Tesla Opens New Showroom In NYC

16 Dec 2017   Electric Cars, Solar

Tesla is opening on Friday a brand-new showroom in New York where it will sell cars, batteries, and solar panels all under one roof, and the new store opening incidentally coincided with a report that said that U.S. residential solar installations are expected to drop by 13 percent this year, after years of double-digit growth. According to the quarterly SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight, GTM Research forecasts a 13-percent contraction in residential solar in 2017 “as major markets fall and emerging state markets contribute relatively less growth.” After Tesla bought SolarCity last year, it has focused on integration and profit margin growth rather than on expansion and higher sales. Earlier this year, Tesla stopped selling solar installations door-to-door, and thus removed a major channel to reach out to its customers. “If SolarCity accounted for a 30 percent share of the national market and you cut those installation volumes […]

It’s Final — Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use

16 Dec 2017   Biofuels

OK, can we please stop pretending biofuel made from corn is helping the planet and the environment? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released two of its Working Group reports at the end of last month ( WGI and WGIII ), and their short discussion of biofuels has ignited a fierce debate as to whether they’re of any environmental benefit at all. The IPCC was quite diplomatic in its discussion, saying “Biofuels have direct, fuel‐cycle GHG emissions that are typically 30–90% lower than those for gasoline or diesel fuels. However, since for some biofuels indirect emissions—including from land use change—can lead to greater total emissions than when using petroleum products, policy support needs to be considered on a case by case basis” ( IPCC 2014 Chapter 8 ). In 2013 the U.S. used 4.7 billion bushels of corn (40% of the harvest) to produce over 13 billion […]

U.S. solar power group says it sees headwinds ahead

15 Dec 2017   Solar

A U.S. solar power trade group said the Trump administration was standing in the way of growth, but the sector showed resilience in the third quarter. A report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association found total installed capacity topped 2 gigawatts in the third quarter, but the pace of growth was slower than last year. Through the end of the third quarter, researchers found solar power installations are behind pace from the same period last year by 22 percent. “The solar industry is a resilient bunch, but this quarter shows us what happens when policy uncertainty becomes a disruptive factor: prices rise, supplies shift and the market reacts accordingly,” Abigail Ross Hopper, the president […]

S Korea unveils power mix plan for 2030 focused on renewables, LNG

South Korea aims to boost the portion of LNG in its electricity generation mix to 18.8% in 2030 from an estimated 16.9% this year as part of efforts to reduce its heavy reliance on coal and nuclear, the energy ministry said Thursday. In its long-term Basic Blueprint for Power Supply and Demand, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said renewable sources would account for up to 20% of the power mix in 2030, up from an estimated 6.7% in 2017, by increasing investment in solar and wind power plants. In contrast, coal’s share in the power mix is slated to fall to 36.1% in 2030 from 45.3% in 2017, and nuclear to fall to 23.9% from 30.3% over the same period, according to the blueprint, which outlines the country’s energy road map for 2017-2031. The new plan puts more emphasis on issues related to the environment and safety, […]

U.S. solar installations to fall more than expected in 2017

14 Dec 2017   Solar

U.S. solar installations will fall more than expected this year, according to an industry report released on Thursday, due to weakened demand for residential systems and delays on large projects over concerns that President Donald Trump will impose tariffs on imported panels, increasing costs.  In a quarterly report, GTM Research said it expected U.S. installations to fall 22 percent to 11.8 gigawatts (GW) this year, down from a prior forecast that called for a decline of 17 percent. GTM conducted the analysis for the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group. In the third quarter, market installations fell 51 percent to 2.03 GW. Last year was a particularly strong year for installations as developers raced to capture a federal tax […]

Footing The $9 Trillion Renewable Bill

11 Dec 2017   Renewables

As the world is growing increasingly conscious of the need to invest in cleaner and more sustainable energy to limit the impact of global warming, it’s no secret that a faster and universal renewable energy transition will require trillions of dollars of investment over the next couple of decades. The trillion-dollar question is, who will foot the bill? According to Bloomberg’s Nathaniel Bullard, the biggest future investors in clean energy could be the largest institutional funds that manage more than US$1 trillion of assets each. Basically, the money is out there, it just needs to be realigned to the demand for investment in renewable energy. Demand exists. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has estimated that zero-carbon power generation is expected to attract US$9 trillion of investment until 2040. According to BNEF’s New Energy Outlook 2017 , “Renewable energy sources are set to represent almost three quarters of the $10.2 […]

