Energy in the News

Each week, C2ES provides a roundup of top energy news. Each headline below links to the full story at the original news outlet, which is solely responsible for its content.  Additional links to relevant C2ES resources are also provided.

Week of April 7, 2014

  • U.S. crude oil reserves highest in nearly 40 years (Energy Information Administration)
    For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. crude oil reserves increased. At 33 billion barrels, U.S. crude oil and leased condensate reserves were at their highest levels since 1976.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Statoil sets target for reducing its oil sands production emissions (Bloomberg)
    Statoil plans to reduce its per barrel carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020 (and 40 percent by 2025) using innovative technology in its in situ oil sands development.
    More from C2ES on oil sands
  • Coal’s share of electricity generation increased (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, coal-fired electricity generation increased nearly 5 percent from 2012 levels, while natural gas-fired generation fell a little more than 9 percent. The U.S. 2013 electricity mix was: coal (39.1 percent), natural gas (27.4 percent), nuclear (19.4 percent), hydro (6.6 percent), wind (4.1 percent), other renewables (2.1 percent), and oil (0.7 percent).
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Revised earthquake estimates require costly analyses for nuclear reactors (New York Times)
    Following a reanalysis of the earthquake risk in the central eastern United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors will be required to undertake extensive analyses of plant structures and components to show that their reactors could tolerate the effects of the most severe earthquakes that they might face.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Germany reforming renewable energy laws (Reuters)
    The German government is reforming renewable energy laws in order to slow cost increases as the country moves to double its renewable energy share to 40 to 45 percent by 2025 (and 55 to 60 percent by 2035). Germany currently has some of the highest household power prices in Europe.

Week of March 31, 2014

  • Total U.S. net energy imports in 2013 lowest since 1980s (Energy Information Administration)
    Net energy imports declined 19 percent from 2012 to 2013, as increases in domestic production of oil and natural gas displaced imports and supported modest increases in petroleum product exports.
  • Canadian crude imports exceed 3 million barrels per day (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, Canada, the largest crude exporter to the United States, sent an average of 3.1 million barrels per day (b/d) across the border – a 6 percent increase above 2012 levels. This was more than the second (Saudi Arabia - 1.3 million b/d) and third (Mexico - 0.9 million b/d) countries combined. The United States consumed an average of 18.3 million b/d of petroleum products in 2013.
  • Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise (Energy Information Administration)
    In 2013, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.3 percent from 2012 levels to 5,390 million metric tons. Sector-wide, emissions from coal (+3.9 percent), natural gas (+2.1 percent) and petroleum (+1.3 percent) increased. While natural gas use in the electric power sector decreased, its consumption increased in the industrial, residential and commercial sectors.
    More from C2ES on energy
  • Natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems declining (Fierce Energy)
    A study (to be published this summer) by the American Gas Association, the Environmental Defense Fund and Washington State University found that natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have fallen by 16 percent since 1990, even as the industry increased the size of the pipeline network by 30 percent.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • DOE approves new standards for commercial equipment (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy (DOE) finalized open-air refrigerator and walk-in freezer standards that will reduce energy consumption and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 142 million metric tons from 2017 – 2046, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 27 million cars.
    More from C2ES on appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards
  • Sixth Chinese carbon market launches (Bloomberg)
    Last week, the central Chinese province of Hubei joined Guangdong, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Shenzhen to become the country’s sixth regional carbon market; Chongqing will be the last market to launch. The pilot carbon exchanges are a precursor to a national trading system that could start as early as 2016.
    More from C2ES on policies in key countries
  • Global clean energy investment declined for the second year in a row (Pew)
    A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts founds that global clean energy investment fell 11 percent last year to $254 billion. Investment in the region of Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell to $55 billion in 2013, less than half of 2011 levels.

