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Printable Solar Panels on the Horizon

A new innovation could make printing solar cells both simple and inexpensive, as University of Toronto engineers have cleared a critical hurdle in the development of a relatively new class of solar devices.

The alternative solar technology, known as perovskite solar cells, could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

“Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing,” professor Ted Sargent, an expert in solar technologies and the Canada Research chair in Nanotechnology, said in a statement. “Perovskite solar cells can enable us to use techniques already established in the printing industry to produce solar cells at very low cost.”

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EPA: US greenhouse gas pollution falls below 1994 levels

Dive Brief

- Greenhouse gas emissions from the United States have fallen below 1994 levels, the result of a steady decline since the recession. The most recent declines stem in part from mild weather, lower energy demand and fuel shifting, according to a draft report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

- The report, titled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks," looks at data from 1990 to 2015 and is prepared annually to comply with United Nations climate change programs.

- President Trump has promised to reverse regulations and limitations that have helped reduce pollution, and it is not clear how the new administration intends to approach the international Paris climate accord reached in 2015.

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How federal tax reform could complicate prospects for renewable energy

There is a great deal of concern about the prospects of renewable energy under the Trump administration, but the prospects may not be as dire as some have suggested.

Financial analysts point to a complicated scenario with many moving parts that is still coming into focus, but they see benefits as well as pitfalls for renewables under the new regime.

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US Solar Market Grows 95% in 2016, Smashes Records

In its biggest year to date, the United States solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,626 megawatts of solar PV installed in 2016.

This represents a 95 percent increase over the previous record of 7,493 megawatts installed in 2015. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previewed this data in advance of their upcoming U.S. Solar Market Insight report, set to be released on March 9.

For the first time ever, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. In total, solar accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016.

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Navy developing 44 MW solar+storage facility on Kauai

Dive Brief:

- The U.S. Navy is developing a 44-MW solar-plus-storage facility on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, according to a draft environmental assessment.

- The facility is being built on a 200 acre site at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands and will be built in two phases, the first of 21 MW and the second of 23 MW. Details on the battery system were not released.

- The system would use solar power to charge the batteries during the day and discharge them at night to provide power to the local community. It would reduce the need for the Navy to operate its diesel generators and, in the event of a utility power outage, provide power to the Navy facility.

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With a record $1.4 trillion in sustainability assets, investors bail on fossil fuels

As President-elect Donald Trump puts together his fossil fuel-focused administration, the investment community is moving full speed in the opposite direction, instead putting their bets on emissions reductions and support for clean energy.

Some recent developments:

- Investors controlling more than $5 trillion in assets have committed to dropping some or all fossil fuel stocks from their portfolios, according to a new report tracking the trend.

- Climate change criteria shape the investment of $1.42 trillion in assets under management, a more than fivefold increase since 2014. Clean technology is now a consideration incorporated by money managers with $354 billion in assets under management.

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Renewable Energy Continues to Beat Fossil Fuels

Clean energy grew at a record pace as the United States added 22GW of capacity — the equivalent of 11 Hoover Dams — to the grid from renewable sources last year, significantly trumping new fossil fuel additions, according to a new report.

The report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) cites the declining cost of wind and solar power, largely due to advances in technology, as prime reasons for the rapid adoption of renewables. The cost of building large utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants for example has been fallen by 50% in just five years.

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Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream

When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes.

That project now looks like a minnow compared with the whales that sprawl for miles across the seas of Northern Europe.

Off this venerable British port city, a Danish company, Dong Energy, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high. Each turbine produces more power than that first facility.

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Renewables Made Up Majority Of New U.S. Capacity – Again

Renewable energy dominated new U.S. electrical generation put into service during 2016, according to nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign.

Citing stats from the latest issue of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” report, SUN DAY says newly installed capacity from renewable sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind) equaled 16,124 MW, or 61.5% of all new U.S. capacity added in 2016. SUN DAY says that exceeds newly installed capacity from natural gas (8,689 MW), nuclear power (1,270 MW), oil (58 MW) and coal (45 MW) combined.

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U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales Soared In 2016

Final numbers for electric vehicle (EV) sales in the U.S. were recently released for January. The 70% year-over-year increase in monthly sales continued the strong momentum from 2016. Following a 5% decline in sales from 2014 to 2015, U.S. EV sales jumped by 37% in 2016.

By year-end there were about 30 different EV offerings, with total sales of 159,139 vehicles. Five different models sold at least 10,000 units in 2016: Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X, Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Fusion Energi.

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