Category Archives: Uncategorized

2018-03-01 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, February 22:

Flaring gas (Carolyn Cole | LA Times via Getty Images)

  • A study found that the methane escaping from oil and gas industry sites in Pennsylvania “causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants.” And that is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state, according to Environmental Defense Fund analysis based on 16 peer-reviewed studies. [ThinkProgress]
  • According to Autocar, Porsche has stopped installing diesel engines in any of its vehicles, effective immediately. The move is certainly tied to recent developments that have tarnished the once glittering reputation of diesel. German regulators ordered Audi to recall 127,000 cars fitted with the latest Euro 6 spec diesel engines last month. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines

  • A high estimate of the number of birds killed by collisions with US wind turbines and their towers each year is 573,000, though researchers said the actual number is probably between 140,000 and 328,000. Even the highest of those numbers is very small compared to the number killed generating the same amount of power from fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, February 23:

  • “How General Electric gambled on fossil fuel power, and lost” • Last March, executives at GE’s power-plant business gave Wall Street a surprisingly bullish forecast for the year. Despite flat demand for new natural gas power plants, they said, GE Power’s revenue and profit would rise. But GE’s forecast turned out to be a mirage. [Daily Times]

Loons (Credit: AcrylicArtist | Morguefile)

  • Conservationists say two iconic New Hampshire animals, moose and loons, show how climate change will reshape the region. On the same day they talked about their research at the Audubon Society in Concord, New Hampshire set new records for winter warmth. It was 48° on the snowless Mount Washington summit. [New Hampshire Public Radio]
  • Solar storage batteries are projected to grow at a rate of up to 300%. The news is that a battery manufacturing plant will be built in South Australia, and a residential battery power rebate will also kick off in that state. German battery maker Sonnen will have its new manufacturing plant near Adelaide, creating hundreds of jobs. [Tech Guide]

Saturday, February 24:

Unalaska (Credit: Berett Wilber | KUCB)

  • Residents of the Alaskan island of Unalaska know the island’s wind is strong. It can blow over 100 miles per hour. In 2005, a study funded by the city council to look at the potential of windpower found that there was no technology strong enough to withstand Unalaska’s wind. Now, the technology has changed, and they are looking again. [KUCB]
  • A study by the Environmental Defense Fund finds that methane escaping from fracking operations in Pennsylvania “causes the same near term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants” and is “five times higher than what oil and gas companies report” to the state. An earlier assessment found similar results for New Mexico. [CleanTechnica]

Solar power in Germany

  • Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced the winners from its first onshore wind and solar auctions for 2018, awarding more than 900 MW to over 100 separate projects. The successful wind energy bids were up slightly from those of a similar auction in November, but solar power prices have fallen below those of windpower. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, February 25:

  • Yuri Horwitz, co-founder and CEO of Sol Systems, says he and his company expect solar power to be the dominant form of new electricity generation by 2022. A report dated February 15, 2018 lists three reasons why we might believe solar will be ascendant in the US market over the next 4 years in spite of new tariffs on imported solar products. [CleanTechnica]

Solar array in Egypt

  • The Benban Solar Park near Aswan, Egypt, aims to reach 1.6 GW to 2.0 GW of solar power capacity by the middle of 2019. The projects will receive no incentives, however, it will be given a 25 year contract to sell its electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, with the cost pegged to the US dollar. [Electrek]
  • An exec at DHL (Deutsche Post) is quoted as saying that the payback period on the Tesla Semi, the period of time that it takes to pay off the difference in initial costs as compared to a conventional diesel semi truck, would be under 1.5 years. So after only 1.5 years, the company is already experiencing net savings … while using cleaner trucks. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, February 26:

 

Tuesday, February 27:

 

Wednesday, February 28:

 

 

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2018-02-22 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, February 15:

Texas wind power

  • The Rocky Mountain Institute released a report on the demand flexibility equation, modeled on the grid in Texas, America’s version of an islanded energy market. The results indicate that the investment in demand flexibility would more than pay for itself in reduced curtailment, flattened peaks, and power plants never built. [Greentech Media]
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published preliminary analyses from a three-year study using survey data from 1,705 randomly selected individuals within five miles of modern wind turbines, reflecting distance and attitudes. The findings highlight a generally positive attitude, regardless of how closely they live to a wind turbine. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind power

  • NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project. It aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands, off western Ireland. [Irish Tech News]

Friday, February 16:

  • The top US intelligence official warned Congress about the threat of “abrupt” climate change, despite Trump administration efforts to drive climate out of national security discussions. The Director of National Intelligence submitted written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee identifying climate change as a significant concern. [Vox]

Offshore wind substation (Credit: Statkraft)

  • Federal regulators are allowing Anbaric Development Partners to move ahead with a shared transmission system for offshore wind off the coast of Massachusetts. The US company plans to solicit customers and sell transmission rights to the 2-GW to 2.4-GW Massachusetts Ocean Grid. Three developers already hold leases off the coast. [reNews]
  • US regulators have removed all market barriers to electric storage, so operators can dispatch power from multiple storage systems, including batteries. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has completed a ruling that allows energy storage companies to directly compete against power plants in wholesale power markets. [Digital Journal]

