NewEnergyNews More: January 2015

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  • Tuesday, January 27, 2015


    Christie's 2016 ambitions are stalling N.J. wind energy project, Sweeney says

    Matt Friedman, January 26, 2015 (

    “…Gov. Chris Christie's presidential ambitions are holding up a wind energy project his administration once championed…[according to State Senate President Stephen Sweeney…who is considered a likely 2017 Democratic candidate for governor…[T]he Senate Environment and Energy Committee voted 4-1 to approve a bill (S2711) that would force the Board of Public Utilities to approve a proposal for a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City that it has rejected twice…Sweeney also complained that the BPU has also been slow to issue regulations on wind energy, even though Christie signed a 2010 law intended to jump start the industry in New Jersey…At issue is the proposed 25-megawatt Fishermen's Energy wind project, which would consist of turbines about three miles off the coast of the resort…In rejecting the project most recently in November, the BPU — whose members are nominated by Christie and approved by the state Senate — said it ‘has not demonstrated financial integrity.’…Environmentalists and Democrats said the BPU was making excuses to hold the program up…The BPU evaluated the plan with a price of $263 per megawatt hour. But Fishermen's Energy said that was a much higher figure than it proposed, which was $199.17. It has appealed the decision…” click here for more


    Gulf Power, military bringing large-scale solar power

    January 22, 2015 (Pensacola News Journal)

    “…[T]he utility [Gulf Power] submitted [plans] to the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) for approval [of three solar projects in Northwest Florida]. The projects could be in service as early as December 2016…This is Gulf Power's second alternative energy project since launching the 3.2-megawatt Perdido Landfill Gas-to-Energy facility in 2010. Together, these new solar facilities, which will be developed by HelioSage Energy, could produce enough energy to power approximately 18,000 homes for one year…Once approved by the FPSC, the solar energy farms will be constructed at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach (30 megawatts), Holley Field in Navarre (40 megawatts) and Saufley Field in Pensacola (50 megawatts). Gulf Power will serve customers across Northwest Florida with power from these renewable energy-generating facilities…[T]he solar farms will not replace Gulf Power's generation plants, but will have the capability to provide energy that will diversify the power supply and provide a cost-effective alternative during peak energy usage…” click here for more


    Can Electric-Car Fast Charging Be Profitable? Answer: Unclear

    Stephen Edelstein, January 26, 2015 (Green Car Reports)

    “DC fast charging helps alleviate one of the major roadblocks to electric-car adoption--limited range--by giving drivers more ability to travel longer distances…That's why carmakers and other entities back the installation of more and more DC fast-charging sites…The benefits of a quicker charge are obvious for electric-car owners, but...providing power free to entice drivers…[can make operating one financially challenging]…A for-pay market in fast charging hasn't yet emerged…[but] businesses that operate charging stations on their property have to deal with [$20,000 to $60,000 installation costs as well as operating costs so] electric-car drivers could charge for free…[It is not clear that fast charge volumes are high enough to make it a profitable business if the operater charges drivers and it is not] clear what will happen to those hoping to make a profit off fast charging.” click here for more

    Monday, January 26, 2015


    Solar energy: building a new industry in WNY from the ground up

    David Robinson, January 23, 2015 (The Buffalo News)

    “…With SolarCity pledging to create 2,900 new jobs from its new factory now under construction…and with Japanese-manufacturer Solar Frontier studying the feasibility of opening a plant here, state officials are optimistic the [Buffalo] region is moving toward becoming a center for solar energy manufacturing…To do it, the state is pledging to invest $750 million from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative to build and equip SolarCity’s factory. It also would provide millions of dollars in support for Solar Frontier, if the company decides to build a plant here…[T]he SolarCity plant, scheduled to open sometime during 2016, would be one of the world’s biggest factories, with the annual capacity to make enough solar modules to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. SolarCity executives have said they need the Buffalo plant’s capacity to meet what they see as the continued rapid growth in the demand for new solar energy systems…SolarCity has agreed to give the state an exclusive four-month window to negotiate a potential expansion of its Buffalo manufacturing capacity, to as much as 5,000 megawatts…” click here for more


    The Key To Making The Most Of Rising Wind Energy Production Is…

    Alfredo Parres, January 23, 2015 (Clean Technica)

