Archive for the ‘renewable energy’ Category

The continuing demise of US fuel oil consumption

When commentators talk about the US cutting its oil consumption, they often cite the reductions in usage that were spurred by the first oil shock in 1973-1974. “See,” they say. “We did it back then, and we can do it again!”


What they often fail to note is that one of the ways in which the US did dial back on its oil consumption is by drastically changing over its use of fuel oil for electricity generation to lots of other things: coal, natural gas, nuclear, alternatives. In 40 years, there have been plenty of things.

But the fact is if you’ve all but zeroed out your consumption of fuel oil, you can only do that once. That’s why the whole “we can do it again!” comes up short.

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A different perspective on getting through the ethanol blendwall

Anna Temple of WoodMac tried at the annual AFPM meeting to put one aspect of the ethanol issue into a highly consumable number: eight.

The Houston-based downstream consultant, in one part of her presentation, said the Renewable Fuel Standard going forward could still trip up refiners, but she also addressed whether E85 has a part to play in meeting the ever-rising mandates set under RFS2.

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Upping the Ante: US ethanol’s leadership sets out its stall after 2013′s setbacks

That the CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association would come out fighting after the 2013 annus horribilis was to be expected. When Bob Dinneen, a man they’ve come to call the Reverend in these parts because of his full throttle evangelisin’ on the blendstock’s position in the USA, took the stage to deliver the keynote opening address to the 2014 National Ethanol Conference last week, the packed auditorium knew broadly what to expect.

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Energy Economist: Trying to get to a single European electricity market

In this month’s selection from Platts Energy Economist, Ross McCracken looks at why a single European electricity market has a lot of advantages, but why getting to it will be so difficult.

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California’s LCFS: credit prices, court cases and controversy in the “other” Washington

A few notes from the world of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard:

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Regulation & Environment: EPA action on 2014 renewable fuel standard didn’t end the process

When the Environmental Protection Agency released modification in the 2014 application of the renewable fuel standard, it was only the start of the process. The lobbying still goes on, as Herman Wang discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

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The wind tax credit is expiring, but it’s not the big deal it had been previously

There is a strange silence in the nation’s capital this holiday season.

The usual crescendo of lobbying that occurs every year that the renewable energy production tax credit expires – this is one of those years – is barely a whisper.

The new year is going to be unusual as well. The expiration of the PTC usually brings the development of wind power projects to a screeching halt. This year the development pipeline is going to carry on into 2014 and likely even into 2015.

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Energy Economist: The ambition to reach zero coal consumption

Whether practical or not, the unstated implication behind current emissions abatement policies is that zero coal-fired generation is the ultimate ambition. However, the reality is that zero coal can only be contemplated from a privileged, developed world perspective, and even then no coal at all may prove to be a sub-optimal solution. Ross McCracken discusses that perspective in this offering taken from the pages of Platts Energy Economist.

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Solar may be competitive with natural gas…someday

Solar can become competitive internationally with natural gas by 2025, claims a study authored by Lux Research. But there are several caveats to that assertion.

For example, the study said, solar becomes competitive if there is a 39% decline in utility-scale system costs by 2030 and accompanied by barriers to shale gas production, such as anti-fracking policies in Europe and the high cost of capital in South America.

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Energy Economist: tough times for European utilities may have a lesson for the US

Europe has taken renewable energy generation further and faster than any other region of the world in terms of system penetration, and now appears to be heading into a maelstrom. Where Europe falls, others will follow. Perversely, the impacts of the successful build out of low carbon generation could put at risk the consensus behind climate change mitigation policies. US utilities should take note: never before has the need for international comparison been so pressing. Ross McCracken discusses this issue in a story that appears in this month’s edition of Platts Energy Economist

There has been talk in the United States of the utility “death spiral,” a process in which environmentally-targeted subsidy support enables consumers to disengage, partially if not wholly, from the electricity grid through demand-side management and distributed generation. Utilities, required to invest to incorporate renewables into a centralized system, are left in an unsustainable situation of higher embedded costs and fewer customers.

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