Saturday, February 17:

  • According to project developer Statoil, the world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, has been generating electricity at a level that surpasses expectations through its first three full months of production. Where bottom-fixed offshore wind farms operate at 45% to 60% of rated capacity, Hywind Scotland has averaged 65%. [CleanTechnica]

US wind farm

  • Despite the current Presidential regime’s attempts to defend the coal industry, the US is home to a utility breaking world records for renewable energy development. With 47 GW of renewable capacity already built, NextEra plans to double its rate of install in the next few years, aiming for a total of 10.1 to 16.5 GW for the 2017-2020 period. [CleanTechnica]
  • Massachusetts regulators said that Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect will bring power from Canada to the Bay State if Eversource does not resolve its Northern Pass permitting problems in New Hampshire by March 27. The 1,200-MW New England Clean Energy Connect would run through 145 miles of western Maine. [MassLive.com]

Sunday, February 18:

Goldwind wind farm (Photo: Pzavislak, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “With the US pursuing fossil fuels, alternative, renewable forms of energy could be an even bigger boon to China” • While President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to cut the US government’s clean energy budgets by up to 70%, China has been steadily moving in the opposite direction by exploring alternatives. [Jefferson Public Radio]
  • EPA chief Scott Pruitt staged a quiet visit to Massachusetts, along Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Neal Chaterjee. The two toured the Northfield Mountain Generating Station pumped storage facility in Northfield. The visit was one day before FERC finalized new rules to benefit energy storage facilities. [MassLive.com]

Monday, February 19:

Child looking at wind turbines (Image: Ben Paulos, CC BY 2.0)

  • “Meet the new ‘renewable superpowers'” • A world powered by renewable energy will prize a very different set of resources than we do today. Which countries hold the key to unlocking wind and solar energy, and how will this shake up the world order? University of Swansea’s Andrew Barron discusses some of the issues. [eco-business.com]
  • “La Plata Electric Association grapples with era of change” • Texas utility LPEA is locked into a contract for the next 30 years with its electricity provider, Tri-State. Tri-State generates most of its electricity by burning coal and only promises to increase prices. Expensive and dirty power is not what most LPEA members want. [The Durango Herald]
  • While the rest of the world is warming, one part of the US is getting colder. The Corn Belt has seen summer temperatures drop 1°C (1.8°F) while rainfall increased by 35%. According to research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, this time it is agricultural production, not greenhouse gases, that is to blame. [IFLScience]
  • “Tell the EPA: The economic cost of repealing the Clean Power Plan is just too high” • Repealing the CPP would deny Americans the opportunity to create 560,000 jobs and add $52 billion in economic value. That is in addition to the more than 3 million clean energy jobs in the US already, a nonpartisan environmental business group’s report says. [Kansas City Star]

Tuesday, February 20:

Spreading basaltic rock

  • Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK released a study that suggests using granulated basaltic rocks from volcanic eruptions could provide several positive benefits for agriculture and the climate. The benefits include improving soil fertility, cutting amounts of pesticides needed, and increasing carbon sequestration. [CleanTechnica]
  • The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s premier research organization, announced a new form of graphene it says can filter polluted water and make it drinkable in one step. It is a combination of graphene film and nanometer-size channels that allow water to pass but block pollutants. [CleanTechnica]

Pollution from a coal-burning power plant

  • The energy taxes that are currently in place in the world’s top economies are not extensive enough to aid in the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change to a large degree, a study said. The study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development looked at energy taxes in 42 different OECD and G20 economies. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, February 21:

Wind and solar power (Photo: Tadgh Cullen | DP Energy)

  • The South Australian Premier has signalled to voters that Labor will continue its world-leading push into renewable energy, by committing his government to a 75% Renewable Energy Target by 2025 and, for the first time, a Renewable Storage Target. The state is already close to eclipsing its current 50% Renewable Energy Target, set in 2014. [ABC Online]
  • The amount of renewable power produced in 2017 could have powered Britain for the whole of 1958, a report shows. Britain’s output from wind, biomass, solar and hydro grew by more than a quarter to 96 TWh of power, according to the latest Electric Insights report, from researchers at Imperial College London in collaboration with Drax. [The Independent]
  • In its benchmark annual Energy Outlook, BP forecast a 100-fold growth in electric vehicles by 2040. Its chief economist Spencer Dale painted a world in which we travel much more, but instead of using private cars, we increasingly share trips in autonomous vehicles. It is the first report in which BP forecast a peak in fossil fuel demand. [The Star Online]

 

 

2018-02-15 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, February 8:

  • Moving toward renewable power, American Electric Power is planning to add 8.36 GW of new renewable capacity by 2030. Of this, 5,295 MW is wind power, including the 2 GW Wind Catcher project planned for Oklahoma, which will feature 800 GE 2.5-MW turbines. AEP also aims to develop 3,065 MW of new solar capacity. [reNews]

Farm with wind turbines (Pixabay image)

  • The National Solar Job Census 2017, published this week by The Solar Foundation found that the US solar industry employed 250,271 people in 2017. This is a 3.8% decline on 2016 figures, or around 9,800 fewer jobs. It was the first year that jobs have decreased since the Solar Foundation began publishing its census in 2010. [CleanTechnica]
  • NextEra Energy, parent of Florida Power and Light and owner of several US nuclear power stations, launched a lawsuit against the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry’s trade group, claiming extortion. Among other things, NextEra accused the NEI of trying to instill a false panic about the reliability of renewable energy sources. [OilPrice.com]

