NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD
  • QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS
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    THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Happy Birthday Solar Cell
  • Weekend Video: Offshore Wind As A Hurricane A Wall
  • Weekend Video: Get On The Climate Policy Train
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, April 15: WORLD WIND TO BOOM THRU 2014; NAT GAS AND SOLAR WERE 75% OF U.S. 2013 NEW POWER; MAINE OFFICIALLY AFFIRMS SMART METERS’ SAFETY
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE

    Economic Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina—2014 Update

    April 2014 (RTI International for North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association)

    Executive Summary

    This report presents an update to the retrospective economic impact analysis of renewable energy and energy efficiency investment included in the 2013 report, The Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina, prepared by RTI International and LaCapra Associates (2013).

    In this supplement to the 2013 report, the direct and secondary effects associated with major energy efficiency initiatives and the construction, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy projects (collectively, “clean energy development”) are analyzed to measure the magnitude of clean energy development’s contribution to North Carolina’s economy.

    Changes in consumer, utility, and government spending patterns are analyzed, including

     investment in clean energy projects in North Carolina and their ongoing operation and maintenance,

     how renewable energy generation and energy savings from energy efficiency projects have changed spending on conventional energy generation,

     reductions in spending due to the utility rider renewable energy and energy efficiency performance standard, and

     government spending that would have been spent on other government services in the absence of state support for clean energy investment.

    Our research findings are as follows:

     Approximately $2,672.5 million was invested in clean energy development in North Carolina between 2007 and 2013, which was supported, in part, by the state government at an estimated cost of $135.2 million. Clean energy projects were nearly 20 times as large as the state incentives for them.

     Renewable energy project investment in 2013 was $732.4 million, or nearly 42 times the $17.5 million investment observed in 2007.

     Total contribution to gross state product (GSP) was $2,971.5 million between 2007 and 2013 (see Table ES-1).

     Clean energy development supported 37,100 annual full-time equivalents (FTEs) from 2007 to 2013.

     Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties experienced the greatest amount of investment—more than $100 million each between 2007 and 2013.

     Beaufort, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Wake, and Wayne Counties each experienced between $50 million and $100 million between 2007 and 2013.

    Introduction…

    Between 2007 and 2013, annual investment in clean energy development in North Carolina increased nearly 20-fold from $44.6 million to $889.1 million, of which $732.4 million (82%) was for renewable energy projects and $156.7 million (18%) was for major energy efficiency initiatives. The total amount of energy generated or saved through renewable energy and energy efficiency programs amounted to 10.674 million MWh, which is sufficient to power nearly 985,000 homes for 1 year.

    Although the growth in energy generation from renewable sources has been documented in annual energy reports, the economic impact of clean energy development—economic activity from construction, operation, maintenance, changes in energy use, and consequent changes in spending—on North Carolina’s economy had not been comprehensively measured until the 2013 report, The Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina, prepared by RTI International and LaCapra Associates (2013)…

    Economic Impacts, 2007–2013

    From 2007 through 2013, $2,056.0 million was spent on construction and installation of renewable energy projects in North Carolina. An additional $616.5 million was spent on implementing energy efficiency programs.4 Total clean energy development was valued at $2,672.5 million.

    Although investment was distributed across the state, Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties each experienced the greatest amount, with more than $100 million in renewable energy project investment each.

    Clean energy development contributed $2,971.5 million in GSP and supported 37,100 annual FTEs statewide. As a result of changes in economic activity from the development of clean energy in North Carolina, state and local governments realized tax revenue of $232.0 million.

    Estimated Direct Impacts Of Clean Energy Development

    As depicted in Figure 2-1 and Table 2-1, investment in clean energy development increased substantially over the 7-year analysis period. For example, renewable energy project investment in 2013 was $732.4 million, which was about 42 times the size of 2007’s $17.5 million. In 2013 alone, clean energy investment was 33% of the total investment from 2007 to 2013.

    In addition to demonstrating growth in investment value over time, Figure 2-1 and Table 2-1 illustrate that clean energy projects were nearly 20 times as large as the state incentives for them. Although we do not attempt to statistically estimate the share of these investments that was motivated by these incentive programs, it is likely that there is a strong positive relationship…

    Investment Value of Clean Energy Projects

    Renewable energy investment was estimated primarily from facilities registered with NC-RETS, supplemented with data from EIA databases—EIA-860 and EIA-923; North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources; NCUC dockets for individual projects; NC Green Power; and personal communication with industry experts to adjust reported data or address areas where information was incomplete. Investments in energy efficiency were taken from program reports submitted by utilities to the NCUC and annual reports of the Utility Savings Initiative…

    Table 2-2 summarizes the cumulative direct spending in renewable energy by category between 2007 and 2013. Investment in renewable energy projects totaled $2,056.0 million. Investment in energy efficiency totaled $616.5 million. Thus, total clean energy investment was $2,672.5 million during the study period.

    Of the $2,056.0 million investment in renewable energy projects,

     solar photovoltaics made up $1,619.7 million (79%),

     biomass made up $122.7 million (6%), and

     landfill gas made up $144.6 million (7%).

    Renewable energy projects are widely distributed across North Carolina, bringing investment to both urban and rural counties. Figure 2-2 illustrates the geographic distribution of renewable energy projects individually valued at $1 million or greater. Including all eligible wind, landfill gas, biomass, hydroelectric, solar photovoltaics, and solar thermal projects valued over $1 million accounts for renewable project investment of approximately $1,816.4 million (88% of the total $2,056.0 million in renewable investment over the period).

    Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties each experienced more than $100 million in renewable energy project investment from 2007 through 2013, and Beaufort, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Wake, and Wayne Counties each experienced between $50 million and $100 million in renewable project investment.

    In preparing last year’s Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina Final Report, RTI interviewed contacts from clean energy businesses who noted that jobs were often created in rural counties that had been hard hit by contraction in the construction industry.

    Energy Generated or Saved from Clean Energy Projects Tables 2-3 and 2-4 summarize the energy generated by renewable projects and the energy saved by energy efficiency projects between 2007 and 2013.

    Renewable energy facilities generated 6.8 million MWh of energy, of which

     72% was biomass,

     14% was landfill gas, and

     10% was solar photovoltaics.

    Efficiency initiatives also produced large savings in North Carolina. Energy efficiency programs run by utility companies saved 3.836 million MWh of energy during the study period. The Utility Savings Initiative, a government-run energy efficiency program, lacked data on specific MWh saved, but the program documents note savings of $559.7 million on energy expenses.

    Thus, total energy generated or saved from clean energy projects is estimated to amount to at least 10.7 million MWh.

    State Incentives for Clean Energy Investment State incentives for clean energy investment, including the renewable energy investment tax credit and state appropriations for the Utility Savings Initiative, are modeled as a reduction in spending on other government services.

    Investment spending was funded, in part, through state incentives. Through direct state government appropriation, renewable energy projects received $122.6 million in tax credits and energy efficiency projects received $12.6 million. Total government expenditures were $135.2 million between 2007 and 2013 (Table 2-5).

    For the purpose of this study, it was assumed that the money the government spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency was not spent on other government services. Thus, the government programs contributed to the positive investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency of $2,672.5 million.

    However, the $135.2 million spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency was shifted from what the government could have otherwise spent the money on, creating a minor offset that reduces gross impacts slightly…

    Secondary Impacts of Clean Energy Development…Changes in North Carolina Spending Patterns from Renewable Energy Generation…Changes in North Carolina Spending Patterns from Energy Efficiency Initiatives…North Carolina Economy-Wide Impacts…Impacts Associated with Renewable Energy Projects…Impacts Associated with Major Energy Efficiency Initiatives…

    Total Impact Associated with Clean Energy Projects

    For 2007 through 2013 the total economic activity associated with renewable energy projects and energy efficiency initiatives was (Table 2-8):

     $4,710.8 million in gross output (revenue),

     $2,971.5 million in GSP (value-added),

     37,100 FTEs, and

     $232.0 million in state and local tax revenues.

