NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Good News On Climate – The Public Is Starting To Get It
  • Weekend Video: The Libertarian Failure On Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: New Energy Is Doable – And Is Being Done
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World Gets A Step Closer To Enforceable Climate Laws
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Ready To Power The World Future
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Sahara Sun Could Power The World
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World’s Biggest Offshore Wind Turbines Building Off UK Coast
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, September 22:

  • TTTA Thursday-Why Having Babies Could Be The Climate Change Answer
  • TTTA Thursday-Big Texas Wind Backed By Amazon
  • TTTA Thursday-Big Sun Sparkles In Nevada
  • TTTA Thursday-EV Racing Coming To The Streets Of Brooklyn
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: In The Wake Of The Massive Aliso Canyon Leak
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Rise Of Distributed Energy Resources Goes On
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Matures And Evolves
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Snapshot Of U.S. Solar Right Now
  • QUICK NEWS, September 20: Survey Shows People Oppose Fossil Fuels; Solar Bargain Hits World Record; China In Record Wind Build Rate
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Utility Puts Out Its Vision Of New Energy On A New Grid
  • QUICK NEWS, September 19: People Will Pay To Fight Climate Change; Wind To Keep Getting Cheaper; Tesla Batteries To Ease Aliso Cyn-Caused Power Shortfalls
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, September 26:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Future Of Offshore Wind Foreseen
  • QUICK NEWS, September 26: The Sonification Of Climate Change; Wind Is Red, White, And Green; The New Hybrid Solar-Storage Concept Module

    Monday, September 26, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Future Of Offshore Wind Foreseen

    The National Offshore Wind Strategy

    September 2016 (U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior)

    Executive Summary

    Offshore wind energy holds the promise of significant environmental and economic benefits for the United States. It is an abundant, low-carbon, domestic energy resource. It is located close to major coastal load centers, providing an alternative to long-distance transmission or development of electricity generation in these land-constrained regions. Once built, offshore wind farms could produce energy at low, long-term fixed costs, which can reduce electricity prices and improve energy security by providing a hedge against fossil fuel price volatility.

    Realizing these benefits will require overcoming critical challenges in three strategic themes: 1) reducing the costs and technical risks associated with domestic offshore wind development, 2) supporting stewardship of U.S. waters by providing regulatory certainty and understanding and mitigating environmental risks of offshore wind development, and 3) increasing understanding of the benefits and costs of offshore wind energy.

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), through its Wind Energy Technologies Office, and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), through its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), have jointly produced this updated national strategy to facilitate the responsible development of offshore wind energy in the United States. In doing so, the agencies accounted for progress made since the last national offshore wind strategy released in 2011, and utilized significant input from the offshore wind community. This strategy highlights the gaps that need to be addressed by the offshore wind community as a whole, and provides a suite of actions that DOE and DOI are positioned to undertake to address these gaps and help the nation realize the benefits of offshore wind development.

    The United States Needs a National Approach to Offshore Wind Development

    The national energy landscape has changed significantly since the first national strategy for offshore wind was released in 2011. The first domestic offshore wind farm is scheduled for commercial operation in 2016, and there are now 11 active commercial leases along the Atlantic Coast. The United States took steps toward a low-carbon future through its commitments at the Paris Climate Conference, the promulgation of the Clean Power Plan,1 and legislative action, such as the extension of the renewable energy production tax credit and investment tax credit. Coastal states have increased their demand for renewable energy deployment through renewable portfolio standards and other mandates. Many legacy fossil fuel, nuclear, and renewable generators are set to retire because of age, cost, or as part of the move toward lower-carbon sources of electricity. Land-based wind energy generation in the United States has increased nearly 60% and utility-scale solar generation increased more than 1,300% [1] relative to 2011.

    Most of this renewable generation is located far from coastal load centers, and long-distance transmission infrastructure has not kept pace with this rapid deployment. At the same time, the offshore wind market has matured rapidly in Europe, and costs are now falling. These trends suggest that offshore wind has the opportunity to play a substantial role as a source of domestic, large-scale, affordable electricity for the nation.

    DOE and DOI developed this strategy as a joint document and have a single overarching goal in its implementation, which is to facilitate the development of a robust and sustainable offshore wind industry in the United States. The agencies will coordinate on the implementation of many of the specific actions they intend to undertake to support achievement of this goal. In recognition of their unique and complementary roles, and consistent with their missions and authorities, DOE and DOI each identified the actions they plan to address, and set individual objectives against which they will measure progress. These objectives are as follows:

    • DOE aims to reduce the levelized cost of energy through technological advancement to compete with local electricity costs, and create the conditions necessary to support DOE’s Wind Vision2 study scenario levels [2] of deployment by supporting the coexistence of offshore wind with the environment, coastal communities, and other users of ocean space.

    • DOI aims to enhance its regulatory program to ensure that oversight processes are well-informed and adaptable, avoid unnecessary burdens, and provide transparency and certainty for the regulated community and stakeholders.

