Article, Climate, coal

A long-shot opportunity for coal and carbon capture?

By Bill Loveless New efforts to promote technology to capture carbon-dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and bury them underground or use them to enhance oil production are getting more attention in Washington these days thanks to the Trump administration and its commitment to save the U.S. coal industry. Now, the credit-rating agency Moody’s is cautiously predicting that the technology may be the answer for the declining industry in the long run, though daunting obstacles remain. One thing that could jump start interest in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) would be a spike in the cost of natural gas, whose abundance in the U.S. and low price in recent years have persuaded electric utilities to rely more on gas to fuel their power plants and less on coal, according to a new report from Moody’s. On that score, the agency…

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Article, Climate, Sustainable Energy

On climate, candy maker Mars not so quiet

For a company famously tight-lipped when it comes to most of its business operations, Mars is incredibly outspoken regarding matters like climate change. That’s become even more evident as the company launches a $1 billion plan called “Sustainable in a Generation” which expands on goals set previously by the maker of M&M’s, Snickers and other popular food brands. “Mars has been in business for four generations and intends to be for the next four generations,” Grant Reid, the CEO of the family-owned business with $33 billion in annual net sales and operations in more than 80 countries, said Sept. 5 in announcing the new initiative. But he added, “The only way that will happen is if we do things differently to ensure that the planet is healthy and all people in our extended supply chains have the opportunity to thrive.”…

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Article, Climate, Electricity

Coal comeback unlikely after Paris climate pact withdrawal: utility CEO

From USA TODAY President Trump once again promised to revive the U.S. coal industry when he announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. But that reversal seems as unlikely as ever as electric power producers, the biggest consumers of coal in the U.S., continue to shift to natural gas and renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. In 2016, natural gas became the leading fuel for U.S. electricity generation for the first time, responsible for 33.8% of the output, compared with 30.4% for coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Nick Akins, the CEO of American Electric Power, one of the largest utilities in the U.S., says the preference for gas, renewables and energy efficiency, will only grow in response to increasing demands from shareholders and customers for cleaner energy, regardless of changes in…

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Article, Energy, Government and Politics

Trump may not be able to reverse coal industry’s slump. Here’s why

Coal may make a political comeback in Washington, where President Trump is eager to make good on his promise to revive the sagging industry. But politics aside, it’s the greener forms of energy that are changing substantially the way the USA produces, uses and even saves energy, particularly when it comes to electricity. The trends are detailed in a new report from the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) that provides 163 pages of data on the impact of renewable energy, natural gas and energy efficiency on the U.S. economy. (read more)

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Article, Corporations, Economy / Finance, Organizations, People

Big Oil takes message to the Super Bowl

“This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” With that commercial pitch in 1988, one of General Motors’ iconic brands targeted younger motorists in a bid to breathe new life into the Cutlass and other Oldsmobile models. Instead, sales declined and GM shut down Olds in 2004. On Sunday, the American Petroleum Institute will air its first-ever Super Bowl ad with a similar opening line: “This ain’t your daddy’s oil.” (read more)

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Article, Economy / Finance, Energy, Government and Politics

Carbon tax chances slim under Trump, though Tillerson supports idea

With the Trump Administration poised to reverse U.S. policies on climate change, the head of a major oil and natural gas company is calling again for governments around the world to put a price on carbon emissions once and for all. BP CEO Bob Dudley reiterated his company’s longstanding position in releasing its annual report on global energy trends. “In BP, we continue to believe that carbon pricing has an important part to play as it provides incentives for everyone — producers and consumers alike — to play their part,” Dudley said at a news conference in London last week. (read more).

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Article, Defense, Energy, Government and Politics

Compact, pre-fab reactors may revive nuclear option

The prospect of a U.S. renaissance in nuclear energy has lost its luster in recent years. Yes, four reactors are under construction at two sites in Georgia and South Carolina, the first ones to be built in 30 years. And last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority completed a plant that had lain unfinished for more than three decades. Beyond that, no electricity providers in the USA plan to build another reactor any time soon. Instead, some have closed reactors. Six units have been shut down since 2013 in the face of competition from natural gas, solar power and wind energy. Nevertheless, an Oregon-based company is taking a big step toward eventually rekindling the nuclear option in the USA. (Read More)

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Article, Corporations, Economy / Finance

Houston coal plant makes use of carbon capture tech

The woebegone U.S. coal industry received a rare bit of good news recently as the independent power company NRG Energy announced the completion of a $1 billion venture in Texas. Called Petra Nova, the project separates more than 90% of the carbon dioxide from 240 megawatts of coal-fired power at a generating plant near Houston. Petra Nova first captured carbon dioxide in September and has delivered more than 100,000 tons of the gas to an old oil field 80 miles away, where it is injected to produce more crude from the ground. (Read More)

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Article, Corporations, Economy / Finance, Government and Politics

Oil and gas exec Gerard is pumped about prospects under Trump

For Jack Gerard, the outlook for U.S. energy security has never been brighter, with domestic supplies of oil and natural gas increasing, dependence on foreign supplies declining and a new Republican president and Congress keen on promoting fossil fuels. “In this new year and at the start of this new Congress, we have an opportunity to change the national conversation when it comes to energy policy,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute said the other day in his annual “State of American Energy” speech in Washington. (Read More)

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Article, Climate, Energy, Government and Politics

Trump may be good for oil, trouble for renewables

U.S. energy producers of all kinds see reasons for optimism as they start 2017, though the incoming Trump administration may spell trouble for some of a greener hue. Among oil drillers, a recent uptick in prices suggests an end to a slump that has persisted since mid-2014, while natural gas, solar and wind energy companies aim to build on their gains in U.S. electric power markets in 2016. Even the struggling nuclear sector can point to victories in New York and Illinois, where unprofitable reactors were saved by state actions last year. That said, here’s a list of some of the most notable energy developments for the U.S. in 2016 — ones that may set the stage for how Americans produce and use energy in 2017. (Read More)

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