If it’s not Sustainable, its condition is Terminal.

March 30, 2015

11,367 links to articles in 1032 regular daily posts 

§ The most recent reported status of US nuclear power plants can be found at the US Nuclear Power Report. It is a distressingly dull digest of information from the NRC, posted most weekdays and Saturdays, most recently on March 30. Latest information is that out of 99 US reactors listed by the NRC, 12 were at reduced output and 12 not operating.

§ Vermont Yankee has notified the NRC that the reactor has been emptied. It no longer appears on the NRC’s list of active reactors.

§ Video: Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell – March 26

geoharvey is one of George Harvey’s Blogs.

March 30 Energy News

March 30, 2015

World:

Gaelectric invests in wind energy projects in Kilkenny and Tipperary

Gaelectric invests in wind energy projects in Kilkenny and Tipperary

¶ Irish renewable energy company Gaelectric announced its acquisition of interests in wind energy projects in counties Kilkenny and Tipperary. The Ballybay Wind Farm in County Kilkenny will comprise six 2.3-MW turbines. Cnoc Wind Farm, in County Tipperary, will have five 2.3-MW turbines. [Businessandleadership.com]

¶ Renewable power is taking a central place in a European energy union. Worldwide, since 2011, more new renewable energy has been installed than fossil and nuclear power combined. With over a million jobs and a turnover of €130 billion, renewable power is now the mainstream in Europe. [The Baltic Course]

¶ Toshiba Hydro Power (Hangzhou) Co, Ltd, a subsidiary that manufactures, sells and maintains hydroelectric equipment, has won a major order to supply four units of 77-MW hydro turbine and generator for Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise’s Upper Yeywa hydropower plant in northeast of Mandalay.[Bernama]

¶ Houthaven, once one of Europe’s busiest timber ports, is on course to become one of the world’s first carbon neutral neighbourhoods. The Government-launched project is aimed at transforming the region from an industrial centre into the leading environmentally friendly residential district by 2022. [solarserver.com]

¶ EON SE, Germany’s biggest utility, filed to close two unprofitable gas-fired power plants used to ensure the country has enough supply to meet peaks in demand. The plants “have no prospect of operating profitably when the current contract with the network operator expires in March 2016,” EON said. [Bloomberg]

¶ Solar Impulse 2 has taken off from an airport in Myanmar bound for China in the most challenging stage so far of a planned flight around the world. If all goes well, the plane will land at Chongqing’s airport sometime after midnight local time (16:00 UTC) following a flight of between 18 and 19 hours. [Deutsche Welle]

Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2

US:

¶ Maine is positioning itself as a player in Arctic politics, which could increase opportunities for Maine’s climate researchers and for businesses in the advanced materials, construction, marine transportation, renewable power and logistics sectors. Governor LePage supports taking advantage of climate change. [Press Herald] (LePage had earlier called climate change “a scam.”)

¶ For almost 40 years, Northern Power Systems, based in Barre, Vermont, has combined quality and innovation in the manufacture of wind turbines. And the company, which built the first turbine in New York City, is now partnering with companies across the globe to increase the generation of clean energy. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]

¶ California’s electrical grid has a problem, a nice problem, but a problem nonetheless: The state often has too much power. The state’s aging natural gas plants aren’t nimble enough to turn off when the sun starts shining and then quickly switch back on when it gets dark, making energy storage important. [Oroville Mercury Register]

¶ A report commissioned for a Milwaukee-based energy collaborative says the global market for the energy storage market will grow by 400% by 2020, with some segments growing at 40% a year. Better battery technology combined with renewable energy can provide protection from high utility costs. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

¶ Iberdrola Renewables is seeking applicants for its 2015 Wildlife Protection Program grants. The company has an ongoing “Legacy of Caring” campaign, giving grants to avian rehabilitation groups, who play important roles in rehabilitation and scientific understanding of birds of prey. [Your Renewable News]

¶ A slim majority of Americans, 51%, now favor the use of nuclear energy for electricity, while 43% oppose it. This level of support is similar to what Gallup found two years ago, but it is down from the peak of 62% five years ago. Current support is on the low end of what Gallup has found in the past 20 years. [Gallup.com]


March 29 Energy News

March 29, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Plant Closure Opportunity: Hitting Those Clean Energy Notes” San Diego Gas & Electric is trying to convince Californians that when one power plant closes, another needs to be built. EDF and other environmental groups are not buying it. Neither is the California Public Utilities Commission. Neither should we. [Energy Collective]

World:

 

Krško Nuclear Power Plant in Slovenia during a flood in 2010. Photo by MORS, Wikimedia Commons.

Krško Nuclear Power Plant in Slovenia during a flood in 2010. Photo by MORS, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The Austrian Chancellor met with his Croatian and Slovenian counterparts as well as the European Commission Vice President recently for talks on energy cooperation. The Austrian Chancellor criticized a nuclear power plant in Slovenia, again asserting his country’s opposition to nuclear power as unsustainable. [Xinhua]

¶ German energy utility RWE disclosed it was in talks with an unnamed Gulf investor, raising hopes that it could receive fresh funds and emerge from a crisis that has saddled it with €31 billion ($33.6 billion) of debt. The 117-year-old German group is desperately looking for ways to reinvent its business model. [Gulf Business News]

¶ Nigeria’s integrated information and communication technology company, Omatek Ventures Plc, commissioned a solar solution factory to produce solar off-grid, on-grid inverters, batteries, solar panels as well as LED bulbs. It hopes to reduce electric power consumption in Nigeria by as a much as 85%. [Leadership Newspapers]

¶ Documents reveal that companies have applied to more than treble Ireland’s existing data centre capacity within three years. Apple announced plans for an €850m data centre in Galway, and others such as Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Google are also coming. The wind industry is expanding to meet new needs. [Irish Independent]

¶ The US Trade and Development Agency has awarded a grant to the Cong Ly Construction-Trade-Tourism Company to develop a 300-MW wind power project in Vietnam. Cong Ly, a private sector firm that operates the only near-offshore wind project in Vietnam, is expanding the Bac Lieu Wind Farm. [The Maritime Executive]

¶ NB Power and Nova Scotia Power will pilot a model of co-operative dispatch between the two provinces, enabling optimization of their power plants while ensuring both provinces continue to meet their renewable energy and emissions standards. The 12-month pilot will use current tie-line capacity. [Sackville Tribune Post]

US:

 

Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

Energy Systems Integration Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)

¶ State utility regulators, including those in Colorado, are increasingly changing how business is done. The century-old business plan for utilities, with rates based on investments in big power plants and lines, is not working well now. Demand is slowing with increased energy efficiency and rooftop solar. [The Denver Post]

¶ Even as the US oil industry slashes investment, pipeline operator Enbridge Energy isn’t paring back its record five-year, $44 billion building program. The company’s CEO said in an interview that the 50% drop in crude oil prices since June is dire for the industry, but hasn’t changed the economics of pipelines. [Bakken.com]

¶ The biggest player in the beleaguered nuclear power industry wants to collect extra money for producing carbon-free electricity. Exelon Corp says it could have to close three nuclear plants if Illinois rejects their pitch to receive benefits intended for solar, wind, and hydroelectric as low carbon technologies. [Quincy Journal]


March 28 Energy News

March 28, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Can This Utility Business Model Embrace Efficiency & Solar Without Sacrificing Revenue?” The utility would need to weave together various products, services, and financing tools seamlessly that had never been integrated, and do so while maintaining revenues similarly to traditional electricity sales. [CleanTechnica]

World:

An impression of the turbines in situ at Glen Ullinish.

An impression of the turbines in situ at Glen Ullinish.

¶ In Scotland, Perth-based group Kilmac has been given the green light for a £55 million windfarm development on the Isle of Skye. Crofters, who have been working with Kilmac on the project, welcomed Highland Council’s decision to grant consent for the Glen Ullinish array, to be created on a picturesque site. [The Courier]

¶ A solar dream five years in the making has come to fruition at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus. Taking advantage of the 2700 hours of sunlight the Lockyer Valley gets each year, the site’s 37,000 thin-film photovoltaic panels will produce 3.275 MW. It was put on an old airfield. [The Queensland Times]

¶ The Catholic bishops of Japan, which is still dealing with health effects from the Fukushima Disaster, have asked Pope Francis to warn against the use of nuclear power. Francis is known to be working on an encyclical, the highest form of teaching for a pope, that is to address environmental and ecological issues. [National Catholic Reporter]

¶ The Scottish government has granted £1.35 million in financing to a community renewable energy project in Orkney that combines two tidal and one wind turbine on the island of Eday. Surplus power will be used to produce compressed hydrogen, which will be transported to Kirkwall for use. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ GE’s Distributed Power Business supplied 11 Jenbacher gas engines for a Romanian combined-heat-and-power project. The engines generate 42 MW of power and 38 MW of heat for the district heating system in the city of Brasov. They are part of Romania’s campaign to reduce emissions. [Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide]

Jenbacher engines.

Generators with Jenbacher engines.

US:

¶ Seven Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in voting, 53 to 47, for an amendment to tie climate change to national security and call for action to cut carbon pollution and invest in efficiency and renewable power. The vote shows cracks in the wall of Republican opposition to action on climate change. [Huffington Post]

¶ Walmart has signed a 12-year power purchase agreement to purchase 80% of the expected output from the 50-MW Rocksprings Wind Farm near Del Rio, Texas for a period of 12 years. Walmart aims to obtain 7 million MWh of renewable energy by 2020, to offset 100% of their global electric consumption. [EIN News]

¶ The Georgia State Senate unanimously passed legislation that would allow for third-party ownership of rooftop solar power in the state. The bill, had passed the Georgia House of Representatives unanimously on February 9. It now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Nathan Deal. [Greentech Media]

¶ SunEdison, Inc, the world’s largest renewable energy development company, today announced an agreement to develop and install four solar power plants for the City of Long Beach, delivering a combined 2.5 MW of solar energy. The City of Long Beach is projecting $60,000 in savings during the first year alone. [PennEnergy]


March 27 Energy News

March 27, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ The International Energy Agency said cost-parity between electric and conventional cars would be achieved when batteries cost $300/kWh, estimating that to happen in 2020. But market-leading firms were probably already producing cheaper batteries last year, says today’s new research. [CleanTechnica]

World:

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ China is reducing coal use for power generation faster than expected as the use of cleaner-burning fuels and slowing economic growth drags thermal utilisation rates to a potential record low. Utilisation rates at thermal power plants, nearly all coal-fired, have dropped to 52.2% in the first two months of this year. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Fueled by the policy-driven installation increases in China, Germany, and the US, the global wind industry had a remarkable comeback in 2014. Other countries contributed, including Brazil, Canada, and France. Navigant Research says worldwide wind power installations grew by 42% on year in 2014. [Digitimes]

¶ In New Zealand, the share of electricity generated from renewable resources last year was 79.9%, a 5% increase from the previous year, and at the highest rate it has been in nearly twenty years. The government said the rise to the growth in geothermal generation, which more than doubled in the last decade. [UPI.com]

¶ Just a few years ago, Nicaragua depended almost entirely on imported fuel oil to generate electricity. Now renewables account for 50% of the country’s electricity, with geothermal providing 16%, wind 15%, hydropower 12%, and biomass 7%. Government officials predict the renewable share will rise to 80% within a few years. [Blouin News Blogs]

¶ The UK Government has confirmed it is extending permitted development to all rooftop solar (this includes both solar PV and solar thermal installations) up to 1 MW, raising the limit from 50 kW. This means that as long as certain requirements are fulfilled, there will be no need to apply for planning permission. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.4% in 2014 due to a decline in fossil-fuel power generation, preliminary government data showed on Thursday. The fall largely resulted from a 15% decrease in emissions from the energy supply sector as coal-fired generation fell and output from renewable power sources rose. [Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Nuclear’s share of UK electricity generation decreased last year by 0.6 percentage points on 2013 to 19.0%, or 63.8 TWh – owing to outages in the second half of the year, new data released today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed. Overall electricity generated in 2014 fell by 6.7%. [World Nuclear News]

¶ Official data from the UK government has confirmed that renewable energy contributed more to the grid than nuclear power for the first time ever in 2014. The statistics show that renewables accounted for 19.2% of electricity generation last year, ahead of nuclear power, which generated 19% of the electricity. [pv magazine]

¶ Power-grid operators in the UK and Norway agreed on Thursday to build a €2 billion ($2.2 billion) power cable that will connect the countries’ electricity markets in 2021. This will enable the UK to import Norwegian hydro power when the wind isn’t blowing, and potentially cut electricity bills. [Wall Street Journal]

3-27 scotland

Sunrise in Scotland.

¶ Provisional Renewable Electricity Generation 2014 national statistics show that 49.6% of electricity consumption came from renewable sources in Scotland last year, up from 44.4% in 2013. Hydro, bioenergy and wind generation all increased, with hydro at a record high level, up 26% to 5,503 GWh. [The National]

US:

¶ The US Energy Information Administration’s electricity generation figures for December 2014 show the country has reached very interesting milestone that was widely missed: wind power actually produced more electricity than hydropower for the month as a whole … for the first time in history. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Maui County plans to replace its streetlights with more efficient LED lighting, following other counties in Hawaii, including Honolulu and Kauai. Compared to existing street light fixtures, the new LED lights reduce energy consumption by an average of 50%, and have a payback period of four years. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

¶ Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the New York Power Authority and SUNY Polytechnic Institute have signed an agreement to create a world-class facility devoted to energy technology innovation and the rapid deployment of smart-grid technology to modernize New York’s electric grid. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Wisconsin regulators endorsed the Badger-Coulee high-voltage transmission line that would bring in 1,400 MW of renewable energy from Western states. In doing so, they rejected critics’ claims the project would discourage distributed generation development while protecting the “utility industry structure.” [Platts]


March 26 Energy News

March 26, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Tesla Motors are out to change the world – and they’re doing it fast, and in style. Like many other of their projects, this one seemed to pop up out of nowhere: Tesla have designed a battery that can power your home and even larger utility buildings. In other words, it could take your house out of the grid. [ZME Science]

World:

¶ Oil companies continue to get burned by low oil prices, but the pain is bleeding over into the financial industry. Major banks are suffering huge losses from both directly backing some struggling oil companies, but also from buying high-yield debt that is now going sour and difficult for the banks to sell on the market. [CleanTechnica]

Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Connonmah, via Wikimedia Commons.

Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Connormah, via Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The Vancouver city council voted unanimously Wednesday to support a shift toward using 100% renewable energy sources in a renewed push to meet its “greenest city” goals. Currently, 32% of Vancouver’s energy needs are met by renewable energy including electric power, heating and cooling. [MetroNews Canada]

¶ SunEdison plans to buy about 1,000 vanadium flow batteries from Imergy Power Systems. They will store more than 100 MWh of energy at SunEdison’s rural electrification and solar-powered minigrid projects in India. SunEdison intends to bring reliable energy to 20 million people globally by 2020. [Clean Technology Business Review]

¶ Government of India has agreed to provide cheap liquefied natural gas for use in power plants. The initiative is to help power industry investments that are losing money, mainly due to fuel scarcity. The companies bid for the lowest amount of subsidy they need to supply electricity at a set rate per unit. [Greentech Lead]

¶ West Australian is turning to solar power. Last year, the energy market required subsidies of $620 million, the difference between the cost of generation and delivery of its ageing coal and gas infrastructure and the price it charges to consumers. But rooftop solar and battery storage are becoming common. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator issued its 18-Month Outlook, covering April 2015 to September 2016. It says 2,300 MW of new supply will be added, including 1,700 MW of wind energy, 10 MW of hydroelectric, 300 MW of gas, 240 MW of solar, and 40 MW of biofuels. [Windpower Engineering]

¶ Renewable electricity in the UK surged 20% to 64.4 TWh in 2014 and claimed a record share of 19.2% of total generation. The latest Energy Statistics show offshore wind generation rose by 16.1% and onshore wind by 7.9% compared with 2013. Both increases were mainly due to increased capacity. [reNews]

US:

¶ Texas has become a renewable energy leader, thanks in part to a renewable energy bill introduced by Senator Troy Fraser in 2005. Now Fraser asks if the work is already done and whether incentives should be frozen. The original goals were 5,000 MW by 2015 and 10,000 MW by 2025. But Texas hit that mark in 2010. [Fierce Energy]

Wind turbines in Texas. Photo by Leaflet via Wikimedia Commons.

Wind turbines in Texas. Photo by Leaflet, via Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Three nuclear-related bills were passed by the Washington Senate and are being considered in a House committee. One question is whether Washington should find a place to build small modular reactors. Leaders in the Tri-Cities area of southeastern Washington envision a Boeing-style assembly plant. [Crosscut]

¶ Centennial Renewable Energy of Idaho announced that is building a 160,000-metric-ton wood pellet plant in northern Idaho and recently signed agreements to purchase land for the project. CRE has named its funding advisor as UK-based CHP Ventures, which has secured development funds for the project. [Biomass Magazine]

¶ President Obama authorized the Department of Energy to start developing a national repository for the nation’s high-level radioactive defense waste. About half of that waste is at Hanford. The previous plan had been to dispose of high-level radioactive defense waste and used commercial nuclear fuel together. [Walla Walla Union-Bulletin]


March 25 Energy News

March 25, 2015

World:

¶ According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, the cost of producing power in central and southern Europe will have declined to between 4 and 6 cents per kWh by 2025, and to as low as 2 to 4 cents by 2050.” The study was commissioned by the think tank Agora Energiewende. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The UK low carbon economy was worth £122 billion in 2013 and has been growing at 7% per year, according to government figures. A low carbon investment report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change says the sector supports over 460,000 jobs, or about 1.5% of all UK jobs. [Business Green]

British rooftop solar array.

British rooftop solar array.

¶ A new report published by Australia’s Climate Council has shown just how dramatically Australia is falling behind other leading world economies in renewable energy generation. The failure is due to the current policy uncertainty resulting from the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target. [CleanTechnica]

¶ EDF Energy has agreed to buy the electricity generated from 104-MW of solar farms in the UK, owned by Primrose Solar. The 15-year power purchase provides for an inflation-linked guaranteed minimum price. The price floor enhances Primrose Solar’s ability to raise capital against the projects. [Clean Technology Business Review]

¶ Gas fueled power plants will soon supply all the electricity in Beijing as China strives to cut down pollution levels there. The last of four coal-fired power plants, an 845-MW plant of China Huaneng Group Corp, is scheduled to be closed in 2016. The gas plants will have double the capacity of the old plants. [India Gazette]

¶ More than a million homes in the UK could be heated using green technology that takes heat from nearby rivers and canals and pumps it into the home. The Energy Secretary is promoting water-source heat pumps, taking heat from 4041 rivers, estuaries, coastal sites and canals the government has identified. [The Independent]

US:

¶ A proposal to build a hydroelectric power plant in the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside is going before the San Diego City Council’s Environment Committee. The project would require construction of an upper reservoir that would pour into the existing body of water. The plant would produce 500 MW. [Times of San Diego]

San Vicente Dam and Reservoir aerial view. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Water Authority

San Vicente Dam and Reservoir aerial view. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Water Authority

¶ A Colorado company, Red Rock Biofuels, is planning a $200 million biofuels refinery in Lakeview, Oregon where it will refine jet fuel to be used by Southwest Airlines. The refinery will also produce diesel and naphtha fuel from its wood pulp stock through wood gasification and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The US DOE reported that California is the first state to get 5% of its electricity from large-scale solar power installations. In 2014, solar power plants in California generated 9.9 million MWh, more than all other states combined. The report does not count rooftop systems, which are a large part of the total. [SFGate]

¶ SunPower Corp will build the 15-MW solar array on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The $50 million plant will be owned by NV Energy on land leased from the Air Force in the southwest part of the base. Together with an older 13.2-MW solar plant, it will power all base facilities during daylight hours. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

¶ Carbon Tracker’s report, “The US Coal Crash,” argues that coal demand is in a structural decline that could also befall oil and gas producers world over in coming years. Companies that fail to adapt to technological and policy changes that will ultimately curb greenhouse-gas emissions could lose billions. [Bloomberg]

¶ A measure reducing the amount of renewable energy sources utilities would have to tap to provide electricity for their customers by 2020 has narrowly passed the New Mexico House and is heading to the senate. The current standard increased from 10% to 15% this year and requires 20% in 2020. [PennEnergy]

¶ Enel Green Power has commenced the construction of a new wind farm in Oklahoma. The company plans to invest approximately $130 million to construct the Little Elk wind project, which will have a total installed capacity of 74 MW. The wind farm will generate enough power for 27,000 US homes. [Greentech Lead]

¶ The California Public Utilities Commission failed to probe possible Southern California Edison responsibility for design errors that led the demise of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Now a California Assembly Committee is asking the commission for review the $4.7 billion San Onofre settlement. [CleanTechnica]


March 24 Energy News

March 24, 2015

World:

¶ Mighty River Power’s gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland, New Zealand will close at the end of the year. The 140-MW station will be taken apart and sold overseas. MRP said it was closing the Southdown station because of the significant lift in renewable power generation in recent years. [Stuff.co.nz]

Closing Down: Mighty River Power's gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland.

Closing Down: Mighty River Power’s gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland.

¶ Germany’s Energiewende clearly has social license. Their electrical mix is already 27% renewable and Die Welt reports that 92% of the respondents in a new poll approve of the transition to renewable energy. 70% of the respondents to that poll said this transition was “Very or exceedingly important.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Earlier, we learned from the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) that Costa Rica got 100% of its energy from renewables for 75 days straight this year. Now the ICE says reliance on renewables has prompted the country to lower electricity rates by 12%, and the rates will probably continue to drop. [Greentech Media]

¶ India’s cumulative grid-connected solar capacity has reached 3,382 MW at the end of February, statistics by the country’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy show. India has installed 750 MW of new PV facilities since this fiscal year began in April 2014. Its goal for the year is to add 1,100 MW. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Solar power could provide up to 4% of the UK’s electricity by the end of the decade, the government has said. The plummeting cost of solar panels has caused the government to revise upwards its forecast for solar energy use, leading to a decision to end most subsidies for large-scale solar this month. [BBC News]

¶ Kuwait-based infrastructure fund Tharwa Investments and the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company have agreed to establish the world’s largest single-site coal-fired power plant at a cost of $11 billion. Tharwa will develop the 6,000-MW plant in two co-located phases, the company said in a statement. [Utilities-ME.com]

¶ Scotland is leading the UK in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but will need to strengthen policies further to meet its ambitious climate targets. That is the view of the Committee on Climate Change, which says that Scottish emissions have fallen nearly 30% since 1990 compared to 24% for the UK as a whole. [Business Green]

US:

¶ It’s been almost a year since Ohio lawmakers froze the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Researchers at the Center for American Progress interviewed business leaders in the renewable energy sector in Ohio, and a report based on that work says all of them reported negative impacts. [Public News Service]

Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service

¶ The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority released a study prepared by the University of Wyoming that predicts the federal regulations could force a decline of up to 45% in Powder River Basin coal production by 2030. Wyoming is among several states in a lawsuit challenging the US EPA’s Clean Action Plan. [SteelGuru]

¶ New Jersey is funding more than a dozen projects to help make solar and wind power more reliable by providing backup energy-storage systems for the electricity they produce. The awards will give nearly $3 million to 13 projects scattered around the state, all of which support solar energy systems. [NJ Spotlight]

¶ Proposed legislation could end a Texas mandate for renewable power. Texas leads the nation in wind power, but its lawmakers are asking if it is time to end state support for the renewable power industry. The bill’s sponsor says Texas has far surpassed goals set by the state to lower its carbon emissions. [KFDA]

¶ More than two dozen coal companies in the US have gone bust and others have lost 80% of their market in the past five years because of a potent combination of cheap gas prices, new air quality limits, and increasingly competitive renewable energy, according to a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. [Business Green]

¶ For the American Legislative Exchange Council, defections keep on coming. Now oil giant BP has left it. Among earlier organizations leaving is Google, whose Chairman Eric Schmidt denounced ALEC for “literally lying” about global warming. Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and Occidental Petroleum have also left ALEC. [SFGate]

¶ The Advanced Energy Economy recently commissioned a study completed by Navigant Research that found the US advanced energy market grew by 14% last year, five times the rate of the US economy overall. The report estimates the US advanced energy market was worth an estimated $199.5 billion last year. [Biodiesel Magazine]

¶ If all goes as planned, a virtual 1,000-MW power plant will “open” for business near Erie, Pa, in 2019, just in time to help fill the void left by some of the coal-fired plants being disconnected. The power come through a billion-dollar, high-voltage direct-current power in Ontario and transmitted beneath Lake Erie. [Environment & Energy Publishing]


March 23 Energy News

March 23, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ The Mercedes C 350 e plug-in hybrid electric vehicle possesses full lifecycle CO2 emissions up to 41% lower than the gas-powered Mercedes C 250 when charged with renewable energy sources, and 26% lower when charged with conventional power, according analysis confirmed by TÜV Süd. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ A new French law requires the rooftops of every new building in a commercial zone to be partially covered with either solar panels or plants. Environmental activists in France wanted all new buildings to be completely covered by plants or solar panels, but the French government prefered not to be extreme. [CleanTechnica]

Paris Opera

Paris Opera – probably not a candidate for a new roof

¶ China’s top weather scientist warns that climate change could have a “huge impact” on China, reducing crop yields and harming the environment. Zheng Guogang said climate change could seriously threaten big infrastructure projects, and temperature rises were already higher than global averages. [BBC News]

¶ China, the biggest renewable-energy investor, asked local authorities to ensure the purchase of all the clean power generated in the country. The nation has also asked renewable-power plants to run at full capacity, taking into account grid safety and stability, the National Development and Reform Commission said. [Bloomberg]

¶ Australian power producer AGL Energy has put on stream a 25-MW unit of its 102-MW Nyngan solar park in New South Wales. Once fully operational, the $226 million plant, with its 350,000 solar panels, will be able to generate enough electricity for over 33,000 homes each year, according to the developer. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Two Scandinavian wind-power developers will merge their $3.5 billion investment pipeline of developments across Finland, Norway and Sweden to cut costs. Havgul Clean Energy AS of Norway and Triventus Wind Power AB of Sweden will combine to form a company with 1.6 gigawatts of project plans. [Bloomberg]

¶ Bloomberg reported that European coal prices fell to the lowest in more than 7 years amid a worldwide coal glut, as governments from the US to China boost efforts to shift away from the most-polluting energy source. It is the third straight weekly decline as demand growth slows in China, the world’s biggest consumer. [SteelGuru]

¶ German energy provider Eon has become to the latest major company to move away from the North Sea, as it prepares to sell off its assets in the region. Firms operating in the North Sea have struggled over the past nine months, with a the price of oil plummeting combined with a stringent tax regime. [CITY A.M.]

North Sea oil platform. Photo by Stan Shebs, via Wikimedia Commons.

North Sea oil platform. Photo by Stan Shebs, via Wikimedia Commons.

