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Clean Economy Wire

October 1, 2014

India will be a "renewables superpower" according to its new energy minister, but its coal-fired electricity generation will also undergo "very rapid" expansion. However, Piyush Goyal dismissed criticism of the impact of India's coal rush on climate change , as western governments giving "homilies and pontificating, having enjoyed themselves the fruits of ruining the environment over many years."
(The Hill)
The Department of Energy (DOE) is giving manufacturers the cold shoulder as it moves forward with new efficiency standards for commercial walk-in coolers and freezers. The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced Tuesday it is rejecting industry's request to roll back the new regulations.
If you ask the people who run America's electric utilities what keeps them up at night, a surprising number will say solar power. Specifically, rooftop solar.
(Inside Energy)
In the ongoing battle between traditional utility companies and solar power, the sun scored some points last week. After complaints from rate payers in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, Black Hills Power dropped a proposed rate increase for customers with rooftop solar. But the South Dakota did not rule out reintroducing the surcharge, once they have had more time to discuss with customers.
Japan may revise its incentive program for clean energy to stem the rush of solar power producers trying to secure higher rates before the end of the fiscal year, the Yomiuri newspaper reported today. Under the current program, renewables producers qualify to sell their power at the fixed rate set at the time they win approval from the government.
(Autoblog Green)
Harry Reid says the federal government should commit more funds towards incentives for electric-vehicle purchases. We'll wait for readers' shock to sink in. Now, here are the details.
(Midwest Energy News)
Working on energy-efficient cars at the college level can be a route to a career in the Michigan auto industry. That's what generations of students participating in the United States Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions have discovered over the past 26 years.
(PV Tech)
An "enormous" request for proposal (RFPs) put out by the Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) for up to 200MW of energy storage was responded to by more than 60 would-be developers. The RFP called for 60MW to 200MW of energy storage to be added across one or more systems with 30 minutes of storage capacity. According to local news outlet Pacific Business News, the company received more than 60 proposals in total.
(Washington Post)
Think of it as a Goodyear blimp for the era of alternative power. Well, sort of. What Erik Sofge describes in the October issue of Popular Science magazine is a kind of giant tubular helium balloon with a three-bladed turbine inside, floating as much as 2,000 feet in the air so it can capture energy from winds that blow stronger and more steadily than they do at ground level.
(Al Jazeera America)
On the front lines of combating climate change is Caltech aeronautic and bio-engineering professor Dr. John Dabiri. Searching for energy sustainability solutions, he's taking cues from some simple animals.

September 30, 2014

Solar energy could be the top source of electricity by 2050, aided by plummeting costs of the equipment to generate it, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the West's energy watchdog, said on Monday.
(PV Tech)
Cheng Kin Ming, the majority investor in Shunfeng Photovoltaics, has spoken publicly for the first time about his long-term plans. Cheng's investments in the solar sector are estimated to be worth around U.S. $20 billion and he has also taken stakes in energy storage and marine energy companies.
A huge solar panel farm is set to go under construction in Setouchi, Japan in November thanks to recently closed funding from GE, which owns a 60 percent stake in the project, as well as Kuni Umi Asset Management and Toyo Engineering Corporation. The farm will cost $1.1 billion to build, and the group just closed a $867 million loan from Japanese banks, which is the largest amount of debt raised for a clean power project in Japan to date, according to GE.
(Think Progress)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported a ramp-up in his state's solar capacity Friday, an announcement that rounded out a big week for the state's environmental initiatives. The governor announced new NY-Sun awards for large solar electric projects that will increase the solar capacity in New York State by 68 percent, or more than 214 megawatts. Cuomo in April had announced a commitment of $1 billion to NY-Sun, the state's initiative for increasing solar energy.
(Midwest Energy News)
The cost of municipal solar permits varies widely and continues to be a barrier to wider and faster expansion of solar energy in Minnesota, according to a recent report. The Sierra Club looked at 77 Minnesota cities and found that building permit fees for solar photovoltaic installations range anywhere from $0 to $531, or from 0 to 4.4 percent of the pre-rebate cost of a hypothetical $12,000 system. The average permit cost was $308.
Members of European parliament have called on Jean-Claude Juncker to offer reassurances that E.U. environmental policy is not being downsized, before they consider approving Juncker's Maltese environment commissioner-designate Karmenu Vella.
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.'s commodities unit, which runs Europe's oldest electricity market, plans to offer German renewable power futures as solar and wind met a record share of the country's demand last year. The contracts may start trading "early" next year depending on feedback from the market to the bourse's plan, which will be announced today at a workshop in Dusseldorf, Germany, said Les Male, Nasdaq OMX’s head of commodities sales in London. The futures will help power producers to protect against the price volatility created by intermittent supplies, he said.
(Greentech Media)
A groundbreaking agreement between Arizona Public Service (APS) and Arizona's ratepayer advocate could create a surge of new storage deployment in the state over the next seven years. Late last week, APS and the Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) jointly filed a settlement that, if approved, would require APS to evaluate storage, efficiency, renewables and demand response as a potential alternative to building or upgrading conventional power plants between 2015 and 2021.
A new, highly efficient process for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen has been demonstrated by researchers in Switzerland. The process combines a stable catalyst with a highly efficient perovskite solar cell. The perovskite solar cells do have a major drawback in that they breakdown after a few hours, but the researchers believe further advances in solar cell technology should take care of this problem.
(Fast Company)
Founded by three Yale University Medical School students, Possible is a nonprofit health care company that runs medical facilities in remote Nepal. These include the 25-bed Bayalpata Hospital, in Anchham, a series of local clinics, and a small army of community health care workers.