    “…Global wind power capacity is set to grow by a further 50 to 100 percent by 2020, so it’s well worth considering how to make the most of these wind resources and the challenges that must be faced…Denmark produced 39.1 percent of its electricity from wind, with its most productive month exceeding 60 percent. One some blustery days, the country sourced more than 90 percent of its electricity from wind…[T]he United Kingdom and Germany also set record highs for wind energy…In Texas, regulators say turbines in the state set a new wind power record, 10,296 megawatts, on March 26, 2014. This accounted for nearly 30 percent of the 35,768 megawatts of electricity coursing through the grid…By the end of 2013, China had an installed capacity of more than 90 gigawatts…From a technical point of view, the intermittent nature of wind presents challenges…Grid operators demand stability. Poor power quality can lead to instability and outages…[T]here is no single solution…[One is the] ability to import and export electricity…[Another is that wind farms must] ensure their output meets grid code requirements by mitigating the impact of transient voltages and power dips…[Finally, adequate transmission reduces curtailments and wind-related negative electricity pricing]…” click here for more


    Biofuel industry at crossroads awaiting EPA ruling

    James Osborne, January 20, 2015 (The Dallas Morning News)

    “Seven years ago President George W. Bush signed a law mandating refineries blend fuels derived from corn, animal fat and plant waste into the nation’s fuel supply. But the industry it spawned says it’s on the verge of plant closures and layoffs if the federal government doesn’t clear up uncertainty about future fuel standards…The renewable fuel standard, which sets year by year mandates for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels, has come under debate in Washington over concern there is already too much ethanol within the nation’s gasoline supply…At the same time, U.S. oil production has increased 80 percent since 2010…[Ethanol is no longer needed to reduce] U.S. oil imports…That has left the biofuel industry in regulatory gridlock. The EPA has not updated the renewable fuel standard since November 2013. That year biodiesel production hit 1.8 billion gallons. But with no new standard, that number fell to 1.75 billion gallons in 2014…” click here for more

    Saturday, January 24, 2015

  • Weekend Video: The President Describes The Republican Climate Dodge
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart On How Not To Fight Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Dirty Water And Dirty Money In Coal Ash
  • Wednesday, January 21, 2015


    The End of the Partisan Divide Over Climate Change

    Tom Zeller, Jr., January 18, 2015 (Forbes)

    “… From the stock markets and Wall Street to the boardrooms of Big Oil — and even the living rooms of Republican voters — the era of reflexive skepticism and denial of basic climate science appears to be coming to a close…That won’t likely mean an end to partisan bickering…[But amid the American Petroleum Institute annual State of American Energy Report’s] bullish assessment of the nation’s ongoing boom in shale oil and gas, the leading fossil fuel trade group clearly and unequivocally acknowledged the threat of global warming, and highlighted — at some length — the steady rise of solar power as an encouraging sign…The report goes on to note that the solar power sector has shaved installation costs and enjoyed over 40 percent growth over the last year…[It also] savages the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, arguing that it will kill the coal industry and cause significant harm to the nation’s economy…[Yet the] nation’s largest and most powerful oil lobby [stated] in no uncertain terms that climate change is real, that it’s a threat to American prosperity, and that clean energy technologies promise a solution…” click here for more


    President Praises Solar Progress in State of the Union Speech

    January 20, 2015 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    Citing its continued growth, President Obama once again has singled out solar energy in his annual State of the Union (SOTU) speech. Afterward, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) President/CEO Rhone Resch applauded President Obama for making the development of solar energy a top priority when he first took office six years ago and for never abandoning his beliefs in its importance. Resch added that there is an estimated 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity nationwide and another 20 GW in the pipeline over the next two years, benefitting both the economy and the endangered environment. There are also, he said, 173,000 Americans currently working in the U.S. solar industry. Growth, Resch pointed out, has been driven by effective and forward-looking public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering (NEM) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS). click here for more


    President Obama’s State of the Union: U.S. leads world in wind energy production

    January 20, 2015 (American Wind Energy Association)