    These results account for a comparatively small offset associated with government spending changes because the tax credit and appropriations for the Utility Savings Initiative caused an estimated loss in output of $109.5 million. It should be noted that these losses are due to a reduction of government spending and not from any assumed issues with governmental involvement in the energy sector.

    In Table 2-8, the fiscal impact analysis shows that state and local governments realized revenue of $232.0 million as a result of gross changes in economic activity…

    QUICK NEWS, April 22: ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK; OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued); OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY

    ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK

    Every day is Earth Day. Make a difference. Be the change. From csunas via YouTube

    OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued) 17 Inspiring Quotes for Earth Day…(continued from yesterday)

    Vi-An Nguyen, April 19, 2014 (Parade)

    “Celebrate Earth Day…with moving quotes about the natural world from conservationists and naturalists…They’re all worth remembering on this day set aside to honor Mother Nature…Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. — Theodore Roosevelt…Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect… — Chief Seattle…You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. — Jane Goodall…” continued from yesterday – click here for more

    OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY US Energy Dept plans $4 bln in loan aid for renewable energy

    Ayesha Rascoe, April 18, 201`4 (Reuters)

    "The U.S. Energy Department…unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a program that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects…The Obama administration's draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions…It will specifically focus on advanced electric grid technology and storage, biofuels for conventional vehicles, energy from waste products and energy efficiency…[Financing should be awarded] by the end of the year or early 2015…” click here for more

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD

    The Outlook For Renewable Energy In America 2014

    April 2014 (American Council on Renewable Energy)

    Executive Summary

    The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014 assesses the marketplace and forecasts the future of each renewable energy technology sector from the perspectives of U.S. renewable energy trade associations. Each sector forecast is accompanied by a list of the trade association’s specific policy recommendations that they believe might encourage continued industry growth.

    Renewable energy has now become a technology of choice for many Americans, accounting for nearly 40% of all new, domestic power capacity installed in 2013. Presently, renewable power capacity exceeds 190 GW, biofuels are responsible for roughly 10% of our nation’s fuel supply, and renewable thermal energy systems heat and cool a growing number of homes, businesses, public buildings, and other structures throughout the country.

    The array of technologies are either fully or increasingly cost-competitive with conventional energy sources, and costs continue to fall. Per Bloomberg New Energy Finance, private-sector investment in the U.S. clean energy sector surpassed $100 billion in 2012–2013, stimulating economic development while supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. The industry-specific authors of the Outlook forecast this growth to continue, driven by increasing cost-competitiveness with conventional generation, technology advancements, and growing acceptance by Americans to embrace clean and renewable technologies.

    The impressive growth of renewable energy over the past decade is a signal that, when certain, state and federal policies have worked. Further scale up requires evolving and cost-effective policies that drive continued private-sector investment. ACORE offers the following, high-level recommendations for growth:

    • Building on the success of past and present policy efforts, reinvigorate effective policies to promote market certainty, stable growth, and align federal, state, and private initiatives.

    • Increase access to greater amounts of cheaper and more liquid capital by extending to renewable energy innovative financing options that are successful in motivating capital formation in other sectors.

    • Promote the expansion of all proven forms of renewable energy, whether centralized or distributed power generation, transportation fuels, thermal energy, or other technologies. America needs a diverse array of options to transform its energy sector to meet 21st century needs.

    • Continue support of public and private research, development, demonstration, and deployment to fuel the next generation of renewable technologies.

    • Build renewable energy in tandem with enabling technologies, such as energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells, waste heat, and smart grid technologies, to enhance system-effectiveness.

    A number of opportunities exist at the federal, state, and local levels for industry advancement and investment; however, they are not one-size-fit-all solutions for every renewable technology. The articles in this report detail specific market drivers for the biofuel, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, waste, and wind energy sectors. We applaud the unity of the renewable industry community and their united front demonstrated in The Outlook for Renewable Energy in America: 2014.

    With the right policy mechanisms in place, the potential of America’s clean energy economy extends beyond one fuel choice or pipeline, and provides the country with an unparalleled opportunity to reinvigorate our economy while protecting our environment. An America powered on renewable power, fuels, and thermal energy is a stronger, more secure, prosperous and cleaner America.

    The Outlook For Wind Power

    The American investment in wind energy continues to pay off in the form of reduced costs, improved efficiency, and lower prices for consumers. The beginning of 2014 marked a record wave of new construction, and the American Wind Energy Association reported that wind power continues to lead the way on affordable, reliable renewable energy.

    “In many parts of the country today[...] wind is the most economic form of new energy generation,” as NextEra Energy Chief Financial Officer Moray P. Dewhurst said on a recent earnings call.

    Investments in technological advancements and stable policy have helped drive down the cost of wind energy by 43% in four years, and the industry remains on schedule to grow to supply 20% of the U.S. power grid by 2030, and beyond…

    The Outlook For Solar Energy

    Existing Marketplace

    The U.S. solar industry has much to celebrate about the year 2013. Photovoltaic (PV) installations continued to proliferate, increasing 41% over 2012 to reach 4,751 MWdc, and 410 MWac of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants also came online. Solar was the second-largest source of new electricity generating capacity in the U.S., exceeded only by natural gas. And the cost to install solar fell throughout the year, with average system prices ending the year 15% below the mark set at the end of 2012.

    The U.S. solar market showed the first real glimpse of its path toward mainstream status in 2013. The combination of rapid customer adoption, grassroots support for solar, improved financing terms, and public market successes indicated clear gains for solar in the eyes of both the general population and the investment community. And in the long term, a mainstream solar industry will need customers who seek out and support solar, as well as investors who see an attractive risk-adjusted opportunity in the market.

    The solar industry also became a major part of a much larger discussion that took center stage in 2013 around the future of electricity and electric utilities. As distributed solar gains steam, and as adjacent technologies such as energy storage become economically viable, the traditional utility business model is increasingly called into question. Throughout the electricity industry, 2013 was the year of catchphrases such as “utility 2.0” and “utility of the future.” Utilities themselves began to stake out positions on all sides of the issue, some seeking to protect their current territory and others investing in distributed generation— capitalizing on the opportunity that comes with change…

    The Outlook For Geothermal Energy

    Existing Marketplace

    In early 2014, the United States’ installed geothermal power capacity is about 3,442 megawatts (MW). The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) identified 182 projects under development as of September 2013, representing about 2,500 MW of planned capacity additions in the pipeline in 13 states. Image 1 shows total installed capacity in the U.S. over time since 1971. GEA will release new statistics in April, and while we expect a drop in total projects due to expiration of the production tax credit (PTC), inadequate transmission, and lackluster renewable portfolio standard (RPS) markets, we do not expect the drop to be as precipitous as witnessed in some other industries facing similar circumstances…

    The Outlook For Hydropower

    Existing Marketplace

    Hydropower is the largest source of renewable electricity in the United States, responsible for over half of all renewable electricity generation last year and 7% of total generation. In fact, the largest power producing facility in the U.S. is the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State, with an installed capacity of over 6,800 megawatts (MW).

    Using hydropower provides enough clean power for 30 million typical American homes and annually helps avoid nearly 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions. The 100,000 MW of total hydropower capacity also includes approximately 20,000 MW of pumped storage hydropower, which presently provides 98% of all energy storage in the United States.

    Hydropower is unique among energy resources due to its ownership. The federal government owns just over half of the hydropower capacity in the United States. The other half is held by non-federal entities that receive licenses from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These entities include investor-owned utilities, public utilities, and independent power producers. Hydropower is also a powerhouse of economic development. For over a century, hydropower has provided clean energy that powered our way out of the Great Depression and fueled the war effort in the Second World War. Today, the industry employs between 200,000-300,000 American workers and supports a vibrant supply chain of over 2,500 companies that reaches from coast to coast. Navigant Consulting found in 2010 that with the right policies in place, the industry could support an additional 1.4 million cumulative jobs by 2025 while expanding hydropower capacity by 60,000 MW…

    The Outlook For Marine And Hydrokinetic Energy

    Existing Marketplace

    The marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) renewable energy sector is an emerging industry with an ever-changing outlook, and significant challenges and advantages coming from existing industries, international competition and cooperation, and competition for limited resources. The examples of cooperation have in many ways created models of inspiration, as competitors acknowledge that no country has substantial market share at this time, and that all boats rise with the tide.

