Energy in the News: Friday, April 27
Concerns over California vehicle waiver issues
Yale Climate Connections, feat. John DeCicco
Few following the climate issue likely were shocked when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he plans to essentially rollback the Obama administration’s more stringent climate-focused standards for motor vehicles.
Less than a month after Pruitt came into office in 2017, he announced he’d be looking at them, and his and President Trump’s dismissiveness of climate change science has been well known.
But, beyond the loud complaints from the environmental community and officials from affected states, there remains confusion about what Pruitt’s decision and other hinted-at actions may mean, given the lack of specifics.
Issues of the Environment: Potential impacts of connected autonomous vehicles of the future
WEMU, feat. Gregory Keoleian
Self-driving vehicles are meant to be the future of transportation, but there's much more to learn about how they could affect the environment. In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks to Dr. Gregory Keoleian, director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at U-M's School for Environment and Sustainability, about a new study regarding the potential impacts of Connected Autonomous Vehicles.
India nears power success, but millions still in the dark
Bloomberg, feat. Brian Min
Narendra Modi stormed to victory in 2014 on pledges to improve the lives of Indians, including bringing power to every citizen.
Rural electrification became a cornerstone of the prime minister’s plan, which included connecting more than 18,000 villages by the end of this month. And with only a few left to be electrified, according to government data, that’s a target Modi’s administration looks set to meet.
But that will still keep almost 32 million homes in the dark: the government deems a village “electrified” if 10 percent of its households, as well as public places such as schools and health centers, are connected. As of Thursday, less than 8 percent of the newly electrified villages had all homes electrified, the data showed, leaving swaths of rural India without power, which can hinder economic growth, basic health care and education.
David Suzuki should not be celebrated in Alberta, says former Dragons' Den star
CBC Radio One, feat. Joe Arvai
A university's offer of an honourary degree to David Suzuki has sparked an angry wake-up call for the silent majority in Alberta, according to an entrepreneur who spent his career in the oil industry.
"This is a group of people who'd been attacked, for two decades now, by David Suzuki," said W. Brett Wilson, who has also starred on CBC's Dragons' Den.
The University of Alberta announced earlier this week it will award the controversial environmentalist an honorary doctor of science degree this spring.
Cheaper organic solar cells are finally ready for market
Futurity, feat. Stephen Forrest
Researchers have demonstrated organic solar cells that can achieve 15 percent efficiency,
an advance that makes a more flexible, inexpensive type of solar cell commercially viable.
This level of efficiency is in the range of many solar panels, or photovoltaics, currently on the market.
“Organic photovoltaics can potentially cut way down on the total solar energy system cost, making solar a truly ubiquitous clean energy source,” says Stephen Forrest, professor of engineering at the University of Michigan, who led the work.
Diagnosing the warm bias in the central United States
Eos, by Allison Steiner
The land surface is the lower boundary of the atmosphere. This interface between land and air is particularly important for predicting surface air temperature and precipitation. Although this is the region of the atmosphere that humans inhabit and scientists can easily monitor, it is very difficult to simulate in current weather and climate models.
Specific geographic regions of the globe have been identified as land-atmosphere coupling “hot spots” [Koster et al., 2004], where small changes in the atmosphere or land surface can feedback to amplify the response in local temperature and precipitation. One identified “hot spot” region is the central United States, which is also a region where weather and climate models consistently simulate warmer surface temperatures than ground-based observations.
Foul weather fans? MLB’s early season chill offers look at future
Bloomberg BNA, feat. Jonathan Overpeck
“The future ain’t what it used to be,” New York Yankees great Yogi Berra once said. And that could spell trouble for Major League Baseball.
Three weeks into the season, the league has canceled 25 games because of cold, snow, sleet, and rain, tying the all-time record for the most weather-related cancellations in the first month of the season. By comparison, there were only 39 games canceled by the elements all of last year’s 26-week season.
While few would link three weeks of inclement weather to climate change, the fitful start to this year’s baseball season coincides with discussions in professional leagues including the NHL, FIFA, and PGA golf about how a changing climate could affect outdoor sports and the fans who watch them.
