October 19, 2017

Time-of-Use Rates Will Turn the Tables for Energy Storage

It is not always good to be first. Last June, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was the first utility in California to hit its net-metering cap and move to Net Energy Metering 2.0 (NEM 2.0). Now, SDG&E will again be the first utility to start the shift to time-of-use (TOU) period, effective on Dec. 1, 2017.

Under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approval on August 24, SDG&E will shift its summer peak time to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. from the current 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new TOU periods are supposed to help align rates more closely with the cost of service as well as help mitigate the infamous Duck Curve. According to the CPUC, the implementation of TOU rates should provide customers with the incentives to shift some of their peak usage to off-peak times of day when it will be cheaper to do so. This should result in a more efficient grid and lower bills in the long run.

October 18, 2017

Australian Renewables Sector Decries Dropping of Clean Energy Target

Australia’s government has dropped plans for introducing a Clean Energy Target (CET) post-2020, opting instead for a technology-neutral plan that it claimed would prioritise reliability and bringing prices down.

The new policy, known as the National Energy Guarantee, hands power to the nation’s utilities allowing them to choose the energy mix that suits them, with no real driver or target for clean energy, and no clear subsidy or direction once the Renewable Energy Target (RET) comes to a close in 2020.

The Department for Energy and Environment stated: “The government is acting on the Chief Scientist’s recommendation that new measures are needed to improve reliability and investment certainty in the electricity sector. To do this, we will take the advice of the independent Energy Security Board and implement a new National Energy Guarantee.”

October 16, 2017

Can the Clean Energy Industry Protect Puerto Rico From Maria-Scale Damage?

For renewables advocates, Puerto Rico may act as a study on how to build a clean grid from the ground up.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, taking down all electricity and most communications with it, Cecilio Aponte was able to get in contact with his family there relatively quickly. Through a brief phone call and a few texts, his mom nailed down uncles, aunts and cousins in Aguadilla and Moca on the western edge of the island. 

October 15, 2017

Wanted in California: A Healthy Market for Microgrids

California pioneered state policies for deploying solar and energy storage. Now it’s turning its attention to microgrids.

The state’s energy agencies released a draft microgrid roadmap September 29, drawing from a more than year-long process spanning five workshops with stakeholder input from industry, utilities and academia. The goal: to identify challenges and opportunities presented by microgrids. 

September 27, 2017

Australia Needs 75% Renewables by 2030 to Meet Paris Targets, Cut Costs

Less than one year after the Australian government agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, a new report has warned that Australia risks falling short of its own national emissions targets  without significantly ramping up the electricity sector’s shift to renewable energy.

The report, the first major publication from The Australia Institute’s new Climate & Energy Program, finds that to meet Australia’s unambitious 26-28 per cent by 2030 Paris commitment – and to do so for the least cost to the economy and other key sectors like manufacturing – electricity sector emissions would need to be cut by between 40-55 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The good news, is that this “least cost” emissions reduction approach is eminently doable. The bad news – at least for the Turnbull government and its right-wing anti-renewables rump – is that it will mean building a great deal more renewable energy generation between now and then, and framing policy to support that build-out.

According to the TAI – which uses the summarised results of a number of separate government commissioned analyses to support its findings – using an abatement cost approach to electricity sector targets, and a policy like the Clean Energy Target recommended by the Finkel Review, would lead to as much as 75 per cent renewables by 2030.

“This analysis of the economic modelling demonstrates meeting (40-55% emissions reduction) targets for the electricity sector with a policy like the clean energy target is likely to require 66-75 per cent of electricity to be supplied by renewables,” said Ben Oquist, TAI’s executive director, in comments on Monday.

“If Australia adopts a weak clean energy target which does not provide a strong signal for renewables, we risk turning Australia’s moderate Paris targets into an extremely expensive task.”

Indeed, the findings echo modelling done by the Finkel Review which showed that – if a CET was to match the Paris climate goals, rather than Australia’s downpayment, then a renewable energy share of around 70 per cent by 2030 would be required.

The report’s findings come at a critical time for the Turnbull government, which appears to be stuck in a dangerous no-man’s land on both climate and renewable energy policy, while under attack from within.

Leading that internal attack is former PM Tony Abbott, who last week declared he would cross the floor and vote against anything remotely resembling a climate change policy, or the smallest subsidy for renewable energy.

