August 6, 2018

China Slaps 25% Tariff on U.S. Solar Cells It Rarely Imports

China says it will slap a 25-percent tariff on solar cells manufactured in the U.S., retaliating against the Trump administration's latest proposed tariffs on other goods. China is the world's leading producer of solar cells; the U.S. exports few, if any, solar cells to China. Absent from the list of products is polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar cells, which the U.S. does export to China.

Big Coal Joins Fight Against Lake Erie Offshore Wind Turbines

Coal company Murray Energy Corp. has been financing some of the opposition to the proposed Ice Breaker wind farm, which would be the first offshore wind development in Lake Erie. The company's involvement came to light in depositions, confirming what has previously been unproven suspicion that fossil fuel companies were bankrolling the opponents.

Renewable Energy in Minnesota Receives a Battery Boost

Connexus Energy, Minnesota's largest cooperatively owned utility, is building its first solar-plus-storage project, with batteries capable of operating for two hours. The project is notable both because Minnesota utilities have been slow to develop storage systems and also because it may inspire other cooperative utilities, which tend to be small and rural, to make similar investments.

Shopping for Tesla Solar: The Showroom Buying Experience After SolarCity

SolarCity has gone from being the largest residential solar installer in the world to being an afterthought in Tesla vehicle showrooms. Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016, and shifted the solar company's focus away from leasing, a move that led to a big drop in market share. Tesla has now added small solar sales displays in its stores, but it remains to be seen if this is an effective way to reach consumers.

August 3, 2018

Massachusetts Raises the Bar (Just a Bit) on Climate Ambition

The legislature in Massachusetts has passed a bill that encourages more use of renewable energy, but environmental advocates are disappointed because the state had seemed poised for something far more ambitious. This was a clash between two chambers of the legislature that are both controlled by Democrats but disagree about how quickly to move on clean energy and climate change.

The Floor for Ultra-Low Solar Bids? $14 per Megawatt-Hour

Is there a bottom to bottoming-out solar bid prices? A new report says yes. The long-term decline in solar bid prices could level off in 2022, with a price of $14.70 per megawatt-hour. Prices may continue to fall after that, but the GTM Research report is predicting that steady decreases will shift into a period of greater stability.

Auto Suppliers Retool to Chase Electric Vehicle Bonanza

Automakers will invest tens of billions of dollars in developing new electric vehicles over the next several years. Much of that could flow to parts suppliers, if they can offer ways to cut electric vehicle manufacturing costs, which are still higher than for conventional cars. 3M is just one example of a supplier that is looking at how to adapt its existing products and processes for electric vehicles.

DC Circuit Tosses Challenge to New England Renewable Energy Market Rules

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit from natural gas generators, which said that the New England electricity grid operator is using a pricing system that unfairly favors renewable energy. This type of mechanism has helped to solidify the market for renewables and has inspired the Trump administration and others to look at whether they should subsidize coal and other resources.

Stretch of Georgia Highway Is Lab for Eco-Friendly Technologies

On an 18-mile stretch of interstate highway in Georgia, a nonprofit foundation is setting up solar roads and solar-powered vehicle changing, among other technologies. The foundation, called The Ray, sees its work as a testing ground for ways to turn highways, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, into places that can generate clean energy and help enable electrification of the vehicle fleet.

Run Your Dishwasher When the Sun Shines: Dynamic Power Pricing Grows

The combination of advanced electricity meters and smart appliances means we are not far from a time when appliances will automatically respond to price drops in electricity markets to decide when to do a load of laundry or dishes. For this to happen, more states need to adopt "dynamic pricing," which allows retail electricity prices to rise and fall based on demand. Often, the lowest prices happen when wind and solar energy are contributing the most to the grid.

August 1, 2018

New York to Consider Sweetening Incentives for Rooftop Solar

New York regulators are looking to increase the incentives they give to electric customers for rooftop solar and other distributed generation. The New York Department of Public Service issued a pair of white papers praising distributed generation for reducing carbon emissions and boosting economic activity, as it outlined potential changes to sweeten incentives.

The Global Race to Build the World’s Biggest Battery

Tesla's Elon Musk started a competition for the world's biggest battery for energy storage, challenging others to beat his 129-megawatt-hour project. Now, it has become routine for companies to announce plans for what they say is the "world's biggest battery." Here's a guide to what's out there.

July 31, 2018

Solar Panel Glut is Muting Effect of Trump Tariffs, SunPower Says

A surplus of solar panels on the market is pushing prices down, partially canceling the effects of the Trump administration tariffs on imported equipment, says Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp. Solar module prices are down 12 percent globally since China announced it was reducing incentives for solar projects, leading to an oversupply of panels. Read ICN's analysis of the potential impact after China's announcement in June.

Harley-Davidson Plans Line of Electric Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson is introducing its first electric motorcycles, part of a plan to update its global lineup in the face of slow sales and rising costs from tariffs. The company says it will begin selling its first electric motorcycle in August 2019, and will follow it with as many as five other electric models.

July 30, 2018

Will Bloom Energy’s IPO Break the Fuel Cell Curse?

Fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy celebrated its initial public offering last week and is hoping to succeed where other fuel cell firms have not. The company's market capitalization is more than all other publicly traded fuel cell firms combined, but Bloom is not yet profitable.

July 27, 2018

Could the U.S. Electric Grid Go the Way of the Landline Phone?

Making electricity is becoming a less profitable business. Increasingly energy efficient homes and the economy's shift from power-hungry manufacturing to service industries are dampening demand, while the cost of keeping fossil fuel and nuclear power plants running isn't dropping. 

July 25, 2018

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