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February 13 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Opinion: Is This The Best Solar Chart Yet? • Solar energy has been in a boom of late (one that will arguably continue for a long while). One might ask why the technology has found increasing footholds in the global marketplace? Well, the graph below puts it more succinctly than I could, so have a gander. [CleanTechnica]
Image courtesy of the Earth Policy Institute/Bloomberg

Image courtesy of the Earth Policy Institute/Bloomberg

  • In what could reflect a paradigm shift in power generation in India, officials of the state-owned utility NTPC said one reason for low plant load factor at their thermal power stations is due to increased share of clean energy. The plant load factor has declined to 77.8% in 2015 from 79.3% in 2014 and 85% in 2012-13. [Business Standard]
  • Infrared video taken Friday confirmed that the Southern California Gas Company has stopped the flow of natural gas leaking from a well at a facility near Los Angeles. SoCalGas said a relief well had “intercepted the base of the leaking well” and operators were pumping fluids to temporarily keep the gas from leaking. [CNN]
  • Major utilities have hit New Hampshire’s arbitrary cap on net energy metering but have shown virtually no interest in a stable transition for solar companies. Legislators are considering bills to address this, but the bills, SB 333 and HB 1116, would only lead to job losses in a few months, as currently written. [CleanTechnica]
  • US scientists have modelled how a 1930s-like dustbowl drought might impact agriculture today, and found it to be just as damaging. But the research shows the effects to be very sensitive to temperature, meaning the potential losses would be far worse later this century if Earth’s climate heats up as expected. [BBC]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 12 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • To Minimize Wind Power’s Impact on Birds & Bats, The Dept. of Energy Can Use AWWI As A Model • The Audubon Society says climate change threatens over half of American bird species. The American Wind Wildlife Institute has studied ways to protect wildlife and can be a model. [Natural Resources Defense Council]
Golden Eagle. (photo credit: Dave Taylor via Flickr)

Golden Eagle. (photo credit: Dave Taylor via Flickr)

  • China installed half of all new wind capacity worldwide last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. The country added an “astonishing” 30.5 GW to boost installations to 145.1 GW. It overtook the EU, which added a record 6 GW to increase its capacity to 141.6 GW, for the first time. [The Guardian]
  • Nearly three-quarters of major US energy deals made in 2015 were for renewables assets, and nearly three-quarters of the new generation capacity built in 2016 will be renewables, according to a study newly released by the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions. Here are eight trends shaping the change. [Utility Dive]
  • A new report released by the national non-profit The Solar Foundation, found Vermont to be #3 in solar jobs per capita in the country. This marks the third year in a row Vermont is in the top-3 for local solar jobs. Median wages for solar installation jobs are higher paying jobs than the national average, at $23.00/hour. [Vermont Biz]
  • On February 12, a bi-partisan group of elected leaders from around New Hampshire, will go to Concord to urge lawmakers to lift NH’s cap on net metering and to make improvements to the existing legislation that is before them to ensure that the renewable energy market does not come to a halt. [Satellite PR News]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 11 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Why Colorado Requested A Pause On The Clean Power Plan, But Isn’t Taking It • Colorado regulators say they will press forward on President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail emissions from coal-fired power plants, despite a temporary pause issued by the U.S. Supreme Court for the Clean Power Plan this week. [Colorado Public Radio]
A coal train enters the Craig Station power plant near Craig, Colo. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

A coal train enters the Craig Station power plant near Craig, Colo. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

  • Georgia will stop its work toward implementing the Clean Power Plan, a key piece of the EPA’s efforts to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Georgia is one of 27 states that had asked the US Supreme Court to delay implementation of the plan. [WABE 90.1 FM]
  • The Brattle Group study says that the America’s 50 million residential electric water heaters can address bigger challenges such as storing energy from wind farms and solar arrays. The study examined smart technologies focused on water heaters, which use 9% of US household electricity. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
  • The European Union said it nearly doubled its share of renewable energy from a 2004 benchmark and was already close to meeting its target obligations for 2020. The share of energy from renewable resources was 16%, about 89% above 2004 levels, the first year it started keeping records on renewables. [UPI.com]
  • A leading source of solar analysis, IHS, published the latest edition of its Solar Deal Tracker this week, in which it finds that the global solar PV pipeline has now exceeded 200 GW, thanks in large part to the extension of the US Investment Tax Credit. Of the PV projects 110 GW are in the US, China, or Brazil. [CleanTechnica]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 10 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • A new study suggests we don’t actually need to store power from the wind and sun. Because the wind is always blowing somewhere in the US, and a cloudy day in one city will be sunny elsewhere, researchers suggest we just need a bigger grid, and better power lines that could send energy wherever it’s needed. [Co.Exist]
The wind is always blowing somewhere. Photo: Andrei Mayatnik via Shutterstock

