Lead Stories

EU May Allow Renewable Energy-Linked Aid to 62 Industries
Ewa Krukowska – Bloomberg
The European Union is considering allowing state aid to 62 energy-intensive industries including aluminum- and petroleum-product manufacturers to help with the cost of boosting renewable energy, a draft EU document showed.

Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion
Tino Andresen and Yuriy Humber – Bloomberg
L1 Energy, the investment vehicle of Russia’s fourth-richest man Mikhail Fridman, agreed to buy RWE AG (RWE)’s Dea oil and gas unit, gaining assets in the U.K., Germany and the North Sea.
The sale values Dea at about 5.1 billion euros ($7.1 billion), including debt, Germany’s largest power generator said in a statement yesterday. The deal is the first for LetterOne, the group set up by Fridman, 49, and co-investor German Khan last year to invest part of $14 billion they gained from selling a stake in the Moscow-based TNK-BP oil venture.

GE Energy to Invest 100s of Millions of Euros in EU Renewables
Louise Downing – Bloomberg
GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of General Electric Co., expects to invest hundreds of millions of euros in renewable energy across Europe this year.
“We’re very much in growth mode at the moment,” said Andrew Marsden, managing director and European leader. “If we find the right investments, we will deploy the capital.”

China vows to clean up 60 percent of cities by 2020
China pledged on Sunday that it will make sure that 60 percent of its cities meet national pollution standards by 2020, with pressure growing to make cities liveable as hundreds of millions of migrants are expected to relocate from the countryside.

Europe fears its dependency on Russian natural gas as U.S, EU sanctions near
Kit Gillet – McClatchy (via Miami Herald)
With the Crimea crisis souring relations between Russia and the European Union, many European nations are increasingly concerned about their heavy reliance on Russia for natural gas.
Many European countries get a significant part — and in some cases all — of their natural gas, a key source of energy, from Russia, and fear that as relations deteriorate over Ukraine, it could be just a matter of time before the supply is affected, either through disruptions to the supply routes that run through Ukraine or, as is considered more likely, the result of political moves from Moscow.
***JB: Having all your eggs in one basket has never been a good policy.  Surprised these governments failed to recognize this before it was too late.

Ethanol Prices Surge as Rail Problems Cut Supply
Nicole Friedman – The Wall Street Journal
U.S. ethanol prices are surging, as supplies shrink amid transportation constraints.
Ethanol for delivery in April rose 6.9% last week to $2.467 a gallon, the highest settlement since Dec. 4 on the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices are up 40% from a low of $1.757 a gallon reached Jan. 27.

Who’s behind the effort to kill Indiana’s efficiency law?
Kari Lydersen – Midwest Energy News
A bill before Indiana Governor Mike Pence could end a state efficiency program that has led to significant energy savings in the past two years.
Clean energy and environmental groups, along with some major companies, are pleading with Pence to veto the bill, saying it would mean higher energy bills and jobs lost as demand drops for products from light bulbs to efficient appliances.

Costa Rica May Keep Carbon Neutrality Goal
Andrew Burger – Triple Pundit
“Costa Rica opposition group says to scrap 2021 carbon neutrality target,” reads the headline of a recent Reuters news article. Standing on its own, the headline is accurate. However, lacking context, it could be misleading, causing readers who don’t venture beyond the headline to conclude that Costa Rica will be dropping its goal of achieving carbon neutrality completely.

House Energy and Commerce to take up natural gas exports bill
Zack Colman – Washington Examiner
A House subcommittee will hold a March 25 hearing on Rep. Cory Gardner’s bill to expedite natural gas exports, the Washington Examiner has learned, in a move that underscores increasing congressional pressure to take aim at Russia as the Ukrainian crisis escalates.


Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014
March 26-28, 2014
San Francisco, California

GLOBE 2014
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia

Solar Summit
Greentech Media’s flagship annual solar conference that focuses on global market trends, relevant technologies and project finance. With sessions on everything from Latin American market dynamics to BOS innovations, Solar Summit attracts high-level decision makers from all areas of the industry.
April 14-16, 2014
Phoenix, Arizona

Minnesota’s Marquee Solar Event
The Midwest Solar Expo is bringing together solar leaders from across the Midwest to advance dialogue on key issues, provide insight on the latest industry trends and best practices, and serve as a nexus between the solar industry and the public.
May 16, 2014
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Osborne expected to freeze controversial carbon tax in Budget
Emily Gosden – The Telegraph
The Chancellor will reignite the row over green taxes on energy bills this week when he is expected to curb to his controversial carbon tax, which could push up UK electricity prices.

Keep carbon tax, say green and nuclear energy chiefs
Emily Gosden – The Telegraph
The Chancellor must resist calls to scrap his carbon tax in the budget this week because it remains the most cost-effective way of tackling climate change, energy giant EDF has argued.

Carbon capture effort vital for industrial emitters
Alexandra Wynne – NCE
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) development in the medium and long term is vital to efforts to offset energy emissions from heavy industry, Europe’s energy commissioner said last week.

Natural Gas/Coal

Ukraine moves to protect Europe natural gas pipelines amid Russia crisis
Ukraine’s law enforcement forces took full control of the country’s natural gas pipelines that carry most of Russian gas to markets in Europe, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk ordered the protective measures a day after Russian soldiers sought to take control over a gas pumping station at a regional pipeline on the border between Ukraine’s Kherson region and the breakaway region of Crimea.

Gas shortage could slow LNG ramp-up: report
Business Spectator
Citigroup research suggests the ramp-up of production at three large Queensland liquefied natural gas projects is likely to be slowed due to shortages of coal seam gas supplies, The Australian Financial Review reports.

Coal’s global importance is only growing
Winston Porter – The Hill
The Obama administration isn’t coming to grips with the global importance of coal. Despite headlines that laud the growth of renewable energy, it’s the use of coal that’s surging globally, particularly in the developing world where it’s the principal fuel to drive economic growth.

Utah’s oldest coal mine aims to expand into an uncertain future
Brian Maffly – The Salt Lake Tribune
After two years of “supplemental” study, the U.S. Forest Service has issued a new environmental review of a proposed coal lease that could keep Utah’s oldest and most productive mine operating for an additional nine years.

Natural gas is bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.
Drew Greenblatt – The Baltimore Sun
Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer has tirelessly promoted his “Make It in America” campaign, an initiative to advance policies to help the country regain its role as a leading global manufacturer. For too long, we have seen American businesses relocate their manufacturing processes and their jobs overseas because, among other reasons, their energy costs were too high for their products to be competitive on the world stage.

Duke Energy accused of mishandling more coal ash wastewater
David Zucchino – Los Angeles Times
While poring over regulatory documents for Duke Energy coal ash ponds, environmentalists at the Waterkeeper Alliance grew suspicious of the way the giant utility was handling the toxic ash waste left over from burning coal.

Bardstown company agrees to $660,000 coal mining penalty
James Bruggers – Courier-Journal.com
The Department of Justice today opened a 30-day comment period on a $660,000 settlement with a Bardstown-based coal company over alleged illegal dumping of mining debris at sites in Knott and Harlan counties.

Encana may sell Jonah natural gas assets in Wyoming, report says
Cathy Proctor – Denver Business Journal
Encana Corp., one of Colorado’s biggest oil and gas companies, may have hung a “For Sale” sign on its assets in Wyoming’s huge Jonah natural gas field.

Natural gas futures rally 3% as cold weather returns
Investing.com (via NASDAQ)
Natural gas futures rallied more than 3% on Monday, as expectations for a boost in late-winter heating demand lifted prices from the lowest level in seven-weeks.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in April rose to a session high of $4.585 per million British thermal units, the most since March 12.


High-tech power plant is $5 billion bet on future of coal
Looming like a spaceship over pine and sweet-gum forest, the high-tech power plant under construction in rural Kemper County is a $5 billion wager on an energy future that includes coal.
The Kemper plant is scheduled to open this year as the first in the United States to ramp up technology to remove carbon dioxide emissions on a large scale. If it works as planned, up to 65 percent of the plant’s potential carbon dioxide emissions would be removed, significantly more than the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed requirement of about 40 percent.