Friday, February 9:

French countryside

  • France added a record of almost 2.8 GW of new renewables capacity to the mainland grid in 2017, according to a report. It said 2,763 MW of new capacity was installed last year, with wind and solar representing 65% and 32% respectively. Total installed capacity of 48,685 MW takes France 94% of the way its 2018 target. [reNews]
  • China filed complaints with the World Trade Organization this week, seeking talks on compensation with the United States for the recent tariffs that President Donald Trump signed off on for imported solar cells and modules and washing machines. China claims the tariffs are inconsistent with two international trade agreements. [CleanTechnica]
  • Wind overtook nuclear to become the UK’s second biggest power generator in January. Independent energy market monitoring specialists, EnAppSys, released data showing high wind generation has recently propelled wind energy to second from the top in the UK’s energy pecking order, after gas-fired power. [Power Engineering International]

Saturday, February 10:

Liangbing Hu and Teng Li (Image: University of Maryland)

  • A research team at the University of Maryland has developed a wood-based material that can compete with steel in the strength category. The secret is compressing the wood after removing the lignin (the tough part that “glues” wood cells together). The remaining material is packed in so closely that it forms strong hydrogen bonds. [CleanTechnica]
  • The budget bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in the early hours of February 9 extends a host of tax credits for energy technologies, including provisions to help the Vogtle nuclear expansion in Georgia as well as US carbon-capture projects. The legislation also provides support for renewable energy. [POWER magazine]
  • Overall US energy consumption decreased slightly to 97.4 quadrillion BTU in 2016, a 0.3% decline from 2015. Compared to 2015, energy consumption increased in 2016 for renewables (+7.3%), natural gas (+3.8%), nuclear (+1.0%), and petroleum (+1.2%). Consumption from coal continued to decline, dropping by 8.5%. [Windpower Engineering]

Sunday, February 11:

Providence skyline (Kenneth C Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons)

  • “Climate Change Threatens Neighborhoods of the Port of Providence” • In Providence, Rhode Island, rising seas, flood waters, and storm surge have potential to unleash buried and stored toxins along the working waterfront. Concerns about climate change have been met with reassurances that ignore the most important issues. [ecoRI news]
  • President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s military forces to divest themselves of assets related to oil, gas, and energy. This could mean a direct confrontation between ‘liberal’ forces under Rouhani and the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Khamenei forces, of which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the most battle hardened. [Oilprice.com]
  • Dandelion is trying to expand the market for geothermal heating by lowering the price, and it just got a big boost from the federal government. Congress voted to extend a 30% federal tax credit for geothermal heat pump installations. With the state incentives included, a $26,000 system in New York would be more competitive. [InsideClimate News]

Monday, February 12:

Solar powered Alaskan outhouse (Nick Bonzey, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Solar power prices have been dropping faster than people expected, even faster than experts expected, and even faster than bullish experts expected. A leading expert at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that their expectations have dropped to about 37¢/watt. At this price, the cost of electricity from new solar PVs can be disruptive. [CleanTechnica]
  • South Australia’s first green hydrogen plant, one of the biggest of its kind worldwide, will be built near Port Lincoln. The plant will use solar and wind energy from Eyre Peninsula to create hydrogen to be used for fuel for electricity. Proponents say the industry could eventually surpass the value of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar gas exports. [InDaily]
  • With massive amounts of electricity needed to run the computers that create bitcoins, large virtual currency mining companies have established a base in Iceland, which blessed with abundant renewable energy. Iceland is expected to use more energy mining bitcoins and other virtual currencies this year than it uses to power its homes. [Independent.ie]

Tuesday, February 13:

Solar canopies in a Denver car park (Panasonic image)

  • On the outskirts of Denver, not far from Denver International Airport, a grand experiment is underway. Panasonic has partnered with a consortium of local partners to transform a 400-acre patch of greenfield land into a smart district. One goal of the project is that the smart district be built as a carbon-neutral microgrid. [Power Technology]
  • The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census shows that Vermont lost 232 full-time solar jobs between November 2016 and November 2017. Vermont’s solar sector was the most affected by the changes to net metering, and the organization says that the federal tariff on most imported solar panels will make matters worse. [pv magazine USA]
  • Sea level rise is happening at rate that is rising is increasing every year, according to a study released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A professor of aerospace engineering sciences from the University of Colorado-Boulder led researchers, who used satellite data dating to 1993 to observe ocean levels. [CNN]

Wednesday, February 14:

Solar project at Darwin Airport

  • Tesla, fresh from the success of its newly opened big battery in South Australia, has joined 18 other groups competing for the right to build another big battery. This time, the battery will be in the Northern Territory. The big battery in the Darwin-Katherine network will have a nominal capacity of between 25 MW and 45 MW. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US Chamber of Commerce is proposing that the federal government raise the gasoline tax by 25¢ per gallon, in 5¢ increments over 5 years. In theory, the tax hike would go to pay for rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, the thousands of roads, bridges, and tunnels that are so substandard they are increasingly unsafe. [CleanTechnica]
  • Clean energy groups are speaking out in opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, which includes cuts to programs at the DOE and EPA. For the DOE, the budget requests $2.5 billion specifically for “energy and related programs,” which is $1.9 billion below that of FY 2017. [North American Windpower]

