NewEnergyNews More: January 2014

NewEnergyNews More

Every day is Earthday.

Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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  • Friday, January 31, 2014

    12X GROWTH IN 10 YEARS FOR DEMAND RESPONSE TECH

    Automated Demand Response: OpenADR, Commercial & Industrial ADR, Residential ADR, and DR Management Systems: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “Demand response (DR) is becoming a growing part of the resource base that electric system operators rely on to maintain reliability on the grid…Automated demand response (ADR) describes a system that automates the DR dispatch process, from the grid operator to the DR aggregator (if involved) to the end-use customer – all without any manual intervention…As coal and nuclear plants are retired, clean replacements are needed…[and] as large-scale intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar power fill in this gap, they require backup solutions…ADR is a viable alternative in both the commercial and industrial (C&I) and residential sectors and can provide more reliable and faster responding DR as a bonus. Navigant Research forecasts that global spending on ADR will grow from $13 million in 2014 to more than $185 million in 2023…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    STATE OF THE UNION 2014 EXCEPT – THE PRES ON SOLAR AND CLIMATE

    State of the Union: Text of Obama's address

    January 28, 2014 (San Jose Mercury News)

    “...It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

    “And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

    “Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did...” click here for more

    THE BENEFITS OF WIND

    Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits For New Hampshire

    January 21, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    “Existing wind energy production in New Hampshire is providing significant environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released by Environment New Hampshire…New Hampshire's wind energy is avoiding more than 157,267 metric tons of carbon pollution, the equivalent of taking 32,764 cars off the road, while it also saves 70,265,000 gallons of water per year, enough to meet the needs of 2,567 people…[W]ind energy in the state is [also] avoiding 148 tons of nitrogen oxides and 183 tons of sulfur dioxide…” click here for more

    THE JOBS IN ENERGY EFFICIENCY

    Proving Energy Efficiency Creates Jobs: Seeking A New Standard Method

    Casey bell, January 22, 2014 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    “…The stronger the evidence that energy efficiency programs and polices create economic opportunity and jobs, the greater the likelihood that federal, state, and local governments will support them. Managers of existing programs use a variety of methods to monitor and evaluate their job creation impacts…The problem is that we do not know the best way to verify how many jobs have been created by a particular energy efficiency policy or program…The underlying economic argument for energy efficiency job creation, through both the initial investment in energy efficient measures and through resources shifted to labor intensive sectors of the economy made possible by energy savings, is compelling. However, the lack of a standardized, generally-accepted method of verification is problematic…ACEEE, with the support of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, and Efficiency Vermont, is launching a project with the goal of addressing this issue…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    SOLAR MAKERS GETTING BACK ON THEIR FEET

    Tier 1 Solar PV Module Margin Recovery: How Long will it Last?

    Michael Barker, January 21, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    “During the past few years, the upstream (or manufacturing) segment of the PV industry value-chain took a big hit in terms of revenues and profitability. Due to component over-supply, solar PV prices fell by double digits during 2012, with c-Si modules seeing an annual decline of over 40%...During 2013, the industry situation began to improve as uncompetitive capacity was shuttered and Tier 1 manufacturers focused on cost reduction, supply-chain flexibility, and shipment growth. Assisted by the stabilization in module ASPs, at the end of 2013 there was a rebound in both margins and market-share for Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers…With the PV industry now poised for strong demand growth in 2014, most Tier 1 module manufacturers are anticipating continued improvements. However, risk remains…” click here for more

    WIND CAN STABILIZE THE GRID

    NREL Finds Wind Turbines Can Boost Grid System Readiness

    January 22, 2014 (ReNew Grid)

    "Wind energy technology can support and enhance the reliability of the U.S. power grid by controlling the active power output being placed onto the system, finds [Active Power Controls from Wind Power: Bridging the Gaps] from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The rest of the power system's resources have traditionally been adjusted around wind to support a reliable and efficient system; however, NREL says the research that led to its report challenges that concept…NREL says active power control helps balance load with generation at various times, avoiding erroneous power flows, involuntary load shedding, machine damage and the risk of potential blackouts…” click here for more

    BIG LEGAL WIN FOR U.S. OCEAN WIND

    Cape Wind Hails Legal Victory Over Persistent Project Opponents

    January 23, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    “…[Cape Wind has defeated] legal efforts of opponents to block its 468 MW offshore wind project, proposed off the coast of Nantucket Island…[T]he U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) approval of the Cape Wind project. Cape Wind says this represents a significant decision that rejects every argument that had been advanced by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and the Town of Barnstable [and their backer coal billionaire Bill Koch]…[Cape Wind’s victory] came as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and Town of Barnstable filed a new federal lawsuit…[questioning] Cape Wind’s power purchase agreement with utility company NSTAR.” click here for more

    Monday, January 27, 2014

    BOONE PICKENS BOOSTS IOWA WIND

    Another View: Wind's outlook remains strong; Developing natural gas and renewable energy are good for Iowa and the U.S.

    T. Boone Pickens, January 21, 2014 (Des Moines Register)

    “…In 2008, there were concerns that America’s supplies of natural gas were stretched thin…The Pickens Plan began with a call to increase alternative forms of energy generation…[Since then,] natural gas supplies [have] increased so dramatically that…[it] is the cheapest energy source in America, a reality that has hindered aggressive development of renewable energy in Iowa and elsewhere…[T]he same innovation and technology advances that have reshaped the domestic oil and natural gas landscape have also impacted the wind industry…[W]ind is the second-cheapest American power resource…[and] is becoming economically feasible again…[because of more] efficient turbines, better siting, the ability to tie into regional electric grids and other factors…Iowa may not have natural gas reserves, but 75 percent of the state is suitable to generate energy from wind…Developing natural gas for use in heavy-duty trucks and wind for electricity make a solid partnership…” click here for more

    THE FIGHT FOR SOLAR IN NORTH CAROLINA

    Largest Power Company in U.S. Joins ALEC in Plot Against One State’s Solar Revolution

    David Pomerantz, January 22, 2014 (EcoWatch)

