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

April 27, 2015

11,735 links to articles in 1060 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 April 24. Latest information is that out of 99 US reactors listed by the NRC, 8 were at reduced output and 16 not operating.

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

§ Video: Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell – April 23

geoharvey is one of George Harvey’s Blogs.

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]

 


April 21 Energy News

April 21, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ The price of crystalline silicon modules has fallen from $4 per watt in 2007 to $0.50 per watt in 2014 following new, low-cost production processes. 1366 Technologies, a company based in Massachusetts, claims that its new method of silicon wafer production can reduce costs further, by as much as 20%. [The Week UK]

Silicon ingot at Intel Museum. Photo by Oleg Alexandrov. Wikimedia Commons.

Silicon ingot at Intel Museum. Photo by Oleg Alexandrov. Wikimedia Commons.

World:

¶ The first solar-powered charging station in Greece ensures 100% green energy for electric cars. It was recently launched by the Piraeus University of Applied Sciences. The charging station is a first step for electric vehicle owners to freedom from reliance on power from the main electricity grid. [Kathimerini]

¶ Pay-as-you go solar systems will be installed in 100,000 off-grid households in rural Ghana under a program unveiled today. The initiative, led by UK company Azuri Technologies with local firm Oasis African Resources and the Ghanaian government, will be launched at an event in the Ghanaian capital today. [PV-Tech]

¶ South African power utility Eskom says its first large-scale renewable energy plant, the 100-MW Sere Wind Farm with 46 turbines, is fully operational and putting electricity into the grid. It will produce enough electricity to power 124,000 homes, but far more is needed provide sufficient power for the country. [Reuters Africa]

¶ Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa will supply turbines, build, and operate the 220-MW Gulf of El Zayt wind farm in Egypt for three years under a contract. The wind park is planned to be commissioned in the second half of 2017. Its financing is from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Hilton Worldwide announced a new program to reduce the environmental impacts of events held at over 90 hotels in Asia Pacific. They will calculate the carbon emissions of events at no cost to the customers, then buy the equivalent carbon credits to finance environmentally-friendly projects across Asia Pacific. [TravelDailyNews Asia-Pacific]

¶ After overhauling Indonesia’s fuel subsidy program, the country’s government is now striving to explore new and renewable energy resources. Indonesia is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels, particularly oil and coal, despite having abundant resources for renewable energy, primarily geothermal and solar. [Jakarta Post]

¶ A WWF report produced in collaboration with the Australian National University argues Australia could source 100% of its power from renewables by 2050, without incurring massive adjustment costs or depressing economic growth, if there were clear and stable national policy settings for renewables. [The Guardian]

¶ Further doubt has been cast over the future of three nuclear reactors under development in the UK, after the discovery of a potentially catastrophic mistake in the construction of an identical power plant in France. The anomalies have prompted a second investigation into the quality of steel in the pressure vessel. [CleanTechnica]

US:

¶ Carbon emissions from the US energy sector increased in 2014 for the second year in a row, despite a big boost in renewable energy capacity, the Energy Information Administration reported on Monday. Energy-related carbon emissions increased 0.7% in 2014, while the 2014 GDP grew at a rate of 2.4%. [ThinkProgress]

A flock of Geese fly past the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the sun sets near Emmett, Kansas.

A flock of Geese fly past the smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the sun sets near Emmett, Kansas.

¶ Three utilities in New Jersey are seeking to buy Solar Renewable Energy Certificates from about 80 MW of new projects and are ready to sign 10-year purchase agreements. A SREC is awarded for 1 MWh of generation from a solar park certified by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Office of Clean Energy. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Apple’s new Environmental Responsibility Report doesn’t mince words. It states clearly the debate about whether climate change exists is over: “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.” Apple is a big advocate of renewable energy and is willing to put its money where its mouth is. [The Green Optimistic]

¶ New England governors will meet in Hartford Thursday with an agenda of developing a regional strategy to increase natural gas supplies, reduce electricity costs and solve other energy challenges. Before the meeting, there will be a Northeast Regional Energy Forum from 8:15 to 10 AM, open to the public. [theday.com]

¶ In the Pacific Northwest, the US Forest Service is set to open more than 80,000 acres for potential geothermal power development. Companies would then be able to apply for permits to build power plants that would harness the heat beneath the surface to spin turbines and generate electricity. [KASU]

¶ The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said windpower set a wind penetration record of nearly 41% when wind output was 10,308 MW while total load was just 25,400 MW in the early morning of 29 March. Such high wind penetrations sometimes press real-time power prices to zero or below. [Argus Media]


April 20 Energy News

April 20, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Larger off-shore oil and gas platforms use large amounts of energy. Those in the North Sea can typically consume power at a rate of 50 to 100 MW across a large range of processes, including oil separation, gas compression, wastewater treatment, gas lifting, and the ultimate export of oil and gas to shore. [Financial Times]

North Sea offshore rig. Photo by Hannes Grobe. Wikimedia Commons.

North Sea offshore rig. Photo by Hannes Grobe. Wikimedia Commons.

World:

¶ Toshiba Corp on Monday said it has started operations at a demonstration facility using renewable energy and hydrogen in the city of Kawasaki, Japan. Solar power is used in the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen, which is then stored and used in fuel cells to generate electricity and hot water. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ BWE Partnership is aiming to start construction of Scotland’s first large-scale solar PV project by year-end. The 9.5-MW New Mains of Guynd plant will be sited on 50 acres of farmland in Carmyllie, Arbroath. BWE Partnership has a grid connection agreement with Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution. [reNews]

¶ The UK’s Labour party is launching its Green Plan today, which sets out details on the environment and climate change policies it will bring in if it takes power in the May polls. It intends to set a legally binding target to decarbonize the UK’s electricity supply by 2030 and pledged a million new green jobs by 2025. [reNews]

Palace of Westminster. Photo by Tony Moorey. Wikimedia Commons.

Palace of Westminster. Photo by Tony Moorey. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ When AGL Energy announced it was moving away from coal over the next three decades, it suggested the government help in the process. The Australian Industry Minister ruled out federal government funding closure of dirty coal-fired power stations, saying it would cost $3 billion for one station alone. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ SunPower announced it has begun construction on the 86-MW Prieska solar power plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Expected to be fully operational in 2016, the project will be the third solar power plant constructed by SunPower under the South Africa government’s renewable energy program. [Your Renewable News]

¶ TEPCO deployed a second remote-controlled robot last week after its first broke down. The robot detected lower radiation levels and temperature than expected, an indicator that cooling systems were working effectively, according to a TEPCO statement. Decommissioning is expected to cost $50 billion. [CNN International]

US:

Photo by Rob Hooft. Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Rob Hooft. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The Detroit Zoo is headed for greener pastures with its plan for the first biodigester at a US zoo. The $1.1 million project will convert 400-500 tons of manure and other organic waste annually. The biodigester will save the zoo $70,000-$80,000 in energy costs and $30,000-$40,000 in waste disposal fees. [Crain’s Detroit Business]

¶ Georgia Power said on Friday it has commenced building the first of three 30-MW solar parks at US Army bases in its home state. It has started work on a solar PV facility at Fort Benning. The other two projects are to be located at Fort Gordon and Fort Stewart. All are scheduled for completion by the end of 2016. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ SunEdison has signed an agreement with Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota in the USA to offset all college’s electricity use with solar energy. Not only will the college add to its already long history of environmental and energy efficiency efforts through the arrangement, the power bill savings will be huge. [Energy Matters]


April 19 Energy News

April 19, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “ExxonMobil’s Dangerous Business Strategy” – Total, ENI, Statoil, and Shell are advocating for a carbon price (such as a tax or permit system) to hasten the transition to low-carbon energy and are beginning to prepare internally for it. However, ExxonMobil’s business model continues to deny reality. [Mareeg Media]

Science and Technology:

Lithium sulfur battery

Lithium sulfur battery (click image to enlarge)

¶ New cathode materials for lithium-sulfur batteries constructed out of vertically aligned sulfur-graphene nanowalls on electrically conductive substrates have been developed by researchers in China. They allow for the fast diffusion of lithium ions and electrons, delivering high-capacity and rate performance. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ Many large companies in the UK could save as much as £2.6 billion (~$3.9 billion) via reduced fuel costs by switching the country’s 1.8 million small or medium vans to be electric-powered instead of conventional diesel- or gas-powered, according to recent research from the “Go Ultra Low” campaign. [CleanTechnica]

¶ After the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011, the head of a family Sake brewery founded in 1790 thought Fukushima’s recovery would be long and his business was doomed. Then he decided one way the prefecture could be revived was through renewable energy sources. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is about to begin in earnest with a visit by China’s premier to Pakistan. During the next 7 years energy projects worth $35-37 billion are scheduled to be completed, many of them based on renewable sources such as solar power and wind, to end Pakistan’s crippling energy crisis. [The Nation]

¶ South Korea will expand economic cooperation with Colombia in the clean and renewable energy sector by launching pilot projects for electric vehicles and energy self-sufficient villages in the South American country, under a memorandum of understanding signed in the Columbian capital, Bogotá, on Friday. [The Korea Herald]

Photo: Hazelwood Power Station has an estimated social cost of more than $900 million a year. Photo: Justin McManus ¶ The Hazelwood brown coal power plant is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the Australian state of Victoria. Two Harvard fellows have attempted to find the cost of unseen impacts of the plant's emissions, based on work by the US National Academy of Science. They estimate it at about $900 million a year. [The Age]

Photo: Hazelwood Power Station has an estimated social cost of more than $900 million a year. Photo: Justin McManus

¶ The Hazelwood brown coal power plant is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the Australian state of Victoria. Two Harvard fellows have attempted to find the cost of unseen impacts of the plant’s emissions, based on work by the US National Academy of Science. They estimate it at about $900 million a year. [The Age]

¶ The decommissioning crew at the defunct Fukushima Daiichi power plant is losing 174 members who have reached the legal limit for radiation exposure. The 174 had topped the limit of 100 millisieverts in five years spelled out under the Industrial Safety and Health Act. The plant has 14,000 registered workers. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ Poseidon Water will open a desalination plant costing $1 billion in Carlsbad, California, this November. The plant will require 35 MW of electricity, of which a tiny fraction will come from solar panels on the roof. The rest will come from the grid, and 70% of the power in San Diego County comes from nonrenewable sources. [OCRegister]

¶ In 2013, computer simulations by the Hawaii Electric Company showed the grid could not handle more distributed solar power, and they put a moratorium on new rooftop solar connections. Then Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, got HECO to run actual tests, and based on the results, the moratorium was ended. [Reading Eagle]


April 18 Energy News

April 18, 2015

World:

Wind Lift I, a special crane ship for installing offshore wind turbines. Photo by kaʁstn, Wikimedia Commons.

