Energy News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on energy
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states. Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray. At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates. Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates. The group's campaign in [Kansas] compared the green energy mandate to Obamacare, featuring ominous images of Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services, who was Kansas' governor when the state adopted the requirement.
Note: For more on the growth of the solar energy industry, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Many California and Bay Area [solar] companies are in a period of explosive growth. Companies such as SolarCity, Sungevity, SunPower and Sunrun are installing panels at a heady pace, and adding jobs along the way. Their expansion has been fueled by ... a worldwide plunge in the price of solar cells. Companies that design and install solar systems for homes, businesses or utilities have seen their sales rise. "They're not just survivors - they're strong survivors," said Lyndon Rive, chief executive officer of SolarCity in San Mateo. "And it's not just us. It's the industry. ... The notion that it's a failure is so outrageous." The number of solar installations - both large and small-scale - is booming. In 2013, the United States added enough new photovoltaic panels to generate a maximum of 4.2 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the output of four nuclear reactors. Over the past five years, the number of residential installations has grown at an average annual rate of 70 percent, according to the NPD Solarbuzz market information firm. "The demand today is coming from the fact that someone can put solar on their house and save money," said Paul Nahi, CEO of Enphase Energy, a Petaluma company that makes microinverters for solar arrays. "It is true that they may also be saving the planet. But that's not their main consideration." The drop in prices isn't their only reason for growth. Companies including SolarCity, SunEdison and Sunrun began offering solar leases or power purchase agreements to homeowners and businesses. Rather than buy the panels, customers could just buy the energy. That financial innovation revolutionized the industry.
An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as "freeriders" – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy. Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, [the government's] main channel for climate action. Details of ALEC's strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week. About 800 state legislators and business leaders are due to attend the three-day event, which begins ... with appearances by the Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson and the Republican budget guru and fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan. Other ALEC speakers will be a leading figure behind the recent government shutdown, US senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and the governors of Indiana and Wyoming. For 2014, ALEC plans to promote a suite of model bills and resolutions aimed at blocking Barack Obama from cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and state governments from promoting the expansion of wind and solar power through regulations known as Renewable Portfolio Standards. ALEC [wants] to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation – and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Back in October 2011 I first wrote about Italian engineer, Andrea Rossi, and his E-Cat project, a device that produces heat through a process called a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). Very briefly, LENR, otherwise called cold fusion, is a technique that generates energy through low temperature (far lower than hot fusion temperatures which are in the range of tens off thousands of degrees) reactions that are not chemical. Most importantly, LENR is, theoretically, much safer, much simpler, and many orders of magnitude cheaper than hot fusion. What everyone wanted was something that Rossi has been promising was about to happen for months: An independent test by third parties who were credible. A report by credible, independent third parties is exactly what we got. Published on May 16, the paper [is] titled “Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device”, [by] serious academics with reputations to lose and the paper is detailed and thorough. The authors [conclude,] "if we consider the whole volume of the reactor core and the most conservative figures on energy production, we still get a value ... that is one order of magnitude higher than any conventional source." This is not, of course, the last word or even one anywhere near the end of this story but unless this is one of the most elaborate hoaxes in scientific history it looks like the world may well be about to change. How quick will depend solely on Rossi.
Note: For another point of view on this breakthrough testing, see the well written article at this link. For dozens of other major media articles reporting spectacular breakthroughs in new energy technology that strangely were neither debunked nor followed up on, click here.