September 29, 2014

A year after Spain, the sunniest country in Europe, issued notice of a law forcing solar energy-equipped homes and offices to pay a punitive tax, architect Inaki Alonso re-installed a 250 watt solar panel on a beam over his Madrid roof terrace. "The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven't dared to actually pass the law," Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.
Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County planners have approved a permit for a proposed $25 million solar farm on the outskirts of South Dakota's largest city. However, some neighbors say they'll appeal the decision, and a renewable energy expert wonders why the project is even being proposed.
It actually takes quite a lot of fossil fuel power to reach the tiny Spanish island of El Hierro. You have to catch a commercial jet flight, a propeller plane and then a ferry to reach what was once the end of the known world, before Columbus set sail. But once you're there, there's no need for fossil fuels at all. The ancient island off the west coast of Africa is now a model for the future, within months of running on 100 percent renewable energy, which consists of a mix of wind and hydro-power.
(Fuel Fix)
A long-delayed program intended to deliver high-tech energy savings to low-income Texans may finally be getting back on track. But questions remain—including whether large numbers of low-income Texans will avail themselves of the new technology.
(Autoblog Green)
California may take yet another step forward as the leading edge of U.S. plug-in vehicle adoption. This time, it could be by tweaking the state's new building codes.
(USA Today)
Tesla Motors is the hottest name in the growing electric car market. But don't plan on taking the Model S for a test drive in Iowa anytime soon. Iowa joined a growing list of states tussling with Tesla Motors' business model when it told the company to cut short three days of test drives earlier this month in West Des Moines.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Tesla has big ambitions for its electric cars in China, but first, it has to get its chargers accepted by skeptics.
(Business Green)
A farm in Berkshire has become the first in the U.K. to install a floating solar array, with the owners now targeting water utilities and reservoirs for further development. Sheeplands Farm near Wargrave switched on the 200kw solar array last month, which is located on a reservoir and is expected to slash the businesses' carbon emissions and energy bills. The scheme is expected to secure a return on the £250,000 investment within six years.
Computer giant IBM last week revealed the prototype of its advanced solar electricity generators: a 30ft-high concrete "sunflower" fitted with wafer-thin aluminium mirrors and a maze of tiny tubes for carrying coolant through the heart of each device. The machines, which will be built in conjunction with the Swiss company Airlight Energy, can convert 80 percent of the sun's radiation into electricity and hot water, it is claimed, with each generating 12 kilowatts of electricity and 20kW of heat on a sunny day, enough to supply several homes.
(Christian Science Monitor)
Researchers have developed a tool for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen that holds the potential to significantly cut the costs of using sunlight to drive the reaction. The team, led by Jingshan Luo, a researcher at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, used chemical elements that are abundant and relatively cheap to make solar cells and give them electrodes that reach what some researchers have called "exceptional" efficiency.