Volume 4, Issue 4
October 8, 2017 – October 14, 2017
Jason Mulderrig '18 | Will Atkinson '18 | Anushka Dasgupta '19


Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments October 7, 2017 | New York Times | Stanley Reed Germany is well known by clean energy followers throughout the world for its “Energiewende” initiative: a politically-led effort (in the making for the past 20 years) to transition to renewable energy sources throughout the country. However, some new roadblocks have arisen for Energiewende as of recent. First, the initiative has raised the price of electricity throughout the country since 2000 in order to finance renewable energy subsidies, and there is no sign the prices will reduce in the near future. Second, German greenhouse gas emissions have stagnated since 2009, and even rose last year. The reason for the recent rise in greenhouse gas emissions is a newfound reliance on coal power plants in the wake of Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power and an increase in the number of gas/diesel vehicles on Germany’s roads. Putting pressure on the coal and auto industries seems to be the quickest way to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Germany for the near future. -JPM

Germany’s Shift to Green Power Stalls, Despite Huge Investments
October 7, 2017 | New York Times | Stanley Reed
Germany is well known by clean energy followers throughout the world for its “Energiewende” initiative: a politically-led effort (in the making for the past 20 years) to transition to renewable energy sources throughout the country. However, some new roadblocks have arisen for Energiewende as of recent. First, the initiative has raised the price of electricity throughout the country since 2000 in order to finance renewable energy subsidies, and there is no sign the prices will reduce in the near future. Second, German greenhouse gas emissions have stagnated since 2009, and even rose last year. The reason for the recent rise in greenhouse gas emissions is a newfound reliance on coal power plants in the wake of Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power and an increase in the number of gas/diesel vehicles on Germany’s roads. Putting pressure on the coal and auto industries seems to be the quickest way to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Germany for the near future. -JPM

How Fracking is Upending the Chemical Industry October 4, 2017 | Nature | Mark Peplow The improvement of fracking technology, in which a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is injected into rock in order to fracture it and force out trapped hydrocarbons, has brought about glut in the world oil and gas supply. The resulting abundance of natural gas is helping to usher out “King Coal,” but it also has the potential to transform the chemical industry. We can now bypass the process of breaking down the long hydrocarbons found in oil, instead using methane, ethane, and propane sourced from shale to make chemicals used in everything from plastics to pharmaceuticals. Such “gas upgrading” could lessen the environmental footprint of the industry. -AD

How Fracking is Upending the Chemical Industry
October 4, 2017 | Nature | Mark Peplow
The improvement of fracking technology, in which a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is injected into rock in order to fracture it and force out trapped hydrocarbons, has brought about glut in the world oil and gas supply. The resulting abundance of natural gas is helping to usher out “King Coal,” but it also has the potential to transform the chemical industry. We can now bypass the process of breaking down the long hydrocarbons found in oil, instead using methane, ethane, and propane sourced from shale to make chemicals used in everything from plastics to pharmaceuticals. Such “gas upgrading” could lessen the environmental footprint of the industry. -AD

How Energy-Rich Australia Ended Up With World's Priciest Power October 5, 2017 | Bloomberg News | Perry Williams During the last decade, Australia’s government has changed its climate and energy policy over and over again. Eventually, it settled on making the transition to renewable energy by using natural gas as a fallback. However, producers exported the fuel to higher-paying buyers, leaving Australia with a severely restricted supply. The nation has been forced to lean on aging coal-fired power plants to provide reliable power, and industries that heavily rely on cheap power have been crippled. Some investors, however, have seen the crisis as an opportunity to install battery farms and buy out struggling businesses. -AD Powelson: FERC ‘will not destroy the marketplace’ in DOE cost recovery rulemaking October 5, 2017 | UtilityDive | Gavin Bade The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Robert Powelson assuaged concerns Wednesday by promising the FERC will protect the functioning of wholesale power markets. This statement comes in response to a new rule issued by the Department of Energy to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear power plants. Before this statement was made, energy analysts and regulators were concerned that the DOE rule would lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets. In addition, the FERC requested information from stakeholders and energy industry leaders on their opinions about the DOE ruling. -JPM Elon Musk says he can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid with solar October 6, 2017 | BBC Staff Weeks after Hurricane Maria, most of Puerto Rico is still without power. While the U.S. Congress may be slow to repair the island’s grid (see last week’s article), Elon Musk claims he can do it with Tesla’s solar technologies. Musk’s SolarCity has successfully powered smaller islands like American Samoa, pairing solar with batteries to store enough electricity for three days without sun. Can this strategy be scaled up for Puerto Rico, as Musk claims? The Puerto Rican governor is open to the idea. -WA

How Energy-Rich Australia Ended Up With World's Priciest Power
October 5, 2017 | Bloomberg News | Perry Williams
During the last decade, Australia’s government has changed its climate and energy policy over and over again. Eventually, it settled on making the transition to renewable energy by using natural gas as a fallback. However, producers exported the fuel to higher-paying buyers, leaving Australia with a severely restricted supply. The nation has been forced to lean on aging coal-fired power plants to provide reliable power, and industries that heavily rely on cheap power have been crippled. Some investors, however, have seen the crisis as an opportunity to install battery farms and buy out struggling businesses. -AD

Powelson: FERC ‘will not destroy the marketplace’ in DOE cost recovery rulemaking
October 5, 2017 | UtilityDive | Gavin Bade
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Robert Powelson assuaged concerns Wednesday by promising the FERC will protect the functioning of wholesale power markets. This statement comes in response to a new rule issued by the Department of Energy to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear power plants. Before this statement was made, energy analysts and regulators were concerned that the DOE rule would lead to an unraveling of wholesale power markets. In addition, the FERC requested information from stakeholders and energy industry leaders on their opinions about the DOE ruling. -JPM

Elon Musk says he can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid with solar
October 6, 2017 | BBC Staff
Weeks after Hurricane Maria, most of Puerto Rico is still without power. While the U.S. Congress may be slow to repair the island’s grid (see last week’s article), Elon Musk claims he can do it with Tesla’s solar technologies. Musk’s SolarCity has successfully powered smaller islands like American Samoa, pairing solar with batteries to store enough electricity for three days without sun. Can this strategy be scaled up for Puerto Rico, as Musk claims? The Puerto Rican governor is open to the idea. -WA

G.M and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models October 2, 2017 | New York Times | Bill Vlasic and Neal E. Boudette As Europe and China pledge to eliminate sales of gasoline-powered vehicles in the next few decades, these American automakers are taking their own steps towards an electric car future. General Motors hopes to have 20 new all-electric models by 2023, while Ford plans to add 13 models in the next several years. While regulatory pressure is incentivizing this push toward electric, consumer demand may be slower to catch up. Unlike international companies, G.M. and Ford have no set date for the end of gasoline-powered vehicles. -WA

G.M and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models
October 2, 2017 | New York Times | Bill Vlasic and Neal E. Boudette
As Europe and China pledge to eliminate sales of gasoline-powered vehicles in the next few decades, these American automakers are taking their own steps towards an electric car future. General Motors hopes to have 20 new all-electric models by 2023, while Ford plans to add 13 models in the next several years. While regulatory pressure is incentivizing this push toward electric, consumer demand may be slower to catch up. Unlike international companies, G.M. and Ford have no set date for the end of gasoline-powered vehicles. -WA