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Clean Economy Wire

July 31, 2014

(The Republic)
Arizona Public Service Co. wants to put free solar panels on 3,000 homes to help meet state targets for alternative-energy use and to satisfy customer demand from people who can't afford to buy or lease the power systems. If the plan is approved by regulators, the customers would get a monthly $30 credit on their electricity bills for 20 years in exchange for allowing APS to put solar panels on their roofs.
(Clean Technica)
While the solar industry and big utilities are—for the most part—finding common ground in neighboring Massachusetts, word on the streets from Hartford to New Haven has it that Connecticut Light and Power is about to launch a sneak attack on rooftop solar customers taking advantage of the state's net energy metering policy. If this sounds like a familiar story, that's because it is.
(Times Union)
Troy Boiler Works employees have built four high-efficiency, wood pellet-fired boilers in the past year, with six more scheduled in coming months. Lou Okonski, Troy Boiler Works president and manager of the unit that makes these boilers, Evoworld, hopes a new $27 million state program will mean a lot more orders in the future.
(Greentech Media)
The Edison Electric Institute, the power industry's main trade group, is calling on utilities to better promote electric cars in order to stimulate demand for electricity and help reverse trends that threaten the long-term viability of some in the industry.
New models helped sales of electric cars in the European Union double in 2013, but the zero-emission vehicles still only account for one in every 250 new cars sold. Electric cars are a crucial part of government policies tackling both air pollution and climate change, but car manufacturers have lobbied hard against rules to cut emissions.
Recurrent Energy, a leading U.S. developer of solar power plants, is closing its Australian office because of the uncertainty over the renewable energy target. Recurrent last week said it had 1,500MW of large scale solar PV projects in the pipeline in Australia, worth around $3 billion in potential investments, although it said it was only likely to be able to develop these if the renewable energy target was maintained.
(PV Tech)
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has lodged charges against a company that it claims sought to dupe investors into backing a non-existent solar plant joint venture. In a statement yesterday, the SEC claimed MSGI Technology Solutions, a penny stock company, issued misleading information aimed at giving the impression the company was poised to become a big player in solar project development, when in fact it had no operations, customers or revenue.
Brazil's BNDES development bank will allow solar developers to import photovoltaic cells until 2020 as part of efforts to spur domestic solar manufacturing capacity. From 2020, local content rules will require developers to use components produced in Brazil to qualify for its low-cost financing, Antonio Carlos Tovar, head of renewable energy development for BNDES, said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.
A massive wind farm planned for the Irish Sea has been scrapped. The Rhiannon wind farm, 12 miles (19km) north east of Anglesey, would have covered an area the size of the island.
(Business Green)
Electricity from renewable sources increased 30 percent over 2013 to account for 14.9 percent of total generation, U.K. government figures have today confirmed. The increased share marks a rise of 3.6 percentage points on 2012, when renewables made up 11.3 percent of total electricity generation, according to the latest energy statistics released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

July 30, 2014

France's planned energy law will mobilize about 10 billion euros ($13.4 billion) in tax credits and low-interest loans to spur energy efficiency and renewable generation, according to Environment Minister Segolene Royal. The law seeks to boost growth and jobs, Royal said today in a BFM TV interview. Measures include tax breaks and loans for households carrying out renovations to better insulate homes.
On the second anniversary of a scheme aimed at boosting Japan's renewable energy after the Fukushima crisis, its powerful industry ministry is taking steps critics say will choke off solar investment and pave the way for a return to nuclear power.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
The European Union may lower the minimum import price for Chinese solar panels, set in an agreement last year that allowed companies in China to avoid steep import tariffs for selling solar equipment at unfairly low prices, according to documents seen by The Wall Street Journal. The lower price is the result of a technical change to how the minimum import price is calculated that was sought by Chinese producers.
(The Globe and Mail)
Canadian solar panel makers could potentially gain from a nasty spat between the United States and China over the dumping of low-cost solar equipment. The U.S. Department of Commerce ruled late last week that solar panels and cells from China and Taiwan were being sold too cheaply in the U.S. market, and it set new import duties on them. Some of those tariffs are steep – up to 165 per cent.
(CBS 5)
Change is in the wind for the quiet border town of San Luis. The farming community might soon be home to a massive solar wind tower - the sheer enormity of which would make it a new Arizona landmark.
(Latin Post)
Enhanced data, a drop in costs and increased demand for electricity has provoked many countries to reconsider geothermal as an energy source.  The World Energy Outlook said in 2011, 1 percent of the world's electric power came from geothermal energy, now it is 4-5 percent. There are 700 geothermal projects under development in 76 countries.
(The Hill)
Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tuesday to increase the amount of ethanol and biodiesel refiners must use, a day after she was accused of not supporting the mandate that is popular among Iowa farmers.
It's still only a tiny fraction of Americans who actually own electric cars. But that number is growing fast. So far this year, roughly 54,973 plug-in electric and battery-electric vehicles have been sold in the United States.
How lucrative could the solar energy storage business be for Tesla? Almost as lucrative as selling cars. That's according to Morgan Stanley, which this week placed a figure—$2 billion—on how much it thinks Tesla could make in annual revenue from solar energy storage. That's assuming that its "gigafactory"—a massive lithium-ion battery production facility, which is currently still in the planning stages—is up and running by the end of the decade.

