September 23, 2018

Deep Decarbonization

Building renewable energy projects isn’t the hard part—it’s managing the shift to a low-carbon economy, says CPUC President Michael Picker.

“Decarbonization” was the catchword of last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

Stakeholders from all over the world made new commitments to combating climate change. But the spotlight was really on California, where Governor Jerry Brown signed a historic bill into law requiring the state to power its electric grid with 100 percent carbon-free resources by 2045.

September 18, 2018

Solar Broke Records All Over Europe This Summer

And more could be broken next year as deployment picks up.

This year saw new solar output highs across Europe as summer temperature records were smashed.

In the U.K., solar broke the record for weekly output between June 21 and June 28, producing 533 gigawatt-hours of energy. The spike in output led solar to take over from gas as the number-one energy source in the country, said the European PV industry body SolarPower Europe.

September 17, 2018

How Community Choice Aggregation Fits Into California’s Clean Energy Future

CCAs are pushing ahead of California utilities’ renewable energy goals—and facing challenges in sharing the burden with investor-owned utilities.

This month, California enacted one of the most ambitious clean energy goals in the country: getting 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. 

California’s community-choice aggregation (CCA) providers say they’re ready to hit that milestone — and on an accelerated schedule. 

September 16, 2018

California’s Road to Carbon Neutrality Runs Through the State’s Buildings

At a Global Climate Action Summit side event, a high-level panel grappled with solutions for building decarbonization in California.

California must build housing closer to transit and jobs, and wring carbon from new and existing buildings, if the state is to meet its ambitious climate targets.

That was the message delivered by a high-level panel at a Global Climate Action Summit side event convened in San Francisco on Wednesday by Climate Resolve, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit.

September 9, 2018

California Legislative Roundup: What Passed, and What Didn’t

Our review of the key energy and environmental bills of the state’s just-ended session, from clean energy and batteries to EV charging and green buildings.

California lawmakers ended last week with a long list of energy and environmental bills that they passed — and a shorter list of those that failed to come to a vote. 

We’ve already covered the highest-profile bills that managed to win enough votes to move on to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for a signature by Sept. 30. Those include SB 100 and its new 100 percent clean energy mandate; SB 700 and its extension of behind-the-meter energy storage incentives; and AB 901, the sprawling and controversial bill to give utilities including Pacific Gas & Electric ways to manage the multibillion-dollar costs of wildfires past and future. 

September 8, 2018

Germany Drives Onshore Wind Growth in Northwest Europe

But changes are coming to region’s largest wind market, according to a new Wood Mackenzie report.

A record year for installations helped Germany power growth in onshore wind across Northern and Western Europe, figures from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables show. 

The analyst group’s Northern and Western Europe Onshore Wind Power Outlook showed Germany notched up 5.3 gigawatts of new capacity in 2017, helping to deliver a record year for onshore wind installations in the region.

September 4, 2018

New York Looks to Europe for Successful Offshore Wind Transmission Models

A New York Power Authority-led study will determine the most cost-effective means to build transmission for 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

New York state will look to the world leader in offshore wind deployment for advice on how to connect sea-based projects to mainland grids.

European nations have together installed nearly 16,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. The United States has thus far managed just one 30-megawatt project, the Block Island Wind Farm, off Rhode Island.

September 3, 2018

California Assembly Passes Historic 100% Carbon-Free Electricity Bill

The world’s fifth-largest economy will have to eliminate carbon emissions from electricity by 2045.

The California State Assembly passed a historic bill Tuesday to decarbonize is electricity system, putting clean energy advocates one procedural vote away from a major victory.

The Senate already passed the bill last year, 25 to 13. The Assembly version now heads back to the Senate for final approval, before heading to Governor Jerry Brown's desk. The Senate has until the legislative session closes on Friday to hold the vote.

September 2, 2018

California Passes Bill to Extend $800M in Incentives for Behind-the-Meter Batteries

SB 700 would extend the Self-Generation Incentive Program by about $166 million per year through 2023.

There are still a number of important energy bills awaiting their fate on the final day of California’s legislative session. But extending the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to boost behind-the-meter energy storage deployments over the next five years isn’t one of them. 

