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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 

Elon Musk Powers Up: Inside Tesla's $5 Billion Gigafactory

November 18 -- Elon Musk walks briskly onto the stage as hard rock blasts in the background. The guitar riff, which sounds like entrance music suitable for a professional wrestler or a minor-league cleanup hitter, fades out, and Musk surveys the crowd, nodding his head a few times and then sticking his hands in his pockets. "What I’m going to talk about tonight," he says, "is a fundamental transformation of how the world works."

The 44-year-old CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX (and the chairman of the solar energy provider SolarCity) is wearing a dark shirt, a satin-trimmed sports coat, and, at this moment, a knowing smirk. An admirer of Steve Jobs, Musk is an heir to the Silicon Valley titan in some psychic sense, but in a setting like this, he’d never be mistaken for the Apple founder. Jobs worked the stage methodically, with somber reverence and weighty pauses, holding tightly choreographed events on weekday mornings for maximum media impact. Musk’s events, which are generally held at the press-­unfriendly hour of 8 p.m. Pacific time, have a more ad hoc feel. His manner is geeky and puckish. He pantomimes and rephrases, rolls his eyes, and cracks one joke after another—his capacity for expression barely keeping pace with the thoughts in his head. >>View Article 

S&P 500 Companies Up Their Game on Climate: Report

November 18 -- Facing rising global temperatures and potential supply-chain risks to vital resources like water and electricity, more S&P 500 corporations are actively working to reduce climate risks in their businesses and holding more of their executives accountable for energy efficiency and lowered carbon emissions, according to new data released Monday.

For example, corporate board level responsibility for climate change has soared to 95 percent in 2015 from 67 percent five years ago, according to a 2015 climate change report from the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project. Among the other findings, S&P 500 companies actively working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions have increased to 96 percent from 52 percent. >>View Article 

The Truth about Ethanol

November 18 -- The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry wrote in these pages, in no uncertain terms, that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and fuel ethanol is a “failure.” While one may wonder what motivations lie behind such a claim, speaking to the merits of the arguments directly, it is fair to say that they are flimsy, false or both.

The RFS is a federal program authorized by Congress in 2005, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on foreign oil. The program calls for annual increases in the amounts of renewable fuels, including corn ethanol, to be blended with transportation fuels. >>View Article 

Editorial: Missouri, My Friend, is Blowing Against the Wind

November 18 -- To the east and to the west of Missouri, a $2.2 billion, 780-mile transmission line designed to carry wind power from the great plains of Kansas to cities farther east has been approved.

Kansas said yes to the line, known as the Grain Belt Express, a while ago. Indiana also has given its approval. The most recent neighboring state to do so is Illinois, which approved Clean Line Energy Partners’ transmission route last Thursday. >>View Article 

New Opportunities: Renewable Energy and Microloans Offer Economic Advancement in Metro Kansas City

November 18 -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In 1972, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded 195,000 black-owned firms. By 2007, that number was nearly 2 million. Estimates for the year 2012 show the number of black owned firms at more than 2.5 million.

When Ron Busby, President and CEO of the US Black Chambers, Inc. visited Kansas City on Nov. 12, he brought tidings of two new tools that may help African-Americans in Kansas City start or grow their businesses.

Hosted by the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, Busby first took part in "A Discussion on Climate Change, Solar Energy and Business Opportunities" at Metropolitan Community College. Also part of the session was Robert Reed, of the University of Missouri Midwest Energy Efficiency Research Consortium (MEERC). >>View Article 

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