2018-02-08 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, February 1:

  • The Trump administration is reportedly seeking a 72% cut to the budget of Department of Energy programs related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. It will ask for $575.5 million, down from $2.04 billion in the fiscal year. Last year, Trump sought $636.1 million in spending for the office, a figure Congress rejected. [The Hill]

Oklahoma wind turbines (Photo: USGS, Wikimedia Commons)

  • New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy signed an executive order that will direct state agencies to implement the 2010 Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act to meet a goal of 3,500 MW of off-shore wind energy by 2030. The executive order will make New Jersey the national leader for off-shore wind commitments. [Environment America]
  • German conglomerate Siemens AG said its quarterly profit dropped at its core industrial division as a global switch to renewable energy ate into its gas-and-oil business. The industrial division, which makes traditional power-generation equipment such as gas turbines, recorded a 14% drop in profit in the three months to December 31. [Fox Business]

Friday, February 2:

Alley cropping walnut and soybeans in Missouri (USDA photo)

  • Agroforestry, an agricultural system that combines trees with crops and livestock on the same plot of land, could play an important role in mitigating climate change because it sequesters more atmospheric carbon in plant parts and soil than farming with conventional methods, according to researchers at Penn State. [Science Daily]
  • New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee voted 7-0 to reject an application for the Northern Pass project, which would have provided clean energy to Massachusetts but was seen as an eyesore by critics who feared it would tarnish scenic views and damage New Hampshire’s tourism industry. The rejection was not expected. [Yahoo News Canada]

Tesla Powerwall

  • With 2,200 stores, Home Depot is one of the largest retailers in America. By July of this year, 800 of those stores will have high-profile displays advertising Tesla products in them. Staffed by Tesla employees, the products they are to feature include Tesla’s solar panels, rooftop solar systems, and the Powerwall storage batteries. [CleanTechnica]

Saturday, February 3:

  • Reduced state incentives and new US trade tariffs are likely to speed the decline of small and medium-sized solar power installations, trade group Renewable Energy Vermont said. The number of new net-metered PV panels declined by 50% last year, REV reported, citing data from the Vermont Public Utilities Commission. [BurlingtonFreePress.com]

Wreckage of the Exxon Desert Tanker (Image: azrainman, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Exxon Mobil Corp has reported that it expects global oil demand to drop sharply by 2040 if regulations aimed at limiting the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate are fully implemented. Under this scenario, Exxon projected world oil consumption will drop 0.4% annually to 2040 to 25% below current levels. [The Star Online]
  • Numbers for Australia’s renewable energy installations in 2017 were outstanding, and PV installations produced what were called “eye watering charts.” The latest tally from PV market analysts SunWiz has revealed a record smashing total so far of 1.25 GW of solar PV installed across the year, eclipsing the former record set in 2012. [CleanTechnica]

Sunday, February 4:

The village of Andungbiru

  • “This farmer gave 600 homes cheap electricity that the power company couldn’t” • At first, he was mocked by his family and neighbors for being “crazy,” but now, even the national electric company wants to buy his DIY hydro-power operation. It all began with a dream to give his remote Indonesian village a better life. [Channel NewsAsia]
  • A report from the World Resources Institute and the Nature Conservancy says governments around the world have made commitments to reviving nearly 400 million acres of wilderness . As countries push to regrow forests, startups are dreaming up new and faster ways to plant trees. For some innovators that means using drones. [CleanTechnica]

Lake Champlain (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

  • After New Hampshire’s Northern Pass was unanimously rejected by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee, a Vermont-based electrical transmission project says it is ready to help Massachusetts meet its clean energy needs. The TDI-New England’s Clean Power Link, through Lake Champlain and Vermont, is fully permitted. [Caledonian Record]

Monday, February 5:

  • South Australia’s project to install solar power and batteries on 50,000 homes started with a call for proposals for innovation in renewables and storage. Tesla’s submission was a virtual power plant with 250 MW of solar PVs and 650 MWh of battery storage. The new project will be the largest virtual power plant in the world. [Interesting Engineering]

2017 Women’s March (Image: Ted Eytan, CC BY 2.0)

  • “Why climate deniers target women” • Harassment is no stranger to the reporters, researchers and policymakers who work on climate change, but it is particularly severe for the women in those fields. Research into public understanding of climate change reveals an important link between sexism and climate denial. [eco-business.com]
  • We have heatwaves more often and researchers are responding with practical climate strategies. Potential techniques for climate engineering include planting crop varieties bred to be lighter in color, use of more reflective mulch, leaving lighter stubble on cropped land, and use of no-till practices that have soil absorb less heat. [North Queensland Register]

Tuesday, February 6:

  • Speaking to parliament, the French foreign affairs minister made his country’s stand on the US decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement quite clear: “One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground. No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement.” [CleanTechnica]

New Hampshire power line (NHPR photo)

