A ‘Collective Shrug’ Over Supreme Court Stay of Pollution Rules

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Joby Warrick and Steven Mufson:In a town famous for news leaks, the Supreme Court managed to deliver a genuine surprise when it moved this week to freeze the Obama administration’s signature regulation on climate change, raising doubts about U.S. promises to cut pollution blamed for Earth’s warming.But although Tuesday’s ruling startled the White House and rattled U.S. allies, it appears to have had little effect on the electricity providers most directly affected by the Clean Power Plan. About 48 hours after the court’s decision, major utility companies are reacting to the move with a collective shrug.Executives for electricity producers and industry trade associations say they expect little deviation from what was already an industry-wide move from coal-burning to cleaner and cheaper forms of energy to produce electricity. The shift is likely to accelerate further in the near future, industry officials and analysts said, meaning that many of the administration’s carbon-cutting goals may be met regardless of what courts and lawmakers ultimately decide to do.“Electric utilities are investing in clean energy and pursuing energy efficiency,” Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the largest trade association of electricity providers, a gathering of Wall Street investors less than a day after the Supreme Court announced its stay on the Clean Power Plan.Institute officials said the court’s 5-4 decision “doesn’t really change anything” in an industry in which nearly all new electricity generation is coming from wind or solar facilities or from hyperefficient generators that burn natural gas. “You can’t simply put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to major strategic investments that the captains of industry are making,” said Quin Shea, the institute’s vice president for environment.Full article: Move to cleaner power is proceeding, regardless of Supreme Court’s ruling A ‘Collective Shrug’ Over Supreme Court Stay of Pollution Ruleslast_img read more

Arch’s Abandoned Coal Montana Coal Project Would’ve Been Among the Biggest in the U.S.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Taylor Kuykendall for SNL:In a January 2011 presentation to the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Arch laid out plans for a dragline mining operation in Powder River County, Mont. that could produce up to 20 million tons of coal per year. That level of output would put it above all but a handful of surface coal mines in the U.S. Only four coal mines in the country produced more than 20 million tons in 2015, according to SNL Energy data.In that same presentation, Arch touted up to 300 jobs as it aimed to become a major coal producer in Montana. In securing the 1.5 billion tons of reserves, Arch was aiming to send coal to the northern U.S. power generation market and the Pacific Rim through West Coast export facilities. The company indicated in the presentation that it was skeptical of the sustainability of growing natural gas utilization and assured audiences that coal “is — and will remain — a dominant fuel source in the United States.”Five years later, Arch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection. Since then, natural gas had continued to grab at coal’s market share in the U.S. and demand from export markets has withered, all while the industry was being hit with new regulations and intensified scrutiny from environmental opponents.Full article ($): Suspended Arch project would have been among nation’s largest mines Arch’s Abandoned Coal Montana Coal Project Would’ve Been Among the Biggest in the U.S.last_img read more

A Fresh Call in Montana for an End to Coal Subsidies

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Tom Howard for the Billings Gazette:The Obama Administration, widely criticized by western lawmakers for placing a temporary moratorium on new federal coal leases, has at least one ally in the controversy: former Montana Department of Revenue director Dan Bucks.The Obama Administration announced the halt on new coal leases last January, citing concerns about whether taxpayers are getting a fair return for federal coal.Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands, most of it in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.Bucks said critics are overstating the moratorium’s threat to the coal industry. In general, coal producers that are mining federal coal have about a 20-year supply at the current rate of mining, he said.Bucks ran the Montana Department of Revenue during the administration of former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a pro-coal Democrat, from 2005 to 2013.Concluding that the federal coal leasing program is broken, Bucks said its problems date to the 1970s, when federal government policy ensured that coal would be the fuel of choice for electrical generation.An energy policy that relied heavily on coal-fired electrical power created the coal boom in the Powder River Basin. In the ensuing decades, the federal coal lease program provided “hidden subsidies” for the coal industry, Bucks said.In 2013 an Interior Department inspector general report found that taxpayers weren’t being adequately compensated in the federal coal leasing program. In 2014 the Government Accountability Office also identified problems with the federal coal leasing program, Bucks said“It’s hard for the public to understand, but the Interior Department didn’t have a choice but to respond,” Bucks said. “The way they are responding is appropriate. In a technical public administration sense, they are doing the right things because you cannot ignore those reports.”Bucks also took issue with predictions that the state would suffer dire economic consequences with the closure of power plants at Colstrip. The moratorium on federal coal leasing won’t put a halt to mining, he said.Bucks also said that Montana’s coal industry accounts for a little more than 1 percent of state’s revenues, much less than what what coal advocates have claimed.Bucks also disagreed with the notion that the closure of Colstrip would result in a mass exodus from Montana. The worst case would be slower economic growth for the state, he said.He suggested that Montana should map out a better energy future by placing a priority on assisting coal-dependent communities in case the coal industry dwindles. The state should also aggressively pursue renewable energy sources, he said.Full article: Former Montana Revenue Department director says coal leasing program needs changes A Fresh Call in Montana for an End to Coal Subsidieslast_img read more

