A total of 640 businesses and investors sent a letter to President-elect Trump and Congress on Tuesday, strongly urging continued investment in the clean energy sector. The letter, coordinated by the nonprofit group Ceres, which works with investors and companies to promote sustainability, contains big tech names like Adobe, SalesForce, eBay, HP, SolarCity, Symantec and Tesla.
The country, a core member of OPEC, plans to invest $163 billion to boost its use of alternative energy over the next three decades. That should increase clean energy's share of UAE consumption from 25% to 50% by 2050. The country also hopes to increase energy efficiency by 40% over the same period.UAE vice president and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said the new energy strategy should save the emirates $190 billion over three decades. Low oil prices are forcing major producers, including Saudi Arabia, to rethink their economic strategies.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans this week to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which supplies electricity to New York City and surrounding areas. The plant’s two working reactors — which account for roughly 10 percent of the state’s power generation — are slated to go offline in 2020 and 2021, more than a decade ahead of schedule. Some environmentalists celebrated the closure. Others lamented the loss of a carbon-free source of energy, despite nuclear power’s potential hazards to humans and wildlife. Nuclear power plants represent a range of risks, from hazardous radioactive waste to a full-scale meltdown. They also supply the bulk of America’s zero-carbon electricity. In laying out its carbon-cutting goals, the Environmental Protection Agency assumed that existing nuclear power plants would continue to hum and buzz for decades to come. But cheap natural gas is digging into the profits of America’s aging nuclear power plants, pressuring them to close ahead of schedule.
By 2040, the number of electric cars in the world could reach 150 million, or even, if more ambitious targets for emissions reductions are adopted, 715 million. Not only would this mean a drastic reduction in the demand for oil, it could also mean a drastic reduction in the demand for biofuels such as ethanol. But the biofuel industry is not giving up without a fight. At the recent UN climate talks in Morocco, a consortium of 20 countries launched Biofuture, a platform designed to encourage the use of low-carbon biofuels, including the second generation of sugarcane cellulose-based biofuel. Brazil, the world's second largest producer of both ethanol and biodiesel (the U.S. is the largest) is leading the initiative.
At a time when Iowa farmers produced a second consecutive record corn crop amid falling prices for their commodity, the state’s growing ethanol industry remains a stabilizing factor. National crop production reports released in mid-December showed Iowa corn production in 2016 at 2.69 billion bushels, up from 2.51 billion bushels in 2015. But average statewide corn prices fell from $3.37 to $3.01 per bushel from November 2015 to November 2016.Brian Cahill, president and general manager of the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy ethanol plant south of Council Bluffs, said that without SIRE and the 42 other ethanol plants in Iowa, prices would be even lower.“Without ethanol,” he said, “farmers would be hurting. We’re a steady buyer.”SIRE purchases 40 million to 50 million bushels of corn annually, more than 125,000 bushels daily – roughly 40 percent of the corn produced within a 75-mile radius of the Council Bluffs plant. Now paying about $3.20 per bushel, Cahill said SIRE pays between 10 to 15 cents more per bushel than offered by most elevators.
The first large scale U.S. “clean coal” facility was declared operational — by the large energy firm NRG Energy and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp. Their Petra Nova project, not far outside of Houston, captured carbon dioxide from the process of coal combustion for the first time in September, and has now piped 100,000 tons of it from the plant to the West Ranch oil field 80 miles away, where the carbon dioxide is used to force additional oil from the ground. The companies say that the plant can capture over 90 percent of the carbon dioxide released from the equivalent of a 240 megawatt, or million watt, coal unit, which translates into 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide per day or over 1 million tons per year. They’re calling it “the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture system.”
A Native American tribe in Wisconsin has voted against renewing agreements allowing Enbridge Inc to use their land for a major crude oil pipeline, the latest sign of increasing opposition to North American energy infrastructure. The Bad River Band decided not to renew easements on Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline last week because of concerns about the risk of oil spills, and called for the 64-year-old pipeline to be decommissioned and removed. The move against Line 5 underlines how environmental and aboriginal resistance to energy infrastructure is evolving. Opponents are trying to block existing pipelines and expansions on brownfield sites like Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain project, as well as protesting new facilities.
Nearly 90 percent of surveyed workers who lost their jobs during the oil bust either remain unemployed or opted to leave the oil and gas sector entirely, according to an ongoing study being conducted by University of Houston researchers. Roughly a quarter of laid-off energy who participated in the study — out of 720 respondents thus far — found work outside of the oil and gas industry, while more than 60 percent of them remain out of work. Only 13 percent of them have found new jobs within the industry. The two-year oil bust resulted in more than 215,000 U.S. jobs lost — including about 100,000 in Texas — and many of those workers may never return to the industry. More than 70 percent of the study participants said they’re nervous about the industry’s future and about 55 percent said they’re considering giving up on the sector entirely. About two-thirds of them complained about the way their companies’ layoffs were handled.
Vermont's new Republican governor says he is sticking with his Democratic predecessor's goal of getting 90 percent of the energy needed in the state from renewable sources by 2050. Scott said renewable energy technology also generates jobs, which he said fits in with his administration's economic development goals.
The energy debate on Capitol Hill this year could turn quickly into talk of farm policy as a large section of the utility sector and other groups prepare to make sure energy policy doesn't get overlooked in next year's farm bill.
The next five-year reauthorization of the farm bill comes up in 2018, which has groups set to make sure the bill's increased energy focus over the last decade doesn't face the cuts it experienced in the last Congress.