2016-03-24 Energy Week

Thursday, March 17:

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. (Photo: Adam Cohn / flickr / cc.)

A child scavenges for coal scraps in a slum in Manila. (Photo: Adam Cohn / flickr / cc.)

  • Nearly a quarter of all deaths around the world are caused by living and working in toxic and polluted environments, and the worst affected are children, the poor, and the elderly, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO). [CommonDreams]
  • NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported a spike in CO2 levels this week, 3.05 ppm, which was the largest year-to-year increase ever observed in the 56 years of recording and research done at the station. It was the fourth consecutive year that CO2 grew more than 2 ppm. [CleanTechnica]

03-17 eia image

  • This is likely to be the first year in which natural gas has a higher market share for electricity generation than coal does, federal analysts predict. EIA is predicting that when 2016 ends, natural gas will have generated 33% of the country’s electricity, compared to 32% for coal. [The Hill]

Friday, March 18:

Waterspout off the Florida Keys. Photo by Dr. Joseph Golden, NOAA. US Government image. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Waterspout off the Florida Keys. Photo by Dr. Joseph Golden, NOAA. US Government image. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

  • So … was that climate change? • While the broad trends of climate change, and our role in causing it by burning fossil fuels, have been clear for decades, it was not possible until recently to tie a specific storm, drought, flood or heat wave to long-term warming trends. Thankfully, that’s changing. [CNN]
Temperature departures from normal for the month of February 2016

Temperature departures from normal for the month of February 2016

  • February smashed the previous record for the warmest February and even became the warmest month ever compared to average, according to NOAA. February temperatures averaged 1.21° C (2.18° F) above the 20th century average. The past three months hold the top three places. [CNN]
  • Doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030 could save $4.2 trillion annually, 15 times the costs. This is the primary conclusion from a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency. It examines options to boost renewable energy from its current 18% to 36% by 2030. [CleanTechnica]
  • The California Public Utilities Commission gave the 392-MW Ivanpah CSP park more time to reach the output levels agreed in its power purchase agreement. Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to give the owners of the power plant until end-July 2016 to improve performance. [SeeNews Renewables]

Saturday, March 19:

This wind farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern helps the entire state to run on 100% renewable energy. Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr (CC BY).

This wind farm in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern helps the entire state to run on 100% renewable energy. Photo: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr (CC BY).

  • Dispelling the nuclear ‘baseload’ myth: nothing renewables can’t do better! • The main claim used to justify nuclear is that it’s the only low carbon power source that can supply ‘reliable, base-load electricity. But renewables can match grid demand continuously in a way nuclear power cannot. [RenewEconomy]

03-19 Cumulative_induced_seismicity

  • This is already turning out to be a very bad year for the “clean” image of natural gas, with earthquakes in Oklahoma, water pollution in Pennsylvania, a gas leak in California, and new federal emissions scrutiny. Now a proposed LNG export terminal on the Oregon coast failed to get approval. [Triple Pundit]
  • According to a report by the Lazard investment fund, the cost of electricity generated with wind power fell 61% in the years from 2009 to 2015. And the cost of solar energy fell 82%. This puts renewables into a price range that is competitive with fossil fuels, coal, or oil. [Manila Bulletin]

Sunday, March 20:

  • The Spanish utility company Endesa purchased 410 GWh of solar electricity, during a recent solar energy auction for Portugal and Spain, at a price of €39.6/MWh ($43.82/MWh). The quarterly auctions relate to roughly 500 GWh of generation, varying at the various times of year. [CleanTechnica]
    (This is extremely important. In this case, the wholesale price of unsubsidized solar power has fallen below 4.4¢/kWh. Even with the price of battery storage added, it competes with electricity from natural gas at a time when the price of gas fuel is low.)
Abandoned UK farmhouse on the edge open-pit mine. Photo by Robert Guthrie. CC BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Abandoned UK farmhouse on the edge open-pit mine. Photo by Robert Guthrie. CC BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

  • The UK government will make a net-zero emissions goal that it agreed to at the COP21 talks in Paris the law, following advice from the Committee on Climate Change, according to recent reports. The UK’s legal target will change from an 80% emissions reduction to net-zero. [Sustainnovate]
  • The growth of cheaper renewable power is outpacing that of nuclear in India, and renewables now account for much more production. In fiscal year 2014-2015, renewable energy accounted for 5.6% of electricity generated in India, against 3.2% for nuclear power. [The Hans India]

Monday, March 21:

2010, 2014, and 2015 were all record-breaking years. Climate Central Graph.

2010, 2014, and 2015 were all record-breaking years. Climate Central Graph.

  • According to NASA, February 2016 was the most anomalously warm month in 135 years of record keeping – 1.35° C (2.43° F) warmer than the 1951 to 1980 average. While the recurring El Niño event certainly drives short-term oscillation, the long-term warming trend is quite apparent. [CleanTechnica]
Drought and heatwave affected London Plane Trees. Photo by Bidgee. CC BY-3.0 unported. Wikimedia Commons.

Drought and heatwave affected London Plane Trees. Photo by Bidgee. CC BY-3.0 unported. Wikimedia Commons.

  • The first four days of March saw maximum temperatures in much of Australia 4° C above average, and 8° C to 12° C above average in most of southeastern parts, a Climate Council report says. It argued that heat impacts lent urgency to climate mitigation efforts. [The Marshalltown]

Tuesday, March 22:

Map by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Map by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

  • The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has found a lease request for a floating wind project of up to 800 MW off California to be qualified and will proceed with the next step in its leasing process. It is the first formal interest in wind development off the California coast. [SeeNews Renewables]
  • Together, China, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia have plans for 1,824 coal power plants, three-quarters of the total worldwide. But analysis from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit suggests fewer than half of those, and possibly as few as 500, will be built by 2020. [Climate Home]
  • Apple today announced that 93% of its facilities run on renewable energy, including 100% of its facilities in the US, China, and 21 other countries. Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Issues made the announcement. Apple had set a goal of 100% renewable two years ago. [The Verge]

Wednesday, March 23:

St. Petersburg Florida. Photo by John O’Neill. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

St. Petersburg Florida. Photo by John O’Neill. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

  • Officials of St Petersburg, Florida, are taking on the seemingly daunting challenge of remaking the way the city consumes energy. It will be one of the 100 US cities to embark on the Sierra Club’s “Ready for 100” campaign, opting for 100% renewable energy for all municipal power needs. [Creative Loafing Tampa]
  • PowerStream unveiled Canada’s first of its kind virtual power plant. The virtual power plant dubbed Power House, is meant to showcase how residential customers can simultaneously generate their own clean energy and work together as a virtual power plant to augment the grid. [CTV News]
  • US wind farms now pay $222 million dollars a year to farming families and other rural landowners, according to new data released by the American Wind Energy Association today, with more than $156 million dollars going to landowners in counties with below average incomes. [Windpower Engineering]
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