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President Obama has ordered federal agencies to rely on clean energy for 20 percent of its energy use by 2020, nearly triple its current level of renewable consumption. Mr. Obama's directive is no small order: The federal government is the country's largest energy consumer and spends billions on fuel each year.
By David J. Unger, Staff writer / December 5, 2013
The president boosted targets for renewable energy use by the Federal Government in a memo issued Thursday to civilian and military agencies. Frustrated by a gridlocked Congress, Mr. Obama has leveraged executive powers to implement a climate change plan he outlined in June. The administration's efforts to promote renewables have found strong opposition by backers of fossil fuels, who say a transition to clean energy undermines economic growth and the stability of the electrical grid.
The latest order builds on progress in clean energy by the federal government, the country's largest energy consumer. It is part of the government's broader effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on foreign energy sources.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/1205/Obama-wants-to-clean-up-Washington-energyShare This Post
December 05, 2013
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=7235
Renewable resources powering businesses, factories, schools and homes will be less expensive than fossil-fired electricity in as little as a decade from now, said Steven Chu, former Department of Energy Secretary.
The price tag of wind, solar and other alternative technologies will beat the price of fossil power even factoring in the cost of transmission carrying the green power and energy storage technologies, Chu said Dec. 3.
“I violently disagree with those who say renewables are always more expensive than fossil power,” Chu said at a Public Policy Institute of California meeting.
The lower price of alternative energy—currently and what is expected in the next 10 to 20 years—does not include the carbon and other air pollution benefits of renewable energy.Share This Post
by Chris Clarke
on December 4, 2013 4:15 PM
As we close in on the end of the year, it's customary to look back and assess the past. And when it comes to renewable energy in California, the year drawing to a close has been an epochal one. In 2013, California saw abundant installations of a number of different kinds of renewable power plants, from gigantic wind turbines to modest rooftop solar arrays, and lots of changes in the laws that regulate how we generate and use renewable energy.
We've covered many of those records here at ReWire, as recently as this week. But it's important to look at what those records actually mean in context. Record peak output from the state's solar panels and wind turbines may make for an interesting headline. What really matters in the long run, though, is how much renewables contribute to the total energy Californians use.
So ReWire just spent the last several days inputing a year's worth of daily renewable energy numbers provided by the agency that runs the state's power grid, and then crunched those numbers. They provide an interesting snapshot of the actual usefulness to Californians of renewable energy in 2013, and some of what we found out may surprise you.
We got the data from the California Independent System Operator (CaISO), in the form of CaISO's daily reports on renewable energy. Every day, CaISO automatically generates a detailed report on how each of several categories of renewable energy generators contributed to the grid. The generators include solar thermal, "solar" (by which CaISO means non-thermal solar, or photovoltaic panel power), wind, small hydro, biogas, biomass, and geothermal.
Among the stats CaISO publishes each day are the total number of megawatt hours each source of renewable energy pumps into the grid, and that's what we decided to look at. We took each day's figures between November 1, 2012 and November 31, 2013, plunked them into a spreadsheet and did some number crunching.
What we found surprised us.
In the first 11 months of 2013, Californians used 215,014,448 megawatt-hours of power. Or 215 terawatt-hours. That's enough power to run 30 good-sized air conditioners for every person on earth for 30 hours each. If we were to get that much energy by burning coal, it'd take 49 mid-sized coal plants to do it.
In those same 11 months, the renewable sources tracked by CaISO provided 30.6 of those 215 total terawatt hours, a little over 14 percent of the total. Or seven coal plants' worth.
If that seems lower than you'd expect given our state's recent emphasis on renewables, join the club. Despite a veritable orgy of building renewable energy generating capacity over the past year, the proportion of California's total energy consumption provided by renewable energy went up by less than one percentage point in the last 12 months. In December 2012, the seven forms of renewable energy listed above supplied just over 11.13 percent of California's energy consumption. By November 2013, that figure had risen, but only barely: renewables made up 12.08 percent of last month's total energy supply in California.
