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UK Proposed ban on Food Waste Landfill Disposal & Re-Purpose to Green Energy Feedstock

UK Proposed ban on Food Waste Landfill Disposal & Re-Purpose to Green Energy Feedstock | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Government, council and retailer-backed report says ban on landfill could save UK £17bn and heat 600,000 homes
Duane Tilden's insight:

>The ambition is to save the UK economy over £17bn a year through the reduction of food wasted by households, businesses and the public sector, preventing 27m tonnes of greenhouse gases a year from entering into the atmosphere.

The new study, Vision 2020: UK Roadmap to Zero Food Waste to Landfill is the culmination of more than two years' work and has the backing and input of local authority and industry experts. It sets the framework for a food waste-free UK by 2020.

Last week official figures revealed the average UK family was wasting nearly £60 a month by throwing away almost an entire meal a day. A report from the government's waste advisory group Wrap showed Britons were chucking out the equivalent of 24 meals a month, adding up to 4.2m tonnes of food and drink every year that could have been consumed. Almost half of this is going straight from fridges or cupboards into the bin, Wrap found. One-fifth of what households buy ends up as waste, and around 60% of that could have been eaten.

At the same time the UK's largest retailer, Tesco, recently agreed to reduce its multi-buy items and other promotions after revealing that 35% of its bagged salad was being thrown out. It also found that 40% of apples were wasted, and just under half of bakery items.<

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Duke's maligned handling of toxic coal ash is claimed typical for industry

Duke's maligned handling of toxic coal ash is claimed typical for industry | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Over 200 contaminations and spills document water contamination and deformed fish near coal ash sites.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"

Duke Energy faces criminal charges and a $100 million fine for a 2014 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River but environmental activists say its mishandling of coal ash waste is not atypical of the coal industry.  [...]EPA released a final ruling on handling coal ash last December but both utility industry and environmental groups were dissatisfied. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCRs or coal ash) under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). That subtitle governs solid waste. There is not yet adequate data, the EPA said, to justify managing coal ash under Subtitle C of RCRA, which pertains to hazardous waste.

“Coal ash is a toxic soup of heavy metals,” said NC WARN Energy Expert Nancy LaPlaca. “Pretending it is not hazardous waste is outrageous.”

Utilities are “pleased” that the EPA found it did not have adequate information to regulate coal as hazardous waste, explained Schiff, Hardin Partner/Utilities Counsel Josh More. But “EPA is pretty explicit this is not their final determination.” It failed, he added, because “it is a self-implementing program.”  [...]"<

 
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Plastic Packaging Waste in Food Industry

Plastic Packaging Waste in Food Industry | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Food packaging today is as wasteful as it was 30 years ago and in some cases, it's worse, a new report by a non-profit group indicates.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" Many people take time to separate recyclables and compostables from the garbage. But according to a new report, the food industry isn't doing enough to help. 

The food we eat is often packaged in unrecyclable or difficult-to-recycle materials, says the report from a non-profit group called As You Sow. The group, which promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, said only about half of consumer packaging in the U.S. ends up being recycled, and the rest ends up as litter or in a landfill. [...]

As You Sow surveyed 47 fast-food chains, beverage companies, and consumer goods and grocery companies in the U.S. — most of which sell their products in Canada — including McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Domino's pizza and Heineken. It found food packaging today isn't much better than it was 30 years ago. In some cases, it's worse.

Shift from glass to plastic

Report author Conrad MacKerron said there has been a shift away from polystyrene since the '80s, but there has also been a move away from glass, and towards plastic.

"We think it's of particular concern because of the contribution to plastic pollution in the oceans," he said. "Plastic litter from takeout orders ... plastic cups, straws, plates and so forth contribute to plastic litter, but it is all swept off into waterways and oceans, where they degrade and harm marine life."

Plastic is the fastest-growing form of packaging, but only 14 per cent is recycled, the report indicates.

MacKerron said a lot of plastics are recyclable. But some, like black Category 7 plastics, require specialized equipment. And even some of the stuff that should be easily recycled just never is.

"So our major finding is that leading beverage, fast-food and packaged good companies are coming significantly short of where they should be when it comes to addressing the environmental aspects of packaging," MacKerron said.  [...]

The biggest offender might just be your morning cup of coffee. It used to produce zero waste, apart from some ground beans and maybe a compostable paper filter.

These days, millions of households are equipped with single-cup brewing machines. The largest company behind those machines, Keurig, produced 9.8 billion little plastic single-serve coffee pods last year, known as K-Cups.

Mike Hachey, the CEO of Egg Studios, is running a campaign that he's dubbed 'kill the K-Cup', in an effort to curb the rise of the single-serve coffee machine.

"We started out with Keurig machines in our offices... and very quickly realized that this packaging is a problem," he explained.

So while we may be free of the once ubiquitous Styrofoam container, we've grown accustomed to a lot of food packaging that isn't a whole lot better."<

 
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Apple to Invest $2 Billion in Solar Farm Powered Data Center Renovation in Arizona

Apple to Invest $2 Billion in Solar Farm Powered Data Center Renovation in Arizona | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Apple plans to invest $2 billion to build a data center in Arizona in the location where its failed sapphire manufacturing facility exists, the state announced Monday.
Duane Tilden's insight:

"> [...] The company plans to employ 150 full-time Apple staff at the Mesa, Arizona, facility, which will serve as a command center for its global network of data centers. In addition to the investment for the data center, Apple plans to build a solar farm capable of producing 70-megawatts of energy to power the facility.

Apple’s investment is expected to create up to 500 construction jobs as well, the state said.

Apple said it expects to start construction in 2016 after GT Advanced TechnologiesInc., the company’s sapphire manufacturing partner, clears out of the 1.3 million square foot site. The $2 billion investment is in addition to the $1 billion that Apple had earmarked to build scratch-resistant sapphire screens at the same location.

The investment comes a few months after GTAT filed for bankruptcy protection in October, citing problems with the Arizona facility. Shortly after its bankruptcy filing, GTAT said it planned to lay off more than 700 employees in Arizona.

In October 2013, Apple had agreed to build a sapphire factory in Mesa that GTAT was going to operate. At the time, Apple had said the new factory was going to create 2,000 jobs and move an important part of its supply chain to the U.S.

