Energy News for week ending April 12, 2019

Transparent Wood | Housing Upgrade | No. 1 Threat to the Grid

 

Happy Friday afternoon.

 

This week we start with something that’s seems fantastical but is possible – see-through wood. From the New Scientist, “Transparent wood could one day replace glass in windows. A process for turning it see-through also gives it heat-retaining powers, which could help regulate the temperature of buildings. Céline Montanari at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and colleagues built on previous work which created transparent wood by removing a structural component called lignin from wood, allowing light to filter through. For the next stage, the team soaked de-lignified birch wood in PEG (polyethylene glycol), a polymer that is also found in theatre smoke machines and toothpaste. When encapsulated in the wood panels, this makes it harder for heat to cross – whether you’re insulating a building against the cold outside, or trying to keep out summer heat…’When we build we try to use a lot of glass, but it has a drawback of being a bad insulator, so there are large amounts of heat loss,’ says Montanari. ‘Wood is really amazing, 10 times better at insulating, but it does not transmit light.’ The composite wood isn’t quite as good an insulator as natural wood, but is around four times better than high-end double glazing. The material can also bear heavy loads and is biodegradable, making it easier to dispose of than concrete or glass.”

Next we have a story that I don’t think anyone can complain about. From WCAI, Energy Company Gives Osprey Pair A Housing Upgrade. “Harwich residents brought doughnuts out for Eversouce Energy workers on Tuesday morning as the crew put up a nest platform for a pair of ospreys on Route 28. The birds arrived in the area at the end of March for nesting season but when they went to settle into their old haunt on top of a telephone pole, the nest was gone. Eversource had dismantled the osprey’s nest and covered the site with a rounded plastic guard because the nest posed a safety hazard, says Eversource spokesman Reid Lamberty. ‘It is a matter of a risk to our electric system, to people and to ospreys themselves, in fact, as these nests do have the potential to cause a fire.’ Every time Eversouce takes down an osprey nest from one of their utility poles, they look for a nearby location to build an alternative nesting platform, Lamberty says. But they can’t always find a good spot…This time though, the birds got lucky. After bird watcher Sally Steinmann of South Harwich complained to Eversource, the company agreed to build a nest platform off a nearby utility pole. ‘The public outcry is what made this happen,’ Steinmann says. ‘But it’s the birds who made us want to help them.’”

Speaking of grid hazards, most people think cyber attacks are the greatest threat to the electric grid. It turns out that’s not the case. From Inside Sources, “Last week, President Donald Trump released an executive order intended to protect the U.S. from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks against the electric grid. But there is another threat to the grid, one that is far more low-tech and far more common, than a smuggled EMP device: Squirrels. ‘I’m all for increasing grid resilience, but here’s a threat priority list: 1. Squirrels 2. Tree branches 3. Heat waves/hurricanes/other climate-amplified threats,’ joked Costa Samaras, an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation in a tweet. He may have been joking, but his math is dead on.  For a small mammal, squirrels cause a surprising amount of damage to the grid. In 2016 alone, utilities reported 3,456 outages caused by squirrels, cutting off power to more than 193,873 customers. These incidents are more common in the spring and fall but can happen throughout the year. To try to stop the furry menaces and to keep equipment safe, utility companies employ a variety of deterrents like wheels, cages, and guards. Despite these efforts, squirrels are a constant operating hazard.” And here I thought keeping them out of the bird feeder was hard enough.

That’s the news for this week. Enjoy the stories below. Have a great weekend. And if you’re running Boston on Monday, take care and have fun!

 

Natural Gas/Oil/Pipeline/Drilling

Sen. Markey unveils federal pipeline safety legislation named after Leonel Rondon, killed in Valley gas disaster, Eagle Tribune

Pennsylvania governor under scrutiny for role in approving pipeline, The Guardian

Trump Plans to Sign Executive Orders to Expedite Pipelines, Wall St. Journal

Study: Natural gas pipelines leaking in Danbury, other cities, Connecticut Post

Power Plant Hearings End, Decision This Summer, ECO RI

Compressor Station Opponents Urged to Oppose Gas, ECO RI

Trump’s order would make it harder for states to block pipelines, Kennebec Journal

Utility Blamed for Gas Explosions Resumes Efforts to Replace Damaged Heating Equipment, NECN

Ocean uproar: saving marine life from a barrage of noise, Nature

Dominion gas explosion kills one, injures 17 in North Carolina, Utility Dive

‘Bomb Trains.’ Trump’s Plan to Ship Natural Gas by Rail Raises Alarm, Fortune

MIT says we’re overlooking a near-term solution to diesel trucking emissions, Ars Technica

Inside the Gas Industry’s Plan to Sink Nuclear Power, Daily Beast

 