The wind is always blowing somewhere. Photo: Andrei Mayatnik via Shutterstock

  • Obama’s clean power plan may be on hold, Coal’s fate is not • The US Supreme Court may have put President Barack Obama’s most aggressive plan to curb power-plant emissions on hold, but that’s not going to save coal from a shrinking market, or stop some states and utilities from moving on their own. [Energy Voice]
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report giving the history of an Eastern Interconnect working group in 2010 to 2012, which developed research showing the eastern US could cut carbon by 42% and reach 30% renewable energy by 2030. The numbers exceed those required under the Clean Power Plan. [Utility Dive]
  • A generous incentive for the Massachusetts solar industry has quietly evaporated, as subsidies that helped finance solar power projects reached a limit set by the state. Also, the Legislature has yet to lift the cap that had been hit earlier on the amount of power utilities must buy from net-metered sources at retail rates. [The Boston Globe]
  • On January 20th, the missile destroyer USS Stockdale officially became the first US Navy ship to use a biofuel mixture for regular military operations. It is part of the “Great Green Fleet,” a Carrier Strike Group that will serve as a test for the tactical viability and cost-effectiveness of biofuels. [EarthTechling]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 9 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The fourth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook highlights the record year for utility-scale and distributed low-carbon electric generation. One of the most significant pieces of the report is the data on prices and decarbonization, which shows that decarbonizing has not led to higher prices. [Greentech Media]
Texas wind farm.

Texas wind farm.

  • Green power is cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels and will buck the trend of falling investment in oil and gas as it can offer long-term returns sheltered from political risk, industry analysts say. Oil prices have dropped 75% since mid-2014, leading to predictions of falling petro-chemical investment. [Reuters UK]
  • The wind industry has surpassed the hydro industry as the third largest player in the European electricity grid in terms of capacity, and is fast closing the gap on the coal and gas sectors that continue to dominate the continent’s power mix. Wind energy now provides a total of 142 GW of capacity in Europe. [Business Green]
  • Vermont energy regulators completed an update of the state’s key energy and electricity plans. The updated Comprehensive Energy Plan reaffirms Vermont’s overall goal of achieving 90% of its total energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, adds interim goals, and provides greater detail on achieving goals. [JD Supra]
  • President Obama said the US would tax each barrel of oil imported or exported, with some of that revenue can be used for transportation. He said, “Some of that revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future.” [CNSNews.com]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 8 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Wind power provided almost half of Scotland’s entire energy needs last month, According to WWF Scotland. January had 22 days when the wind generated sufficient power for every home in the country. Wind turbines supplied a total of 1,125,544 MWh to the national grid. [Scotsman]
Whitelee windfarm in Eaglesham is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

Whitelee windfarm in Eaglesham is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

  • The combination of hydropower, wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy will generate more electricity than coal by 2030, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Of the renewables the agency predicts will grow, wind power is the largest segment. [Wheeling Intelligencer]
  • With two reports commissioned by the Repower Our Schools Coalition, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center says Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools & Durham Public Schools would save millions of dollars with solar power, while improving basic education for students. [CleanTechnica]
  • Tapping into Canadian hydropower is hardly a new concept in energy-starved New England. But Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s proposal to authorize long-term contracts between utilities and hydropower producers is being viewed in some quarters as a potential game-changer. [Valley News]
  • An upstate New York town that repeatedly found itself without power for days during a string of storms is planning the dramatic step by pulling its municipal buildings entirely off the electric grid. Nassau will rely on solar, wind, landfill gas and battery storage to power a microgrid by 2020. [Press Herald]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 7 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The ice cover across the Arctic hit a new low throughout January. The Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center tracked the lowest ice extent ever for January. The record-low ice extent was driven by unusually high air temperatures over the Arctic Ocean – more than 6° C (10.8° F) above average. [Nunatsiaq News]
September Arctic sea extent compared to 1981-2000 average portrayed by yellow line (NASA)

