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The Next Car You Buy Could Be Solar-Powered

Panasonic just unveiled an improved solar panel to power cars. The panel will be used for the first solar roof model of the Toyota Prius, the Prius Prime, which is slated for release this year. The new product, called HIT™ Photovoltaic Module for Automobile, will reportedly allow the Prius Prime to be powered by a 180 W solar module, which will recharge the car’s powertrain battery in addition to its 12 V battery. Previous attempts by Toyota to create a solar roof model had managed to generate a mere 50 W — only enough to power vehicle’s fans for air conditioning.

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New York State To Offer $2,000 Rebate On Purchase Of Electric Vehicles

New York state is expected to provide a $2,000 rebate to customers purchasing electric vehicles starting April. The incentive is a part of the state’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and act on climate change.

"We want to make electric vehicles a mainstream option. They are becoming more affordable and we need to encourage them," New York state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Westchester County Democrat leading the Assembly energy committee told the Associated Press (AP) on Friday.

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The Department of Defense Wants to Double Down on Renewables

When you think of cutting-edge military technology, you probably picture vehicles, weapons, communications—perhaps even killer robots. But the Department of Defense would like renewable energy to be part of that list.

The military is no stranger to innovation, recently even taking a page out of Silicon Valley’s book. And over the past 10 years it’s been gradually increasing its adoption of renewable power, after it vowed to produce or procure 25 percent of all of its energy from clean sources.

Now Reuters reports that senior military officials intend to “forge ahead under the new administration with a decade-long effort to convert its fuel-hungry operations to renewable power.” That might be easier than ever, given President Trump’s recent promise to commit an extra $54 billion to defense spending.

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Amazon's fulfillment centers will soon run on solar energy

Our president might not believe in climate change, but Amazon does.

The tech giant on Thursday announced a new commitment to clean energy. Amazon will install solar panels on 15 of its U.S. fulfillment centers this year, and 50 worldwide by 2020.

Amazon's solar panels at centers in California, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada and New Jersey could power up to 80 percent of the energy needed at each fulfillment center.

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Clean energy advocates skeptical, cautious about retail choice bills in Nebraska and Kansas

Bills before the Nebraska and Kansas legislatures to allow electricity customers to choose their power provider are being viewed with caution, and a little skepticism, by clean-energy promoters in the two states.

A Houston-based energy developer with Nebraska ties, Gary Aksamit, appears to be the driving force behind the legislation.

Aksamit argues that a freer energy marketplace could mean more access to renewable sources. However, such a fundamental remaking of the electricity marketplace has people concerned about possible unintended consequences.

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Corporate clean energy deals are a bigger priority than ever

Visionary solutions to climate change are unlikely to come primarily from top-down central government mandates, at least in the United States. Rather, they will come from voluntary decisions by customers, communities, corporations and others to choose clean and affordable energy options. And when more than 80 of the world’s largest corporations — including Walmart, Microsoft and Google — commit to 100 percent renewable energy, the market responds.

A 2016 report by Advanced Energy Economy stated:

Less than a decade after companies first started to sign large-scale, long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy, corporate wind contracts outstripped utility demand. These purchases were dominated by a small number of large corporations, but as costs of renewables have become equal to — or often cheaper than — fossil-based sources, businesses large and small are increasingly seeking ways to invest in wind, solar, energy storage, fuel cells and other more sustainable energy technologies.

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Bipartisan effort seeks to double Minnesota’s renewable energy standard

Minnesota’s renewable energy standard would increase to 50 percent by 2030 under a bipartisan plan unveiled Monday by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

The state’s current renewable energy standard, or RES, stands at 25 percent by 2025 for all utilities, with a more aggressive target for the state’s largest investor owned utility, Xcel Energy.

The standard was established in 2007 in the Next Generation Energy Act and signed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. In 2013 legislators passed an additional requirement for public utilities to generate or buy 1.5 percent of their retail sales from solar energy.

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How drones are helping design the solar power plants of the future

At the edge of a plot of muddy farmland, a few miles down the road from the University of California at Davis, an engineer takes a few quick steps across crop rows and lets go of a three-foot drone. Within seconds, the device – which weighs less than 2lbs and carries a powerful camera – ascends hundreds of feet into the cold, clear, blue sky and begins to snap detailed photos of the ground far below, including a long row of large solar panels mounted on steel poles.

This flight is just a test, demonstrated by Kingsley Chen, the drone fleet coordinator for SunPower at the solar company’s research and development center, which is under construction and about a two-hour drive northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area. The drone will enable SunPower to survey a wide region and help design a solar power farm that can fit more solar panels on a piece of land, more quickly and for lower costs than it previously could.

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Apple Nears Completion Of Futuristic, Solar-Powered Campus

Tech giant Apple has announced that Apple Park, the company’s new 175-acre campus in Cupertino, Calif., will be ready for employees to begin occupying it in April. With 17 MW of rooftop solar, Apple Park will run one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.

The company says the process of moving more than 12,000 people will take over six months, and construction of the buildings and parklands is scheduled to continue through the summer. Apple notes the campus’ ring-shaped, 2.8-million-square-foot main building is clad entirely in massive panels of curved glass.

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California lawmaker proposes to raise renewables mandate to 100% by 2045

Dive Brief:

- A bill, SB 584, introduced in the California legislature last week would increase the state’s current 50%-by-2030 renewables mandate to 100% by 2045.

- The bill, introduced by Sen. Kevin de Leon (D), would also move up the state’s 50% renewables mandate by five years to 2025.

- The chances of a favorable vote on the bill are bolstered by the fact that the Democratic party controls both houses of the state’s Assembly, and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has been a strong supporter of higher RPS targets.

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