Energy in the News: Friday, November 3

Friday, November 03, 2017

The fixers using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

VICE Motherboard, feat. University of Michigan Battery Lab

The rechargeable batteries in your laptop, your cell phone, your headphones: all of these can be used to power your life and take you off the grid. DIY Powerwalls – rechargeable lithium-ion battery installations, made from recycled batteries – are the future of power, whether you know it or not. We visited Jehu Garcia, a DIY Powerwall builder and enthusiast, and the folks at EV West in Southern California as well as the University of Michigan Battery Lab to see just how DIY Powerwalls can power your home, your car, and even the rest of your neighborhood.

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University of Michigan's Mcity gets $11 million in second round industry funding

ClickOnDetroit, feat. Huei Peng

Eleven companies are investing a total of $11 million in University of Michigan's autonomous vehicle testing and research facility, Mcity, in the second phase of industry funding.

Mcity is an early-stage research and development initiative supported by both public and private organizations and corporations, and is a leading facility in automated mobility.

Over a span of three years, the companies are each committing $1 million to support Mcity and its programs. In the coming months, the center expects to expand its Leadership Circle even further.

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Global climate meeting will forge ahead, despite Trump’s contempt

Scientific American, feat. Barry Rabe

A shadow looms over this year’s United Nations climate change meeting. The 23rd Conference of the Parties—or its shorthand, COP 23—begins Monday in Bonn, Germany. It commences just five months after Pres. Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius—or ideally, 1.5 degrees C. The international community strongly reprimanded the Trump administration for its decision, and it has vowed to disregard that setback and forge ahead at COP23. No other countries have reneged on the accord.

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A dark road ahead for solar roadways?

Inside Sources, feat. Jonathan Levine

Highways and interstates are a quintessential part of America’s landscape and culture. The U.S. interstate highway system alone includes 47,000 miles of roads. That’s a lot of asphalt and concrete. In 2006, one company, Solar Roadways, looked at America’s roads and saw an opportunity for solar energy. It planned a super-durable solar panel engineered to withstand the wear of vehicular traffic and make use of the land already dedicated to transit. Solar Roadways received grants from the Department of Transportation to study the idea and also successfully self-promoted through a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $2.2 million.

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Michigan must look to infrastructure, policy to lead mobility charge, report says

Crain’s Detroit Business

Michigan is a worldwide automotive hub, but infrastructure and policy changes may be needed to propel it forward in the race for connected and automated vehicle technology, according to a new study.

Gov. Rick Snyder — in Montreal on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress — unveiled the report outlining the challenges and benefits of vehicle autonomy. Titled "Future Cities: Navigating the New Era of Mobility," the report was commissioned by PlanetM, the state's mobility arm, in conjunction with the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s Automotive Office and developed by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. Snyder was joined Tuesday by an author of the study and Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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Anticipated PURPA order rankles small power producers

E&E EnergyWire

Expecting Michigan regulators to decide within weeks to slash the rate they're paid for energy by a big utility, a band of small independent power producers is taking its case to a higher authority — the state Legislature.

A group of small power plant owners and operators yesterday told the Michigan House Energy Policy Committee that their business would suffer or be forced to shut down if the Public Service Commission cuts the rate they're paid by Consumers Energy.

The power producers coalition — mostly hydroelectric, landfill gas and biomass generators — have butted heads with Consumers Energy for the past two years. The dispute revolves around payments required under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, better known as PURPA.

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Public facilities in Michigan continue to save millions with efficiency financing tool

Midwest Energy News

Michigan officials recognized six public entities this week for making $39.5 million in cumulative energy efficiency investments that will save nearly $2.1 million a year in energy costs.

The projects by local units of government, public schools and colleges may not have otherwise happened without performance contracting, which allows public entities often short on capital to pay for multi-million dollar clean energy projects. Similar to Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, debt services on the projects are paid back through annual energy savings.

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The power grid is susceptible to climate change, but it can be made more adaptable

Michigan Radio

The reliability of our power supply is vulnerable to climate change. But the grid can be made more adaptable.

Those are the conclusions of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Ariel Miara is the study's lead author, a PhD candidate at the City College of New York, and a research associate at the Advanced Science Research Center at the City University of New York.