¶ UK Green Investment Bank, Foresight Group and Zouk Capital are to invest £111m in the construction of Levenseat Renewable Energy’s 12.5-MWe energy from waste plant and adjacent materials recycling facility at Forth by Lanark in Scotland. GIB’s £28.25 million is the eighth investment made by the fund. [reNews]

¶ A new German government report is stoking fears that the country’s energy companies can’t shoulder the cost of a government plan to close the country’s nuclear-power plants. Nobody knows how much it costs to shut and clean up atomic-power plants or exactly how to deal with the radioactive waste. [Wall Street Journal]

US:

¶ Texas Senator Ted Cruz isl entering the 2016 Presidential race. He announced on Twitter that he would seek the Republican Party nomination. Citing Cruz’s sceptical stance on climate change, California Governor Brown said he betokens “a level of ignorance and a direct falsification of the existing scientific data.” [The Independent]

¶ Renewable Energy Trust Capital, Inc announced on March 20 the close of over $200 million in financing for four solar PV projects in the US and Canada. The independent renewable finance platform closed a C$115 million non-recourse debt to support the acquisition of two solar PV facilities in Ontario, Canada. [solarserver.com]

¶ A New Hampshire-based company, AgEnergyUSA, teamed with poultry giant Perdue to propose a $200 million plant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to extract energy from chicken manure, offering its plan as a viable remedy for the farm pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay. AgEnergyUSA also partners with EDF. [CapitalGazette.com]

¶ The American Biogas Council reports, “The U.S. has over 2,000 sites producing biogas: 239 anaerobic digesters on farms, 1,241 wastewater treatment plants using an anaerobic digester … and 636 landfill gas projects.” The ABC says many sites could be developed and it is easy to see the potential for growth. [Mondaq News Alerts]


March 22 Energy News

March 22, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Four years after Fukushima, India is flogging a nuclear dead horse” It’s a telling comment on the state of the Indian media that most of it blacked out the fourth anniversary of the still-continuing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, on March 11. [International Viewpoint]

World:

¶ The global coal boom has started to slow, as more plans for new power plants are now being shelved than completed. The number of cancelled coal projects across the world has outstripped those completed at a rate of two to one since 2010. [CleanTechnica]

Comparison of 2012 WRI figures and 2014 Global Coal Plant Tracker. Source: Boom and Bust: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline

Comparison of 2012 WRI figures and 2014 Global Coal Plant Tracker. Source: Boom and Bust: Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline

… I do not usually comment in the middle of the news, but in this case I will. As I consider the data in the article above, I have assembled my thoughts at a web page, “A Comment: the Future of New Coal Capacity.” In my view, this is not merely a slowdown. [geoharvey]

¶ The Canadian province of Ontario recently opened up a 140-MW solar procurement round targeting projects over 500-kW in size, as part of the “Large Renewable Procurement” program. The tender is only open to pre-registered bidders. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Emissions capped by Europe’s carbon market fell 3.7% in 2014, driven by higher output from renewable power producers and lower electricity consumption, according to analysts at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. [Customs Today Newspaper]

Energy-intensive aluminum manufacture.

Energy-intensive industry

 

¶ Bahrain-based energy investment firm Terra Sola Ventures has inked a deal with Egyptian Electricity Holding Company to build a new PV plant in Egypt. Valued at $3.5 billion, the project will provide 2,000 MW of solar energy in the country. [Gulf Business News]

¶ Rural Kenyans are embracing alternative clean energy sources as the hope of getting grid electricity fades away due to the high cost. The use of solar and wind turbines is increasing as companies step in to ensure residents get clean energy. [GlobalPost]

US:

¶ Google and SolarCity teamed up to create a $750 million fund to promote affordable residential solar installations. The new fund will cover the upfront cost of solar panel installations in specified states, to bring the cost of solar power below fossil fuels. [Solar Love]

¶ California risks a huge decrease in hydro-power as the dry spell is not going to end anytime soon. The state starts the fourth successive year of dry season that, most specialists say, is a consequence of the environmental change. [States Chronicle]

¶ Renewable power groups say two proposals in the Kansas Legislature would threaten the young industry’s existence there by shortening a lifetime home tax exemption for wind and solar farms and taxing ethanol fuel and renewable electricity. [Chronicle Bulletin]

¶ The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, is weighing a proposal to lease six acres of its campus to Siemens. As part of the 20-year agreement, Siemens would clear the land above the Hudson River to build a 1 to 2 MW solar farm. [Chronicle Bulletin]


March 21 Energy News

March 21, 2015

World:

¶ Global solar PV capacity is expected to increase by 177% from 2014 levels to reach 498 GW by 2019, according to new research from IHS. Alongside increasing capacity, IHS notes that “the large number of discrete country markets at the gigawatt-level will help reduce demand volatility.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ UAE-based Masdar and Morocco’s Office National de l’Electricité et de l’Eau Potable signed a partnership to provide 17,670 solar home systems across 940 villages in the North African country. This and other initiatives will result in 99% of rural Morocco having access to electric power by the end of 2017. [ArabianBusiness.com]

¶ The UK is transforming the way its energy is generated as thousands of homes and businesses across England are powered by locally-owned renewable projects. According to DECC, 62 renewable projects have been supported in the last 12 months as a result of the £25 million urban and community energy funds. [Energy Live News]

¶ ABB has won orders worth around $900 million to supply on-shore high-voltage direct current converter stations and the cable system in the German sector for the first ever interconnection between the Norwegian and German power grids. The 623-km link, will be the longest HVDC connection in Europe. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ While clear weather made for some excellent eclipse viewing, the electric grid story was uneventful. Despite warnings of grid problems when power solar panels suddenly went off and then came back on, Europe’s interconnected power grid delivered rock-solid stability throughout the 2.5-hour eclipse. [IEEE Spectrum]

¶ Enel energy is planning to invest almost €18 billion in renewable energy and smart grid markets in coming five years. Nearly €5.4 billion of this is for emerging markets, digital meters and smart grids. Enel aims to increase its renewable capacity by 50% to 7.1 GW mostly in the Americas and Africa. [Greentech Lead]

¶ National Australia Bank has raised AUD 205 million ($160 million) from a private funding round in US for developing a 71.4 MW wind project in South Australia. The HH2 wind farm will be powered by 34 turbines, which are expected to produce 262 GWh of electricity per year, once operational. [Greentech Lead]

¶ APG, the second-largest pension fund manager in the Netherlands, has decided to invest in an offshore wind power project in the North Sea, valued at €2.1 billion ($2.24 billion). Previously, APG’s position was that offshore wind is too risky, but after doing a new assessment study, it decided to invest. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The Turkish government plans to place four nuclear reactors into service by 2028 under a commercial agreement with Japanese companies concluded in 2013, details of which were recently revealed. A company will be established to build and operate a nuclear plant in the Black Sea city of Sinop. [Nikkei Asian Review]

US:

¶ Two Maine conservation organizations marked spring’s arrival by unveiling solar power systems, reflecting growing adoption of the renewable energy technology in the state. Maine Audubon unveiled a 42-kW solar system, and Wells Reserve at Laudholm is Maine’s first nonprofit to be 100% solar powered. [Press Herald]

An array of solar panels will help provide electricity at Wells Reserve at Laudholm, which expects to derive all its electricity needs from the sun. Courtesy Photo by Bill Lord

An array of solar panels will help provide electricity at Wells Reserve at Laudholm, which expects to derive all its electricity needs from the sun. Courtesy Photo by Bill Lord

¶ American Electric Power will close six power plants, including three plants in West Virginia, by May 31, 2015. AEP announced in 2011 that significant amounts of coal-fueled generation would be retired to comply with new EPA regulations, primarily the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule, an AEP spokeswoman said. [WOWK]

¶ Alpha Wind Energy, a Danish company, is planning to develop a major offshore wind energy project, which would include more than 100 turbines, in federal waters in Hawaii off Oahu’s northwest and southern coasts. The development is the first floating offshore wind farm project in the United States. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

¶ Propel Fuels has starting selling Diesel HPR (high performance renewable) diesel fuel at locations in Northern California. According to the company, Diesel HPR uses Neste Oil’s NEXBTL renewable diesel, a low-carbon renewable fuel that meets petroleum diesel specifications for use in diesel engines. [Fleet Owner]


March 20 Energy News

March 20, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ If you live on the East Coast of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released some statistics that may surprise you: Globally, this has been the hottest winter on record, topping the previous record (2007) by 0.05°F. Only the East Coast of the US was below average. [ThinkProgress]

¶ Wave power company Aquamarine Power has claimed “exceptional results” following lengthy sea trials of its Oyster 800 wave machine. The Edinburgh-based firm spent months testing the device at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney. It said operational data verified engineering projections. [BBC]

¶ Solar Impulse 2 landed in Myanmar on Thursday night, the latest leg of a round-the-world trip aimed at highlighting clean energy. Dozens of trees had to be cleared for its giant mobile hangar. Towering shrubs along the runway also needed to be trimmed to accommodate the plane’s 72-meter wing span. [CT Post]

World:

¶ The Latin American country of Costa Rica has achieved the milestone of generating 100% of its energy from renewable resources, with a combination of hydropower and geothermal, for 75 days in a row. About 13% of the energy came from geothermal in 2010, and the country is building more plants. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The worldwide capacity of distributed energy storage systems is expected to increase nearly 10-fold over the next 3 years, according to a new report from Navigant Research, which analyzed the global market for distributed energy storage systems through 2024. This results partly from rapid innovation. [CleanTechnica]

¶ At its Annual Account Press Conference 2015, the BMW Group announced that, for the first time in the history of the Group, 51% of its electricity worldwide is being supplied from renewable sources. BMW has a goal of increasing the share of renewable energy to 100% over the coming years. [The FINANCIAL]

¶ The first major eclipse of the solar age is placing unprecedented strain on Europe’s electricity grids this morning as power panels switch off and then on again, as the moon blocks about 80% of the sun’s light across Europe from about 8 am to 11 am London time. This is particularly important in Germany. [Bloomberg] (Spoiler: the grid did fine.)

¶ The Australian Industry Minister offered the Clean Energy Council, which represents renewables producers, 1000 GWh hours more for large-scale renewable power generation by 2020. He said it was his final offer and he would not go higher. The opposition rejected the compromise as too low. [The Australian]

¶ The Japanese Environment Ministry has selected three offshore wind energy sites with combined capacity of 1.42 GW to help increase renewable power. Iwate Prefecture and the town of Hirono were selected to study community acceptance and environmental impact of a 200 MW offshore wind farm. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ TEPCO said almost all the nuclear fuel in the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima plant likely melted in the Fukushima Disaster. The plant operator said that internal observations using cosmic rays reinforce earlier suspicions that all the fuel had melted and dropped to the bottom of the containment vessel. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Growing by 105%, New York had the seventh most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to the recently-released US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. New York added 147 MW of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 397 MW, enough to supply about 70,000 homes. [AltEnergyMag]

Omega Center for Sustainable Living at Rhinebeck, New York. Photo by Andy Milford from Dahlonega, GA. From Wikimedia Commons.

Omega Center for Sustainable Living at Rhinebeck, New York. Photo by Andy Milford from Dahlonega, GA. From Wikimedia Commons.

¶ A little-known solar financing plan will benefit Massachusetts taxpayers and low-income tenants with $60 million over two decades. SunEdison solar arrays will provide 39.5 MW of nameplate capacity at ten Massachusetts locations. The net metering credits they earn will be credited sixteen housing authorities. [NewEnergyNews]

¶ Philip Morris USA is partnering with Dominion Virginia Power under the Solar Partnership Program to produce the largest solar installation undertaken in Virginia so far. Dominion is installing about 8,000 ground-mounted solar panels at the PM USA facility in Chesterfield County to build 2,450 kW solar farm. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ President Obama ordered the federal government to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by 40% and ramp up use of renewable energy sources to 30% of the federal government’s consumption. The White House said taxpayers could save up to $18 billion in electricity costs while reducing greenhouse gases. [SFGate]

¶ A conference at the University of Vermont March 23 and 24, “Power from the North,” will put context around the questions of where Vermont and New England’s growing need for power will be satisfied. Quebec has abundant power, but there are political, environmental, economic and policy issues to examine. [Vermont Biz]


March 19 Energy News

March 19, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Solar Impulse 2 has successfully landed in Varanasi, India. It seems there was some drama on the tarmac in Ahmedabad, of which the details have not yet come out. Turbulence and short sleep schedules add to the difficulties of the flight, as the solar-powered airplane flies around the world. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, who were among the authors of a new study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience about the huge, fast-melting Totten Glacier in Antarctica, say it contains enough ice to contribute at least 11 feet (3.4 meters) to the rise the global sea level. [CNN]

¶ DNV GL, a large international testing body, gathered views from over 1,600 energy sector participants across more than 70 countries. Eight out of 10 respondents believe that the electricity system can be 70% renewable by 2050. Almost half of them believe this can be achieved in the next 15 years. [Your Renewable News]

World:

¶ Public Investment Corporation, South Africa’s largest pension fund, has announced it will take a 20% stake each in two CSP projects with an investment of $1.8 billion. Both of these projects are expected to be commissioned by 2017 and will use parabolic trough reflectors, with a capacity of 100 MW each. [CleanTechnica]

Solar trough collectors in Hawaii. Photo by Xklaim, from Wikimedia Commons.

Solar trough collectors in Hawaii. Photo by Xklaim, from Wikimedia Commons.

