Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (8/25/14)

August 25th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (8/25/14).

  1. According to the L.A. Times: ”Californians who want to put solar panels on their roofs could benefit from a state bill headed to the governor’s desk. The Legislature on Thursday passed the Solar Permitting Efficiency Act, which promises to streamline the solar permitting process throughout California. Industry officials say that could save each customer $1,000 or more on the cost of installing solar panels.”
  2. NBC News reports, “A construction boom of pipelines carrying explosive oil and natural gas from “fracking” fields to market — pipes that are bigger and more dangerous than their predecessors -– poses a safety threat in rural areas, where they sometimes run within feet or yards of homes with little or no safety oversight, an NBC News investigation has found.”
  3. According to the San Jose Mercury News: “A proposal to build one of the world’s largest solar farms in a rural area south of Silicon Valley has cleared one of its final hurdles after five years of planning and environmental debate. But whether the 247-megawatt facility proposed for Panoche Valley, a vast expanse of rangeland 50 miles south of Hollister, is ever built will depend on it securing final environmental permits and new investors to bankroll construction.”
  4. Climate Progress reports, “Within a few decades, large-scale, centralized electricity generation from fossil fuels could be a thing of the past in Europe.”
  5. At Greentech Media, Jigar Shah argues that Bill Gates is “wrong on renewable energy.”

Map Shows How States Are Progressing Towards Meeting EPA’s 1.5%-Per-Year Energy Efficiency Goal

August 23rd, 2014

The release in late May of EPA’s draft rules on carbon pollution at existing power plants gave individual states a tremendous amount of flexibility in how they meet the proposed targets.  For instance, a state rich in potential solar power resources might choose to focus on increasing the percentage of its electricity generated from the sun.  Same thing with wind power.  And, of course, all states can use energy efficiency gains as a key part of their plans. As the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions explains:

Through energy efficiency programs, states can drive down their total consumption, including consumption of electricity generated by fossil fuels. This in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions, bringing states closer to their emission rate target. EPA projects that each state is capable of eventually reducing electricity demand by 1.5 percent each year, in line with the rate leading states have achieved. States are projected to meet this figure in varying years, taking into account how advanced each state was in 2012. This 1.5 percent projection is incremental, meaning EPA expects an additional 1.5 percent savings each year, for a much larger cumulative savings by 2030. Projections for states that currently reduce demand by less than 1.5 percent per year are designed in a way that allow a ramp-up period before reaching this level, but EPA has determined that all states have the capacity to meet this projection by 2025 at the latest. Note that under the proposal, states are not obligated to meet EPA’s efficiency projections in demonstrating compliance; provided the ultimate target emission rate is met, states could use any combination of measures they see fit.

The map above shows each state’s 2012 incremental efficiency savings as a percentage of the 1.5 percent projection. States colored with a darker shade of blue are closer to meeting this projection. Two states, Arizona and Maine, reported savings above 1.5 percent in 2012.

As we know, energy efficiency is generally considered to be the biggest “bang for the buck” when it comes to reducing energy consumption and carbon pollution, which means that this EPA goal makes a great deal of sense. Yet, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, only 21 states have mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, while 17 states have no energy efficiency standards at all.  That’s unfortunate, particularly given that Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins has found that“adopting efficiency technologies aggressively yet cost-effectively, yield[s] at least a 12% annual real rate of return.” As states formulate their plans aimed at meeting their EPA CO2 pollution reduction goals, it seems like pushing ahead on energy efficiency improvements should constitute an easy, “no brainer” option.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (8/22/14)

August 22nd, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (8/22/14).

  1. The Hill reports, “Ads blanketing the Washington, D.C. metro system meant to tout Canada’s image, and boost support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline among policymakers, aren’t working, according to a survey.”
  2. On the Greentech Media “Energy Gang” podcast, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute explains that “As Economists Argue, Renewables Keep Getting Cheaper.”
  3. Climate Progress reports: “At least 10 percent of the contents of fracking fluid injected into the earth is toxic. For another third we have no idea. And that’s only from the list of chemicals the fracking industry provided voluntarily. That’s according to an analysis by William Stringfellow of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, reported in Chemistry World.”
  4. According to Gigaom: “It’s been quite awhile since we’ve heard anything from battery startup Sakti3. The seven-year-old University of Michigan spin-out has been heads down working on a high performance “solid-state” lithium ion battery and on Wednesday announced that it’s produced a battery that can double the range of an electric car (like a Tesla Model S) or double the usage time of a gadget like a wearable device.”
  5. Renewable Energy World reports, “ABB Ltd. said a power-cable technology that allows offshore wind farms to transmit more than twice the energy of current set-ups will boost orders at the company’s power systems division in coming years.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (8/21/14)

August 21st, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (8/21/14).

  1. The Wall Street Journal reports: “India’s plans for setting up the world’s largest solar power station has been hit by political wrangling over whether it can use the proposed land that is home to migratory birds and meant for salt production. The project, forecast to cost $4 billion over seven years, was to be along the banks of India’s largest salt lake in the northwestern state of Rajasthan and billed as a showpiece for India’s solar ambitions.”
  2. According to Media Matters: “A recent study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) claims that smog regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cost the economy $270 billion. But the regulations, necessary to alleviate the unsafe smog pollution currently experienced by 140 million Americans, will likely achieve net benefits by reducing costs associated with medical expenses and premature deaths, while experts have said the NAM study uses “fraudulent” claims and is ‘not based in economic reality.’”
  3. RenewEconomy reports, “Leading investment bank UBS says the payback time for unsubsidised investment in electric vehicles plus rooftop solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6-8 years by 2020 – triggering a massive revolution in the energy industry.”
  4. According to Midwest Energy News, “A closely watched battle over utility policy in Wisconsin could determine the fate of solar development throughout the region, advocates say.”
  5. The News & Observer reports: “The Coal Ash Management Act that won final approval by the Republican-led General Assembly Wednesday is better than the Republicans’ previous approach to leaking coal ash pits. Namely, ‘Let’s adjourn and do nothing.’”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (8/20/14)

August 20th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (8/20/14).

  1. The Baltimore Sun reports, “An Italian renewable-energy company won the rights to develop offshore wind projects in nearly 80,000 acres of Atlantic waters off Maryland’s coast with an $8.7 million bid Tuesday.”
  2. According to Climate Progress, “Building wind farms and huge solar arrays means nothing if they cannot transmit that energy to homes and businesses, and a recent court ruling just made connecting to the grid a lot easier.”
  3. The Washington Post reports, “Maryland’s latest report on the impact of proposed natural gas exploration in the western part of the state said drilling could pose a threat to air quality and workers in a region that is ecologically pristine.”
  4. The Energy Collective notes that, “According to analysis produced by Lauri Myllyvirta and Greenpeace International in the first half of this year, China’s coal use dropped for the first time this century – while the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) actually grew.”
  5. The Guardian reports, “Cutting the [Australian] renewable energy target could bankrupt existing wind farms and lead to legal action against the commonwealth government, energy companies have warned.”