Energy in the news: Friday, July 17
UM set to open driverless-car test site Mcity on Monday
The University of Michigan will officially open its new testing site for connected and driverless cars on Monday. The 32-acre testing grounds, called Mcity, are designed to simulate urban and suburban roads with a network of controlled intersections, traffic signals, streetlights, sidewalks, construction obstacles and more, the university said in a release. The $6.5 million test track is operated by UM’s Mobility Transformation Center.
Michigan officials: Straits of Mackinac pipeline’s ‘days are numbered’
Midwest Energy News
Top Michigan officials announced Tuesday that the state would not call on Enbridge Inc. to shut down a controversial oil pipeline that runs along the floor of the Great Lakes.
However, in light of recent calls for greater oversight and shutting down the pipeline, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette suggested that the line may have a limited lifespan anyway.
Schuette and Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, unveiled a set of recommendations for the pipeline along the Straits of Mackinac as well as for pipelines throughout the state.
Startups have figured out how to remove carbon from the air. Will anyone pay them to do it?
In Squamish, British Columbia, a Canadian town halfway between Vancouver and Whistler where the ocean meets the mountains, a startup led by Harvard physicist David Keith – and funded in part by Bill Gates – is building an industrial plant to capture carbon dioxide from the air.
Carbon Engineering aims to eventually build enough plants to suck many millions of tons of CO2 out of the air to reduce climate change. Its technology could help capture dispersed emissions – that is, emissions from cars, trucks, ships, planes or farm equipment – or even to roll back atmospheric concentrations of CO2.
The Calgary-based company is one of a crop of startups placing bold bets on technology designed to directly capture CO2 from the air. Lately, at least three have shown signs of progress. New York City-based Global Thermostat, which is led by Peter Eisenberger, a Columbia University professor and former researcher for Exxon and Bell Labs, tells me it has recently received an infusion of capital from an as-yet-unnamed US energy company. As part of a demonstration project financed by Audi, Swiss-based Climeworks in April captured CO2 from the air and supplied it to a German firm called Sunfire, which then recycled it into a zero-carbon diesel fuel.
Report finds emissions of pollutants concentrated among a few generators
The 10 largest U.S. power producers were responsible for more than one-third of emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide, according to a new report released July 14 by a coalition of utilities and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The 11th "Benchmarking Air Emissions" report was released by a partnership that included the NRDC, the nonprofit sustainability leadership group Ceres, Calpine Corp., Entergy Corp., Exelon Corp., Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. Using 2013 data compiled mostly from the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it found that the 100 largest power producers generated 87% of the industry's emissions of the four pollutants and 85% of the industry's electricity.
Since 1990, the report said, SO2 and NOx emissions have decreased 80% and 74%, respectively, while CO2 emissions are 14% higher than they were in 1990. However, from 2008 to 2013, CO2 emissions declined about 12%. Mercury emissions were first reported in 2000 and have declined 50% since then. Overall, the power industry was responsible for about 63% of SO2 emissions, 13% of NOx emissions, 38% of mercury emissions and 61% of CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the NRDC noted in an accompanying release that the economy has continued to grow even as the industry has overall reduced CO2 emissions.
How should Michigan’s energy market be regulated?
Detroit Free Press
The battle lines have been drawn on how to regulate Michigan’s energy market — and few people are happy about the choices.
The state Senate held its first hearing Wednesday on a comprehensive energy plan that spells out how the big utilities and alternative energy suppliers can operate in the state, and what role renewable sources, like solar and wind power, and energy efficiency programs will play in the state’s energy mix.
“We’re looking for movement away from mandates to more robust planning in the state,” said state Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, a sponsor of one of the energy bills. “And we’re trying to make the rules fair for everybody.”