That's despite a significant increase over those 12 months in the amount of solar energy entering the grid: in November '13, solar thermal and solar fed the grid twice and almost four times the megawatts-hours, respectively, that they did in December '12. But aside from biogas, which burns methane emitted from decomposing organic matter to turn turbines, every other source of renewable energy put less energy into the grid in November 2013 than in December 2012.
The biggest drop was in small hydro, which generated only a little more than half its December 2012 output in November. Wind turbines ran at about 91 percent of their December 2012 output, the second largest deficit.
Of course, there are a lot of months in between December and November, and just comparing the beginning and end months of the last 12 can obscure some important data. For example, few California energy people expect wind to perform well in the winter. Wind is generally at its best between April and September, and as the graph here shows, 2013 was no exception. Click the image for a larger version:
Wind power production as a percentage of total demand, month-by-month. Click for larger version. | Image: KCET ReWire
During the spring months, wind power easily outstripped all its renewable colleagues in the amount of power it put into the grid, besting eight percent of total demand in April and May. Actual production only slackened a bit in June, but as wind was going a little slack the state's demand for power was heating up. (That's why wind's percentage of demand for June is lower, even though wind turbines produced a bit more power in June than they did in April.)
As you can see from these graphs for the last few years, the pronounced seasonal pattern in wind production in California isn't restricted to this year. The wind tends to blow in spring and summer around the Golden State, and not so much at other times of the year. The build-out of California wind turbines is making a difference during the windy season: those turbines made about 500 megawatt-hours more in May 2013 than they did in May 2012.
Still, it's notable that California wind's output for last month actually made up less of our state's total power consumption than was the case in December 2012. It may be that November 2013 was unusually calm, with a consequent drop in output, and that next year will be windier. It's worth tracking.
When you compare wind's 2013 output to other forms of renewable energy, those other forms seem to have served us more consistently through the year. Click to see what we mean:
Output of each form of renewable as a percentage of total demand, month-by-month. Click for larger version. | Image: KCET ReWire
Wind outperformed other sources through the peak consumption months of July through September, then died off fast. By November, wind produced so little power that the geothermal plants became the state's largest source of renewable power.
The truly striking increase over 2013 (so far) came in the state's solar power output. In December 2012, solar power plants supplied less than three quarters of one percent of the state's monthly power consumption. That was up to 2.69 percent last month. That's still a small amount compared to wind's eight and a half percent when the wind blows, but it's a notable increase.
Output of solar energy as a percentage of total demand, month-by-month. Click for larger version. | Image: KCET ReWire
As always, keep in mind that CaISO only tracks solar energy that's hooked up to the grid on the utility-side of the electric meter, which means the power produced by rooftop solar arrays in your neighborhood isn't reflected here. California's solar power production is a lot bigger -- and growing a lot faster -- than this graph reflects.
What do all these different sources of renewable energy look like compared to our total energy use? Here's one more clickable graph:
Renewables and total energy consumption in California. Click for larger version. | Image: KCET ReWire
Those ominous gray bars represent all the rest of the power California consumed each month that didn't come from solar, wind, biogas and biomass, geothermal, or small hydro tracked by CaISO. Some of the gray comes from California's one remaining nuclear power plant. Most comes from the state's fossil-fuel-fired thermal generating plants. A significant chunk comes from large hydroelectric plants, which -- despite being technically renewable -- CaISO does not track as a source of renewable energy. (We'll take a closer look at California's large hydro scene as we continue our look at the end of the year.)
And a significant portion of those gray bars is energy imported into the state, which can range from hydro and wind to coal-fired power. So the little renewable energy sections at the bottom of each column in the above graph should actually be somewhat larger. Just how much larger would be hard to say without a lot more digging.
Despite those caveats, one thing's clear: even though we've been building renewable energy generating capacity like a house on fire in the last year, that capacity still makes up a small slice of the power we use 24/7/365.
About the Author
Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua TreeShare This Post
12/05/2013 @ 9:00PM |1,206 views
William Pentland, Contributor
The transformation that Madrigal is alluding to is a clutch of natural gas pipeline expansion projects that came online in and around New York City in early November.
These projects and several more like them in the previous three years have expanded the total deliverability of natural gas into New York by about one third.