The Energy Transition: Too Little, Too Late

11 Dec 2017   Renewables

The idea of the energy transition (“energiewende” in German) originated in the 1980s and gained legislative support in Germany in 2010. The idea is good and also technically feasible. But it requires sacrifices and, at present, sacrifices are politically unthinkable since most people don’t realize how critical the situation really is. What we are doing for the transition seems to be is too little and too late. So, how are we doing with the energy transition? Can we eliminate fossil fuels from the world’s energy system? Can we do it before it is too late to avoid the disasters that climate change and resource depletion will bring to us if we continue with business as usual? The debate is ongoing and it sometimes it goes out of control as in the case of the controversy between the group of Professor Jacobsen at and that of Professor Clack which even […]

The Solar Tech That Is Making Cleaner Oil

8 Dec 2017   Solar

It’s clear: fossil fuel majors from around the world are preparing to redefine their core competency from oil and gas extraction to “energy” provision over the next few decades. In the meantime, the biggest players are working on getting their oil operations on the green side. Aera Energy , a joint venture owned by Shell and ExxonMobil, is building California’s largest solar energy project in the San Joaquin Valley, where 1.7 billion barrels of heavy oil have been extracted since operations began in 1911. The $250 million project will install 630 acres of glass homes with exposed motorized solar panels installed on their roofs. As the sun travels from east to the west in sunny California, the panels’ angle will change to match the celestial body’s daily dance, which will allow a maze of pipes to heat water and create industrial steam. The 12 million barrels of steam generated […]

Renewable Energy Is Surging. The G.O.P. Tax Bill Could Curtail That.

A wind turbine generator outside Peetz, Colo. The Republican tax bills seek to scale back tax preferences for renewable energy like wind and solar. WASHINGTON — The Republican tax bills moving through Congress could significantly hobble the United States’ renewable energy industry because of a series of provisions that scale back incentives for wind and solar power while bolstering older energy sources like oil and gas production. The possibility highlights the degree to which the nation’s recent surge in renewable electricity generation is still sustained by favorable tax treatment, which has lowered the cost of solar and wind production while provoking the ire of fossil-fuel competitors seeking to weaken those tax preferences. Whether lawmakers choose to protect or jettison various renewable tax breaks in the final bill being negotiated on Capitol Hill could have major ramifications for the United States energy landscape, including the prices consumers pay for electricity. […]

Toyota will build the first megawatt-scale hydrogen fuel and renewable generation plant

Toyota will build the first megawatt-scale hydrogen fuel and renewable generation plant, setting a new energy benchmark that experts hope with pave the way for Australia’s hydrogen industry. Toyota North America will build the plant to support its operations at the Port of Long Beach, in the US, using agricultural waste to generate electricity, water and hydrogen. By 2030, between 10 million and 15 million cars and half a million trucks will be hydrogen-powered globally. Photo: Peter DaSilva Dubbed the Tri-Gen facility, the plant will generate around 2.35 megawatts of electricity and close to one tonne of hydrogen per day, providing enough daily power for more than 2300 homes and 1500 hydrogen-powered cars. It will come online in 2020, and be used as proof of concept for large-scale hydrogen generation and renewable energy plants. “Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our […]

Can We Skip Straight to Renewable Energy Without Natural Gas?

A protest this weekend at the site of a proposed natural gas power generator on the Cape Cod Canal highlights the controversy surrounding the rise of natural gas. Some say it’s an improvement over other fossil fuels, and a necessary bridge to a more renewable energy system. Others say it’s still a fossil fuel, and we should be investing in solar instead. The director of research at MIT’s Energy Initiative , Francis O’Sullivan, says neither side is completely right – or wrong. In a 2011 report on the Future of Natural Gas , O’Sullivan and colleagues predicted that natural gas would play an increasing role in energy generation and could provide deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to coal. Then, in a 2015 report on the Future of Solar Energy , the same group called for a massive scale-up of solar power. O’Sullivan doesn’t see a conflict there. […]

Oil Refiners And Farmers Battle Over Biofuels

5 Dec 2017   Biofuels

President Donald Trump has agreed to meet representatives of the U.S. oil refining industry and oil-supporting lawmakers to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard Program—a meeting that could set the stage for negotiations over the U.S. biofuels policy that has been pitting the oil refining industry against the Midwest farm lobby. “The president was briefed, and has agreed on a meeting. Now it is just a matter of finding an hour window,” a source told Reuters last week, adding that he was told by the White House that the meeting would likely take place in the week of December 11. Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners are required to blend growing amounts of renewable fuels into gasoline and diesel. The Midwest farm belt benefits from the policy, but the oil refiners do not—they lose petroleum-based market share of fuels and meeting the blending requirements costs them hundreds of […]

Physicists Just Found a Loophole in Graphene That Could Unlock Clean, Limitless Energy

