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Energy News

Slumping Ethanol Price Hurts Producers

DTN | Posted on November 12, 2018

Ethanol profit margins continue to remain negative and show little sign of improving, as evidenced by DTN's hypothetical ethanol plant, which continues to suffer from low ethanol prices.Neeley Biofuels Inc., a hypothetical 50-million-gallon plant in South Dakota, saw little movement in its margin in the past month. Including debt service and depreciation, the plant continues to show a 34.4-cent-per-gallons loss, compared to a 34.5-cent-per-gallon loss last month.Most ethanol plants, however, are not paying debt service. Excluding debt and depreciation, Neeley Biofuels continues to show a 3-cent-per-gallon loss, which is unchanged from one month ago.Since our last update on Oct. 16, the corn price paid by the hypothetical plant dropped by 5 cents to $3.73 per bushel. The South Dakota rack price of ethanol received by the plant, however, remained unchanged at $1.37 per gallon.Donna Funk, a certified public accountant with K-Coe Isom based in Lenexa, Kansas, who works with ethanol plants, said the industry is struggling.

Well-designed subsidies boost electric vehicle adoption

Energy News Network | Posted on November 12, 2018

In the 1990s, Atlanta was out of compliance with federal air quality standards for ozone, and vehicle emissions were primarily responsible. In 1998, the legislature passed a $1,500 tax credit for alternate fuel vehicles, which was increased to $2,500 for all low-emission vehicles and $5,000 for zero-emission vehicles over the next 3 years. The tax credit applied to buyers and first lessees of EVs. At the time, the bills were uncontroversial.As years passed, EVs became more widely available and declined in cost. The tax credit was successful at helping EVs gain a foothold in Georgia, particularly in Atlanta, where the range limitations of early EVs were less problematic than in rural areas. By mid-2015, Georgia had more EVs in service than any other U.S. state except California.It is crucial that these policies be designed with a long time horizon, that subsidy rates keep up with technological progress, and that they be phased out gradually according to a schedule or formula set years in advance. Programs in Georgia and China show the potential for policy to achieve success and specific pitfalls to avoid. With well-designed regulatory incentives and cost declines from advancing technology, quiet, zero-emission EVs can quickly become a common sight in cities worldwide.

Midwestern women join climate change contingent in Antarctica

Energy News Network | Posted on November 12, 2018

Chicago-area scientists hope to empower women in STEMM fields and promote their role in developing clean energy sources. “Chicago is the coldest place I’ve ever been,” said Jing Hu, who came from southern China to do her postdoctoral work in materials science at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago.So she is “excited and terrified” about spending three weeks in Antarctica, among almost 100 women in STEMM fields who were recently announced as fellows in the Homeward Bound program to raise awareness of climate change and promote the role of female scientists, engineers and other experts in addressing it.The program was started in 2015 by an Australian activist and an Antarctic marine scientist. The participants raise much of the funding for the trip themselves. Over the next 11 months they will collaborate and strategize on leadership development and science education before going to Antarctica in November 2019.They come from a wide range of disciplines, including agricultural science, molecular biology, epidemiology and geochemistry. The only other representative of the Midwest is Krissa Skogen, a conservation scientist and botanist at the Chicago Botanic Garden whose specialty is studying the effects of climate change on evening primroses in the Southwest.

Kaua‘i’s New Program for Renewable Energy

Hawaii Public Radio | Posted on November 8, 2018

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative is asking for proposals as part of its “Community Based Renewable Energy Programs” – and companies are responding. The program aims to expand access to renewable energy to those living in apartments, as well as small business owners and community groups. The idea is to make clean power available to those who have not had a chance to take advantage of it because of the type of building they live in, or where they are on the island.The energy providers need to produce a minimum of 250 kilowatt hours of energy to take part in the program.The utility cooperative will sign the contracts with the companies, and then individual customers can subscribe to the program — receiving credits on their electric bill for the amount of capacity they purchase. There are financial incentives for delivering electricity between 4 PM and 9 AM —when the sun is not at peak power.

