Gains for Greens in European Parliament Buoy Clean Energy Outlook

The prospects for renewable energy in Europe were buoyed by a strong showing for green parties in this month’s European Parliament elections, even though they performed below expectations, analysts said. The elections, which took place last week across 28 European Union member states, including the Brexit-fixated U.K., saw green parties grouped under the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) banner becoming the fourth most important force in the Parliament. Talk of a “green wave” ultimately proved exaggerated, in an election marked by concerns over the rise of right-wing populist Eurosceptic groups such as Northern League in Italy.

Is China Ready for Subsidy-Free Renewables?

Subsidies play a key role in renewables project development in China, and for years have placed a major financial burden on the Renewable Energy Development Fund managed by China’s central government. By the end of 2018, the fund had already accumulated a deficit of over RMB 100 billion ($14.5 billion). China wants to reach its wind and solar power grid parity targets by 2020, so that electricity created by these sources can be sold to the grid at the same price as coal-fired power. To achieve this, the

California’s Gas Plant Pipeline Dwindles as Calpine Drops Mission Rock Application

Independent power producer Calpine has abandoned plans to build a new natural-gas plant in Southern California, swelling the ranks of recently canceled fossil fuel plants in the state. The company withdrew its application for the Mission Rock plant in a letter to the California Energy Commission dated May 21. That decision ended a years-long conflict over the permitting of the plant, a 255-megawatt combustion turbine facility planned on the banks of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. The Native American Chumash people opposed the plant as a disruption to a river environment that

‘Every Asset We Deploy in the Field Has the Potential to Become a Sensor’

JEA, the municipal utility in Jacksonville, Florida, has become a leader in the state's residential energy storage landscape with the introduction of a rebate program and an updated net metering structure. It is considered as one of the most innovative municipal utilities in the country. Julio Romero Agüero is JEA’s Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer, and

Bifacial or Bust? Engineering Solar Financings of the Future

The solar industry hates stasis, which is exemplified by industry members’ self-proclaimed rides on “the solar coaster.” Solar trade shows and conferences are filled with companies looking to provide solar with its “next big thing.” One of solar energy’s (literal) shiny new objects — bifacial modules — has been a hot topic at these conferences and in news articles for a few years now. Until recently, most of the potential benefits of bifacial modules have remained… potential. However, bifacial modules are starting to transition from theory into reality, as more projects around the world and in the United States specify bifacial

US and Latin America Take Top Spots Again in the Growing Solar Tracker Market

The global solar PV tracker market grew by 20 percent last year, and the U.S. and Latin America remained the largest markets for tracker technology. Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables breaks down the global tracker market by megawatts shipped and by region in a new report. “PV tracker shipments exceeded expectations and surpassed 20 gigawatts last year, with 36 percent year-over

AEP Bounces Back From Wind Catcher Cancellation With 1.2GW RFP

Southwestern Electric Power Company this week released a request for proposals for up to 1.2 gigawatts of wind resources, six months after the cancellation of its ambitious Wind Catcher project. SWEPCO, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), said it will accept proposals of 100+ megawatts until March 1. Projects should be put into service before December 15, 2021 to take advantage of at least 80 percent of the federal Production Tax Credit. AEP nixed the Wind Catcher project in July, after a regulatory tussle and an ultimate rejection from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Despite that high-profile setback — Wind Catcher was to be the largest U.S. wind project at

Looming Supply Chain Crunch Threatens US Wind Energy Boom

While the U.S. wind energy installation outlook looks bright — more than 23 gigawatts in new capacity forecast over the next two years — looming unforeseen supply chain bottlenecks could lead to project cancellations and postponements. This could put as much as $2.1 billion of revenue at risk, according to a

Energy Jobs: Netflix Talent Moves to Cleantech, Exec Ousted at Tesla, GE Restructuring Continues

The energy industry may be more exciting to work in now than at any other time in recent memory, but it’s still difficult for energy companies large and small to compete against the likes of Google and Apple to recruit top talent. One cleantech startup, Lumin, which offers smart home controls via the circuit breaker, has found a way to entice a lead data engineer to its team with its recent hire of Brian Sullivan as head of data engineering. Sullivan spent more than six years at Netflix as director of the streaming data engineering team.

Renewables May Prove Cheaper Than 96% of Coal Plants Worldwide by 2030

The uphill battle confronting coal seems to be getting steeper. A new global analysis of 6,685 coal plants finds that it is now cheaper to build new renewable generation than to run 35 percent of coal plants worldwide. By 2030, that percentage increases dramatically, with renewables beating out 96 percent of today’s existing and planned coal-fired generation. The 4 percent exception is in markets with extremely low fuel costs, where coal is cheap and plentiful, or with uncertain policies for renewables, like Russia. The study, conducted by pro-climate-action financial think tank Carbon Tracker, covers about 95 percent of worldwide operating capacity and about 90 percent of under-construction capacity. The report’s authors lay out three inflection points for the transition away

Will Tesla Model 3 Demand Blast Off in 2019? Or Fall Flat?