 

¶ The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has challenged the private sector to invest in renewable energy projects to support their own operations and ease the power deficit from the national grid. Zimbabwe’s power capacity remains at an average of 1,300 MW due to ageing infrastructure. Demand is 2,200 MW. [The Herald]

¶ New rules intended to combat air pollution from EU power plants could be weaker than coal standards currently in place in China, the US, and Japan, according to media reports. Apparently, industry lobbyists comprise over half (183 of 352) of the key official group formulating the new EU limits. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Japan approved a proposal to cut the incentive for solar power by as much as 16% as the costs of operation and maintenance fell. The tariff for applications approved from April 1 to June 30 will be lowered to ¥29/kWh (24¢/kWh) from ¥32 as proposed last month. The tariff will be lowered to ¥27/kWh on July 1. [Bloomberg]

¶ A report from Ernst & Young finds a perfect storm of disruption – from technologies such as renewable energy storage and generation, pricing, debt and project finance, and global sentiment on climate change. And financial analysis is catching up, with longer term perspectives that factor in these risks. [The Fifth Estate]

¶ Kyushu Electric Power Co hopes to restart a nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan in July, marking what would be the nation’s first resumption in about two years following stringent safety checks that were imposed after the 2011 Fukushima crisis. There may be further delays in courts, however. [TODAYonline]

US:

¶ According to a new report, the costs associated with offshore wind in New York could be reduced by as much as 50% over the next ten years by a the combined actions of specific actions taken by New York State and/or other states, ongoing technological improvements, and continuing industry advances. [CleanTechnica]

Offshore wind turbines

Offshore wind turbines

¶ A decision by the US IRS to give wind developers an extra year to bring projects online and still collect the $0.023/kWh production tax credit sets the stage for two years of robust growth. Prior to the decision, windfarms delayed by lack of congressional action had to be finished by the end of the year. [Windpower Monthly]

¶ Akuo Energy has signed a power purchase agreement with Walmart for 50 MW of power from a wind farm in Del Rio, Texas. According to the agreement, Walmart will purchase 80% of the output from 50 MW of the project for a period of 12 years. The project should be complete in the third quarter of 2016. [Greentech Lead]

¶ Georgetown, Texas will be among the first cities in the US to get its electricity exclusively from solar and wind energy. SunEdison says it is building a 150-MW solar farm to serve the city’s municipal utility about 30 miles north of Austin. That farm will produce about half the city’s needs, with the rest from wind. [Texas Public Radio]


March 18 Energy News

March 18, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Cutting Carbon Pollution Can Drive Montana’s Economy While Improving Health” – Investments in clean energy have and will continue to create new jobs, expand the economy, reduce pollution, lower electricity bills, and improve public and environmental health across the state. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

Montana Wind

Montana Wind

Science and Technology:

¶ Scientists have raised concerns about a large, rapidly thinning glacier in Antarctica, warning it could contribute significantly to rising sea levels. They say they’ve discovered two openings that could channel warm seawater to the base of the huge Totten Glacier and bring the threat of potentially disastrous melting. [CNN]

World:

scottish wind¶ New polling numbers from Britain’s YouGov has found that 71% of Scottish adults are in favor of the continued development of wind power as part of the country’s energy mix, a number that has increased from 64% two years prior. Wind power produced 146% of Scottish household needs in January of this year. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Italian company Enel Green Power has announced that the construction on three solar PV plants in South Africa has commenced. Solar power generated by the three PV plants will be sold to South African power utility Eskom based on erstwhile power supply agreements made by EGP. [African Review]

¶ A £1 billion tidal lagoon off the coast of south Wales will form the centerpiece of ambitious renewable energy plans to be unveiled today. George Osborne is set to use his Budget today to announce that the Government is beginning formal talks on funding the project to produce energy from turbines in Swansea Bay. [Daily Mail]

¶ Rooftop solar power generation and net metering have been introduced in Dubai. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority launched the initiative under the name “Shams Dubai” which allows generation of solar energy on buildings and their connection to the grid. It is the first such program in the Gulf Region. [Greentech Lead]

¶ China aims to install 17.8 GW of solar power capacity this year, China’s National Energy Administration said in a document posted on its website. This is up nearly 20% from the original goal of 15 GW of installations and nearly 70% from the 10.52 GW of solar generation capacity China installed last year. [Reuters Africa]

¶ MAN Truck & Bus South Africa has officially announced the conversion of its Pinetown assembly plant to solar power. The complete truck and bus-chassis assembly plant is now capable of operating entirely off solar energy. It is the first 100% carbon-neutral truck production site in Africa, and for MAN worldwide. [Media Update]

¶ Lebanon simply does not generate enough electricity to keep the lights on. Daily power outages affect every corner of the country – at least three hours even in well-to-do quarters of Beirut, and much longer in other areas. Now, Lebanon’s first solar farm will soon be connected to ailing power grid. [Ya Libnan]

The Beirut River Solar Snake project is set to contribute to Lebanon’s power network by the end of April 2015.

The Beirut River Solar Snake project is set to contribute to Lebanon’s power network by the end of April 2015.

¶ A new initiative of a series of environmental groups called the Global Coal Plant Tracker identifies, maps, describes, and categorises every known coal-fired generating unit proposed across the world since January 1, 2010. It finds that two plants have been shelved or cancelled worldwide for every plant completed. [Business Spectator]

¶ China Ming Yang Wind Power Group Limited announced it has commenced commercial operation of its 6.5-MW super compact drive offshore wind turbine prototype at the at Longyuan Rudong Intertidal wind power farm in China. Ming Yang’s SCD wind turbine is designed for extreme offshore weather conditions, [PennEnergy]

¶ China approved the construction of new nuclear reactors for the first time since Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011 as the world’s biggest polluter seeks to drive protective masks out of fashion. The world’s largest energy consumer derived 77% of its electricity from coal and gas-fired utilities last year. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ Members spoke and their co-ops listened. The result will be two 500-kW solar projects in Illinois. The projects announced March 10 will be built in the service territories of two of the G&T’s distribution co-ops. One solar installation will be located not far from the Shelbyville headquarters of Shelby Electric Cooperative.[Electric Co-op Today]

¶ State Representative John Szoka of Cumberland County, North Carolina, filed legislation designed to make it easier for businesses to obtain electricity from solar power and other renewable energy resources. It’s called The Energy Freedom Act. Szoka said it will create competition in the market for electricity. [Fayetteville Observer]

¶ Massachusetts had the fourth most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to the recently-released US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review , but finished Number 1 for the first time among Northeast states. The state added 308 MW of solar capacity, bringing its total to 751 MW. [RenewablesBiz]


March 17 Energy News

March 17, 2015

World:

¶ A new study says that if the UK invests in electric vehicle infrastructure and supports its electric vehicle market, oil imports could be cut by 40% by 2030. If the UK does provide such support, the average fossil fuel motorist that switches to an EV might also save about $1,500 in annual fuel costs. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Denmark and Poland are both preparing to have feed-in tariffs for small wind turbines. In Denmark, where benefits of small units have been studied, units of up to 10 kW would get €0.33 per kWh, and those up to 25 kW would get €0.20 per kWh. Polish tariff rates will be €0.17 for up to 3 kWh and €0.10 for 15 kWh. [Sun & Wind Energy]

Wind turbine on farm. photo by Hywel Williams. From Wikimedia Commons

Wind turbine on farm. photo by Hywel Williams. From Wikimedia Commons

¶ MWH Treatment has secured its second gasification EPC contract for an innovative £51.6 million waste wood gasification project in Northamptonshire. MWH Treatment’s aim in building the plant is to provide the equivalent of 17,000 homes with electricity from waste wood by March 2017. [Northampton Herald and Post]

¶ The $850 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund has sold the majority of its shares in companies exposed to the Indian coal sector, citing financial and environmental risks inherent in their operations. The fund has also sold shares in US and European companies similarly exposed to the coal sector. [New Kerala]

¶ Scottish clean energy developer Banks Renewables has submitted plans for an 88.4-MW wind farm in East Ayrshire, and says the project could deliver around £15 million in community benefit payments over its 25-year lifespan. The wind farm could provide enough renewable power for 58,600 homes. [Business Green]

¶ Iceland is preparing to become one of the world’s largest producers of silicon metal and polysilicon as low electricity prices attract four companies vying for the nation’s renewable energy resources. Iceland is seeking to diversify its economy as it recovers from Europe’s biggest banking collapse this century. [Bloomberg]

¶ In Australia, the category three Cyclone Olwyn tore through the WA towns of Exmouth, Coral Bay and Carnarvon on Friday, leaving power blackouts and water shortages in its wake. On the nearby Thevenard Island, however, a relatively newly installed solar-hybrid mini grid continued running throughout. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Three aging nuclear reactors in Japan will be decommissioned due to the high cost of upgrading them in line with tougher safety standards set after the Fukushima disaster. Another two reactors were also likely to be scrapped, local media reports said, with announcements expected later in the week. [Reuters]

US:

¶ The US Energy Department plans to award $1.8 million to help develop larger wind turbine blades. The funding will support research and development to improve the manufacturing, transportation, and assembly of blades longer than 60 metres to be installed on towers taller than 120 metres. [reNews]

Wind turbine blades.

Wind turbine blades.

¶ New work from Carnegie’s Rebecca Hernandez (now at UC Berkley), Madison Hoffacker and Chris Field found that the amount of energy that could be generated from solar equipment constructed on and around existing infrastructure in California would exceed the state’s demand by up to five times. [Laboratory Equipment]

¶ Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia signed legislation restricting owners of solar installations who want to sell clean energy back to the grid. The bill caps the solar power generated from net metering at no more than 3% of the total state’s peak demand—and only 0.5% from residential solar customers. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Clean energy companies are finding a home in Illinois. The Environmental Law and Policy Center says more than 20,000 Illinoisans work in wind power and solar energy markets and predicts continued investments in renewable energy development will mean more new business and increased economic activity. [Public News Service]

¶ A company that for years has been planning a wind turbine farm in an area of southeastern North Dakota where endangered birds nest and fly over is proposing changes that might help reduce potential harm. The company proposes a move to fewer and larger turbines in the latest design. [Greenfield Daily Reporter]

¶ Elected officials from four Kansas counties reacted Monday with alarm to a Senate bill imposing a property tax on renewable energy producers and retroactively undermining long-term financial agreements between wind power generators and county governments. Their concern is the rural economy. [The Garden City Telegram]

¶ US solar giant SolarCity today announced the launch of a microgrid product with built in energy storage capability. SolarCity is going after the commercial market, targeting municipalities, which is a segment the company views as underserved. One reason to have municipal microgrids is extreme weather. [Breaking Energy]


March 16 Energy News

March 16, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “New Renewable Energy Studies: ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out'” – Somebody must have been handing out free cigars last week, because not one but three new renewable energy studies popped up in the US, and all three seek to undercut the economic evidence in favor of renewable energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Decentralisation is the key to energy success and development, according to Søren Hermansen, director of the Samsø Energy Academy. Instead of focusing on Putin’s gas, the EU should create its own independent energy grid, including the national feed-in tariffs the Energy Union project opposes, he said. [EurActiv]

World:

¶ China’s National Energy Administration released its General Outline for the Solar Power Disadvantaged Support Implementation Plan (Trial) which envisages a raft of policy measures for expediting the deployment of solar power in disadvantaged communities, including subsidies of up to 70% for the poor. [CleanTechnica]

Rooftop solar in Hong Kong

Rooftop solar in Hong Kong. Photo by Snowacinesy, from Wikimedia Commons.

 

¶ More than 60% of electricity demand in the Australian town of Alice Springs can be met via solar PVs without causing grid instability, according to a study partly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The remote central Australian town currently has a solar PV capacity of 4.1 MW, and a population of 29,000. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The government of Egypt inked two pacts for the construction of 5 GW of solar parks in the country. Canadian solar firm SkyPower and Gulf Development Companies will build a 3-GW of PV facility, Bahrain-based Terra Sola Group and Tera Nix involves the construction of a 2-GW solar complex. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Tim Yeo, a former environment minister who has been de-selected by party members in his South Suffolk constituency and must stand down at the election, is a Conservative who supports wind farms. He used his farewell speech in the House of Commons to condemn the Tories’ policy on wind turbines. [Western Daily Press]

UK wind turbine. Photo by  James Allan. From Wikimedia Commons.

UK wind turbine. Photo by James Allan. From Wikimedia Commons.

