2015-12-22 Energy Week

Thursday, December 17:

  • More than 200‚000 homes in South Africa are receiving power from the world’s largest storage solar farm near Upington in the Northern Cape. Just two years after the start of construction‚ the ACWA Solafrica Bokpoort CSP Power Plant is now operating at full capacity‚ ahead of schedule. [Times LIVE]
An array of solar panels at the Bokpoort plant. The power captured by day is used after sunset. Image by Ramón Vidal

An array of solar panels at the Bokpoort plant. The power captured by day is used after sunset. Image by Ramón Vidal

  • China is missing no opportunity to build a future without fossil fuels, abroad as well as at home. It is investing in the construction of the UK’s first new nuclear power station in 20 years. But most Chinese energy investment is in renewables, and it has decided to support developing solar power in France. [eco-business.com]
Solar power is not widely used in France. Collector dish of a solar oven at Font Romeu, France. Image: Shutterstock

Solar power is not widely used in France. Collector dish of a solar oven at Font Romeu, France. Image: Shutterstock

  • In a major boost to the wind and solar industries, Congressional leaders agreed on a multiyear extension of renewable energy tax credits, which could provide several years of predictable policies, encouraging investment in new projects. The tax credits are part of a 2,009-page omnibus-spending bill. [POWER magazine]
  • Green Mountain Power says it is not supporting plans by a New York company to build a giant solar farm in the town of Ludlow, Vermont. The 20-MW Coolidge Project would be by far the largest solar farm in the state. GMP, the governor, and others, think the project is out of scale with Vermont’s energy needs. [WCAX]

Friday, December 18:

  • After many long months of deliberations and lobbying, the US Congress has approved five-year extensions to the hugely successful Investment Tax Credit, which has given incentives for solar power projects, and to the Production Tax Credit, which has similarly supported for the country’s wind energy industry. [CleanTechnica]
  • German wind power is at record levels. Its production tied with lignite-burning power plants in the month of November. Both were reported to have generated 11.4 TWh, though the final official stats won’t be published until 2016. For the month, wind generated about 23% of Germany’s electricity. [CleanTechnica]
German wind farm via Shutterstock

German wind farm via Shutterstock

  • New York state regulators approved upgrades to 156 miles of high-voltage transmission lines running from Utica to New York City via the Capital Region, part of the governor’s Energy Highway program. Bidding for contracts will be overseen by the New York Independent System Operator. [Albany Times Union]

Saturday, December 19:

  • On Friday, workers at Britain’s last operating deep coal mine finished their final shift, emerging, soot-blackened and live on television news channels, to cheers, applause and tears. The last haul of coal from the pit is destined for a mining museum as a once-mighty industry fades into history. [Tampabay.com]
Britain’s last coal miners. Photo by John Giles / PA via AP.

Britain’s last coal miners. Photo by John Giles / PA via AP.

  • Energy analysts from the UK-based investment bank Barclays gave quick analysis of the results of COP21. Lead analyst Mark Lewis says the implications for the fossil fuel industry are profound, and will likely cause it to suffer a loss in revenue of around $33 trillion (US) out to 2040 over business as usual. [CleanTechnica]
  • According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, wind turbines in Texas set a state-record for wind generated electricity of 12.97 GW on the day before Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day itself, wind power in Texas provided 43.55% of the state’s total electricity demand. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US lifted a 40-year-old ban on the export of oil, paving the way for energy deficient countries to import oil. The ban was lifted when President Barack Obama on Saturday signed into law the Omnibus US$1.8 trillion spending package and tax bill for the current fiscal ending September 30, 2016. [The Malaysian Insider]
A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in China. Reuters / Stringer / Files The Asia File – Nov 11 2015

A worker walks past oil pipes at a refinery in China. Reuters / Stringer / Files The Asia File – Nov 11 2015

  • Vermont Technical College in Randolph, Vermont, will use more renewable energy to reduce its operating costs while providing new educational opportunities with the installation of a 500-kW solar farm. The solar farm has its Certificate of Public Good and may be complete by February. [Solar Novus Today]

Sunday, December 20:

  • With the big animals gone forever, climate change could get worse, according to a study. University of East Anglia research says a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species because they disperse seeds. [Financial Express]
  • Delhi has been shrouded in a toxic soup in recent weeks, pushing PM 2.5 levels more than 10 times over the WHO’s recommended safe limit. These fine particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease. [Yahoo7 News]
Anger, fear at Delhi’s pollution ground zero

Anger, fear at Delhi’s pollution ground zero

  • The governor of Massachusetts is launching a $30-million residential solar loan program. The program is tuned for loans between $3,000 and $60,000 with low, fixed interest rates and should help the state reach its goal of 1,600 MW by 2020. The state currently has 985 MW. [WLNE-TV (ABC6)]
  • In Minnesota, a three-year, $260 million emissions-reduction project for the Boswell Energy Center’s 585-MW Unit 4, Minnesota Power’s largest coal-fired generating unit is complete. The upgrade will reduce mercury emissions by 90% and reduce the emission of sulfur dioxide and particulates. [Grand Forks Herald]
Large cranes were used to install new equipment at Minnesota Power's Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset as part of a three-year, $260 million emissions-reduction project. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Power)

Large cranes were used to install new equipment at Minnesota Power’s Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset as part of a three-year, $260 million emissions-reduction project. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Power)

Monday, December 21:

  • Opinion: Boom Times Ahead For US Clean Power, Thanks To Oil Lobby • The Intertubes have been buzzing with news of the new US federal budget deal, which basically gave away the store to the clean power industry by including a 5-year extension of key tax credits for wind and solar power. [CleanTechnica]
  • A new solid-state sodium battery development project being researched at Iowa State University was awarded $3 million in new funding via ARPA-E’s 2015 OPEN funding initiative, according to recent reports. (ARPA-E stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy.) [CleanTechnica]
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has provided $4 million support toward a feasibility study for a pumped storage plant at the disused Kidston Gold Mine in North Queensland. Genex Power Limited plans to use the existing mining pits as water storage reservoirs. [International Business Times AU]
Solar PV will provide th majority of the daytime electricity requirements of Australia’s largest renewables mine. Image from ARENA.

Solar PV will provide th majority of the daytime electricity requirements of Australia’s largest renewables mine. Image from ARENA.

  • A survey in South Carolina conducted by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions says voters not only expect renewable energy support from elected officials, they now demand it. 80% of S.C. Republican primary voters think renewable-energy sources should be a priority. [The State]
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