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DOE ups ante on Sunshot, targeting 50% solar cost cut between 2020 and 2030

The Department of Energy has upped the ante on its solar power cost reduction goals, aiming to cut the cost of solar-generated electricity by 50% between 2020 and 2030 as part of its SunShot Initiative. Sunshot now aims to reduce the average cost of utility-scale PV to $0.03/kWh, commercial PV to $0.04/kWh and residential PV to $0.05/kWh by 2030. In areas with above-average solar potential, targeted prices are even lower. The DOE says the SunShot program, started in 2011, is at 90% of its original goal of reducing solar costs to $0.06/kWh by 2020.

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FERC Proposes to Open Up Wholesale Markets for Energy Storage and Aggregation

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission just took its strongest step yet to initiate markets for energy storage across the nation.

The commission, which governs interstate power transmission and wholesale markets, proposed a rule Thursday that would require each regional transmission organization and independent system operator to create rules for energy storage to participate in wholesale markets. The new regulations would have to recognize "the physical and operational characteristics of electric storage resources," which differ from traditional grid infrastructure in that they can act as both a load and a generator, and perform a multitude of functions if given the chance.

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In last minute dash, Obama administration pushes global clean energy initiatives

The Obama administration has announced a broad range of global clean energy initiatives and investments, including financing in India and El Salvador, off-grid grants in Africa and a new report on the market for access to efficient appliances. The slate of announcements includes committing $125 million in financing for renewable energy projects through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The funding is a small drop compared to the $11 billion the United States has invested from 2010-2015 alone in internati

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Microsoft Announces Biggest-Ever Wind Energy Buy

Microsoft on Monday said it has inked its biggest deals yet to acquire renewable wind energy to power its massive U.S. data centers. Its two new contracts represent 237 megawatts of generating capacity, bringing Microsoft’s wind power total in the United States to more than 500 megawatts, the company said. Megawatt (or 1000 kilwatts) is a standard measurement of electricity production.

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IEA: Global Solar PV Capacity Surpassed 227GW in 2015

Last year was a record year for global PV installations, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest Trends in Photovoltaic Applications report, released last week. Worldwide installed capacity amounted to 51 gigawatts in 2015, up from around 40 gigawatts in the two preceding years.

After 20 years of PV development, the report finds there are now at least 227 gigawatts of PV installed around the world, making up more than 1.2 percent of global electricity demand. The latest GTM Research Global Solar Demand Monitor also puts the total at 228 gigawatts, down from a previous projection of more than 250 gigawatts.

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Why 'a lot has become the new normal' in state solar policy debates

The skyrocketing growth of distributed solar is keeping policymakers as busy as utilities and rooftop installers. There were over 100 separate solar policy actions debated by state regulators and legislators across the U.S. in the third quarter of 2016, according to a new report from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (CETC). That’s up significantly from just last year, according to Autumn Proudlove, senior policy analyst at the CETC and author of the “50 States of Solar” report. “When we first started tracking solar policy actions in Q1 2015, we had 70 policy actions, but in Q3 2016 there were 117 policy actions,” she said. “That is a lot of policy debates but a lot has become the new normal.”

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Regulators overhaul wind, solar power rules for federal land

Federal regulators made final a rule Thursday overhauling how wind and solar power companies lease public land. The rule from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) creates a competitive bidding process for the first time for renewable energy on federal land for oil, gas and coal companies use.

It also gives incentives for companies to put their wind turbines or solar panels in areas that do not conflict with wildlife, among other changes. The rule is the first significant overhaul of wind and solar standards for federal land. Renewable energy was practically non-existent on federal land before 2009. The Obama administration sees the Thursday rule as a way to continue the industry’s growth.

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Microsoft commits to running data centers off 50% renewable energy by 2018

Microsoft announced it plans to power its data centers around the world using 50% renewable energy by 2018. The company also plans to boost its use of renewable power for its data centers to 60% by the early 2020s. Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental & cities strategist, made the announcement at the VERGE16 conference last week. Bernard's comments during a conference keynote were a reiteration of a commitment earlier this year by the company to increase its use of clean energy. Microsoft's latest announcement came on the same day that Apple committed to 100% renewable energy use by joining RE100, a global initiative by influential businesses. To date, RE100 has amassed membership from 77 corporations, including Microsoft.

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Obama's clean energy plan goes to court

A federal appeals court will hear what one participating lawyer calls an environmental "case for the ages" on Tuesday. At issue: the centerpiece of President Obama's climate change plan. The administration's effort to regulate the electricity sector and burn less fossil fuel is the Clean Power Plan. The coal industry and more than two dozen states are challenging the rule, which gives every state an emissions target. The overall goal is to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by one third by 2030. A central legal question: does the EPA have authority to regulate beyond physical power plants, and "green" up the broader power grid? It's a rather untested question.

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Clean Energy Gets A Boost With California Regulations

The California ISO (CAISO) was recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to introduce new regulations to boost accuracy in determining market demand. These revisions will be affecting non-generator resources or distributed energy resources (DERs), basically locally generated power via wind turbines and solar panels. This represents a small portion of the California power but means the grid is taking steps to become more efficient.

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