June 6, 2018
A UK-based company has completed a plant that cools down air until it liquefies, then stores it for energy production. When released, the compressed air turns a turbine to produce electricity. Highview sees its technology competing against utility-scale batteries in the growing energy storage market.
India may be the biggest beneficiary of solar industry reforms in China, analysts say. China's move to cut solar developer subsidies is expected to slow demand there, which could bring down prices as manufacturers scramble to sell more panels outside the country. India, meanwhile, has pledged to double its renewable energy capacity by 2022.
Elon Musk, Tesla's founder and CEO, will keep his role as chairman of the board after shareholders rejected a plan to remove him from the post. Telsa has faced recent criticism, including over Model 3 production delays. The company is major force in electric vehicles, energy storage and solar power.
June 5, 2018
Stock prices of China's major solar companies fell this week after the government moved to rein in state support for the expansion of the industry by suspending construction of new farms and cutting subsidies. The shift was a surprise and led to cuts in solar growth projections.
San Diego Gas & Electric, already a leader in battery storage, announced plans to build five new battery-storage facilities with a combined capacity of 83.5 megawatts to allow the company to store excess solar power during the day for use at other times.
Duke Energy has reached a settlement in its North Carolina proposal for grid improvements that significantly lowers the costs it would pass on to customers and increases energy storage and vehicle charging stations. The plan, which still needs to be approved by regulators, would add 300 megawatts of storage. But not everyone supports it.
Tesla recently improved the Model 3's braking distance with an over-the-air software update. The update, which led Consumer Reports to say it now recommends the model, underscores how Tesla can make significant changes to a vehicle without needing a mechanic.
An international team of scientists has developed a global scenario showing that humanity's appetite for things like electric cars and cellphones, as well as the development of better building standards, can drive a revolution in efficiency that could help lower energy demand, encourage renewable energy and keep warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
June 4, 2018
Swedish energy company Vattenfall plans to cut costs for utility-scale energy storage by sharing a 22 MW battery storage facility with an existing wind farm. Development costs for the storage system would be reduced because there is already grid infrastructure in place to serve the wind farm.
Rhode Island officials are considering developing a staging port for offshore wind farms at Quonset State Airport after plans for a 400 MW offshore wind farm were announced last month. Read more from ICN on how Massachusetts has been developing infrastructure to support an expected boom in offshore wind farm construction.
The dropping cost of solar and wind power helped drive a record year for renewable energy worldwide, according to a new report from REN21. New solar voltaic capacity was up 29 percent, but new wind capacity was 4 percent lower than the previous year.
Most state and local government agencies in Washington State are falling far short of electric-vehicle goals set by a 2007 law, a new report shows. A survey shows only 6 percent of vehicles are electric, despite many electric options that are available. Charging infrastructure is one concern.
June 1, 2018
Electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure will get a big cash infusion under new plans approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. The plans include incentives worth more than $750 million in the form of programs run by utility companies.
MidAmerican Energy, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, says it plans to invest $922 million in new wind power capacity. "If the project is approved, it will allow our customers to get 100 percent of their annual energy use from a clean, renewable and cost-effective source," CEO Adam Wright said. That could also allow the utility to freeze its rates for several years.
West Virginia's Public Service Commission has rejected Appalachian Power's proposal to buy two wind farms in Ohio and West Virginia as a hedge on volatility in wholesale electricity markets. The regulators claimed the wind farm purchases aren't in the public interest.
New York's electricity demand from the grid is projected to drop 0.14% a year for the next 10 years, and utilities will have to adapt, a new report from the state's grid operator says. The decrease is largely because of rooftop solar and energy efficiency, which reduce customers' need for electricity from the grid.
Companies as varied as Apple and General Motors are investing heavily in renewable energy to power their operations, providing a boost to the clean-energy economy that is not tied to any government mandates. While the development is substantial, it remains to be seen whether this approach will spread to smaller businesses and how big an impact it will have.
May 30, 2018
The number of electric vehicles on roads worldwide rose to a record 3.1 million in 2017, but more research, policies and incentives are needed to drive further uptake, and battery prices are a concern, the International Energy Agency says. With existing policies, IEA expects 125 million EVs by 2030. China accounted for 40 percent of the global total last year.
More electric vehicles would substantially boost California's ability to store solar energy during peak times, according to a new report. Cars hooked up to chargers could help the grid mitigate the so-called "duck curve," the surplus of energy that is available during hours when solar power is most productive.
Tesla has taken the unusual step of flying robots and production equipment from Europe to Nevada to try to increase efficiency of battery manufacturing, Reuters reports. Using air travel for heavy equipment is expensive, but Tesla is racing to reach production targets on its Model 3 sedan.
A Massachusetts-based U.S. solar developer is expanding to do business in Illinois in a sign that companies are taking seriously a new state law that has incentives for rooftop solar and for the larger commercial and industrial projects that are the developer's specialty.
Vermont, one of 11 states that sued the Trump administration last year to try to get stalled federal energy efficiency standards back on track, has set its own standards for a variety of appliances. "The primary purpose of this whole legislation is to influence the federal government to set national standards," said state Rep. Curtis McCormack.
May 29, 2018
A federal tax break for energy efficiency improvements is helping businesses reduce costs of large projects, but critics say the complexity of the rules means consultants play a key role in obtaining the tax breaks and their fees are cutting into the savings for builders.
A new Oklahoma law says the military must have an opportunity to review any plans to build or expand wind farms, adding a step to the approval process in a leading wind energy state. Read more from ICN about how wind farm opponents in the North Carolina legislature are using the military argument.
Supporters of electric buses are playing defense following a Los Angeles Times story about how the city's transit agency is dealing with mechanical problems. BYD, the China-based manufacturer of five electric buses used in Los Angeles, has much riding on the city's pilot project.
China's energy regulator is telling wind power generators to reduce the amount of electricity wasted because of inadequate capacity to transport it on the grid. The new order means energy companies will need to prioritize how they handle wind energy and do so in a way that reduces waste.
Singapore has set ambitious goals for developing solar power, including projects on public housing and floating on reservoirs. Much of the work is being done by startups, rather than government, in a country that has high demand for air conditioning and relies heavily on fossil fuels for electricity.
May 25, 2018
Massachusetts and Rhode Island officials have awarded contracts for offshore wind farms that would generate a combined 1,200 megawatts, marking a big step forward for the country's offshore wind industry. The winning developers now will have the opportunity to complete the first projects on a large scale in a region that has the potential to be a destination for much more offshore wind.
Rivian Automotive, a new business that wants to make electric trucks and SUVs, has secured a $200 million loan to build vehicles in a factory once operated by Mitsubishi. The Normal, Illinois plant has not been active since 2015. Rivian says it would employ up to 1,000 workers.
A Missouri utility's ambitious plan to shift from coal to renewables is being opposed by state officials. A new Canadian owner, Algonquin Power & Utilities, wants to close a coal-fired power plant and build 800 megawatts of wind energy. The company said it would finance the plan with outside investment and the anticipated savings of not having to pay for anti-pollution upgrades at the coal plant. But state officials are questioning whether the numbers add up and have concerns about job losses at the coal plant.