Analysis says we need to stop building fossil fuel plants now

Analysis says we need to stop building fossil fuel plants now

Enlarge / Wind turbines spin as steam rises from the cooling towers of the Jäenschwalde coal-fired power plant in the distance. (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Most of the world’s nations have agreed to limit warming to 2°C, with a stretch goal of keeping things below 1.5°C. Since we have a good sense of how carbon dioxide drives that warming, it’s possible to estimate how much more CO2 we can add to the atmosphere before those goals are exceeded. People have referred to that limit as a “carbon budget.” The budget is useful, because it allows us to evaluate different ways of keeping below it. If cars are electrified by 2030, for example, it might give us more time to figure out how to handle air travel.

Now, a group of researchers has compared that carbon budget to the existing sources of emissions from fossil fuels, including power plants,

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Federal bill would allow clean energy companies to structure like oil companies

Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April

Enlarge / Wind turbines near Palm Springs, California. (credit: nate2b / Flickr)

A remarkable thing happened in the US in April. For the first time ever, renewable electricity generation beat out coal-fired electricity generation on a national level, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). While renewable energy—including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass—constituted 23 percent of the nation’s power supply, coal-fired electricity only contributed 20 percent of our power supply.

There are seasonal reasons for this happening in April. Wind power generation tends to be higher in spring and fall, hydroelectric generation usually peaks as winter snow melts, and lengthening days mean more solar power can be fed to the grid.

In addition, people use less electricity in spring, as it’s not cold enough to need a lot of heating and not warm enough to require lots of air conditioner use. Coal-fired power plant owners, expecting this

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Report: Tesla working on battery-cell R&D to loosen ties with Panasonic

Report: Tesla working on battery-cell R&D to loosen ties with Panasonic

Enlarge / A Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric automobile sits connected to a charger inside a Tesla store in Munich, Germany, on Monday, March 30, 2015. (credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

According to a report today from CNBC, Tesla is working on research and development of battery cells in a lab near its manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif. Five anonymous current and former employees said the R&D is focused on “designing and prototyping advanced lithium-ion battery cells,” as well as systems that could help the company produce cells at high volume.

Currently, Tesla has a partnership with Panasonic to make the battery cells it uses in its cars and stationary batteries. That relationship extends out to Tesla’s Buffalo, NY-based solar panel factory, which Tesla also co-owns with Panasonic. But recently, the fraternity between the two companies seems to be wearing thin.

In September of last year,

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A 10-year-old natural gas plant in California gets the coal plant treatment

A 10-year-old natural gas plant in California gets the coal plant treatment

Enlarge / Inland Empire Energy Center outside of Riverside, California. (credit: Oohlongjohnson)

Late last week, General Electric told a California regulator that it would close down a 10-year-old Southern California natural gas plant because it’s no longer economically competitive in California’s energy market.

The news, first reported by Reuters, is surprising because natural gas plants tend to have 30-year lifespans on average, and natural gas is currently the cheapest fossil fuel on the market today. But the two 376 megawatt (MW) turbines at the Inland Empire Energy Center (IEEC) outside of Riverside, California, are not built to play well with the increasing amount of renewable energy on California’s grid. On top of that, renewables’ low marginal cost and ubiquity throughout the state mean that during certain times of day, they’re often the cheapest energy option.

Natural gas needs quick-start options

GE told the California Energy Commission on

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German regulator says it discovered new illegal software on Daimler diesels

German regulator says it discovered new illegal software on Daimler diesels

Enlarge / (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images) (credit: getty images)

Over the weekend, Germany’s auto regulator told Daimler that it would have to recall 42,000 Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles after the group discovered illegal software on the cars that would reduce the effectiveness of the emissions-control system.

Daimler said Sunday night that it would take a one-time charge of hundreds of millions of euros against the upcoming quarter’s earnings to deal with the new accusations, but it disputed the government regulator’s determination that the software in question was illegal. According to the Wall Street Journal, Daimler plans to formally object to the claims.

The accusation against the German automaker is similar to accusations lobbed against Volkswagen Group starting in 2015. The US Environmental Protection Agency accused VW Group of including illegal software on its diesel vehicles to ensure that the diesels would pass emissions limits imposed by the US.