The cumulative impact is that natural gas future prices for January and February of 2014 are lower in New York City than Louisiana.
I repeat: the natural gas futures price is lower in New York City than Louisiana. The same cannot be said for New England.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/12/05/has-anyone-noticed-new-englands-escalating-energy-crisis/?ss=business%3AenergyShare This Post
Posted: 12/05/2013 11:25:46 AM MST
Updated: 12/05/2013 02:00:29 PM MST
U.S. Rep Jared Polis has weighed in on lawsuits filed by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association against Lafayette and Fort Collins that challenge drilling and fracking bans passed by voters last month, asking the trade association to "immediately withdraw your lawsuits."
"Please stop suing the communities I represent," the congressman wrote in a letter to Tisha Schuller, president of the association. "Local governments have authority to regulate oil and gas land use activities because oil and gas operations are matters of local concern that directly involve the use of land and are an important issue for residents and neighborhoods."Share This Post
HOUSTON – Increased southbound pipeline and rail service has reduced a crude oil backup at the Cushing, Okla. pipeline hub, but has created a glut on the Gulf Coast—possibly presenting opportunities for investment in transportation infrastructure.
Alembic Global Advisors said in a report last week that the smoother flow through Cushing has sent more crude to the Gulf Coast from prolific fields including the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Permian Basin in West Texas.
James Sullivan, an analyst with Alembic, wrote that a resulting oversupply is depressing Gulf Coast prices, and may increase enthusiasm for more transportation from the Bakken and Permian directly to the east and west coast.
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/12/06/crude-oils-backing-up-along-the-gulf-coast/Share This Post
By STANLEY REED
Published: December 5, 2013
Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday that it would not build an immense gas-to-liquids plant on the Gulf Coast because of concerns over its cost. Shell had been studying the possibility of building a plant to take advantage of cheap shale gas in the United States for at least two years.
“We are making tough choices here, focusing our efforts and capital on the most attractive opportunities in our worldwide portfolio,” Peter Voser, Shell’s chief executive, said in a statement.
The plant would have cost more than $20 billion, the company said.
“With all the projects in the U.S. it would have been very difficult to have enough skilled labor to do it without cost overruns,” said Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Oppenheimer in New York.Share This Post
The British government has taken the unusual step of filing a brief in a Texas federal court in support of BP in its quest to get the Environmental Protection Agency to lift a ban on the British oil firm’s ability to bid for federal contracts, including leases on new offshore drilling prospects in the Gulf of Mexico.
“It is the view of Her Majesty’s Government that EPA’s disqualification and suspension of multiple BP entities may have been excessive,” the government said in its amicus brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Given BP’s efforts to settle oil spill claims, the British government said that the EPA’s prohibition, “if upheld, could undermine the corporate culture of responsibility all responsible governments have sought to foster.”
The brief, filed late Monday night, is an open sign of tension that has been quietly escalating between the U.S. and British governments over the punishment for the huge oil spill triggered by a blowout on BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people died in the fire that broke out on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20, 2010.
The British government has a special interest in BP’s case because the company’s continuing travails affect British jobs and pension funds.Share This Post
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 - 5:11 am
Michigan environmental officials are drafting a settlement with Canadian pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. over a series of violations of the state's water laws that occurred earlier this year.
The settlement would keep Enbridge out of court while requiring the company to beef up its environmental practices when testing the new pipeline it is building to replace Line 6B, which ruptured in 2010.
That spill fouled nearly 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River with heavy crude oil from Canada's tar sands region. The cleanup effort, which is still on-going, has so far cost the company nearly $1 billion. Enbridge also was fined $3.7 million for breaking as many as two dozen federal pipeline safety rules.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/04/5969140/enbridge-could-be-forced-to-boost.htmlShare This Post
Solar behaved exactly as predicted; some occupants did not.
December 3, 2013
Ralph Cavanagh is a senior attorney and co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. This piece was originally published at NRDC's Switchboard and was reprinted with permission.
