Energy transitions – headlines

August 15, 2013

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Air Pollution Concerns Halt Enormous Coal Plant In China

Justin Guay, Bloomberg, Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace International
Yesterday news broke that Chinese authorities scrapped a huge proposed coal plant over environment and air pollution concerns. No need to do a double take, it’s true. The world’s largest coal consumer, home to a potential coal bubble, just shelved an enormous coal project over pollution concerns. This news comes just days after headlines screamed that coal use is up 50 percent globally. It looks like our Chinese friends responded by underscoring that local communities fed up with dealing with the deadly pollution can, when provoked, be an even more powerful force than the coal industry.

First, let’s put this in perspective. In Europe or the U.S., a huge 2,000-megawatt coal power project (roughly the size of four average U.S. coal plants) next to a megacity of 10 million, would top the list of polluting power plant proposals and attract intense scrutiny. In China, which has continued to add an equivalent amount of capacity every few weeks, permitting a project like this half a year ago was still business as usual. It’s what happened after the projects preparatory work got underway that bent the arc of history in China…
(13 August 2013)

Solar power to trump shale, helped by US military

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegrpah
US marines go to war in Afghanistan with solar cells embedded in their rucksacks, efficient enough to recharge lithium-ion batteries for radios and greatly lighten loads.

Field patrols will soon have almost weightless solar blankets as well. These will be able to capture a once unthinkable 35pc of the sun’s light as energy with thin membranes, a spin-off from technology used in satellites. This new kit is a military imperative. Taliban ambushes of supply convoys are a major killer. The Pentagon says the cost of refueling forward bases is $400 a gallon…

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"The US Defence Department is racing ahead. This could be like the semiconductor industry in 1980s where the military changed the game," said Jeremy Leggett, chairman of Solarcentury.

Nor is the Pentagon alone. Grant lists from the "SunShot Initiative" of the US Energy Department show that America’s top research institutes are grappling with each of the key issues that have bedevilled solar energy for so long…
(14 August 2013)

German Utilities Hammered in Market Favoring Renewables

Tino Andresen, Bloomberg
Germany, Europe’s biggest electricity market, is beating up its traditional utilities.

RWE AG and EON SE are getting hurt by falling power prices and a shrinking market share this year. They’re set to report second-quarter earnings this week just as RBC Capital Markets said both may need to raise capital.

“Lower earnings for RWE and EON have knock-on implications for the balance sheet of both companies,” John Musk, an analyst at RBC Capital in London, said last week. “The market has yet to factor in the longer-term earnings impact of German power prices,” which have dropped about 27 percent in a year…
(12 August 2013)

Analyst: Utilities Challenged By Spread Of Solar

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson, here and Now
Interview with Chris Nelder

It’s HERE AND NOW, and we’re taking a look at the battle in the energy industry, fossil fuel utilities saying that at stake nothing less than the future of their industry. Before the break we heard about Colorado energy provider Xcel’s efforts to reduce the payments that company makes to solar users who feed their extra power into Xcel’s grid.

Xcel and other utilities across the country say they’re paying too much to buy that solar power, but 29 states plus the District of Columbia have renewable energy standards that require utilities to have a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources like solar. Many utilities are angry about that and about government subsidies to renewable users.

In the past year, legislation backed by the fossil fuel industry was introduced in more than a dozen states to weaken or repeal renewable standards. All those measures failed. Let’s bring in Chris Nelder. He’s an energy analyst based in California. And Chris, this is so interesting because publicly industry critics of solar and wind have been pooh-poohing this notion that renewables could take hold…
(14 August 2013)
Audio and transcript of interview available at source

Green planet image via shutterstock. Reproduced at with permission.

Tags: disruptive technologies, Electricity, energy industry, Energy Policy, Renewables, Solar Energy