Week of March 24, 2014

  • Coal-fired power plant operators consider regulation compliance options (Energy Information Administration)
    As at the end of 2012, 69 percent of U.S. coal plant operators were in compliance with the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS), which goes into effect in April 2015. 16 percent of the fleet was undecided on whether it would retrofit or retire. Coal-fired generation was responsible for 39 percent of U.S. electricity in 2013.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • DOE gives nod to eighth LNG export facility (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy (DOE) conditionally approved (subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval) the Jordan Cove Energy Project to export up to 0.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/day) of domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its facility in Coos Bay, Oregon.
  • Canadian government issues 4 LNG export licenses (Energywire - Subscription)
    The Canadian government issued LNG export licenses for terminals in British Columbia to Woodfibre LNG, Pacific NorthWest LNG, WCC LNG and Prince Rupert LNG for up to 73.7 million metric tons per year or around 9.8 Bcf/day.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • U.S. producing 10 percent of global crude (Energy Information Administration)
    Increases from the Bakken and Eagle Ford basins helped push U.S. production to more than 10 percent of the world total in the last quarter of 2013.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • New Hampshire support for Northern Pass power line rising (Energywire - Subscription)
    A high-voltage electric power line that would bring additional Canadian hydropower into the New England power market has reached a high point of support, according to pollsters at the University of New Hampshire.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • United Kingdom’s GHG emissions decline 2 percent (The Guardian)
    Lower coal and gas consumption combined with increased wind power generation, led to a 2 percent fall in 2013 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United Kingdom from 2012 levels. Emissions have fallen back to 2009 levels.
    More from C2ES on international emissions
  • German utility seeks approval to close reactor early (Wall Street Journal)
    E.ON SE, Germany’s largest utility, is requesting permission to shut down its 1.3 GW Grafenrheinfeld reactor as soon as May 2015, around seven months early, because the plant is marginally profitable.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of March 17, 2014

  • NRDC updates its proposal for reducing emissions from existing power plants (NRDC)
    NRDC has released an update to its December 2012 proposal for reducing emissions from existing power plants. Its new analysis finds that that 470 to 700 million tons of carbon pollution can be eliminated per year in 2020 compared to 2012 levels.
    More from C2ES on carbon pollution standards for existing power plants
  • FERC commissioner says nuclear critical to lower U.S. emissions (Greenwire - Subscription)
    In a public meeting last Thurday, FERC Commissioner John Norris expressed concern over the retirement of baseload nuclear power plants. He said that nuclear is critical to lowering emissions in the coming decades and "if we don't do something…we are letting some pretty big bridges be torn down."
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Fitch report highlights market challenges for merchant generators (Reuters)
    Fitch expects, "a continuation of relatively low (wholesale) power and (natural) gas prices, as well as rising costs related to environmental regulations and modest prospective sales growth due to competitive pressures from both energy-use efficiency and renewable generation" to create challenges for merchant generators. Merchant generators, or independent power producers, sell their power into competitive wholesale markets at the prevailing market price.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Power market rule changes could keep nuclear plant online (Boston Business Journal)
    Independent system operator (ISO) New England is considering power market rule changes that would reward baseload generators for their round-the-clock power. If implemented, these changes could help the 688 MW Pilgrim nuclear power plant (marginally profitable) in Massachusetts remain online.
  • China's demand for solar panels increasing (Bloomberg)
    Rising domestic demand for solar panels is helping Chinese manufacturers return to profitability. China became the largest solar market in 2013, surpassing Germany, and could install more than 14 GW in 2014.
    More from C2ES on solar power

