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

May 22, 2015

12,056 links to articles in 1085 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 May 22. Latest information is that out of 99 US reactors listed by the NRC, 6 were at reduced output and 8 not operating.

§ Video: Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell, May 14, 2015. The world’s nations are ahead of schedule preparing for talks on the climate. Hawaii will be 100% renewably powered. 84% of this year’s new capacity is renewable. The Tesla battery really IS $3000 to $3500; the higher prices we heard about include installation. And there is more.

§ Video: Energy Week Extra: Special on Microgrids, May 14, 2015. It is all about microgrids, why they should be, what they cost, and what they are made of. Perhaps it is not quite as dull as it sounds.

geoharvey is one of George Harvey’s Blogs.

May 22 Energy News

May 22, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A study by US wind energy experts suggests integrating more renewable generation into one of North America’s major power grids could boost its stability and resilience. The research was done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and GE Energy Consulting based on a study in the western US. [reNews]

Stateline Wind Project, Eastern Oregon or Washington. Photo by Sam Beebe

Stateline Wind Project, Eastern Oregon or Washington. Photo by Sam Beebe. Wikimedia Commons.

World:

¶ Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, could phase out the use of fossil fuels by the middle of this century, according to the kingdom’s oil minister. He said the kingdom plans to become a “global power in solar and wind energy” and could start exporting electricity instead of fossil fuels in coming years. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Global hydroelectric power capacity could double to 2,000 GW by 2050 or sooner, according to a report released this week by the World Energy Council. The report notes that hydropower worldwide has seen a resurgence since 2005 due to better management and understanding of the hydroelectric technology. [HydroWorld]

¶ European energy companies are increasingly investing in renewables rather than coal and gas, the chief executive of power company Engie, told the Financial Times. Coal and gas are uneconomic generating fuels for European suppliers, Mestrallet said, though they remain viable in some emerging markets. [Out-Law.com]

¶ Danish wind giant Dong has installed a milestone 3000 MW of offshore wind capacity across Northern Europe. The company reached the landmark figure with turbine 76 at the 312-MW Borkum Riffgrund 1 project in the North Sea. Dong has a target to construct 6500 MW offshore wind power by the end of 2020. [reNews]

Dong photograph.

Turbine 76. Dong photograph.

US:

¶ Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Co, has acquired a 103-MW solar farm from Community Energy. The Butler power plant is coming up on roughly 1,000 acres in Taylor County, Georgia. It will have more than 1 million thin-film modules made by First Solar. It is expected to be operational next year. [Greentech Lead]

¶ Nuclear power plants in Illinois need state support to be profitable. Illinois legislation backed by the Chicago-based Exelon Corp, which also runs Chicago utility ComEd, could add about $2 per month to the bills of utility customers, even those customers outside their service are, such as those of Ameren Illinois. [STLtoday.com]

¶ Minnesota utility regulators approved lower electric rates for people who charge plug-in vehicles in their garages at night. The new rates, which take effect in about two months at Xcel Energy Inc. and two other utilities, could shave 40% or more off the already low cost of charging plug-in cars. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

¶ California state regulators approved a plan to replace a 1950s natural gas power plant in northern San Diego County with a new natural gas plant. This led to complaints that renewable energy options were being overlooked. The area is under pressure because the San Onofre nuclear plant had to close. [Los Angeles Times]

¶ Renewable energy development company SunEdison has received contracts to build 33 MW of DC rooftop solar with Southern California Edison in the utility’s most recent round of solar procurement. SCE will purchase the electricity from the 17 rooftop installations through 20-year power purchase agreements. [PV-Tech]


May 21 Energy News

May 21, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Can Regions, Cities become 100% Dependent on renewable energy? Absurd? Not anymore”- Strides are being taken to move entire regions, as well as cities, to 100% renewable energy, according to speakers at the May 13-15 Renewable Cities Forum 2015 in Vancouver. Renewables are transforming policy. [Bloomberg BNA]

Vancouver downtown, winter sunset. Photo by Pmagn. Wikimedia Commons.

Vancouver downtown, winter sunset. Photo by Pmagn. Wikimedia Commons.

Science and Technology:

¶ A project testing combination of solar PV, combined heat and power systems and battery storage at a commercial facility in Germany could be adapted and scaled up elsewhere, according to General Electric, one of the project’s partners. Other partners are solar provider Belectric, and Jenbacher, for CHP technology. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group now comprises over 75 of the world’s greatest cities. In this role it represents a quarter of the world’s economy and nearly 8% of its population. Now it is making a new effort to help cities in developing nations to get credit for low-carbon climate-related projects. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Marine energy company Minesto has been awarded a €13 million investment through the Welsh Government. The funding is part of the commercial roll out, including the establishment of Minesto UK Headquarters in North Wales and commissioning of the first commercial Deep Green power plant. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ Wind power will play an important role in Chile’s Biobio region, which has 968 MW of approved wind projects and further 572 MW proposed for installation, the energy ministry said Tuesday. Wind power is now the leading renewable energy source in Chile in terms of installed capacity, with 892 MW. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ China’s thermal coal imports are expected to drop by 52 million tonnes or around a quarter in 2015, as the country takes steps to support its domestic producers and address environmental concerns. The expected fall weighs on already historically low prices and exacerbate a supply glut. [Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide]

¶ Investment bank Morgan Stanley has painted a bullish outlook for the home battery storage market in Australia, saying it could be worth $24 billion, with half of all households likely to install batteries to store the output from their solar panels. That will mean more than the doubling the number with solar. [RenewEconomy]

¶ According to the 2015 “Technology Roadmap” from the International Energy Agency and Nuclear Energy Agency, nuclear power can play a modest, but important, role in avoiding catastrophic global warming, if it can solve its various problems including high construction cost without sacrificing safety. [Energy Collective] (If what?)

¶ The venting system designed to release pressure inside the containment vessel of the No 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant likely failed during the 2011 disaster, TEPCO said May 20. The discovery was made by a robot deployed last October to a room venting pipes from the reactor pass through. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ California has sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (“Under 2 MOU”) with 11 other states and provinces in the Americas and Europe to limit their greenhouse gas emissions to 80-95% by 2050 from 1990 levels. The tricontinental pledge, representing 100 million people, is without precedent and very forward-looking. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines at the Judith Gap Wind Farm, just outside Judith Gap, Montana. Photo by Nomadic Lass. Wikimedia Commons. 

Wind turbines at the Judith Gap Wind Farm, just outside Judith Gap, Montana. Photo by Nomadic Lass. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Renewable energy has evolved into a multimillion-dollar industry in Montana. A new report takes a look at the economic landscape during the 10 years of the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and finds renewable energy has added $17 million to the annual gross state product. Windpower stands out especially. [Public News Service]

¶ With the approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Xcel Energy will now be able to monitor gas and electricity infrastructure using drone technology. The drones will inspect power lines, power plants, and renewable energy facilities for fallen trees, loose conductors, leaks, and other wear and tear. [WesternSlopeNow]

¶ A successful local lawsuit has ended in a de facto moratorium on fracking in North Carolina. This happened as a bill that would halt progress requirements on renewable energies continues to cycle its way through the legislature, appearing in front of committee on its way to a vote in the senate. [The Guardian]

¶ ACCIONA Windpower, a subsidiary of the ACCIONA Group that designs, manufactures and markets wind turbines, plans to install 805.5 MW of wind capacity in the US, Canada, and Mexico in 2015. Of this, 94% will be with 3-MW wind turbines. All these facilities are owned by third-party customers. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ In Vermont, Stowe Electric Department officials met last week with residents , hoping to assuage concerns over a solar project in their back yard. The project is up for a vote on May 28, as the town needs to get a bond to go ahead with the project. The immediate concerns of the residents may have been allayed. [Stowe Today]


May 20 Energy News

May 20, 2015

World:

¶ The world’s first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which corresponds to three days use of electricity in a standard Norwegian household. The ferry is powered by lithium-ion batteries charged by hydropower. [The Maritime Executive]

Battery-powered ferry.

Battery-powered ferry in Norway.

¶ International Energy Agency and the World Bank have issued an update on progress countries have made on energy objectives. They say significant process has been made towards achieving widespread energy access, increased energy efficiency, and a greater development of renewable energy, but more is needed. [CleanTechnica]

¶ On Monday, the International Renewable Energy Agency released a report claiming that developing Djibouti’s significant renewable energy resources will allow the country to reach its goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020. The country’s has geothermal, wind, and solar resources. [ESI Africa]

¶ Storing hydrogen deep underground in salt caverns and converting it into a reliable, affordable, flexible power source could help meet the UK’s future peak energy and load following demands, according to a new report published by the Energy Technologies Institute. The UK has over 30 useable salt caverns. [PoliticsHome.com]

¶ A report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency more than 7.7 million people world-wide are now employed by the renewable energy industry. This is an 18% increase from last year’s figure of 6.5 million. The solar PV industry is the largest renewable energy employer world-wide. [solarserver.com]

¶ German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande jointly yesterday pledged to do their utmost to ensure an ambitious UN deal to combat climate change is reached this year. The EU’s two biggest economies also urged other countries to do their part in helping achieve a global push to cut emissions. [The Daily Star]

¶ Brazil will reach an installed renewables capacity of 32.9 GW by 2017, with wind power becoming the top renewable energy technology there, GlobalData forecasts. Biomass plants represented half of Brazil’s renewable energy mix in 2014 are expected to lose the first place in the ranking to wind farms. [SeeNews Renewables]

Wind farm in Rio Grande do Sul. Author: Alexandre Pereira. License: Creative Commons, Attribution - ShareAlike 2.0 Generic 

Wind farm in Rio Grande do Sul. Author: Alexandre Pereira. License: Creative Commons, Attribution – ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

¶ Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyzed the pre-approval of a record 34 GW of Chinese wind projects to be built over 2015-18 in an Analyst Reaction, looking at the investment involved, the developers and the geographical distribution of the approved projects. This will be windpower’s biggest year in China. [Business Spectator]

¶ Japan`s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday gave the green light to restart one more atomic reactor, weeks after the government said a fifth of the country`s electricity supply should come from atomic power. The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided a reactor at Ikata nuclear power plant meets safety guidelines. [Zee News]

US:

¶ Georgia Power is launching the 2015/2016 Advanced Solar Initiative Distributed Generation program soliciting projects totaling 100 MW. The company will acquire solar resources using a combination of competitive bidding and fixed pricing. It is holding events to help applicants learn more. [Your Renewable News]

¶ In Alaska, faced with climate change and high electricity costs, the Kodiak Electric Association set a goal of producing 95% of the community’s electrical needs with renewable energy by 2020. They actually arrived there well ahead of time, and are now 99.7% renewably powered by wind and hydro. [Business Spectator]

Kodiak Island wind farm. Photo by James Brooks. Wikimedia Commons.

Kodiak Island wind farm. Photo by James Brooks. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Iron mines, electric utilities and the biofuel industry came out winners in energy-related measures passed by the Minnesota legislature. But municipal and cooperative electric companies convinced lawmakers people with rooftop solar panels don’t pay their fair share for the grid, so they will pay fees. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

¶ The US DOE said higher wind turbine towers and longer blades could unlock wind development in all 50 states, opening up an additional one-fifth of the land area in the country. At 110 meter hub heights, the agency expects the land area with physical potential for wind deployment in the US to increase 54%. [reNews]

¶ Duke Energy announced plans to retire its Asheville, NC, coal-fired power plant in four to five years and modernize its generation and transmission system in western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. They say this will reduce environmental impacts. The coal plant will be converted to burn natural gas. [Your Renewable News]

¶ The solar capacity in the US is forecast to grow to 40 GW by 2017, up from 20 GW in 2014, according to a new video report from the US Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar will be producing enough energy to power eight million homes by 2017, with all solar markets expected to grow 25-50% in this period. [PV-Tech]


May 19 Energy News

May 19, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “President Obama Regrettably Approves Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean” – The Obama administration granted conditional approval to Shell Oil Company to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean off the North Slope of Alaska on May 11, 2015. The decision represents a major compromise on global warming. [Energy Collective]

Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer Arctic Drilling Rig. Photo by Chas Redmond from Seattle WA, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer Arctic Drilling Rig. Photo by Chas Redmond from Seattle WA, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

World:

¶ A house in the hills above Stuttgart can theoretically generate enough energy to power itself and an electric car, with enough left over to feed back to into Germany’s national grid. The B10 house is designed to generate 200% energy, a target it hopes to hit within the next year. Almost the entire house is recyclable. [Wired.co.uk]

¶ Around 1.6 million premature deaths would be prevented annually if the world’s governments stopped subsidising fossil fuels, according to researchers from the International Monetary Fund found. They say in eastern Europe and Turkey, 60% of the people who die as a result of air pollution could be saved. [EUobserver]

¶ SaskPower’s 140-MW Boundary Dam coal plant has an operating carbon capture and storage system (CSS), which captures 90% of carbon dioxide it produces. It sells most of it to a nearby oilfield for “enhanced oil recovery” and buries the rest. CSS reduces power output by 17% to 18%. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Energy giant E.ON has partnered with the UK Green Investment Bank over the construction of the Rampion offshore wind farm, which is expected to power 300,000 homes. The Green Investment Bank has acquired a £236 million stake in the new project. Total investment supported by E.ON is £1.3 billion. [Blue & Green Tomorrow]

¶ Unilever has saved 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions since 2008 in its manufacturing network. Energy consumption has been reduced by 20%, the same energy used to run 40 factories or the carbon of over 800,000 acres of forest per year. This has also resulted in significant cost savings of €244 million. [New Food]

¶ The rise of renewable energy, weak power demand and declining coal prices are pushing down the price of power in Germany. The country’s baseload wholesale price is about €32/MWh ($37/MWh), lower than both the UK and the Netherlands. The trend has pushed conventional power plants out of the market. [Interfax Global Energy]

¶ Greenhouse gas emissions from installations covered by the EU emissions trading scheme fell by about 4.5% last year, in part, due to the impact of renewables, according to the European Wind Energy Association. It is of interest that power sector emissions fell substantially more than industrial emissions. [reNews]