    “The new hot spot for solar energy in the U.S. is North Carolina. The state was second in the nation in solar growth in 2013, behind only California…[and] if U.S. states were considered as countries, North Carolina would have been among the top 10 countries in the world for solar growth last year…[T]hat solar growth, driven by policies like the state’s renewable energy portfolio law, has been great for the North Carolina economy, generating $1.7 billion in revenue for the state…[and employing] 1,400 people in [2012. But] Duke Energy, the state’s monopoly utility and the largest power company in the country, is about to launch a major attack on…net metering, one of the key policies to North Carolina’s solar growth…Duke’s key ally…[is] the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), a group that lets corporations like Duke ghostwrite laws for right-wing state legislators…” click here for more

    CALIF SETS BAR HIGHER ON EFFICIENCY, DEMAND RESPONSE

    California Aims to Increase Efficiency, Demand Response to Meet Need For Reliable, Low-Carbon Energy System; Report looks at how to replace energy from SONGS with preferred resources and address climate impact on grid while meeting 2030, 2050 climate goals

    January 15, 2014 (California Energy Commission)

    “To meet energy needs of a growing population and a recovering economy in the face of climate change and loss of power plants in Southern California, the state must find ways to significantly scale two preferred resources—energy efficiency and demand response—according to [the] 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR)…It forecasts California's future energy supply and demand and [concludes the] urgency to scale-up demand response is high, if California is to maintain a reliable electric system, particularly in Southern California, in the absence of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the retirement of power plants that use once-through-cooling, and the need for flexibility to integrate intermittent renewable resources…[and that] California must plan for how climate change is likely to compromise electricity supply and demand…” click here for more

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Four Ways the Tverberg Attack on Wind and Solar is Wrong from the Headline On

    The first mistake in Gail Tverberg’s Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem is using the outdated term “intermittent” for renewables.

    “The more accurate term is ‘variable renewables,’” explains energy consultant Nancy LaPlaca. “The word ‘intermittent’ reinforces the impression that wind and solar are unreliable. The word ‘variable’ underscores the fact that, like all energy sources, wind and solar can and must be managed by grid operators.”

    “Wind and solar energy are variable because their output changes gradually over many hours, and those changes can be predicted,” explains American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Senior Electric Industry Analyst Michael Goggin. “Fossil and nuclear power plants are the ones that are intermittent, as their failures occur instantaneously and without warning, which is far more costly for grid operators.”

    Among the ten rambling points in Tverberg’s 3,000-plus word essay are four misinformed accusations:

    -renewables don’t replace oil,

    -don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions,

    -cost too much, and

    - can’t grow fast enough.

    1

    “Wind and solar PV do not fix our oil problem,” she writes. “Our big problem is with oil.”

    That is an irrelevant “straw man” argument, Goggin responds. “Nobody who knows what they’re talking about ever claimed renewables replace oil except in minor applications.”

    To address the oil problem, electric car advocate Paul Scott argues, put plug-in vehicles on the grid and clean up the grid.

    2

    Cleaning up the grid means more wind and solar. Tverberg’s argument that they do not reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is “completely debunked,” Goggin says, by the conclusions of the comprehensive Life Cycle Harmonization Project from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (summarized in this fact sheet).

    Though Tverberg claims there are only superficial “top of the iceberg” evaluations of various sources’ GHGs, the NREL study incorporates:

    -upstream factors:  raw

    materials extraction, construction materials manufacture, and power plant construction

    -fuel cycle factors: resource extraction and production, processing and conversion, and delivery to site

    -operation factors: combustion, maintenance, and operations, and

    -downstream factors: dismantling, decommissioning, disposal and recycling.

    The systematic NREL literature assessment of thousands of peer-reviewed life cycle analyses (LCAs) published over the last 30 years sorted out the data and technical information. “Total life cycle GHG emissions from renewables and nuclear energy are much lower and generally less variable than those from fossil fuels,” the LCA analysis concludes. “From cradle to grave, coal-fired electricity releases about 20 times more GHGs per kilowatt-hour than solar, wind, and nuclear electricity.”

    NREL’s work is so thorough its findings and methods were incorporated into the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Ramping up renewables tends to raise CO2 emissions “by ramping up China’s economy,” Tverberg argues. “The benefit China gets from its renewable sales is leveraged several times, as it allows the country to build new homes, roads, and schools, and businesses to service the new manufacturing. In China, the vast majority of manufacturing is with coal.”

    Tverberg’s idea that renewables cause China’s increased emissions “is absurd,” Goggin says.  “The chart in her article clearly shows China has ramped up coal use to meet increased overall energy demand.”

    Hundreds of industries make up China’s $12 trillion-plus manufacturing sector. “It may be correct to say that manufacturing renewables ramps up China's economy,” explains energy analyst and Global Footprint Network Policy Officer Chris Nelder, “but that's true for everything that China does. Why single out renewables?”

     In solar, the U.S. and Germany do much of the polysilicon refining, the most energy intensive part of module manufacturing. “And over 70 percent of U.S. wind components are made here,” Goggin says.

     “Renewables raise world CO2 emissions indirectly by making the country using them less competitive,” Tverberg argues. The higher electricity cost, she explains, drives manufacturing to countries that use lower-priced fossil energy sources.

    “I am not aware of any evidence that using renewables has made any country less competitive by raising the price of manufactured goods,” Nelder says. “The OECD has been outsourcing manufacturing to China for decades. Separating out the effect of renewables is extremely difficult.”

    3

    The higher cost of renewables-generated electricity also drives governments to balance their energy mixes with cheap fossil sources. “This seems to be at least part of the problem behind Germany’s difficulties with renewables,” Tverberg speculates.

    Her observations about the costs of renewables don’t stand up to scrutiny. A recent Synapse Energy Economics report showed that doubling the use of wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states will save consumers a net $6.9 billion per year, after costs. And, Goggin adds, “U.S. Department of Energy data confirm that consumers in the top wind energy producing states have seen their electric rates increase at around half the rate of consumers in states that produce less wind energy.”

    Recent articles “have misleadingly looked at small snapshots in time that miss the large consumer savings and pollution reductions wind energy is producing in Germany,” Goggin  wrote recently.

    “Germany has already seen a 20 percent drop in wholesale electricity prices over the last year, in large part because wind and solar energy displace more expensive sources of energy,” he points out.

