Energy Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Energy Media Articles in Major Media
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The conservative city of Georgetown, Texas, runs on renewable energy. After all, wind and solar power are more predictable and easier to budget than oil and gas. Clean power pushes may be associated with more left-leaning cities, but Republican mayor Dale Ross called the switch to renewables a no-brainer. In 2017, at least 15 weather events cost the government more than a billion dollars each. The most expensive events we have in the U.S. are floods. The money spent preparing for and preventing these events ... pays itself back double, triple, and even quadruple times over. But companies and private citizens often fail to prepare properly because the money spent on prevention is private, whereas costs after the fact are often allotted through government organizations. Many fail to connect the cost of switching to renewable energy with the eventual savings of avoiding natural disasters. On an even larger scale, the costs of switching to renewable energy are larger up front, though they save money in the future. For example, Denmark struggled to store its wind power in a way that allowed them to save it for times of high electricity demand. Then they encouraged residents to buy electric cars. Now these vehicles act like moving batteries, and people can sell the energy back to the grid when the cars are parked.
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A Tesla Model S has been hacked in the Netherlands to allow the electric car to run off a second fuel supply - hydrogen cells. Gas supplier Hulthausen Group claims it has doubled the Tesla Model S's range from about 300 miles per charge to 620 miles. "Project Hesla", as it was dubbed by the company's founder, sourced a second-hand Model S and made the modifications without involvement from Tesla. The hack uses the car's electrical mainframe and adds a second layer of charging via hydrogen cells. But as tempting as increased range is, interested customers face heavy drawbacks. Refueling the hydrogen battery will become tricky as there are only seven public refuelling stations across the UK. The United States has 39 public stations across four states. Price will also be a deterrent. The Tesla Model S starts at Ł64,700 and can rise all the way to Ł122,200. The cost of installing the hydrogen power source is about Ł44,000. If owners really want to go far and fast in their cars, a Model S P100D could end up costing them about Ł170,000.
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Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% [or 48 times] more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be. The EIA regularly underestimates the growth in renewables but overestimates US fossil-fuel consumption. These estimates matter because they form the basis for actions by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. Michael Grunwald at Politico reports the EIA seems to base its projections on the assumption that renewable energy costs won’t fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.
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The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant situated on the mid-Atlantic ridge, is the newest and largest geothermal plant in Iceland - a country that heats 90% of its homes using geothermal water. The plant has now become the first in history to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air, using a system of fans and filters, and then store it in bedrock 700 metres down. There the gas reacts with basaltic rock and forms solid minerals, creating a permanent storage solution, and turning Hellisheidi into a negative emissions site. The EU-funded project [is] capable of capturing 50 metric tons of CO2 each year. Christoph Gebald, Founder and CEO at Climeworks, said: “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous. Our plan is to offer carbon removal to individuals, corporates and organizations as a means to reverse their non-avoidable carbon emissions.′ It also costs $600 per ton of carbon dioxide, a figure they are hoping to reduce to $100 per ton. Iceland currently runs 100% of it’s electricity from renewable sources.
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China will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, becoming the biggest market to do so in a move that will accelerate the push into the electric car market. Xin Guobin, the vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with other regulators on a timetable to end production and sales. The move will have a profound impact on the environment and growth of China’s auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday. The world’s second-biggest economy, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and curb worsening air pollution, is the latest to join countries such as the U.K. and France seeking to phase out vehicles using gasoline and diesel. The looming ban ... will goad both local and global automakers to focus on introducing more zero-emission electric cars to help clean up smog-choked major cities. “The implementation of the ban for such a big market like China can be later than 2040,” said Liu Zhijia, an assistant general manager at Chery Automobile Co., the country’s biggest passenger car exporter. The U.K. said in July it will ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Norway and the Netherlands are considering a more aggressive way to put an end on fossil fuel cars years earlier than its European peers.
Note: According to a recent study, subsidies propping up the global fossil fuel industry "were $4.9 tn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 tn just two years later."
