2016-02-18 Energy Week

Thursday, February 11:

A coal train enters the Craig Station power plant near Craig, Colo. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

A coal train enters the Craig Station power plant near Craig, Colo. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

  • Opinion: Why Colorado Requested A Pause On The Clean Power Plan, But Isn’t Taking It • Colorado regulators say they will press forward on President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail emissions from coal-fired power plants, despite a temporary pause issued by the U.S. Supreme Court for the Clean Power Plan this week. [Colorado Public Radio]
  • The Brattle Group study says that the America’s 50 million residential electric water heaters can address bigger challenges such as storing energy from wind farms and solar arrays. The study examined smart technologies focused on water heaters, which use 9% of US household electricity. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
  • A leading source of solar analysis, IHS, published the latest edition of its Solar Deal Tracker this week, in which it finds that the global solar PV pipeline has now exceeded 200 GW, thanks in large part to the extension of the US Investment Tax Credit. Of the PV projects 110 GW are in the US, China, or Brazil. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, February 12:

Golden Eagle. (photo credit: Dave Taylor via Flickr)

Golden Eagle. (photo credit: Dave Taylor via Flickr)

  • To Minimize Wind Power’s Impact on Birds & Bats, The Dept. of Energy Can Use AWWI As A Model • The Audubon Society says climate change threatens over half of American bird species. The American Wind Wildlife Institute has studied ways to protect wildlife and can be a model. [Natural Resources Defense Council]
  • China installed half of all new wind capacity worldwide last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The country added an “astonishing” 30.5 GW to boost installations to 145.1 GW. It overtook the EU, which added a record 6 GW to increase its capacity to 141.6 GW, for the first time. [The Guardian]
Wind farm. Image Credit: Depositphotos

Wind farm. Image Credit: Depositphotos

  • Nearly three-quarters of major US energy deals made in 2015 were for renewables assets, and nearly three-quarters of the new generation capacity built in 2016 will be renewables, according to a study newly released by the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions. Here are eight trends shaping the change. [Utility Dive]

Saturday, February 13:

Image courtesy of the Earth Policy Institute/Bloomberg

Image courtesy of the Earth Policy Institute/Bloomberg

  • Opinion: Is This The Best Solar Chart Yet? • Solar energy has been in a boom of late (one that will arguably continue for a long while). One might ask why the technology has found increasing footholds in the global marketplace? Well, the graph below puts it more succinctly than I could, so have a gander. [CleanTechnica]
  • In what could reflect a paradigm shift in power generation in India, officials of the state-owned utility NTPC said one reason for low plant load factor at their thermal power stations is due to increased share of clean energy. The plant load factor has declined to 77.8% in 2015 from 79.3% in 2014 and 85% in 2012-13. [Business Standard]
  • Infrared video taken Friday confirmed that the Southern California Gas Company has stopped the flow of natural gas leaking from a well at a facility near Los Angeles. SoCalGas said a relief well had “intercepted the base of the leaking well” and operators were pumping fluids to temporarily keep the gas from leaking. [CNN]
Farmer and sons in a dust storm, Oklahoma, 1936. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1915-1985. US Farm Security Administration photo. Wikimedia Commons.

Farmer and sons in a dust storm, Oklahoma, 1936. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1915-1985. US Farm Security Administration photo. Wikimedia Commons.

  • US scientists have modelled how a 1930s-like dustbowl drought might impact agriculture today, and found it to be just as damaging. But the research shows the effects to be very sensitive to temperature, meaning the potential losses would be far worse later this century if Earth’s climate heats up as expected. [BBC]

Sunday, February 14:

Renewable energy is becoming increasingly viable, a trend that could potentially be a game-changer for investors pulling away from fossil fuels. Photograph: Alamy

Renewable energy is becoming increasingly viable, a trend that could potentially be a game-changer for investors pulling away from fossil fuels. Photograph: Alamy

  • Have we reached the tipping point for investing in renewable energy? • Between 2014 and 2015, New York City’s biggest pension fund lost $135 million on fossil fuel holdings. Fossil fuel investments have cost 15 of Australia’s top funds an estimated $5.6 billion. Profitable sustainability is coming of age. [The Guardian]

Monday, February 15:

Increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma to April, 2015, projected through the end of the year. USGS data.

Increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma to April, 2015, projected through the end of the year. USGS data.

  • According to the US Geological Survey, three earthquakes were recorded along the Kansas-Oklahoma border just a day after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake shook northwest Oklahoma. The state’s stronger and more frequent earthquakes have been linked to wastewater disposal associated with fracking. [KSAL]
India and China are cutting coal imports. India’s fell 34% last year and Chin’a declined 31%. Image: Shutterstock

India and China are cutting coal imports. India’s fell 34%
last year and Chin’a declined 31%. Image: Shutterstock

  • Investors in fossil fuels are being warned that they may risk losing their money, because the markets for coal and liquefied natural gas are disappearing. In both cases it is competition from renewables as their costs fall, principally wind and solar power, that is being blamed for the threat. [eco-business.com]
  • The Supreme Court put a hold on the Clean Power Plan, but many states are engaged. Colorado, New York, California, Virginia and Washington, and, at least, a dozen more have pledged to continue the work they have already started to come into compliance with the Clean Power plan to combat global warming. [Digital Journal]

Tuesday, February 16:

Installing solar panels in Oregon. Credit Oregon Department of Transportation

Installing solar panels in Oregon. Credit Oregon Department of Transportation

  • The Oregon House approved a bill that would eliminate the use of coal power in Oregon by 2030 and double the state’s renewable energy standard goal for 2040. The bill was passed, with utility support, under pressure as they are trying to head off ballot measures in the general election in November. [KLCC FM Public Radio]
Whitelee wind farm in Scotland. Author: ms.akr. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

Whitelee wind farm in Scotland. Author: ms.akr.
License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

  • British demand response specialist Flexitricity Ltd said National Grid has adopted its Footroom service, which can make use of excess wind power. The service will have industrial, commercial and public-sector sites paid to adjust generation or consumption on request, so wind farms need not be shut down. [SeeNews Renewables]
  • GTM Research has released its latest solar report, which found that 20 US states are at grid parity today, with 42 expected to reach that milestone by 2020. With a decline in costs of solar PVs and increases in retail electricity rates, the economics of home solar systems have become increasingly attractive. [CleanTechnica]
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued an executive order that prohibits state agencies or departments from developing plans to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Walker argued that the effects of the EPA’s plan would fall heavily on coal-dependent manufacturing states like Wisconsin. [The Daily Cardinal]

Wednesday, February 17:

Colorado solar plant

Colorado solar plant

  • Opinion: Clean Power Doesn’t Need a Federal Plan • Last week, the Supreme Court put a stopper on the US Clean Power Plan. From the get-go, the CPP was criticized for being unconstitutional and unnecessary. Well, barring the legal applications of the plan, at least one of those accusations may turn out to be true… [Energy and Capital]
  • In Germany and Portugal, a new drop-in biofuel process has emerged which is cost competitive with $30 oil, according to the inventors. The process breaks even with crude oil, on an 10-year amortized basis for capex, at roughly $20.30 per barrel of crude oil (assuming refining costs of $8.66 per barrel). [biofuelsdigest.com]
  • Oil prices fell on Tuesday despite Saudi Arabia and Russia agreeing to freeze oil output at January levels if other producers follow suit. The announcement came after ministers from the two nations met in Doha along with their counterparts from Venezuela and Qatar. Brent crude fell 2% to $32.77 a barrel. [BBC]
  • A bipartisan group of 17 governors announced a new initiative by their states to advance clean energy, encourage clean transportation, and modernize energy infrastructure. The Governors Accord for a New Energy Future follows a Supreme Court ruling last week to temporarily block the Clean Power Plan. [Environment America]
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