    President Obama highlighted U.S. wind energy as an American success story, noting that the U.S. produces more wind energy than any other country in the world, a dominance due to U.S. wind turbines’ being nearly twice as productive as those in China and Germany…Iowa is helping the nation achieve this global leadership position by leading the U.S. in the percentage of electricity the state generates from wind power…and wind is one of the few things newly elected Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and President Obama agree on…Late last year, the key federal incentive for wind investment, the Production Tax Credit (PTC), was extended for only two weeks before expiring again on December 31. Wind’s costs have dropped more than 50 percent over the past five years, thanks to the productivity and innovation driven by performance-based incentives like the renewable energy PTC. Uncertainty about it is harmful for business, and puts 50,000 U.S. wind industry jobs, with 500 manufacturing facilities in 43 states and an annual average investment of over $17 billion, at risk, especially because wind will be key in states’ compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) first-ever proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution at existing power plants. click here for more

    Tuesday, January 20, 2015


    U.S. Solar Industry Sees Growth, But Also Some Uncertainty

    Jeff Brady, January 19, 2015 (National Public Radio)

    “The solar energy business is growing fast, thanks in part to a steep drop in panel prices…[P]rices dropped by more than half since 2010. But the industry's future looks a little hazy. Generous government subsidies expire soon and the price for natural gas — a competitor that's also used to generate electricity — keeps dropping…For now, though, the solar business is booming and the industry is hiring. More than 31,000 solar jobs were added in 2014…Experienced installers can earn a good wage of about $22 per hour…[Though it generates less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity, leaving enormous opportunity for growth, the solar industry already provides] nearly 174,000 solar jobs in the U.S., which is 22 percent more than last year and 86 percent more [2010, according to The Solar Foundation, which predicts solar will]… add another 36,000 jobs this year, but after that is a big question mark…Unless Congress extends [solar’s vital 30 percent federal investment tax credit], it will end in December 2016.” click here for more


    How AWS is powering up its wind farm plans for cloud datacenters

    Toby Wolpe, January 20, 2015 (ZDNet)

    “Amazon Web Services says a new [150MW] Indiana wind farm [being built by the Pattern Energy Group] could be helping power its datacenters by as early as January 2016…The power-purchase agreement with Pattern Energy will help increase the renewable energy [wind, hydro and solar] used to run AWS' US [datacenter] infrastructure…In November 2014, AWS set out plans to use only renewable energy for its global infrastructure. To date, the company has three carbon-neutral regions: the US GovCloud; US West in Oregon; and EU in Frankfurt am Main…AWS [also] has sites in Australia, Brazil, China, Ireland, Japan, and Singapore…[with a worldwide customer base] of more than a million organizations, which buy its cloud-based compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services…” click here for more


    Geothermal energy – does it make sense? Sounds like a good topic for Science Café

    David Brooks, January 19, 2015 (The Telegraph)

    “…[G]eothermal energy in New Hampshire, more accurately described as ground-source heat pumps…has been around for decades but has gained more prominence as part of the alternative-energy mix…At its simplest, geothermal pumps water underground, where temperature remains around 50 degrees, then brings it back above ground at that temperature and uses it to cool or heat buildings…Heat, of course, naturally moves from warm to cold. A heat pump uses a relatively small amount of energy to reverse the process, pulling heat out of a low-temperature area and moving it into a higher temperature area – from a ‘heat source,’ like the ground, into a ‘heat sink,’ like your home…The system involves a fluid with a very low boiling point, on the verge of being a gas at room temperature. The head pump shifts this substance back and forth between the liquid and gas states with compression, which makes it release or absorb large amounts of energy, due to the physics of phase change. That energy is how cold water can heat a house…” click here for more

    Monday, January 19, 2015


    In Wisconsin, solar ‘new math’ could equal big impacts

    Kari Lydersen, January 16, 2015 Midwest Energy News

    After granting crucial rate design changes to We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPS) and Madison Gas & Electric, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) is expected to hear a final challenge which could determine the pace of residential solar growth in the state for the foreseeable future. The expected challenge will ask the PSC to reconsider its decisions to allow We Energies and utilities to “true up” net metered customers’ bill credits monthly instead of annually. Wth a monthly true-up, the bulk of excess credits accumulated in the spring and fall, when electricity use is lower, are lost. Annual true-ups preserve the credits. A separate challenge is in the works to the PSC’s decision to allow Alliant Energy/Wisconsin Power and Light to remunerate net metered customers at the avoided cost rate of $0.03 per KWh to $0.04 per kWh instead of the retail rate $0.11 per KWhto $0.14 per kWh. click here for more