Democrats to use House majority to push for ‘new green deal’ in 2020

Washington Examiner | Posted on November 8, 2018

After winning control of the House of Representatives Tuesday night, Democrats plan to counter the Trump administration on climate change policy, aiming to convince the American public of the seriousness of the problem ahead of the 2020 presidential election and the urgency of addressing it. “Climate change has to be one of our highest priorities,” Rep. Ro Khanna of California, the newest Democrat to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, told Josh. “We should be voting on a bold new green deal to tackle climate change as one of the first three things we do during our first 100 days.”

Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands

The New York Times | Posted on November 1, 2018

The administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights and rolling back regulations, raising environmental concerns in states like Wyoming.Reversing a trend in the final years of the Obama presidency, the Trump administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas developers, a central component of the White House’s plan to work hand in glove with the industry to promote more domestic energy production.Seeing growth and profit opportunities at a time of rising oil prices and a pro-business administration, big energy companies like Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, and Anschutz Exploration are seizing on the federal lands free-for-all, as they collectively buy up tens of thousands of acres of new leases and apply for thousands of permits to drill.In total, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels were offered for lease in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, triple the average offered during President Barack Obama’s second term, according to an analysis by The New York Times of Interior Department data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that advocates budget discipline.

National Scorecard Reports How States Stack Up on Shared Renewable Energy Programs

Citizen Tribune | Posted on November 1, 2018

A national scorecard released today by the independent Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) grades the nearly 20 state shared renewable energy programs (aka community solar). IREC’s National Shared Renewables Scorecard uses specific criteria to evaluate how each program stacks up against national best practices.“More states are adopting shared renewable energy programs so more consumers can benefit from clean, renewable energy – including lower income households, multi-family dwellers and underserved communities,” says IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “And they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of these programs.”

Single-axis wind turbine generates energy for apartment blocks

Spring Wise | Posted on November 1, 2018

Sustainability has taken a new turn with O-Wind, an omnidirectional, single-axis wind turbine catered to serve apartment buildings facing chaotic winds in urban environments. Patent pending, the O-Wind takes advantage of horizontal and vertical winds without requiring steering. It would enable apartment block residents to sustainably generate electricity. Due to its unique design, the turbine makes use of wind approaching from all directions in three dimensions. This is not the case for other wind turbines available at present. The simplistic design of a single axis requires less maintenance than traditional wind turbines. The size and shape of the turbine also means it can be placed in various locations compared to traditional turbines, which require more space. Created by Nicolas Orellana Olguin and Yaseen Noorani, the structure of the turbine is lined with vents that have large entrances and smaller exits for air. In the presence of wind, there is a pressure difference between the two terminals and this causes the turbine to move. The vents are placed all across the sphere, making it receptive to wind from all directions. This turbine rotation is used to power a generator that can produce electricity.

From poop to power: Missoula's waste now becomes electricity generator

The Missoulian | Posted on November 1, 2018

The $1.2 million biogas machine is basically an internal combustion engine that’s similar to a diesel but can burn both methane and natural gas. It’s not using natural gas just yet, but turns methane into electricity. That’s generating about $8,000 worth of electricity at the plant each month, which is about 25 percent of the plant’s monthly electric bill.“This was an idea that staff had made, and is one of the actions — if you go back to the city’s climate change and energy conservation plan — that was in the plan,” said Bryan von Lossberg, president of the Missoula City Council. “I think everyone who is familiar with NorthWestern Energy knows it’s not surprising they’re considering another rate increase. So that $8,000 per month, when electricity costs almost $100,000 a year, would be even higher.”They brought the biogas converter online in June.


GM proposes nationwide zero-emissions vehicle sales mandate

SF Gate | Posted on November 1, 2018

General Motors says it will ask the federal government for one national gas mileage standard, including a requirement that a percentage of auto companies' sales be zero-emissions vehicles.  Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president of product development, said the company will propose that a certain percentage of nationwide sales be made up of vehicles that run on electricity or hydrogen fuel cells."A national zero emissions program will drive the scale and infrastructure investments needed to allow the U.S. to lead the way to a zero emissions future," Reuss said.