Week of March 10, 2014

  • California PUC approves natural gas as nuclear replacement (E&E News - Subscription)
    In a unanimous ruling, the California Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved the use of up to 800 MW of new natural gas-fired power plants to replace lost power from the retired San Onofre nuclear power plant. Environmental groups had pushed for replacement from only "preferred sources" – energy efficiency, renewable power, battery storage and conservation. However, the commission responded that the natural gas plants were necessary to guarantee electric system reliability. "The simple reality is that no one in the world has managed to run a complex electric grid like the one we have in Southern California" without having fossil energy for contingencies, Commissioner Mike Florio said.
  • Report: LNG exports benefit the US (NERA)
    In an update of its 2012 report to the Department of Energy, NERA finds that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) provide net economic benefits in all scenarios and that the market for LNG is self-limiting, i.e., if domestic prices rise above current expectations then exports will be curtailed.
  • Poland proposes tax breaks for shale gas (Wall Street Journal)
    In an effort to spur development of what may be the largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves in Europe (according to the EIA), Poland is proposing tax breaks and regulatory reform for exploration.
    More from C2ES on natural gas.
  • Canadian regulators approve pipeline reversal (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    In a move that could help move oil sands crude to global markets, Canadian regulators have backed the reversal and expansion of Enbridge's Line 9 oil pipeline.
  • Iraqi oil production surging (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    Exports from the southern Iraq port of Basra have reached around 2.5 million barrels per day, a level not seen since 1979. With the pace of economic growth slowing in China and India and global oil production increasing, some analysts believe a significant price drop in 2014 is likely.
    More from C2ES on oil

Week of March 3, 2014

  • Exelon working to keep Illinois nuclear units from shuttering  (Crain’s Chicago Business)
    Exelon is working with state officials to find ways of keeping three of its six unprofitable or struggling Illinois nuclear units from closing.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • Methane emissions could be cut at low cost (Climatewire - Subscription)
    A new report from ICF (commissioned by EDF) finds that 40 percent of methane emissions could be eliminated using existing technologies and at a fairly low cost; methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are projected to rise 4.5 percent from 2011 to 2018.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • U.S. coal production expected to rise (Cimatewire - Subscription)
    According to a report from ICF, a steady decline in U.S. coal production driven by lower natural gas prices and EPA regulations is predicted to level off, while growing global demand for coal is forecast to send even more U.S. coal abroad. Export capacity could triple in the coming years if planned terminals along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Northwest are built. Though, coal export terminals in the Northwest face strong challenges from environmental groups and local communities.
    More from C2ES on coal
  • U.S. refineries expanding capacity (New York Times)
    Increased U.S. oil production is leading oil refiners to expand refining capacity at existing facilities.
    More from C2ES on oil
  • Solar association issues year-in-review report (Solar Energy Industries Association)
    The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that 29 percent of new electric generating capacity in 2013 was solar, second only to natural gas at 46 percent.
    More from C2ES on solar power
  • China’s wind power capacity increasing (Bloomberg)
    According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China is expected to add 14.7 GW of wind power in 2014. At the end of 2013, there was more than 12 GW of wind power under construction in the United States.
    More from C2ES on wind power
  • China renews interest in nuclear power (Climatewire - Subscription)
    China is signaling that it is interested in expanding nuclear power into inland locations in its next five-year plan (2016 - 2020). According to the World Nuclear Association, China currently has 20 operational reactors and 28 under construction.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of February 24, 2014

  • EPA releases draft GHG inventory (EPA)
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft version of the 2014 U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory report. It showed that 2012 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are 6,501.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent, which is the lowest they have been since 1994. This is 3.3 percent below 2011 and 10.3 percent below 2005 levels.
  • CATF offers proposal for existing power plants (Reuters)
    The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) issued a plan aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 111(d). The CATF proposal could inform emissions standards for existing power plants from the EPA, which is legally required to regulate greenhouse gases under the CAA and has been directed by President Obama to issue a proposed rule by June 1, 2014 (with a final rule due in June 2015).
    More from C2ES on existing power plant regulations
  • KXL decision could come in months (Los Angeles Times)
    Republican Governors Mary Fallin (Oklahoma), Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and others told reporters that President Obama promised them that he would weigh in with a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within the next few months. The promise came during a private meeting with governors on Monday.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Japanese draft energy plan calls for nuclear restart (New York Times)
    A draft energy plan by the government of Prime Minister Abe refers to nuclear power as an important “baseload” electricity source that should be part of Japan’s energy mix, although no specific target for future use of nuclear power was set.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power
  • 5. What keeps utility execs up at night? (Utility Dive)
    A survey of 500 plus (mostly investor-owned) utility executives found that their greatest pressing challenge was ageing infrastructure; the current regulatory model, an ageing workforce, distributed generation and flat demand growth, rounded out the top 5 list.
    More from C2ES on electricity

