Leonardo DiCaprio highlights Israeli solar tech http://www.israel21c.org/leonardo-dicaprio-highlights-israeli-solar-tech/ Actor and environmentalist puts international spotlight on Megalim Solar Power project. JANUARY 22, 2017,Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio uses his instagram account to spotlight environmental challenges facing the world and environmental breakthroughs.
As such, his 13.8 million followers were sent a photo of Megalim Solar Power’s Ashalim power station now being built in the Negev desert.
“The arid landscape of Israel’s Negev Desert will look like a futuristic movie in the near future. The country is building the tallest solar thermal tower in the world above its dusty sands,” writes DiCaprio on his post alongside the photo.
The Ashalim project will comprise 55,000 mirrors which will feed solar heat into a 240-meter-tall solar tower — believed to be the highest in the world.
“The tower should be able to produce enough power for about 5% of Israel’s population when it’s concluded,” writes DiCaprio. “The sunlight will be reflected by the mirrors to a boiler at the top of the tower. The boiler will then be able to convert them and heat water to steam to turn the turbine in a conventional power plant.”
The Ashalim power station, scheduled to be up and running by the end of the year, will combine three types of energy: solar thermal, photovoltaic and natural gas.
Decoding Trump’s White House Energy Plan , Climate Central, By Bobby Magill , 20 Jan 17 Just as President Donald Trump took the oath of office and the White House scrubbed its website of Obama climate change information, it posted Trump’s “America First Energy Plan,” which is replete with misinformation and specious claims about climate and energy policy.
The White House’s new energy plan repackages Trump’s campaign promises to reignite America’s declining coal industry, kill the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan and exploit all of America’s fossil fuel reserves to achieve energy independence — an idea that ignores that America’s oil and gas is part of a truly global fossil fuels market.
Throughout his campaign, Trump expressed contempt
for the Obama administration’s climate policies, which were critical to the success of the Paris Climate Agreement — the international pact aiming to stop global warming from reaching what the world’s scientists agree are dangerous levels.
Obama’s climate and energy policies encouraged the development of low-carbon renewable sources and discouraged the use of coal for electricity as a way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming.
Trump and his transition team called those policies job killers. He falsely claimed that Obama’s policies alone have forced the coal industry into decline. Coal has been on a long, steady decline since 2008 when natural gas was made cheap and abundant because of fracking. Natural gas overtook coal as America’s largest source of electricity for the first time in history in 2016.
The White House’s “America First Energy Plan” reflects those claims and Trump’s disdain for climate science and renewable energy. Here is a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the plan:
Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy. The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.
Few people question that energy is essential, but Trump’s statement that his administration is committed to low-cost energy and maximizing the use of American resources is seen by many as code for unfettered exploitation of oil, coal and natural gas in the U.S. Trump has called renewables “an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves,” and says a cheaper way to energy independence is through oil, gas and coal.
Fossil fuels are abundant in the U.S. thanks to fracking, which brought about the shale oil and gas boom of the past decade. But oil drilled in the U.S. isn’t necessarily staying in the U.S. and contributing to energy independence. Congress lifted a 40-year ban on oil experts a year ago, and now U.S. oil is being shipped all over the world, even as the U.S. is importing oil from Canada and the Middle East.
At the same time, the costs of renewables has been falling dramatically in recent years, and America’s largest oil refiner and carbon emitter — Texas — has become the nation’s leader in wind power production.
Trump’s skepticism of renewables contrasts starkly with Obama, who said that wind and solar power are a critical a component of energy independence. For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.
“Burdensome regulations” has long been Republican messaging for what they consider odious Obama-era climate policies and regulations that encourage the use of renewables and natural gas instead of fossil fuels to address climate change, or restrict the development of oil and gas on federally owned public lands and waters.
For example, one of Obama’s last-minute actions was to close off most of the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska’s North Coast for oil and gas development as a way to protect the seashore from oil spills and prevent more and more of the carbon pollution driving climate change. That followed a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands and the closure of large swaths of the Atlantic coast to future oil drilling.
