Energy Roundup- Finals Week Edition

December 14th, 2016- Final exam period been stressing you out?  In this week’s energy roundup, we bring you the latest news on the Stanford Solar Farm, the newly elected Trump administration’s energy appointments, and the new European Union hefty 1000 pages of climate goals!

The Stanford Solar Farm

Over the past week, Stanford celebrated the opening of the Stanford Solar Generating Station in Kern County, California. This new station will provide more than 50% of Stanford’s electricity in the coming years. This solar system has 155,000 solar panels and is a 68-megawatt PV power installation that Stanford consulted with Sunpower to construct. This system pairs well with the Stanford Energy Systems Innovations (SESI) system that electrified the campus and replaced use of natural gas to provide sustainable energy. This announcement comes at the heals of last year’s statement by the Board of Trustees on Stanford’s Climate Change policy and addressing Fossil Free Stanford’s request for divestment. At the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council meeting this past week, student leaders in the fields of energy, policy, and engineering met with Professor Sally Benson, Professor Arun Majumdar, and several other high-profile council members to discuss the future of energy on campus and for the United States.

The Future of Energy in the Trump Administration

The past week has been a shakeup in Washington D.C., as President-elect Donald Trump moved to announce his appointments for head of the EPA and Secretary of State. The environmental community responded swiftly this past week to the announcement that Attorney General Scott Pruitt would be named Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. This lead to statements issued by the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, as well as the NY Times’ Paul Krugman. While some mentioned Myron Ebell as the original pick a few weeks ago, many criticize Pruitt for also being a well-known climate change skeptic. This comes at the end of week where a 74-point questionnaire was sent from Trump’s transition team to workers at the Department of Energy who attended meetings or conferences on climate change.

Perhaps the most interesting news reports of the week had to do with the leaked choice of Secretary of State, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Several news outlets report that Trump is leaning towards the appointment of Mr. Tillerson and that this choice is becoming increasingly scrutinized due to the CEO’s relationships with Russia.  Some critics like the New Yorker’s Steve Coll mention Tillerson as running a “quasi-state” in parallel to the State Department. While others call upon Tillerson to be a world class player who can strike large deals with Russia. No official appointment has been made, and many await final confirmation of the appointment later this week.

The “Winter Package”

In other related news, the European Union set new ambitious goals to cut its energy use by 30% before the end of the next decade by issuing a major clean energy package. The EU will be targeting energy waste and will begin phasing out coal subsidies before 2030 in their landmark 1000 page proposal. Many have criticized efforts from other nations as not being aggressive enough, calling from more action from the United States and other global players to take a lead. Known as the long awaited “Winter Package”, these clean energy plans have put the EU on a path to cut CO2 emission s by 40% while promising 900,000 new jobs to be created over the next decade.

-Written by the Stanford Energy Club