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Clean Economy Wire

October 21, 2014

(Think Progress)
Other than a slight uptick from 2012 to 2013, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have been on a slow decline since 2007. And according to a new report by Greenpeace, 70 percent of that drop was thanks to renewables and energy efficiency.
(Inside Energy)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's move to change the definition for cellulosic biofuels has caused some controversy. According to Energy Global, the new rule essentially allows energy products that are 75 percent cellulosic to qualify as a 100 percent cellulosic biofuel.
(The Hill)
The Department of Energy (DOE) is hitting the brakes on a couple of energy conservation standards. The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is reversing course and will not regulate high-intensity discharge lamps that are often used in gymnasiums, warehouses and parking lots.
(Los Angeles Times)
Goothermal power was once king of California's renewable energy. So many companies were clamoring to transform steam into electricity that they sucked the world's largest geyser field dry.
(Greentech Media)
After two controversial attempts to change net metering policy in San Antonio, CPS Energy, the utility serving the city, thinks it has found a new incentive model for solar that local installers can support.
Acquisitions in the solar industry will take off as manufacturers and developers prepare for the expiration of a tax credit that's helping drive a U.S. installation boom. With renewable-energy executives gathering for the Solar Power International conference that began yesterday in Las Vegas, some will be shopping their companies around and others may be evaluating potential purchases, said Michael Horwitz, who leads energy technology investment banking at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco.
(BBC News)
Investors are seeking funding from the U.K. government for an ambitious plan to import solar energy generated in North Africa.
(Christian Science Monitor)
France is looking to undo decades of nuclear power growth and instead boost energy sources like wind, solar, and small hydro projects.
(Autoblog Green)
Traveling by jet airplane may not be the greenest mode of transportation, but if you're landing at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, at least you'll be able to get into town under pure electric power.

October 20, 2014

Wind power is blowing gas and coal-fired turbines out of business in the Nordic countries, and the effects will be felt across the Baltic region as the renewable glut erodes utility margins for thermal power stations. Fossil power plants in Finland and Denmark act as swing-producers, helping to meet demand when hydropower production in Norway and Sweden falls due to dry weather.
(The Independent)
Eric Pickles has turned down applications to build 19 onshore wind farms in the past year, prompting allegations from senior Liberal Democrats and energy firms that he is playing politics with green energy.
(PV Tech)
U.K. farmers with solar farms on their land will no longer be eligible for any farm subsidies under the E.U.'s Common Agricultural Policy from January 2015. The department of environment, food and rural affairs claims that the move "will help rural communities who do not want their countryside blighted by solar farms."
(Clean Technica)
The noted solar PV module manufacturer and utility-scale project developer Canadian Solar recently hit it big with a 146.4 MW module supply order in the Central American country of Honduras.
Big companies are finally beginning to see the light. Over the past two years, the top 25 corporate solar users in America have more than doubled their capacity, according to a new report by the Solar Energy Industries Association. Cumulatively, these companies produced enough electricity last year to power more than 115,000 homes.
(Think Progress)
On top of new storage-plus-solar deals for businesses, lease-to-own models, and business partnerships, SolarCity has just cooked up a new way for everyday Americans to invest in the solar power it provides.
(New York Times)
When it comes to the future of advanced biofuel production, Abengoa Bioenergy, the Spanish company whose $500 million plant in Hugoton, Kan., opened on Friday, has just one word: plastics. At many of the companies opening big new biofuel plants in the Midwest, executives are already shifting their focus to replacing petroleum not only in the gas tank but elsewhere as well. In Abengoa's case, a big target is plastic bottles.
(The Scotsman)
The boss of an Aberdeenshire renewables company is raising money to build a wind turbine factory in Scotland, using a "game changing" secret design which he believes can revolutionise the industry.
(Midwest Energy News)
If wind turbines stood 20 or 40 meters taller than they typically do today, they would produce more energy and possibly make wind energy economically viable in areas where it currently is not. An Iowa engineer says the solution to provide the necessary growth spurt is to switch from steel to concrete.

October 17, 2014

(The Hill)
Business leaders in the solar power industry have endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon rule proposal for power plants. The letter was organized by Environment America and included leaders from business group Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and private-sector companies like solar panel maker SunEdison and financing marketplace EnergySage Inc.
(Midwest Energy News)
The two investor-owned utilities serving Minneapolis are expected to reach a historic first-in-the-nation agreement today that will pave the way for a cleaner energy system in the city. Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, which provide electricity and natural gas to the city, have signed on to a "clean energy partnership" with Minneapolis calling for creation of a board of public and utility officials to push for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. A separate committee will oversee progress on reducing carbon emissions.
(Dallas Morning News)
Wind in West Texas blows hardest at night, sending the turbines that dot the landscape into a blurry spin. Electricity floods the grid. Power prices are cut in half, bedeviling rival power companies. The insurgence of wind farms onto Texas' power grid has pitted coal against wind, nuclear against solar. But recent efforts in Austin to rein in the renewable power sector have brought unexpected protest from the larger power industry.
South African power utility Eskom said on Thursday it had plugged its wind farm into the national grid, the first major step in a drive to reduce heavy reliance on coal to power Africa's most advanced economy. The Sere wind farm, 350 kms (200 miles) north of Cape Town, is Eskom's first large-scale renewable energy project.
(Baltimore Sun)
Marylanders really, really want to get more of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, a new poll finds. Most also apparently back government mandates to make it happen, even if they have to pay a little more for their power.
The price of solar power in the United States keeps dropping. Back in 2008, the cost of installing a rooftop solar system was about $8 per watt. Today, it's about half that—and still falling. Up until 2012, that price decline was largely due to the fact that the photovoltaic panels themselves were getting cheaper, driven by a glut of Chinese manufacturing and various technology improvements. This story got a lot of attention in the press.
(Clean Technica)
With the most aggressive and ambitious capacity addition targets in the solar power sector, China may soon see the technology mature enough to pull the high financial support currently on offer. Recent media reports quoting Chinese officials abreast with information about the solar power policy in the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) state that financial support in the form of high tariffs and even incentives to equipment manufacturers would go by the end this decade.
(PV Tech)
Global energy provider, SunEdison, has reaffirmed its support for the U.K. market, despite uncertainties over how future support arrangements for large-scale PV will play out. Speaking to PV Tech at Solar Energy U.K. in Birmingham, England this week, SunEdison's general manager for Europe, Alessandro Ceschiat, said the U.K. was still a "priority" for the company, describing it as the most "investor-friendly country in Europe."
The biggest bond issuance for solar farms in Europe was downgraded today because Italy changed its renewable-energy policies. The class A2 notes of Andromeda Finance, a SunPower Corp. (SPWR) project company, were lowered to B, five levels below investment-grade, from BB and given a negative outlook, Fitch Ratings said in a statement.
(Autoblog Green)
The nation's auto dealers are taking their fight against Tesla and its direct method of selling cars to consumers to the symbolic heart of the auto industry. In Michigan, a bill that would entrench the existing dealer networks and prohibit direct car sales to buyers has passed both the state's house and senate, and awaits Gov. Rick Snyder's signature.

October 16, 2014

(Washington Post)
What if the nuclear reaction that heats the sun could be replicated to power cities on earth? Lockheed Martin is betting that it can be done—and within a decade. The defense giant said Wednesday it is building a compact nuclear fusion reactor.
European government officials have approved a proposal to delay deadlines for final investment decisions and the operational launch of Europe's first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage plant and 40 renewable energy projects.