    Some areas of international collaboration include U.S. participation in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Ocean Energy Systems (OES) initiative, which brings together 19 countries and the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) Technical Committee 114 (TC-114) for marine energy, with 14 participating countries and nine observing countries…

    The Outlook For Biomass Energy

    Biomass Power

    Existing Marketplace

    The biomass power sector has undergone significant growth in recent years. The 2013 completion of several large-scale projects added up to more than 750 megawatts (MW)—enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses. All regions of the country have experienced some biomass growth, but the Southeast has experienced the most, with major new facilities opening in Gainesville and Brooksville, Florida; Altavista, South Boston, Hopewell, and Southhampton, Virginia; Dorchester and Allendale, South Carolina; and Barnesville, Georgia. Much of the growth can be directly attributed to federal incentive programs, which have since expired. The Treasury Department’s 1603 Grant program, established in 2009, helped to make several of these facilities a reality by securing loans needed to attract serious investors.

    Five-Year Outlook For The Biomass Industry

    Opportunities for further development, while difficult to predict, are significant…

    Biomass Thermal Energy

    Existing Marketplace

    Thermal energy represents more than 30% of all energy consumption in the U.S. The market for biomass thermal energy, generated from combusting organic matter for heating or cooling purposes, has seen continuing growth in regions of the United States where there are: (1) high fossil fuel costs; (2) reliable access to renewable biomass feedstocks; and (3) year-round or prolonged heat energy demand…

    The Outlook For Waste-To-Energy

    Existing Marketplace

    Waste-to-energy (WTE) is a proven technology used globally to generate clean, renewable energy from the sustainable management of municipal solid waste (MSW). Progressive communities around the world employ strategies to reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover energy from waste. Post-recycled MSW is an abundant, valuable, and underutilized source of domestic energy. By processing this material, WTE facilities: produce renewable, base-load energy; reduce greenhouse gases; create good-paying, green jobs; operate with superior environmental performance; and complement recycling goals…

    The Outlook For Ethanol

    The renewable fuel standard (RFS) has been a resounding success story. The RFS is the primary driver behind the only large-scale, commercially-viable alternative to regular gasoline—ethanol. Ethanol has reduced our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and made our nation more energy independent, created American jobs, revitalized rural America, injected much-needed competition into a monopolized vehicle fuels market, lowered the price at the pump, and improved the environment. Ethanol’s record is a great record of successful accomplishment…

    The Outlook For Biodiesel And Advanced Biofuels

    Overview

    The world has witnessed a sea change in the drivers of energy production and demand. Moving toward 2035, a minimum of three factors will play heavily in terms of how the United States considers its energy future: supply, demand, and public policy. In 2009, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, in their Future of Global Oil Supply report, suggested that by 2030 the world would demand around 110 million barrels of oil a day and that, despite new liquid resources, current oil reserves, fields under development, and production from unconventional liquids, there would be a gap of 35 million barrels a day that would need to be filled. Recent modeling continues to support this, as the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) AEO2013 estimates global petroleum and liquid fuel consumption for 2040 to be between 111 million and 118 million barrels per day, forcing new production of liquid fuels from biomass, coal, and natural gas…

    QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS

    OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY 17 Inspiring Quotes for Earth Day: 'The Environment Is Where We All Meet'

    Vi-An Nguyen, April 19, 2014 (Parade)

    "Celebrate Earth Day this Tuesday, April 22, with moving quotes about the natural world from conservationists and naturalists…They’re all worth remembering on this day set aside to honor Mother Nature…The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. — Lady Bird Johnson…A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children. — John James Audubon…In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. — John Muir…Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. — Albert Einstein…” continued tomorrow – click here for more

    BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR Solar Monetization Option Challenges Third-Party Ownership Assumptions

    Mark Del Franco, April 17, 2014 (Solar Industry)

    “While third-party ownership (TPO) represents much of the growth in residential photovoltaic installations, several factors may be starting to inject a few new wrinkles into the home solar market…[In the current third-party model, solar providers] own, maintain and insure solar panels on a homeowner's roof. Homeowners switch to solar without the high upfront cost, avoid the responsibilities of ownership and save money on electricity bills…[M]ore than $3 billion in project financing has been raised since SolarCity and Morgan Stanley closed the first residential tax equity portfolio financing in the U.S. in 2008…[But in] an emerging scenario, the homeowner - not the solar company - owns the PV system and typically signs a maintenance and service contract with an electrical contractor…The homeowner is able to fully monetize the tax credits on a dollar-for-dollar basis…[and some financial players] are deploying debt products in an effort to shift industry focus away from TPO…” click here for more

    15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS Microgrids in Asia Pacific; Commercial/Industrial, Community/Utility, Campus/Institutional, and Remote Microgrids: Country-Level Market Analysis and Forecasts

    2Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “…[T]he Asia Pacific region has experienced particularly robust demand for microgrids due to economic development, electrification, and industrialization…In emerging countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, electricity has not been and still is not a commodity service for everyone…[R]emote microgrids will show strong growth in these countries through 2023…[D]eveloped nations, including Australia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, will pursue technology development and pilot projects in the next few years and then will deploy diverse applications, especially in the commercial/industrial, campus/institutional, and community/utility microgrid segments. Navigant Research forecasts that annual grid-tied and remote microgrid capacity in the nine select Asia Pacific countries will grow from 37.0 MW in 2013 to 597.3 MW in 2023…” click here for more

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

    Happy Birthday Solar Cell

    April 25 is the photovoltaic solar cell’s 60th birthday. From go100percent renewable energy via YouTube

    Offshore Wind As A Hurricane Wall

    Instead of a storm wall, how about an energy generating wall that pays for itself? From The Daily Conversation via YouTube

    Get On The Climate Policy Train

    Millenials can BE the change. From PBS Newshour via YouTube

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)

    So what happened after science finally discovered the secret...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    5-So what happened [after science finally discovered the secret of photovoltaics]?

    The semiconductor revolution began at Bell Laboratories that started with the discovery of the transistor and took silicon electronics from theory to working device led to the great breakthrough that we are celebrating this year. Serendipitously, Gerald Pearson, a Bell scientist, took one of the first silicon transistors and applied light to it. To his surprise, he recorded an efficiency of almost six times greater than any other solar cell had ever produced. Like Archimedes, he ran down the hall at the lab, shouting to a colleague, Daryl Chapin, who was working with selenium at the time for a remote telephone power project, “Don’t waste another moment on selenium!,” and gave him his piece of doped silicon. So began the Bell Solar Battery project that a year later in 1954 produced the most significant breakthrough in solar history and perhaps, the history of electricity – a solar cell capable of converting enough sunlight directly into electricity for useful purposes. click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6

    What was the reaction of the world...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    6-What was the reaction of the world to the Bell discovery?

    The day after Bell executives presented the first practical solar cell to the world at a press conference on April 25, 1954. The following day The New York Times noted on page one, that the Bell solar cell “…may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” U.S. News and World Report came out with a story as full of hope as the Times’ piece with the title: “Fuel Unlimited,” exclaiming that the silicon solar cells “may provide more power than all the world’s coal, oil and uranium…Engineers are dreaming of silicon powerhouses. The future is limitless.” click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7

    Why didn’t the silicon solar cell immediately...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    7-Why didn’t the silicon solar cell immediately take off?

