May 23, 2017

Drastic Changes in Renewable Energy Laws Trigger Damages Award

In an award dated 4 May 2017 (publicly available in Spanish only) issued in Eiser Infrastructure Limited and Energia Solar Luxembourg S.à.r.l v The Kingdom of Spain (ICSID Case No. ARB/13/36), an arbitral tribunal found that Spain’s legislative changes in the renewable energy sector adopted in 2013 breached its obligations under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) to accord fair and equitable treatment (FET) to foreign investments. This is the first publicly available award in a string of investor-State arbitrations arising from Spain’s sweeping legislative changes enacted in 2013. In 2016 another arbitral tribunal ruled in Charanne B.V. and Construction Investments S.à.r.l v Kingdom of Spain that less intrusive changes enacted in 2010 did not breach Spain’s ECT obligations.

May 22, 2017

California: 'We Are Just Getting Started'

If you thought California’s lead as an energy storage market might fade in the face of upstarts such as Australia or Germany, then think again. Recent moves might see new gigawatts of capacity being installed across the state by 2020.

The most significant development was the recent reopening of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) with more than US$448m in funding dedicated to energy storage.

May 21, 2017

New Virginia Law Expands Solar Energy Development Authority to Include Energy Storage

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe yesterday signed a bill authorizing the expansion of the state’s Solar Energy Development Authority to include energy storage.

The legislation is part of a series of bills signed by McAuliffe that promote wind, solar and energy storage technologies.

SB 1258, introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin, expands the purpose of the new Solar Energy and Battery Storage Development Authority to include positioning the state as a leader in research, development, commercialization, manufacturing, and deployment of energy storage technology. The powers of the authority are expanded to include

May 19, 2017

Stranded Utility Renewables — A Competitive Challenge for Early Adopters

Figures for the deployment of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the U.S. over the past decade are truly breathtaking. Installed utility-scale wind power capacity in the U.S. has increased nearly sevenfold since 2007, reaching a cumulative level of more than 80,000 MW in 2016. Deployment of utility-scale solar has been even more impressive, reaching a cumulative level of more than 10,000 MW in 2016 from less than 160 MW in 2007.

May 18, 2017

Maryland Awards Renewable Energy Credits to Two Offshore Wind Projects

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC), in a May 11 decision, awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits (OREC) to two projects to be built off the coast of Maryland.

The decision will allow U.S. Wind and Skipjack Offshore Energy to construct 368 MW of capacity.

“The approval today of the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind projects bring to fruition the General Assembly’s efforts to establish Maryland as a regional hub for this burgeoning industry,” Kevin Hughes, PSC Chairman, said in a statement. “We have taken great care to ensure that this decision maximizes economic and environmental benefits to the state while minimizing costs to Maryland ratepayers.”

May 17, 2017

Wind Power Grows While U.S. Electricity Prices Drop

Last month former Texas Governor and new Energy Secretary Rick Perry tasked his staff with looking at America's power grid. Secretary Perry wants to know how federal policies are impacting energy sources that are vital for ensuring the grid's long-term reliability, resilience and affordability. Recently, I wrote that Perry is asking the right question. As the governor who oversaw the transformation of Texas into a wind power leader, Perry is going to like what his staff finds.

Here's why. In his memo, Secretary Perry laid out three critical yardsticks he wants to assess with his 60-day review. I will offer my take on each of these — from a wind industry perspective — in three columns leading up to our annual WINDPOWER conference in Anaheim, Calif., on May 22-25.

Power Markets and Price

Perry’s first key metric is the marketplace. He wants to know how policies and a changing fuel mix are changing wholesale electricity markets.

It’s an important question because the business reality has moved past decades-old assumptions about how the grid operated when it was powered largely by coal, gas and nuclear.

But what has kept pace is the ability of the grid to adapt to a different energy mix, with widespread switching from coal to gas, and the addition of large amounts of economically competitive renewable energy.

Wind in particular is winning in the marketplace, because of its proven grid reliability and market-beating cost. Wind power costs are down 66 percent since 2009, as low-cost wind has joined low-cost natural gas as a market leader.

