewable energy project. Wind’s growing presence in MidAmerican’s portfolio is encouraging, and so is news that the utility is looking to invest in Iowa solar projects; both community solar and utility-sized solar are being considered. [DesMoinesRegister.com]

Wednesday, July 29:

  • ABB has commissioned and handed over the DolWin1 offshore wind grid connection to the Dutch-German transmission system operator TenneT. The 800 MW link connects offshore wind farms around 75 kilometers off the German coast with the country’s transmission grid. The DolWin1 grid connection can integrate enough power to supply around one million households. [PennEnergy]

ABB wind energy grid connection.

  • A surprise backer of a 50% renewable energy target at the Labor Party’s weekend conference was Australia’s largest coal mining and energy union. The president of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union supports Labor’s energy policy, on the condition a Labor government provide assistance for thousands of workers who might lose their jobs. [The New Daily]
  • Germany’s transition from coal-fired and oil-fired power to carbon-free electricity hit a new milestone on July 25, when solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy met 78% of the day’s energy demand. That beat the old record of 74%, made in May 2014, according to Craig Morris, a journalist who has covered Germany’s energy scene for more than a decade. [TakePart]
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