July 9, 2018
Solar panel prices have held steady despite a 30 percent tariff on imported equipment, defying expectations. But the tariffs have disrupted the markets in other ways and are affecting developers' decisions on major projects.
A federal judge in Wisconsin is fining a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer $1.5 million for stealing trade secrets from a U.S. company. A jury had convicted Sinovel of stealing trade secrets from AMSC of Massachusetts, which was followed by drop in the U.S. company's value and hundreds of layoffs.
South Carolina lawmakers' failure to raise the state's cap on net metering has led to a slowdown in development and finger pointing about who is responsible. The topic is likely to become part of the gubernatorial campaign. The Democratic nominee supports raising the cap; Gov. Henry McMaster has not made it priority.
A government push for electric cars in India is running up against consumer preferences for small and cheap vehicles. The cost of EVs is likely to inhibit sales there for 10 years, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Researchers are developing a new kind of solar panel that uses bacteria instead of electronics to convert sunlight to energy. The technology, still a long way from market, works well even in low light, which holds promise for improving efficiency on cloudy days.
A converted racing boat is demonstrating how solar energy, batteries and hydrogen can be used for sea travel. The Energy Observer is sailing around the planet to call attention to the opportunity to expand use of clean fuels for a form of transportation that still uses heavy fuel oil.
July 6, 2018
The first batches of electric car batteries are hitting retirement age, but they aren't headed for landfills. Lithium-ion EV batteries can still collect and discharge electricity for another seven to 10 years, so they can chill drinks at 7-Eleven or store energy for homes. China has rules coming to make carmakers responsible for keeping batteries out of landfills, and the EU has regulations.
New York's State Department of Environmental Conservation has approved new regulations that eliminate additional environmental assessments for solar arrays on spaces like landfills, brownfields, wastewater treatment facilities and parking garages. The state is aiming for 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The Arizona utility APS has issued a request for proposals for 106 megawatts of battery projects to help its utility-scale solar fleet meet the peak evening demand after the sun goes down. It's part of a plan to add some 500 megawatts of storage over the next 15 years.
U.S. fossil fuel consumption last year reached the lowest share in more than a century as use of renewable energy continued to climb and petroleum use remained well below its 2005 peak. U.S. coal consumption has fallen about 40 percent since 2005.
Sweden has so much power coming from wind turbines that it's on course to reach its 2030 renewable energy take this year. That could have an impact on future subsidies.
July 3, 2018
Oil companies and utilities are positioning themselves to profit from the growing electric vehicle market, setting up a potential rivalry. BP and Shell recently announced deals to buy vehicle charging companies, while utilities are expanding programs to help pay for home-based charging systems.
Low-income households in Colorado are getting a new question during visits from energy assistance agencies: Have you considered solar panels? It's an innovative approach to solving two challenges at once: reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering low-income families' electricity bills.
A wind farm with 11 turbines went online last weekend off the coast of Scotland, despite Donald Trump's attempts to block it before he became president. Trump had complained that the project would be visible from one of his company's golf courses.
REC Silicon is laying off about 100 workers at a factory in Washington state. The Norway-based company says it is responding to the escalating trade war between the United States and China, which has affected pricing of solar equipment that crosses international borders.
Montana could play a key role in transporting wind energy to the Pacific Northwest. A new report from federal and state agencies says Montana's transmission system is robust enough to handle an increase in electricity from outside sources. It means the state should be able to replace the electricity generation it loses from a coal-fired power plant's closing.
July 2, 2018
Pacific Gas & Electric is proposing four energy storage projects in its California territory, totaling an eye-popping 567 megawatts and 2.27 gigawatt-hours. The largest of the four would be 300 megawatts and capable of providing 1.2 gigawatt-hours, which is likely a record.
Five battery makers are building massive factories in China to help meet the growing demand for electric vehicles. Each of these projects is on a scale that rivals Tesla's "gigafactory," with capacity to build batteries that can store several gigawatt-hours of energy.
Royalties from wind turbines are becoming a key income source for Colorado farmers. Farmers are benefiting from the growth of wind energy as utilities such as Xcel Energy are shifting away from fossil fuels.
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are working with manufacturers to develop a triple-glazed window that would be much more energy efficient than the types used today. The lab estimates that about $20 billion worth of energy leaks out of U.S. windows each winter and that the super window could cut those losses in half.
The government in Togo plans to use solar power to provide electricity in areas where the grid does not reach, part of a larger initiative to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030.
Residents in a Buffalo suburb would like to see a change to local rules that ban solar panels on the street-facing side of roofs.
June 29, 2018
What started with an Elon Musk tweet about rebuilding Puerto Rico's power system with renewable energy after Hurricane Maria has led to a formal call for solar-plus-storage proposals. The island's government has started the process for soliciting bids to build 10 solar and battery storage facilities that could be deployed across the power grid and capable of scaling up.
Robert Powelson, a Republican appointed to FERC last year, has been a proponent of natural gas infrastructure development and a supporter of the wholesale competitive power markets, which has put him at odds with the Trump administration's effort to prop up coal and nuclear power plants. As he said last fall: "I did not sign up to go blow up the markets."
Officials in tiny Monitor Township, Michigan, have approved a moratorium to block power development, targeting a DTE Energy plan to build a wind farm there. The moratorium will be in place until officials can complete a review of the township's wind ordinance.
A consortium led by Swiss investment firm Partners Group and Royal Dutch Shell say they have secured financing for a $1.5 billion offshore wind farm in the Dutch part of the North Sea. The participants are now ready to begin the project, which would have the capacity to supply 825,000 houses.
South Korea's LG plans to expand its U.S. manufacturing presence with a new plant in Huntsville, Alabama. The plant will have capacity to build 500 megawatts of solar modules per year and help LG sidestep tariffs on imported solar equipment. Huntsville is already home to other LG operations.
June 27, 2018
Wind industry officials meeting in Maine say the state is missing out on the coming offshore wind power boom because of opposition from Gov. Paul LePage. Large offshore wind projects have been announced in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while Maine faces long delays for project approvals.
An Ohio Senate panel is set to take up a bill that would weaken the state's renewable portfolio standards while also easing rules that restrict where wind turbines can be placed. Read more from ICN about efforts by fossil fuel allies to undermine renewable energy support in the state.
A broad coalition of businesses and state and local governments are taking steps to electrify vehicle fleets, helping to counteract efforts by the Trump administration and others to slow the transition to cleaner cars.