    “Renewable energy has reduced wholesale prices by $0.012 cents per kilowatt-hour,” Clean Technica reported last fall from a report by German research firm BrainPool. For Germany’s predicted 2014 consumption of 482 terawatt-hours, “renewable energy will reduce wholesale prices by EUR 5.784 billion.”

    German electricity customers are only beginning to see these savings because of the year or two regulatory lag in updating retail electricity rates,” Goggin wrote. And, because of a variety of other factors, “renewable costs appear larger than they are.”

    Tverberg also says – again with inadequate documentation – that renewables are too costly “because current laws overcompensate owners of intermittent renewables relative to the value they provide to the grid.”

    She argues that at retail rates renewables are overcompensated. But while there is a large difference between retail and wholesale electricity prices, Goggin acknowledges, she ignores the fact that all utility-scale projects, including wind and solar, are paid at a wholesale rate. And the difference between wholesale and retail rates is almost entirely made up of the cost of distribution lines that deliver electricity from all generation sources to homes and businesses. 

    4

    It is doubtful renewables production can ramp “to even 5 percent of the world’s energy supply,” Tverberg argues in one paragraph. But when renewables production does ramp up to meet world demand, she says in another paragraph, there will be “polluting minerals” and “toxic materials” to deal with. Besides the obvious contradiction, she is mistaken on the first point and misguided on the second.

    Wind and solar are among the world’s fastest growing energy sources. They were over 5.8 percent of U.S. generating capacity through November 2013 and were about 54 percent of the new capacity installed in 2012. Global solar capacity grew 42 percent and wind capacity grew 19 percent in 2012, according to the most recent IEA numbers. They are projected to be 10 percent of global electricity by 2020.

    “Globally non-hydro renewables now have a compound annual growth rate of 5.9 percent and rising,” Nelder notes.  “Of course it takes time. All transitions have. And they all grow very slowly for the first few decades.”

    The pollutants and toxicities associated with renewables pale in comparison to nuclear waste and the poisons that spew from coal plants, LaPlaca points out.

    “Making energy from anything causes pollution,” Nelder adds. The question is how bad is the pollution relative to the alternatives? Tverberg presents no data.”

    Unlike conventional power plant life spans of 40 years, Tverberg claims, referencing a Renewable Energy Foundation analysis, “it may not be economic to operate wind turbines for more than 12 years to 15 years.”

    But Danish Energy Agency data shows no evidence of “an age-related performance drop,” reported Windpower Monthly’s David Milborrow. “Performance generally appears to be maintained at a consistent level, with only a slight decline with age — one in line with other types of power plants.”

    Solar PV modules are similarly showing long term steady performance, according to recent research.

    Conventional power plants require expensive regular maintenance and periodically shut down to replace or refurbish major components. Most wind and solar installations generally require little more than basic maintenance, Goggin notes.

    Conclusion

    Much of Tverberg’s analysis is based on an Energy Returned on Energy Invested perspective. But, Nelder says, “EROEI and LCA analyses are deeply problematic when comparing renewables to fossil fuels. Is there an analysis showing that over 20-plus years, a new investment made today in renewables is more expensive than one in fossil fuels? And anyway, what is the alternative? That we stay committed to coal?"

    Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    GOOGLE BUYS MORE WIND

    Google buys another Texas wind farm

    Nicholas Sakelaris, January 15, 2014 (Dallas Business Journal)

    "Google Inc. purchased [a a $75 million, 182-megawatt] wind farm in the Texas Panhandle…The Panhandle 2 project is being developed by Pattern Energy Group LP and will be operational by the end of 2014, according to Google…This marks the 15th renewable energy project that Google has invested in…Google’s energy portfolio now consists of both wind and solar assets. The company’s long-term goal is to power its operations with 100-percent renewable energy…Google’s data centers don’t just plug into wind turbines or solar panels…Instead, Google incorporates renewable energy into the local power grids…” click here for more

    RECORD 2013 PV MOVES U.S. NEAR TOP OF WORLD

    Record 2013 Solar PV Installations Promotes U.S. to Strongest Market Outside Asia-Pacific…California retains leading state ranking in 2013, with North Carolina surging into second place

    January 8, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    "New solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in the United States (U.S.) reached a record 4.2 gigawatts (GW) during 2013. Since 2012, the U.S. market has grown 15 percent, making it the leading solar market outside the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region…Solar PV installed in the U.S. during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2013 also reached a new record high of approximately 1.4 GW, which is equivalent to over 1 megawatt (MW) of solar panels being installed during each hour of daylight over the past three months…Large-scale projects…[were] more than 80 percent of new solar capacity deployed…The small-scale solar segment, comprised of residential and small non-residential rooftops, accounted for approximately 700 MW in 2013, which is an increase of 10 percent compared to 2012…” click here for more

    2013 CORPORATE MONEY GOES TO $579MIL FOR SMART GRID

    VC Funding in Smart Grid Comes in at $405 Million in 2013

    January 2014 (Mercom Capital Group)

    “…Venture capital (VC) funding into smart grid technology companies came in at $405 million in 63 deals in 2013, compared to $434 million in 40 deals in 2012. Total corporate funding, including debt and public market financings, came to $579 million in 2013, compared to $506 million in 2012. There were 94 total VC investors in 2013, with 12 active investors participating in multiple deals…There was a burst of activity in Q4 2013, which netted $148 million in 31 deals. Almost half the deals in 2013 were made in the fourth quarter…There were three IPOs in 2013 (including one in the fourth quarter), raising a combined $162.3 million…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014

    BIG BOX SOLAR GETS BIGGER

    US Large-scale Commercial PV Segment to Show Strongest Growth in 2014

    Michael Barker, January 14, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    "While ground-mount utility projects dominated the US market in 2013 and will still make up the majority of market demand in 2014…[s]mall-scale commercial applications less than 100 kW are projected to grow by approximately 40% Y/Y, while large-scale commercial projects will see almost 70% annual growth…[That is about] double and triple the growth rate, respectively, compared to ground-mount PV systems…The shift to distributed generation building-mount commercial applications is being driven by…the favorable economics for these systems in the Northeast and West of the US, as well as changing incentive policies in a number of US states…This trend has implications for component supply as well as project development…” click here for more

