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Clean Economy Wire

October 31, 2014

The U.K. Green Investment Bank mobilized 5 billion pounds ($8 billion) of total spending on carbon-cutting technology in the two years since starting up. The Green Investment Bank has invested about 1.6 billion pounds in 37 projects around Britain, with companies putting in 3.7 billion pounds, it said today in an e-mailed statement. Details of two of the projects have yet to be announced.
(New York Times)
SolarWorld Americas, the Oregon-based module manufacturer whose bitter trade dispute with China led to steep tariffs on imports from that country, announced a $10 million expansion of its plant on Thursday because of increased demand. The company, once battered by stiff competition from Chinese manufacturers that drove many American solar module makers out of business, plans to hire about 200 more workers next year and increase its module production capacity by almost 40 percent.
(Business Green)
Car makers have hit CO2 emissions goals several years ahead of their deadlines, according to updated data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). The E.U. body's latest report, which updates preliminary figures published earlier this year, shows the average passenger car sold in 2013 emitted 126.7 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometer (g/km)—already below the legal threshold of 130g/km that had to be reached by 2015.
The Abbott government has instructed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to prepare its accounts for the upcoming mid-year economic statement on the basis that it will stop making investments on 31 December and cease to exist on 30 June next year. But the $10bn so-called "green bank" says it is legally obliged to continue operating as normal, and will do so, at the same time as it prepares its accounts in line with the treasury instruction.
(Greentech Media)
Latin America accounts for less than 5 percent of global solar demand, yet GTM Research analyst Adam James dedicates the majority of his time to keeping tabs on this nascent market. More strikingly, some of the largest international EPCs, developers, module suppliers, and debt financiers are setting up shop there. What do they know that others don't?
(PV Tech)
Ethiopia could see construction of 300MW of PV across a number of government projects going ahead in just over six months, after the country's public utility signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a U.S.-headquartered developer.
Tesla Motors – the transformative U.S.-based electric vehicle manufacturer that is about to launch its product in Australia – is looking to power its network of supercharging stations with solar.
(Chicago Tribune)
Two CTA buses powered exclusively by batteries entered service Wednesday in a $2.5 million electric bus experiment that transit officials expect will be good for the environment, public health and the agency's bottom line over the long run.

October 30, 2014

(Climate Central)
Imagine nearly 6,000 dairy cows doing what cows do, belching and being flatulent for a full year. That's how much methane was emitted from one Ohio reservoir in 2012.
(Indiana Public Media)
The completed solar farm at Indianapolis International Airport will cover more than 150 acres with more than 76,000 solar panels, generating more than 31 million kilowatt hours. Johnson Melloh Solutions is the company in charge of building the new section of the solar farm—they also built the original 44,000 panels.
(Greentech Media)
SunPower announced yet another strong quarter in this morning's earnings call, as one of the world's leading vertically integrated solar manufacturers and power plant developers showed strength across residential, commercial and utility segments.
(Midwest Energy News)
Clean-energy advocates are calling for the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to investigate a list of 2,500 names submitted in support of utilities in two controversial rate cases. The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and RENEW Wisconsin say at least some of the people in the list have said they actually oppose the plans.
(Tampa Bay Times)
With both real and toy pitchforks, a crowd of about 150 vented their frustration with Duke Energy Florida on Wednesday in a park just yards from the utility's downtown headquarters.
(Financial Post)
Ontario's green energy transformation – initiated a decade ago under then-Premier Dalton McGuinty – is now hitting consumers. The Nov 1 increase for households is the next twist of that screw. As Ontario consumers know all too well, the province has gone from having affordable electricity to having some of the highest and fastest-increasing rates in Canada.
Local officials determined to make their economies bigger at any cost are ignoring Beijing's push to cut hazardous air pollution, opting instead to expand heavy industries and cut clean energy from the grid, a Chinese parliamentary report said. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, dispatched a team of inspectors to 10 cities and provinces from May to September to oversee the implementation of new pollution policies.
Like other Japanese who were banking on this country's sweeping move toward clean energy, Junichi Oba is angry. Oba, a consultant, had hoped to supplement his future retirement income in a guilt-free way and invested $200,000 in a 50 kilowatt solar-panel facility, set up earlier this year in a former rice paddy near his home in southwestern Japan.
Another university is shutting down its coal plant because it's shifting to geothermal energy—West Chester University in Pennsylvania. At this year's "Sustainability Day," on October 22 (which is apparently observed at universities across the US), they celebrated the decommissioning of the university's coal-fired power plant.
David Greene woke up one day and fired his power company. It wasn't that hard to do. Greene, 48, is neither a hippie nor a survivalist and his environmental leanings are middle of the road. He runs an air-conditioning repair service out of his home and lives in the suburbs, not the woods.

