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Clean Economy Wire

April 24, 2014

(PV Tech)
The Republican governor of Oklahoma has issued an executive order ruling that the body responsible for setting electricity tariffs in the U.S. state should support the distributed generation of electricity, including wind and solar. Governor Mary Fallin issued the order following the passing of Senate Bill 1456. The bill authorized utility companies to apply for the authority to charge higher base rates to distributed generation customers.
Google can't stop investing in clean power. Earlier this week it announced that it inked its largest clean power contract to date to buy energy from a wind farm in Iowa. And now on Wednesday Google has announced that it's teamed up with solar panel maker and project developer SunPower to provide funding for installing solar panels on home rooftops.
(Houston Chronicle)
A new report says the geothermal power market is booming internationally but stagnant at home. The study, released this week by the Geothermal Energy Association, found that worldwide, the geothermal power market has a growth rate of 4 to 5 percent, with nearly 700 projects underway around the globe.
(E&E Publishing)
Georgetown University will open a new contest tomorrow, dangling a $5 million prize for cities across America to improve their efficiency. Open to almost 9,000 communities with populations between 5,000 and 250,000 residents, the program will track entrants over a two-year period and grant the award in 2017.
(Fast Company)
Choosing solar power no longer has to be a sacrifice for the sake of the environment. In Germany, Italy, and Spain, installing your own solar panels can now actually save money. A report released by European renewable energy consulting firm Eclareon shows that solar energy has reached "grid parity." In other words, over the full lifetime of the equipment, the total cost of owning and operating rooftop solar panels is about the same as buying electricity from the grid.
(E&E Publishing)
The debate over how rooftop solar panels can be paid for in some Southeastern states will stay around until the laws change to something utilities and solar advocates can live with. That may take a while.
Funding renewable projects with Indian government-backed green bonds could lower the cost of clean power by as much as 25 percent, according to a study. The government could sell bonds and lend the proceeds to wind and solar farm developers. India could offer funds a third cheaper than commercial bank loans and for double the tenor as the government has the highest domestic credit rating, according to a report by the Indian School of Business and Climate Policy Initiative, a San Francisco-based research firm.
(Atlantic Cities)
Next Monday, a battery-powered, 40-foot bus is set to roll off the assembly line in a former recreational vehicle factory in Lancaster, California, a blue-collar desert community north of Los Angeles, and be delivered to the local transit authority. There's no missing the symbolism—a defunct manufacturing plant that once made massive, gas-hogging RVs is reborn to produce carbon-free transportation (and local jobs)—as the world tips toward climate catastrophe.
Low carbon energy investment is the cornerstone of Britain's energy future – and is already playing a leading part in the coalition's infrastructure growth plan. The central importance of secure, green energy was clear even before the recent events in Ukraine or before the latest scientific reports from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
(Think Progress)
In a recently released free book by the Princeton Review, three-hundred and thirty universities in the United States and two in Canada are profiled as green four-year higher education institutions. The Princeton Review's Guide to 332 Green Colleges, released on April 17, set out to profile these institutions for "[demonstrating] a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities, and career preparation."

April 23, 2014

(Green Car Congress)
The California Energy Commission has unanimously approved two major investment plans that could total nearly a half a billion dollars. One will fund clean energy research that benefits electricity ratepayers. Another is an annual clean transportation investment plan that is designed to spark innovation in projects that will help transform California's fleet to meet greenhouse gas and clean air goals.
(Climate Central)
Anyone living in Oklahoma planning to power their home using a rooftop solar panel will soon be charged a fee for the right to do that while still being connected to the local power grid. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed the "solar surcharge" bill into law on Monday, permitting utilities to charge an extra fee to any customer using distributed power generation, such as rooftop solar or a small wind turbine.
(The Hill)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday retroactively lowered the volume of cellulosic biofuel that refiners must blend into traditional fuels, aligning the 2013 mandated volume to the actual amount of fuels produced. EPA's original mandate for 2013 was based on a projection that producers would make 6 million ethanol-equivalent gallons of cellulosic biofuel, but just over 800,000 gallons of the fuels were actually produced that year, the agency said.
The UK government has agreed deals to financially support eight major new renewable energy projects that will power millions of homes. Five of the schemes are offshore windfarms, which the Conservative party plans to back in its general election manifesto over cheaper but more controversial onshore wind power.
(Business Green)
Bloomberg's charitable arm has invested $5m (£3m) in Little Sun, a social enterprise that distributes solar lamps across Africa to help reduce communities' dependency on polluting kerosene lamps. Bloomberg Philanthropies yesterday confirmed that it has provided a low-interest loan to Little Sun, which will be used to help expand its reach to homes, schools and businesses across the developing world.
(PV Tech)
Solar associations in the Gulf and India have struck a deal that will see the two regions offer mutual support to their PV industries through the sharing of expertise and resources. The Saudi Arabia Solar Industry Association, the Solar Gulf Cooperation Council Alliance and the National Solar Energy Federation India agreed earlier this month to collaborate on solar energy initiatives.
(Edmonton Journal)
Edmonton and Calgary have the fewest energy-efficiency programs of seven western cities while Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg aim to be leaders in the battle to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases, says a new report released Monday. While Vancouver requires a gold standard in energy efficiency for civic buildings, Edmonton settles for a silver rating for civic buildings under the LEED green building code (as does the Alberta government on its new buildings), says the report by the Canada West Foundation, Buildings, Bicycles and Sprawl.
Since the time of Don Quixote, the winds have blown strongly across the Spanish plains. But these days, Cervantes' deluded hero would be more likely to go tilting at turbines rather than mills.
(New York Times)
Energy storage is crucial to transforming the electric grid into a clean, sustainable, low-emissions system, the experts say. And it's happening already, just not the way most consumers would expect. The simplest idea for storage—charging up batteries at night when there is a lot of wind energy and not much demand for it, or at midday when the sun is bright—is years from being feasible, according to the experts.
(Sustainable Business)
It looks like the age of digital currencies may be unfolding, with the popularity of Bitcoin and now the launch of SolarCoin. People that produce solar energy will earn one Solarcoin for every megawatt-hour of electricity they produce, creating even more incentives for people to produce more clean energy.