    MAINE OFFSHORE WIND GETS ANOTHER GO

    UMaine’s offshore wind energy pilot project wins initial OK

    Whit Richardson, January 15, 2014 (Bangor Daily News)

    "The Maine Public Utilities Commission…approved in a 2-1 vote a term sheet for Maine Aqua Ventus’ [two six-megawatt turbine] pilot offshore wind energy project…The decision clears a hurdle for Maine Aqua Ventus [consortium] in its path to receive electric ratepayer support as it tests new offshore wind technology...[that could harvest some of Maine’s 150 gigawatts of offshore wind, enough to power the state] 70 times over…[The pilot project] follows the university’s June 2013 deployment of] a one-eighth scale model of VolturnUS, its prototype floating turbine…[and] the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas to send electricity into the power grid…[The long-term goals are] a 500-megawatt offshore wind farm project in the Gulf of Maine…[and wind-generated electricity at 10 cents per kilowatt hour by the mid 2020s…” click here for more

    BUILDING AUTOMATION TO GROW STEADILY

    Smart Buildings Networking and Communications; BACnet, LonWorks, KNX, Modbus, and Proprietary Building Control Technologies for Networked Building Automation: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “Networked building controls cover a variety of building systems, including HVAC, lighting, fire and life safety, and security and access systems. These devices include a wide range of sensors, controllers, actuators, switches, air handlers, alarms, and detectors. When networked together by one or more protocols, they can drastically reduce energy usage and costs, alert building operators to repair or maintenance needs, and provide significant upgrades to occupant comfort and safety…While the introduction of Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled devices is helping to ease this transition, full utilization of open, IP-based networked controls and devices is projected to be years away. Navigant Research forecasts that global revenue for networked building automation control devices will grow from $20.1 billion in 2013 to $34.7 billion by 2021…” click here for more

    Monday, January 20, 2014

    ON THE ENERGY-ECONOMY LINK

    Can we sever the link between energy and economic growth?

    Brad Plumer, January 17, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “Ever since the 1970s, the world appears to be using less and less energy to produce a given unit of economic activity…There's some debate among economists, however, as to whether it's actually possible to significantly reduce the amount of energy used per unit of economic activity…[W]hy does this debate matter? Well, it matters a lot for climate-change policy. The growth rate of heat-trapping carbon-dioxide emissions in the future will depend on three things: 1) The growth rate of the global economy, 2) the energy-intensity of the economy (i.e., how much energy we need to sustain a given level of economic activity), and 3) the carbon-intensity of our energy supply (basically, the cleanliness of the fuels we use)…Right now, BP is predicting that the world's biggest countries will…get more energy-efficient and use cleaner fuels…But, the report notes, this also won't be enough to curtail carbon-dioxide emissions…BP thinks we won't even get close…There are three broad ways to cut emissions…” click here for more

    SOLAR STORAGE BREAKTHROUGH

    Triangle researchers find way to store solar power

    Jay Price, January 14, 2014 (NewsObserver)

    “…[Researchers have] discovered a potential solution to one of the fundamental problems of generating large amounts of energy from the sun’s rays: how to store some of the power so it’s available at night…The scientists [from UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University] found a new way to use solar energy to split molecules of water into its atomic-level components: oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be burned for fuel, generating only water as waste, which can then be recycled to be split again…The process currently generates hydrogen equal to about 1 percent of the energy in the sunlight received. But now that it’s clear the concept works, the researchers think there’s little doubt that they can improve the efficiency…[to] at least 15 percent, which is similar to the efficiency of current commercial solar cells…” click here for more

    TINY WIND TO CHARGE A PHONE

    The mobiles powered by WIND TURBINES: 'Micro-windmills' smaller than a grain of rice could one day be fitted to our phones

    Victoria Woollaston, 13 January 2014 (UK Daily Mail)

    “Each windmill is 1.8mm wide and ten of them can fit on a grain of rice…[Researchers from Texas] claim hundreds of the nickel devices could fitted into a phone case…Users could then wave the windmills in the air [and as the tiny blades spin they turn a shaft connected to a miniature generator that can be connected to a phone’s battery, or other devices that require energy]…This case could also be placed out of a window, or in front of a fan, to increase the amount of energy generated...[According to the researchers,] hundreds of windmills could recharge a phone in 'a few minutes'…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN NORTH CAROLINA

    Two sides to North Carolina's wind-energy debate

    Dawn Kurry, January 9, 2014 (Triangle Business Journal)

    "Despite being poised with resources along the coast, 2014 won’t be the year for wind energy to take off in North Carolina. In fact, it may be at least another five years…[Some believe] residential wind energy for North Carolinians is a pipe dream [because the resource is inadequate]…[Others say the resource is strong enough but] North Carolina has been wise to wait before jumping into expensive wind energy developments, and with the prices of solar panels dropping, there hasn’t been any big need for wind power…One of the biggest challenges for North Carolina is that places like the Outer Banks are not densely populated, therefore it lacks in infrastructure…” click here for more

    TOO MUCH SOLAR IN HAWAII

    System overload slows Hawaii’s solar energy boom; Energy collected by homeowners’ panels taxed the state’s power grid, and the local utility has stopped connecting them

    Jennifer London, January 10, 2014 (AlJazeera America)

    "…Today 10 percent of households in the Aloha State have rooftop solar systems to generate electricity, compared with no more than 3 percent in California. But now Hawaii is facing a problem: the increase of privately installed solar panels has overloaded the power grid…[Hawaiian Electric Co.] has seen such an increase in private solar panels, prompted in part by federal and state tax incentives, that it stopped connecting them this fall…[T]he company expects to have a short-term solution for customers in the spring…” click here for more

    NAT GAS TRUCK AND BUS MARKET TO JUMP

    Natural Gas Trucks and Buses; Medium and Heavy Duty Natural Gas Trucks and Buses, Natural Gas Supply, Refueling Infrastructure, CNG, and LNG: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    Q4 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “Two main issues are driving the increased usage of natural gas as a fuel for trucks and buses: the lower cost of natural gas and the lower emissions of natural gas engines…North America and Asia Pacific stand out as regions with strong growth. In North America, where natural gas costs remain low, the growth of the vehicle market has gotten ahead of the refueling station development. In Asia Pacific, China and developing markets are looking to natural gas to help solve environmental woes in large cities. Navigant Research forecasts that the total number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on the road across the world will reach nearly 1.9 million trucks and a similar 1.8 million buses by 2022…” click here for more

    PERIOD OF RE-EVALUATION FOR SOLAR POWER PLANTS

    After a building boom, solar energy's prospects now aren't as sunny; The pace of solar development has slowed to a crawl, with a number of companies going out of business and major projects canceled.

