2017-08-03 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, July 27:

Wind turbines in Oklahoma (US Geological Survey photo, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Power development company Invenergy LLC and General Electric Co announced plans to build the largest wind farm in the United States in Oklahoma, part of a $4.5 billion project to provide electricity to 1.1 million utility customers in the region. The 2-GW Wind Catcher wind farm is scheduled to come online in 2020. [ETEnergyworld.com]
  • According to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center, the US generates nearly eight times as much electricity from the sun and the wind as it did in 2007. This is enough to power more than 25 million homes. The average American uses 10% less energy than he or she did 10 years ago. [North American Windpower]

Sonnedix PV plant in Spain (Sonnedix image)

  • Around 3,516 MW of solar projects were selected in Spain’s renewable energy auction for large-scale solar and wind power plants held by the Spanish Ministry of Energy, Tourism, and the Digital Agenda. Provisional data provided by the spokeswoman of Spanish solar association UNEF, the share of wind power was just 720 MW. [pv magazine]

Friday, July 27:

  • Royal Dutch Shell is bracing for a peak in oil demand. Shell boss Ben Van Beurden said the oil major had changed its company mindset to a “lower forever” oil price environment and is focusing on being “fit for the forties,” in reference to the faltering oil price, which has struggled to remain above the $50 a barrel mark. [Telegraph.co.uk]

Lake Champlain (Aaron danielg, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Vermont Governor Phil Scott issued a statement in support of proposals to supply Massachusetts with 1,000 MW of clean power via the TDI New England Clean Power Link. The TDI project would run from the Canadian border and under Lake Champlain for nearly a hundred miles before connecting to the New England grid in Ludlow. [Vermont Biz]
  • With climate change, water scarcity and warmth could begin impacting European electricity generation as soon as 2030, causing production to decrease or to stop altogether, according to a study, published in the journal Nature. It concludes that traditional generation sources such as coal, gas, and nuclear will be increasingly vulnerable. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, July 29:

CEO Mary Powell of GMP (Jacob Hannah | The New York Times)

  • Throughout Vermont, customers are signing up for a program that will allow them to power their homes while disconnected from the grid. The projects are part of a bold experiment aimed at turning homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants. Behind this movement is the local electric company, Green Mountain Power. [New York Times]
  • When Tesla’s Gigafactory was first announced, it was shared that it would be able to produce more batteries than the rest of the world could build at the time combined. Now, in an update, Tesla shared that when it is running at full capacity, the Gigafactory will produce more batteries than the rest of the world combined – by a factor of 2! [CleanTechnica]

Fire in Arizona (Credit: Prescott National Forest | flickr)

  • The western US is ablaze as the wildfire season has gotten off to an intense start. More than 37,000 fires have burned more than 5.2 million acres nationally since the beginning of the year, with 47 large fires burning across nine states as of Friday. The fire season comes earlier and lasts longer than it used to, partly due to climate change. [Climate Central]

Sunday, July 30:

  • As Europe battles biblically extreme weather, experts say it is linked to climate change. From intense heatwaves to severe flooding, Europe is a continent of extremes at the moment. Severe weather conditions have caused mayhem and destruction in many countries. Some parts of Italy have seen rainfall totals 80% below normal. [Yahoo News UK]

Northwest Passage (Photo: David Goldman, STF)

  • After 24 days at sea and a journey of over 10,000 km (6,214 miles), the icebreaker MSV Nordica set a new record for the earliest transit of the fabled Northwest Passage. The Arctic route linking the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans has been opening up sooner and for a longer period each summer due to climate change. [Houston Chronicle]
  • Minnesota utility regulators greatly increased the “social cost” of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but not as much as requested by two state agencies and environmental groups. It voted 3-2 to raise that cost from the current range of $0.44 to $4.53 per short ton to a range of $9.05 to $43.06 per short ton by 2020. [Duluth News Tribune]

Monday, July 31:


  • The Senate Appropriations Committee wants to save ARPA-E, the advanced energy research division President Donald Trump proposed eliminating. The House budget plan would eliminate ARPA-E, but the Senate committee’s report recommended not only maintaining the division, but also increasing its budget 8% to $330 million. [Houston Chronicle]
  • A study from Aalto University found that solar energy could be used to cover between 53% and 81% of annual domestic heating energy consumption in Finland. The study considered heat that could be stored seasonally. The findings relate, in approximation, to the potentials in neighboring countries at the same latitude as well. [CleanTechnica]

Siberian crater

  • “Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet” • In Siberia, temperature rises are causing mysterious giant craters, but more dire consequences could be in store. Permafrost melting is causing collapses of railways and roads and sinking building foundations, as powerful greenhouse gasses are released. [South China Morning Post]

Tuesday, August 1:

  • Work has been suspended on two nuclear reactors being built by Westinghouse in South Carolina. Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company said they had ordered a halt to construction of their jointly-owned project, the VC Summer plant, due to spiraling costs. The decision casts doubt on other nuclear projects. [Financial Times]

Ghost forest (AP photo, Stephen B Morton)

  • “Ghost forests,” stands of dead trees along coastlines invaded by rising seas, are something scientists call one of the most visible markers of climate change. The process has occurred naturally for thousands of years, but it has accelerated in recent decades as polar ice melts, sea levels rise, and salt water pushes farther inland. [Charleston Post Courier]
  • The EPA must enforce Obama era pollution limits for the oil and gas industry. Nine of the eleven judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued this latest ruling after another ruling by the court in July that the EPA unlawfully tried to delay implementing the Obama-era methane pollution rule. [CNN]

Wednesday, August 2:

  • The impact of climate change on the emergence and spread of infectious diseases could be greater than previously thought, according to research by the University of Liverpool. The study, published in Scientific Reports, is the first large-scale assessment of how climate affects bacterium, viruses, and other pathogens in Europe. [EurekAlert]

Block Island Wind Farm (Photo: Climate Central)

  • Tesla and wind farm developer Deepwater Wind plan to team up to create the largest project in the world that combines an offshore wind farm with large-scale electricity storage, the companies announced. The Revolution Wind Farm, about 12 miles off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard, would be able to store power in Tesla batteries. [RenewEconomy]
  • The environmental impact study for the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the price of oil would never fall below $100 a barrel during its useful life. Today, oil is selling for half that amount. Finding customers willing to sign up for oil shipments in 2020 may be harder than expected. And without customers, the pipeline will languish. [CleanTechnica]




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