Weekend Reads: The Energy Permitting Conundrum; Satellites Track Methane - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Regulation, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  March 2, 2024

Weekend Reads: The Energy Permitting Conundrum; Satellites Track Methane

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

This is what happens when a wind farm comes to a coal town (NPR)  There is a popular perception in West Virginia that renewable energy has been killing the coal industry. However, that narrative is incomplete. Jobs in coal had been in decline decades before the wind turbines came to Keyser in 2012. Still, the turbines are a clear — and for some, bitter — sign that times have changed.

Oceanography professors transform a research tool into a startup that’s sucking CO2 from seawater (Geekwire)  A decade ago, University of Washington oceanographers Julian Sachs and Alex Gagnon were working in a tropical paradise, studying the impacts of climate change on coral reefs surrounding remote islands in French Polynesia. They were focused on ocean acidification, which is happening as seawater soaks up much of the excess carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels. The scientists were researching the effect of ocean conditions predicted for the end of the century. They devised a system for pulling carbon dioxide out of seawater from deep in the ocean and using it to create more acidic conditions at their experimental site. The technology worked nicely. But what if instead of simulating a dire future for coral reefs, thought Sachs and Gagnon, they removed even larger amounts of the ocean’s carbon dioxide and disposed of it?

How satellites, algorithms and AI can help map and trace methane sources (Google blog)  Environmental Defense Fund’s satellite, MethaneSAT, will soon orbit the Earth to collect satellite data. This data, combined with Google’s AI and infrastructure mapping, will create a better understanding for how to mitigate methane emissions.

Congressional action on energy permitting remains stuck, but states, developers are finding solutions (Utility Dive)  Despite at least 10 permitting reform bills before Congress, two major federal regulatory initiatives and a bipartisan House caucus call for action on permitting reform, progress remains delayed. Transmission queue backlogs, system operator capacity shortfalls and increasing outages from billion dollar extreme weather events make the need for streamlined infrastructure approvals irrefutable, analysts, developers and policymakers agree.

Understanding the weather behind a down year for wind energy (Inside Climate News)  When talking about the growth of renewable energy, I often say it’s not notable when wind, solar or other technologies reach a record high, because they should be doing that every year. Then 2023 came along. For the first time in more than a decade, the United States had a decrease in utility-scale electricity generation from renewable sources, according to the Energy Information Administration. The decrease was small—0.8 percent—but it’s still significant considering substantial growth is considered “normal.” I set out this week to understand what factors led to this surprising setback.

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