Wind Lift I, a special crane ship for installing offshore wind turbines. Photo by kaʁstn, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The European Commission announced approval for Germany to invest nearly €30 billion in the development of 20 offshore wind farms. Germany notified the EU of its plans to invest in 17 wind farms set to be located in the North Sea, and another 3 in the Baltic Sea, amounting in total to 7 GW of new capacity. [CleanTechnica]

¶ As many as eight financial institutions in India are to raise funds for expansion of renewable energy capacity through green bonds. India is looking to increase its renewable energy capacity from 35 GW at present to 175 GW by 2022. The country intends to increase its solar energy capacity alone by another 97 GW. [Greentech Lead]

¶ In a report from Climate Policy Initiative and the Indian School of Business, CPI found that, in absence of any subsidies, wind power is already cheaper than the total cost of power from a new built imported coal plant, at 9¢/kWh for electricity from wind power and 11¢/kWh for electricity from imported coal. [Business Standard]

¶ New Brunswick Power says part of its goal to generate 40% of its in-province sales from renewable sources by 2020 will be locally owned, small-scale green energy. The plan involves co-operatives and First Nations communities having wind farms, solar panels, small hydro projects, biomass or biogas facilities. [CBC.ca]

¶ Innergex Renewable Energy and the Saik’uz First Nation announced signing an agreement to develop a prospective wind energy project at Nulki Hills near Vanderhoof, British Columbia. A 50-50 partnership will develop the proposed Nulki Hills wind project to produce up to 210 MW of clean renewable power. [Stockhouse]

¶ OpenHydro Technology Canada is receiving $6.35 million from the Canadian federal government for the Bay of Fundy tidal stream project. The project, which is situated in the Bay of Fundy, has an array of turbines that will simulate the cost and performance of a commercial tidal farm in harsh conditions. [Daily Business Buzz – Nova Scotia]

¶ The Australian government found $4 million for the climate contrarian Bjørn Lomborg to establish his “consensus centre” at an Australian university, even as it struggled to impose deep spending cuts on the higher education sector. The center will be at the University of Western Australia’s business school. [The Guardian]

¶ Australian utility company AGL called on regional and local government to “set both binding and aspirational medium and long-term emission reduction targets”, while outlining its own commitments to carbon reduction. AGL says it has “a key role to play in gradually reducing greenhouse gas emissions …” [PV-Tech]

¶ ET Solar has executed an agreement to build a 70-MWp solar power project in the Philippines, along with local partner Gate Solar Philippines Corp, a renewable energy developer. Construction is expected to begin in the last quarter of this year and the commercial operation is expected to be achieved in March 2016. [PennEnergy]

Celtic Explorer

Research vessel Celtic Explorer

¶ Work has been completed on a 4-km subsea cable connecting the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site to the shore in the west of Ireland. Research vessel Celtic Explorer handled the work. The line will supply power to the test site and facilitate data transfer for researchers who work on tidal and wave test devices. [reNews]

US:

¶ Solar energy is booming in the United States and the industry wants everyone to know it. But winning an extension of a key solar tax break won’t be easy. The industry’s lobbying arm, the Solar Energy Industries Association, is working overtime to keep the investment tax credit on the books past 2016. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

¶ Nebraska Public Power District, the state’s largest utility, announced plans to replace a coal-fired power plant unit with one that runs on hydrogen, cutting its carbon emissions by over 1 million tons per year, even as the state battles proposed new federal rules on coal plants. It will generate 125 MW with the unit. [Reuters Africa]

¶ Electricity producers in several states are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support to keep costly nuclear power plants in business—a move that is likely to boost customers’ power bills. The nuclear reactors in question include some located in New York, Ohio, and Illinois. [Wall Street Journal]

¶ US wind power saved 68 billion gallons of water in the US in 2014, according to a report by the AWEA. This is an increasingly valuable benefit in droughts. In California, wind energy saved 2.5 billion gallons of freshwater in 2014, while Texas led the nation with savings of 13 billion gallons of water. [Renewable Energy Magazine]


April 17 Energy News

April 17, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Nuclear power needs government subsidies, but struggles to make the case for them” The big problem with nuclear power is the price tag. When comparing the full costs of generating electricity from new plants spinning up in 2019, nuclear power is expensive at $96.10 per megawatt-hour, and alternatives are cheaper. [Houston Chronicle]

¶ “How other cities can match Georgetown’s low-cost switch to 100% wind & sun” – The Institute for Local Self-Reliance points out that any municipality with two key advantages can have 100% renewable energy at a surprisingly low cost. Georgetown, Texas, went to 100% renewable resources to save money. [RenewEconomy]

Science and Technology:

Tower at Ivanpah. Photo by Craig Dietrich. Wikimedia Commons.

Tower at Ivanpah. Photo by Craig Dietrich. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ As it turns out, the solution to a serious problem discovered last year at Ivanpah, the first solar power tower in the US, actually has turned out to be “one weird trick.” A mishap in January produced the Eureka moment for safe solar power tower development. Now there are no more dead birds at all. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new lithium-sulfur battery that demonstrates cycle performance that’s comparable to that offered by currently available commercial lithium-ion batteries and possesses roughly twice the energy density has been developed by an international team of researchers from South Korea and Italy. [CleanTechnica]

World:

Runavík, Faroe Islands. Photo by Erik Christensen. Wikimedia Commons.

Runavík, Faroe Islands. Photo by Erik Christensen. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The remote Faroe Islands in northern Europe are to benefit from a major energy storage system. The power generator and distributor for the Faroes commissioned the project, which will see 2.3 MW of lithium-ion batteries used to maximise the potential of a new 12-MW wind farm installation. [PV-Tech Storage]

¶ One of Australia’s largest power generators, AGL Energy, has adopted a new policy. AGL will not finance or build new coal-fired power stations, and it will not extend the operating life of any existing coal-fired power stations beyond 2050. The announcement came at the opening of AGL’s 102-MW Nyngan Solar Plant. [The Australian Financial Review]

¶ The Energy Minister of South Africa will expand the country’s renewable energy sector by adding another 6,300 MW of wind and solar power to the government program that buys green power from the private sector. This is in addition to the 5,243 MW of renewables that have already been bought. [Independent Online]

¶ Solar developer SunPower Corporation confirmed yesterday it is partnering with Apple on two Chinese solar farms boasting 40 MW of new capacity, which will be built in ABA Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectures in Sichuan Province. The projects will be owned by a joint venture between the developers. [Business Green]

¶ BP shareholders voted overwhelmingly to publish regular updates on how its strategies were affecting climate change, making it one of the first global oil companies to disclose such details. The plan was proposed by a group of investors the annual general meeting and got support of 98% of investors. [News24]

¶ The operator of a Japanese nuclear plant whose restart was blocked this week by a court injunction said Friday it would appeal the ruling. Kansai Electric Power has submitted “a motion of complaint to Fukui district court” over Tuesday’s injunction banning the re-firing of reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant. [NDTV]

US:

Solar array in Florida

Solar array in Florida

¶ The Florida Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a plan that would lead to Gulf Power Company buying electricity from major new solar facilities on Northwest Florida military bases. Solar farms on one Air Force base and two Navy bases would supply a total of 120 MW of power to the grid. [NorthEscambia.com]

¶ In a poll of US parents, 81% said they want to live in a solar-powered home. The majority (67%) also wants solar to be the world’s primary energy source when their children grow up. And 95% believe it’s their responsibility to teach their children about alternative energy for a better environment for the future. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Siemens has selected US-based Molycorp to supply rare earth materials for its direct drive wind turbine generators over the next 10 years. Siemens said key factors in choosing Molycorp included global diversification, reliability, and “environmental and process innovations Molycorp has built into its Mountain Pass facility”. [reNews]


April 16 Energy News

April 16, 2015

World:

The Burgar Hill wind farm has been in operation for 13 years and faces the windiest conditions in the UK

The Burgar Hill wind farm has been in operation for 13 years and faces the windiest conditions in the UK

¶ A wind turbine in Orkney has become the first in the UK to generate more than 100,000,000 kWh of electricity. It sits on the island’s exposed Burgar Hill, the windiest location for a wind farm in Europe. It was erected as a prototype in 2002, and produces enough power, on average, to supply 1,400 homes. [Scotsman]

¶ A coalition of 900 Dutch citizens has taken the Netherlands’ government to court for its inaction on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and addressing climate change. This represents (arguably) the first time a national government has been taken to court over existing human rights with regard to climate change. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In its proposal to the United Nations climate conference in Paris this year, Brazil will propose ambitious new targets to reduce destruction of the Amazon rainforest, boost reforestation and increase solar, hydro and wind energy. To do so, it will need foreign capital and technology, the Environment minister said. [Bloomberg]

¶ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on business leaders to expand investment in low-carbon growth and opportunities to advance sustainable energy for all and tackle climate change, in a statement to The Future of Energy Summit 2015, organized by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [Big News Network.com]

¶ Three wind farms were announced by BC Hydro for the Okanagan region of British Columbia. They will add 45 MW of capacity to the BC Hydro system, enough to power about 14,000 homes. One farm will be near the northeastern BC community of Taylor, one near West Kelowna, and one at Summerland. [The Province]

¶ The Rockefeller Foundation has made a commitment to invest $75 million in India to power 1,000 villages in the country. The project will be focusing on providing electricity through the ‘smart power’ grid to villages located across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, according to the foundation’s president. [Moneycontrol.com]

US:

Wind farm. Author: Samir Luther. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Wind farm. Author: Samir Luther. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

 