    Julie Cart, January 11, 2014 (LA Times)

    “…[T]he pace of development [of large-scale solar power plants across the desert Southwest] has slowed to a crawl, with a number of companies going out of business and major projects canceled for lack of financing...Of the 365 federal solar applications since 2009, just 20 plants are on track to be built. Only three large-scale solar facilities have gone online, two in California and one in Nevada…Several factors are responsible, industry analysts say. The tight economy has made financing difficult to obtain, and the federal government has not said whether it will continue to offer tax credits…Another, somewhat unexpected issue is the difficulty solar developers are having negotiating agreements to sell their power to large utilities…[because] utilities in many states are on track to meet [renewables mandates], giving them less incentive to buy higher-priced solar energy —especially as a steep decline in natural gas prices has cut the cost of power…” click here for more

    WIND STABILIZED TEXAS GRID IN BIG FREEZE

    Cold pushes Texas power use to winter record

    Eileen O’Grady, January 7, 2014 (Reuters)

    “Below-freezing temperatures across Texas pushed power use to a new winter record…but the state avoided a…power emergency as generating supplies improved…Sufficient generation and higher wind output from West Texas wind farms boosted the state's electric supply…when the grid operator declared an emergency as power plants shut unexpectedly…Prices ranged from $25 to $600 per megawatt-hour as demand peaked, down from [the previous day] when prices hit the $5,000 price cap for about one hour…ERCOT was able to avert rolling outages Monday by importing power and implementing demand response programs to curb rising demand…One of the state's largest power plants, Luminant's Comanche Peak 1 nuclear reactor, is operating at 72 percent of capacity…[M]ore than 3,700 megawatts of generation was forced to shut...on top of nearly 10,000 MW of generation that was already shut for the season or for planned maintenance…” click here for more

    $16MIL TO $3BIL BY 2035 FOR EV BATTERY RECYLCING

    Second-Life Batteries: From PEVs to Stationary Applications

    1Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “The first lithium ion (Li-ion) battery-powered plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) were launched in 2010 with the emergence of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF, soon to be followed by dozens of other car launches. More than 100,000 PEVs have been sold thus far, and sales volumes are rising fast. The battery packs in these vehicles are usually warrantied for 8 to 10 years and, after that period, most will have reduced energy storage capacity. Battery manufacturers expect that those batteries will retain 80% of the original capacity, on average…Reusing salvaged batteries for stationary applications solves a significant problem: new batteries cost too much to allow for their profitable use on the grid…Navigant Research forecasts that the global second-life battery business will grow from $16 million in 2014 to $3 billion in 2035…” click here for more

    Monday, January 13, 2014

    NEW STUDY VERIFIES WIND DOES NO HARM TO HOME VALUES

    Study: Like In The Country, Wind Turbines Don't Hurt Urban Home Values

    Brian Dowling, January 11, 2014 (Hartford Courant)

    “Researchers have found no evidence that wind turbines hurt home values, in a new study referred to as the first review of impacts on home sales in urban and suburban neighborhoods…[ Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts] by researchers at UConn and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, examined 122,000 home sales in Massachusetts over 14 years that were within five miles of wind turbines, the largest and most comprehensive dataset examined on the subject…After controlling for a number of other variables that could sway the sales price, the researchers found a statistically insignificant 0.5 percent increase in the home values. The study also said homes near turbines were being put up for sale and sold about as often as they were in other areas…” click here for more

    MINNESOTA’S BIGGEST SOLAR GETS LEGAL CLEARANCE

    Massive Minnesota Solar Project Gets Major Legal Boost

    Joanna M. Foster, January 1, 2014 (Climate Progress)

    “…[A]dministrative law judge Eric Lipman recommended Geronimo Energy’s Aurora Solar Project [the largest-ever proposed solar project in Minnesota] above five other [new natural gas generator] proposals that utility Xcel Energy submitted to state regulators…[S]olar, according to Lipman, is the best deal. The Geronimo proposal is for a 100-megawatt distributed solar project, with 20-25 sites in 18 counties. Each solar park would range from 2-10 megawatts. The largest of the Geronimo solar parks would be five times bigger than the state’s largest solar array…” click here for more

    NEW TECHNOLOGY TO DRIVE STOP-START VEHICLE SYSTEM MRKT

    48 Volt Systems for Stop-Start Vehicles and Micro Hybrids

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Reseach)

    “…The latest [stop-start vehicle systems] are starting to implement some of the features that were first developed for full hybrid vehicles, such as regenerative braking and electric power assistance. The challenge for OEMs is to get the most efficiency benefits from the smallest cost increment…[T]he current 12V electrical system is becoming an inhibitor…Growth in light duty 48V systems sales through the end of the current decade will be predominately in Western Europe, mainly because this region is the most aggressive in implementing fuel economy and emissions regulations…Navigant Research forecasts that total global sales for light duty vehicles with 48V electrical subsystems will reach nearly 13.5 million by 2023…” click here for more

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Solar’s Faceoff: Feed In Tariff Versus Net Energy Metering

    With the Gainesville FIT suspended, should solar rally around NEM?


    The first and most famous U.S. feed-in tariff has been suspended and rooftop solar advocates are calling for the industry to rally instead around net energy metering.


    The Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) program “came to a screeching halt, it’s over,” said The Alliance for Solar Choice President Bryan Miller. “This shows that FITs don’t build a long term durable market,” added Miller, a VP for the residential solar installer and third party ownership fund manager Sunrun. “Real people are losing real jobs because there is no Gainesville feed-in tariff anymore.”