 

¶ Punjab’s hard-working farmers can look forward to the end of some of their power-cut woes with the state government planning to launch soon a “farm-level solar power generation scheme”. The New and Renewable Energy Minister said farmers will be allowed to set up solar power plants of 1 MW to 2.5 MW. [SME Times]

¶ The UK system for subsidizing new nuclear reactors is “a bad example” for the European power market, according to a top Finnish energy official. He said studies in Finland estimate what it would cost the government to subsidize nuclear power and that those estimates are in the hundreds of millions of euros.
[Platts]

US:

¶ Wisconsin state regulators will decide in the coming weeks whether to approve new power lines that together are projected to cost up to $900 million. The cases involve projects by American Transmission Co and other utilities seeking to expand the transmission system to lower costs or for upgrade. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

¶ Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina announced nearly $600,000 in grant assistance to the Guam Power Authority to complete the Guam Wind Turbine Pilot project. This grant supplements $1.5 million previously awarded and the project is expected to be completed this summer. [Saipan Tribune]

 

 


March 15 Energy News

March 15, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Crony Biofuel Politics Wag the Dog” – Failure to back the Renewable Fuel Standards means sayonara to any White House hopes, candidates campaigning in Iowa were told. Appropriately chastened, many normally free market proponents dutifully took to the podium to endorse the mandates. [Eurasia Review]

Science and Technology:

¶ Traditionally, the electricity grid has relied upon dirty “peaker” power plants to balance the load during periods when electricity demand exceeds supply. Today, technology is available that can help fill the need for these peaker plants. This technology, also known as demand-side resources. [Energy Collective]

a1 Have-a-sunny-day

World:

¶ Siemens and the Egyptian government have reached firm agreements to build a 4.4-GW combined-cycle power plant and install wind power capacity of 2 GW. Siemens will build a factory in Egypt to make rotor blades for wind turbines, creating up to 1,000 jobs and nearly trebling Siemens’ footprint in the country. [Utilities-ME.com]

¶ The second day of Egypt’s Economic Development Conference saw the country sign agreements and memoranda of understanding with international companies worth $158 billion. Most of the deals signed on Saturday were concentrated in the field of energy, reaching over $30 billion worth of investment. [Egyptian Streets]

¶ India’s target of coal production for the next fiscal year is estimated to be 700 million tonnes. This production target could be considered India’s biggest annual output growth in Coal. Targets are not always met. The country’s the coal output in the current fiscal may be lower than the target of 630.25 million tonnes. [SteelGuru]

¶ Tens of thousands of people opposed to nuclear energy yesterday gathered in Taiwan in antinuclear parades and rallies, joining an alliance of civic groups to raise awareness about perceived problems with the nation’s nuclear policies. Protesters held banners bearing such messages as “Nuclear Energy RIP.” [Taipei Times]

A solar-powered vehicle from National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences leads an antinuclear energy protest in Kaohsiung. Photo: Ke Yu-hao, Taipei Times

A solar-powered vehicle from National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences leads an antinuclear energy protest in Kaohsiung. Photo: Ke Yu-hao, Taipei Times

US:

¶ Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings that solar panels posed a grave new threat to operators of America’s electric grid. Now, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency. [Buffalo News]

¶ The largest anaerobic digester in Maine, built three years ago, is among the largest in the United States. It produces enough electricity to power all the homes in a town the size of Boothbay Harbor. Its owners are planning to build a new bio-digester three times as big, to consume 50,000 tons of waste each year. [Press Herald]

¶ Marin Clean Energy, a California-based Community Choice Aggregation program, has signed a new $20 million contract with Calpine Corp that will further reduce the carbon emissions produced by the electricity it sells to its customers. Marin Clean Energy will optionally buy 10 MW to 15 MW. [Marin Independent Journal]

¶ Columbia, Missouri, has an electric system in need of more power. How to best pay for it is the question. Bond issue or drastic rate increase? If it passes, city utility customers would see a 6 percent rate increase over three years. If it fails, rates could rise 20% to 25% to pay for the projects the bond would have funded. [Columbia Missourian]

Electricity travels through distribution lines along Peabody Road on Thursday. Columbia Water and Light operates 70 miles of transmission lines throughout the city, according to the department's website.   |  Jenny Justus

Columbia Water and Light operates 70 miles of transmission lines throughout the city, according to the department’s website. Photo by Jenny Justus

¶ North Carolina’s environmental regulators put business first and the environment second, state Representative Rick Glazier said in a speech. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Commerce are supposed to work together to protect the environment as business grows. [Fayetteville Observer]


March 14 Energy News

March 14, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “US Transportation System Could Save $1 Trillion Annually, Reduce Carbon Emissions By 1 Gigaton” – In the United States each year, our cars alone cost us well over $1 trillion, to which the indirect societal cost adds another $2 trillion. Cars burn about 2 billion barrels of oil, producing a quarter of all US emissions. [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ The International Energy Agency announced Friday that energy-related CO2 emissions last year were unchanged from the year before, totaling 32.3 billion metric tons of CO2 in both 2013 and 2014. It shows that efforts to reduce emissions to combat climate change may be more effective than previously thought. [Climate Central]

World:

¶ According to the new report from BCC Research, the global wind energy market was worth $130 billion in 2013 and $165.5 billion in 2014. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2% between 2015 and 2020 resulting in $176.2 billion in 2015 and $250 billion in 2020. [Bihar Prabha]

Wind Energy has a strong potential in Asia-Pacific

Wind Energy has a strong potential in Asia-Pacific

¶ GE is to invest $200 million in a manufacturing, engineering, services and training center in Egypt that will focus on sectors including renewables. The Suez facility will serve Egypt and the region, and provide a shared center of excellence on process, capability and human capital aimed at driving economies of scale. [reNews]

¶ A renewable power company is getting ready to take delivery of the world’s biggest and most powerful tidal turbine – about the same size as a WWII submarine – for its sea-trials off Orkney this summer. The turbine is being built for Scotrenewables Tidal Power at the same shipyard that built the Titanic. [Green Building Press]

A smaller prototype version of the turbine

A smaller prototype version of the turbine

US:

¶ A new report published by the US DOE seeks to develop a new “Wind Vision,” which aims to document the contributions wind has made to date, and the continuing and growing contributions it can make to the country’s national energy portfolio. The report has projections for 2020, 2030, and 2050. [CleanTechnica]

¶ NRG is the biggest privately owned centralized generator in the US, with large nuclear, coal and gas assets in a 50-GW portfolio that nearly matches the size of Australia’s entire electricity grid. Its CEO foresees a “tsunami” of closing polluting coal plants and uncompetitive nuclear, replaced by renewables. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In the 10 years of Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, 60% of its new capacity has been wind powered. The 688 MW of wind energy development has brought $1.4 billion in economic investment, over $2 million in annual lease payment to landowners, and hundreds of jobs, without raising rates. [The Bozeman Daily Chronicle]

¶ Michigan must set attainable energy goals and look towards renewable energy sources to keep energy prices down and avoid widespread outages, Governor Rick Snyder said in a special message on energy. The state’s new goal is to get 30% to 40% of its energy from renewable sources and reduced waste by 2025. [Daily Detroit]

¶ Plans for a hydroelectric pumped-storage facility east of Klamath Falls, Oregon, have been scaled back, but are still moving forward, according to project managers. As a result of an economic study, the Swan Lake North pumped-storage facility’s price tag has been cut from $1.2 billion to $600 million. [Herald and News]

a1 pumped storage

¶ Solar energy has taken a back seat to shale gas in Pennsylvania in recent years. But it’s getting renewed attention, thanks to a proposal from Governor Tom Wolf and new legislation aimed at funding the lapsed Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar, a rebate program for homeowners and small businesses. [StateImpact Pennsylvania]

¶ Dow Chemical Company has signed a long-term agreement with a wind farm under development in Texas. The farm will power Dow’s Freeport Texas Manufacturing plant. It will span 35,000 acres and produce enough electricity to power more than 55,000 homes. It is being developed by Bordas Wind Energy. [Chem.Info]

¶ Lawmakers from at least four states have introduced model legislation from the right-wing group Americans for Prosperity seeking to prohibit state funding for the EPA’s efforts to fight climate change. Nearly identical resolutions have been introduced in Missouri, Florida, Virginia, and South Carolina in 2015. [ThinkProgress]

¶ A report concludes that shaking from a powerful earthquake could exceed the design of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, but the report claims the reactors are safe because components were built with more than enough strength to withstand the potential stress and no equipment would be at risk. [Manteca Bulletin]


March 13 Energy News

March 13, 2015

World:

¶ Navigant Research has published a new report analysing the small and medium wind turbine market, with forecasts through 2023. It finds that China, the UK, and Italy lead globally, while the US is lagging well behind. Small and medium wind turbines are defined as those of less than 500 kW capacity. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbine being assembled in Chile. Photo by Green Energy, from Wikimedia Commons.

Wind turbine being assembled in Chile. Photo by Green Energy, from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Italy’s Enel Green Power SpA said Wednesday it has connected to the grid its 61-MW Talinay Poniente wind farm in Chiles Coquimbo region. The company installed 32 wind turbines to produce over 160 GWh a year, enough for nearly 60,000 homes in Chile. The plant operates under contracts awarded in 2013. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ The linked Quebec–California carbon market has shown advantages for cap-and-trade systems. The system’s second linked carbon dioxide auction sold 100% of available allowances, generating $1.02 billion for clean energy and emissions reduction projects, consumer bill relief, and government operations. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kyocera Corporation, Energetik Solartechnologie-Vertriebs GmbH, and Solare Datensysteme GmbH have teamed up to offer an energy storage solution for residential use in Germany. The solution includes Kyocera’s battery storage system and Solare Datensysteme’s energy monitoring software and hardware. [solarserver.com]

¶ Uruguay’s wind power output jumped 432.9% to over 700 GWh last year, driven by the installation of new plants, the local power market administrator said in its annual report. Excluding hydroelectricity, renewable energy supplies more than doubled year-on-year to 1,364 GWh and covered 13.2% of demand. [SeeNews Renewables]

US:

A1 wind¶ In a refresh to its 2008 Wind Vision report, the DOE said the wind industry had demonstrated an ability to scale up and drive down costs, avoid causing grid disruptions, and not be too big of a pain in the neck to critters or communities – making 35 percent by 2050 “an ambitious but feasible deployment scenario.” [Breaking Energy]

¶ Local municipalities New York may soon receive more power to choose how their electricity is generated and distributed from available alternatives. A pilot program called “Community Choice Aggregation” was recently approved by the state Public Service Commission for New York State municipalities. [ithaca.com]

¶ Of 52 requests for proposals in North America, totaling 3.3 GW of capacity, 27 were for solar and 12 were for energy-smart technologies including storage, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. These requests are typically a strong indicator of industry trends, BNEF’s head of analysis says. [Bloomberg]

Cedar Bay Generating Plant (dep.state.fl.us)

Cedar Bay Generating Plant (dep.state.fl.us)

¶ Florida Power & Light filed with the Public Service Commission last week for approval to purchase the 250-MW coal-fired Cedar Bay Generating Plant near Jacksonville, Florida for $520.5 million. Though the plant is being run economically, FP&L is buying it to shut it down and eliminate its carbon emissions. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Entergy’s Louisiana utilities expect to need 8,000 MW of new generating capacity in the next two decades to replace about half of their aging power-plant fleet. They plan to rely almost exclusively on natural gas-fired generation to meet their capacity needs, according to papers filed with the state. [Argus Media]

¶ PJM, a regional authority that ensures reliable and low-cost power across the electric grid in 14 states, released economic analysis of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The report makes it clear that efficiency and renewables are the cheapest way forward. For Ohio, the report has particular significance. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ Leelanau Township, Michigan, is finalizing its Renewable Energy Community Plan as it moves toward being 100% powered by wind and solar, with efficiency helping. It is one of a number of towns and cities that have done this or are in the process. The article links a web site tracking the progress of American communities. [SustainableBusiness.com]

¶ Xcel Energy is adding 140 MW of PV solar energy to its Texas-New Mexico generation mix with an agreement to purchase the output of two planned solar developments near Roswell, New Mexico. The company expects to add the solar energy capacity in 2016 before federal tax credits end for new projects. [Seminole Sentinel]

¶ The Selectboard of Milton, Vermont, will be asked at its March 16th meeting to authorize contract negotiations with preferred vendor Sun Edison to construct two solar arrays on leased Town property. Over 20 years these arrays are expected to yield the Town over $2 million from a variety of benefits. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Hawaii is on track to pass legislation this year requiring the state to go 100% renewable by 2040. Committees in the House and Senate both unanimously recommended bills that would raise the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard from the current target of 70% by 2030 to the ultimate goal of 100% by 2040. [Solarenergy.net]


March 12 Energy News

March 12, 2015

Science and Technology:

 

Solar Impulse 2 during its landing

Solar Impulse 2 during its landing

¶ Pilots of the world’s first circumnavigating solar plane, which landed in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, are now preparing for the most challenging legs of their journey crossing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Stopping in a number of places, they will fly the solar-powered aircraft across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. [Mid-Day]

World:

¶ Figures from the China Electricity Council indicate that non-fossil fuel sources of energy accounted for more than a quarter of the country’s electricity generation in 2014. China’s total generation reached 5550 TWh in 2014; non-fossil fuel generation was 1420 TWh, rising by 19.6% year-on-year. [CleanTechnica]

Taro Kono in a 2011; Bloomberg News file photo.

Taro Kono in a 2011; Bloomberg News file photo.

