March 28, 2017

California’s Flood of Green Energy Could Drive a Record 8GW of Curtailment This Spring

Sun, wind and now water are flooding the grid with energy when nobody needs it—and grid operator CAISO has to balance it out.

Last month, the California Independent System Operator quietly announced that it could face a record-breaking need for curtailments -- paying, or forcing, generators to stop pumping electricity into a transmission grid that just doesn’t have the demand for it at the time. 

“With the bountiful hydro conditions expected this year and significant additional solar installations both in the form of central station and on rooftops, we expect to see significant excess energy production this coming spring,” CAISO CEO Stephen Berberich wrote in a memo to the grid operator’s board of directors. “Currently, the forecast is that we could have the need to curtail from 6,000 [megawatts] to 8,000 [megawatts].”

March 27, 2017

Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands Want to Build an Island Hub to Support 100GW of Offshore Wind

The island could also become a crucial provider of renewable-power-to-gas for Europe.

A group of European countries is looking to build a giant island in the North Sea in order to support up to 100 gigawatts of offshore wind projects. 

If built, the island would be sited on the Dogger Bank, a large North Sea sandbank where the water depth ranges from 15 to 36 meters.

March 26, 2017

New Solar Policy Playbook Calls for Greater Cooperation, Not Competition, With China

A group of experts lays out a sprawling plan for reforming policy support and trade practices for solar.

The quest to make solar energy a major source of the world’s electricity will not succeed if national policies and industries compete as though it is a zero-sum game. 

That is just one of many findings of The New Solar System, a sprawling report released earlier this week by Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, a joint research center that includes the university’s business and law schools. The result of two years of work -- including interviews with dozens of government officials and industry executives in China and the U.S. -- the report sketches out a future where the scale of solar depends on self-interested cooperation.

March 24, 2017

Solar Doesn’t Need Any More of Uncle Sam’s Help

Federal support will undoubtedly languish under Trump. But that’s OK, argues Noah Kirsch.

What does the confirmation of new EPA head, Scott Pruitt, mean for the solar industry?

Pruitt, considered a long-time ally of the fossil fuel industry, has promised to quickly withdraw the Clean Power Plan rule developed by the Obama administration in 2014.

March 23, 2017

New Self-Consumption Law Expected to Spark France’s Nascent Home Storage Market

Analysts are expecting an increase in residential battery sales in France following the approval of a solar self-consumption law last month.

Samuel Portebos with Paris-based Clean Horizon Consulting said home battery sales may rise to a few hundred units per year thanks to legislation that improves the prospects for self-consumption. The nascent residential market will add to growing demand for energy storage in France, which Clean Horizon expects will lead to three times today’s installed capacity by 2020.

March 22, 2017

California Solar Industry and Utilities Unveil Dueling Solar-Storage Tariffs

The state will soon have special rate structures for homes and businesses that want to invest in battery-backed solar or EVs—but the details are subject to debate.

California is already breaking ground in attempting to properly value the distributed technologies hitting the grid. So far, that’s been done through large-scale capacity contracts, demand response auction mechanisms, and utility pilots. Now the state is opening another front in distributed energy integration: tariffs. 

March 21, 2017

French Solar Subsidies Strike New Record Below Germany

Subsidies plummeted in the first of six tender rounds for large-scale ground-based solar power in France, results published by the energy ministry on Thursday showed.

This is likely to squeeze profits for other sources of electricity as the cost of generation from ground-based solar comes close to parity with combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs).

There were 79 winners of a combined 500MW of capacity in the first solar PV tender, which ran from 9 January–3 February, the ministry said. The tender was the first to be held under the country’s multi-annual energy plan, adopted in 2016, to drive investment in solar power over the next three years.

Most of the installations will be built in the south of France, the list of winning developers showed.
The government has set a target to have between 18.2GW and 20.2GW of solar PV capacity installed by 2023.

March 20, 2017

Bills to Expand Solar Incentives in Maine Ready to Launch

Two frontrunners intend to enhance solar incentives, and could supercede recent changes from the state's utilities commission.

The near-term future of rooftop solar energy in Maine is likely to be decided this spring, as lawmakers consider changes to a widely criticized rule approved in January by the Public Utilities Commission.

Two major bills are pending that would supersede the PUC’s approach to compensating homeowners for the solar power they generate, an incentive called net energy billing or net metering. If nothing happens, the PUC rule goes into force in 2018.

March 19, 2017

How the US Wind Sector Is Building Momentum, Driving Economic Benefits

Strong growth in U.S. wind energy after a two-year slowdown

Winds of change are blowing across the nation. After a recent market slump, supportive policies and cost declines are driving growth in the wind energy sector, and bringing billions of dollars in economic benefits to states throughout the U.S.

