Earth News

North Dakota farmer makes crude discovery: largest oil spill on US soil – Fox News


KUTV 2News

North Dakota farmer makes crude discovery: largest oil spill on US soil
Fox News
Most of the spilled oil was below the ground, but Jensen said he could see the oil bubbling 6 inches high on his land while he was out harvesting durum wheat. Before it was plugged, the leak spewed 20,600 barrels of crude oil — enough oil to fill
Following Oil Spill, Tesoro Has No Timeline Yet For North Dakota Pipeline RestartHuffington Post
ND lawmakers question Tioga oil spill notification; agency says communication In-Forum
North Dakota officials criticized for delaying oil spill reportMidwest Energy News
UPI.com –Prairie Business –York News-Times
all 76 news articles »

oil spill – read more

Global Warming: Antarctica Welcomes Visitors – Guardian Express


Guardian Express

Global Warming: Antarctica Welcomes Visitors
Guardian Express
Antarctica is not on most people's bucket list as a tourist destination, but it is warming up to the idea of visitors. One of the seven continents of the world, Antarctica is not home to humans. The cold, barren land does not give forth life in the

antarctica – read more

Ontario Kills Coal, But Local Renewables Program Falters


It was one of the most ambitious renewable energy programs in the world when it launched in 2009, committing the Canadian province to buy power from thousands of new renewable energy systems.  It was open and accessible to the average person, and it was committed to buying power only from projects that were “made in Ontario.”  And it was part of a plan to kill off coal-fired power generation by the end of 2014.

Coal’s exit is still on schedule, but the rollout of renewables has been as rough as the Canadian Rockies.

The bottom line is that the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program and its predecessors (despite facing significant threats) have jump-started renewable energy development in Ontario. The province would rank #4 and #11 for solar and wind deployment, respectively, if it were a U.S. state. It has created 31,000 jobs. 1 in 7 Ontario farmers is participating by producing renewable energy and earning a return on their investment.  Coal power is disappearing from the province in about a year.

But despite some notable achievements, the province has struggled – fighting an international legal battle over its “buy local” policy, struggling with local utilities to get projects connected, and leaving thousands of prospective power producers languishing during long program reviews.

Read more in Expect Delays: Reviewing Ontario’s “Buy Local” Renewable Energy Program

Huge Interest

The biggest challenge for the FIT program is the overwhelming demand. Already, signed contracts for nearly 5,000 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity will allow the province to meet most of its 2030 renewable energy target, 12 years early. Actual deployment has kept pace with many U.S. states, but poor preparation has meant that less than 10% of energy under contract (thus far) is actually producing electricity.

Ontario FIT program solar wind capacity

Success with Small

The MicroFIT program (supporting mostly 10 kilowatt and smaller solar on homes and farms) has been a huge success. More than half of the 230 megawatts of solar added to the grid under the FIT program has been from the MicroFIT program.  It’s also democratizing the Ontario energy system, by allowing over 15,000 individuals and small businesses to generate their own power.

Unexpected Challenges

With only 10% of proposed projects online in four years, the Ontario Power Authority has much to answer for.  But it has also faced several additional challenges that may explain its difficulty in keeping up with demand:

  • The world economy collapsed in late 2008, with a slow recovery.
  • The ruling Liberal Party nearly lost its majority in the fall of 2011, jeopardizing support for the FIT program.
  • The largest provincial utility, Hydro One, limited renewable energy to no more than 7% of peak demand on its distribution feeders and missed deadlines for interconnection, slowing energy deployment.
  • In May 2013, Canada lost an appeal to a World Trade Organization suit challenging the program’s buy local provisions from Japan, the European Union, and the United States.  In reply, the province dumped its “made in Ontario” rule.

Although these challenges piled on to the problems with rolling out the FIT program, they don’t excuse the poor performance of the Power Authority.  The program review launched in 2011 left prospective energy producers hanging for nearly 18 months before the program reopened.  Furthermore, the Power Authority ought to have learned from experience. The FIT program was an iteration of a similar standard offer program (called RESOP) offered from 2006 to 2008.  Many of the problems with FIT could have been anticipated.