Indeed, across much of the nation, wind is now the cheapest source of new electric-generating capacity, attracting utilities such as Xcel Energy and MidAmerican Energy, and corporate buyers such as Amazon, Google, Home Depot and GM.

And as wind has increased its market penetration almost five-fold since 2008, overall U.S. wholesale power prices have dropped more than 60 percent. That is no coincidence.

In fact, in 2016 wind exceeded hydro as the No. 1 U.S. renewable energy in total capacity, enough to power 24 million homes. Wind capped a second straight year at more than 8,000 MW installed and beat both natural gas and solar in new U.S. utility-scale capacity for 2015-2016 combined, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The market has adapted and built up tremendous momentum behind its lowest-cost energy sources. Today, customers' preferred U.S. energy choices are wind, gas and solar, based on the latest levelized cost of energy (LCOE), as reported by Lazard.

Not surprisingly, these three home-grown energy sources accounted for more than 90 percent of new U.S. utility-scale electric-generating capacity last year. And in the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. wind industry installed nearly 1,000 new wind turbines, for its strongest 1Q since 2009.

Let the Marketplace Decide

Some may not like this new economic reality, but it remains a reality nonetheless. And it's a reality that powers a workforce of more than a half a million U.S. jobs today, and well over a million U.S. workers in years to come.

Federal and state policies have an important role in encouraging innovation without excessive regulation, ensuring a level playing field for competition based on price, eliminating barriers to entry and connecting supply with demand centers, and enabling investment with a predictable business environment.

Ultimately, however, it is up to the marketplace to decide winners and losers, based on price.

Those who oppose wind power’s role in reducing prices are arguing to turn back the clock to higher electricity costs for consumers and businesses.

That’s not a winning proposition.

May 16, 2017

Platform-Based Electric Grids Are Coming, but the Transition Is Proving a Challenge

The complexities of building a DSO system are becoming more evident, writes Dan Cross-Call of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Platform business models have redefined the modern economy. From titans of personal computing and e-commerce like Apple and Amazon, to ubiquitous financial services that we use with hardly a second thought (such as ATMs and credit cards), industries everywhere have reoriented from one-directional pipeline delivery systems to multisided platforms via which information and services flow in many directions between actors.

May 15, 2017

Dutch Open 'World's Largest Offshore' Wind Farm

Dutch officials on Monday opened what is being billed as one of the world's largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning in action far out in the North Sea.

Over the next 15 years, the Gemini windpark, which lies some 85 kilometres (53 miles) off the northern coast of The Netherlands, will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people.

May 14, 2017

Philippine Renewables Outperform Regional Peers, but Policy Uncertainty Looming -- BMI Research

The Philippines has outperformed its regional peers in terms of renewable energy development, but policy uncertainty under the project is likely to cause headwinds in capacity expansion, a research firm said on Monday.

The uncertainty can see the country’s “fairly strong” score for energy policy falling over the coming quarters, BMI Research said in a statement on Monday, referring to its risk/reward index (RRI).

May 12, 2017

Climate Change Economics May Trump Politics

Last week hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest what they saw as the evisceration of environmental legislation and a rollback of US efforts to stem the tide of climate change.

Protests in Washington, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle and other American cities coincided with the culmination of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days. Over that period, most of the political victories that the new administration has notched have been around environmental and climate science — chiefly rolling back policies enacted by the previous Obama Administrations.

May 11, 2017

Germany Breaks A Solar Record — Gets 85% Of Electricity From Renewables

On April 30, Germany established a new national record for renewable energy use. On that day and throughout the long May 1 weekend, 85% of all the electricity consumed in Germany was produced from renewables such as wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric power. Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende Initiative says a combination of breezy and sunny weather in the north and warm weather in the south saw Germany’s May 1 holiday weekend powered almost exclusively by renewable resources.

May 10, 2017

UK Public Support For Renewable Energy Remains At All-Time High

The latest Public Attitudes Tracking Survey conducted by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published this week reveals that public support for renewable energy remains hovering around an all time high.

