Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Power Prices, Regulation, Utilities, Regulation  -  October 21, 2017

Weekend reads: Deep sea wind power; a utility's dominance in Virginia; Trump's coal riddle & more

Every Saturday, we'll bring you five of the most interesting — or quirky; it is the weekend after all — energy stories from around the web that you may have missed this week. This weekend's reads:

The entire world could be powered by a deep-sea wind farm, scientists find (The Independent): The entire world could be powered by one deep-sea wind farm stretching across the North Atlantic. Building a renewable energy project the size of India across the ocean would allow the entire world to get access to sustainable energy and fulfil its needs, according to a major new study. There are likely to be very significant hurdles to building such a major project, especially one that would require international cooperation and incredible levels of investment. But it would also allow people to get access to vast amounts of energy: at least more efficiently than onshore wind power.

Modeling Trump's coal conundrum (Axios): An analysis by an energy-focused consultancy circulated Tuesday concludes that President Trump's sweeping push to bolster fossil fuels across the board by cutting regulations and production constraints means natural gas will likely keep and even expand its advantage over coal in electricity markets. The Brattle Group's analysis, which was presented to the Energy Bar Association Tuesday, highlights a major tension running through Trump's pro-fossil fuel initiatives: Helping coal is tougher when you're supporting natural gas too.

After epic corporate feud, energy giant Dominion emerges to dominate regulators, legislators (Richmond Times-Dispatch): Dominion Energy is already known as the largest corporate contributor in Virginia politics. But outside of the company's giving, individual executives and employees bundle donations to state lawmakers from their own pockets in an artful display of power. In addition to big donations to state lawmakers from the corporation's political action committee, executives like Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II and Senior Vice President-Regulatory Affairs Thomas P. Wohlfarth complement that with political giving of their own - sometimes on the same day.

After Hurricane Power Outages, Looking To Alaska's Microgrids For A Better Way (NPR): This archipelago in the Gulf of Alaska is home to one of the busiest commercial fishing ports in the country. Inside the Ocean Beauty seafood plant in Kodiak, where a maze of conveyer belts carry gutted salmon past workers in hairnets and gloves, manager James Turner ticks off everything that contributes to his monthly electricity bill: canning machines, pressure cookers, freezers lights. "We use a lot of power here," he says.

A new sulfur-based battery takes on the problem of energy storage 'at the terawatt scale' (Quartz): Renewable energy sources are only as reliable as the natural world that fuels them. A cloud passing overhead cuts off solar power; the wind stops blowing and windmills stop working. In order for us to depend on undependable power sources, we need a grid-sized backup to acts of God. In 2012, president Barack Obama's energy secretary Stephen Chu issued a "5-5-5" challenge to those in the energy storage field, bring us a 5% reduction of cost, a five times increase in capacity, and do it in five years or less. Yet-Ming Chiang, MIT's department of material science and engineering and founder of multiple battery-research startups, was a co-author on a study published earlier this week in the journal, Joule, that described a battery conceived and designed with a wary eye on that first five in Chu's challenge.

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