    Gainesville’s City Commissioners voted in December to suspend the tariff for 2014. GRU will not provide the over-retail rate for solar-generated electricity that has driven the installation of fifteen-plus megawatts of capacity since 2009.


    The FIT currently increases residential rates by around $3 per month per 1,000 kilowatt-hours, according to GRU. Since 2009, the utility has paid some $11.4 million, at an average solar-generated electricity price of $287 per megawatt-hour. Its contracted twenty year obligation is $74 million to $84 million.


    Western Europe’s landmark FITs were “tremendously important in the development of the solar industry,” Miller acknowledged. “Germany’s FIT jumped started the industry and we give them credit for that. But we’ve outgrown those infant days when you needed to deliberately over-pay to get solar built.”


    There is a contraction in the German market and market turmoil in Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and France, Miller added.


    “The turmoil in Europe was not a problem with FITs,” renewables analyst and leading FIT advocate Paul Gipe objected. “It was the result of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries’ opposition to renewable energy. If there were renewables mandates or net metering, they would have attacked those.”



    FITs can work in places where the cost of retail electricity is low and the cost of electricity from solar systems is high but they don’t suit the U.S., Sunrun Supply Chain Manager and Treasurer of the German Energy Storage Association Dirk Morbizter.


    With a FIT, Miller said, either the price is set too high, driving irrational demand, or it is set too low, forcing regulators to raise it until it is too high. “Either way, the market doesn’t find equilibrium. Net Energy Metering allows that to happen.”


    NEM “is about respecting and protecting the rights of individual homeowners to generate their own power,” Miller said. The FIT “forces the homeowner to sell to the grid but 75 percent of the power generated by net metered systems never touches the grid.”


    NEM, Miller added, “is in 43 states and, according to D-SIRE data, there have been 150 expansions of it over twenty years and not a single contraction. That is the model of a durable public policy.”


    The FIT is far more stable than NEM, Gipe responded, because FITs are contracts with a binding term on both parties. “Across the U.S., where utilities can’t push regulators to repeal net metering, they are going to try to limit the number of years it applies.”


    The FIT is also more fair, Gipe added. NEM is “anti-choice” because the renewable energy builder has to already be a utility customer. With a FIT, a person or a community “can install renewable energy at a greenfield site and be paid for the electricity even if there is not a metered connection.”


    Solar “leasing companies” oppose the FIT because it is “more bankable,” Gipe explained of third party owner fund managers like Sunrun and SolarCity. “Who needs a leasing company and all their fees and their profit when you can go to the bank and get a loan to do it yourself? In Germany, they don’t have leasing companies. They have community banks and credit unions. Loans are available. There is no need to sell the right to develop solar energy to a leasing company.”


    But with FITs, Morbizter said, solar customers often build excessively large systems to maximize their return.  “This approach is unsustainable, especially in high-growth solar markets where solar costs continue to drop. Net metering ensures that customers match their system size to their electricity usage,” he explained.



    The suspension of the Gainesville FIT “is a blow,” Gipe said. “But the City Council said it is because Gainesville reached its solar targets. Germans would have concluded the targets were too low and increased them. Will Gainesville set new targets? I don’t know. Will they implement net metering instead? I doubt it. They introduced FITs to avoid NEM because it took revenues away from the municipal utility’s base. That hasn’t changed.”


    “Net metering has proven an effective policy for deploying retail distributed generation (DG) projects,” Clean Coalition Executive Director Craig Lewis wrote recently at Huffington Post. Net metered systems were 99 percent of those installed in 2012 and are almost half of the installed U.S. solar capacity.”


    But FITs, along with streamlined interconnection procedures, “are the world's most effective policy for bringing wholesale DG online,” Lewis added. And though over 70 percent of the world’s installed solar PV capacity is wholesale DG, it has been “largely overlooked in the U.S.”


    “Net Energy Metering is most appropriate for residential-scale renewable energy projects while Feed-In Tariffs are unparalleled at unleashing the commercial-scale market segment," Lewis said. "FITs, along with proactive grid planning, are the most significant drivers for commercial and community-scale renewables going forward.”




    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    A TAX POLICY TO CUT EMISSIONS

    Is Energy Tax Policy the Way to Drive the U.S. Climate Change Fight? No price on carbon? Nevermind. There are tax credits.

    Herman K. Trabish, January 6, 2014 (The Energy Collective)

    “Can a breakthrough in the U.S. climate change fight come from the energy tax policy reform proposed by outgoing Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT)? …Before stepping down to become U.S. Ambassador to China, Baucus suggested ‘dramatically simpler’ incentives that would…replace 42 inefficient and unnecessary incentives with two simple and transparent ones…drive domestic and clean energy production…be technology-neutral and reward all clean sources, and…give investors certainty about the benefits and their phase out…Baucus proposed replacing [all incentives] with a tax credit for clean electricity and a tax credit for clean transportation fuel…The cleaner the output [or fuel], as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the more of the incentive it would earn...” click here for more

    LITTLE PROPERTY VALUE EFFECT FROM WIND TURBINES – STUDY

    URI economist: Wind turbines in Rhode Island have no effect on property values

    December 23, 2013, (University of Rhode Island)

    "A study conducted by a University of Rhode Island economist has concluded that the planning, construction and operation of wind turbines in Rhode Island does not depress nearby property values…Corey Lang, URI assistant professor of natural resource economics, analyzed the sale prices of 48,000 homes in Rhode Island over the last 15 years and compared homes near one of the state’s 12 wind turbines to homes far from the turbines. He found that the turbines may cause a drop in property values of 0.4 percent for those homes within a half mile of a turbine…” click here for more

    SIX FOLD GROWTH FOR MICROGRIDS BY 2020

    Microgrids; Commercial/Industrial, Community/Utility, Campus/Institutional, Military, Remote, Grid-Tied Utility Distribution, and Direct Current Microgrids: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    "The microgrid market is heating up quickly, with deployments occurring around the world in a variety of application segments. The industry is moving into the next phase of project development, focusing on how to develop projects on fully commercial terms…While North America leads the microgrid market…the Asia Pacific region will likely emerge as the global leader for microgrid deployments by 2030 or 2035 due to the huge need for power for growing populations not served by traditional grid infrastructure. Europe is, relatively speaking, a laggard…[because its] grid reliability is far superior to that in North America…Navigant Research forecasts that global annual microgrid capacity will increase from 685 megawatts in 2013 to more than 4 gigawatts by 2020 under a base scenario…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    CONSUMERS OVERWHELMINGLY LIKE SOLAR, WIND, AND PLUG-IN CARS

