California Governor Orders New Target for Emissions Cuts

Source: By ADAM NAGOURNEY, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Wednesday sharply speeding up this state’s already ambitious program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, saying it was critical to address “an ever-growing threat” posed by global warming to the state’s economy and well-being. The order, announced early Wednesday morning, was intended as a jolt to a landmark 2006 environmental law requiring an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas reductions by 2050, compared with 1990. Under Mr. Brown’s order, the state would have to get halfway there — a 40 percent reduction — by 2030. Mr. Brown said this tough new interim target was essential to prod the energy industry to act and to help the state make investment and regulatory decisions that would assure that goal was not missed.

‘Solar gardens’ could meet half of U.S. PV power by decade’s end — NREL

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

A new analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that shared photovoltaic (PV) solar systems — also called community solar projects or “solar gardens” — could account for one-third to one-half of all solar PV power in the United States by 2020. Achieving such robust growth will depend on a variety of factors, according to NREL energy analyst David Feldman, the report’s lead author. They include the continued expansion of net metering and other utility programs encouraging solar adoption, rising customer awareness of solar’s costs and benefits, and the ironing out of financial and regulatory issues that have effectively locked half of U.S. households and businesses out of the solar marketplace.

Audi sets sights on ‘blue crude’ 

Source: By Douglas Perry, Portland Oregonian • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Dubbed “blue crude,” the fuel does not contain any sulfur or fossil oil but has an overall energy efficiency of 70 percent. The fuel is created by harnessing renewable energy to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen. The hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide, which reacts at high temperatures and under pressure, creating the long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up blue crude.

Eminent domain legislation advances in Iowa Legislature

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

The proposed change could impact two current proposals. One is to build an oil pipeline that would ship 450,000 barrels daily from production sites in North Dakota to an oil hub in Illinois. The other proposal is to build an electrical line across 16 Iowa counties would transmit wind-generated energy from Iowa to customers in the Midwest and East Coast

Big energy-storing batteries make rapid inroads in Europe to support power grid 

Source: Eric Marx, E&E Europe correspondent • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Grid-scale battery storage solutions have arrived in Europe, despite a lingering controversy. No longer a distant dream, projects in Germany are already feeding energy into the grid, while in the United Kingdom and Italy, commercial projects are close to coming online. Yet their breakthrough potential — for the quick balancing of intermittent renewables and eventual replacement of fossil power plants — has not been fully tested. Grid-level energy storage remains a new frontier, and among a host of modern storage options, batteries are still sometimes tagged as too costly and unproven in real-world environments.

Offshore Wind Energy Sector Off to Slow Start in US

Source: By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Developers and industry experts say the offshore wind energy sector is off to such a slow start in the U.S. because of regulatory hurdles, opposition from fossil fuel interests and the trials and tribulations of doing something for the first time. While they’ve tempered their expectations that offshore wind energy will come to the U.S. in a big way anytime soon, many are hoping Deepwater Wind’s wind farm will pave the way for other projects. There are 11 offshore wind projects in various stages of development in 10 states, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Deepwater Wind is the farthest along.

Murkowski, Moniz camaraderie could bode well for compromise bill 

Source: Hannah Northey and Nick Juliano, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

The relationship will be key as Murkowski tries to take some of the recommendations from the QER and turn them into the first bipartisan, comprehensive energy bill to be signed into law since President Obama’s days in the Senate. Following yesterday’s hearing, Murkowski said she hoped Moniz and his staff would follow up on the 347-page QER with more specific legislative language that could be incorporated into an eventual bill. “The secretary is a guy who’s not just focused on sending a message,” she added. “I think he likes to get things done.”

Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables

Source: By Tom Randall, Bloomberg News • Posted: Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there’s no going back.The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels.

States press argument that comment period on EPA rule is ‘a sham’ 

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

More than a dozen states Friday said recent remarks from U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy show the agency has already made up its mind about its proposed greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants and reiterated their call for a federal court to block EPA from promulgating the rules. The states, led by West Virginia, are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to issue an “extraordinary writ” prohibiting EPA from finalizing the rules this summer.

State air chiefs, EPA leaders meet on emissions proposal 

Source: Rod Kuckro and Emily Holden, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan will be front and center as state air pollution agency chiefs gather in Providence, R.I., until Wednesday for their spring meeting. EPA air chief Janet McCabe and a contingency of deputies and regional administrators will be on hand to discuss the nuts and bolts of potential compliance strategies for cutting power plant carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 under the agency’s proposed rule.