European emissions

European sunrise

¶ A Japanese court upheld an injunction banning the restart of two nuclear reactors, in a blow to the government’s ambitions to return to atomic power generation. Fukui District Court dismissed Kansai Electric Power’s motion for a stay on an earlier decision baring restart of reactors in Takahama. [The Straits Times]

US:

¶ As the Tennessee Valley Authority is developing plans for meeting energy demands in its future, US Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both R-Tennessee, are pushing it to steer clear of renewable power. But the TVA’s President and CEO remains firm on the need for more use of renewable energy. [The Daily Times]

¶ The ravages of climate change could severely hurt the ability of utilities in the 11 Western states to generate power unless they “climate proof” their power grid using renewables, increased transmission capacity, and energy efficiency, something they are not prepared for, according to a new study. [Standard-Examiner]

¶ Pattern Energy Group has finalized its purchase of 351 MW of operational wind capacity from Wind Capital Partners. The deal gives Pattern ownership rights facilities in central Kansas and northwestern Missouri. The company paid $242 million for the projects plus assumed debts of $102 million. [Argus Media]

¶ Nearly a dozen shareholder groups are furious with FirstEnergy for its stance on energy efficiency rules and its efforts to keep its coal-fired power plants. And outside of the early morning, closed-door shareholder meeting, a broad coalition of labor, consumer and environmental groups will stage a protest. [cleveland.com]

¶ At least 41 states are in talks with neighbors about how they might cut power-sector carbon emissions under US EPA’s Clean Power Plan, despite appeals from Republicans in Congress for state officials to refuse to comply, according to regional coordinators. Fifteen states are bringing court challenges to the rule. [Environment & Energy Publishing]


May 18 Energy News

May 18, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “7 Facts That Prove the Renewable Energy Revolution Has Arrived” – The global transition to clean, renewable energy and away from nuclear and fossil fuels is well under way with remarkable developments happening every day. Here are seven important developments that may surprise you: [EcoWatch]

World:

¶ Giving local communities powers to stop onshore wind farms is one of the first things on the agenda of the new UK energy secretary, Amber Rudd. Personally, she enjoys the turbines, but her position is that they cannot be built on scale in places where people do not want them, she told The Sunday Times.
[SeeNews Renewables]

Wind turbine in UK. Author: Mark Thompson. License: Creative Commons. Attribution 2.0 Generic

Wind turbine in UK. Author: Mark Thompson. License: Creative Commons. Attribution 2.0 Generic

¶ The Irish Green Party has called on Dublin to support domestic rooftop solar development ahead of utility-scale solar farms. Party leader Eamon Ryan says businesses and homes should be encouraged to install solar panels as the price of the technology falls. He believes large solar farms will create public opposition. [reNews]

¶ The King of Jordan inaugurated a 5.6-MW solar-run power plant at the premises of the royal court. The project comes under royal directives to establish power plants reliant on renewable energy to cover the electricity needs of the royal court and palaces. The plant will cover all the court’s electric needs. [Al-Bawaba]

¶ A deal has been reached to reduce Australia’s renewable energy target to 33,000 GWh after the government agreed to drop regular reviews of the scheme. The government and Labor reached an agreement during talks in Melbourne on Monday morning, ending more than 12 months of political deadlock. [The Age]

¶ More than 15,300 solar panels could be built on about 15 acres of land to the north of Moor Farm near Baschurch, Shropshire, UK. The proposed development will have the capacity to produce about 3.75 MW, which is enough power for about 1,140 homes. It is out of sight from all local residential buildings. [shropshirestar.com]

Solar farm in the UK

Solar farm in the UK

US:

¶ Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power. It is opposing a proposal to increase the net metering cap in the state. [Bloomberg]

¶ US clean energy company Invenergy LLC said Friday it has secured debt and tax equity project financing for the 200-MW Buckeye wind farm in Ellis County, Kansas. Nebraska utility Lincoln Electric System in December completed the power purchase agreement for 100 MW of Buckeye’s power. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Siemens will supply 65 wind turbines for the Amazon wind farm Fowler Ridge in Benton County, Indiana. With a capacity of 150 MW, the wind power plant will provide Amazon Web Services’ data center. Construction is scheduled to begin in July. Commissioning is planned for the first quarter of 2016. [Sun & Wind Energy]

¶ The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Minnesota Power’s request for a certificate of need for the 500-kV Great Northern transmission line, which will cost $560 million to $710 million. The 220-mile line will carry carbon free hydroelectricity from Manitoba to Northeastern Minnesota. [CleanTechnology News]


May 17 Energy News

May 17, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Compressed air is being studied increasingly as a medium for storing electric energy. While it is not as efficient as many other storage systems, it has the advantage of providing storage over longer terms. It is also expected to be utilized at a fraction of the cost of other systems, possibly as low as 10%. [New Zealand Herald]

World:

¶ Developers of solar farms are becoming increasingly active in Scotland. This is partly down to the fact that prime sites in the south of England have become harder to find due to land prices and grid capacity issues. The head of one company believes the industry could employ 5000 people in Scotland. [Scotsman]

John Forster says the number of people directly employed in the solar power industry in Scotland could grow from around 400 currently to up to 5,000.

John Forster says the number of people directly employed in the solar power industry in Scotland could grow from around 400 currently to up to 5,000.

¶ Ghana’s energy plan is getting financial support. It has four key projects: renewable energy mini-grids and stand-alone solar PV systems; solar PV-based net metering with storage; utility-scale solar PV/wind power generation; and a technical assistance project supported by the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa. [GhanaWeb]

¶ A long-held dream of bringing the large-scale “cloud” data storage industry to rural Scotland has come a step closer to becoming reality. Intelligent Land Investments lodged a planning application for a 10,000 square meter centre in East Ayrshire. It would be 40% powered by six nearby wind turbines. [Herald Scotland]

¶ In Bangladesh, the 2400-MW Rooppur nuclear power project is likely to cost about $10 billion, more than three times the initial estimate of the government. A couple of years ago the government had estimated that the plant would cost between $2 billion and $3 billion. The project is still in design stages. [The Daily Star]

¶ TEPCO has begun removing the cover it installed over the Unit 1 building after the Fukushima Disaster in 2011. This is part of efforts to decommission the reactor.The intent is to clear away radioactive debris on the upper part of the building and remove spent nuclear fuel still stored inside. [HNN Huntingtonnews.net]

US:

¶ After four years of drought, production at some California dams is expected to be less than 20% of normal because of low water levels. The shortfall should not cause brownouts because California relies on dams for power far less than it did in decades past, due in part to the emergence of solar and wind energy. [Los Angeles Times]

Low levels of water in Lake Shasta within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California. Photo by Bobjgalindo. Wikimedia Commons. 

Low levels of water in Lake Shasta within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California. Photo by Bobjgalindo. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Marshall Wind Energy LLC has signed three individual long-term renewable energy power purchase agreements totaling 65 MW of renewable energy with utilities in Kansas and Missouri. The electricity will be supplied from a 72-MW wind farm in Marshall County, Kansas with 36 Vestas V110 2-MW turbines. [PR Web]

¶ Michigan Governor Rick Snyder outlined a plan during his energy address under which natural gas would represent up to 26% of the state’s electricity mix by 2025, up from 14% currently. Coal represents 59% of the mix now. Snyder expects it to fall to 43% in the next 10 years. The gas will need new pipelines. [Midland Daily News]

¶ Protestors joined hands on the beach at Fort Macon State Park, North Carolina, in a gesture supporting beach preservation and renewable energy and opposing offshore oil and gas drilling. Some carried signs and banners, and large pinwheels were put in the sand, advertising support for offshore wind energy. [Carolinacoastonline]

¶ Thanks to decreasing system prices and state and federal incentives, the number of solar installations in the state of Connecticut rose from 558 in 2008 to more than 10,000 today. Newly available financing is contributing to the increasing numbers of solar projects, even as state incentives are declining. [CT Post]


May 16 Energy News

May 16, 2015

World:

¶ Nova Scotia regulators have approved a standard power purchase agreement for developmental tidal energy array projects in the Bay of Fundy. The Utility and Review Board concluded the contract is “reasonable and appropriate” for test projects approved at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy. [reNews]

Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia Province photograph.

Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia Province photograph.

¶ Greenpeace Energy desk reported the figures from China’s National Energy Administration in October of 2014, revealing that China’s coal use dropped by 1.28% in 2014. However, in March of this year, new data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China indicates that coal consumption dropped by 2.9%. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd has decided to install 30 MW of solar PVs using the metro railway stations as sites for solar arrays. This will meet 40% of the energy requirement including traction power. NMRCL will not spend a penny for generating this power. The project will be executed by an operator. [Times of India]

¶ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China has yielded $22 billion worth of memoranda of understanding showing China Inc’s strong interest in the Indian story. They span a wide range of industries including renewable energy, power infrastructure, and small and medium industries. [Economic Times]

¶ The Energy Supply Association of Australia, representing the fossil fuel and renewable energy sector, has sourced data from around the world revealing household solar PV penetration in Australia is way out in front of any other nation. Almost 15% of Australian households have adopted the technology. [Daily News Biotech Wired]

¶ Australian households and small businesses now have access to some of the cheapest electricity in the developed world, despite having grid power costs that are among the highest. An analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance explains how Australia has the most affordable solar systems in the developed world. [Business Spectator]

¶ Virtual power plants for small, distributed power generation have become a fixture of Germany’s electrical grid. While their numbers remain in the low thousands, VPPs withstood a five-year trial period in the electricity market. Now, with falling battery prices, they are beginning to change the grid. [Environment & Energy Publishing]

¶ The UK’s new Secretary of State for energy and climate change, Amber Rudd, spoke of her desire to increase deployment of solar PV. Commenting on her new role, she said: “I want to unleash a new solar revolution – we have a million people living under roofs with solar panels and that number needs to increase.” [Solar Power Portal]

¶ The International Atomic Energy Agency says TEPCO should consider discharging water contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns into the Pacific Ocean. The United Nations agency is pushing for an alternative to holding the tainted water in tanks and offered to help monitor radiation. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded grants to scientists in five western states to do research in geothermal methods that can develop the region’s huge potential. It has been estimated that geothermal in this region could potentially generate enough electricity to power about 100 million homes. [CleanTechnica]

The Sonoma Calpine 3 geothermal power plant at The Geysers field in the Mayacamas Mountains of Somona County, Northern California. Photo by Stepheng3. Wikimedia Commons.

The Sonoma Calpine 3 geothermal power plant at The Geysers field in the Mayacamas Mountains of Somona County, Northern California.
Photo by Stepheng3. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ On Friday afternoon, the Vermont Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that will encourage more renewable energy projects in the state. The bill passed by a vote of 22-6. Nevertheless, it has re-ignited a debate over the impact of solar and wind projects on the communities where they’re built. [Vermont Public Radio]

¶ The DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will collaborate with China’s PV Investment and Finance Alliance on solar photovoltaic asset development in China. NREL will give advice in areas such as documentation standardization, data management, and operations and maintenance. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ Consumers Energy Co has received conditional approval to begin a 10 MW community solar program, the first in Michigan, by the state Public Service Commission. Individual and business electric customers will be able to purchase subscriptions in 0.5 kW blocks, reducing their electric bills. [Crain’s Detroit Business]


May 15 Energy News

May 15, 2015

World:

¶ New interest is being shown for renewable energy as a viable complementary option for mining operations. Renewable energy sources such as hydropower, wind and solar are being incorporated into broader power supply portfolios in key mining regions, as less expensive alternatives to conventional sources. [Breaking Energy]

Mining operations benefit from renewable power.

Mining operations benefit from renewable power.

¶ Andrew Blakers, who is the director for Sustainable Energy Systems at the Australian National University, told the Australian Solar and Energy Storage conference in Melbourne that his conservative prediction was that Australia would reach 90% renewables by 2040 – just through natural attrition. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Queensland’s new Labor government has confirmed its commitment to getting 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and ensuring that a million of its homes had rooftop solar by 2020. The commitment by Queensland means all three Labor states are looking to ambitious renewable energy targets. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Described as the future of power supply, microgrids harnessing renewable energy resources available locally can also be programmed to manage the load. So India’s National Institute of Engineering has sought to collaborate with the University of Wisconsin, US, to establish a microgrid on the institute campus. [The Hindu]

¶ Having electricity could free over a billion people from polluting lighting and cooking methods, improving health and economic development. But simply expanding the conventional grid would more than double carbon emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa and India by 2040. Solar power provides a solution. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In India, as part of the National Democratic Alliance government’s green energy push, state-owned NTPC Ltd will call for bids from solar developers to buy 15,000 MW on behalf of the ministry of new and renewable energy. In addition, NTPC plans to set up 10,000 MW of solar capacity on its own. [Livemint]

¶ This week Finland cancelled its option for a second European Pressurised Reactor as the existing EPR project sinks into an abyss of cost over-runs, delays and litigation. It now looks like the EPR is a failed technology and its owner, French nuclear giant Areva, is fast running out of both money and orders. [The Ecologist]

US:

¶ Montana Senator Jon Tester is aiming to introduce a bill that would set a target of generating 50,000 MW of geothermal energy by 2025. The bill would make it easier for oil and gas companies to produce geothermal energy because they would not have to compete for conventional leases. [Climate Action Programme]

Montana has vast geothermal resources.

Montana has vast geothermal resources.