The London offices of BP and Shell have been raided by European regulators investigating allegations they have "colluded" to rig oil prices for more than a decade. The European commission said its officers carried out "unannounced inspections" at several oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway to investigate claims they may have "colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency [PRA] to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products". The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a "huge impact" on the price of petrol at the pumps "potentially harming final consumers". Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was "as serious as rigging Libor" – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds. He demanded to know why the UK authorities had not taken action earlier. "Why have we had to wait for Brussels to find out if British oil giants are ripping off British consumers?" he said. "The price of energy ripples right through our economy and really matters to every business and families." The European authorities declined to name any of the companies raided but BP, Shell, Norway's Statoil and Platts, the world's leading oil price reporting agency, all confirmed they are being investigated.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
[Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a] solar-powered aircraft making a landmark cross-country flight [piloted by Bertrand Piccard], successfully completed its first leg [on May 4], and will rest about a week in [Phoenix] Arizona before taking to the skies again. "It's a little bit like being in a dream," Piccard told the Associated Press. The aircraft, running off solar cells and electric batteries rather than fossil fuels, ... travels at a leisurely 43 mph and cruises at a maximum altitude of 28,000 feet. Spokeswoman Alenka Zibetto [said] that the exact length of the stay would depend on weather. It is proving to be a popular attraction. Online registration for the Sunday slots -- with space for 150 people per hour -- filled up within a day, Zibetto said. The solar company SunPower [manufactured] the solar cells lining the 208-foot wingspan of Solar Impulse.
Citi has just named solar photovoltaics, which convert solar radiation into electric currents via semiconductors, to its list of 10 world-disrupting technologies. In a note this week in advance of the disruption report, Citi's Jason Channell said that in many cases, renewables are already at cost parity with established forms of electricity sources. The biggest surprise in recent years has been the speed at which the price of solar panels has reduced, resulting in cost parity being achieved in certain areas much more quickly than was ever expected; these fast ‘learning rates’ are likely to continue, meaning that the technology just keeps getting cheaper. At peak solar exposure, parts of the southwest U.S. are now already capable of meeting their electricity needs via solar panels. The rapidly expanding parity provides enormous scope for growth in the solar industry, driven by standalone economics as opposed to subsidies, which are becoming ever scarcer in an austerity-driven world. Gas isn't going away, but renewables are coming on strong.
Note: It's rather strange that most mainstream media have hardly reported on this most awesome news at all. For another article showing that solar energy cost is already near parity with other energy sources, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles on exciting new energy technologies, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
While the United States still searches for a coherent national energy policy, countries you wouldn't expect are at the forefront of a green transformation. China has concrete plans to shift to renewables on a national scale and is manufacturing solar panels so cheaply it's hard for American companies to compete. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer - led by octogenarians rarely associated with swift societal change - is moving at lightning speed to transform its electricity grid from near zero to 100 percent renewable sources. It's not that the Saudis suddenly have become environmentalists. In September, Citigroup issued a chilling, though not surprising, warning that Saudi Arabia could run out of crude for export by 2030. Even before Citigroup published its analysis, the Saudi government announced that it would spend more than $100 billion to develop 41 gigawatts of solar energy, enough to power one-third of the sun-drenched country, by 2032. In October, Saudi Arabia's 68-year-old Prince Turki Al Faisal told an economic forum in Brazil he would like to see the kingdom go entirely renewable within his lifetime. Saudi Arabia demonstrated its seriousness just a few weeks later by bringing senior executives from 20 U.S. clean-energy companies to Riyadh to explore partnerships. SunPower Corp., a San Jose manufacturer of solar systems already working with the Saudis, was one of the delegation's leaders. In other words: American companies are helping transform Saudi Arabia into a clean-energy haven so that the world's biggest oil producer can keep sending dirty and expensive crude back to gas-guzzling Americans.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on energy developments, click here.
Denmark's energy minister introduced legislation earlier this month that would ... trim generous subsidies that [along] with the falling price of [solar] panels had triggered [rapid] growth in the number of residential solar energy systems added to the grid this year. Homeowners have installed so many rooftop photovoltaic (PV) arrays in 2012 that Denmark exceeded its 2020 solar energy target (200 MW) eight years early. Unlike the solar energy booms in Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Italy, where governments used feed-in tariffs to stimulate domestic PV markets, Denmark’s solar surge has been powered by net-metering rules. Under a feed-in tariff scheme, homeowners, businesses, or other PV system owners are paid above-market rate for electricity sold to the grid over a long-term contract, usually 20 years; in net-metering jurisdictions like Denmark or California, PV system owners receive credit for surplus electricity sent to the grid. In Denmark, home to some of the highest electricity rates in Europe, the existing net-metering rules offer a generous return. The new rules introduced by Danish Climate and Energy Minister Martin Lidegaard on November 20 reduce the incentives offered to solar system owners and make PV arrays larger than 6 kilowatts eligible for subsidies. Under a national energy plan approved by the Danish Parliament in March, renewables will account for 35% of the electricity fed to the Danish grid by 2020 and 100% by 2050.
