The Hoover Dam Can Teach Us a Lot About Renewable Energy

Hoover Dam, originally Boulder Dam, is one of the largest sources of hydropower in the United States. Dedicated in 1935 by President Roosevelt, the dam is a wonder of modern engineering and provides a hefty part of the country with a dependable supply of water as well as clean power. With the world aiming for complete dependence on renewables, the Hoover Dam is more relevant than ever.

If you ever visit Hoover Dam you will be able to take a tour of the facility. This was the case for a recent group of Power-Gen employees who attended the dam. Unfortunately, whilst there, the elevators that take guests down into the tunnels of the dam were out of order. This meant they were not able to explore the facility to its fullest extent. Nevertheless, it was a positive experience and the visitors were shown a film and slideshow all about the dam, which acted as a substitute for the actual, physical tour.

The video informed its viewers of the dam’s technical specifications. Snippets of information as to how the power plant is operated and where the main turbines are located were dispersed and digested by an audience eager to learn. There are 17 Francis turbines in total. Eight of the turbines are on the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam and nine are on the Arizona side.

While the dam is technically located in both Arizona and Nevada, it is controlled by one main hub. Due to the fact that Arizona does not observe daylight savings, the dam works on Nevada time. These were just some of the tidbits of information imparted onto viewers at the Hoover Dam tour.

The challenge with running the Hoover Dam, as explained by a tour guide who works at the plant, is maintaining a balance between producing electricity and regulating water flow. Although the plant is a clean generator, which is fuelled by the abundant and free source that is water, it is not always the first plant to be dispatched. However, despite this, the dam generates something to the tune of 4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity every year.

If you are interested in the Hoover Dam and want to know more about the technical or historical aspects of it, head over to its website where you will find a wealth of information. Of course, if you really want to get to know the Hoover Dam then the best way to go about it is to visit it in person.

The Hoover Dam is an inspiring piece of machinery that was first conceived around 100 years ago and survived the Great Depression. Despite the market crash, the powers that were still pushed the project through and overcame the financial obstacles against which it came up against on numerous occasions.

Let the wonderful reign of the Hoover Dam continue for centuries to come as it provides clean energy and water to people across the United State.

Absorption of Carbon Costs Will Prolong Our Dependence on Coal

As we look towards the future and envisage a world that is entirely dependent on green energy, we need to look at how to reduce our usage of coal. Yet, while discussions generally revolve around coal mining and burning, there is little talk about the vital element that links the two: coal transportation. Transportation amounts to a significant cost of electricity and looks likely to be a cushion that will slow down the process of phasing out coal in the US energy system.

This is the conclusion that has been drawn by Louis Preonas, an Energy Institute PhD student. The paper, “Market Power in Coal Shipping and Implications for U.S. Climate Policy”, demonstrates how railroads make hefty profits from the transportation of coal. Indeed, in order to keep coal-shipping business, the railroads absorb some of the price increases carbon is facing. This is going to have a negative effect on a country trying to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Preonas estimates that the charges levied on generators, associated with their greenhouse gas emission aren’t actually affecting coal profitability as much as it is assumed. As coal prices go up, transportation costs seem to be falling, which evens out overall profits.

Not all railroads are absorbing these extra costs but the impact can be clearly seen at plants that are serviced by just one railroad. This counts for almost half of all coal-fired power plants in the US. Plants that sit near rivers and lakes that have multiple railroad access routes are less able to cushion the blow of the levies and to keep their customer’s plant running.

At the moment the cost of GHG emissions is quite low or non-existent across most of the country so it is difficult to assess the impact GHG pricing will have on coal-fired generation. Nevertheless, the actions of the railroads are an indicator of how transportation companies are likely to react if the carbon price becomes a factor to contend with.

Preonas notes in his work that this practice by the railroads of lowering their prices in order to keep certain plants in business means that greenhouse gas emissions have reduced 8% less than they would have had the railroads not been cushioning the blows of the increased prices. The fracking boom was expected to have a much more significant impact on the level of GHGs being emitted.