3D printing could slash costs for offshore wind projects

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The towers and foundations for offshore wind turbines currently being deployed at sea, and the even larger machines under development, are so massive that shipping the components via road or rail is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible.To address the issue, a startup founded by a former National Renewable Energy Laboratory engineer aims to use concrete additive manufacturing, also known as 3D concrete printing, to build turbine towers and foundations at or near ports for less money and in less time than with conventional methods.Last month, JC Solutions LLC, an RCAM Technologies company, received a $150,000 grant from a U.S. Department of Energy small business R&D program to develop the “first-ever conceptual design and techno-economic assessment of an additively manufactured concrete offshore wind turbine foundation and tower.”The offshore project builds upon similar research under way in California, which was reported on by Greentech Media last November. There, the California Energy Commission awarded RCAM Technologies a $1.25 million grant to develop and test 3D concrete printing technology for onsite manufacturing of ultra-tall towers for land-based turbines.With the new offshore project, “I don’t have any plans to construct towers and foundations at sea, where the turbines are installed,” said Jason Cotrell, RCAM Technologies founder and CEO, in an interview. “All construction work would be done at the port, or near the port at a staging area—like a pre-cast concrete plant,” he added. “Such plants exist in nearly every region of the country. For near-site construction, the parts would be designed in sections that could be cost-effectively transported over local roads or rail.”For comparison, he said, each steel jacket foundation for the 6-megawatt turbines installed at Rhode Island’s Block Island offshore wind farm cost up to $10 million. Cotrell is shooting for $2 million per installed foundation using 3D concrete printing. He thinks he can build the components faster than with conventional methods, too. In his proposal for the DOE grant, Cotrell cited a figure stating it can take up to 135 days to manufacture the concrete or steel gravity-based foundation for an offshore turbine deployed in shallow water in Europe.More: How 3D concrete printing could slash time and cost in building offshore wind projects 3D printing could slash costs for offshore wind projectslast_img read more

Betting on technology, major U.S. utility looks to be carbon-free by 2050

first_imgBetting on technology, major U.S. utility looks to be carbon-free by 2050 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Denver Post:Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, is upping its renewables game with the announcement Tuesday that it has a goal of being 100-percent carbon free by 2050.The Minneapolis-based company that serves eight states has been a leader in the quest to increase the use of renewable energy sources, said Ben Fowke, the utility’s chairman, president and CEO. “This isn’t new to us. We’ve been leading the clean-energy transition at Xcel for quite a while now. Investing in renewables has really been part of our DNA for over 20 years now,” Fowke said at a news conference for the announcement Tuesday at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.The move to more wind, solar and other renewable energy sources is not only good for the environment but also good for the bottom line of both the company and its customers, Fowke added.Xcel Energy already had a goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 60 percent and increasing its use of renewable energy sources to 55 percent of its mix by 2026 as part of its Colorado Energy Plan, which was approved by state regulators in August. The new plan includes a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030 across eight states and getting to zero emissions of the greenhouse gas by 2050.Fowke and Alice Jackson, president of Xcel’s Colorado operation, said they don’t know of any other utility in the country that has set a goal and timeline for producing no carbon emissions.Fowke and Jackson conceded in a media briefing before the news conference that some of the technology required to meet the new goal might not currently exist. “I’m betting on the technology,” said Fowke, referring to the many advances that have made wind and solar energy comparable to or less expensive than fossil fuels.More: Xcel Energy wants carbon-free electricity by 2050last_img read more