This is the 21st wave of the UK Government’s Public Attitudes Tracking Survey, first conducted in March of 2012. Over that time, overall support for renewable energy has hovered around the 80% mark, starting out at 79% in March, 2012, and returning to 79% in this latest wave, conducted over 29 March to 2 April 2017, using face-to-face in-home interviews with a representative sample of 2,180 households. More specifically, 32% of respondents ‘Strongly support’ renewable energy, and an impressive 47% of people ‘Support’ it. Only 4% of respondents said they ‘Opposed’ or ‘Strongly Opposed’ it.

May 9, 2017

Canada Produces 66% of its Electricity from Renewables

Country produces 10 per cent of the world's hydro-electricity

Canada produced about 66 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new report.

The country is the second biggest producer of hydro electricity in the world, accounting for 10 per cent of the entire world’s generation.

May 8, 2017

Iceland Drills Three Miles Into Volcanoes to Produce Clean Energy

Record-breaking project could produce 10 times more energy than gas or oil extraction

Iceland is harnessing volcanic heat to produce clean energy in a pioneering new geothermal technology project.

Energy company HS Orka has drilled down three miles into the earth near the country’s famous Blue Lagoon spa in the Reykjanes region.

May 7, 2017

ANEEL Releases New Rules for Small Hydropower Operators in Brazil

In an effort to streamline the permitting process, ANEEL (Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica) has published new rules governing operators of small hydropower plants in Brazil.

According to BNamericas, the resolution includes a requirement for developers to complete “generation adequacy studies” prior to the environmental licensing process.

Normative Resolution No. 765/2017 defines the procedures for issuing the grants for implementation and operation of these enterprises, ANEEL says. The changes affect developers of hydro plants with capacities of 5 MW to 50 MW.

Official figures show 203 MW of small hydro capacity was brought on line in Brazil in 2016. Small hydro makes up about 3 percent of the country’s generation mix, totaling 4.989 GW of capacity from 426 plants.

Hydropower of all sizes makes up more than 80 percent of the Brazilian energy matrix as of March 2017.

May 3, 2017

GWEC Annual Wind Power Update, Short Term Forecast More than 800 GW Globally by 2021

We have just released our Global Wind Report — Annual Market Update at Windergy in Delhi, detailing how in 2016, more than 54 GW of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market, which now comprises more than 90 countries, including nine with more than 10,000 MW installed, and 29 which have now passed the 1,000-MW mark.

Cumulative capacity grew by 12.6 percent to reach a total of 486.8 GW. Wind power penetration levels continue to increase, led by Denmark pushing 40 percent, followed by Uruguay, Portugal and Ireland with well over 20 percent, Spain and Cyprus around 20 percent, Germany at 16 percent; and the big markets of China, the U.S. and Canada get 4, 5.5, and 6 percent of their power from wind, respectively.

April 30, 2017

New Solar Law Protects Consumers in New Mexico

New Mexico indeed is the Land of Enchantment. And like much of the Southwestern United States, New Mexico is blessed with abundant sunshine. It is precisely because they enjoy more than 300 days a year of unencumbered sunshine that many of the state’s residents have taken an interest in solar energy.

This is certainly an exciting and accessible renewable energy source that stands to diversify how people power their homes and businesses. Unfortunately, as with any new industry, bad actors have cropped up exhibiting poor business practice sand deceiving unsuspecting customers. To protect New Mexicans as the use of solar power expands, Gov. Susana Martinez recently signed into law a measure by state Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, and state Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Española, titled the Solar Consumer Bill of Rights (Senate Bill 210/House Bill 199).

April 28, 2017

Poland to Miss 2020 EU Renewable Energy Target

Poland is set to miss its target of covering up to 15% of energy demand with renewables by 2020. 

Under the most favorable scenario provided by a report released by local consultancy Ecofys, new additions for solar may reach 695 GWh, while the country is expected to reach a target of only 13.8% by the end of the decade.

Poland has a reputation as Europe’s most polluting country, still relying massively on coal power production and not supporting the development of renewable energies. In confirmation of this, renewable energy consultancy Ecofys recently published a report in which it clearly says that Poland will miss its 2020 renewable energy target.