The effects of fracking are fascinating and are worth considering but what should really be at the forefront of policymakers’ minds is the effect it will have on the effects of carbon pricing on coal plants. Preonas indicates that some coal plants could have as much as a quarter of their carbon price absorbed, which means they would be operating with 25% less extra cost than other plants.

As of yet, the world does not have much experience with using market mechanisms to regulate environmental pollution. They certainly have much less effect at the moment than legislation designed to control pollution. It will be interesting to see how these market mechanisms develop in the future and to see how effective we can make them.

Alternative Jobs in Energy for Coal Workers

Working in America’s coal industry has always had a promising career trajectory. You don’t need an expensive college degree but you could still bring home a nice six-figure salary.

Unfortunately, as coal is being usurped by other, cleaner forms of energy, the hey-day of the miner seems to be on its way to extinction. With the USA’s dependence on coal reducing, miners are out of work, mines are being shut down and economic stagnation looks like an inevitable result.

So, where do these miners go now that coal is on the decline? It looks like the way forward is to retrain in another area of energy. And, that’s exactly what a certain American subsidiary of a Chinese wind turbine company is doing. The company is offering a training program to former miners to retrain them as technicians.

Other retraining courses in areas such as computer coding and beekeeping are helping American miners make the transition from coal worker to renewable energy expert.

After receiving their work termination notice, a number of miners attended a seminar in a local lecture room, explaining the importance of new energy sources. They were told that training would cost nothing but their time and that upon completion a whole host of doors would be opened to them. The certification they would receive would allow them to operate and maintain wind turbines on a wind farm.

Despite the plummet in jobs the coal industry has seen, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that wind-energy technician will be the fast growing job over the next few years. This is fantastic news for workers who feared they would have to resort to unfulfilling jobs just to make ends meet.

But, wind energy isn’t the only sector that these workers are turning to for opportunities. The solar industry is also booming as it employs thousands of new workers for safety, installation and operations roles.

Yet, this move from coal to renewable energy sources isn’t without some challenges for the workers who are being retrained. The salaries allegedly pale in comparison with what was once paid out for working on an oil rig. However, in an ever-changing economy, the most important thing is to be able to adapt and improvise.

What’s more, the wind and solar sectors look set to be stable in the future, which will provide the former miners with greater job security than they previously had. They don’t need to be constantly anticipating their next lay-off and they will be able to return home to their families in the evenings. Not everyone will see this as being worth the pay cut but it is certainly a silver lining for miners who have lost their livelihood.

China’s has Improved its Renewable Energy Efficiency

In the first nine months of this year, China has wasted notably less renewable energy than this period last year. This is a good sign that Beijing’s increasing attention to wind and solar power is paying off – and not a moment too soon!

Statistics show that wastage for wind power dropped 6.7% and solar power fell 3.8% in this period compared with last year.

Yet, despite this encouraging turn of events, China’s energy usage is far from perfect. It was reported that a significant amount of electricity didn’t manage to connect to the grid in certain areas of the country – particularly to the West. The province of Gansu was notably bad, losing around a quarter of its solar power and a third of its wind power.

However, the government is admirably carrying on with its efforts and has announced various targets indicating how much renewable power should be reaching the grid. This is in the hopes of combatting energy wastage, which is one of China’s biggest obstacles in their campaign towards a cleaner nation.

The National Energy Administration (NEA) stated that it aims to have the issue resolved by 2020.

A notable commentator about China’s energy situation has said “Renewable energy has become the main force of China’s new electricity.”

No More Fossil Fuels on the Streets Pledge by 12 Major Cities, Including London

London is just one of the 12 major cities around the world that have committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels in their streets to zero by 2030. Co-signatories on the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Declaration are Auckland, Barcelona, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan, Paris, Quito, Seattle and Vancouver. The mayors from each of these cities were responsible for signing the declaration.