    Energy and Environment Consumer Survey; Consumer Attitudes and Awareness toward 10 Clean Energy Concepts

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    "The smart energy industry spans a wide range of technologies and products. In order to gain a better understanding of consumer attitudes about a variety of key issues, Navigant Research conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults in the fall of 2013, asking respondents to provide their level of favorability for key concepts. The survey asked consumers to respond with their impressions of…Solar energy, Wind energy, Nuclear power, Hybrid vehicles, Electric cars, Natural gas vehicles, Biofuels, Smart grid, Smart meters, and LEED certification…[Close to 80% of respondents favored the concept of solar energy, which led all concepts in favorable responses, followed by wind energy (72%). Consumers also held favorable views of alternative fuel vehicles including hybrid vehicles (67%), electric cars (61%), and natural gas vehicles (56%). LEED certification showed the least level of favorability (22%), largely due to low awareness of the topic.]...” click here for more

    FRACKING BOOM LIKELY TO BE SHORT-LIVED – STUDY

    Study: Energy boom's boon is temporary

    Mark Wilcox, December 19, 2013 (Northern Colorado Business Report)

    "A new study from regional nonprofit research group [Headwaters Economics] is questioning whether energy development does more long-term economic harm than good…The 31-year study [of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah] stipulates that short-term development can have a strong positive impact on employment and income that breaks down over time…For counties that participated in the early 1980s oil and gas boom, per capita income declines with longer specialization…The longer the duration of oil and gas specialization, the higher the crime rate…For counties that participated in the early-1980s oil and gas boom, educational attainment declines with longer specialization…” click here for more

    THE FIGHT FOR SOLAR IN IOWA HEATS UP

    Solar is a bankable investment for Iowa and the nation

    Tim Dwight, January 1, 2014 (Press-Citizen)

    “Solar power is happening in the state of Iowa…[I]nstallers on rooftops [are] bolting down record rates of solar modules…[and] the Iowa Department of Economic Development just recently received a $1.03 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to expand the adoption of solar…Over the next year, Iowa will be developing a simplified process to integrate PV technology across the state as well as modeling community solar programs for Iowans who don’t own a viable rooftop or don’t need to purchase a full solar system…[But] the Iowa Utilities Board agreed, by Alliant Energy’s request, to lower its energy efficiency goals and completely eliminate its “Solar Rewards” program…” click here for more

    Monday, January 6, 2014

    ECONOMY, NEW ENERGY, AND EE DRIVE U.S. ELECTRICITY USE DROP

    U.S. electricity sales have decreased in four of the past five years

    December 20, 2013 (Energy Information Administration)

    "Total U.S. electricity sales have declined in four of the past five years…driven by declining sales in the industrial sector and flat sales in the residential and commercial building sectors, despite growth in the number of households and commercial building space…Electricity sales to the residential sector (blue line) accounted for 36% of all electricity use in 2012, up from 33% in 2000…[Weather patterns and efficiency improvements] are key drivers…Sales of power to commercial buildings (brown line) have increased about 1% annually since 2000 and accounted for 35% of electricity use in 2012…Total industrial electricity sales [--historically sensitive to economic conditions --] decreased by 9% between 2000 and 2012, and…total [sector] electricity usage fell from 30% to 26%...Growth in solar photovoltaic capacity and other types of distributed generation…[slowed] electricity sales in the residential and commercial sectors…[EIA's Annual Energy Outlook] projects relatively flat electricity use through 2015, after which growth resumes at near historical rates of nearly 1%...” click here for more

    NEW WIND DESIGN TO PROTECT BIRDS

    Researchers, wind energy companies seek more "bird-friendly" turbines on Altamont Pass

    Jeremy Thomas, January 1, 2014 (Contra Costa Times)

    "…[T]he Altamont Wind Resource Area (AWRA)… -- one of the largest concentrations of wind farms in the country -- is in the middle of a decommission of 4,000 old turbines that use 1970s and '80s technology; nearly all will have to be removed or replaced by 2018. The world's most heavily studied area for wildlife impacts could also be the proving ground for a new type of turbine…[Ogin Inc. is seeking] approval to install 40 of its ‘shrouded’ turbines in the Sand Hill area to test its theory that the turbine's unique design will help prevent golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and other species from colliding with the blades, hopefully reducing deaths…The key is the shroud -- two concentric covers around the blades -- which the company says not only make them more efficient than older turbines, but also less accessible to approaching birds and bats…The Golden Gate Audubon Society in Berkeley is supportive of the study…” click here for more

    TEN TIMES GROWTH FOR PLUG-IN TRUCK MARKET BY 2020

    Hybrid and Electric Trucks; Hybrid Electric, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Light Duty, Medium Duty, and Heavy Duty Trucks and Vans: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    "The hybrid and electric truck market experienced a demand surge from 2008 to 2011, even as the broader truck market foundered in the global economic downturn…As of 2013, the economic stimulus programs are winding down…Although many fleets are interested in using these vehicles to support corporate sustainability targets, ultimately most purchasing decisions are driven by cost. Not all applications for hybrid and electric trucks provide sufficient fuel savings to offset the price premium over diesel or gasoline trucks…Navigant Research forecasts that global annual unit sales for hybrid and electric trucks – including light duty trucks used by commercial fleets and all medium and heavy duty on-road trucks – will rise from under 10,000 in 2013 to more than 100,000 in 2020…” click here for more

    Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Is Energy Tax Policy the Way to Drive the U.S. Climate Change Fight? No national energy policy? No price on carbon? Nevermind. There are tax credits.

    Is Energy Tax Policy the Way to Drive the U.S. Climate Change Fight?

    No national energy policy? No price on carbon? Nevermind. There are tax credits.