5 Dec 2017   Renewables

By all measures, graphene shouldn’t exist. The fact it does comes down to a neat loophole in physics that sees an impossible 2D sheet of atoms act like a solid 3D material. New research has delved into graphene’s rippling, discovering a physical phenomenon on an atomic scale that could be exploited as a way to produce a virtually limitless supply of clean energy. The team of physicists led by researchers from the University of Arkansas didn’t set out to discover a radical new way to power electronic devices. Their aim was far more humble – to simply watch how graphene shakes. We’re all familiar with the gritty black carbon-based material called graphite , which is commonly combined with a ceramic material to make the so-called ‘lead’ in pencils. What we see as smears left by the pencil are actually stacked sheets of carbon atoms arranged in a ‘chicken wire’ […]

U.S. EPA ups biofuel targets slightly, draws scorn from refiners

1 Dec 2017   Biofuels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday it will require fuel companies to blend slightly more biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel next year, angering oil refiners who view them as a competitive threat. The announcement follows weeks of lobbying by Midwestern lawmakers and representatives of the corn industry who wanted the agency to reject recent proposals from the oil industry to water down the U.S. biofuels mandates. Sponsored “Maintaining the renewable fuel standard at current levels ensures stability in the marketplace and follows through with my commitment to … upholding the rule of law,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a news release. Pruitt is expected to travel to an invitation-only event in Iowa on Friday and highlight the administration’s commitment to the ethanol industry. The U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply every […]

U.S. East Coast Looks To Become Hub For Wind Power

1 Dec 2017   Wind

As you’d expect from the land that’s home to the city that never sleeps, now that New York has embraced wind power, it’s already making some impressive claims about wind’s future influence on the Empire State. “New York intends to be the preeminent global hub for the next generation of the wind industry,” said New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul at the recent American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Offshore WINDPOWER Conference . Around 1,000 people attended the conference, including many of the top European-based industry leaders, and state after state made big declarations regarding wind turbine manufacturer, design and installation. Announcing New York’s ambitious goal to develop 2.4 GW of offshore wind, Hochul stated: “Offshore wind is essential to meet New York’s ambitious energy goal and developing 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind will generate thousands of jobs in our state. We’re making unprecedented investments in infrastructure and laying the […]

Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls

1 Dec 2017   Wind

The cost of generating power from wind turbines is falling. The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants. Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online. The changing American electricity landscape is pressuring power companies to shed unprofitable plants and reshape their portfolios to favor the new winners. Texas provides a clear example. Citing low gas prices and the proliferation of renewables such as wind and solar, Vistra Energy Corp. VST -1.31% , a vestige of the former Energy Future Holdings Corp., said it would retire three coal-fired facilities in Texas by early next year and that it plans to merge with independent power producer Dynegy Inc. Exelon […]

U.S. wind turbines getting taller and more efficient

1 Dec 2017   Wind

U.S. federal data show installed wind turbines are taller and more efficient than in the past, though hydroelectric power still holds a slight edge. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the average height and power generating capacity for wind turbines installed in the country are taller and more efficient that in years past. “Since 2012, the average height of wind turbines installed in the United States has been about 280 feet, or 80 meters. Before 2006, few wind turbines were as tall as 280 feet,” the federal brief found. “Wind speed typically increases with altitude and increases over open areas without windbreaks such as trees or buildings.” GE Renewable Energy, one of the industry leaders […]

U.S. biodiesel output falls to 147 million gallons in September: EIA

1 Dec 2017   Biofuels

U.S. biodiesel production fell to 147 million gallons in September from 149 million gallons a month earlier, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report on Thursday. Soybean oil remained the largest biodiesel feedstock, with 604 million lbs used in September. In August, soyoil used in biodiesel production was 608 million lbs.

One of the country’s biggest oil fields just turned to an unexpected power source: Solar

1 Dec 2017   Oil Supply, Solar

The Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, Calif., is one of the largest in the country. It has been producing oil for more than a century and last year produced about 76,000 barrels a day, according to Aera Energy, its operator. But the oil field is about to become even more remarkable. Its future production operations will be partly powered by a massive solar energy project that will make the oil extraction process more environmentally friendly, according to Aera and GlassPoint Solar, the firm that will create the solar project. The Belridge field was discovered in 1911. Oil from the field flowed out of the ground because of natural pressure in the geologic reservoirs. Later, as the pressure declined, many companies said the field was exhausted. But in the 1960s, a process known as enhanced oil recovery gave the field […]

Statoil: Batteries can address wind power variability

29 Nov 2017   Wind

Norwegian energy company Statoil said it was planning a battery system for a floating wind farm that will be “smart ” enough to compensate for calm conditions. The company said Tuesday its Hywind facility off the coast of Scotland, the first floating wind farm in service in the world, will be equipped next year with batteries to store power. “The purpose is to ‘teach’ the battery when to hold back and store electricity, and when send power to the grid, thus increasing value of the power,” the company explained. The company last year unveiled an energy-storage project dubbed Batwind at its Hywind floating offshore wind farm. Through a memorandum of understanding signed with the Scottish government, the company aims to install a Lithium battery storage […]