However, the project struggled to produce a consistent level of sapphire at the quality demanded by Apple. In the end, Apple did not use sapphire from the facility for its latest iPhones. After GTAT’s bankruptcy, Apple has said it was seeking ways to preserve the jobs lost at the Mesa facility.

Arizona’s governor said the state did not provide additional financial incentives to keep Apple in the state. For the original investment in 2013, Arizona provided $10 million to Apple to sweeten the deal for the company."<

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Power plant closures quench demand for Pennsylvania’s coal

Power plant closures quench demand for Pennsylvania’s coal | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
More than 100 coal-fired power plants nationwide either plan to shut down or already closed their doors in 2014, as the market responds to stricter environmental regulations, cheap natural gas and lackluster electricity demand growth, according to a survey done by the Energy Information Administration. Behind all those closures sit coal mines — many of them in Appalachia — coping with the loss of customers for the fuel that reigned supreme for many decades. Click the image above for a more detai
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] More than 17 million tons of coal from Appalachia went to plants slated to shut down in 2013 alone, the latest full year for which such data are available. And the impact is likely to be even bigger, since the EIA’s list of recent or coming closures doesn’t include generators planning a transition from burning coal to burning natural gas.

Companies have been bracing for this change for years, but many have indicated that it’s coming faster and blunter than expected, driven in part by a slew of environmental regulations.

“That’s an unprecedented change to America’s power system in what constitutes the blink of an eye in energy markets — creating enormous potential for market disruptions, supply shortages and rate spikes,” Deck Slone, senior vice president of strategy and public policy at St. Louis-based Arch Coal, wrote in December.

Like its peers, Arch’s stock price reflects the gloom. At $1.30 per share, Tuesday’s closing price represented a one-year low. Virginia-based coal producer Alpha Natural Resources’ also saw its 52-week bottom at $1.13.  [...]

Central Appalachian coal mines stand to be big losers in the transition away from coal, Mr. Cosgrove wrote in November. That includes the historically prolific supplies in Virginia, southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

“Falling demand may hasten mine closings in the region, where coal production has dropped 32 percent since 2009,” he wrote.

Some companies have been bracing for the fall for years.  [...]

Between 2012 and 2014, Alpha idled 64 mines, reduced its shipments in the eastern part of the country by 28 percent and got rid of more than 4,000 employees.  [...]

The situation looks worse for suppliers such as Virginia-based James River Coal Co., which is in the middle of a restructuring, and Virginia-based James C. Justice Co., which has shed a significant portion of its mine portfolio in recent years. The producers stand to lose 28 percent and 48 percent of shipments, respectively, from mines serving affected plants.

For decades, contracts between coal companies and utilities have included force majeure clauses, according to Mr. Cardwell, who has reviewed hundreds of contracts and negotiated dozens during his 18-year tenure as a coal buyer for a Kentucky utility.

Such clauses typically protect power plants from having to take delivery of coal they no longer need if the power plant is prevented from running by some new environmental regulation or another unforeseen circumstance.

Yet lawsuits seem inevitable following current and projected mine closures. “I have a feeling that there’s going to be pretty significant litigation in the future,” Mr. Cardwell said.

One issue that may arise as power plants claim that environmental regulations pushed them out of business is how much of a role competition from cheap natural gas played in their decision either to shut down or use a different fuel.

Gas is all the rage at the moment. The commodity is trading at around $3 per million British thermal units, or Btus, down from more than $13 in the summer of 2008, towards the beginning of the shale revolution in Appalachia.

That’s why some operators, like Consol Energy, now boast flexibility in their contracts with utilities. Consol has refocused its company on a growing shale gas business, retaining only a handful of coal mines.

According to James McCaffrey, senior vice president of marketing at Consol, who spoke at Platts’ Coal Marketing Days in Downtown in September, “Customers want to flip between coal and gas.”

He said the company was actively negotiating a deal where a utility could choose its fuel depending on its preference.

“That’s a good marketing approach: ‘I’ll give you Btus, you tell me how you want them,’ ” Mr. Cardwell said. [...]"<

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Renewable Energy Provides Half of New US Generating Capacity in 2014

Renewable Energy Provides Half of New US Generating Capacity in 2014 | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided nearly half (49.81 percent - 7,663 MW) of new electrical generation brought into service during 2014 while natural gas accounted for 48.65 percent (7,485 MW).


Image source:  http://usncre.org/

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] By comparison, in 2013, natural gas accounted for 46.44 percent (7,378 MW) of new electrical generating capacity while renewables accounted for 43.03 percent (6,837 MW). New renewable energy capacity in 2014 is 12.08 percent more than that added in 2013.

New wind energy facilities accounted for over a quarter (26.52 percent) of added capacity (4,080 MW) in 2014 while solar power provided 20.40% (3,139 MW). Other renewables — biomass (254 MW), hydropower (158 MW), and geothermal (32 MW) — accounted for an additional 2.89 percent.

For the year, just a single coal facility (106 MW) came on-line; nuclear power expanded by a mere 71MW due to a plant upgrade; and only 15 small "units" of oil, totaling 47 MW, were added.

Thus, new capacity from renewable energy sources in 2014 is 34 times that from coal, nuclear and oil combined — or 72 times that from coal, 108 times that from nuclear, and 163 times that from oil.  

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.63 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.42 percent, wind - 5.54 percent, biomass - 1.38 percent, solar - 0.96 percent, and geothermal steam - 0.33 percent.  Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14 percent) and oil (3.94 percent) combined. 

Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Generation per MW of capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. According to the most recent data (i.e., as of November 2014) provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources now totals a bit more than 13.1 percent of total U.S. electrical production; however, this figure almost certainly understates renewables' actual contribution significantly because EIA does not fully account for all electricity generated by distributed renewable energy sources (e.g., rooftop solar).

Can there any longer be doubt about the emerging trends in new U.S. electrical capacity? Coal, oil, and nuclear have become historical relics and it is now a race between renewable sources and natural gas with renewables taking the lead."<

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Crude Oil Spills From Pipeline Into Yellowstone River, Montana

Crude Oil Spills From Pipeline Into Yellowstone River, Montana | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Residents have reportedly smelled and tasted oil in their drinking water downstream from the spill, and the city's water plant has stopped drawing from the river.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] On Saturday morning, a pipeline in Montana spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, the pipeline’s operator confirmed Sunday night. [...]

