Emerging Nations Hit Record Clean Energy Investments

According to the new report Climatescope, developing nations have surpassed the world’s wealthiest countries in securing more renewable energy investments. Climatescope is a clean energy country competitiveness index, interactive report and online tool supported by the U.S., U.K. and Inter-American Development Bank Group. The report unveils a portrait of clean energy activity in 55 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America Climatescope2015and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others. Energy solutions reviewed included solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).

The news came shortly before a round of UN-organized climate negotiations kicked off in Paris prior to the start of COP21. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which released the report, says these talks often focus on the question of how much capital wealthier countries should make available to lesser developed countries to address the climate challenge.

Climatescope’s key findings include:

  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries.
  • New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 Climatescope countries assessed to hit a record annual high of $126bn – up $35.5bn, or 39%, from 2013 levels.
  • The results were substantially bolstered by the remarkable growth in China, which added 35GW of new renewable power generating capacity all on its own – more than the 2014 clean energy build in the US, UK, and France combined.
  • Meanwhile, “South-South” investment (funds deployed in Climatescope nations from banks or other financial institutions based in those countries) surged to $79bn in 2014 from $53bn the year prior.
  • Continuing declines in clean energy costs appear to be driving growth. Costs associated with solar photovoltaic power have ticked down 15% year-on-year globally. Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions.
  • A total of 50.4 gigawatts (GW) of new clean capacity was built in Climatescope countries, marking a 21% uptick from the prior year. In another first, renewables capacity deployed in emerging markets topped that in wealthier Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
  • On a percentage basis, clean energy capacity is growing twice as quickly in Climatescope nations compared to OECD ones.

The report found that progress was achieved during 2014 despite a number of countries in the survey seeing economic growth rates slow. Average gross domestic product growth across Climatescope nations slipped to 5.7 percent in 2014 from 6.4 percent in 2013 with the slow-down most apparent in major nations, Brazil, South Africa, and China. Despite the pullback, these three countries attracted a total of $103bn in new clean energy investment in 2014.

Canada Commits to Greater Wind Energy Use

The Alberta government has made a commitment to use renewable energy to replace two-thirds of the electricity currently produced by coal-fired electricity generation. As part of this plan, the government has indicated that wind energy will be the primary source of this new energy mix. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) applauded the news.

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Photo Credit: Canadian Wind Energy Association

Wind energy is one of the most cost-competitive ways to generate new electricity in Alberta and Alberta is wise to draw on its tremendous wind energy resources to help replace coal-fired electricity in the province,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “Wind energy can also ensure that greenhouse gas emission reductions in electricity generation are sustainable and long-term and can contribute to the creation of a low carbon electricity grid that can ultimately help reduce emissions in other sectors of the economy.”

CanWEA cites that while the new renewable energy targets are ambitious, they are achievable without negatively affecting the electricity grid. Today, wind energy supplies 4 percent of power needs but the organization says more than 10 countries and U.S. states have already seen wind energy contribute more than 15 percent and they believe Alberta’s ability will be no different.

“Alberta has said it will use an auction process to bring new renewable energy on-line and such competitive processes have been used successfully in many Canadian jurisdictions,” said Hornung. “Experience has shown that these processes are intensively competitive and ensure that ratepayers receive the lowest cost power.”

CanWEA looks forward to working with the Government of Alberta and key stakeholders on the detailed design and implementation of policy measures that will facilitate the deployment of high quality and cost-competitive new wind energy projects in the province.

Hornung added, “Alberta’s decision to move away from coal-fired electricity generation and dramatically increase its use of renewable energy reflects a trend happening in countries all over the world. More renewable energy in Alberta will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean the air, and produce significant new investment and jobs – particularly in rural areas of the province.”

GRID Alternatives Helps Bring Solar to Families in Need

Mitsubishi Electric Green Team volunteers, students from CSULB Disabled Student Services and GRID Alternatives project leader pose in front of a newly installed 3.24kW solar system in Los Angeles. (Photo: Business Wire)

Mitsubishi Electric Green Team volunteers, students from CSULB Disabled Student Services and GRID Alternatives project leader pose in front of a newly installed 3.24kW solar system in Los Angeles. (Photo: Business Wire)

When we think of Thanksgiving and helping those in need, many people take action to help provide food. Yet this holiday, thanks to GRID Alternatives, employees from Mitsubishi Electric and California State University Long Beach’s Disabled Student Services, two low-income families now have access to affordable, clean energy. The group installed solar electric systems with the PV modules donated by Mitsubishi Electric US.

