Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Group to fund and operate first hydrogen fuel ferry fleet in the US

June 12th, 2019

On Wednesday, a plan to put hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferries in US waters moved forward as startup Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM) announced a partnership with Switch Maritime, an impact investment fund that will finance and operate a fleet of such vessels.

GGZEM received a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) last November to build a 70-foot, 84-passenger, hydrogen fuel cell-powered boat. Named the Water-Go-Round, the vessel will be used to take passengers across the San Francisco Bay. The ferry, which is currently under construction in Alameda, Calif., is expected to be complete in September. After its completion, it will undergo three months of testing so researchers can gather data on its performance.

Switch Maritime (sometimes styled SW/TCH) is the new operator of the ferry, and it hopes to decarbonize water transport throughout the United States. The company recently announced another project in New York City to build a battery-powered ferry, which will be completed after the Water-Go-Round's debut. Switch says it "plans to work with existing ferry operators on both coasts to provide capital to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission modes of transit," according to a press release.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Energy, ferry, hydrogen, science, water go round | Comments (0)

At Tesla shareholder meeting, Musk assures “there is not a demand problem”

June 12th, 2019
A Tesla sedan on a city street charges at a charging station.

Enlarge (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Tesla held a shareholder meeting in Mountain View, Calif., on Tuesday afternoon, and CEO Elon Musk addressed the audience on a number of issues facing the company before taking questions from shareholders.

Tesla had a complicated first half of the year. It achieved significant Model 3 delivery, but reportedly sluggish demand for the Model S and X has dragged the company down. Some analysts have turned bearish on Tesla after Musk promised profitable quarters going forward in Q4 2018 but then missed profitability badly in Q1 2019.

But Musk defended his company's health in his initial statement to the audience. He told shareholders "I want to be clear that there is not a demand problem... Sales have far exceeded production, and production has been pretty good. We have a decent shot at a record quarter... if not, it's going to be very close." Musk added that 90 percent of orders are coming from non-reservation customers.

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Posted in battery electric vehicles, cars, Energy, Tesla | Comments (0)

As summer heats up, Calif. utility starts cutting power to prevent wildfires

June 10th, 2019
Smokey the Bear sign next to a firefighter.

Enlarge / A firefighter passes by a Smokey the Bear fire danger sign during a brush fire in Burbank, Calif., on May 25, 2018. (credit: Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

This weekend, one of California's largest utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)—elected to shut off power to customers in two counties as part of its newly-expanded "Public Safety Power Shutoff" plan.

The plan was approved by California regulators in May as a way to minimize the risk of wildfire in Northern California. As climate change has made summers hotter and winter rain more unpredictable, PG&E's power lines sparked dangerous and destructive fires 2017 and 2018. In recent years, California fires caused by power lines have burned millions of acres of land, razing homes and towns, and killing residents who couldn't evacuate quickly enough.

In order to combat these fires, PG&E is proactively shutting down both distribution and transmissions lines when conditions are dangerous enough. This weekend, hot, windy weather with low humidity resulted in power outages for 20,500 residents of Butte and Yuba counties, just west of the Tahoe and Plumas National Forests.

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Posted in Biz & IT, Energy, PG&E, science, Summer | Comments (0)

17 automakers ask Trump to hold off on fuel economy rollback

June 7th, 2019
17 automakers ask Trump to hold off on fuel economy rollback

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday, 17 automakers sent the White House a letter asking the Trump Administration to put the brakes on a fuel economy rollback, according to the New York Times.

Automakers including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volvo reportedly asked the Trump Administration to go back to the negotiating table with California and a dozen other states following California's lead in imposing fuel economy standards that were agreed upon during the Obama Administration.

In December 2016, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a set of fuel economy standards that would require automakers to meet a target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. When the Trump Administration took over, it set in motion the process to make those fuel economy standards less stringent—after considerable lobbying from the automotive industry. Last summer, the EPA finally proposed a fuel economy rollback that would freeze target miles-per-gallon at 2020 levels, ignoring the Obama Administration's final five years of increasingly stringent standards.

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Posted in cars, Energy, EPA, fuel economy, NHTSA | Comments (0)

Creative thinking: Researchers propose solar methanol island using ocean CO₂

June 6th, 2019
Solar panels floating on the ocean.

Enlarge / Artist's rendering of solar methanol islands. (credit: Novaton)

Imagine an open ocean, Sun beating down overhead, with 70 islands of solar panels, each 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter, bobbing silently out toward the horizon.

The cluster of islands is churning out electricity and sending it to a hard-hulled ship that acts as an oceanic factory. This factory uses desalinization and electrolysis equipment to extract hydrogen gas (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the surrounding ocean water. It then uses these products to create methanol, a liquid fuel that can be added into, or substituted for, transportation fuels. Every so often, a ship comes to offload the methanol and take it to a supply center on land.

This plan was outlined in a PNAS paper published this week, which suggests it's an option for addressing the global economy's over-reliance on liquid fossil fuels. Removing excess carbon dioxide from our environment is crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change. But electrifying trucks and planes has proved intractable in the near-term, so finding a "greener" option for liquid fuel is seen as a helpful half-step.

