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November 3, 2017

Energy – SciPol Weekly, October 28 – November 3

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Government 

Desert Sun – Trump administration plans to approve huge Southern California solar farm

The Trump administration plans to approve a massive solar power plant in the Southern California desert — and some environmentalists aren't happy about it. President Trump's Interior Department has pushed for more fossil fuel drilling on public lands and waters, announcing this week it will hold the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history.

Flathead Beacon – Congressional Committees Probe Puerto Rico Contract Award

Multiple congressional committees are investigating a $300 million contract awarded to a small Montana company in the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that was tapped to help restore Puerto Rico’s damaged power grid. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority awarded the contract to tiny Whitefish Energy Holdings to restore transmission and distribution lines damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Maria. The 2-year-old company had just two full-time employees when the storm hit last month.

Forbes – Department of Energy Should Include Natural Gas in 'Baseload' Power Designation

The U.S. Department of Energy has wisely proposed a rule that would factor in on-demand reliability in wholesale electricity prices. The rule will enhance grid reliability and mitigate some of the costs unfairly imposed by intermittent wind and solar power on baseload power sources. The DOE, however, erred in failing to include natural gas as a designated baseload power source.

Los Angeles Times – U.S. trade commission recommends tariffs on solar energy equipment

The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended levying comparatively modest tariffs on imports of silicon-based solar photovoltaic cells and solar panels. The measures recommended Tuesday by the ITC’s four commissioners include establishing a licensing fee on some equipment, an idea developed by the Solar Energy Industries Assn., and tariffs on silicon-based solar cells as well as on solar panels.

NBC News – St. Louis, Long a Coal Capital, Votes to Get All of Its Power From Clean Sources

St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry.The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035.

Rigzone – Why Oil-Rich Gulf Arab Countries Are Turning to Renewables

 Solar power is getting so cheap that even Gulf Arab states awash in crude oil are embracing the renewable resource. Their motive is as much to keep selling fossil fuels as it is to rein in their carbon emissions. 

Industry

CBS News – Where clean energy jobs are growing the fastest

As the federal government changes policies to prop up the coal industry at the expense of renewable energy, it's facing increasing headwinds from market forces. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor statistics shows that jobs in solar and wind are projected to grow fastest over the coming decade. 

Greentech Media – GE Locks Down Major Grid Data Deal With Exelon’s Utilities

GE’s companywide earnings fell short of expectations last week, but its digital grid business keeps on growing. It continues to lead in conventional power applications, like wind turbines and gas generators, but it’s also been building out Predix, an industrial internet-of-things business that pairs on-the-ground sensors with local and cloud computing.

Renewable Energy Magazine – Global Advanced Biofuels Market Projected to Surpass $195 Billion by 2025

The biodiesel segment held the highest revenue share in the biofuels market. This was mainly due to the large fleet of diesel-powered vehicles and rising focus on decreasing fuel emissions. A joint study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Energy determined that biodiesel reduces net carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere by 78.5% compared with petroleum diesel fuel.

Reuters – Awaiting Trump's coal comeback, miners reject retraining

Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

The Virginian Pilot – Virginia wind farm project delayed for a second time

The developer of what would be Virginia's first commercial wind farm has delayed construction plans for the second time in two years. The company still plans to build 25 turbines on a mountain ridge that would generate 75 megawatts of power. But the timeline is uncertain.

World Oil –Global oil & gas market shrinks by 13.6% as low crude prices push down revenues, says MarketLine

MarketLine’s latest market report: 'Global Oil & Gas' reveals a declining market trend in 2016 as the price of crude oil pushed down profits of the major players. Overall the global oil & gas market saw its value fall from $1,395.7 billion in 2015, to $1,205.6 billion in 2016.

Science

Science Daily – Nuclear energy programs do not increase likelihood of proliferation, study finds

Contrary to popular thought, nuclear proliferation is not more likely to occur among countries with nuclear energy programs, according to research published in International Security. In a historical analysis of the relationship between nuclear energy programs and proliferation from 1954 to 2000, the study finds that the link between the two has been overstated.

Other

Public Radio International – Renewable energy and resilient microgrids could help rebuild Puerto Rico

Before Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico relied on an outdated, centralized power grid that burned imported fossil fuels. Now, some experts say the disaster offers Puerto Rico the chance to rebuild its power system with more resilience and less carbon.

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