¶ Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas has filed a petition to construct a renewable natural gas plant at a farm in Salisbury. Gas from a bio-digester would be processed to make purer bio-methane, some of which would be burned to make power and some piped to Middlebury College for use there for fuel. [Vermont Public Radio]

¶ Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper cheered technology giant Intel for making a major investment in renewable power and clean energy at its Fort Collins campus. Intel installed a 963 kW solar array there. It is the largest commercial solar installation in Northern Colorado, the third largest in the state. [The Coloradoan]

¶ ITC Holdings Corp expects to spend about $4.5 billion from 2014 to 2015 to upgrade and expand its power transmission system in the Midwest. ITC put about $510 million into the Michigan Thumb project, which can be a basis for expansion of the area’s wind power from it current 1,000 MW to 5,000 MW. [Reuters]

¶ Competitive Power Ventures announced today that it has received approval from the Connecticut Siting Council to construct the proposed state-of-the-art, 785-MW CPV Towantic Energy Center in Oxford, Connecticut. The Council’s decision was approved by a 5-2 margin at a meeting in New Britain. [PR Newswire]

¶ New York has published a 2,000-page final environmental report outlining why it would be better off without the environmental, climate and public health implications of fracking. The current New York ban, imposed by Governor Cuomo, is an administrative action that could be reversed by a future governor. [Kitsap Sun]

¶ Presidential hopefuls are beginning to gather in Iowa. There, state-based academicians and researchers plan to ask the candidates a simple, but pointed, question: What will you do about climate change? The impetus for the question was raised by Iowa-based scientists in a widely endorsed document. [North American Windpower]

¶ US Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced two pieces of legislation that would encourage and safeguard the use of Maine’s natural resources to generate renewable electricity. The bills promote the sustainable harvest of biomass and streamline a cumbersome federal licensing process for small hydropower. [RealEstateRama]


May 14 Energy News

May 14, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Let’s Get Straight: Tesla Powerwall DOES = $3,000″ – Something we’ve been assuming, and seen all over the interwebs, is apparently wrong. The assumption has been that the $3,000 price for a Powerwall is the wholesale price. It is the retail price. SolarCity’s higher prices we have seen include installation. [CleanTechnica]

¶ “It’s a critical month for climate change at the Interior Department.” Even as a loophole coal companies use to avoid making proper royalty payments is being studied, the Interior Department is expected to announce a plan making 10.8 billion tons of coal available, 11 times the US annual consumption. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

World:

¶ The UK’s renewable energy industry set a record for new investment in 2014, attracting £10.7 billion, according to a report from the Renewable Energy Association. Investment in solar was £4.5 billion. The UK still requires a further £50 billion over the next five years if it is to meet its green energy targets. [Business Green]

Offshore windpower

Offshore windpower in the UK

¶ The report from the UK’s Renewable Energy Association, authored in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Innovas, reveals that renewable energy increased by 20% in the last year. A total of 64,404 GWh was generated from renewable sources in 2014, compared to 53,667 GWh in 2013. [Solar Power Portal]

¶ An interdisciplinary MIT study, The Future of Solar Energy, says today’s solar panels are all that is needed to supply the world with many TW of clean solar power by 2050 (1 TW is 1,000,000 MW). The other main point the study makes is that it will take political will to finally wean the world off of fossil fuels.[CleanTechnica]

¶ The Australian state of Victoria wants to establish its own target to boost renewable energy, but it first needs Canberra to lift legal barriers preventing it from doing so. If that occurs the state has committed to reintroducing a renewables target for Victoria, which it says would top up the national scheme. [Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ Japan’s nuclear watchdog concluded that fault lines running underneath the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa Prefecture may well be active, throwing the prospect of restarting the facility’s reactors into doubt. But a spokesman of Hokuriku Electric Power Co, the plant operator, took issue with the conclusion. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ SolarCity says it is on track to install more than 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar in 2015. The company reported installations of 153 MW during the first quarter 2015, beating its own forecast of 145 MW. The company has set a target of 1,000,000 customers by the middle of 2018. It now has more than 218,000. [CleanTechnica]

Wind turbines in the Thumb. Photo by No Trams To Lime Street from METRO DETROIT. Wikimedia Commons.

Wind turbines in the Thumb of Michigan. Photo by No Trams To Lime Street from METRO DETROIT. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ A utility energized about 140 miles of transmission lines today that should put more energy from wind turbines in the Thumb of Michigan to be available on the grid. The Novi company, ITC Transmission, said the project cost about $510 million, and will enhance power line capacity and reliability, while creating jobs. [Detroit Free Press]

¶ While wind power is the dominant source of renewable energy in North Dakota, the North Dakota Alliance for Renewable Energy maintains there is a future for solar energy in the state as well. Consumer interest in solar power is growing, and three cooperatives already have solar projects in North Dakota. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ Toyota has combined solar panels with some old Camry Hybrid battery packs to power a ranger station and education center at Lamar Buffalo Ranch in Yellowstone National Park. The 40-kW solar power system charges 208 repackaged battery packs recovered from Toyota dealers across the US. [Energy Matters]

¶ Canadian developer Alterra Power has completed road construction and turbine foundation excavation for the 204-MW Shannon wind project, located near Windthorst in Texas. The wind farm will employ 119 GE turbines. The Shannon project is on track to begin commercial operations by year’s end. [reNews]

¶ Federal regulators have directed nuclear power plants, Diablo Canyon, in California, and Columbia generating station, in Washington state, to conduct additional, in-depth research into earthquake risks by June 2017, part of a broad review of seismic threats following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi disaster. [Fresno Bee]


May 13 Energy News

May 13, 2015

World:

¶ The UK’s new Conservative minister for energy and climate change, Amber Rudd, has made clear her unequivocal backing for action to combat climate change and for the science behind it. This is vital in a year when a major international deal to combat global warming is expected in Paris in December. [New Scientist]

March Against Climate Change. Photo by peganum from Henfield, England. Wikimedia Commons.

March Against Climate Change, September 2014. “Margaret Thatcher was the first ever world leader to sound the alarm.” Photo by peganum from Henfield, England. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Major utility, Origin Energy, is set to launch a solar leasing program in three Australian states, focusing on small-scale residential and commercial systems. It will start rolling out the program in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, where it will install and maintain the systems, at no up-front cost. [CleanTechnica]

¶ US-based New Generation Power International will develop a 200-MW of solar and a 100-MW of wind power project in the Jamshoro-Thatta region of Sindh, Pakistan. The company has signed a Letter of Intent with the Government of Sindh to develop the projects, at an expected cost of $550 million. [CleanTechnology News]

¶ A stationary energy storage system by Tesla Motors Inc will be installed at one of Enel Green Power SpA’s sites to test its integration with solar and wind farms. The companies have concluded an agreement for the testing project. The partners will now select the pilot site for the 1.5 MW-3 MWh system.
[SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The Australian Opposition says it will not pass changes to the Renewable Energy Target if they include the provision that the target will be reviewed every two years. An agreement reducing the RET had been reached, but then government added language to review the RET every two years. [Manufacturers’ Monthly]

¶ Greenpeace has released a report naming the tech companies who make the best (and worst) use of renewable energy. The report grades companies on areas including renewable energy commitment, deployment and advocacy of green power, mitigation and the transparency of their energy policies. [The Register]

US:

¶ Con Edison Development has acquired six shovel-ready solar PV projects totaling 140 MW from a PV project portfolio developed by SolarReserve, LLC and GCL Solar Energy, Inc in three California counties. Ranging in size from 20 MW to 25 MW, have the capacity to power approximately 25,000 homes. [solarserver.com]

¶ The Board of Supervisors of Riverside County, California, signed off on a major solar plant, voting unanimously to approve a 485-MW, 3,600-acre project near Blythe. The project, on private, previously disturbed land, would power about 180,000 homes and add over $500,000 per year to the county’s revenues. [The Desert Sun]

View from an airplane landing at Blythe, California in 2010. Photo by Shane.torgerson. Wikimedia Commons. 

View from an airplane landing at Blythe, California in 2010. Photo by Shane.torgerson. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp, the agency redeveloping the Navy Yard, is installing a “smart-grid” system on the 1,200-acre campus in South Philadelphia. PIDC envisions an interconnected network of renewable power sources and storage devices in a self-supporting “community” microgrid. [Philly.com]

¶ Entergy New Orleans will build its first solar power project in the city, part of its effort to explore the reliability and cost of using sunlight to power local homes and businesses. The pilot project will be in service by late 2016. The company plans to install a system of over 4,000 solar panels with battery backup. [NOLA.com]

¶ New Hampshire’s Proctor Academy is adding more solar arrays as the result of a push from the school’s student environmental action group. Five new arrays will be built, bringing the school’s annual solar generation from 78,000 kWh, achieved through a system built in 2012, to approximately 250,000 kWh. [T.H.E. Journal]

¶ Duke Energy Renewables has completed the 200 MW Los Vientos III wind farm, located in Starr County, Texas. The wind farm, powered by 100 Vestas 2 MW turbines, is located approximately 100 miles west of Brownsville near Rio Grande City. Austin Energy has agreed to purchase all of the project’s output. [North American Windpower]

¶ Senators Tom Udall (NM) and Ed Markey (MA) teamed up with others to introduce a bill that would establish a national renewable electricity standard that requires the nation’s largest power providers to supply at least 30% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. [The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists]

¶ The possibility that the episode at Indian Point on Saturday caused significant harm to the environment fueled the opposition from several of the plant’s critics. New York Governor Cuomo, who continues to press for a permanent shutdown of Indian Point, appeared there on Saturday night and again on Sunday. [New York Times]

¶ The reactor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in the New York City suburbs may be offline for weeks because a transformer that failed over the weekend, sparking a fire and oil leak, must be replaced, Entergy officials said Monday. The company is still investigating the cause of the failure. [Firehouse.com]


May 12 Energy News

May 12, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A race is on to harness the tides and waves for electrical power, with more than 100 different devices being tested by companies hoping to make a commercial breakthrough. The UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, are all developing technologies to harvest the tide. [eco-business.com]

A tidal power plant being developed in Swansea Bay, south Wales in the UK. Image: Tidal Lagoon Swansea

A tidal power plant being developed in Swansea Bay, south Wales in the UK. Image: Tidal Lagoon Swansea

World:

¶ Scotland renewables are important , but more are coming. By the middle of 2014, they were already greater than nuclear, the country’s second resource. Capacity was 7,112 MW by the end of the 3rd quarter. Wind alone has 8,161 MW of capacity in various stages of construction and another 3,765 MW in planning. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Nigeria’s first ever wind project, the 10-MW Katsina windfarm, is a couple of fractions of work from being completed and commissioned, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali has said. It is about 98% complete, 5 turbines have been tested, and 37 are undergoing tests now. [THISDAY Live]

¶ Taiwan has increased its target for overall renewable energy capacity from more than 10,000 MW to 13,000 MW by 2030. Taiwan is working to promote renewable energy and improve energy efficiency to cope with the challenges of climate change and meet growing electricity demand. [Focus Taiwan News Channel]

¶ Apple has announced plans to run its entire business in China through renewable energy, and to make its entire supply chain environmentally friendly. In a statement released yesterday, CEO Tim Cook said greening manufacturing operations would take years, but would be worth the effort. [Electronics News]

¶ In the wake of the recent UK general election, Prime Minister David Cameron has named new ministers to his administration. Among the new appointees is Amber Rudd, new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. UK renewable energy industry observers reacted positively to her appointment. [Renewable Energy Focus]

US:

¶ NextEra Energy Resources, LLC announced that a wholly-owned subsidiary has started construction on two distributed generation solar PV systems in Oneida County, New York. The systems, located on two parcels in Whitestown, New York, will have the capacity to produce 5.2 MW DC of solar power. [Power Online]

¶ Iowa’s 5,688 MW of installed wind capacity uses only 1% of the state’s wind resources, according to a new report, Iowa’s Wind Potential for Addressing 111(d) Goals. The resources are more than adequate to meet the state’s Clean Power Plan requirements cost-effectively and help neighboring states too. [Utility Dive]

Iowa wind farm

Iowa wind farm

¶ The Block Island Wind Farm is set to break ground in July off the coast of Rhode Island, and with it, the future of offshore wind in the US seems very real. It would be the first US offshore wind farm, and if it is successful, it could prove that wind power generated by turbines off the coast is a viable enterprise. [Climate Central]

¶ Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the latest Republican to jump into the 2016 presidential race, took to Texas’ oil capital Monday to flesh out his plan for making the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy. His eight-point plan includes developing wind and solar power and exporting oil. [Texas Tribune]

¶ A 44-year-old requirement that North Carolina study potential environmental impacts before launching building projects may be weakened. The House passed a bill limiting the environmental study requirement to only projects costing more than $10 million. Other environmental protections are also threatened. [Asheville Citizen-Times]

¶ Representatives of 13 Western states and utilities will gather this week in Denver to grapple with the EPA’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. The meetings are part of a series of closed-door sessions convened by a former Colorado Governor after the EPA proposal was made. [High Country News]

¶ The newest nuclear reactor at Watts Bar remains a work-in-progress for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Now, 36 years after it was begun, it is one of the longest building projects in US history. In a bizarre turn, what could soon become the newest US nuclear plant is a piece of 1970s-era technology. [Tulsa World]


May 11 Energy News

May 11, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Engineers in the Netherlands say energy-generating road surface is more successful than expected, six months into trial. Last year they built a 70-metre test track along a bike path on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Based on test results, they expect more than the 70 kWh per square metre per year. [MWC News]

World:

¶ Apple announced expansion of its renewable energy and environmental protection initiatives in China, including a new multi-year project with World Wildlife Fund to increase responsibly managed forests significantly. The new forestland program aims to protect as much as 1 million acres. [The FINANCIAL]

Forest in Lesser Khingan Mountains near Yichun, Heilongjiang, China. Photo by Lzy881114. Wikimedia Commons.

Forest in Lesser Khingan Mountains near Yichun, Heilongjiang, China.  Photo by Lzy881114. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ An aging, unresponsive and “sclerotic” electricity grid is stunting the growth of renewable energy in the UK, says the Solar Trade Association, which has called on the new Conservative government to upgrade the country’s power infrastructure to make it more accommodating of clean energy sources. [pv magazine]

¶ The International Energy Agency’s chief economist says nuclear energy is a must for Turkey, especially because its energy demand grows more than any other European country. Currently, Turkey relies heavily on expensive natural gas exports from Russia and Iran for its domestic electricity production. [MENAFN.COM]

¶ Minas Gerais, the south-eastern state of Brazil, will start auctions of solar photovoltaic power plants this year and will support the initiative with an initial $324 million. The state government said the auction of large-scale solar energy projects will be in August, with completion dates in 2017. [Climate Action Programme]

¶ The Swiss battery manufacturer Leclanché has received an order from Younicos AG to build a turnkey battery power plant on the Azores island Graciosa. The storage system is part of a micro-grid solution, which will increase the proportion of renewable energies used on the island from 15% to 65%. [Sun & Wind Energy]

Island of Graciosa. Photo by José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa. Wikimedia Commons.