In the global competition for appealing clean energy solutions, a leading entry is the new West Village at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis), which recently celebrated significant progress toward its goal of becoming the largest planned “zero-net energy” community in the United States.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/lessons-learned-from-the-energy-performance-of-uc-davis-net-zero-community?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
A resolution to the conflict could break a 10-megawatt logjam of solar-storage systems.
December 4, 2013
In California, state regulators are getting ready to resolve a long-running conflict between the state’s big three investor-owned utilities, their customers, and companies that want to add batteries to solar PV systems.
And according to the statistics on how many solar-storage projects have been held up by this conflict, it couldn’t come too soon for the industry.
That’s one takeaway from a ruling (PDF) from California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, which has set in motion a process that could force utilities to back off a stance that’s holding up more than 300 solar-storage projects, adding up to 10 megawatts of capacity, that have been on backlog as of mid-2013.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/breaking-the-logjam-on-10mw-of-california-solar-storage-projects?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
Sixteen public schools in Oakland are about to get solar panels from San Jose-based SunPower. School districts across California are increasingly turning to solar as a way to cut operational costs, maintain funding for academic program and introduce students to solar science and technology.
Once completed in 2014, the Oakland Unified School District estimates it will reduce electricity costs at the campuses by 46 percent.
“Our contract with SunPower will enable OUSD to maximize our use of clean renewable energy, dramatically reduce utility expenses, and use the savings to enhance academic programs,” said OUSD Superintendent Dr. Gary Yee. “We will also have the opportunity to take advantage of linked learning initiatives such as the successful SunPower Solar Academy, which integrates real world work experience with rigorous academic programs to inspire students while preparing them for college and careers.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.siliconbeat.com/2013/12/05/oakland-public-schools-to-go-solar-with-sunpower/Share This Post
December 5, 2013
Late last month, Silevo, an advanced silicon solar-cell startup, announced that it was building a 200-megawatt solar cell factory in Buffalo, New York.
According to the Buffalo News, the Empire State will be investing $225 million into the facilities of Silevo and LED firm Soraa, with the aim of employing 475 people at the Riverbend site. Full production is anticipated in 2015. Silevo has also agreed to spend $750 million in the region. These are the aspirational promises typically made at state-funded energy hub unveilings across the nation.
Silevo had $16 million in revenue last year and is not yet profitable, according to reports. Founded in 2007 by a team from Applied Materials, Silevo has raised $75 million in funding. The firm has a $33 million, 32-megawatt production facility in China and production facilities in Fremont, California.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/New-York-Provides-Silevo-With-225M-to-Build-Advanced-PV-Cell-Factory?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Headline&utm_campaign=GTMDailyShare This Post
By Will Nichols
Published November 29, 2013
A huge solar array planned for Staten Island is expected to increase New York City's renewable energy capacity by 50 percent.
The solar power station is due to be built in Freshkills Park, where around 47 acres of parkland will be leased to the company SunEdison to build and operate the system, which is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes.
Announcing the project this week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "Over the last 12 years, we've restored wetlands and vegetation and opened new parks and soccer fields at the edges of the site. Thanks to the agreement today, we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50 percent, and it is only fitting that Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase of urban renewal and sustainability."
New York City's bold sustainability plan
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/11/29/new-york-city-solar-energy-michael-bloomberg-staten-island?src=facebook12513Share This Post
By Curtis Tate
McClatchy Washington BureauDecember 5, 2013 Updated 14 hours ago
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s high-speed rail program was supposed to deliver faster and more frequent passenger trains to communities across the country. But some of the $10.1 billion in funding for that program could also benefit one of the nation’s largest freight railroads.
Washington state received $781 million from the Obama administration’s 2009 economic stimulus to improve passenger rail service in the 300-mile corridor that stretches from Portland, Ore., north to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The effort will result in two additional roundtrips on the popular Amtrak Cascade route between Portland and Seattle by 2017, bringing the total to six daily. It will add new locomotives, overhaul passenger cars and renovate stations.
Amtrak may not be the only winner, however. BNSF Railway, the owner of the tracks over which Amtrak operates, is a leading hauler of coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin and crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region, and it seeks to increase its shipments of both commodities in the Pacific Northwest.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/12/05/210749/obama-high-speed-passenger-rail.htmlShare This Post