This Week in Energy: The Top Headlines


Major American utility pledges to carbon-free energy by 2050
Xcel Energy announced Monday it has committed to going carbon-free by the year 2050 – a first for a major American utility. In addition, the company wants to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030. The company serves 3.6 million people across eight states. The company has become more interested in renewable energy and sustainable models for the past few years. According to Xcel, the company has cut carbon emissions by 35 percent since 2005. For one of its states, Colorado, the company pledged earlier this year to reduce carbon emissions 60 percent from its 2005 numbers, increase renewable energy use to make up 55 percent of its energy fleet and cut half of its coal capacity.

Senate OK’s Trump’s FERC pick
The Senate narrowly voted to advance President Trump’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission pick on Wednesday. Bernard McNamee was approved on a 50-49 vote. McNamee formerly worked under Trump as part of the Department of Energy, where he supported the president’s attempted bailout of coal and nuclear industries. A controversial video of McNamee denouncing renewable energy and doubting climate change at a speaking event recently circulated the internet. While most Democrats immediately voted along party lines, some questioned Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who had approved McNamee for a previous position. Manchin ended up voting “no” on the FERC confirmation. The Senate plans to vote on the final confirmation on Thursday.

Saudi Arabian energy minister says “no deal” might be possible in OPEC talks

Credit: Shutterstock

OPEC members and their partners might not be able to reach a deal this week over cutting oil production, according to Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih. Prices dropped by nearly 4 percent when al-Falih ended a meeting on Wednesday with little details on how production would be cut. According to Reuters, the meeting ended with an agreement between the panel’s body that production needed to be cut, but did not decide on the size of the reduction. That decision might be delayed until the end of this week, when it can meet with non-member producers.

A possible energy solution: the gribble worm

Credit: EPA

Scientists are looking into the gribble worm, an underwater isopod that is only a few millimeters big, as a potential biofuel. The gribble mainly uses enzymes to bore into plants and wood for food, making them a pest to sailors in the 1700’s. Gribbles are known for digesting lignin in wood. Lignin is a plant-based polymer that wraps around sugar polymers that are found in all wood. Once the sugar polymers are broken down, they become simple sugars that can be treated and turned into biomass. The University of Cambridge, The University of York and the The University of Sao Paulo are all currently investigating the strange animal’s potential.

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