Week of February 17, 2014

  • Utilities pursuing ‘back-to-basics’ strategy (Utility Dive)
    Utilities like FirstEnergy, Duke, Dominion Power, and Ameren are increasingly pulling out of unregulated operations, where a combination of factors, including low natural gas prices and weak demand for electricity (driven by a soft economy, energy efficiency mandates, and demand response initiatives) have driven down wholesale prices and reduced margins.
  • MISO survey forecasts decrease in electricity demand (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    The most recent Organization of MISO States (OMS) survey indicates a -0.75 percent annual growth rate (2014 – 2016) of electricity demand in its north and central regions. If the forecast holds, it would reduce a potential generation shortfall from 8.5 to 2 GW below the system’s 2016 reliability margin requirement. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) administers a wholesale electricity market covering 15 states (from Minnesota to Louisiana) and one Canadian province.
  • Nebraska ruling could delay KXL (Reuters)
    A Nebraska court invalidated a law passed in 2011, allowing Gov. Dave Heineman to approve the route for the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. The judge said that the Nebraska Public Service Commission is the proper state agency to decide pipeline matters. The governor has filed an appeal. An anonymous State Department source said Friday that the agency is continuing to review the application at this time and monitoring events in Nebraska.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • Natural gas prices hit 5-year high (CNBC)
    Low storage levels and a forecast of continued cold weather into March sent NYMEX March natural gas futures above $6/MMBtu.

Week of February 11, 2014

  • DOE approves 6th LNG application (Green Wire - Subscription)
    Cameron LNG has received conditional (pending environmental and regulatory review) approval from the Department of Energy to export up to 1.7 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Louisiana facility. Other facilities recently approved for export include: Lake Charles Exports (2 Bcf), Sabine Pass (2.2 Bcf), Freeport (2 applications, 1.8 Bcf), and Cove Point (0.77 Bcf); the maximum total of future U.S. LNG exports now stands at 8.47 Bcf/day or just over 3 Tcf/year. In 2012, the United States consumed 25.5 Tcf of natural gas.
  • EPA may underestimate methane emissions (Climate Wire - Subscription)
    A new synthesis report by researchers from Stanford, MIT, University of Michigan and others, indicates that methane emissions are 1.25 to 1.75 times higher than reported by the EPA. Notably, the researchers conclude that emissions from fracking are not the main culprit, and overall emissions are likely driven by a few “super-emitters” in the oil and gas sector. In spite of the higher emissions, the research found that switching from coal to natural gas in the power sector offers robust climate benefits, while substitution of diesel or gasoline with natural gas in the transport sector may not.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • First US offshore wind project in sight (Climate Wire - Subscription)
    A 30 MW offshore wind project (using five 6 MW Alstom turbines) could be generating power as early as 2016. The project will be located about 17 miles south of Rhode Island, near Block Island.
  • Germany switching from gas to coal (Wall Street Journal)
    By 2015, 10 GW of natural gas-fired power plants are expected to be taken down in Germany and replaced by 7 GW of coal. In 2011, 75 GW of installed fossil generation delivered 60 percent of Germany’s electricity.
  • Oregon issues permits for coal export terminal (Portland Business Journal)
    The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued three permits for the Morrow Pacific coal project, which proposes to export “low-sulfur coal from the U.S. Intermountain region to trade allies such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.” Additional state permits and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers are required before the project can be developed.
  • EIA projects more coal power plant retirements (Energy Information Administration)
    In its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 Reference Case, the EIA expects an additional 16 GW or so of coal plant retirements above what operators have already stated (40 GW) by 2016.
    More from C2ES on coal