¶ Japanese ruling-party lawmaker Taro Kono, a longtime critic of nuclear power, is using a document privately prepared for the Environment Ministry by Mitsubishi Research Institute to encourage the government to set a more ambitious target for renewable energy, a 30% goal by 2030. [Wall Street Journal]

¶ Renewable development and management company Enel Green Power announced that it had commenced construction of three solar PV plants in South Africa. The Aurora, Paleisheuwel and Tom Burke PV plants, located in different areas across the country, will have a combined generation capacity of 231 MW. [ESI Africa]

¶ A project in the Australian Outback that will more than double the country’s large-scale solar output should begin generating its initial power as early as this week, according to First Solar Inc. The Nyngan solar plant in New South Wales state will start at 25 MW before increasing to full capacity of 102 MW. [Bloomberg]

Solar panels in Nicaragua. Photo by Max L. Lacayo. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Solar panels in Nicaragua. Photo by Max L. Lacayo. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Nicaragua produces no oil, but is a land of fierce winds, tropical sun and rumbling volcanoes. In other words, it’s a renewable energy paradise. Now it’s moving quickly to become a green energy powerhouse, and the vast majority of Nicaragua’s electricity will come from hydroelectric, geothermal, and wind. [NPR]

¶ The European Union continues to march toward its renewable energy goals for 2020, but some countries aren’t content to wait until then to meet their targets. Newly released data show that four countries, Sweden, Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania, have met their renewable energy target ahead of schedule. [Climate Central]

¶ Independent Electricity System Operator has launched a 565-MW renewable energy request for proposals, approved by Canadian Wind Energy Association. This will include the launch of 300 MW of wind energy. It is the first of three RFPs under IESO’s Large Renewable Procurement competitive process. [Greentech Lead]

¶ China is reviving growth of its nuclear power industry with approval of its first new project in two years. The Cabinet’s planning agency approved construction of two additional reactors at a power plant in the northeastern province of Liaoning, a unit of state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp said. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Concluding their US Solar Market Insight, 2014 Year-in-Review report, the authors from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association predict that installations will increase 31% in 2015, reaching 8.1 GW by the end of the year, with fastest growth coming from the residential sector. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As part of the US Solar Market Insight, 2014 Year-in-Review report, the authors provided national solar PV system pricing. Solar system costs fell by 9–12% over the course of 2014, depending on market segment. Total costs for utility-scale and large commercial-scale systems fell below $2.00/W DC. [CleanTechnica]

¶ If solar energy gained widespread use in Maine it would have a greater total value than conventional power generation, according to a state-sponsored study that analyzes the costs and benefits of generating power from the sun. The report also said that solar power would help lower costs at peak demand times. [Press Herald]

¶ Connecticut regulators Wednesday signaled they won’t shut down Vermont utilities’ sale of renewable energy credits to power companies in Connecticut, especially if Vermont passes changes to its renewable energy program now pending in the Legislature. House Bill 40 has passed and is before the Senate. [Rutland Herald]

¶ A bill moving through the New Mexico Legislature would remove higher renewable-energy requirements for utilities in the state in the future. House Bill 445 would roll back the requirement that 20% of retail sales for public utilities come from renewable-energy sources by 2020, to the current level, 15%. [Public News Service]

¶ What Michigan’s staunch conservatives want is a commitment to continue moving power production to green sources such as wind and solar at the rate of 1% to 1.5% a year; encouragement of micro-grids powered by solar panels and windmills, and a reduction in reliance on out-of-state fuel sources, namely coal. [The Detroit News]

Giant miscanthus, photo by Kreg8, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons

Giant miscanthus, photo by Kreg8, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons

¶ Biomass industry leader, Repreve Renewables LLC, has been chosen to provide the agricultural and business development services for the University of Iowa’s Biomass Fuel Project. This project will reduce the use of coal, all part of the university’s sustainability goal of 40% renewable energy in 2020. [Biomass Magazine]


March 11 Energy News

March 11, 2015

Opinion:

¶ Today, the 11th of March 2015, marks the fourth year since beginning of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters: the triple reactor core meltdowns and catastrophic containment building failures at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It’s a nuclear crisis that, unfortunately, continues to unfold. [Greenpeace International]

Science and Technology:

¶ NuScale Power has successfully installed a full-length test version of its small modular nuclear reactor in Piacenza, Italy. NuScale plans to submit the project for approval in 2017 and begin operations in late 2023. In late 2013, the US Department of Energy selected NuScale for a commercialization project. [Next Big Future]

The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Muscat airport in Oman

The  Solar Impulse 2 takes off from Muscat airport in Oman.

¶ Solar Impulse 2 landed in India late on Tuesday, completing the first major sea leg of its epic bid to become the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world. The aircraft touched down in Gujarat at 11.25 pm to finish its second leg in a little less than 16 hours after taking off from the Omani capital Muscat. [Hindustan Times]

World:

¶ A group of experts is expected to finalize details this week of a road map to install 160 GW of battery storage worldwide by 2030. The International Renewable Energy Agency is developing the plan, which is due to be launched this summer following feedback next week from worldwide experts. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Germany’s E.ON suffered its biggest ever annual loss after booking billions of euros in charges on its ailing power plants, clearing the way for it to spin off these assets hit hard by ultra-low wholesale prices. Europe’s power companies are suffering from low oil prices and a surge in renewable energy capacity. [Reuters UK]

kenya¶ A group of decision and policy makers and independent power developers, who met in Kenya’s capital Nairobi recently, said mini grids, utilizing solar PV and wind have capacity to generate up to 40% of sub Saharan Africa’s new power capacity with the region’s mini-grid market showing potential to grow to $4 billion per a year. [Solar Novus Today]

US:

¶ Renewables contributed 13.4% of all US electricity generation in 2014, when a CleanTechnica estimate for rooftop solar is added in (that is, solar PV projects under 1 MW in size… which are primarily rooftop solar power projects). The figure in 2013 was 13%, so the basic news is… we’re inching forward. [CleanTechnica]

a1 solar NC¶ North Carolina has one of the fastest-growing solar industries in the country, and the evidence suggests the clean energy sector has helped boost the state’s economy. Now solar has taken another step forward with Principal Solar’s announcement that it will build a 73 MW solar farm in Fayetteville. [CleanTechnica]

¶ GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association released the US Solar Insight 2014 Year in Review report, and it shows how far the industry has come in a short amount of time. The U.S. solar industry had another record year in 2014, with 6.2 GW of solar installed, 30% more than a year ago. [Motley Fool]

a1 ucs¶ Many US electric utilities are doubling down on natural gas to generate power as they retire old polluting coal plants. While this shift does provide some near-term benefits, dramatically expanding our use of natural gas is an ill-advised gamble that poses complex economic, public health, and climate risks. [Clean Energy News]

¶ The Vermont House passed H.40, a bill designed to reduce residents’ carbon footprint, despite complaints from Republicans who fear the new renewable energy targets will come at an unforeseen cost. The RESET program increases percentages for renewables from 50% of sales by 2017 to 75% by 2032. [vtdigger.org]

Source: US Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

Source: US Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly

¶ In 2015, electric generating companies expect to add more than 20 GW of capacity to the power grid. The additions are dominated by wind (9.8 GW), natural gas (6.3 GW), and solar (2.2 GW), which combine to make up 91% of total additions. Nearly 16 GW is expected to retire, including 12.9 GW of coal. [Business Spectator]

¶ New York State is poised for a much-needed breakthrough in the development of offshore wind power technologies to harness the vast renewable, carbon-free wind resources off its shores, according to a new report from prepared by the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind. [Natural Resources Defense Council]


March 10 Energy News

March 10, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Rethinking the Addison pipeline” $154 million is a lot to spend on Vermont Gas Systems’ Addison County pipeline. That same amount of money could be much better spent weatherizing homes and businesses, installing more efficient heating systems and installing solar photovoltaic systems. [Barre Montpelier Times Argus]

World:

¶ At the RE-Invest 2015 summit in India last month, banks, financial institutions and the private sector offered commitments to shift the country’s power supply to clean, renewable resources. What didn’t come along with this was any explicit roadmap for how the grid would support such changes. [Energy Collective]

a rwe windfarm¶ RWE Innogy has started construction of the Sandbostel wind farm in the rural district of Rotenburg in Lower Saxony, Germany. The wind farm will consist of five wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.35 MW and a total installed capacity of 12 MW. The wind farm is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ Six community energy projects in northern New South Wales have been awarded grants by the NSW government, including a range of solar, bio-gas and mini-hydro projects, as the state pushes to assist community energy projects. One project is to take a whole village of 300 people off grid with renewables. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Germany continues efforts to expand its renewable energy capacity, with two German energy companies awarding separate contracts to Gamesa and Vestas for utility-scale wind power projects. Germany installed 4,750 MW of onshore wind generation capacity in 2014, a 58% increase in new capacity over 2013. [PennEnergy]

a1 fundy¶ Canada’s Halcyon Tidal Power has reaffirmed its commitment to construct an 1100-MW tidal range lagoon in the Bay of Fundy, although the company admits the timetable has slipped. Completion of the C$3.5 billion Scots Bay project in Nova Scotia was initially slated in 2020 but has been pushed back two years. [reNews]

¶ A $10 million pilot biomass plant will be constructed in the Western Australian Capital of Perth, to use pyrolysis. This produces hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, methanol, turpentine, and a lot of tar, all of which are fuels. Also produce is biochar, which can improve the soil while sequestering carbon. [CleanTechnica]

 

Public Domain, from Voice of America, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. Photo Steve Herman.

Photo by Stever Herman. Public Domain, from Voice of America, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ A Japanese report shows the number of deaths by radiation from the country’s Fukushima Disaster increased by 18% last year. The Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun published figures, from authorities in Fukushima Prefecture, showing a total of 1,232 deaths in 2014 were linked to the nuclear disaster. [Press TV]

US:

¶ One Hickory, North Carolina, business has cut its energy bills by 90%. The Snyder Paper Corp cut its monthly energy bill from approximately $15,000 per month to about $1,500 by installing a new solar power system, new insulated and reflective roof, and LED lighting in its Hickory production plant. [Hickory Daily Record]

¶ According to New York System Operator, the state reached a power milestone when electricity generated by wind power hit a record. At 1 pm March 2, the 1,524 MW output provided 7% of the 20,894 MW of the state’s total system demand. One MW is about the amount of electricity required to supply 800 to 1,000 homes. [Auburn Citizen]

¶ A bill that would give large electric utilities an alternative way to comply with a state law requiring more energy from renewable sources passed the Washington Senate after a long fight over whether climate change is real and if humans contribute to it. It would give the utilities alternatives for cutting carbon emissions. [Fox Business]

"Just stick it in the sand, fellas. What you can't see can't hurt you." Photo by Fwaaldijk, dowload from Wikimedia Commons.

“Just stick it in the sand, fellas, and everything bad goes away.”
Photo by Fwaaldijk, download from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ A report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting suggests state environmental officials were directed not to use the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainability,” after Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, took office in 2011. Scott denies that any directive of the sort was issued. [CNN]

¶ While local renewable energy and energy efficiency are both proving to be near-existential threats to electric utilities in the early 21st century, the trends aren’t the same. The rapid rise of renewable energy is big news, but energy efficiency may now be the more persistent threat to electric utilities. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Net electrical generation from non-hydro renewable energy sources increased by 10.9% in 2014 over the previous year, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The solar contribution to net generation increased by 102.8%, while wind grew by 8.3%, biomass by 5.7%, and geothermal by 5.4%. [Domestic Fuel]

¶ The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has used a simulation Tool to confirm that energy storage for demand-charge management can deliver attractive economic benefits. Absent incentives, small battery systems reducing peak demand by 2.5% offer the most attractive return on investment. [RealEstateRama]


March 9 Energy News

March 9, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ If the “true costs” of emissions — increased rates of premature death, illness, increased loads on the healthcare system, lowered crop yields, missed work days, etc — are factored in, a gallon of gasoline would cost you roughly $3.80 more at the pump than it currently does, according to Duke University research. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) is a technology with almost negligible energy losses. A SMES system stores energy in a magnetic field, and can instantly release it. It is hence considered ideal for short duration energy storage, such as maintaining the quality of a power supply. [Virtual-Strategy Magazine]

World:

¶ Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates en route to the Omani capital Muscat at the start of a five-month journey of 35,000 km (22,000 miles) organised to focus the world’s attention on sustainable energy. The flight will be the first around the world in a solar-powered plane. [Reuters Africa]

¶ Construction of the first wind power farm in Viet Nam’s Central Highlands was kicked off in Dak Lak Province’s Ea H’leo District. The wind power farm is designed to generate 450 million kWh per year, according to HBRE Wind Power Solution Ltd, the investor of the $280 million wind power project. [VietNamNet Bridge]

¶ The Indian government formally confirmed the solar power capacity addition target for 2022 as 100 GW, bringing it to 25% of installed capacity. Currently, solar power capacity stands at around 3 GW, or about 10% of total renewable energy capacity, and just over 1% of the total power capacity of the country. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The UK’s largest biomass combined heat and power plant was officially opened. It promises to slash Scottish greenhouse gas emissions by up to 250,000 tonnes a year. RWE Innogy cut the ribbon on the Markinch Biomass CHP Plant in Glenrothes, Fife. It replaces a coal and gas-fired CHP power station. [Business Green]

¶ Byron Shire, in New South Wales, is aiming to become the first region in Australia to become “net zero emissions”, with a goal to reduce emissions from energy, transport, buildings, waste and land use to zero within 10 years. The town is following a plan created by the think tank Beyond Zero Emissions. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Nuclear power is risky and unprofitable, according to Mycle Schneider, an expert on nuclear energy. He expects bankruptcy in the nuclear industry and “substantial security risks,” because costs for nuclear energy continue to increase each year, as costs of other technologies, especially renewables, decline. [Deutsche Welle]

¶ Areva, France’s iconic nuclear power builder, reported a massive financial loss for 2014. The state-owned company revealed that it lost €4.9 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2014, an enormous decline from the €500 million loss it posted the previous year. The high cost of new nuclear reactors is one serious problem. [OilPrice.com]

US:

¶ With the purchase of electricity generated on giant wind farms in the Great Plains expected later this year, public officials in Aspen believe they will be able to claim consistent 100% electrical generation from renewable sources for the city’s electrical utility, one of just a handful of US cities that can do so. [Mountain Town News]

¶ Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a $30 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. In part of it, Wolf would fund several energy initiatives by issuing $675 million in bonds. He would pay the interest on the bond money with $55 million from a proposed severance tax on oil and gas drillers. [Tribune-Review]

¶ Clean energy and transport projects across the US created 47,000 new jobs last year, according to a new study from business group Environmental Entrepreneurs. Analysis confirms that the US has created more than 233,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs nationwide over the past three years. [Business Green]