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Analysis: How well have climate models projected global warming?

Carbon Brief

Scientists have been making projections of future global warming using climate models of increasing complexity for the past four decades.

These models, driven by atmospheric physics and biogeochemistry, play an important role in our understanding of the Earth’s climate and how it will likely change in the future.

Carbon Brief has collected prominent climate model projections since 1973 to see how well they project both past and future global temperatures, as shown in the animation below.

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Even Trump’s EPA says Obama’s climate plan would save thousands of lives each year

The Washington Post

A sweeping Obama-era climate rule could prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths per year by 2030, the Trump administration has found in its analysis of the plan, projecting that the plan could save more lives than the Obama administration said it would.

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving to repeal the plan.

The rule in question is the Clean Power Plan, which consists of regulations on U.S. power plants aimed at decreasing the country’s contribution to global climate change by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. In practice, the rule is projected to move the energy sector away from coal-fired power plants and toward more natural gas-fired power plants, as well as wind and solar power sources.

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Carbon is stabilizing, but not enough to keep Earth safe

E&E ClimateWire

Countries responsible for nearly half of the world's emissions are on track to stop growing their contribution to climate change by 2020, but that won't be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to a new analysis.

A World Resources Institute report released today found that emissions will continue to rise after 53 countries representing 40 percent of global greenhouse gases stabilize their annual emissions at the end of this decade. The rise is expected to come from developing nations like India, and it jeopardizes global ambitions to freeze temperatures at 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

"I guess it's a glass half full, glass half empty kind of thing," said co-author David Rich. "Globally, emissions need to peak by 2020, otherwise we need really rapid declines in emissions to reach the 2-degrees, 1.5-degrees goal."

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Exxon is not threatened by Tesla


Exxon Mobil Corp. says the existential threat to oil producers from electric cars is overblown.

Despite concern that electrification will render obsolete the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine, the world’s biggest crude explorer says the 158 year-old oil industry won’t go gentle into that good night.

The electric-vehicle, or EV, fleet won’t grow fast enough to displace much in the way of fuel demand, according to Exxon Vice President Jeff Woodbury. Plus, heavy-duty trucks and petrochemicals are where the real action is anyway, he said during a conference call with analysts on Friday.

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How a smartphone app could cut greenhouse gases

E&E ClimateWire

Cities hoping to lower transportation emissions might consider making it as easy as the touch of a button.

A new report from New Climate Economy — in partnership with the World Resources Institute, Siemens Corp. and McKinsey & Co. — found that trip-planning apps could lower greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent by encouraging people to take public transit and simplifying their journeys.

It's the latest paper in a new and growing field of research as new transportation technologies like autonomous vehicles, ride and car sharing, electrification, and on-demand mobility proliferate faster than the understanding of their net emissions.

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Budding marijuana sector brings big load growth, efficiency challenges for utilities

Utility Dive

For the utility industry, the expanding legalization of marijuana represents a unique opportunity to create load and demand management assets out of whole cloth. Demand for pot clearly exists, and meeting that demand requires a lot of energy.

While some growers today are more concerned about securing enough power for their operations than saving money, they also want help with their energy usage. Utilities have been incorporating marijuana operations into existing efficiency programs, but the industry's unique needs call for more specific attention from power companies.

As the cannabis industry grows, optimizing energy use and lowering expenses will play a growing role in running a successful business. One particular challenge today is the absence of good information on current energy use.

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Tesla's first Puerto Rico battery project is a microgrid at a children's hospital

Utility Dive

As scrutiny grows regarding a small Montana company that landed a $300 million project to rebuild Puerto Rico's grid, microgrid projects focused on battery storage and solar energy are being rolled out in discrete locations on the island.

Despite some signs of progress, about about 80% of residents remain without power. Tesla said its hospital solar-plus-storage project is the "first of many."

Business Insider reports the location of the project is vital — while almost all of the island's hospitals are operating, the majority still lack reliable power.

Tesla is certainly not the only company working on the island. Sonnen has also committed to constructing microgrids as part of the restoration effort, and Sunrun and a group of nonprofits are rolling out renewables projects.

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