  • A bipartisan group of New Hampshire lawmakers wants Gov Chris Sununu to support another big power line in the state, now that the future of the Northern Pass project is in doubt. They support National Grid’s Granite State Power Link, a competitor to Northern Pass that is still in the early stages of development. [New Hampshire Public Radio]
  • GM appears to have adopted a new market strategy, which would be to split itself into two components. One would manufacture electric and autonomous cars in China for world markets, and the other would continue to double down on huge fossil-fueled trucks and SUVs for the domestic market, with new offerings to arrive in 2019. [CleanTechnica]

Wednesday, February 7:

Two booster rockets returning to Earth for reuse (Photo: SpaceX)

  • SpaceX’s big new rocket has blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red Tesla sports car which it released into orbit. The Falcon Heavy rocket rose from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA to send men to the moon. Falcon Heavy cut costs by returning the three main-stage boosters back to Earth to be reused. [The Sydney Morning Herald]
  • One of China’s biggest makers of solar panels, Longi Solar Technology Ltd, said it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against a rising threat of import controls in the US and other markets. New US tariffs are to be applied against solar panels from most producing countries, but not India’s. [PennEnergy]

Spring Canyon Wind Farm outside Peetz, Colorado (Credit: Ryan David Brown | The New York Times)

  • “Why a Big Utility Is Embracing Wind and Solar” • Imagine that first-class airline seats sell for less than the cramped seats in economy. So you fly first class to New York, where you discover that every dish in the best French restaurant is cheaper than the burger and fries down the street. Something rather like that is happening with electricity. [New York Times]

2018-2-1 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, January 25:

Solar panels in the desert

  • The recently announced 30% solar tariff could be offset and overwhelmed by new plans announced this week by the Rocky Mountain Institute and 35 solar energy industry leaders. They committed to developing an ultra-low-cost solar product to reduce costs to the point that fully installed costs would only reach $0.50 per watt. [CleanTechnica]
  • French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to shut all of his country’s coal-fired power plants by 2021. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he said, “We’ve also decided to make France a model in the fight against climate change.” Mr Macron’s speech stressed the economic benefits of innovation. [SteelGuru]
  • Fluence Energy Storage is developing the world’s largest battery energy storage facility as part of a $2 billion repowering project in Long Beach, California. The battery will combine with efficient combined-cycle gas capacity to replace ageing natural gas peaking plants, meeting local reliability needs within the California’s environmental goals. [CleanTechnica]

Friday, January 26:

Six Flags Great Adventure

  • Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey will soon be powered by a 23.5-MW solar development to be built by KDC Solar, making it the world’s first solar-powered theme park. The project will include solar carports over certain parking lots and 40 acres of ground-mounted solar panels. It is expected to be finished in 2019. [Power Engineering Magazine]
  • The Northern Pass Transmission Line project that will bring up to 1.09 GW of hydropower from Quebec, Canada, to New England, has been selected as the sole winner of a huge Massachusetts clean-energy solicitation. The Northern Pass project envisages the construction of a 192-mile (309-km) power distribution network. [Renewables Now]
  • The world’s biggest lithium-ion battery has absorbed excess electricity on the South Australian grid, and resold it on the power market for around $810,000. Tesla‘s Powerpack Project only came on stream in December, but on two occasions it has already stepped up to save the grid and helped its owners turn a quick profit. [Greener Ideal]

Saturday, January 27:

Solar panel installation (Shutterstock)

  • “MSNBC & CNBC Miss The Key Points Of Trump Solar Tariffs Story” • The solar tariffs are not being applied because China or Chinese companies have done anything wrong. They are not a response to illegal dumping or Chinese subsidies on solar panels (that old case was resolved). And they will cost America many more jobs than they protect. [CleanTechnica]
  • A white paper from Environment New York said the rapid growth of less expensive wind and solar energy and the falling costs of energy storage led to a six-fold increase in energy storage capacity (not including pumped hydropower) over the past decade. Concerns about variable power sources are fading away. [Windpower Engineering]

Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts (Wikimaster97commons, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Commercial Development Company Inc announced that it has purchased the closed Brayton Point power station in Somerset, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center recently identified Brayton Point as a potential site for the development of an industrial wind port to support the new wind energy for the state. [Windpower Engineering]

Sunday, January 28:

  • Central Maine Power is forging ahead with plans to build a major transmission line in western Maine to bring wind and hydro power from Canada into New England’s electricity grid. This is despite losing its bid for a big renewable energy contract from Massachusetts, which was instead provisionally awarded to the Northern Pass project. [Bangor Daily News]

The ferry Assens Baagø (Image: Carsten Lundager)

  • Danish ministry of industry, business, and financial affairs presented a plan, called The Blue Denmark, that covers 36 different initiatives to strengthen maritime development in the country. One of them is about modernizing the ferries that connect the many small populated islands to the mainland. Their primary power will be electric. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Coal country at crossroads: Future shaky despite promises from Trump” • As ageing coal-fired power plants are shut, coal’s share of the nation’s power mix has plummeted from nearly half in 2008 to roughly a third today. Roughly 20 of 380 have closed or are in the process of shutting since Trump took office, and the future of coal is gloomy. [Longview News-Journal]

Monday, January 29:

Powerful storm

  • Tiny airborne particles can have a stronger influence on powerful storms than scientists previously predicted, a study published in the journal Science found. Scientists have known that aerosols may play an important role in shaping weather and climate, but the study shows that the smallest of particles have an outsized effect. [Daily News & Analysis]
  • “Natural gas killed coal – now renewables and batteries are taking over” • Over the past decade, coal has been increasingly replaced by cheaper, cleaner energy sources. US coal power production has dropped by 44%. It has been replaced by natural gas, which is up 45%. But in the same time, renewables are up 260%. [The Guardian]

Air inversion at Salt Lake Valley (Photo: Steve Griffin | AP)

  • According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, 48% of the air pollution in the Wasatch Front region comes from vehicles. In response, Rep Patrice Arent filed HB101, a bill that would require emissions testing on diesel vehicles in Utah. Diesel exhaust, though it is not a huge portion of emissions, is still significant. [Universe.byu.edu]

Tuesday, January 30:

  • Offshore wind developers say Trump administration support for offshore wind has been strong during its first year in office, but states are providing the biggest push for new development, especially Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York. More than 4,000 GW of offshore wind power potential exist off US coastlines. [Bloomberg BNA]

Deepwater Wind (Screenshot via NYSERDA)

  • New York State has cooked up an elaborate offshore wind energy master plan, according to a story in Newsday. If all goes well, New Yorkers are looking at hundreds of turbines with a capacity of 2,400 MW, and a $6 billion industry employing 5,000 people. Currently, New York has only one offshore wind farm in the works. [CleanTechnica]
  • New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy officially announced that New Jersey is rejoining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program, the landmark, bipartisan effort to reduce carbon pollution from electric power plants in the Northeast region. Former Gov Christie pulled New Jersey out of the program nearly seven years ago. [Environment America]

Wednesday, January 31:

  • Swiss outfit ABB has successfully tested the 500-MW HVDC Maritime Link enabling the exchange of electricity between Newfoundland and the North American grid in Nova Scotia. The project includes two 230-kV AC substations in Newfoundland, one 345-kV AC substation in Nova Scotia and two cable transition stations. [reNews]

US Naval Air Station in Italy (Michael Lavender, US Navy | Flickr)

  • About half of the US military’s infrastructure has been affected by climate-related risks, according to a Pentagon report obtained by a nonpartisan climate think tank. The report surveyed over 3,500 US bases worldwide. It found that about 50% of them reported effects from events like storm surge flooding, wildfire, drought and wind. [Science Magazine]
  • King Coal’s reign in India is about to come crashing down. Coal supplied 80% of India’s total power mix in 2016-2017, but new wind and solar is now 20% cheaper than the average wholesale power price of existing coal-fired generation, and 65% of India’s coal power generation is being sold at higher rates than new renewable energy. [Forbes]

2018-01-25 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, January 18:

A red-tailed hawk rests at a solar farm in Michigan. (Photo: Deb Nystrom, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Residents in 30 towns across Vermont, including Brattleboro, Dummerston, Londonderry, Marlboro, Newfane, Putney, and Weston, are petitioning to put climate change on their respective Town Meeting Day agendas and ballots. Vermont has a goal to power the state with 90% renewables by 2050, but is far from meeting this mark. [Commons]
  • As the founder and CEO of BlackRock, Laurence D Fink controls over $6 trillion in assets. On January 16, the chief executives of most of the major business corporations in the world received a letter from him telling them they have to develop a social conscience if they wish BlackRock to continue investing in their businesses. [CleanTechnica]
  • A boom in solar power could wipe out $1.4 billion a year of summertime revenue for Texas fossil-fuel generators. Almost 15 GW of solar power may be installed in the coming years, and every GW stands to reduce peak summer wholesale electricity prices by about $2.76/MWh, analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows. [BloombergQuint]

Friday, January 19:

  • Norway is aiming to be the first country in the world to switch to 100% electric planes for short-haul flights, the country’s airport operator Avinor has announced. The company wants all of the country’s short-haul airliners to be electric by 2040, in what is the most goal yet adopted for the embryonic electric aviation sector. [www.businessgreen.com]
  • A new ISO-NE report finds that New England’s grid is vulnerable to a season-long outage of any of several major energy facilities, such as the 688-MW Pilgrim nuclear plant, which recently went offline when a cold snap caused the loss of a power line to the plant. The most concerning trend is increased reliance on natural gas. [RTO Insider]
  • Capital Stage AG, a Hamburg-based solar and wind park operator, has announced a partnership with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to co-invest in a Power Capital portfolio, consisting of more than 20 solar farms with a total generating capacity of 140 MW. The investment is ISIF’s first for solar park developments in Ireland. [Independent.ie]
  • UK house-holders can cut their domestic energy bills by up to 66% by turning their homes into mini-power stations, according to Japanese car giant Nissan. Excess energy collected via solar panels on sunny days and stored in a fridge-sized home-battery during off-peak times could be sold back to the national grid when demand for it is at its highest. [This is Money]

Saturday, January 20:

Sugar maples, threatened (Photo: Muffet, Wikimedia Commons)