A Mixed Review on Jobsontario FIT program manufacturing

The Energy Ministry says that 31,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created thus far by the Green Energy Act, far more than would be expected with less than 10 percent of the renewable energy deployed and despite the world economic slowdown.  However, it’s quite a bit less than the 50,000 promised by 2012 when the program launched.

Manufacturing came to the province to serve the (now defunct) “buy local” provision. About half of surveyed manufacturers that indicated an intent to locate in Ontario have established a presence locally.

Doubling Down on Local

While Ontario energy officials abandoned the ‘buy local’ policy under international pressure, they have reinforced rules that prioritize local ownership of FIT projects. The success of the MicroFIT program and community-based projects led to a points scoring system for new FIT projects that rewards greater local support and local ownership.

The new rules will hopefully lead to more smaller-scale projects with support from the local community.  A quarter of the program capacity opened in early 2013 was set aside for locally owned projects, but the total amount of new capacity was small. It’s not clear if the Power Authority intends to buy much more renewable energy capacity (and it certainly has many incomplete projects in the pipeline).

Conclusion: Improvements Needed

The successes for the province are clear: job creation on the backs of the ‘buy local’ policy and a surfeit of locally owned, small-scale energy production.  But the failures are also clear: the Ontario Power Authority needs to get projects online by cutting red tape and pushing utilities to fulfill their obligations to connect renewable energy projects.

Ultimately, Ontario’s second iteration looks promising – a strong commitment to popular community-based energy development at a scale that can be developed rapidly.  But it’s unclear if Ontario intends to really move megawatts of community energy or if the small amount permitting for round two indicates that community energy will live on the margins of Ontario’s energy system. Let’s hope they’ve learned their lessons.

For more on this subject, read ILSR’s report: Expect Delays: Reviewing Ontario’s “Buy Local” Renewable Energy Program

Like what you see?  Get email updates on ILSR’s energy work!

Photo credit: Green Energy Futures

Ontario Kills Coal, But Local Renewables Program Falters was originally published on: CleanTechnica. To read more from CleanTechnica, join over 30,000 other subscribers: RSS | Facebook | Twitter.


CleanTechnica

Following Oil Spill, Tesoro Has No Timeline Yet For North Dakota Pipeline Restart – Huffington Post


AG Week

Following Oil Spill, Tesoro Has No Timeline Yet For North Dakota Pipeline Restart
Huffington Post
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/omoyele-sowore/the-oilspill-no-ones-tal_b_649220.html" target="_hplink">HuffPost blogger Omoyele Sowore explained</a> in July 2010 that an oil spill from ExxonMobil operations was nothing new to the country.
All eyes on ND oil spillIn-Forum
North Dakota officials criticized for delaying oil spill reportMidwest Energy News
North Dakota defends oil spill responseUPI.com
Grist –York News-Times –Grand Forks Herald
all 34 news articles »

oil spill – read more

Taiwan looks to first vaccine against fatal H7N9 avian flu – South China Morning Post


University of Rochester Newsroom

Taiwan looks to first vaccine against fatal H7N9 avian flu
South China Morning Post
Taiwan is scheduled to roll out its first vaccine against the H7N9 strain of avian flu in late next year, after the island confirmed the first outbreak of the deadly virus earlier this year, researchers said on Monday. Health authorities in Taiwan
URMC Enrolling Subjects to Test H7N9 Pandemic Bird Flu VaccinesUniversity of Rochester Newsroom

all 6 news articles »

avian flu – read more

Africa Is Warmer Thanks to Ozone Hole Over Antarctica – Wunderground.com (blog)


Cleveland Leader

Africa Is Warmer Thanks to Ozone Hole Over Antarctica
Wunderground.com (blog)
Since the early 1980s, when it was first noticed, a hole in the ozone layer opens up over Antarctica every year, decreasing ozone concentrations there by as much as 70 percent. The cause is human-produced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which once were 
Scientists Believe Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Caused Southern Africa WarmingCleveland Leader

all 3 news articles »

antarctica – read more