¶ The US wind industry generated $12 billion in private investment in 2014 and added 23,000 jobs, the American Wind Energy Association says in a new report. There are nearly 20,000 workers in wind manufacturing and 53,000 jobs in project development, construction, operations, and other industry areas. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ California might just have broken another solar record, with 6,000 MW of solar power flowing into the state’s grid over about four hours on Wednesday. That’s according to a graph generated by computers at the California Independent System Operator, which manages most of the state’s power grid. [KCET]

¶ America’s power generation fleet has changed so much since the 1950s, and especially over the last decade, that the amount of carbon we emit per MWh of electricity produced has dropped to its lowest point in recorded history. In fact, 2015 could be the cleanest ever for our power industry. [Environmental Defense Fund]

¶ The DOE will provide $7 million in funding for the research and development of innovative technologies for low-impact hydropower systems. The funding will help advance hydropower drivetrains and structural foundations that will minimize environmental impacts and reduce the lifetime costs of hydropower. [PennEnergy]

¶ Greenpeace USA just released “Carbon Capture Scam (CCS): How a False Climate Solution Bolsters Big Oil,” a report explaining why support for carbon capture and sequestration must stop. The CO2 from burning coal ultimately still gets into the atmosphere after an expensive, long, inefficient detour. [Huffington Post]

¶ Arkansas County’s Grand Prairie will soon become home to an 81-MW PV facility, according to Entergy Arkansas. It will be the largest solar power plant in the state. The project will cover nearly 500 acres and will be capable of generating enough clean energy to power about 13,000 homes. [PennEnergy]

¶ The Dow Chemical Company announced new sustainability goals, to be accomplished by 2025, which include creating products that offset three times more carbon dioxide than they emit throughout their life cycle and delivering $1 billion in cost savings or new cash flow by valuing nature in business decisions. [Environmental Leader]

¶ The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected a rate schedule proposed for the Ginna nuclear power plant, which supporters say is needed for reliability in western New York. The FERC ordered hearing and settlement proceedings. New York’s Public Service Commission is also reviewing the matter. [RTO Insider]

¶ Three bills introduced in the US Senate are “aimed at improving the safety and security of decommissioning reactors and the storage of spent nuclear fuel.” The bills’ sponsors include Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, and IBernie Sanders of Vermont. [Platts]


April 15 Energy News

April 15, 2015

World:

¶ Analysis presented at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit says the world is now adding capacity for renewable power faster than for coal, natural gas, and oil combined. This has been going on since 2013, when 143 GW of renewable capacity were added, compared with 141 GW for fossil fuels. [Bloomberg]
… Renewables, mainly including hydropower, solar and wind, reached 28% of the total electric power supply in Germany in 2014, 19% in the UK, 22% in China, 76% in Brazil and 13% in the US, as investments in renewables increased more than 15% globally last year, BNEF Chairman Michael Liebreich said Tuesday. [Climate Central]

French nuclear power plant.

French nuclear power plant.

¶ A recently released report says France could be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2050 (note that this is for electricity, not all energy). If the report is accurate, it is a huge wakeup call about the potential of renewable energy there. France currently gets most of its electricity from nuclear power. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Acciona Windpower won a deal to supply turbines at a 129-MW wind project in Mexico. The contract with an unnamed client covers 43 of the Spanish manufacturer’s AW125/3000 machines. The model is optimised for medium-speed wind sites and the company said the turbines will be mounted on steel towers. [reNews]

¶ Samoa’s Electric Power Company is on track to meet the government’s aim of being 100% reliant on renewable energy by 2017. The company signed agreements for a second wind farm of 25 MW and a number of small hydro-electric dams. Peak energy demand in Samoa is about 20 MW. [Radio New Zealand]

¶ China’s strategic shift toward alternative fuels in order to cut its reliance on foreign oil is creating huge opportunities, notably in natural gas vehicles and in the conversion of coal to ethanol, according to Lux Research. China intends to reduce foreign oil imports from the current 50% of domestic demand. [Power Engineering International]

¶ The power and water utility serving the iconic city of Dubai will invest $3 billion to boost the generation capacity of the country’s largest solar power plant from 1 GW to 3 GW. The initial installed capacity target for the solar park was 1 GW by 2019. The new plan is for an installed capacity to 3 GW by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

Cross section of a submarine cable. Photo by Z22. Wikimedia Commons.

Cross section of a submarine cable. Photo by Z22. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Italy has linked to Malta via a new electricity interconnector inaugurated last week. The new 120 kilometer-long subsea line has a cable rated at 250 MVA, and onshore cables and terminals both at Pembroke in Malta and at Marina di Ragusa in Sicily, and can transmit up to 200 MW in either direction. [pv magazine]

¶ Plans to build Poland’s first nuclear power plant will be delayed by at least another two years, after the decision late last year by state-run utility PGE to take on site research itself and cancel a consultancy contract. The project, expected to cost between $10 billion and $15 billion, has been delayed before. [Daily Times]

US:

¶ The Gallup pollsters have reported two surveys on energy and the environment in the past week. What they have to say about American attitudes may surprise some people. Americans believe the government is not doing enough to protect the environment, and is overly emphasizes energy production. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The US witnessed an 82% surge in wind energy project financing following the release of guidance last year that clarified the qualifying criteria for the wind energy Production Tax Credit, according to a new report.Wind energy project finance shot up to $7.1 billion, an 82% increase on the $3.9 billion the first half. [The Engineer]

¶ Legislation strengthening Illinois’s renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards would drive billions in new clean energy investments and save consumers $12 billion by 2030, reducing the typical household electricity bill by 23%, or $22 per month, in 2030, according to new analysis. [Union of Concerned Scientists]

¶ The Texas Senate approved legislation to close the book on two programs that fueled the state’s surge in wind energy production. Environmentalists and renewable energy industry groups were angered, but Texas has surpassed its renewable energy goal and nearly completed upgrades of power lines. [Fort Worth Star Telegram]


April 14 Energy News

April 14, 2015

World:

¶ Wind is now the cheapest way to bring new electricity generation to the grid in many countries, including the US. Solar PV costs are rapidly dropping and solar is expected to join wind over the next few years. Low-cost utility-scale solar already beats out all other sources of electricity in some bidding processes. [CleanTechnica]

Indiana wind farm. Photo by Patrick Finnegan from Lafayette, IN, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

Indiana wind farm. Photo by Patrick Finnegan from Lafayette, IN, USA. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ In 2014, the World Health Organization measured air quality levels in 1,600 cities around the world, and the Indian capital city of New Delhi was found to have the highest concentration of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers. It was ten times as bad as New York’s level and three times Beijing’s. [CNN]

¶ Martifer, a Portugal-based PV producer and developer has revealed that it successfully connected five solar farms ahead of the UK’s March 31 renewable obligation deadline. The five solar farms represent 57.8 MW of new solar capacity connected to the grid and range in size from 7.7 MW to 18.7 MW. [Solar Power Portal]

¶ Italy’s Enel Green Power has won power supply contracts with South African utility Eskom for 425 MW of wind projects. The projects will be constructed in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces. The 142-MW Oyster Bay and 141-MW Nxuba projects will be finished in 2017 and 142-MW Karusa in 2018. [reNews]

¶ Wind power output in Estonia on Sunday reached 3,797 MWh. According to recently released data by the EU’s statistics office, Estonia is one of three member states that have surpassed their renewable energy target for 2020. The country reached a 25.6% renewables share in 2013; the goal for 2020 is 25%. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Construction has begun for the Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Station in the North East of Iceland. Initially, the station will be built to supply 45 MW of electrical power. Further expansion of the station is under consideration, and the geothermal station is licensed for eventual production of 100 MW. [Power Online]

¶ Australia’s large-scale renewable energy industry has entered an investment freeze, with just one project securing finance in the past six months amid political uncertainty, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The lone venture in the first three months of 2015 was worth just $6.6 million. [Sydney Morning Herald]

¶ The long-term costs of renewables have declined so rapidly that they rival oil-fueled generation even after the cost of crude fell more than 50%, according to the CEO of Masdar, which develops clean energy plants in the United Arab Emirates. Assessments by Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are in agreement. [Bloomberg]

¶ A serious flaw was found in the steel reactor vessel of a nuclear plant under construction in France, raising questions about its design. The reactor vessel has too much carbon in some steel, weakening it. It weighs 410 tonnes and cannot be removed, and it is hard to see how it could be repaired or modified. [The Ecologist]

The Flamanville nuclear plant in Normandy, France, was already years late and billions of budget - before news emerged that its steel reactor vessel contains serious metallurgical faults. Photo by schoella. Wikimedia Commons

The Flamanville nuclear plant in Normandy was already years late and billions of budget – before news emerged that its steel reactor vessel contains serious metallurgical faults. Photo by schoella. Wikimedia Commons

¶ A court in Japan has dealt a blow to plans to relaunch nuclear power generation four years after the Fukushima meltdowns by halting the restart of two reactors over safety concerns. Area residents had argued that nuclear officials had underestimated the plant’s vulnerability to powerful earthquakes. [The Guardian]
… Japan’s government spokesman said on Tuesday it would continue to restart nuclear reactors that meet an independent regulator’s standards after a court issued an injunction to prevent the restart of two reactors in western Japan. He said there was “no change” to its position to restart idled plants. [The Straits Times]

US:

¶ While many hail the California Solar Incentive as an overwhelming success, a new study finds that using the same amount of money in a carefully optimized program to provide systems to low-income households at little or no cost would have done more to stimulate the adoption of rooftop solar systems. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Al Gore is blasting Big Power for “using the atmosphere as their sewage infrastructure” and trying to shut down competition. The industry is waging a “war on solar,” he told investors Monday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York City. Some in the Tea Party agree with him. [Bloomberg]

¶ A few years back, large-scale wind projects dominated the renewable energy discussion in Vermont, producing vocal opposition. The focus has turned to solar, as all of Vermont’s new electrical capacity last year came from solar energy. Nevertheless, there are those who expect construction of more wind farms. [PennEnergy]

¶ Maryland lawmakers took a key step to increase statewide access to clean energy by passing two bills, HB 1087 and SB 398, that allow for the creation of community solar projects. If signed by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland will join 10 other states that allow some form of community solar. [eNews Park Forest]


April 13 Energy News

April 13, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ National Public Health Week in the United States runs from April 6-12. To kick off the week, an open letter was delivered to President Obama signed by 1,000 doctors, nurses, researchers and other health professionals. It pointed out the many, catastrophic, public health risks associated with climate change. [National Monitor]

Rooftop solar panels and wind farm. Photo by GLSystem, Wikimedia Commons.

