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Clean Economy Wire

August 27, 2014

Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world's largest private bank.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
In a sandy marsh on the outskirts of this medieval hamlet, Germany's next autobahn will soon take shape.
It's one thing to own your utility with a commitment to renewable energy, but it's quite another thing to deliver on it. In 2007, the municipal utility in Palo Alto, Calif., set an ambitious target of achieving 33 percent renewable energy by 2015, and ultimately a carbon neutral electricity supply. Seven years later, they are on track to reach 48 percent renewable power in 2017, and have been meeting their carbon neutral goal since late last year.
(Denver Post)
Xcel Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a ruling that Boulder cannot condemn a high-voltage transmission line that circles the city without first getting FERC permission. The filing made Tuesday before the federal commission is one more salvo in the widening legal war as Boulder tries to form a municipal electric utility.
(Greentech Media)
Utility industry pros often say Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla would recognize today's electric grid because the basic architecture has changed so little over the past 100 years. The same could be said for electricity pricing. And that's a problem if distributed energy is to be deeply integrated in today's power grid, according to a report from the Electricity Innovation Lab.
(PV Tech)
Suntech is targeting the South American markets and expects Brazil and Mexico to follow Chile's lead on utility-scale solar. The company is currently exhibiting at Intersolar South America.
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Minnesota Power said Tuesday it will build its first large solar generation project at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, Minn. Under a deal to be signed Wednesday, the Duluth-based utility will build a $25 million, 10-megawatt solar power array on 100 acres of land on the military base in 2015 or 2016. A megawatt is 1 million watts.
(Climate Central)
You might never have seen an Yuma clapper rail. Fewer than 1,000 are thought to still be sloshing about in cattail-thick marshes from Mexico up to Utah and across to California. But if you were lucky enough to spot one, you might chuckle at its oversized toes.
By putting millions of cyclists on the road, bike-sharing is reshaping the design of cities by connecting mass transit, removing cars from centers and creating new infrastructure. Hangzhou and Wuhan in China are the global leaders; India's megacities are struggling to take off; the U.S. is playing catch-up; Africa is a no-show.
(National Geographic)
In nearly 3 million data centers across the United States, some 12 million machines serve up the emails, web pages, and files we access online every day. They're the repositories of all our computerized information.

August 26, 2014

(Think Progress)
The country's largest wireless carrier is on a mission to also be its greenest. Verizon Wireless Inc. announced on Monday that it will invest $40 million into 10.2 megawatts (MW) of solar power in five states across the country.
(PV Tech)
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has launched the NY-Sun Initiative, a plan to consolidate the state's existing solar incentive programmes into a single support scheme, aimed at adding 3GW of solar generation capacity by 2023.
China is cutting its dependence on carbon-heavy coal and replacing it with solar power at a breakneck pace, Topf writes. The world's top energy consumer added 3.3 gigawatts of solar power capacity between January and June.
The Australian renewable energy industry has warned that it faces destruction if – as is now widely anticipated – the Abbott government decides it wants to drastically scale back the renewable energy target, or even close it to new entrants.
If you're driving through the South and you see a denuded field filled with stubby new plantings where lush forest once stood, the blame might lie with an unlikely culprit: the European Union and its well-intentioned clean energy rules. In March 2007, the E.U. adopted climate and energy goals for 2010 to 2020. The 27 member countries set a goal of reducing carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 and increasing renewables to 20 percent of their energy portfolio.
(Oregon Public Broadcasting)
There's been a lot of hype around geothermal power, which uses heat from the below the earth's surface to provide a steady, renewable source of energy. But the sector has been slow to take off, even though the U.S. is the world's top producer of geothermal energy. With help from federal grants, several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the technology forward.
(Al Jazeera America)
When Elon Musk's Tesla announced that it will start building lithium ion batteries to fuel its electric cars and signed a deal with Panasonic to build a $5 billion Gigafactory, it resonated in certain circles as the ultimate challenge. The race for energy storage is on. Tesla's lithium ion is in the lead, but other companies think they can invent a better, cheaper battery. Not for cars but to harness renewable energy like wind and solar and make the world's electricity infrastructure more resilient and reliable.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
BYD Co., China's leading producer of electric cars, said its sales of the vehicles rose sixfold during the first half of the year, after moves by Beijing to encourage more sales of green cars to tackle air pollution. Still, the jump—which brought BYD's first-half sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars to roughly 7,600—wasn't big enough to signal mass-market demand for the pricey cars, analysts said.
In southwest Denver, just blocks off a stretch of West Evans Avenue liberally dotted with auto repair shops and paint stores, a ladder stretches up the side of a small, one-story tan house. Workers atop the roof wield tape measures and oil crayons, calling off numbers and making marks outlining a setup for solar panels.
(IEEE Spectrum)
The idea of solar windows has been around for some time now, and a number of different approaches—from spray-on solar cells to just really thin film possibilities—are under investigation. Though these are promising, the underlying issue with many of the ideas is that in order for them to work they need to stop some amount of light from getting through the window. And tinted windows are fine, in some situations, but too much tint turns a window into a wall.