General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives. For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car's wheelbase - the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels - is just 63 inches. Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives. The E100, which is Baojun's first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery. Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors' SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It's China's eighth most popular car brand. More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokesperson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell. China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.
Fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives. A study was just published in the journal World Development that quantifies the amount of subsidies directed toward fossil fuels globally, and the results are shocking. The authors work at the IMF and are well-skilled to quantify the subsidies discussed in the paper. The subsidies were $4.9 tn in 2013 and they rose to $5.3 tn just two years later. According to the authors, these subsidies are important because first, they promote fossil fuel use which damages the environment. Second, these are fiscally costly. Third, the subsidies discourage investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy that compete with the subsidized fossil fuels. Finally, subsidies are very inefficient means to support low-income households. With these truths made plain, why haven’t subsidies been eliminated? We are talking enormous values of 5.8% of global GDP in 2011, rising to 6.5% in 2013. Petroleum and coal receive much larger subsidies compared to their counterpart fuels. There are two key takeaway messages. First, fossil fuel subsidies are enormous and they are costs that we all pay, in one form or another. Second, the subsidies persist in part because we don’t fully appreciate their size. These two facts, taken together, further strengthen the case to be made for clean and renewable energy.
Note: Even competing with such heavily subsidized fossil fuels, the solar power industry in the US now employs more workers than the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy news articles from reliable major media sources.
Identifying a tipping point is not always easy. But when one of the world’s most powerful oil bosses says he is in the market for an electric car, there can be little doubt. Ben van Beurden, the Royal Dutch Shell boss, last week delivered the clearest indication yet that the burgeoning electric vehicle industry is already hastening the decline of global oil demand. For “Big Oil” it is time to adapt or die, and Shell intends to adapt. Within the next year Shell will unveil early plans for a deeper presence in renewable energy and the electrical chain to tap the boom in electric vehicles. “Everyone is repeatedly surprised at how fast electric cars are coming forward,” Professor Dieter Helm told The Telegraph. The number of new registrations of plug-in cars has grown from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 100,000 at the end of May. “But the political pressure to adopt this technology is increasing all the time. It’s not due to concerns over climate change – it’s city air pollution,” he said. And so it was in the UK last week when the Government’s bid to tackle the country’s worsening air pollution followed the example set by France two weeks earlier in pledging to halt the sale of combustion vehicles by 2040. At the same time, government put the battery boom front and centre in its industrial strategy with Ł246m of funding for research and development. Battery Britain may require a fundamental shift for Europe’s oil majors, automotive giants and embattled refineries.
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As the Trump administration yanks the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement, claiming it will hurt the American economy, Beijing is investing hundreds of billions of dollars and creating millions of jobs in clean power. "Even in China where coal is - or was - king, the government still recognizes that the economic opportunities of the future are going to be in clean energy," said Alvin Lin, Beijing-based climate and energy policy director with the Natural Resources Defense Council. More than 2.5 million people work in the solar power sector alone in China, compared with 260,000 people in the U.S.. While President Trump promises to put American coal miners back to work, China is moving in the opposite direction. Coal still makes up the largest part of China's energy consumption, but Beijing has been shutting coal mines and set out plans last year to cut roughly 1.3 million jobs in the industry, [as well as] pledged in January to invest 2.5 trillion yuan ($367 billion) in renewable power generation - solar, wind, hydro and nuclear - by 2020. China's growing dominance in the [renewable power] sector has had a huge effect on the global market. Manufacturers dramatically ramped up production of solar panels, driven by an estimated $42 billion in government subsidized loans between 2010 and 2012. The U.S. accused China of flooding the market and the Commerce Department started imposing steep tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels in 2012 in a bid to protect American producers.
Note: The world's biggest floating solar power plant was recently built in China. And in the US, the solar power industry now employs more workers than the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined.