    DOE and DOI solicited significant stakeholder and public input to inform this document through a DOE Request for Information and a DOI Request for Feedback, as well as a jointly hosted public workshop. Feedback received through these efforts was critical to DOI and DOE in defining the challenges facing offshore wind presented in this document, as well as suggesting potential federal actions to address them.

    Offshore Wind Represents a Significant Opportunity to the Nation

    A number of factors demonstrate the realistic and substantial opportunity that offshore wind presents to the United States:

    • U.S. offshore wind resources are abundant. Today, a technical potential of 2,058 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind resource capacity are accessible in U.S. waters using existing technology. This is equivalent to an energy output of 7,200 terawatt-hours per year— enough to provide nearly double the total electric generation of the United States in 2015.

    • Significant siting and development opportunities are available today in U.S. waters. By the end of 2015, DOI had awarded 11 commercial leases for offshore wind development that could support a total of 14.6 GW of capacity in areas already vetted for preliminary siting conflicts through extensive intergovernmental and stakeholder coordination. BOEM has a number of potential wind areas that are currently in the planning stages.

    • Electricity demand growth and scheduled power plant retirements in coastal states provide significant opportunity for offshore wind development. If the 86 GW of offshore wind studied in the Wind Vision study scenario3 were developed by 2050, offshore wind would make up 14% of the projected demand for new electricity generation in the coastal and Great Lakes states.

    • In some locations, offshore wind could be competitive with incumbent forms of generation in the next decade. A new cost analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows credible scenarios for cost reductions below $100/megawatt-hour by 2025 in some areas of the United States, and more widely around the country by 2030.

    Assuming near-term deployment of offshore wind at a scale sufficient to support market competition and the growth of a supply chain, development of offshore wind energy in markets with relatively high electricity costs, such as the Northeast, could be cost-competitive within a decade.

    • Deploying offshore wind could lead to significant electrical system benefits for system operators, utilities, and ratepayers. Because of its low marginal costs of production and the fact that offshore winds in many regions tend to be strong at times of peak demand, offshore wind energy can lower wholesale electricity prices in many markets. Offshore wind can also decrease transmission congestion and reduce the need for new long-distance transmission.

    • A robust offshore wind industry would lead to significant positive environmental and economic external benefits. Assuming the Wind Vision study scenario deployment level of 86 GW offshore wind by 2050, national benefits could be:

    – Reduced greenhouse gas emissions. A 1.8% reduction in cumulative greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to approximately 1.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide—could save $50 billion in avoided global damages.

    – Decreased air pollution from other emissions. The United States could save $2 billion in avoided mortality, morbidity, and economic damages from cumulative reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulates.

    – Reduced water consumption. The electric power sector could reduce water consumption by 5% and water withdrawals by 3%.

    – Greater energy diversity and security. Offshore wind could drive significant reductions in electricity price volatility associated with fossil fuel costs.

    – Increased economic development and employment. Deployment could support $440 million in annual lease payments into the U.S. Treasury and approximately $680 million in annual property tax payments, as well as support approximately 160,000 gross jobs in coastal regions and around the country [2]. 4

    Key Challenges Remain

    To support a robust and sustainable offshore wind industry in the United States, challenges across three strategic themes need to be overcome.

    • Reducing costs and technology risks. Today, the cost of offshore wind energy is too high to compete in most U.S. markets without subsidies. However, continued global market growth and research and development investments across the following three action areas could significantly reduce the costs of offshore wind toward competitive levels:

    – Offshore wind power resource and site characterization. A better understanding of the unique meteorological, ocean, and seafloor conditions across U.S. offshore wind development sites will allow for optimized designs, reduced capital costs, greater safety, and less uncertainty in preconstruction energy estimates, resulting in reduced financing costs.

    – Offshore wind plant technology advancement. Increasing turbine size and efficiency, reducing mass in substructures, and optimizing wind plants at a systems level for unique U.S. conditions can reduce capital costs and operating expenses and increase energy production at a given site.

    – Installation, operation and maintenance, and supply chain solutions. The complexity and risk associated with installation and operation and maintenance activities requires specialized infrastructure that does not yet exist in the United States. Reducing or eliminating the need for specialized assets, along with leveraging the nation’s existing infrastructure, will reduce capital and operating costs in the near term and help unlock major economic development and job creation opportunities in the long term.

    • Supporting effective stewardship. Effective stewardship of the nation’s ocean and Great Lakes resources will be necessary to allow for the development of a sustainable offshore wind industry in the United States. DOI, through BOEM, oversees the responsible development of energy on the Outer Continental Shelf. Offshore wind developers, financiers, and power purchasers need confidence in a project’s ability to navigate regulatory and environmental compliance requirements in a predictable way. To improve this balance and support effective stewardship, action is needed in the following two areas:

    – Ensuring efficiency, consistency, and clarity in the regulatory process. Further work can be done to improve consistency and identify and reduce unnecessary burdens in BOEM’s existing regulatory process. This may include establishing more predictable review timelines and maintaining a reasonable level of flexibility given the early stage of the industry’s development.

