The WSJ looked at census and natural gas well data from more than 700 counties in 11 major natural-gas producing states, and found that at least 15.3 million Americans have a natural gas well within one mile of their home that has been drilled since 2000. That's more than the population of Michigan or New York. [Climate Progress]
November 17, 2013
Developers in Boston will soon be required to address how they'll deal with threats of climate change before they construct large buildings, if a new proposal is passed in the city.
The proposal, which is part of the city's new Climate Ready Boston report and will be presented before the Boston Redevelopment Authority board next month, would require developers in Boston to complete a climate-proofing checklist which would include documenting how the building would survive in the event of a flood or power outage and how it would conserve energy. The rules would apply only to new buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, a stipulation George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said needs to ultimately be done away with.
|One of NYC's hybrid garbage trucks|
The administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, which has made cleaner air a priority, has taken steps to modernize the city's fleet of diesel-powered vehicles — including about 2,000 trucks used for picking up residential waste and recyclables — with newer, less-polluting models. Under a law the mayor signed in September, by 2017 at least 90 percent of these vehicles must meet the tougher emission control standards for diesel trucks that the federal Environmental Protection Agency set in 2007.
But those trucks are not the only ones on the streets. Now the administration wants to impose similar requirements on private haulers who dispose of the city's commercial garbage and recyclables, as well as construction and demolition debris.
A new proposal would require about 8,300 private collection trucks to meet the same federal emissions standards by 2020, three years after the deadline for the municipal fleet.
Here is one more reason to eat organic food. That is if you want to keep eating - we may not have a choice. Pesticides and fungicides are killing the bees.
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch's brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
November 16, 2013
The United States is undergoing the greatest revolution in energy production in decades due to the shale-gas boom and the rise of renewable energy.
Renewable energy's share of energy production is rising rapidly. Solar, in particular, has benefited from a sharp drop in the price of photovoltaic modules as a result of a massive expansion of manufacturing capacity in recent years.
Power plants are multibillion-dollar investments and are designed to operate for decades. Thus all those natural gas-fired power plants and solar and wind farms coming online now will be fueling the economy for a good chunk of the 21st century.
The chart below shows when the capacity that we use to power the grid came online. A lot of the dirty coal plants are more than thirty years old.
Challenged by the surge in distributed renewables and a strong decline in revenues, one of Europe's largest largest utilities, RWE, is reportedly planning to completely transform itself from a traditional electricity provider into a renewable energy service provider.
“We will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator, and system integrator of renewables.”
The utility's new philosophy: either adapt -- or wither away and die.
"The massive erosion of wholesale prices caused by the growth of German photovoltaics constitutes a serious problem for RWE which may even threaten the company's survival," wrote the utility in a recent strategy paper.
According to the documents, RWE wants to move away from simply being a developer and owner of centralized power plants and instead help use its expertise to help manage and integrate renewables into the grid.
"The guiding principle is 'from volume to value' with technologies ranging from large-scale offshore wind and hydro to onshore wind or photovoltaic. But we will no longer pursue volume or percentage targets in renewables. We will rather leverage our skill set by taking a 'capital-light' approach. Based on funds sourced largely from third parties, we will position ourselves as a project enabler and operator, and [as a] system integrator of renewables," read the documents published by Energy Post.
Instead of simply transmitting electricity and selling kilowatt-hours, RWE wants to think of itself as a conduit for renewable energy projects -- helping manage risk without making dramatic new capital investments.
Citing a "prosumer" business strategy, the documents read as if they were written by a consumer electronics company, not a legacy utility.
The strategy documents were initially outlined by the European energy website Energy Post. The site reported that the strategy was agreed upon by RWE's board last month and will be evaluated within the entire company at the end of October.
This is not a small, progressive-minded municipal utility calling for a shift to renewables. RWE provides electricity and gas for 24 million customers throughout Europe and is one of the biggest emitters of carbon in the region. The company operates a portfolio worth 50,000 megawatts of capacity that includes large coal, natural gas and oil-fired power stations.
RWE has been forced into a tough spot by the surge in distributed generation, particularly in Germany, where more than half of renewables are owned by customers. Major utilities like RWE directly own only a small portion of renewables in the country.
This surge in renewables has lowered wholesale prices and has even periodically caused prices to go negative during peak hours, forcing utilities to ramp down production from fossil-fuel plants and lose revenue. The situation has been exacerbated by the over-build of centralized fossil fuel plants in the last decade. Utilities expected Europe's electricity demand to grow. Instead, it has declined in the post-recession era.
Facebook announced that its newest data center in Altoona, Iowa will be 100 percent powered by wind power when it goes online in 2015.
The electricity for the new data center will come from a nearby wind project in Wellsburg, Iowa, according to a blog post from Facebook.
"When Facebook announced that they were going to Iowa, the utility company in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, announced that they were shelving plans to build a new nuclear facility and then filed plans to build a wind plant instead," said Greenpeace IT analyst Gary Cook.
"The project will add up to 138 MW of new renewable wind capacity to the grid in Iowa – more than what our data center is likely to require for the foreseeable future," the Facebook blog says.