    First, its price was an obstacle. One watt cost $286. More importantly, at the moment of the solar breakthrough, the Eisenhower Administration, to counter worldwide anti-nuclear protests, initiated the Atoms for Peace program, to give nuclear a happy face. Subsidies and funding for nuclear ran into the billions. There was no parallel Solar for Peace program despite that the Bell breakthrough happened at the same time. Selling the peaceful atom as the world’s future energy source had become America’s number one priority. The nuclear dream eclipsed any consideration of solar development. Newsweek judged "the sun's diffuse radiation" as "paltry" when compared with what nuclear could do. The best solar enthusiasts could hope for, according to the prevailing wisdom of the middle and late 1950’s, was to plan for far-off energy needs. The New York Times best articulated this point of view, predicting in an editorial, "Electricity from the atom will keep industry turning and homes lighted for centuries in the future. And the energy of the sun...will be available after the last atomic fuel is gone." click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8

    What happened to the Bell solar cell?

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    8-What happened to the Bell solar cell?

    After such high expectations, the inventors could not help but wonder, “What to do with our new baby.” Desperate to find commercial applications, solar cells found their way powering novelty items such as toys and transistor radios. Then the space race came. The first two sputniks went dead after several weeks in space as they ran on battery power alone. No one could go up and recharge or replace them. For the same reason fuel-powered engines were ruled out. Any satellite that had to function for more than three weeks or so on solar cells appeared to be the perfect source of power. The first solar-run satellite – the Vanguard - went up in March, 1958. It kept on transmitting data over the next six years. The success of solar on the Vanguard led engineers and scientists working with satellites to accept the solar cell as one of the critically important devices in the space program since they provided the only practical power source for long-term missions. The urgent demand for solar cells above the earth opened an unexpectedly large and lucrative business for manufacturing them. Locked into the space race with the Russians, the American government poured millions into solar cell research and development. As solar-cell pioneer contends, “The onset of the Space Age was the salvation of the solar-cell industry.” click here for more

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1

    Bell executives presented the first practical solar cell to the world...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    1-Bell executives presented the first practical solar cell to the world at a press conference on April 25, 1954.

    At the time of Bell’s announcement in 1954, all the solar cells in the world delivered less than one watt. Today, more than 120 gigawatts of generating capacity of photovoltaics have been installed worldwide. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell but also the beginning of reaching the Holy Grail solar scientists have only previously dreamt of before – entering the Era of Grid Parity, where solar panels begin to generate power at costs equal to or less than electricity produced by fossil fuels and nuclear energy….What does this mean? Simple! Massive amounts of cleanly produced electricity will become a reality in our lifetime.

    In fact, on April 26, 1954, The New York Times noted on page one, that the Bell solar cell “…may mark the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams – the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization.” U.S. News and World Report came out with a story as full of hope as the Times’ piece with the title: “Fuel Unlimited,” exclaiming that the silicon solar cells “may provide more power than all the world’s coal, oil and uranium…Engineers are dreaming of silicon powerhouses. The future is limitless.”

    On April 18, 2014, a formal celebration will take place in Palo Alto, CA to mark the milestone of 60 years of practical PV. Palo Alto is becoming a living demonstration that we’ve come a long way since that first Ferris wheel was lit up by solar technology in 1954, and that in fact, whole cities can be powered by solar and other renewables. The City of Palo Alto recently started covering its entire community’s power demand through renewable purchases and credits and is on track to procure 100% renewable power by 2017. Solar is expected to make up 18% of that portfolio. click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2

    How and when was the photovoltaic effect discovered...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    2-How and when was the photovoltaic effect discovered in a solar cell?

    In 1872 British engineer Willoughby Smith published a paper on the photo¬¬-sensitivity of selenium. The article led English scientists William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day to further experiment with the material. In one of these trials they lit a candle an inch away from same bars of selenium that Smith had used. The needle on their measuring device reacted immediately. Screening the selenium from light caused the needle to drop instantaneously. The rapid response ruled out the possibility that heat from the candle’s flame was the cause, because when heat is applied or withdrawn in thermoelectric experiments, the needle always rises or drops slowly. “Hence,” the investigators concluded, “it was clear that a current could be started by the action of light alone.” They wrote that they had discovered a completely new phenomenon – that light had caused a flow of electricity through a solid material. Adams and Day called current produced by light “photoelectric.” Today, we call it “photovoltaic.” click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3

    So why didn’t photovoltaics take off...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    3-So why didn’t photovoltaics take off in the nineteenth century?

    American inventor Charles Fritts did put together selenium modules and placed a test array on a New York rooftop in the mid 1880s. He optimistically predicted that soon his modules would compete on the market place with the new electric power plants established by Thomas Edison. Europe’s Edison, Werner von Siemens, called photovoltaics to be “scientifically of the most far-reaching importance,” and the world’s leading physicist of the nineteenth century, James Clerk Maxwell, called Adams and Day’s discovery as “a very valuable contribution to science.” But the science of the nineteenth century lacked the wherewithal to explain the direct transformation of light into electricity. The rejection by Adams and Day of a thermal effect producing the electricity from the selenium bars led most to dismiss the discovery as heretical as the science of the day believed that only heat could produce power. click here for more

    THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4

    So how did the scientific community come to accept photovoltaics...

    For the 60th anniversary of the silicon solar cell, PV60 – History Becoming the Future, is being organized by the Renewables 100 Policy Institute and co-sponsored by the City of Palo Alto on April 18, 2014. To join the celebration, NewEnergyNews will run, on April 18 and 19, eight questions and answers about the silicon solar cell’s history from John Perlin, the author of Let It Shine: The 6,000 Year Story Of Solar Energy.

    4-So how did the scientific community come to accept photovoltaics as a legitimate area of study? And did scientific acceptance lead to practical developments?

    Einstein’s new understanding of light combined with the late nineteenth-century discovery of the electron uncovered the secret of photovoltaics: light consists of packets of energy, according to the new science, capable of setting electrons into motion whose orderly movement is electricity…Scientific acceptance led to a flurry of activity in the photovoltaic field. But try as they may, no one could construct a solar cell efficient enough for everyday power needs. As one scientist lamented in 1949, “It must be left to the future whether the discovery of materially more efficient cells will reopen the possibility of harnessing solar energy for useful purposes.” click here for more

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE

    Charting Michigan’s Renewable Energy Future; Accelerating the transition to clean, affordable, and reliable power

    Sam Gomberg, Jeff Deyette, Sandra Sattler, March 2014 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Michigan took an important first step toward a clean energy future…

    …when the state legislature passed Public Act 295 in 2008. The law, known as the Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act, established a renewable electricity standard (RES) that requires electricity providers in Michigan to supply 10 percent cent of the state’s electricity with renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and bioenergy by 2015.

    More than five years later, the RES has been a success. Michigan utilities are ahead of schedule in bringing clean energy resources online to meet the 10 percent standard, and they are doing it at a lower cost and with better-performing technologies than originally expected. These investments in renewable energy are creating jobs, boosting local economies, and delivering clean electricity to homes and businesses throughout the state (Quackenbush, Isiogu, and White 2013). But with the RES set to level off in 2015, momentum in renewable energy development is already being lost. Stronger policies are needed to help Michigan take the next steps toward a clean energy future.

    At the end of 2012, Governor Rick Snyder launched a year-long initiative to analyze the condition of Michigan’s electricity sector, collect information from stakeholders, and explore potential paths forward for the state (Snyder 2012). In November 2013, the governor’s final report concluded that Michigan can cost-effectively and reliably achieve at least 30 percent renewable energy with in-state resources (Quackenbush and Bakkal 2013a).

    Following the report’s release, Governor Snyder announced four energy goals for the state: affordability, reliability, protection of the environment, and adaptability. He acknowledged that increasing Michigan’s commitment to renewable energy would be an important component of achieving these goals. While the governor has not discussed specific policy recommendations, the process has laid the groundwork to strengthen and expand Michigan’s RES.