Rooftop solar panels and wind farm. Photo by GLSystem, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Wind power grew quickly in 2014, but solar had itself a very good year as well. And there are signs that solar could be in for even more rapid growth. Going forward, solar could have several advantages over wind, and those advantages are likely to have progressively greater importance with passing time. [EarthTechling]

World:

¶ The economic viability of some 53% of 39 of the power plants planned for construction in Europe’s largest economy by 2025 has been called into question, according to the German energy industry association BDEW. It said investors are nervous over low profitability for coal- and gas-fired power stations. [Economic Times]

¶ The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced up to $20 million for a new research and development round dedicated to industry-partnered projects that seek to develop and commercialize renewable energy technologies. The new funding round was opened at an event held at RMIT University in Melbourne. [solarserver.com]

¶ The United Arab Emirates will soon add 100 MW of solar PV power capacity. The Federal Electricity and Water Authority plans to set up solar PV projects across the Northern Emirates. The power plants will be part of UAE’s Vision 2021, which plans to get 24% of its energy from ‘clean’ energy sources. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Golden Age of gas in Australia, which some thought would usher in the transition from high polluting fossil fuels to clean renewables, ended before it really even started. Data from the Australian Energy Market Operator highlights how quickly energy markets can change and how quickly they are changing. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The world’s largest network of municipalities adopted an action plan aimed at taking prompt measures against climate change. The Seoul Action Plan was released by a congress held in Seoul to gather more global support at the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives World Congress. [eco-business.com]

¶ An Australian report on global renewable energy trends says globally, renewable energy is now cost-comparative or cheaper than fossil fuels for generating electricity, and the cost of wind and solar in particular is projected to continue to fall steeply. But it warns Australia is increasingly falling behind. [Climate Control News]

German transmission lines. Photo by Calson2. Wikimedia Commons.

German transmission lines. Photo by Calson2. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Gunter Scheibner, in charge of keeping flows stable over 6,200 miles of transmission lines in eastern Germany, must keep power from solar and wind in harmony whether it’s sunny or overcast, windy or still. He is proving that renewable energy from the sun and wind can be just as reliable as fossil fuels. [Bloomberg]

¶ TEPCO has given up on retrieving the shape-shifting robot it sent into the damaged primary containment vessel of reactor 1 of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power station. The robot, which was surveying damage, was expected to survive 10 hours in the high radiation environment but died in less than 3 hours. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ Southern California Gas Company has joined with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Fuel Cell Research Center in projects to create and test a carbon-free, power-to-gas system for the first time ever in the US. The technology stores power from electricity chemically in gas. [Your Oil and Gas News]

¶ With a proposed award from the California Energy Commission, Robert Bosch LLC plans to demonstrate its renewable-based microgrid platform. The DC building grid will consist of rooftop solar PV arrays connected to energy-efficient DC lighting, ventilation, and energy storage systems on a 380-volt DC bus. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Marin Clean Energy has become the default electricity provider for rural areas at the request of Napa County, California, allowing customers to receive 50% to 100% of their electricity from renewable sources, as opposed to 22% with the former provider. Only 8.5% of customers opted not to use Marin Clean Energy. [Napa Valley Register]


April 12 Energy News

April 12, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Coal Is Dead: It is Time to Accept It” – For years, coal supporters have been saying that a turnaround is just around the corner. China’s demand is about to pick up, clean coal has arrived, or domestic environmental regulations will be struck down and we’ll fire up coal plants once more! Let’s face it: Coal is dead. [The Current]

The General James M. Gavin plant on the Ohio River. Note the clouds of Sulfuric Acid coming from the vertical column stacks (the emissions from the Cooling Towers are just water vapor). Photo by Analogue Kid, from Wikimedia Commons.

The General James M. Gavin plant on the Ohio River. Note the clouds of Sulfuric Acid coming from the vertical column stacks (the emissions from the Cooling Towers are just water vapor). Photo by Analogue Kid, from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ “McConnell’s quest won’t rescue Appalachia” – Although Senator McConnell claims to be fighting to preserve coal miners’ jobs, bucking the White House won’t help the people who live in Appalachian coal country. Market forces, not federal policy, are killing the industry, and no policy can change that. [Heraldindependent]

¶ “Want to fight drought? Build wind turbines” – One use of water that gets overlooked is energy. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels doesn’t just reduce climate change (thereby preventing future droughts). It also helps mitigate the massive amounts of water used in conventional power plants. [Mother Nature Network]

Science and Technology:

¶ The public health burden associated with the coal industry and coal-fired power plants had some light shed on it by a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. It found that long-term improvements in air quality were strongly associated with better respiratory function among growing children. [CleanTechnica]

¶ According to Science Magazine, researchers constructed a new glass window that tints by harvesting energy from weather conditions, such as wind and precipitation. The external layer harvests static energy from the rain, creating an electric current. The second layer gathers energy from the wind. [The Weather Network]

World:

¶ Eight commercial projects varying in size between 1.8 MW and 19 MW have been granted planning permission in Scotland. Over 100 MW of large-scale solar projects in the planning stages or awaiting construction. The country currently has 153 MW of solar capacity in 31,000 installations, nearly all on rooftops. [Herald Scotland]

Offshore wind farm.

Offshore wind farm.

¶ Despite the public perception of offshore wind energy being highly expensive, electricity generated via this technology is already cheaper in Europe than that generated by gas-fired power plants or proposed nuclear projects such as the Hinkley Point C project, according to a new analysis of publicly available data. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Jordan has pre-qualified 15 local and international companies to build a $150 million solar-run power plant. The 65-75 MW plant will be located in the southern Governorate of Aqaba. The government expects 1,800 MW of renewable energy projects to connected to the national power grid by the end of 2018. [Jordan Times]

¶ Global clean energy investment in the first quarter of this year fell to its lowest quarterly level for two years, as large deals slowed in China, Europe and Brazil. Investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar power and biomass fell to $50.5 billion for the first quarter compared with $59.3 billion last year. [The Daily Star]

US:

¶ Most of the electricity generated in Colorado still comes from burning coal, but even the state’s two largest coal burners are adding far more renewable energy. The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Platte River Power Authority lately announced plans for new renewable energy. [The Denver Post]

¶ Senator Harry Reid is turning his attention away from political strategy for the Democratic Party, and told a clean energy group he wants to spend his remaining time in Congress making green energy options a top priority. Reid made his comments during a luncheon speech in Las Vegas. [Guardian Liberty Voice]


April 11 Energy News

April 11, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ CyboEnergy, based in Rancho Cordova, California, patented a solar power mini-Inverter that it says has the key merits of both central inverters and microinverters. The inverter design has multiple input channels, solving partial shading problems and making rooftop solar safer to install and operate. [WebWire]

¶ A study in Nature Climate Change shows that electric vehicle batteries have been getting cheaper much faster than expected. From 2007 to 2011, average battery costs for battery-powered electric vehicles fell by about 14% a year. The cost of batteries is about what the International Energy Agency predicted for 2020. [UK Progressive Magazine]

World:

Solar farm in India

Solar farm in India

¶ Renewables 2014, the global status report on renewable energy by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, says that the “evolution of renewable energy over the past decade has surpassed all expectations.” It makes clear that India has become a significant player in the emerging sector. [The Hindu]

¶ US President Barack Obama met with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Friday at the Summit of the Americas. The two leaders briefly discussed climate change and renewable energy, among other topics. Solís noted that Costa Rica has produced all of its electricity this year through renewable power. [The Tico Times]

¶ A robot designed to withstand high levels of radiation was sent to inspect a reactor’ containment vessel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It stopped responding three hours into the operation. TEPCO hoped to take a look inside the vessel containing one of the three reactors that had meltdown. [Sputnik International]

US:

The 2010 BP Disaster. US Coast Guard Photo

The 2010 BP Disaster. US Coast Guard Photo

¶ The Obama administration is planning to impose a major new regulation on offshore oil and gas drilling to try to prevent the kind of explosions that caused the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, administration officials said Friday. The announcement will be made on the anniversary of the event. [New York Times]

¶ A report, “The Economics of Load Defection,” examines the economics for commercial and residential customers in five US markets. It shows that grid-connected solar-storage systems are already more cost-effective than grid-supplied electricity in places with high electric costs, and increasingly so in others. [Energy Collective]

¶ Indiana added 59 MW of solar electric capacity in 2014, bringing its total to 112 MW. That is enough clean energy to power more than 12,000 homes, and is nearly as much as the entire country had installed by 2004. It was the second straight year in which over 50 MW of solar capacity was installed in the state. [RealEstateRama]

¶ There is a magical place in California called the Geysers, a natural wonder spanning 45 square miles of geothermal hot springs fed by the Earth’s molten core. Harnessed as a power plant, the site is the world’s largest geothermal electricity production facility, providing energy for parts of the North Bay area. [SFGate]

¶ The electricity and natural gas savings from efficiency surpassed the 2010-2012 energy-savings goals of the California Public Utilities Commission and the state’s four large investor-owned utilities themselves. The programs paid for themselves and put more than $750 million back into consumers’ pockets. [Natural Resources Defense Council]

¶ With the lesson of Hurricane Sandy in mind, New York aims to get ahead on adapting to climate change by modernizing and integrating renewables into its power grid and making its infrastructure better able to withstand extreme weather. Its smart grid research is likely to influence the rest of the country. [Tribune-Review]


April 10 Energy News

April 10, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Washington blackout highlighted aging electrical grid” A severed power line in Maryland cut power to much of the nation’s capital on Tuesday. The outage illustrates problems with the country’s aging grid just weeks ahead of DOE recommendations for modernizing electricity infrastructure. [GlobalPost]

World:

Offshore wind. Photo by Arnold Price, from Wikimedia Commons.

Offshore wind. Photo by Arnold Price, from Wikimedia Commons.