Each of those moves angered fossil fuel boosters in the Republican Party and were motivated in part by Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which involved a variety of measures to help slash America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump’s claim that lifting those and other restrictions would increase workers’ wages by more $30 billion wildly mischaracterizes the potential for workers to benefit from killing U.S. climate policy. The figure seems to come from a 2015 report by Louisiana State University banking professor Joseph R. Mason, which was released by the Institute for Energy Research, an oil-industry funded organization run by Trump’s energy transition team chief,Tom Pyle.
The report claims that $32 billion in annual worker wages over seven years would be earned if all of America’s public lands were opened to oil, gas and coal development — even the lands protected by law from energy development, including wilderness areas and national parks.
That means Trump is saying that if Yellowstone, the White House lawn, Yosemite Valley, the Great Smoky Mountains and Mt. Rushmore were opened to fracking, workers would reap billions in benefits.
Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well.
“Sound” energy policy is a play on “sound science” in an effort to lend it legitimacy.
It is true that the U.S. has vast untapped domestic energy sources — and that includes renewables. While fracking and the shale oil and gas boom led to discoveries of millions of barrels of oil that were once thought too expensive to reach, renewables are some of America’s largest untapped sources of energy.
For example, America’s offshore wind power potential is so huge that if fully developed, offshore wind farms could produce four times the electricity currently generated in the U.S. today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. America’s first offshore wind farm was completed in December, with more expected to be built over the next five years.
Trump’s estimated $50 trillion in untapped oil and gas reserves is a huge mischaracterization of the fossil fuels that can be developed in the U.S., said Mark Squillace, a professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
“The problem with numbers like this is that they do not tell the whole story,” Squillace said. “The United States certainly has vast oil and gas and coal reserves and if you just add them up and multiply by their market value you get a big number. But most of those reserves cannot be economically developed any time in the foreseeable future.”
He said the figure originates from Kathy Hartnett White, a Trump advisor affiliated with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, who told Fox Business in June that the U.S. is sitting on $50 trillion of oil and gas, “but the government is stopping us from getting it.”…….
President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water………….Trump’s energy policy says nothing about climate change, which will be made drasticly worse if the U.S. develops as much oil, gas and coal as Trump suggests.
America’s air and water have been kept clean over the past 40 years because of environmental laws enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump previously said he wants to abolish. Trump has appointed one of the EPA’s most ardent foes to head the agency — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 14 times and is involved in a lawsuit aiming to kill one of Obama’s most sweeping climate policies.
During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt said he wants states to have more control over how they are regulated by the EPA, suggesting that the federal laws protecting America’s air and water would be applied unevenly from state to state. Some states are much more vigilant in enforcing environmental regulations and have more resources than others,
Trump has said nothing about how a weakened EPA would accomplish his goal of keeping America’s air and water clean.http://www.climatecentral.org/news/decoding-trumps-white-house-energy-plan-21097
Wind power and wildlife thrive together http://www.aweablog.org/wind-power-wildlife-thrive-together/, JANUARY 5, 2017 National Bird Day is today and it offers a good chance to share the positive story about wind energy and birds. Cleaner air, healthier habitats
Wind (Energy) Beneath Their Wings
What do some of America’s most respected conservation groups think about wind power?
“Audubon strongly supports properly sited wind power as a renewable energy source that helps reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change,” the group says on its webpage.
“Responsibly developed wind energy offers a substantial, economically feasible, and wildlife-friendly energy opportunity for America,” according to the National Wildlife Federation.
Here’s why they offer such strong endorsements.
Scientists overwhelmingly agree that excess carbon pollution threatens birds across the globe. This looms particularly large in North America, where the National Audobon Society finds CO2 pollution could cause 314 different bird species to lose up to 50 percent of their habitats in the coming decades.
Fortunately, wind power remains the biggest, fastest, and cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution, cutting 28 million cars’ worth every year. Wind also contributes to a cleaner environment for America’s birds by eliminating pollutants like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that create smog.
Working proactively to keep impacts low
The U.S. wind industry works closely with conservation organizations and government officials to understand and minimize the impacts it does have to the greatest degree possible. Here’s one example of groundbreaking research on ways to do this:
How else do wind developers ensure conservation happens? Some examples of the different methods they use include:
Factors like this contributed to the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority’s finding that wind has the lowest impact on wildlife and their habitats of any way to generate electricity.