    – Managing key environmental and human-use concerns. More data need to be collected to verify and validate the impacts of offshore wind development on sensitive biological resources and existing human uses of ocean space. Improved understanding and further collaboration will allow for increased efficiency of environmental reviews and tighter focus on the most important issues.

    • Increasing understanding of the benefits and costs of offshore wind. Building a better understanding of the impacts of offshore wind on the electricity grid, unique electricity market costs and benefits, and environmental externalities can help create the conditions needed for near-term deployment.

    – Offshore wind electricity delivery and grid integration. Impacts of significant offshore wind deployment on grids need to be better understood at state and regional levels, and the costs and benefits associated with different offshore transmission infrastructure configurations and strategies need to be characterized.

    – Quantifying and communicating the benefits and costs of offshore wind. The environmental and economic benefits and costs associated with offshore wind need to be quantified and communicated to key stakeholders to inform decisions on near-term offtake agreements, other project-specific matters, and policies affecting offshore wind.

    A Robust and Credible Plan for Federal Action

    Federal government action can supplement the work of states, utilities, the wind industry, the environmental community, researchers, and other stakeholders to facilitate offshore wind development. DOE and DOI aim to provide essential federal leadership to help overcome certain challenges and help the nation to realize the benefits of offshore wind. This strategy lays out 34 concrete actions in seven action areas that DOE and DOI can take to facilitate responsible, robust, and sustainable offshore wind development in the United States.

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    QUICK NEWS, September 26: The Sonification Of Climate Change; Wind Is Red, White, And Green; The New Hybrid Solar-Storage Concept Module

    The Sonification Of Climate Change The haunting song of climate change, in D minor

    Brian Kahn, September 25, 2016 (Grist)

    “…Music based on data has the potential to reveal new patterns to scientists…[Nik Sawe used a technique called data sonification to make music from data on] multiple types of trees in the forest and a clear progression of climate change killing off yellow cedars. Rising temperatures are decimating snowpack, but when still frequent cold snaps hit, there’s not enough insulation to protect the cedar’s shallow roots, so they die…[This odd death by freezing in a warming world] could have profound impacts on one of the most culturally and economically important trees in Alaska…That’s why Sawe picked up [Lauren] Oakes’ data and turned it into tunes.

    Though a computer played the music, Sawe helped arrange the piece so it made sense. He assigned different trees to different instruments based on their role in the forest (though in the case of sitka spruce, he assigned it to the cello because it’s a common wood used in cello construction) and a key so all the players were on the same page (in this case, a rather foreboding D minor)…Each note in the piece is a single tree from one of Oakes’ study sites while its pitch conveys the age and loudness conveys its size…[I]t may serve as a reminder that we’re all composers and our choices will define what the next movement sounds like.” click here for more

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    Wind Is Red, White, And Green Why Republicans support wind energy

    Tom Kiernan, Roberta Combs, Michele Combs, September 20, 2016 (Des Moines Register)

    “…American wind turbines can now produce as much electricity as 17 typical nuclear power plants or 65 coal plants and reliably contribute] to U.S. energy independence…[A]ny Republican or Democrat running for election this fall should pay attention to wind’s rapid growth. Especially since recent polling data show that as wind power grows, so does U.S. voter support for it…[Strong voter support for wind shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that by tripling in size over the last several years, wind now supports a record-high 88,000 jobs across all 50 states…[and wind tehnician] is the fastest growing profession in the U.S…[As a drought-resistant cash crop, wind also pays] $222 million in land lease payments to family farmers…Republican-represented districts host 86 percent of the total wind farm fleet in America. That means the majority of wind’s economic benefits — including jobs, billions of dollars in private investment, and added tax revenue for improving local infrastructure — go to rural communities with a strong presence of typically Republican voters…” click here for more

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    The New Hybrid Solar-Storage Concept Module A New Kind of Solar Panel That's Smart, Stores Energy, and Even Talks; Will Customers Buy It?

    Katie Fehrenbacher, September 22, 2016 (Fortune)

    “…[SunCulture Solar, led by entrepreneur and inventor Christopher Estes, has] redesigned the solar panel, integrating batteries into the panel itself, overlaying it with smart sensors and software and wirelessly linking it to a computing hub and cell phone app…[SolPads] are supposed to be sold late next year in a system for a rooftop, or as a stand alone panel that can be propped up on a back deck or balcony…SunCulture Solar says it can sell a home rooftop solar system for half of the cost of currently available solar panel and battery system combos…[Estes says the panel is the solar industry’s smart phone because it can also respond to finger taps and talk]…Few solar panel makers are really thinking differently about the aesthetics of panels, or are integrating [batteries or] computing intelligence and user experience design into the panel itself…Instead most are thinking about cost…But as low cost panels get cheaper and cheaper, and as the technology becomes more mainstream, a few companies [including SolarCity/Tesla] are trying to differentiate solar panels by making them higher-end, more efficient, and more tied to batteries…” click here for more