October 29, 2014

(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Another Hennepin County judge has weighed in on a lengthy, litigious quarrel over a wind turbine on Lake Minnetonka, deciding that the city of Orono can't completely ban them.
What Polly Toynbee didn't say was that two weeks ago wind generated 25 percent of Britain's power. What we should be doing is growing our own indigenous wind turbine industry, as at the moment we import them from mainly Germany and Denmark. A British wind turbine industry would generate much-needed skilled jobs in manufacturing, and improve our balance of payments too.
(PV Tech)
Europe's outgoing trade commissioner has said Europe did not get the best deal out of the resolution to the long-running solar trade dispute with China.
China is on course this year to build four times the total wind power installed in all of Denmark as developers push to build the turbines ahead of cuts to incentives originally designed to spur the industry.
(Think Progress)
Deep in tobacco country, the once booming Phillip Morris cigarette plant in Concord, North Carolina has been reborn into a facility that churns out batteries for solar and wind farms.
(Business Green)
Having successfully started to sell solar installations in store in the U.K., retail giant IKEA has this week announced that it is to launch its residential solar offer in the Netherlands for the first time. The company announced that it has extended its partnership with solar installation firm Hanergy and will from this week offer solar panels from its store in Haarlem.
Owners of electric vehicles have already gone gas-free. Now, a growing number are powering their cars with sunlight. Solar panels installed on the roof of a home or garage can easily generate enough electricity to power an electric or plug-in gas-electric hybrid vehicle. The panels aren't cheap, and neither are the cars. A Ford Fusion Energi plug-in sedan, for example, is $7,200 more than an equivalent gas-powered Fusion even after a $4,007 federal tax credit.
Volkswagen AG, Europe's biggest carmaker, plans to launch more than 20 models of battery-driven cars in China by the end of 2018, as it capitalizes on Beijing's support for low-emission vehicles in the country's campaign against pollution.
London is already the biggest city in the world to have any form of tax that restricts driving in the center—the congestion charge is currently £11.50 ($18.60) per day to travel into central London during the working week. Exemptions from the scheme include lower-emitting vehicles, motor bikes, and electric cars. The city also has a Low Emission Zone, which applies to the whole of Greater London throughout the year, and charges up to £200 a day for heavy-polluting trucks and buses that come into the capital.
(New York Times)
Harvesting energy from the tides is hard to do, and the development of a new generation of sea-based power arrays lags far behind more widely used renewable technologies like wind and solar. But the company pushing a new project on the coast of Wales thinks its twist—a 21st-century update of traditional dam-based hydropower—will be much easier to bring to fruition. If it wins government permission to go forward, Tidal Lagoon Power Limited says the approach, known as tidal lagoon generation, could provide as much as 10 percent of Britain's power from six of its projects within a decade.

October 28, 2014

Emerging markets are installing renewable energy projects at almost twice the rate of developed nations, a report concluded. A study of 55 nations—including China, Brazil, South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya—found that they've installed a combined 142 gigawatts from 2008 to 2013. The 143 percent growth in renewables in those markets compares with an 84 percent rate in wealthier nations, which installed 213 megawatts, according to a report released today by Climatescope.
(Think Progress)
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback once supported wind energy, but that was before petrochemical billionaires and Kansas natives Charles and David Koch became his largest campaign donors. Now, Brownback and the Kochs find themselves enmeshed in a highly competitive governor's race, one that has become a referendum on the much-heralded notion that scaling back government and slashing taxes for the wealthy will lead to economic growth.