2016-01-28 Energy Week

Thursday, January 21:

  • Last year was the warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA and NASA. While many expected 2015 would finish in first place, the margin of victory was startling. Global temperatures were 1.62˚F (0.90˚C) above the 20th century average, passing the previous record by 20%. [CNN]
Arctic sea ice decline September 1979 to May 2015. Image by NSIDC. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Arctic sea ice decline September 1979 to May 2015. Image by NSIDC. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

  • Falling oil prices are driving investments in renewable power in oil-producing countries. With oil at below $30 a barrel, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Kuwait are looking to curb fossil fuel use at home to maximize export profits, and so they seek alternative energy sources for electricity. [The Guardian]
  • Oil is in free fall. Last year, 42 US energy companies went bankrupt, owing more than $17 billion, according to a report from law firm Haynes & Boone. The four biggest US banks have set aside at least $2.5 billion combined to cover souring energy loans and may have to increase that amount. [Bloomberg]
  • A climate change program including New York and other northeastern states won’t be enough for the states to reach 2030 goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unless more is done, a report warned.The report coincided with an announcement that 2015 was the hottest year on record. [Albany Times Union]
  • Local officials from communities around Vermont are demanding a greater say in the siting of wind and solar energy projects. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns on Wednesday brought local officials and activists from around the state to the Statehouse to express their concerns. [Beaumont Enterprise]

Friday, January 22:

  • Tens of thousands of dead birds have washed up on the beaches of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, an unexplained mass die-off. They are a sign the ecosystem was being troubled by abnormally warm ocean water off the coast of Alaska, a sign that some experts say may be related to the changing climate. [CNN]
Common Murres are dying. Photo by Richard Crossley. CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported. Wikimedia Commons.

Common Murres are dying. Photo by Richard Crossley. CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported. Wikimedia Commons.

  • Green Mountain Power, in Rutland, Vermont, offers an “extreme energy makeover” that can go as far as customers want in scaling down their energy use, even going off the power grid, CEO Mary Powell said. At the same time, Green Mountain has lowered electric rates three times in the past four years. [Madison.com]
  • The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a request from Texas and other states to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, leaving the climate change rules in place while courts hear a legal challenge. The court wrote that the stringent requirements for a stay were not met. [Texas Tribune]

Saturday, January 23:

  • Construction of the world’s largest floating solar power plant, set to cover an area of the Yamakura Dam reservoir the size of 37 football fields, has begun in Japan. The plant, scheduled for completion in March 2018, will generate an estimated 16,170 MWh per year, enough to power approximately 4,970 households. [Newsweek]
Rendering of the 13.7MW plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Chiba Prefecture, Japan

Rendering of the 13.7MW plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir in Chiba Prefecture, Japan

  • Global solar PV installation for 2015 increased 34% over 2014 numbers, reaching an estimated 59 GW by the end of the year. This, according to preliminary numbers from GTM Research published today. GMT expects the US and China to lead the way towards a total installation of 64 GW in 2016. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, January 24:

  • Lake Poopó is more than 12,000 feet above sea level on Bolivia’s semi-arid Andean plains. Even though the lake has dried up before, according to experts, this time the recovery will no longer be possible. “This is a picture of the future of climate change,” a glaciologist said. (The lake’s area was about 250,000 acres.) [Laurel Leader Call]
Fishing boats on what was once a shore.

Fishing boats on what was once a shore.

  • A broken submarine cable and a drought have left Tasmania with electric supply problems. Stakeholders point out that Tasmania is one of the best places in the world to harvest wind, hydro and solar energy. The Environment Minister said the government would consider adding renewable power. [Tasmania Examiner]
  • This week voters in the village of Hyde Park and the town of Stowe each approved building community-based solar projects. Once online, the projects will help the small municipal electric departments meet the new renewable energy standards Vermont passed into law last year. [Vermont Public Radio]
Blue skies over the Village of Hyde Park, a welcome sight for a community that just approved a 1-MW solar project. Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Blue skies over the Village of Hyde Park, a welcome sight for a community that just approved a 1-MW solar project. Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Monday, January 25:

  • A new study found that the melting Greenland ice sheet might affect a key aspect of global ocean circulation, which in turn could drive changes in Earth’s climate. It is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. It’s a massive ocean current system that’s critical to the stability of our climate. [Newsweek]
A map of the surface currents (solid curves) and deep currents (dashed curves) that form a portion of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. USGCRP / R. Curry / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A map of the surface currents (solid curves) and deep currents (dashed curves) that form a portion of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. USGCRP / R. Curry / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

  • Some researchers suggest northern sea ice can bounce back and continue its role as refrigerator of the world. One has shared a vision for restoring sea ice at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco last month. More than 20,000 scientists attend the weeklong meeting. [Alaska Dispatch News]
  • The minister responsible for Germany’s energy transition from coal and nuclear to renewables says solar and wind energy have clearly won the technology race. He said Germany’s task now is to focus on integration, digitizing the grid, and on storage, efficiency, transport, and building and industrial heat. [RenewEconomy]

Tuesday, January 26:

  • Energy storage costs could decrease up to 70% in the next 15 years, according to a report,E-Storage: Shifting from Cost to Value. The report also explains a number of previously unquantified values of energy storage, such as improved grid reliability and predictability of generation needs. [CleanTechnica]
Grid storage installation. Sandia.gov photo

Grid storage installation. Sandia.gov photo

  • The UK faces a 40% to 55% electricity supply gap if the government implements its plans to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025 on top of retiring ageing nuclear power stations, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It is unrealistic to fill the gap by building gas or nuclear plants. [reNews]

Wednesday, January 27:

  • Bhutan is now generating electricity using the wind in addition to water. Wind powered electricity was provided for over 300 houses with the inauguration of two 300-kw wind turbines in Rubesa, Wangdue. The Asian Development Bank provided a grant of $2.7 million. [Kuensel, Buhutan’s National Newspaper]
Blowing in the wind: The two turbines will generate enough electricity to power 300 houses.

Blowing in the wind: The two turbines will generate enough electricity to power 300 houses.

  • Switch to Clean Energy Can Be Fast and Cheap • Even when optimizing to cut costs and limiting themselves to existing technology, scientists showed that renewables can meet energy demands and slash carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 80% below 1990 levels, while saving money. [Scientific American]
  • The Hinkley Point nuclear plant could be delayed after EDF postponed yesterday’s meeting where the company was due to finally decide whether to invest. The decision to invest in Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in decades has been put off due to funding difficulties. [Central Somerset Gazette]
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