2016-10-13 Energy Week

Visitors Please Note: This blog is maintained to assist in developing a TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. The post is put up in incomplete form, and is updated with news until it is completed, usually on Wednesday. The source is geoharvey.wordpress.com.

Within a few days of the last update, the show may be seen, along with older shows, at this link on the BCTV website: Energy Week Series.

Thursday, October 6:

European Union ratifies the Paris Agreement, making it international law (audiovisual.europar.europa.eu)

European Union ratifies the Paris Agreement, making it international law (audiovisual.europar.europa.eu)

  • In Strasbourg, France, yesterday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the UN’s climate group (COP 21), Ségolène Royal, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker witnessed the European parliament’s signed approval of the ratification of the Paris Agreement. [CleanTechnica]
  • Opinion: “ExxonMobil Says Its Shale Oil Assets Are Not Threatened, While COP21 Paris Agreement Ratified: Something Has To Give” • The COP21 agreement is now law, and yet oil majors are still contending that the price of oil will recover. Peabody Energy has a similar view about its prospects for expanding production of coal. [Seeking Alpha]
  • We may soon have gasoline from forest waste. This week, the US EPA proposed some biofuel rule changes that would enable producers to add willow trees and poplar trees to the renewable fuel mix. Only last month, researchers at Washington State University announced a process to extract high-purity lignin as a source material. [CleanTechnica]
  • New analysis from Carbon Brief shows UK solar panels generated more electricity over the past six months than all the nation’s coal-fired power stations combined. Solar output over the period was equivalent to 5.2% of the UK’s overall electricity demand; nearly 10% than that of coal, which totalled 4.7% of demand. [Energy Matters]

Friday, October 7:

The kite to provide power (Kite Power Solutions Ltd)

The kite to provide power (Kite Power Solutions Ltd)

  • A commercial-scale, 500-kW kite-driven power station is set to be created in Scotland. The kites fly to heights of up to 450 meters in a figure-of-eight pattern, pulling tethers as they rise, which turn a turbine that produces electricity. Two kites work in tandem, one being blown upward as the other floats back down. [The Independent]
  • Time is running out for those Ohio Republicans who want to change the state’s renewable energy standards, and a battle with Governor John Kasich could ensue. Legislation passed in 2014 put a two-year freeze on the standards while committee worked on modifications. Unchanged, the standards go back into effect at the beginning of 2017. [WCPO]

Saturday, October 8:

Coal power station (Credit: Flocko, via Wikimedia)

Coal power station (Credit: Flocko, via Wikimedia)

  • If the European Union is to meet the terms laid out in the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 by 80-95% compared to 1990 levels, the Member States have to act fast, and act now, beginning the process of decarbonizing, according to a report just published by the European Environment Agency. [pv magazine]
  • Residential prices for electricity have dropped this year for the first time since 2002, despite worries that shutting down coal-fired power plants and relying more on wind and solar would ruin the economy, according the Energy Information Administration. This it not what the defenders of burning coal said would happen. [Houston Chronicle]
    Coal conveyor belt (AP Photo / David J. Phillip)
  • According to the team from the Solar Energy Institute of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, up to 1 MWh of energy can be stored in just one cubic meter of molten silicon. Silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. The technology holds a promise for dealing with the intermittency of renewable power generation. [E&T magazine]

Sunday, October 9:

 Wind farm near Pincher Creek, Alberta (Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press)


Wind farm near Pincher Creek, Alberta (Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press)

  • Alberta’s move to shift electricity production from coal plants to renewable energy will likely cost less than people expect, a specialist in the field says. The province plans by 2030 to phase out coal generation, which provides approximately 40% of the province’s power capacity, replacing it with renewables and natural gas. [Edmonton Journal]
  • The CEO of Duke Energy recently said her company could stop generating electricity from coal between 2030 and 2040. Duke CEO Lynn Good said in an interview with Bloomberg that and the company’s current move away from coal will continue, no matter who occupies the White House at this time next year. [The Exponent Telegram]
  • TEPCO is still struggling to put the Fukushima nuclear disaster behind it, admitting this week that paying for decommissioning the plant in one go risks leaving it insolvent. The Fukushima Disaster and the issues arising from it will ultimately cost more than ¥11 trillion ($106 billion), according to one recent academic study. [Gulf Times]

Monday, October 10:

The Stowe project is sited on an abandoned portion of the Town of Stowe gravel pit. (Encore photo)

The Stowe project is sited on an abandoned portion of the Town of Stowe gravel pit. (Encore photo)

  • Encore Renewable Energy has commissioned of two separate 1.4-MW solar arrays for the Town of Stowe Electric Department and Village of Hyde Park Electric Department, respectively. The two projects were financed with low interest debt under the US Treasury Department’s Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program. [Vermont Biz]
  • Clinton and Trump sparred over energy and climate for 243 seconds in the second presidential debate. The majority of Sunday’s presidential debate involved the two candidates trading blows on tax returns, Donald Trump’s so-called “locker room talk” about assaulting women, and Hillary Clinton’s email account. [Grist]
  • Germany’s Bundesrat approved a resolution calling for a ban on new internal combustion engine cars by 2030. The Bundesrat is a deliberative body composed of representatives from all 16 German states. It is sometimes wrongly called the upper house of parliament, but legislation does go through it on its way to the Bundestag. [CleanTechnica]

Tuesday, October 11:

Sonoma U-3 geothermal power plant (Photo courtesy of Calpine Corporation)

Sonoma U-3 geothermal power plant (Photo courtesy of Calpine Corporation)

  • Taking a small step into the energy future, the City of Sonoma, California, voted last week to become the first jurisdiction in Sonoma County, and perhaps the North Bay, to adopt the zero-emissions EverGreen plan from Sonoma Clean Power. The optional premium plan uses 100% local renewable power sources. [Sonoma Index-Tribune]
  • Russia has said it will support a proposal by Opec to freeze oil production in order to reverse the slump in global prices. The move lifted the price of oil, with Brent crude hitting a one-year high. In late afternoon Brent Crude oil was trading up by 2.5% at $53.21 a barrel, just off the $53.73 high hit earlier in the day on Monday. [BBC]
Costa Rican wind farm

Costa Rican wind farm

  • For almost 300 days, the country of Costa Rica has run on a combination of hydropower, geothermal, wind, and solar energy. It has not used fossil fuels at all. No other country of its size or larger has come close to this. For example, Portugal was recently praised in the news for running on 100% renewables for 4 days. [Q Costa Rica News]

Wednesday, October 12:

  • A study from the London School of Economics, examining 34 developed and developing countries for their carbon intensity, has found that low-carbon sectors are outpacing their less-productive, higher carbon-intensive sectors and the general economy in terms of growth, while increasing jobs and skill levels. [CleanTechnica]
  • Queensland has three “credible” options to achieve a 50% renewable energy target by 2030, a panel of experts said. A draft report said “significant government policy action” would be needed for Australia’s biggest carbon polluting state to reach the target, but the impact on electricity prices would be “broadly cost neutral.” [The Guardian]
  • Borrego Solar Systems has launched a new division focused on megawatt-scale energy storage solutions, both stand-alone and tied to solar installations. The new storage division will be based in Massachusetts and will serve customers nationally. Borrego will focus on long-duration energy storage for the power grid. [Utility Dive]
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