Other stories below: Global warming means tough choices for West Virginia; Judge’s Ruling Complicates Hydrofracking Issue in New York
Prices for crystalline-silicon (c-Si) solar photovoltaic (PV) modules fell below the $1/W mark in January 2012, and in some cases well below even that, marking the first time that global average prices have fallen below this milestone, according to IMS Research.
With the market now stuck in overcapacity and oversaturation with solar PV modules — so much so (some say tens of gigawatts) that Tier-1 producers and overstocks can fill demand all by themselves — Chinese Tier-2 suppliers have desperately kept up their pricing one-upsmanship to simply keep themselves in the game at the expense of rivals.
A hotter planet, an economist visiting West Virginia said, is just something that will be a part of the lives of young people today.
“The reality is, especially for young people in their 20s or 30s, a hotter planet is just going to be a defining feature of their world,” said Eban Goodstein, director of the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, who spoke Feb. 22 as part of the ongoing “Energy: Who’s Got the Power” speaker series at the University of Charleston. “That means more floods, more droughts and there is going to be a lot of pressure on the coal industry as a consequence.”
That could be bad news for a state accustomed to raking in profits from the very resource — coal — that is catching a lot of the blame for global warming.
“Despite the politics of the moment the science is clear — that’s what’s causing the problem. That and gasoline,” Goodstein said just before speaking at the University of Charleston event. “So, I think folks in West Virginia have just got to sort of accept those facts. You can obviously fight them for a while, but they’re going to catch up with you, and find a new way forward.”
A U.S. attorney charged a former Massey Energy Co. mine superintendent Wednesday with conspiring to obstruct federal regulators before a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, in a move that signaled a widening criminal investigation.
Booth Goodwin, the U.S. attorney in Charleston, W.Va., charged Gary May, 43 years old, a former superintendent at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va., with violating federal mine laws to conceal safety hazards and prevent inspectors from slowing coal production.
A state judge’s decision this week supporting the rights of individual towns to determine whether to allow hydraulic fracturing has added a new wrinkle to the fight over the natural gas drilling process in New York.
Parties on all sides are trying to figure out what the ruling will mean, but a consensus emerged on Wednesday that there will be further court challenges and delays over when, how and where the process, known as hydrofracking, will be allowed in the state, and by whom.
Officials of natural gas companies voiced concern that such local restrictions could render more areas of the Marcellus Shale off-limits to drillers in a state that is already proposing strict regulation of where the industry will be allowed to operate.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has put Chicago’s two coal power plants on warning: Either present a plan to clean up their pollution or risk being shut down by the city within the next two years.
Various politicians, community groups and others have been pushing for more than a year to shut down the Crawford and Fisk plants — owned and operated by Midwest Generation — because they say the plants come with serious health consequences for the Little Village and Pilsen communities located nearby them.
As the Associated Press reports, Alderman Danny Solis (25th) and Dr. Ravi Shah of the Doctor’s Council of the Service Employees International Union of Illinois on Wednesday are among those who have spoken out against the plants. According to Shah, the coal-fired power plants such as theirs are the largest generators of the greenhouse gases associated with respiratory problems.
During the past decade, the European Union blazed a green trail with a series of laws mandating a low-carbon economy and promises to set an example for other parts of the world.
That now seems like another era.
A succession of economic crises has pushed European governments to pare subsidies to clean-energy sectors like solar power and has undermined initiatives in other areas like energy efficiency, where member states balked at binding targets.
The E.U. Emissions Trading System — the Union’s flagship climate policy, which requires industries to acquire emissions permits — has been battered by extreme volatility, tax fraud, recycling of used credits, suspicions of profiteering and online attacks.
The Year of the Dragon has gotten off to an inauspicious start for the Chinese wind industry and in particular, Sinovel Wind Group Co. (Sinovel), China’s leading wind turbine manufacturer.
In early February, with the official end to the “Spring Festival” only days away, Sinovel reported decidedly chilly preliminary estimates of its FY2011 performance, confirming that Sinovel and indeed the whole Chinese wind industry had, in the words of one Chinese wind industry insider “entered a winter that would be hard to endure”.
Sinovel estimated that its net income for FY2011 declined by more than 50% compared with 2010 profits of 2.856 billion Yuan (~$450 million USD). The decline in profitability of Sinovel in 2011 was attributed to several factors: intense competition in the Chinese wind turbine market, delays in the development of certain wind farm projects and a series of mishaps that adversely affected the grid, which were caused by turbine defects evident during low voltage ride through (LVRT) events.