Week of February 3, 2014

  • Some Exelon reactors unprofitable (Seeking Alpha)
    On a conference call, Exelon CEO Chris Crane informed analysts and investors that some of its ten nuclear power plants were not profitable, and it will consider shutting down units (by the end of the year) if it does not “see a path to sustainable profits.”
  • Nuclear operators express concerns (Green Wire - Subscription)
    At an energy conference last week, nuclear operators Exelon and Entergy expressed their concern about the viability of older, single reactors throughout the Northeast, which face challenges from cheap natural gas, high operating costs, new regulatory expenses following the Fukushima disaster, and competition from other subsidized generation like wind and solar.
    More from C2ES on nuclear energy
  • Two Bakken pipelines won’t move ahead (Inforum)
    Two proposed pipeline projects will not move ahead due to lack of interest, driven in part by the availability of flexible crude-by-rail shipping, and uncertainty around Keystone XL development among other things.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • UK GHG emissions rise (Reuters)
    According to government data for 2012, greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom rose by 3.2 percent. In 2012, coal overtook natural gas as the nation’s largest source for electricity generation. Additionally, a colder than average winter contributed to the emissions rise.
    More from C2ES on international emissions
  • Japan’s LNG imports hit a record (Reuters)
    Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports hit a record high in 2013. The shutdown of the country’s nuclear power plants following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 has forced the country to increase its reliance on fossil fuels for electric power generation.
    More from C2ES on key country policies
  • Poland announces nuclear plans (Economist)
    Poland, which currently gets more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, announced plans to build its first nuclear reactor – expected to be up and running by 2024.
    More from C2ES on international emissions

Week of January 27, 2013

  • State Department issues final environmental impact statement on KXL (State Department)
    The State Department released a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday. “The range of incremental greenhouse gas emissions for crude oil that would be transported by the proposed Project [was] estimated to be 1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually.” This represents 0.02 to 0.4 percent of  total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (2011). The EIS release initiates a 30-day "national interest determination" comment period (February 5 to March 7) during which State seeks feedback from the public, interested parties and other federal agencies.
    More from C2ES on Keystone XL
  • FERC issues energy infrastructure update (FERC Report) According to FERC’s energy infrastructure update 14.2 GW of new electric capacity was added in 2013, down from 29.7 GW in 2012. Natural gas-fired generation made up 51 percent of the additions, followed by solar (21 percent), coal (11 percent), wind (8 percent), biomass (5 percent) and hydro (3 percent). Notably, new wind installations were down by more than 90 percent in 2013; however, there are currently more than 12 GW under construction – a record high.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • Proposal aims to reduce Bakken flaring (Energy Wire - Subscription)
    The North Dakota Petroleum Council has put forth a proposal to reduce the amount of wasted natural gas from the Bakken formation. Data from November 2013 indicated that 29 percent of natural gas produced statewide is flared. Through various measures, the proposal aims to capture 90 – 95 percent of the gas in pipelines by 2020.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Republicans push natural gas pipeline bill (Green Wire - Subscription)
    Seizing upon President Obama’s State of the Union support for natural gas, House Republicans suggested in a letter to the President that this might be an area where there is “potential for agreement” between the Administration and Congress. Last year, House Republicans passed a bill designed to cut red tape for natural gas pipeline permitting.
    More from C2ES on State of the Union
  • New York State fracking moratorium to continue (Bloomberg)
    New York’s environmental commissioner announced last week that a moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing will continue until at least April 2015.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • Crude oil price spread narrows (Bloomberg)
    The crude oil price spread between West Texas Intermediate (U.S. benchmark) and Brent (global benchmark) fell below $10 per barrel last week. The opening of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which is currently transporting around 288,000 barrels per day to the Gulf Coast, is easing a supply glut in Cushing, Oklahoma. TransCanada, the pipeline operator, plans to increase flows this year toward its 700,000 barrel per day maximum.
  • South Korea approves new reactors (Bloomberg)
    South Korea has approved construction of two 1,400 MW nuclear reactors, its first since the Fukushima disaster. It currently has 23 reactors with plans to build another 11. South Korea gets around one-third of its power from nuclear energy, and is aiming to increase this to 50 percent.
    More from C2ES on nuclear power