The 12-inch diameter steel pipe breached and spilled anywhere from 12,600 to 50,000 gallons of oil nine miles upriver from the town of Glendive, with an unknown amount of it spilling into the partially frozen river, according to a statement from Bridger Pipeline LLC. The company said the spill occurred at 10 a.m. and they “shut in” the flow of oil just before 11 a.m. — meaning that though the pipeline section could still empty itself of its contents, no new addition oil would flow into the spilled area.

 

“Oil has made it into the river,” Bridger spokesperson Bill Salvin confirmed to the AP on Monday. “We do not know how much at this point.” Observers spotted oil, some of which was trapped under the ice, up to 60 miles downstream from Glendive. Paul Peronard, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said crews were attempting to use booms to prevent the spill from spreading further but the ice on top of the river was forcing them to “hunt and peck” through it.  [...] 


“We think it was caught pretty quick, and it was shut down,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock spokesperson Dave Parker, noting that the river was frozen over near the spill, which could help isolate the spill.

Parker told MTN News that “the Governor is committed to ensuring that the river is completely cleaned up and the folks responsible are held accountable.”

In 2011, an Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 63,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone near Laurel, Montana. Days after the spill, goat rancher Alexis Bonogofsky was hospitalized for acute hydrocarbon exposure after noticing oil slicks along the riverbank abutting her ranch. She lived far enough downstream that any evacuation order missed her, she said. There was concern then that the cause of the spill was related to climate-change-influenced raging floodwaters that exposed the normally deeply-buried pipe to damaging debris.

Even two years later, the state was still fighting with Exxon over damages to the area from the spill and the clean-up process, leaving fish, birds, and wildlife dead or injured and interrupting environmental studies, recreation, and fishing.

Bridger’s pipeline runs from the Canadian border down through Montana across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and east into North Dakota, dubbed the Poplar System. It is on the opposite side of Wyoming from, and downstream of, Yellowstone National Park, but the river empties into the Missouri River.

The proposed — and controversial — northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would bethree times the diameter of the breached Bridger pipeline, and pump more than 34 million gallons of oil per day through the Dakotas down into Nebraska and into the southern leg in Oklahoma and Texas. Many landowners and local residents are concerned about what a potential spill would mean for critical watersheds and aquifers — not to mention what subsequent increased tar sands oil production means for Canadian watersheds."<

 
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Madrid upgrades with World's largest street lighting project

Madrid upgrades with World's  largest street lighting project | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

To support its ambition of becoming a Smart City, the Spanish capital, Madrid, is embarking on the world’s largest street lighting upgrade project. Philips is providing the city’s government with 225,000 new energy-efficient lights for the renewal of the entire street lighting system.


Via ecoInsight
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"The products, which deliver 44% in energy savings, will finance the cost of the technology upgrade, providing Madrid with the best quality of street lighting for a brighter, safer and ‘smarter’ city at no additional cost to its citizens. The project has been conducted in collaboration with ESCO energy service companies hired by the Madrid city council through a public bidding process. [...]"<

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The Ripple Effect of Energy Efficiency Investment

The Ripple Effect of Energy Efficiency Investment | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

"The term “multiple benefits” has emerged to describe the additional value that emerges with any energy performance improvement. The benefits that occur onsite can be especially meaningful to manufacturing, commercial, and institutional facilities. Energy efficiency’s positive ripple effects include increased productivity and product quality, system reliability, and more. "

 

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...]  Over the past few decades, researchers have documented numerous cases of energy efficiency improvements—almost always focusing exclusively on energy savings. Non-energy benefits are often recognized, but only in concept. ACEEE’s new report, Multiple Benefits of Business-Sector Energy Efficiency, summarizes what we know about the multiple benefits for the business sector. True quantification of these benefits remains elusive due to a lack of standard definitions, measurements, and documentation, but also in part because variations in business facility design and function ensures that a comprehensive list of potential energy efficiency measures is long, varied, and often unique to the facility.

To give some concrete examples of non-energy benefits at work: Optimizing the use of steam in a plywood manufacturing plant not only reduces the boiler’s natural gas consumption, it also improves the rate of throughput, thus increasing the plant’s daily product yield. A lighting retrofit reduces electricity consumption while also introducing lamps with a longer operating life, thus reducing the labor costs associated with replacing lighting. In many instances, monitoring energy use also provides insights into water or raw material usage, thereby revealing opportunities to optimize manufacturing inputs and eliminate production waste. By implementing energy efficiency, businesses can also boost their productivity. This additional value may make the difference in a business leader’s decision to pursue certain capital investment for their facility.

Meanwhile, energy resource planners at utilities and public utility commissions recognize the impact of large-facility energy demands on the cost and reliability of generation and transmission assets. By maximizing consumer efficiency, costs are reduced or offset throughout a utility system. So the ability to quantify the multiple benefits of investing in energy efficiency, if only in general terms, is an appealing prospect for resource planners eager to encourage greater participation in efficiency programs.

Unfortunately, our research shows that this quantification rarely happens, even though the multiple benefits are frequently evident. A number of studies offer measurement methodologies, anticipating the availability of proper data. When these methodologies are employed with limited samples, we see how proper accounting of non-energy benefits dramatically improves the investment performance of energy efficiency improvements—for example, improving payback times by 50% or better. Samples may provide impressive results, but the data remains too shallow to confidently infer the value to come for any single project type implemented in a specific industrial configuration. Developing such metrics will require more data.  [...]"<

 

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Chile’s Mines Run on Renewables

Chile’s Mines Run on Renewables | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Chilean mines are more and more run on renewable energy, which will soon be bigger than conventional energy in Chile. Thanks to China, writes John Mathews.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] Miners in Chile are building independent solar, solar thermal, wind and geothermal power plants that produce power at costs competitive with or lower than conventional fuel supplies or grid-connected electric power.

Consider these facts.

The Cerro Dominador concentrated solar power (CSP) plant (see here for an explanation of the different solar technologies), rated at 110 megawatts, will supply regular uninterrupted power to the Antofagasta Minerals complex in the dry north of Chile, in the Atacama desert. Construction began in 2014. This is one of the largest CSP plants in the world, utilising an array of mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a power tower, and utilising thermal storage in the form of molten salts, perfected by Spanish company Abengoa. It will supply steady, dispatchable power, day and night.