¶ The North Seas Grid should be one of the building blocks of the Energy Union, companies and campaigners have told EU energy ministers. Momentum builds behind the project connecting offshore wind farms in Ireland, Scotland, the UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. [EurActiv]

¶ Officials in Canada and the US are considering cap-and-trade programs for the Midcontinent ISO, Southwest Power Pool, and Province of Ontario, with linkages to existing regional cap-and-trade systems potentially creating a true North American carbon market, covering half the continent’s population. [CleanTechnica]

¶ New solar panels across France pushed solar output to new highs of more than 4,000 MW. That surge in a nation more dependent than any other on nuclear power illustrates the fundamental change taking hold across Europe’s energy industry. It also signals more pain to come for traditional utilities in the region. [Bloomberg]

¶ The amount of solar generation capacity in the Netherlands could increase by over 1 GW this year and reach 16 GW by 2030, according to market analysts. Around 1.9 GW of solar capacity is installed in the country. Predictions cannot include off-grid installations accurately because that capacity is unknown. [ICIS]

¶ An area in southern England could hold more oil than the North Sea. Oil and Gas Investments, an exploration firm that has been drilling in the region, says it could hold as much as 100 billion barrels, or 158 million barrels per square mile. The North Sea produced about 45 billion barrels over the last 40 years. [AOL Money UK]

¶ In the UK, National Grid’s summer outlook estimated that its peak demand this summer will be 37.5 GW, approximately 900 MW lower than the figure for last year. This drop has been attributed to a marked increase in solar PV generation capacity within the UK, which has nearly doubled in the last year. [Solar Power Portal]

US:

California solar farm.

California solar farm.

¶ California already generates 5% of its electricity from the sun. California Independent System Operator, the state’s operator for the vast majority of the state’s power grid, released a strategic vision designed to guide the state to its goal of generating 50% of the state’s power needs from renewables by 2030. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The California Public Utilities Commission is ordering Pacific Gas & Electric Co to pay a record $1.6 billion penalty for unsafe operation of its gas transmission system, including the pipeline rupture that killed eight people in 2010. Most of the penalty amounts to forced spending on improving pipeline safety. [CNN]

¶ The US is seen to deploy a record 18 GW of new renewable energy capacity this year, while also retiring 23 GW of coal-fired power plants, according to research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The US will add an estimated 9.1 GW of solar parks and 8.9 GW of fresh wind capacity in 2015. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance have forecast that 2015 will be a watershed year for the US’ decarbonization efforts, predicting that the country will reach a two-decade low in power sector emissions nationally this year. They say the US efforts to transform the nation’s power sector are bearing fruit. [RenewEconomy]

¶ Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility providing power to roughly 1 million people in the Texas capital, will add 600 MW of solar to its generation portfolio by as soon as 2017. Austin Energy said it would consider acquiring the solar power from independent solar firms, or it could own the solar capacity. [Scientific American]


April 9 Energy News

April 9, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A team of Stanford researchers has developed an aluminum ion battery that offers many significant advantages over the traditional lithium-ion batteries currently used in most electronic devices and today’s electric and hybrid cars. It is lower cost, has longer life, is not a fire hazard, and has environmental benefits. [Planetsave]

World:

Solar power for Uzbekistan.

Solar power for Uzbekistan.

¶ An Uzbek company plans to develop power plants producing solar energy in the country by 2017. Uzbekistan’s joint-stock electro-technical company, Uzeltechsanoat plans to organize the production of PV power plants with a capacity of up to 500 KW. The project may attract direct foreign investments. [AzerNews]

¶ Japan may set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2030 from 2005 levels, as part of efforts to strike a new global deal to combat climate change later this year. The International Energy Agency estimates that Japan can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 24%. [The Japan Times]

¶ A company based in the world’s largest oil exporting nation, Saudi Arabia, has become the new owner of Australia’s second-largest solar plant, the under-construction 72-MW Moree PV project, after buying Spanish solar developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and its 3.8-GW global development pipeline. [RenewEconomy]

¶ TEPCO may evaporate or store underground tritium-laced water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as an alternative to releasing it into the ocean. The removal of hundreds of thousands of tons of water containing tritium is one of many issues facing TEPCO as it tries to clean up the wrecked plant. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ SunEdison, the world’s largest renewable energy development company, announced the groundbreaking for the 22.6 MW DC Seven Sisters solar project in Southern Utah. The Seven Sisters are seven separate solar power plants, four of which are located in Beaver County and three in Iron County, Utah. [Your Renewable News]

¶ The Obama administration’s plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions from power plants will also lower electric bills for customers, particularly low- and fixed-income households, as well as provide health benefits to those residents, according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council. [NJ Spotlight]

¶ In the second annual survey conducted by national polling firm Zogby Analytics, 74% of Americans polled favored continuing federal tax incentives that support the growth of the solar and wind industries, including 82% of Democrats, two thirds of Republicans (67%), and 72% of Independents. [AltEnergyMag]

Wind farm. Photo by Samir Luther, Creative Commons.

Wind farm. Photo by Samir Luther, Creative Commons.

¶ Commercial and industrial, governmental and educational institutions signed over 23% of wind power purchase agreements last year, for more than 1,770 MW of power. US non-utility groups are increasingly buying wind power as a hedge against rising fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Washington Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed the cities of Bellevue, Edmonds, Kirkland, Mercer Island, and Seattle, Washington, “Northwest Solar Communities” on Wednesday, acknowledging their various initiatives that have increased residential solar installations by nearly 200% since 2013. [My Edmonds News]

¶ Billionaire Michael Bloomberg says he’s donating an additional $30 million to a Sierra Club initiative working to reduce the nation’s use of coal. The Sierra Club has a goal of replacing half the nation’s coal plants with renewable energy by 2017. Bloomberg had donated $50 million to the program in 2011. [Business Spectator]

¶ Michigan State University president Lou Anna K. Simon announced Wednesday that the school intends to stop burning coal by the end of 2016. A majority of coal buying and burning would end in 2015, largely by transitioning more to natural gas. Currently, the university uses coal for about a quarter of its fuel. [Great Lakes Echo]

¶ Led by solid growth in both the residential and commercial markets, Colorado ranked 13th in the nation in installed solar power capacity last year. According to the US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review, Colorado added 67 MW of solar capacity, bringing its total to 398 MW, enough for over 76,000 homes. [PennEnergy]

¶ Ohio regulators have denied a price stabilization rider Duke Energy said was necessary to ensure a pair of aging coal facilities remain in operation and ensure the state’s electricity supply remains stable. The order closely mirrors a decision in February to reject a similar proposal by American Electric Power. [Utility Dive]


April 8 Energy News

April 8, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ A research team at Rice University has just come out with a new study showing that oil-rich algae can thrive on municipal wastewater, which means that biodiesel or “black gold” could also be in the works. The study found cyanobacteria can convert more than 80% of lipids into a type of biodiesel. [CleanTechnica]

Wastewater tanks in experiment at Rice University.

Wastewater tanks in experiment at Rice University.

World:

¶ Solar and wind power are now the cheapest sources of new energy supply in the United Arab Emirates, according to a new report published today. The study was conducted by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Renewable Energy Agency, and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. [Click Green]

¶ Australia’s power generation and transport fuel use will be left to the market to decide, the Abbott government says in its energy white paper, which does not discuss climate change as a driver of energy policy. The government says it will not push new technologies to try to reduce greenhouse emissions. [The Guardian]

¶ In Australia, the Labor party has announced it is backing the Clean Energy Council’s compromise position on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. Late last month, The Clean Energy Council proposed a compromise target for large-scale renewable energy in Australia of 33,500 GWh by 2020. [Energy Matters]

¶ Researchers at Germany’s Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg and Japan’s Gifu University are collaborating on a slew of energy projects as part of concerted efforts ranging from intelligent integration of PV into the grid to green power-to-gas energy storage. [eco-business.com]

¶ London-based solar developer, Lightsource Renewable Energy, has revealed that it connected over 300 MW of PV capacity in March. It energised 27 solar farms prior to renewable obligation support for projects greater than five MW being scrapped. The company has a target of owning 1 GW of UK solar capacity. [Solar Power Portal]

¶ According to data collected by the Fukushima Prefecture, 2014 saw 1,232 nuclear-related deaths. The two towns with the greatest number of deaths were both near the Fukushima plant: Namie, with 359 dead; and Tomioka, with 291 dead. A nuclear-related death is from a disease caused by radiation exposure. [Center for Research on Globalization]

US:

Cohocton Wind Farm in New York

Cohocton Wind Farm in New York

¶ New York State has issued a $160 million call for clean energy projects. Eligible renewable energy sources include wind farms, solar projects, fuel cells, biomass facilities, renewable biogas and the upgrading of small-sized to medium-sized hydropower projects that provide power to the electric grid. [reNews]

¶ The American Wind Energy Association points to a “wind rush” in areas such as the Great Lakes states and the Southeastern US. Not only are turbines growing taller to reach higher altitude winds, but wind turbine blades are growing longer, and the price of wind energy is dropping as a result. [CleanTechnica]

¶ TVA has long been under pressure from environmental groups to make more use of energy efficiency as a power resource, but now the agency is seeing some pushback on that idea from some of the power distributors it serves who question the costs of that approach. Of course, efficiency means reduced sales. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

¶ A developer wants to build Maine’s largest solar-electric project at an abandoned Navy radar site, but the venture hinges on the Maine Legislature passing a proposed law aimed in part at creating financial incentives for solar power. The project would be 2.8 MW, enough power for 58,000 homes. [Press Herald]

¶ By the end of August, solar power should be part of Entergy Mississippi’s electricity-generation repertoire. The utility broke ground Tuesday on one of three solar projects it plans in Jackson, Senatobia and Brookhaven as part of its $4.5 million Bright Future Plan. It’s the first large-scale solar project in the state. [Jackson Clarion Ledger]

¶ A Republican push to expand solar power in North Carolina may stand the best chance yet of ending a state ban that prevents independent energy developers from selling electricity directly to customers. The Energy Freedom Act would inject a free-market alternative into the state’s strictly regulated utility market. [Charlotte Observer]

¶ The growth of microgrid deployment in the US continues, with the latest project seeing a range of distributed generating technologies coupled with smart grid technology and storage. Network operator Oncor has labeled a Dallas area project with four interconnected microgrids the “most advanced microgrid in North America.” [pv magazine]

