2017-03-09 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, March 2:

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

  • Beijing has nearly 70,000 taxis. It also has an intractable problem with smog. While it has embarked on an aggressive program to encourage private citizens to buy low emissions cars, that push has not made much of an impact on its taxi fleet. Now it has announced a plan to replace all 67,000 fossil fueled taxis in the city with electric cars. [CleanTechnica]
  • Energy companies are bailing on Canadian tar sands oil. The latest to pull back is Royal Dutch Shell, which just let word slip that it will probably not expand its operations in Canada. ExxonMobil and Chevron recently went a step farther and wrote down their tar sands reserves, as did Norway’s Statoil last year. [CleanTechnica]
  • Lancaster, California, has been requiring builders to install solar panels on all new homes since 2014. Its policies have served as a model for other California communities. Now, the city seeks to raise the bar by requiring each new home to have a rooftop solar system large enough to meet all of its energy needs. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, March 3:

  • “Note To Congress: Climate Change Is Real, And It’s Expensive” In 2016 alone there were 15 extreme weather and climate-related disasters that cost more than a billion dollars apiece. Climate change is contributing to worsening risks of loss from many of these types of events. And those risks are expensive to all of us. [Ecosystem Marketplace]
  • The governor of Rhode Island, home to the first US offshore wind farm, has set forth an ambitious goal to grow renewable energy in the state. According to local coverage from Providence Business News, the goal calls for 1 GW of renewable energy by 2020 – a tenfold increase over Rhode Island’s current levels. [North American Windpower]
Mystic Generating Station, Everett, Massachusetts (Photo: Fletcher6, Wikimedia Commons)

Mystic Generating Station, Everett, Massachusetts (Photo: Fletcher6, Wikimedia Commons)

  • It’s cheaper and cleaner to replace retiring coal-fired power plants with wind and solar power and energy efficiency upgrades rather than more costly and climate-polluting natural gas plants, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Renewable power also shields consumers from natural gas price increases. [AltEnergyMag]

Saturday, March 4:

Lake Oroville went from drought in 2014, to overflow in 2016. (California Department of Water Resources)

Lake Oroville went from drought in 2014, to overflow in 2016. (California Department of Water Resources)

  • “California’s Wild Climate Will Only Get More Volatile As Temperatures Rise” • The record rains soaking California this winter seemed an impossible reprieve: The state’s driest years on record was followed by a possible record amount of rain and snow. But that precipitation may just be the beginning of new water woes. [Huffington Post]
  • Lexington, Massachusetts could be in line to get all its power from renewable sources in the coming years. The Board of Selectmen approved a plan to pursue a contract with energy producers allowing all of Lexington’s energy to be sourced from renewable sources under Community Choice Aggregation. [Wicked Local Lexington]

  • The EIA’s Electric Power Monthly shows that the portion of electricity that the nation gets from solar grew nearly 40% in 2016, from around 1% of total generation to 1.4%. Wind is likewise growing, with the share of electricity from wind rising from 4.7% in 2015 to 5.5%. Renewable energy provided 15.3% of US electricity. [pv magazine]

Sunday, March 5:

Irish wind power

Irish wind power

  • With the Irish Government in a race against time to avoid a potential €360 million fine from the EU for failing to hit renewables targets, 2017 looks set to be a defining year for the country’s energy sector. The EU’ s fine is €120 million for each 1% the country is below target, and the clock is ticking down on a 2020 deadline. [Irish Independent]
  • The seemingly insatiable appetite for natural gas at the nation’s power plants could be on the verge of an abrupt hiatus. Energy analysts are forecasting gas demand from the US power sector will at best flat-line and possibly fall off significantly over the next five years as federal energy policies and market dynamics collide. [Longview News-Journal]
Maybe Sandy would have gone away if NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite had not taken this photo. (NASA image, public domain)

Maybe Sandy would have gone away if NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite had not taken this photo. (NASA image, public domain)

  • The Trump administration is seeking major cuts to NOAA, one of the government’s climate science agencies, reducing its budget by 17% overall, with a 26% reduction for its research budget. Proposed cuts include reducing the climate protection budget by almost 70% and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 97%. [Normangee Star]

Monday, March 6:

Rushing water at the Oroville Dam (Dale Kolke / California Department of Water Resources / Reuters)

Rushing water at the Oroville Dam (Dale Kolke / California Department of Water Resources / Reuters)

  • Scientists are warning that super floods and aging dams in the West could be a dangerous combination. An expert paleo-hydrologist of the University of Arizona found that floods much larger than any in recorded history are routine occurrences, and the historic record, which dates back only to the late 1800s, is inadequate for understanding risks. [Yahoo News]
  • Each year, environmental pollutants cost an estimated 1.7 million lives among children under 5, one in four deaths of children 1 month to 5 years old, according to World Health Organization reports released Monday. More than 90% of the world’s population is thought to breathe air that violates quality guidelines set by the WHO. [CNN]
  • Blackouts were averted in South Australia after an incident that saw more than 600 MW of electricity generation capacity suddenly lost. A transformer at a power plant exploded, resulting in units at the Pelican Point Power Station tripping. The loss was taken up by power transmitted from Victoria, solar PVs, and wind generators. [Energy Matters]

Tuesday, March 7:

  • Senior executives from AGL Energy have given evidence at an inquiry in Melbourne that the main issue causing problems with reliable energy supply in South Australia is “dysfunction” in the gas market, not too many windfarms making the grid unreliable. Many witnesses blame a lack of a clear policy direction from Canberra. [The Guardian]

Wind power on farms (paytonc / flickr, CC BY-SA)

  • Even in the red states of the US Great Plains, local leaders of communities of all sizes are already grappling with the issue of climate change. Though their actions are not always couched in terms of addressing climate change, their strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration. [CleanTechnica]

Growth of hydro power and wind power

  • A number of major milestones occurred on the electric grid in 2016, almost all of them involving wind power. Now the Energy Information Administration is confirming that’s because of a big overall trend: wind power is now the largest source of renewable energy generating capacity, passing hydroelectric power in 2016. [Ars Technica UK]

Wednesday, March 8:

Permafrost collapse

  • Permafrost, or frozen soil, is rapidly collapsing across a 52,000 square mile area in northwest Canada – about the size of the entire state of Alabama. New research from the Northwest Territories Geological Survey finds the permafrost thaw is intensifying, a dramatic disintegration that could speed up climate change. [Inhabitat]
  • “Trump’s Sisyphean Coal Revival Requires A Battle With The Free Market” • The US coal sector was in free fall when Donald Trump was elected president. Now he’s vowing to turn it around. Unfortunately for coal, government regulations have very little to do with coal’s problems. King Coal us up against natural gas and wind power. [Forbes]
  • A Bloomberg report says that, Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania-based energy producer that has billed itself as “one of the largest independent natural gas exploration, development, and production companies,” has hired advisers from Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp in an effort to move ahead on divesting its coal business. [CleanTechnica]
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