It is true that wind does have some impact on bird populations, and the U.S. wind industry takes that very seriously. However, this should also be put into context: wind causes less than 0.01 percent of all human-related bird deaths.
The reality is no human activity is completely impact-free. With decades of siting experience and comprehensive environmental impact assessments done before construction, wind greatly lessens the effects it does have.
And because wind power directly combats the greatest threat to birds, helps create a cleaner environment and preserves habitats through its small footprint, it creates a future where birds of all kinds can continue to flourish.
WHY SOLAR WILL BE BUILT INTO OUR FUTURE CITIES http://circulatenews.org/2017/01/solar-will-built-future-cities/ JANUARY 19, 2017
Solar power and other renewable energy sources are increasingly affordable as technologies continues to become more efficient and effective, and the opportunities to scale solutions brings costs down even further. As much as the transition from a fossil-fuel based economy to one powered by renewables is becoming more widely recognised, what is sometimes lost is just how rapid the change has been. Furthermore, it appears the next natural step is a renewable energy source inspired transformation of the way in which we design our future buildings and cities.
During the last six years in the US alone, “solar power has exploded into the energy sector with the kind of industrial vigour not seen since the 1950s”, wrote David Beckham in GreenBiz earlier this month. In 2010, the US had the equivalent of one gigawatt of solar generation capabilities, for perspective on what that means in terms of power demands, Disney Land uses roughly that amount every two weeks – it’s also less than the Doc needed to get the DeLorean running again in Back to the Future! Capacity has ballooned to 30 gigawatts of solar power generation at the beginning of 2016 and is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, mostly thanks to the lowering of costs with the average solar cell now costings $0.35 per watt, compared with around $4 in 2016, all while increasing efficiency by 20%.
Throw in increased volatility in fossil fuel prices – especially oil – and diminishing efficiency gains for non-renewable based technologies, and it should come as no surprise that there is increasing investment and innovation into solar power, not to mention demand, where more panels were installed in the US during 2016 than the previous 38 years combined. Furthermore, digital advances are enabling better understanding and control of complexity and data, a huge advantage for less consistent natural sources of power like solar and wind.
The flexibility of renewables enables designers and architects to adopt a new way of thinking and there are now a growing number of examples where the potential opportunities of integrating energy production into the design of buildings and cities from the outset are being exploited.
Joining up built environment construction and design with renewable energy to create a more diverse, distributed and resilient system of power production integrated directly into cities offers the possibility of producing a holistic solution to individual challenges, the AMIE prototype, produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which integrates solar panels, into a connected home and electric vehicle is one great recent example.
Photovoltaic technologies designed for integration into building components produced by corporates like Californian-based Solaria, who have developed especially effective solar tech so that they can produce glass that can be used in typical window openings, is fully see through and generates electricity, are predicted to become increasingly common. Indeed, the level of development and scale of Solaria itself may surprise some.
“Architectural solar” is still in relative infancy, but if anything can be learned by the growth of solar power generation, which few would have expected to be economically viable by 2016 looking at the 2010 landscape, it is that technology with potential can and will be developed exceptionally quickly in a context where there is demand for the solutions it provides. The ORNL experiment and current solutions sold by Solaria may only be a beginning, but anticipating rapid evolution looks like a good bet.
Liebreich and McCrone: The shift to ‘base-cost’ renewables: 10 predictions for 2017 By Michael Liebreich and Angus McCrone on 20 January 2017 “………… The good news is that renewable energy has – at least on a levelized cost of electricity, or LCOE, basis – clearly achieved the long-awaited goal of grid competitiveness. More than that, in many countries it now undercuts every other source of new generating capacity, sometimes by very considerable margins.
Last year saw unsubsidized price records of $30 per megawatt-hour for a wind farm in Morocco and $29.10 for a solar plant in Chile. These must be the lowest electricity prices, for any new project, of any technology, anywhere in the world, ever. And we are still going to see further falls in equipment prices.
Super-low-cost renewable power – what we are now calling “base-cost renewables” – is going to force a revolution in the way power grids are designed, and the way they are regulated…….