Turkey Targets $5B Investment In Wind Energy By End-2017

25 Nov 2017   Turkey, Wind

Turkey aims to have $5 billion in wind energy investments by the end of this year, with the awarding of additional wind capacity tenders, the president of the Turkish Wind Energy Association, Mustafa Serdar Ataseven, said in an interview with Anadolu Agency published on Friday. Turkey will launch on December 25 a five-day-long tender for 2,130 MW, Ataseven told Anadolu Agency. Currently, Turkey has 11 GW of wind power stock on hand, Ataseven said, adding that the national target is to reach 20 GW of installed capacity by 2023. The Turkish government looks to raise the share of renewable sources in the country’s total installed power to 30 percent by 2023. By that time, Turkey aims to have total installed power capacity of 120 GW. The plan through 2023 also envisages installing 1 GW of geothermal and 5 GW of solar energy, but also increasing coal-fired installed capacity from […]

New wind farm in service off the British coast

23 Nov 2017   United Kingdom, Wind

Norwegian energy company Statoil said Wednesday its Dudgeon wind farm off the British coast is now feeding the grid from its 67 wind turbines. The Dudgeon wind farm is about 25 miles off the coast of Norfolk. Its turbines, with a combined capacity of 402 megawatts, can meet the energy demands of around 410,000 average households at its peak. The Norwegian company, one of the main energy suppliers to the European market, said Dudgeon is part of its efforts to add more green components to its portfolio. “As part of our strategy to develop from an oil and gas company to a broad energy major, Statoil will grow significantly in profitable renewable energy, with an ambition to invest around $12 billion […]

London’s Iconic Red Buses to Run on Biofuel Made From Old Coffee

21 Nov 2017   Biofuels

Bio-bean partnered with Shell on demonstration project London-based company also makes biomass pellets from coffee London’s iconic red double-decker buses will soon run on a biofuel partially made from old coffee grounds. The fuel will be supplied by a demonstration project set up by Bio-bean Ltd. , a London-based company that joined with Royal Dutch Shell Plc on the initiative. It will produce 6,000 liters (1,583 gallons) a year of the fuel. “It’s got a high oil content, 20 percent oil by weight in the waste coffee grounds, so it’s a really great thing to make biodiesel out of,” said Arthur Kay, founder of Bio-bean, in a phone interview. As public pressure mounts against using food for fuel, companies are increasingly focusing on biofuels made from waste such as used cooking oil and inedible plants. Some crops such as corn and sugarcane are made into ethanol to be burned […]

$1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved

18 Nov 2017   Canada, Hydro, USA

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approved on Thursday a US$1.6-billion Canada-New Hampshire transmission line project that has been languishing in regulatory purgatory since 2010. The line will deliver up to 1,090 MW of clean energy from Hydro-Québec’s hydroelectric plants in Canada to New Hampshire and the rest of New England. The 192-mile-long line proposes to deliver hydropower from Quebec to an existing substation in Deerfield, NH, and into New England’s electric grid. Northern Pass will help meet the region’s increasing demand for power, while decreasing carbon emissions by up to 3.2 million tons annually. According to Northern Pass, estimated wholesale electricity market benefits will be around US$600 million annually for New England and US$62 million a year for New Hampshire. Northern Pass construction is expected to create 2,600 jobs in New Hampshire during construction and boost the state’s GDP by an estimated US$2.2 billion over the construction period […]

UC Santa Barbara team develops catalytic molten metals for direct conversion of methane to hydrogen without forming CO2

18 Nov 2017   Energy Storage

Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have developed catalytic molten metals to pyrolize methane to release hydrogen and to form solid carbon. The insoluble carbon floats to the surface of the melt, where it can be removed and stored or incorporated into composite materials. This method also avoids carbon formation on steam-reforming catalysts, which usually deactivates the catalysts. In a paper in the journal Science , the team reported that a 27% Ni–73% Bi alloy (Ni 0.27 Bi 0.73 ) achieved 95% methane conversion at 1065°C in a 1.1-meter bubble column and produced pure hydrogen without CO 2 or other by-products. Under these conditions, the equilibrium conversion is 98%. When the temperature was reduced to 1040 °C, the CH 4 conversion decreased to 86%. Steam methane (CH 4 ) reforming (SMR) followed by the water-gas shift reaction is the most common process for large-scale hydrogen production today. […]

