Energy Brief: Expected Nominee for Top Agriculture Science Post Lacks Science Background

Washington Brief

  • President Trump is expected to nominate White House senior adviser Sam Clovis, who lacks agricultural science or public health experience, as the chief scientist of the Department of Agriculture. (The Washington Post)
  • Without the development of formal climate change policy, a State Department official told United Nations conferees that national security and economic growth will take priority in the Trump administration’s policy. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Vice President Mike Pence declared the “war on coal” over while on a coal mine tour in Montana with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. (MTN News)

Business Brief

  • The chairman of the China National Petroleum Corp. announced plans to increase imports of U.S. oil. (Bloomberg News)
  • The Northeast region of the United States has shown an increased reliance on electricity from natural gas in the past decade, along with a decline in the use of coal-fired electricity. (CNBC)
  • South Africa will sign new, more transparent agreements to build nuclear power plants with the United States and other countries after a court ruled that the current agreement with Russia lacked proper oversight. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Bipartisan Policy Center discussion on “Digitizing the Power Sector” 10:30 a.m.
EESI discussion on energy emergency preparedness 12:30 p.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 9 a.m.
New York State Public Service Commissioner Diane X. Burman speaks at AGA 12 p.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 1 p.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on leveraging federal funding for infrastructure 3:15 p.m.
Harvard Business School Club of D.C. discussion on investment in energy 6:30 p.m.
Murkowski, Faison discuss energy at ACCF 8:30 a.m.
Greentech Solar Summit 8:45 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 9 a.m.
Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting on regulatory reform bills 10 a.m.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on infrastructure 10 a.m.
Perdue testifies to House Agriculture Committee 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on rigs to reefs program 10 a.m.
House Appropriations subcommittee American Indian and Alaska Native public witness hearing 1 p.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on wildfire management 2 p.m.
Greentech Solar Summit 9:30 a.m.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on nomination of deputy Interior secretary 10 a.m.
House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on water rights bills 10 a.m.
House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on water quality 10 a.m.
Environmental Law Institute discussion on compensatory mitigation 12 p.m.
Book talk on “Hot, Hungry Planet” by Lisa Palmer 4 p.m.
Pruitt discusses “Returning to EPA Originalism” 5 p.m.
NCAC-USAEE event on horizontal wells 12 p.m.



U.S. economic growth and security outweigh climate policy review, envoy tells U.N. conference
Erik Kirschbaum, Los Angeles Times

The Trump administration will stay focused on economic growth and national security no matter the outcome of its climate change policy review, a U.S. official told delegates at a United Nations convention in Germany on Saturday.

Trump’s expected choice for USDA science job lacks hard-science background
Chelsea Harvey and Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

The Trump administration is planning to nominate Sam Clovis — the Department of Agriculture’s senior White House adviser — as head of USDA’s Research, Education and Economics division, according to individuals briefed on the decision. The move would mark a break with recent Republican and Democratic administrations alike, which have previously reserved the high-level position for scientists with expertise in agricultural research.

United States says it supports China’s infrastructure connectivity plan
Sue-Lin Wong, Reuters

The United States welcomed efforts by China to promote infrastructure connectivity as part of its Belt and Road initiative and U.S. companies can offer top value services, White House adviser Matt Pottinger said on Sunday.

Trump is deleting climate change, one site at a time
Oliver Milman and Sam Morris, The Guardian

One of the starkest alterations to the White House’s website following Trump’s assumption of office was the scrapping of an entire section on climate change, stuffed with graphs on renewable energy growth and pictures of Barack Obama gazing at shriveling glaciers, to be replaced by a perfunctory page entitled “An America first energy plan”.

Oil Jumps With Commodity Currencies on Output Deal: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg News

Crude rallied on the prospect a deal to cut global supply will be extended, leading a broader advance across commodities and spurring the currencies of major exporters. Miners and energy shares gained in Europe as most other stocks fell.