Texas companies involved in illegal air pollution releases were penalized by the state in fewer than 3% of all cases, according to a new report. The report, Breakdowns in Enforcement ... found that overall Texas imposed penalties for 588 out of 24,839 “malfunction and maintenance events” reported by companies from 2011 to 2016. The incidents caused the emission of over 500m pounds of pollutants and total fines amounted to $13.5m. In 2016 there were 3,720 unauthorised pollution events but only 20 times did the state regulator, the Texas commission on environmental quality (TCEQ), impose a penalty, the report found. Texas is the US’s leading oil and gas producer, making it a template for others. The analysis also claims that many polluters, such as oil and gas wells, are escaping regulators’ attention by wrongly asserting that they emit under 25 tons of sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds each year, a tally entitling them to a permit exemption under state and federal law. Allegations of slack controls in Texas come as Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency ... has tried to undo, delay or block more than 30 environmental rules in his first four months in the job. Texas’ government has [also] passed laws in recent years that make it harder for local authorities to assert control and pursue cases in court. In one example, after the city of Denton, near Dallas, prohibited fracking, the state moved swiftly in 2015 to ban the ban.
It’s the end of an era for coal. Production of the fossil fuel dropped by a record amount in 2016, according to BP Plc’s annual review of global energy trends. China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, burned the least coal in six years and use dropped in the U.S to a level last seen in the 1970s, the company’s data show. Coal, the most polluting fuel that was once the world’s fastest growing energy source, has been a target of countries and companies alike as the world begins to work toward the goals of the Paris climate agreement. Consumption is falling as the world’s biggest energy companies promote cleaner-burning natural gas, China’s economy evolves to focus more on services than heavy manufacturing and renewable energy like wind and solar becomes cheaper. U.S. demand for coal fell by 33.4 million tons of oil equivalent last year to 358.4 million, the biggest decline in the world in absolute terms, BP data show. Global consumption dropped 1.7 percent last year compared with an average 1.9 percent yearly increase from 2005 to 2015, according to BP. Consumption of coal fell in every continent except Africa, the BP data show. Germany, Europe’s biggest user, consumed 4.3 percent less coal. U.K. demand fell 52.5 percent, the biggest percentage decline among the world’s major economies, according to BP’s data.
China’s ambitions to dominate new energy technologies are unfolding at the site of an abandoned coal mine about 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of Shanghai. There, in Anhui province, Sungrow Power Supply Co. has built the world’s largest floating solar farm with 166,000 panels on a lake created when a nearby mine collapsed. While not an entirely unique idea - similar facilities are working in Japan, the U.K. and Israel - the project’s scale represents a step forward for China in shaping the future of energy. With plans to spend $360 billion on renewable energy by 2020, China is seeking to appear as a global leader on the environment, marking a contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump’s rebuke of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “The Chinese are really investing in the research and development side of innovation,” said Helen Clarkson, chief executive officer of The Climate Group, a non-governmental organization that works to promote clean energy technologies and policy. While Trump has said repeatedly he wants to stimulate fossil fuels and especially coal, China is funding a series of ground-breaking projects that generate power without pollution. Whether with massive floating solar farms like the one in Anhui, sprawling wind farms or ambitious plans to develop geothermal reserves, the world’s most-populous nation is asserting itself as a powerhouse of clean-energy technology.
As the solar industry continues to grow, so do its job opportunities. It's no surprise then that the fastest-growing job in the U.S. between 2012 and 2016 was for a solar photovoltaic installers or someone who assembles solar panels on roofs. The job pays about $42,500 a year. Overall, the U.S. added 211,000 jobs in April, MarketWatch reports. This is an overall increase in employment, but some states and industries performed better than others. The second fastest-growing field was for mathematics and computer jobs, two of the fields that fall under STEM. Out of all 50 states, Michigan performed the best in this field—boasting a 200% increase in computer and information research scientists between 2012 and 2016. Other industries also saw growth - namely personal care jobs and skincare specialist occupations. For example, in Utah, the number of personal care aids increased 313% to 6,780 jobs. But the salary isn't great: MarketWatch reports those positions only pay $21,890 per year. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the number of skincare specialist grew 187% to 890 positions. The average salary is $33,760.