    New policy to help renters, apartment dwellers go solar

    Sammy Roth, January 14, 2015 The Desert Sun

    The California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision approving a community solar program late in 2014 and is expected to finalize details late in January. Community solar plans allow utility customers to buy portions of solar arrays, by the kilowatt or by the module, get credit on their bills for the electricity produced. Community solar is aimed at utility customers who are not homeowners or don’t have solar-suitable rooftops or good credit scores. With an estimated 75% of all rooftops unsuitable and the millions of renters and low income utility customers, the potential market in California is estimated at tens of millions. The CPUC-approved plan will allow utilities to charge community solar participants fees for grid use and maintenance that aren’t paid by rooftop solar customers. Solar advocates claim the fees fail to accurately balance the costs and benefits of distributed solar to the grid. There are only an estimated 55 to 60 community solar projects in the U.S., with Colorado and Massachusetts leading the market. The U.S. market potential for community solar has been estimated as high as 7 times that of rooftop here for more


    $2B wind power project gets state approval

    Michael Sheffield, January 13, 2015 (Memphis Business Journal)

    The Tennessee Regulatory Authority has approved a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Plains & Eastern Clean Line LLC, a subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners, clearing an obstacle for the delivery of Oklahoma wind to Memphis. The certificate allows Plains & Eastern Clean Line to operate as a transmission only public utility in the state, making it easier to route the planned $2 billion, 700-mile, high voltage direct current (HVDC) line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to utilities and markets throughout the Southeast. DOE issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line in December 2014. Following a public comment period, it will issue a Final EIS later this year. That is expected to clear the way for the 2 year to 3 year construction period to begin so that the project can go into service by 2019. “You can’t get enough clean energy from distributed resources,” former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman and staunch distributed energy resources (DERs) advocate Jon Wellinghoff recently told this reporter. “We need these clean remote resources and transmission lines to get them to the load.” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015


    Report: Forget Stocks, Invest In Solar Panels

    Tom Kenworthy, January 13, 2015 (ClimateProgress)

    “…[I]n all but 4 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., installing a fully-financed 5 kilowatt solar panel system makes more financial sense than investing in a popular stock market index fund. Further, the same system would beat the costs of buying energy from local utilities in 42 of those 50 cities…A key qualifier in [ Going Solar in America from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center] is that the benefits of installing residential solar photovoltaic systems are greatest when homeowners finance the systems (at an assumed annual interest rate of 5 percent) rather than buying them upfront. And the study does not investigate the availability of such loans. The study finds that in upfront purchases of solar, residents in just 14 out of the 50 largest U.S. cities would pay less for electricity than if they buy from their local utility…[and solar would be] a better investment than the broad stock market index fund in 20 of the 50 cities...Looking at the levelized cost of energy for solar PV systems (the average cost per kilowatt over the expected 25-year life span), the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s study found that nearly 21 million homeowners in 42 of the nation’s largest cities would save money with financed solar systems over getting their power from the grid. More than 9 million homeowners in 14 of the cities would save money even if they pay upfront for solar systems…” click here for more


    US Offshore Wind Energy Potential Is Staggering

    Joshua S. Hill, January 13, 2015 (Clean Technica)

    “…The US has a projected 4,223 GW worth of offshore wind generating potential — with 50 GW from the Ohio waters of Lake Erie alone…The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation was founded in 2009 to initially build wind turbines in Lake Erie…Lake Erie claims that Europe has at least 80 offshore projects in operation or under construction, compared to [none in] the US…Freshwater offshore wind is an interesting proposition, however, and compared to Europe’s primarily sea-based offshore development, America has a number of potential sites almost-purpose built for freshwater offshore wind…Enter Lake Erie’s ‘Icebreaker’ demonstration project. Consisting of six wind turbines off the coast of Cleveland, Icebreaker will help the company begin what it hopes is a large offshore wind industry in Ohio and the Great Lakes region…[T]he Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) isn’t looking overseas for manufacturing components…[but] is building its own US supply chain.” click here for more


    Michigan study shows ‘modest’ costs to expand renewables

    Andy Balaskovitz, January 13, 2015 (Midwest Energy News)

