2016-02-04 Energy Week

Update on a story from January 24:

  • We had a story on January 24 about Lake Poopó going dry because the Chacaltaya glacier that fed it disappeared. This picture shows the world’s highest ski resort at the Chacaltaya glacier in La Paz, Bolivia. The glacier is gone. Skiing is a thing of the past here.
The world's highest ski resort at the Chacaltaya glacier in La Paz, Bolivia.

Photo by Ville Miettinen from Helsinki, Finland. CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, January 28: 

  • Australia’s power sector is at risk of a “utility death spiral” due to its reliance on coal, according to a report by the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise. Utilities in the US, Japan and Germany are similarly exposed. The risk is partly from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. [Sydney Morning Herald]
The bad bets we have made on fossil fuels will haunt us for decades. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

The bad bets we have made on fossil fuels will haunt us for decades. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

  • The American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s Washington-based trade group, reported that 2015 was its third-best year because of major expansions especially in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. In a major shift, Iowa leapt ahead of California as the No. 2 wind-power state. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
Wind generators on a wind farm near Hartland, Minn. Minnesota. Photo by David Brewster.

Wind generators on a wind farm near Hartland, Minn. Minnesota. Photo by David Brewster.

Friday, January 29: 

  • The past 30 years in Europe have likely been the warmest in over two millennia, new research says. The study used tree ring records and historical documents to reconstruct yearly temperatures going back 2,100 years. It says European summers have warmed 1.3° C between 1986 and 2015. [BBC]
Two thousand years of summer temperatures

Two thousand years of summer temperatures

  • According to Global Construction Review, France is planning to pave 621 miles of its roads with polycrystalline silicon solar cells over the next five years. If the initiative is successful, it could produce enough power for about 5 million people’s homes — roughly 8% of the country’s population. [Mic]
Solar roadways in the Netherlands. Source: Peter Dejong/AP

Solar roadways in the Netherlands. Source: Peter Dejong/AP

  • A group of companies has filed a proposal to diversify New England’s energy supply via the Vermont Green Line transmission project. The partners say the proposal, “The Wind and Hydro Response,” is designed bring clean power to Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. [North American Windpower]

Saturday, January 30: 

  • Why cheap oil isn’t bad for the environment • A lot of opposing forces are shaking the old assumptions. In the jaws of bargain oil, the US DOE expects Americans to increase their use of renewable power this year by almost 10%. Why is this time different? There are many factors, and nearly all favor renewables. [The Daily Advertiser]
  • The wave of optimism that followed last month’s climate change deal in Paris is wending its way down Wall Street. Investors and financiers meeting in New York this week vowed to harness their trillions of dollars in collective wealth to develop clean energy projects and curb the planet’s carbon emissions. [International Business Times]
  • Duke Energy is seeking collaboration on climate change, a spokesman said. The company hopes North Carolina will start a less confrontational approach on the federal Clean Power Plan, working with the EPA and stakeholders in the state to develop a workable program for carbon reduction. [Charlotte Business Journal]
  • As many US power companies fight the federal Clean Power Plan, Xcel Energy took a different path Friday, declaring the utility’s Minnesota operations are “nearly certain” to comply with the plan’s greenhouse gas reductions through cost-effective investments over the next decade. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

Sunday, January 31: 

  • Politicians take note: Iowa is the US’s most wind-powered state – and everyone loves it! • Wind supplies 30% of the state’s power, more than any other US state. Windpower also gets real bipartisan support in Iowa. A recent poll taken by Public Opinion Strategies shows an 85% approval rating. [The Ecologist]
Wind power in Iowa, where it’s big, getting bigger, and everyone loves it. Photo by Bill Whittaker. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Wind power in Iowa, where it’s big, getting bigger, and everyone loves it. Photo by Bill Whittaker. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

  • A new design from Sandia National Laboratories, for wind turbines with gigantic blades longer than two football fields, could help bring 50-MW offshore wind turbines to the United States and the world. The design’s load-alignment is bio-inspired by the way palm trees move in storms. [Windpower Engineering]
Todd Griffith shows a model of the cross-section of a 50-meter blade. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

Todd Griffith shows a model of the cross-section of a 50-meter blade. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

  • Oregon’s two biggest electric utilities told state regulators that their compromise plan to eliminate coal-fired electricity and meet half their customers’ demand with renewable energy would be affordable, technically feasible and preferable to ballot measures that environmentalists propose. [OregonLive.com]
  • The head of Hitachi has warned that the debacle surrounding the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant throws up “very serious concerns” about its own investment in the UK. He said the setbacks experienced by Hinkley’s developer EDF raised questions about how plants are funded. [Yahoo Finance UK]

Monday, February 1:

  • A Goshen, Indiana, Green Cow Power Energy Center, has two anaerobic digesters that turn waste from the 1,500 cows on a nearby dairy farm into electricity. Its three engines produce 3 MW of electricity, and it transfers enough energy to power 1,900 homes for a year to NIPSCO’s substation in Wakarusa. [South Bend Tribune]
Andrew Sloat, at Green Cow Power in Goshen, walks through the engine room. SBT Photo/Becky Malewitz

Andrew Sloat, at Green Cow Power in Goshen, walks through the engine room. SBT Photo/Becky Malewitz

  • Exxon predicts our energy mix won’t change a whole lot over the next 25 years. In fact, Exxon Mobil projects that oil and gas will actually increase by 2040. This unfortunate future stems from the age-old conundrum of trying not to eat sugar when your pockets are full of candy. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]
Gas flaring

Gas flaring

Tuesday, February 2:

  • Collaborating with Ecotricity, the Royal Society For Protection Of Birds installed a new wind turbine at RSPB Headquarters at the Lodge. A 100-meter wind turbine will deliver 1.85 million kWh per annum. The Director of Conservation says research shows the turbine is not in an area where birds will be endangered. [CleanTechnica]
It’s windpower for the Royal Society For the Protection of Birds.

It’s windpower for the Royal Society For the Protection of Birds.

  • The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, deciding that demand response should be regulated at the federal level and ensuring that the demand response industry can continue its impressive progress. Demand response was a $1.4 billion market in the US in 2015. [CleanTechnica]
  • Maine has New England’s biggest pipeline of wind projects in the works, and developers of nine projects have asked for long-term contracts with utilities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The projects altogether would add another 2,140 MW, about 3.5 times Maine’s current capacity. [Bangor Daily News]

Wednesday, February 3:

  • The more people know about fracking, the more likely they are to oppose it, a survey for the Government shows. Of those who said they knew a lot about fracking, 53% were against it. This compares to 33% who said they were in favour of it, the poll tracking attitudes to energy policies has revealed. [The Guardian]
An anti-fracking march in Sussex. Photograph: Natasha Quarmby / REX / Shutterstock

An anti-fracking march in Sussex. Photograph: Natasha Quarmby / REX / Shutterstock

  • Non-hydro renewable energy sources accounted for 63% of all new power generation capacity installed in the USA in 2015, the latest report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) shows. There were 7,977 MW of wind turbines installed in the country, which is 48.39% of the year’s total. [SeeNews Renewables]
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