One of the provisions of the commitment is that these cities will, from 2025, only purchase buses that are ‘zero-emission’. The mayors must also make sure that a large portion of their city is completely emission free by 2030. This is in line with one of the main policies written in the agreement, which states that there should be a focus on reducing air pollution.

The decrease in air pollution will have numerous benefits, such as significantly improving the quality of life for the people who live in big cities. It will also help cities in their drive to combat climate change.
It has been noted that around a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in these large and populous cities come from vehicles. Traffic has been identified as the leading cause of air pollution.

Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, has declared his commitment to achieve these goals and to battle against the disastrous state of London’s air quality. He hopes that by combatting the toxic emissions he can make London a zero carbon city.

This resolution by Khan comes in the wake of his introduction of the T-Charge. This fee is levied on older vehicles with high emissions ratings. The charge is £10 a day on top of the congestion charge that is already in place. The idea behind the charge is to encourage people to stop driving older, dirty vehicles and polluting the city with them.

But, Khan does not intend to stop there. He says this is just the first step and that in the next few years London will be implementing a number of other restrictions to keep the city as clean as possible. He says he will also be revamping the London bus fleet and making sure that no new double decker diesel buses are bought. Cycle lanes are also being built across the city in order to encourage transport by bike, particularly around schools.
The Mayor of London concluded by saying that he wants London to be known as the greenest city in the world. Indeed, he stated, “I’m putting walking, cycling and zero emission public transport right at the heart of Londoners’ day-to-day lives alongside energy efficient buildings, clean energy and increased recycling.”

E.ON partners set to develop technology for domestic smart systems

Nowadays, technology runs the world and it is important for companies to be able keep up with the demand for progress. E.ON has recognised and embraced this and it shows in their recent investment in the development of new domestic smart systems.

The energy giant has invested heavily in a provider of Internet of Things technology in a bid to advance the idea of household energy systems that run from a decentralised platform.

The Internet of Things is an intriguing concept. It essentially consists of allowing everything with a basic on off switch function to be connected via wireless Internet. This means that you will have a far more automated set of belongings, which will be invaluable to an easier daily routine. When your alarm goes off it could send a signal to your coffee maker to switch on. If your printer was low on ink it could automatically order cartridges online and have them sent to your front door. The possibilities are virtually endless.

E.ON has partnered with Cuculus, a German company that works with smart technology. Between them they plan to create everything that an intelligent house will need by way of equipment. The idea is to have as many different systems connected to each other as possible. This will, in turn, create the ultimate house of the future.

Not only does an automated house mean that your life will become notably easier but it can also make the house in question run as efficiently as possible with regards to energy usage. If charging points are all automated, the house will know exactly how much energy is needed at any given moment to put through them.

Currently Cuculus uses and smart system called ZONOS. Yet, their partnership with E.ON has given them the resources to improve this system. While already secure and flexible, the partners are sure it can be expanded and adjusted for the better.

E.ON partners set to develop technology for domestic smart systems

Nowadays, technology runs the world and it is important for companies to be able keep up with the demand for progress. E.ON has recognised and embraced this and it shows in their recent investment in the development of new domestic smart systems.

The energy giant has invested heavily in a provider of Internet of Things technology in a bid to advance the idea of household energy systems that run from a decentralised platform.

The Internet of Things is an intriguing concept. It essentially consists of allowing everything with a basic on off switch function to be connected via wireless Internet. This means that you will have a far more automated set of belongings, which will be invaluable to an easier daily routine. When your alarm goes off it could send a signal to your coffee maker to switch on. If your printer was low on ink it could automatically order cartridges online and have them sent to your front door. The possibilities are virtually endless.

E.ON has partnered with Cuculus, a German company that works with smart technology. Between them they plan to create everything that an intelligent house will need by way of equipment. The idea is to have as many different systems connected to each other as possible. This will, in turn, create the ultimate house of the future.

