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Latin America is set to become a leader in alternative energy

BESIDE the Pan-American Highway, almost 600km (375 miles) north of Santiago, Chile’s capital, lies El Romero, the largest solar-energy plant in Latin America and among the dozen biggest in the world. Its 775,000 grey solar panels spread out across the undulating plateau of the Atacama desert as if they were sheets of water. Built at a cost of $343m by Acciona Energía, a Spanish company, last month El Romero started to be hooked up to the national grid. By April it should reach full strength, generating 196MW of electricity—enough to power a city of a million people. A third of its output will be bought directly by Google’s Chilean subsidiary, and the rest fed into the grid.

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Ohio Senate freezes energy standards for 2 more years

The Ohio Senate last night voted to extend a freeze on the state's mandatory renewable and energy efficiency standards, choosing to make them voluntary instead of pushing the state to conserve and utilize more carbon-free energy.

The measure, which has also been approved by the House, now heads to the desk of Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who has threatened a veto. According to The Plain Dealer, Ohio Senators voted 18-13 to pass the measure, with five Republicans and eight Democrats opposed.

Renewable and efficiency standards were frozen in 2014 and are slated return to force next year unless Kasich signs the freeze.

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New Arizona proposal seeks to mandate renewable generation during peak demand hours

An unprecedented proposal from Arizona’s consumer advocate on how to improve the state’s renewables mandate could be a policy whose time has come throughout the nation.

In August, Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Chair Doug Little opened the first review of Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standards and Tariff (REST) in almost 11 years. His surprising suggestions to increase the state's 15% renewables mandate to 30% by 2030 and to include new technologies like energy storage were initially expected to be the most controversial topics in the proceeding (Docket E-00000Q-16-0289).

But a white paper just introduced last week by Arizona’s Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) would enhance the mandate in a completely new way by adding a mandate for renewables to meet peak demand.

While the idea is new, its immediate relevance to grid needs across the nation is already attracting attention of regulators, utilities, and important private sector players in other states.

“The Clean Peak Standard and the white paper address some of the things we want to and need to address in the review of the REST,” Chair Little told Utility Dive.

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As time runs out on bipartisan energy bill, senators propose 100% clean energy goal

The U.S. Congress is set to adjourn next week, but in the waning days of the legislative session, there is still debate on whether a bipartisan energy bill could yet be cobbled together.

Natural Gas Intelligence reports some senators are irked at reports coming out of House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) office that indicate there will be no agreement, while other lawmakers believe there is still time.

Separately, two Democratic Senators this week introduced a resolution calling on the United States to use 100% renewable energy by 2050.

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Clean Energy ‘Moving Forward’ Despite Trump’s E.P.A. Pick, Experts Say

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice of a fossil-fuel advocate and climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency comes at a moment when the American energy market has already shifted away from the most polluting fossil fuels, driven more by investors and economics than by federal regulations.

Those market forces could make Mr. Trump’s promise to create at least half a million energy jobs a year in the nation’s coal mines and oil shale fields all but impossible.

But if Mr. Trump’s promised jobs are unlikely to materialize, the impact on the planet from his policies would be significant. Without additional government policies, energy and environmental experts say, the shift from coal, oil and natural gas will not be rapid or substantial enough to stave off the worst impacts of a warming atmosphere, including rising sea levels, more powerful storms, more devastating droughts and food and water shortages.

“The good news is that on its own, the U.S. economy has become less carbon intensive, and that trend will continue overall,” said Robert N. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University. The bad news, he said, is that markets alone will not lower emissions enough to offset the worst impacts of global warming.

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3rd parties own 30% of distributed solar

There are 12.3 GW of distributed solar capacity in the United States, and according to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration about 30% of it is owned by third parties.

Third-party owners typically sell either solar energy through power purchase agreements, or provide the equipment to residences or business to generate the carbon-free power. EIA recently included third party ownership (TPO) on its monthly and annual surveys of utility operations.

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Trump Team’s Memo Hints at Broad Shake-Up of U.S. Energy Policy

Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are developing plans to reshape Energy Department programs, help keep aging nuclear plants online and identify staff who played a role in promoting President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. The advisers are also seeking information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics, according to a five-page internal document circulated by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The document lays out 65 questions from the Trump transition team, sources within the agency said.

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The little-watched renewables case that could bring big changes to federal-state jurisdiction

A federal court in New York is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday on a case that could have implications for the legal boundaries between federal and state authority regarding energy policy.

Among the possible repercussions would be a change in how states structure mechanisms for meeting renewable energy targets.

The case is being watched by renewable energy stakeholders for its implications, but it is possible the plaintiff may not get past the first hurdle, which means the court might not rule on the merits of the case. Even if that does happen, the court’s action could be consequential for 460 MW of renewable energy projects sitting in limbo.

The plaintiff, Allco Financial, an affiliate of developer Allco Renewable Energy, was rebuffed twice by a federal court that ruled the company did not have the legal standing to bring the case. The case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District where a hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

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Renewable energy demand rising rapidly among large corporations

Renewable energy demand among U.S. companies is significant and growing quickly, according to a report from Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a clean energy trade group.

The AEE report, 2016 Corporate Advanced Energy Commitments, found that 71 of Fortune 100 companies have set renewable energy or sustainability targets, up from 60 just two years ago.

Among Fortune 500 companies, commitments have held steady at 43%, or 215 firms, the report found.

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This Chart Shows How Quickly Wind Power Has Caught On

Yes, wind power is “green,” but it didn’t become a force on the energy landscape until it also became cheap. Over the past decade, that has begun to happen, thanks to a combination of improvements in technology and federal and state tax incentives. As Stephen Gandel and Katie Fehrenbacher report this week in Fortune, the average cost of wind energy dropped by about a third between 2008 and 2013; in some parts of the country, it’s the cheapest electricity source available. Not coincidentally, as the chart below shows, wind’s share of renewable-energy output has soared. The Department of Energy expects wind to generate 10% of America’s electricity by 2020, up from about 7% today. (By comparison, coal and natural gas today each account for about a third.)

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