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  • Wednesday, August 27, 2014


    Verizon Announces $40 Million Solar Energy Investment

    Kiley Kroh, August 25, 2014 (Climate Progress)

    “…Verizon Wireless Inc. [the biggest U.S. wireless carrier] will invest $40 million into 10.2 megawatts (MW) of solar power…at eight Verizon network facilities in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York…[They] will nearly double the amount of power the company derives from solar energy…[Solar is] a key component of the company’s sustainability plan…[according to the company, and] the steadily declining cost of solar power made it a smart financial move…Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the latest move by Verizon puts the company at the top of U.S. telecom companies investing in solar power…[and by year’s end] Verizon will be among the top 20 of all companies nationwide [in number of solar installations and solar generating capacity]…Last year, Verizon announced a $100 million investment in a combination of solar panels and fuel cell technology, a decision it predicted would not only lower utility bills and emissions but also improve the reliability of its operations…” click here for more


    How Low Can Wind Energy Go? 2.5¢ Per Kilowatt-Hour Is Just The Beginning

    Tina Casey, August 23, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “…[A] new Department of Energy report on the US wind energy market…came up [with a new low] average cost for wind energy…[But the] 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report repeatedly cautions that the 2013 sample size is small compared to previous annual wind energy reports...[T]he 2014 sample will be much larger, at 16 projects totaling more than 2 GW (gigawatts)…Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are quickly becoming the financing deal of choice for wind as well as solar power. The report notes that PPAs for wind energy reached a new low on 2013, pegging the figure at $25 per MWh or 2.5¢ per kWh…[M]ost of the projects in the sample are located in the…high-quality wind interior, where costs are lower…[but] the latest generation of wind turbines is on a technology trend that enables a continued decline [in PPA price], even in less than optimal wind areas…[T]he report is confident that wind PPAs will give natural gas a run for the money over the next 25 years, at least in the Interior…[and] beat the pants off other fossil fuels in some regions…” click here for more


    Hearings planned after call for nuke-plant closure

    Michael R. Blood, August 25, 2014 AP via Yahoo News

    A verified confidential filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by former Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on-site inspector Michael Peck, a PHD in nuclear engineering and senior NRC instructor, recommends shutting down the California plant until its two reactors can be shown capable of withstanding earthquake forces unanticipated when the facility was built, a recommendation made more central by the recent magnitude-6 earthquake in Northern California. Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which owns and operates Diablo Canyon, argues the 1,122 megawatt unit 1, which went online in 1985, and the 1,118 megawatt unit two, which went online in 1986, have had thorough NRC analysis and are "seismically safe" since being retrofitted during construction in the 1970s. Environmentalists argue its 50-mile proximity to a half million people requires higher standards and Peck cited PG&E 2011 research that determined any of three nearby faults is capable of producing significantly more “peak ground acceleration” than was expected in the 1970s. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a supporter of the NRC’s directive to U.S. nuclear plants to reevaluate seismic risks by March 2015 since the 2011 magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, will hold hearings on why Peck’s July 2013 filing has gone unanswered. click here for more

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014


    The story of Elon Musk and GM’s race to build the first mass-market electric car

    Steve Levine, August 25, 2014 (Quartz)

    “One of the hottest clashes in technology pits two pathmakers in the new era of electric cars—Tesla and General Motors. Both are developing pure electrics that cost roughly $35,000, travel 200 miles on a single charge, and appeal to the mass luxury market…The stakes are enormous…Experts regard 200 miles as a tipping point, enough to cure many potential electric-car buyers of…the fear of being stranded when their battery expires. If GM and Tesla crack this, sales of individual electrics could jump from 2,000 or 3,000 vehicles a month to 15 to 20 times that rate…But there is a price to such distance. The 208-mile S starts at around $70,000…Getting 200 miles of range in a $35,000 car will require a battery that can leap over the best lithium-ion technology known to be within reach. And to be ready for 2017 or even 2018 models, it has to accomplish the jump with astonishing speed…Musk’s battery economics are superior…[and GM also] lacks the pizzazz, the style, and the engineering…This makes Musk the bettors’ favorite. Yet where Musk is gambling his company on the success of the Model 3, GM has options. It could ignore Tesla, and surrender the $30,000-$40,000 electric market, along with the technological crown that will go with it…and pull a winning, 200-mile automobile from the drawing boards of its design-and-engineering teams…[or] produce an entirely different, 200-mile car, one aimed at a lower demography, such as that served by its $14,000 Chevy Sonic… GM would arguably leapfrog over Musk, into the biggest mass market of all…” click here for more


    Unpacking unpaused global warming – climate models got it right; Global surface warming has slowed down due to internal and external factors, consistent with climate model predictions that account for these effects