  • Climate change threatens the sugar maples in northern hardwood forests. As global temperatures rise, drought could stunt their growth, a decades-long study found. The number of sugar maple trees will decrease, diminishing the amount of maple syrup available and eliminating the stunning colors of these forests during autumn. [Newsweek]
  • Despite initiating a slew of regulatory rollbacks allegedly aimed at helping the struggling coal sector regain jobs, the entire sector grew by just 771 jobs during President Trump’s first year in office. Moreover, several key coal-producing states like Ohio, Kentucky, Montana, and Wyoming lost more coal jobs than they gained in the year. [ThinkProgress]

Sunday, January 21:

Pine on Mount Olympus (Photo: Greg King)

  • A team of researchers led by a University of Arizona associate professor of dendrochronology examined lines of hundreds of tree rings to reconstruct the last 290 years of climate history. They found increases in extreme summer weather events in the last 50 years, which related to increased changes in the jet stream from climate change. [Arizona Daily Star]
  • Omaha-area economic development officials are looking to get a piece of Apple’s $30 billion-plus expansion plan announced last week. Apple will build data centers, and it also plans to build a new corporate campus. Apple will power its new facilities with renewable energy, and Nebraska has a lot of wind power to offer. [Omaha World-Herald]

Monday, January 22:

Not enough snow at Washoe Lake (Benjamin Hatchet, Desert Research Institute)

  • There is a term for what’s going on right now in the Sierra Nevada and the mountains that feed the Colorado River. It is called a “snow drought,” and Nevada climate scientists warn that periods of below-average snowpack have become increasingly common, and more frequent snow droughts are likely as global temperatures rise. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
  • A report says New England could see rolling power blackouts within years without more stable fuel supplies. ISO-New England is an independent nonprofit that manages the six-state power grid. The group studied how fuel supply and demand might play out in those states in the hypothetical winter of 2024 to 2025. [New England Public Radio]

Hurricane Katrina

  • “The challenges driving microgrids into the mainstream” • Five years ago, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the potential of microgrids became quite clear when widespread disruption caused power outages in several states. Buildings with their own microgrid systems stood out like beacons against a backdrop of blackouts. [Power Engineering International]

Tuesday, January 23:

  • President Donald Trump has announced steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, giving a boost to Whirlpool Corp and dealing a setback to the renewable energy industry in the first of several potential trade restrictions. The tariff on solar panels is intended to protect two foreign-owned manufacturers. [The Guardian]

Floating solar plant in China (Sungrow)

  • China’s National Energy Administration published its official solar statistics for 2017, revealing that the country had installed a total of 52.83 GW worth of new solar capacity in 2017. This represents a 54% increase from the 34.2 GW of new solar PV capacity China installed in 2016, a figure that had been thought enormous. [CleanTechnica]
  • Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator announced that the 2020 renewable energy target has effectively been met, three years ahead of schedule. The earlier 42,000 GWh target had been cut to 33,000 GWh by the Abbott government under the pretext that it would cause prices to rise and the lights to go out, a prediction that proved absurd. [RenewEconomy]
  • Puerto Rico Gov Ricardo Rosselló announced that he will privatize the island’s crippled, broke, and decrepit electric energy authority, which he said has become a heavy burden to residents and has been hampering economic recovery. The bankrupt company has outdated, inefficient, and polluting generating and transmission systems. [NBCNews.com]

Wednesday, January 24:

Wind power (Photo: Gabriel C Pérez | KUT)

  • “How The US Government Is Underestimating The Global Growth Of Renewable Energy” • Dan Cohan, a professor at Rice University who uses numbers provided by the US DOE’s Energy Information Administration, came to question some of them. On examination, he found the numbers on renewable energy were often wildly inaccurate. [Houston Public Media]
  • Budweiser said it has switched all its US brewing to renewable electricity and is adding a clean energy logo to its labels as part of a global shift to green power by its parent Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewer. A “100 percent renewable electricity” symbol will be added to US bottles and cans, Budweiser said, [Reuters]
  • Renewables are becoming the energy source of choice for corporate electricity users, with electricity generation owned by companies increasing more than twelvefold in Europe in 2016, a report says. The report tracks progress made by companies committed to 100% renewable power as part of the RE100 initiative. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

2018-01-18 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, January 11:

Beijing, December 4, 2017 (Photo: VCG via Getty Images)

  • China is seeing signs of success in its fight against smog as pollution levels slump dramatically in the capital region Beijing. Concentrations of PM2.5 plunged 33% from a year earlier in the fourth quarter in 26 cities around Beijing, according to a Greenpeace East Asia report. Levels in the capital alone tumbled 54%. [Bloomberg]
  • Scientist at the National University of Singapore report they have discovered a new way to cool air to as low as 65° F without using any chemical refrigerants or compressors. The system depends on a membrane that removes water from the air, which it then cools by evaporation. It could reduce the amount of average global warming appreciably. [CleanTechnica]
  • In a short press conference after meeting with Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg for just over an hour, President Trump said the US could consider reentering the Paris Climate Accord that he pulled out of last summer, and spoke wistfully about Norway’s hydroelectric capacity. “So, we can conceivably go back in,” Trump said. [Quartz]

Friday, January 12:

Wind farm in Portugal (StockPhotosArt | Shutterstock.com)

