Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

Posts in "Technology"

October 28, 2014

Southern Company Purchases Solar Facility in California

20097 0 240x159 Southern Company Purchases Solar Facility in California

Solar panels by Dennis Schroeder. (www.energy.gov)

Southern Company recently announced that its subsidiary, Southern Power, has acquired a 150 megawatt Solar Gen 2 solar facility from First Solar Inc. in California. It is now the largest facility in Southern Company’s portfolio and is expected to power 60,000 homes.

Construction of the project began in 2013 and will likely be completed sometime before the end of the year. While Southern Company does own the facility, First Solar is expected to operate it.

California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard program requires electric service providers, among other utilities, to “increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of retail sales by the end of 2020.” With this purchase, the company is looking to meet that goal.

 

October 27, 2014

The Week Ahead: Natural Gas & Clean Coal in China

Here’s what’s on tap for the week.

Tuesday

NRG President and CEO David Crane, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, and BP Capital Management Chairman T. Boone Pickens will be speaking at the Aspen Ideas Forum hosted by the Atlantic along with the Aspen Institute. The event will take place over two days at the Harman Center for the Arts.

Kevin C. Ramnarine, minister of Energy & Energy Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago, will take part in a discussion hosted by the Natural Gas Roundtable. The discussion will center on natural gas and energy security in Trinidad and Tobago and the Americas and will be held at the University Club.

The Brookings Institute will host the International Energy Agency’s Chief Economist Fatih Birol for the U.S. launch of the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook report.

The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum that looks at clean coal in China featuring Dr. Ren Xiangkun. Ren will discuss clean coal technology being developed by his company.

Wednesday

The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on Wednesday and Thursday.  The panel will discuss guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.

Thursday

The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum on subsurface technology and engineering for energy applications such as oil and gas, carbon storage, geothermal and waste disposal.

Hans Bruyninckx, the executive director of the European Environment Agency, will discuss Europe’s 2050 agenda and event put on by the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.

Friday

The Wilson Center will host a panel discussion that examines the economic and political impact of low oil prices on countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela.

October 24, 2014

Market Demand For Frac Sand On The Rise

As fracking continues to grow in popularity, so to has the demand for one of the most important elements involved in the process: Proppant. Yes, according to a ProppantIQ report released by PacWest Partners, demand in the North American market for proppant is expected to grow by 23 percent per year through 2016. This growth is largely a factor of increasing demand for frac sand, a popular proppant.

Although demand is on the rise, customers should expect higher prices as supply has not kept up. Supply growth, while strong, is only expected to increase by 18 percent in capacity per year.

October 23, 2014

Another State Deals A Blow To Tesla’s Business Model

dw0904211081 240x159 Another State Deals A Blow To Teslas Business Model

A view of the 2009 Tesla Roadster plug, during a show of various company’s models of hybrid, alternative fuel and electric vehicles outside the Russell Senate Office Building, in anticipation of the April 22 celebration of Earth Day. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

Tesla Motors lost a crucial legislative battle in Michigan on Tuesday when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bipartisan bill that would prevent the electric vehicle manufacturer from selling its cars outside of a dealership network. It is already illegal to make direct sales of any new automobile but the new law, supported by General Motors, will explicitly require manufacturers to sell through auto franchises.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has been fighting to sell his cars directly to consumers but so far more than half of all states have laws on the books similar to Michigan’s that protect their automobile franchises from direct sales competition. The California-based company has been selling its cars through galleries in 23 states, mainly along the east and west coasts. And in the states where they can’t sell directly, they take orders online.

Snyder, a governor known for his championing of entrepreneurship, drew charges of hypocrisy and took criticism from several quarters, including from supporter and Detroit billionaire, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert decried the role lobbying played in the decision and added, “To me you have to have a philosophy and you have to stick to it and you can’t let your personal circumstances compromise that.”