    “Michigan could expand its renewable energy portfolio standard to 25 percent over the next 10 years at a cost of $2.60 a month for the average household, according to [ Expanding The Renewable Portfolio Standard For Michigan: A Study from] the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute…That price tag could be cut in half if key federal tax credits are extended…The state is on pace to meet a 10 percent goal by the end of this year, based on a 2008 state law. Michigan lawmakers and the governor’s office have been planning what to do next in terms of clean energy goals and are expected to propose policy changes this year…[The] report projects costs under three different scenarios compared to a business as usual model: 20 percent by 2030, 25 percent by 2025 and 40 percent by 2035. The 2030 goal would cost the average household $1.70 a month, or less than 2 percent of the customers’ bill. The most ambitious 2035 goal would cost the average household $6.70 a month…By the final year of each scenario, carbon intensity could be reduced by 13 percent, 20 percent and 33 percent in the 2030, 2025 and 2035 goals, respectively…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015


    Chevy Bolt electric car targets Tesla with low price, long range

    Brian Threvenot and Jerry Hirsch, January 12, 2015 (LA Times)

    “…[General Motors]unveiled its battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt, challenging Tesla in the race to produce an affordable electric car…The Bolt concept car made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, alongside a redesigned 2016 Volt, the second generation of Chevrolet's pioneering plug-in hybrid…The all-electric Bolt boasts a groundbreaking combination of low price and long driving range. It will sell in the low $30,000s, after government incentives, and travel up to 200 miles on a battery charge…Most all-electric cars in the Bolt's price range, including Nissan's Leaf and Fiat's 500e, can travel about 80 miles on a charge. Tesla's Model S has a range of 265 miles, but typically sells for $80,000 to $100,000…Tesla has garnered headlines with the promise of its Model 3 -- at half the cost of a Model S -- but that vehicle may be years away…The Volt succeeded by other measures, however. It has run a neck-and-neck race with the Nissan Leaf for the title of bestselling plug-in car…In designing the 2016 Volt, Chevrolet systematically addressed consumer complaints about the original…[The mileage] will increase to 41 mpg. The electric-only range increases to 50 miles…” click here for more


    Wind energy shifts direction; Feds to auction sites off Martha’s Vineyard

    Lindsay Kalter, January 11, 2015 (Boston Globe)

    “With the Cape Wind project on the ropes, the [offshore wined] industry’s future in Massachusetts may rest on a federal wind power auction…Twelve companies have qualified to bid Jan. 29 as the federal government auctions four commercial leases for 742,000 acres of sea roughly 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The power generated, if leased and used by the industry, could provide electricity for about 1.4 million homes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said…The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area that is up for auction is farther offshore than Cape Wind’s estimated $2.5 billion project to install 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound…The auction comes as Cape Wind’s $150 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy is in jeopardy after National Grid and NStar backed out of their contracts with the company, saying it had missed a Dec. 31 deadline for the necessary financing and had not provided collateral to extend the deadline…From the beginning, the Cape Wind project was fraught with criticism…Christopher Boelke, field office supervisor for the national Marine Fisheries Services, said…people may view [the lease area’s projects] as “less intrusive” than Cape Wind, given that it’s farther offshore…” click here for more


    New method of harvesting wave energy

    January 1, 2015 (Energy Harvesting Journal)

    “…Alabatern Wave Energy from Scotland has created WaveNET, an offshore array-based wave energy converter that uses the motion of waves to generate electricity. The floating structure of the WaveNET is flexible in all directions, and capable of capturing power from the ocean regardless of wave direction and array orientation. WaveNET arrays are formed by interconnecting the unique SQUID generating units…The most significant benefits of this array-based approach to wave energy come from improvements in power yield and potentially dramatic reductions in project costs…[T]he ocean's energy pushes and pulls the array's structure; each SQUID unit's articulated joints flex, absorb some of the wave's energy, with any unabsorbed energy passing to the next unit, all the way through the array. This unique design allows the array to respond to the full orbital motion of the waves, from any direction, and allows power capture from 5 of the 6 elements of wave energy: pitch, roll, heave, surge and sway…WaveNET arrays appear from the surface as a series of isolated buoys, similar to those of mussel farms, reducing visual impact and potential conflict with other sea users. As much as 300 MW per km² is possible for large arrays. This compares to 15-20 MW/ km² for other wave devices…” click here for more