Putting super-cheap, “base-cost” renewable power at the heart of the world’s grids in this way will require a revolution in the way the electricity system is regulated. Renewable power’s progress to date has been achieved mainly by subsidizing or mandating its installation, while forcing the rest of the system to provide flexibility, within otherwise unchanged regulatory environments and power market rules. The additional system costs have been material but generally affordable.
That has taken renewable energy to 20, 30 or 40 percent of supply in many markets. ……..
………1. GLOBAL INVESTMENT TO STRUGGLE…….
2. GROWTH SPURT FOR BATTERIES, SMART METERS………
3. SOLAR INSTALLATIONS FALL IN CHINA BUT RISE WORLDWIDE…….
4. WIND BLOWS SIDEWAYS……
5. COAL AND OIL RALLIES PETER OUT……..
6. U.S. GAS PRICES REMAIN FIRM…..
7. EVS BREAK THE MILLION VEHICLE MILESTONE……
8. CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY ON A TEAR….
9. RESILIENCE AND SECURITY RECEIVE OVERDUE ATTENTION…..
10. THE CLIMATE DEBATE HEATS UP – AGAIN……. https://about.bnef.com/blog/liebreich-shift-base-cost-renewables-10-predictions-2017/
Iran, ROSATOM sign roadmap for nuclear cooperation http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/410263/Iran-ROSATOM-sign-roadmap-for-nuclear-cooperation January 20, 2017 TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Russian ROSATOM signed on Thursday a roadmap for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The document was signed in Russia by Behrouz Kamalvandi, the AEOI deputy chief, and Nickolay Spasskiy, ROSATOM deputy director general, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding in Nov. 11, 2014.
Also, the two sides finalized a pre-project contract for the retrofitting of two gas centrifuge cascades in the Fordo facility.
The documents were approved and prepared for signing as a result of recent negotiations between the AEOI and ROSATOM.
The agreement is in line with a 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which resulted in removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.
Under the deal, Iran has committed to convert the Fordo facility into a nuclear, physics and technology center to benefit from international collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships in agreed areas of research.
Also, by the accord, two of the six centrifuge cascades at the Fordo facility have to spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification, for stable isotope production.
Stable isotopes are used for medical and industrial purposes.
Iran launched a facility to produce raw material for stable isotopes in August 2016.
Also, in an August interview with Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We will further assist our Iranian partners in implementing the Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, including the processing of enriched uranium and the conversion of facilities to produce stable isotopes.”
6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth.
“This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy,” said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016.”
The solar industry is particularly shining bright.
“Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector,” the report, released on Jan. 13, states. “This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity.” Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016.
According to the report, solar—both photovoltaic and concentrated—employed almost 374,000 workers in 2016, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is followed by fossil fuels, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment, or 187,117 workers across coal, oil and natural gas generation technologies.
Wind generation is seeing growth in employment with a 32 percent increase since 2015. The wind industry provides the third largest share of Electric Power Generation employment with 102,000 workers at wind firms across the nation.
The reason behind this growth in the solar sector is due to the high capacity additions in both distributed and utility-scale photovoltaic solar, the report said. In fact, construction and installation projects represented the largest share of solar jobs, with almost four in ten workers doing this kind of work, followed by workers in solar wholesale trade, manufacturing and professional services.
In a sign of promise for the booming industry, solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7 percent this year.
Solar is becoming the cheapest form of electricity production in the world, according to statistics from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Last year was the first time that the renewable energy technology out-performed fossil fuels on a large scale.
Saudi Arabia to focus on solar, wind in $US50bn clean energy plan REneweconomy By Ilias Tsagas on 18 January 2017 PV Magazine Speaking yesterday at an Abu Dhabi’s Sustainability Week (ADSW) event, Saudi Arabia’s energy, industry and mineral resources minister Khalid Al-Falih announced a new grand energy plan for the country. The new program is set to commence in a few weeks’ time, when Saudi Arabia’s government will launch the first round of bidding for a new renewable energy tender, energy minister Al-Falih announced at the World Future Energy Summit 2017 (WFES) in Abu Dhabi.
The energy minister did not, however, provide any details regarding the capacity that will be auctioned in the tender.
He did inform the attendants that Saudi Arabia’s new master program for the energy sector will require between USD 30 to 50 billion investment, which will need to come via the private sector.