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    Saturday, September 24, 2016

    Good News On Climate – The Public Is Starting To Get It

    Give this guy 2 minutes and get some very good news just posted at Peter Sinclair's Climate Crock site. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    The Libertarian Failure On Climate Change

    We should be building NEW coal plants?!?! We are spending too MUCH on New Energy?!?! Well, we know what this guy has been smoking… From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    New Energy Is Doable – And Is Being Done

    There are countries around the world taking advantage of their New Energy Resources. The U.S. is not. There are reasons but there is no excuse. From Seeker Daily via YouTube

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    Friday, September 23, 2016

    World Gets A Step Closer To Enforceable Climate Laws

    Climate Deal Comes One Step Closer to Reality at United Nations; Nearly enough countries have signed on to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

    September 22, 2016 (Reuters via Fortune)

    "An agreement to fight global warming came one step closer to taking effect on…[D]ozens of countries deposited their ratification of the deal at the United Nations, taking the total to 60, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said…The deal, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris last December, needs ratification by at least 55 countries representing 55% of global carbon dioxide emissions to take effect. Ban said the 60 countries represented more than 47.5%...

    The United Nations said 14 countries, representing 12.58% of emissions, have committed to joining the agreement in 2016, which would allow the threshold of 55% of global carbon dioxide emissions to be reached…The binding global deal would slash greenhouse gases, keeping global temperature increases to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius. Scientists warn that countries are likely to cross that threshold if they don’t take more drastic actions…The Paris agreement received a boost [when] U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their plan to join the agreement. The world’s two biggest emitters account for around 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions…” click here for more

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    New Energy Ready To Power The World Future

    Wind and solar power enjoy a decade of massive growth: World Energy Council

    Anmar Frangoul, 20 September 2016 (CNBC)

    "Renewable sources of power including hydroelectric and solar represent around 30 percent of the world's total capacity and 23 percent of total global electricity production, according to Variable Renewables Integration in Electricity Systems 2016 – How to get it right from the World Energy Council (WEC)…[In the last 10 years wind and solar power have seen growth] of 23 percent and 50 percent…[and] $286 billion was invested in 154 gigawatts of [New Energy] in 2015, with China's spending on renewable sources representing 36 percent of global investments…[The report drew on] 32 country case studies, representing roughly 90 percent of global installed solar and wind capacity.” click here for more

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    Sahara Sun Could Power The World

    We Could Power The Entire World By Harnessing Solar Energy From 1% Of The Sahara

    Mehran Moalem, September 22, 2016 (Forbes)

    “The total world energy usage (coal+oil+hydroelectric+nuclear+renewable) in 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE)…This translates to 17.3 Terawatts continuous power during the year…[I]f we cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power. This area is 43,000 square miles…That means 1.2% of the Sahara desert is sufficient to cover all of the energy needs of the world in solar energy. There is no way coal, oil, wind, geothermal or nuclear can compete with this. The cost of the project will be about five trillion dollars, one time cost at today’s prices without any economy of scale savings. That is less than the bail out cost of banks by Obama in the last recession…and equal to 10% of world one year GDP. So this cost is rather small compared to other spending in the world. There is no future in other energy forms…

    …[D]amaging the desert ecosystem…is the least concern of all. The proposed project as shown only needs 1.2% of the African Sahara to replace all forms of energy production in the world. That is such a miniscule part compared to the total desert area in the world…Also it will save vast tracts of land that are currently suffering from strip mining for coal and from contamination by acid rain not to say anything about possible radioactive land regions in case of nuclear accidents. Furthermore, the Saharan ecosystem perhaps will flourish better in the shade under the backside of the panels. The current erosion of the deserts result in large sandstorms that contaminate and pollute the air in civilized parts of Africa and Middle East…Solar farms will actually benefit the life by stabilizing the sand...” click here for more

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    World’s Biggest Offshore Wind Turbines Building Off UK Coast

    Dong installs world’s largest wind turbines off UK coast

    Susanna Twidale w/Susan Thomas, September 8, 2016 (Reuters)

    “Dong Energy has installed the first of the world's largest wind turbines, which are taller and wider than the London Eye, at its Burbo Bank windfarm off the coast of Britain in the Irish Sea…The 32 turbines, made by Vestas, will each be able to generate 8 megawatts (MW) of electricity, stand 195 meters tall from sea level and have a rotor diameter of 164 meters…Combined, the 32 turbines will create enough electricity to power around 230,000 homes…The largest turbines currently installed, at Dong's Westermost Rough wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, in the North Sea, have a 6 MW capacity and are around 177 meters tall…Britain is seeking new electricity generation to replace its aging coal and nuclear power stations and has said around 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity could be installed by the end of the decade…” click here for more

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    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    Why Having Babies Is The Climate Change Answer

    Climate Change Requires Innovative Solutions, Not Population Control

    Sam Mulopulos, September 20, 2016 (Huffington Post)