August 28, 2018

Solar and Wind, Plus More Geothermal

AB 893 would mandate that utilities and CCAs buy 2,500 megawatts of solar and wind by 2022, before federal tax credits expire.

On Thursday, California legislators were introduced to a new clean energy bill, one with a decidedly shorter-term goal than shifting to a 100 percent clean energy grid by 2045 (SB 100), or creating a pan-Western region grid over the coming decade (AB 819).  

Instead, the new bill, AB 893, aims to force utilities to buy about 2,500 megawatts of wind and solar power over the next four years — a move its supporters say will fill a widening gap in the state’s utility-scale renewables market, and save hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits that could otherwise be lost. 

August 27, 2018

Senator Heinrich: A 100% Clean Energy Grid Is ‘Completely Doable’

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) outlines his new “Clean Energy Vision” in a special episode of Political Climate.

Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich is the son of a utility lineman, and one of just a few engineers in Congress. 

Clean energy piqued the New Mexico lawmaker’s interest at an early age, while he was building and racing solar-powered cars in college. But for most of his life, he says, it was hard to imagine a world in which renewables could power more than 20 or 30 percent of the electric grid. 

August 22, 2018

A Late Start: Renewable Energy Development In Vietnam

Vietnam is located on the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country’s total length is 1,650 kilometers from the northernmost point to the southernmost point. Vietnam has a diverse topography consisting of hills, mountains, deltas, coastline, and continental shelf. The topography is lower from the Northwest to the Southeast. There are two major deltas with fertile arable land in Vietnam; the 16,700 sq km Red River Delta, locally known as the Northern Delta, and the 40,000 sq km Mekong River Delta, or the Southern Delta. The country has a long coastline of 3,260 km, running from Mong Cai in the North to Ha Tien in the Southwest.

August 21, 2018

This Coal State Holds The Key To 100% Renewable Energy

In the topsy-turvy world of today’s renewable energy landscape, odd things are happening. One good example is the western US state of Wyoming. It is the nation’s single most coal-producing state, and yet it is also set to play a critical role in the 100% renewable energy plans of the City of Fort Collins, just across the border in Colorado.

Is Wyoming cutting off its nose to spite its face, coal-wise? Good question! There’s an interesting energy storage angle in play, so let’s take a closer look and see what’s going on.

August 20, 2018

China Files Complaint With WTO Over US Solar Tariffs

Late on Tuesday China finally moved to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding the United States’ import tariffs on solar PV products which it believes violate WTO regulations.

Ever since US President Donald Trump in January imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar cells and modules in response to a Section 201 trade case that ran through the country’s International Trade Commission (ITC), the global solar industry has been in flux — though this has not been helped by China’s own decision to impose restrictions on its own solar capacity installations this year.

August 19, 2018

State Aid: Commission Approves Three Support Measures for Renewable Energy in Denmark

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules three schemes to support electricity production from wind and solar in Denmark in 2018 and 2019.

Denmark has a goal of supplying 50% of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2030 and to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050. In line with this goal, the Danish authorities will implement three measures supporting renewable energy:

A multi-technology tender scheme for onshore and offshore wind turbines and solar installations, with a budget of DKK 842 million (€112 million). The beneficiaries of the aid will be selected through two tenders organised in 2018 and 2019, with the different technologies competing with each other. The selected installations will offer their electricity on the market and receive support in the form of a premium on top of the market price (top-up payment).

August 17, 2018

Inside Arizona’s Latest Clash Over Renewable Energy Targets

Most stakeholders agree the state needs more renewables, but they don’t agree on how to get there.

Arizona's politics over renewable energy have always been contentious. As the state considers adding new targets, this year is no different.

There are two proposals to increase Arizona’s renewable portfolio standard. One, a ballot initiative, would add a 50 percent renewable energy mandate (sans nuclear) by 2030 to the state’s constitution. The other, proposed separately by a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 80 percent (including nuclear) by 2050. 

August 16, 2018

Spain’s Ongoing Solar Woes Give Portuguese PV a Push

Spanish developers are building over the border to avoid taxes and red tape.

