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Clean Economy Wire

September 19, 2014

(PV Tech)
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has revealed a set of measures—aligned with President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan—to build up the renewable energy sector in the country. In an effort to expand on the rapidly growing PV market, the DOE's Solar Instructor Training Network has revealed a new pilot job training programme for veterans at up to three military bases starting this autumn.
(Al Jazeera America)
Throughout most of Kansas' history, some things have been true: The wheat is tall. The cattle are strong. And the wind has been mostly annoying. "Kansas is herself again," a newspaperman from this central town snarked on a blustery day in April 1880. "A newcomer asked one of our fellow townsmen if it always blew this way in Kansas." (The answer, in short, was yes.)
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Elon Musk and his cousin, Lyndon Rive, have always been close. Their mothers are twins, and Messrs. Musk and Rive grew up together. "We've known each other for as long as we've been conscious," said Mr. Musk, speaking at a panel this week at a private conference in New York.
(Greentech Media)
Duke Energy's move to invest $500 million in 278 megawatts of utility-scale solar is unprecedented in the state—but it's getting mixed reviews from North Carolina solar advocates.
(The Times-Picayune)
PosiGen has grown quickly, employing 165 and installing more than 4,000 systems total. It expanded to New York and Connecticut this year, adding to its offices in the New Orleans area, Baton Rouge, Houma and Shreveport. On Monday (Sept. 15) PosiGen announced more than $40 million in financing to help fund its expansion plans in Louisiana and nationwide.
In October 2010, a new factory manufacturing solar panels opened in Arizona to high expectations and much media fanfare. The owner, Wuxi-based firm Suntech Power, appeared to be at the vanguard of a new wave of Chinese investment into America's budding solar manufacturing industry. At the time of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, The Arizona Republic lauded the state's good fortune in luring Suntech's $10 million investment as "a major national coup." Arizona's governor Jan Brewer told the assembled crowd, "Today, we celebrate a cornerstone in advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global solar marketplace."
A consortium of French companies led by construction firm Bouygues has developed an electric car charging system based on old batteries that helps smooth out power demand when dozens of cars simultaneously recharge. A typical charging station of the popular Paris Autolib self-service rental cars has four to five charging plugs, which each make no more demand on the power grid than an average home.
(USA Today)
One automaker's vision of the transportation future sat parked under a broiling sun not far from AT&T Park baseball stadium Tuesday. But the blackout tint on the sedan's windows wasn't to keep the interior cool, but hidden. Toyota quietly rolled into town with the newest addition to its eco-conscious fleet, the 2015 FCV. That stands for Fuel Cell Vehicle and translates to hydrogen power. The car hits dealers in the middle of next year, but the company remains mum on pricing and what surrounds the passengers.
(Los Angeles Times)
Produced by a group calling itself the Fuel Freedom Foundation, the agenda of the advocacy documentary "Pump" is immediately apparent: The film asserts that alternative fuel sources are key in facilitating a free market that will end a big oil monopoly and our costly military presence in the Persian Gulf.

September 18, 2014

(The Hill)
The Obama administration unveiled a slew of actions Thursday aimed at improving energy efficiency and increasing the use of solar power in homes and businesses, including $68 million in spending.
The U.S. will train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years, the White House said Thursday. The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases.
(Midwest Energy News)
By the time Ohio's energy law freeze took effect last week, the new law had already caused a significant setback for the state's solar energy sector. Ohio's market for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) dropped dramatically after Senate Bill 310 passed this spring and has not rebounded since. Yet official state reports won't reflect that and other changes for some time.
(Wall Street Journal)
Massachusetts, a pioneer in selling so-called green bonds for environmental projects, is going greener. The state this week is selling $350 million of the bonds, more than triple the size of last year's sale, as more municipalities tap into investor demand for environmentally friendly investments.
Christine Milne has said the Greens will help put "spine and rigor" into the Coalition's Direct Action climate plan and allow it to become law, in return for an assurance that the renewable energy target will not be wound back in Australia. Milne called Direct Action a "pathetic ill-defined excuse for climate action" but said the Greens would negotiate with the government to improve it on condition the RET remained unchanged.
Brazil will hold its second regional solar energy auction amid an effort to spur local panel manufacturing. Minas Gerais, in southeastern Brazil, is finalizing the rules for the November auction, Guilherme Augusto Duarte de Faria, superintendent of the state's Economic Development Secretary, said in a phone interview yesterday. The state will set a ceiling of about 260 reais ($111) a megawatt-hour for the auction, which will involve 15-year contracts for power.
(E&E Publishing)
The state has granted initial approval of the first phase of a large solar power plant in Southern California's Chuckwalla Valley, prompting renewed debate over whether the project's contribution to clean energy development trumps potentially significant impacts to migrating birds. At the center of the debate is the planned 500-megawatt Palen Solar Electric Generating System. Two state energy commissioners have formally recommended advancing the project, which was left for dead nearly three years ago and has been significantly scaled back in size and projected energy output.
(Fast Company)
In the future, you'll be able to charge your phone just by placing it in the sun, and you'll generate electricity through your windows, not just from the panels on the roof. How? By covering glass in a material that captures energy from the invisible parts of the light spectrum, but still lets in visible light. In other words: translucent solar cells.
(Los Angeles Times)
Electric cars tend to be cheaper to insure, says a new study by online comparison-shopping program CoverHound Insurance. On average, drivers save $200 a year on insurance when they switch from gas to electric, CoverHound's CEO Keith Moore says.