April 22, 2014

(Think Progress)
A good deal of sunlight shines on the remote First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan. On Thursday, the sub-arctic Canadian settlement's sun rose at 5:50 a.m., shining until it set at around 9 at night. The community's population of 1,100 could meet its energy needs entirely with sunlight if it wanted, a recent study showed. At present, though, solar and other types of renewable power are far from Fort Chip's collective mind.
On a stunning cloudless day in the Nevada desert, Lisa Jackson stands with her back to an array of advanced solar cells, peering across a low chain link fence at NV Energy's Fort Churchill Power Generating plant just a few hundred yards away. The 1960s vintage facility has two giant boilers rising from the scrub brush, belching steam and god knows what else. It couldn't be more different than the futuristic tract where Jackson is standing, with its gleaming rows of curved mirrors and palm-size silicon wafers silently drawing energy from the blinding sun. It's like a contrast between a phone booth and an iPhone.
(Greentech Media)
California is well on its way to reaching its goal of 1 million solar roofs. Earlier this month, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it has over 100,000 customers generating solar power—the most of any utility in America, accounting for a quarter of all rooftop solar systems in the country. As of April, PG&E has 115,000 solar customers with a combined total of just over 1,000 megawatts of rooftop solar. This number is double what it was at the end of 2011 and represents half of all solar in California.
(Green Biz)
Last week, RMI's program to significantly scale the commitment by Fortune 500 companies to source renewable energy was chosen as one of six winners at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit's Finance for Resilience ("FiRe") event. FiRe is designed to identify the best proposals to spur increased investment in renewables and scale them as quickly as possible.
(The Scotsman)
A wind farm that could earn the Scottish Conservative environment spokesman more than £8 million is being recommended for refusal. Ardchonnel wind farm, which is being planned on a 3,500-acre estate in Argyll owned by Tory MSP Sir Jamie McGrigor, is to be considered by Argyll and Bute Council on Wednesday.
(The Hill)
The U.S. Army will break ground this week on a new solar power array at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., which will be the largest solar array on a United States military installation. When the array starts operating in late 2014, it will provide about 25 percent of Fort Huachuca's electricity needs, the Army said Monday.
For years Pakistanis have sweated and cursed through summer power cuts, but now the government plans to harness the sun's ferocious heat to help tackle the country's chronic energy crisis. In a corner of the Cholistan desert in Punjab province, power transmission lines, water pipes and a pristine new road cross 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of parched, sandy land.
(Autoblog Green)
The general political attitudes taken by the left and right in the U.S. are, sadly, divided on the issue of fuel efficient vehicles. Broadly speaking, Republicans dislike the whole idea (even going to absurd extremes like Newt Gingrich saying that inflating your tires helps Big Oil) while Democrats are in favor. The stereotype even gets in the way of people thinking that the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program is an Obama Administration creation. It's not, and was started under President Bush in 2008.

April 21, 2014

(Los Angeles Times)
The political attack ad that ran recently in Arizona had some familiar hallmarks of the genre, including a greedy villain who hogged sweets for himself and made children cry. But the bad guy, in this case, wasn't a fat-cat lobbyist or someone's political opponent.
(The Oklahoman)
Herb Hill might be among just a handful of people in Oklahoma with a house powered by the sun and the wind. On his 5-acre property west of Crescent, the 85-year-old utility company retiree has 36 solar panels and a 100-foot-tall wind turbine. He also has a propane-powered emergency generator to back up the electricity from his local electric cooperative.