Energy briefs

** For the first time in five months, NASA engineers have received decipherable data from Voyager 1 after crafting a creative solution to fix a communication problem aboard humanity’s most distant spacecraft in the cosmos. Voyager 1 is currently about 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometers) away, and at 46 years old, the probe has shown multiple quirks and signs of aging in recent years.

** President Biden commemorated Earth Day by telling a crowd in Triangle, Virginia that anyone who denies the impacts of climate change is “condemning the American people to a very dangerous future.” The president’s comments were made while speaking at Prince William Forest Park, where he announced two programs he expects to benefit the environment and the American people.

**  A new report by energy and climate policy think tank, Energy Innovation, warns that some utilities, particularly in the South, are making a “panicked rush to gas” and calls on state officials to explore cheaper options and carefully vet plans that could saddle electric customers with billions in costs.

** The Dali, the container ship that left the Port of Baltimore in the early hours of March 26, before crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, toppling a portion of it, set sail despite its “unseaworthy” conditions, according to a Monday court filing from the City of Baltimore.

** Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee said Monday that he thinks workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga made a mistake by voting to unionize under the United Auto Workers in a landslide election but acknowledged the choice was ultimately up to them.

** The Biden administration has taken a significant step in its expedited environmental review of what could become the third lithium mine in the U.S., amid anticipated legal challenges from conservationists over the threat they say it poses to an endangered Nevada wildflower.


** China’s green industries have an unlikely ally in Saudi Aramco — the world’s largest oil company — who praised the world’s second-largest economy for making solar panels and electric vehicles affordable. “China really helped by reducing the cost of solar energy,” Amin Nasser, the CEO of state-owned Saudi Aramco, said at the World Energy Congress in Rotterdam on Monday, according to the Financial Times.

** When Mount Ruang in Indonesia underwent multiple explosive eruptions last week, volcanic gases were flung so high they reached the atmosphere’s second layer, tens of thousands of feet above ground. The eruption’s potential impacts to weather and climate are starting to come into focus, even as the danger posed by the volcano persists and evacuations continue.

** Global electric vehicle sales are set to rise by more than a fifth to reach 17 million this year, powered by drivers in China, according to the International Energy Agency. In a report Tuesday, the IEA projected that “surging demand” for EVs over the next decade was set “to remake the global auto industry and significantly reduce oil consumption for road transport.”

** Clean hydrogen as an energy source is indispensable for achieving global climate targets, but Germany and the European Union are in danger of missing their own hydrogen targets, a study published on Monday showed. “Germany is clearly lagging behind its plans,” management consultants PwC Strategy& wrote in its report.