Renewables/Climate Change/RGGI

How Climate Change Is Fueling the U.S. Border Crisis, The New Yorker

Is Mass. Keeping Its Offshore Wind, Hydro Procurement Promises?, Climate X Change

Global CO2 levels ‘unprecedented’ in last 3M years, E&E News

Millennial legislators bond around push for renewables, Taunton Gazette

Investors Should Worry If Climate Goals Are Missed, Report Warns, Bloomberg

Maryland General Assembly approves 50 percent renewable energy target for 2030, The Baltimore Sun

Nahant earns Green Community designation, Daily Item

100% renewable energy ‘moonshot’ for millennials at Fitchburg State forum, Telegram

Among other millennials, Framingham state Rep. Maria Robinson pushes for renewables, MetroWest Daily News

Climate Change Throws Shade on Forest Wildflowers, Boston University

UNH research: 14 wild bee species native to New England on the decline, New Hampshire Union Leader

Biomass plants ask state Supreme Court to intervene over law, WMUR

 

Wind

State delays decision on Vineyard Wind cable, Cape Cod Times

Vineyard Wind commits to fisheries monitoring, Cape Cod Times

New Jerseyans like the idea of expanding wind power, poll finds, NJ 101.5

New Jersey governor unveils portal to enhance state’s offshore wind supply chain, Utility Dive

US grid developer seeks offshore insights, reNews

Scaling the US East Coast offshore wind industry to 20 gigawatts and beyond, McKinsey & Company

Offshore wind output beats solar for the first time in Germany, Recharge

Bernie Sanders Video Mocks Trump for Being the ‘Only Person in the World’ Who Believes Wind Turbines Cause Cancer, Newsweek

Windsor and Sanford Residents voice their displeasure with a planned wind turbine project, WICZ

 

Solar

L.A. could replace traditional power plants with home solar, experts say, NBC News

New community solar project in Hartland, VT converts brownfield to brightfield, VTDigger

As key solar perk hits sunset, CT grapples with net metering, Connecticut Post

SW looks at solar panels on school roofs, Journal Inquirer

 

Energy Efficiency/Storage

Windows made of transparent wood could help keep buildings warm, New Scientist

States can grow battery resources with ‘one simple step,’ report finds, Utility Dive

Eversource advances Cape Cod battery project, defers 13-mile distribution line, Utility Dive

Energy efficiency utilities offer $500 incentive for weatherization, VTDigger

MASS SAVE earns 2019 Energy Star® partner of the year – sustained excellence award, Utility Dive

Researchers charge ahead on battery storage, Phys.org

Vattenfall to test salt-based power storage technology, Reuters

 

EVs

Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes extending tax credits for electric, fuel cell vehicles, Utility Dive

 

Nuclear

Three Mile Island nuclear reactor dismantling could take six decades, more than $1 billion, Philadelphia Enquirer

NRC sets Sept. hearing date for C-10’s filing, Newburyport Daily News

Indian Point Unit 3 returns to service after final refueling, Mid-Hudson News

Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewing Millstone decommissioning funds, The Day

Ohio Lawmakers Consider Bailout Plan for the State’s Two Nuclear Power Plants, WKSU

 

Markets/Grid/Policy/Prices/Etc.

Eversource fights to keep Northern Pass alive, Boston Globe

This Threat To America’s Energy Grid Is Driving Security Experts Nuts, Inside Sources

How the Energy Department Tackles Cyberthreats, Fedtech Magazine

Berkshire delegation says Baker’s cuts to LIHEAP ‘a shock,‘ Berkshire Eagle

ISO-NE considers new seasonal forward market to improve energy security, Utility Dive

CMP wins key certificate from regulators for transmission line, Portland Press Herald

Watertown hydro plant’s three turbines creating power, Watertown Daily Times

Energy Company Gives Osprey Pair A Housing Upgrade, Cape and Islands NPR

Opponents of CMP transmission line project push bills to slow it down, Portland Press Herald

$30M in state funding available for electric grid projects, Syracuse.com

 

Editorial/Opinion

Nuclear Power Can Save the World, New York Times

Gas hookup moratoriums are not good for any of us, CommonWealth Magazine

Retiring our nuclear plants would be a costly mistake, former federal energy official says, NJ.com

Power companies must prove need for extending natural gas pipelines in New England (Letters), MassLive

Steven Kahl: The Electric Economy is the future, Kennebec Journal

As I See It: Solar on all new homes would help protect Massachusetts’ air and water, Telegram

Retiring our nuclear plants would be a costly mistake, former federal energy official says, NJ.com

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Filed under Climate Change, Electric Grid, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas Pipelines, New England Energy News, Northeast Energy News, nuclear, offshore wind

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