02/25/2018

News

Electric vehicles’ future relies on cobalt. It’s often mined by children and is soaring in price

The road to an imminent electric vehicle future has hit a speed bump — one made of cobalt. An essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power millions of smartphones as well as plug-in electric cars, cobalt is in heavy demand. But just as the silverish-gray metal has established itself as a critical element in the […]

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Greenhouse gas emissions rose again in 2016

In 2016, German emissions reached a total of 909.4 million metric tonnes CO2 equivalent. This amounts to 2.6 million tonnes more than in 2015 and represents the second increase in successive years. Such are the results of calculations recently submitted to the EU by the German Environment Agency (UBA). Emissions from the transport sector have […]

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Countries made only modest climate-change promises in Paris. They’re falling short anyway.

The struggles of Germany, one of the globe’s most progressive nations when it comes to embracing renewable energy, illustrates the problem. The country’s “Energiewende,” or “energy transition,” aims to generate 80 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2050. The country also has set an aggressive near-term goal of cutting greenhouses gas emissions by 40 […]

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Costly Subsidies For the Rich: Quantifying the Subsidies Offered to Battery Electric Powered Cars

There are also distributional impacts from these EV subsidies. IRS Statistics of Income data illustrate that, for the 2014 tax year, 78.7 percent ($207.1 million) of the federal consumer tax credits were received by households with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $100,000 or above. A further 20.5 percent of the tax credits ($54.1 million) […]

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How Effective is Energy-Efficient Housing? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Mexico

Despite growing enthusiasm, there is little empirical evidence on how well energy efficiency investments work. Evidence is particularly lacking from low- and middle-income countries, despite a widespread view that these countries have many of the best opportunities. This paper evaluates a field experiment in Mexico in which a quasi-experimental sample of new homes was provided […]

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Transportation Energy Costs

The average car on the road consumed 4,700 British thermal units (BTUs) per vehicle mile in 2015, which is almost a 50 percent reduction from 1973, when Americans drove some of the gas-guzzliest cars in history. The average light truck (meaning pick ups, full-sized vans, and SUVs) used about 6,250 BTUs per vehicle mile in […]

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Pain at the pump not letting up as San Diego gas prices soar

The average price has now risen each day for the last three weeks, including 1.2 cents over the weekend, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service. The price has increased 20.5 cents since it began rising 21 days ago. Monday’s average price is 7.2 cents more than a week ago, 26 […]

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Why California’s gasoline prices may spike to $4 a gallon by summer

California drivers could see the price of gas soar to $4 a gallon by May, a price point that hasn’t happened in the state since July 2014, analysts said this week. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Boston-based GasBuddy, told Bloomberg on Thursday that with gas prices at their lowest for the year, they […]

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Reasonable rates’ is stricken from CPUC mission statement

The California Public Utilities Commission has amended its long-standing mission statement, leaving out the idea of ensuring “reasonable rates” for the water and power used by the public. The change comes as state utility regulators have been under criminal investigation for potentially improper backchannel dealings with the utility companies they oversee and facing multiple lawsuits alleging they failed to protect the people they serve. For more than 20 years, the agency mission statement said, “The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.” Under a recent revision, the statement now says: “The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.”

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California regulators propose replacing PG&E natural gas plants with energy storage

State regulators want Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to replace three natural gas plants with energy storage, a move that represents another significant step toward a clean energy future. The California Public Utilities Commission will vote Jan. 11 on the proposal that would require PG&E to seek clean alternatives to replace the three fossil-fuel plants.

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PG&E customers face higher monthly bills during early 2018

PG&E customers can expect to ring in the New Year with a 2.8 percent hike in their monthly bills during the first two months of 2018, the utility giant proposed in a regulatory filing on Friday. In the rate filing, PG&E asked that the state Public Utilities Commission defer an annual recalculation of monthly bills until March 1. Normally, the recalculation leads to the increase going into effect on Jan. 1. PG&E’s proposal would produce a 0.5 percent increase in January and a 2.3 percent jump in early March.

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Wind Power Capacity Has Surpassed Coal in Texas

Wind power capacity edged out coal for the first time in the Texas history last week after a new 155-megawatt wind farm in Scurry County came online. The farm in question is the Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, located on some 32,000 acres leased from more than 130 landowners.

Fluvanna pushed total wind power capacity in the state to more than 20,000 megawatts, while coal capacity stands at 19,800 megawatts and is slated to fall to 14,700 megawatts by the end of 2018 thanks to planned coal powerplant closures. Next year, Luminant will shutter three coal-fired plants—Monticello, Sandow, and Big Brown—and San Antonio’s CPS Energy will close J.T. Deely Station. Wind capacity in the state will reach 24,400 megawatts by the end of 2018, according to projections from Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at UT Austin’s Energy Institute.

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Big Oil and Auto Makers Throw a Lifeline to the Combustion Engine

Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other oil companies are spending millions of dollars a year in concert with auto makers such as Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to create the next generation of super-slick engine lubricants. They are betting that the new, thinner oils will help them squeeze even more efficiency out of traditional car engines, allowing them to comply with stricter environmental rules and remain relevant as new technologies such as zero-emission electric vehicles gain traction.

. . . The new lubricants are meant to help auto makers build smaller, turbocharged engines that are still quite powerful, resulting in efficiency gains close to 15% compared with older models, said David Tsui, project manager for energy at consulting firm Kline & Co. “You’re trying to get these little engines to run at a jog pace, but with a really heavy load,” he said.

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Germany’s Green Energy Meltdown

American climate-change activists point to Europe, and especially Germany, as the paragon of green energy virtue. But they ought to look closer at Angela Merkel’s political struggles as she tries to form a new government in Berlin amid the economic fallout from the Chancellor’s failing energy revolution.

Berlin last month conceded it will miss its 2020 carbon emissions-reduction goal, having cut emissions by just under 30% compared with 1990 instead of the 40% that Mrs. Merkel promised. The goal of 55% by 2030 is almost surely out of reach.

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My Kingdom for a Renewable Energy Source

‘In 50 years, every street in London will be buried under 9 feet of manure.” With this 1894 prediction, the London Times warned that the era’s primary source of transportation energy—the horse—would soon create an environmental crisis.

. . . The lesson is that governments are in no position to predict technological breakthroughs, and their attempts to do so can delay innovations by entrenching inferior technologies. Diesel cars are another example. European states have been subsidizing them for decades, but diesel engines create considerably more noxious gases and particulates. Now Britain and Germany are reversing their policies and trying to phase out diesel.

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