    Monday, January 12, 2015


    Wind generation sets records, saves consumers money as extreme cold grips nation; Wind saved Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic consumers $1 billion during last year’s polar vortex event…

    January 7, 2015 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "As extreme cold grips large chunks of the country this week, wind energy set record-high outputs, once again saving U.S. consumers money. Wind energy also saved consumers $1 billion in just two days when similar extreme cold hit the U.S. exactly one year ago…[According to Wind Energy Saves Consumers Money During The Polar Vortex], savings from using fixed-price wind energy added up to $1 billion or $15 per person on the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes power grid (PJM)…Wind energy did this by protecting against spikes in the price of other fuels, and keeping power prices low during periods of high demand. While other power plants failed in last January’s extreme cold or faced skyrocketing prices for fuel, wind energy continued producing electricity as expected with zero fuel cost…[This winter wind set new output records] for the MidContinent ISO (MISO), for the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, and] performed at near-record levels in the PJM market (PJM)…Wind energy produced more than four percent of the nation’s electricity in 2013, and is on track to double by 2020 and double again by 2030 according to the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision…” click here for more


    Republican-led group launches ballot petition to boost solar power in Florida

    Ivan Penn, January 6, 2015 (Tampa Bay Times)

    “Backers of broader use of solar energy in Florida have quietly launched a petition for the 2016 ballot that would allow those who generate electricity from the sun to sell the power directly to other consumers…If the measure passes, solar proponents argue that it would open up Florida's solar energy market, which has largely stagnated for years. The measure would allow business or property owners to produce up to 2 megawatts of solar power and then sell that power directly to others, such as tenants, without having to go through a utility…Under Florida law, only utilities can sell electricity directly to consumers, though solar proponents argue that 36 states allow the practice. By removing the utilities as middlemen, the argument goes, it could help spur solar as a clean-energy alternative…

    “Led by Republican Tory Perfetti, a Tampa resident and head of Conservatives for Energy Freedom, the effort is making for strange bedfellows…The Florida Department of State approved the petition Dec. 23 without fanfare…Floridians for Solar Choice has significant hurdles to overcome. First, the group must gain 683,149 signatures by Feb. 1, 2016, to get the initiative on the 2016 ballot. Then, the measure will need 60 percent support to pass…” click here for more


    Study evaluates New England investment in clean energy as alternative to natural gas

    Barbara Vergetis Lundin, January 12, 2015 (Fierce Energy)

    "Prioritizing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and imports of Canadian hydroelectricity would reduce Massachusetts's exposure to wintertime price spikes that result from the state's growing dependence on natural gas for heating and electricity generation…[according to Massachusetts Low Gas Demand Analysis: Final Report from Synapse Energy which] evaluates investments in clean energy in order to reduce over-reliance on natural gas…Proposals to expand natural gas pipeline capacity rely on an unprecedented region-wide electricity tariff requiring federal approval, according to the report, and it is critical for policymakers to demonstrate that they have fully examined and exhausted alternatives…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015


    Republicans Want More Wind/Solar Energy Too, So What’s the Hold Up?

    Kevin Mathews, January 4, 2015 (Care2)

    “…[A] new poll shows that the energy divide is not nearly so black and white – in fact it might not even be a “divide” at all…Professor Stephen Ansolabehere, a political scientist for Harvard, has studied Americans’ perceptions of energy and climate change for more than a decade…[H]e learned that 90% want to see clean energy sources like solar and wind developed at least somewhat…[and] 80% want to see clean energy developed “a lot.” … So what’s the hold up? While energy may not be a partisan issue for American citizens, it is highly partisan for the actual legislators. Because of the influx of money in politics, oil and coal companies can keep lawmakers in their pocket…Energy companies may be in the minority on wanting to preserve coal mining, but money talks…It’s not that the two-party system isn’t representational, it’s that it’s representing corporate/private interests instead of the people…[E]ven people who don’t believe in climate change are supporting clean energy…” click here for more


    Plug-In Electric Car Sales Continue Rise In 2014: 100,000-Plus Last Year…”

    John Voelcker, January 5, 2015 (Green Car Reports)