2015 September Arctic sea extent compared to 1981-2000 average portrayed by yellow line (NASA)

  • Does shrinking ice in the Arctic lead to worse snow storms along the East Coast? It’s very possible says leading Arctic researcher Judah Cohen. In Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, at least five of the top 10 snow storms on record have occurred since 1990. [Washington Post]
  • Croatia is unlikely to go ahead with plans to build a new coal-fired thermal plant in the northern Adriatic. The environment minister said, “We need a new energy strategy in line with the European Union plans on boosting renewable energy and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Such plants don’t fit in.” [Reuters]
  • The US now has nearly 503 million barrels of commercial crude oil stockpiled, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. It’s the highest level of supply for this time of the year in at least 80 years. Certain key storage locations are now “bumping up against storage and logistical constraints.” [CNN]
  • Illinois state regulators allow Peabody Energy to pledge it has adequate assets to pay for the estimated $92 million needed to reclaim three southern Illinois mines when they close. The Environmental Law and Policy Center says that arrangement puts Illinois taxpayers at risk should Peabody go bankrupt. [Peoria Public Radio]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 6 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • US utility Georgia Power plans to add 525 MW of renewable generation by 2019. The proposal includes up to 425 MW of utility-scale solar, wind and biomass, according to the utility’s integrated resource plan filed with state regulators. The strategy also includes a carve-out for distributed solar resources. [reNews]
Linemen at work. Georgia Power image.

Linemen at work. Georgia Power image.

  • Global energy efficiency investment will reach $5.8 trillion by the year 2030, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Authority. By 2030, yearly energy efficiency investment will total around $385 billion, the report says. The focus will be buildings, manufacturing, and transportation. [Sustainnovate]
  • A study from Oklahoma State University found that wind projects in the western part of the state are bringing revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars into local county coffers and school districts, while increasing the state’s energy independence. Some counties with small populations have had impressive windfalls. [Sustainnovate]
  • About 579 kW of low-income solar projects have been announced by the Colorado Energy Office and GRID Alternatives. Five projects will be built to help provide electricity to those most in need – people who spend more than 4% of their income on utility bills in rural areas, who could save about 50% on their energy bills. [CleanTechnica]
  • ISO New England’s chief operating officer reported that total capacity is projected to decrease by 396 MW in 2016, but then increase by almost 9.8 GW in the following three years. About 4.1 GW of that total is wind and other renewables. ISO New England’s peak load in January was 19,412 MW. [Platts]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

February 5 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • In a stunning trend with broad implications, the economy has grown significantly since 2007, while electricity consumption has been flat, and total energy demand dropped. The economy has grown 10% since 2007, while primary energy consumption has fallen by 2.4%, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. [ThinkProgress]
Credit BNEF

Our economy is growing; our energy consumption is not.
We can have a healthy economy and consume less at the same time. Credit BNEF

  • Opinion: Has the U.S. Really Reached an Epic Turning Point in Energy? • The amount of electricity from coal-fired power plants hit a record low while that from natural gas generators hit a record high. Renewable energy added the most new power in 2015, and annual carbon emissions reached a 20-year low. [National Geographic]
  • Opinion: Sharing Clean Energy With Our Neighbors Is Saving Us Millions • One key challenge for grid operators is upgrading so we don’t have to throw away clean energy. Production of clean renewable energy sometimes gets shut down because the grid cannot absorb all the clean energy we produce. [Natural Resources Defense Council]
  • County prosecutors filed a criminal misdemeanor charge against Southern California Gas Co. According to the District Attorney’s Office, SoCalGas is being charged because they allegedly failed to report the leak at Porter Ranch immediately. Meanwhile, the company now also faces a wrongful death lawsuit. [Lawyer Herald]
  • According to data just released in the 2016 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook – a project of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy – the shift to renewables may be happening a lot faster than the EPA thought that it would less than a year ago. [HeraldNet]

