2016-12-22 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, December 15:

  • The price of electricity from offshore wind keeps dropping. A consortium made up of Shell, Mitsubishi/DGE, Van Oord, and Eneco has won the concession to build the Borssele III and IV Wind Farms, amounting to 700 MW, at a new record low cost of €54.5/MWh (5.7¢/kWh). Only last July, the record low price was €72.70/MWh. [CleanTechnica]


  • The DOE gave its approval this week to an international power line to carry 1,000-MW from Canada to southern New England. The electricity will come mainly from Canadian hydroelectric dams, but it will also include some power from wind turbines in New York state. The state of Vermont will have dibs on 200 MW of it. [vtdigger.org]

Friday, December 16:

  • Middlebury College has won an important battle in what Resident Scholar Bill McKibben recently asserted must become an all-out war on climate change. Late last week the college announced it had reached carbon neutrality, bringing its net carbon footprint to zero, in response to a student challenge of 2007. [Addison County Independent]
Middlebury College maintains a 2,100-acres forest preserve for sequestering carbon. (Photo by Brett Simison)

Middlebury College maintains a 2,100-acres forest preserve for sequestering carbon. (Photo by Brett Simison)

  • A transformation is happening in global energy markets that is well worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the least costly form of new electricity. Unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [TechCentral]
  • Massachusetts has been a national leader for reliable power sources such as solar, wind and water, according to the 2016 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report. Early-stage investments in clean energy companies in the state grew 166% from the previous year, adding more than 6,300 clean energy jobs this year. [Metro.us]
Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in the flood of 2011. US Army Corps of Engineers photo.

Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in the flood of 2011. US Army Corps of Engineers photo.

  • Closing its lone nuclear plant helped the Omaha Public Power District head off a rate hike that would have resulted in a bill increase of 2.5% for average residential ratepayers in 2017. The utility’s board approved a recalculation based on closing the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant and the adding of 400 MW of wind power. [Omaha World-Herald]

Saturday, December 17:

  • Lazard Ltd’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis compares costs of various generation technologies. Its latest, LCOE 10.0, shows that the cost decline of generating electricity from solar PV was steeper than decreases among other forms of renewable energy in 2016, with utility-scale PV technologies down about 11% from last year. [Solar Industry]


  • The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its 2015–2016 Arctic Report Card. With sea ice extent and snow cover diminishing, it now appears that the Arctic is stuck in a set of feedback loops that will only see temperatures in the region rise at ever faster rates for the foreseeable future. [CleanTechnica]
  • In August 2010, one of Donald Trump’s most exclusive new hotels, the Trump SoHo in downtown Manhattan, boasted it would invest in 100% clean power. Specifically, it would purchase electricity from wind. One of the deal’s main architects said the move to purchase wind energy was spearheaded by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. [Mother Jones]
Block Island wind farm (Photo: Deepwater Wind)

Block Island wind farm (Photo: Deepwater Wind)

  • Norwegian energy giant Statoil was declared the provisional winner of the US government’s wind lease sale of 79,350 acres in waters off New York. Statoil had submitted the winning bid of $42,469,725 in the online offshore wind auction conducted by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. [GCaptain]
  • In Vermont, the Burlington Electric Department continues to focus on sourcing 100% of its power from renewable generation with the addition of a new source to its power portfolio. Maine’s 17-turbine Hancock Wind Project began operating commercially on December 16, and it will supply 9% of Burlington’s energy needs. [vtdigger.org]

Sunday, December 18:

Istanbul (source: flickr / John Virgolin, creative commons)

Istanbul (source: flickr / John Virgolin, creative commons)

  • Turkey will focus its efforts on local renewable energy projects to cut back on costly imports of up to $40 billion annually for energy. Geothermal energy projects will play a part in that. The Energy and Natural Resources Minister said Turkey will focus more on domestic and renewable energy investments in the future. [ThinkGeoEnergy]I
  • Vermont utility Green Mountain Power will partner with Virtual Peaker Inc to help customers save money, reduce carbon emissions, and use more renewables. GMP will use proprietary software by Virtual Peaker that shares access to internet-based appliances and devices, so they can be managed to even out grid demand. [vtdigger.org]

Monday, December 19:

  • “Will Big Business Help Fight Trump’s Anti-Environment Agenda?” • US Environmentalists still have hope. Though their public protests may fall on deaf ears as long as Trump is in the White House and Republicans control Congress, environmental activists may find more of an audience in corporate boardrooms. [The American Prospect]
  • An ambitious group of engineers sees value in the abandoned shafts in a centuries-old iron mine in New York’s Adirondacks. They say the mine can provide a steady flow of electricity in a growing renewable energy market. They have a plan to use the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine for energy storage. [Tribune-Review]

Tuesday, December 20:


  • We all knew that 2016 was going to be a very good year for the US solar market; however no one could say exactly how good. Now, the DOE’s Energy Information Administration posted some of the first concrete numbers for the year. EIA estimates that the US will have installed 9.5 GW of utility-scale solar installed in 2016. [pv magazine USA]
Smoke rising from a factory in Tianjin

Smoke rising from a factory in Tianjin

  • A dangerous gray haze descended on Northeast China over the weekend, choking off schools, flights, and industry. China saw the smog coming and last week issued its first red alert of the year for 23 cities. The smog covered an area of 10.1 million square kilometers (3.9 million square miles), roughly the size of the United States. [CNN]
  • With Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker describing climate change as a “serious threat,” the state’s clean air agency unveiled draft regulations aimed at securing greenhouse gas emission reductions from the natural gas, transportation and electricity generation industries. The regulations will be vetted in a series of public hearings. [Worcester Telegram]

Wednesday, December 21:

Polar Pioneer drilling rig being towed

Polar Pioneer drilling rig being towed

  • President Barack Obama designated the bulk of US waters in the Arctic Ocean, and also certain areas in the Atlantic Ocean, as indefinitely off-limits to future oil and gas leasing. The White House said the wording of the statute allowing the ban provides no authority for subsequent presidents to undo permanent withdrawals. [STLtoday.com]
  • Warm water flowing through a deep channel under East Antarctica’s largest glacier is driving rapid melting, a study published in the journal Science Advances says. It says that if the thinning continues and the massive shelf gives way, enough ice would slide into the sea to raise global levels by over 11 feet. [Wunderground.com]
Archimedes screw being installed (Dave Zajac, Record-Journal)

Archimedes screw being installed (Dave Zajac, Record-Journal)

  • Meriden, Connecticut has made history as the first city in the US to install an Archimedes screw turbine to generate power at a dam. The 20-ton, 35-foot-long steel screw lifted by crane into the Hanover Pond dam will generate about 900,000 kWh of electricity annually and is expected to save the city $20,000 a year. [Meriden Record-Journal]

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