Off-grid and Mini-grid Energy Production in Rural Tanzanian Communities Receives Grant from African Development Bank

by Genevieve Kules

Tanzania is challenged by poor energy access in rural parts of the country. Access to energy in these rural communities will require off-grid and mini-grid projects. The Tanzanian government has set a goal of establishing 1.3 million electrical connections by 2022, especially in rural areas. This would raise their connected population to about 35% from 20% in urban areas and 7% in rural ones. Tanzania’s energy goals come around the same time as the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) are setting goals for the continent and the world. The UN stated their goal of Sustainable Energy for All by 2030 and the AU began the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative in 2015. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has been supportive in achieving these goals. In January they approved a grant of $870,000 to support off-grid energy systems in Tanzania. Continue reading

Putting Tesla to the Test

by Ethan Fukuto

The Aliso Canyon gas leak of 2015 in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley caused not only an environmental crisis—fuel shortages affected the region’s supply and source of energy. The crisis was a turning point for Southern California’s energy industry, the start of an experiment in the use of batteries to meet energy demands. Tesla’s contribution to the effort, 396 batteries at Mira Loma in the city of Ontario, went online on the 30th of January and is capable of providing power to around 15,000 homes for four hours. The batteries themselves are built at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, and the company’s process of vertical integration now means each component of the battery is built in-house. They are designed to store energy during the day and release at night during times of highest demand in the evening. California’s increasing demand and funding for renewable energy projects allowed the Mira Loma project to come together in just a few months’ time, with the threat of climate change and the impending closure of the last of California’s nuclear plants pushing the industry towards alternative sources of renewable energy. Continue reading

World Bank Accused of Incentivizing Fossil Fuel Industries Across the Developing World

by Lauren Bollinger

The World Bank has been incentivizing fossil fuel dependence across the developing world, despite commitments to cut funding in such sectors, charges a January 2017 report by the advocacy group Bank Information Center (BIC). The report, which examines the Bank’s support of coal, gas, and oil projects in Peru, Indonesia, Egypt, and Mozambique, points out a contradiction between its pronouncements on climate change and its lending activities. The Bank has notably promised to work towards reducing subsidies for fossil fuels while incentivising investments in renewable energy. Most notably, in 2013, the Bank vowed to end virtually all support for the creation of coal-burning power plants, supporting them only in “rare circumstances” where there are no viable alternatives. Nonetheless, the BIC argues the World Bank has knowingly funded national policies to subsidize such fossil fuel industries.

The BIC’s report comes after similar reports in October of last year by several US and Europe-based advocacy groups, on World Bank-backed coal projects throughout developing countries in Asia, from Bangladesh to the Philippines. In the Philippines, where the Bank has funded at least 20 new coal projects since 2013, such projects have drawn widespread criticism from human rights and indigenous advocacy groups, as the country’s coal industry has resulted in an estimated thousand premature deaths annually and the displacement of thousands of indigenous peoples.

International finance institutions like the World Bank, which facilitate the loaning of millions of dollars to developing nations annually, carry immense political and economic clout in the developing world.

 

“World Bank accused of incentivizing investments in fossil fuels through $5B policy loans portfolio.”

https://www.devex.com/news/world-bank-accused-of-incentivizing-investments-in-fossil-fuels-through-5b-policy-loans-portfolio-89528

“World Bank accused of funding Asia ‘coal power boom’”

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/world-bank-accused-funding-asia-coal-power-boom-161003045753947.html

 

 

 

 

 

State-level Renewable Energy Regulations

by Emily Audet

States have often passed environmental regulations that extend past and are more stringent than federal regulations. With the current administration and Congress appearing to not prioritize sustainability nor clean energy regulations and legislation, pushes at state-level policy could be a viable political strategy for those concerned with advancing clean energy. As of January 2017, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a type of regulation that bolsters use and production of renewable energy [http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/01/09/report-benefits-of-state-renewable-energy-policies-far-outweigh-costs/]. State-level RPSs significantly impact the nation’s energy landscape—RPSs caused the creation of the majority of all renewable energy projects established from 2000 to 2017, and if states fully implement existing RPSs, a projected 40% of the energy for the whole country will come from renewable sources by 2050. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused. Continue reading

Offshore Wind Farm Industry Takes Off in the United States

by Genevieve Kules

The offshore wind farm industry appears to be growing despite the current political disinclination towards environmentally friendly energy initiatives. In 2016 Deepwater Wind created the US’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island consisting of five turbines. In January of 2017 Deepwater Wind submitted permits for approval of fifteen turbines off the coast of Long Island, NY. This could only be the start for the construction of over 200 turbines nearby.

Offshore wind farms are far more prominent in Europe, and China has a wind farm with enough turbines to power a small country, but lack of buyers has left many of those turbines unused.

Now, in the United States, offshore wind farms could be a promising energy resource. Many large oil corporations have invested in wind energy and Google says their data centers and offices will be completely run on renewable energy in 2017. Continue reading

America’s “Roadmap” for 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

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by Jesse Crabtree

In his new study posted in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Energy & Environmental Science, Stanford professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Mark Jacobson, presents a plan for a 100% renewable energy-powered America by 2050. And what’s more, Jacobson believes this course of action to be not only economically feasible, but economically beneficial. Jacobson’s paper, which lays out specific roadmaps for how each state can work to achieve this goal, can be boiled down to three main ideas: exclusively build wind, solar, and hydro power plants after 2020; implement modest energy efficiency increases; and electrify everything. Although these three points are all required under Jacobson’s plan, this article discusses its most critical and ambitious goal; a complete shift to electric power. Continue reading

New MIT Database Aims to Impact City of Boston’s Energy Policy

by Kevin Tidmarsh

A new project created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology might just put Boston on the way to becoming a more energy-efficient city. The tool, which can estimate the gas and electricity demand of each of the roughly 100,000 buildings in the city for every hour of every day of the year, was developed by researchers at MIT’s Sustainable Design Lab and Lincoln Laboratory, along with members of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and aims to provide a comprehensive database of the city’s buildings and their energy and heat usage that can be provided to energy policy makers. Continue reading

Opening of Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant in Morocco

by Isaiah Boone

Computer World posted an article detailing the completion and opening of the largest solar power plant in the world in Morocco. The solar power plant will supply 1.1 million people with clean energy and will reduce carbon emissions by 760,000 tons annually. The name of the plant is the Noor Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant and it is located in the Souss-Massa-Draa area in Morocco, close to 6 miles outside of Ouarzazate. The Noor CSP plant cost over $9 billion to build and began operation on Thursday, February 4th. Continue reading

Government Announces Grant for Alaskan Native Tribal Energy Assistance

by Kevin Tidmarsh

A new initiative from the US Department of Energy aims to “develop regional energy experts to provide technical energy assistance and informational resources,” according to a DOE press release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this move has already drawn criticism from conservative pundits, who are calling the move a waste of money on the government’s part.

Just a day after the Andrew Follett at the Daily Caller has already released a piece [http://dailycaller.com/2016/02/16/energy-dept-spends-7-million-on-north-alaska-solar-power-except-its-dark-247/] decrying the program as a waste of government money. The headline, which declares that the energy department has spent “$7 Million On North Alaska Solar Power, Except It’s Dark 24/7,” is both misleading and factually incorrect. While that may be true at some points in the winter for locales above the Arctic Circle, the grant isn’t limited to these locations, and a report from the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy notes that in the southern parts of the state, power production from solar panels doesn’t actually have to stop during the winter Continue reading