Will demand for Tesla's Model 3 electric sedan continue to grow, or has it essentially peaked? That's one of many existential questions haunting Elon Musk's electric car company. As with most things Tesla, it's a polarizing topic with two different narratives coming from two different camps. On about November 7, we'll find

Tesla Model 3 Now Comes in a $45,000 ‘Mid-Range’ Version

Tesla added a new electric car to its lineup Thursday — well, sort of. The automaker announced it is now offering a lower-cost Tesla Model 3 with a “mid-range” battery, and unveiled a simple new order page to buy it from. The new Model 3 version, with a 260-mile range, is priced at $45,000

SunPower Pivots to ‘Solar Energy Services’ Upon Exiting Utility-Scale Development

SunPower’s solar development team is officially all-in on distributed generation. The company’s utility-scale self-development team is now down to around 10 employees, as SunPower executes on its strategy to focus on residential and commercial and industrial projects, said CEO Tom Werner, in a recent interview. Most employees in that group have taken other jobs at SunPower or have moved on to other companies, with very

Pxise Lands Investment From Mitsui to Expand Real-Time Grid Balancing Software

Pxise Energy Solutions, the Sempra Energy spinout with software that can tap lots of wind and solar inverters, batteries, and other distributed energy resources to help balance the grid, has landed an undisclosed equity investment from Japanese trading house Mitsui. It’s the first outside investment for the company, which plans to use the money to expand its software in commercial applications ranging from large-scale wind and solar farms to small-scale microgrids — and, potentially, distributed energy resource (DER) management for applications like distribution grids that lie between those two extremes. Patrick Lee, president of Pxise (pronounced like “spice” without the “s”), declined to say how

Solar Loans to Become No. 1 Consumer Finance Solution for Residential Solar in 2018

2018 is the year of the solar loan. Despite rising interest rates affecting all consumer lending, GTM Research forecasts in its latest report, Bringing Scale, Profitability and Value to the Residential Solar Market, that solar lending will become the No. 1 consumer finance solution for residential solar systems in 2018. Source: Bringing Scale, Profitability and Value to the Residential Solar Market This increase in solar lending comes at the expense of both the third-party-owned (TPO) and cash markets, which includes personal and home equity lending. The TPO market hit its peak in 2016 as companies like SolarCity and Vivint

Forget the Duck Curve. Renewables Integration in the Midwest Is a Whole Other Animal

In the Great Plains, wind energy is cheap. Crazy cheap. With the lowest levelized costs approaching $10 per megawatt-hour and thousands of megawatts being procured for under $20 per megawatt-hour, PPAs for new wind farms cost less than just the fuel required to run existing coal or natural gas plants. These economics have driven a wind boom in the region: renewable energy made up three-fourths of the new capacity built in the Upper Midwest in the last five years, and virtually all of the region’s active projects in the

What Financiers Need to Unlock $1 Trillion in Renewable Energy Investment

Under the right conditions financial institutions say they could double their planned investments in the U.S. renewable energy sector, with the potential to mobilize $1 trillion in cumulative private capital by 2030. In a business as usual case, investor confidence in the U.S. renewables market is expected to remain high over the next three years, according to a new survey by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). Looking further out, growth

Energy Jobs: Duke Promotions, Centrica and Innogy Go Deeper Into US, Dynapower, Opus One and More

We always seem to start this column with energy storage, so today let’s begin with utilities. Duke Energy has promoted Jim Henning to SVP of customer services. Amy Spiller, a 15-year veteran of Duke, will take his place as president of Duke Energy Ohio and Duke Energy Kentucky, according to Cincinnati

Tesla Powerpacks Balance the European Grid in REstore’s New Virtual Power Plant

On the site of an old coal mine in Belgium's only national park, Centrica Business Solutions’ flexibility provider REstore has launched a 32-megawatt virtual power plant, with a distribution-grid-connected 18.2-megawatt Tesla Powerpack storage system. The project took six months from inception to operation; the battery installation took about five weeks

Energy Jobs: Tesla Flattens Exec Roles, Juergen Steps Down at SolarWorld, Plus ComEd, AMS and More

As the old newspaper adage goes, “If it bleeds, it leads.” And if it’s Tesla that is bleeding executives, of course we’ll start there. Elon Musk said in a company memo that he’s flattening out the executive structure at the company, according to the The Wall Street Journal. But it’s hardly a sudden hemorrhage. Axios has a nice laundry list

The Promise and Challenge of Scaling Lithium Metal Batteries

While lithium-ion batteries are undergoing an historic scale-up, researchers are also hard at work looking for what battery technology might come next. A big battery breakthrough could lead to electric cars that could drive longer on a single charge and are safer to operate. Better batteries for the grid could store more energy, enabling the deployment of more wind and solar. “There’s a worldwide race for these kinds of concepts,” said Paul Albertus, program director for ARPA-E, the Department of Energy program that focuses on early

Mexico Is One of the Most Attractive Regions on the Planet for Solar

Mexico has emerged as a top market for solar in Latin America. In the wake of the country's energy market reform, solar projects are more competitive than ever. Developers are scrambling to get in on the action. In advance of Solar Summit Mexico next month, we're giving you a sneak peek at GTM Research's latest Latin America PV Playbook, the industry's most in-depth analysis of the budding

Nissan-Renault Insists It’s ‘Not Going to Relinquish’ Leadership on Electric Mobility

Nissan Motors did not unveil a new electric vehicle at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. The Japanese automaker had a sizable expo display, but opted not to hold a high-production-values press event. Instead, Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, chairman and former CEO of Japan-based Nissan, as well as chairman of Mitsubishi