The El Arrayán wind power project, rated at 115 megawatts, now supplies power to the Los Pelambres mine of Antofagasta Minerals, using Pattern Energy (US) as technology partner. Antofagasta Minerals has also contracted with US solar company SunEdison to build solar panel arrays at the Los Pelambres mine, with a power plant rated at 70 megawatts; while the related plant operated by Amenecer Solar CAP is rated at 100 megawatts, the largest such array in Latin America when it came online in 2014.

There are many more such projects under review or in the pipeline. The Chilean Renewable Energy Center reported in 2014 that the pipeline of renewable power projects in Chile added up to 18,000 megawatts (or 18 gigawatts), which is more than the country’s entire current electric power grid. [...]"<

 
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University Researchers Find Abandoned Wells Leak Substantial Quantities of GHG's (Methane)

University Researchers Find Abandoned Wells Leak Substantial Quantities of GHG's (Methane) | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

After testing a sample of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, the researchers found that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane. 

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] To conduct the research, the team placed enclosures called flux chambers over the tops of the wells. They also placed flux chambers nearby to measure the background emissions from the terrain and make sure the methane was emitted from the wells and not the surrounding area. 

Although all the wells registered some level of methane, about 15 percent emitted the gas at a markedly higher level — thousands of times greater than the lower-level wells. Denise Mauzerall, a Princeton professor and a member of the research team, said a critical task is to discover the characteristics of these super-emitting wells.

Mauzerall said the relatively low number of high-emitting wells could offer a workable solution: while trying to plug every abandoned well in the country might be too costly to be realistic, dealing with the smaller number of high emitters could be possible.

"The fact that most of the methane is coming out of a small number of wells should make it easier to address if we can identify the high-emitting wells," said Mauzerall, who has a joint appointment as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and as a professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.

The researchers have used their results to extrapolate total methane emissions from abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, although they stress that the results are preliminary because of the relatively small sample. But based on that data, they estimate that emissions from abandoned wells represents as much as 10 percent of methane from human activities in Pennsylvania — about the same amount as caused by current oil and gas production. Also, unlike working wells, which have productive lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, abandoned wells can continue to leak methane for decades. 

"This may be a significant source," Mauzerall said. "There is no single silver bullet but if it turns out that we can cap or capture the methane coming off these really big emitters, that would make a substantial difference." [...]"<

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New Alberta Oilsands Projects to Start Up Despite Falling Oil Prices

New Alberta Oilsands Projects to Start Up Despite Falling Oil Prices | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Oil producers are set to be squeezed as a total of 14 new oilsands projects are scheduled to start next year while crude prices continue to fall
Duane Tilden's insight:

" [...] “There is a lot of crude coming on next year,” Juan Osuna, IHS Energy Inc.’s senior director for North American oil said in a phone interview Dec. 12. Producers “aren’t going to be happy, they will make a greater effort to cut costs, but they have been prepared for this.”

Western Canadian Select fell to US$39.38 a barrel Monday, the lowest since April 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The grade, which has higher sulfur content than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, sold at an average US$18.78 a- barrel discount in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oilsands projects slated to start next year include ConocoPhillips and Total SA’s joint 118,000 barrel a day Surmont project and the 40,000-barrel-a-day expansion of Cenovus Energy Inc.’s Foster Creek project [...]

Sunrise Project

Husky Energy Inc. said last week it began steam operations on its Sunrise crude project with the first phase set to begin pumping oil by early next year.

While oilsands producers may curtail future development, most existing operations won’t be shut and ones under construction will go ahead because of the investments involved and potential harm to future output, Osuna said.

Cenovus said Dec. 11 production would rise 9 per cent to 129,000 barrels a day from its Foster Creek and Christina Lake projects next year even as it lowered its spending plan by about 15 per cent.

Canada’s oilsands output is projected to rise to 3.7 million barrels a day by 2020 from 1.98 million last year, according to a report last month by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.

Brent oil traded near US$61 a barrel Monday as the United Arab Emirates said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will resist output cuts even if prices slump as low as US$40. [...]"<

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Embodied Energy - A Measure of Sustainability in Buildings & Construction

Embodied Energy - A Measure of Sustainability in Buildings & Construction | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it


Embodied energy in building materials has been studied for the past several decades by researchers interested in the relationship between building materials, construction processes, and their environmental impacts.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...]

What is embodied energy?
There are two forms of embodied energy in buildings:

· Initial embodied energy; and
· Recurring embodied energy

The initial embodied energy in buildings represents the non-renewable energy consumed in the acquisition of raw materials, their processing, manufacturing, transportation to site, and construction. This initial embodied energy has two components:

Direct energy the energy used to transport building products to the site, and then to construct the building; and

Indirect energy the energy used to acquire, process, and manufacture the building materials, including any transportation related to these activities.

The recurring embodied energy in buildings represents the non-renewable energy consumed to maintain, repair, restore, refurbish or replace materials, components or systems during the life of the building.

As buildings become more energy-efficient, the ratio of embodied energy to lifetime consumption increases. Clearly, for buildings claiming to be "zero-energy" or "autonomous", the energy used in construction and final disposal takes on a new significance. [...]"<

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Price of Oil Continues to Drop Due to Oversupply

Price of Oil Continues to Drop Due to Oversupply | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

The price of oil has hit another five-year low as fears of oversupply continue to mount.  Brent crude was down $1.77 at $67.30 a barrel in Monday afternoon trading, having earlier hit $66.77 - its lowest since October 2009.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...]US crude was down $1.44 at $64.40, after falling as low as $64.14.

Morgan Stanley predicted that Brent would average $70 a barrel in 2015, down $28 from a previous forecast, and be $88 a barrel in 2016.

The investment bank also said that oil prices could fall as low as $43 a barrel next year. Analyst Adam Longson said that markets risked becoming "unbalanced" unless the Opec producers' cartel decided to intervene.

Saudi Arabia, the cartel's biggest member, resisted calls at last month's meeting to cut production despite the slide in prices, which have fallen more than 40% since June.

