2017-06-01 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, May 25:

  • The Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency showed that 9.8 million people work in renewable energy worldwide. Solar PVs provide jobs to 3.1 million people globally. The solar and wind employment sectors have more than doubled over the past four years. [pv magazine]

Pumping jack operated by Bashneft

  • Oil could converge to about $15 per barrel by the early 2040s when electric vehicles are expected to take a larger share, implying fossil fuels’ much shorter life span as the main fuel for transportation, according to an International Monetary Fund research paper. Renewable technology seems to have reached tipping point due to massive investments. [Gulf Times]
  • For the third year in a row, Three Mile Island failed to secure a crucial contract to sell its electricity, increasing the possibility that the plant will soon close. Exelon will decide by September whether to shut the plant down ahead of schedule. Another Exelon nuclear plant, Quad Cities, in Illinois, also failed to secure a contract. [York Daily Record/Sunday News]

Friday, May 26:

A possible pattern of contamination from a hypothetical fire in a high-density spent-fuel pool at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant (Image: Michael Schoeppner, Princeton University, Program on Science and Global Security)

  • In an article in Science, researchers from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a reliance on “faulty analysis” by US nuclear experts could result in a catastrophic fire that has the potential to force some 8 million people to relocate, and result in a staggering $2 trillion (£1.5 trillion) in damages. [Wired.co.uk]
  • Pope Francis put climate change on the agenda of his first meeting with President Trump, and the subject is likely to come up again and again in the president’s encounters with other world leaders in the coming days. Mr Trump told his Vatican hosts that he would make a final decision after he returned to the United States. [The New York Times]
  • The transformation of India’s electricity market continues to deliver, as shown this month by the cancellation of 13.7 GW of proposed coal-fired power plants, an admission that 8.6 GW of operating coal is already non-viable, and the parallel move of ever-decreasing solar costs helped along by the country’s record low solar tariffs. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, May 27:

IEA WEO predictions versus reality

  • “Soaring growth of solar power demonstrated in one chart” • Auke Hoekstra at the Technical University of Eindhoven, in The Netherlands, looked at successive revisions of predictions by the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook for solar adoption, measured in GW of capacity added per year. It seems they always get it wrong. [Green Car Reports]
  • The City of Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah County have locked in a commitment to obtaining 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 as the latest #CommitTo100 city to join the pledge. The City of Portland was the first US city to adopt a carbon reduction strategy way back before it was cool in 1993. [CleanTechnica]

Cross-border wind project in Baja California (Credit: Martin Lemus, Fotografia Lemus)

  • A vice president with Sempra Energy, one of the nation’s largest utilities, made a stunning admission to a roomful of gas and oil executives this week: there is no technical impediment to California getting all of its energy from renewables – now. All power could come from sources like wind, solar and hydro without reliance on fossil fuels. [KPBS]

Sunday, May 28:

Mount Pinatubo erupting (United States Geological Survey image)

  • Faced with rising temperatures and a dearth of American leadership, scientists are investigating geoengineering ,  which would involve deliberate, large-scale interventions to cool the Earth’s climate. It can take many forms. Solar geoengineering is the most risky and controversial. One way to do it is to emulate the effects of volcanoes. [CleanTechnica]
  • With climate change, increases in average annual temperatures that may seem small create conditions that dramatically elevate the risk and severity of forest fires, particularly in the American West. Long fire seasons, dry conditions, infestations killing vegetation, and lightning combine to produce dangerous conditions for fires. [CleanTechnica]

Scarlet tanager (Jim McCormac, for the Dispatch)

  • Because the land is warming and a food supply is emerging earlier, some familiar bird species arrive from migrations too late to find enough food for their chicks. That’s the conclusion of a recent study of changes in spring “green-up” dates across North America and the arrival dates of spring migratory bird species in those areas. [The Columbus Dispatch]

Monday, May 29:

  • 314 Action is a new organization working to promote pro-science issues in government and help science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals increase their numbers in politics. So far, 5,000 scientists across the country have responded and said they are willing to run for office, exceeding all expectations. [Voice of America]

Bloomberg Center (Photo: Vincent Tullo)

  • When Cornell University competed in 2011 to develop an applied science and engineering campus in New York City, part of its pitch was that it would construct an academic building that would be close to net zero for energy. It won. Now, with work well underway, the Bloomberg Center building is expected to be finished by September. [New York Times]
  • A growing number of large Michigan businesses that want their electricity to come from renewable sources. Consumers Energy responded by filing a “Voluntary Large Customer Renewable Energy Pilot Program” with the Michigan Public Service Commission. The program is available to customers with a load of at least 1 MW. [MiBiz]

Tuesday, May 30:

Changes in coal demand by state

  • While America’s slashed its coal-fired electricity generation by more than a third between 2006 and 2016, Nebraska raised its coal-fired power output by 6%, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. This was because coal-burning plants opened in 2009 and 2011, and the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant closed. [Bloomberg]
  • In January, Taiwan’s parliament voted to phase out nuclear energy, which filled 14% of its power in 2015, by 2025. Now, global renewable energy companies are rushing to set up offshore wind farms, and investment applications filed with the government so far reached around NT$1.8 trillion (US$59.5 billion). [Nikkei Asian Review]

Wednesday, May 31:

Broadway Heights, San Diego

  • Solar power is affordable for low income Americans. In one predominantly African-American neighborhood in San Diego, nearly half of the 192 homes have rooftop solar panels, and residents talk about what they can now afford. They were paying $200 and $300 a month in electric bills. Now they’re paying zero to $50. [Union of Concerned Scientists]
  • Xcel Energy cut carbon emissions 30% in 2016 while expanding its renewable energy portfolio. The company’s corporate responsibility report highlights Xcel’s transitions to cleaner energy sources and other benefits to the communities it serves, including energy efficiency programs, economic development, and energy assistance. [Electric Light & Power]
  • The Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which experienced a partial reactor meltdown in 1979, spawning nationwide protests, will shut in 2019. Exelon Corp, which owns the facility, said the low cost of natural gas extraction had made nuclear-generated electricity unprofitable. Since 2013, six US nuclear plants have closed before their licences expired. [BBC]

Brayton Point Power Station (Benjamin Storrow | E&E News)

  • The Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, is extinguishing its boilers for the final time. When it does, coal will have all but disappeared from this six-state region of New England, with its 14 million people. Two small and seldom-used coal plants in New Hampshire will be all that remains of a once-mighty industry. [E&E News]
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