China lists combustible ice as new mineral variety

China has approved listing natural gas hydrate, or combustible ice, as the country’s 173rd mineral variety, a move that will speed up the exploitation of the clean energy source, an official said Thursday. “China has succeeded in mineral prospecting and trial mining, both underwater and in the ground,” Ju Jianhua, head of the mineral reserves department of the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), said Thursday at a press conference. China completed a 60-day trial of combustible ice mining starting in May 2017 in the South China Sea, setting world records in both the length and total amount of extraction, according to the China Geological Survey Bureau. The MLR filed an application in mid-October for the resource’s inclusion in the country’s mineral variety list with the State Council, China’s cabinet, which gave the approval on Nov. 3, Ju said. China first discovered combustible ice […]

End tax credits for wind energy now, Tennessee Republican says

16 Nov 2017   Wind

A Tennessee Republican says wind energy has advanced to the point that it no longer needs tax breaks. Tennessee draws most of its power from coal.  It’s wasteful to keep offering production tax credits to a “mature technology” like wind energy in the United States, a Tennessee Republican said. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander , R-Tenn., spoke on the floor in support of ending a wind production tax credit by the end of the year as part of a broader tax overhaul under consideration in the nation’s capital. “We have turned our attention to tax reform and our principle challenge is to find tax breaks and loopholes to eliminate so that we can lower rates for taxpayers,” he said . “And I think that at the top of the list should be ending the wasteful and expensive subsidy for a clearly […]

U.S. Congress Slashes Support For Renewables And EVs

14 Nov 2017   Congress, Renewables

Take the ongoing soap opera of who in the energy sector is likely to gain or lose benefits from the current Congressional tax plan. While retaining at least $15 billion in tax subsidies for fossil fuel producers (coal, crude oil, natural gas), the House of Representatives plan would slash support for both renewables and the electric car industry. The primary move criticized by both the renewable community and environmentalists are the proposed changes to the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC). This credit provides benefits to generation of wind, solar, geothermal, and other types of renewable energy. Now, the PTC is already scheduled to be phased out in three years (by 2020). Both wind and solar energy producers have been factoring this into forward guidance as more cost savings are introduced into the renewable sector. But the House tax plan would accelerate the cut by more than a third. […]

Alstom to build 14 Coradia iLint fuel-cell trains for LNVG

10 Nov 2017   Renewables

Alstom will build 14 Coradia iLint fuel-cell trains ( earlier post ) for the Local Transport Authority of Lower Saxony (Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen, LNVG). The trains, which will convey travelers between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude from December 2021, will replace the diesel multiple units of the transport authority Elbe-Weser-Verkehrsbetriebe (evb) and will reduce the pollutant emission in daily service to zero. The hydrogen for the trains will be provided by the Linde Group. The companies also signed a 30-year maintenance agreement. The Coradia iLint can cover up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) with one tank fill, and can reach a maximum speed of up to 140 km/h (87 mph). A Coradia iLint prototype will begin pilot operation in the evb network in spring […]

Peak oil? Majors aren’t buying into the threat from renewables

Two decades ago, BP set out to transcend oil, adopting a sunburst logo to convey its plans to pour $8 billion over a decade into renewable technologies, even promising to power its gas stations with the sun. FILE PHOTO: The Chevron Oil Refinery is seen in Cape Town, South Africa, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo That transformation – marketed as “Beyond Petroleum” – led to manufacturing solar panels in Australia, Spain and the United States and erecting wind farms in the United States and the Netherlands. Today, BP ( BP.L ) might be more aptly branded “Back to Petroleum” after exiting or scaling back its renewable energy investments. Lower-cost Chinese components upended its solar panel business, which the firm shed in 2011. A year later, BP tried to sell its U.S. wind power business but couldn’t get a buyer. “We made very big bets in […]

Biofuels: Can They Save the Airlines from the Seneca Collapse?

8 Nov 2017   Biofuels

That would leave only biofuels as a “sustainable” fuel that could power the current fleet of jet planes. Indeed, a small number of tests have been carried out showing that it is possible to fly planes using biofuels. But can it be done on the large scale needed to get rid of fossil fuels? The first problem is whether biofuels are truly carbon-free. Most likely, the current fuels made from crops are not ; in the sense that they involve extensive use of fossil fuels for their manufacturing. In many cases, however, even the current generation (“1st generation”) of biofuels can provide a significant saving in the use of fossil fuels for the same amount of energy produced. This is the case, in particular, for ethanol produced from sugarcane in Brazil. But there is a more fundamental question is: what would be the consequences of ramping up biofuel production […]

POET-DSM claims cellulosic biofuel breakthrough with new pretreatment system for increased production

7 Nov 2017   Biofuels

POET-DSM Advanced Biofuels says it has achieved a major breakthrough in cellulosic biofuels production at its Project LIBERTY plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa. ( Earlier post .) The company has solved the critical challenge in pretreatment, overcoming what has been the primary hurdle to commercialization for producers around the world. Project LIBERTY is now running pretreatment at 80% uptime. Pretreatment is the first stage in cellulosic biofuels production, in which the feedstock (corn cobs, leaves, husk) is processed so that enzymes and yeast can access the cellulosic sugars and ferment them into biofuel. POET-DSM and other producers have identified this stage in the past as the major chokepoint in commercial production. With a […]