    “…[Population engineering is not really a solution for climate change. Yes, people] beget more people, and more people beget pollution…[but instead] of focusing on population reduction efforts, those concerned about climate change should focus on pollution reduction and improving energy efficiency, which are themselves impossible without human capital…Aspiring population engineers argue that state-sponsored ad campaigns combined with ending tax breaks for families or levying fines on each additional child…[but they] have been beguiled by the ghost of antiquated thinking. Solutions don’t just appear out of nowhere. They are developed, tested, and tried through the collaborative efforts of countless people and communities…[T]he solution to international climate change will come…from the deliberate work of millions of people: diplomats, engineers, inventors, teachers, and, yes, parents who work collaboratively in a free market to share ideas, institute best practices, and design and implement the technology to fix the planet’s problems…” click here for more

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    Big Texas Wind Backed By Amazon

    Amazon Builds Giant Wind Farm In Texas; The farm will feature 100 turbines.

    Sophie Weiner, September 18, 2016 (Popular Mechanics)

    “…[Amazon will finance] a massive new renewable energy project [in West Texas] dubbed Amazon Wind Farm Texas…[It] will hold over 100 massive wind turbines with a diameter larger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747…The project is expected to generate 1,000,000 megawatt hours of wind energy every year, enough to power 90,000 American homes for a year…Amazon already has wind farms in Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio, and Virginia to power their cloud data servers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) says that 40% of their infrastructure will be powered by renewable energy by the end of the year, up from 25% in 2015.” click here for more

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    Big Sun Sparkles In Nevada

    The Burning Beauty of Solar Energy in the Nevada Desert

    Charley Locke, September 21, 2016 (Wired)

    “…[From high above, Nevada’s] Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility is a bright flash on the landscape [outside Tonapah]. You can really only appreciate its enormity from the ground: 1,670 acres of desert blanketed with 10,347 billboard-sized mirrors that generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes…Each mirror is 37 feet wide and 24 feet tall, and focuses thermal energy on a tower filled with molten salt, which is used to generate steam, which spins turbines that generate electricity…” click here for more

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    EV Racing Coming To The Streets Of Brooklyn

    Electric car racing is coming to Brooklyn

    Danielle Muoio, September 21, 2016 (Business Insider)

    “…Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series, is finishing off its season on a 1.21-mile race course in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The course winds around Pier 11 and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and will take place July 29 and 30, 2017…The cars can get up to 180 mph on a straight course, and tend to hover around the 150 mph mark for twistier routes…But battery life is still a problem, even for electric race cars. There will be 40 cars for the 20 drivers in the race so racers can switch when their car runs out of life…The upcoming season is Formula E's third and will kick off in Hong Kong in October…Secretive electric car start-up Faraday Future has entered this year's race. Jaguar's very first electric car will also enter…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: In The Wake Of The Massive Aliso Canyon Leak

    Historic Los Angeles methane leak puts natural gas emissions under scrutiny; As SoCalGas works to plug a monster methane leak, warnings abound for the electricity sector

    Herman K. Trabish, December 21, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: This leak has now been plugged but the controversy it sparked about locating an antiquated natural gas storage facility adjacent to a city suburb continues to rage.

    Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) has sealed the biggest known gas leak in U.S. history at one of its natural gas storage facilities in the Los Angeles region. The leaking methane — a greenhouse gas over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide — threatened the state's progress in its fight against climate change and continues to compromise the supply of natural gas, which is predominantly methane, to electricity generating plants and gas heating customers in the Southern California region. A fine has been levied against SoCalGas but the massive leak raised larger questions about the electricity sector's move to natural gas as a more environmentally-friendly resource than coal.

    The Aliso Canyon facility is one of the four SoCalGas operates to supply a service territory that extends from Central California to the Mexican border. It supplies natural gas power plants that generate electricity for Southern California’s investor-owned and publicly-owned electric utilities and for millions of heating customers. Its storage is an important cog in the way the gas company handles swings in natural gas demand throughout the day in a state getting nearly a third of its electricity from renewables, according to Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies Executive Director V. John White.

    Studies suggest that methane leakage can negate any climate benefits over burning coal so the electricity and gas sectors must find ways to limit or eliminate leaks if natural gas is to remain a viable alternative. The Aliso Canyon leak is exemplary of the dangers associate with a natural gas industry that relies on antiquated, inadequate infrastructure until it fails, experts say… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Rise Of Distributed Energy Resources Goes On

    DERs in 2016: What experts expect for a booming sector; Tax credit extensions can be a big opportunity for utilities and DER developers in the upcoming year

    Herman K. Trabish, January 4, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The excitement around DER has accelerated since this piece was written, both in the policy arena and the marketplace.

    More affordable wind, utility-scale solar, and distributed solar are continuing to leverage new applications in energy storage and smart devices and synergistic distributed energy resources (DERs) are attracting corporate buyers, shared renewables developers, and even mainstream energy sector players. Utilities have increased efforts to incorporate DERs into planning processes, transforming some formerly hostile regulatory proceedings into collaborative, solution-oriented rate design conversations. The growth is already making the grid more reliable and resilient, making it likely Clean Power Plan goals will be met more easily and cost-effectively than expected.