    Can a breakthrough in the U.S. climate change fight come from the energy tax policy reform proposed by outgoing Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT).

    “It is time to bring our energy tax policy into the 21st century,” explained Senator Baucus at the December announcement of his energy tax policy makeover. “Our current set of energy tax incentives is overly complex and picks winners and losers with no clear policy rationale.”

    Before stepping down to become U.S. Ambassador to China, Baucus suggested “dramatically simpler” incentives that would:

    -replace 42 inefficient and unnecessary incentives with two simple and transparent ones,

    -drive domestic and clean energy production,

    -be technology-neutral and reward all clean sources, and

    -give investors certainty about the benefits and their phase out.

    Renewables get 45 percent of the existing $16.4 billion in tax breaks, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while 29 percent go to energy efficiency, 20 percent go to fossil fuels and 7 percent to nuclear energy.

    But more than half are “too short-term to effectively stimulate investments,” Baucus’s proposal observed. “If we continue to extend current incentives, they will cost nearly $150 billion over ten years.”

    Baucus proposed replacing them all with a tax credit for clean electricity and a tax credit for clean transportation fuel.

    The clean electricity credit would provide a ten-year production tax credit (PTC) of up to $0.023 per kilowatt-hour or an investment tax credit (ITC) of up to 20 percent. These would be available to any domestic energy facility, including wind, solar, nuclear, natural gas and clean coal projects. The cleaner the output, as determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the more of the incentive it would earn.

    The ITC could go to retrofitting existing facilities with carbon capture technologies that cut emissions 50 percent. If any facility’s emissions rise, the ITC would be recovered.

    A clean transportation PTC of up to $1.00 per gallon or ITC of up to 20 percent would similarly go to any fuel source, based on their EPA-determined emissions reduction.

    The proposal also requested guidance on a carbon tax.

    Reaction

    Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman commended the proposal’s elimination “of inequities favoring fossil fuels.”

    The Baucus proposal “will take cash away from capital-intensive businesses like ours and significantly reduce future domestic investment,” read a letter to Baucus from oil and gas association executives. Tax policy should “support and encourage domestic investment and the jobs such investment creates.” Their letter did not address Baucus’s focus on emissions reductions.

    “It is not surprising fossil fuel investors don’t like government tipping the scales toward their competitors,” noted Chadbourne & Parke Partner Keith Martin. “But the Baucus proposal puts a mechanism in place to address emissions. If climate change worsens, as it looks like it will, all you have to do is tinker with the numbers.”

    The two Baucus incentives offer long-term certainty crucial for renewables developers. But they would begin phasing out when U.S. emissions fall 25 percent below 2013 levels.

    That is “a grossly unambitious target,” according to ThinkProgress’s Jeff Spross, and “reform could drive even more cuts in emissions if the monetary size of the credits were bigger.”

    The credits would go into effect in 2017. That allows transition time for beneficiaries of 11 current incentives the Baucus proposal omitted. Incentives for energy efficiency, clean vehicles, transmission, and fossil industry programs were dropped because they don’t provide “the largest bang-for-the-buck in reducing air pollution and enhancing energy security."

    The 2017 implementation coincides with the drop in solar’s 30 percent ITC to 10 percent.

    Solar and wind are expected to also soon lose the accelerated depreciation tax benefit key to equity investors in wind and solar projects and funds. “Its days are numbered,” Martin explained. “Both the President and Republicans oppose it.” Baucus would replace it with pooled depreciation that provides less than half the benefit, he said.

    The Solar Energy Industries Association acknowledged Baucus’s intent “to make the convoluted U.S. tax code simpler and fairer” but noted that “reducing the solar ITC and dramatically altering the way companies depreciate their assets could jeopardize future clean energy development.”

    While the proposal ups the post-2016 ITC from 10 percent to 20 percent, said a spokesperson for a major national solar rooftop installer who asked not to be named, “that Section 48 10 percent ITC is the only permanent renewable energy tax credit in the code. Trading away that permanence is significant.”

    Wind would get its full PTC extended to 2016 and then beyond to the 25 percent emissions reduction, the spokesperson added. But solar would take an immediate 10 percent “ITC hit” in 2017.

    The plan is “a windfall” for the nuclear, natural gas, and coal industries, one renewables advocate wrote, “and would effectively neuter truly renewable industries like solar and wind.”

    But Interim President/CEO Michael Brower of the American Council on Renewable Energy, which advocates for all renewables, called it a “long-term policy commitment to clean energy investment.”

    And the American Wind Energy Association, currently fighting to regain its expired PTC, called it “a sound policy option to provide domestic energy producers with stability for the years to come” and acknowledged Baucus’s effort “to find common ground.”

    “There is little likelihood of sweeping tax reform before next fall’s midterm elections but this suggests give and take is possible,” wind developer Jacob Susman, CEO of OwnEnergy, agreed. “A modified accelerated depreciation will hurt but could be worth getting a long-term and certain PTC. A ton of money is dying to come into wind but investors won’t make long term plans if they don’t have some certainty.”

    Baucus’s incentive phase out creates some uncertainty but there is already uncertainty in on-again-off-again incentives, Martin observed. The phase out’s transparency would allow developers to plan for it.

    Environmentalists are concerned that natural gas facilities would be rewarded for electricity generation emissions cuts but the highly potent greenhouse gas methane released in producing and shipping natural gas would not be penalized.

    Baucus would use the approximately $75 million saved by the reforms to cut the corporate tax rate, according to Politico’s Darren Goode and Brian Faler. Some Democrats would rather see the savings go to other tax cuts or to support energy efficiency and low carbon transportation.

    “Lowering the corporate tax rate undermines the incentives because they attract corporate tax equity investors,” Martin said, “but Baucus has to negotiate tax reform with corporations so it is either that or decrease the national debt.”

    The Baucus proposal “is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon,” Goode and Faler wrote, because it eliminates “scores of incentives with broad bipartisan support.”

    But it could “shape the debate over how Congress funds clean energy in the years ahead,” according to the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer.

    “Until now the conversation has been about whether to extend existing incentives or replace them,” noted Martin. “If and when Congress gets around to taking up the matter, these ideas will now be in the mix.”