Energy in the News: Friday, March 9

Friday, March 09, 2018

Howes: Trump trade war threatens unintended consequence

The Detroit News, feat. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick

In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump touted the fact that “many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen in decades. Very soon, auto plants and other plants will be opening up all over the country.”

Maybe not. The trend could be imperiled if the White House delivers as soon as Thursday on the president’s promise to slap 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, a one-two punch to the manufacturing-heavy industrial heartland that improbably delivered Trump to the Oval Office.

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Michigan farmers, residents praise wind power

Yale Climate Connections, feat. Sarah Mills

Farmers and other residents of the two Michigan counties experiencing the most growth of wind power praise those newly established resources from a variety of perspectives.

Their kudos, voiced in the Yale Climate Connections monthly “This is Not Cool” video, come along with similarly favorable reviews of the wind power experience from a University of Michigan researcher. Sarah Mills, PhD, found in her research that farmers with wind turbines on their property are more likely to pass their farm lands on to their children or develop alternative succession plans rather than succumb to the lure of development and sprawl. Mills found also that Huron and Gratiot County farmers with wind energy on their land are twice as likely to continue investing in their homes and property as farmers lacking wind energy resources.

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Why get involved in a moonshot?

The Economist, feat. Peter Adriaens

Scientists who build a career in research are often motivated by the challenge of addressing the world’s toughest, most impenetrable questions. Can we find the cure for cancer? How do we feed every person in the world? Are there alternate universes? Moonshots—ambitious, large-scale research projects that attempt to make a leap forward rather than sustain incremental progress—give researchers the chance to answer these questions. Whether the projects are intended to result in the commercialization of a new product or to advance the field as a whole, moonshots tackle grand challenges and can have far reaching societal impact. As an ancillary benefit, moonshots can have a profound effect on the careers of research team members.

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The next phase of business sustainability

Stanford Social Innovation Review, feat. Andrew Hoffman

Business sustainability has come a long way. From the dawn of the modern environmental movement and the establishment of environmental regulations in the 1970s, it has become a strategic concern driven by market forces. Today, more than 90 percent of CEOs state that sustainability is important to their company’s success, and companies develop sustainability strategies, market sustainable products and services, create positions such as chief sustainability officer, and publish sustainability reports for consumers, investors, activists, and the public at large.

This trend will not abate anytime soon. Surveys show that 88 percent of business school students think that learning about social and environmental issues in business is a priority, and 67 percent want to incorporate environmental sustainability into their future jobs.

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Little Caesars Arena to 'go green' with DTE Energy sponsorship

Crain’s Detroit Business

Little Caesars Arena is going green this month with a DTE Energy Co. sponsorship that will power the venue with renewable energy during five Red Wings home games.

Energy will be tapped from the Detroit-based utility's renewable energy sources via a substation and underground electrical system built at the arena prior to its opening, according to a news release from the company. DTE has a wind park in Huron County and solar arrays in Detroit and Lapeer.

The corporate sponsorship is part of the company's increased focus on solar and wind energy, and comes in tandem with the National Hockey League's promotion of environmental sustainability throughout March.

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Amid transition to clean energy, utilities tackle water conservation


While closing coal-fired power plants is often lauded for improving air quality, it’s also saving billions of gallons of water a year from being withdrawn from the Great Lakes and local resources.

Last month, Jackson-based Consumers Energy pledged to save another billion gallons of water over the next five years beyond the savings seen by closing seven coal plants in 2016. While the goal is part of the company’s broader clean energy and environmental pledge over the next two decades, it also highlights an overlooked aspect of the energy sector: The industry is a major consumer of water.

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College Republicans propose an unusual idea from the right: a carbon tax

The New York Times

As the Republican Party struggles to find its footing with the next generation of voters, several conservative college groups have banded together to champion something anathema to the party: a carbon tax.

The group is led by the Yale College Republicans, the main campus student organization for young Republicans at Yale, and includes other prominent GOP groups at 22 other schools around the country including Clemson University in South Carolina, North Carolina State University and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Under the name Students for Carbon Dividends, the coalition is backing an idea first broached by Republican heavyweights including former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz: Tax the carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels and then return the money to consumers as a dividend in the form of monthly cash payments to individuals, both adults and children alike.

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US energy storage market tops the GWh milestone in 2017

Greentech Media

The U.S. energy storage market is no longer in its infancy. According to GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) newly released U.S. Energy Storage Monitor 2017 Year-in-Review, 100 megawatt-hours of grid-connected energy storage were deployed in the fourth quarter of the year, marking 1,080 cumulative megawatt-hours deployed between 2013 and 2017.

Even more impressive, GTM Research expects that the U.S. market will almost double this total in 2018 alone, with more than 1,000 megawatt-hours of energy storage forecast to be deployed this year.

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Utilities are paying their customers to buy electric vehicles


Electricity utilities were never designed for a world in which electricity demand didn’t go up forever.

For a century, that was fine. But after 2005, US demand leveled off and, in some regions, began to decline. The Tennessee Valley Authority is now preparing for an unprecedented 13% drop in demand across the region it serves in seven states, Vox reports, the first sustained drop in the utility’s 85-year history.

As customers generate their own power from renewable sources, efficiency measures spread, and the economy sheds industrial customers, electricity providers are barreling toward bankruptcy (pdf). Economic growth no longer guarantees higher consumption.

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Tesla and Uber weigh in on policies to boost EV adoption

Greentech Media

U.S. plug-in electric vehicle sales increased by 25 percent to just under 200,000 units in 2017. While promising, the rate of growth still lags what is needed to drive down greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

Last week, policy experts gathered at the University of California, Davis for a conference focused on what researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis) call the “three revolutions” -- shared, automated and electric vehicles.

Speakers on a panel on the conference’s first day were asked what immediate steps could be taken by policymakers to boost EV adoption. Gil Tal, the research director of ITS-Davis’ Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center, said a good place to start is simply alerting consumers to the fact that EVs exist.

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DOE pushing small modular coal plant development

Utility Dive

Typically in the power sector, the words "small" and "modular" are applied to nuclear reactor technologies.

The subject of a separate DOE funding initiative, the nuclear industry and senior agency officials hope these small modular reactors (SMRs) will revolutionize the sector by allowing a flexible, zero-carbon generation source that operates around the clock.

But DOE officials are also pushing the development of small modular coal plants, a senior official told media this week at the CERAWeek conference in Houston. The agency will set up competitive funding opportunities with cost share requirements, Steve Winberg, assistant secretary for fossil energy, told Axios, and DOE plans to issue a request for proposals on new plant designs.

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The Carbon Brief Profile: Brazil

Carbon Brief

Brazil, South America’s largest economy, has a unique set of circumstances when it comes to addressing climate change.

Home to much of the Amazon, its largest source of emissions by far is land-use change and the forestry sector. Brazil also uses large amounts of biofuels in transport and generates more than 70% of its electricity from hydropower.

Brazil is one of the five major emerging “BRICS” economies and has the world’s sixth largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Brazil increased the ambition of its climate efforts in the lead up to the Paris climate change summit.

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