Kuwait, another Opec member, said that oil prices were likely to remain about $65 a barrel until the middle of next year unless Opec cut output. [...]"<

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Comments on Improving EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan

Comments on Improving EPA's Proposed Clean Power Plan | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The summer deadline is approaching for finalizing the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever limits on dangerous carbon pollution from the nation's power plants, and opponents are ratcheting up their complaints....
Duane Tilden's insight:

"> [...] Some 1500 mostly coal- and gas-fired power plants spew out more than two billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide each year -- 40 percent of the nation's total. The vast majority of the millions of public comments submitted last fall express strong support for the Clean Power Plan, which as proposed last June starts in 2020 and ramps emissions down gradually over the next decade.

But big coal polluters and their political allies have big megaphones.

Many hope to kill the proposal outright. But for others the back-up agenda is to get the standards weakened and delayed past 2020. Their comments and speeches read like Armageddon is coming if power plants have to start limiting their carbon pollution in 2020 -- five years from now. Republican members of the Senate environment committee banged that drum over and over at a hearing last week. As on so many issues, they hope endless repetition will make their story seem true.

The truth is that the standards and timeline EPA proposed last June are quite modest and readily achievable. They can be met without any threat to the reliability of electric power. A new report from the highly respected Brattle Group shows that states can meet the EPA's proposal "while maintaining the high level of electric reliability enjoyed by U.S. electricity customers." [...]

The plan as proposed in June sets state-by-state targets that, on an overall national basis, would cut power plants' carbon pollution by 26 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.

We found that with three specific improvements - I'll describe them below - the plan could achieve 50 percent more carbon pollution reductions (36 percent by 2020 and 44 percent by 2030).

Here are the three factors:

First, the costs of clean energy are falling dramatically, and EPA's June proposal was based on out of date cost and performance data for renewable electricity and efficiency energy. An NRDC issue brief published last fall details how sharply the cost and performance of energy efficiency and renewable energy have improved. When we factored in up-to-date data, our analysis shows that the Clean Power Plan's state-by-state targets as proposed in June 2014 can be met at a net savings to Americans of $1.8-4.3 billion in 2020 and $6.4-9.4 billion in 2030. More reliance on energy efficiency and renewables will also create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobsthat can't be shipped overseas.

The lower cost of clean energy technologies opens the door to getting substantially more carbon pollution reductions from the nation's largest emitters.

We also took two other specific improvements into account:

In an October 2014 notice seeking further public comment, EPA explained that the formula it had used to calculate state targets in the June 2014 proposal did not correctly account for the emission reductions made by renewables and energy efficiency. The formula did not fully account for the reduction in generation at coal and gas power plants that occurs when additional renewables are added to the grid and when businesses and homeowners reduce how much electricity they need by improving the efficiency of our buildings, appliances, and other electricity-using equipment. NRDC corrected the formula in our updated analysis to capture the full emission reduction associated with ramping up renewables and efficiency.EPA also asked for comment on an approach to better balancing state targets by adopting a minimum rate of transition from older high-emitting generation to lower-emitting sources. NRDC analyzed state targets that include conversion of 20 percent of coal generation in 2012 to natural gas generation over the period between 2020 and 2029.

These three factors -- updating the cost and performance data for renewables and efficiency, correcting the target-setting formula, and including a minimum rate of transition from higher- to lower-emitting plants -- produce the substantial additional carbon pollution reductions in our analysis, all at very reasonable costs. [...]"<

 

See EPA's Clean Power Plan:  http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

 

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US Utilities #1 Priority is to Replace and Modernize Old Grid Infrastructure

US Utilities #1 Priority is to Replace and Modernize Old Grid Infrastructure | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The State of the Electric Utility 2015 survey revealed that aging infrastructure is what troubles industry players most.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" 

Utility executives identified aging infrastructure as the number one challenge facing the electric industry, [...] easily topping an aging workforce, regulatory models and stagnant load growth. In response, the industry is spending hundreds of billions to replace and upgrade infrastructure, rushing to meet consumer demand for higher quality power enabled by construction of a more modern grid.

"The last few years there's been more of an emphasis on transmission and distribution, and the driver there has been the advent of all these new technologies that are trying to connect with the grid," said Richard McMahon, Jr., vice president of energy supply and finance for the Edison Electric Institute, the electric utility trade organization. "There are also a lot of customer-driven desires utilities are trying to facilitate. There's a lot of spending on metering automation, as well as at the distribution level, distribution transformers to accommodate distributed generation."

Today’s grid may not be up to the task of reliably integrating high levels of renewables, distributed energy resources, and smart grid technologies, Utility Dive found. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave U.S. energy infrastructure a barely passing grade of D+ in 2013, at stark odds with the sophisticated grid management required by the rapid acceleration of utility-scale renewables, distributed resources and two-way devices.

"Distributed energy cannot be a profit center without the modernized grid infrastructure that’s needed for grid integration," Utility Dive concluded in the report. [...]

Outages on the rise

The American Society of Civil Engineers report that gave U.S. infrastructure a barely-passing grade pointed out that aging equipment "has resulted in an increasing number of intermittent power disruptions, as well as vulnerability to cyber attacks."

Significant power outages rose to more than 300 in 2011, up from about 75 in 2007, and the report found many transmission and distribution outages have been attributed to system operations failures, though from 2007 to 2012 water was the primary cause of major outages.

"While 2011 had more weather-related events that disrupted power, overall there was a slightly improved performance from the previous years," the report said. "Reliability issues are also emerging due to the complex process of rotating in new energy sources and 'retiring' older infrastructure. 

ASCE said that for now, the United States has sufficient capacity to meet demands, but from 2011 through 2020 demand for electricity in all regions is expected to increase 8% or 9%. The report forecasts that the U.S. will add 108 GW of generation by 2016.

"After 2020, capacity expansion is forecast to be a greater problem, particularly with regard to generation, regardless of the energy resource mix," the report said. "Excess capacity, known as planning reserve margin, is expected to decline in a majority of regions, and generation supply could dip below resource requirements by 2040 in every area except the Southwest without prudent investments." [...]"<

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North Dakota Bill Introduced to Minimize Natural Gas Waste from Oil Wells

North Dakota Bill Introduced to Minimize Natural Gas Waste from Oil Wells | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
North Dakota's Senate is considering legislation that would drastically cut the time oil companies can burn off and waste natural gas from an oil well. 
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] Democratic Sen. Connie Triplett is sponsoring the bill that would require companies to begin paying royalties and taxes on natural gas within 14 days after an oil well begins production. Companies are given a year at present.

