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Clean Economy Wire

December 19, 2014

(StateImpact Texas)
Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view's about what you'd expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you'll see—and hear—three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.
(Greentech Media)
TXU Energy was one of the first energy retailers to offer a smart thermostat program, way back in 2009. The Texas retailer has now chosen EnergyHub to manage those thermostats, which number in the tens of thousands, according to EnergyHub.
Nevada regulators rejected for the second time Wednesday a request to waive competitive bids for utility company NV Energy to buy solar power from a proposed solar generation station on the Moapa River Paiute Indian Reservation outside Las Vegas.
Kansas isn't the easiest state to be a solar installer, but one stalwart firm has figured out a way to be successful. Aron Cromwell, owner of Cromwell Solar, created a solar leasing program with a local bank, Mid America, that's generating business for both of them.
Japan's trade ministry said on Thursday it plans to change a feed-in-tariff scheme by making it possible for utilities to limit renewable power output more flexibly while trying to lower guaranteed payments to providers of such power. The changes follow a rush of applications for solar projects since the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis in 2011.
China will probably cut the preferential rate it offers wind power developers less than previously planned as policy makers seek to expand the industry in a measured way, the country's leading turbine makers said. To avoid a situation where developers rush to qualify for tariffs before they're cut, a deadline won't be set for when they need to apply, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. (2208) Vice President Ma Jinru said in an interview in Beijing.
Kenya may soon be home to the largest wind project on the continent of Africa. Danish wind company Vestas won a contract to provide 365 turbines for a 310 megawatt wind power project in Kenya. The Lake Turkana Wind Power project will be the largest of its kind in Africa, and is expected to generate 15-20 percent of Kenya's electricity needs when completed. According to project developers, the site is a unique location that is favorable for wind. It is situated at high altitude (2,300 meters), and has consistent and predictable wind patterns.
Funding for wave power, seen as a potentially huge and clean source of energy for the U.K., has become uncertain as investors pull out or are unwilling to invest, according to a new report.
(Los Angeles Times)
Joining an increasingly crowded field of automakers producing zero-emissions alternative fuel vehicles, Honda's FCV hydrogen-powered concept car is to make its U.S. debut at the January North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota's new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it's no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car's front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there's the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.

December 18, 2014

(The Hill)
A $41.6 billion package of tax breaks passed by the Senate Tuesday night extends controversial credits for the wind power industry, but only through the end of the year. The extensions for the wind tax credit through 2014 offers little relief for the sector, supporters said.
(Greentech Media)
The Department of Commerce slapped high tariffs on solar products from China and Taiwan yesterday in a decision intended to address dumping and unfair subsidization of imports to the United States. The final ruling marks another victory for petitioner SolarWorld Americas in a lengthy solar trade battle.
(Business Green)
The U.K.'s low carbon transition is continuing to gather pace, according to a flurry of new government statistics, which show a sharp fall in energy demand, increased renewable energy generation, and reduced fossil fuel production. The U.K.'s Energy Trends update for the third quarter was published today, confirming low carbon electricity's share of generation rose to 38.6 per cent during the period, up from 37.1 percent during the same three months last year.
(Midwest Energy News)
A new report suggests Minnesota could supply more than 50 percent of its power needs through renewable energy by 2030 while creating more jobs and meeting federal carbon targets. The Wind Energy Foundation's "Powering Up Minnesota: A Report on The Benefits of Renewable Electricity Development" offers a scenario in which Minnesota could produce 6,884 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity under a more aggressive high growth scenario.
(PV Tech)
Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is slated to develop a 131MW PV plant in Georgia, which will sell its energy to three electric membership companies within the "Peach State." The plant, which will be developed on a 368.7 hectare site in Taylor Country, will be comprised of 1.6 million thin-film solar modules and is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016.
(StateImpact Texas)
About an hour's drive outside of Sevilla, Spain's old city, past grazing black-footed pigs and olive orchards, sits the Abengoa Solucar complex, and it's truly a sight: Imagine cresting a hill and then all of the sudden seeing several large towers, over 500 feet high, with hundreds of beams of light striking them—solar rays from an army of mirrors arrayed in a circle on the ground below. They're called heliostats.
(MIT Technology Review)
It's 38 °C on the Atsumi Peninsula southwest of Tokyo: a deadly heat wave has been gripping much of Japan late this summer. Inside the offices of a newly built power plant operated by the plastics company Mitsui Chemicals, the AC is blasting. Outside, 215,000 solar panels are converting the blistering sunlight into 50 megawatts of electricity for the local grid. Three 118-meter-high wind turbines erected at the site add six megawatts of generation capacity to back up the solar panels during the winter.
The next generation of geothermal energy technology—called enhanced or engineered geothermal, or EGS for short—has long been just out of reach in a commercial sense. It's been too expensive, mostly due to the high cost of drilling new enhanced geothermal wells into hard, hot rocks more than 10,000 feet below the earth's surface.

December 17, 2014

(The Republic)
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar has joined a growing chorus of officials concerned with solar leases, and asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the industry in a letter co-signed by several other Republicans. Solar leases are a popular option for homeowners who do not want to pay upfront for rooftop solar panels, and for non-profits or government facilities that can't take advantage of federal tax credits when they install solar.
(New York Times)
China's Commerce Ministry strongly criticized on Wednesday afternoon the United States' decision to impose broader antidumping and antisubsidy tariffs on solar panels from China, but stopped short of threatening specific retaliation.
(PV Tech)
Solar technology manufacturer SunEdison has announced that it has raised U.S. $117 million for its second fund for generation projects in the U.S. with Barclays and Citi.
(Climate Progress)
Plenty of Texas' politicians may be ignoring climate change, but individual cities and municipalities in the state are still making moves toward renewable energy. The latest gambit is coming out of Austin, where last week the city passed a new plan to get 55 percent of its power from clean energy by 2025.
The Prime Minister has dealt a major blow to the U.K.'s wind energy industry, declaring that he expects onshore wind farms to provide no more than 10 per cent of the country's power demand and reiterating Conservative Party plans to phase out subsidies for new wind turbines in the next parliament.
(BBC News)
Most seabirds avoid offshore wind farm sites, new research has suggested. The review found that over 99 percent of seabirds were likely to alter their flight paths in order to avoid collision with turbines.
(Climate Central)
Driving an electric car could be worse for both the climate and public health if the electricity that runs it was generated at a coal-fired power plant. If that electricity came from solar or wind generators, then an electric vehicle is among the cleanest forms of transportation around.
London's cluttered network of subways, sewers and secret passages is getting two more tunnels to meet electricity use growing faster than in Paris and New York.
(Minnesota Public Radio)
Minnesota utility regulators on Monday authorized more than $500 million in new electrical generating units for Xcel Energy, including the state's largest solar power project.

December 16, 2014

(PV Tech)
The CEO and board of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) must resign over its position in the U.S.-China trade row, according to the largest privately held installer in the United States.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Wind Energy Holding, one of Thailand's largest renewable-energy companies, said Tuesday the company's founder, Nopporn Suppipat, stepped down as co-chief executive after being implicated in a high-profile corruption investigation. Mr. Nopporn, a 43-year-old rising star in Thailand's corporate scene, left the country to avoid arrest on charges of extortion and insulting the monarchy, police said.
(Vermont Public Radio)
The Shumlin administration wants to change the way Vermont encourages and accounts for renewable energy projects, but it's trying to do so in a way that avoids a big hit to ratepayers.