2017-07-06 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, June 29:

Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station in Tasmania. (Credit: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization)

  • Scientists are concerned about an unknown cause of a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. In one of the most hopeful signs since the global climate crisis became widely known, the amount of carbon dioxide that people are pumping into the air seems to have stabilized. Nevertheless, the amount in the air is still increasing. [New York Times] Thanks to CC Reilly
  • Mississippi Power Co, faced with an ultimatum from state regulators, said it will suspend efforts to build a coal-fueled power plant with carbon capture. The cost of the plant ballooned from $2.9 billion to $7.5 billion and it is three years behind schedule. Instead of running on so-called “clean coal,” it will run on natural gas. [FederalNewsRadio.com]
  • The nation’s electricity grid operators are increasingly turning to more flexible resources and low-cost renewable energy options like wind and solar, rendering outdated the notion that “baseload” generating plants are required to reliably power America’s homes and businesses, according to a new report by The Brattle Group. [Solar Industry]

Friday, June 30:

Liuzhou forest city

  • In 2016, China’s State Council released guidelines forbidding the construction of “bizarre” and “odd-shaped” buildings lacking character or cultural heritage. They want a focus on “economic, green and beautiful.” Newly unveiled plans for Liuzhou Forest City, designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti for southern China, seem to fit the bill. [CNN]
  • Global research institute McKinsey & Company analyzed current energy storage prices and concluded that commercial customers are already feeling the economic benefits of cheaper batteries and falling prices for lithium-ion technology. Battery-pack costs now down to less than $230/kWh, compared to about $1,000/kWh in 2010. [RenewEconomy]
  • President Donald Trump frequently used the word “wealth” on Wednesday when describing natural resources like coal, natural gas, and heavy crude oil, before laying out six ways American businesses could sell off those resources for profit. Trump wants to “revitalize the nuclear energy sector.” Aside from that, he is promoting fossil fuels. [Inverse]

Saturday, July 1:

Map of the pipeline project (Access Northeast)

  • A natural-gas-infrastructure project slated for southern New England came to a screeching halt June 29, when Houston-based Spectra Energy Partners announced that the controversial Access Northeast project is being suspended. The Algonquin natural-gas pipeline included a series of extensions between New York and Massachusetts. [ecoRI news]
  • Lately, crude oil hasn’t looked like a great investment. The Keystone XL pipeline’s operator, TransCanada, is struggling to track down oil producers and refiners who want to invest in transporting crude oil from Canada to the United States. When it proposed the pipeline extension in 2008, a barrel of crude cost $130. Now it’s down to $45. [Grist]

Rooftop solar in Hawaii (Photo Risource Energy)

  • Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted a draft of its plan to modernize the power grids on the five Islands it serves to bring more renewable resources online. The plan shows how the gird modernization will help achieve a consolidated renewable portfolio standard of 48% by 2020. The state mandated RPS calls for 30% by 2020. [Pacific Business News]

Sunday, July 2:

  • When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year, even as President Trump vowed to “bring back coal,” the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s leadership in the fight against climate change. But China’s energy companies are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants worldwide. [New York Times]

Bizzell Library, University of Oklahoma (tylerphotos, Wikimedia Commons)

  • The University of Oklahoma has long been known for weather and climate research, but a high-ranking administrator says an eight-year, $161 million project that has just formally begun puts OU in an entirely new orbit. The contract involves development, deployment and operation of the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory. [Tulsa World]
  • “Utility Spends $7.5 Billion To Prove Clean Coal Is A Cruel Hoax” • In 2010, Southern Company began construction of a “clean coal” generating facility in Mississippi. Working on a $3.5 billion budget, its mission was to prove that the technology worked. Now, 3 years overdue and $4 billion over budget, the company has given up. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, July 3:

Electric train (David Gubler, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Using surplus electricity from renewables to make hydrogen fuel is starting a new era for all forms of heavy transport. Trucks, trains and ships using hydrogen fuel cells for propulsion are no longer just theoretically possible: they have reached the trial stage. And using hydrogen for fuel has come to make economic sense. [eco-business.com]

Green School, Indonesia (Photo: Putu Sayoga | Getty Images)

  • Some 134 million people in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region do not have access to electricity, and for many of those who have electricity, the supply is unstable. Off-grid distributed energy systems using renewable energy could be a solution to this problem, thanks to the increasing availability of renewable energy technologies. [BRINK]
  • With the country seemingly paralyzed by polarization, two separate announcements in California and Washington, DC last week heralded strange bedfellows coming together to advocate for climate dividends. They include environmentalists in California and big business – including some of the largest oil and gas companies. [HuffPost]

Tuesday, July 4:

Building a floating wind turbine

  • The world’s first commercial-scale floating wind farm, which will be sited 25 km off the coast of Scotland, is nearer to being a reality. According to a press statement, each of the five 5-MW wind turbines has been attached onto a floating substructure in Norway, and they are now ready to be towed into position and anchored to the seabed. [Gulf Today]
  • The amount of solar energy installed on the world’s power grids increased 50% year over year in 2016, according to a report by the International Energy Agency. Between 70 GW and 75 GW solar panels came online, with close to half those installations coming in China, where solar capacity more than doubled last year. [Chron.com]

Goldman Sachs buying power from a wind farm

  • Goldman Sachs became the first US bank to sign a large-scale power purchase agreement for off-site renewable energy. The agreement will make it possible to build a new 68-MW wind farm in Pennsylvania. Goldman Sachs has established a goal to get 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. (Interview) [One Step Off The Grid]

Wednesday, July 5:

Cutting forests for palm oil plantations (Credit Dimas Ardian | Getty Images)

  • Over the past several months, historic shareholder resolutions have pushed oil giants, including Exxon, to disclose climate-related risks. Food companies are next, experts say, whether they use or produce palm oil, corn, soy or beef, to name some with the biggest climate impacts. [InsideClimate News]
  • The European Commission has allocated €4 million to a project that will link the French and Irish electricity grids via an undersea cable. The Celtic Interconnector project, called an “obvious solution,” would have a 600-km-long undersea cable with a capacity of 700 MW. [EURACTIV]

Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm (Wikimedia Commons)

  • A wind power project in California aims to capture the Central Coast’s wind. Trident Winds proposes to build a wind farm of 60 to 100 turbines off the coast, from Cayucos to north of Piedras Blancas. The project would have a capacity of 1000 MW. [The San Luis Obispo Tribune]
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