Note: The above article does not mention that the solar power industry in the US now employs more workers than the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined.
Friday was the first full day since the height of the Industrial Revolution that Britain did not burn coal to generate electricity. Coal powered Britain into the industrial age and into the 21st century, contributing greatly to the “pea souper” fogs that were thought for decades to be a natural phenomenon of the British climate. For many living in the mining towns up and down the country, it was not just the backbone of the economy but a way of life. But the industry has been in decline for some time. The last deep coal mine closed in December 2015, though open cast mining has continued. Reducing the world’s reliance on coal and increasing the use of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power have long been part of proposals to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. Now on a path to phase out coal-fired power generation altogether by 2025, Britain, also the home of the first steam engine, is currently closing coal plants and stepping up generation from cleaner natural gas and renewables, like wind and solar. Some countries have already left coal behind in power generation. In Switzerland, Belgium and Norway, “every day is a coal-free day,” Carlos Fernández Alvarez, a coal analyst at the International Energy Agency in Paris, pointed out. In the United States, where coal still accounts for about 30 percent of power generation, Vermont and Idaho are the only coal-free states, and California is close behind, he said.
Note: In the US, the solar power industry now employs more workers than the coal, oil and natural gas industries combined.
Kevin Butt's job is to find cleaner ways to power Toyota. One of the hardest places to do that is at the automaker's sprawling plant in central Kentucky, a state where nearly 90 percent of electricity still comes from coal. A few years ago, Toyota decided that by 2050 all of its operations, all around the world, should be zero-carbon. It's part of a larger business shift. In Kentucky, General Motors, Ford, Walmart, L'Oreal and others also have big goals to reduce emissions. "There's not enough renewable energy being manufactured right now for all of us to do what we say we want to do," Butt says. "The future is renewables and the large corporations that want renewables," says Jim Gardner, who used to regulate power companies as a member of Kentucky's Public Service Commission. Two years ago, Gardner was struck by an encounter with a local man who worked remotely for Facebook. He told Gardner that big corporations were actually deciding where to expand based on where they could get renewable energy. "He made it seem like there was ... a list with a lot of states with big X's marked in," says Gardner, "so that Facebook and others were not looking because [some states] were not going to be open to renewables." The Public Service Commission worried the state was missing out. It quietly issued an official statement — "a clear signal to people outside of the state," says Gardner - that if a big customer wanted renewable energy, Kentucky's utilities could cut a special deal to provide it.
In 60 cities in India, 16,876 tons of plastic waste are generated each day. More than 6 million tons of plastic ... end up in landfills a year. Such figures were keeping Medha Tadpatrikar awake at night. She was also deeply troubled by an incident she had witnessed on a safari in India – a deer choking on a plastic packet that it had swallowed. “I realized how big this plastic problem is and how every creature on this earth is affected by it,” she says of the incident. So Dr. Tadpatrikar resolved to find a way to make plastic waste useful. She and Shirish Phadtare started experimenting in Tadpatrikar’s kitchen. “Plastic is made of crude oil, and we wanted to reverse the process to get usable oil,” Tadpatrikar explains. This experimenting duo has come up with an operation in the Pune, India, area that benefits the environment in several ways. They are indeed producing fuel, using a process that doesn’t emit toxic gases. And by pressing plastic waste into service, they’re reducing the amount of plastic headed toward landfills. Moreover, the oil itself is eco-friendly – a better choice than some of the other fuels that villagers living near Pune use. “Much cheaper than any other fuel in the market, this one is used in cooking stoves, in generators, and even to run tractors,” explains Tadpatrikar. The fuel ... is carefully collected in bottles, and it’s sold to people in 122 villages around Pune at a subsidized rate of 38 rupees (53 cents) per liter.
