Energy in the News: Friday, June 1
What is the future of Michigan’s energy infrastructure?
Michigan Radio, feat. Sarah Mills
Utility companies are shutting down some of their older, less efficient coal-burning power plants.
To generate the electricity to replace those old plants, utilities have to decide whether to build more coal-fired plant or go with natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy, or some combination.
DTE Energy recently decided to replace some of its older coal-burning plants with a natural gas burning plants, incorporating little additional renewable energy.
Sarah Mills is a senior project manager at the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy. Mills spoke with Stateside on DTE’s decision to invest in natural gas instead of renewable energy sources.
Goodyear to test intelligent tire technology at Mcity
Crain’s Cleveland Business, feat. Huei Peng
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.has made another move in the name of innovation by setting up a working relationship with Mcity, a public-private partnership led by the University of Michigan to develop and advance connected and automated vehicle technology.
The Akron-based tire company announced on Thursday, May 31, that it will conduct testing at the Mcity Test Facility, a purpose-built proving ground in Ann Arbor, Mich., used to test connected and automated vehicles in simulated urban and suburban environments.
Goodyear will conduct testing "with electric and autonomous vehicles, further developing its intelligent tires and the application of sensors, and extending its role in managing the connection of tires to the road, to vehicles and, ultimately, to consumers," a company news release stated.
Electric power sector consumption of fossil fuels at lowest level since 1994
U.S. Energy Information Administration
Fossil fuel consumption in the electric power sector declined to 22.5 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2017, the lowest level since 1994. The declining trend in fossil fuel consumption by the power sector has been driven by a decrease in the use of coal and petroleum with a slightly offsetting increase in the use of natural gas. Changes in the fuel mix and improvements in electricity generating technology have also led the power sector to produce electricity while consuming fewer fossil fuels.
Michigan law gives activists new venue for holding utilities to pledges
Midwest Energy News
Michigan activists who struck a deal with utilities this month to boost renewable energy generation will have a new forum for holding the companies accountable.
Organizers of the Clean Energy Healthy Michigan campaign dropped a ballot initiative to boost the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 30 percent by 2030 after DTE Energy and Consumers Energy agreed to voluntarily reach 25 percent by that year.
Thanks to a 2016 state law, both companies will soon have to show regulators — and the public — detailed plans for meeting future generation demands, including renewables, through a process known as integrated resource planning.
U.S. lithium prospects enter new stage
U.S. lithium mining is entering a new stage as the initial flood of land-hungry prospectors turn their attention to proving the industry can churn out critical minerals for electric vehicle batteries at commercial scale.
Much of the activity is based in Nevada, the cradle of lithium extraction. The most widespread method, involving evaporation of lithium-rich brines, was pioneered in the 1960s at Albemarle Corp.'s Silver Peak mine.
"The staking boom has plateaued," said Richard Perry, administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals. "There are claim blocks being let go, new claim blocks being staked, but the number of claims has not changed appreciably."
Firms apply to hunt for oil in ANWR
Two Alaska Native corporations have teamed up with an oil-field service provider to propose a seismic survey of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's northern plain.
The permit application encompasses 2,602 square miles, or the entirety of ANWR's 1.6-million-acre coastal plain.
The Bureau of Land Management last month launched its environmental review of a leasing strategy for the refuge's northernmost section, a region known as the 1002 area (Greenwire, April 19). Seismic testing would serve as a first step toward drilling in the coastal plain, an endeavor strongly opposed by groups concerned about potential damage to the habitat of critical species like the Porcupine subspecies of caribou.
One-in-5 Americans plan to go electric with next car purchase, study says
American drivers continue to warm up to the idea of owning an electric car for their next vehicle purchase, at least according to a recent study conducted by AAA.
The auto club reports in a news release that 20 percent -- or 50 million U.S.-based drivers -- say they are likely to make the switch to an electric car the next time they buy a car.
This represents a 5 percent favorable increase from AAA's findings in 2017.
Congress, DOE continue carbon capture push, but utilities wary
Carbon capture technology is touted as a way to reduce the emissions of fossil fuel burning power plants, but it comes at a high cost.
To spur investment in the technology, Congress passed in February an extension of a carbon capture tax credit, known as 45Q, as part of the budget. However, the tax incentive isn’t garnering enthusiasm from power generators, who say the technology is still too expensive and lack sufficient policy drivers to reduce their emissions.
This may be surprising, considering the breadth of support that the technology has garnered from the Trump administration for its application at coal-fired power plants, following President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to save coal.
After the storm, Puerto Rico misses a chance to rebuild with renewables
Yale Environment 360
When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico last September, the storm’s 155 mile-per-hour winds tore apart the island’s infrastructure, killing thousands of people and leaving the entire island without electricity, in some cases for months. In the wake of the storm, renewable energy proponents and the media observed that the island’s devastation provided a unique opportunity to rebuild Puerto Rico as a resilient community powered largely by renewable energy.
One of the most vocal advocates for transforming the country’s post-Maria energy system has been Lionel Orama-Exclusa, an engineer and sustainable energy expert at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. But to the chagrin of Orama-Exclusa and others, in the eight months since the storm, the island has made almost no headway in laying the foundation for a renewable energy economy.
There's one climate policy Trump might not hate
Former President Obama took drafty windows to the woodshed in December 2009. He wanted to make a point about wasting energy, so he visited a Virginia Home Depot to try to make pink rolls of fiberglass a racy house dressing.
"Insulation is sexy stuff," Obama said. "If you saw $20 bills just sort of floating through the window up into the atmosphere, you'd try to figure out how to keep them."
The White House is no longer hawking fiberglass or sealant, and it's hard to tell whether energy efficiency has a pulse in the Trump administration. The president, who knows something about buildings, hasn't raised the issue since taking office — or much before then.