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Clean Economy Wire

October 24, 2014

(PV Tech)
The European Council has reached an agreement over the 2030 climate and energy policy framework. The council has agreed a binding E.U. target of an at least 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This target will be delivered collectively by the E.U., with all Member States involved in the effort.
(The Telegraph)
Britain will no longer be forced to build wind and solar farms from 2020, under a new E.U. climate change deal that leaves countries free to choose how to cut their carbon emissions. E.U. leaders vowed on Friday to cut Europe's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, against 1990 levels, in an agreement that ministers say will bring the rest of Europe in line with the U.K.'s existing commitments.
(Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd))
Warren Buffett is synonymous with his hometown of Omaha, Neb., but for a glimpse into the future of his investment empire, look east…to Iowa. In the neighboring Hawkeye State, the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman has sunk billions into wind-farm projects, part of a big gambit on renewable energy by a utility company he acquired in 2000 and has built into one of the country's largest power suppliers.
Vermont may be best known for maple syrup and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, but now its largest city can boast another accomplishment.
(Greentech Media)
Ernest Moniz is an all-of-the above kind of energy secretary. He's a supporter of advanced nuclear, natural gas, carbon sequestration and all kinds of renewable—and has the diverse funding at the Department of Energy to show for it.
Using batteries to retain energy from rooftop solar systems will be too expensive for at least two years, according to industry executives. That means homeowners who add solar panels to save money on utility bills will continue to lose electricity during blackouts, even after an 80 percent decline in battery costs over the past decade.
(Business Green)
The New York Power Authority is poised for a "sea change," and microgrids are part of the transformation, according to Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive. In an interview this week, Quiniones described how the authority—the nation's largest public power organisation—is reinventing itself as New York moves toward a more distributed grid.

October 23, 2014

(Think Progress)
Wind capacity could increase nearly seven-fold by 2030, reaching a total of more than 2,000 gigawatts and meeting almost 20 percent of electricity demand, according to a new report. Released on Wednesday, the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2014 says that while wind power is already in 90 countries—with a total installed capacity of 318 gigawatts at the end of 2013—growth has been flat for the last several years at about 40 gigawatts per year due to the economic crisis, low growth in wealthy countries, and policy instability.
(Climate Central)
Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont are the most energy-efficient states in the U.S., according to an annual ranking released Wednesday by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, or ACEEE.
The clean energy industry and Labor have immediately rejected the Abbott government's opening gambit in negotiations to find a bipartisan agreement on the future of the renewable energy target.
(Autoblog Green)
Coverhound Insurance has sold around 20,000 auto policies, and that's been enough for the online comparison-shopping site to notice an EV-friendly trend: electric vehicles are cheaper to insure. An average of $200 cheaper, in fact, according to CoverHound CEO Keith Moore.
China slashed its forecasts for offshore wind power by 60 percent, an acknowledgment that installations are being held up by the cost and complexity of the technology.
(PV Tech)
Time is fast running out for the U.S. and Chinese to reach a negotiated settlement to their ongoing solar trade dispute, according to a leading expert on the case. Speaking at Solar Power International in Las Vegas today, John Smirnow, the Solar Energy Industries Association's VP of trade and competitiveness, said a window of only around two weeks remained for a deal to be struck.
For years, the utilities responsible for providing electricity to the nation have treated residential solar systems as a threat. Now, they want a piece of the action, and they are having to fight for the chance.
(New York Times)
Expanding the notion of corporate benefits beyond discounted health club memberships and low insurance rates, a group of major companies is set to offer employees access to cheaper solar systems for the home.
(MIT Technology Review)
It's no surprise that if environmental costs are considered, renewables—particularly wind power—are a far better bargain than coal power. But it might surprise many that according to a new such analysis, solar power lags far behind wind and even hydroelectric power in its economic impact, at least in the European Union.

October 21, 2014

(Think Progress)
Other than a slight uptick from 2012 to 2013, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have been on a slow decline since 2007. And according to a new report by Greenpeace, 70 percent of that drop was thanks to renewables and energy efficiency.
(Inside Energy)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's move to change the definition for cellulosic biofuels has caused some controversy. According to Energy Global, the new rule essentially allows energy products that are 75 percent cellulosic to qualify as a 100 percent cellulosic biofuel.
(The Hill)
The Department of Energy (DOE) is hitting the brakes on a couple of energy conservation standards. The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is reversing course and will not regulate high-intensity discharge lamps that are often used in gymnasiums, warehouses and parking lots.
(Los Angeles Times)
Goothermal power was once king of California's renewable energy. So many companies were clamoring to transform steam into electricity that they sucked the world's largest geyser field dry.
(Greentech Media)
After two controversial attempts to change net metering policy in San Antonio, CPS Energy, the utility serving the city, thinks it has found a new incentive model for solar that local installers can support.
Acquisitions in the solar industry will take off as manufacturers and developers prepare for the expiration of a tax credit that's helping drive a U.S. installation boom. With renewable-energy executives gathering for the Solar Power International conference that began yesterday in Las Vegas, some will be shopping their companies around and others may be evaluating potential purchases, said Michael Horwitz, who leads energy technology investment banking at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco.
(BBC News)
Investors are seeking funding from the U.K. government for an ambitious plan to import solar energy generated in North Africa.
(Christian Science Monitor)
France is looking to undo decades of nuclear power growth and instead boost energy sources like wind, solar, and small hydro projects.
(Autoblog Green)
Traveling by jet airplane may not be the greenest mode of transportation, but if you're landing at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, at least you'll be able to get into town under pure electric power.

October 20, 2014

Wind power is blowing gas and coal-fired turbines out of business in the Nordic countries, and the effects will be felt across the Baltic region as the renewable glut erodes utility margins for thermal power stations. Fossil power plants in Finland and Denmark act as swing-producers, helping to meet demand when hydropower production in Norway and Sweden falls due to dry weather.
(The Independent)
Eric Pickles has turned down applications to build 19 onshore wind farms in the past year, prompting allegations from senior Liberal Democrats and energy firms that he is playing politics with green energy.
(PV Tech)
U.K. farmers with solar farms on their land will no longer be eligible for any farm subsidies under the E.U.'s Common Agricultural Policy from January 2015. The department of environment, food and rural affairs claims that the move "will help rural communities who do not want their countryside blighted by solar farms."
(Clean Technica)
The noted solar PV module manufacturer and utility-scale project developer Canadian Solar recently hit it big with a 146.4 MW module supply order in the Central American country of Honduras.
Big companies are finally beginning to see the light. Over the past two years, the top 25 corporate solar users in America have more than doubled their capacity, according to a new report by the Solar Energy Industries Association. Cumulatively, these companies produced enough electricity last year to power more than 115,000 homes.