Weekend reads: California's battery solution; Beaming solar power from space - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Regulation, Solar  -  December 7, 2019

Weekend reads: California's battery solution; Beaming solar power from space

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

California solves batteries’ embarrassing climate problem (Vox) In the popular imagination, energy-storage technologies like batteries are a key part of the effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and fight climate change. But storage has something of a dirty secret: Its net effect is often an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  Today I have a happier story to tell — about how California realized that its enthusiastic deployment of batteries was increasing emissions and figured out a way to solve the problem.

JMU program gets $1.84 million EPA grant to address air pollution (News Leader) A new million dollar grant partnership is working to address air pollution in the Shenandoah Valley and the Mid-Atlantic region. Virginia Clean Cities at James Madison University received a $1.84 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to work with UPS on replacing 69 diesel tractor-trailer trucks in the Mid-Atlantic region with trucks that use either cleaner domestically produced compressed natural gas or newer, cleaner diesel engines, according to a release.

Blaine House solar project a powerful symbol – and debatable economic investment (Portland Press Herald) Gov. Janet Mills’ much-touted Blaine House solar project is a powerful symbol of the state’s new climate-change leadership and pledge to become carbon neutral by 2045. But as an energy investment, its value to taxpayers is debatable. The $63,000 solar-electric installation wound up being so uneconomical as a business venture that only one vendor bid on the high-visibility but money-losing job, picking prestige over profit. 

Is FERC overstepping its authority and hurting renewables? States, power groups question PURPA plan (Utility Dive) States, competitive market groups and other stakeholders criticized a federal proposal to overhaul the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in comments filed Tuesday, questioning the potential impacts those changes could have to the country's renewable energy momentum.

How to Get Solar Power on a Rainy Day? Beam It From Space (Wired) Earlier this year, a small group of spectators gathered in David Taylor Model Basin, the Navy’s cavernous indoor wave pool in Maryland, to watch something they couldn’t see. At each end of the facility there was a 13-foot pole with a small cube perched on top. A powerful infrared laser beam shot out of one of the cubes, striking an array of photovoltaic cells inside the opposite cube. To the naked eye, however, it looked like a whole lot of nothing. The only evidence that anything was happening came from a small coffee maker nearby, which was churning out “laser lattes” using only the power generated by the system. The laser setup managed to transmit 400 watts of power—enough for several small household appliances—through hundreds of meters of air without moving any mass.  

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