Oil and Natural Gas

China Eyes U.S. Energy After Inking $20 Billion in Deals
Bloomberg News

China is setting it sights on U.S. energy as a growing reliance on imports forces it to look beyond traditional suppliers, according to the head of the country’s biggest oil and gas company. China National Petroleum Corp. will import more crude oil and natural gas from the U.S. and will consider participating in America’s growing liquefied natural gas export industry, Chairman Wang Yilin said in an interview Sunday with Bloomberg TV on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

US Northeast states are devouring natural gas for electricity, and that’s a problem for coal
Javier David, CNBC

The Northeast U.S. states — a vast market that generates and consumes much of America’s annual electricity — is gradually using less coal to fire up its electricity plants. In part of what the Energy Information Administration called a dramatic 10-year shift, the nine states that comprise the Northeastern U.S.’s energy grid have collectively doubled the share of natural gas used to generate electricity—even as the region churned out slightly less power from 2006-2016.

Utilities and Infrastructure

Behind China’s $1 Trillion Plan to Shake Up the Economic Order
Jane Perlez and Yufan Huang, The New York Times

Along the jungle-covered mountains of Laos, squads of Chinese engineers are drilling hundreds of tunnels and bridges to support a 260-mile railway, a $6 million project that will eventually connect eight Asian countries. Chinese money is building power plants in Pakistan to address chronic electricity shortages, part of an expected $46 billion worth of investment.


Small Turbines From Silicon Valley Firm May Shift Wind Energy Market
Betty Yu, CBS News

While wind energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the world, wind farms provide less than five percent of the energy in the U.S. But one Silicon Valley startup is aiming to change the market’s direction.

King inaugurates JD400m solar energy projects
The Jordan Times

His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday inaugurated several solar energy projects, which include 12 photovoltaic power stations set to generate 200 megawatts of electricity at a cost of more than JD400 million, according to a Royal Court statement. The initial phase of the projects will include building the first solar thermal collector, which will extend on a 5-square kilometres plot in Maan Development Area and will incorporate 10 plants with a generation capacity of 170MW.

Pembrokeshire offshore wave energy site considered
BBC News

A feasibility study is to consider plans for an offshore wave energy site off Pembrokeshire. The Pembrokeshire Demonstration Zone study, by Black & Veatch, will take nine months and look at the site’s commercial viability.

New rates available for home energy improvement loans
Anna Quinn, NewsTimes

Connecticut Green Bank is encouraging homeowners to take on energy efficiency projects with new low-rate financing options on home energy improvement loans. The bank, in association with Energize CT, is offering a .99 percent interest rate on energy improvement loans for both bundle projects and single measure promotions.


VP Mike Pence visits Montana, declares ‘war on coal is over’
Dustin Klemann, MTN News

Vice President Mike Pence received a first-hand look at a Montana coal mine on Friday and later declared that the “war on coal is over.” Pence took the opportunity to visit coal country during his trip to Montana.

Wyoming coal companies pay millions in taxes
The Associated Press

Three coal companies operating in Wyoming have paid more than $80 million in property taxes due this past week. The payment was the second installment of 2016 property taxes owed by the companies. Wyoming’s coal industry has been struggling with a downturn caused by depressed coal prices, competition from natural gas and new federal regulations.

While the US is ramping up coal, China is suspending most of its new coal power plants
Akshat Rathi, Quartz

As US president Donald Trump had hoped, coal production in the US is on the rise. By April, the country had mined 17% more coal than a year ago. Despite this rise, the number of coal jobs continues to fall thanks to automation.

Indonesia coal output seen growing up to 5 pct this year and next -industry association
Fergus Jensen, Reuters

Indonesia, the world’s top thermal coal exporter, could increase production of the fuel used in power stations by 5 percent in 2017 and 2018, the country’s leading coal industry association said on Sunday. Indonesia’s coal industry has benefited from higher prices this year after a downturn in 2015 and 2016 put many small producers out of business, though recent price declines could signal more difficulties ahead.


South Africa to sign new nuclear power pacts after court ruling
Joe Brock, Reuters

South Africa plans to sign new, more transparent nuclear power agreements with five foreign countries after a high court blocked a deal with Russia due to a lack of oversight, the energy ministry said on Saturday. South Africa signed intergovernmental agreements with Russia, France, China, South Korea and the United States in 2014 as part of plans to build a fleet of nuclear power plants at a cost of between $30 billion and $70 billion.

