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North Dakota amended bill seeks to halt wind development for two years

Dive Brief:

- An amendment to a bill under consideration in North Dakota would pause wind power development in the state for two years, according to media reports.

- The amendment, introduced by Sen. Dwight Cook (R), would bar the state’s Public Service Commission from approving a wind power plant between Aug. 1, 2017 and Aug. 1, 2019.

- Under the bill, the legislature would undertake a management study during the term of the moratorium on the state’s long term energy plan.

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Indiana Senate committee clears bill to end net metering

Dive Brief:

- The Indiana Senate Utilities Committee voted 8-2 last week to advance a bill that would phase out net metering by 2027, heeding the concerns of a Republican lawmaker who says solar customers are getting hefty subsidies.

-Senate Bill 309 replaces net metering with a policy requiring solar customers to sell all the energy they produce to the utility, and purchase it back as needed.

- Local news station WLFI reports the bill's sponsor, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R), received almost $20,000 in campaign contributions from utilities in the last year, leading some critics to question the motives behind the bill.

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Saudis Kick Off $50 Billion Renewable Energy Plan to Cut Oil Use

Saudi Arabia is kicking off its $50 billion renewable-energy push as the world’s top crude exporter turns to solar and wind power to temper domestic oil use in meeting growing energy demand.

Bidders seeking to qualify to build 700 megawatts of wind and solar power plants should submit documents by March 20, and those selected will be announced by April 10, Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry said Monday in an e-mailed statement. Qualified bidders will be able to present their offers for the projects starting on April 17 through July.

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Solar jobs soar as Maryland prioritizes renewable energy

Matt McDonough and his crew rolled up to the Brooklyn Park home around 8 a.m., unloaded their ladders, harnesses and tools, and got to work tiling another roof with solar panels.

It was a typical workday for the four-man team. They don't talk much as they check electrical connections and begin hauling equipment up to the roof of the single-story 1920s home because, after hundreds of installations, they have it down to a science. The job will take a day, maybe two, and when it's done, they'll be on to the next one.

"There's never a time we don't have work," said McDonough, who leads one of 10 installation crews at Solar Energy World.

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Printable Solar Panels on the Horizon

A new innovation could make printing solar cells both simple and inexpensive, as University of Toronto engineers have cleared a critical hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices.

The alternative solar technology, known as perovskite solar cells, could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

“Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing,” professor Ted Sargent, an expert in solar technologies and the Canada Research chair in Nanotechnology, said in a statement. “Perovskite solar cells can enable us to use techniques already established in the printing industry to produce solar cells at very low cost.”

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EPA: US greenhouse gas pollution falls below 1994 levels

Dive Brief

- Greenhouse gas emissions from the United States have fallen below 1994 levels, the result of a steady decline since the recession. The most recent declines stem in part from mild weather, lower energy demand and fuel shifting, according to a draft report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

- The report, titled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks," looks at data from 1990 to 2015 and is prepared annually to comply with United Nations climate change programs.

- President Trump has promised to reverse regulations and limitations that have helped reduce pollution, and it is not clear how the new administration intends to approach the international Paris climate accord reached in 2015.

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How federal tax reform could complicate prospects for renewable energy

There is a great deal of concern about the prospects of renewable energy under the Trump administration, but the prospects may not be as dire as some have suggested.

Financial analysts point to a complicated scenario with many moving parts that is still coming into focus, but they see benefits as well as pitfalls for renewables under the new regime.

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US Solar Market Grows 95% in 2016, Smashes Records

In its biggest year to date, the United States solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,626 megawatts of solar PV installed in 2016.

This represents a 95 percent increase over the previous record of 7,493 megawatts installed in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previewed this data in advance of their upcoming U.S. Solar Market Insight report, set to be released on March 9.

For the first time ever, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. In total, solar accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016.

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Navy developing 44 MW solar+storage facility on Kauai

Dive Brief:

- The U.S. Navy is developing a 44-MW solar-plus-storage facility on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, according to a draft environmental assessment.

- The facility is being built on a 200 acre site at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands and will be built in two phases, the first of 21 MW and the second of 23 MW. Details on the battery system were not released.

- The system would use solar power to charge the batteries during the day and discharge them at night to provide power to the local community. It would reduce the need for the Navy to operate its diesel generators and, in the event of a utility power outage, provide power to the Navy facility.

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With a record $1.4 trillion in sustainability assets, investors bail on fossil fuels

As President-elect Donald Trump puts together his fossil fuel-focused administration, the investment community is moving full speed in the opposite direction, instead putting their bets on emissions reductions and support for clean energy.

Some recent developments:

- Investors controlling more than $5 trillion in assets have committed to dropping some or all fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios, according to a new report tracking the trend.

- Climate change criteria shape the investment of $1.42 trillion in assets under management, a more than fivefold increase since 2014. Clean technology is now a consideration incorporated by money managers with $354 billion in assets under management.

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