August 25, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
The White House is now reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency's planned quotas for renewable fuels, a major milestone in the long path to setting this year's biofuel mandates. For now, at least, the targets are under wraps, as the Office of Management and Budget conducts a final interagency review and gives refiners, biofuel producers and other stakeholders one last chance to weigh in on the mandates.
(Los Angeles Times)
Californians who want to put solar panels on their roofs could benefit from a state bill headed to the governor's desk. The Legislature on Thursday passed the Solar Permitting Efficiency Act, which promises to streamline the solar permitting process throughout California. Industry officials say that could save each customer $1,000 or more on the cost of installing solar panels.
(Christian Science Monitor)
With oil and gas booming in the United States—and wind energy booming for now—both industries hope to extend their success by moving offshore. And they're getting help from the federal government, which on Tuesday auctioned off 80,000 acres along the coast of Maryland for wind development and on Wednesday took bids for oil and gas exploration rights covering 430,000 acres off the Texas coast.
Wind energy was one of the largest contributors to an increase in renewable electricity generation in 2013, but different regions of the globe are adopting wind power at different paces.
(Autoblog Green)
Testing vehicle emissions in the laboratory is a way to guarantee identical procedures, but it doesn't exactly mimic the results from an on-the-road drive. Ford, for example, famously had a problem with dynamometer testing in the Total Road Load Horsepower (TRLHP) calculations for the C-Max Hybrid.
One of the hottest clashes in technology pits two pathmakers in the new era of electric cars—Tesla and General Motors. Both are developing pure electrics that cost roughly $35,000, travel 200 miles on a single charge, and appeal to the mass luxury market.
(Fast Company)
The best way to describe JPods, a new form of public transit soon to be tested in New Jersey, is "something out of the Jetsons." At least that's how one city official described the solar-powered pods, which are a combination of light rail and self-driving car suspended above roads. Imagine something like a ski lift running above our existing streets and you're getting close to the right mental image.
China has appealed against a WTO dispute panel report on anti-dumping duties applied on certain Chinese products by the United States, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Friday. The appeal covers products including solar panels, wind towers, thermal and coated paper, certain lawn trimmers, kitchen shelving, steel sinks and cylinders, line pipes and extrusions.
India's power minister asked domestic solar equipment makers to start idled capacities, pledging the government would ensure buyers for their products. The assurance came as India failed to publicly announce dumping duties by an Aug. 22 deadline on competing U.S. and Asian imports. The levies threatened to stall projects in the region's third-biggest solar market and escalate a protectionist trade war already under way between the U.S., Europe and China.
(Tampa Bay Times)
Duke Energy is exploring sites for a solar farm in Pinellas County. The energy company is looking for privately or publicly owned properties throughout its Florida service territory that could accommodate fields of solar panels that would feed power to the grid, company spokesman Sterling Ivey said.