Island of Graciosa. Photo by José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa. There are barely visible wind turbines in the picture. Wikimedia Commons.

US:

¶ Building off of a strong January and February, new electricity generation capacity added in the USA in March brought the 1st quarter split to 84% for all renewables, 81% for solar + wind. Utility-scale solar power now accounts for 1% of total US electricity generation capacity, small-scale solar an estimated 0.7%. [CleanTechnica]

¶ National Grid, General Electric, Clarkson University, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are partnering to make sure severe weather events like the 1998 ice storm and Superstorm Sandy won’t have such drastic effects again, by building what could be the nation’s largest municipal microgrid. [GreenBiz]

¶ A day after a transformer fire at New York’s Indian Point nuclear plant sent up thick, black smoke over the plant, Governor Andrew Cuomo warned of a new threat to the area, oil spilling into the adjacent Hudson River. The slick is contained by booms in the water, and absorbent materials will be used to remove it. [CNN]

¶ A proposed ordinance that would strictly regulate, and in some cases ban, large-scale wood-burning power plants and other waste-to-energy plants in Greenfield, Massachusetts will be the subject of a joint public hearing on Tuesday. The hearing will be on Tuesday at 6 pm at 20 Sanderson St. [The Recorder]


May 10 Energy News

May 10, 2015

World:

¶ The first renewable energy scheme in Scotland to draw heat from the sea could be installed in Shetland. The archipelago’s capital of Lerwick already has the largest district heating system in Scotland, heated by burning trash. But there is not enough trash, so they are considering an ocean source heat pump. [Herald Scotland]

Lerwick, Shetland. Photo by Eric. Wikimedia Commons.

Lerwick, Shetland. Photo by Eric. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ A South Derbyshire village could see 40,000 solar panels installed as more information is revealed on plans for two new farms. The village of Overseal could be home to two solar farms to be installed by Inazin Power, which recently held a consultation meeting with residents to gather information on the sites. [Burton Mail]

¶ To encourage consumption of clean and renewable energy in the national capital, Delhi’s AAP government is planning to promote the usage of energy from such sources and will urge citizens to install “net meters” at their residence places and business enterprises. The drive is operating at several levels. [The Asian Age]

US:

¶ According to the US Geological Survey, the Dallas area has suffered almost 40 small earthquakes (magnitude 2.0 or higher) since the beginning of this year, the latest a magnitude-2.7 quake near Farmers Branch on Saturday. There was only one in the 58 years before 2008. The difference is probably due to fracking. [CNN]

¶ Solar energy companies are expanding in New Hampshire, even though the state budget threatens to wipe out a fund many say is vital to the industry. Renewable energy advocates are decrying a move by the New Hampshire House to pull $50 million its renewable energy fund to patch a hole in its budget plan. [Concord Monitor]

¶ A transformer failure and fire at Indian Point Energy nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York sent smoke into the air and prompted the plant operator to shut down the impacted unit on Saturday evening. Indian Point Energy said that there were no injures and that there was no threat to public safety. [Huffington Post]

Indian Point nuclear plant. Photo by Peretz Partensky from San Francisco, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

Indian Point nuclear plant. Photo by Peretz Partensky from San Francisco, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Liberty Utilities, which delivers electricity to 49,000 customers in California in the Tahoe-Truckee area, is removing coal from its power portfolio. Liberty wants to buy two solar plants with a combined capacity of 65 MW or to get power from other renewable sources. They expect to save $200 million a year. [Mountain Town News]

¶ Marin Clean Energy officials are highlighting the joint power authority’s efforts to stimulate the creation of local renewable energy projects and local jobs as the authority celebrates its fifth year and the opening of its new San Rafael, California, headquarters. The company provides community choice aggregation. [Marin Independent Journal]

¶ US-based renewable energy development company SunEdison has signed combined transactions for 757 MW of operating projects. These include wind and hydropower projects in Brazil; wind and solar projects in India; wind and solar project in South Africa; and the Solarpack solar project in Uruguay. [Greentech Lead]

¶ North Carolina governor Patrick McCrory signed a one-year extension of the state’s renewable energy investment tax credit last week, a move in that will foster more solar development within the state, which is now 4th in the nation for installed solar capacity. The law will now expire on January 1, 2017. [South Carolina SC]


May 9 Energy News

May 9, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “The EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Setting the Record Straight on the Benefits and Costs” – We need to correct disinformation about the Clean Power Plan. It’s not hard to find fodder: there’s plenty of misleading stuff out there, and some of it has gotten way more airtime than it should have. [The Equation: Blog of the Union of Concerned Scientists]

Science and Technology:

¶ Recently, with Tesla’s announcement, energy storage has been in the news. Contrary to a common misconception, very high levels of wind energy can be reliably integrated without energy storage. Energy storage is typically more expensive than grid operating reforms, which can provide the same flexibility services. [Energy Collective]

¶ A “massive” global expansion of solar power, possibly enough to supply about a third or more of the world’s electricity, may be necessary by 2050 to reduce the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate, according to a report published by MIT. But that means increasing solar from today’s 20 GW to 400 GW in the US. [Kitsap Sun]

World:

 

BMW factory in Chennai

BMW factory in Chennai

¶ German luxury carmaker BMW plans to establish a solar power project at its factory in Chennai, India, by 2016. The project would help the Munich-based auto major meet 20% of the electricity needs of the factory. At present the factory has a rooftop solar farm that provides for 6% of the factory’s electricity. [Greentech Lead]

¶ Having surprisingly secured a majority government in yesterday’s UK general election, the Conservative Party, shorn of the left-leaning influence of previous coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, could be set to spring a few other surprises on the country’s solar landscape. The solar industry is nervous. [pv magazine]

¶ UK Prime Minister Cameron’s 2014 commitment to go ‘all out for shale gas’ may have been controversial, but now he has secured power this could be huge news for the oil and gas industry in the UK. Estimates suggest up to £6 billion of shale gas annually could be produced in Lancashire for the next three decades. [OilVoice]

¶ Vestas has won a deal to supply 149 MW of hardware at phases 1 and 2 of the Tres Mesas wind farm in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, in Mexico. The contract with special purchase vehicles Eólica Tres Mesas and Eólica Tres Mesas 2 covers 45 of the Danish manufacturer’s V117 3.3-MW machines. [reNews]

Vestas V117 3.3-MW turbines.

Vestas V117 3.3-MW turbines.

US:

¶ Cargill and Pacific Gas & Electric will be installing a 1-MWh Tesla battery system at a California beef processing facility. This battery system will be recharged on a daily basis via the PG&E electricity grid during off-peak hours, in order to lower operating costs, by buying all electricity at off-peak rates. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The U.S. Navy is planning to lease about 192 acres of land in Guam to the local electric company for construction of a system of photovoltaic solar panels in eight locations to generate about 40 MW of power. The Navy released an environmental impact study on the project and is seeking public comment. [Stars and Stripes]

¶ Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced legislation to update America’s aging power grid and provide more reliable, low-cost, renewable energy. The Smart Grid Act of 2015 establishes a DOE program to move cities, electric utilities, and local businesses seeking to invest in innovative smart grid technologies. [myCentralOregon.com]

Solar Panels at Topaz Solar 7. Photo by Sarah Swenty/USFWS. Wikimedia Commons

Solar Panels at Topaz Solar 7. Photo by Sarah Swenty/USFWS. Wikimedia Commons

¶ A new study in Nature Climate Change says that utility-scale solar plants taking up massive amounts of open space in the countryside actually aren’t necessary: We can get more than enough solar power by building in cities instead. The study focuses on California because it is pursuing renewable goals. [Co.Exist]

¶ Democratic Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are fighting with the biomass industry over the role plant-based energy plays in the EPA climate change plan. The senators worry about the environmental benefits of using biomass, which reduces forest growth needed to reduce carbon levels. [The Hill]

¶ California will have enough power to meet air conditioning demand this summer despite continued low hydropower supplies due to the drought. The California Independent System Operator says the grid will benefit from new generation, mostly solar, stable imports and moderate peak demand growth. [Reuters]


May 8 Energy News

May 8, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ For the first time, the global average concentration of CO2 has surpassed 400 ppm for an entire month. NOAA’s lead greenhouse gas scientist pointed out that humans burning fossil fuels have caused global carbon dioxide levels to rise more than 120 ppm since pre-industrial times, with half of that since 1980.” [CleanTechnica]

¶ Grid operators have overcome the technical barriers to integrating 30% solar PV or 40% wind on their systems. Now only the economics stand in the way, because the value of renewables to utilities can decline as their penetrations increase. But, new research shows that barrier could be ready to crumble as well. [Utility Dive]

World:

¶ Unconventional drilling (ie, fracking) creates a huge amount of waste, some of which is being sprayed onto farmer’s fields. The most economical disposal method is to dump the waste on agricultural land. This includes the grasslands, where animals graze, and crop lands. The waste also is spread into water. [CleanTechnica]

Fracking waste being spread on Albertan fields; natural gas facility fracking at Rosebud, Alberta  

Fracking waste being spread on Albertan fields near a natural gas facility fracking at Rosebud, Alberta

¶ Germany’s anticipated installation figures for offshore wind this year are 2071 MW, nearly four times the country’s 529 MW installed during 2014, according to GlobalData, a global research and consulting firm. The report details the global quarterly intake for wind turbines, both onshore and offshore. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Chinese system of power generation is turning green far more quickly than any other system of comparable size on the planet. Fossil fuel use has begun to decline, and though nuclear power growing, its growth is very slow compared to renewable power. Solar alone added more than nuclear last year. [Project Syndicate]

¶ The Australian government and Labor are agreeing on revisions to the Renewable Energy Target that would cut the large-scale RET down to 33,000 GWh in 2020 from 41,000 GWh. The small-scale RET, which supports rooftop solar PV and also solar and heat-pump water heaters, would be left untouched. [Business Spectator]
… However, the deal to end the lengthy stand-off over Australia’s renewable energy target hit a dramatic late hitch after Labor accused the Coalition of trying to include the burning of wood waste as a renewable energy source. The government introduced the idea as a last-minute amendment. [The Guardian]

¶ SheerWind Inc, a developer of wind-power systems based in Chaska, Minnesota, has signed a licensing agreement that will allow its technology to be marketed in Denmark. The agreement is with E-Venturi, and the first pilot project is expected to be built in Denmark before the end of the year. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ Italy’s biggest utility will invest 27% more in renewable energy in the years ahead even as a slump in oil prices makes it more difficult for solar and wind power to compete with fossil fuels on price. Enel Green Power SpA plans to increase annual capital spending to €2.1 billion through 2017, up from €1.66 in 2014. [Bloomberg]

¶ The French nuclear power dynamo has started to stall. New plants meant to showcase the industry’s most advanced technology are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Worse, recently discovered problems at one site have raised new doubts about when, or even if, they will be completed. [New York Times]

US:

¶ Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the United States, has decided to slash its financing for coal mining projects, as it now considers the sector as a “highly risky” one to invest on. The bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility executive said the decision has been made an ongoing policy on the sector. [MINING.com]

Bank of America considers the coal sector too risky.

Bank of America considers the coal sector too risky.

¶ The hoopla around Tesla’s battery continues apace, with Tesla founder and chairman Elon Musk saying that demand for the stationary energy storage is “just nutty,” and the Powerwall home system is already sold out through mid-2016. Tesla has already received about 38,000 sales reservations. [RenewEconomy]

¶ A group of solar energy advocates interrupted Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good’s opening remarks at the company’s annual meeting. Hulking security guards escorted them out, but the protest continued from stockholders. Duke’s CEO pointed out that the company had closed coal-burning plants and is taking up solar. [WFAE]

¶ In Colorado, UnitedWind, a Brooklyn-based company expanding to the West, partners with national banks to provide financing for everyday people who want to harvest the wind. The company works with homeowners, farms, and businesses. If you want your own wind turbine, you can lease it and get the profit. [CBS Local]

 

 


May 7 Energy News

May 7, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Tesla Powerwall Price vs Battery Storage Competitor Prices (Residential & Utility-Scale)” – Tesla Powerwall competes on price, while offering numerous benefits (it’s much smaller per kWh, requires much less maintenance, is much prettier, can be hung on the wall, can discharge deeper, and more.) [CleanTechnica]

¶ “Oil Prices Are Rising Again, But Will They Keep Going Up?” – Oil prices hit a new high for the year Wednesday, closing at just under $61 a barrel. They’ve been rallying for a month, but nobody’s predicting $4-per-gallon gasoline anytime soon. Some analysts say weak demand will send oil prices down again. [North Country Public Radio]

World:

¶ A recent report shows that renewable energy adoption is growing in the world’s emerging economies nearly twice as fast as in industrialized nations. Not only can renewable energy technologies now compete with fossil fuels on cost, they are often more reliable, safer, and at times cheaper than grid power. [CleanTechnica]

Off-grid village power plant.

Off-grid village power plant.

¶ India’s installed renewable capacity jumped by 12.9% during the 12 months to 31 March 2015, latest data released by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy shows. India added 4,089 MW renewable energy capacity in financial year 2014-15, which is 8.5% more than the targeted figure of 3,770 MW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said countries were ahead of schedule in negotiating a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gases that can be adopted at a Paris summit in December. Technology has changed things since a similar effort failed in 2009. [Chippewa Herald]

¶ US-based SunEdison has won an 86-MW DC solar PV project in the fourth bid round of South Africa’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement program. The company will operate and maintain the facility, which will generate enough energy for about 45,000 households in South Africa. [CleanTechnology News]

¶ Red tape is hobbling France’s quest to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Even more galling, Europe’s biggest agricultural producer had 185 on-farm methane plants at the end of last year, compared to about 7,700 in Germany. Complicated French approval systems can take years. [Bloomberg]

¶ Despite warnings from climate experts, global banks collectively financed $144 billion for coal mining and coal power companies in 2014, compared to $145 billion in 2013, according to the annual coal finance report card released today by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack and the Sierra Club. [Business Green]

Some banks are investing in coal.

Some banks are investing in coal.