Solar and wind power will be the preferred technologies in the auctions, but geothermal and waste projects will also be considered, just with a smaller role to play.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest oil producer, is aiming for renewable energy installations, primarily of solar and wind, of 9.5 GW by 2023, but this is just the starting point, the country’s energy minister told the ADSW.
By 2030, the country will generate 70 percent of its electricity from natural gas and 30 percent from renewables and other sources, promised Al-Falih.
“Other resources” include nuclear power plants, of which plans for two nuclear reactors totaling 2.8 GW are currently in the early stages of consideration and planning…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/saudi-arabia-to-focus-on-solar-wind-in-us50bn-clean-energy-plan-35690/
Tesla building world’s largest rooftop solar farm on $5B NV gigafactory http://www.constructiondive.com/news/tesla-building-worlds-largest-rooftop-solar-farm-on-5b-nv-gigafactory/434022/ Kim Slowey@kimslowey
Another energy-saving strategy at the gigafactory, according to 2015 statements from JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, was to eschew natural gas pipelines in the structure’s design so that there could be no future possible concessions regarding the company’s no-emissions policy.
Construction on the Nevada gigafactory — expected to be fully functional in 2018 — is progressing, and battery production is already underway. It is widely believed that the solar panels Tesla will use to build its rooftop solar farm will come from SolarCity, which Tesla purchased last year. Soon after the acquisition, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that SolarCity would begin to market a relatively low-cost solar roof shingle that mimicked the look of high-end slate and terra cotta roofs, removing the aesthetic barrier of traditional, industrial-looking solar shingles and panels.
Tesla’s solar ambitions, however, extend far beyond the U.S. and solar rooftops. In November, TechCrunch reported that Tesla and SolarCity were behind a solar microgrid project — funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the American Samoa Economic Development Authority — that aims to eliminate the island’s reliance on costly diesel generators by providing 72 hours of full power from a solar array that recharges with seven hours of sunlight.
King CONG vs. Solartopia, The Progressive December 5, 2016, Harvey Wasserman “………Some 10,000 arrests of citizens engaged in civil disobedience have put the Diablo nuclear reactors at ground zero in the worldwide No Nukes campaign. But the epic battle goes far beyond atomic power. It is a monumental showdown over who will own our global energy supply, and how this will impact the future of our planet.
On one side is King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas), the corporate megalith that’s unbalancing our weather and dominating our governments in the name of centralized, for-profit control of our economic future. On the other is a nonviolent grassroots campaign determined to reshape our power supply to operate in harmony with nature, to serve the communities and individuals who consume and increasingly produce that energy, and to build the foundation of a sustainable eco-democracy…….
with this dangerous and dirty power have come Earth-friendly alternatives, ignited in part by the grassroots movements of the 1960s. E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful became the bible of a back-to-the-land movement that took a new generation of veteran activists into the countryside.
Dozens of nonviolent confrontations erupted, with thousands of arrests. In June 1978, nine months before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, the grassroots Clamshell Alliance drew 20,000 participants to a rally at New Hampshire’s Seabrook site. And Amory Lovins’s pathbreaking article, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken,” posited a whole new energy future, grounded in photovoltaic and wind technologies, along with breakthroughs in conservation and efficiency, and a paradigm of decentralized, community-owned power.
As rising concerns about global warming forced a hard look at fossil fuels, the fading nuclear power industry suddenly had a new selling point. Climate expert James Hansen, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand began advocating atomic energy as an answer to CO2 emissions. The corporate media began breathlessly reporting a “nuclear renaissance” allegedly led by hordes of environmentalists.
But the launch of Peaceful Atom 2.0 has fallen flat.
As I recently detailed in an online article for The Progressive, atomic energy adds to rather than reduces global warming. All reactors emit Carbon-14. The fuel they burn demands substantial CO2 emissions in the mining, milling, and enrichment processes. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has compiled a wide range of studies concluding new reactor construction would significantly worsen the climate crisis.
Moreover, attempts to recycle spent reactor fuel or weapons material have failed, as have attempts to establish a workable nuclear-waste management protocol. For decades, reactor proponents have argued that the barriers to radioactive waste storage are political rather than technical. But after six decades, no country has unveiled a proven long-term storage strategy for high-level waste.