    This report explores Michigan’s energy future and the role that renewable energy policy can play in transitioning to a clean energy economy. We first look at Michigan’s current shift away from its historical overreliance on coal-fired generation and the state’s experience in meeting its current 10 percent RES. Next, we describe Michigan’s potential to meet more of its electricity demand with in-state renewable energy resources. Then, using the Regional Energy Deployment System model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, we examine the impacts on consumers, the economy, and the environment of three potential pathways for meeting Michigan’s future electricity demand:

    1. Continuing with the current law that maintains Michigan’s RES level at 10 percent from 2015 onward, with no new policies in place that would further increase renewable electricity generation

    2. Increasing Michigan’s RES to 17.5 percent in 2020

    3. Increasing Michigan’s RES to 32.5 percent in 2030—a 1.5 percent rate of growth in the annual requirements that would keep Michigan utilities on about the same pace as the current RES for the next 15 years

    Our findings show that Michigan can affordably meet 32.5 percent of its electricity needs with in-state renewable energy resources by 2030 while maintaining reliability in the electricity system. Doing so will spur billions of dollars of investment in Michigan, cut power plant carbon emissions, and reduce the risks of an overreliance on coal or natural gas by further diversifying Michigan’s mix of electricity sources. Pursuing a less robust RES—17.5 percent by 2020— significantly reduces the benefits that accrue to Michigan from developing its renewable energy resources without reducing the costs to consumers.

    According to our analysis, establishing a 32.5 percent by 2030 RES in Michigan means:

    • Sustained and robust development of Michigan’s renewable energy resources. Michigan’s renewable energy y industries would add an average of more than 550 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity per year, totaling more than 11,000 MW by 2030.1 Without policy support beyond 2015, renewable energy development in Michigan would remain largely stagnant from 2014 to 2030.

    • Significant economic benefits. The development of Michigan’s renewable energy resources would drive more than $9.5 billion in new capital investments from 2016 to 2030. By 2030, renewable energy facilities would also add nearly $570 million in operation and maintenance payments and more than $21 million in land lease payments annually.

    • Minimal impact on consumers. Electricity sector costs would increase by just 0.3 percent between 2014 and 2030 under a 32.5 percent by 2030 RES compared with the scenario that includes no policy changes. In some years, average retail electricity prices would be lower under the 32.5 percent RES scenario than they are under the other scenarios.

    • Reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Reduced dependence on coal and natural gas would lower CO2 emissions by more than 65 million tons from 2014 to 2030—equivalent to the annual emissions of 15 typical-size size (600 MW) coal plants.

    • A more diverse electricity supply for Michigan. Renewable energy development, led primarily by wind energy, would displace both coal and natural gas in Michigan’s electricity generation mix, leading to lower risks to con sumers resulting from an overreliance on fossil fuels to meet electricity demand.

    Michigan’s Current Shift Away from Coal-fired Generation

    Like many states in the Midwest and throughout the country, Michigan’s electricity sector is going through a historic transformation. While coal plants are still the largest source of the state’s electricity, coal’s economic competitiveness has been eroding for years. From 2008 to 2012, coal-fired generation in Michigan declined from 60 percent to 49 percent as lower-cost resources such as natural gas and wind have replaced higher-cost electricity from Michigan’s old, inefficient coal plants.

    There are several reasons why the use of coal is declining in Michigan. The state is home to one of the oldest coal power plant fleets in the nation: 87 percent of the state’s coal capacity is more than 30 years old, while nearly a third of the state’s coal capacity began operation more than 50 years ago. Most of the state’s old coal plants lack essential modern pollution controls, and utilities face important near-term decisions about whether to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades or to retire the plants. Our recent assessment of the viability of the U.S. coal fleet determined that more than half of Michigan’s total coal power capacity (6,719 MW) is economically vulnerable—meaning it will have a difficult time competing with other resource options—and should be considered for closure. This is a greater amount than for any other state (Fleischman et al. 2013).

    Coal prices also continue to increase in Michigan, adding to coal’s economic vulnerability going forward. The average price that Michigan utilities pay for coal has increased by nearly 50 percent from 2008 to 2012, from $37.67 to $55.22 per ton. Because Michigan does not have any in-state coal resources, it must import 100 percent of its coal from other states—sending $1.2 billion out of state in 2012 alone (UCS 2014).

    To date, much of the decline in coal use has been replaced with natural gas (Figure 1). Because of the current low costs of natural gas and its abundant supplies nationally, natural gas generation in Michigan more than doubled from 8 percent in 2008 to 20 percent in 2012 (EIA 2013a). While switching from coal to natural gas offers some benefits of near-term air quality and cost, there is growing evidence that an overreliance on natural gas poses significant and complex risks to consumers and the economy, public health and safety, land and water resources, and the climate (Fleischman, Sattler, and Clemmer 2013). For example, a recent cold snap across the nation led to spiking electricity and natural gas prices in the Northeast as natural gas demand for heating and electricity generation exceeded supplies (Jacobs 2014). In addition, as with any fossil fuel, burning natural gas for electricity generation results in the release of CO2 and thus contributes to global warming. While natural gas emits considerably less CO2 than a coal-fired power plant at the smokestack, a natural gas–dominated electricity system would not cut emissions sufficiently to meet U.S. climate goals (Fleischman, Sattler, and Clemmer 2013)…

    Renewable Energy Is Working for Michigan

    Most of the recent growth in Michigan’s renewable energy industry is attributable to the state’s successful RES policy. The 2008 Clean, Renewable, and Efficient Energy Act requires all of Michigan’s electricity suppliers to gradually increase the contribution of renewable energy sources to 10 percent of the state’s electricity supply by 2015 (up from about 1 percent in 2008). The state’s two largest power providers—DTE and Consumers Energy—have an additional renewable energy capacity requirement of 500 and 600 MW by 2015, respectively…

    Michigan’s Robust Renewable Energy Resources

    Michigan has vast in-state renewable energy resources, enough to generate annually several times the state’s total 2012 electricity demand (Table 1). Not all of Michigan’s renewable energy potential can or should be tapped due to conflicting land use needs, cost considerations, transmission constraints, and other hurdles, but the magnitude of the resource gives the state a high degree of latitude in selecting the optimal technologies and locations for development. Even after accounting for these constraints, Michigan has a strong and diverse pool of renewable energy resources to support the state’s continued transition to a clean energy future…Onshore wind…Solar…Bioenergy…Offshore Wind…

    Renewable Energy’s Role in an Affordable, Clean, and Reliable Energy Future

    A commitment to greater investments in renewable energy, particularly when paired with strong energy efficiency programs (see the box, p. 8), will help put Michigan on a path toward achieving each of Governor Snyder’s goals for the state’s electricity sector: affordability, reliability, protection of the environment, and adaptability…

    Results of the Modeling

    In brief, our analysis comparing the three scenarios fi nds that Michigan can aff ordably strengthen its investment in renewable energy and that doing so creates a more diverse electricity portfolio for Michigan. We fi nd that a longer-term, more ambitious policy maximizes the benefi ts to Michiganders. Meeting a 32.5 percent-by-2030 RES requirement increases the economic benefi ts of renewable energy investments in Michigan and reduces power-sector CO2 emissions more substantially than the other cases modeled, and these benefi ts accrue to Michigan with little to no increase in average retail electricity prices…

    Recommendations

    Michigan’s electricity demand can be met in a variety of ways over the coming decades, and we support the governor’s process and his goals of increasing affordability, reliability, protection of the environment, and adaptability. The view that Michigan’s energy future should include an extended and strengthened commitment to renewable energy resources has support from several quarters: information provided through the governor’s process, our modeling analysis, and the state’s real-world experience of successfully meeting Michigan’s current RES policy.

    Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature should be working in 2014 toward an extended and strengthened commitment to renewable energy resources and should pass an RES policy for Michigan that includes achieving at least 30 percent renewable energy by 2030. Delaying legislative action only means delaying a cleaner, more reliable, more economically beneficial energy future for Michigan. Enacting a more modest, shorter-term standard delivers fewer benefits at similar or even higher costs for consumers. Based on our analysis and the information available to date, we recommend the following:

    1. An extended, strengthened ReS. Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature should pass in 2014 an extension of and a strengthening of Michigan’s current RES, requiring Michigan utilities to achieve at least 30 percent renewable energy by 2030.

    2. long-term power purchase agreements. Governor Snyder and the Michigan legislature should enact policies that will encourage or require utilities’ signing of long- term power purchase agreements to lock in low prices for renewable electricity for 20 years or more. This will ensure more affordable electricity for consumers over the long term and help protect against volatility in fossil fuel prices.