    One broad subject DER experts are talking about is the disruptive force of combined DERs. Navigant expects demand response (DR) to be the most widely deployed set of DER technologies in 2016 and going forward, with solar the next biggest deployment among DERs. The combination of solar and storage will be the fast-growing and the most disruptive of the DERs, with standard offerings expanding to include a “full suite” of DERs, including load management and electric vehicle charging… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Community Solar Matures And Evolves

    How the utility role in community solar is evolving as the sector matures; Everybody loves community solar, but just how the sector will mature is up in the air

    Herman K. Trabish, January 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Though community solar is still less than 1% of installed U.S. solar capacity, it is clearly a compelling and rapidly-growing model that could turn out to be a utility-owned asset, privately owned, or a hybrid, according to Community Solar Program Design Models from the Solar Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). And while many community solar arrays will be generation only, they can also be paired with storage or other DERs. It provides utilities with a role in solar and provides solar ownership options to many who do not otherwise have them.

    Growth is skyrocketing, according to the report, with over 200 MW expected to go online in 2016, taking the cumulative installed capacity from an estimated 100 MW in 2015 to more than 300 MW. Each community solar program is unique but they broadly divide into two categories of ownership and two types of subscriber arrangements. An array might be third-party owned and developed or utility-owned and developed, though the utility might choose to have a third party manage its program. The customer/subscriber might pay up-front for a portion of the array’s panels or instead pay a premium rate for the output of the panels without paying anything upfront…Utilities are also introducing a new generation of community solar projects that go beyond bigger arrays and premium pricing… click here for more

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    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Snapshot Of U.S. Solar Right Now

    Solar Market Insight Report 2016 Q3

    September 2016 (Solar Energy Industries Association/GTM Research) Key Figures

    -The U.S. installed 2,051 MWdc of solar PV in Q2 2016, increasing 43% over Q2 2015.

    -In the first half of 2016, solar accounted for 26% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S.

    -Installing 650 MWdc, residential PV grew only slightly over Q1 2016 but had its largest quarter ever while growing 29% year over year.

    -California accounted for 42% of rooftop PV installations in Q2 – its lowest share since Q4 2012 – as markets in states like Utah and Texas begin to account for larger shares of the residential segment.

    -While only 7 states added more than 25 MW of rooftop PV in the first half of 2015, 11 states added more than 25 MW over the same period in 2016, continuing a trend of geographic demand diffusion.

    -Despite adding less than 10 MW in Q2, community solar is expected to add 100 MW in 2016.

    -Over a gigawatt of utility-scale solar was installed for the third consecutive quarter as that segment continues to build out more than 7.8 GWdc of additional projects expected to come online in 2016.

    -GTM Research forecasts that 13.9 GWdc of new PV installations will come on-line in 2016, up 85% over 2015. Utility PV is expected to drive the majority of demand, accounting for over 70% of new capacity.

    1. Introduction

    In Q2 2016, the U.S. solar market installed 2,051 megawatts direct current (MWdc), up 43% over Q2 2015. In addition to adding more than 1 GWdc for the eleventh consecutive quarter, for the first time ever, the U.S. added more than 2 GWdc on a quarterly basis in a quarter other than Q4. This record-breaking installation total marks the beginning of an unprecedented wave of growth that will occur throughout the remainder of 2016, specifically within the utility PV segment. With more than 10 GWdc of utility PV currently under construction, the second half of this year and the first half of 2017 are on track to continue setting new records for solar capacity additions.

    When accounting for all projects (both distributed and centralized), solar ranked as the second-largest driver of capacity additions across all fuel types in the U.S., accounting for 26% of all new electric generating capacity installed in the first half of 2016. During that same stretch, new storylines across each segment emerged that will not only shape the next 12 months, but which have also raised questions about the long-term drivers of continued growth.

    -Utility PV: The timing of the federal ITC extension in December 2015 has complicated the development timeline for the more than 18.5 GWdc of utility PV installations that would have attempted to interconnect in 2016 had the ITC not been extended. While 7.8 GWdc are expected to come on-line in 2H 2016, 5.7 GWdc will spill over into 2017 and an additional 3 GWdc will be pushed out beyond 2017. In turn, more than 65% of the 2017 utility PV installation forecast is expected to stem from project spillover.

    -Non-residential PV: For the non-residential PV segment, the major state markets are transitioning toward more diversity in types of project development. Self-consumption projects that avoid system-size limits set under net metering programs and new community solar programs are countering continued weakness in the non-residential rooftop solar. Most notably, community solar programs in California and the Northeast are on track to drive over 100 MWdc of community solar for the first time ever on an annual basis.

    -Residential PV: The residential solar market is experiencing different storylines across major and emerging state markets. In a handful of emerging state markets, quarterly growth rates are spiking as national installers tap into new regions that have reached grid parity, where the cost of customer acquisition remains cheap given the plethora of early-mover customers. Meanwhile, major state markets are continuing to grow, but at much slower rates compared to the past few years. Conversations with some installers suggest that the cost and length of customer acquisition are increasing as fewer early mover customers remain, and this challenge is limiting growth, especially in California.