Time to repay UAE, says nuclear worker
Caline Melek, The UAE National

Now is the time to contribute and give back to the UAE, said Emirati Hasan Al Shemeili, who works at the nuclear power plant in Barakah. Mr Al Shemeili, 36, who manages Units 1 and 2 of the plant, said the country’s atomic scheme was unique in the Middle East.

Nuclear Physicist: Gov’t Red Tape Makes It ‘Nearly Impossible To Innovate’
Andrew Follett, The Daily Caller

Government regulations and bureaucratic red-tape are killing the U.S. nuclear industry’s ability to innovate, a prominent nuclear scientist told The Daily Caller News Foundation. The regulations are causing U.S. nuclear reactors to shut down, which will be both an economic and environmental disaster.


Rising conservative voices call for climate change action
Saskia de Melker and Laura Fong, PBS Newshour

Climate change is one of many issues seen as dividing Democrats and Republicans. A dominant wing of the GOP has denied climate change exists, as some Democrats have tried to reduce air pollution and push for alternative forms of energy. But meanwhile, some Republicans are also pushing for climate action.

Pope Francis says he will stand up to Donald Trump on immigration and climate change
Samuel Osborne, The Independent

Pope Francis has said he will be “sincere” with Donald Trump over their sharp differences on subjects such as immigration and climate change. The Pontiff, who is due to hold his first meeting with the US President at the Vatican later this month, said he would keep an open mind and not pass judgement on Mr Trump until first listening to his views.

Tesco turns to solar in Paris climate accord pledge
Pilita Clark and Mark Vandevelde, The Financial Times

Tesco is to turn its back on fossil fuels and ramp up its use of solar panels as the UK supermarket makes an ambitious pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the toughest goals of the Paris climate accord. The move by the world’s fifth largest grocery chain by sales comes as US president, Donald Trump, considers pulling the US out of the landmark UN climate deal that almost every country adopted in December 2015.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Latest Hanford alert is another reminder of nuclear industry’s many challenges
Jon Talton, The Seattle Times

Nuclear energy seems custom-made as a solution for providing electricity without adding to climate change. But its downsides are big, and they are not only Americans’ fear of meltdowns and mushroom clouds. Among the four words one least wants to hear are “Hanford nuclear reservation emergency.”

An energy cap should fit the customers’ best interests
Alistair Phillips-Davies, The Telegraph

With the Conservative and Labour manifestos expected this week, it seems likely that some form of government intervention in the energy supply market is now probable after the general election. It appears a ‘cap’ on household tariffs will be introduced. The energy sector is used to being in the political spotlight and in providing homes and businesses with an essential service, such scrutiny is to be expected. The issue facing energy suppliers like the one I lead is how to respond.

The people always lose with green scheme energy deals
Lorne Gunter, The Toronto Sun

Call it whatever you like — “green” or alternate or renewable energy. Wherever governments interfere in power markets to reduce greenhouse emissions, the results are always higher taxes and skyrocketing power bills, with few environmental benefits. The latest proof came Thursday when Ontario’s provincial Tories released secret documents showing that despite efforts by the governing Liberals to bring down Ontarians’ electricity bills this summer, Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet already know that after next year’s election, power bills will have to go up – way up – until they almost double by 2028.

Time to stop confusing nuclear weapons with nuclear power
Ted Nordhaus, The Hill

News of the partial collapse of an abandoned storage tunnel at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state has stoked predictable reactions from nuclear energy opponents. Despite the fact that Hanford was a facility dedicated to the production of nuclear weapons, anti-nuclear groups have been quick to draw a connection to nuclear energy.

Research Reports

An On-Board Remaining Useful Life Estimation Algorithm for Lithium-Ion Batteries of Electric Vehicles
Xiaoyu Li et al., Energies

Battery remaining useful life (RUL) estimation is critical to battery management and performance optimization of electric vehicles (EVs). In this paper, we present an effective way to estimate RUL online by using the support vector machine (SVM) algorithm. By studying the characteristics of the battery degradation process, the rising of the terminal voltage and changing characteristics of the voltage derivative (DV) during the charging process are introduced as the training variables of the SVM algorithm to determine the battery RUL.