Adam Jonas, auto analyst with Morgan Stanley, thinks that this is just the beginning and that a broader debate on the national level is due. In a client note mentioned in the Detroit Free Press, Jonas wrote, “As Tesla grows in significance and expands its sales network, we expect more debate at the Federal level on the double standard in the application of dealer franchise laws. It’s only a matter of time before something gives. We expect that in the next two to three years, this could likely mushroom into a national issue. We believe these laws exist to support the weakest link in the network.”

October 20, 2014

Texas Congressman Claims EPA Analysis Falls Short

Today, Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of the agency’s newly proposed electricity regulations.

In his letter, Smith roundly criticized the agency’s evaluation process, stating that “systematic biases and major omissions in EPA’s limited evaluation produced a cost-benefit analysis divorced from reality. Consequently, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Assessment fails to assess whether the proposed rule will achieve meaningful benefits and, more importantly, whether the benefits are worth the heavy cost.” Smith closed the letter by demanding that without “comprehensive energy and economic modeling,” rule making should not move forward.

The letter to EPA is Smith’s second one in three months and comes on the heels of a report released by NERA Economic Consulting. The report projects that EPA’s new proposals will cause double digit increases in the price of electricity across 43 states. Additionally, it predicts that compliance costs could end up totaling $400 billion over 15 years.

The Week Ahead: Methane & Efficiency Scorecard

On tap this week:

Monday

Former EPA Administrator Carol Browner and Judi Greenwald, the Energy Department’s deputy director for climate, environment and energy will take part in a discussion on curbing methane emissions at the Center for American Progress. Full story

October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Oil Slides, CO2 Talk & Yucca Echoes

Down, down, down was the way oil looked this week, with the global benchmark Brent crude dropping 27 percent from July before rebounding slightly Thursday. Full story

October 16, 2014

3D Innovation for Electric Cars

2014 inverter P05004 article 3D Innovation for Electric Cars

(Energy Department)

Researchers at the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used 3-D printing to construct a high-efficiency power inverter that takes up less space than current technology, the department announced this week. Full story

October 14, 2014

The Week Ahead: Russia, Solar, Gas, Carbon and Coal

A little bit of everything is happening this week, and much of it takes place Tuesday. Full story

October 7, 2014

Developing a Solar Battery

batteriesinc 445x441 Developing a Solar Battery

Nanometer-sized rods of titanium dioxide cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze. (Yiying Wu/The Ohio State University)

Looking to increase the efficiency of solar power storage, researchers at Ohio State University devised a process to integrate solar electric generation and storage into one implement. Full story

October 2, 2014

DOE Approves 1GW Canada-NYC Renewable Powerline

The Department of Energy signed off on a presidential permit for a $2 billion transmission line to carry primarily hydro and wind generated high voltage direct current from Quebec to New York City. Full story

September 30, 2014

Billions to Advance Advanced Reactors

msr lg 445x328 Billions to Advance Advanced Reactors

Molten salt reactor diagram (Energy Department)

The Energy Department is looking to develop advanced nuclear reactors, announcing Monday a $12.6 billion draft loan guarantee solicitation for new technologies. Full story

September 29, 2014

Wells Yield More Oil, Steeper Decline

EIA production 445x221 Wells Yield More Oil, Steeper Decline

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration graphic, based on Drillinginfo data.

Producers continue to get more oil from new wells in the Texas Eagle Ford shale, but as initial production increases, so does the rate at which it drops off. Full story

On Tap This Week: Conferences, Expos & An Anniversary

The Johnson Rice 2014 Energy Conference kicks off Monday in New Orleans and runs through Wednesday with presentations Monday from Pioneer Energy Services and Wednesday from Tesco Corp. Full story

September 24, 2014

Letting the Utility Company into Your Home & Business

nest thermostat with hand 445x322 Letting the Utility Company into Your Home & Business

Smart-meter Nest connects to utility partners to provide demand response. (Nest)

Beyond smart meters and two-way distributed generation, the grid of tomorrow will incorporate control of the demand on the customer’s side of the meter with smart thermostats, electric cars that communicate with the grid and innovations that we have yet to develop, according to power experts. Full story

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