    But the definition and scope of an “early mover” customer remains subjective. Equally important, it remains unclear whether customer acquisition challenges are a symptom of a dwindling pool of early mover customers, and whether evolving customer demographics is actually contributing to California’s recent slowdown in demand.

    The figure below compares year-over-year residential PV installation growth rates by quarter in California (left y-axis) with each percentage increase in California’s residential rooftop PV addressable market installed (x-axis). GTM Research calculates the addressable market based on cumulative residential PV systems installed as a percentage share of owner occupied homes (U.S. Census Bureau) that have suitable rooftop space for solar (national estimate from NREL).

    As the above figure reveals, California experienced hockey-stick levels of growth up through 2013, when California’s solar economics penciled out without state incentive funding and less than 3% of the state’s addressable market had installed rooftop solar. Then, growth rates began to slow in 2014 after eclipsing 3% customer penetration. And while 2015 quarterly growth rates did increase in California, as customers rushed to install amidst federal ITC uncertainty, growth rates during the first half of 2016 have dropped back down to 2014 levels.

    Whether or not it’s coincidental, the time and cost of customer acquisition have increased in tandem with a reduction in installation growth beyond 3% customer penetration.

    On one hand, the localized nature of the rooftop PV market means that there isn’t a simple, single answer that explains a slowdown in the nation’s largest rooftop PV market. But under GTM Research’s base case forecast, California is on track to install well over 25% of its addressable residential PV market by 2021.

    So whether or not it has happened already, California’s position as the largest residential PV market means it will be one of the first state markets to expand beyond early mover customer demographics. In turn, the state will provide the rest of the U.S. with an important precedent for how rooftop solar can continue to scale in a more mature market, as new customer acquisition tactics are tested and loans regain market share.

    The challenges and growth opportunities of a more mature customer landscape is a trend that is impacting the non-residential and utility PV markets too. Non-residential customers are increasingly seeking more than just rooftop solar; rather, many are looking for broader integrated energy management solutions that include storage or offsite, large-scale solar. Meanwhile, as utility PV PPA pricing dips below $60/MWh, and in some areas, $50/MWh, procurement opportunities are expanding beyond renewable portfolio standards into non-RPS solicitations that recognize solar’s cost-competitiveness with natural-gas alternatives in long-term resource plans.

    Considering the long-term certainty surrounding the federal ITC, three new questions have come to the forefront and will shape the long-term outlook for U.S. solar:

    -How does rooftop solar scale beyond early adopters in mature state markets?

    -Can non-residential solar grow as part of a broader energy management solution?

    -To what extent can non-RPS-driven procurement counter and fill in the gaps left behind by utilities ahead of their RPS obligations?

    The above questions are not the only themes expected to define the future of U.S. solar, but they have come to the forefront in 2016 and will play critical roles in the long-term outlook heading into the next decade.

    In the meantime, 2016 remains on track to see the installation of a record 13.9 GWdc, with utility PV accounting for over 70% of that annual total. With the federal ITC extended through 2021, and a “commence-construction” rule added, market participants benefit from federal-level policy visibility through 2023. Building off that policy certainty, U.S. solar is expected to remain a double-digit gigawatt annual market through the remainder of this decade. The extent to which it exceeds current projections hinges on the growth of non-RPS utility PV procurement, as well as distributed solar’s ability to grow in a more fragmented rate design and net metering policy landscape.

    2. Photovoltaics

    Residential PV

    Key Figures

    -Up 1% over Q1 2016

    -Up 29% over Q2 2015

    Despite residential PV growing on a quarter-over-quarter basis, halfway into the year, we are beginning to see signals of demand moderation for rooftop solar across many major state markets. What was thought to be seasonal decline in installation volumes in Q1 in major markets has continued into Q2, resulting in an average growth rate of 3% in H1 2016 compared to 11% in H1 2015. Conversely, several emerging state markets have been picking up steam in H1 2016, helping to offset slower growth in major state markets.

    In particular, demand slowdown in California has had a noticeable impact on national installation levels. In Q2 California accounted for only 42% of national residential installations – the state’s smallest market share since Q4 2012.

    California’s slowdown in growth is part of a handful of top 10 state markets that have experienced flat quarterly growth. That said, NEM reforms will continue to play a role in PV adoption. For instance, Arizona continues to see high levels of installation growth in response to APS’ proposed rate reform that would slash solar savings. Looking forward, we expect emerging state markets such as Utah and Texas – both of which will be 50+ MW residential markets in 2016 – to begin to compensate for slowing growth in major states.