Note: Isn't that a strange title for the article? Why not something like "Denmark Achieves Solar Energy Goal 8 Years Early"? And with the questionable future of fossil fuels, why aren't more countries embracing policies like that of Denmark?
Bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp. agreed [on November 15] to become the first U.S. coal operator to phase out and eventually stop all large-scale mountaintop removal mining in central Appalachia, under an agreement reached with three environmental groups that sued over pollution from several West Virginia operations. St. Louis-based Patriot said the proposed agreement allows it to postpone as much as $27 million in expenses into 2014 and beyond, improving its liquidity and the likelihood it can successfully emerge from Chapter 11 protection as a viable business. Mountaintop removal is a highly efficient but particularly destructive form of strip mining unique to West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Coal companies blast apart mountain ridge tops to expose multiple coal seams. The resulting rock and debris is dumped in streams, creating so-called valley fills. Patriot is one of the largest mountaintop removal operators in the region. Presented to U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington for consideration, the agreement came out of water pollution lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, called the agreement a historic moment in the fight against what he called an "abhorrent" form of mining. "Patriot Coal may be the first company to cease mountaintop removal mining, but because of the tireless efforts of committed volunteers and community organizations, it certainly won't be the last," he said.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on energy issues, click here.
Drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area have become the first motorists in the nation to fill up their gas tanks with an algae-based biofuel. Biodiesel B20 is made from 20 percent algae and 80 percent petroleum, and can be used by any vehicle that runs on diesel. Advocates say it is the first in a wave of clean fuel to hit the marketplace. "We are putting a stake in the ground," said Matt Horton, chief executive officer of Propel Fuels, as he prepared to fill the first tank with the algae-based product at a Valero station in Redwood City. The fuel's algae was grown by South San Francisco-based Solazyme Inc. and already has been used in trials by the military and industrial companies. It was sold for about $4.25 a gallon at the Redwood City station, about the same as the average price for diesel fuel in California. Horton said most diesel vehicles could run on 100 percent algae fuel, but doing so would result in higher costs for consumers. He added that many automakers oppose allowing a mix higher than 20 percent.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on new energy developments, click here.
Ranjana Bhandari and her husband knew the natural gas beneath their ranch-style home in Arlington, Texas, could be worth a lot - especially when they got offer after offer from Chesapeake Energy Corp. Their repeated refusals didn't stop Chesapeake, the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States. This June, after petitioning a Texas state agency for an exception to a 93-year-old statute, the company effectively secured the ability to drain the gas from beneath the Bhandari property anyway -- without having to pay the couple a penny. In fact, since January 2005, the Texas agency has rejected just five of Chesapeake's 1,628 requests for such exceptions. Chesapeake's use of the Texas law is among the latest examples of how the company executes what it calls a "land grab" -- an aggressive leasing strategy intended to lock up prospective drilling sites and lock out competitors. Chesapeake has become the principal player in the largest land boom in America since the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s and ‘50s, amassing drilling rights on more land than almost any U.S. energy company. After years of leasing tracts from New York to Wyoming, the company now controls the right to drill for oil and gas on about 15 million acres -- roughly the size of West Virginia.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
The U.S. Justice Department is ramping up its rhetoric against BP [formerly British Petroleum] for the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, describing in new court papers examples of what it calls "gross negligence and willful misconduct." The court filing is the sharpest position yet taken by the U.S. government as it seeks to hold the British oil giant largely responsible for the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Gross negligence is a central issue to the case, slated to go to trial in New Orleans in January 2013. A gross negligence finding could nearly quadruple the civil damages owed by BP under the Clean Water Act to $21 billion. The U.S. government and BP are engaged in talks to settle civil and potential criminal liability, though neither side will comment on the status of negotiations. Specifically, errors made by BP and Swiss-based Transocean Ltd, owner of the Deepwater Horizon platform, in deciphering a key pressure test of the Macondo well are a clear indication of gross negligence, the Justice Department said. "That such a simple, yet fundamental and safety-critical test could have been so stunningly, blindingly botched in so many ways, by so many people, demonstrates gross negligence," the government said in its 39-page filing.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on corporate corruption, click here.