US:

¶ UPS has been experimenting with renewable power for its trucks. Their latest initiative is to power a fleet of 400 trucks with renewable natural gas. It’s basically biomethane derived from renewable sources, such as decomposing organic waste in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and agricultural sources. [Treehugger]

¶ Nebraska, the nation’s only completely public power state, has decided the public should not subsidize wind power. A bill to provide $75 million in production tax credits for renewable energy, was successfully filibustered by two senators, who suggested the state consider nuclear power instead. [McCook Daily Gazette]

¶ Exelon is amping up its threat to close three nuclear power plants unless it gets government help. The company says it’s not a bailout and instead argues it’s trying to level the playing field. Illinois already gives some incentives for renewable sources and nuclear proponents say nuclear power deserves that. [Peoria Public Radio]

¶ Hawaii looks set to be the first US state to put a firm use-by date on carbon intensive energy generation. The new compromise bill sets targets of 30% renewables in 2020, 70% by 2030 and 100% renewables by 2045. It has passed in the legislature, and is now just awaiting Governor David Ige’s signature. [Energy Matters]

¶ Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Monday blamed environmentalists for what she called a “man-made” drought in California, which has led to the state’s first water restrictions. She said they were to blame because no new reservoirs have been constructed despite population increases. [Huffington Post]


May 6 Energy News

May 6, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Why Tesla Batteries Are Cheap Enough To Prevent New Power Plants” Last year, analysts for Oncor Electric Delivery Company calculated the break-even point for utility-scale storage batteries at $350 per kWh. Tesla’s Powerpack, the big sister of the Powerwall home battery, will come at a cost of $250/kWh. [Forbes]

Tesla utility-scale batteries.

Tesla utility-scale batteries.

¶ “Tesla Powerwall: What you need to know” As more solar energy is adopted, a dedicated battery to store the energy makes a lot of sense. Tesla’s Powerwall battery promises to be able to take homes and businesses off the grid. Here’s a sanity check on how realistic it is, and what it means for the energy market. [TechRepublic]

¶ “Oil Prices Are Rebounding Now, But A Permanent Plunge May Be Coming” Oil and gas will likely be with us for centuries to come as the stuff that makes products from plastics to petroleum jelly. But better batteries could lead to the end of oil and gas for much of its current uses—transportation and power. [Forbes]

World:

¶ The UK’s largest operator and owner of solar PV assets, Lightsource Renewable Energy, has announced that it is offering up to £40,000 per MW for introduced sites. The developer is hoping to uncover new solar farm sites with suitable grid connections and a strong possibility of quick planning permission. [Solar Power Portal]

Flat Holm solar array, Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Cardiff Council Flat Holm Project. Wikimedia Commons.

Flat Holm solar array, Cardiff, Wales. Photo by Cardiff Council Flat Holm Project. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Chinese firm Shenergy Co Ltd said Monday it will create a $20.9 million joint venture with a Shanghai-based company, looking to add 70 MW of wind power capacity in the city. To that end, the company’s renewables arm Shanghai Shenneng New Energy Investment Co Ltd will own 60% of the company. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has signed agreements with the Solar Energy Corporation of India for four solar PV power projects with a total capacity of 600 MW. The projects will be set up under the Indian government’s push to add 20 GW of solar capacity through ultra mega solar power projects. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Solar power in Japan is close to becoming profitable, says the country’s leading renewables watchdog, the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation. Since 2011, when the country’s 43 nuclear reactors were idled; Japan has added 25 GW of renewable power, of which solar energy accounts for 80%. [pv magazine]

US:

¶ Gulf Power received unanimous approval from the Florida Public Service Commission of an agreement that will make the utility a leading purchaser of wind generation among Florida utilities. The agreement is the first of its kind in the state. The project, called Kingfisher Wind, will be built in central Oklahoma. [NorthEscambia.com]

Wind farm in Oklahoma.

Wind farm in Oklahoma.

¶ The second-ever comprehensive Clean Jobs Illinois Report found that there are 104,449 clean energy jobs in the land of Lincoln. Jobs counted were those connected with electric or alternative transportation fuels, greenhouse gas management, energy efficiency, wind power, geothermal, or solar power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Rapid growth in small solar is changing production and use patterns, leading to calls to change net metering policies. Two Arizona co-ops have petitioned the Arizona Corporation Commission to reduce premium rates co-ops pay small-scale solar providers for power to reflect wholesale power costs. [Electric Co-op Today]

¶ Pattern Energy announced this week the closing of financing on the 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) project, to be located in Benton County, Indiana. The project has entered into a 13-year power purchase agreement with Amazon to provide energy for local Amazon Web Services data centers. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kearsarge Energy, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, has completed the largest Massachusetts operating SREC II Solar PV Project. The 4.9 MW DC ground-mounted Kearsarge Southwick is the company’s 13th solar project, and increases its Massachusetts track record to 37 MW of completed Solar Facilities. [Digital Journal]


May 5 Energy News

May 5, 2015

World:

¶ US firm First Solar Inc has installed the first PV panels at AGL Energy Ltd’s 53-MW Broken Hill solar park in New South Wales, Australia. Upon completion in late 2015, the 650,000 solar panels at the site are expected to generate enough electricity to power some 17,000 local households. [SeeNews Renewables]

Australian Solar Farm. Author: Michael Mees meesphotography.com License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

Australian Solar Farm. Author: Michael Mees meesphotography.com License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

¶ Yesterday pv magazine reported that both inverter specialist Fronius and residential solar provider Sunrun have announced collaborations with the Tesla Powerwall, and today comes news that more leading solar firms have confirmed partnerships to bundle the battery with their own service or product. [pv magazine]

¶ Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has signed seven binding Memoranda of Understanding worth $500 million under the government’s Feed-in-Tariff program. There were five agreements signed for solar projects totaling 220 MW and two wind projects totaling 100 MW. [Utilities-ME.com]

¶ Net metering has begun in Delhi, with six locations already operating in the city. Four sites are residential, one is a commercial building in south Delhi, and one is a school in the east. As of now they have received 50 applications and around 500 queries for net-metering, but the city has a potential for 2 GW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Power companies are bracing for a hit in the UK no matter who wins the general election on May 7. The election will merely determine the biggest losers. Shares and bonds of utility companies have fallen at the prospect of a new administration undoing energy rules that have taken years to put together. [Bloomberg]

¶ Turbine maker Nordex SE has received an order from Northern Irish utility Energia Renewables. Per the contract, Nordex will supply and install 38 of its N90/2500 turbines at an extension of the Meenadreen wind farm, located in Donegal, Ireland. Nordex will begin installing the turbines in March 2016. [North American Windpower]

¶ Dissatisfied with government-orchestrated compensation, the number of local residents and others affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis who have sued TEPCO is expected to soon top 10,000 plaintiffs. A total of 9,992 people, including evacuees, have joined 25 lawsuits filed with 20 district courts. [Asahi Shimbun]

US:

¶ Mississippi Power is partnering with Origis Energy to develop a 52-MW solar project on 196 hectares in the state. If approved by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the projects could be in service near the end of 2016. Mississippi Power just finished two installations with a total of 53 MW. [PV-Tech]

¶ Washington-based Solar Electric Power Association has released a report on the US solar power industry and utility rankings for 2014. The report says the US added 5.3 GW (182,000 new systems) of PV capacity last year, taking the total installed solar capacity nationwide to 16.3 GW (675,500 locations). [Greentech Lead]

Solar carport at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo from energy.gov.

Solar carport at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo from energy.gov.

¶ Solar energy is fast becoming a “least cost” option for US utilities. Declining technology costs, policy support and retail rate levels are cited as contributing factors. Issues, including rate restructuring and grid integration, need to be addressed; meanwhile community solar programs are getting strong interest. [pv magazine]

¶ In a bid to put New Jersey back into a leadership role in clean energy, a Senate committee yesterday approved a bill that would require 80% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2050. Even proponents say approval is unlikely under the Governor Christie. [NJ Spotlight]

¶ Kansas would no longer require utilities to get a portion of their electricity from renewable resources, but the state also would not impose a new tax on the power under a proposal announced by the governor. It embodies an agreement between the wind energy industry and critics of the green energy mandate. [Greenfield Daily Reporter]

¶ A new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change today, says that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will save over 3500 lives every year. The study by researchers at Harvard, Syracuse and Boston Universities and Resources for the Future finds a strategy to meet the plan. [News Every day]

¶ In 2015, a record 9.1 GW of solar and 8.9 GW of wind will be installed in the US, forecasts Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Wind has 13.6 GW under construction in 100 projects, says American Wind Energy Association. In Iowa, two projects by MidAmerican Energy costing $1.5 billion will add 922 MW. [SustainableBusiness.com]

¶ With all the attention being paid to Panasonic and its partnership with Tesla in the GigaFactory under construction in Nevada, people sometimes forget that there are other battery companies in the world. But Toshiba grid storage batteries will be used at a new energy storage installation near Hamilton, Ohio. [CleanTechnica]


May 4 Energy News

May 4, 2015

Science and Technology:

E. coli exists in a wide variety of strains, some of which are beginning to pop up in renewable fuel and “green” chemical applications. One of these is involved in a new artificial photosynthesis study from UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The basic concept is to mimic natural photosynthesis. [CleanTechnica]

How the artificial leaf works.

How the artificial leaf works.

World:

¶ According to analysis by the conservation charity of WeatherEnergy data, for Scottish homes with PV panels, there was enough sunshine last month to meet 113% of the power needs of an average home in Edinburgh. In Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness the percentage was 111%, 106%, 104%, respectively. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ A report from the French government’s environment and energy agency body that showed shifting to 100% renewable energy by 2050 is feasible. The report found it would cost little more than the existing 75% nuclear power supply. But the case for 100% renewables is not being discussed by the government. [Green Left Weekly]

¶ Research from commercial law firm EMW shows that 20,655 green energy patents were filed globally in 2014, for solar power, wind energy, biofuels and waste-generated energy – down from 35,590 in 2012. EMW said this sharp decline has been mainly caused by oversupply in the solar panel market. [The Guardian]

¶ The government of Bangladesh is considering amending its policy on renewable energy to increase use of solar and wind power by allowing private businesses to own large power plants. Large solar and wind power plants can be set up only on government lands under existing regulations. That may soon change. [Financial Express Bangladesh]

¶ Brown coal’s share of the main Australian electricity grid has surged to its highest level since September 2012, increasing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. The data came as climate change ministers from around the country met to discuss how state governments might co-operate on emissions. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Australian coal plant.

Australian coal plant.

¶ The Australian federal government could agree to a higher renewable energy target before the end of the week as it finds itself isolated on the issue and sees a need to bring uncertainty to an end. Cabinet is likely to discuss the matter now that the Labor leader agreed to accept a 2020 target of 30,000 GWh. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ The International Atomic Energy Agency delayed a report about meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to give Japanese officials another chance to explain radiation leaking into the Pacific Ocean. The IAEA’s report on plans to decommission the stricken reactors will be published in “mid-May.” [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ In Northern California, there lies a relic from the heyday of US nuclear power, shut down in 1976. The remaining cost to decommission the plant will be about $441 million, according to its owner, PG&E Corp. Nuclear operators are supposed to lay up enough money to cover the costs, but most haven’t. [The Japan Times]

Humbolt Bay Power Plant. Photo from the US Department of Energy.

Humbolt Bay Power Plant. Photo from the US Department of Energy.

¶ NextEra Energy Resources has been awarded a bid to develop solar power array projects in New Mexico. The two projects include a 50-MW solar array on 640 acres in Doña Ana County, and a second array, expected to be the largest in the state, will generate 150 MW, on 2,770 acres in Otero County. [Las Cruces Sun-News]

¶ A number of billionaires are committed to carbon-free energy. Warren Buffett invested $15 billion in solar and wind energy by early 2014. Ted Turner is working with coal-heavy Southern Company to acquire solar and wind plants. Philip Anschutz is working on a 3,000-MW wind farm in Wyoming. [Independent Online]


May 3 Energy News

May 3, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Is Solar Power About To Crush Big Oil, Big Coal And End Global Warming?” – Something amazing has happened in the energy market. The cost of solar power has fallen to the point where, in a growing number of places, it’s cheaper than the electricity that utilities deliver from their coal-fired power plants. [Investing.com]

¶ “Fracking Could Be More Dangerous Than We Realize” – British Columbia has no regulatory requirement for groundwater monitoring at hydraulic fracturing sites unless specified by a permit. And earthquakes are caused by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing in proximity to pre-existing faults. [CleanTechnica]

Science and Technology:

¶ The Chevy Volt is in a class of its own compared to other plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The Volt emits significantly less smog-forming pollution than other PHEVs, according to a GM study presented to the Society of Automotive Engineers. The Volt has far fewer engine starts than other PHEVs. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new type of wind turbine from a startup company, Vortex Bladeless, relies on an aerodynamic phenomenon called vorticity, in which wind flowing around a structure creates a pattern of small vortices or whirlwinds called a Kármán vortex street. No problema as long as they are relatively small. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Following a call Friday by General Electric, a coalition of peak industry, manufacturing, and business groups, have joined in to demand an end to the stand-off on the renewable energy target, which began over a year ago when the government reviewed the target and tried to have it drastically scaled back. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed for expediting projects in the areas of irrigation, affordable housing, at a high-level meeting on infrastructure with focus on rural development, power, coal, renewable energy and petroleum and natural gas. He reviewed the status of stalled infrastructure projects. [Press Trust of India]

¶ As the cost of electricity from South Africa’s utility, Eskom, rises and frustration with load-shedding increases, companies are forking out millions to generate their own power – and even cemeteries are turning to renewable energy. Private cemeteries run by property group Calgro M3 convert to solar power. [Times LIVE]

¶ A minor leakage of radioactive water has been detected at Fukushima Daiichi. A total of 40 millilitres of water was discovered, according to TEPCO. The company stated that it placed bags of sand around the tank to prevent water from contaminating other areas. [RT] (40 millilitres is less than 3 tablespoons. So they are putting down sandbags?)

Slogan sign "nuclear (power generation), a bright and future (source of) energy" in Futaba town, Fukushima pref. Photo by Hohoho, Wikimedia Commons.