April 27, 2017

Maryland’s Energy Storage Tax Credit: Gaining Momentum Across America?

The General Assembly of Maryland just passed a bill that would provide a 30 percent tax credit to those who chose to utilize energy storage technology, making it the first state in the country to pass such legislation. The funds provided by the bill would last from 2018 to 2022.

The bill includes a cap of $5,000 for residential storage projects, while for commercial projects, the cap is set at $75,000. The state government has allocated a total of $750,000 per year to be used in credits.

April 26, 2017

Washington State Pioneers New Model for Utility-Scale Renewable Energy

Many businesses in Washington state want to use renewable energy. Starbucks, REI and Microsoft are all iconic brands in the Pacific Northwest making big commitments to wind and solar. Of the 65 companies that have signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers Principles, more than a dozen use substantial energy in Washington state. Public sector energy users like King County and the Port of Seattle have also committed to renewable power.

Nonetheless, Washington’s large energy buyers have found it difficult to access renewable energy because nearly all buyers must go through their utilities to buy energy. Those utilities still use at least some fossil fuel-based sources.

April 25, 2017

Michigan's New Energy Law Gives State More Options

"Michigan is going to control its own energy future."

That's Michigan Agency for Energy Executive Director Valerie Brader, describing the benefits of the state's new energy law, which goes into effect tomorrow.

The law removes the cap on how much utilities can use energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet the state's energy needs, says Brader.

She says energy efficiency projects have already saved the state $4 billion since 2008, and there's the potential for even more, especially if energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet demand for power. 

April 24, 2017

Minnesota Cities Learn from Buying Community Solar Together

The nation’s first ever attempt to have municipal governments collectively buy power from community solar gardens was a modest success, according to a new report.

While municipalities in other parts of the country have come together to buy rooftop solar, none had ever tried it to capture cost savings in the nascent community solar marketplace, said Trevor Drake, project manager at the Great Plains Institute.

Minnesota has one of the country’s largest and best developed community solar markets, with more than 100 MW expected to go live this year. The cities involved in the “Governmental Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative” are expected to contract for about 33 MW, according to Drake.

April 23, 2017

How to Site Wind, Solar and Transmission Projects in the Land-constrained Northeast US

The Trump Administration’s pro-fossil, anti-climate agenda means states must lead renewable energy development in the near term, but will barriers to siting solar and wind in land-constrained regions impede growth?

Large-scale renewables are key to decarbonization, but siting projects is tricky even in leader states. For instance, New York and Massachusetts have ambitious renewables targets, but many potential locations for solar and wind in each are on private or preserved land — so where can developers build the generation required for clean energy goals?

New research, Siting Renewable Generation: The Northeast Perspective, seeks to solve the challenge of siting renewable energy and connecting it to the grid. Eleanor Stein, a former New York Public Service Commission (NY PSC) Administrative Law Judge and NY-REV Project Manager, led the effort for America’s Power Plan (APP).

April 21, 2017

Filipinos Choosing The Green Energy Option

THE ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is facing a new forefront and it’s the transition of energy dependence from fossil fuel generated electricity to sustainable and renewably generated electricity. The ASEAN has an aim of increasing renewable energy share in primary energy supply to at least 23% by 2025. The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has given more weight to ASEAN’s aim with SDG 7 for clean and affordable energy.

April 20, 2017

Ohio Energy Bill Passes House, But Fight Expected In Senate

The Ohio House of Representatives has passed legislation 65-30 that would make Ohio’s renewable energy standards optional, promoting business growth in the state, said Rep. Louis W. Blessing III, R-Colerain. 

House Bill 114, sponsored by Blessing, who represents Greater Harrison, reflects some recommendations made by the Energy Mandates Study Committee in 2015. The bill calls for reforming Ohio’s law on renewable energy to remove mandates, and making them optional. 

Clean energy advocates, including Ohio Citizens Action, however, argue the study committee’s report is flawed because it relies on improper and outdated assumptions about costs and fails to fully evaluate the benefits of the standards.