Energy News Stories
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Declining coal use has pushed UK carbon emissions to levels last consistently seen in 1890, highlighting the countrys progress in cutting greenhouse gases faster than most other developed economies. Emissions fell by 2.6 per cent in 2017, driven by a nearly one-fifth reduction in the use of coal as the energy industry shifts towards cleaner sources of electricity generation, especially wind and solar power. The data marked the fifth successive year in which the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into UK skies has fallen, and emissions are now 38 per cent below the level of 1990. With coal quickly disappearing in the UK and other fossil fuel use mostly flat, emissions have continued their steady decline, said Zeke Hausfather, author of the report by Carbon Brief, a climate research and news organisation, which based its findings on the latest UK government data. Britains success in driving down emissions contrasts with Germany, where the countrys continued dependence on coal for about 40 per cent of electricity generation has dented Chancellor Angela Merkels green credentials and put the countrys climate targets at risk. More than two-thirds of todays emissions still need to be eliminated if Britain is to meet its legally binding goal to reduce CO2 output by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.
Note: In 2017, for the first time since the 1800's, Britain went a day without burning coal to generate electricity. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing climate change news articles from reliable major media sources.
Electricity prices in [California] have begun turning negative on the main power exchange, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has revealed. Solar made up a record figure of nearly 40 per cent of the electricity sent to the grid in the California Independent System Operators (CAISOs) territory for a few hours on 11 March, after utility-scale solar farms grew by almost 50 per cent in 2016, the EIA said. Solar capacity in the state has grown rapidly in the last few years. There was less than one gigawatt in 2007, but nearly 14GW by the end of last year. At this time of year, the large amounts of sunlight and the relatively low demand can produce too much electricity around the middle of the day. Electricity demand in California tends to peak during the summer months, the EIA said. However, in late winter and early spring, demand is at its annual minimum, but solar output, while not at its highest, is increasing as the days grow longer and the sun gets higher in the sky. Consequently, power prices ... were substantially lower in March compared with other times of the year or even March of last year. System average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour. In contrast, average hourly prices in March 201315 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.
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The biggest buyer of solar farms in America is a company youve probably never heard of. Meet Capital Dynamics, an asset manager that handles $15 billion. The firms been snapping up clean-power plants for years, but it wasnt until this month - when the company agreed to spend almost $1 billion on a solar business - that it really landed on mainstream investors radar. Now the firm is being called the harbinger of things to come, heralding the next generation of solar and wind farm owners: funds backed by institutional investors like pensions. Its agreement this month to buy 8Point3 Energy Partners LP is among the biggest in a recent string of clean-energy deals done by infrastructure funds. Theyre appeasing their investors, who are hungry for the dependable, long-term returns of renewable-energy. After clinching $3 billion of clean-power deals last year ... Capital Dynamics is positioned to buy even more. A key part of the firms strategy hinges on capital from its institutional investors. Such investors like that they can match their long-dated liabilities with the returns of solar and wind farms that can stretch over decades. Another edge that Capital Dynamics has over other asset managers: It has spent years building an in-house team with an expertise in solar and wind farm operations, one that leverages its relationships with tax-equity investors and banks.
Cities around the globe are going green. Over 100 cities from Addis Ababa to Auckland use more than 70 percent renewables in their energy mix, according to CDP research. The places where populations are at their most dense and pollution is at its highest are doing their bit to battle rising global temperatures by turning to hydro, geothermal, solar and wind to keep the lights on. Since the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, city leaders have improved their environmental reporting and set firm emissions reductions targets, CDP said. In the U.S. 58 cities and towns, including Atlanta and San Diego, have committed to move to 100 percent clean energy. Meanwhile Burlington, Vermont, claims to be the first city in the country to get its energy from entirely renewable sources. Only a handful of the more than 100 North American cities that reported their energy mix to CDP use at least 70 percent renewable energy, while a majority of Latin American cities that reported passed that threshold. Many cities in the developing world have capitalized on their local natural resources. This pioneering activity has largely been driven by local economic needs and political will, said Kyra Appleby, director of cities at CDP.
Note: An interactive map of the world's greenest cities is available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
In 2012, the UK ranked 20th out of a list of 33 rich countries in terms of low-carbon electricity use. In 2017, it jumped to 7th. No other country has ever climbed up the rankings so quickly. How did the UK manage it? It imposed a carbon tax. The carbon tax, or the carbon floor price as policymakers refer to it, was introduced in 2013. It stands at 18 ($25) per ton of carbon dioxide emitted in producing electricity. As a member of the EUs emissions trading scheme (for now), UK electricity providers also pay a market-based price for carbon credits, which is about 5 per ton of CO2. After the tax was introduced, it became much more expensive to burn coal, which produces about twice the emissions per unit of energy as natural gas. The carbon floor price only applies at the point of generation. That means, only UK producers are required to pay it. In normal conditions, this would mean that the interconnectors would have been able to include bids from cheaper dirty fossil fuel generation outside the UK. As it happens, however, France, Norway, and Belgium generate a very high proportion of electricity from low-carbon sources. Even the Netherlands, which only gets 15% of its electricity from renewable sources, can provide a lot of low-carbon electricity on windier days. With the carbon floor price probably set to increase after 2020, the clear direction the UKs electricity market is headed is away from fossil fuels.