Slogan sign “nuclear (power generation), a bright and future (source of) energy” in Futaba town, Fukushima pref. Photo by Hohoho, Wikimedia Commons.

US:

¶ New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation recently flipped the switch on a 50-kW solar PV system at Fort Niagara State Park. The solar energy system is expected to save $9,100 annually and bring a clean, modern source of energy to the park, enhancing energy efficiency efforts. [Buffalo News]

¶ SolarCity Corporation announced on May 1 to offer Tesla Motors Inc’s newly released solar energy storage home battery unit, Powerwall. The company will be offering Tesla Powerwall, 10 kWh model, for $5000 under a nine-year lease plan, or the customers can buy the battery pack for $7,140 flat. [Business Finance News]


May 2 Energy News

May 2, 2015

Tesla:

¶ “Tesla’s Home Battery Offering In Context — Pricing Much Lower Than Expected” I think one of the lessons of the day is to trust Elon Musk. When he said approximately a month ago that Tesla would be announcing a “major new product line” on April 30, he wasn’t using the term “major” in a light way. [CleanTechnica]

Tesla Home Storage Powerwall

Tesla Home Storage Powerwall

¶ Green Mountain Power is the first utility in the country to partner with Tesla to offer Tesla’s new home battery to customers. It says a radical change to the grid will begin in Rutland City. The batteries will become available in October, and GMP plans to offer incentives as well as in-bill financing to buyers. [Rutland Herald]

¶ “7 Things You Need to Know About Tesla’s New Home Battery” The internet has been a flurry of speculation for weeks. But now, after the big unveiling late last night, the time for speculation is over. Quell your curiosity, and spend 10 minutes learning everything you need to know about Tesla’s new battery. [Triple Pundit]

¶ Almost three hours before Tesla’s big announcement, inside a Northwestern University classroom near Chicago, famed nuclear critic Arnie Gundersen had the inside scoop: Elon Musk would announce an industrial-scale battery that would cost about 2¢ per kWh, putting the final nail in the coffin of nuclear power. [Forbes]

World:

¶ A £70 million tidal project that was shelved last year could now be revived after a global leader in the industry bought up the scheme. The 10-MW Skerries Tidal Stream Array, which was to be Wales’s first commercial tidal energy farm, would see seven massive tidal generators located in up to 130 ft of water. [WalesOnline]

Artist's impression of tidal stream turbines developed by Marine Current Turbines of Bristol

Artist’s impression of turbines developed by Marine Current Turbines of Bristol

¶ Since 2005, Venezuela’s socialist government has sent $70 billion of subsidized oil to Nicaragua and other Caribbean area nations, according to Barclays Investment Bank. This secured political allies, countering US influence. Now, the US is encouraging a regional shift toward renewables and independence from oil. [Wall Street Journal]

¶ Germany’s DanTysk offshore wind power plant has officially been inaugurated. The installation features 80 Siemens wind turbines with a total capacity of 288 MW. The wind power plant can generate up to 1.3 billion kWh per year, enough to match the annual consumption of about 400,000 German households. [Renewable Energy Focus]

US:

¶ According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2015, electricity-generating companies will add 20 GW of capacity to the grid. Of that amount, about 68% will come from renewable energy sources. And this good news is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to renewable energy around the world. [Investing.com]

¶ President Barack Obama has signed bipartisan legislation to bolster energy efficiency measures in commercial buildings and homes. One component of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act promotes energy efficiency for renters through a branch of the Energy Star program, which is called “Tenant Star.” [State Journal]

¶ Caterpillar and First Solar, Inc today announced a strategic alliance to develop an integrated PV solar solution for microgrid applications. Under the agreement, First Solar will design and manufacture a pre-engineered turnkey package for use in remote microgrid applications, such as small communities and mine sites. [3BL Media]

¶ US Representative Scott Perry continued his efforts this week to remove government barriers to the development of hydropower in the US by sponsoring an amendment to HR 2028, the Energy-Water Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 that would restore funding for this vital energy resource. [RealEstateRama]

¶ Xcel Energy is seeking state regulators’ approval to develop and own the proposed 200-MW Courtenay wind farm near Jamestown, North Dakota. The 100-turbine Courtenay project is expected to create about 200 construction jobs and provide about $850,000 in annual tax revenue to local governments. [Energy Business Review]


May 1 Energy News

May 1, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “FirstEnergy Wages All-Out War on Clean Energy” – While some in the utility industry are adapting to account for low-cost renewable power and climate change, others are fighting it. In Ohio, FirstEnergy gained regulatory approval to abandon its energy efficiency programs. But their situation has not benefitted. [Environmental Defense Fund]

Science and Technology:

¶ André Borschberg, co-founder and pilot of Solar Impulse 2, has rejoined the SI2 team in Nanjing, China, and is preparing for the biggest flight for the solar-powered airplane to date. The flight across the Pacific is projected to last 120 hours, 5 days, and 5 nights in a very small cockpit the size of a closet. [CleanTechnica]

Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2

¶ Infratech Industries, Inc opened a solar plant at a wastewater treatment facility in South Australia, and it could potentially change the way we harvest solar energy. According to the company’s director, the panels are 57% more efficient than land-based systems because they’re kept cool by the water. [Grist]

World:

¶ ScottishPower Renewables has officially opened the newly repowered Coal Clough windfarm. The company has invested £22.5 million to replace 24 wind turbines installed in 1992, with eight modern turbines, increasing the total generating capacity of the windfarm from 9.6 MW to 16 MW. [Renewable Energy Focus]

¶ Divisions are emerging in the Australian Coalition government as MPs fret over job losses caused by the ongoing uncertainty over the renewable energy target. Industry leaders have called on the government to accept a suggestion by Victorian Liberal MP Dan Tehan to adopt a new target of 33,000 GWh. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ The Total Environment Centre says data shows energy use on the North Coast of New South Wales is declining about three times as fast as the overall national energy market, despite a 5% population increase over the same period. High power costs are driving people to efficiency and rooftop solar systems. [Northern Star]

¶ TEPCO started freezing soil at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in trial operations for an underground wall aimed at preventing groundwater from flowing into the damaged reactors and becoming radioactive. The work was conducted at 18 points around the No. 1 through No. 4 reactor buildings. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ A new report from the banking and financial services company, HSBC, has warned of increasing risk of “stranded assets” in the fossil fuel industry. It raises questions that are going to need to be addressed in the coming years, if not sooner, as nations gear up for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The world’s nuclear reactors are showing their age. Almost 200 of the 434 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide are due to be retired by 2040, at a cost of more than $100 billion, according to the International Energy Agency. All but one of the existing plants in the UK are due to be shut down within a decade. [The Engineer]

Ancient nuclear power plant.

Obsolete nuclear power plant.

US:

¶ Tesla unveiled a suite of energy products, including a wall-mounted battery for use in consumers’ homes. The Powerwall is a lithium-ion battery designed to be mounted on a wall, and connected to the local power grid. It will be sold to installers for $3,500 for 10 kWh, and $3,000 for 7 kWh, starting in late Summer. [CNN]

¶ Republic Services, Inc announced today a new landfill gas-to-energy project located at Sunshine Canyon Landfill near Los Angeles. The 20-MW renewable energy project is capable of generating enough electricity to power nearly 25,000 area homes, fueled by methane from decomposition of waste. [Your Renewable News]

¶ The 400-MW Grande Prairie wind farm in Holt County, Nebraska will be powered by 200 V110-2.0 MW machines made by Vestas. Delivery is to start in the second quarter of 2016 and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the same year. The contract includes a five-year service agreement. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ New Jersey legislators are preparing to take another crack at dramatically ramping up how much of the state’s electricity comes from renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. A bill before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee would require 80% of the electricity to come from renewable sources. [NJ Spotlight]

¶ DTE Energy has the green light to build the Fermi 3 nuclear power plant. The NRC approved a license to construct and operate a new nuclear power plant at the same site as Fermi 2. The company says a final decision on whether to build would be based on factors such as customer demands and carbon regulations. [Monroe Evening News]


April 30 Energy News

April 30, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Renewable Energy Boosted By Shift From Green Idealism To ‘Hard Economics'” Investment bank HSBC says renewable energy is becoming mainstream with a shift away from the badly managed schemes of “green idealism” to “hard economics”, where renewable’s costs will win out over fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Last week, representatives from China’s national Energy Research Institute, the State Grid Energy Research Institute, and others released a new study envisioning a nation powered by 57% renewables in 2030, growing to 86% renewables by 2050, all at the same time as China’s economy grows sevenfold. [CleanTechnica]

View from the Great Wall: Smog coming out off Beijing to the mountains. Photo by Daag. Wikimedia Commons.

View from the Great Wall: Smog coming out off Beijing to the mountains. Photo by Daag. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Orix Corp will start construction of a 54.6-MW solar park in Niigata City in June, the Japanese energy company said. The park in Yotsugoya will have over 205,900 PV modules, making it the largest mega-solar power plant in Niigata Prefecture, according to the company. Completion is planned for June 2018. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The UK installed utility-scale solar totalling more than 1.6 GW in the first quarter following the Cameron Government’s decision last year to prematurely end the renewable subsidy scheme, market analysts IHS has found. The country added 110 projects, bringing its cumulative utility-scale solar capacity to 3.8 GW. [The Daily Telegraph]

¶ WWF-Australia has launched a program to engage corporate giants such as Westpac, Nestle Oceania and IKEA in contributing to a zero carbon economy by mid-century, powered by 100% renewable energy. The Australian launch of the “Road to Paris and Science Based Targets” will be in Sydney on Friday. [The Fifth Estate]

¶ A project has been launched in Ghana, to provide affordable, pay-as-you-go solar power to 100,000 off-grid homes in the next two years. The project forms part of the government’s effort to bring reliable and renewable power to, especially, rural areas. It would focus on the cocoa-growing regions. [Ghana Broadcasting Corporation]

¶ Hurt by fallen power prices, Vattenfall will cut 1,000 jobs and shut its two oldest nuclear reactors earlier than planned, the Swedish state-owned utility said on Tuesday. Vattenfall said it would shut the 881-MW Ringhals-1 and 865 MW Ringhals-2 nuclear. Previously the plan was to close them in around 2025.[Business Recorder]

Ringhals nuclear power plant. Photo by  Tubaist on sv.wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons.

Ringhals nuclear power plant. Photo by Tubaist on sv.wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons.

US:

¶ Analysis from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that by making shared solar programs available to households and businesses that currently cannot host on-site PV systems shared solar could represent 32% to 49% of the distributed photovoltaic market in 2020. [CleanTechnica]

¶ California Governor Jerry Brown launched an ambitious new effort to limit climate change Wednesday, calling for the state to cut its planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, the toughest carbon goal adopted by any North American government for that time frame. [USA TODAY]

¶ Another large user of power is going to boycott the direct use of coal at the facilities it controls. But this time, it’s not a government or a do-good nonprofit institution. No, it is the largest manufacturer of vehicles, a profit-seeking behemoth that symbolizes the nation’s industrial strength: General Motors. [Slate Magazine]

¶ In refusing to write her own plan, Oklahoma Governor Fallin becomes the first governor to take Senator McConnell’s “just say no” pledge. Doing so, she has passed up the opportunity to tailor a plan to the state’s needs, and is the first governor to turn over implementation to the federal government. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ The nation’s largest solar energy contractor for residential and commercial customers will be opening shop in New Hampshire. SolarCity has been looking for space in Manchester and is close to leasing a 15,000-square-foot location where it will employ 70 to 100 people in the business of rooftop solar. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ Austin-based Pioneer Green Energy signed a contract with the US General Services Administration to sell 75 MW of solar energy from the Great Bay Solar project under development in Somerset County, MD. The power purchase agreement was awarded as the result of a competitive process in 2014. [PennEnergy]

¶ Vestas has received a firm and unconditional order from Sempra US Gas & Power for 39 V110-2.0 MW turbines for the Black Oak Getty wind farm in Stearns County, Minnesota. The 78-MW wind farm will generate enough renewable energy to power about 30,000 Minnesota homes. [Renewable Energy Magazine]


April 29 Energy News

April 29, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ GE has launched a new wind collector optimization service to help developers better plan the layout of wind farms, providing potential savings of more than 20%. The service, which uses grid intelligence, provides an in-depth look at possible collector cable configurations and the benefits and drawbacks of each. [reNews]

Wind Farm

Wind farm rising above smog.