¶ DONG Energy has agreed to take over RES Americas Developments Inc’s newly assigned development project rights off the coast of Massachusetts, which could support production of over 1000 MW. Entering the US offshore wind market earmarks DONG Energy’s entry into the first project outside Europe. [Your Renewable News]


April 7 Energy News

April 7, 2015

World:

¶ Starting in June, defense companies will join NATO to test the military’s ability to use renewable power in combat and humanitarian operations. About 1,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organization soldiers will spend 12 days deploying wind turbines, solar panels and self-contained power grids in Hungary. [Bloomberg]

The solar flower has been developed by Austria’s Smartflower Energy Technology GmbH. Source: Smartflower Energy Technology GmbH

The solar flower has been developed by Austria’s Smartflower Energy Technology GmbH. Source: Smartflower Energy Technology GmbH

¶ Solar PV is already upturning the business models of utilities around the world, yet right now it contributes just 1 per cent of global electricity demand. Imagine what its impact will be when it grows another tenfold in the coming decade. Deutsche Bank expects solar to become a $5 trillion market by 2030. [RenewEconomy]

¶ The Guardian Media Group, publisher of the award-winning newspapers Guardian and Observer, has announced that it will sell off all fossil fuel assets in its £800 million investment portfolio. Neil Berkett, Chairman of the Guardian Media Group, justified the decision citing financial and ethical reasons. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The first grid-connected hybrid flywheel project in Europe has been announced and is to be sited in the Irish midlands. The development in storage will be welcomed by renewable energy industries as the technologies they offer continue to make inroads in affordability, cost effectiveness and grid stability. [PennEnergy]

¶ China is slowly starting to march away from coal power, and a new development could turn that slow march into an all-out run. Renewable energy company UGE International teamed up with financial experts Blue Sky Energy Efficiency to offer the first ever power purchase agreements to customers in China. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Azerbaijan plans to use the windy Caspian Sea to expand its alternative energy potential. The country has started work on the development of the area of the Caspian Sea to create wind farms there. The country’s potential of renewable energy sources exceeds 12,000 MW, of which 4,500 MW is from wind. [AzerNews]

¶ Toshiba announced the opening of the Toshiba Group Hydrogen Energy Research & Development Center in western Tokyo. The center will concentrate on Group-wide initiatives to realize a hydrogen economy. Toshiba Group aims to increase the sales of hydrogen-related business to $1 billion by 2020. [AZoCleantech]

¶ An experimental project is under way in Japan to generate hydrogen from wind power as a step toward achieving a zero-emission hydrogen-powered society. The experiment is at a wind power producing facility in waters about a kilometer off Kabashima island, one of the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture. [Asahi Shimbun]

¶ Radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Disaster has for the first time been detected along a North American shoreline, though at levels too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life, scientists said on Monday. Traces of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 were in samples collected on Vancouver Island. [Newsweek]

US:

¶ Module installation has wrapped up at the 250-MW Copper Mountain Solar 3 project by Sempra US Gas & Power and Consolidated Edison Development. Cupertino Electric fitted the last of more than a million units at the facility in Boulder City, Nevada. The 1400-acre project broke ground in early 2013. [reNews]

Installation work on the Copper Mountain 3 project (Cupertino)

Installation work on the Copper Mountain 3 project (Cupertino)

¶ According to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Vermont added 38 MW of solar energy capacity in 2014. This brings the state’s total installed solar capacity to 70 MW, enough to power approximately 7,500 average homes. $76 million was invested in Vermont solar last year. [Hydrogen Fuel News]

¶ Americans are installing rooftop solar power systems at an unprecedented rate, but not everyone can is doing it. In many states, unfavorable rules still make it too hard or expensive for homeowners and companies to go solar. Solar advocates say the utilities are largely to blame for the mismatch in policies. [International Business Times]

¶ NextEra Energy Resources LLC, the biggest renewable-energy power company in North America, is spending another $640 million on two massive new wind farms in eastern Colorado. That’s on top of roughly $2 billion it has already invested in Colorado wind farms collectively generating 1,175 MW. [Pacific Business News (Honolulu)]

¶ After stopping additional solar installations for 18 months, Hawaiian Electric Co now says it can handle more solar and is clearing a backlog of applications from homeowners who have been waiting to get rooftop systems connected. The utility has processed requests from 2,543 customers on Oahu. [Environment & Energy Publishing]


April 6 Energy News

April 6, 2015

Recent Articles that Should Not be Missed:

¶ “A Reagan approach to climate change” George Shultz says observations of a changing climate are simple and clear, so he concludes that the globe is warming and that carbon dioxide has something to do with that fact. He says those who say otherwise will wind up being mugged by reality, and he proposes a carbon tax. [Washington Post]

Mountaintop removal mine in Pike County, Kentucky just off U.S. 23. Photo by Matt Wasson, Wikimedia Commons.

Mountaintop removal mine in Pike County, Kentucky just off U.S. 23. Photo by Matt Wasson, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Coal companies are in trouble because of low prices. They keep pulling coal out of the ground, taking a steady loss rather than one big write-down, in the hope that prices will bounce back. That, of course, is only adding to the supply glut in the US, the world’s second-biggest producer, and driving prices down further. [Bloomberg] (Thanks to Tom Finnell.)

World:

¶ One of the more hilarious criticisms of renewable energy is that it costs too much. A report says the economies of China, the EU, and the US could save as much as $500 billion a year in fossil fuel imports alone if they switched to 100% renewable energy. There would be many other large benefits as well. [CleanTechnica]

¶ One of Scotland’s first-ever solar farms would be erected near a quarry in the town of Wormit, if ambitious proposals are given the go-ahead. The proposal is for a 27-acre solar farm that would generate 4 MW of clean, renewable energy, enough to power around 1360 homes, according to the developer. [Fife Today]

¶ Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister says the country would add 4,000 MW to its production capacity this year, 95% of which will come from local and renewable resources. The government aims to increase the share of local and renewable sources in electricity production to 30% by 2023. [Daily Sabah]

¶ Egypt is facing a lack of fuel, causing energy shortages that escalate during summer months; the government is often required to cut power at some areas to reduce pressure on the overloaded grid. Solar PVs with 13,900 kW capacity are being built in ministries’ and governmental installations. [The Cairo Post]

¶ The Philippine National Police will go solar as the Department of Energy installs renewable energy generating facilities in some offices inside the police’s national headquarters in Quezon City. The PNP Sports Center and Center for Law Enforcement Studies are sites. The intent is to cut electricity bills. [Inquirer.net]

¶ The UAE Government is planning to build solar power plants with a combined capacity of 100 MW in Northern Emirates at a cost of $136m. The plants will be built in collaboration with the private sector, and are aimed at reducing the cost of energy production and lowering carbon emissions. [Clean Technology Business Review]

US:

Vestas V47-660kW wind turbine at the American Wind Power Center museum of Wind Power in Lubbock. Photo by Diane Turner from Arlington, United States, Wikimedia Commons.

Vestas V47-660kW wind turbine at the American Wind Power Center museum of Wind Power in Lubbock. Photo by Diane Turner from Arlington, United States, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ One of the top utility companies in the US, Pacific Gas & Electric, recently achieved a new milestone with regard to solar energy — the company now has more than 150,000 solar customers connected to the wider electric grid. PG&E currently connects an average of 4,000 new solar customers every month. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Tennessee Valley Authority’s draft Integrated Resource Plan for the next 20 years says under most scenarios TVA would benefit by importing at least 1,750 MW of wind power from Texas and Oklahoma. Clean Line Energy LLC wants to bring about twice that amount to the Tennessee Valley. [Chattanooga Times Free Press]

¶ Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state. [Energy Collective]


April 5 Energy News

April 5, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Why not talk more about a nuclear-free future for Japan?” Former Lower House member Satoshi Shima, 56, said emphatically in an interview, “In my view, Japan does have energy politics but has no energy policy.” In Shima’s opinion, “politics” is about making arrangements as to who will gain profits. [Asahi Shimbun]

Science and Technology:

Fracking well

Geothermal Engineering wants to recycle fracking wells.

¶ The Cornwall-based company Geothermal Engineering is pushing forward with an idea to ‘recycle’ used and exhausted fracking wells from the oil and gas industries as geothermal power sources. It is designing a system that could potentially deliver both shale gas and also ‘renewable’ geothermal heat. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ At the turn of the 21st century, Germany became a leader in the biogas industry, as aggressive policy framework and sudden business opportunities drove many biogas companies to open headquarters in the country. But now, with changing laws, the work is shifting to the US and Canada. [Biomass Magazine]

¶ Barbados will save millions of dollars and remove thousands of barrels of oil from its import bill under a renewable energy program focussed on solar and wind resources. That’s one of the major findings of the to Barbados Wind and Solar Integration Study commissioned by Barbados Light & Power Company. [Nation News]

¶ A new report from Deloitte, After analysing the energy markets in seven European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and UK) says that the EU needs to revisit its energy market design. Predictions on technology of a decade ago failed, and policies failed to solve some problems. [Times of Malta]

¶ Renewable energy is growing across Japan. In increasing numbers, new facilities have been starting operations, spurred by the review of the nation’s energy policies that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Hopes are high for the promotion of industry, but hurdles remain for further expansion. [The Japan News]

¶ The Ceylon Electricity Board intends to provide electricity to over 20,000 families throughout the country, by year’s end. They will receive their electricity connections through 150 primary rural electrification projects, which will be initiated throughout the country, together with new transmission lines. [Sunday Leader]

¶ The UK’s National Trust will begin campaigning aggressively for action to combat the impact of climate change, which it says threatens the quiet landscape and atmosphere it was set up to shield. The Trust’s director general says its charity status does not mean it cannot speak out on the issue. [Kentucky Post Pioneer]

White Cliffs

The UK’s National Trust aims to protect the British countryside.

US:

¶ The Vermont Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed a resolution Friday declaring that human-caused climate change is real and calls on the state to take steps to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. The resolution has 14 sponsors and is intended to show lawmakers take climate change seriously. [vtdigger.org] (Thanks to Julia Michel of VPIRG for forwarding the article.)

