A group of nonprofit utilities this week petitioned a federal appeals court to reconsider its August decision to uphold Order 1000, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s landmark ruling that overhauls the process for upgrading the country’s aging electric grid. The Large Public Power Council, a group of locally owned and controlled not-for-profit power systems, askedthe U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider its ruling on Order 1000, one of the most complex and controversial rules ever issued by the commission.
More than a quarter of the world’s electricity demand could be met with solar power by midcentury, surpassing generation from any other single source, including coal, natural gas, oil, wind, hydro and nuclear, the International Energy Agency has determined. In two new “technology road map” reports published yesterday, IEA asserts that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could generate up to 16 percent of the world’s electricity by 2050, while concentrating solar power (CSP) could provide 11 percent of all power.
Coastal cities in the United States could avoid the worst impacts of many hurricanes by installing hundreds of thousands of massive wind turbines offshore, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Delaware. The scientists say the windmills would suck the energy out of storms and pay for themselves with clean electrical power. By harnessing wind from hurricanes, the turbines will break the feedback loop that allows the storms to grow stronger, the scientists contend.
Power plants are still responsible for more emissions of greenhouse gases than any other industrial sector, according to a U.S. EPA report released today. The power sector released almost a third of U.S. man-made carbon dioxide last year, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program’s report says. And while power plant emissions are down nearly 10 percent compared with 2010 levels, their emissions showed a slight resurgence last year as higher gas prices drove utilities to use slightly more coal.
he world’s first large coal-fired generator refitted to capture the majority of its carbon dioxide emissions is ready for operations. This week, Canadian utility SaskPower hosts officials from the Department of Energy and around the world as part of an official launch of the utility’s Boundary Dam carbon capture project, one of four initiatives cited by U.S. EPA in its proposed rule on power plants as an example of the viability of CO2 capture technology. The 110-megawatt coal plant in Saskatchewan already is capturing carbon dioxide as part of preliminary tests and will move to an approximately 90 percent capture rate of its overall CO2 this year after this week’s ribbon-cutting, said SaskPower CEO Robert Watson in an interview with ClimateWire.
A strong gust of wind energy could blow into northern Illinois within a few years if state regulators authorize a $1.8 billion transmission superhighway linking the Great Plains with one of the largest wholesale electricity markets. The Illinois Commerce Commission today is scheduled to consider a petition by developer Clean Line Energy Partners LLC to build the Illinois portion of the 500-mile project — one of several key regulatory hurdles the company must achieve before it can lock up customers and financing commitments.
A new market for electricity is starting this week aimed at integrating renewables onto the power grid in seven Western states. The “energy imbalance market” will give Western buyers the option to purchase electricity in five-minute increments, a privilege previously enjoyed only by participants in the California grid. “It’s a way for us to provide our real-time market to other entities across the West,” said Don Fuller, director of strategic alliances for the California Independent System Operator, which manages much of California’s grid. “The increasing variability of both wind and solar on the system, I think, has added some impetus to the interest in this.”
When the Supreme Court returns this week, its docket will be missing the high-profile environmental cases that dominated last term. There are no challenges to President Obama’s greenhouse gas program for addressing climate change, nor is there anything on U.S. EPA’s effort to clamp down on air pollution that drifts across state lines. “The Supreme Court had its fill of environmental cases last term,” said Thomas Lorenzen, a former Department of Justice environmental attorney now at Dorsey & Whitney LLP.
But perhaps the most influential tool these states have used to spur growth in renewables is implementing business-minded policies. From Washington to Arizona, innovative state policies to harness the region’s renewable energy resources drive major investment. Nine of 13 western states have binding targets for renewable energy production. Take California’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which has helped lead to its dominance in solar and wind project deployment this year. Or look at Nevada, which recently coaxed Tesla to build its new gigafactory in the Silver State with business-friendly policies — bringing with it $5 billion and over 6,000 jobs. RPS policies and financial incentives across the West have been beyond successful, opening the door for a rush of eager entrepreneurs to create thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and substantial savings for millions of consumers.
Seeing no end to gridlock in Congress, national environmental groups are trying a new strategy for winning battles on climate change and green power: pouring record amounts of money into legislative races in a handful of states. The multimillion-dollar push by groups like the League of Conservation Voters and liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s super PAC aims to secure friendly majorities in the legislatures of states such as Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Victories there could help blunt their grim prospects in D.C., where the all-but-paralyzed U.S. Senate may be in Republican hands after November.