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Clean Economy Wire

August 29, 2014

(Fuel Fix)
Power generation from renewable resources like wind, solar and hydroelectricity grew last year, but that growth could slow over the next five years unless policymakers provide more certainty about the future market for such technology, the International Energy Agency said in a new report today. Renewable resources accounted for 22 percent of the world's power generation last year, and by 2020, that figure could climb to 26 percent, the Paris-based intergovernmental organization said.
(Greentech Media)
America has fallen behind when it comes to investing in new energy infrastructure.  According to the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers, energy companies have chronically under-invested in the electrical grid, oil and gas pipelines, and storage facilities for fuels. The organization gave America a sorry D+ grade for the shortfall.
Solar manufacturers are set to ship a record number of panels this year, with the largest makers expected to deliver 52 percent more panel between them than 2013. Hanwha SolarOne Co. saw "robust" volumes in the first half while maintaining its aim to sell as many as 1.6 gigawatts of panels this year, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Qidong, China-based company Nam Seong-Woo said yesterday on a call with analysts.
(The Hill)
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced on Thursday the first-ever solar energy project in Myanmar's Mandalay region, which is expected to increase power generation by upward of 12 percent. Froman said the project, which is slated for completion in 2016, is expected to increase the nation's stable energy capacity and improve its ability to attract investment to help its economy grow.
(Midwest Energy News)
Bethel Evangelical Lutheran and Minnesota Community Solar came together earlier this year to promote a solar garden that will sit atop the roof of the Minneapolis church. Without a panel yet installed, the 40-kilowatt (kW) solar garden attracted enough support from the church’s members and surrounding Bancroft neighborhood to be fully subscribed. The project encapsulated for Rev. Brenda L. Froisland a deeper spiritual tug that speaks to her faith and the teachings of Christianity.
(Inside Energy)
Standing under a trio of shiny wind turbine blades, slicing through the air, the sound is deafening. "They're about 80 meters tall," Laine Anderson explained.  He is a project manager with PacifiCorp, the utility company that owns High Plains Wind Farm. "When the wind is blowing a certain speed, you can hear the wind turbine operating and the blades whispering in the wind."
(Los Angeles Times)
A bill that would phase out rebates for the wealthy who buy plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles passed the Assembly and could join two related bills Thursday on their way to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. One of the other bills would increase the number of carpool-lane permits for solo drivers using plug-in hybrid cars. The third bill would prohibit landlords from stopping renters from installing electric car chargers as long as the tenant pays for installation.
China said on Friday it would offer tax breaks on purchases of electric cars predominantly made by Chinese automakers, in its latest policy measure to boost green vehicles in the world's biggest auto market, amid rising concern over pollution.
Tesla Motors Co. and a state-owned Chinese phone carrier have announced plans to build 400 charging stations for electric cars. The plan announced Friday calls for China Unicom Ltd. to provide space for construction and basic services in 120 cities while California-based Tesla operates the charging stations.

August 28, 2014

Investments in new clean-energy capacity will total $1.61 trillion through 2020 even as the expansion of renewables is expected to slow, the International Energy Agency said. Funding for power generation from wind, solar radiation and biomass will average $230 billion a year from $250 billion in 2013 as technology costs fall and growth loses pace, the Paris-based adviser to 29 nations said today in its annual renewables report.
(Pacific Business News)
Some members of Hawaii's solar energy industry are not too happy with the changes the Hawaiian Electric Cos. have proposed in a plan submitted to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission late Tuesday, including some who say that the end of the net energy metering program, which credits rooftop solar customers at the full retail value of electricity, is inevitable.
(Think Progress)
A church in West Virginia just got 60 panels installed on its roof for $1, thanks to a local group that’s making it easier and cheaper for nonprofits in the state to go solar. At a ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday, Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church became the site of the largest community-supported solar system in West Virginia, at the same time kicking off a model to bring solar energy to West Virginia nonprofits that’s being pioneered by local group Solar Holler.
Ionic liquids – salts that are liquid at room temperature – could potentially be made more cheaply and greenly by recycling by-products from biofuel production processes, according to U.S. researchers. These ionic liquids derived from biofuel waste could then actually be turned to extracting sugars from biomass to be made into fuels.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
The Abbott government is set to release its long-awaited review into the renewable energy target on Thursday. Government sources said the review is expected to be released on Thursday afternoon, but it is unclear whether it will be published in full.
Investment in windfarms and other large-scale renewables would dry up and subsidies for household solar power and electricity could cease under recommendations to the federal government from its review of the renewable energy target (RET). The recommendations from the review, chaired by businessman and self-professed climate sceptic Dick Warburton, are set to be opposed by Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United party, setting the stage for another fight over climate policy in the upper house.
(Business Green)
London's fast-expanding green bus fleet is to receive a further boost, after Transport for London (TfL) yesterday announced the launch of a new trial to test four specially designed hybrid buses capable of wirelessly charging their batteries when standing at bus stops.
(Autoblog Green)
If you're of the opinion that current federal and state support for electric vehicle shoppers in the U.S. are really just hand-outs to the already well-to-do, you might like what California State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) is up to. De Leon sponsored a bill earlier this year called the Charge Ahead California Initiative (State Bill 1275) which today passed the California Assembly by a vote of 46-23. The state Senate is expected to send the bill to Governor Edmund Brown soon.
(Wall Street Journal)
Tesla Motors Inc. TSLA +0.57% opened its latest Supercharger location today near Lake Tahoe, a popular vacation spot for Bay Area Model S owners and part of the company's growing network of fast-charging locations.

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.