President Obama Will Stop Issuing Leases to Coal Mining Companies on Public Lands

President Obama Will Stop Issuing Leases to Coal Mining Companies on Public Lands

New York Times: In Climate Move, Obama to Halt New Coal Mining Leases on Public Lands

The Obama administration will announce on Friday a halt to new coal mining leases on public lands as it considers an overhaul of the program that could lead to increased costs for energy companies and a slowdown in extraction, according to an administration official.

The move would represent a significant setback for the coal industry, effectively freezing new coal production on federal lands and sending a signal to energy markets that could turn investors away from an already flailing industry. President Obama telegraphed the step in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, saying, “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

Energy Department: DOE Announces $220 Million in Grid Modernization Funding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today built on its Grid Modernization Initiative — an ongoing effort that reflects the Obama administration’s commitment to improving the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the release of DOE’s comprehensive new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, a blueprint for modernizing the grid.

The secretary also announced the award of up to $220 million over three years, subject to congressional appropriations, to DOE’s national labs and partners to support critical research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and a number of other key grid modernization areas. Additional programs, initiatives, and funding opportunity announcements related to the Grid Modernization Initiative will be announced in the coming days.

Market Watch: SolarCity Shares Tank After Nevada Decision

Shares of SolarCity Corp. fell more than 14% Thursday, a day after Nevada regulators decided to go ahead with new rules that make solar power more expensive for many homes and businesses.

At a meeting Wednesday night, they opted not to postpone the adoption of controversial rules, approved late last year, that raised fees and lowered credits for solar-powered homes and business.

SolarCity and Sunrun last week said they were pulling out of Nevada and cutting hundreds of jobs there due to the new rules, which decrease the savings that many count on for going solar.

Bloomberg: Solar and Wind Just Did the Unthinkable

The sun and the wind continue to defy gravity. Renewables just finished another record-breaking year, with more money invested ($329 billion) and more capacity added (121 gigawatts) than ever before, according to new data released Thursday 

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Oil, coal and natural gas bottomed out over the last 18 months, with bargain prices not seen in a decade. That’s just one of a handful of reasons 2015 should have been a rough year for clean energy. But the opposite was true.

All Africa: Uganda Struggles for Renewable Energy

Uganda is endowed with abundant renewable energy potential from sources such as water, wind, the sun and biomass.

However, this potential has not been fully utilized, resulting in a situation where only 15 percent of the population has access to electricity in urban areas, with only seven percent in rural areas. This leaves about 85 percent still reliant on kerosene for lighting and more than 90 percent dependent on charcoal and firewood for their cooking energy needs.

To tap into this, however, requires substantial investment, which is lacking in developing countries such as Uganda.


Source: greentechmedia.com/GTM_Solar
President Obama Will Stop Issuing Leases to Coal Mining Companies on Public Lands

America’s Second-Largest Coal Producer Files for Bankruptcy

America’s Second-Largest Coal Producer Files for Bankruptcy

Climate Progress: One Of The Largest Coal Companies In The United States Just Filed For Bankruptcy

Arch Coal, one of the United States’ largest coal companies, filed for bankruptcy on Monday in the hopes of eliminating more than $4.5 billion in long-term debt, according to a press release issued by the company.
The news comes as several of Arch’s competitors — Patriot Coal, Walter Energy, and Alpha Natural Resources — have also filed for bankruptcy. Arch Coal is the second largest supplier of coal in the United States behind Peabody Energy, and its mines represent 13 percent of America’s coal supply.

Bloomberg: Would-Be Comeback Kid Tinkler Says Coal Industry Far From Doomed

After watching his fortune evaporate during the coal industry meltdown, you’d think Australian electrician-turned-entrepreneur Nathan Tinkler would have walked away from the industry for good. Instead, he’s chastened and back in the game.

Coal is under siege as activists pressure utilities to close aging power plants, nations take their boldest steps yet to cut pollution and President Barack Obama imposes tougher regulations in the U.S. Even with those headwinds and prices languishing at the lowest levels since 2006, Tinkler, 39, is making deals again as chief executive officer of Australian Pacific Coal Ltd.

Wired: How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car

General Motors first unveiled the Chevy Bolt as a concept car in January 2015, billing it as a vehicle that would offer 200 miles of range for just $30,000 (after a $7,500 federal tax credit). Barring any unforeseen delays, the first Bolts will roll off the production line at GM’s Orion Assembly facility in Michigan by the end of 2016. As Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electric vehicles, recently put it to me with a confident grin: “Who wants to be second?”