While Mitsubishi Electric US donated 6kW of Diamond Premium high performance monocrystalline PV modules bundled with inverters donated by SolarEdge and racking donated by Orion Solar Racking, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation provided financial support for the installations with a grant to GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles. The solar package is bundled as the Diamond Kit as provides a simpler way for residential homeowners to install solar energy and save money. The grant provides hands-on training and education in renewable energy for the student volunteers, most of whom are interested in pursuing careers in the solar industry.

At the second installation, volunteers installed a 2.7kW solar system. (Photo: Business Wire)

At the second installation, volunteers installed a 2.7kW solar system. (Photo: Business Wire)

“We are pleased to extend our reach this year to two families in need,” said Gina Heng, vice president and general manager of Mitsubishi Electric U.S., Inc.’s Photovoltaic Division. “We appreciate the generosity of SolarEdge and Orion Solar Racking, and the leadership of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, for making these installations possible.”

The photovoltaic systems were installed in the homes of Edward Wong, a CSULB alumnus, and his family, of Los Angeles, and Zelmira Medina of East Los Angeles. “As a CSULB graduate, it was great to connect with these student volunteers from my alma mater,” said Mr. Wong. “On behalf of my family, I also want to thank all the companies for giving us the gift of solar energy for our new home.”

Kevin Webb, director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, added, “GRID Alternatives gave us the opportunity to further our mission to help youth with disabilities maximize their potential and participation in society. I’m impressed by the students’ interest in solar technology. We’re proud to continue our support of GRID Alternatives not only to help these students get practical experience in their chosen careers, but also to assist them to serve their community.”

Pilot Hill Wind Project Goes Online

The Pilot Hill Wind Project, a 175 MW wind farm located in Illinois, has begun commercial operations. The EDF Renewable Energy project was made possible through Microsoft Corporation’s commitment to purchase the power under a 20-year purchase power agreement. Pilot Hill will provide 100 percent of the energy needs of Microsoft’s data center.


Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois generating 175 MW.

EDF Renewable Energy is proud to partner with Microsoft to power its Illinois data center with 100% renewable energy, through the Pilot Hill Wind Project,” said Ryan Pfaff, executive vice president of EDF Renewable Energy. “Corporate America is increasingly turning to renewable energy to power its business operations, based both on consumer preferences and because renewable energy simply makes good business sense from a cost standpoint. Technology companies like Microsoft have been leading the way in this regard, and many other industries are beginning to follow suit.”

Located 60 miles southwest of Chicago in Kankakee and Iroquois counties, Pilot Hill commenced construction of its 103 General Electric (GE) wind turbines in September 2014. The facility will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 60,000 homes, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, added, “Microsoft is excited to see renewable energy from Pilot Hill coming on line. We are strong supporters of green power, and projects like Pilot Hill are one way we are meeting our commitment to powering our data centers and operations with renewable energy.”

EDF Renewable Services will provide balance-of-plant operations and maintenance for the facility including 24/7 remote monitoring from its NERC compliant Operations Control Center (OCC).

Growth Energy Intros ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules RFS Ad

During a press call this morning, Growth Energy launched a week-long TV ad campaign featuring Iowa Farmer Chris Soules of “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame. The ad focuses on the economic benefits of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in rural America. The spot hits airwaves just days before the Obama Administration is due to announce its final rule on the RFS. The ad is airing in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

“I’m proud to be a part of something that protects something important to my family farm operation as well as thousands of others,” said Soules about why he became involved in efforts around promoting the positive benefits of the RFS. “I’ve been able to see first-hand the benefits of renewable fuels and how they affect my family’s enterprise and other families who haven’t even been involved in farming by providing jobs in clean energy that helps our country diversify our energy resources.”

Soules noted that in light of the recent events in Paris, it re-emphases the need for the U.S. to become energy independent with a diversified energy portfolio.

Soules was joined on the call by Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy who noted that the RFS is a great American success story.

“We know our opposition is out there saying anything and doing anything in every possible way to keep the administration from rolling out an implementation of the volumetric standards of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 that are beneficial to this great nation,” said Buis.

The RFS proposal, as it currently stands, contains volumes that are below the legislative mandate. Biofuel supporters have been working to get the volumes back on track and moving forward as the law intended. Buis also noted that many eyes are on Paris for COP21 to see how countries, including America, identify strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Buis said the RFS has been a successful policy in doing just this.

