Energy in the News: Friday, June 29
Algae in the gas tank? U of M researchers study problems holding back algal biofuel
Michigan Radio, feat. Brad Cardinale
For years, scientists have been developing ways to put algae in your gas tank. It works, but we're still a long way from buying algal biofuel at the pump.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have been experimenting with methods that could improve the fuel's long-term prospects.
In 2016, the team set up 80 large containers at a site near Pinckney, northwest of Ann Arbor, to serve as small ponds where they could grow different species of algae together. Picture a field surrounded by trees with row after row of round, black tubs filled with bright green liquids, like witches cauldrons. U of M recently released their findings.
Novel ship coating can help reduce fuel, energy costs
The Economic Times, feat. Anish Tuteja
Researchers, led by one of Indian-origin, have developed a novel type of "omniphobic" coating that can repel water, oil and alcohol, thus helping the US Navy reduce fuel as well as energy costs.
The omniphobic coating, developed by Anish Tuteja, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, is clear, durable and can be applied to numerous surfaces.
The findings showed that ship vessels coated with the chemical would guzzle less fuel because it does not have to fight as much water resistance while maintaining speed than the one without the coating.
Professor breaks down the myths, costs, and benefits of fracking
Michigan Radio, feat. Daniel Raimi
Michigan has used methods of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for decades. The national debate over the use of fracking began only ten to fifteen years ago when companies began drilling down and across.
Now companies can drill deposits one to three miles wide.
Author and University of Michigan Professor Daniel Raimi discusses the nuances and misconceptions of fracking in his new book “The Fracking Debate: The Risks, Benefits, and Uncertainties of the Shale Revolution.”
In Michigan, unwanted properties could see new life with solar projects
Energy News Network
Michigan officials are exploring the potential for solar energy projects on tax-forfeited properties where there is no interest from developers for other uses.
A state land bank in Michigan owns more than 4,500 properties that were obtained through tax foreclosure. Many of them are undesirable due to contamination.
“A lot of times if there’s blight or environmental issues, no one wants them and we get stuck with them,” said Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer, chairman of its land bank program.
Those are the type of properties officials are increasingly interested in as candidates for solar energy development.
Report: Renewables push could mean billions for Michigan economy
Energy News Network
Michigan could see billions in economic impact and tens of thousands of new jobs if its major utilities follow through on voluntary pledges to boost renewable energy, according to a new report released Thursday by a conservative energy group.
The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum report highlights the potential economic impact as utilities comply with a 15 percent renewable energy standard by 2021. It also projects the impact if Consumers Energy and DTE Energy reach 30 percent renewable by 2027, which is generally in line with the stated goals of the companies.
“It’s not an unrealistic target given the trajectory and rapid advances in renewables in Michigan,” said Jordan Pallitto, vice president of The Hill Group, which was commissioned to do the study.
Republicans are backing a ‘carbon dividend.’ What the heck is that?
Federal climate action may seem like a far-off prospect, but that’s not stopping a new group of climate hawks from launching a fresh campaign for a national carbon tax.
Here’s the real surprise: The proposal comes from Republicans, and it’s got the support of ExxonMobil and Shell.
The Baker-Shultz Carbon Dividends Plan, floated last year by the Climate Leadership Council, calls for taxing carbon emissions and returning the revenue as a “dividend” to everyday Americans. It’s named after James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz, two former secretaries of state and old-school Republican bigwigs.
Renewable energy seeks demand, investment to survive Trump squeeze
The wind and solar industries hope demand for carbon-free power from U.S. cities, states and corporations can offset headwinds from President Donald Trump’s tax policy and tariffs, developers said this week.
The Trump tax overhaul trimmed production and investment tax credits, and the administration also slapped a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels. The moves, aimed at boosting manufacturing and economic growth, also dimmed prospects for renewables.
But Trump’s withdrawal of federal support for Obama-era climate goals indirectly helped the industry by inspiring a backlash among U.S. cities, states and corporations, which have grown more ambitious about installing cleaner forms of energy.
Some judges getting impatient with litigation hold
A federal court in Washington, D.C., has voted to again extend the hold on the massive litigation over the Clean Power Plan, but two judges warned it will be the last time they agree to such a delay.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order today placing the litigation in abeyance for another 60 days. The court ordered EPA to provide status updates every 30 days.
"I will join in one further abeyance, but I am writing to apprise the parties that it is the last one that I am inclined to grant," Judge Robert Wilkins wrote in a statement joined by Judge Patricia Millett. Both are Obama appointees.
BNEF: Gas still ‘necessary’ in a 50 percent wind and solar scenario
In its latest New Energy Outlook, Bloomberg New Energy Finance describes a world where the energy system looks fundamentally different from today. But that doesn’t mean natural gas won’t have a place.
While renewables will dominate the generation mix, Seb Henbest, lead author and BNEF’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said gas peakers will remain an integral part of the landscape.
“They are necessary in our outlook,” Henbest said. In the United States, especially, “there’s a lot of gas that gets baked in in the 2020s and doesn’t get pushed out.”
BNEF projects 1,002 gigawatts of added peaker gas capacity worldwide by 2050, which will remain a “cheaper, more nimble alternative” to large-scale combined cycle gas plants.
Execs worry Trump's trade moves could burst U.S. gas bubble
President Trump's escalating trade threats have riled big oil and gas companies as they worry the administration's policies could squander the United States' opportunities in a booming global market.
The World Gas Conference taking place in Washington, D.C., this week is the first time in 30 years that the United States has played host to the international industry gathering. While it underscores the ascent of the United States as one of the world's leading suppliers of natural gas — supporting a global shift away from coal — it also provided a platform for executives wary of Trump's moves on trade.
Given the conference's crowd of high-level diplomats and the world's biggest investors and energy firms, the message company executives delivered was aimed in part at the audience and at the president's residence just a mile away.
Anti-fossil fuel candidates come out winners in party primaries
An impressive list of anti-fossil fuel and pro-climate action candidates won party primaries on Tuesday night, indicating that environmental issues could receive greater attention in this fall’s general elections, especially as lawmakers devise plans to counteract the Trump administration’s anti-environment policies.
At least nine federal and statewide candidates who pledged to reject oil, gas, and coal contributions won their primaries. Among the strongest environmental voices who won Tuesday was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old community organizer who campaigned for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in his 2016 presidential bid and identifies as a democratic socialist.
2 percent of New York City’s buildings emit half its CO2 pollution. They’re luxury towers.
The 90-floor tower nicknamed the “Oligarch’s Erection” is the gaudy centerpiece of Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row ― a place where a corrupt Nigerian oil tycoon set a $51 million record for the biggest foreclosure in the city’s history in 2017 and a Silicon Valley tech mogul bought the most expensive home ever sold in New York for $100.5 million in 2018.
But 157 West 57th Street is part of another, equally exclusive club that includes Trump Tower, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Kushner family’s 666 Fifth Avenue, the ritzy Baccarat Hotel and Residences and 15 Central Park West, where Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein lives.
That club is the biggest contributors to carbon dioxide pollution in New York, where just 2 percent of buildings produce nearly 50 percent of the city’s climate-altering emissions, according to a report released by New York Communities for Change, the People’s Climate Movement NY, the Working Families Party and two other city-based environmental nonprofits.