2015-10-29 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, October 22:

  • One of the world’s leading experts on permafrost told BBC News the recent rate of warming of permafrost is “unbelievable,” about one-tenth of a degree C per year in northern Alaska since the mid 2000s. He says the current permafrost evidence has convinced him that global warming is real and not just a product of natural variation. [BBC]

This "drunken forest" of collapsed black spruce is also a sign of the melting permafrost. Science Photo Library

  • Apple announced plans to build solar energy projects with a capacity of 200 MW in the northern, eastern and southern regions of China, while iPhone supplier Hon Hai Precision, also know as Foxconn, said it will add solar power plants with a capacity of 400 MW, supplying the Zhengzhou factory in Henan province, by 2018. [Mobile World Live]
  • It was announced that a strategic investment agreement has been signed for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK. The Renewable Energy Association said it is struggling to see the larger joined-up vision of a national energy strategy. The strike price for nuclear power is about double that of solar. [SeeNews Renewables]
  • Globally, coal mining companies are on the edge of the financial abyss. More planned coal plants are being cancelled than built, as renewable energy is attracting more investment than coal, a WWF report says. In 2014, 59% of net additions to global power capacity were from renewable energy, nearly 80% in Europe. [Blue & Green Tomorrow]

Friday, October 23:

  • By population, Ontario would be the 5th largest state if it were in the US, but its installed solar capacity, 1,500 MW would rank it 3rd. The province has also shut down all its coal-fired power plants. How does a northern province become a solar and climate leader, despite one of the poorest solar resources in North America? Smart policy. [CleanTechnica]
  • At 12:30 am Thursday, the main Texas grid operator reported that nearly 37% of demand was met with wind power. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, which manages nearly 90% of the state’s electric needs, said it used 12,237.6 MW of wind power at the time. That bested a previous record of 11,467 MW. [mySanAntonio.com]

Saturday, October 24:

  • Typical industry scenarios see coal, oil and gas use growing by 30% to 50% and still making up 75% of the global energy supply mix in 2040, but none take into account the potential for reducing fossil fuel demand as ever-more countries seek to ‘decarbonize’ their economies, according to a new Carbon Tracker Initiative report. [National Observer]
  • The EPA officially issued the Clean Power Plan, regulations on power plants to cut carbon emissions part of the Obama administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions by more than 30% by 2030. The plan requires each state to create an effective plan to meet emissions cuts at power plants, but 24 states will fight the new rules in court. [Voice of America]
  • Friday’s 24-state lawsuit seeking to block the EPA’s Clean Power Plan showed a rift between Colorado’s governor and attorney general. Governor Hickenlooper supports the EPA plan, but Attorney General Cynthia Coffman will fight it. Some accuse her of being unduly influenced by the fossil fuel industry. [The Colorado Statesman]
  • Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has been a forceful proponent of renewable energy during his three terms in office. But a recent proposal by Ranger Solar LLC to construct 20-MW solar arrays in six Vermont communities, Ludlow, Brandon, Highgate, Randolph Center, Irasburg, and Sheldon, is going too far, he said. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]

Sunday, October 25:

  • In Norway they use Teslas as taxis. Norwegians have the highest per capita ownership of the prestige plug-in. Taxi driver Trond Gustav Somme has owned his Tesla for the past two years, trading up from a Nissan Leaf. Mums and dads are also opting for a Tesla instead of a big Volvo; not only is it cooler, it’s cheaper. [New Zealand Herald]
  • Less than two years after Vermont almost quadrupled the amount of renewable power that customers could sell back to their electric utilities, at least one utility has reached the cap. Vermont’s largest utility, Green Mountain Power expects to reach the net-metering cap of 15% of their peak load by early next year. [Rutland Herald]

Monday, October 26:

  • Almost 100% of climate scientists now agree that global climate change is caused by humans. If you believe this is not a serious problem, you owe it to yourself to look at the the pictures with this article. They show how climate-change-related events have affected regions around the world, whether directly or indirectly. [Businessinsider India]
Click on image to view slideshow.

Click on image to view slideshow.

Click on image to view slideshow.

  • After dropping to a 20-year low last year, Colorado coal production is still falling, state data shows. Statewide, 2015 production through August totaled 13.9 million tons, down from 15.5 million tons for the same period of last year. Production totaled nearly 40 million tons in 2004 and under 23 million tons last year. [Grand Junction Daily Sentinel]
  • Coal is becoming obsolete. For the first time, the UK renewable energy market has moved ahead of coal for a whole quarter. In the period of April to June, renewable energy was responsible for supplying 25% of the UK’s energy needs. Meanwhile coal, a traditional mainstay of the British electricity market, fell to just 17%. [Pollution Solutions]
  • A complex of four linked solar mega-plants, along with hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020. When they are finished, the four plants at Ouarzazate will generate 580-MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes. The first, Noor 1, has a generating capacity of 160-MW. [The Guardian]

Tuesday, October 27:

  • Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced her support for the Clean Power Plan yesterday evening, making her the first Republican Senator to support the landmark policy to curb carbon pollution from power plants, protect vulnerable communities, and galvanize America’s transition to a clean energy economy. [eNews Park Forest]
  • The Florida Supreme Court approved a new ballot initiative that aims to expand the state’s use of solar energy. The ballot is backed by Floridians for Solar Choice, a solar energy advocacy group. The group now has to get 683,149 petition signatures before February 1, 2016, for the initiative to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. [Hydrogen Fuel News]
  • Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said he will seek the state Supreme Court’s opinion on the legality of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s lawsuit to stop implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Coffman’s office has joined 23 other states filing a lawsuit together against the EPA’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. [The Denver Post]

Wednesday, October 28:

  • If oil stays around $50 a barrel, most Middle Eastern oil producing countries will run out of cash in five years or less, warned a dire report from the International Monetary Fund this week. That includes OPEC leader Saudi Arabia as well as Oman and Bahrain. Low oil prices will wipe out an estimated $360 billion from the region this year alone. [CNN]
  • This year, China will become the world’s biggest installer of solar panels, but as companies increasingly struggle to secure the vast land banks they need for solar farms, they face greater needs to get around restrictions on converting agricultural land. So they grow everything from plants to hairy crabs beneath the solar cells. [Financial Times]
  • Austin, Texas just might become the most solar powered city in America. It has approved an additional 162 MW of solar capacity, adding to 288 MW already in the works and 220 MW installed, bringing the total to 670 MW. In case you wonder about costs, the 162 MW round of project set of contracts were at $38/MWh to $40/MWh. [CleanTechnica]

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