Continuing regulatory issues in Spain mean solar development is getting pushed across the border.
This month, for example, the Irish developer WElink Energy, which has offices in Madrid and Barcelona, inaugurated Europe’s largest subsidy-free solar plant on the back of a power-purchase agreement with Holaluz, a Spanish energy retailer. But the plant is in Portugal.

August 15, 2018

Trump Signs Military Funding Bill That Includes Focus on Energy, Climate Security

While the Trump administration denies climate change, U.S. armed forces are preparing for energy and climate resiliency.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed into law a military spending authorization bill that includes a mandate to prepare and protect bases from floods, storms and energy supply disruptions from climate change — something Trump has said is a hoax. Adapting to climate change has been a priority for military planners long before Trump’s election. 

August 8, 2018

Renewable Energy in Minnesota Receives a Battery Boost with Connexus Project

Connexus project marks a new step in Minnesota for renewable energy.

Renewable energy in Minnesota is about to take a potentially big step forward.

Connexus Energy is building two electricity “storage” systems — solar-panel arrays connected to big batteries. Each battery can store up to two hours of power, allowing Connexus to inject renewable energy into the grid on command.

August 7, 2018

Mass. Lawmakers Set Storage Target, Raise RPS, Overturn Rooftop Solar Demand Charge

It was a big day for distributed energy. But the solar industry didn’t get everything that it wanted.

The Massachusetts legislature passed a compromise energy bill Tuesday evening with several wins for the clean energy industry.

The bill raises the renewable portfolio standard, such that the state’s renewable energy supply will need to increase by 2 percent annually from 2020 through 2029, before reverting back to 1 percent. The language also authorizes the study of an additional 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind.

August 6, 2018

In Pennsylvania, Legislature and Public Utility Commission Pave the Way to Innovative Ratemaking

In recent years, many states have grappled with the challenge of balancing the interests of regulated energy utilities to earn revenue by selling power with the public policy goal of reducing energy consumption.  To meet this challenge, more than 30 states in the U.S. have successfully used innovative utility rates, termed “alternative ratemaking,” to better align utility financial incentives with the public policy goal of increasing energy efficiency and distributed energy resources. Research by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy shows that states with alternative ratemaking policies achieve 50% higher savings from their energy efficiency programs.  Following two recent actions, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now poised to take advantage of these tools as well.

August 5, 2018

Top 10 Utility Regulation Trends of 2018 – So Far

With half of 2018 already in the rearview mirror, we check in on the top public utility commission (PUC) actions and trends so far this year.

Not surprisingly, the challenges PUCs are grappling with are diverse: moving toward a cleaner grid, adopting foundational electric vehicle policies, investigating utility business model reforms, exploring the integration of new technologies such as energy storage, and increasing customer choice when it comes to sourcing their energy, just to name a few. Without further ado, here is a status check on the top 10 matters before PUCs in 2018 so far.

July 25, 2018

Energy Storage Gets Its Day in Congress

The House Energy and Commerce Committee invited experts to testify on what federal storage policy should look like.

Energy storage experts got to ask what their country could do for them Wednesday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee convened a hearing on “the role of energy storage in the nation’s electricity system,” which gave industry insiders the rare chance to share what they’ve been thinking before a national audience.

July 24, 2018

New Report Highlights the Benefits and Drawbacks of Regionalizing California’s Grid

A controversial plan to expand grid markets throughout the Western U.S. gets a generally positive review in a new report—but with important warnings attached.

 Should California expand its energy markets to incorporate the rest of the Western United States? 

This vital question for California’s energy future has been the subject of vigorous debate for years now. Supporters say it will allow California to access ever-cheaper wind and solar power from across the region, driving down energy costs and boosting jobs and the economy, while pressuring uncompetitive fossil-fuel-fired power plants to shut down. 

July 23, 2018

No Longer a Novelty, Clean Energy Technologies Boom All Across the US

A new report documents the democratization of renewables, energy storage and electric vehicles in America.

 It was 1997, and stakeholders were working hard to help craft the first renewable energy standard in the State of Massachusetts, which ultimately passed as part of an electric utility restructuring act. At that time, the notion that Massachusetts would be one of the top solar states in the country was almost laughable, recalls Rob Sargent, who currently leads the energy program at Environment America.

Today, renewable energy is taking off in virtually every state in the nation.