Energy briefs

** As President Joe Biden pushes to accelerate the nation’s transition to clean energy, three Chicago suburbs and more than two dozen other Illinois communities are mulling plans to double down on lung-damaging, climate-changing coal.

** The White House announced steps Tuesday to modernize the country’s aging electric infrastructure.The new initiative between the feds and 21 states aims to make faster fixes and improvements to the grid, committing to build a bigger and more modern grid as part of a larger effort to reduce power outages and increase electrical transmission capacity – a massive hurdle to getting more clean energy on the grid and reducing the planet-warming pollution causing the climate crisis.

** The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued multiple recalls over the last week, including notices for nearly 80,000 Volkswagen electric vehicles recalled for a crash hazard.

** Annual U.S. biodiesel imports doubled from 2022 to 2023 to 33,000 barrels per day (b/d) and continued to rise in the first two months of 2024, according to the most recent data available. Much of the increase in biodiesel imports has come from Germany, and the remaining increase has come mostly from elsewhere in Europe, where a biodiesel surplus has lowered prices.

** As anticipated, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday vetoed a bill requiring 100% renewable energy by 2030 over cost concerns; lawmakers plan to override the veto.


** “An engine reborn.” That’s how Japanese automaker Toyota introduced plans to cast a futuristic spin on the traditional internal combustion engine. During a three-hour presentation at a Tokyo hall Tuesday, the car manufacturer giant announced it would offer lean compact engines that also run on so-called green fuels like hydrogen and bioethanol, or get paired with zero-emissions electric motors in hybrids.

** Brazil has overtaken Belgium as the largest export market for Chinese new energy vehicles, industry data showed, as Chinese carmakers increase sales to non-European markets amid European Union’s anti-subsidy probe into Chinese electric vehicles.

** Russia and Uzbekistan signed an accord Monday for Moscow to build a small nuclear power plant in the Central Asian country, as Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks in the Uzbek capital with Uzbekistan leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

** Australia and the European Union have struck an agreement to boost cooperation and investment in critical minerals, part of a drive by Western nations to loosen China’s grip on supply chains of materials essential to high-tech and green manufacturing.