Piezoelectricity — in which materials generate energy when compressed — may still be the future. At least that’s what some Californians believe. A new $2 million subsidy from the California Energy Commission will fund pilot projects exploring the use of piezoelectricity, with the eventual goal of installing generators under roadways and railways to capture the energy of vehicles passing over them. Supporters say it could revolutionize both roads and renewable generation, but others caution that the technology isn’t likely to pan out. It’s commonly used in small-scale applications like sound equipment and ignition systems for gas stoves, but has yet to take off on a larger scale.
Tony Clark, a Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, today announced he will leave the agency next month. A former chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Clark was first elected to the North Dakota Public Service Commission in 2000 and was re-elected in 2006.
A new critique of the Obama administration’s energy policies finds that dispatching new renewable energy resources will significantly drive up electricity costs. Last week, the Institute for Energy Research issued an update of what has become a perennial analysis on the levelized costs of energy (LCOE). In it, the group argues that electricity from new solar and wind energy plants is now 2.5 to 5 times more expensive than electricity from existing nuclear and coal plants.
In the past several weeks alone, the Obama administration has made multiple new moves to fight climate change. The administration announced new steps to help fill U.S. roadways with electric vehicles. It ruled that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft endanger human health and welfare. And on the international stage, it moved the world closer to a deal to phase out super-polluting HFCs, chemicals in refrigerants and other industrial substances that warm the climate.
Demand for electricity in Texas is forecast to reach the highest so far in 2016 on Thursday as a brutal heat wave bakes the Lone Star State, according to the state’s power grid operator, which expects supplies to be sufficient to meet the peak. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid in most of the state, predicted demand would reach 69,589 MW on Thursday, topping the unofficial hourly high for the year of 68,800 MW set on Wednesday.
In June, the state of California — which has led the U.S. in putting electric cars on the road and switching to so-called clean electricity — took a decisive turn in its quest to move away from carbon–emitting fuels. An agreement between the large utility Pacific Gas and Electric and environmental and labor groups set a path for retiring the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, and thus, for a state in which “carbon free” will not include energy generated through the splitting of atoms. On Monday, though, New York — also a leader when it comes to greening power supplies — announced a very different route. The state’s Public Service Commission approved a Clean Energy Standard backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s backed Clean Energy Standard. It seeks to get New York to 50 percent renewable electricity by the year 2030 — while also retaining the six nuclear reactors that currently provide more 30 percent of the state’s electricity.
In the year since U.S. EPA unveiled its Clean Power Plan, the American electricity sector has outpaced all expectations about how quickly it can shift away from coal. Utilities, especially those that are investor-owned, have moved rapidly, driven by a combination of lower gas and renewable power prices, state mandates, federal tax incentives, customer demands and their own corporate efforts to address climate change. A new market reality has emerged — one that is starkly different from when President Obama announced his landmark climate effort on Aug. 3, 2015.
The deep waters off the coast of California could become home to the country’s largest offshore wind energy project and a test case for a technology that is still in its infancy. The 765-megawatt project, proposed by Seattle-based Trident Winds, would sit about 25 miles off California’s central coast, near the town of Cambria. If built, it will be larger than the 630-megawatt London Array off the coast of Kent, – the world’s largest working offshore wind farm that began operating in 2013.
Tesla Motors said on Wednesday that its losses deepened in the second quarter, but the electric-car maker pledged to expand production and improve the profitability of its vehicles. The company said it lost $293.2 million in the quarter, on revenue of $1.27 billion. The loss was only slightly more than in the first quarter, but it greatly exceeded analyst forecasts and raised the pressure on Tesla to improve its factory output.
Graham Goodman, a 33-year-old chemist, bought a used all-electric Nissan Leaf last fall in preparation for a tightening budget and growing family. In May, he stepped out of the hospital where he had just visited his wife and newborn to unplug his car from its charging station and go home. “I’m a former Marine, so it also feels like this tiny patriotic act I can do,” said Goodman, pointing to the U.S. Marine Corps eagle sticker on the back of the car. His Missouri license plate: PLUGD-N.