A word of caution about the Model S, Tesla Motors' new electric sedan: The S stays smooth and silent, even when it's flying down the highway. Absent gears, engine noise or any vibration that doesn't originate with a pothole, it's absurdly easy for Model S drivers to shred speed limits without the slightest clue. Depending on the range of the battery pack and other options, Model S prices range all the way from $57,400 to $105,400 before state and federal incentives. The Model S functions much like a typical, automatic transmission sedan. But it's not quite the same. Put the car in drive and take your foot off the brake pedal, for example, and the S doesn't go anywhere. It just sits there until you touch the accelerator. Push the accelerator, and the car responds instantly. There's no sense of an engine laboring to pick up speed. Like other electric vehicles, the Model S uses regenerative braking. The brakes capture some of the moving car's kinetic energy, convert it to electricity and use it to recharge the battery while you drive. It's one of the ways a Model S with the most expensive battery pack option can drive more than 300 miles without plugging in. With the Model S, the regenerative braking starts the moment you ease off the accelerator pedal. The drop in speed is so pronounced that the car's brake lights will go on, even before you touch the brake pedal itself. It feels almost like having two separate braking systems working at the same time.
Note: For lots more inspiring reports from reliable major media sources on new automotive and alternative energy technologies, click here.
For the past 10 years an unlikely coalition of geologists, oil drillers, bankers, military strategists and environmentalists has been warning that peak oil – the decline of global supplies – is just around the corner. We had some strong reasons for doing so: production had slowed, the price had risen sharply, depletion was widespread and appeared to be escalating. The first of the great resource crunches seemed about to strike. Some of us made vague predictions, others were more specific. In all cases we were wrong. Peak oil hasn't happened, and it's unlikely to happen for a very long time. ["Oil - The Next Revolution"] by the oil executive Leonardo Maugeri, published by Harvard University, provides compelling evidence that a new oil boom has begun. The constraints on oil supply over the past 10 years appear to have had more to do with money than geology. The low prices before 2003 had discouraged investors from developing difficult fields. The high prices of the past few years have changed that. Maugeri's analysis of projects in 23 countries suggests that global oil supplies are likely to rise by a net 17m barrels per day (to 110m) by 2020. This, he says, is "the largest potential addition to the world's oil supply capacity since the 1980s". The investments required to make this boom happen depend on a long-term price of $70 a barrel – the current cost of Brent crude is $95. Money is now flooding into new oil: a trillion dollars has been spent in the past two years; a record $600bn is lined up for 2012.
German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday. Norbert Allnoch, director of the Institute of the Renewable Energy Industry in Muenster, said the 22 gigawatts of solar power fed into the national grid on Saturday met nearly 50% of the nation's midday electricity needs. "Never before anywhere has a country produced as much photovoltaic electricity," Allnoch [said]. The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed. Government-mandated support for renewables has helped Germany became a world leader in renewable energy and the country gets about 20 percent of its overall annual electricity from those sources. Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020. "This shows Germany is capable of meeting a large share of its electricity needs with solar power," Allnoch said. "It also shows Germany can do with fewer coal-burning power plants, gas-burning plants and nuclear plants."
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on developments in alternative energy technologies, click here.