    3. A strong commitment to energy efficiency. Michigan’s energy efficiency resource standard should be increased, requiring utilities to reduce electricity demand by 2 percent each year—ramping up from the current standard of 1 percent annually to 2 percent annually by 2020 and each year thereafter. Aggressively developing Michigan’s energy efficiency resource will hasten the state’s transition to a clean energy economy and make the transition even more affordable.

    4. the adoption of supporting clean energy policies. To ensure a successful transition to a sustainable energy infrastructure, Michigan should also boost state incentives for clean energy, adopt stronger energy efficiency codes for buildings, and implement efficient and transparent processes for planning, siting, and approving clean energy projects.

    5. the establishment of a comprehensive, long-term energy resource planning process for Michigan’s utilities. The Michigan legislature should instruct the MPSC to establish an ongoing, transparent, and comprehensive planning process for Michigan’s utilities that includes a robust cost/benefit analysis of all available options—including renewable energy and energy efficiency—for meeting the state’s electricity needs. Any decisions on electricity sector investments, particularly those that would extend the lifetime of Michigan’s aging coal plants, should be considered in the context of a comprehensive strategy that meets electricity demand over the long term and minimizes the costs and risks to Michigan’s residents and businesses.

    In the last several years, Michigan has built strong momentum in its transition toward a clean energy economy. The state’s current RES has been a success, cost-effectively driving new renewable energy development and providing important economic, public health, and environmental benefits in the process. Absent further action, however, this momentum will stall. Michigan’s vast renewable energy resources would remain largely untapped, and the state would find itself increasingly vulnerable to the many risks associated with an overreliance on coal and natural gas. Michigan has the resources, technologies, skills, and experience needed to be a national leader in renewable energy. With thoughtful and determined political leadership, Michigan can maintain a reliable power supply, ensure affordable electricity for its residents and businesses, and maximize the economic returns and the public health and environmental benefits that a clean energy future brings.

    QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE

    THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE IPCC: Mitigating Climate Change More Challenging Than Ever

    Eli Kintisch, 13 April 2014 (Science)

    “Global greenhouse emissions are skyrocketing. Emissions cuts required to avoid dangerous impacts of climate change are steep. And despite decades of talk, world governments have made paltry efforts to address the problem...That’s the grim picture painted by…[the latest climate change report from] the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…The report also describes the daunting work required to sidestep climate dangers…Economists have compared the task of lowering the world economy’s carbon footprint—now the equivalent of about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year—to turning a cruise ship. But the report says the ship is firing full steam ahead…[and tackling global emissions on such a massive scale will be pricey, the report finds…” click here for more

    THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY Report Challenges EIA's Renewable Energy Projections; Says Renewables Could Hit 16% of U.S. Electrical Generation in Five Years, Not 27 Years as EIA Forecasts

    Ken Bossong, April 16, 2014 (SUN DAY Campaign)

    “…[T]he SUN DAY Campaign challenges assertions by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) that renewable energy sources will provide only 16% of the nation's net electrical generation by the year 2040. Using EIA's own previously published data, the analysis shows that it's more likely the 16% level could be reached within five years…EIA's own published data…that the percentage of the nation's net electrical generation represented by renewable energy has expanded from less than 9% in 2004 to nearly 13% in 2013…Given the relatively consistent growth trends of the past decade or longer for most renewable energy sources and their rapidly declining costs, it seems improbable that it will require another 27 years to grow from 13% to 16%...[EIA's forecast] is simply wrong…[I]f the trends reflected in EIA data from the past decade continue, renewable energy sources could increase to as much as 13.5% of net U.S. electrical generation in 2014, to 14.4% in 2015, to 15.3% in 2016, and reach or exceed 16.0% no later than 2018…[or, at worst,] by 2020…” click here for more

    BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE Power Prices in Texas Fall as Wind Generation Above Forecast

    Harry R. Weber, April 14, 2014 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “Spot wholesale electricity in Texas slid as generation from wind was above expectations…Wind power on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. network averaged 8,778 megawatts for the hour ended at 10 a.m. local time, above the day-ahead forecast of 8,425 megawatts…Spot power at the Texas North hub, which includes Dallas, fell $6.52, or 18 percent, to average $30.59 a megawatt-hour for the hour ended at 10 a.m. versus the same time April 11…Houston hub prices declined $6.29, or 17 percent, to $30.64…New York City power rose $2.43, or 6.2 percent, to average $41.71…while Boston power gained $2.03, or 5.4 percent, to $40.12…” click here for more

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY

    2013 Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?

    April 3, 2014 (Pew Charitable Trusts)

    Overview

    For the past five years, Pew has tracked investment and finance trends in the world’s leading economies. Over that period, the clean energy industry has been buffeted by a global recession, broad changes in energy markets, and uncertainty surrounding international policies on clean energy and climate change. Despite these challenges, the clean energy sector is now an annual $250 billion component of the world economy.1

    Although global clean energy investment in renewable sources, biofuels, smart energy, and energy storage fell 11 percent in 2013, to $254 billion, a number of developments indicate a promising future for clean energy. First, the prices of leading technologies such as wind and solar have dropped steadily for decades; they are increasingly competitive with century-old and more financially volatile conventional power sources. Second, clean energy manufacturers are moving forward and have effectively weathered withering competitive pressures, consolidations, and policy changes. Investor confidence about the long-term future of renewable energy was reinforced in clean energy stock indexes in 2013, which rose sharply over the year. Third, markets in fast-growing, developing countries are prospering; these economies see distributed generation as an opportunity to avoid investments in costly transmission systems, comparable to the deployment of cellphones instead of costly landline infrastructure. Even in the contracting markets of Europe and the Americas, which have affected the overall industry, policymakers are recalibrating rather than abandoning clean energy policies.

    Worldwide investment dips for 2nd straight year

    Over the past two years, clean energy investment has declined 20 percent from a 2011 record of $318 billion. Although investment in non-G-20 markets grew by 15 percent, with promising sectors emerging in such places as Chile and Uruguay, investment in the larger and more established markets of G-20 countries2 declined by 16 percent. Only three G-20 countries—Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom—had increased levels in clean energy investment in 2013.

    Asian investment grows steadily, Europe slides sharply

    Clean energy investment in the European region, which is comprised of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, slid sharply for the second year in a row. It fell 42 percent, to $55 billion, less than half the region’s 2011 record of $115 billion. Investment levels declined sharply in once-vibrant markets, with levels in Germany down 55 percent and Italy 75 percent. In contrast, the Asia and Oceania region continued to grow steadily in 2013, with levels increasing 10 percent, to $102 billion. China continued to be the leading regional and global market, attracting $54.2 billion in 2013. Japan experienced the fastest investment growth in the world, increasing 80 percent, to almost $29 billion.

    Investment levels decreased in the Americas for the second year in a row to $52 billion, 8 percent lower than in 2012. Most notably, the largest markets in North and South America—the United States and Brazil—were down by 9 and 55 percent, respectively. For the first time, clean energy investment in Brazil was less than the combined total for the rest of Latin America. Canada was the second-fastest growing market in the G-20, increasing 45 percent, to $6.5 billion.

    Wind investment holds steady as solar slips

    Wind sector investments held relatively steady in 2013, falling 1 percent, to $73.5 billion, and accounted for 39 percent of the G-20 total. Financing dropped significantly in Turkey and Brazil, but those losses were offset by gains in Canada and the United Kingdom. China continued to attract the largest share of wind energy investment, accounting for 38 percent of the global total.

    For the fourth year in a row, solar energy technologies garnered the largest share of G-20 clean energy investment—52 percent of the total. Nonetheless, investment in solar technologies fell by 23 percent in 2013, to $97.6 billion. Steep drops in Germany and Italy were among the reasons that collective investment in the solar sector fell below the $100 billion mark for the first time in seven years.