Repowering wind turbines adds generating capacity at existing sites

7 Nov 2017   Wind

Repowering older wind turbines, which involves replacing aging turbines or components, is becoming more common in the United States as the turbine fleet ages and as wind turbine technology advances. Newer turbines tend to be larger and installed at greater heights, allowing for more capacity per turbine. About 12% of the wind turbines in the United States were installed before 2000, but these turbines make up only 2% of the installed wind electricity generating capacity. Federal production tax credits provide an incentive to increase electricity generation from existing wind turbines. In December 2015, the production tax credit (PTC) was extended until the end of 2019. The four-year extension and legislated phase-out of the PTC is expected to encourage many asset owners to repower existing wind facilities to requalify them to receive another 10 years of tax credits. […]

Ethanol-based fuel becomes top-selling petrol in France

7 Nov 2017   Biofuels, France

Gasoline containing up to 10 percent of ethanol has become the top-selling petrol in France, its largest market in the European Union, helped by a tax break that made the crop-based fuel more attractive to drivers, French ethanol producers said on Tuesday.  Sales of unleaded SP95-E10 accounted for 38.5 percent of total petrol sales in France in September, the Bioethanol Collective said in a statement.

Aemetis signs 20-year feedstock supply agreement to produce cellulosic ethanol

4 Nov 2017   Biofuels

Aemetis, Inc. announced that its Aemetis Advanced Products Keyes subsidiary signed a 20-year feedstock supply agreement to produce cellulosic ethanol at a former US Army munitions facility located in Riverbank, California, which is near the existing Aemetis biofuels plant in Keyes, California. The cellulosic ethanol biorefinery will use patented and proprietary process technologies developed by Aemetis, Lanzatech, and InEnTec to convert waste orchard wood and nutshells into low carbon cellulosic ethanol. The feedstock to be supplied comes from the more than 1.6 million tons of waste orchard wood and nutshells that are generated each year from approximately 1 million acres of almond, walnut, and pistachio orchards in the Central Valley. Aemetis’ price of the feedstock is approximately $20 per ton delivered for the first ten years. As […]

DuPont to sell cellulosic ethanol plant in blow to biofuel

3 Nov 2017   Biofuels

DuPont Industrial Biosciences, a unit of DowDuPont Inc, on Thursday said it halted operations at a two-year-old ethanol plant and will sell it, dealing another blow to efforts to create biofuels without using food crops. The decision to shut the Iowa plant comes as political winds are undercutting efforts to produce ethanol from plant waste and wood shavings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year has pushed to lower the amount of cellulosic biofuels that need to be blended into the nation’s fuels under a 2007 mandate, arguing the industry has not produced enough. DuPont spent about $225 million to build the facility, which used corn stalks and stems to make ethanol, which is blended into gasoline. The plant was designed to produce 30 million gallons a year. The EPA predicted in 2007 that U.S. cellulosic ethanol production could hit 1 billion gallons by […]

Republican tax bill hits wind power, solar largely unscathed

3 Nov 2017   Solar, USA, Wind

A Republican tax bill unveiled on Thursday included cuts to renewable energy tax credits considered critical to enabling wind projects to compete with fossil fuel plants, but tax breaks for solar power were left largely intact.  The credits, which receive broad bipartisan support, were extended by Congress less than two years ago. The wind industry decried the proposal, saying it put $50 billion in planned investment at risk, while the solar sector expressed relief the bill mostly preserved the timeline laid out in 2015 for its primary tax credit. In the same legislation, Republicans proposed eliminating the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles. Greg Wetstone, president of the non-profit American Council […]

No tariffs, U.S. solar industry leaders say

2 Nov 2017   Solar

The Trump administration is called on to embrace free-markets over protectionism in order to support the blossoming solar power sector, industry leaders said. The U.S. International Trade Commission delivered three separate sets of recommendations to President Donald Trump designed to curb imports of solar components, ranging from quotas to a tariff on imports of 35 percent. In October, the Natural Resources Defense Council said some components of the renewable energy sector have accelerated faster than the government estimated. Renewable energy made up 14 percent of all U.S. electricity sales last year and in September, the Energy Department said a solar power initiative enacted by former President Barack Obama reached a goal for cost competitiveness three years early. The commission took up the case […]

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group report progress in cellulosic biodiesel research

2 Nov 2017   Biofuels

ExxonMobil and Renewable Energy Group (REG) announced that by utilizing REG’s patented fermentation technology, the companies’ joint research program has demonstrated the ability to convert sugars from a variety of non-edible biomass sources into biodiesel. ( Earlier post.) During their initial research, the companies successfully validated the feasibility of the REG Life Sciences fermentation technology across multiple cellulosic sugar compositions produced with a variety of methods from various non-edible biomass sources. The research also confirmed REG Life Sciences technology is capable of achieving substantial reductions of full-lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel. Our first challenge during the initial research was to determine technical feasibility and potential environmental benefits. We’re optimistic as the results indicate good potential for advancing the technology, and we look […]

Is The U.S. Solar Boom In Jeopardy?