Fitch: U.S. to add 17,000MW of renewable capacity annually through 2022

first_imgFitch: U.S. to add 17,000MW of renewable capacity annually through 2022 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Growth in the U.S. renewable energy market will average more than 6% annually over the next decade as falling technology costs and support from states and the private sector help offset the loss of federal tax credits and a regulatory rollback by the Trump administration, Fitch Solutions Macro Research said June 4.New renewable generation installations are projected to average nearly 17,000 MW of capacity annually between 2019 and 2022, the research firm said, although that figure is expected to fall to 11,000 MW during the next six years following cuts to the investment and production tax credits. By 2028, renewable resources, excluding hydroelectric power, are expected to account for 16% of the country’s electricity mix, Fitch Solutions said, up from 11% in 2018.Despite increased risks from import tariffs and a potential reduction in tax-equity financing, “the project pipeline across most segments remains robust and the U.S. renewables market continues to attract major domestic and international investment,” Fitch Solutions said. The firm is an affiliate of Fitch Ratings Inc.Still, renewables will not overtake fossil fuels any time soon. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast generation from natural gas to increase from 34% of U.S. electricity in 2018 to 40% by 2032 and remain at that level through 2050.New York utility Consolidated Edison Inc., which invested more than $2 billion in wind and solar assets in 2018, plans to spend another $1 billion on renewables over the next three years, Chairman, President and CEO John McAvoy said May 21 at a natural gas conference.Demand for renewable energy is also coming from outside of the power sector. General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra told shareholders June 4 that the automaker is working toward a goal of using renewable energy to meet all of its operational electricity needs, up from 20% now.More ($): U.S. renewable energy market projected to grow despite headwindslast_img read more

Coal analysts say bankruptcy filing is ‘increasingly likely’ for Illinois Basin’s Foresight Energy

first_imgCoal analysts say bankruptcy filing is ‘increasingly likely’ for Illinois Basin’s Foresight Energy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):One of the few major U.S. coal companies to dodge the bankruptcy court may soon need to file for Chapter 11 restructuring if the current market and economic forces working against the coal industry persist, according to recent securities filings.Over the past few weeks, Foresight Energy LP exercised an option to delay a $24.4 million interest payment and negotiated the right to skip a publicly accessible quarterly call to discuss its third-quarter finances. As management of the Illinois Basin coal miner management works to restructure its balance sheet, the New York Stock Exchange delisted its stock and Foresight affiliate Murray Energy Corp. filed for a bankruptcy reorganization.“With a significant debt load and a near-term pricing recovery increasingly unlikely, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing appears increasingly likely,” B. Riley FBR analyst Lucas Pipes wrote in a Nov. 14 note.While some coal companies struggled to sell assets even through bankruptcy auctions, Pipes noted that Foresight still owns some attractive mining assets, with its longwall mines capable of producing coal at a lower cost than its peers. However, the company has about $1.25 billion in gross debt on its balance sheet.“The partnership continues to engage in discussions with its creditor constituencies and is exploring potential restructuring alternatives,” Foresight wrote in a Nov. 12 securities filing. “As a result of these discussions and potential restructuring efforts, it may be necessary for us to file a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in order to implement a restructuring, or our creditors, under certain circumstances, could force us into an involuntary bankruptcy or liquidation.”Illinois Basin producers turned to a recent boom in export markets to make up for a decline in domestic demand, but that demand is retrenching. In the third quarter of 2018, Foresight captured $140.8 million in international coal sales. In the third quarter of 2019, it reported $34.8 million from export markets, a 75.3% decline. Domestic sales fell from $151.2 million to $146.7 million in the same period. More ($): Weakening coal market conditions move Foresight to shakier groundlast_img read more