    Energy efficient/low-carbon technologies, which include smart meters and energy storage devices, constituted the only clean energy sector with rising investment levels, growing 15 percent to $3.9 billion. G-20 investment in biofuels sank by 41 percent, to just under $3 billion. Other renewable energy technologies, including geothermal, biomass, and waste-to-energy, dropped by 31 percent, to $10.7 billion.

    Asset financing declines, but clean energy stocks soar

    Investment in small-distributed capacity, which is residential-scale solar projects of less than 1 megawatt, declined 29 percent in 2013, as did financing for large-scale assets. Together, these two classes account for more than 80 percent of clean energy investment. Asset financing decreased 14 percent in 2013, to $123.7 billion. China maintained its wide lead in asset financing for large projects, attracting $53.3 billion—more than 40 percent of the total.

    In line with falling solar investments overall, residential and small commercial solar capacity investments fell to $52.5 billion, the lowest level recorded in the past four years. Japan garnered 44 percent, or $23 billion of small-distributed capacity investments.

    Venture capital/private equity investment levels in the G-20 declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling 32 percent, to $4 billion. The United States continued to play a leading role in the venture capital/private equity category, accounting for 55 percent of 2013 investments.

    Stock market investors’ confidence in the clean energy sector grew in 2013. Stock prices on the WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, which tracks leading renewable energy stocks, rose by 54 percent over the year—outpacing gains in major stock indexes such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. Consistent with rising stock prices, public market financing for company scale-ups across the G-20 increased by 176 percent, to $9.8 billion.

    Solar takes the lead in annual capacity additions

    For the first time in more than a decade, solar outpaced all other clean energy technology in terms of new generating capacity installed. Solar capacity additions increased by 29 percent compared with 2012 even though investment in the sector declined by 23 percent. This was due in part to ongoing price reductions, including significant cuts in manufacturing costs, but it was also a result of investment shifting from small-scale projects to less expensive large-scale ones. All told, a record 40 gigawatts of solar generating capacity was installed in 2013. By comparison, less than 40 GW of solar was installed from 2001 to 2010.

    Installations in the wind sector were 40 percent less than a year earlier, declining by 21.6 GW. The United States accounted for more than 56 percent of that drop, as wind installations collapsed in light of delayed renewal of the production tax credit. Nonetheless, with 27 GW of capacity added worldwide in 2013, cumulative wind installations surpassed 307 GW in 2013—more than 40 percent of the world’s clean energy capacity.

    On a regional basis, installations in 2013 dropped 48 percent in the Americas and 22 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Installations in the latter region were down for the first time in more than 10 years. By contrast, clean energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania region increased by 64 percent, with more than 50.1 GW of capacity installed. More than a third of Asia’s gains in capacity were in the Chinese and Japanese solar sectors, which added a total of 18.8 GW. Japan added 6.7 GW, and China’s addition of 12.1 GW of solar far outpaced forecasts—setting a one-year record for solar deployment by any country.

    On a global basis, 87 GW of clean power was added in 2013, and cumulative installed capacity now surpasses 735 GW.

    China holds a wide lead in the clean energy race

    Although overall clean energy investment declined 6 percent in 2013, China solidified its leadership position in the global clean energy race by attracting $54.2 billion. Its clean energy sector is reorienting from an exclusive focus on exports toward greater domestic consumption, as evidenced by China’s dramatic growth in solar power capacity in recent years. Solar deployment increased almost fourfold in 2013, to an unprecedented 12.1 GW, besting its record of 3.2 GW in 2012. In addition, for the fifth year in a row, China deployed more than 10 GW of wind power. In total, China installed more than 35 GW of clean generating capacity in 2013, a record. In terms of investment, China led in the wind category with $28 billion and was second in the solar sector with $22.6 billion. Almost all of China’s investment was in the asset financing category, with $53.3 billion recorded, more than 40 percent of all G-20 asset financing.

    The U.S. clean energy sector is in a holding pattern as the second-largest world market. The fulfillment of state-level renewable portfolio standards, the lack of progress on national energy policy, and uncertainty about the direction of policies on global warming pollution has dampened investor interest in the sector. Overall, clean energy investment in the United States declined 9 percent in 2013, to $36.7 billion. The United States remained the second-leading destination for wind energy investments, attracting $14 billion. It was third in solar energy investments, with $17.7 billion. As has been the case for several years, the United States continued to garner world-leading investment levels in the biofuels and energy efficient/ low-carbon technology subsectors. The United States also remains the dominant recipient for public market and venture capital/private equity investments, attracting $6.8 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, in 2013.

    U.S. wind installations in 2013 were down more than 90 percent, from a record installation of more than 13 GW of wind in 2012 to less than 1 GW in 2013. When the production tax credit was renewed in early 2013, slight changes in the law appear to have slowed a sharp drop in investment--deferring deployment of new wind capacity into 2014, when a strong rebound in capacity additions is forecast. Solar sector generating capacity continued to grow significantly, as it has in recent years. A record 4.4 GW of solar was added in the United States in 2013, 30 percent more than came online in 2012. Lower technology prices overall, and completion of a number of larger, less-expensive, utility-scale plants, fostered deployment growth despite lower investment totals.

    Japan jumped from fifth to third place among G-20 nations for overall clean energy investment, reflecting a priority since the Fukushima nuclear disaster for new energy alternatives. In 2013, Japan became the fastest-growing clean energy market in the world, growing by 80 percent, to $28.6 billion. Most striking was a near doubling of investment in Japan’s solar sector, which received $28 billion in 2013, almost 30 percent of the G-20 total.

    The United Kingdom defied the clean energy contraction that gripped the rest of Europe in 2013. Although clean energy investment in Germany, Spain, Italy, and France dropped by 40 percent or more, the United Kingdom experienced 13 percent growth in 2013. The U.K. was one of three G-20 countries to have investment gains last year, and it ranked fourth among G-20 nations. Most of this growth came in the wind sector, where investments increased by nearly 50 percent to $5.9 billion, on the strength of offshore projects and greater activity in public market financing. The world’s largest offshore wind project, the 630-MW London Array, was completed in 2013, and major financing was secured for the 210-MW Westermost Rough Offshore Wind Farm.

    Investment levels in Germany were highly sensitive to clean energy feed-in tariff3 reductions in 2013. Financing fell 55 percent from 2012 levels, to $10 billion, and the country dropped from third to sixth place among G-20 nations. Wind investments were down by 16 percent, to $5.1 billion, and solar financing declined by more than $10 billion, to $4.8 billion. The recalibration of German clean energy policies also affected deployment levels. Wind capacity additions totaled 3.4 GW in 2013. New solar generating capacity additions were down 50 percent, to less than 4 GW, after record additions of almost 8 GW in 2012. Germany has the most installed solar of any country in the world, with 35.5 GW.

    Strong clean energy investments in 2013 catapulted Canada up five spots to seventh place in the G-20. Investment grew by 45 percent, to $6.5 billion. The wind sector was especially strong, with financing increasing by more than 40 percent, to $3.6 billion. In Ontario province, a number of backlogged projects were permitted and several others were completed, such as the 270-MW South Kent Wind Farm and the 299-MW Blackspring Ridge project. The solar sector also recorded impressive growth, attracting $2.5 billion.

    South Africa’s clean energy sector garnered $4.9 billion in 2013, and it moved up from the 10th–largest to ninth-largest market in the G-20. Although investment levels were down 14 percent last year, South Africa’s market has grown the second fastest in the G-20 over the past five years. Sixty percent of the country’s clean energy investment in 2013, $3 billion, went to the solar sector in conjunction with Phase II of its carefully planned reverse auctions. An additional $1.9 billion was invested in the wind sector.

    Key Findings

    Worldwide clean energy investment falls a 2nd year

    Globally, public and private investment in solar, wind, and other technologies fell 11 percent in 2013, to $254 billion. Last year’s decline follows a 9 percent drop in 2012, and investment declined by one-fifth from the 2011 record of $318 billion.

