January 9 Energy News

January 9, 2015

Opinion:

¶ “2014: A Positive Sign of What’s to come in Clean Energy” – A quick scan of the US climate and energy news in 2014 will tell you it was a very big year. Many factors are working for positive change. Now, the US is on the verge of a revolution in the way we make, move, and use energy. [Environmental Defense Fund]

¶ “IHS: Top 10 predictions for global PV market in 2015” – Among the market research firm’s forecasts for the coming year: By the end of 2015, California, already the largest renewable power market in the United States, will attain worldwide leadership in market share of annual PV power generation. [pv magazine]

Science and Technology:

¶ The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia released its annual climate statement, for 2014. As expected, it was once again a hot year across the continent. There is a lot of year-to-year variation driven by natural climate variability, but the 10-year running mean plots a relatively steady rise over the last 60+ years. [Energy Collective]

World:

¶ Clean energy investment rose in 2014 for the first time in three years, as China’s support for solar power and record spending on wind farms overcame a slump in oil prices that unsettled the industry’s outlook. New funds for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon technologies gained 16% to $310 billion. [Businessweek]

¶ Mercom Capital Group tallied $26.5 billion in solar project investment from corporate funding sources during 2014. That’s an astounding 175% increase over 2013, when Mercom counted just $9.6 billion. The reason is that perception of the solar sector has moved from one of high risk to one with low-risk yields. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In the face of growing pressures from many quarters to slow down on global warming and decrease pollution, major companies have gone on the offensive, extolling their contributions to human progress and minimizing the potential for renewables to replace fossil fuels in just about any imaginable future. [OilPrice.com]

US:

¶ The Koch brothers and large corporations such as Walmart have been focusing their efforts on preventing consumers from installing their own forms of clean energy, or at the very least charging them a hefty usage fee. Five states took anti-solar actions in 2014, each discouraging independent installations. [CleanTechnica]

¶ With gas pump prices near their lowest levels in five years, greener, cleaner alternative fuels are taking a hit. Makers of biodiesel, a fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fats, are slashing prices and margins in a bid to stay competitive with the price of diesel fuel, which is down more than 20% from a year ago. [GlobalPost]

¶ With greater numbers of Republicans in the Colorado Legislature this year, along with falling energy prices, party leaders are feeling more confident about their chances of rolling back the state’s renewable energy mandates. They want to cut the mandate for large utilities in half, from 30% by 2020 to 15%. [CBS Local]

¶ In New Jersey, Raritan Valley Community College has been commended by the US EPA’s Green Power Partnership for using wind power to meet all of the Branchburg campus’ electricity needs. The College is now using 9000 MWh of wind power, enough to meet 100% of the electricity needs for the main campus. [NJ.com]

¶ Just minutes before Charlie Baker became governor of Massachusetts, the Patrick administration released a $250,000 study suggesting winter electricity prices are likely to remain very high and experience sharp spikes for the next four years because of a lack of natural gas pipeline capacity. [CommonWealth magazine]

¶ So-called grid batteries could lower the cost of renewable energy by eliminating intermittency problems. Aquion Energy, a Pittsburgh-based startup that makes one such battery, announced that the technology will allow a small electricity grid in Hawaii to run around the clock on solar power. [MIT Technology Review]

¶ Even as the Tennessee Valley Authority completes the nation’s first new nuclear plant in a generation, Fitch Ratings, a major rating service, says premature plant retirements threaten the industry. Eight merchant nuclear units with a total capacity of 8,000 MW are at risk of early retirement. [Electric Co-op Today]

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