Triplett and others told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Friday that mineral owners and the state are being shortchanged because revenue on the wasted gas is not immediately being collected.

North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness says the industry has invested $13 billion to capture the gas. But he says there is still a challenge obtaining permission to place gas pipelines in some areas."<

  
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Michigan's Consumers Energy to retire 9 coal plants by 2016

Michigan's Consumers Energy to retire 9 coal plants by 2016 | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
New EPA regulations are an opportunity to modernize the generating fleet, according to a Consumers Energy official.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] 

Consumers Energy will shutter nine coal plants in Michigan as EPA air pollution regulations make them unprofitable to operate, MLive reports. And the Michigan utility won't be the only one. A wave of coal retirements will roll across the Midwest by early 2016, shuttering more than 60 generating plants, a Consumers official told the "Greening of the Great Lakes" weekly radio program.In addition to the regulations under the Clean Power Plan and other EPA programs, Consumers says many of the nine coal plants were built in the 1950s and are simply at the end of their productive lives.

[...] 

Last year Consumers Energy announced it had selected AMEC to run the utility's decommissioning program for the planned retirement of seven operating units at the utility’s three oldest coal-fired generating plants. Though there is still uncertainty over just what impact a slate of EPA regulations will have, Consumers last year said the power plants being decommissioned have an average operating life-span of more than 60 years and collectively represented approximately 950 MW of electric capacity.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, but as it stands the regulations could apply to 1,400 generators at more than 600 of the nation's largest power plants.

Federal regulators believe the tighter controls could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year by limiting mercury, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants it says are hazardous to public health."<

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CanGEA Report Claims Geothermal Creates more Jobs than Site C Dam

CanGEA Report Claims Geothermal Creates more Jobs than Site C Dam | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
a recent report by a canadian industry group that is promoting geothermal energy, thermal energy generated and stored in the earth, says geothermal operations can create more permanent jobs than the site c dam in northeastern b.c.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"According to Geothermal Energy: The Renewable and Cost Effective Alternative to Site C, 1,100 megawatts – the same amount as Site C – of geothermal power projects would create more sustainable employment for surrounding communities.

"While Site C promises only 160 permanent jobs, U.S. Department of Energy

statistics indicate that the equivalent amount of geothermal energy would produce 1,870 permanent jobs. This does not include jobs that result from the direct use of geothermal heat, which are also significant."

However, said Alison Thompson, managing director of Canadian Geothermal Energy Association  (CanGEA), which published the report, geothermal projects would result in fewer construction jobs than the Site C dam.

"Geothermal projects would be spread around the province, not all on one site," she said. "And, unlike Site C, they would not be built all at once. They would be staggered, with construction beginning in the highest-priority regions first."

According to Dave Conway, a Site C spokesman, the $7.9 billion project will create about 10,000 person-years of direct construction employment, and 33,000 person-years of total employment during development and construction.

Construction will take about eight years.

This includes seven years for  the construction itself and one year for commissioning, site reclamation and demobilization.

Thompson said geothermal energy has other advantages over hydro.

"For example, geothermal power has a lower unit energy cost and capital cost," she said.

"And, the physical and environmental footprint of geothermal is small."

The CanGEA report says the "strategic dispersion" of geothermal projects will have lower transmission costs than Site C.

"There is every reason to believe that, given the thoughtful and (methodical) development of B.C.'s geothermal potential, geothermal power could provide all of B.C.'s future power requirements at a lower cost to ratepayers than the proposed Site C project." [...]

 

"For the most part, Canada's geothermal power sector lay dormant for the following two decades while interest in the industry continued to grow outside of Canada's borders." [...]"<

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Energy Efficiency, the Invisible fuel

Energy Efficiency, the Invisible fuel | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
THE CHEAPEST AND cleanest energy choice of all is not to waste it. Progress on this has been striking yet the potential is still vast. Improvements in energy...
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] The “fifth fuel”, as energy efficiency is sometimes called, is the cheapest of all. A report by ACEEE, an American energy-efficiency group, reckons that the average cost of saving a kilowatt hour is 2.8 cents; the typical retail cost of one in America is 10 cents. In the electricity-using sector, saving a kilowatt hour can cost as little as one-sixth of a cent, says Mr Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute, so payback can be measured in months, not years.

The largest single chunk of final energy consumption, 31%, is in buildings, chiefly heating and cooling. Much of that is wasted, not least because in the past architects have paid little attention to details such as the design of pipework (long, narrow pipes with lots of right angles are far more wasteful than short, fat and straight ones). Energy efficiency has been nobody’s priority: it takes time and money that architects, builders, landlords and tenants would rather spend on other things.

In countries with no tradition of thrifty energy use, the skills needed are in short supply, too. Even the wealthy, knowledgeable and determined Mr Liebreich had trouble getting the builders who worked on his energy-saving house to take his instructions seriously. Painstakingly taping the joins in insulating boards, and the gaps around them, seems unnecessary unless you understand the physics behind it: it is plugging the last few leaks that brings the biggest benefits. Builders are trained to worry about adequate ventilation, but not many know about the marvels of heat exchangers set in chimney stacks. [...] 

One answer to this market failure is to bring in mandatory standards for landlords and those selling properties. Another involves energy-service companies, known as ESCOs, which guarantee lower bills in exchange for modernisation. The company can develop economies of scale and tap financial markets for the upfront costs. The savings are shared with owners and occupiers. ESCOs are already a $6.5 billion-a-year industry in America and a $12 billion one in China. Both are dwarfed by Europe, with €41 billion ($56 billion) last year. Navigant Research, the consultancy, expects this to double by 2023.

That highlights one of the biggest reasons for optimism about the future of energy. Capital markets, frozen into caution after the financial crash of 2008, are now doing again what they are supposed to do: financing investments on the basis of future revenues. The growth of a bond market to pay for energy-efficiency projects was an encouraging sign in 2014, when $30 billion-40 billion were issued; this year’s total is likely to be $100 billion.

"The price of fossil fuels will always fluctuate. Solar is bound to get cheaper"

Solar energy is now a predictable income stream drawing in serious money. A rooftop lease can finance an investment of $15,000-20,000 with monthly payments that are lower than the customer’s current utility bill. SolarCity, an American company, has financed $5 billion in new solar capacity, raising money initially from institutional investors, including Goldman Sachs and Google, but now from individual private investors—who also become what the company calls “brand ambassadors”, encouraging friends and colleagues to install solar panels too.