July 29, 2014

(Think Progress)
After maintaining a low profile for decades, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) received widespread exposure in recent years for backing Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law, a substantial part of the national discussion following the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
(The Hill)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday that he had proposed amendments that would restore the tax credits for wind energy and biodiesel production. Both measures would amend the Bring Jobs Home Act, which seeks to discourage outsourcing jobs by ending certain tax credits. The wind and biodiesel incentives, popular in Iowa because they benefits industries common to the state, expired last year.
(The Salt Lake Tribune)
Angled to the southeast, Stan Holmes' home above the state Capitol has a great view of City Creek Canyon but a less optimal position for solar panels—they generate most of their electricity in the morning, not during afternoon surges in demand.
(PV Tech)
The U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific has given a contract to Pacific Energy Solutions LLC for a procurement of energy generated from multiple renewable-energy projects. Pacific Energy Solutions will design, build, own, operate and maintain the PV arrays, which will provide energy to both Navy and Marine Corps bases in Oahu, Hawaii. The total amount of energy generated from the arrays is expected to be around 17MW.
(Edmonton Journal)
Alberta needs to act now to take advantage of its huge, free, clean and largely untapped solar resource, an industry group says in a new report to the provincial government. According to the Canadian Solar Industries Association, there is a perfect solar storm in this province right now: Electricity demand is rising sharply, coal-fired power plants are being phased out and prices of solar-electricity equipment are falling—all at the same time that the provincial government is developing a renewable energy framework.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's flights around the world helped fund a wind farm on a luxury hotel in India and a biogas plant run by a Chinese beer maker. Germany spent about 9.9 million euros ($13.3 million) from 2008 through 2012 to offset the greenhouse-gas emissions made by the air travel of members of the government and parliament, the government said in a reply to questions from the Green Party. The offsets paid for climate-protection projects around the world.
(Greentech Media)
Officially, SolarCity, Sunrun and Vivint do not offer loans for the residential photovoltaic (PV) systems that they help finance and install. Unofficially, it's another story.
More Wisconsin school districts have begun to take advantage of a change in state law allowing them to borrow money to help fund energy efficient projects.
(Wall Street Journal)
China appears to be running behind in its goal of becoming a major market for electric cars. The government set a target of having 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road by next year and five million by 2020. Yet sales of new-energy vehicles reached only 17,642 units last year—a tiny fraction of the 18 million passenger cars sold. The country has so few chargers that one electric-car enthusiast even built his own charging network. But hope springs eternal for auto executives, with one saying China is on its way.
Drivers in London with vehicles fuelled by diesel will be charged an additional fee similar to the existing £11.50 congestion charge, if proposals by the mayor Boris Johnson are accepted. The plans are aimed at reducing air pollution, which in the capital has reached levels far above legal safety limits, leading to the prospect of large fines from the European Union.

July 28, 2014

(New York Times)
Even as regulators continue to wrestle with the protracted trade conflict with China over solar panels, the case has already started to reshape the industry, lifting manufacturers based outside China while also raising prices of panels for developers.