September 17, 2014

The two major parties appear no closer to a compromise on the future of the renewable energy target, amid a push by Coalition backbenchers to strip away the mechanism for large-scale wind and solar projects. The government has repeatedly called on Labor to compromise over the RET, which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia's energy comes from renewable sources by 2020.
(RIA Novosti)
Over the next five years, India, China and Japan are expected to have the highest growth rates in cumulative photovoltaic (PV) panel installations, with China set to pass the 100 GW mark by 2018, Electronic Component News magazine reported. At the same time, China, Thailand and the United Kingdom are forecast to have the highest 10-year compound annual growth rates.
Wemag AG, a northern German utility, opened what it says is Europe's first commercial battery plant to store power from erratic sources such as wind and solar.
(E&E Publishing)
One new idea for storing energy, and helping the grid use more wind and solar power, is about as unflashy as it gets. It involves turning a lot of electric heaters on and off really fast. Demonstrations from Hawaii to Pennsylvania to the eastern banks of Canada are showing that a "fleet" of water or space heaters can act as a sort of fast-acting sponge that absorbs extra electricity on the grid, especially wind power.
The cost of solar panels is falling rapidly in the United States. And as the panels become more affordable, they're popping up on rooftops around the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to find better ways to back up its power system against blackouts. And, while it may seem counter-intuitive, more solar power does not mean fewer blackouts—at least not yet.
(Business Green)
A U.K. solar farm has issued the first certified climate bonds in Europe, according to a group of institutional investors and leading environmental NGOs. The Big60Million Solar Bonds released to finance Willersey Solar Farm in the Cotswolds have been certified under the Climate Bond Standards and Certification Scheme as being used to deliver climate change solutions.
(PV Tech)
A support scheme has been launched for the grid-purchase of electricity under a net metering programme in Chile, to come into effect next month. From the first week of October, owners of PV systems under 100kW capacity will be paid for surplus electricity, which will be sold to the country's national grid at a fixed tariff rate. The news was made public in the country's official record of events, published earlier this month. Further details were not provided.
Sustainable DC is experimenting with kinetically-powered pavers, where pedestrians create electricity as they walk along the road. 100 kinetic pavers scattered along the road will generate 456 kilowatts of energy a year, enough to light the new 850 square foot Connecticut Avenue Overlook Parklet, south of Dupont Circle.
Encouraging people to abandon their cars and use public transport or walk or cycle around cities offers the "least pain, most gain" way to cut air pollution from traffic by 2050, a new international study said on Wednesday.

September 16, 2014

(Christian Science Monitor)
The clean-energy world of the future is still a long way off, but it is arriving faster than ever before. Last year, new global capacity of hydroelectricity, wind, solar, and other renewable power grew by more than in any year before, according to a new report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, continuing a run of record-breaking additions that stretches back to the beginning of this century. Renewable electricity now accounts for about 22 percent of power generation worldwide, up from 18.4 percent in 2005.
(Think Progress)
The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. With the purchase of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project earlier this month, the Burlington Electric Department now owns or contracts renewable sources—including wind, hydro, and biomass—equivalent to the city's needs.
(Charlotte Observer)
The largest solar farm on the East Coast will be among eight projects Duke Energy announced Monday, quickly raising the scale of North Carolina's solar landscape. Duke said it will spend $500 million to acquire three large solar farms and buy power from five more new projects, all in North Carolina.