Not only does an automated house mean that your life will become notably easier but it can also make the house in question run as efficiently as possible with regards to energy usage. If charging points are all automated, the house will know exactly how much energy is needed at any given moment to put through them.

Currently Cuculus uses and smart system called ZONOS. Yet, their partnership with E.ON has given them the resources to improve this system. While already secure and flexible, the partners are sure it can be expanded and adjusted for the better.

Cost of Battery Storage Anticipated to Drop

According to a recent report by the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Association), by the year 2030, we could see the cost of battery storage drop by up to 66%.

This report primarily examined the idea of static storage for batteries. However, there was also some thought given to the prospective rise in battery tech that is expected to occur alongside the increased development of electric vehicles.

The predicted price fall is likely to create a new wave of economic and commercial opportunities. This will be a consequence of the price drop triggering a huge increase in installed battery storage – a 17 fold growth to be more precise.

The Electricity Storage and Renewables: Costs and Markets to 2030 report, published by IRENA, noted that the global capacity for battery storage could treble if nations chose to double the share of renewables in their energy spheres.

Microsoft set to purchase all the wind power generated in GE’s Irish site

Last Monday, Microsoft and GE (General Electric) announced that they have just signed off on a power purchase agreement that binds them together for the next 15 years. The energy in question will come from GE’s Irish site in County Kerry.

This deal means that the brand new 37 megawatt (MW) Tullahennel wind farm will exclusively sell its wind power to Microsoft. And, this will be the case for the next 15 years.

Addressing the new deal, the chief commercial officer of GE Renewable Energy, Andres Isaza, said that by creating this new partnership with Microsoft, GE will be able to expand its presence in Ireland. Currently, the company employs around 1,500 individuals in Ireland with sights to increasing this in the near future. He added that there was a notable emphasis on the renewable energy sector among those employees.

Isaza continued his statement by saying that wind is now “one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today.” And, GE plans to capitalise on this. The company has said that each of the wind turbines on the new site will be equipped with a battery that has been integrated into the machine. This battery will be able to generate data that will give technicians details regarding energy storage.

The hope for the batteries is that technicians will be able to use the information to “capture and store” any excess energy. They will then be able to send this energy back to the grid as and when it is needed.

This news has been received in the wake of a statement from Parkwind that it sees no problems with becoming a strategic partner in the Oriel Wind Farm. This wind farm would be located in the northwest section of the Irish sea. Parkwind is a Belgian company that specialises in offshore wind farm development.

The project in question is set to include 55 wind turbines and will be built around 22km from the coast of Dundalk, Ireland. Oriel Wind Farm Ltd expect the output of this project to be enough to provide green energy to approximately 250,000 homes in Ireland.

Energy Stocks about to Improve

Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors has predicted that energy stocks, which have up until now been the worst-performing in the market, have bottomed out. This means that they are in a position where they can fall no further and have a real chance of improving.

Currently, energy stocks are known as a ‘style orphan’ – that is to say that they aren’t cheap enough for value investors but don’t perform well enough for growth investors. In other words, they don’t make a very desirable stock option. It could well be for this reason that the S&P 500 energy market is down over 9% this year while the S&P 500 overall is up around 12%.

It has been suggested by a futures curve that oil supplies are tightening up after years of oversupply. This could well signify that oil price recovery is intact, which Lee notes: “Almost always drives a rally in Energy equities”. And, although the market is heading towards a time when the norm is to see the prices of crude oil drop, Lee is still backing his prediction of an energy rebound.

Fundstrat, in keeping with its belief on energy stock, examined 27 value stock names to see which ones looked like they would be characterised by rising share prices or have a bullish future. The list of stocks that did well under its quantitative and technical analyses includes Pioneer Natural Resources, Concho Resources, EOG Resources and ConocoPhillips.

This is certainly an area to keep an eye on if you are interested in the future of energy stock markets.