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At House hearing, witnesses for Trump admin defend fuel-economy rollback

At House hearing, witnesses for Trump admin defend fuel-economy rollback

Enlarge / Cars and trucks drive along Interstate 75/85 June 25, 2003 in Atlanta, Georgia. (credit: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)

The Trump administration has been trying to roll back Obama-era fuel-economy standards for passenger vehicles out to model year 2025. But the state of California and its allies have been fighting this rollback in every venue possible.

Today, energy and commerce subcommittees from the House of Representatives held a joint hearing to question the creators of the proposed fuel-economy-standards rollback. William Wehrum, the Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Heidi King, the Deputy Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both responded to questions from representatives on how the two agencies came to propose the new fuel-economy rollback.

Later in the day, a second panel included Mary Nichols, the chairperson of the California Air Resource Board (CARB),

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Federal bill would allow clean energy companies to structure like oil companies

Federal bill would allow clean energy companies to structure like oil companies

Enlarge / Wind turbines near Palm Springs, Calif. (credit: nate2b / Flickr)

Last week, US senators and representatives introduced bills in the Senate and the House to open up a type of corporate structure originally reserved for oil, gas, and coal companies to clean energy companies.

Called a Master Limited Partnership (MLP), the structure currently allows fossil fuel companies to take advantage of lower taxes placed on limited partnerships while also allowing those companies to issue publicly traded stocks and bonds. If the recently re-introduced bills—which have bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate—pass their respective votes, clean energy companies would have the option to structure their companies as MLPs and take advantage of the tax and funding benefits.

According to sponsoring Senator Chris Coons’ (D-Del.) website, “Newly eligible energy resources would include solar, wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy, fuel cells, energy storage, combined heat and

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After June fires, energy group says hydrogen is future’s fuel

After June fires, energy group says hydrogen is future’s fuel

Enlarge / A hydrogen filling station. (credit: Peter Gercke/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Hydrogen fuel facilities experienced two fires this month in Santa Clara, Calif., and in Norway. But despite these setbacks, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report on Friday saying that the fuel is an important potential part of a low-carbon future.

The first fire in Santa Clara happened on Saturday, June 1 at a hydrogen reforming facility run by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. No one was injured, but according to the Silicon Valley Voice, multiple hydrogen tanker trucks caught fire. The fire was extinguished a little over an hour after the firefighters arrived on the scene.

After the fire was put out, Santa Clara Fire Department Battalion Chief Drew Miller told the press that “a hydrogen tanker truck was being fueled and a leak occurred,” adding, “when the shutdown of the tanker truck that

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Group to fund and operate first hydrogen fuel ferry fleet in the US

Group to fund and operate first hydrogen fuel ferry fleet in the US

On Wednesday, a plan to put hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferries in US waters moved forward as startup Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine (GGZEM) announced a partnership with Switch Maritime, an impact investment fund that will finance and operate a fleet of such vessels.

GGZEM received a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) last November to build a 70-foot, 84-passenger, hydrogen fuel cell-powered boat. Named the Water-Go-Round, the vessel will be used to take passengers across the San Francisco Bay. The ferry, which is currently under construction in Alameda, California, is expected to be complete in September. After its completion, it will undergo three months of testing so researchers can gather data on its performance.

Switch Maritime (sometimes styled SW/TCH) is the new operator of the ferry, and it

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At Tesla shareholder meeting, Musk assures “there is not a demand problem”

At Tesla shareholder meeting, Musk assures “there is not a demand problem”

Enlarge (credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Tesla held a shareholder meeting in Mountain View, Calif., on Tuesday afternoon, and CEO Elon Musk addressed the audience on a number of issues facing the company before taking questions from shareholders.

Tesla had a complicated first half of the year. It achieved significant Model 3 delivery, but reportedly sluggish demand for the Model S and X has dragged the company down. Some analysts have turned bearish on Tesla after Musk promised profitable quarters going forward in Q4 2018 but then missed profitability badly in Q1 2019.

But Musk defended his company’s health in his initial statement to the audience. He told shareholders “I want to be clear that there is not a demand problem… Sales have far exceeded production, and production has been pretty good. We have a decent shot at a record quarter… if not, it’s going to be very close.”

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