2 Nov 2017   Solar

The U.S. solar industry has surged in recent years, accounting for the largest source of new electric capacity in the past year, with plenty of room to grow. However, the Trump administration is weighing a trade tariff that could seriously curtail the explosive growth figures for U.S. solar. On Tuesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recommended a 35 percent tariff on imported solar panels in response to a complaint from a U.S.-based solar manufacturer over cheap imported panels. The trade case has been cited by the solar industry as one of the most significant dangers to its otherwise bright future, labeling potential tariffs an “existential threat.” Many solar project developers use cheaper panels imported from places like China, and trade barriers could upend the economics of new solar projects. But all is not lost. The 35 percent tariff proposed by the ITC is actually less than what Suniva […]

Statoil aims to sign power purchase agreement in New York by end-2018

1 Nov 2017   Wind

Norway’s Statoil aims to sign a power purchase agreement with a U.S. utility to develop an offshore wind power project off New York, a senior company official said on Tuesday.  Statoil won a lease sale of 79,350 acres offshore New York, which could be potentially used to develop up to a 1 gigawatt (GW) capacity wind power park, by bidding $42.5 million last December. “Now we need to sign a power off-take agreement to develop the project. The counterpart would be one of New York’s utilities,” Stephen Bull, Statoil’s senior vice president, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference. “We expect to sign the agreement toward the end-2018,” he added. Statoil, which also supplies New York with natural gas from the Northern Marcellus shale play, sees the […]

You Won’t Guess Who Just Saved America’s Biofuels

31 Oct 2017   Biofuels

Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy, risk management, emerging market economic development, and market risk assessment. His… And the latter has one decisive advantage over solar or wind (or geothermal for that matter)… Biomass remains the only renewable source that can be turned directly into liquid fuel. That makes biofuels the only “renewable” power source that can directly fuel today’s cars, planes, and ships. But how that translates into what we see in the marketplace has been a source of friction for years. This involves the system created 12 years ago that mandates how much ethanol must be mixed in the gasoline sold at retail nationwide. That policy has been a political football, pitting oil-producing states – who want as much petroleum-based product in gasoline as possible – against agricultural states – who want as much biofuel as possible to be […]

There Was So Much Wind Power In Germany This Weekend, Consumers Got Free Energy

31 Oct 2017   Germany, Wind

A stormy weekend led to free electricity in Germany as wind generation reached a record, forcing power producers to pay customers the most since Christmas 2012 to use electricity. Power prices turned negative as wind output reached 39,409 megawatts on Saturday, equivalent to the output of about 40 nuclear reactors. To keep the grid supply and demand in balance, negative prices encourage producers to either shut power stations or else pay consumers to take the extra electricity off the network.

Air-Breathing Battery Makes Renewable Power Viable for the Grid

30 Oct 2017   Energy Storage

MIT researchers have developed an “air-breathing” flow battery that exhales oxygen, stores power for months, and costs about one-fifth of what current storage batteries cost to run. Air-Breathing Battery To survive on our planet we need the cleanliness of renewable energy. However, we also need it to be reliable, even when clouds obscure the Sun or the wind flags. Although we are already working to counter that natural variability with variety — sourcing energy to power the grid from a range of origins, including biomass, hydro, solar, waves, and wind, to break free of the need to switch back to coal and gas backup sources — we need large-scale energy storage systems. A team of researchers at MIT has developed a new kind of “air-breathing” battery that could make this happen sooner. The battery stores energy for months at about one-fifth of the price of existing technologies. What really […]

New York sets high bar for wind energy

27 Oct 2017   Wind

The state of New York has a global leadership vision for offshore wind, a state leader said.  The state of New York aims to become a new hub for the wind energy industry with its unique geographical position and ambitions goals, a state leader said. New York ranks 11th in the nation in terms of installed wind energy capacity and is the 15th windiest. As of 2014, the state had 20 wind energy projects in service, with a total capacity of 1.8 gigawatts of capacity. The state set of goal of 2.4 GW by 2030. “New York intends to be the preeminent global hub for the next generation of the wind industry,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said during the opening remarks of a wind energy conference. “We’re making unprecedented investments in infrastructure and laying the groundwork for the […]

US production tax credit pulls big wind construction effort:

27 Oct 2017   USA, Wind

The US production tax credit program continues to have a strong pull on wind energy activity in the country. There was just over 29,600 MW of wind capacity under construction or in advanced development in the US at the end of the third quarter, the highest level ever reported, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s market report released Thursday.  AWEA said that 13,759 MW was under construction and 15,875 MW in advanced development at the end of September. That total represents a 27% increase over Q3 2016.