The model is simple: SolarCity pays for the installation, then bundles the revenues and sells a bond based on the expected future income stream. Maturities range from one to seven years. The upshot is that the cost of capital for the solar industry is 200-300 basis points lower than that for utilities. [...]"<

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Energy Efficiency Development and Adoption in the United States for 2015

Energy Efficiency Development and Adoption in the United States for 2015 | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

The US wastes about 61% of the energy we produce — much of it due to how we generate, transmit, and distribute it.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] Energy efficiency, simply put, is using less energy to get the same output or value. Ways of being more energy efficient include using appliances that use less energy or reducing air leakage from our homes and buildings. Programs to increase energy efficiency date back to the energy crises of the 1970s, and continue to be hugely successful today.

Take Michigan for example, where recent data from the Public Service Commission show that the $253 million Michigan utilities spent on energy efficiency programs in 2013 will yield a $948 million return in savings in the coming years. That’s an excellent investment, no matter who you talk to. And Michigan is by no means an anomaly.

We’ve seen states throughout the country see the same kinds of positive returns for their investments in energy efficiency, which continues to prove itself the cheapest “fuel” — investments in energy efficiency per unit of energy output are less costly than both traditional fossil fuels and clean renewable fuels.

Energy efficiency programs are administered by utilities, state agencies, or other third parties, and typically funded by modest charges on ratepayers’ energy bills. While some worry that this causes energy bills to go up, they also cause energy costs to go down, as widespread efficiency upgrades decrease the demand for energy across the state or the utility's service area, reducing consumer costs. And the customers who participate directly in the programs reap the biggest savings.

It’s a wonder not all states are investing in these kinds of innovative, proven programs. But much of the resistance can be attributed to low energy prices and a lack of political will to charge customers a bit more, even if it does mean big returns. With energy prices steadily rising, such programs will become increasingly attractive to utility regulators and customers. Even historically lagging states like Arkansas and Kentucky are starting to jump on the energy efficiency bandwagon.

No matter where we live or what our personal circumstances are, there’s always room to make changes to improve our energy consumption, whether we make a big investment like installing better insulation, or small simple changes like turning down the thermostat a few degrees in the winter.

As we think about what changes we’re planning to make in 2015, we can look internally at how to reduce energy waste in our own homes and workplaces, as well as help our neighborhoods, communities, and local and state governments make informed decisions to invest in energy efficiency. Even as our energy starts coming from cleaner sources across the country, we can do our part to reduce waste in the energy we already generate — and efficiency is the quickest and cheapest place to look."<

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The Oil Crash Sours LNG Future, Project Put on Hold

The Oil Crash Sours LNG Future, Project Put on Hold | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

The floating 8 million tonne per annum (mtpa) export plant moored at Lavaca Bay, Texas advanced by Houston-based Excelerate has been put on hold, according to regulatory filings obtained by Reuters.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] The project was initially due to begin exports in 2018.

Excelerate's move bodes ill for thirteen other U.S. LNG projects, which have also not signed up enough international buyers, to reach a final investment decision (FID). Only Cheniere's Sabine Pass and Sempra's Cameron LNG projects have hit that milestone.

Back when LNG and crude oil prices were riding high in February, Excelerate, founded by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, applied for permits to build the facility.

Eleven months on, its submission to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 23 said that uncertainty generated by a steep decrease in oil prices has forced it to conduct a "strategic reconsideration of the economic value of the project" and to suspend all activities until April 1, 2015.

"Due to the recent global market conditions, the company has determined that, at this time, this project no longer meets the financial criteria necessary in order for us to move forward with the capital investment," a company spokesman told Reuters.

Stiff economic headwinds are making new developments tough going.

Prices that LNG projects can charge for long-term supply are falling from historic highs as new producers crowd the market, which is already oversupplied due to slowing demand and rising output that has seen spot Asian LNG prices halve this year.

At the same time, major consumers from Japan to South Korea and China are seeking to offload some of their long-term LNG supply commitments, contributing to the glut. [...]"<



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-exclusive-oil-price-crash-claims-first-us-lng-project-casualty-2014-12#ixzz3NVGgV68I

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Mega-Project - BC's Peace River Site C Dam to Break Ground Next Summer

Mega-Project - BC's Peace River Site C Dam to Break Ground Next Summer | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

"Clark said that it's unknown how much the project will add to BC Hydro customers' bills, but that the cabinet reached the decision after careful analysis and much discussion."

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] British Columbia plans to start construction of the $8.8-billion Site C dam on the Peace River next summer, Premier Christy Clark said today in a controversial announcement that was welcomed by some and panned by others.

"Once it is built, it is going to benefit British Columbians for generations, and that is why we have decided to go ahead with the Site C clean energy project," Clark said at a press conference at the provincial legislature.

Clark said that it's unknown how much the project will add to BC Hydro customers' bills, but that the cabinet reached the decision after careful analysis and much discussion.

Site C was the most affordable, reliable and sustainable option available to meet B.C.'s growing power needs, she said. Over the next 20 years, the government is estimating that demand for energy will increase by 40 per cent as both the population and industry grows. Roughly one-third of that power is expected for residential use.

First proposed some 30 years ago, Site C will be the third of a series of dams on the Peace River and will flood an 83-kilometre long stretch of the river to generate 1,100 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 450,000 homes per year.

"If you accept the premise British Columbia is going to grow, then you also accept the premise we're going to need more power," said Clark. That power will come from a variety of sources, including the Site C dam, which will have a lifespan of 100 years, she said. [...]

 

Impacts 'that can't be mitigated': CEO

BC Hydro President and CEO Jessica McDonald said the Crown corporation has spent seven years consulting with First Nations. "We acknowledge and respect that there are impacts," she said. "There are impacts that can't be mitigated."

Discussions are continuing and there are hopes they'll reach an agreement on accommodation, she said. Courts have ruled that in certain situations it may be necessary to compensate an aboriginal group for any adverse impacts a project may have on its treaty rights. Compensation could include habitat replacement, job skills or training, or cash.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett said the project is in the long-term best interest of the province, though he acknowledged it comes at a cost to people in the Peace River valley. "There are impacts to people who live in the Northeast, and nobody is happy about that," he said.

