September 25, 2018
Iberdrola SA, the world's biggest wind power producer, says it will expand its renewable energy in the U.S. by about 50 percent over four years. The increase would amount to about 10,000 megawatts of new capacity. The company's CEO says it's part of a push to serve investors and companies with ambitious clean energy goals.
Owners of the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, which is wildly over budget and far from completion, have voted to continue work on the plant. But Oglethorpe Power said its approval depends on a cost cap and other concessions by the lead owner, a subsidiary of Southern Company.
Two solar industry groups have launched a new initiative to reduce the costs and the time required to get permits to install solar projects. The Solar Energy Industries Association and The Solar Foundation say they hope to cut costs by streamlining the process.
Heliene, a Canadian solar-panel manufacturer, has opened its new plant in a small town in Minnesota. The company says the decision was made before President Trump imposed tariffs on solar imports and that it was attracted by state incentives and the prospect of serving growing markets in the U.S.
A vocal critic of wind energy has resigned from a commission that Maine Gov. Paul LePage created to scrutinize the industry, saying the group lacked credibility and focus. The group has been controversial because of the secrecy surrounding it. Chris O'Neil, who resigned, said the group never met and wasn't making progress on anything.
When Elon Musk unveiled prototypes of solar roof tiles in 2016, the announcement helped Tesla justify its merger with SolarCity. Two years later, only a small number of homes have the roof tiles connected to the grid. Musk has blamed ongoing delays on a need for more testing.
September 24, 2018
Cleveland, which has worked for years to reinvent itself as it sheds its industrial past, has adopted a plan to shift to 100 percent renewable energy for its electricity by 2050. The plan stands out in a state that has been more inclined to roll back clean energy rules than strengthen them, and in a territory served by FirstEnergy, a leading burner of fossil fuels.
State regulators have approved the Minnesota portion of a 200-megawatt wind farm on the Minnesota-Iowa border. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the plan after the wind farm's developer proposed taking special steps to reduce noise.
Porsche AG says it will stop offering diesel versions of its vehicles and will focus on gas, electric and hybrid vehicles. Demand for diesels is declining and automakers are under intense scrutiny from regulators and environmental groups because of past cheating emissions testing for the vehicles.
Alaska's first commercial-scale solar farm, which will soon come online, is being built by a group whose partners are all current or former BP employees. The leaders say their knowledge from developing oil and gas projects are essential in making the solar farm happen.
A Wisconsin energy storage developer is working on a system that could allow a residential battery to sell energy to a neighbor's vehicle. EnSync Energy Systems says the system would use direct links between households, with meters sending data to a cloud computing center to calculate payments.
September 20, 2018
A new paper by Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, argues that the costs of improving energy efficiency are lower than previously believed and the benefits are verging on unlimited. The paper says the world can sustain continued improvements in efficiency much more easily than previously thought, a key part of fighting climate change.
California's move to rely exclusively on carbon-free electricity by 2045 will be a challenge for utilities and their investors. Moody's Investors Service says the mandate could lead to uncertainty that would hurt the credit ratings of California electricity providers, increasing their costs to borrow money.
Analysts say the falling costs of renewable energy pose a threat to the global natural gas industry. The gas industry says it's confident in its future, while others warn that the rise of inexpensive renewable power backed by batteries will increasingly take market share from gas.
A developer has withdrawn plans to build 75 wind turbines in north-central Indiana following opposition. Renewable Energy Systems, a British company with U.S. headquarters in Colorado, said "technical circumstances" were behind the decision. The local government had passed a new wind ordinance limiting where turbines could be placed.
The new transit station in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood could be powered entirely by solar. The privately funded station has a rooftop solar array on two buildings along with a backup battery, a combination that likely would be the largest solar-storage combination in the state.
September 19, 2018
SunPower says some of the solar panels it produces overseas will be excluded from President Trump's tariffs. The company, which is based in the U.S. but does most of its manufacturing overseas, argued that its main panel product was different from cheaper panels the tariffs were meant to affect.
The Trump administration is including Chinese solar inverters among $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. Inverters, which convert solar electricity for use by the grid, are a key component of solar power systems. The tariffs, set to reach 25 percent on Jan. 1, are higher than many in the industry had anticipated.
Xcel Energy has completed its Rush Creek Wind Project, a 600 megawatt wind farm that is the largest in Colorado and a key part of the utility's quest to get the majority of its power from renewables by 2026. This project produces enough electricity to serve an estimated 300,000 homes, the company says.
More than 100 companies are making pitches to Connecticut regulators in a zero-carbon auction that will select power providers to deliver carbon-free electricity. A nuclear power plant whose inclusion has been controversial and several offshore wind farm proposals are among those vying to be selected.
Plans to build two large wind farms in Clay County, Texas, were stopped by coordinated opposition from an oil investor and conservative lawmakers. The situation is a case study in how opponents can thwart wind projects.
September 18, 2018
Solar arrays that incorporate storage are becoming cheaper to build per megawatt-hour in parts of the U.S. Southwest than new gas-fired power plants, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports. This could position solar to replace a large share of the coal-fired capacity likely to be retired in the region over the next decade.
Utility-scale solar energy systems appear to have made it through Hurricane Florence without major damage. The major utilities said they had secured their large solar arrays. In residential solar, installers said initial reports also suggest minimal damage.
New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities voted to open the bid process this week for the nation's largest solicitation of offshore wind energy. Companies will issue proposals to compete for a ratepayer subsidy of construction costs and 20 years of operations costs for 1,100 megawatts of wind power.
U.S.-based Lucid Motors will get more than $1 billion from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment fund, an investment that will help the automaker move toward its goal of releasing its first model in 2020. The fund says it's part of an effort to diversify and invest in promising technology.
September 17, 2018
What does California's push for decarbonization look like on the ground? Some of the officials and researchers trying to make it happen say the state must wring carbon from new and existing buildings and build housing closer to transit and jobs if it hopes to meet its climate targets.
As it tries to ease its dependence on polluting fossil fuels, China has encouraged renewable manufacturers and developers to drive down costs through technological innovations and economies of scale.
Iowa fuel retailers say development of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles is being hindered by state regulations that bar non-utilities from selling electricity by the kilowatt-hour. Meanwhile, utilities say the current rules make sense and should be maintained.
States, cities, utilities and startups are making new pledges for expanding electric vehicle charging. The Climate Group and C40 Cities said there were 26 new pledges from various government and corporate entities last week tied to the climate conference in San Francisco.
Scientists are working on ways to lower wind energy's potential impact on birds and bats. An official for the Nature Conservancy in Wyoming says one solution is to better map sensitive habitats for the wildlife so that wind turbines are not placed in those areas.