May 18, 2018
A planned solar farm in Kentucky is facing delays because of foot-dragging by a coal company that's years behind in cleaning up a nearby mine. The 100-megawatt solar project would be the largest ever in Kentucky. It's an example of how old coal mines can be reclaimed for renewable energy. The coal company, Kentucky Fuel, blames regulators for the delays and says it may resume cleanup sometime soon.
Consumers are growing more concerned about climate change and their role in it, according to a new survey of electric power buyers. They are also more willing to turn their concern about climate issues into decisions about what to buy and how to reduce their carbon footprint. These trends are positive signs for the planet, and for companies that sell renewable energy, energy storage and other products and services tied to conservation.
If solar and wind grow enough to make up 40 to 50 percent of U.S. electricity generation, wholesale power prices would decrease by as much as 25 percent, or up to $16 per megawatt-hour, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
If a Virginia company succeeds in a legal challenge, it could open up the state's market to renewable energy developers wanting to supply small amounts of electricity to customers. English Biomass is arguing that it should be able to sign a deal to provide 25 percent of the college's electricity. The company is running up against an interpretation of state law that such contracts need to provide 100 percent. A court victory, while likely a longshot, would encourage competition and expand the amount of third-party renewables.
Tesla may need to raise $10 billion from capital markets by 2020 to fund its electric carmaking operations, cover maturing debt, finance new products and move forward with an expansion into China, according to a Goldman Sachs analyst. Tesla is struggling to meet production targets on its first mass-produced vehicle, the Model 3.
Tata Power plans to spend $5 billion on renewable energy, quadrupling the company's renewable energy capacity. Most of the new projects will be solar farms. Tata is one of the country's largest private power producers and has a fleet of coal-fired power plants. Before this announcement, most of the company's renewable energy growth had been through acquisitions.
May 16, 2018
Researchers are hoping to be able to turn tidal energy into electricity with a project in the Cape Cod Canal. The system uses a platform that captures the motion of the tides and uses it to turn a turbine. By fall, a prototype should be in operation.
A new report says offshore wind can be more cost effective than onshore turbines near major population centers along the East Coast, when considering the technology's full economic value. The first-of-its-kind analysis, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is another piece of evidence that offshore wind is coming into its own. Read more from ICN about America's first offshore wind farm in Rhode Island.
The Indian government wants to encourage construction of wind farms that share a location with solar farms, two technologies that can provide a near-steady flow of electricity when paired together. The new policy, which is in draft form, is well-suited to India, where many regions are rich in both wind and solar resources.
Britain's wind farms produced more electricity than its eight nuclear power plants in the first three months of the year, the first time this has happened across a quarter. Wind produced just under 19 percent of electricity overall. The milestone was reached as some officials claimed that changes in government policy have led to a collapse in new investment in renewables.
As Tesla deals with production delays and financial concerns, it's also reacting to news of a driver death in Switzerland, and a crash in Utah. Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to say the news coverage was overblown. Meanwhile, the production concerns continue to mount, as a Morgan Stanley analyst said there may be structural problems with the Model 3 sedan.
May 15, 2018
A North Carolina environmental group that tried to challenge the state's utility monopoly by installing solar panels on the roof of a predominantly African-American church and selling the church cheap, clean power has lost its appeal to the state's highest court.
The country's fifth-largest solar developer says it will lose $1.5 billion because of Trump administration tariffs on solar equipment. Cypress Creek Renewables is a leader in utility-scale solar installations, and that part of the market is especially price-sensitive. The company says it has stopped investing in 1.5 gigawatts of projects, about 20 percent of its pipeline.
The European Union is considering a 30 percent reduction target for CO2 emissions from trucks by 2030 as the bloc seeks to slash greenhouse gas emissions, Reuters reports. If approved, it would be the first CO2 standard for trucks in the EU.
EU carbon emissions grew 1.8 percent in 2017, despite a 25 percent increase in wind power, new data show. The European statistics body Eurostat reports that CO2 emissions rose in a majority of EU member states, with some of the biggest jumps in Malta, Estonia, Bulgaria and Spain. Finland, meanwhile, cut emissions 5.9 percent, and Denmark cut by 5.8 percent.
A new report from the World Resources Institute describes how deployment of solar power in the Middle East and North Africa could help conserve dwindling water resources if solar capacity replaced fossil fuel plants that require water for cooling.
May 14, 2018
The U.S. rooftop solar market is projected to grow by 14 percent between 2020 and 2023 as a result of California's new requirements. The figure from GTM Research is on top of the growth that was projected before the new rules.
Organizers are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would double Michigan's renewable portfolio standard to 30 percent by 2020. But some renewable energy developers have concerns that the push for the ballot measure could lead opponents to turn clean power into a partisan issues.
A pilot project under construction in Sweden seeks to revolutionize steelmaking by producing steel without fossil fuels. The process will emit water vapor rather than carbon dioxide, the CEO of the company says.
Taiwan is adding 3.8 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity and plans to award 2 GW more this year. If completed, Taiwan would be behind only China in the Asia-Pacific region in offshore wind. The expansion could lead other countries to add capacity as they compete to be the home of wind energy manufacturing.
May 11, 2018
Top auto executives will be at the White House today as President Trump considers freezing auto emissions standards and eliminating California's authority to set its own. The carmakers initially campaigned for a break from the tightening standards, but Trump's plan isn't what they had in mind, and they see years of legal headaches ahead.
Pushed by increases in fuel-economy requirements, automakers have taken steps to make gas-powered vehicles more efficient, including using lighter materials. That progress may be slowed, though, if the Trump administration succeeds in weakening the rules. Read more from ICN about how weakening emissions standards could be Trump's most climate-damaging move yet.
A defection day is coming, when people can generate electricity for themselves and don't need it from the grid. Read more from ICN about California's new rooftop solar requirement and whether it could spread to other states.
California's Kern County is the wind power capital of the country, as a Washington Post analysis of over 57,000 commercial wind turbines shows, but it might not keep that title for long. The Post shows in charts and maps where wind power potential is strongest and where more turbines are rising.
A Glasgow-based research team is developing a solar array that you can walk on. The plan for an interlocking walking surface has won an award from Qatar's World Cup 2022 organizing committee, and a version of the system may be ready to display during the soccer tournament.
May 9, 2018
For the first time, New Englanders used more electricity from the region's grid at night than during the day as sunshine, comfortable temperatures and increasing use of solar panels cut demand to new lows. The region's grid operator expects that to happen more frequently with rising use of solar.
Twenty percent of Americans say their next car will be electric, an increase from 15 percent in the prior year, according to a new survey by AAA. Consumers still have some concerns about running out of electric charge while on the road, but it's becoming less of an issue.
German automaker Audi says it's aiming for electric vehicle sales to hit 800,000 by 2025, and it plans to launch more than 20 EV models by then. The company, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is still trying to repair its reputation after it was one of several auto brands caught up in the emissions testing scandal.
The Arkansas Public Service Commission has approved the Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project, a $4.5 billion project to build the nation's largest wind farm in Oklahoma and connect it to customers with a 350-mile power line. The project still faces some headwinds in Oklahoma, however.
Wind and solar power prices have plummeted in India, and that's creating a tougher market for coal-fired power plants. Last year was the first time India added more capacity from renewables than from coal.