Week of January 20, 2013

  • Natural gas prices soar again (Market Watch)
    Increased demand from the latest winter storm and cold weather outbreak sent natural gas prices to record highs again in New England – spot prices averaged nearly $80/MMBtu on the Intercontinental Exchange for some locations. The region’s gas-fired electricity generating capacity has grown, while pipeline and storage capacity has not. The expectation of continued cold weather into February, sent the benchmark (Henry Hub) natural gas price above $5/MMBtu for the first time since June 2010.
    More from C2ES on natural gas
  • DOE Quadrennial Energy Review to focus on infrastructure  (Greenwire - Subscription)
    The Department of Energy’s (DOE) first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), due by January 31, 2015, will focus on energy transmission and distribution infrastructure issues, including wires, pipelines, rail, and import/export terminals.
    More from C2ES on electricity
  • EU plans to cut emissions 40 percent (Bloomberg)
    The 28-nation European Union (EU-28) announced plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In 2011, EU-27 GHG emissions fell 3.3 percent from 2010 levels; they are currently 18.4 percent below 1990 levels.
  • Advanced meter market penetration rising (FERC Report)
    A recent report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimates that advanced (electricity) meter penetration rates may now exceed 30 percent of total meters deployed, up from around 5 percent in 2008. Advanced meters allow utilities to restore power more quickly after outages, as well as offer time-based rates and demand response programs. Additionally, they help consumers to better understand their energy consumption, among other things.
    More from C2ES on the smart grid

 Week of January 13, 2013

  • U.S. energy-Related CO2 emissions rising (EIA.gov)
    Preliminary data for 2013 indicates that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions were around 2 percent higher than in 2012, as coal regained some market share. However, since 2005 energy-related emissions are down a little more than 10 percent. According to EIA’s short-term energy outlook, energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to increase around 0.5 percent by 2015, which would leave energy-related emission down slightly less than 10 percent from 2005 levels. According to EIA’s annual energy outlook 2014 reference case, energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to be 8.7 percent below 2005 levels in 2020.
  • Carbon capture projects receive funding (PDF from Energy.gov)
    Lake Charles Clean Energy (LCCE) has been awarded cost-share funding of $261.4 million from the DOE for a Louisiana plant that will convert petroleum coke, a refinery byproduct that is more than 90 percent carbon, to hydrogen gas, methanol and other products. Around 89 percent of the carbon dioxide will be captured and piped to the West Hastings oil field for EOR. Plant construction is expected to take around 3 years.
    DOE approved $1 billion for FutureGen 2.0, an Illinois coal plant retrofit (168 MW) that will capture more than 90 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and pipe them into an underground storage facility about 30 miles from the plant (notably, not for EOR).
  • What is next for the Keystone XL permit process (Financial Post)
    The State Department is expected to release a final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline soon after Obama's January 28 State of the Union address. The EIS release will initiate a "national interest determination" process during which State is obliged to seek feedback from other interested agencies.
  • Alaska natural gas pipeline moving forward (Energy Wire, subscription required)
    Alaska, ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhilips and TransCanada signed a preliminary agreement last week to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to an export facility on the state’s southern coast.
  • Canada reports to the UN on its emissions (Climatewire, subscription required)
    In a report to the UN, Canada’s carbon emissions are projected to be 11 percent above 2005 levels by 2030, mostly due to increasing oil sands projects. Last fall, Environment Canada found that emissions in 2020 would likely be 3 percent lower than 2005 levels when LULUCF (land use, land-use change and forestry) is included.