For all the millions spent on it, the nuclear renaissance has failed to yield a single new reactor order. New projects in France, Finland, South Carolina, and Georgia are costing billions extra, with opening dates years behind schedule. Five projects pushed by the Washington Public Power System caused the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. No major long-standing green groups have joined the tiny crew of self-proclaimed “pro-nuke environmentalists.” Wall Street is backing away.
Even the split atom’s most ardent advocates are hard-pressed to argue any new reactors will be built in the United States, or more than a scattered few anywhere else but China, where the debate still rages and the outcome is uncertain……..
Where once it demanded deregulation and a competitive market, the nuclear industry now wants re-regulation and guaranteed profits no matter how badly it performs.
The grassroots pushback has been fierce. Proposed bailouts have been defeated in Illinois and are under attack in New York and Ohio. A groundbreaking agreement involving green and union groups has set deadlines for shutting the Diablo reactors, with local activists demanding a quicker timetable. Increasingly worried about meltdowns and explosions, grassroots campaigns to close old reactors are ramping up throughout the United States and Europe. Citizen action in Japan has prevented the reopening of nearly all nuclear plants since Fukushima.
Envisioning the “nuclear interruption” behind us, visionaries like Lovins see a decentralized “Solartopian” system with supply owned and operated at the grassroots………
[In Germany] the transition is succeeding faster and more profitably than its staunchest supporters imagined. Wind and solar have blasted ahead. Green energy prices have dropped and Germans are enthusiastically lining up to put power plants on their rooftops. Sales of solar panels have skyrocketed, with an ever-growing percentage of supply coming from stand-alone buildings and community projects. The grid has been flooded with cheap, green juice, crowding out the existing nukes and fossil burners, cutting the legs out from under the old system.
In many ways it’s the investor-owner utilities’ worst nightmare,………
The revolution has spread to the transportation sector, where electric cars are now plugging into outlets powered by solar panels on homes, offices, commercial buildings, and factories. Like nuclear power, the gas-driven automobile may be on its way to extinction.
Nationwide, more than 200,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, including more than 75,000 in California alone. By contrast, only about 100,000 people work in the U.S. nuclear industry. Some 88,000 Americans now work in the wind industry, compared to about 83,000 in coal mines, with that number also dropping steadily.
Once the shining hope of the corporate power industry, atomic energy’s demise represents more than just the failure of a technology. It’s the prime indicator of an epic shift away from corporate control of a grid-based energy supply, toward a green power web owned and operated by the public.
As homeowners, building managers, factories, and communities develop an ever-firmer grip on a grassroots homegrown power supply, the arc of our 128-year energy war leans toward Solartopia.
Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at solartopia.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org. http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/12/189107/king-cong-vs-solartopia
Wyoming bill would bar utilities from using wind or solar energy http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/wyoming-bill-would-bar-utilities-from-using-wind-or-solar-energy/article/483604
While it may be hard to believe, nine lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to the state that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects by 2019.
SENATE FILE NO. SF0071
details the Electricity Production Standard for the state of Wyoming, and it’s a real doozy. It is being sponsored by two state senators and seven state representatives, all Republicans, of course.
Inside Climate News is calling the bill an attack on clean energy in Wyoming, and possibly the nation. And what’s really absurd is that it is coming at a time when the cost of using clean energy sources has plummeted across the country, as we seek to remedy the impacts of climate change.
There are only six permissible resources allowed for the generation of electricity in the state, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, something called a “net metering” system, nuclear power and oil. Wind and solar are not included with the exception that they are for individual use only, reports the Star Tribune.
Utility companies are mandated to use the approved sources to meet 95 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2018 and 100 percent of the state’s power needs by 2019. Bottom line — using power from utility-scale wind, solar and other renewable projects would be outlawed under this legislation.
Now utility companies can sell electricity generated by wind or solar power outside the state without paying a penalty. But they will be charged a fine of $10.00 per kilowatt hour if they give any electricity to state residents.
Wyoming’s dependence on coal
You could believe it when I say many of the lawmakers backing the bill are from top coal-producing counties in the state. Coal production has been the backbone of Wyoming’s economy since the 1970s and has provided the most stable source of tax revenues for the state over the past four decades.