  • Renewable power met about 44% of Portugal’s electricity demand in 2017, data from the Portuguese Association of Renewable Energy shows. In 2017, thanks to renewable power plants, the average price of electricity in the wholesale market fell to €18.3/MWh (US 2.18¢/kWh), for savings to the consumer of €727 million. [Renewables Now]
  • A report released by the National Institute of Building Sciences, found that every $1 the federal government spends on so-called mitigation projects, such as elevating homes at risk of flooding, improving stormwater management systems, or strengthening buildings against earthquakes, reduces future costs by an average of $6. [Insurance Journal]
  • The Trump administration’s proposal to open vast portions of US coastline to oil drilling was met with ferocious opposition from a number of the coastal governors it would affect. At least one governor, Florida’s Rick Scott, a Republican, asked for and received a waiver from the administration. The waiver drew accusations of favoritism. [CNN]

Saturday, January 13:

Frequency fluctuations on the European power grid showing regular variation every fifteen minutes due to the market trading system (Credit: Benjamin Schäfer, Max Planck Institute)

  • Researchers at the Juelich Research Center and the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Germany studied major electrical grids, and came up with surprising findings. The frequency and voltage variations caused by wind and solar power turn out not to be as great as those caused by the power trading system. [CleanTechnica]
  • A target for English soil to be managed sustainably by 2030 was welcomed by the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, which said AD can help achieve this objective with support from government. AD plants recycling biological waste can potentially meet 30% of the UK’s domestic gas or electricity demand. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

Sunday, January 14:

Flooding in Germany (AP image)

  • Global warming will increase the risk of river flooding over the coming decades, endangering millions more people around the world, a study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research said. It found that flood defenses especially need to be improved in the United States, Indonesia, Central Europe, and parts of India and Africa. [Sun.Star]
  • The Australian summer heat is fierce. A section of highway from Sydney to Melbourne started to melt. Heat-struck bats fall dead from the trees. In suburban Sydney, temperatures hit 47.3° C (117° F), though they cooled to 43.6° C (110.5° F) the next day. It is now hotter without an El Niño than it used to be with one. And it may be the new normal. [BBC]
  • The Tesla Model 3 is now on show, and attracting huge crowds. One is being featured at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and another at the Century City mall in Los Angeles. But a customer who orders a Model 3 today will have to be patient. There are approximately 400,000 people with reservations for them in line already. [CleanTechnica]

Monday, January 15:

GMP control room (Photo: John Herrick | VTDigger)

  • Green Mountain Power suffered “several millions” of dollars of lost revenue over the past 18 months because the electric grid in northern Vermont is not robust enough, its director of power planning told the Public Utility Commission. The Washington Electric Co-op has experienced a similar setback for the same reason. [vtdigger.org]
  • London’s air quality is within legal limits in mid-January for the first time in 10 years, City Hall has said. The capital breached limits for nitrogen dioxide by 6 January every year for the last decade, Mayor Sadiq Khan said. So far this year, London’s NO2 has not exceeded limits, although it is likely to do so later this month, Mr Khan admitted. [BBC]

Cape Town, South Africa (Getty Images)

  • Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, African penguins, sea, and sunshine, is a world-renowned tourist destination. But it could also become famous as the world’s first major city to run out of water. Most recent projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March, after three years of very low rainfall and increasing consumption. [BBC]

Tuesday, January 16:

  • Data from both the Energy Information Administration and Rhodium Group show that solar and wind power represented 94.7% of the US net new electricity capacity (15.8 GW out of 16.7 GW) added in 2017. However, that is mainly because fossil fuel power continued to fade away, as 11.8 GW of utility-scale fossil fuel plants closed. [Engadget]

Above average temperatures in Alaska

  • The latest weather reports from Alaska are alarming. In December, 2017, the average temperature in Alaska was 19.4° F according to a report from NOAA. That average is 2.1º F more than the previous high temperature record set in 1985. For the month, Alaska was 15.7º F warmer on average, compared to data going back to 1925. [CleanTechnica]
  • “Is An Oil Price Spike Inevitable?” • The oil glut is over, at least when it comes to US commercial inventories. Brent touched $70 last week, and discoveries continuing to sit at record lows, so there is a chance that $70 a barrel is only the beginning. One thing, however, is certain: The oil market is notoriously difficult to predict. [OilPrice.com]

Wednesday, January 17:

Scotrenewables Tidal Power SR2000

  • Scotrenewables Tidal Power SR2000 tidal current turbine delivered impressive generation throughout heavy North Atlantic storms that battered the Orkney Islands in late autumn and early winter. The turbine showed it is capable of generating through around 99% of conditions experienced at the Orkney site. [Renewable Energy Magazine]
  • At the Detroit auto show, Ford announced it is more than doubling its previous commitment to electric cars to $11 billion by 2022. By then, The Verge says, it will have 16 electric models in its product lineup, for a total of 40 models that are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric. By comparison, GM says it will have 16. [CleanTechnica]

PVs in China (Image: Wikimedia Commons | WiNG)

  • “China Is the New World Leader in Renewable Energy” • China is becoming dominant in the realm of renewable energy, a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says. And the US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement was an important catalyst for the growth in China’s renewable energy leadership. [Futurism]