An electricity revolution [is] sweeping through power markets and threatening traditional utilities' dominance of the world's supply. From the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to the most-developed regions in the United States and Europe, solar units ... and small-scale wind and biomass generators promise to extend access to power to more people than ever before. In the developing world, they're slashing costs in the process. Across India and Africa, startups and mobile phone companies are developing what are called called microgrids, in which stand-alone generators power clusters of homes and businesses in places where electric utilities have never operated. In Europe, cooperatives are building their own generators and selling power back to the national or regional grid. The revolution is just beginning, says Jeremy Rifkin, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of "The Third Industrial Revolution." Disruptive to the economic status quo, the transformation opens up huge opportunities to consumers who may find themselves trading power in the future much as they swap information over the Internet today, he says. "This is power to the people." Within a decade, installing photovoltaic panels may be cheaper for many families than buying power from national grids in much of the world, including the United States, Japan, Brazil and the United Kingdom, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Note: For a treasure trove of major media articles showing dozens of amazing new energy technologies which could replace our dependence on fossil fuels, click here.
Public anger over high gasoline prices is turning to a familiar target - Wall Street. The role of speculative investors in this year's price spike has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks, nowhere more so than in Washington. Nearly 70 members of Congress wrote a stern letter Monday to a federal commission that regulates the country's main market for crude oil, demanding that the commission crack down on speculation. President Obama, his energy policies under attack from Republicans, ordered a fresh look at speculation's role in the market on Tuesday. "This is just another example, in my view, of Wall Street playing the casino," said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who signed the letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. "Everyone should be outraged that every time they're filling up their tank, they're paying a premium because of speculation." How big is that premium? One of the trading commission's five members estimated last month that speculative investors were adding 56 cents to the price of each gallon of gas. As a result, Honda Civic drivers pay an additional $7.39 per fill-up, said Commissioner Bart Chilton. Owners of the Ford F150 pickup pay an extra $14.56. Speculative investors include hedge funds and investment banks that buy contracts for the future delivery of oil but never intend to take possession of the fuel itself. They buy and sell strictly as a financial investment, and their presence in the market has swelled.
Note: For lots more reliable information from the major media on energy manipulations, click here.
Voters in Boulder, Colo., narrowly backed the creation of a municipal power authority to replace Xcel Energy Inc., the biggest electricity provider in Colorado. The city can't cut all ties with Xcel right away. The shift to a municipal utility will take at least three years and could be derailed over issues such as how much Boulder will pay Xcel for its infrastructure. Supporters of the move argue that a public utility would allow Boulder, a liberal college town, to embrace renewable energy and sharply reduce carbon emissions. Xcel relies heavily on coal-fired plants. Xcel spent nearly $1 million to try to defeat the Boulder ballot measures, outspending supporters about 10 to 1. "People like a David-and-Goliath story, and that's absolutely what this is," said Ken Regelson, who led a community group supporting a public utility. Nationwide, 16 new public power authorities have been formed in the last decade, including 13 that have taken over from private utilities. Nearly all serve communities of less than 10,000, said Ursula Schryver, a vice president of the American Public Power Association, a trade group. Boulder's population is nearly 100,000. The last large-scale municipalization took place in 1998, on New York's Long Island.
Note: This is significant positive news as the largest city yet in the U.S. has voted to take control of their energy and make it greener. For a more optimistic and detailed description of this major victory, click here.
In 2008, voters approved a $10 billion bond to begin construction of a bullet train from Los Angeles to San Francisco that would make that trip in less than three hours. So who knew that by 2011 the general consensus would be that the project is an ill-conceived, mismanaged boondoggle? Former Amtrak spokesman and Reason Foundation writer Joseph Vranich knew. In 2008, before the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, he called the project "science fiction." He said the train won't travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours because that exceeds the speed of all existing high-speed rail. But on French railway schedules, a TGV (Train Ŕ Grande Vitesse) takes two hours, 38 minutes to go from Paris to Avignon. That's 430 miles. The route for the L.A.-to-San Francisco line is 432. So what's going on here? It's simple. Vranich makes stuff up. The Reason Foundation is funded by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute, Delta Airlines, the National Air Transportation Association and, of course, the Koch Family Foundation. They know what will happen once Americans, furious about gas prices and the way airlines treat them, experience electrically powered 200-mph trains.
Note: For lots more evidence that progress in the transportation sector is stymied by big money interests, click here.
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