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Wind and Solar Beating Conventional Fuels on Costs

November 20 -- The latest study by US investment bank Lazard has highlighted the extent to which wind and solar technologies are beating conventional fuels – coal, gas and nuclear – on costs of production, and also on abatement.

The study, the “Levellised Cost of Energy Analysis 9.0 notes that utility scale solar PV has fallen 25 per cent in the last year alone, since its most recent study. Since 2009, when it began the analysis, solar and wind energy have fallen by 80 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.

Lazard says that because of this, and despite big falls in the cost of natural gas in the US, wind and solar are beating conventional fuels in most situations, as revealed in their success in competitive capacity auctions. >>View Article 

U.S. Onshore Wind Power Becoming Mainstream

November 20 -- WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- With more than 30 percent of new electricity coming from wind power, the U.S. Department of Energy said the industry is becoming entrenched in the power sector.

The Department of Energy published a 24-page document highlighting trends in the renewable power sector. Wind energy, the report said, is becoming a "mainstream power source," accounting for 31 percent of all new electricity capacity added to the U.S. grid between 2008 and last year. >>View Article 

Alan Caron: LePage Just Spins Wheels on Energy

November 20 -- Gridlock. Food fights. Acrimony. These are the hallmarks of Augusta today, as they have been over the last five years. While the Legislature can be faulted, most of it starts and stops at the door of the governor.

A lot of LePage supporters – and there seem to be fewer of them with each passing day – like to say that LePage is good because he’s telling it like it is. “He’s blunt and forceful, which is just what we need,” they say. As though the problems of the world can be solved by being louder than everyone else. Call it politics by “Trump-et.” (I promised our 10-year-old I’d get that into a column, and there it is).

What should matter most, to everyone, is not how loud or nasty a leader is but how effective they are. The crucial question is this: Did anything get done? In LePage’s case, the answer is very little in his first term and nothing in his second term. >>View Article 

Local View: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dwarf Wind Energy Incentives

November 20 -- In response to the opinion column “Support affordable energy by ending corporate welfare” (LJS, Nov. 14) here are three questions for author Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, with ties to the Koch Brothers oil company.

Why did you fail to call for an end to government/taxpayer-funded fossil fuel subsidies? Are you going to call on Nebraska’s U. S. senators and representatives to repeal oil, coal and gas subsidies? Aren’t oil companies able to stand on their own without subsidies? The fossil fuel industry has been getting federal subsidies for 100 years. The cumulative cost of oil, coal and gas subsidies dwarf wind energy incentives. >>View Article 

Dear 'Wall Street Journal': Bill Gates Is Not an Idiot

November 20 -- I love the Wall Street Journal, I really do. I read it every day, all the sections. It's really the only "national" newspaper we have that isn't a joke. The New York Times is still too local and doesn't have enough business news, plus it wears its politics not only on its sleeve, but on both sleeves and on its shirtfront as well. USA Today qualifies in the "joke" category. The Washington Post is a mere ghost of its former self. And I read the Wall Street Journal because by and large the articles are pretty factual and don't seem biased, at least on the surface on the surface.

But every so often, the Journal just can't help itself, and it has to publish something really nutty about energy. For some reason they hate renewable energy, and continue to ignore facts and data and trends that I can easily find just by reading a couple of free digital newsletters. Hey, these guys are professionals, they should be better at this than I am. I just sit here north of San Diego, mostly looking through the palm trees and watching the pelicans fly over the ocean. >>View Article

Counterpoint: Hydropower is a Star among Renewables

November 18 -- With the nation searching for clean energy solutions, a recent commentary by Ron Way (“Is hydropower green? Not really,” Nov. 15) asked Minnesotans a valid question: Is hydropower green? The author’s conclusion, however, is at odds with the facts, the Department of Energy and the American people. Hydropower isn’t just a renewable — it’s the nation’s largest source of renewable energy, accounting for half of all generation of renewable energy.

At the national level, hydropower is combating climate change more than any other renewable resource. Thanks to hydropower, the U.S. avoids approximately 200 million metric tons of CO2 annually — the equivalent of taking 42 million cars off the road. >>View Article 

White House Pushes Community Solar Power as Rooftop Alternative

November 18 -- WASHINGTON — About half of electric customers can't install solar panels because they don't own their building, don't get enough sun or don't have a large, south-facing roof to install solar panels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Those technical challenges are a particular hurdle for low- and middle-income customers — and that's why the Obama administration is pushing a solution known as community solar.

The White House hosted a summit Tuesday to bring together major solar players to figure out ways to expand retail solar power from traditional rooftop arrays to a model in which households and businesses invest in shared solar systems. The administration announced that 68 cities, states, and businesses had signed on to a White House initiative to promote community solar, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income households. >>View Article 

The Clean-Energy Revolution Gathers Speed

November 18 -- U.S. buildings have grown colder in recent years. The switch from the heat-generating incandescent bulbs to light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, reduces the energy used to produce light by as much as 85 percent.

The cost of LED bulbs has dropped by over 90 percent in recent years, explains David Friedman, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). "Ultimately, over the next five to 10 years, it will cut the electricity use of lighting in half." >>View Article 

Lower-Cost Wind and Solar Will Drive Energy Storage Technology

November 18 -- Large wind and solar farms can compete in the power market even with low natural gas prices and will drive the adoption of technology to store renewable energy, according to an analysis by financial advisers Lazard Ltd.

The cost to build a utility-scale solar photovoltaic plant has fallen by about 80 percent since 2009 while wind projects have dropped by 60 percent, the financial advisory and asset management company said in a report. Lower costs make large renewable power projects competitive with conventional generators without subsidies.
The need for systems to store renewable energy so it can be used when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow will drive down the cost of batteries over the next five years, the report said. Batteries aren’t cheap enough to allow renewable power to replace coal- and gas-fired plants. >>View Article 

Lower Prices, Increased Investment: The Green Dynamic Duo

November 18 -- The price of solar generated electricity is falling. It may be about to fall even further. Bloomberg reports that the main ingredient in a solar cell, polysilicon, is now at a record low. Prices have fallen 31% this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Taking a page from OPEC, production continues at a high pace even in the face of an oversupply. The OPEC strategy is to survive. The polyscilicon production strategy is difficult to understand but the bottom line is simple; low prices = lower solar cell prices.

Combine that with the news that HSBC has announced it is committed to lending $1-bn to finance green energy projects and you have what feels like growing momentum in the sector. Giving this an even more mainstream banking feel, HSBC will raise the money via a Green Bond market so people looking to put their money where their beliefs are, will have a green energy investment tool that is not a stock and is larger that a single company. India’s Yes Bank has announced it also has plans to offer green bonds on the London Stock Exchange. >>View Article 

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