    Non-Residential PV

    Key Figures

    -Up 5% from Q1 2016

    -Up 49% over Q2 2015

    Continuing the trend of Q1 2016, growth in the non-residential PV segment remains constrained on a national level primarily due to weakness in Northeast markets, where expiring incentive programs, protracted debates about NEM cap extensions, and the status and value of virtual net metering have hindered certain commercial sub-segments. Across the major state markets, New Jersey and New York have been able to buck this trend this quarter, though Massachusetts and Maryland were both down from Q1. That said, California’s commercial market was a clear bright spot in Q2, accounting for over 50% of commercial installed capacity on a record-high quarter, helping to offset weakness in other markets.

    While we expect community solar to provide an attractive growth opportunity for non-residential developers moving forward, the non-residential space is still struggling to scale across particular sub-segments, including small-scale, unrated industrial C&I customers. Rollbacks to the value of virtual NEM and persistent SREC oversupply in many major state markets continue to slow demand in several states.

    Utility PV

    Key Figures

    -3rd consecutive quarter in which utility PV added over 1 GWdc

    -Contracted utility PV pipeline currently totals 21.5 GWdc

    The utility PV market continues to serve as the bedrock driver of installation growth in the U.S. solar market, accounting for 53% of capacity installed in H1 2016. The market is on the verge of an unprecedented rate of project completion. Currently, 7.8 GWdc worth of projects in development are under construction and are expected to come on-line before the end of 2016. Consequently, the second half of 2016 will see almost as much capacity come on-line than as all of 2014 and 2015 combined. In the first five weeks of Q3, over 750 MWdc have already come on-line. While 2016 is expected to see a cumulative 9.9 GWdc come on-line, developers have continued to push out more project completion dates into 2017 due to the federal ITC extension.

    Several key trends that will shape the near-term utility PV market outlook include continued growth of utility PV outside of renewable portfolio standard (RPS) obligations and increased procurement by municipal and cooperative utilities. 2017 installation volume will be dictated largely by project spillover, with over 65% of projects having been pushed out from 2016. However, over 75% of greenfield origination for 2017 will come from non-RPS projects. While 10 states have 200 MWdc or more operating, 22 states now have 200 MWdc or more in development.

    This is in part driven by utilities in both major and emerging markets procuring solar as a hedge against natural-gas price volatility. Underlying these geographic demand and procurement trends is the low price environment for utility PV, with recent PPAs being signed at prices between $35/MWh and $50/MWh…

    Market Outlook

    In December 2015, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that included a multiyear extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit. Without question, the extension of the federal ITC ranks as the most important policy development for U.S. solar in years. Between this year and the end of the decade, the ITC extension will spur more than 20 GWdc of additional PV capacity, positioning U.S. solar to become a 21 GWdc annual market by 2021.

    Looking ahead, the federal ITC will remain at 30% through 2019, and then step down to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. In 2022, it will step down to 10% for third-party-owned residential, non-residential, and utility PV projects (which use the section 48 credit), while expiring entirely for direct-owned residential PV (section 25d credit). Equally important, projects eligible for the section 48 credit that commence construction but do not interconnect in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 can qualify for correspondingly larger tax credits if they come on-line by the end of 2023. Given the timing of the federal ITC extension, however, the wheels are already in motion for U.S. solar to benefit in 2016 from more than 9 GWdc of late-stage utility PV projects that rushed through development last year. In turn, we expect another record year for the U.S. PV market in 2016, with installations reaching 13.9 GWdc, an 85% increase over 2015.

    However, with an unprecedented 10 GWdc of utility PV capacity currently in construction, there remains substantial upside and downside risk to our utility PV outlook. The following figure visualizes the status of the utility PV pipeline in late-stage development, which shows more than 2 GWdc of upside and downside potential that hinge on unique construction and interconnection timelines over the next several months.

    Of the total in our H2 2016 base-case utility PV forecast, 8% came on-line in July 2016 and 59% is more than 50% under construction. The remaining 2.5 GWdc is under construction but less than 50% complete (as of August 2016). In addition to the 7.8 GWdc forecasted for 2H 2016, another 2.4 GWdc is under construction, but developers and utilities expect it to spill over into 2017. In a downside scenario, additional capacity at less than 50% complete construction could push out into 2017. Meanwhile, in an upside scenario, a portion of the 2.4 GWdc under construction could ultimately squeeze into December 2016 if interconnection timelines exceed expectations, especially for individual phases of large-scale projects greater than 50 MWdc.

    In 2017, while the residential and non-residential PV markets are both expected to grow year-over-year, the U.S. solar market is expected to drop just under 2% on an annual basis. Flat demand in 2017, a departure from the declines presented in previous forecasts, is due to the growing number of utility PV projects that have pushed out completion dates from the second half of this year into 2017. Including the aforementioned spillover of projects in construction, the extension of the federal ITC has enabled nearly 6 GWdc of utility PV to spill over into 2017, providing utilities with necessary breathing room to interconnect a double-digit-gigawatt pipeline of utility PV currently under construction.

    By 2019, U.S. solar is expected to resume year-over-year growth across all market segments. And by 2021, more than 30 states in the U.S. will be 100+ MWdc annual solar markets, with 20 of those states home to more than 1 GWdc of operating solar PV…

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