    Dana Nuccitelli, 25 August 2014 (UK Guardian)

    "Although the global climate has continued to build up heat at an incredibly rapid rate, there has been a keen focus among climate contrarians and in the media on the slowdown of the warming at the Earth’s surface. The slowdown is in fact a double cherry pick – it focuses only on the 2% of global warming that heats the atmosphere (over 90% heats the oceans), and it only considers the past 10–15 years…[Nevertheless,] the latest IPCC report addressed it specifically:...‘The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2012 that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 1998 to 2012).’ …From 1998 through 2012…[it was estimated] that global surface temperatures had warmed by about 0.06°C, whereas the average climate model projection put the value at closer to 0.3°C. This apparent discrepancy only represented a tiny fraction of overall global warming…but it was nevertheless a challenge for climate scientists…[Recent studies show] the climate models are doing a pretty good job…” click here for more


    What You Need to Know Before You Invest in Solar Energy

    Motley Fool, August 24, 2014 (NASDAQ)

    "Solar energy is one of the greatest investing opportunities of our generation with well over a trillion dollars in annual market potential around the world. But with all that potential comes tremendous risk, particularly as new technologies emerge…[T]he cost of [silicon] technology has been reduced to a level that's now economically viable…[Thin-film technology and utility-scale technology] costs are too high…New solar technologies can make for great headlines but…the best bets are technologies that are tried and true…[Four keys for solar investing are…1. Make manufacturers prove it...2. Bet on cost reductions over technology improvements…3. Understand the risk a company is taking…4. Remember the bottom line…The solar industry has literally trillions of dollars in potential but with that potential comes risk…” click here for more

    Monday, August 25, 2014


    Renewable Energy Accounts For All New U.S. Power In July

    August 20, 2014 (Renew Grid)

    "All new U.S. electrical generating capacity put into service in July came from renewable energy sources…[including 379 MW of wind, 21 MW of solar and 5 MW of hydropower, according to the July 2014 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)lEnergy Infrastructure Update]…For the first seven months of this year, renewables have accounted for more than half (53.8%) of the 4,758 MW of new U.S. electrical capacity that has entered service, with solar (25.8%) and wind (25.1%) each accounting for more than a quarter of the total. In addition, biomass provided 1.8%, geothermal 0.7% and hydropower 0.4%...natural gas accounted for 45.9%, while a small fraction (0.3%) came from oil and ‘other’ combined…[T]here has been no new electrical generating capacity from either coal or nuclear thus far in 2014…Renewable energy sources now account for 16.3% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydro - 8.57%, wind - 5.26%, biomass - 1.37%, solar - 0.75%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%...” click here for more


    Why Climate Change Could Be the Biggest Threat to Your Portfolio

    Arjun Sreekumar, August 22, 2014

    "…[C]limate change may be the biggest threat of all…[to] oil and gas companies' asset values and share prices…[W]e must limit emissions to no more than 900 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) over the period 2013-2049 if we are to keep, at 80% probability, the global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels…Meeting that emissions target means that the vast majority of the global fossil fuel reserves owned by energy companies and foreign governments cannot be burned...[Burning these reserves] would raise the global temperature by well over 3 degrees Celsius…[Even with allowances, companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP] could harvest no more than a third of their existing reserves…[A]out two-thirds of their reserves could be, at worst, worthless…[But the more likely case is that] we fail to act and end up exceeding the stated target…For investors, this means that your fossil fuel stocks are likely safe for the foreseeable future. But in the improbable event that global leaders somehow scrape together and enforce a carbon reduction plan, fossil fuel stocks could be in trouble. Caveat emptor…” click here for more


    Which Is More Scalable, Nuclear Energy Or Wind Energy?

    Mike Barnard, August 22, 2014 (Forbes)

    “China is the true experiment for maximum scalability of nuclear vs wind. It has a tremendous gap between demand and generation. It can mostly ignore democracy and social license for nuclear. It is building both wind and nuclear as rapidly as possible. It has been on a crash course for both for about the same period of time. It has bypassed most of the regulatory red tape for nuclear…[And] China turned on just over 16 GW of nameplate capacity of wind generation in 2013…[while over] the four years of 2010 to 2014, China managed to put 4.7 GW of nuclear into operation [at five plants. Their stated plans for nuclear] had them building almost double this in 2013 alone and around 28 GW by 2015…The variance between the nuclear roadmap and nuclear reality in China is following the trajectory of nuclear buildout worldwide: delays, cost overruns, and unmet expectations…Modern wind turbines have a median 40.35% capacity factor…[The nuclear capacity factor is] 90.9%...[T]hat’s about 6.5 GW of real capacity of wind energy in one year vs 4.3 GW of real capacity for nuclear over four years. That’s roughly six times more real wind energy capacity than nuclear per year…In empirical terms, it doesn’t matter what anybody claims is theoretically possible: wind energy is growing rapidly while nuclear is going backwards. That’s reality…” click here for more