    “Plug-in electric car sales for calendar year 2014 rose above the 100,000 level, the third annual increase in full-year sales in the U.S. since modern electric cars first went on sale in December 2010…The highest-selling electric car in the world, the Nissan Leaf, set a new U.S. record for plug-in sales of a single vehicle in one year, logging 30,200 deliveries during 2014…That compares to a 2013 total of 22,610, and less than 10,000 units in each of its first two years on sale…The balance of 70,000-plus was made up of sales of no fewer than 20 other cars with plugs…Only a small number of plug-in electric cars routinely racks up U.S. sales of 1,000 or more units a month…[They] include the Chevrolet Volt and the Tesla Model S…[T]he BMW i3 sales hit that level for three months last year…Last month, the Volt added 1,490 December sales to make a total of 18,805 sales in calendar 2014. That's lower than the pace for 2012 and 2013 deliveries of 23,461 and 23,094 respectively…The 2016 Chevy Volt will be unveiled next at the Detroit Auto Show, and will go on sale in the third quarter of this year…” click here for more


    Automotive Fuel Efficiency Technologies; Powertrain and Body Engineering Technologies for Improved Fuel Economy: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “Increasingly strict global standards to limit CO2 and other greenhouse gases [and financial penalties for failing to meet them] will be the most important factor that drives global automotive manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles…[Other factors include rising liquid fuel costs and consumer demand. Global] new vehicle production is expected to increase slowly but steadily through 2025, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Although the use of alternative fuels and electric power is expected to continue growing, gasoline is anticipated to remain the leading fuel, with a strong trend toward stop-start vehicles. According to Navigant Research, global light duty vehicle (LDV) sales are expected to grow from 84 million in 2014 to 109 million in 2025…” click here for more

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015


    California governor vows to boost renewable energy, cut petroleum use

    Robin Respaut, Rory Carroll, Megan Davies, with Jeffrey Benkoe, January 5, 2015 (Reuters)

    “…[In his fourth inaugural address, California Governor Jerry Brown] laid out an ambitious plan for 50 percent of the state's electricity to be generated by renewable resources over the next 15 years…cut petroleum usage by drivers…double the energy efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner…Brown said California was on track to meet its goal of generating one-third of the state's electricity through renewable energy within the next five years…The governor's new initiative could be a boon for green energy companies, such as manufacturers of electric vehicles and those looking to build utility-scale solar projects or upgrade the state's aging electric grid…Since 2013 California's cap-and-trade program has raised nearly $1 billion from companies to offset their carbon emissions. The money could increase significantly as the program expands this year to cover distributors of transportation fuel like gasoline and diesel and home heating fuels like natural gas.” click here for more


    The Big Apple takes a bite out of solar energy

    Brad Quick, 3 January 2015 (CNBC)

    “… Dan Neiditch, president of River 2 River Realty which operates the Atelier, had [solar] panels installed in 2011…[that generate] about 5 percent of the building's energy, subsequently cutting utility costs by roughly $40,000 a year…More solar projects are popping up across the Empire State, with sun technology increasingly dotting the skyscrapers and buildings of New York's urban landscape…Spurred by cheaper solar technology and incentives introduced under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg beginning in 2008, New York City is experiencing a solar renaissance…

    “The Big Apple has a solar capacity of over 30 megawatts…up from about 10 megawatts just four years ago…[L]ast year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in solar projects, with the hopes of increasing the state's solar power by 10-fold by 2023…Neiditch plans to make even bigger bets on solar…[to get another 10 percent of the building’s energy and] about $120,000 in savings per year…Neiditch says he's using energy savings to reinvest in the Atelier building…” click here for more


    Small and Medium Wind Power; Demand Drivers, Market Barriers, Technology Issues, Competitive Landscape, and Global Market Forecasts

    4Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “The overall market for small and medium wind turbines (SMWTs) is growing as a result of feed-in tariff policies in the United Kingdom and growing global demand for distributed generation…China and Italy remain important markets while the U.S. SMWT market has been limited due to a reduction in state-level incentives and competition from solar PV systems that have declined in price dramatically. Momentum is growing, however, around the wind lease model that has enabled the distributed solar PV market to scale…[The 30-year-old SMWT market is maturing and] an increasing number of applications are being enabled by the interest and investment in microgrids and hybrid systems that that integrate small wind with solar PV and diesel generators, among other renewable distributed energy generation technologies (RDEG). According to Navigant Research, global annual installations of SMWTs are expected to grow from an estimated 254.9 MW in 2014 to 587.7 MW in 2023…” click here for more