¶ Recent refinements in heat pump technology, a drop in solar panel prices and the advent of electric cars mean that the average Maine home now can power its lights, heat, hot water and transportation with electricity from the sun. The trouble is, the state’s government and regulators are not ready for solar. [Press Herald]

¶ Maine became the regional wind power leader under Democratic Governor John Baldacci, but current Governor Paul LePage has pursued policies based on the idea that wind power is too expensive. He looks to hydropower from Canada and natural gas to bring down the state’s exceptionally high electricity prices. [Lewiston Sun Journal]

¶ California has a giant reservoir to its west that could supply it with water. It is called the Pacific Ocean. With new state policy, desalination plants and related technology are being introduced or revived in the state. The $1 billion Carlsbad desalination plant, south of Los Angeles, is scheduled to open in 2016. [USA TODAY]


April 4 Energy News

April 4, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “Fission may fizzle as nuclear power reacts to economics” Proponents of the nuclear power sector say their technology is the perfect way to fill a void as coal plants close. But they also acknowledge that in the age of cheap natural gas, the economic headwinds might be too strong to allow a nuclear renaissance. [Houston Chronicle]

World:

Energy is a key issue in the election

Energy is a key issue in the election

¶ Energy was identified as a key issue in A Manifesto for Yorkshire, published by The Yorkshire Post to ensure this region’s challenges are addressed in the election campaign. The manifesto calls for the next Government to support the Humber’s ambition to become the Silicon Valley of the offshore wind industry. [Yorkshire Post]

¶ The World Bank is supporting Kenya’s efforts to improve the quality of electricity supply for its citizens with a loan of $457.5 million. The country is working on solar, nuclear, wind, and geothermal power sources. It is drilling one of the world’s biggest geothermal wells (about 50 wells have been sunk). [Ventures Africa]

¶ The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis estimates that the share of coal-generated electricity in China will decline from 72.5% in 2014 to 60% in 2020. While last year’s drop in coal use may have been a technical blip, Chinese coal consumption is expected to peak very soon, probably next year. [Journal of Turkish Weekly]

¶ The sharp drop off of drilling activity in the offshore oil and gas industry, including the UK’s North Sea, means offshore services contractors are now seriously under-employed. Day rates have been dramatically reduced. And industry experts predict the capital expenditures savings could be in the order of 15-20%. [Proactive Investors UK]

US:

¶ Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 20 fold, doubling last year alone. The solar industry is adding good-paying jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. The Administration intends to drive growth in the solar industry further while also supporting our veterans. [Imperial Valley News]

Prairie - CC BY 2.0 Joshua Mayer

Prairie – CC BY 2.0 Joshua Mayer

¶ A new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that corn and soy, two crops commonly used for biofuels, are expanding into previously un-farmed prairie. Ethanol has driven up the domestic demand for corn. In 2014, over 40% of corn grown in the US was used to make ethanol. [Treehugger]

¶ California broke ground Tuesday on its $68 billion high-speed rail method, promising to combat international warming while whisking travelers among Los Angeles and San Francisco in much less than 3 hours. The train is a step toward California getting half its power from renewable power by 2030. [Connecticut Bulletin Standard]

¶ Minnesota Power reported 2014 energy savings in its annual Conservation Improvement Program filing. Total energy saved in 2014 was 2.5% of eligible retail sales, well above the state goal of 1.5%. Minnesota Power has delivered at or above the 1.5% savings target since the goal went into effect in 2010. [Herald Review]

¶ Some Florida lawmakers and lobbyists say that anyone who has attempted to expand the rooftop solar industry has been ostracized. The reason, they say, is that Florida’s largest utilities have invested heavily in state political campaigns; they have put $12 million into the campaigns of state lawmakers since 2010. [TBO.com]

¶ Research from Duke University on jobs relating to electricity production says jobs based on coal declined by nearly 50,000 from 2008 to 2012. The figures for coal are probably even starker since 2012, as the rate of coal plant retirement has increased. During the same period, wind and solar added about 79,000 jobs. [Greentech Media]

¶ New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the South. [Clean Energy News]


April 3 Energy News

April 3, 2015

World:

Industry projections show that onshore wind will supply over 10 per cent of the UK’s total electricity annually by 2020

Industry projections show that onshore wind will supply over 10 per cent of the UK’s total electricity annually by 2020

¶ Onshore wind can become the most cost-effective electricity source by 2020, according to the a taskforce set up by Renewable UK. Their new report claims that onshore wind can deliver the cheapest electricity of all power sources by 2020, driving down fuel bills across households throughout the UK. [E&T magazine]

¶ According to Red Electrica de Espana, the Spanish peninsula got 69% percent of its electricity generation in March from technologies that produce zero carbon emissions. Nuclear as a whole provided 23.8% of the country’s electricity in March, while 47% came solely from renewable sources. [ThinkProgress]

¶ With the development process of the first gigafactory apparently going quite smoothly, Tesla Motors seems already busy courting Japanese battery suppliers with regard to a potential second gigafactory. This possible second gigafactory would be located outside of North America in the near future. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Kazakhstan-based power producer JSC Samruk-Energo intends to build a 50-MW solar farm near Kapshagay city, with potential for a later expansion to 100 MW, according to a report. Several wind farm projects of around 50 MW each are also planned for the Shelek corridor and Yereimentau city. [SeeNews Renewables]

¶ Canadian Solar Inc announced that it energized four projects totaling 40.2 MWp in the United Kingdom. The projects have combined capacity of 40.2 MWp. Two more solar projects are expected to be connected in the second quarter of 2015. The six projects will produce about 50,183 MWh per year. [RenewablesBiz]

¶ There is a growing possibility that Japan will rely on nuclear energy for more than 20% of its total power output in 2030, compared with about 30% before the Fukushima Disaster, according to sources. All of the nation’s nuclear power plants have remained offline since the Fukushima Disaster. [The Japan Times]

US:

¶ SolarCity continues to beat its own electricity generation milestones at mind-blowing rates. SolarCity just surpassed the 5 GWh/day benchmark. This was just two weeks after reaching 4 GWh/day of electricity generation. And that is an increase of 40% from last year, when it reached 3 GWh/day in April 2014. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In recent years, 180 institutions, including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds, and local governments have pledged to sell over $50 billion in assets tied to fossil fuel companies and to invest in cleaner alternatives. Hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged another $1 billion. [CounterPunch]

SunGen Sharon Solar Farm in Sharon, Vermont. Photo by SayCheeeeeese, Wikimedia Commons

SunGen Sharon Solar Farm in Sharon, Vermont. Photo by SayCheeeeeese, Wikimedia Commons.

¶ Showing strong growth in all market sectors, Vermont more than doubled its amount of installed solar capacity in 2014, according to the US Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. Vermont was one of only four states nationwide to have 100% of its new electrical capacity come from solar energy. [AltEnergyMag]

¶ A variety of factors relating to technology, policies, and financing may allow New York to reduce offshore wind energy costs by 50% by 2022. Offshore wind energy cost reductions will enable New York to act independently or collaborate with other states to advance utility-scale renewable generation development. [Breaking Energy]

¶ If Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories’ manufacturing plant in Pullman, Washington, loses power during an outage, the company can turn to huge batteries on its campus for electricity. The batteries could supply enough power to run most of the factory’s operations for about three hours. [The Spokesman Review]

¶ A new report by the US Energy Information Administration finds in New England electric rates went up an average of 9% last year. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power, however, reduced rates by 2.46%. GMP has kept rates low for customers through a mix of things, including innovative products and services. [vtdigger.org]

¶ Fossil fuel funded efforts are underway to undermine or end renewable portfolio standards across the United States. In 2014, as in past years, these efforts largely failed, and only Ohio enacted legislation to roll back its long-term clean energy targets. But 2015 may turn out to be different. [Energy Collective]

¶ Duke Energy plans to install as much as 500 MW of solar power in Florida by 2024, which would more than triple the capacity of the state. Duke’s Florida utility plans to start building the first site this year and complete 35 megawatts of solar power by 2018. Florida currently has 234 MW solar capacity. [Bloomberg]


April 2 Energy News

April 2, 2015

World:

Windfarm at daybreak.

Windfarm at daybreak.

¶ The global wind market can expect continued growth for the rest of the decade, according the Global Wind Energy Council. They suggest the market will top 50 GW again in 2015 and reach 60 GW per year by 2018. China will lead growth, the body said, and seems on track to hit 200 GW ahead of its 2020 target. [reNews]

¶ Some of the world’s leading solar power project developers have signed memoranda of understanding to set up 40 GW of solar power projects in the Indian state of Rajasthan over the next 5 years. The state government, which came to power about a year ago, has set a target to add 25 GW over the next 5 years.[CleanTechnica]

¶ In a major new report, global investment bank Citigroup has defined the current battle between cheap oil, and renewables like wind and solar, to be so fundamental it will define the future of energy. But it says renewables will win out because of basic economics, energy security, and environment and issues. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Thirty-three countries, which together produce 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, submitted their emission reduction targets to the UN climate body, which could boost efforts to reach a new global agreement later this year to combat climate change. Two of the 33 countries are the US and Russia. [The Japan Times]

¶ European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič said smart grids are crucial for EU single energy market plans as they could integrate more renewables, boost security of the energy supply and help lower prices for consumers. He said they can reduce the infrastructure capacity needed by up to 30%. [EurActiv]

¶ The UK Green Investment Bank raised £463 million for its offshore wind fund, with support from pension funds and a sovereign wealth fund. The bank aims to raise £1 billion through the fund, which it says is the world’s first to be dedicated to offshore wind power and is expected to last 25 years. [Clean Technology Business Review]

¶ The renewable energy industry of southwestern England has been dealt a major blow after the company responsible for the electricity network said it had reached capacity for “green” schemes. The grid is being temporarily closed to new, large-scale renewable energy projects for the next three to six years. [Western Morning News]

¶ Some UK coal-fed power stations are at risk of halting for the summer after the doubling of a carbon emissions levy hurt the profitability of plants run by utilities. The UK carbon price support, designed to help fight global warming, increased by 88% on April 1, causing one measure of profitability to drop 53%. [Bloomberg]

¶ Around 400 workers set to be out of work after EDF said it was not prepared to carry on spending millions of pounds every month on the new Hinkley nuclear power station, until it knew for certain the deal to go ahead with the entire project had been sealed. EDF said it hoped it would be a temporary lay-off. [Gloucestershire Echo]

Construction at the Hinkley C nuclear plant.