    Although investment in non-G-20 markets grew by 15 percent, with promising sectors emerging in such places as Chile and Uruguay, it dropped in the larger, established G-20 markets by 16 percent. In 2013, clean energy investment rose in only three G-20 countries: Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

    The results from 2013 indicate several ongoing developments affecting the clean energy marketplace. Investment has fallen in recent years in response to mutually reinforcing economic and political pressures in developed markets. Governments in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere have initiated fiscal austerity measures and curtailed certain clean energy incentives. The political environment surrounding climate change has also evolved in these countries, as domestic negotiations drag on and it remains uncertain whether the international community can agree on a comprehensive framework for reducing carbon emissions. Recent technological advancements in oil and gas recovery also have directed some investment back toward more traditional energy sources.

    In response to these developments, the clean energy sector has experienced some consolidation—shuttering less-competitive companies and forcing the industry overall to become more efficient and capable of competing in a less-subsidized marketplace. It is a measure of the sector’s resilience that worldwide financing and investment have totaled more than $250 billion four years running. Moreover, impressive levels of deployment have been sustained as the prices for wind, solar, and energy-smart technologies have fallen. In view of industry maturation, Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects a 2014 rebound in worldwide investment and installation of renewable energy.

    Investment in European market plummets

    Clean energy investment in the region that encompasses Europe, the Middle East, and Africa declined sharply for the second year in a row, falling 42 percent in 2013 to levels not seen since the mid-2000s. This region had been the world’s most attractive clean energy market over the past decade, garnering a record $115 billion in 2011. But investment has since plummeted, tumbling to $55 billion in 2013, less than half that of 2011 levels. Most of Europe’s major clean energy markets decreased considerably in 2013, with year-over-year investments down 55 percent in Germany, 75 percent in Italy, and 84 percent in Spain. Investment increased only in the United Kingdom, as a few large offshore wind projects gained significant financing and several were completed. Overall, declines in the European region accounted for much of the reduction in global clean energy investment.

    In contrast, steady, uninterrupted growth in clean energy investment in the Asia and Oceania region continued apace in 2013, with overall levels increasing 10 percent, to $102 billion. This was the only region to experience rising investment last year. China continued to dominate regional and global markets, attracting $54.2 billion in 2013, a decrease of 6 percent from 2012. But China’s decline was more than offset by gains in the Japanese market, which grew by 80 percent, to almost $29 billion.

    Investment levels fell in the Americas for the second year in a row, to $52 billion, 8 percent lower than in 2012. Most notably, the region’s largest markets in North and South America—the United States and Brazil—were down 9 and 55 percent, respectively. For the first time, clean energy investment in Brazil was less than the combined total for the rest of Latin America. The Brazilian market slowed, as auctions for wind power flagged and only 600 MW of new capacity was added. In North America, significant new wind energy investments in Canada led to a 45 percent increase in 2013.

    Solar investment falls sharply but maintains lead

    For the fourth consecutive year, solar energy technologies attracted the largest share of G-20 clean energy investment, accounting for 52 percent of the total. Nonetheless, investment in solar technologies fell by 23 percent in 2013, to $97.6 billion, registering below $100 billion for the first time in four years. Solar investments drecreased by more than $10 billion in both Germany and Italy, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the overall decline.

    Wind sector investments held relatively steady in 2013, slipping 1 percent, to $73.5 billion, and accounting for 39 percent of the G-20 total. Wind energy investment did not change appreciably in most major markets, except for a drop of more than 30 percent in Brazil. China continues to attract the largest share of wind energy investment by a wide margin, accounting for 38 percent of the global total.

    Energy efficient/low-carbon technologies, which include smart meters and energy storage devices, constituted the only clean energy sector with rising investment levels, growing 15 percent, to $3.9 billion. More than two-thirds of the energy efficient/low-carbon technology investments were in the United States. Advanced energy efficiency products such as the Nest thermostat and promising energy storage and fuel cell technologies, such as those developed by Bloom Energy, have helped boost this sector. Bloom Energy raised $130 million to expand operations through a private equity investment.

    G-20 investment in biofuels declined by 41 percent in 2013, to just under $3 billion. Other renewable energy technologies (geothermal, biomass, small hyrdro, and waste-to-energy) fell by 31 percent, to $10.7 billion. (See Figure 3 for a breakdown of investment by technology.)

    Asset finance, small-distributed capacity investments decline

    Investment in clean energy assets for larger plants and small-distributed capacity, which account for more than 80 percent of total clean energy investment, both fell. Asset financing dropped 14 percent in 2013, to $123.7 billion. China attracted a world-leading $53.3 billion worth of asset financing, more than 40 percent of the G-20 total, and the United States $19.8 billion.

    Consistent with declines in the solar sector, investment in residential and small commercial solar capacity dropped 29 percent, to $52.5 billion, the lowest level recorded in the past four years. Japan garnered 44 percent of small-distributed capacity investments for a total of $23 billion, as its residential solar market expanded significantly.

    Venture capital/private equity investment levels in the G-20 declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling 32 percent, to $4.0 billion. This kind of early-stage investment in innovative new clean energy companies has decreased since funding for capital-intensive solar companies has waned and clean-tech companies have not produced the rapid windfall payouts that many venture capitalists seek. The United States continued to play a leading role in venture capital/private equity, accounting for 55 percent of 2013 investments, with key financings for Bloom Energy (fuel cells), Joule Unlimited (biofuels), and Fluidic (energy storage).

    Research and development investments made by governments and corporations worldwide rose by 1.2 percent, to $29.2 billion. In an encouraging development, investors signaled growing confidence as reflected in the stock prices of the NEX, which rose by 54 percent, outpacing gains in major stock indexes such as the Standard & Poor’s 500. Consistent with rising stock prices, public market financing for company scale-up across the G-20 increased by 176 percent, to $9.8 billion. Innovative financing models helped spur public market financing. NRG Energy, a U.S. utility, raised $430 million from investors interested in its portfolio of wind, solar, and other natural gas generating capacity. Other prominent public market transactions included initial public offerings by Pattern Energy Group, a wind project developer, and Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital in the United States, Foresight Solar Fund in the United Kingdom, and TransAlta Renewables in Canada.

    Among the prominent bond offerings were those proffered by SolarCity and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy, which issued an $850 million bond to help finance a major solar photovoltaic project in California. (For a full description of the financing categories explored in this report, see Figure 14 on Page 22.)

    Solar capacity soars, installed wind surpasses 300 GW

    In 2012, falling prices for wind and solar technologies allowed installed capacity to increase even though worldwide clean energy investment dropped. This was not the case in 2013. Prices continued to slide in 2013, especially for permitting and other “balance of system” costs, but investment was insufficient to prevent slippage in annual installed capacity. Overall investment was down 11 percent globally, but annual capacity additions in 2013 fell by only 1 percent, to 87 GW.

    For the first time in more than a decade, more solar generating capacity was installed than any other clean energy technology. Solar capacity additions grew by 29 percent annually even though investment in the sector declined by 23 percent, compared with 2012. This was due in part to ongoing price reductions, but also to an investment shift from small-scale projects to less-expensive large-scale ones. At year’s end, a record 40 GW of solar generating capacity was installed in 2013; less than 40 GW of solar was installed from 2001 to 2010.

    Installations in the wind sector declined by 21.6 GW (44 percent) in 2013, compared with the previous year. In the United States, wind installations were down more than 12 GW, as deployment sank 90 percent in response to uncertainty in 2012 over renewing the country’s production tax credit. Nonetheless, with 27 GW of capacity added in 2013, cumulative wind installations surpassed 307 GW, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s clean energy capacity.

    On a regional basis, installations in 2013 dropped 48 percent in the Americas and 22 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Installations in this region were down for the first time in more than 10 years. By contrast, clean energy capacity in the Asia and Oceania region increased by 64 percent, with more than 50.1 GW of capacity installed. Almost half of Asia’s gains in capacity were logged in the Chinese and Japanese solar sectors, which added a total of 18.8 GW. Japan installed 6.7 GW, and China’s addition of 12.1 GW of solar far outpaced forecasts and was a one-year record for solar deployment by any country.

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