Energy in the News: Friday, September 8
Biodiversity proves its real-world value
University of Michigan News, feat. Brad Cardinale
Hundreds of experiments have suggested that biodiversity fosters healthier, more productive ecosystems. But many experts doubted that results from small-scale experiments would hold up in real-world ecosystems where nature is most unpredictable and complex.
A Smithsonian Institution and University of Michigan study published Sept. 6 in the journal Nature has put that doubt to rest: Biodiversity's power in the wild does not match that predicted by experiments—it surpasses it.
The new study shows that the production of biomass, the total amount of living matter produced in one place, increases with biodiversity across a wide range of the world's ecosystems.
Wind and solar key in 21st century energy economy
Yale Climate Connections, feat. Andrew Hoffman
A “revolution” in use of renewable energy is embracing not only the electrical sector, but also, and increasingly, the transportation sector, the current Yale Climate Connection video points out.
The video portrays a range of energy experts pointing to the surge in wind and solar use – fueled by decreasing costs, improving technology, and global civil concerns over air pollution and adverse health effects.
Americans support net energy metering
Phys.org, feat. Sarah Mills
About three out of every four Americans support hotly debated net energy metering policies, which allow residents with wind turbines and solar panels to sell excess energy back to the grid at retail rates, according to a national poll by University of Michigan researchers.
The poll, conducted by the National Surveys on Energy and Environment, is believed to be the first nationally representative public opinion poll on the topic—though regional and industry pollsters have collected public opinions on net energy metering in the past.
The researchers found strong support for net energy metering, regardless of respondents' age, political party, or even belief in climate change.
Public asks agency to keep pollution rules for cars
E&E ClimateWire, feat. EAB member Chris Grundler
The public showed up in force yesterday to press U.S. EPA to maintain strong vehicle fuel standards, despite concerns among critics that the hearing was a "charade" by the Trump administration.
The meeting marked a public show of support for tailpipe rules covering cars made in 2021 to 2025. President Trump announced in March that his administration would review the regulations introduced by former President Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's unclear if the rules will be changed.
No political appointees from EPA were on hand to hear the all-day testimony by industry and advocates. But staunch supporters of the rules, who outweighed opponents more than 25-to-1, seized on the opportunity to speak directly to regulators. It provided a preview of the resistance that the Trump administration would face if it decides to weaken the pollution rules on cars.
‘The fix is in’: Groups say utilities threaten choice market as new energy laws take effect
An ongoing case before the Michigan Public Service Commission over maintaining adequate electricity supplies into the future is prompting concerns over rising energy costs and unnecessarily spending $1 billion on new power plants.
The issue has one state lawmaker proclaiming that “the fix is in.”
Since Michigan’s new energy laws took effect in April, the MPSC has met with a spectrum of energy-related stakeholders over how to implement aspects of the new laws, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and long-term utility planning.
More states warm to energy storage
The middle of 2017 has seen a wave of activity on energy storage among U.S. states, expanding past early adopters like California and Hawaii to unfamiliar territory like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky.
The trend was noted in a report by GTM Research. In a quarterly update, GTM said that the energy storage market had a modestly strong third quarter.
It was modest mostly because it followed a banner first half of 2017, in which record amounts of energy storage were added to the U.S. power grid, mostly related to California's massive adoption of batteries meant to offset the emergency closure of the Aliso Canyon natural gas complex (Greenwire, June 6).
Can Denver cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent? It will take 100 percent renewable energy
The Denver Post
Denver floated strategies on Wednesday for meeting its big climate change goal, including pushing Xcel Energy to supply electricity only from renewable sources before 2030.
If these strategies are adopted, Denver would join Aspen, Boulder, Nederland and Pueblo among the more than 35 U.S. cities committed to using only renewable energy.
“We understand there are cities that want to do this, and we are going to do everything we can to help them achieve their goals,” Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said. “We are trying to work with any city that wants to go 100 percent ‘renewable’ or 100 percent ‘carbon-free.’ We believe we can get electricity at equal or less cost with renewables.”
Report predicts electric future as energy demand levels off
Global energy demand will level off by 2035, and renewable electricity increasingly will become the dominant source of energy as the role of fossil fuels declines, according to a new report released today by Europe's DNV GL, a diversified company that provides advisory services to the maritime, oil and gas, and energy industries.
The production of electricity will be dominated by renewables as technologies improve to the point where government and market subsidies will no longer be needed, according to Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL's energy business and the former president and CEO of Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
"When you go to a renewable-based future, everybody has their own energy production basically under control. It's going to be abundant, and it's going to be cheap," Engel said in an interview.
How does thermal energy storage reach scale?
A vital technology for securing deep greenhouse gas reductions exists and works well, but still hasn't achieved widespread deployment.
Thermal energy storage has succeeded in the field for decades. Precooling an insulated vat of liquid can chop an electricity bill and reduce peak load, as companies like Calmac and Ice Energy have shown. An experimental housing development in Canada uses underground thermal energy storage, powered by solar energy in the summer, to cover its heating needs through the frigid Alberta winters.
Such products address a decarbonization challenge that cleaner grid power alone cannot touch. Buildings consume 70 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S., and emit 40 percent of the nation's carbon emissions. Any holistic attempt to tackle climate change must confront building-sector energy use.
The world is projected to emit this much CO2 by 2100, exceeding our carbon budget three times over.
The New York Times
We need to stay within our carbon budget.
To prevent the worst effects of global warming, we have to keep temperatures from increasing by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2.0 degrees Celsius) above the preindustrial level — the upper limit agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
That means we can’t send more than 2,900 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is our carbon budget.