November 9, 2017
Renewable energy costs are dropping, a new report from financial firm Lazard says, but cost improvements for utility-scale wind and solar are diminishing. Even though cheaper energy storage could help, Lazard believes renewables won't overtake traditional generation anytime soon.
GE Renewable Energy and the Green Investment Group said they will be working to deliver a 650-megawatt wind farm in Sweden. It would be the largest single-site onshore wind farm in Europe when completed.
November 8, 2017
The European Commission has proposed a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from cars by 2030. The plan also offers incentives for automakers to shift to electric vehicles, as the EU tries to catch up with China in expanding its electric vehicle fleet.
An unusual coalition of 20 energy groups and companies representing natural gas, oil, wind and solar energy asked FERC to scrap Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants, saying supporters haven't proven a legal justification for it.
A new Energy Storage Association report says it's possible to reach 35 gigawatts of new energy storage systems by 2025, and that widespread use of energy storage could result in $4 billion in operational grid savings and more than 167,000 new jobs.
The Bureau of Land Management released a new analysis on proposed routes for two high-voltage transmission lines in southwestern Idaho to modernize the Pacific Northwest's energy grid. The 1,000-mile Gateway West line is part of a larger project that Rocky Mountain Power says are necessary to meet future demands and improve reliability.
The North Carolina General Assembly has moved a step closer to creating controversial maps to chart areas where some lawmakers claim wind turbines could interfere with military bases. The process, which wouldn't be open to the public, is part of the state's 18-month moratorium on wind farms.
November 7, 2017
Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal to reshape U.S. electricity markets would benefit a small group of companies—in particular, one owned by coal magnate Bob Murray, a prominent backer of President Trump. Read more from ICN about Perry's strategy to prop up the coal industry.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed executive orders to impose sweeping clean energy mandates and triple the number of electric vehicles in the state by 2020. Some of the mandates include requiring that homes built after 2020 be equipped for solar and, by 2023, all new homes be "zero-energy ready."
American Electric Power said it plans to invest about $1.8 billion in renewable energy generation. The utility said it has a 3,570 MW pipeline of wind and solar projects over the next seven years, not including a 2,000 MW wind project that is awaiting regulatory approval.
Cape Verde, a string of 10 islands off Africa's northwest coast, has pledged to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025. Already, a quarter of the nation's power is provided by renewable sources.
November 6, 2017
In the conservative South, the solar market is growing rapidly. Instead of talking climate change, solar companies are helping drive renewable energy expansion by discussing economics and energy independence.
Emissions in the developing world are rising, but clean energy investments in China, Sub-Saharan African and other emerging markets fell 27 percent in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Less than 10 percent of that spending came from rich countries.
ExxonMobil says it is investing in more than 100 research projects involving environmentally friendly and alternative energy technologies, including algae engineered for biofuels and fuel cells meant to turn carbon dioxide into electricity.
In the 1990s, U.S. utilities cut back on infrastructure spending. Now, upgrades are starting to pick up: from 2011 to 2016, spending on distribution infrastructure grew by 8.6 percent and spending on transmission infrastructure grew by 16 percent, according to a new report.
A surplus of solar and wind energy is having an effect on the West's hydropower industry. As snowmelt builds up, Dam operators usually release the meltwater through hydroelectric turbines to generate electricity, but negative pricing could force them to do it in ways that don't produce revenue.
November 3, 2017
House Republicans are proposing to eliminate the $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, which could hurt automakers like Tesla and General Motors. Current law allows them to use the credit, and it phases out after they sell 200,000 plug-in vehicles.
The tax overhaul proposed by House Republicans benefits oil and gas companies more than solar developers or electric car buyers. It keeps tax breaks for the oil and gas industry but cancels credits for big solar and geothermal projects, which could make it harder for renewables to attract financing.
Stanford Professor Files $10 Million Lawsuit Against Scientific Journal Over 100% Clean Energy Criticism
Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University professor who contends that the U.S. can fully power itself with 100 percent wind, water and solar energy, is suing the National Academy of Sciences over a study that criticized his arguments. Read more from ICN about the two sets of arguments.
The electric vehicle industry is ramping up, but a major hurdle is charging infrastructure. According to experts, ensuring the system can supply enough energy to quickly charge vehicles and making sure a distribution system is in place are the two biggest challenges.
The levelized cost of energy for utility-scale solar and onshore wind dropped 6 percent in the last year, and lithium-ion costs are expected to decline up to 36 percent over the next five years, according to a Lazard analysis. But renewables alone won't be able to meet the baseload generation needs of the U.S. for the "foreseeable future," the report said.
November 1, 2017
The U.S. International Trade Commission has recommended tariffs on imported solar panels of as much as 35 percent, which is lower than solar panel manufacturer Suniva requested. The agency will send the proposal to President Trump, who is supposed to make a decision by January. Read more from ICN about what tariffs would mean for the industry.
FEMA officials told Congress that they had nothing to do with approving the $300 million Whitefish Energy Contract to restore electricity in Puerto Rico. FEMA chief Brock Long also said he would need additional legal authority from Congress to spend federal funds to rebuild. Read more from ICN about how renewable energy could help restore power on the island.
There are now more than 50,990 public and private plug-in electric vehicle charging sites located throughout the U.S. Six years ago, there were only about 5,000, a new report from the Electric Vehicle Charging Association shows. California has eight of the top 10 cities for fast-charging networks. Read more from ICN about the rising demand for electric vehicles.
China wasted less renewable energy in the first nine months of 2017, according to the country's National Energy Administration. Wasted solar power fell 3.8 percentage points to about 5 percent, but in the western part of the state, there are still significant amounts of electricity failing to reach the grid.
October 31, 2017
The FBI is reportedly investigating how Whitefish Energy and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority came to a $300 million agreement to restore electricity to the island after Hurricane Maria. Read more from ICN about power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico.
Flexible generation technologies being used to help nuclear plants balance the European grid with renewables likely wouldn't revive the struggling U.S. industry, according to a leading nuclear energy expert. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission prohibits the remote or automatic control of nuclear plants, and the economics might not be worthwhile.
A New Hampshire legislative committee cut energy efficiency spending for the Northeast's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an effort by nine states to reduce emissions from power plants. The bill now heads to the House, which approved a similar measure in 2015 before it stalled in the Senate. Read more from ICN about RGGI's plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Germany produced so much wind energy on Oct. 28 that power prices turned negative. Wind output reached 39,409 megawatts, equaling the generation of about 40 nuclear reactors. Power producers paid customers to take extra electricity off the network so the grid could balance.
Australia has some of the highest electricity costs among developed countries and is in the midst of heated political battles over energy production. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he will "work harder" on energy storage and local renewable energy production in the country, which is home to Tesla's giant Powerpack battery project.