France’s Industrial Giants Call for Price Cap on Nuclear
Tara Patel – Bloomberg
France’s biggest electricity users urged the government to cap Electricite de France SA (EDF)’s wholesale nuclear-power price at the current level to help industrial consumers compete with German rivals.

Utilities be warned… Silicon Valley is coming for you
Tristan Edis – Business Spectator
This week I caught up with Paul Nahi, the global chief executive of Enphase, a Silicon Valley company that is shaking up the global solar PV inverter business.
But don’t worry, this is not some boring story about inverters (they manage the power output of solar panels), it’s a story about how the Silicon Valley is taking what it’s learnt in personal computing and the internet and planning to use it to unleash a full scale attack on the global utilities industry. 

Wind power line proposal irks some Midwest farmers
Jim Salter – Yahoo Finance
The windy plains of Kansas could be a treasure trove in the nation’s effort to harness clean energy, but a major proposal to move wind-generated electricity eastward is running into a roadblock: Farmers who don’t want high-power transmission lines on their land.

JA Solar Surges After Reporting First Profit Since 2011
Ehren Goossens – Bloomberg
JA Solar Holdings Co. (JASO), the biggest solar cell producer, rose the most in more than six months after reporting its first profit since the first quarter of 2011 and shipments exceeded its forecast by as much as 33 percent.

Saudi Arabia ‘set to launch 1GW solar tender’
Business Spectator
The Middle Eastern Solar Industry Association says Saudi Arabia is planning to put out a tender for 700-1000 MW of solar power by the end of the year as part of its longer term $100 billion solar energy investment although scepticism persists, PV-Tech reports.

Solar entrepreneur says he’s shut out of rebate program
Neal St. Anthony – Star Tribune
Mouli Vaidyanathan, engineer and solar-system entrepreneur, has hot words for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which he believes is using a 2013 state law to protect two larger operators, Bloomington-based TenKsolar and the Minnesota operations of Washington-based Silicon Energy.

Japanese rally against nuclear power
Business Spectator
Thousands of campaigners have rallied against nuclear power in Tokyo as the government and utilities move toward resumption of reactors in southern Japan.
More than 5000 protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in downtown Tokyo on Saturday to urge the government not to restart nuclear plants, as regulators review whether to let Kyushu Electric Power to restart two reactors at its Sendai power plant.


West’s Drought and Growth Intensify Conflict Over Water Rights
Michael Wines – The New York Times
Across the parched American West, the long drought has set off a series of fierce legal and political battles over who controls an increasingly dear treasure — water.

Radioactive Fukushima Waters Arrive At West Coast Of America
James Conca – Forbes
Presenters at the annual Ocean Sciences Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Honolulu in late February said ocean water containing dissolved radionuclides from Fukushima’s crippled nuclear reactors has reached the northern west coast of North America (msn.com).
The scientific community found it interesting in an academic way. Some folks in the non-scientific community were quite worried.
***JB: Some guy in the recent past had YouTube all aflutter showing his Geiger counter ticking away at water in the northwest.  It was much ado about nothing though.  You can make a Geiger counter tick pointing it at ordinary rocks.  You need to know how to interpret the readings to determine the danger present.  Most people on YouTube do not.

Manila Water to Work on Myanmar Project With Mitsubishi
Norman P. Aquino – Bloomberg
Manila Water Co. (MWC), the Philippines’ largest publicly traded water utility, and Mitsubishi Corp. (8058) plan to work on a project to cut water losses in Myanmar’s capital.
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding with the Yangon City Development Committee for a proposed “non-revenue water-reduction project,” Manila Water said today in a stock exchange filing without disclosing terms.


These Solar-Thermal Toilets Are Carbon-Sequestering Charcoal Factories
Andrew Tarantola – Gizmodo
More than a quarter of all people—some 2.5 billion humans—still lack access to basic sanitation services. But thanks to this revolutionary solar-powered toilet, even the most remote throws of civilization will be granted both a safe place to poop and a means of turning their business into brown gold.

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