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Posted in climate change, CO2, Energy, methanol, science, solar | Comments (0)

Tesla sold greenhouse gas credits to Fiat and… GM?

June 3rd, 2019
Tesla sold greenhouse gas credits to Fiat and... GM?

(credit: Jeffrey Sauger / Chevrolet)

GM and Fiat Chrysler have reported that they purchased federal greenhouse gas emissions credits from Tesla, according to filings made to the state of Delaware and viewed by Bloomberg.

Both the US federal government and California offer automaker credits for selling zero-emissions vehicles. Those automakers can then sell those credits to automakers who exceed their pollution restrictions in a sort of cap-and-trade system that imposes extra cost on automakers not improving the fuel efficiency of their fleet.

Tesla has reported sales of its credits for years, but generally the buyers have been kept private. An exception to this occurred in April, when the Financial Times discovered a deal between Fiat Chrysler and Tesla that was reportedly worth hundreds of millions of euros. According to FT, Tesla had allowed Fiat to pool its European fleet with Tesla's in order to meet strict EU average fuel-economy emissions laws.

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Posted in cars, emissions, Energy, Federal, Fiat Chrysler, GM, Tesla | Comments (0)

Power systems company to build world’s first 1 GW energy storage project in Utah

May 31st, 2019
Coal-fired power plant beyond a fence.

Enlarge / The Intermountain Power Project plant stands in Delta, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. The largest coal-fired power plant in Utah plans to shutters its facility by 2025 as the company's largest customer base, Southern California municipalities, move towards regulations limiting coal-fueled electricity. (credit: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

This week, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) announced that it planned to build the world's first one-gigawatt (GW) energy storage network. The Mitsubishi and Hitachi joint-venture said the storage network would incorporate several different kinds of energy storage, including renewable hydrogen, Compressed Air Energy Storage, flow batteries, and solid oxide fuel cells.

MHPS has only said that it will be able to deliver 1 GW of power, but it did not specify how the project will be rated in terms of gigawatt-hours.

The project appears to center around an advanced natural gas turbine that will be able to burn renewable hydrogen as well. "MHPS has developed gas turbine technology that enables a mixture of renewable hydrogen and natural gas to produce power with even lower carbon emissions," a press release from the joint venture states. That gas turbine technology will eventually be upgraded, "to use 100 percent renewable hydrogen as a fuel source, which will allow gas turbines to produce electricity with zero carbon emissions."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Compressed air storage, Energy, flow batteries, hydrogen, science, Utah | Comments (0)

Ohio House passes bill that would allow consumer-funded nuclear and coal subsidies

May 31st, 2019
Cooling towers behind nuclear plant entrance.

Enlarge / Water vapor is emitted from the cooling towers of the FirstEnergy Corp. Perry Nuclear Generating Station in Perry, Ohio, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. (credit: David Maxwell/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

This week, lawmakers in Ohio's House of Representatives voted 53-43 in favor of a controversial bill that would permit a consumer-funded subsidy for nuclear plants and possibly for ailing coal plants as well.

The bill would also end Ohio's renewable portfolio standard, which required that the state's utilities to obtain 12.5 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2027. Instead, that renewable portfolio standard is replaced by smaller steps to bolster renewable power, but environmental groups say the bill is a step in the wrong direction.

A version of House Bill 6 has now been introduced to the state's Senate. If it passes there, it will likely become law due to the Governor's support of the bill.

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Posted in coal, Energy, House Bill 6, Nuclear, Ohio, Policy, renewable, science | Comments (0)

China’s saber-rattling on rare-earths trade has US officials looking for options

May 30th, 2019
Rare earth oxides. Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium.

Rare earth oxides. Clockwise from top center: praseodymium, cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium. (credit: Peggy Greb, US Department of Agriculture)

On Wednesday, Chinese newspapers ran commentaries warning the United States that escalating trade tensions would result in China cutting off its rare-earth-minerals trade with the US.

China is the dominant supplier of rare-earth minerals around the world. The minerals are used in all sorts of advanced materials and play a prominent role in the operation of electric motors, wind turbines, and military-related material.

According to Reuters, China's official People's Daily ran an article saying: "Undoubtedly, the US side wants to use the products made by China's exported rare-earths to counter and suppress China's development. The Chinese people will never accept this!"

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Posted in Biz & IT, china, coal, Energy, Policy, rare earths, trade | Comments (0)

US Department of Energy is now referring to fossil fuels as “freedom gas”

May 29th, 2019
Bird flies above Freeport LNG terminal.

Enlarge (credit: Photo by Craig Hartley/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Call it a rebranding of "energy dominance."

In a press release published on Tuesday, two Department of Energy officials used the terms "freedom gas" and "molecules of US freedom" to replace your average, everyday term "natural gas."

The press release was fairly standard, announcing the expansion of a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at the Freeport facility on Quintana Island, Texas. It would have gone unnoticed had an E&E News reporter not noted the unique metonymy "molecules of US freedom."

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Posted in Energy, export, freedom gas, LNG, natural gas, Policy, science | Comments (0)