For more news, please visit geoharvey – Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

 

Report from Efficiency Vermont’s Better Buildings by Design Conference

BBDnodate_Logo

Burlington, Vermont – Day 1 • Feb. 3, 2016

Reporting on the Keynote address and three workshops, Jim Stiles was there, to represent Green Energy Times:

The keynote was good (hey, Bill McKibben is dynamite). I think the only news was that he was not thrilled with Paris. He pointed out: 

  • We already have 1C of global warming
  • In 2015, we had .1C of warming
  • At that rate, we exceed the max of 1.5C of warming (9 years to 2C, but since carbon emissions are still increasing…)
  • If we meet the emission goals from Paris, we will see 3.5C of warming
  • He thinks that there is a plausible argument that the 1 million refugees from Syria should be considered climate refugees (the political meltdown was preceded by a horrendous drought, which certainly contributed to a terrible economy, which contributed political mayhem. Welcome to what could well be a common pattern for what should likely be considered climate refugees

I really liked how Bill talked about how we all have our regular job but we also have our other job – which is all about being good citizens, and how one big piece of that is fixing climate change. He also suggested that the actual radicals out there these days tend to work at oil companies (for example Exxon, where they still systematically mislead, distort, etc), and the actual conservatives are people like us who are (dare I say it) into conservation and protecting a way of life that is fast disappearing.

Reporting on three workshops that were held on the first day of the event, Stiles said that he went to three talks:

1. Best Practice Designs for Cost Effective Approaches to Net Zero Energy Commercial Building Enclosures:

Presenter: Steve Easley, Steve Easley & Associates

This interactive session is designed to sort through the myriad of insulation choices in order to choose the best insulation system for various types of structure. It will focus on the performance characteristics of new building enclosure approaches and technologies to help you create enclosures that manage thermal and moisture loads to ensure building durability as well as energy efficiency. The presenter will use real-world examples to help you select the best insulation and air barrier system for a given application and write better specifications regarding fenestration, insulation, and air barriers.

Stiles comment:“The guy knew his stuff, and talked mostly about how to avoid moisture/water related problems with insulation which is important…

2. Balancing Resiliency Resilient River Apartment:

Presenter: Joseph Cincotta, LineSync Architecture

The resilient design movement is gaining momentum, but much is still open for discussion and experimentation. How do you weigh up-front cost against creating buildings that can withstand natural disasters? What are the overlaps and contradictions between resilient and sustainable design practices? How can rugged materials be utilized to create humane and beautiful spaces? This 90 minute session will explore resiliency through a case study of our award-winning project. The workshop will begin with a presentation of the ‘Resilient River Apartment , which was rehabilitated after being ravaged by flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. The presentation will be followed by a discussion on how lessons learned can be applied to other projects.

Stiles comment: Basically the presenter, who is from Wilmington, Vermont, one of the many places that were devastated by hurricane, Irene. He did some innovative stuff to facilitate recovery after a building is flooded. Not bad stuff, but I not anything that looks like actual best practice (better to not build in or just up and leave places that frequently flood).

3. What we have learned about Mechanical Systems in Low Load Homes:

Presenter: Marc Rosenbaum, South Mountain Company

How are air source, inverter-driven heat pumps working in low-load homes? What about heat pump water heaters? And while were at it, how are those energy recovery ventilators performing in real installations? We will examine the performance and subtleties of all these technologies. The presenter is a compulsive measurer, and the data collected doesnt always match the hypothesis. Well also take a look at the cold climate heat pump specification. Finally, for amusement, well consider some data taken from some interesting outings in measuring existing fossil fuel systems!

Stiles comment: The presenter is a very competent guy, is a big fan of super insulation and mini-split heat pumps and can actually demonstrate that they can really work in real homes. Has lots of good info about how bad conventional systems can easily be.

TODAY Is another full day for the Better Buildings by Design Conference. The trade show is open to the public. Stop by and join builders, architects, homeowners, manufacturers … Learn about today’s standards that will lead us into an energy-efficient, resilient future: Passive House, Net-zero, Heat pumps, the latest for heating, insulation & sealing, windows, and ways to reduce your energy usage and consequential cost of living …