¶ The owner of the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear plant wants an exemption to use money from the plant’s decommissioning fund to pay for guarding spent nuclear fuel. The state, saying this violates federal regulations and could delay decommissioning, sent a letter to the NRC calling for a hearing. [Valley News]


March 8 Energy News

March 8, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “U.S. falling behind on renewable energy” – Solar and wind facilities are growing exponentially in the US, but we are far behind China and European countries. China’s wind power is about one-third larger and increasing much faster than the US. China’s solar PV power is more than 20 times that of the US. [Roanoke Times]

¶ “Green is the best defense” – The US military has always been driven by innovation, developing technology often in tandem with the private sector to solve wartime military problems. Today, the same Armed Forces that invented the internet and GPS has turned its attention to energy technology. [Seacoastonline.com]

World:

¶ Residents from a UK village at the heart of the battle over fracking are in a new effort. The Repower Balcombe renewable energy co-operative would put solar PVs on two village schools but need to raise £49,000 through sales of shares to local people in less than a month, before Government incentives expire. [The Argus]

¶ The Union Minister of State for Power and Coal, Mr Piyush Goyal, said that the Power Grid Corporation of India will invest $4,816 million to improve transmission infrastructure from northern states to southern states. Other investments would provide $160 million in rural infrastructure and $58 million for nine towns. [SteelGuru]

¶ Launching Ireland’s largest ever wind farm this week, on isolated bogland at Mountlucas in Kildare, the head of Bord na Mona’s energy generation division said he expected returns “in the high teens”. He expects double-digit returns over the course of its lifetime, and it should pay for itself in 7 or 8 years. [Irish Independent]

¶ The Swiss-engineered airplane Solar Impulse 2 will begin its solar-powered flight around the world early on Monday morning, weather permitting. The plane was scheduled to launch earlier this month, but was delayed due to weather conditions. The flight should take around five months to complete. [The Verge]

¶ A wind-powered car might be science fantasy, but residents of Orkney have discovered the nearest thing. With their wealth of renewable energy, the islanders have become the keenest users of electric vehicles in Scotland outside the capital. The tiny community of just over 20,000 already has 50 EVs. [Scotsman]

¶ More than 5,000 protesters gathered outside Parliament in London calling on the Government to take tougher action on climate change. Crowds of environmental activists cheered as a host of speakers including Vivienne Westwood and Caroline Lucas attacked the Government and accused it of not taking action. [Belfast Telegraph]

¶ Key players from the Philippine government and the private sector are drawing up a blueprint to make Mindanao a greener region. During a recent meeting of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee, officials underscored the importance of advocating renewable energy as a source of electricity for the island-region. [Philippine Star]

¶ China’s wind farms have a combined capacity that exceeds the capacity of America’s nuclear plants, as the growing nation expands its power generation to fuel its new mega-cities. The capacity of the wind farms in China comes to 115,000 MW. America’s nuclear reactors have a total combined capacity of 98,400 MW. [Digital Journal]

US:

¶ Community solar gardens first took off in Colorado a few years ago, and the model, also known as community or shared solar, has spread to Minnesota, California, Massachusetts and several other states. Capacity is expected to grow sharply this year, with interest among both residential and corporate customers. [Fairfield Daily Republic]

¶ The prospective GOP presidential candidates at today’s Iowa Ag Summit were pressed to express their opinions on everything from federal policies that have boosted ethanol production to expanded trade with Cuba. Each candidate answered a series of questions from the event host, an Iowa agribusiness man. [Radio Iowa]

¶ This week saw announcements of significant cost savings for SolarCity, a major advanced energy investment from Citigroup, and a move into Mexico for Pattern Energy. So, costs are down, investment is up, and Advanced Energy Economy members are taking their influence worldwide. [Energy Collective]


March 7 Energy News

March 7, 2015

World:

¶ The UK has spearheaded a return to growth for the utility-scale solar sector in Europe, according to Wiki-Solar.org. The website, which tracks installation of solar projects over 5 MW solar worldwide, says there was a total of 35.9 GW of utility-scale solar capacity at the end of 2014, up 14.2 GW from 2013. [Solar Power Portal]

¶ Around the world there were 51,477 MW of wind capacity installed during the year, a 44% increase over the amount installed in 2013. This brings the total global wind capacity to 369,553 MW, a huge number! Also, growth figures indicate we could double wind capacity during the next 7 years. [Treehugger]

¶ Anyone in Malaysia could be an independent power producer. It doesn’t have to be only large favoured companies making money by selling power. Anyone could do it, once the country adopts net metering. That’s the plan Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming wants the government’s energy authorities to adopt. [Free Malaysia Today]

¶ India will achieve energy independence by 2050 if most households go for rooftop solar power generation under new policy, a leading expert says. The ministry of new and renewable energy is in the process of framing an ambitious policy to generate adequate electricity from non-conventional energy sources. [The Hans India]

¶ Environmental action group World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines on Friday dismissed fears over the possible negative impact of wind power on the national grid. The group’s Climate Change Unit Head said adding 500 MW of wind power to the national grid will have no negative impact on grid operations. [The Manila Times]

¶ Water at the Takhini, Yukon, hot springs emerges warm enough for bathers to soak outdoors, even in the winter. Now, researchers will study Yukon’s fault lines and hot springs to examine their feasibility as sources of geothermal power. Takhini Hot Pools is one of the sites to be examined as part of the project. [CBC.ca]

US:

¶ Comparing 2014 to 2013 in terms of changes in power produced in the US, windpower increased most. In fact, windpower gained more than all traditional power sources put together. Solar was number two, with 2014’s output more than doubling 2013’s. Output from natural gas fell, despite increased capacity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to a new survey conducted by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, 71% of individual investors who trade actively on the financial markets were interested in sustainable investing, but 54% believe choosing between sustainable investments and making financial gains is a trade-off. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A California state utilities judge has said that a major new natural gas power plant at Carlsbad should be put on hold until clean energy options are more thoroughly explored. San Diego Gas & Electric is wrestling with how to replace power from the recently retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. [U-T San Diego]

¶ A study by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association says Energy storage in the US will more than triple this year as regulators allow use of the technology by utilities and homeowners. Changes in regulatory policy, especially in California, and the growth of renewable energy are driving demand. [Buffalo News]

¶ Prominent leaders from agriculture’s diverse value chain issued an open letter to policymakers and presidential hopefuls attending the first ever Iowa Ag Summit, urging them to consider Iowa’s renewable energy record in wind, solar and biofuels as an example for clean energy policies for the nation. [KMAland]


March 6 Energy News

March 6, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Raytheon Company and its partners, the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Primus Power, and Advanced Energy have successfully demonstrated an advanced microgrid system capable of islanded (off-grid) operation using stored and high penetration renewable energy. [Your Defence News]

World:

¶ The European Union and international NGO Adventist Development and Relief Agency announced a three-year program to expand renewable energy access in Somalia. The project will provide affordable and sustainable renewable power to 100,000 homes across Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia. [ESI Africa]

¶ There are more indications that the world is reaching a tipping point, and it is firmly toward renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. A line from a report by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi is illustrative: “Going forward, almost all investments in the power sector will be in renewable energy.” [SustainableBusiness.com]

¶ China, the country that is building the most nuclear reactors, continued to get more electricity from the wind than from nuclear power plants in 2014. This came despite below-average wind speeds for the year. The electricity generated by China’s wind farms in 2014 was 16% more than the year before. [InvestorIdeas.com]

¶ “Lifting India out of poverty and pollution” India’s air is cutting 660 million lives short by about three years, while nearly all of the country’s 1.2 billion citizens are breathing in harmful pollution levels. Coal and nuclear have failed to provide 300 million Indians with electricity. Renewable power is an answer. [SBS]

US:

¶ Despite gas prices at the lowest point in years, new numbers show that using public transportation can be a money saver. The average annual savings for public transit riders in February is $9,238 ($770 per month), according to the American Public Transportation Association’s February Transit Savings Report. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In Texas, where consumers can buy electricity through competitive power plans, renewable energy plans are among the cheapest available. In a review of the state-run website PowertoChoose.org, three of the ten lowest-priced plans offered in Dallas this week were advertised as 100% renewable. [Dallas Morning News]

¶ Buoyed by tens of thousands of petitioners seeking to breathe new life into the Cape wind project, demonstrators took to Boston Common on February 28 to ask utility National Grid to rekindle its financial relationship with the project. Then about 96,000 more people signed online support petitions. [Barnstable Patriot]

¶ Raleigh-based Conservatives for Clean Energy commissioned a poll that shows overwhelming support for renewable and clean-energy sources, even among Republicans and self-described conservatives. Smaller numbers support oil and gas exploration, but a majority of those polled oppose fracking. [Charlotte Business Journal]

¶ Iowa generates 27% of its electricity from wind. It has 4,000 wind-related jobs. And wind companies pay farmers millions each year to host turbines. Now, for this Saturday’s caucus vote, Republican presidential candidates will have to answer for their position on the federal wind production tax credit. [U.S. News & World Report]

¶ New York is seeking to redefine the roles of electric utilities and change the regulatory framework to facilitate much larger use of distributed energy resources, such as energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, and distributed generation, including on-site wind turbines and rooftop solar. [North American Windpower]

¶ Employment in the solar industry jumped 21.8% in 2014, adding 31,000 new jobs in that time for a total of 174,000 solar workers nationwide, and it is expected to jump by another 36,000 workers this year. Though not requiring special education, the jobs pay well. The average solar installer makes $24 an hour. [The Herald Journal]

¶ Cambridge, Massachusetts, currently purchases the electricity that powers its municipal buildings from TransCanada, Keystone XL’s parent company. But now its city council has passed a unanimous resolution advising the city manager not to do further business with the company and switch to renewable power. [EcoWatch]

¶ Jaffrey, New Hampshire, is pursuing a solar project. If it goes forward, town officials plan to have it built at the closed Jaffrey landfill. The town would use the energy generated to power the municipal wastewater treatment plant, leading to more than $1 million in savings over the course of 20 years. [The Keene Sentinel]

¶ A battle is brewing as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder prepares this month to lay out a new energy plan for the state and appoint Michigan’s first czar to oversee it. Michigan gets 62% of its electricity from coal and 31% from nuclear reactors. Its utility rates are above the Midwest and national averages. [The Detroit News]


March 5 Energy News

March 5, 2015

World:

¶ A recent, widely seen documentary on air pollution in China, “Under the Dome,” appears to have had a strangely pronounced effect on the Chinese government. Rather than stifle those involved, or brush the matter aside, some higher-ups have even praised the documentary. Does it indicate a sea change? [CleanTechnica]

¶ China will boost efforts this year to rid itself of its addiction to coal in a bid to reduce damaging pollution and cut the energy intensity of its economy, which is expected to grow at its lowest rate in 25 years. The National Development and Reform Commission says it will reduce coal consumption in polluted regions. [Reuters]

¶ The City of Oslo, Norway, has committed to divesting its $7 million worth of coal investments from its pension fund. The news comes only weeks after Global Divestment Day. This makes Oslo one of almost 40 cities around the world that have committed to divest from fossil fuels, and the first capital city to do so. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The EU took a step to reduce its energy dependence, especially on Russia, by improving transmission connections between Spain and Portugal, and the rest of Europe. The leaders of Spain, Portugal and France pushed moving spare renewable energy produced south of the Pyrenees to the rest of Europe. [The Local.es]

¶ Italian renewable energy firm Enel Green Power has completed a 102-MW wind farm in Mexico. Located in the state of Oaxaca, the wind farm features 34 3-MW turbines that will generate about 390 GWh of energy per year. Enel Green Power invested about $160 million in the project. [Clean Technology Business Review]

¶ EU State Aid approval for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant will be challenged in court by German green power supply company Greenpeace Energy, in the latest blow to the high-profile project, dubbed by its critics as ‘the world’s most expensive power plant’. Greenpeace Energy is a renewable energy cooperative. [Business Green]

¶ Area members of Renewable Power – the Intelligent Choice are joyfully greeting the news that a nuclear waste site won’t be built in northern Saskatchewan. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization announced on Wednesday that Creighton was no longer under consideration. [Prince Albert Daily Herald]

¶ Court battles are the sole remaining obstacle to nuclear restarts in Japan. The fight in the courts means power companies face the risk of further delays in firing up idled reactors if judges side with local residents worried about nuclear safety. Four reactors owned by two utilities cleared regulatory safety checks. [The Japan Times]

¶ A former UK opencast mine is to be home to a solar and wind energy site after property regeneration company Harworth Estates and RES, a leading renewable energy company, secured planning consent. The 7.5-MW scheme will cover 48 acres and generate enough energy to power 1,500 family homes. [Click Green]

¶ A surprise reduction in the cost of the UK’s offshore wind energy is one of the dominant themes in a new report to be published later today by the Offshore Wind Programme Board, a joint government and industry-backed group tasked with identifying and addressing barriers to the sector’s development. [Business Green]

¶ German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has ruled out supporting EU subsidies for nuclear energy projects. His comments came ahead of a meeting of energy ministers. He was adamant on Thursday that atomic energy was the most expensive form of power generation that also bore “significant risks” to people and the environment. [Deutsche Welle]

US:

¶ The US Senate tried, but failed, to override President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday. The measure drew 62 “yes” votes, with 9 Democrats joining Republicans in voting to override the veto. Separate consideration is ongoing, and the issue is not over. [Huffington Post]

¶ Solar (and wind) giant SunEdison announced it was acquiring the project development team, four existing projects, and roughly 100 MW of project pipeline of Solar Grid Storage. The Philadelphia-based startup specializes in packaging lithium-ion batteries and inverters with commercial solar PV projects. [Greentech Media]