Construction at the Hinkley C nuclear plant.

US:

¶ Texas is once again undergoing a surge of wind generation installations at a time when wholesale power prices are already on the floor, and zero pricing due to existing wind generation is prevalent. This brings up a question: Are big baseload power providers in Texas facing troubled times like those in Germany? [Platts]

¶ The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power can significantly expand its use of solar energy to replace the coal-fired generation the utility is dropping from its supply mix, according to a study. The department, which provides power to 3.8 million customers, gets about 42% of its electricity from coal. [Argus Media]

¶ SunEdison and TerraForm Power have announced the interconnection of four solar power stations in North Carolina. TerraForm will sell the electricity generated by the solar facilities, which have a collective capacity of 26 MW, to Duke Energy Progress via 15-year Power Purchase Agreements. [Energy Matters]

¶ US developer NextEra Energy Resources proposes to install up to 87 GE turbines at the 150-MW Dickinson wind project in North Dakota. The Stark County scheme would feature 80 1.1715-MW and 7 1.79-MW turbines. The project area covers some 39,000 acres about 75 miles west of Bismarck. [reNews]

¶ The East Coast’s solar irradiance was below average by as much as 5% in 2014, negatively impacting performance of its solar sites. The West Coast’s irradiance levels were up to 10% higher than average. This can be seen in maps released by Vaisala, a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement. [Renewable Energy Focus]


April 1 Energy News

April 1, 2015

Science and Technology:

¶ Siemens has published a study to determine the actual environmental impact of wind energy, from manufacturing through construction and operation. It found an offshore wind farm with 80 turbines saved as much CO2 as would be absorbed by a Central European forest of 1,286 square km (496 square miles). [CleanTechnica]

¶ Researchers from the University of Delaware have found a new catalyst to produce inexpensive hydrogen fuel that could be more attractive to consumers and businesses alike. Fuel cells are notoriously expensive because they are made using platinum-based catalysts. The new catalyst uses copper and titanium. [Hydrogen Fuel News]

¶ A Scottish project is using horizontal directional drilling to create cable bores to link the onshore site with four subsea tidal turbines, said project owner Atlantis Resources. Trenchless techniques such as HDD are playing an important role in several upcoming renewable energy projects involving offshore installations. [Trenchless International]

World:

German CO2 emissions are on the decline.

German CO2 emissions are on the decline.

¶ German CO2 emissions fell for the first time in three years as the country’s high-profile switch to renewable energy takes hold. CO2 emissions dropped by more than 41 million tonnes last year, a drop of 4.3%, according to data from Germany’s UBA environment agency, and a 27% decline on 1990 levels. [Business Green]

¶ Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest turbine maker, agreed to supply equipment with 53 MW of capacity for a project in western Finland. Vestas expects to deliver the 16 3.3-MW turbines to EPV Tuulivoima in the first quarter of next year. The order includes a six-year service agreement. [Bloomberg]

¶ The 2014 China Wind Power Installation Capacity Statistics just released by the Chinese Wind Energy Association indicate that in 2014 China added 61 offshore wind power units with a total capacity of 229.3 MW. This is an increase of 487.9% from the 39 MW of offshore wind power capacity added in 2013. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Global investment in renewable power and fuels reached $270.2 billion last year, nearly 17% higher than in 2013. Together, wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-power, geothermal, small hydro and marine power are estimated to have generated 9.1% of the world’s electricity in 2014, compared to 8.5%. [Phys.Org]

¶ Changes to UK support for solar power will deter farmers from building projects in rural areas as Prime Minister David Cameron’s government says the countryside is being blighted by unsightly panels. The switch reinforces a program started in October to remove subsidies for farmers that use solar. [Bloomberg]

¶ The first fund dedicated to supporting offshore wind-power projects has raised almost half of its £1 billion ($1.5 billion) target, drawing support from pension investors and a major sovereign wealth manager. The UK Green Investment Bank raised £463 million and is still seeking capital for five to eight projects. [Bloomberg]

¶ Samsung SDI and ABB are partnering to develop and sell modular, scalable microgrids. The agreement is for ABB to provide specific solutions for electrification, control optimization, and stabilization, and for Samsung SDI to provide lithium-ion batteries and battery management systems. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Nagasaki prefecture plans to become Asia’s first major testing site for renewable marine energy, offering support for companies, scientists and government officials looking to better understand floating wind farms and other marine power technology. Marine energy includes wave, tide and current power.[Wall Street Journal]

US:

Beach in Hawaii.

Solar in Hawaii.

¶ Up to $100 million dollars will be invested for new solar PV systems through a partnership between the State of Hawaii, Clean Power Finance, Panasonic Eco Solutions, and the Coronal Group. The main target audience for the new solar systems is underserved non-profit organizations that can save on utility bills. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Southern Co is acquiring a wind project in Oklahoma that will be the Atlanta-based company’s largest renewable electric generating plant to date. A subsidiary is acquiring the 299-MW Kay Wind facility in Oklahoma from Apex Clean Energy. Apex said it had closed on a $397 million loan for the project. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

¶ In 2013, yearly electricity generation from solar trailed every renewable energy technology in California except small hydro. But over the course of a year, solar generation more than doubled in the state, making it the second-biggest provider of renewable electricity in 2014 behind wind. [Greentech Media]

¶ Plant officials from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear facility said during a senior management meeting presentation that Unit 2, currently under construction, is expected to reach commercial operations on December 13, 2015. That would make it the first nuclear reactor added since 1996. [POWER magazine]


March 31 Energy News

March 31, 2015

Science and Technology:

concentrated solar photovoltaic project

Australian concentrated solar photovoltaic project

¶ A fully grid-connected, first of its kind, concentrated solar photovoltaic power tower was unveiled in Newbridge, Victoria, Australia. Some believe it could reduce the cost of solar-based electricity around the world. The project has an ultra efficient concentrated photovoltaic receiver and a heliostat collector field. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Cheap oil will do “little to derail” the long-term growth of renewable power, according to Citigroup. Oil generates about 5% of global electricity and doesn’t generally compete directly with wind and solar. Only 11 countries get more than 20% of their electricity from oil, mainly in the Middle East and the Caribbean. [Bloomberg]

¶ Doctors and other health professionals have urged the UK government to impose an immediate moratorium on fracking for shale gas and oil after a report showed the controversial drilling technique generates “numerous” public health risks. The Medact report warns of cancer, birth defects and lung disease. [Business Green]

World:

¶ In a poll ahead of the general election, 79% of Scottish adults believe the next UK Government should implement policies to continue to develop renewable energy. Just 26% back fracking for shale gas, 45% support new nuclear power stations, and 49% in favour building or extending coal and gas-fired plants. [Your Renewable News]

¶ Italian developer Enel Green Power has secured a €160m loan with KfW IPEX-Bank to finance the 111-MW Gibson Bay wind farm in South Africa. Gibson Bay, sited in Eastern Cape, will feature 37 turbines and generate some 420 GWh a year. Enel won rights to 513 MW of wind projects in bidding in 2013. [reNews]

¶ Moody’s Investors Service says that the impact of carbon reduction policies is rising globally, creating credit risks in carbon-intensive industries but, at the same time, driving significant innovation and change across many industrial sectors. However, even the most affected sectors enjoy some mitigating factors. [Business Standard]

¶ Rich nations provided around five times as much in export subsidies for fossil-fuel technology as for renewables over a decade, data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says. The figures on export credits are central to a debate on targeting funding ahead of UN climate talks. [Independent Online]

¶ UK renewable energy investment company Low Carbon has commissioned five new solar parks with a combined 84.3 MW of capacity, bringing the company’s portfolio to 157.7 MW. The installations are set to produce enough electricity to power more than 25,300 UK homes and avoid 36,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. [Business Green]

¶ Simply Blue Energy, an Irish offshore energy company, is the developer of an offshore wave energy park expected to cost about £45 million. The venture will see around 200 generators off the coast of Cornwall, providing a 10-MW generating capacity. This will make it the largest wave energy park in the world. [Irish Independent]

Irish offshore energy company Blue Energy, seen here working off the coast of Sweden last year, lands major UK contract.

Irish offshore energy company Blue Energy, seen here working off the coast of Sweden last year, lands major UK contract.

US:

¶ When the city council of Fort Collins, Colorado voted to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050, it seemed the local utility might be doomed. But the utility decided to employ a new integrated utility services model, which provides on-bill financing and other services. [GreenBiz]

¶ The Interior and Energy Departments and the Army Corps of Engineers have extended their Memorandum of Understanding for Hydropower for another five years. The MOU’s extension aligns with goals for increasing renewably energy generation by improving the federal permitting process. [Your Renewable News]

¶ Green Mountain Power installed a Vermont-built Northern Power 100-kW wind turbine at a family farm as part of its commitment to generating more local, small-scale renewable energy in Vermont. It can produce about 155,000 kWh per year, equal to the amount of electricity used by 25 homes. [vtdigger.org]

¶ The Platte River Power Authority, a wholesale power generation company owned by Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, signed an agreement with Boulder-based Juwi Solar to develop, design, build and operate the 22-megawatt solar energy facility at the Rawhide Energy Station. [The Coloradoan]

¶ Austin Energy will seek up to 600 MW in utility-scale solar contracts next month. The city’s municipal utility is facing a 500 MW shortfall identified last year in its resource and reliability plan, the newspaper reported. Austin has set a goal to meet more than half of its demand through renewables by 2025. [Utility Dive]


March 30 Energy News

March 30, 2015

World:

Gaelectric invests in wind energy projects in Kilkenny and Tipperary

Gaelectric invests in wind energy projects in Kilkenny and Tipperary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2

US:

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

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

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

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

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

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


March 29 Energy News

March 29, 2015

Opinion:

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

World:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US:

 

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

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

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

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

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


March 28 Energy News

March 28, 2015

Opinion:

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

World:

An impression of the turbines in situ at Glen Ullinish.

An impression of the turbines in situ at Glen Ullinish.

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

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

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

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

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

Jenbacher engines.

Generators with Jenbacher engines.

US:

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

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

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

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


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 101 other followers