July 16, 2018
Wind turbines, especially those used offshore, are on a pace to dramatically grow in size and capacity, according to a report from MAKE Consulting. Current offshore turbines, at 6 or 7 megawatts, will seem small compared to next-generation turbines that are between 12 and 15 megawatts.
Two of the biggest economies in Europe set new records for clean energy last week. The UK's electric grid went more than 1,000 hours without burning any coal. And, half-way through the year, renewable sources have generated more of Germany's electricity than coal has.
Zoos, museums, airports and parks will soon be home to 24-foot-high "solar trees" — curvy tubes with solar panels on top. Florida Power & Light is putting up the systems as part of an attempt to expand how it harnesses solar power. It's also installing solar canopies in parking lots and other locations.
July 13, 2018
Apple says it is starting a clean energy fund in China and spending $300 million on projects that could provide electricity to nearly 1 million homes. The plan includes Apple and 10 suppliers, and it is beginning at a time of an escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
Duke Energy customers have installed enough rooftop solar that they have hit a cap that means additional projects will receive less money for selling power back to the grid. Clean energy advocates supported legislation this spring to increase the 2 percent cap, but nothing has passed.
Apex Clean Energy says it will build two 400 megawatt wind farms next to each other in the Texas Panhandle. Taken together, the projects are large even by the standards of Texas, which leads the country in wind energy capacity.
New York City apartment dwellers will have a new opportunity to tap into solar power with the arrival of community solar programs that sell shares of projects. Community groups are now making deals with electricity companies. Read more from ICN about New York City's push for community solar projects that serve low-income residents.
A candidate for Wyoming's Republican gubernatorial nomination attacked a rival this week by calling his company "ideologically obsessed with so-called green energy." The comments by attorney Harriet Hageman show how some candidates in coal states are making the energy transition part of the debate.
July 11, 2018
BYD, a China-based maker of electric vehicles, is forming a partnership with a San Francisco investment firm to lease electric buses to cities, schools and corporations. The partners say this is the first venture of this type, and their aim is to accelerate the adoption of electric buses by reducing up-front costs.
Concord's city council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the entire city to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and for all transportation and thermal energy to be from renewables by 2050.
Wind developers are hoping that the winner of this fall's election to replace Maine Gov. Paul LePage is less hostile to the wind industry. Maine has seen its wind development stymied by state policies, which has helped to shift new investment to other states. At least two of the four candidates to replace LePage say they strongly support wind energy development.
New York officials are looking at the feasibility of requiring 3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2030 as the state's next target in an effort to increase the use of renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's existing goal is to reach 1.5 gigawatts of storage by 2025.
Elon Musk said in 2015 that he would have a factory in China within three years. It would be an essential part of Tesla meeting its ambitious sales goals in China. But there are substantial obstacles, including questions about how Tesla could raise the billions of dollars needed to complete the project.
July 10, 2018
A North Carolina wind farm does not disrupt a nearby military radar system, but it should not be expanded, according to a new study by MIT researchers. The wind farm produces power for Amazon facilities. Opponents of wind development argue that turbines would disrupt radar systems.
On average, energy efficiency programs funded by utility customers cost 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity saved, a bargain compared to the cost of generating electricity, according to a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It's the latest in a long line of reports that indicate energy efficiency programs are effective ways to save consumers money.
Financing of new solar power projects was down 19 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Much of the decrease was because of a slowdown in activity in China, the world's top investor in clean energy.
Ohio's solar power footprint is about to get much larger with three projects that are a combined 425 megawatts. The first two have already obtained state permits, and the third was proposed last month.
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.