It's a major project and worth building, he said. "It's big, it's expensive, it's a huge project, but it's eight per cent of the total electricity needs in the province." [...] "<

 

 

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Indiana Landfill Gas Energy Project Starts Operations

Indiana Landfill Gas Energy Project Starts Operations | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Republic Services recently announced the start of operations at its latest landfill gas-to-energy project. The new 6 MW project at County Line Landfill involves four engines operating at one energy generation facility.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] Landfill gas is a natural byproduct of decomposing waste. This project involves extracting gasfrom within the landfill, processing the extracted gas, and then distributing the processed gasto a generation facility where it is converted into energy that supplies the local electric grid.

According to the U.S. EPA, landfill gas-to-energy projects also reduce reliance on non-renewable energy resources, such as coal or petroleum. The EPA estimates that three megawatts of energy produced from landfill gas is equivalent to preventing carbon emissions generated by the consumption of 16.6 million gallons of gasoline. Based on EPA calculations, the new County Line Landfill gas-to-energy project prevents carbon emissions equivalent to the consumption of more than 32 million gallons of gasoline. 

Republic Services partnered with Aria Energy on the design, development and management of the new project. Republic Services and Aria Energy have partnered on four projects to date with a combined generation capacity of more than 39.6 megawatts of electrical power. Republic and Aria are currently working on two additional projects, which combined are expected to create another 15 megawatts of electrical power.

Republic Services has implemented 73 landfill gas-to-energy projects nationwide. Together, these projects harness enough electricity to power or heat approximately 400,000 households. According to the EPA, the combined environmental benefits from these projects are equal to removing more than 4 million cars from our roads or planting more than 4.5 million acres of trees each year. [...]"<

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Oil Price Slump Good News for Solar Power?

Oil Price Slump Good News for Solar Power? | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
As global oil prices hit a five-year low, the fossil fuel industry is facing a gathering storm that could spell great news for the solar power industry.
Duane Tilden's insight:

" [...] 

Some analysts had suggested that cheaper oil could initially cause problems for the solar industry. With utilities able – but not guaranteed – to pass on gains to the consumer, the thirst for renewable energy could wane, analysts warned. "Such a scenario could destroy value on existing renewable energy projects and make it difficult to raise financing for future projects," Peter Atherton, utility analyst at Liberum Capital, told the Guardian.

However, Deutsche Bank energy analyst Vishal Shah yesterday released a report that suggested there would be "limited/no impact from recent oil price weakness" on the solar industry, with PPA prices in the U.S. immune from oil fluctuations. In China, Shah added, government appetite to tackle air pollution also protects the solar industry from external volatility, while the U.S. residential solar market is even more insulated from external forces, which spells good news for companies like Solar City.

In Japan, energy advisor to the government and senior fellow at Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute Takashi Hongo told Bloomberg that "renewables are supported by policies, and that is not something that will be amended quickly just because oil prices fall," suggesting there will be hardly any negative impact to the solar industry.

A warning shot was fired from Lin Boqiang, director of the Energy Economics Research Center at China's Xiamen University, however. "If oil stays at current prices or weakens through the first half of next year, the impact on new energy would be massive," Boqiang told Bloomberg. "Weakening oil prices would hamper the competitiveness of new energy."

[...]

"The fact that oil is so unpredictable is one of the reasons why we must move to renewable energy, which has a completely predictable cost of zero for fuel," urged Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the opening of the COP20 climate conference in Peru.

A changing tide
Following oil’s dramatic price fall last week, this week began with two seismic announcements that could hammer a further nail into the fossil fuel coffin. First, German utility E.ON announced that it is to pivot away from fossil fuels by 2016, pouring the majority of its resources into the development of renewable energy sources.

Then, a day later, the Bank of England (BOE) wrote a letter to the U.K. government's Environment Audit Committee announcing that it is to formally begin examining the risks fossil fuel companies pose to financial stability.

BOE governor Mark Carney expressed his concern that much of the world's proven coal, oil and gas reserves may be "unburnable" if the world is to keep global warming within safe limits.

"In light of discussions with officials, we will be deepening and widening our inquiry into the topic," wrote Carney. "I expect the Financial Policy Committee to also consider this issue as part of its regular horizon-scanning work on financial stability risks." [...]"



Read more: http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/is-the-oil-price-slump-a-boon-for-solar_100017395/#ixzz3LrUAGr88




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5 Reasons Oil Prices Are Dropping

Key contributing factors in the fall in oil prices range from surprise production levels in Libya to, in-fighting between OPEC members and EU economic outlook…
Duane Tilden's insight:

"> [...]

1. The U.S. Oil Boom
America’s oil boom is well documented. Shale oil production has grown by roughly 4 million barrels per day (mbpd) since 2008. Imports from OPEC have been cut in half and for the first time in 30 years, the U.S. has stopped importing crude from Nigeria.  

2. Libya is Back
Because of internal strife, analysts have until recently assumed that Libya’s output would hover around 150,000-250,000 thousand barrels per day. It turns out that Libya has sorted out their disruptions much quicker than anticipated, producing 810,000 barrels per day in September. [...]

3. OPEC Infighting 
There have been numerous reports about the discord between OPEC members, leading many to believe that OPEC will not be able to reign in production like it has done so in the past. The Saudis and Kuwaitis have reportedly been in an oil price war, repeatedly lowering their prices in order to maintain their market share in Asia. [...]

4. Negative European Economic Outlook
European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has left investors concerned about the continent’s slow growth. Germany’s exports were down 5.8 percent in August, stoking the fears of anxious investors that the EU’s largest economy had double dipped into recession last quarter. Across the Eurozone, the IMF again lowered its growth forecast to 0.8 percent in 2014 and 1.3 percent in 2015.

5. Tepid Asian Demand 
Beyond slow economic growth and currency depreciation, a number of Asian countries have begun cutting energy subsidies, resulting in higher fuel costs despite a drop in global oil prices. [...]"<

 
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James Poch's comment, December 11, 2014 5:20 PM
I'd add not only the higher efficiency in automobile mileage but also the trend of continued efficiency gains from electric, plugin hybrid, and natural gas vehicles displacing gasoline.