¶ To the dismay of many climate activists, a major natural-gas pipeline expansion project that will impact southern New England, New York and New Jersey has been approved. The proposal has drawn grassroots opposition along the pipeline’s 1,127-mile path between New Jersey and Beverly, Massachusetts. [ecoRI news]


March 4 Energy News

March 4, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A major new Deutsche Bank report has predicted that energy storage – the “missing link of solar adoption” – will be cheap enough – and technologically ready – to be deployed on a large-scale within the next five years. The report said economically competitive batteries were the “killer app” for solar power. [RenewEconomy]

World:

¶ India has moved forward to double the “clean energy cess” it levies on coal used in the country. While presenting the general budget, the Finance Minister announced a proposal to increase the Clean Energy Cess from ₹100($1.6) to ₹200($3.2) per metric tonne of coal, to finance clean environment initiatives.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ US-based SunEdison, now the largest renewable energy company in the world, says it sees a $4 trillion value opportunity in the global wind and solar markets by 2020. The company argues that the combined capacity for wind and solar will be more than 1,450 GW by 2020, about 2½ times larger than the end of 2014. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Over the last few years, Neste Oil has become the world’s largest producer of renewable fuels from waste and residues. In 2014, the company produced nearly 1.3 million tonnes of renewable fuel from such waste as animal and fish fats, used cooking oil and residues generated during vegetable oil refining. [Your Industry News]

¶ Australian firm Hydro Tasmania is planning a $10 million off-grid hybrid project on Flinders Island combining solar, wind, diesel, and storage and enabling technologies, including flywheels and batteries. This system will help displace 60% of the annual diesel fuel used on the island for power production. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The UK government’s electricity capacity market could result in “higher than necessary energy costs and emissions” because its design has been “skewed” in favour of fossil fuel generation, according to the influential parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee, in a report released this morning. [reNews]

¶ Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years with ambitious national efforts to promote renewable energy. But the technology’s future is now in doubt. Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the numbers of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And government support is unclear. [New York Times]

¶ Around 71% of Fukushima Prefecture residents remain dissatisfied with the central government’s handling of the nuclear disaster four years after the triple meltdown forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, a survey showed. Only 14% of respondents were satisfied with the central government’s efforts. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Given the extreme hype over shale oil and fracking, one would expect the enthusiasm to translate into above average share performance for shale operators. This has not been the case. Share performance has actually been at best quite mediocre and in most cases just downright poor. [Energy Collective]

¶ The town of Scituate, Massachusetts, has made more than a half-million dollars in less than three years through its agreement with Scituate Wind LLC, owner of a local wind turbine. The town has collected more than $500,000 since the 390-foot-tall wind turbine went online in April of 2012. [The Patriot Ledger]

¶ San Diego Gas & Electric is expanding an experimental micro-grid that is designed to run on renewable energy independently of the regional power grid. The micro-grid pilot is being expanded under a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission, SDG&E announced in a statement. [U-T San Diego]

¶ A collection of companies recently partnered with a California city on a three-month pilot project that sought to determine the feasibility of effectively collecting plastic products that are difficult to recycle. The project converted plastic packaging products and dinnerware into synthetic crude oil. [Renewable Energy from Waste]

¶ What is likely to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm has closed on more than $290 million in financing, which will allow a five-turbine demo of the renewable energy system to be completed. The Block Island Wind Farm will be a 30-MW offshore facility located in waters about 15 miles off Rhode Island. [Computerworld]

¶ New York regulators published a major order effectively telling traditional utilities that they will not be permitted to own renewable generation sources except in rare cases. This is to enhance competition and create markets that will allow on-site wind and rooftop solar to flourish. [Environment & Energy Publishing]

¶ RES Americas has achieved commercial operation at the 110-MW Keechi wind farm in Texas. Construction on the scheme, which is owned by Enbridge, kicked off in December 2013. The facility features 55 Vestas V100 2-MW turbines. The wind farm has a 20-year power purchase agreement with Microsoft. [reNews]


March 3 Energy News

March 3, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Renewable energy is conquering quirky nature of Britain’s climate” – Clever engineering is smoothing out the peaks and troughs of renewable power in Britain and having a positive effect on the power supply. It looks like this is making the nuclear industry redundant before a new station can be built. [The Guardian]

Science and Technology:

¶ Conversion of biogas into compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) is now frequently considered when penciling out project financials. The US EPA expanded cellulosic fuel pathways to include CNG and LNG from biogas created in landfills and a variety of kinds of bio-digesting systems. [Biomass Magazine]

World:

¶ The news from Kenya about its electricity situation has been quite positive. Electricity costs for both consumer and industrial customers have decreased by about 30%. One estimate says Kenya saves $24 million per month. This favorable shift results from a consistent investment in geothermal energy. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Spain’s Abengoa SA kicked off commercial operations at a 100-MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa. The parabolic trough plant is expected to generate enough electricity for about 80,000 local households. It has enough molten-salt storage for up to 2.5 hours of power after sunset. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Suzlon has announced the commissioning of the 65.1-MW Rouar SA’s wind energy farm at Artilleros in Uruguay. The wind park is 170 kilometers east of capital Montevideo and is the first joint wind venture between Brazil and Uruguay. The project has 31 turbines, each with a rated capacity of 2.1 MW. [Greentech Lead]

¶ A documentary examining the deadly effects of smog on China’s population gripped the country after its release online this weekend. The 104-minute film, Under the Dome, explores how China’s noxious smog problem is harming urban residents. It has already been viewed tens of millions of times online. [Mashable]

¶ Rame Energy Plc, a UK-based energy developer, is planning to build 130 MW of wind and solar projects in Chile over the next 18 months. The projects will require about $300 million in investment, some of which will come from Banco Santander SA. The developer is also pursuing other funding sources. [Bloomberg]

¶ Good news! Not only did China’s coal consumption fall by 2.9% in 2014, Glen Peters of the Global Carbon Project calculates that China’s CO2 emissions have also fallen, by 0.7%. So it’s clear that China’s efforts to cut its coal consumption and carbon emissions are not only real, but are already producing results. [Energy Collective]

¶ The European Union is edging closer to its ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. The latest annual Eurostat study of the European Commission’s 2020 strategy, found the Member States had already collectively achieved an 18% reduction from 1990 baseline levels. [Click Green]

¶ Economist Jeremy Rifkin says a Digital Europe transition will revolutionize every commercial sector, disrupt workings of virtually every industry, bring unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions back to work, and create a more sustainable post-carbon society, mitigating climate change. [Materials Handling World Magazine]

US:

¶ North Carolina is one of North America’s fastest growing markets for clean energy. The state’s cleantech sector grossed $4.8 billion in 2014 and, based on previous experience, most companies expect to grow between 30% and 35% this year. Close to ¾ of this money went to building efficiency and solar. [CleanTechnica]

¶ An effort to roll back Colorado’s renewable energy standard in the state Legislature died Monday in a House of Representatives committee. The bill, which passed the Republican-majority Senate last month, would have cut the standard for utilities from 30% back to 15% by 2020. [Denver Business Journal]

¶ Even though Oregon has an ambitious renewable portfolio standard and ranks second in the US for hydropower generation, it still receives a surprising 33% of its overall electricity from coal, mostly from out-of-state sources. A pair of bills in the state legislature would completely ban coal-fired electricity. [Energy Collective]

¶ A new 4.2-MW solar farm will provide up to 5% of the US Virgin Islands’ power needs during daylight hours. The Estate Donoe solar farm will generate clean electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement with Main Street Power, which will also manage the operations and maintenance of the facility. [Energy Matters]

¶ Oakland Unified School District is celebrating completion of the new high efficiency solar PV at 16 schools at an event this morning. It reported today that SunPower solar power systems at the schools are expected to significantly reduce the district’s annual electricity costs over at least the next 25 years. [PennEnergy]


March 2 Energy News

March 2, 2015

World:

¶ Spain’s renewable energy plants produced 48% of the country’s power in February. Wind power generation produced 27.6% of the total Spanish electricity production for the month. Hydroelectric produced 15.7%. Solar PV and concentrated solar power accounted for 2.2% and 0.9%, respectively. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ National Bank of Abu Dhabi, one of the biggest banks in the oil-rich Gulf countries, says fossil fuels can no longer compete with solar technologies on price. The NBAD report says the most recent solar tender showed even at $10/barrel for oil, and $5/mmbtu for gas, solar is still a cheaper option. [RenewEconomy]

¶ According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, new funds invested into clean energy gained 16% in 2014 to reach $310 billion. The record is still $318 billion, set in 2011, but there was a significant upward trend last year. Overall, the world added about 100 gigawatts of solar- and wind-power capacity in 2014. [Investing.com]

¶ In Australia, talks between the government and Labor toward a compromise on the renewable energy target appear to have again broken down, with the Opposition rejecting a new offer on Monday. The rejected proposal would have set the target at 31,000 GWh of baseline power from renewables by 2020. [Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Plans for a vast tidal lagoon power plant which could power every home in Wales have been launched. The lagoon, between Cardiff and Newport, would include 90 turbines set in a 14-mile breakwater and could provide enough electricity for 1.5 million homes, 8% of the UK’s electricity, for 120 years. [Sky News]

¶ French power producer Neoen plans to construct a 30-MW solar park in Mexico’s northeastern state of Nuevo Leon. The project calls for an investment of $60 million. The PV facility is to be installed on 227 acres in the town of Galeana and is slated to become the biggest of its kind in Nuevo Leon. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ A report from the African Development Bank shows that its support to Africa through the Climate Investment Funds increased exponentially in 2014 to include one regional and 25 national investment plans, with an additional nine poor countries being funded for renewable energy solutions. [solarserver.com]

¶ A draft law to reform the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, by cutting the surplus of carbon credits available for trading, has won approval from the European Parliment’s Environment Committee. Emissions Trading System is a cornerstone of EU policy to combat climate change. [Environment News Service]

¶ A sea of glass panels, to be located on Queensland’s Darling Downs, could be capable of cranking out two GW of power within eight years. That is equivalent to one fifth of the current total renewable energy target for the entire country in a single power station, and it is more than any coal station in the state. [The Guardian]

US:

¶ Policy squabbles and a fight over rebates may have clouded Missouri’s once blossoming solar industry, according to new data that shows the state lost 300 solar jobs last year. The latest analysis now ranks the state 16th in the nation for solar industry employment, down from 12th in 2013. [Public News Service]

¶ In Michigan, the Holland Board of Public Works, is replacing a coal-fired plant with a new fuel-efficient modern power plant. The CO2 emissions at the site will be reduced by approximately 50%. The plant’s surplus heat from in the circulating water system will go to expanding a downtown snowmelt system. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ New reports show Michigan’s 2008 renewable energy mandate has worked as intended, but lawmakers must now decide what to do next when the policy sunsets at the end of this year. One option is a new “clean-energy standard” that would credit sources like natural gas for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. [MiBiz]


March 1 Energy News

March 1, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Water is eating away at the Antarctic ice, melting it where it hits the oceans. As the ice sheets slowly thaw, water pours into the sea — 130 billion tons of ice (118 billion metric tons) per year for the past decade, according to NASA satellite calculations. That’s the weight of more than 356,000 Empire State Buildings. [Huffington Post]

World:

¶ Algeria is the leading natural gas producer in Africa and is the second-largest supplier of gas to Europe, but that is not slowing down the North African country’s plan to ramp up solar power generation. The country’s energy minister has announced a plan to install 13.5 GW of solar PV capacity by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Presenting the General Budget 2015-16 in the Indian Parliament, the Finance Minister said, “Our de-facto ‘Carbon Tax’ on most petroleum products compares favourably with international norms.” He said with regard to coal, there was a need to find a balance between taxing pollution and the price of power. [Day & Night News]
… It was widely expected that Budget 2015-16 would include a lot of goodies for the renewable energy sector. But apart from a passing mention of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s well-publicised target of 175,000 MW of renewable energy capacity, the Budget had absolutely nothing for the sector. [Hindu Business Line]

¶ The UK’s Liberal Democrats set out plans to double the UK’s production of renewable electricity by the end of the next parliament and make Britain zero carbon by 2050. They say they have already created a low-carbon, pro-renewable, and more energy secure nation less reliant on unstable regimes for energy. [Liberal Democrats]

¶ South Korea’s nuclear commission decided to extend the operations of the country’s second-oldest nuclear reactor till 2022 despite growing concerns over safety. The 679-MW Wolsong-1 reactor completed its 30-year life span in 2012 and was turned off. The decision will extend its life for 10 more years. [EastDay.com]

US:

¶ Although the Eureka, California, City Council voted to participate in the clean-energy financing program known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, in January, the council may take a second look after learning that the Federal Housing Financing Agency is actively opposing the measure. [Eureka Times Standard]

¶ A series of bills that would repeal New Hampshire’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Renewable Portfolio Standard are going before the New Hampshire House and Senate. The Governor Hassan indicated she will likely veto the RGGI bill but has not indicated any executive action on the RPS bills. [Seacoastonline.com]

¶ In an about-face from his first term, the governor of Wisconsin wants to eliminate funding for a University of Wisconsin-Madison renewable energy research center. He proposes cutting $8.1 million from a bioenergy program that was a key in landing one of the university’s biggest government grants ever. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

¶ Colorado rural electric cooperatives want state lawmakers to rewrite parts of a new state law that essentially requires them to produce 20% of their power from renewable sources. The co-ops have drafted Senate Bill 46, which doesn’t attack the 20% requirement, but would change some of the ways co-ops can reach it. [Pueblo Chieftain]


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