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014


    Anti-wind 'experts' failing legal test

    John Conroy, August 17, 2014 (The Australian)

    “…[Wind Health Impacts Dismissed in Court from the Energy and Policy Institute]found that of the 49 cases heard globally relating to wind farms and health, 48 were determined to have no reliable evidence showing wind farms cause health impacts…[and described] 16 individuals who have self-identified as experts in wind farms and health despite an ‘almost complete lack of credentials or experience that would justify an expert perspective in legal cases’…In total, 21 reviews of evidence have concluded that, with the usual minimum setbacks of 400-600m, wind turbines cannot make people sick…[A] number of anti-wind ‘experts’ [are] leveraging ‘no-longer-active or irrelevant’ medical credentials to lend weight to campaigns against wind energy, and [are] performing research without oversight…” click here for more


    Old car batteries could make cheaper, more efficient solar panels

    Rachel Feltman, August 18, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “Lead-acid car batteries have the potential to cause a whole host of environmental issues, but… researchers have worked on solar cells that use a compound called perovskite. The cells have quickly achieved over 19 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to usable electricity, which is comparable to commonly used silicon-based cells…[But lead] is destructive to plants and animals, and it can build up gradually in both the body and the environment…[T]hese solar cells can be built efficiently using recycled lead. Instead of adding more lead to the environment, this process would actually prevent lead in defunct car batteries from entering landfills…[and the lead] could be recycled from one solar cell to another in much the same way that car batteries continue to use it from generation to generation…Because the solar cells only need thin sheets of perovskite (about half a micrometer thick), the lead from just one car battery could make enough solar panels to power 30 households…They’re also cheaper and easier to make than silicon-based cells, and could potentially become more efficient…” click here for more


    Five Companies Riding the Wave of Ocean Energy

    Amy Gleich, August 3, 2014 (OilPrice)

    "…[The ocean] could meet around a quarter of the United States’ -- and three-quarters of the United Kingdom’s -- energy needs, but is largely being ignored by investors…[but] other green energies, such as wind and solar, have received tremendous attention and investiture, [but] tidal and wave energy is, as of yet, untapped…[Harnessing the ocean’s power] is a much more difficult prospect…[W]hile the world has yet to see the establishment of a large-scale, wave-fueled commercial power station, there have been notable advancements…[Aquamarine Power, Pelamis, Oceanlinx, the U.S. Air Force, and Ocean Power Technologies are poised to try and become ocean-power pioneers that succeed…The wave power industry is still the ‘wild west’ of technological entrepreneurship. While this unbridled spirit comes with its own challenges, it’s this same dynamic and ‘anything goes’ culture that’s so essential for developing innovative solutions. But no invention can get off the ground without investment; without billions of dollars of capital, this sector of the renewable market can’t take off…” click here for more

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014


    DOE promotes wind power in reports

    Timothy Cama, August 18, 2014 (The Hill)

    “…[A] series of reports released [by the Department of Energy (DOE)] found that the United States ranks second to China in wind energy installation and wind power provides 4.5 percent of the country’s electricity, among other conclusions…DOE used the reports to advocate for reinstatement of the wind energy [production tax credit (PTC), a tax break for wind energy production that expired last year…A Senate panel voted earlier this year to renew the credit, but the proposal did not move forward. The tax break has proven extremely controversial in Congress…One [report] focuses on the market for wind energy technology and the other is about distributed wind energy, which is installed at homes, businesses or other sites that are not utility-scale generation facilities…Utility-scale wind power is in 39 states and territories, and spurs $500 million in exports annually…Wind power is at an all-time low price, and utilities are buying it to save money…Distributed wind power accounts for more than 80 percent of all wind turbines in the United States…” click here for more


    Texas law lets developers ban solar panels while subdivisions are growing

    Wendy Hundley, 16 August 2014 (Dallas News)

    "…[D]espite a Texas law that bans HOAs from restricting the use of solar power…the law allows builders to restrict solar-energy devices while a housing development is under construction…Solar advocates call this a legal loophole that creates unnecessary obstacles for homeowners who want to go green. But builders say it’s an exception that protects investments in new housing…Developers object to the solar devices for aesthetic reasons…[and] the ban lasts only until the neighborhood is built out and the builder relinquishes control of the HOA board to residents…But green-energy advocates say solar panels are no more unsightly than air-conditioning units and cite…[a 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research] found that solar panels can add 3 to 4 percent to the value of a home…” click here for more