2017-03-16 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 9:

Block Island wind turbine (Photo: Eric Thayer / Bloomberg)

  • Across Europe, the price of building an offshore wind farm has fallen 46% in the last five years, 22% percent last year alone. Costs now average $126/MWh, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That’s below the $155/MWh price for new nuclear developments in Europe and closing in on the $88/MWh price tag on new coal plants. [Bloomberg]
  • According to the energy market analysis firm RepuTex, “clean” coal technologies will not be commercially viable before 2030 without government subsidy. In Australia, the rising price of gas, coupled with the falling cost of energy storage, has made renewable energy the least expensive source of reliable power generation. [The Guardian]
  • In Hawaii, the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is now drawing energy from 272 Tesla power packs to provide electricity after dark. The Tesla’s power packs are expected to save KIUC 1.6 million gallons of diesel fuel annually, cutting costs from 15.5¢/kWh to a price fixed at 13.9¢/kWh for the next 20 years. [South China Morning Post]
  • A growing crisis in the Australian electricity market led to wholesale power prices more than doubling in a year, to at least twice what they were under the much-maligned carbon price. Analysis by the University of Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College said it nearly tripled in coal-reliant Queensland and New South Wales. [Daily Advertiser]

Friday, March 10:

  • The Hawaiian island of Kauai is now home to the largest integrated solar and battery facility in the world. The 52-MWh Tesla Powerpack plus SolarCity solar farm is the first utility scale solar-plus-battery storage system of its kind. It will bring Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s renewable energy generation to more than 40%. [Thegardenisland.com]
  • After a series of blackouts in South Australia, Elon Musk said Tesla can help solve the state’s power crisis within 100 days. Asked on Twitter how serious he was about the offer, Mr Musk responded, “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?” [BBC News]
  • Vermont state regulators have proposed new sound limits for wind turbines. Some renewable energy proponents say they would effectively ban most new wind turbines and may preventing the state from reaching its renewable energy goals. The rules say turbines could produce no more than 35 decibels at night, measured outside nearby homes. [vtdigger.org]

Saturday, March 11:

  • Climate change may be increasing the footprint of Lyme disease. Higher temperatures encourage the reproduction of mice, which are both natural reservoirs for the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and carriers of the ticks that spread the infection to humans. People also spend more time out doors, increasing exposure risks. [Huffington Post]

Chicago (Image credit: Pixabay – no attribution required)

  • Analysis by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign backs up Michael Bloomberg’s assertion that the US will meet its climate commitments: Coal retirements and new clean energy through 2025 will reduce US carbon emissions by at least 437 million metric tons. That accounts for 60% of America’s commitments under the Paris agreement. [Triple Pundit]
  • At an international energy conference held in Houston last week, Trump officials disparaged climate science. But the Saudi Arabian energy minister called on his colleagues to find ways to “minimize the carbon footprint of fossil fuels.” He was not alone, as he was joined by CEOs of ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell in the position. [Houston Chronicle]

Sunday, March 12:

Lake Plastira dam (Dim Philos, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is to provide a financial injection aimed at developing the Greek renewable energy sector. EBRD is to provide €300 million ($318 million) in funding for renewable energy projects in Greece, aimed at mobilizing investment and commercial financing. [Power Engineering International]
  • Tesla’s Elon Musk may have put large scale battery storage on the national agenda with his offer to solve South Australia’s power crisis for free if he did not deliver a large system with 100 days of signing a contract. Both the Prime Minister and South Australia’s Premier are looking for more details on the offer. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Monday, March 13:

Cover illustration of the book, Solutionary Rail

  • “How we can turn railroads into a climate solution” • Railroads could drive the growth of clean energy. That is the aim of a new proposal to electrify railroads, run them on renewable energy, and use rail corridors as electricity superhighways to carry power from remote solar and wind installations to population centers.[Grist]
  • On Sunday afternoon, a private conversation between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Tesla boss Elon Musk caught Australia’s attention. The two spoke on the phone for almost an hour about energy from renewable resources and battery storage. Musk had offered to stop South Australia’s electricity outages. [BBC News]

Tuesday, March 14:

  • In Chile’s last power auction, SolarReserve bid a world-record low price at just 6.3¢/kWh for dispatchable 24-hour solar. The bid is for Concentrated Solar Power, a form of solar using heat from the sun that can be stored thermally. It was made in an open auction for both fossil energy and renewables, without any subsidy. [CleanTechnica]

Mexican wind farm

  • Short and medium term projections indicate that the development of wind power is likely to take an increasingly important position in Mexico’s energy landscape, particularly in light of growing uncertainty in future natural gas imports from the United States. Gas had a 54% stake in the country’s electricity production in 2015. [Global Risk Insights]
  • South Australia will build Australia’s largest battery to store renewable energy along with a new 250-MW gas-fired power plant. South Australia’s premier announced the government’s plan to build, own and operate the plant. He said it was part of a plan to spend $550 million to take control of the state energy market. [Yahoo7 News]

Wednesday, March 15:

Council

  • “Trump’s Business Council Is a Who’s Who of Renewable Energy Investors and Climate Champions” • If Donald Trump asked the executives sitting on his business advisory council for energy policy advice, what kind of answer would he get? Judging by what their own actions, they’d probably tell him to emphasize the clean stuff. [Greentech Media]
  • Eon, Germany’s second largest energy company, unveiled a loss of €16 billion ($17 billion) in 2016, hit by a massive charge to the tune of €11 billion on its new subsidiary Uniper. Uniper combines Eon’s former coal and gas power plants, which were spun off in 2015 to separate them from the company’s healthier units. [Deutsche Welle]
  • In unpublished written testimony to the Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense James Mattis called climate change a security threat for which United States military leaders need to prepare, ProPublica reports. He wrote, “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.” [Pacific Standard]

Barn Energy’s hydro plant at Thrybergh Weir on the River Don

  • The swift-flowing Yorkshire rivers and streams could help to keep lights shining for generations. One Yorkshire hydroelectric power plant is providing electricity for hundreds of homes. As part of the scheme, a fish-pass has been built that should allow for the return of salmon stocks for the first time since the First World War. [Yorkshire Post]
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