And the proposed legislation is a last ditch effort to save a coal industry that has already been crippled because of plummeting oil, gas and coal prices over the past few years. This is one reason it was so important that Donald Trump win the election in November. With Trump, there was a very good chance that regulations would be rolled back, energizing the coal industry in the state.
Trump’s energy platform is primarily about deregulation, including a promise to kill the Clean Power Plan, which is under consideration by the courts. Under the plan, coal production in Western states would fall by 155 million tons between 2015 and 2040. And two-thirds of that coal comes from the Powder River Basin in northern Wyoming and Montana, according to a story in the Star Tribune in October 2016.
“Our analysis suggests that solar could now infringe on gas’ market share and in some cases challenge its peak margins, and that gas and renewables collectively will continue to gain market share at the expense of coal and nuclear,”
Levelized cost of energy survey shows wind, natural gas cementing economic edge SNL, 06 January 2017 By Lucas Bifera
A survey of levelized cost of energy, or LCOE, studies illustrates that onshore wind and combined-cycle gas have secured their place as the lowest-cost energy resources, with utility-scale solar not far behind.
Often used as a barometer for estimating the cost at which certain generation technologies can be deployed on an economic basis, LCOE has become a mainstay for policymakers, analysts and industry groups as a reference when comparing costs and benefits of various technologies on the grid.
Incumbent technologies like combined-cycle gas, onshore wind, utility-scale solar photovoltaic, nuclear and coal are uniformly included in studies…….the emergence of a cluster around onshore wind and combined-cycle gas across the different studies indicates an economic consensus, one that highlights the cost effectiveness of renewables on an unsubsidized basis and role of combined-cycle gas as the preeminent baseload resource.
“The demands of a developed economy will continue to require both traditional and alternative energy sources as the technologies driving renewable energy evolve,” observed George Bilicic, vice chairman and global head of power, energy & infrastructure group at Lazard, an investment bank that releases a widely-cited LCOE study each year.
But on an unsubsidized basis, renewables remain competitive across all studies, and in the case of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis, wind resources in Texas have become the cheapest source of power across North and South America, consistent with Lazard’s finding that wind has a low end range of $32/MWh in the Midwest and $36/MWh in Texas.
“Wind capital costs will go up because they are building higher towers, but LCOE values will fall because they have better capacity factors,” said Josh Rhodes, postdoctoral fellow at the Webber Energy Group and co-author of a study from The University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute.
“I think we will see a major deployment of solar and wind to come online by [the end of] 2019 in order to take advantage of the full ITC and PTC,” Rhodes noted, looking outward.
Onshore wind and utility-scale solar additions appear poised to outstrip additions of natural-gas fired ……… the Energy Information Administration’s recent 2017 Annual Energy Outlook, which projects that between 2018 and 2022, as much as 54.2 GW of wind could come online, in addition to 13.4 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity.
Combined, that projected capacity is more than 40 times the amount of projected advanced natural gas-fired capacity projected in the same study, which EIA estimates at 1.6 GW.
“Our analysis suggests that solar could now infringe on gas’ market share and in some cases challenge its peak margins, and that gas and renewables collectively will continue to gain market share at the expense of coal and nuclear,” Guggenheim added. http://www.snl.com/web/client?auth=inherit&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWlRsaU0yUXhZMkV3TnpjNCIsInQiOiJGZnRMT045UWllTkRYNzZsSDE1YWFJMXE0M0lQU2F1QnN6Z25jM2hoZlFpNDhwNFFSRzIyTnI1cDdyUW14c2hKXC9keStFV2JvenljcVVFT2Ztc3gxck12WElPXC9WMGVlQWNMbjNJcklpalltM01OTUN2ckRsQktyWlFLTFRcL0VrVyJ9#news/ar
How Did 2016 Fare For U.S. Energy Employment?
New York Bets On Renewables To Replace Indian Point Nuclear Plant https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/13/new-york-bets-renewables-replace-indian-point-nuclear-plant/ January 13th, 2017 Originally published on Think Progress. By Jeremy Deaton
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans this week to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which supplies electricity to New York City and surrounding areas. The plant’s two working reactors — which account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s power generation — are slated to go offline in 2020 and 2021, more than a decade ahead of schedule.
