August 16, 2018
At least 20 companies are developing aerial taxis, and most of them are looking to use battery-electric systems to eliminate noise and pollution. The technological challenge is that flying requires more energy than driving, and batteries are currently heavy and expensive.
August 15, 2018
China has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization, asking for a ruling against U.S. policies that China says are undermining global trade rules and further escalating the trade dispute between the two countries. The Trump administration announced the tariffs earlier this year.
Lawmakers behind a plan for California to get all of its electricity from clean sources say that a summer of heat-related disasters and the harmful environmental record of the Trump administration are building a groundswell of support that could get their ambitious proposal passed this year.
Pacific Gas & Electric is facing opposition to its plans for the largest battery storage investment ever made. The California Office of Ratepayer Advocates is among the groups raising concerns about costs and asking for additional time before regulators decide whether to allow the projects.
British renewable energy investor Quercus said it will stop construction of a $570 million solar power plant in Iran because of recently imposed U.S. sanctions. The solar project would have been among the world's largest, with a capacity of 600 megawatts.
The growth of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is creating a whole new group of market players providing electric charging stations, and there are no clear leaders, according to a GTM Research report.
August 14, 2018
Electric vehicles are entering the mainstream, and not just in wealthier nations. The market is buoyed by improvements in batteries and decreasing costs. But there is a big concern that the charging infrastructure is not adequate to meet expected demand.
Hawaii regulators have approved a 22-year contract for a utility to buy energy for the island of Molokai from a solar-plus-storage system for 18 cents per kilowatt-hour. The utility says the project, which will provide about 40 percent of the island's power, will save consumers money in a state with high electricity prices. Hawaii has a 100 percent renewable electricity goal.
SunPower, a leading manufacturer and installer of solar power systems, says it's now focusing on homes and businesses and moving away from utility-scale projects. The company's CEO says the move is an embrace of a fast-growing part of the market, as solar-plus-storage is an increasingly viable option for residents and businesses.
Japan's auto industry, including many parts suppliers, are bracing for the transition away from the internal combustion engine, a shift that could lead to a dramatic reshuffling of automakers' supply chains. One concern for suppliers is that EVs use about a third fewer parts than vehicles with a gas engine.
With more consumers seeking renewable energy and flocking to new Community Choice Aggregation programs and Direct Access providers, California regulators are now determining how ratepayers should compensate utilities, and old-school power companies aren't happy. It's affecting procurement of new renewables.
August 13, 2018
Offshore wind developers seeking to build projects in the Northeast are tying to win over a diverse group of governments and tourism and maritime interests. The developers are trying to accommodate varying priorities, showing a willingness to engage with potential critics and make changes when needed.
Arizona is embroiled in a dispute over how much to increase its renewable energy targets. On one side, a referendum on the fall ballot would require 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. On the other, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission is proposing 80 percent by 2050, including nuclear.
Opponents of a solar project that would clear-cut 67 acres of Connecticut woodland are saying a state panel "abused its discretion" in approving the proposal. The allegations are part of an ongoing appeal that seeks to overturn approval of the solar project.
A plan for what would be the largest solar farm in Virginia has received conditional approval from a state board, meaning the 500 megawatt project is a step closer to reality. Microsoft is among the companies that would buy electricity from the project.
Odyssey Energy Solutions, a renewable energy investment platform, is raising money to build 550 mini grids in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The company aims to raise $500 million, which it intends to use on projects that would increase electricity reliability in developing countries.
August 10, 2018
While short-term forecasts of solar installations have been up and down this year, there is a long-term trend of utilities dramatically increasing their investments in solar farms, growth that is driven by continuing price reductions for solar equipment. This follows a period in which utilities were spending heavily on wind farms but were slower to embrace solar.
Siemens Gamesa and its partners plan to install a prototype suction bucket foundation that would reduce the costs to build offshore wind turbine foundations by 40 percent. The gravity-based suction bucket foundation is sunk into mud in shallow waters up to about 30 meters deep using a process that is almost noise-free.
California's electricity grid can handle a dramatic increase in electric vehicles, according to a new report from Next 10. The state has about 369,000 EVs now, and Gov. Jerry Brown has set a goal of at least 5 million by 2030. The report finds that 3.9 million EVs would add about 5 percent to the state's current electricity demand.
Virginia's government has picked a Los Angeles company to build and run a network of electric vehicle charging stations under a plan financed by $14 million the state received from a settlement with Volkswagen over the car company's emissions scandal. EVgo will develop hundreds of charging stations and will keep the revenue they generate.
Palestinians are using rooftop solar to help deal with a persistent shortfall in the availability of electricity. In the Gaza Strip, the number of panels has increased fourfold in the last four years. In the West Bank, there are several solar farm projects and plans to bring solar power to 500 schools.
August 8, 2018
A 2017 state law that reinstated net metering in Nevada has been followed by a dramatic increase in installations. It's enough to hit a cap that now slightly reduces the net-metering incentive for future installations, from receiving credit for 95 percent of the retail rate to being compensated at 88 percent.
The Trump administration briefly published a plan to cancel Obama-era rules requiring light bulbs to meet efficiency standards. The document's appearance on a government website follows months of rumors about plans to undo a policy that has been an energy efficiency success story.
The Oregon Supreme Court has approved using a special tax to pay for electric vehicle rebates, rejecting arguments made by AAA and a trucking association that challenged the tax. The rebates took effect in January, but payments weren't released while the case was pending.
The U.S. wind industry will face some financial challenges when the production tax credit phases out after 2020. Yet there are factors that will still help support the industry, analysts say, including the brisk pace of coal plant retirements and growing demand for offshore wind power.
General Motors is getting close to its 200,000-vehicle cap for a $7,500 federal tax incentive on electric vehicles. Tesla has already hit the cap and has started the process of phasing out the tax credit, which reduces by half every six months until it hits zero.
August 7, 2018
The growth of wind and solar in certain areas—from California to Germany and Australia—has meant that the amount of electricity being generated is outstripping demand at times, pushing wholesale prices to zero or even below. This is a nightmare for companies that are trying to make money on traditional power plants.
Maryland has a pilot program that will allow residents to subscribe to one of six planned community solar farms. The program is an opportunity to provide cost savings and clean energy to people who are not well-positioned to install rooftop solar. But it also is helping to intensify an existing debate about which locations are appropriate for solar farms.
Battery makers are making big investments in European plants, trying to position themselves for the projected growth in electric vehicle sales. Tesla is looking at potential sites in the Netherlands and Germany, and China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. plans to build in Germany. Those companies, along with others that already have a presence in the region, want to sell products to auto companies that need to rapidly electrify their fleets to meet EU emissions standards.
A rise in solar, geothermal and wind development is helping to wean Chile's massive mining industry, which requires large amounts of energy, off imported fossil fuels. For many mining operations, investing in renewables is a way to lower their energy bills. Some have invested in their own solar and wind projects, while others have signed power-purchase agreements with third-party renewable energy companies.