2015-11-25 Energy Week

Please note that this post is being developed.

Thursday, November 19:

  • Ten years ago, Walmart made a pledge to become environmentally clean and shift to 100% renewable power. Now, a report, titled Walmart’s Dirty Energy Secret: How the Company’s Slick Greenwashing Hides Its Massive Coal Consumption, found that the company is “one of the nation’s largest users of coal-fired electricity.” [CleanTechnica]
  • Vermont’s Green Mountain Power announced last week that it reached its 112-MW net metering cap for solar power, 15% of their peak load. Now, it has asked state regulators for permission to buy 7.5 MW more of net metered solar power. The net metering cap does not apply to consumers with home-sized solar installations. [vtdigger.org]
  • A study commissioned by Massachusetts’ Attorney General concludes that New England does not need additional natural gas pipelines to maintain energy reliability in the coming years. The authors of the report accounted for the recent announcement that the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth will close by 2019. [Foster’s Daily Democrat]

Friday, November 20:

  • While many countries continue to drag their feet on reducing emissions, individual cities are taking the lead and setting ambitious renewable energy targets. Some have already made the transition to 100% renewable energy. Here in the US, four cities or population centers stand out as having gone 100% renewable. [EcoWatch]
  • The world could be powered almost entirely by clean, renewable energy sources in the space of a few decades, and two US engineers say they have figured out exactly how it can be done. One of them, Mark Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineer at Stanford University, has been granted two opportunities to speak at COP21. [ScienceAlert]
  • In Australia, a 1320-MW coal-fired power station has been sold by the NSW Government for just $1 million to a former ERM Power chief and a coal mining executive. As an illustration of how cheap this purchase price is, to replace such a coal power plant with a newly constructed plant would cost well over $2 billion. [Business Spectator]
  • A Public Citizen report, “Clean Power, Clear Savings,” shows that energy bills will fall in every state by 2030 as a result of the Clean Power Plan compared to a business-as-usual scenario, including the states contesting the plan. The Clean Power Plan, finalized in August, sets targets for reducing carbon pollution in each state. [citizen.org]

Saturday, November 21:

  • Spain has made renewable energy a top priority, and the investment has paid off: 42% of Spain’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2013. The majority comes from wind power, but solar provided 13% of the country’s energy and is growing. Spain is also home to the largest solar farm in the world, Andasol. (Photos) [Tech Insider]
  • By adopting bicycles and electric bikes for just 10% of urban trips, we would save some $24 trillion between now and 2050, as well as reducing GHG emissions from motor vehicles by about 11%, according to a report from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy. About 6% of urban trips are already on bicycles. [CleanTechnica]
  • The city of Portland, Oregon, has unanimously passed a new resolution to block the expansion of new fossil fuel storage and transport activities in the city. The resolution is the first of its kind to be passed in the US, and represents a pretty big victory for activists concerned about climate change. It can serve as an example. [EV Obsession]

Sunday, November 22:

  • Two years ago, a global energy company abandoned plans to build a $120 million pilot wind farm off Maine’s coast following opposition from the Governor Paul LePage. Now it is moving ahead with a similar project in Scotland. The decision is inviting an examination of what Maine may be losing in terms of jobs and investment. [Press Herald]
  • The Greens will seek to build momentum for more ambitious action on climate change by calling for the creation of a new government authority to help Australia reach a 90% target for renewable energy by 2030. The party has already adopted the goal, but the new policy document spells out how this could be achieved. [The Guardian]
  • Republicans are taking aim at a new “Green Climate Fund,” as they look to weaken President Obama’s hand in global climate talks later this month. The pot of money, a $3 billion climate change pledge the administration made last year, is something officials hope to bring to the negotiating table at United Nations summit in Paris. [The Hill]

Monday, November 23:

  • In Climate Science, two of the three Democratic presidential candidates are ‘A’ students, while most of the Republican contenders are flunking, according to a panel of scientists who reviewed candidates’ comments. The climate and biological scientists did the rating at the request of The Associated Press. [Watertown Public Opinion]
  • Most people know global oil prices have crashed this year. This was caused by a massive supply glut created by ferocious production from OPEC and near-record US output. The oversupply problem is so bad that oil tankers waiting to be offloaded are piling up off the US Gulf Coast because there’s nowhere to put the crude. [CNN]
  • Battery costs are falling to the point that they are becoming increasingly viable as an option for uses such as supporting the stability of power grids. New electricity storage installed on to the grid to support renewables is likely to grow more than 60-fold from 196 MW of capacity now to 12,700 MW in 2025, according to Navigant. [Irish Times]
  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries. Emerging market investments in renewables hit a record annual high of $126 billion in 2014, up $35.5 billion from 2013 levels. [Jakarta Post]

Tuesday, November 24:

  • Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, according to researchers from the Cambridge University. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future. [The Ecologist]
  • The EU’s renewable energy requirements are forcing coal-based power plants to use biomass fuel. Swaths of woodlands in Southeastern United States are being cut down to fuel the biomass boom across the Atlantic. A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council points out that 15 million acres of unprotected forests are at risk. [Digital Journal]
  • Allianz CEO Oliver Baete said the company will no longer invest in companies if more than 30% of sales come from coal mining or if they generate more than 30% of electricity from the fossil fuel. Allianz manages about €1.8 trillion in assets, focusing on the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Britain and the Asia-Pacific region. [Newser]
  • A research study has found that using more solar power in Arizona could save 15 billion gallons of water annually. Most of the water used in Arizona is for agriculture, but another common usage is for cooling natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants. Obviously, operating rooftop solar power does not require such water use. [CleanTechnica]

(Show is to be recorded on Wednesday, November 20 at 10:00 am. Wednesday’s stories will be covered on December 3.)



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