Record-setting quarter pushes installed U.S. solar capacity to more than 71GW

first_imgRecord-setting quarter pushes installed U.S. solar capacity to more than 71GW FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享CNBC:The solar market in the U.S. added 2.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics in the third quarter of 2019, with total solar capacity — which includes both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power — hitting 71.3 GW, according to a new report.The figures, released Thursday morning, come from the most recent U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Photovoltaic refers to a way of directly converting light from the sun into electricity. The SEIA describes concentrating solar plants as using mirrors “to concentrate the sun’s energy to drive traditional steam turbines or engines that create electricity.”The 2.6 GW of capacity added during the third quarter represents a 45% increase compared to the third quarter of 2018 and a 25% increase compared to the second quarter of 2019, the SEIA said.Breaking the figures down, the third quarter saw the U.S. residential market install 712 megawatts (MW) of solar. California led the way in this market, installing almost 300 MW.For 2019 as whole, Wood Mackenzie is forecasting year-over-year growth of 23% and expecting 13 GW of installations. To put things in perspective, China added 44 GW of solar photovoltaics in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In 2017, the country added 53 GW, the IEA says. [Anmar Frangoul]More: U.S. adds 2.6 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics in third quarter, new figures showlast_img read more

Offshore wind projects push global first half renewable energy investment up 5% to $132 billion

first_imgOffshore wind projects push global first half renewable energy investment up 5% to $132 billion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Global offshore wind investment more than quadrupled in the first half of the year even as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic shock.A report has found that investors gave the greenlight to 28 new offshore wind farms worth a total of $35bn (£28bn) this year, four times more than in the first half of 2019 and well above the total for last year as a whole.The biggest half-year tally for offshore wind investment more than made up for a slowdown in investment for onshore wind and solar farm projects after the outbreak of Covid-19, according to the report by Bloomberg NEF (BNEF).The sea-based windfarms include some of the biggest investments in offshore wind ever made. The Hollandse Kust Zuid array off the coast of the Netherlands will cost the Swedish energy giant Vattenfall $3.9bn, and SSE’s Seagreen project in Scotland’s Firth of Forth is valued at $3.8bn.The number of offshore wind projects to receive a greenlight in China climbed to 17 in the first half of the year, led by the Guangdong Yudean Group’s $1.8bn plans to build the Yangjiang Yangxi Shapaat wind power project.The growth in offshore wind powered a 5% jump in total renewable energy investment to $132.4bn despite a slump for onshore wind and solar power projects. Onshore wind investment for the first half of the year fell by a fifth to $37.5bn, while solar investment slipped 12% to $54.7bn.[Jillian Ambrose]More: Offshore wind energy investment quadruples despite Covid-19 slumplast_img read more

Massive Moorabool wind farm begins sending power into Australian electricity grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The massive 312MW Moorabool wind farm in central-western Victoria has started to send some power to the National Electricity Market, following the completion of installation of all 104 of its wind turbines late last week.Goldwind Australia said on Friday that all of the turbines for the project, located around 25km south-east of Ballarat, had been installed and that commissioning and project completion activities were now underway.Once fully operational, the $370 million project will produce enough wind power to cover the electricity demand of 228,000 Victorian homes, Goldwind said last week.“Moorabool Wind Farm saw up to 300 local and regional people employed during the construction phase and will see up to 20 permanent full-time maintenance roles once operational,” said Goldwind Australia senior project manager, Dusan Hadzi-Nikolov in a statement.Goldwind bought the project from WestWind Energy in 2016 and started work on the second, 54-turbine section of the wind farm, Moorabool South, in late June.[Sophie Vorrath]More: Massive Moorabool wind farm completed, sending power to Victorian grid Massive Moorabool wind farm begins sending power into Australian electricity gridlast_img read more