Corporations Take the Lead in US Wind Power

by Woodson Powell

According to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Q4 2015 market report, about 75% of the megawatts contracted through power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the fourth quarter were non-utility buyers (companies, city governments, universities) [http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2016_02_22_us_wind_power_demand_corporations_take_the_lead]. That spike in corporate contracts is not simply reflective of a shift in contracting, but also of the growth in the wind power industry. The AWEA’s report notes that the United States wind industry installed 8,598 megawatts in 2015, 77% more than 2014 [http://awea.files.cms-plus.com/FileDownloads/pdfs/4Q2015%20AWEA%20Market%20Report%20Public%20Version.pdf]. Historically, utility-scale wind power was mostly purchased in the form of large wind farms, because it was an efficient way for states to meet their renewable portfolio standards. Nowadays, corporate purchasers are entering the market, because wind power has good value, not just because of government mandates. Continue reading

New Record for Organic Solar Cells Today, Solar-Powered Car Tomorrow

by Woodson Powell

German solar company Heliatek has officially set the new world record for organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells with a conversion efficiency of 13.2%, as confirmed by Fraunhofer CSP [http://www.heliatek.com/en/press/press-releases/details/heliatek-sets-new-organic-photovoltaic-world-record-efficiency-of-13-2]. Conversion efficiency refers to direct conversion of sunlight into electricity. The company’s end goal is 15%, but this is a big leap forward. With this progress, Heliatek CEO Thibaude Le Séguillon has said that the company is looking forward to the possibility of future cars being covered in solar coatings, enabling drivers to charge their cars while they are on the road, either behind the wheel, or parked. For the moment, Heliatek is working on replacing sun roofs with OPV cell windows. Continue reading

M&V 2.0 is Enabling a Negawatt Market

by Woodson Powell

California’s Senate Bill 350 (SB-350), passed in 2015, sets state targets of a 50% increase in building energy efficiency and 50% of electricity generated by renewables, both by 2030 [http://www.efficiency.org/negawatt-blog/new-california-laws-are-a-needed-paradigm-shift-for-energy-efficiency]. Most interestingly though, SB-350 proposes tracking efficiency by meter-based savings and authorizing pay-for-performance programs that are coupled with incentives for those savings. These changes are known as Measurement and Verification (M&V) 2.0, as first noted in 2014 [http://www.elp.com/Electric-Light-Power-Newsletter/articles/2014/02/em-v-2-0-new-tools-for-measuring-energy-efficiency-program-savings.html]. Using interval data, project savings determined from measured performance provide the ability to accurately value the benefits of energy efficiency, as opposed to the previous practice of using monthly utility data, which make it less clear to do a cause and effect analysis. For example, hour-to-hour measurements are much more informative, because it is easier to deduce what factors impacted energy savings during that interval. This change has created what is called a “Negawatt” market. Continue reading

Elon Musk Shares Tesla Model 3 Details in Twitter Rampage

by Woodson Powell

Ever since the Tesla Model 3 event on March 31, Elon Musk has posted several snippets of information on Twitter about the Model 3 on a daily basis [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/04/04/elon-musk-shares-tesla-model-3-details-twitter-rampage/]. On April 4, he hosted a full question and answer session on Twitter detailing many more facts than in previous posts. The session discussed all-wheel drive, launch details, interior, exterior, plus other options as well as expanded into general Tesla news including factories, service centers, and supercharging. Continue reading

IRENA Partners With ENGIE for Terrawatt Initiative

by Woodson Powell

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has partnered with French multinational electric utility company ENGIE (formally known as GDF Suez) to increase solar power production. In December of 2015, ENGIE CEO Gérard Mestrallet announced the Terrawatt Initiative which calls for one terawatt of additional solar photovoltaic capacity to be installed by 2030, and includes an additional $1 trillion of investment for solar power infrastructures [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/01/19/irena-partners-engie-terrawatt-initiative/]. Since then, IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin has met with Deputy CEO and COO of ENGIE and first Chairman of the private sector Terrawatt Initiative, Isabelle Kocher, to assist in ENGIE’s efforts. Possible areas of future cooperation include reducing the cost of technology for solar generation assets, supporting industrial capacities via implementation of appropriate regulatory frameworks and risk mitigation instruments, and developing a systemic approach for the integration of renewables, paving the way for later solar energy storage and technology solutions that meet each country’s specific needs [http://irenanewsroom.org/2016/01/18/irena-and-terrawatt-partner-for-massive-solar-scale-up/]. Continue reading

Keystone XL Pipeline, Meet Oklahoma Earthquakes

by Woodson Powell

The Keystone Pipeline System is a three phase oil pipeline running through Canada and the United States. Phase I, the Keystone Pipeline, delivers oil from Hardisty, Alberta (in Canada) to Steele City, Nebraska, and eventually Roxana and Patoka, Illinois. Phase II, the Keystone-Cushing extension, runs from Steele City to Cushing, Oklahoma. The Gulf Coast Extension, Phase III, delivers oil from Cushing to Port Arthur, Texas. The Keystone XL Pipeline is the proposed fourth phase, improving on Phase I, with a shorter route and a larger-diameter pipe, but was rejected largely due to environmental concerns, such as fracking [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/15/keystone-xl-pipeline-meet-oklahoma-earthquakes/]. Last month, reports surfaced of the Keystone XL Pipeline project possibly being resurrected, which is making people think about those same fracking concerns, specifically earthquakes in Oklahoma. Continue reading