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Clean Economy Wire

January 29, 2015

Cheap oil is not about to kill off wind and solar power as some experts have claimed, the U.S. government's chief energy analyst said on Wednesday.
(New York Times)
Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank.
Installations of wind turbines in the U.S. more than quadrupled last year led by growth in Texas, as developers took advantage of an expiring federal tax credit, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
(Climate Central)
The Atlantic's powerful bluster twirls thousands of wind turbines off the coast of Europe, sending gigawatts of renewable energy coursing into the power grid there.
(Vermont Digger)
Lawmakers are working on a bill that would change the way utilities buy and sell renewable energy credits.
(PV Tech)
Sealed bidding for support for large-scale solar farms in the U.K. will begin tomorrow, 29 January, with the government confirming it had made additional budget available for offshore wind and other "less established technologies."
(E&E Publishing)
A Midwestern utility is jumping headlong into the electric-vehicle charging business with plans to build and operate more than 1,000 public charging stations in the Kansas City metro area by midsummer. That's more than currently exist in the states of New York, Massachusetts or Illinois.
(National Journal)
Under President George W. Bush, hydrogen-powered cars were the automotive technology of the future, with the promise of ditching gasoline and driving for miles with only water as exhaust.
IKEA this week revealed demand for its greenest products jumped 58 percent last year to over €1 billion as consumers embraced new clean technologies such as LED lighting, solar panels, and water-saving taps.
(Washington Post)
America is a nation of pavement. According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities' surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of the stuff. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots. That has a large effect: Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun's energy, retaining heat—and contributing to the "urban heat island effect," in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas.

January 28, 2015

A new expert body has been formed to advise governments and organisations around the world on how best to ditch fossil fuels and make the switch to 100 percent renewables.
(Think Progress)
Large utilities and state legislators in Indiana have joined together to push for a bill that undermines state oversight of the electric utility industry and makes distributed and rooftop solar less appealing to consumers. HB 1320, proposed by state Rep. Eric Koch (R), would lower the amount of money solar customers get for selling excess power back to the grid while also allowing utilities to add a fixed monthly charge to solar users' bills, as well as interconnection fees.
A series of roadblocks are preventing Michigan from taking full advantage of its significant potential for renewable energy, according to a report released by the Institute for Energy Innovation on Monday.
(Inside Energy)
The experimental Microsoft Data Plant in Cheyenne, Wyoming is the first data center in the country to be powered solely by the wastewater treatment plant next door. Or more specifically, off of the methane that is emitted when what goes down our toilets and sinks is processed.
(Midwest Energy News)
A rural Minnesota co-op is offering customers who participate in a demand-response program a hard-to-beat deal on community solar.
(Denver Post)
Denver-based solar power firm SunShare is looking at brighter prospects with a big financial boost from utility powerhouse NRG Energy.
On paper, the pitch was simple: A green energy company backed by $217 million in U.S. government loans would convert one of Africa's poorest countries into the world's first biomass-driven economy. But the plan to help Liberia collapsed amid questionable business decisions and oversight.
(E&E Publishing)
Ten years after remediation was complete at the E.I. DuPont Superfund site in Newport, Del., the area had few options for reuse.

January 27, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pioneered India's first solar incentives as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, won backing from U.S. President Barack Obama for an expansion of the technology nationwide.
(Think Progress)
On Saturday, the federal government approved a major renewable energy transmission line that could help open up the West to stranded solar and wind assets and enable up to 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy—enough to power over one million homes—to feed into the grid. The $2 billion project, overseen by SunZia, will span 515 miles across New Mexico and Arizona, and support more than 6,000 jobs during construction and more than 100 permanent jobs according to the Department of the Interior.
(Christian Science Monitor)
By Tanzanian standards, Nosim Noah is not poor. A tall, handsome woman with the angular features of her fellow Masai tribe members, Ms. Noah makes a good living selling women's and children's clothes in the markets of this northern Tanzanian city. The four-bedroom brick house she shares with her parents and three children outside town has many modern comforts: mosquito screens on the windows and doors, a gas cookstove, and, most important, a faucet with running water in the back of the yard, next to a stall with a working toilet. 
(PV Tech)
Algeria has doubled its renewable energy target from 12 to 25GW by 2030, according to the state press agency APS.
A nearly $63 million financing package was announced Monday to create a wind farm to help Jamaica offset its high power costs and near total dependence on imported fuel.
When the huge solar farm just outside of Las Vegas called Ivanpah opened up in early 2014, many lamented that this type of solar plant, called solar thermal, could soon become a dinosaur. Late last week another of these large solar thermal farms was officially turned on, and it truly could be one of the last of this size built in the U.S., thanks to a one-two punch of changing incentives and economics.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Tesla Motors Inc. will roll out new models in China and look to improve its operations there, even as new data added to signs that last year's Chinese performance fell below the electric-car maker's threshold for success.

January 26, 2015

In a dramatic move that passed the state Legislature with little debate and almost no opposition, West Virginia lawmakers on Jan. 22 voted to repeal the state's 2009 renewables portfolio standard (RPS), which requires utilities to get 25 percent of their power from alternative sources by 2025.
(New York Times)
For more than a year now, an enormous solar thermal power plant has been humming along in the Arizona desert, sending out power as needed, even well after sunset. The plant, called Solana, was developed by the Spanish energy and technology company Abengoa and has succeeded in meeting an elusive solar goal—producing electricity when the sun is not shining—and displacing fossil-fuel-based power in the grid.
(The Journal Sentinel)
Solar companies and advocates have filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court to overturn new fees We Energies plans to impose on customers that generate their own power with solar panels.
(MIT Technology Review)
The prospect of cheaper, petroleum-free power has lured the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to quintuple utility-scale solar capacity over the past year, building two 12-megawatt photovoltaic arrays. These facilities are the biggest and a significant contributor to the island's 78-megawatt peak power supply.
(Boston Globe)
The developer of Cape Wind has terminated contracts to buy land and facilities in Falmouth and Rhode Island, the latest sign that the $2.5 billion effort to become the nation's first offshore wind farm may never produce a kilowatt of energy.