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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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Google Will Be Powered Completely by Clean Energy Next Year

Google, the world’s biggest corporate buyer of clean energy, expects to reach a major milestone next year: running the company entirely with wind and solar power.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has been pursuing the goal since at least 2012, “but I didn’t think it would happen so fast,” Gary Demasi, Google’s director of global infrastructure and energy, said in an interview. “We’ve seen prices come down precipitously, which has helped us ramp up.”

Google expects to purchase enough clean power in 2017 to meet or exceed all of its consumption at its offices and 13 data centers; it used 5.7 terawatts of energy in 2015. The company signed its first renewable-energy deal in 2010 and now has contracts for 2.6 gigawatts of capacity from 20 wind and solar farms worldwide. The projects required about $3.5 billion to build, and about $2 billion went for power plants in the U.S., Demasi said.

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Tesla acquires Germany's Grohmann, plans European battery factory

Two recent announcements brings to at least five the number of large factories — often termed "gigafactories" — that are being built to manufacture batteries.

Tesla last month purchased German manufacturing automation specialist Grohmann Engineering and said it plans to open a European gigafactory to build batteries and cars.

And Grohmann’s former supply chain vice president, Peter Carlsson, is planning to open a battery gigafactory in Sweden.

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Corporate Investments in Energy Storage Reach $660 Million in Q3 2016

According to the latest edition of GTM Research and ESA’s U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, corporate investment in energy storage reached an all-time high in terms of quarterly investments in Q3. Disclosed venture funding and project finance totaled $660 million in the third quarter of the year, bringing the annual total to $812 million.

The largest announced deal during the quarter was $300 million in project financing from the Electric Gas & Industries Association for Tabuchi Electric. The report notes that Advanced Microgrid Solutions also closed a large project financing deal worth $200 million with Macquarie.

“Financing activities in this most recent quarter are noteworthy not just because of the scale, but also because project financing made up a significant portion of the total,” said Ravi Manghani, GTM Research’s director of energy storage. “While one quarter alone doesn’t constitute a trend, growth in project financing, especially in the residential segment, is a harbinger for further strengthening of deployment business models.”

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