April 24 Energy News

April 24, 2017

Science and Technology:

¶ For the first time, scientists have created a global map measuring the cooling effect forests have by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere. According to a new paper, in many locations, this cooling effect works in concert with forests’ absorption of carbon dioxide. [Science Daily]

Working atop a 120-foot tower (Credit: Rob Alexander)

¶ Remember when the world was hoping we would never reach 400 ppm of CO2? Well, now we can wave 400 ppm goodbye, because it has come and been passed. Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first CO2 reading greater than 410 ppm. To be precise, it was 410.28 ppm. Yes, this is bad and yes, it will have even worse consequences. [ZME Science]

World:

¶ Ocean Power Technologies has deployed its PB3 wave energy device off the Japanese coast as part of a lease agreement with Mitsui. The US developer’s first commercial PB3 PowerBuoy unit arrived in Tokyo on 18 March and was shipped to Kozu island for six months’ testing following months of testing off the coast of New Jersey. [reNews]

PB3 PowerBuoy (Ocean Power Technologies image)

¶ Plans by the UK Conservative Party for a cap on household energy bills will lead to fewer benefits for consumers, says one of the UK’s biggest providers. A cabinet minister said the Tories planned to intervene in the energy sector “to make markets work better.” But Scottish Power told the BBC that the move would “stop competition.” [BBC News]

¶ Solar-powered beer is the latest trend among hipsters in the Sydney suburb of Newtown. Punters are starting to see the benefit of solar power, with boutique beer producer Young Henrys hosting a 29.9-kW community solar array in Newtown which is owned by 54 local members of the Newtown community. [Energy Matters]

Solar powered beer (public domain)

¶ The University of Alberta is teaming up with research partners in China to develop low-carbon, sustainable energy solutions while tackling global environmental challenges. Officials from the university and Tsinghua University met in Beijing to sign an agreement to create the Joint Research Centre for Future Energy and Environment. [Korea IT Times]

¶ From Norway to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, big oil producers are becoming big backers of renewable-energy. Now, Nigeria has signed two agreements with solar developers to guarantee payment risks for 50-MW and 70-MW solar farms. The oil and gas sector makes up 35% of Nigeria’s GDP and 90% of its exports. [ImpactAlpha]

Solar array (Credit: Africa Energy Digest)

¶ A Thai plan to build a coal-fired power plant in the coastal province of Krabi has once again been put on hold after the Prime Minister scrapped the previous environmental health impact assessment and ordered the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand to conduct another with greater input from nearby communities. [Bangkok Post]

¶ Affluent countries like Germany and Japan are typically the ones associated with renewables. But the nation with the highest portion of solar generation in its electricity mix last year was not affluent. It was Honduras, a nation of 8 million people with a gross domestic product of only $5,000 per capita and serious social problems. [pv magazine USA]

PV plant in Honduras (Grupo Ortiz)

¶ Toshiba is still in the midst of a severe financial crisis caused by losses at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse Electric Co, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. Toshiba has sold its medical business and spun off its chip operation already. Now the company says four additional key operations will also be spun off. [The Mainichi]

US:

¶ Many US cities are setting green energy goals. Some, like Chicago, shoot for 100% renewable energy by the year 2025. Further south, Houston says, “We have NO problem,” with nearly 90% of its municipal electricity already being generated by renewable sources. Part of that comes from the recently built SolaireHolman plant. [ENGINEERING.com]

Rows of solar panels (SolaireDirect image)

¶ New Appalachian Power Co President Chris Beam says the utility doesn’t plan to build coal plants anytime soon and that potential business customers want electricity from renewable energy sources. Beam is a Wheeling native who understands the role of coal in West Virginia’s economy and culture, but he says times are changing. [Wheeling Intelligencer]

¶ Apple revealed it is the company behind two big renewable-energy projects in Oregon. One of them is Apple’s largest ever. Apple said it had signed power purchase agreements with a wind power project that’s set to begin construction in Gilliam County, and with what will soon be Oregon’s largest solar power plant, in Crook County. [Portland Business Journal]

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