As Giles Parkinson put it in this piece last week, Abbott’s declaration of war on everything not only wedges Malcolm Turnbull in a highly uncomfortable policy position, but returns Australian industry and the energy sector to the miserable realisation that nothing much has changed, in terms of investment certainty.

And it reminds us of the uncomfortable reality – highlighted in the report – that the very climate targets we risk failing to meet were set by the same man who now seeks to undermine them: Tony Abbott.

“If Australia is to achieve the Abbott government’s climate targets new energy policies will be required,” report author and TAI director of research Rod Campbell writes.

“Both issues are of high current policy interest. The Australian government is currently considering whether to implement the proposed CET and what targets it might set for the electricity sector as part of its 2017 Climate Policy Review.

“The Opposition has signalled ‘in principle’ support for a CET and has committed to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, which has been ridiculed by the government and conservative commenters.”

For those who remain confused, Campbell carefully explains why a mechanism like the Clean Energy Target remains so important for Australia, even as large-scale solar and wind farm development are starting to take off. And why any form of policy uncertainty remains so damaging – in particular for electricity prices.

“Electricity generation assets have long economic lives. This means investors need to consider both existing and future carbon-energy policy settings. The apparent incongruity between Australia’s 2030 mitigation targets and the long-term commitments embodied in the Paris Agreement create uncertainty,” the report says.

“Investors do not know whether the unambitious approach embodied in the 2030 targets will persist, or whether policy settings will be modified to give effect to the Paris Agreement’s commitments.

“As the hypothetical scenarios in Figure 9 illustrate, the post-2030 policy settings could remain unambitious, which might translate into a gradual decline in electricity sector emissions under the CET through to 2050 and beyond.

“Alternatively, there may be a rapid increase in the level of ambition, requiring a sharp drop in electricity sector emissions in the 2030s and zero emissions by 2050.

“The uncertainty about post-2030 policy settings could deter investment and increase the cost of capital, with flow on effects for the price of electricity in the market.”

Figure 10 shows how a long-term investment signal approach avoids this uncertainty by setting emissions targets in line with the long-term objective of decarbonisation at or before 2050.

“Rather than facing the prospect of abrupt future changes in emissions, investors face a long-term emission path that provides them with certainty about policy settings over coming decades.”

The report also reminds readers that under almost any scenario modelled on “reasonable” carbon abatement targets, the vast bulk of Australia’s electricity generation mix is renewable from the mid-2020s on, while coal-fired generation is phased out in the early 2030s. Indeed, coal fares the best under the CET.

“The overall message from the Jacobs modelling for the CCA is clear – a CET-like policy is likely to bring in the largest share of renewables. This would come particularly at the expense of gas, with coal-fired generation also lasting longest under a CET,” the report says.

“The government has been consistent in its commitments to Australia’s international emissions targets,” said TAI’s Oquist. “It remains to be seen if we choose to meet those Paris commitments the easy way, or the hard way.

“Unless energy and climate policy are integrated we will have neither reliability nor affordability, let alone the ability to meet our international commitments,” Oquist said.


September 20, 2017

Turkey Adds 553 MW of Solar in H1 2017

The country’s cumulative installed PV capacity has now surpassed 1.5 GW, while another 500 MW is expected to be installed by the end of 2017.

Turkey had reached 1,503 MW of installed PV capacity as of the end of June 2017, according to statistics released by the Turkish solar association Günder, which are based on the country’s Energy Market Regulatory Board’s monthly Electrical Statistics Report.

September 19, 2017

Illinois Utilities Begin to Design Community Solar Programs Under New Energy Law

Illinois utilities and regulators are putting into motion plans for community solar programs under the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act that passed last year.

In filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) last month, ComEd outlined proposed terms and conditions for “Community Supply,” also referred to as community solar. Ameren Illinois has also recently filed paperwork with the ICC outlining changes to net metering policies as the state moves to implement community solar.

September 18, 2017

Argentine Chamber of Deputies Gives Preliminary Approval to Draft Bill for Distributed Generation

The bill, which will now have to be approved by the Senate, is intended to introduce a net metering scheme for residential and commercial PV

The Chamber of Deputies of Argentina has approved with 3 votes against and 159 votes in favor the long-awaited draft bill for the development of distributed generation, which is expected to create the conditions for the development of residential and commercial rooftop solar on deck in the country of the Southern Cone.