Nuclear power plants represent a range of risks, from hazardous radioactive waste to a full-scale meltdown. They also supply the bulk of America’s zero-carbon electricity. In laying out its carbon-cutting goals, the Environmental Protection Agency assumed that existing nuclear power plants would continue to hum and buzz for decades to come. But cheap natural gas is digging into the profits of America’s aging nuclear power plants, pressuring them to close ahead of schedule.
Some states, like Illinois, have thrown a lifeline to nuclear, subsidizing struggling plants, lest they be replaced by carbon-spewing natural gas. New York, by contrast, is betting that the hole created by Indian Point’s closure will be filled with solar, wind, and hydropower.
In a statement, Cuomo said the plant’s closure won’t drive up emissions “at the regional level.” Given New York’s ambitious climate policies, he might be right.
New York has big plans for clean energy.
This week, Cuomo called for states belonging to the Northeast carbon trading program to further limit carbon pollution. He also announced that New York would cut carbon emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030. As part of its energy plan, New York will require 50 percent of its power to come from renewables by 2030.
To help integrate renewables, New York is remaking its power grid, incentivizing utilities to advance distributed energy — rooftop solar panels, community solar arrays and microgrids. It’s also building power lines to supply New York City with wind and hydroelectric power generated upstate. Cuomo promised that new hydropower and improved transmission would largely fill the gap left by Indian Point. He’s said the shift will come “at a negligible cost to ratepayers.”
You may be wondering why New York isn’t maximizing zero-carbon power, building out wind, solar, and hydropower while maintaining its nuclear reactors. More zero-carbon power means less natural gas. Less natural gas means less climate change.
Advocates and policymakers are trying to perform triage on environmental threats. With climate change, there is a high probability of a global disaster in the future. With nuclear power, there is low probability of a local disaster in the present. How we should balance these risks is the subject of vigorous debate.
In the years following the Three Mile Island disaster, the United States stopped building nuclear power plants, in part because new projects were met with fierce local opposition. This left the door open for carbon-intensive coal and natural gas. Now, New York is trying to wean its way off nuclear without repeating the same mistake.
Cuomo is weighing numerous risks.
The Indian Point power plant presents a range of risks. Last year, it was discovered that a leak at the power plant was turning groundwater radioactive, though reportedly not enough to threaten human health. Experts are most concerned about the possibility of nuclear meltdown or a terrorist attack. The people who planned the 9/11 attacks had initially floated targeting nuclear power plants in addition to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Indian Point offers a prime target for terrorists. The plant lies less than 40 miles from Midtown Manhattan.
What should replace Indian Point? Unlike wind turbines and solar panels, gas-fired power plants can provide energy on demand. But, gas-fired power plants generate carbon dioxide and other pollutants, putting vulnerable New Yorkers in harm’s way.
“Western Queens already produces a majority of the electricity for the New York metropolitan area and has the high asthma and emphysema rates to prove it,” New York State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D) said in a statementissued in response to the planned closure of Indian Point. “Make no mistake, I will vigorously fight any efforts to build new power plants in already over-saturated communities.”
Cuomo is putting his money on clean, resilient renewable energy, but New York can’t transform its energy grid overnight. It will take decades to run the state on wind, solar, and hydropower alone, and that transition depends on smart public policy.
Renewables thrive where policies nurture their growth. That’s why New Jersey generates more solar power than Texas. And it’s why New York can shutter an important nuclear power plant and realistically expect to curb carbon emissions at the same time.
Its slate of climate policies could serve as a model for other states looking to wean off fossil fuels and nuclear energy both. And it has already begun: Just this week, Cuomo announced a new offshore wind project that will generate enough electricity to power more than 18,000 homes.
Delays of years in construction times and the doubling of costs, are the new normal, while the prices of low-carbon alternatives, wind and solar, which can be deployed in weeks rather than decades, have continued to fall. It is now clear that solar farms and wind turbines produce cheaper power than new nuclear will ever be able to. In some cases even old nuclear stations are so costly to run that new wind and solar are cheaper.
Nuclear Revival Looks Bleak as Solar and Wind Costs Continue to Drop http://www.ecowatch.com/nuclear-revival-bleak-2188785870.html By Paul Brown, 12 Jan 17