Energy – SciPol Weekly, November 4 – November 10


Forbes – Rick Perry's Coal And Nuclear Subsidy Could Cost The U.S. Economy $10.6 Billion Per Year

Reasons for opposing the NOPR range from potentially destroying wholesale power markets, to free trade principles, or insufficient review time, but beyond Rick Perry suggesting the proposal's price was equal to “the cost of freedom,” DOE hasn’t quantified the NOPR's economic impact or which plants it would subsidize. DOE’s NOPR is the latest Trump Administration attempt to prop up older, inefficient coal and nuclear generation that utilities find increasingly uneconomic to operate against cleaner, cheaper generation and efficiency resources.

The Hill – Congress must create an energy policy specific to its tropical island territories

In Puerto Rico, the U.S. created a tax haven where U.S. manufacturers launched the globalization movement. These manufacturers demanded reliable and redundant power to operate three shifts for their production lines. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) designed and built the power grid to serve these industrial clients. As these clients left Puerto Rico for cheaper tax havens in Ireland and Singapore, PREPA lost more than one-third of its rate income and has been unable to maintain the grid for the last two decades. PREPAs creditors are owed about $9 billion.

The National Law Review – The GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Includes Changes Impacting the Renewable Energy Industry

On November 3rd, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R. Tex.) released the “chairman’s mark” to H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (TCJA). The TCJA represents the most extensive rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code in the last 30 years. While we believe it is unlikely that the TCJA will become law in its current form, the proposed legislation certainly creates both concerns and relief for the renewable energy industry.


Ars Technica – Cost of wind keeps dropping, and there’s little coal, nuclear can do to stop it

Though a lot has changed since 2016, not much has changed for energy economics in the US. The cost of wind generation continues to fall, solar costs are falling, too, and the cost of coal-power energy has seen no movement, while the cost of building and maintaining nuclear plants has gone up. And none of those conclusions reflect subsidies and tax credits applied by the federal government. 

Utility Dive – Energy storage could hit 35 GW by 2025, new white paper says

Despite the strong performance, storage is still a small part of the total U.S. market, with all storage installations composing only about 0.5 GW. But market forces will drive much wider expansion of energy storage according to the ESA-Navigant paper. Among the market drivers are the electrification of the transportation sector, and the need for a variety of industries, such as communications and some manufacturing processes, for a more flexible and resilient grid. The paper argues that in an electrified economy, grid disruptions will become even more costly. Already, it is estimated that power outages, surges and spikes cost the U.S. economy more than $150 billion every year.


CleanTechnica – 1/4 Of World’s Oil Refineries Face Closure By 2035 If Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets Are Met

The shutdown of refining capacity will be accompanied by a surge in electric vehicle adoption, higher fuel efficiency in internal combustion engine (ICE) grounds vehicles, and higher efficiency in jet aircraft. That could come just due to the effect of legislation intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions expected to be introduced in the coming years, according to the report. Owing to these expected changes, companies like Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron, Sinopec, etc. could see refining profits fall by 70% or more by 2035, the report alleges.

Futurism – “Quark Fusion” Produces Eight Times More Energy Than Nuclear Fusion

While solar and wind energy advance and become more widely accepted, scientists continue to explore the possibility of stabilizing nuclear fusion as a truly renewable energy source that far outperforms current options. But what if there’s an even better source of energy that’s also potentially less volatile than nuclear fusion? This possibility is what researchers from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago proposed in a new study published in the journal Nature.

ScienceDaily – Efforts to revive coal industry unlikely to work, may slow job growth

In reference to the decline of the coal industry, one former coal miner said, "I can tell you what my grand-daddy always said: 'No matter how many times you beat and kick that dead horse, it's not getting up to plow again.'" Another participant said, "I'm beginning to see some real enthusiasm, particularly among young people in small communities in West Virginia, to begin looking for something beyond, something beyond coal."

The Energy Collective – World Greenhouse Gas Levels Make Unprecedented Leap

According to figures released overnight by the World Meteorological Organisation, atmospheric CO₂ concentrations reached 403.3 parts per million. This is the highest level for at least 3 million years, having climbed by 3.3 ppm relative to the 2015 average. The unprecedented rise is due to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and the strong 2015-16 El Niño event, which reduced the capacity of forests, grasslands and oceans to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


GTM – What It Will Take to Rebuild the Caribbean With Clean Energy

The devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma and Maria on energy systems in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean highlight an energy security problem that has been lurking for decades. Massive damage to centralized grids will mean that many of the affected island nations and territories won’t restore full electricity service for another four to six months at the earliest.

Vox – Hurricane Maria has now caused the longest blackout in US history

It’s been more than 40 days since Hurricane Maria ravaged the electrical grids of two US territories, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. And yet only about 30 percent of utility customers in Puerto Rico have had their power restored. Across the US Virgin Islands, 84 percent, or more than 40,000 customers, still don’t have electricity either. Which means that this is now officially the longest blackout in US history, according to an assessment by the Rhodium Group, a policy analysis firm.

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aftermath of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Image Citation

Sgt. Jose Diaz-Ramos