September 17, 2017

Officials Vote on Energy Loan Law in Fulton County, NY

Would loan funds for renewable energy systems to qualified applicants

 Fulton County supervisors on Monday passed a local law establishing a sustainable energy loan program in the county.

Action followed a public hearing at the County Office Building at which no one spoke.

The new law, which takes effect upon county filing with the state secretary of state, amends County Code to establish an Energize NY Benefit Financing Program in the county. The program would provide funds to qualified property owners in the county to finance the “acquisition, construction and installation” of renewable energy systems for those who promise to make energy efficiency improvements.

September 13, 2017

End the Use of Plastic Bags or Face up to Four Years in Prison, says Kenya.

"£30,000 ($40,000) fines and up to four years behind bars are threatened to those producing, selling or even using single-use plastic bags."

Kenya has introduced a new law designed to cut the use of single-use plastic bags that are somewhat more punitive than the United Kingdom's 5p minimum charge – with fines and jail time both possible. Kenya has joined more than 40 nations worldwide attempting to drastically reduce the number of bags in circulation, but the east African country’s approach is by some distance the most aggressive: £30,000 ($40,000) fines and up to four years behind bars are threatened to those producing, selling or even using single-use plastic bags.

September 7, 2017

Nevada PUC Approves Net Metering Rules Expected to Reboot the State’s Rooftop Solar Industry

The draft order approved Friday puts an end to many months of contentious deliberation.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) unanimously approved a draft order on Friday that establishes new rules and regulations for how net-metered solar customers will be compensated in the state, bringing an end to nearly two years of policy debate.

“Sometimes the best way to move forward is to take a step back, adjust direction, and restart again,” the order states. “That is what Nevada is doing with rooftop solar and net energy metering.”

September 6, 2017

Pueblo, Colorado Targets All-Renewables Future To Bolster Local Economy

Pueblo, Colorado, earlier this year became the first city to commit to an all-renewables future since President Donald Trump took office. The new administration continues to cast significant doubt over the future of federal policies designed to promote clean energy and distributed generation, virtually ensuring the best energy policy will sprout from state and local leadership.

Under the plan approved by the Pueblo City Council, the city of roughly 110,000 residents will transform its energy economy between now and 2035. The community has begun to integrate renewables, including through community solar gardens. In addition, Pueblo will host a new $12 million, 7.5-MW hydroelectric generation facility spearheaded by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

August 28, 2017

Renewable Energy Transition Surges in Southwest

As renewable energy costs continue to fall, the path toward a clean energy economy has never looked better.

Price drops in the West have been particularly dramatic. From Texas to Arizona to Colorado, states across the southwestern U.S. are taking advantage and setting an example for the rest of the nation as they move away from coal and slash dangerous carbon emissions. Lawmakers and power companies alike have doubled down on renewable energy and climate action, accelerating the transition to a cleaner, cheaper and healthier energy system.

August 27, 2017

Scottish Government Extends Support for Offshore Wind Accelerator

The Carbon Trust said that the Scottish government has extended its financial support for the Carbon Trust’s collaborative research, development and demonstration program for offshore wind.

The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) program will benefit from an additional £1.5 million (US$1.9 million) in funding to help drive new technologies to market and create new industry standards and best practices. The government last year made an initial £1.5 million investment in the OWA program.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said in a statement: “The Carbon Trust have done a fantastic job so far in reducing the costs of offshore wind, as well as encouraging collaboration across the public and private sectors to improve the industry as a whole. The potential benefits of offshore wind energy in Scotland are enormous, which is why the Scottish Government is committed to its development. By continuing to invest in it, not only are we stimulating economic change for the better, but we’re also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland and helping to fight the impacts of climate change.”

The OWA program’s collaborators include DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, innogy, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall.

August 25, 2017

Renewable Energy Target of 40pc by 2025 to be Enshrined in Law by Victorian Government in Australia

Victoria's ambitious renewable energy targets of 40 per cent by 2025 will be cemented in law, with legislation introduced to State Parliament to protect their future.

The Andrews Government is claiming the targets and investment in new projects will help reduce power bills.

The Government said its modelling — which it has not released yet — showed on average, household power bills will drop $30 a year.