The American wind fleet closed 2016 with 82,183 megawatts of cumulative installed capacity, enough to power 24 million average American homes, according to a new report released by the American Energy Wind Association (AWEA) in partnership with Navigant Consulting. Over the next four years, the wind industry is expected to add another 35,000 megawatts of capacity, and drive $85 billion in economic activity through investments in new wind projects, manufacturing, construction and operations expenditures, and tax payments.

Here are five graphics that show how the U.S. wind sector is building momentum.

March 17, 2017

Massachusetts Preps for US Offshore Wind Construction Boom

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), a ratepayer funded research organization that works to accelerate the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the state, last week announced plans to conduct a study of potential offshore wind construction facilities in Massachusetts. The Offshore Wind Ports & Infrastructure Assessment will review underdeveloped waterfront sites in Massachusetts that could potentially be acquired and developed through private investment to support both near-term and long-term offshore wind activities.

March 16, 2017

Solar: Big Changes in Energy Bill Taking Shape in North Carolina

Legislation that would make major changes to state energy policy, including sweeping revisions to solar energy regulations, is taking shape and could be introduced as soon as this month.

Changes could include approval of third-party energy sales and streamlined permitting for solar projects. Under current rules, only utilities can directly sell energy in North Carolina.

March 15, 2017

In Virginia Push for Pumped Storage Hydro, Questions Arise About Viability

In a bid to boost the economy in Virginia’s coalfield region, legislation to be signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe seeks to spur the development of pumped storage hydro electric power plants using water from abandoned coal mines.

While the companion bills in both the Senate and House of Delegates drew virtually unanimous support from both chambers, researchers, coal reclamation experts and even some renewable energy advocates say the idea is still unproven. While pumped storage facilities exist in Virginia and elsewhere, no plant drawing water from abandoned coal mines has been built anywhere in the world.

March 10, 2017

The Alberta Advantage: Solar Rebates Give Homeowners a Boost in Canada

Alberta’s residential solar industry has chugged along for decades without government support.

That dry spell finally drew to a close on Monday, when the provincial NDP government announced a two-year, $36 million rebate program to help bring down the costs for residents, business and nonprofits who want to install solar projects.

By 2020, the number of solar installations on rooftops is expected to increase from 1,800 to 10,000 systems, which will create about 900 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a half million tons (or the same as taking 100,000 cars off the road). The program is funded through the province's carbon tax revenue.

March 9, 2017

California Is Considering a 100 Percent Renewable Energy Law. That’s a Bad Idea.

By choosing renewables alone, the state may be closing off other decarbonization pathways.

Last week, California’s quest for a clean grid revolution culminated in the introduction of a bill mandating 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Senator Kevin de León, a longtime environmental leader in the state senate, wrote the measure, which comes on the heels of last year’s major greenhouse gas reduction bill. Massachusetts legislators introduced the same goal with a deadline of 2035.

March 8, 2017

Arizona Utility Files Rate Settlement Agreement with Solar Net Metering Compromise

Solar industry stakeholders in Arizona have reached an agreement with the state’s largest utility that improves on a decision made last year by state regulators that ended the existing net metering program for new solar owners.

Arizona Public Service (APS) on March 1 filed a final term sheet in its latest rate case with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) that grandfathers existing solar net metering customers for 20 years, instead of the 10-year time frame established by the ACC's December 2016 decision. Those customers will take service under full retail rate net metering and will continue to take service on their current tariff schedule for the length of the grandfathering period, according to the filing.

March 7, 2017

Texas Should Get Its Head in the New Solar Market Game

What would a world powered by clean, low-water energy look like? If you visit Israel’s southern region, you don’t have to imagine.

In 2011, Arava Power in the southern Israeli desert launched a 4.9 MW solar field (enough to power more than 3,000 U.S. homes). Since then nearly 200 times as much capacity — both fields and rooftops — has been installed in the region. By 2025, it’s likely solar will provide 100 percent of daytime electricity, plus excess, along the border with Jordan.

March 5, 2017

Solar Bill Passes Out of Committee in Indiana

Amendments relax restrictions on net metering, but solar advocates remain flustered

Despite changes to the regulations proposed to Senate Bill 309, solar advocates remain wary of State Sen. Brandt Hershman’s legislation.

Last week the Senate Utilities Committee convened to vote on SB 309, which includes sweeping reforms that solar advocates argued could have removed many of the benefits associated with homeowners adopting their own solar arrays. The day of the meeting, amendments were introduced to the bill that eased some of the restrictions previously posed against the renewable energy industry, but opposition to the bill remained concerned.