Faster EV chargers to allay range anxiety
United Press International, feat. UMTRI
Japanese energy company Marubeni Corp. said it would work in the U.S. market to deliver ultra-fast charging stations for electric vehicles.
The company said it was working through its U.S. subsidiary, a division of Volkswagen and Electrify America LLC on a $2 billion investment in electric vehicle infrastructure. Under the terms of the arrangement, Marubeni said it would collaborate with charging infrastructure company Signet EV to build 340 charging stations in the U.S. market.
Charging stations envisioned in the program will be seven times faster than conventional charging stations, though some of that speed would depend on the vehicle.
Recreating supernova reaction yields new insights for fusion energy
University of Michigan
We study exploding stars in our quest to make reliable fusion energy a reality, but chances are we've been thinking about supernovae wrong.
New research led by the University of Michigan shows that heat plays a significant role in the way materials mix during fusion reactions—a factor that has, to this point, been left out of the discussion. It's a finding that should help focus future studies of how supernovae work and what we can learn from them.
Power from fusion, cleaner and more efficient energy than what we currently derive from fission, is the goal. Nuclear fusion reactions are constantly under way in the cores of stars, making them a natural research subject for scientists trying to recreate them for energy production on Earth.
MPSC approves DTE's St. Clair County natural gas plant proposal
State of Michigan
The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today approved DTE Electric Co.’s certificates of necessity to build a natural gas-powered electric generation facility in St. Clair County to replace aging coal plants.
The Commission authorized DTE to recoup up to $951.8 million for the construction of an 1,100 megawatt (MW) combined cycle plant at DTE’s Belle River Power Plant site in East China Township (Case No. U-18419). DTE had sought approval for $989 million in cost recovery, but the Commission approved a lower contingency amount recommended by MPSC staff.
Under state law, the Commission had up to 270 days to rule on three certificates of necessity (CON) that DTE filed on July 31, 2017.
Michigan conservatives hope to make inroads on clean energy with ALEC
Midwest Energy News
A Michigan conservative energy group is making inroads with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in an effort to get the controversial fossil fuel-linked group to adopt clean energy policy positions.
ALEC, which is widely known for developing model state legislation that supports fossil fuels and limits renewable energy development, meets in Grand Rapids on Friday to discuss national policy positions. During a task force meeting, the Conservative Energy Network will present ALEC members with policy options that support clean energy, said the network’s president Mark Pischea.
The dangerous belief that extreme technology will fix climate change
Wake Smith imagines a fleet of experimental airplanes, not much larger than Boeing 757s, that could climb to 60,000 feet, high enough for people aboard to see the curvature of the earth, and release gas into the lower stratosphere.
In order to ensure global coverage of their payload, the planes, looking more like firefighting tanker aircraft than commercial airliners, would take off from four different latitudes ― say runways in Houston, Manila, Brasilia and Johannesburg. On five-hour missions, they would seed the skies with blankets of clear, stinky, aerosolized sulfur dioxide gas. Dispersing 100,000 tons of SO2 annually over several years would begin to approximate levels of the gas that follow a major volcanic eruption, blocking out the sun and lowering the temperature of the earth.
NRC faces fast-track decision on experimental reactor fuels
The search for new nuclear reactor fuel assemblies able to delay core meltdowns and potential hydrogen explosions during extreme accidents — a quest triggered by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster — is coming to a head at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The agency and the U.S. nuclear industry have given a top priority to developing and deploying new "accident tolerant fuel" technologies (ATF) better able to withstand the devastating heat buildup inside reactors when coolant is lost.
Scot Greenlee, senior vice president of Exelon Generation Nuclear, called the new fuel technology "a profound, 'game-changing' innovation enhancing reactor safety" in remarks to an NRC Regulatory Information Conference.
US tight oil production moves up a gear
The Permian is leading America's surging crude production, but there are warning signs in the data
The wave of new American tight oil supply hitting the market continues to gather pace. Shale producers are expected to add another 125,000 barrels a day of output in May, bringing the total to just shy of 7m b/d, according to the latest figures from the Energy Information Administration.
This growth equals an addition of around 450,000 b/d in just the first five months of the year, so US shale producers are on track to crack 1m b/d of supply growth for the year.