Energy in the News: Friday, March 31

Friday, March 31, 2017

Is energy storage the next job creator?

E&E EnergyWire, feat. Mark Barteau

Could the energy storage industry fabricate some of the "thousands and thousands of jobs" that President Trump says he wants?

The short answer from insiders is yes. But whether those jobs arrive during his administration or are delayed or lost to Asia will depend in part on decisions Trump makes on trade, energy, transportation and infrastructure.

Across the young industry, there are hopeful signs: Students have massed at Tesla Inc. job fairs in Nevada, where the company plans to hire 3,000 people in the first half of 2017, according to a spokeswoman. As many as 150 new jobs were posted recently at a plant in Michigan. CEOs across the industry speak of an upswing, though one that is suffering through a period of Trump-induced uncertainty.

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Trump just approved the Keystone XL pipeline

Climate Central, feat. Andrew Hoffman

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday greenlighting the Keystone XL pipeline after it cleared State Department review to bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

The Trump administration’s approval represents an about face from President Obama’s stance on an issue that has pitted environmentalists and local communities against Transcanada, which plans to build the pipeline that will shuttle up to 800,000 barrels of oil a day.

In its decision recommending approval, the State Department said it “considered a range of factors, including, but not limited to, foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy.”

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Easing coal rules unlikely to make US energy independent

Associated Press, feat. Mark Barteau

The Trump administration is gutting Obama-era regulations opposed by the coal industry, but the strategy isn't likely to have much effect on U.S. energy independence.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was ushering in "the start of a new era" in energy production by signing an executive order that seeks to block, reverse or review several of President Barack Obama's initiatives to limit climate change. Some will take effect immediately; others could take years and face long court challenges.

A new era in U.S. energy began a decade ago, when drilling companies used new techniques to extract vast amounts of natural gas and oil beneath Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, the Rockies and other regions of the country. And still the country imports millions of barrels each day of the oil it consumes each day to power its cars, trucks and factories. The moves Trump announced will do little to change that equation.

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Trump can scrub the Clean Power Plan, but the West will stay green

Wired, feat. Barry Rabe

The West likely will continue greening its electricity supply despite President Donald Trump’s executive order today aimed at wiping out much of former President Barack Obama’s consequential actions to rein in climate change. But progress will be slower and spottier than it would have been.

The president ordered agencies to rewrite rules that were intended to slash greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas drilling, lift a moratorium on leasing coal from federal lands, and stop considering impacts on climate change when making major government decisions. But perhaps most significantly, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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What you can do about climate change

The New York Times, feat. Michael Sivak

What can you — just one concerned person — do about global warming?

It may feel like a more urgent problem these days, with proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and each year warmer than the previous one.

You could drive a few miles fewer a year. Reduce your speed. Turn down your thermostat in winter. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LEDs. Reduce your meat consumption. Any one of those actions would help.

But none would come close to doing as much as driving a fuel-efficient vehicle.

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President Trump signs executive order rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations

Time, feat. Mark Barteau

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order Tuesday intended to shift the direction of U.S. environmental policy and begin the process of undoing some of the most significant Obama-era environmental regulations.

The executive order, billed as a measure to promote "energy independence" and create jobs, will target a slew of environmental measures aimed at combating climate change including the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama's global warming efforts. Some directives take effect immediately, like the end to a moratorium on new leases for coal mining on federal land, while others, like the review of the Clean Power Plan, require a rule making process that could take years to complete.

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Trump signs executive order rolling back regulation on carbon emissions

National Public Radio, feat. Mark Barteau

President Trump today signed a sweeping executive order designed to undo many of the Obama administration's efforts to combat climate change.

This took place at the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters. As a sign of how key this issue is to the administration, Trump was joined by his vice president and the EPA administrator, the Energy secretary and the Interior secretary. Also in the room were about a dozen coal miners.

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“Rediscovered” engine for more efficient power plants

University of Michigan Engineering

With an eye to improving the efficiency of natural gas power plants, the Department of Energy is providing U-M researchers with $1.4 million to explore how to make rotating detonation engines practical for power generation. A jump of even a few percent in the overall thermal efficiency could mean a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The efficiency gain comes from the different kind of fuel burn: a detonation, rather than the more ordinary deflagration (flame) currently used in the majority of energy conversion systems. In conventional natural gas combustors, a flame consumes the unburned air/fuel mixture, releasing their chemical energy into heat. A detonation wave releases energy much faster through the combination of a strong shock wave that compresses the air/fuel mixture and a chemical reaction that follows on its heels. In this mode, energy can be extracted more efficiently from each unit of fuel.

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Pop-up exhibition at U-M tackles controversial historical moments, looks to future

University of Michigan News, feat. U-M Energy Institute

An upcoming pop-up art exhibition on campus will explore challenges throughout the University of Michigan's history and serve as a resource to guide U-M through its third century.

"Stumbling Blocks" will consist of seven large, provocative art installations that will tackle important challenges and ethical questions that U-M has faced during the last two centuries, from the effects of Proposal 2 on the enrollment of students of color to the ethics of biomedical research.

The exhibition is associated with the President's Bicentennial Colloquium on the Future University Community. It will be spread out across the Ann Arbor campus, and run April 3-8. Each exhibit will include an interpretative sign with additional information.

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Michigan begins to unroll new energy laws, study distributed generation costs

Midwest Energy News

A two-year legislative process to reach compromise on wide-ranging energy bills in Michigan will now turn into a two-year implementation period as state officials, utilities and stakeholders comply with provisions in the new laws.

Earlier this month, the state unveiled a new website tracking the progress of various groups involved with changing the way utilities project future energy needs, how energy usage will be managed through efficiency and demand response and how utilities will procure more renewable energy to meet the increased standard of 15 percent by 2021.

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Maryland increases renewable portfolio standard target to 25% by 2020

U.S. Energy Information Administration

This February, Maryland increased the renewables generation target in its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 25% of retail electricity sales by 2020, replacing the earlier target of 20% by 2022. The change occurred as legislators in both houses of the state’s General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto of legislation they had first passed in 2016.

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Trump wants to cut programs that help buildings save energy. This new study says they work.

The Washington Post

A preliminary budget proposed by the Trump administration has targeted federal environmental programs left and right for elimination — and counted on the hit list are several popular energy efficiency programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program and the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program. Cutting these money-saving programs could be a major loss for consumers, experts have warned — but also for the climate.

But even as this is happening, new research published Monday suggests that such programs for improving energy efficiency — some of which could disappear under the Trump administration’s proposed budget — have the potential to make a big dent in our greenhouse gas output.

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Contrary to spin, Trump slashing energy jobs with new executive order

Common Dreams

As the Trump administration brags that Tuesday's executive order to dismantle Obama-era climate regulations will create coal industry jobs, new employment data from the Department of Energy (DoE) demonstrates how misguided that claim is.

Clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE's 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (pdf) released earlier this year.

"Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction," the Sierra Club observed.

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