Costa Rica is pulling off a feat most countries just daydream about: For two straight months, the Central American country hasn’t burned any fossil fuels to generate electricity. That’s right: 100 percent renewable power. This isn’t a blip, either. For 300 total days last year and 150 days so far this year, Costa Rica’s electricity has come entirely from renewable sources, mostly hydropower and geothermal. Heavy rains have helped four big hydroelectric dams run above their usual capacity, letting the country turn off its diesel generators.
Renewable energy advocates on Wednesday launched a campaign aimed at defeating Amendment 1, a solar initiative supported by Florida's largest utilities appearing on the general election ballot. Complicating the effort by Floridians for Solar Choice, however, is the amendment's timing. Its fate will be decided less than three months after Floridians overwhelmingly approved another solar measure, Amendment 4, which appeared on the Aug. 30 primary ballot. Floridians for Solar Choice had supported that initiative, which sought to prevent property tax increases resulting from the installation of solar panels. Conditioning green energy-minded voters who approved the first amendment to vote against the second won't be easy, the group's leaders admitted. Their slogan, 'utility-backed Amendment 1 blocks the sun', was designed to cut to the heart of a complicated issue in a simplistic way.
The Intertubes are buzzing over a new Energy Department report that predicts renewable energy can crank up the entire eastern United States power grid, to the tune of 30 percent. That’s pretty good news for businesses hoping to burnish their green cred by accessing more wind and solar energy. What’s even better news is that the figure of 30 percent is not the ceiling for renewable energy in the eastern states. It is a benchmark used by the Energy Department to predict how the gigantic Eastern Interconnection — one of the largest power systems in the world — will handle an increasing load of wind and solar power.
Mostly unnoticed amid the political brawl over climate change, the United States has undergone a quiet transformation in how and where it gets its energy during Barack Obama's presidency, slicing the nation's output of polluting gases that are warming Earth.
As politicians tangled in the U.S. and on the world stage, the U.S. slowly but surely moved away from emissions-spewing coal and toward cleaner fuels like natural gas, nuclear, wind and solar. The shift has put the U.S. closer to achieving the goal Obama set to cut emissions by more than a quarter over the next 15 years, but experts say it is nowhere near enough to prevent the worst effects of global warming.
Elon Musk’s solar company has its sights set on replacing 5m rooftops in the US with traditional roofing materials integrated with solar cell technology. SolarCity’s plans, announced last month, to develop traditional roofs made entirely from solar panels are part of a goal to make sustainable homes more aesthetically appealing, convenient, and ultimately affordable to the average homeowner. It’s betting that people who need to replace their roofs will be attracted to the company’s solar cell option because it won’t require additional work or dramatically alter the look of the home.
The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) board of governors says it has accepted proposed tariff revisions that will ensure wind, solar and battery storage resources are capable of providing needed grid services. In doing so, renewable resources must adjust their systems so that power voltages and currents remain in sync with grid operations, CAISO says.
According to the operator, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-required revisions establish uniform rules for making sure new renewable resources – or resources planned to be upgraded – take the steps to align alternating currents and voltages with grid requirements. This, therefore, will help avoid energy inefficiencies and losses that occur when the grid and resources are not properly in sync, CAISO asserts.
Primary-election voters Tuesday approved the expansion of a renewable-energy tax break that backers say will help businesses and spark the expanded use of solar energy in Florida. But while the measure had support from an array of groups, they are divided on an unrelated solar amendment on the November general-election ballot that could lead to a major political fight. The proposed constitutional amendment approved Tuesday was known as Amendment 4 and was placed on the ballot by the Legislature. It is designed to extend a residential renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties. Shortly after the polls closed, the measure was more than 10 percentage points above the required 60 percent threshold needed for approval of constitutional amendments. The preliminary results indicated that the measure, which backers say will spur growth in solar and renewable energy, was supported in almost every county.
Today, states are at the epicenter of America’s renewable energy revolution. And, because we have 50 state energy markets, big positive advances in state policy can accelerate the pace of this historic shift.
Consider that New York, the 3rd-largest U.S. state economy, has now committed to meeting 50 percent of its power needs from clean, reliable, low-cost energy sources such as wind by 2030. That makes it the 5th state to commit to a 50 percent or more target for clean power, joining Oregon, Hawaii, California and Vermont. Other states such as Kansas, whose wind energy production has nearly tripled in the past five years, have voluntary aims to achieve up to 50% of their electricity needs through wind energy.
Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts officials are joining with electric utilities to evaluate more than 50 solicitations from companies to build plants that would generate clean energy for all three states.
The states are hoping to leverage their combined purchasing power and attract projects they possibly couldn’t lure on their own. The goal is to ultimately lower consumers’ utility costs in a high-price region of the country, while also meeting respective clean energy and environmental goals in fuel cell, solar and hydropower election generation.
Unless you’re a surfer, a sailor or the owner of beachfront property during hurricane season, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about the power of waves. That may be changing soon.
Like a large, slowly building swell miles from shore, the wave-power revolution has quietly and gradually gained momentum. And this month it began the crest: The Department of Energy announced it would allocate as much as $40 million in funding to develop of the nation’s first open-water wave-energy-testing facility in a location to be determined.
When it comes to tapping the commercial viability of this renewable resource, we could be on the cusp of a tidal change. For decades wave energy has lagged behind wind energy and solar, in part because harnessing it is so complex. It involves a number of factors — the speed, height, direction of a swell and the intervals between swells — and more variables equal higher costs.
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