March 3, 2017

Minnesota Looks to Double Renewable Energy Standard to 50% by 2030

Bipartisan lawmakers in Minnesota want utilities in that state to procure 50% of power sold by 2030 from renewable sources. The measure, if passed, could put the state’s renewable efforts on par with California’s.

The bipartisan bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature on February 27 seeks to double the state’s renewable energy standard, which is currently 25% by 2025.

Lawmakers noted that the state is already on track to surpass current goals set by the Next Generation Energy Act, which was enacted by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) in 2007. That bill was overwhelmingly supported by 97% of legislators.

March 2, 2017

Uganda is Set to Increase Renewable Energy Projects

Last week, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Norwegian power company, W. Giertsen Energy Solutions for the development of renewable energy projects.

Under the MoU, renewable energy projects (including solar power plants, solar water pumping systems, and hydro-solar hybrid power plants) will be implemented specifically for rural areas by having off-grid and mini-grid systems, the Monitor reported.

February 28, 2017

Activists Hope Massachusetts Can Go Fossil Fuel-Free by 2050

Massachusetts environmentalists have long dreamed of a green future in which the state shakes off its reliance on fossil fuels. Now they have a date: 2050.

That’s just three decades away, but backers of the effort, including dozens of Beacon Hill lawmakers, say it’s realistic, provided the state starts carving out a path to that future now.

A bill filed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, of Acton, and Reps. Sean Garballey, of Arlington, and Marjorie Decker, of Cambridge — all Democrats — would commit Massachusetts to obtaining 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources like solar and wind.

February 27, 2017

Norway Says All Cars in the Country Will Be 100% Electric

  • Norway has been incentivizing the use of zero emission vehicles since the 1990s.
  • Towards the end of 2016, the country already had 100,000 zero-emission cars on the road.


By 2025, all of the cars on Norway’s roads could be electric. That’s just eight years away—and if the target seems a little ambitious, it should be noted that the country is already well on its way toward this goal. Electric vehicle (EV) sales already comprise 37 percent of Norway’s car market.

February 26, 2017

New Mexico Bill Would Require Public Utilities to ‘Shop’ for Energy Prices

New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-District 52) introduced a bill (SB-360) on February 8 that would require publicly owned electric utilities to choose the least-costly alternative when proposing purchases of new energy sources.

“This begins with the recognition that the price for renewable energy is falling dramatically,” Cervantes told The Sante Fe New Mexican on February 10. “So the goal behind this legislation would be to try to encourage a competitive market, which is emerging with renewable energy.”

February 24, 2017

Massachusetts Lawmakers Sponsor 100% Renewable Energy Bill

Massachusetts could become the first state in America to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would require an economy-wide transition to obtaining power via clean sources like wind and solar, and 53 state legislators from both the House and the Senate have shown support for the measure.

The bill, SD. 1932, also known as the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, would set targets of electricity generation via 100 percent renewables by 2035; other sectors like transportation and heating would have until 2050 to make the switch. Over a quarter of legislature members in Massachusetts have now cosponsored the bill, which has been promoted by environmental advocacy group Environment Massachusetts. The organization’s state director Ben Hellerstein said in a statement, “Now is the time for Massachusetts to go big on clean energy. Getting to 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent possible – and it’s 100 percent necessary.”

February 23, 2017

India: Jammu and Kashmir Approve 450MW Rooftop Target and Net Metering

Jammu and Kashmir has approved a draft policy to deliver 450MW of rooftop PV plants by 2022, according to consultancy firm Mercom Capital Group.

The draft law was announced back in October last year seeking to introduce net metering to the state.
The 10-year policy from the Department of Science and Technology of the government of Jammu and Kashmir will account for system sizes between 1-1000kW.

A Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JAKEDA) official told Mercom that the policy will ease the burden on the state’s transmission and distribution network.

Last week, JAKEDA also tendered for 37.8MW of grid-connected rooftop solar.

Analyst firm Crisil recently forecast that India would hit 12GW of rooftop by 2022.

February 22, 2017

European Commission Approves French Support Schemes for 2.6GW of Solar

The European Commission has approved French plans to develop 2.6GW of small and large-scale solar and 60MW of hydropower.

The Commission endorsed two separate solar schemes, which have a provisional budget of €8.8 billion (US$9.4 billion) over 20 years.

One scheme helps pay the feed-in tariff (FiT) subsidy to operators of small-scale solar installations (<100kW) on domestic and commercial rooftops. This will account for roughly 1.5GW installations.