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Offshore wind to skyrocket, renewables get more bang for the buck, Nevada solar customers may win back favorable rates and more.
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Sept. 14, 2016: Following its Rhode Island debut, American offshore wind could skyrocket with a new national development plan. The plan will likely get a boost from a new generation of bigger wind turbines that produce more energy at a lower cost, part of a larger trend of renewables getting more bang for the buck. Nevada rooftop solar customers should get to keep more of their bucks if a deal on grandfathering gets approved by the PUC this week. And owners of high efficiency homes in California could pay next to nothing for heating and cooling.

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Data show clean energy gave more capacity with less investment
 

Energy Gang Podcast

Greentech Media: Taking the temperature of America’s local solar politics
Renewable energy produced more bang for the buck last year as capacity surged as the cost of installations and financing dropped, according to a new study by the International Energy Agency. New renewable energy capacity grew by 40 percent in five years while investment slid 2 percent to $288 billion. Renewables comprised 70 percent of spending on generation in 2015, more than double the amount spent on fossil fuels like oil and coal. (Bloomberg)
Energy efficient homes are saving Californians so much money that by 2020 the state’s Energy Commission will require every new home to consume no more energy than it generates. The new “net zero energy” code will take advantage of advanced home-building materials and techniques that turn a house into “an airtight fortress” that drastically cuts heating and cooling bills. Last year developer KB Homes sold all 2,300 houses it built that have average monthly power bills of $119, compared with $252 for a standard-built home of similar size. Owners that add solar panels would have a bill of near zero. (Wall Street Journal $)
Bigger wind turbines generate more energy at a lower cost, and the U.S. is on track to build many more of them in the coming years. A survey of 163 wind energy experts found that the cost of wind-generated electricity will drop by between 24 and 30 percent by the year 2030 due to taller turbines and wider rotors that generate more electricity per turbine. The survey claims to be the largest ever elicitation of expert opinion about an energy technology. (Washington Post $)
 
Nevada rooftop solar owners may receive favorable rates for the power they produce, reversing an earlier decision by the Public Utilities Commission not to grandfather in the 32,000 customers who had invested in rooftop solar panels. NV Energy reached an agreement with the Nevada PUC, Bureau of Consumer Protection and SolarCity to restore lower fees and higher reimbursement rates for eligible customers. Final approval of the agreement by the PUC is expected this week.  (Reno Gazette-Journal)
A massive amount of offshore wind power could be on the horizon for the U.S., if plans announced by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell come to fruition. The administration is calling for 86 gigawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2050, enough to power over 60 million homes and support 160,000 jobs. The nation’s first offshore wind plant will open this fall off of the Rhode Island coast, and Massachusetts plans to open an even larger offshore plant in the coming years. (WBUR)
 
The world’s first large-scale tidal energy plant is underway in Scotland. Tidal turbines are akin to wind turbines, except they are smaller and spin underwater with the tide. The project developers off the north coast of Scotland are installing four underwater turbines in the initial phase, but will eventually have 269 turbines, enough electricity to power 175,000 homes. (The Guardian)
 
The energy storage industry is booming worldwide. Germany is expecting a significant surge in demand to accommodate the huge amount of renewable energy coming on the grid, and a Bloomberg New Energy Finance study predicts the Asia Pacific region will host the majority of battery storage capacity by 2024. By then Japan, India and China will be the world’s top three energy storage leaders. (Bloomberg and Greentech Media)
India filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over support that eight U.S. states give to the renewable energy industry through so-called “buy local” provisions, which are requirements that a certain percent of materials be sourced locally and not from imports. Earlier this year India lost a case at the WTO after the U.S. complained about New Delhi’s domestic content requirements for its national solar program. India appealed that ruling, and the U.S. has 60 days to settle the current dispute before the WTO rules on the issue. (Reuters)

Quote of the Week

“The fact that the first turbine was assembled at what was an oil and gas fabrication yard illustrates the opportunities offered by renewables.” – Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, on the installation of the world’s first tidal energy farm in Scotland (The Guardian)

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