Project developers installed 534 MW of new wind generation in July, August and September. AWEA said that that brings to 2,892 MW of newly installed wind generation capacity in the first nine months of this year. “There are now 84,944 MW of installed wind capacity in the US,” said the report. The country’s wind capacity has more than tripled over the past 10 years. In 2008 there was just over 25,000 MW of wind installed.  Of the 534 MW installed in Q3, 402 MW were installed in Texas, 100 MW in Indiana, 30 MW in New Mexico and 2 MW in California, the report. There are now 21,450 MW of wind capacity installed in Texas, according to AWEA.
In the third quarter, US utilities announced plans to develop and own 3,040 MW of wind capacity, which, AWEA said, brings to 8,840 MW in utility announcements made since the start of 2016.

“New announcements include AEP’s 2,000-MW Wind Catcher project in Oklahoma and Alliant Energy’s 500-MW New Wind II project in Iowa,” AWEA noted.  There were also four requests for proposals, or RFPs, released during the quarter for up to almost 4,000 MW of wind-eligible capacity. PacifiCorp’s request, AWEA noted, was for up to 1,270 MW.

Study: expanding Brazilian sugarcane for ethanol could reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 5.6%

25 Oct 2017   Biofuels, Brazil

Vastly expanding sugarcane production in Brazil for conversion to ethanol could reduce current global CO 2 emissions by as much as 5.6%, according to a new study by an international team led by researchers from the University of Illinois. This would be a massive undertaking, involving the conversion of hundreds of thousands of square miles—at its most ambitious, more than the combined land area of Texas and California—to sugarcane fields. However, it could be accomplished without impinging on environmentally sensitive areas in Brazil and while allowing for the expansion of other agricultural crops and human needs, the researchers report in a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change . The carbon-related costs of converting the land to sugarcane fields were included in the analysis. The team looked at three scenarios that would increase the sugarcane footprint in Brazil between 37.5 million and 116 million hectares (144,788 to 447,879 square […]

How the Farm Belt Pressured Trump and Beat the Oil Industry

25 Oct 2017   Biofuels

Midwestern politicians used leverage to halt biofuel changes Trump told EPA’s Pruitt to keep Iowa Senator Grassley happy Farm-state interests just conquered Big Oil in a fight over biofuels, proving that in Donald Trump’s Washington, King Corn still reigns. The clash erupted over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard, a 12-year-old law that compels the use of fuels such as corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel. Although the president had repeatedly promised Midwest voters he would “protect” ethanol and support the program, his Environmental Protection Agency was considering steps to dilute the mandate. Farm-state governors and senators revolted — setting off a behind-the-scenes struggle between two special-interest heavyweights. Lobbyists for oil refiners warned of higher gasoline prices if the administration backed down. Iowa leaders countered that Trump could face political retribution in 2020 during the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Republican senators threatened to delay confirmation of the president’s nominees. “I […]

Pennsylvania governor seeks relief for local refiners from renewable fuel rule

24 Oct 2017   Biofuels

Pennsylvania’s governor asked U.S. President Donald Trump to ease up on the state’s oil refiners by waiving a rule requiring them to add renewable fuel to their products, following a week of pressure from farm-belt politicians not to change the rule, according to a letter released to the public on Monday. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, wrote to Trump, a Republican, on Friday asking him to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to waive the renewable fuel requirement for all refiners in the U.S. Northeast until prices fall in a market where renewable fuel credits are traded. The market, where refiners can buy Renewable Identification Number credits to comply with their renewable fuel obligation, has attracted speculators, driving RIN prices higher. “The high cost of compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard…is undermining the continued viability of the oil refining sector in the Northeast,” Wolf wrote. “What […]

Energy Giant Bets On Battery Breakthrough Within 5 Years

24 Oct 2017   Renewables

North Carolina-based utility provider Duke Energy is betting on the rise of increasingly efficient battery technology to propel the rise of solar and wind power over the next five years, according to a new report by Forbes . “There’s going to be a lot of excitement around batteries in the next five years. And I would say that the country will get blanketed with projects,” Duke Energy business development managing director Spencer Hanes said on Thursday as part of a conference in Chicago. The cost of generating and storing solar power has dropped from $800 per kilowatt hour to $281 over the past four years. Steeper drops are ahead, experts said at the Solar Power Midwest conference. “The momentums and drivers behind actual installed solar-storage projects are things like backup power and energy independence, and there’s a little bit of a screw-my-utility kind of attitude,” Adam Gerza of the […]