June 18, 2018
The Gogoro electric scooter started it, promising a clever battery swap to ease the challenge of charging. Now, Kymco, the largest manufacturer of scooters in Taiwan, has announced a pair of electric scooters with swappable batteries, and Yamaha, Honda and even Vespa's maker Piaggio have signaled they're shifting to electric.
Shifting Hawaii's transportation system to cleaner energy could prove a lot more difficult than converting its power grid. The state has a goal for 100 percent of ground transportation to be powered by renewable sources by 2045. But some of the state's largest vehicle fleet operators say the upfront cost and lack of incentives means they're still using diesel and gas.
June 15, 2018
Georgia has plenty of sun, but little support for solar power in the state General Assembly. Here's how a Republican who goes by "Bubba" changed the energy landscape and turned Georgia into a solar power leader.
The EU countries have agreed to increase the share of renewables in the bloc's energy mix to 32 percent by 2030 after Germany blocked efforts to set an even higher target. Negotiators also agreed to phase out palm oil use and ease regulations on smaller renewable energy producers.
Connecticut announced the state's first procurement of offshore wind power this week. The agreement with Deepwater Wind is part of a larger wind power acquisition also involving Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Read more from ICN on how Massachusetts has been developing on-shore support for an offshore wind industry.
Panasonic, which supplies batteries for Tesla electric vehicles, expects to triple its cobalt consumption in five years while working on alternatives to the metal, whose price has soared. Cobalt is used to stabilize and extend the life of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
Sacramento, chosen as California's "green city" beneficiary of the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement, is adding electric buses and two new car-sharing programs with about 400 electric vehicles in all. One program, launching early next year, is designed similar to urban bike sharing to let users drive anywhere within a 13-square-mile radius of the car's "home zone."
June 13, 2018
A Minnesota administrative law judge has recommended that a wind farm proposal be rejected because of noise concerns. Wind energy advocates say the judge's interpretation of law is flawed and would make it difficult for any project to be approved.
Prices keep dropping for utility-scale solar contracts. A Nevada solar project has agreed to sell its electricity for $23.76 per megawatt-hour for 25 years. Just days ago, an Arizona project agreed to $24.99 per megawatt-hour for 20 years.
Michigan regulators are cutting the rate paid to solar panel owners who produce excess electricity, a shift solar installers worry will hurt business. Utility companies had argued other consumers ended up subsiding those with rooftop solar.
Maine's utility regulators voted to review terms of a long-delayed offshore wind project, citing the lower power prices today than were anticipated when the contract was approved more than four years ago. Read more from ICN on New England's growing infrastructure for offshore wind development.
Tesla is cutting 9 percent of its staff, citing the need to cut costs. CEO Elon Musk said all of the layoffs are of salaried employees and will have no effect on production workers on the Model 3. Tesla is under pressure to post its first profit and overcome Model 3 production delays.
June 12, 2018
Growth in U.S. residential solar is projected to be essentially flat this year, following last year's decrease amid uncertainty over tax incentives and tariffs, according to a new forecast from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. "What that potentially shows is some of the bleeding may have stopped in the residential segment," analyst Austin Perea said.
South Carolina is fast approaching a cap on net metering that would reduce incentives for new rooftop solar, and Duke Energy opposes raising it unless it can lower what it pays. The debate could be a sign of what's ahead for North Carolina, where Duke is a driver of solar policy and likely to propose changes to net metering.
Officials in Ocean City, Maryland, say they don't want offshore wind turbines within 30 miles of their shore under any circumstances and even rejected an offer of free electricity. The developer is confident the city can't block the project from state and federal approval but still hopes to gain its support.
Newly elected governments in Italy and Spain say they will join a group of European Union countries supporting a renewable energy target of 35 percent by 2030. Among those already making the commitment: Sweden, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal.
A Chinese company is testing solar panels that cover roads. Shandong Pavenergy is developing the polymer-covered panels as an alternative to solar farms, especially in areas where open spaces are at a premium. China already leads the world in photovoltaic panels.
June 11, 2018
An Arizona water agency has a new contract to buy solar power for $24.99 per megawatt-hour, the second lowest price yet. The agency will be using the power to replace what it is now getting from Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant set to close next year.
As battery costs decline, researchers say localized portfolios of clean energy could challenge gas plant investments. A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that emerging mixes of renewable energy, storage and distributed energy may soon be more cost effective than gas plants in some regions.
With city leaders in Boston for an international climate conference, Mayor Marty Walsh is putting together a coalition to one day pool resources to support renewable energy projects. Walsh already has commitments from Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, among others.
First Solar is starting construction of a 1 million-square-foot plant near Toledo, Ohio, and the company says it will have 500 jobs. First Solar recently cut about 350 jobs at a nearby plant as part of a switch to a new product.
A North Dakota agency is drawing fire for proposed rules it says are meant to protect wildlife from wind turbines. Critics, including energy companies and utilities, say they weren't given enough opportunity to review and comment on the plan, and they warn it could harm clean-energy investment.
Renewable energy developers are showing interest in using public grazing lands in central Washington state for solar farms. The grazing leases typically net the state less than $2 per acre per year, while the state agency estimates it could earn $600-$1,000 per acre per year from solar.
June 8, 2018
The American solar market may get a boost from an unexpected source: Energy analysts say the Chinese government's decision to dramatically cut its solar power subsidies will create a glut of solar panels and send their prices tumbling worldwide. It's happening at a critical time for the U.S. solar industry.
Moody's Investors Service says that while owners of coal-fired power plants and coal producers would likely benefit from a Trump administration plan to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear power plants, customers could see higher electric bills and wholesale power markets could be put at risk.
While President Trump works to undo his predecessor's renewable energy-friendly policies, some leaders in his own party have their eyes set on bolstering solar instead. "I don't think Trump is reflecting necessarily where Republicans are," former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said.
Opposition to Liberty Utilities' plan to build a 1,000-household battery storage project in New Hampshire seems to flip the script from typical energy debates. The main supporter is a regulated utility, while a key opponent is a solar services company, which says the project should be scaled down.
GM and Honda's newest collaboration involves developing battery components "to accelerate both companies' plans for all-electric vehicles." Their goal is better battery performance, including longer range, lighter parts and speedy charging.
June 6, 2018
The CEO of Exelon, the largest nuclear generator in the U.S., says the retirement of coal and nuclear plants does not constitute a grid emergency that warrants urgent intervention from the federal government, as President Trump directed last week.
Utility-scale solar power produced 17 percent of California's electricity in May, outpacing natural gas, at 15 percent, according to figures from the state's grid operator. This is the first month in which solar was ahead of gas. This doesn't include rooftop solar, which is not managed by the grid operator.