¶ A tractor able to run on two renewable fuels, hydrogen and ammonia, was demonstrated in Iowa by its developers, who cited sustainability and zero carbon emissions. The tractor has a 150-hp engine and operates at full power for up to 4 hours, or up to 50 acres. [The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines]

World:

¶ The world’s largest internal combustion engine power plant is being inaugurated near Amman, Jordan. The plant is powered by 38 Wärtsilä 50DF multi-fuel engines with a combined capacity of 573 MW. The engines can run on various grades fuel oil or natural gas. It is currently running on heavy oil. [Stockhouse]

¶ The cabinet of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh gave the green light to the world’s biggest solar power project. The project will have a capacity of 750 MW. The government also decided to set up a joint venture company for the project. The World Bank will provide loan for the project, a government spokesman said. [Times of India]

¶ Businesses and residents living in the Outer Hebrides will be able to seek advice on installing wind turbines, solar panels, heat pumps and other clean technologies, when a new renewable energy hub opens this week. The hub is designed to help off-grid communities reduce their energy bills. [Business Green]

¶ Grid-scale battery storage solutions have arrived in Europe, despite a lingering controversy. No longer a distant dream, projects in Germany are already feeding energy into the grid, while in the United Kingdom and Italy, commercial projects are close to coming online. The technology, however, is not fully tested. [Environment & Energy Publishing]

¶ In the UK, as awareness of fracking has risen from 42% of people in July 2012 to 72%, the percentage who support fracking has continued downward, falling from 29% last year to 24% this. In contrast, the percentage saying they oppose or strongly oppose fracking rose year-on-year from 22% to 26%. [Business Green]

Nodding Donkeys

Nodding Donkeys

¶ Japan is expecting renewable energy sources to generate more of its power than nuclear facilities by 2030. A draft report by the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says nearly 24% of the country’s power will be green in 15 years, while nuclear power will account for around 22%. [Power Technology]

US:

¶ A poll conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research and commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice found that 74% of Nevadans would be less likely to re-elect a politician who failed to raise the solar cap in Nevada. This includes 69% of Republican likely voters and 80% of Democratic likely voters. [Your Renewable News]

¶ GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly Plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, ranks No. 5 among the US EPA’s top 30 generators of on-site green power. The plant is the home of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. It is 43% powered by methane captured from decomposing trash in a nearby landfill. [Renewable Energy from Waste]

¶ Hawaii lawmakers compromised for a bill that would set 2045 as the date to reach a goal of using renewable energy sources for 100% of the state’s electric power generation. House and Senate bills had different target dates for 100% renewable power. The state got 18% of its power from renewables in 2013. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

¶ Stanford University announced a massive upgrade to its energy system that makes it a world leader among universities, while saving $420 million on energy costs over the next 35 years. One component is an extremely efficient combined heat and power system. The other is two solar PV projects totalling 73 MW. [SustainableBusiness.com]

¶ Spot on-peak power at Southern California’s SP15 hub dropped 49% from a year ago to average $25.04 per MWh this month through Monday, heading for the lowest average for April in prices going back to 2009. The reason is that solar power is being trapped in the area due to ongoing line work. [Bloomberg]

Solar, wind and other renewable output totaled 111,749 MWh on April 27, 2015, or 18% of the total generation for the day Source: California Independent System Operator

Solar, wind and other renewable output was 111,749 MWh on April 27, 2015, or 18% of the day’s generation. Source: California Independent System Operator

¶ Black & Veatch, the Kansas City area’s largest engineering firm, has installed a microgrid based on renewable and natural-gas-fired power for its world headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. The grid has geothermal and solar PV energy sources, two gas-fired microturbines, and a lithium-ion battery system. [Kansas City Star]

Not Energy, but Of Interest:

¶ The GMO food industry suffered a defeat when a federal court ruled that Vermont’s genetically engineered food labeling law, Act 120, was constitutional. The decision came from Christina Reiss, Chief Judge of the US District Court for the District of Vermont, and was celebrated by consumer advocates. [Green Energy Times]


April 28 Energy News

April 28, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A new record for train speed was recently set in Japan by the company Central Japan Railway… Twice in the same week, actually. Breaking a twelve year old record, the train made it to a speed of 590 km/h (366.6 milers per hour). A couple of days later, the train managed to hit 603 km/h (374.7 miles per hour). [CleanTechnica]

Maglev train in Japan

Maglev train in Japan

¶ Utility distribution microgrids are emerging as a new platform that can accommodate innovative technology while also opening up alternative business models for utilities as the energy industry transforms. In short, microgrids optimize and aggregate diverse resources and allow for two-way exchanges. [Intelligent Utility]

World:

¶ US denial propagandists, funded by conventional energy companies and a foundation controlled by a conservative petrochemical billionaire, will try to persuade the Vatican that global warming does not exist. It is a counter-event for a summit on climate change being held by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Chairman of the Carbon Trust and former chairman of Shell UK James Smith called on oil and gas companies to “change profoundly over the next couple of decades … if costly climate damage is to be avoided.” He said companies based on fossil fuels need to begin “tackling climate change” sooner, rather than later. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to the Japanese industry ministry, nuclear power is the most cost-effective method of generating electricity, even when factoring in increased safety fees, accident compensation and other related expenses following the Fukushima Disaster. They base this on the assumption that plants have become safer. [Asahi Shimbun] (No need to comment.)

¶ Reliance Power Ltd exited a proposed $5.7 billion power and coal mine project in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand after failing to secure land. Reliance Power failed to get land for six years after winning a tariff bid for the 3,960-megawatt project. The company will instead focus on renewable energy, it said. [Bloomberg]

¶ British financial services company HSBC, in a research report, The Rise of Renewables, says renewable energy is becoming mainstream, as the world shifts from “green idealism” to “hard economics.” Now, on the merits of costs, green technology will win out over fossil fuels, whose assets will be stranded. [RenewEconomy]

¶ An Australian energy scientist says if extreme weather events become more frequent, homes and communities may need to investigate back-up power supplies. Last week, at the height a storm, more than 200,000 homes across the Hunter Region lost power. Around 10,000 homes still have no electricity. [ABC Online]

¶ In a first for South Africa, Calgro M3 is soon to launch a subsidiary that will operate completely off the national electricity grid, by generating its own renewable energy to run all aspects of the business, including that subsidiary’s administration office. The issue is a reliable supply of electric power. [www.sagoodnews.co.za]

US:

¶ Capitol Reef National Park, located in south-central Utah, has been called a hidden treasure, featuring cliffs, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold. But according to the National Parks Service, the view of the park could be better, so it is pressing for a crackdown on emissions at two coal-fired power plants. [Utah Public Radio]

The Environmental Protection Agency is aiming for natural visibility conditions by 2064. photo from the National Parks Service

The Environmental Protection Agency is aiming for natural visibility conditions by 2064. Photo from the National Parks Service

¶ An advanced flow battery system has been established at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. The system is from ViZn Energy Systems, based in Kalispell, Montana. The microgrid-scale system uses non-acid Zinc/Iron chemistry. ViZn batteries are made as 80-kW/160-kWh and 1-MW/3-MWh. [CleanTechnica]

¶ AES Energy Storage unveiled a portion of its deployment roadmap, which includes the addition of battery-based storage resources across the US, South America, and Europe. Projects in construction or late stage development are expected to deliver 260 MW of interconnected battery-based energy storage. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ The US DOE announced its 2014 Hydropower Market Report, the first ever report of its type on hydropower in the US. The report says most hydropower projects built over the past decade have added electric generating equipment to dams that were previously not powered. There is 77 GW of available resources. [HydroWorld]

¶ The US has taken another big step in the transition beyond coal to clean energy as the nation’s first offshore wind project broke ground. It is being installed off Block Island, 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. This project will provide 30 MW, enough for the island’s residents, cutting their electric bills 40%. [Huffington Post]


April 27 Energy News

April 27, 2015

World:

¶ Denmark, a country of just 6 million people, built its first offshore wind farm in 1991. Now wind makes up to 40% of the electricity, and Danes are designing and building systems in Europe, Asia and North America. The Danes have dreamed of a fossil fuel-free future since the 1970s, and the dream is coming true. [Deutsche Welle]

Danish wind farm

Danish wind farm

¶ Shell successfully lobbied to undermine European renewable energy targets ahead of a key agreement on emissions cuts reached in October last year. The European commission president had said the deal was very good news, but it seems that a key part of the agreement was proposed by a Shell lobbyist in 2011. [The Guardian]

¶ Siemens has handed over the North Sea grid connection SylWin1 to German-Dutch transmission grid operator TenneT and it is now in commercial operation. The cable is more than 200 kilometres long and supplies up to 864 MW of green electricity, enough to power more than a million German households. [Renewable Energy Magazine]

¶ Solar power may become profitable in Japan as early as this quarter, according to the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation, freeing it from the need for subsidies and making it the last of the G7 economies where solar technology has become economically viable. Japan is one of the four largest solar manufacturers. [The Rakyat Post]

¶ In Malaysia, the proposed Baleh hydroelectric dam, proposed by Sarawak Energy Bhd, will have an installed capacity of 1,285 MW. When commissioned, the 188 meter high concrete face rockfill dam is expected to generate 8,076 GWh of electricity per year on average. The proposed completion date is 2024. [The Star Online]

¶ Ghost hydropower plants that will never be built could cause a collapse in the industry in Scotland. Even though the plants do not exist they are still counted as producing energy by the UK’s Department of Climate Change which then cuts the subsidy for schemes planned for the future, making them unviable. [The National]

¶ Saturn Power Inc, an independent solar power producer, announced that it has completed construction of the 10 MW David Brown Solar Park Project near Ingleside, Ontario. The project went into commercial operation on March 16, and is expected to produce 16.8 GWh annually, enough to power 1800 households. [pv magazine]

¶ A2Sea A/S has been awarded a contract by Dong Energy A/S to install the turbines at the Danish state-owned utility’s 258-MW Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm in the UK, the companies said Friday. The Danish offshore wind installation company will erect 32 MHI Vestas 8-MW turbines at the site. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Kyushu Electric, the Japanese utility that last year temporarily suspended new grid applications for large-scale solar, will install a huge battery project aimed at integrating a higher capacity for renewable power. The battery, to be installed in Fukuoka Prefecture, will have capacities of 50 MW and 300 MWh. [PV-Tech]

Kyushu's Genkai nuclear power plant. Photo by KEI. Wikimedia Commons. 

Kyushu’s Genkai nuclear power plant. Photo by KEI. Wikimedia Commons.

US:

¶ Maryland-based Fitzgerald Auto Malls is the first dealership group to become an EPA Green Power Partner Member of the EPA Green Power Leadership Club. Its power is 100% from renewable energy sources, it has the first LEED Gold certified dealership east of the Mississippi, and it recycles 81% of its solid waste. [Recycling News]

¶ The Vermont town of Norwich is now the first community in the state whose municipal buildings all get their electricity from the sun, sending excess to the grid. A local solar manufacturer, Solaflect, arranged the financing with help of solar tax credits and the guarantee the town would continue to buy the power. [Rutland Herald]

¶ As the Obama administration moves to finalize its climate rule for power plants, the nuclear industry is pushing for major changes. Part of the plan says states can credit 6% of their nuclear output toward emissions reductions. The industry says the 6% figure is arbitrary and a disincentive for nuclear power. [The Hill]


April 26 Energy News

April 26, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Clean Power Plan Won’t Kill The Grid, Even If The Wall Street Journal Says It Will” – Those who take the Wall Street Journal for gospel miss a lot of what’s going on with US energy, says Denise Robbins of Media Matters for America. They probably won’t get it if they use that source and ignore all others. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Clean energy has overtaken fossil fuels in terms of annual electricity generation capacity additions, with more renewable energy capacity now being added globally than coal + natural gas + oil combined. And, perhaps more importantly than that simple proclamation, there’s now no going back. [CleanTechnica]

Click to enlarge

Graphs comparing additions of fossil fuels with those of renewables.

¶ The Dutch city of Amsterdam is planning for the transition from diesel buses to electric ones to be complete by 2025, reportedly. The plan is that the first 40 electric buses will be delivered in roughly 2 years time, with all diesel buses being slowly phased out, until none is left in 2025, at the latest. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, have announced plans to launch the Masdar Solar Hub to expedite the development of solar technologies. The new hub will be focusing on research and demonstration of cutting-edge solar technologies. [ArabianBusiness.com]

¶ The President and CEO of ACWA Power, said the company will invest $12 billion in current and new renewable energy projects in several countries. He added that the Saudi Group is competing for three wind power tenders totaling 850 MW in Morocco’s wind power expansion plan, the largest in the world. [Morocco World News]

US:

¶ Tesla is clearly aiming to sell its new battery systems to a wide range of large commercial markets. This can be seen in the fact that Walmart has already installed Tesla’s batteries at 11 California locations, as part of a pilot program with SolarCity. Elon Musk says Tesla will make an announcement this week. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to an independent environmental monitoring firm, there were 695 “avian detections” and another 8 injured birds found over the first four seasons operation of the Ivanpah solar power tower project from October of 2013 (during the initial pre-production commissioning) and October of 2014. [CleanTechnica]

Ivanpah is partly funded by Google

Ivanpah is partly funded by Google

¶ Texas’ state incentives may soon be cut off if the Texas House of Representatives approves a bill eliminating the incentives that helped get the Texas wind industry going. Many wind industry experts said it isn’t a smart move. They said the future of wind development in Texas may be hindered. [LubbockOnline.com]

¶ A solar garden building boom is sweeping the Denver area, with nine gardens already built and 10 more under development. An 800-kW array next to Green Valley Ranch Middle School in Denver is set to go into operation. In Boulder, a $1.5 million, 500-kW installation being built next one that opened in 2013. [The Denver Post]

¶ A parade of energy executives, analysts, academics and government officials from several countries delivered speeches and participated in panels as part a Houston energy conference. Most worried over low prices and making a profit, and speculated on what it could all mean for economies and consumers. [Valley News]

¶ One topic seemed to dominate the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council’s annual meeting that took place this week: renewable energy. The consensus is, renewable energy maybe good for the environment, but it’s also very good for the economy, and that’s why, business people are so interested. [Detroit Free Press]

¶ Under a new plan put forth by Maine’s Governor LePage, which is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday at 1 pm before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee, voters would no longer have a say on the creation of nuclear power plants with generating capacities of 500 MW or less. [Press Herald]


April 25 Energy News

April 25, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “N.E. Governors Fixated on More Natural Gas” – New England’s governors agreed at a recent energy summit to work collaboratively on energy issues facing the region, principally by supporting the development of more natural-gas pipelines. The purpose of development is to keep the price of gas low. [ecoRI news]

Natural gas pipeline under construction. Photo by Monster4711. Wikimedia Commons

Gas pipeline under construction. Photo by Monster4711. Wikimedia Commons

Science and Technology:

¶ Dutch researchers at Wageningen University patented a process of collecting electricity from plants in 2007. The patents now belong to a Dutch company called Plant-e, which is developing ways to commercialize the invention. They say a square meter of garden can produce about 28 kWh per year. [Huffington Post]

¶ Researchers at the UK’s University of Bath and the US’ Yale University produced a new water-splitting catalyst that has excellent endurance and is highly efficient at performing the crucial oxidation half reaction. Their molecular iridium catalyst adheres to an electrode surface and has minimal degradation. [tce today]

World:

¶ Energy giant NTPC signed a power purchase agreement with distribution companies in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh for 250 MW of solar power. The solar plant being developed under the first phase of the 1,000 MW ultra mega solar power project planned by the public sector major in the state. [The Hans India]

¶ (This blog is not usually concerned about the workings of corporations unless it has something directly bearing on energy, but GDF Suez is important enough that some may be confused if not informed of this change.) French power utility GDF Suez said on Friday it was changing its name to “Engie.” [Wall Street Journal]

¶ Three hundred delegates from 20 countries that produce uranium came together at a meeting in Quebec on Earth Day and called for “a worldwide ban on uranium exploration, mining, milling and processing, as well as the reprocessing of nuclear waste, and the irresponsible management of radioactive waste.” [Truthdig]

¶ Energy storage company Princeton Power Systems made moves to expand its efforts in the Caribbean and developing island nations, leveraging its base of operating projects in Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas and Bermuda, with an eye toward building collaborations in Cuba. A focus of the efforts is on microgrids. [PennEnergy]

¶ In India, with encouraging national and Odisha state policies, Odisha Hydro Power Corporation has proposed experimenting with canal top solar power plants. Chief engineers of irrigation projects have been asked to provide lists of suitable canals on which solar panels could be installed over water surfaces. [The Hindu]

A canal should have at least 10 metre width and minimum length of 750 metre to be selected for solar power projects.

