August 6, 2018
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.
New Jersey is aiming to be a national leader in offshore wind energy, with plans to develop 3,500 megawatts within 12 years, as it targets 100 percent clean energy by 2050. While the goals are clear, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state leaders do not have specifics about how it will affect consumers' bills.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Deepwater Wind, which operates America's first offshore wind farm off Rhode Island, is seeking to build the nation's second offshore wind project off Maryland's coast. As an early step in the process, it is launching a survey this week to scout the seafloor for things like hills and valleys and aquatic life to determine where exactly to erect its turbines.
The world's largest solar facility, the $2.8-billion Benban complex, located 400 miles south of Cairo, is set to open next year. It will have 30 separate solar plants and employ 4,000 workers. The complex is part of the nation's plan to get 42 percent of its electricity from renewables.
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.
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
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.
American Electric Power faced formidable challenges in trying to develop the largest wind farm in the country, and ultimately gave up after a rejection from Texas regulators. Here are three key hurdles the project faced and what they say about the industry.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to support the state's plan to expand offshore wind energy development and ban offshore oil and gas drilling. "Let me be clear: Our commitment to offshore wind is smarter, cleaner, and safer than the frightening federal proposal to allow offshore drilling," Cuomo writes.
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
Dominion energy has issued a proposal to develop 3 gigawatts of wind and solar and spend nearly $900 million on efficiency improvements, all part of a plan to remake its Virginia grid. The proposal was guided by state legislation signed in March that aims to make the state's grid cleaner and more efficient.
Massachusetts lawmakers continue to negotiate terms of a bill that would increase the state's renewable portfolio standard with just days to go before the end of session. The optimism of a few months ago has given way to an urgency to come to some kind of agreement.
A coalition of environmental groups say they oppose a Nevada ballot measure that would break up the monopoly of NV Energy, something they say would harm clean-energy programs. The groups have clashed with NV Energy in the past but say the company is following through on plans that support renewable energy and reduce use of coal.
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.
French President Emmanuel Macron is hailing an agreement with Spain to develop a transmission line between the two countries, saying that greater interconnection will allow the two to better manage their electricity resources and ultimately lead to lower emissions.
July 27, 2018
Texas regulators have rejected a plan for the state's consumers to pay some of the costs for the Wind Catcher Energy Connection, an Oklahoma wind farm that would be the largest in the country. The Texas action is a serious blow for the project.
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.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has proposed a rule that would set up a system of renewable energy credits for offshore wind projects, providing developers with some of the assurance they need to get financing. The state has a goal of developing 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
Toyota is expanding its investment in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and aiming to design mass-market cars and SUVs along with buses and trucks. Company officials are hoping to prove wrong competing automakers who have largely written off fuel cells.
A New York private equity firm is raising money to develop a 900 megawatt wind farm in Morocco to power data centers and cryptocurrency mining, a highly energy-intensive computing process.
July 25, 2018
At the end of this month, Duke Energy plans to cap its net-metering program for rooftop solar in South Carolina, a move that's expected to drastically discourage future development and put thousands of jobs at risk. The legislature's failure to raise that cap, and the expected impact, is becoming an issue in the governor's race.