Week of January 13, 2014

  • Oil Prices fall as output rises (Bloomberg News)
    U.S. crude prices fell to an 8-month low ($91.66 a barrel) last week on rising output, ample supply and reduced fuel consumption. Also last week, the global (Brent) price was trading at around $106 a barrel.
  • Report details natural gas emissions intensity (NOAA Report)
    A new report from NOAA found that (in 2012) natural gas combined cycle power plants  emitted (890lb CO2/MWh) on average 44 percent of the CO2 compared with coal power plants (~2,024lb CO2/MWh). Data from EPA’s continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) was used for the analysis. Over the past 15 years, the CO2 emission intensity of natural gas combined cycle power plants has decreased by about one-third. The average emission rate from all forms of natural gas-fired power generation is 1,135lb CO2/MWh.
  • Cold snap spurs record natural gas demand (Marketwatch)
    U.S. natural gas demand reached a record high of 134.3 billion cubic feet/day on Tuesday January 7, as consumers heating demand increased and utilities increased usage for electric power generation on one of the coldest days in years. Day-ahead natural gas spot prices in New England spiked to over $50/MMBtu for a time on Monday in anticipation of the coming cold wave.
  • Utility Mergers Ahead? (E&E News, subscription required)
    Duke CEO Lynn Good expects to see continued consolidation in the utility sector in the face of a slowing rise in electricity demand.
  • DOE awards projects for Small Modular Reactors (SMR) (E&E News, subscription required)
    NuScale Power (Oregon) has been selected to received up to $226 million in DOE funding over the next 5 years for development of its 45 MW SMR. In 2012, Babcock & Wilcox (Tennessee) received a similar amount of funding for its 180 MW mPower design. Commercialization of these small reactors is not expected for at least another 10 years.
  • Nebraska nuclear plant restarts (Omaha World Herald)
    After nearly 3 years offline and $177 million spent on recommissioning by the Omaha Public Power District, Ft Calhoun nuclear power plant (563 MW) returned to service last month after getting the green light from the NRC.
  • Big money backs energy storage (Greentech Grid)
    Aquion Energy, a developer and manufacturer of sodium ion batteries, attracted a slew of high profile investors in 2013 including Bill Gates. The Western Pennsylvania company will commercially launch its range (off-grid to grid-scale) of energy storage products in early 2014.

 Week of December 31, 2013

  • Kerry backs 17 percent emissions reduction (E&E News, subscription required)
    In the State Department’s 2014 Climate Action Report, Secretary Kerry stated that the U.S. Copenhagen Accord (2009) pledge of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is “ambitious but achievable.” Kerry notes that U.S. emissions have already fallen by 6.5 percent since 2005 as a result of “economic factors and government policies.”
  • EIA report details declining electricity sales (eia.gov)
    According to EIA data, total U.S. electricity sales have decreased in four of the past five years (2008 – 2012) due to a variety of factors, including a declining industrial sector, weather pattern shifts, efficiency improvements, and growth in distributed generation. The early release of its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 predicts flat electricity use through 2015. Average household power usage in 2013 has fallen to 2001 levels. The decline is attributed to more energy efficient housing, appliances and gadgets.
  • Trans Mountain oil sands pipeline could expand (E&E News, subscription required)
    Kinder Morgan formally applied to the Canadian Government to expand the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia (Vancouver). It hopes to complete the project by 2017, but faces opposition from First Nations and environmental groups.
  • Shell explores use of LNG trucks (E&E News, subscription required)
    In an attempt to reduce its oil sands emissions profile, Shell is looking into using trucks that run on LNG.
  • Chinese pilot emissions trading schemes (E&E News, subscription required)
    There are now 5 trading schemes operating in China: Tianjin, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Guangdong province.
  • Australia unveils Emission Reduction Fund (The Australian)
    Australia released some details on its $1.34 billion fund to cut carbon emissions. The fund will replace a carbon tax the government expects to formally repeal in July 2014.