August 24, 2017

Scotland and Wales Environment Ministers Band Together on Brexit Strategy

Environment ministers from the two nations pledge to work together to protect devolved green agendas

Environment ministers from Scotland and Wales have promised to work together on Brexit amid fears the UK government's approach to withdrawal could hamper their climate agendas.

Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham met yesterday with her Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths in Cardiff to discuss their concerns over the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is designed to translate EU law into the UK statute book.

August 23, 2017

Puerto Rico Plans to Add 240 MW of Solar by June 2019

The new PV capacity will be part of a plan to add 1.5 GW of new generation capacity and to address the state of emergency in the island’s electricity system.

The head of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) stated in a press conference that 240 MW of solar power will be added to the country’s energy system in the frame of a plan aimed at addressing the state of emergency of the electricity network.

August 22, 2017

New Illinois Law Encourages ComEd to Champion Community Solar

Under a new tariff structure, consumers could subscribe to community solar projects and get credits on their bills equal to their share of the project.

Could Illinois’ new Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) provide an impetus to a new net metering-like structure for community solar projects? If a new proposal from ComEd is approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) (which regulates utilities in the state, that could become a reality.

August 17, 2017

Mass. Pushing Ahead With Renewable Energy Initiative

Proposals are flooding in to help Massachusetts ramp up its reliance on renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydropower.

The state has received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio — enough to power nearly 200,000 homes. The aim is to reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas-emitting power plants, major contributors to climate change.

August 16, 2017

Solar Revolution: New State Law Aims to Make it Easier to go Green in NC

Dan Kessler wanted to save money when he decided to install solar panels on his family’s Gray’s Creek house.

“One of the biggest reasons was because our electric bill was like $200 and some a month,” Kessler said.

“And I look at it as a ‘rent or own.’ If I pay $200 to an electric company, then what do I really see out of it?”

Solar panels mounted on rooftops aren’t a common sight in North Carolina neighborhoods, but that may be changing. The state legislature in July approved a wide-reaching bill that aims to grow the already burgeoning solar industry. In addition to the expansive solar farms in rural counties already generating power for utility companies, this new law is meant to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to install their own panels.

August 11, 2017

Gov. Cooper Signs Solar Energy Bill Despite Controversial Wind Project Moratorium in NC

Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on Thursday legislation promoting solar energy in the state and issued an executive order encouraging wind-power development despite an 18-month moratorium on wind projects included in the bill.

Cooper said his executive order clarifies that wind projects can proceed through the initial permit stages – and that the state should do all it can to help them along – regardless of the temporary ban.

August 10, 2017

Ministry Aims to Revise Law to Push Ahead with Energy Policies in South Korea

The South Korean government is setting out to amend its energy law and elevate the status of the national energy committee to push ahead with its energy policies, which are already facing resistance from the relevant industries and residents.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Aug. 2 that it had submitted a revision proposal to the National Assembly for review in the hope that it will be put to a vote at the plenary session before the end of the year.

August 9, 2017

Community Solar Goes to Washington

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate aims to move community solar forward nationwide. The bill would make permanent a U.S. Department of Energy program that promotes community solar, as well as boosting community solar in low-income communities and encouraging federal government participation in community solar.

Can new federal legislation help bring solar access to everyone?

August 8, 2017

‘Solar for All’: Can Illinois Energy Bill Live Up to Ambitious Promises?

After months of negotiations and surviving a contentious budget battle in the state legislature, the hard work of enacting Illinois’ comprehensive energy bill is underway.

The Future Energy Jobs Act calls for the installation of about 2,700 MW of solar in Illinois by 2030, a dramatic increase from the state’s current 75 MW.

“It’s going to be crazy, and it’s going to be really exciting,”said Lesley McCain, executive director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “We’ve seen such interest from around the country, from all types of developers focused on helping get this legislation built out correctly.”

August 3, 2017

Michigan Program Finances First Megawatt of Solar, With Ambitious Goals Ahead

A clean energy financing program in Michigan reached a milestone last month when it helped homeowners and businesses install 1 MW of solar energy across the state.

Michigan Saves — which was created by a $6.5 million Michigan Public Service Commission grant in 2009 — acts as a green bank by financing clean energy projects at homes and businesses. While it deals mostly in energy efficiency projects, it also removes the barrier of high upfront capital costs for solar installations.