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Ikea is calling for households to join its latest joint venture a collective energy switch that promises an exclusive 100% renewable electricity tariff. The furniture retailer has joined forces with the Big Clean Switch campaign to use a collective switch to secure cheaper green power for the households that sign up. The two companies claim it will save a typical UK household 300 a year in lower gas and electricity bills. Big Clean Switch describes itself as a profit with purpose company that helps people move to renewable electricity providers. Its website only list tariffs where the supplier can guarantee that 100% of the electricity sold is matched from renewables such as sun, wind and water. Big Clean Switch will then negotiate the best deal it can with green suppliers, at which point customers can choose to sign up. The prices will be announced on 6 March. For every switch, Ikea will receive a commission payment. It remains to be seen whether this big switch will undercut the cheapest 100% green electricity suppliers already available. Anyone can switch to a green supplier via a comparison site. Tonik is one of the cheapest green suppliers at the moment. Peoples Energy is another. Consumers have nothing to lose by registering with the Ikea initiative, but will have to decide when the prices are announced whether this is better than the deals on offer. In the past, some collective switches have been best in market offering big savings, but others have not.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy news articles from reliable major media sources.
President Donald Trump just dealt his biggest blow to the renewable energy industry yet. On Monday, Trump approved duties of as much as 30% on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80% of its supply. The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected 23,000 job losses this year in a sector that employed 260,000. The tariffs are just the latest action Trump has taken that undermine the economics of renewable energy. The administration has already decided to pull the U.S. out of the international Paris climate agreement, rolled back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and passed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes, however, will prove to be the most targeted strike on the industry yet and may have larger consequences for the energy world. Trump approved four years of tariffs that start at 30% in the first year and gradually drop to 15%. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells are exempt for each year, the president said in an emailed statement. China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization - which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs that appeared before it. Lewis Leibowitz, a Washington-based trade lawyer, expects the matter will wind up with the WTO. The Solar Energy Industries Association warned the tariffs will delay or kill billions of dollars of solar investments.
Note: The solar power industry now employs more US workers than coal, oil and natural gas combined. Elites like the Rockefellers have stopped investing in fossil fuels, while utility executives have been waging a "determined campaign" to try to stop Americans from installing rooftop solar panels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Norway said that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far in 2017, as Norway continues its trend towards becoming one of the most ecologically progressive countries in the world. According to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) ... sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 per cent, for a combined 51.4 per cent. Norway already has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. The milestone is also particularly significant as a large proportion of Norways funds rely on the countrys petroleum industry. "This is a milestone on Norway's road to an electric car fleet," Climate and Environment minister Vidar Helgesen [said]. The transport sector is the biggest challenge for climate policy in the decade ahead. We need to reduce (CO2) emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030," he added. Last year, the government agreed on a proposal to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered car starting in 2025. It also aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of new cars to 85 grams per kilometre by 2020 - a goal it has almost achieved: : the figure stood at 88 grams in February compared to 133 grams when the decision was taken five years ago. In December, Norway registered its 100,000th electric car. Norway has also become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.
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More than half of the electricity generated in the UK in 2017 came from low-carbon sources for the first time ever. Renewables and nuclear provided more electricity than all fossil fuels combined, with wind generation alone supplying twice as much energy as coal, according to analysis by Carbon Brief, a website that tracks climate change and energy policy. Wind made a greater contribution to the countrys electricity needs than coal in every month apart from January. The share from low-carbon sources doubled between 2008 and 2017, Carbon Brief said. The UK has also added wind and solar power generation rapidly, as costs have fallen. Future development will increasingly be possible without the Government subsidies that have aided the industrys development until now. The UK also passed a series of other milestones last year, including its first day without coal power since 1882, the most electricity produced from solar power at any one moment and the most wind power produced in a day. Wind saw the biggest increase of any energy source, with supply up 31 per cent for the whole of 2017 on 2016s level. The electricity sector has been the primary focus of renewable power generation as that power can then be used to revolutionise the other sectors, for example through the electrification of transport. Britains power system is the fourth cleanest in Europe and the seventh cleanest in the world.
Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact - consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend. Power prices plunged below zero for much of Sunday and the early hours of Christmas Day on ... a large European power trading exchange, the result of low demand, unseasonably warm weather and strong breezes that provided an abundance of wind power on the grid. Such negative prices are not the norm in Germany, but they are far from rare, thanks to the countrys effort to encourage investment in greener forms of power generation. Prices for electricity in Germany have dipped below zero ... more than 100 times this year alone. Several countries in Europe have experienced negative power prices, including Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But Germanys forays into negative pricing are the most frequent. At times, Germany is able to export its surplus electricity to its neighbors, helping to balance the market. Still, its experiences of negative prices are often longer, and deeper, than they are in other countries. In one recent example, power prices spent 31 hours below zero during the last weekend of October. At one point, they dipped as low as minus 83, or minus $98, per megawatt-hour, a wholesale measure. Anyone who was able to hook up for a large blast of electricity at that time was paid 83 per unit for the trouble.
Electric cars are already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, new research shows. The lower cost is a key factor driving the rapid rise in electric car sales now underway. At the moment the cost is partly because of government support, but electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option without subsidies in a few years. The researchers analysed the total cost of ownership of cars over four years, including the purchase price and depreciation, fuel, insurance, taxation and maintenance. Pure electric cars came out cheapest in all the markets they examined. Pure electric cars have much lower fuel costs electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel and maintenance costs, as the engines are simpler. In the UK, the annual cost was about 10% lower than for petrol or diesel cars in 2015, the latest year analysed. Hybrid cars which cannot be plugged in and attract lower subsidies, were usually a little more expensive than petrol or diesel cars. Plug-in hybrids were found to be significantly more expensive. We were surprised and encouraged because, as we scale up production, [pure] electric vehicles are going to be becoming cheaper and we expect battery costs are going to fall, said James Tate, who conducted the research. At current rates, sales of electric cars could outstrip diesel cars as early as May 2019.
Note: China is the worlds biggest supporter of electric cars, and will require one out of every five cars sold there to run on alternative fuel by 2025.
ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room [is] the inside story of one of historys greatest business scandals, in which top executives of Americas seventh largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling book ... this tale of greed, hubris and betrayal reveals the outrageous personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the moral vacuum that led CEO Ken Lay - along with other players including accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Skilling and Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow - to manipulate securities trading, bluff the balance sheets and deceive investors. By 2000, the company has grown into the largest natural gas merchant in North America, eventually branching out into trading other commodities. Jeff Skilling is named CEO, and the company stock skyrockets. Meanwhile, Skillings black box accounting results in declared earnings of 53 million dollars for a collapsing deal that doesnt profit a cent. And Enrons West Coast power desk has its most profitable month ever as California citizens become casualties of Enrons scheme to artificially increase demand for electricity, resulting in rolling blackouts and two deaths. When Enrons sleight of hand accounting and unethical trading eventually meet the realities of balance sheets that dont balance and products that dont exist, unwitting employees who have anchored their financial futures to the Enron ship watch in horror as water rushes in overhead.
Note: Watch this revealing documentary on this webpage. Enron was American's seventh-largest public company and controlled 25 percent of the nation's energy before it failed in 2002. Its stock plummeted from $90 a share to 9 cents a share in a matter of months after fraud was uncovered. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
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.
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 64,700 and can rise all the way to 122,200. The cost of installing the hydrogen power source is about 44,000. If owners really want to go far and fast in their cars, a Model S P100D could end up costing them about 170,000.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy innovation news articles from reliable major media sources.
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 its electricity from renewable sources.
Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Americas 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 EIAs 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 EIAs predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIAs 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 agencys 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 wont fall much, when in fact they keep plunging.
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 Chinas auto industry, Xin said at an auto forum in Tianjin on Saturday. The worlds 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 countrys 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."
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 USs 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.
Chinas 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 worlds 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 projects 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 Trumps 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 worlds most-populous nation is asserting itself as a powerhouse of clean-energy technology.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, addressed the insurance industry on climate change [in 2015]. He dropped a bombshell on the oil industry. His message was twofold. First, if the world seriously intended to limit global warming to 2C, most of the coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground would be left stranded, or unrecoverable. Second, a task force would be set up to prompt companies to disclose how they planned to manage risks and prepare for a 2C world, similar to the one created to improve risk disclosure by banks after the financial crisis. Mr Carneys remarks presaged a change in attitude towards oil companies by governments, financial regulators and investors that has become clearer since the Paris climate-change agreement last December. The Securities and Exchange Commission, Americas stockmarket regulator, is investigating whether ExxonMobil, the countrys biggest oil company, values its untapped reserves appropriately in light of the recent halving of oil prices and potential regulatory action on climate change. In October it said it might write down about one-fifth of its reserves. The company has faced related probes by New Yorks attorney-general. The industry may come under further pressure. If measures to stop global warming are fully implemented, oil-company revenues could fall by more than $22trn over the next 25 years, more than twice the predicted decline for the gas and coal industries combined.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing climate change news articles from reliable major media sources.
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