    Monday, January 5, 2015


    Climate Change’s Evolving Role in Extreme Weather

    Andrea Thompson, January 2, 2015 (Climate Central)

    “…In 2014, researchers were able to make firm connections between climate change and some extreme weather events…The easiest parallel to draw between extreme weather and climate change has been, not surprisingly, heat…Multiple independent efforts, including some led by Climate Central, found that both Australia’s record hot year in 2013 and Europe’s expected heat record in 2014 were made many times more likely by climate change…It has been more than 100 years since the planet last had a record-cold month…Extremes in precipitation, from drought to downpours to blizzards, have proven tricky to tie to climate change. Drought in particular has complex causes…[A]t the other end of the spectrum, torrential downpours…are expected to happen more often as more water vapor accumulates in the warming atmosphere…

    “The signal of climate change in extreme weather may continue to elude researchers for some time, as those signals could be too quiet — at least for now — for climate models and other tools to separate it from the loud cacophony of natural variability…A consensus has emerged to predict that warming will raise the intensity of hurricanes while lowering their overall numbers. Now, scientists have begun to focus on changes in where hurricanes occur and the damage they cause…Also in 2014, scientists began the first earnest looks into how climate change might be affecting smaller-scale phenomena like lightning and tornadoes, with clues that warming may bring more lightning in the U.S. and tornadoes may be clustering…Many of these efforts remain in their early stages and produce inconsistent findings, but scientists will forge ahead…” click here for more


    Texas now hands-down leader in wind power

    Jim Malewitz, January 1, 2015 (Midland Reporter)

    “…In 2000, wind farms composed just 116 megawatts of capacity on the state’s main electric grid. That number has since soared to more than 11,000 megawatts, while wind fuels about 10 percent of all generation. (On average, one megawatt-hour of wind energy can power 260 typical Texas homes for an hour.)…Former Gov. George W. Bush laid the groundwork for Texas’ rapid wind energy growth. He signed a bill in 1999 that ultimately deregulated the electric sector — a mammoth undertaking that [now outgoing Governor Rick] Perry would oversee — and established a renewable-energy requirement that kick-started wind development. Perry added to that in 2005 by signing legislation that required Texas to increase its renewable-energy capacity to 5,880 megawatts by 2015…The state has shattered that goal…

    “Perry also backed a $7 billion electrical transmission project to connect windy, largely empty West Texas to growing cities demanding more power. Completed a year ago, the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone, or CREZ, initiative stretches nearly 3,600 miles and can send up to 18,500 megawatts of power — including from non-wind sources — across the state…[Many Texas Republicans are] scrutinizing wind policy as Perry exits office…” click here for more


    Pair of solar energy projects planned in Mississippi; Entergy Mississippi, Phoenix Solar efforts could boost sun-based energy’s profile in the state

    Jeff Ayres, January 1, 2015 (The Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

    "A pair of solar energy projects planned for Mississippi could help determine whether electricity derived from the sun’s rays becomes a more commonplace power source in the state…The state Public Service Commission recently approved a plan from Entergy Mississippi to install sets of solar panels at to-be-determined sites…Entergy will install 500 thin-film solar panels on about five acres apiece…The utility’s $4.3 million project aims to see if solar energy can become part of its fuel-source mix…[T]he panels should be operating by the end of 2015…[A larger-scale, 30-acre project] will feature roughly 9,800 solar panels…enough to power 300 homes…Each initiative could raise the profile of solar energy in Mississippi…

    “Electricity produced from the sun has been a mainstay power source in California and other western states for decades but has been slow to catch on to this point in the South, where climatological patterns and conditions can be much different and not as conducive to solar power. Entergy’s plan is said to be the first utility-backed solar power development in Mississippi…Georgia had the fastest growing solar power market in the country in 2013…Nationally, capacity has grown for three consecutive quarters, according to SEIA, with more growth projected in 2015…Despite such gains, solar power doesn’t yet have a significant role in producing electricity in Mississippi. Practically all of the state’s electricity currently is derived from natural gas, coal, nuclear energy or biomass…The PSC has encouraged the state’s utilities to look for new ways of generating power while keeping ratepayer bills from rising…” click here for more