A solar PV installation over an irrigation  canal

¶ The world’s largest coal consumer could be dramatically transformed in its energy profile in the coming decades, a report says. China could get 85% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2050, according to the China 2050 High Renewable Energy Penetration Scenario and Roadmap Study. [ThinkProgress]

¶ Yasuo Yamamoto, an unemployed 40-year-old, faces obstruction charges after turning himself in to local police in Fukui prefecture. Operations at Abe’s Tokyo office were disrupted on April 22 when the drone, which carried a small container marked with a radioactive danger sign, was discovered. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ Tucson Electric Power is seeking bids for the design and construction of a utility-scale energy storage system that would be operational by the end of 2016. The company, which has 414,000 customers, is seeking a project partner to build and own a 10-MW storage facility under a 10-year agreement. [Yahoo Finance UK]

¶ Alliant Energy Corp is proposing construction of a $750 million combined-cycle, natural gas-fueled power plant of about 650-MW near Beloit, Wisconsin. It will be powered, in part, by solar energy. The company expects to begin construction in the summer of 2016 and complete the facility in early 2019. [Milwaukee Business Journal]

¶ In Farmington, Illinois, the Farmington Central Schools are moving closer to the completion of the project with 2,520 300-watt solar panels installed on their roofs. When the project is completed, it will be the largest solar array in a public school in the US, according to Farmington Superintendent Dr John Asplund. [Canton Daily Ledger]

¶ The Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria is installing a California Tribal renewable energy microgrid system this summer in Loleta, California. The Bear River Band’s new microgrid combines wind energy, solar energy, and energy storage. The microgrid will provide 30 kW of electric power. [PennEnergy]


April 24 Energy News

April 24, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Graphene is a quirky material to manufacture in bulk, putting a crimp in the dream of super-long-range but affordable EVs for everybody. However, a research team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is on to a solution that involves 3-D printing and a graphene aerogel, aka “liquid smoke.” [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Plans for a 25-MW floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Portugal have been given the green light by the European Commission. Aid approval was given for Portugal to provide feed in tariff payments to the 25-MW Windfloat project. The EC said subsidies would not distort competition in the single market. [Business Green]

Principle Power WindFloat offshore windfarm

Principle Power WindFloat offshore windfarm

¶ China’s National Energy Administration revealed that the country had installed 5.04 GW of new solar capacity in the first quarter of 2015, well above analysts’ expectations. One analyst takes suggests the possibility of an “upside surprise” to the government’s installation target for 2015 of 17.8 GW. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The enormity of the “carbon risks” faced by fossil fuel companies, and the lack of adequate preparation for them, has again been highlighted this week. Carbon Tracker Initiative and Energy Transition Advisors have published a blueprint for testing companies’ resilience to the changes climate change will bring. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Japan is considering lowering its emissions of greenhouse gasses by at least 25% by 2030, in line with global agreements to tackle climate change reached last year. This is up from an earlier suggestion of 20%, but the amount is still less than the targets of other major developed countries, including the US. [Cihan News Agency]

¶ The share of renewables in Japan’s power mix is expected to rise from 10% in 2014 to 19% in 2025, thanks to the country’s efforts in smart grid development and the reduced project approval time, a new report by GlobalData says. Japan’s Ministry of Energy initiated a $21-million microgrid program. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Wind energy is taking a bigger and bigger share of the Danish economy, as the country exports everything from wind turbines to electricity. Denmark is also a showroom for the market. In the first quarter of this year, the wind produced 44% of the country’s electricity, up from 39% in the same period last year. [The Indypendent]

¶ Germany’s cost of producing solar energy has shrunk to about a third of the price households pay. Most bids to build large ground-mounted solar plants in the first solar auction in Germany came in at €0.09/kWh ($0.097/kWh) to €0.10/kWh. German retail consumers are paying on average €0.298/kWh. [Bloomberg]

¶ Japan’s government has proposed making nuclear energy account for between 20% and 22% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, with renewable energy to account for slightly more. The proposal on nuclear energy is likely to be unpopular among a public that has been consistently opposed to atomic energy. [Reuters]

US:

Solar panels being installed

Solar panels being installed

¶ Solar advocates pressed the Vermont Senate Finance Committee last week to alter the state’s net metering laws in order to allow larger projects to take advantage of better power pricing. Vermont limits the size of net-metered projects to 500 kW to encourage development of small installations. [Utility Dive]

¶ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest Energy Infrastructure update reveals that wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower together provided over 75.43% of the 1,229 MW of new generating capacity placed into service during the first quarter of 2015. The balance, 302 MW, was natural gas. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Mississippi Power is reportedly working with Strata Solar to develop a 50-MW site on 450 acres at the Hattiesburg-Forrest County Industrial Park. The US Navy and Hannah Solar are also working with the company to build a 23-acre, 3 to 4-MW farm at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport. [Fairfield Citizen]

¶ New England’s governors, including Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, agreed to a mix of regional and state actions to cut high energy costs. Five of the region’s six governors said they will work across the region while each state pursues individual projects. The governor of New Hampshire did not attend. [Rutland Herald]


April 23 Energy News

April 23, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “The Value of Building-Scale Microgrids & Small Wind” Our energy landscape is changing, and there is no doubt of that. A lot of unpredictable factors will yet hit the playing field. One likely possibility that a lot of people in the industry are predicting, is that microgrids will play a much larger part than they do now. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ In northeastern Guangdong, about 10,000 residents of Heyuan (population 2.9 million) protested the development of a new coal power plant. Some of the expressions made by the protesters either verbally or on signs were, “Give me back my blue sky. Go away power plant. Stop feeding people with smog”. [CleanTechnica]

Heyuan, Guangdong, China

Heyuan, Guangdong, China

¶ A consensus of 65 scholars from every province found that Canada’s huge renewable potential could enable it to reach 100% low-carbon electricity by 2035. They issued a report on how the country can decarbonize its electric grid to slow climate change. They unanimously endorsed carbon pricing as a key. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kyocera Corporation has completed and connected its two floating PV plants in Hyogo prefecture, Japan. One plant has a 1.7-MW capacity, and the other has 1.2 MW. The 255-watt modules will operate at high efficiency because of the cooling effect of the water, boosting the system’s overall production. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ Spain is reportedly planning to auction 500 MW of wind power and 200 MW of biomass power. Europa Press cited Spain’s energy ministry as saying the auction will be the first move since the country approved energy reform. The new capacity will support the ministry’s plans for electricity and gas sectors. [Energy Business Review]

¶ Japan’s nuclear regulator poured cold water on the schedule for the first restart of a reactor under new safety rules introduced since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a day after a court cleared the way for the resumption of operations. A Nuclear Regulatory Authority Commissioner said it was too optimistic. [Reuters Africa]

US:

¶ SolarCity now has access to a fund that will allow financing more than $1 billion in new commercial-scale solar energy systems (including battery storage systems). The fund is expected to be used for systems at many businesses, schools, and government organizations throughout the country. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon market, which covers nine Northeast US states, raised a cool $1.398 billion dollars in 22 auctions between September 2008 and December 2013. While it made $1.016 billion in green investments, it also generate more than $2.9 billion in lifetime energy savings. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Dynapower Company has expanded the micro-grid system at its company headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont, by adding 375 kW/250 kWh of lithium-titanate batteries by Microvast Power Solutions. The micro-grid system has 100 kW each of PV and of wind power, and 750 kW of other battery storage. [Vermont Biz]

Equipment in Dynapower's micro-grid in South Burlington, Vermont

Equipment in Dynapower’s micro-grid in South Burlington, Vermont

¶ The North American renewables arm of E.ON and GE Energy Financial Services officially opened the 211.2-MW Grandview wind park in Texas. GE’s finance unit invests $1 billion annually in renewables globally. It has committed over $9 billion in more than 14 GW of wind projects worldwide since 2004. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ The Rocky Mountain Institute says the US needs to invest $2 trillion in transmission infrastructure and upgrades by 2030. The cost and its impact can be reduced greatly by turning to largely unused efficiencies, including new smart technology, smaller homes, denser populations and more efficient appliances. [Bloomberg]

¶ North Carolina’s House Public Utilities Committee narrowly defeated an effort to freeze the percentage of retail sales that utilities must create using sources like solar, wind and animal waste and through efficiency efforts at the current 6%. A 2007 law requires 10% of power come from renewables by 2020. [Macon Telegraph]

¶ An expanded tax credit for wind-energy farms won initial approval from Nebraska lawmakers despite arguments that the state shouldn’t invest in the industry. Of all states, Nebraska has one of the greatest potentials to produce windpower, but its policies put it at 26th in installed wind capacity. [Kearney Hub]

¶ California households that use the least electricity would start paying more for it, under a proposal put before state utility regulators intended to bring the prices charged for electricity more in line with its actual costs. California had frozen rates for low-use customers during its 2000-2001 energy crisis. [Bakersfield Now]

¶ SunEdison announced that is has signed an agreement to develop and install a 2.6 MW solar power plant for the town of Winchendon, Massachusetts, on a previously unusable 12 acre town-owned landfill site. The landfill site will be converted under Massachusetts’ Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program. [IT Business Net]


April 22 Energy News

April 22, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Audi has been a pioneer of diesel vehicle technology for decades. Now they have announced having successfully produced their first batch of an eco-friendly diesel fuel. It is a synthetic version, made from carbon dioxide and water, using Audi’s latest technology in sustainability. Ambient CO2 can be collected for use. [eGMCarTech]

World:

¶ Korea has created a PV-covered bike lane connecting Sejong and Daejeon. It offers a clean transit option that utilizes unused median space in an existing highway, while providing renewable solar electricity. The PV-covered bike lanes runs approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) between the two cities. [CleanTechnica]

Korean solar bike lane.

Korean solar PV-covered bike lane.

¶ Big oil is losing its grip on the auto industry; and, perhaps more interestingly, the recent drop in oil prices is at least partly the result of demand destruction rather than simply being a supply issue, according to analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The future of transportation is set to look very different. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A drone carrying small traces of a radioactive material was found on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s office Wednesday morning, police said. The drone was equipped with a small camera and a plastic bottle containing small traces of a radioactive material, according to Japanese media, citing police. [CNN]

¶ While North Korea is notorious for a lack of electricity, many North Koreans are taking power into their hands by installing cheap household solar panels to charge mobile phones and light up their homes. Apartment blocks are increasingly adorned with the panels, hung from balconies and windows. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

Solar panels face the sun from balconies of an apartment building in Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang, Aug. 27, 2014. REUTERS/Staff

Solar panels face the sun from balconies of an apartment building in Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang, Aug. 27, 2014. REUTERS/Staff

¶ Germany got 170 bids surpassing in volume the targeted 150 MW of solar power generation capacity in the country’s pilot green energy auction, according to the Federal Network Agency. Projects are ground-mounted and must exceed 10 MW. Under the tender’s rules, bids cannot exceed €0.1129 ($0.12) per kWh. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ GE is collaborating with Toyo Engineering Corporation and Kuni Umi Asset Management Co on the 231-MW Setouchi Kirei Solar Power Plant in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. GE’s Power Conversion business will provide 94 units of 1-MW Brilliance solar inverters and its SunIQ platform for the facility. [PV-Tech]

¶ A court in Japan rejected a bid to block the restart of two nuclear reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co, easing the way for the resumption of nuclear power in Japan for the first time in more than a year and a half. The ruling affects reactors at Kyushu’s Sendai nuclear-power station in Satsumasendai. [Bloomberg]

US:

¶ An Energy Department report says severe weather is the leading cause of power disruptions, costing the nation’s economy $18 billion to $33 billion a year, and climate change will only make it worse. The report recommends investments in the electric grid to protect it from the severe storms and other threats. [Tribune-Review]

¶ Iowa, already a leading producer of corn ethanol and biodiesel, may be about to plunge into the production of renewable fuels from animal manure, municipal waste and other organic byproducts of farming and manufacturing, because of a change in the Renewable Fuels Standard enhancing the value of biogas. [Midwest Energy News]

Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

¶ The USDA Secretary Tuesday announced funding for six rural electric infrastructure projects, including three in North Carolina, that will use solar energy to generate electricity for rural communities. The investments come to $72 million. Projects include biomass and wind as well as solar. [Hoosier Ag Today]

¶ The North Carolina General Assembly sent a bill that would create a “soft landing” for ending the state’s 35% tax credit for renewable-energy projects to Governor Pat McCrory. The bill comes as proposals to extend the credits for five years seem to be garnering strength for passage in both chambers. [Charlotte Business Journal]

¶ Three organizations, Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Co, the US DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the industry-backed National Fuel Cell Research Center, are combining forces to produce a series of projects demonstrating converting renewable power into methane fuel. [Natural Gas Intelligence]

¶ Rifle, Colorado, a city with a population of 9172, has 3 MW of municipally owned solar capacity. That is 325 watts per person. By comparison, Honolulu leads major American cities in solar power generated per person, at 265 watts. Rifle’s city government produces as much power as it uses. [Glenwood Springs Post Independent]

¶ EDF Renewable Energy and its partner BlackRock Infrastructure have inaugurated the 200-MW Hereford wind farm in Texas. The project is spread across 15,000 acres of land in Deaf Smith County. It has 54 of General Electric’s 1.85-MW turbines and 50 of V100 2.0-MW turbines from Vestas. [Power Technology]

 


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