Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/10/14)

September 10th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/10/14).

  1. Computerworld asks, “If Tesla’s Gigafactory can run on 100% renewable energy, why can’t others?”
  2. According to Climate Progress, “Post-Fukushima Japan Turns To Offshore Wind And Solar.”
  3. Bloomberg reports, “Divergent tax policies mean Norway risks missing out on most of a $6 billion wind-power boom while neighboring Sweden benefits.”
  4. According to Renewable Energy World, “A vote for independence in Scotland may halt work on renewable power projects that support 14 billion pounds ($23 billion) of investment and 12,000 jobs by raising questions about how developers would get subsidies, an energy supplier said.”
  5. DeSmogBlog reports, “Goldman Sachs Warns Investors About Tar Sands By Rail Challenges While Investing in Tar Sands By Rail.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/9/14)

September 9th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/9/14).

  1. Gigaom reports: “Just south of the Salton Sea — the salty, shrinking 350-square-mile lake that wasformed as the result of an engineering accident in the early 1900s — a six-year-old tech startup has been extracting the “white gold” that lies thousands of feet below the surface. That valuable material, lithium, can be used in batteries for electric cars and cell phones, and the project has piqued enough interest that execs from a handful of battery makers, as well as electric car company Tesla, have visited the site.”
  2. According to the Energy Collective: “Another state in the Southeast U.S. is recognizing the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy as commissioners, utilities and stakeholders in South Carolina are ironing out details of a new solar law that enables third-party leasing and contemplates the state’s two investor owned-utilities utilities, collectively, installing an estimated 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy by 2021, up from about 8 megawatts currently.”
  3. The Guardian reports: “It is clear that the gap between what governments are saying about climate change and what they are doing about it continues to widen. While they talk about two degrees at the climate negotiations, the current trend is for a 4C world.”
  4. According to the Roanoke Times, “Appalachian Power Co.’s plans to add a fee to the bills of some solar panel-equipped households drew criticism Monday in the town that just finished a first-in-Virginia solar power drive.”
  5. Greentech Media reports: “Opower doesn’t often enter into strategic partnerships with companies that overlap with its business. The behavioral efficiency company has been very successful landing utility partners so far, and other than starting a relationship with Honeywell for a smart thermostat deployment, it hasn’t needed to rely on others to expand. That’s why today’s announcement that Opower has teamed up with the Lexington, Mass.-based commercial building analytics company FirstFuel is a fairly big deal. “

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/8/14)

September 8th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/8/14).

  1. USA Today reports, “Long stymied by high costs and local opposition, offshore wind is finally nearing takeoff in the Untied States as 14 projects enter ‘advanced stages’ of development, the Energy Department reports.”
  2. In Mother Jones, Bill McKibben explains “How Methane Wrecked Obama’s Fracking Gambit,” with new science showing “that in climate terms, natural gas may be no better than coal—and possibly worse.”
  3. Salon reports, “Charles Koch founded anti-environment group to protect big oil industry handouts.”
  4. RenewEconomy discusses “Tony Abbott’s Year of Living Dangerously,” in which he has basically waged war on renewable energy.
  5. The New York Times reports, “As pressure grows from students who want to see their schools use financial clout to address environmental issues, Yale University’s investment office wrote to its money managers asking them to assess how investments could affect climate change and suggesting they avoid companies that do not take sensible ’steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’”

SEIA Report: U.S. Solar PV Installation Growing Fast, Becoming “Mainstream” Power Source

September 7th, 2014

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is out with its Solar Market Insight Report for the 2nd quarter of 2014, and it’s overwhelmingly “sunny” news. Here are a few highlights:

  • “The U.S. solar market had another strong quarter in Q2 2014. Photovoltaic (PV) installations reached 1,133 MWdc in Q2, up 21% over the same quarter in 2013.”
  • Solar power accounted for 53% of new U.S. electric generation capacity in the first half of 2014. That put solar ahead of natural gas (30%) and wind power (14%).
  • Utility PV procurement is surging, as “utility-scale solar project developers have amassed more than 3 gigawatts of new contracts over the past twelve months” This is a result of solar’s “increasing cost-competitiveness, along with a variety of new procurement mechanisms.”
  • The “residential solar juggernaut continues,” and “its momentum shows no signs of slowing.”
  • The top five states for solar PV installation in the 2nd quarter of 2014 were: California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey and North Carolina.
  • Solar power in the U.S. is increasingly becoming “mainstream,” as “solar PV has moved light years ahead of where it stood back in the first half of 2012″ (e.g., utility solar PV cumulative installations have quadrupled).
  • Utilities are starting to jump into the residential solar power market: “the two major utilities in Arizona (Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power) are now the first utilities in the U.S. to formally propose plans to own rooftop solar on residential customers’ homes.”
  • As you can see in the graph above, U.S. PV installations will hit 6.5 GW in 2014, up 36% from 2013.  PV installations are projected to surpass 8 GW in 2015 and 12 GW in 2016.
  • One cloud in the otherwise bright outlook: “looking ahead, systemic challenges to growth loom both in the near term (e.g., the recent U.S.-China tariff decision) and medium term (e.g., the federal ITC’s scheduled dropdown at the end of 2016). Nevertheless, the first half of 2014 showcased innovative financing strategies, evolving utility business models, and solar’s increasing economic competitiveness with fossil fuels, all of which offer encouraging signs of the U.S. market’s ability to weather barriers to growth and further push solar PV into the mainstream.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/5/14)

September 5th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/5/14).

  1. Greentech Media reports: “The United States’ solar market hit a major milestone in the second quarter of this year, with more than a half-million homes and businesses now generating solar energy. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) Q2 2014 U.S. Solar Market Insight report, the U.S. installed 1,133 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in the second quarter of this year.”
  2. According to Mother Jones, BP “lashes out at journalists and ‘opportunistic’ environmentalists” in the wake of a federal court decision that “the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, was caused by BP’s ‘willful misconduct’ and ‘gross negligence.’”
  3. CleanTechnica reports, “Tesla’s Gigafactory may achieve the $100/kWh holy grail of EV battery pack costs, according to recent reports.”
  4. According to Triple Pundit: “China aims to finalize its plans for the largest “cap and trade” program in the world by 2016 — a program that will eclipse the scope of European emissions trading. China’s market will be the main trading hub for Asia and the Pacific. It’ll place a cap on CO2 emissions from power plants and the nation’s many manufacturers. Basically, if an entity wants to emit carbon dioxide above the cap, it needs to buy permits from the market.”
  5. Reuters reports, “Nebraska’s top court will hear arguments on Friday about how the Keystone XL pipeline might cross the state – a narrow question of routing and permitting that has clouded the project’s fate after more than five years of wrangling at the federal level.”