For GM, the Bolt stands to offer a head start in a new kind of market for electric cars. But for the rest of us, there’s a broader significance to this news.

MacRumors: Apple Registers ‘Apple.car’ and Other Auto-Related Domains

Apple has registered a trio of auto-related top-level domain names, including apple.car, apple.cars and apple.auto. Whois records updated on January 8 show that Apple registered the domains through sponsoring registrar MarkMonitor Inc. in December 2015, although the addresses are not yet active.

The domains could be related to CarPlay, but there will naturally be speculation about their possible relation to Apple’s much-rumored electric vehicle plans. Multiple reports over the past year said Apple has a secretive team of hundreds working on an electric vehicle with a prospective 2019 or 2020 shipping date.

Windpower Engineering: London Array Sets New Record for Offshore Wind Generation

The world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, London Array, has set a new record for the amount of clean electricity produced by an offshore project in a single calendar month.

December 2015 saw its 175 turbines generate 369,000 MWh of electricity — considerably above target and well above the previous best of 317,000 MWh set last November. The capacity factor for the month, which saw average wind speeds of 11.9m/s (27mph), was 78.9%.


Source: greentechmedia.com/GTM_Solar
America’s Second-Largest Coal Producer Files for Bankruptcy

2015 Was the Year of Cheap Gasoline in America, But It Hasn’t Been a Big Economic Boost

2015 Was the Year of Cheap Gasoline in America, But It Hasn’t Been a Big Economic Boost

Washington Post: $2 Gas Is Not Having the Economic Impact Everyone Thought It Would

If low oil prices are a gift to U.S. consumers, why isn’t the U.S. economy growing faster?

After all, cheap crude pumps money into consumers’ pockets much the same way a tax cut would. The drop in oil prices this year has been like a $290 billion tax cut, roughly equal to a 1 to 2 percentage point across-the-board cut in federal income and payroll taxes.

But the economy has not snapped back. And consumers aren’t responding to falling gasoline prices with the usual shopping gusto. Instead, the economy has slowed to a lackluster annual rate of 2 percent in the third quarter, confounding the Federal Reserve and souring Americans on the recovery that President Obama has tried to portray as one of his principal achievements.

InsideClimate News: 2015 Was the Year We Found Out Exxon Knew

From the halls of Congress to the campaign trail to households across the nation, there is a roiling call for federal and state prosecutors to probe what Exxon knew about climate change and whether it broke consumer and shareholder protection laws in what it communicated to the public. Petitions and other public demands for investigations follow the publication of investigative stories by InsideClimate News and other news organizations that showed Exxon was at the forefront of global warming research decades ago until it launched campaigns to cast doubt on climate science and delay action.

Exxon is already the target of a probe by the state attorney general in New York, though the inquiry was opened months before the nationwide clamor for action began. Investigators for Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed Exxon records last month spanning four decades of research findings and communications about climate change.

The Atlantic: The Storm That Will Unfreeze the North Pole

The sun has not risen above the North Pole since mid-September. The sea ice — flat, landlike, windswept, and stretching as far as the eye can see — has been bathed in darkness for months.

But later this week, something extraordinary will happen: Air temperatures at the Earth’s most northernly region, in the middle of winter, will rise above freezing for only the second time on record.

On Wednesday, the same storm system that last week spun up deadly tornadoes in the American Southeast will burst into the far north, centering over Iceland. It will bring strong winds and pressure as low as is typically seen during hurricanes.

MSNBC: The Year in Climate Change

The Earth’s climate has never had a year like 2015.

It’s likely to shatter the record for the hottest year since humans started keeping track. But the most amazing part of 2015 isn’t the heat — it’s the fact that humanity finally agreed to do something about it.

The historic moment arrived on December 13, just after 7 p.m. local time, inside a high-security airplane hangar on the outskirts of Paris. Delegates from nearly 200 nations ratified a universal pact to slow manmade global warming, ending a decades-long political stalemate and — according to the best possible science — lowering the risk of ecological collapse.

Industry Week: Drama Erupts at Solar Energy Firm Hanergy as Boss Sells Stake at Huge Discount

The boss of Beijing-based solar energy firm Hanergy Thin Film Power Group is selling a stake in the company at a massive discount in Hong Kong, as the once high-flying firm faces a continuing regulatory probe.

Hanergy grew more than sixfold to became the world’s largest solar power company by market value before dramatically suspending trading in May after its stocks plunged 47%.

But even before that crash, questions were raised over its valuation and revenue sources.


Source: greentechmedia.com/GTM_Solar
2015 Was the Year of Cheap Gasoline in America, But It Hasn’t Been a Big Economic Boost