Senate panel hearing, Tax reform letter, Efficiency bill, DOE climate report, Defense projects

A Senate panel hearing looks at climate change science. Members of Congress are signing a letter to support renewables. The Senate could take up an energy efficiency bill this month. A DOE report considers climate change threats. NATO is prioritizing renewable energy. Globally, temperatures in June are the fifth highest on record.

Climate Change Science the Subject of Senate Panel Hearing
Members of Congress Sign Letter Supporting Renewable Energy in Tax Reform
Senate Could Take up Energy Efficiency Bill This Month
DOE Report Considers Climate Change Threats on U.S. Energy Sector
NATO Prioritizing RE as DoD Looks at Distributed Generation and Cooperation with BLM
Global June Temperatures are Fifth Highest on Record

Climate Change Science the Subject of Senate Panel Hearing
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a full committee hearing July 18 on climate change science titled “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.”  Witnesses included climatologists, oceanographers, meteorologists, and economists expected to outline the current state of climate science.

Committee ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) criticized Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) for not inviting Obama administration officials to testify.  Boxer responded she had hoped for a scientific discussion and that administration officials would be invited to a hearing later this fall.  She said, “I’m trying to keep politics out of this first hearing and trying to focus in on nonpolitical people who are scientists to give us an update on the science,” Boxer was quoted. “But we will look at political people in the next round.”

The witnesses were: Dr. Heidi Cullen, Chief Climatologist, Climate Central; Mr. Frank Nutter, President, Reinsurance Association of America; Mr. KC Golden, Policy Director, Climate Solutions; Ms. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; Dr. Robert P. Murphy, Senior Economist, Institute for Energy Research; Dr. Jennifer Francis, Research Professor, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University; Dr. Scott Doney, Director, Ocean and Climate Change Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Margaret Leinin, Executive Director, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University; Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Professor, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado; Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist IV, University of Alabama, Huntsville.  Archived webcast availableEenews.netEpw.senate.govEenews.net

Members of Congress Sign Letter Supporting Renewable Energy in Tax Reform
Members of Congress are signing a letter in support of renewable energy in tax reform. The letter, written by Reps. Raul Ruiz, Earl Blumenauer, and Jon Runyan, is addressed to Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin. The letter reads:

As the Committee on Was and Means debates tax reform we urge your continued support for renewable energy. With an estimated 3.4 million green jobs in the U.S., which include renewable energy jobs, the industry needs policy certainty to continue to create jobs, grow domestic manufacturing, and produce sustainable, American-made energy.

The race to develop renewable energy is widely considered one of the most important areas of economic growth for the 21st century. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investment worldwide in renewable energy totaled over $244 billion last year. While investment in a number of countries has increased in recent years, the United States saw a 34% decrease in renewable energy investment last year due to policy uncertainty. Maintaining policies in the tax code that promote investment in and deployment of renewable energy technologies will help ensure that the American consumer continues to benefit from renewable energy innovations while also reaping the benefits of a diverse energy economy.

Sources of renewable energy like wind, solar, biogass, geothermal, landfill gas, hydropower, and hydrokinetic energy are critical to America’s energy future. And renewable energy manufacturing, services and products apply the technological innovations that will continue to allow the industry to grow. In 2012, the wind energy industry grew by 28%, setting a new installation record and supporting 80,000 American jobs. Likewise, the U.S. solar market grew by 76% and supported 119,000 American jobs. We must work together to ensure that the United States leads the way. As you develop tax reform legislation, we urge you to include policies that promote America’s renewable energy economy.

Senate Could Take up Energy Efficiency Bill This Month
The Senate could take up bipartisan energy-efficiency legislation by month’s end. The measure seeks to “spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of our economy, while also fostering job creation,” and is sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio in the Senate. A Senate aide said the bill could reach floor discussion the week of July 29. In the House, a similar bill authored by Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. must still get a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Nationaljournal.com; Eenews.net; Shaheen.senate.gov

DOE Report Considers Climate Change Threats on U.S. Energy Sector
A report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather,” warns of the risks climate change poses to the energy sector in the United States. DOE assesses impacts from recent weather events on critical energy and electricity infrastructure, building on the national Climate Action Plan released by President Obama last month.

The outages following Hurricane Sandy were a high-profile disruption on domestic energy supplies, but the DOE also considered less visible problems. In the last decade, three trends in extreme weather and climate have caused major disruptions: increasing air and water temperatures; decreasing water availability across regions and seasons; and increasing intensity and frequency of storms, flooding and sea level rise.

The report notes implications relevant to the geothermal industry. “Increases in ambient air and water temperatures across the United States reduce thermal efficiencies of electricity generation from nuclear, coal, natural gas, concentrating solar power (CSP), bioenergy, and geothermal facilities, which can reduce available capacity and increase fuel consumption by power plants. Higher temperatures reduce the current carrying capacity and decrease the transmission efficiency of electricity lines. Finally, electricity demand for cooling increases when temperatures are higher, while demand for heating decreases.”

Additionally, “Increasing temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns will limit water availability in some seasons and some regions of the United States, which will have
implications for thermoelectric power generation, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, CSP, bioenergy, and geothermal facilities.” Energy.gov; Wri.org

NATO Prioritizing RE as DoD Looks at Distributed Generation and Cooperation with BLM
Supporting renewables in defense operations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) released a statement this week prioritizing the reduction of defense operations’ energy footprint. “A growing dependence on oil and gas, the progressive exhaustion of fossil fuels, constant increases in the price of raw materials, threats to the security of energy supplies and concerns about the consequences of climate change make energy security a major issue,” said the statement from NATO, representing 28 member countries. “The Allies need to be mindful of the environmental consequences of military activities and minimize the logistical footprint of operations,” NATO said.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking to increase development of distributed energy sources on its bases, and the geothermal industry hopes this will include geothermal. On-site energy generation could allow a military base to maintain critical operations “off-grid” for significant time periods if the grid is disrupted, as well as reduce the DoD energy bill. But as we noted in last week’s newsletter, the share of geothermal is dropping in DoD’s portfolio — from 74% of their renewable energy installations in 2011 to 49% just a year later.

The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have taken steps to increase inter-agency cooperation on renewable energy projects, and signed a memorandum of understanding last August to that effect.

The two agencies’ only existing renewable energy project is the 270-MW geothermal plant at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. Ray Brady, manager of BLM’s national renewable energy coordination office, told press that the August agreement only applies to the three pilot projects the two agencies are working on, which are not geothermal. He added if those are successful, the agreement could be expanded to future projects.

At China Lake, DoD and BLM sell surplus renewable energy to local utilities, splitting the proceeds. The geothermal plant has been in continuous operation since 1987 and is DoD’s largest renewable energy project. Federaltimes.com; Ens-newswire.com; Geo-energy.org

Global June Temperatures are Fifth Highest on Record
By Sustainable Energy Coalition, source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June 2013 tied with 2006 as the fifth highest on record, at 1.15°F above the 20th century average of 59.9°F. The global land surface temperature was 1.89°F above the 20th century average of 55.9°F, marking the third warmest June on record. For the ocean, the June global sea surface temperature was 0.86°F above the 20th century average of 61.5°F, the 10th warmest June on record. The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–June period (year-to-date) was 1.06°F above the 20th century average of 56.3°F, tying with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record. June 2013 also marked the 37th consecutive June and 340th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th-century average. The last below-average June temperature was June 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.

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