Note: Similar technology has been developed numerous times around the world, yet somehow the technology is not widely embraced. Could it be that big money doesn't want this to happen? Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The solar panels - 3,852 of them - shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. 38 years after Mr. Carter installed solar panels at the White House, only to see them removed during Ronald Reagan’s administration, the former president is leasing part of his family’s farmland for [the] project. It is, Mr. Carter and energy experts said, a small-scale effort that could hold lessons for other pockets of pastoral America in an age of climate change and political rancor. “I hope that we’ll see a realization on the part of the new administration that one of the best ways to provide new jobs - good-paying and productive and innovative jobs - is through the search for renewable sources of energy,” Mr. Carter, 92, said in an interview. Although Mr. Carter, now decades removed from the night in February 1977 when he donned a cardigan sweater and spoke of the country’s “energy problem,” remains a keen student of energy policy, the solar project is also an extension of his legacy. The project on Mr. Carter’s land, which feeds into Georgia Power’s grid and earns the former first family less than $7,000 annually, did not need to be large to serve much of Plains, population 683 or so. It began when a solar firm, SolAmerica, approached Mr. Carter’s grandson Jason Carter about the possibility of installing panels here. The former president, who was 11 when his boyhood home got running water after his father installed a windmill, did not need convincing and became deeply involved with the project, writing notes in the margins of the lease agreement and visiting the site regularly.
For nearly 100 years, scientists have dreamed of turning the lightest of all the elements, hydrogen, into a metal. Now, in a stunning act of modern-day alchemy, scientists at Harvard University have finally succeeded in creating a tiny amount of [this] material. Metallic hydrogen could theoretically revolutionise technology, enabling the creation of super-fast computers, high-speed levitating trains and ultra-efficient vehicles and dramatically improving almost anything involving electricity. But the prospect of this bright future could be at risk if the scientists’ next step – to establish whether the metal is stable at normal pressures and temperatures – fails to go as hoped. Professor Isaac Silvera, who made the breakthrough with Dr Ranga Dias, said: “This is the holy grail of high-pressure physics. “It's the first-ever sample of metallic hydrogen on Earth, so when you're looking at it, you're looking at something that’s never existed before.” At the moment the tiny piece of metal can only be seen through two diamonds that were used to crush liquid hydrogen at a temperature far below freezing. The amount of pressure needed was immense – more than is found at the centre of the Earth. Sometime in the next few weeks, the researchers plan to carefully ease the pressure. According to one theory, metallic hydrogen will be stable at room temperature. If this is true, then [it] could ... transform humanity’s efforts to explore our solar system by providing a form of rocket fuel nearly four times more powerful than the best available today.
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U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report. 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. Overall, the U.S. solar workforce increased 25 percent in 2016. Solar ... 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. 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. Solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7 percent this year.
More electric cars are sold in China than in the rest of the world combined. The Chinese-branded electric vehicle (EV) market is propped up by huge government subsidies as part of Beijing's policy to build global leadership in cleaner energy driving. China has spent billions of dollars on subsidies to help companies ... achieve large-scale production of plug-in vehicles. Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrids increased 60 percent in January-November, to 402,000 vehicles. By 2020, China wants 5 million plug-in cars on its roads. The domestic EVs don't have the 'wow' factor of a fast, longer-range and luxury-style Tesla. They sell on price. Some EV buyers in Beijing and Shanghai said they primarily bought plug-in vehicles to easily get a license plate. Half a dozen of China's biggest cities tightly control license plates for traditional gasoline cars, but freely award plates that can only be used by plug-in vehicles. For those set on buying a plug-in, price is key. "I only considered BYD and BAIC. I definitely can't afford the 300,000-600,000 yuan price of a luxury-style Tesla or Denza," said Qu Lijian, a 31-year-old government worker in Beijing. China's cocktail of pro-electric policies is a challenge for global automakers, as foreign manufacturers can access subsidies only via joint ventures with local partners, producing cars under new made-for-China brand names such as Denza. But those brands lack the cachet of established foreign marques, and cost more than most local brands even after subsidies.
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