Listen to the full press call here: Growth Energy-Chris Soules Ad Press Call

TASC Poll: Public Unhappy with Hawaii Solar Direction

According to a new poll from the The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), in Hawaii, a majority of respondents support political candidates that support solar development as well as rooftop solar. In addition, a majority said they oppose the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) recent decision to eliminate solar net metering, the fundamental policy for rooftop solar growth according to TASC.

Solar supporters rally in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PRNewsFoto/The Alliance for Solar Choice)

Solar supporters rally in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PRNewsFoto/The Alliance for Solar Choice)

Three out of four respondents oppose the Commission’s October decision, which was made without holding a hearing or conducting an analysis of the costs and benefits of solar net metering, and without providing notice to customers. In response, dozens of people gathered at a “Rally To Be Heard” in front of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Solar supporters erected a large megaphone to demonstrate the desire for public participation. “I support greater solar growth,” said Charlie Jeffries who attended the rally. “I’m disturbed that the PUC made a rash decision without giving the public an opportunity to make our voices heard.”

“The Hawaii Public Utility Commission failed to do a study of the costs and benefits of solar,” said Roy Skaggs, also a rally attendee. “How do you make sweeping decisions that impacts thousands of families and jobs without at least knowing the data?”

Those speaking at the rally share the public’s sentiment. A nearly-universal 97% of poll respondents support more rooftop solar in Hawaii.

“The public overwhelmingly supports rooftop solar and believes that Hawaii is moving in the wrong direction on energy policy, but policy makers are not listening,” said Bryan Miller, President of TASC. “This poll shows that Governor Ige and the Commission are ignoring the voices of their constituents.” Continue reading

DOE Releases 2015 Revolution…Now Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the 2015 Revolution…Now report, which details the state of multiple clean energy technologies in the U.S. that have the ability to provide climate change solutions. The report builds upon past versions that demonstrate an increase in deployment and a decrease in cost for transformational technologies including: wind turbines, solar technologies, electric vehicles (EVs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

revolution-now-infographic“We are experiencing a clean energy revolution in the United States, and this report confirms it,” Secretary Moniz said. “Today, clean energy technologies are providing real-world solutions – not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, but they also drive a domestic, low-carbon economy with technologies that are increasingly cost-competitive with conventional technologies. We have the tools for a cleaner and more secure energy future.”

The 2015 update finds that dramatic cost reductions are continuing to drive the adoption of clean energy technologies. The report reviews the rapid growth of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules for both large, utility-scale PV plants, and smaller, rooftop and distributed PV systems. DOE continues to invest in research and development for these technologies in addition to reducing market barriers in order to make these clean energy technologies even more cost-effective and widely available across the United States.

Between 2008 and 2014, land-based wind accounted for 31 percent of all new generation capacity installed in the U.S. The DOE says this is in part due to early investments from DOE that helped drive technology innovation.

U.S. Toyota Makes Cars with ‘Green’ Gas

Toyota will soon be manufacturing cars with “green” gas. The company announced its efforts to nearly eliminate all CO2 emissions from its factories and vehicles and will achieve this, in part, with electricity produced from methane. The “green” gas, also known in some instances as renewable natural gas, is a byproduct of trash decomposition from the nearby Central Kentucky Landfill.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.26.51 AM“We will generate one megawatt (1 million watts) per hour at the site,” said Toyota’s environmental strategies manager Dave Absher. “That’s enough annual energy generation to produce approximately 10,000 vehicles. The system can eventually be scaled up to 10 megawatts per hour.”

Toyota has announced aggressive global emission reduction goals for all of its production plants as well as for the cars they produce. This year the company launched the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and has made the technology available for use by other automakers. In addition, they are developing manufacturing technologies that also use hydrogen as a power source within their plants. The company has also integrated other renewable energy power sources including wind, solar and locally produced renewable energy. Toyota hopes to reach its zero emissions goal by 2050.

“The landfill gas generator represents the kind of thinking that our company is asking us to do to reduce our carbon footprint over the next 35 years,” said Kevin Butt, Toyota’s general manager for environment strategies. “It’s a small step, but a significant one. These types of changes to our manufacturing operations coupled with other global initiatives will help us reach this very aggressive goal.” Continue reading

Wind Energy Can Lead Europe in 2030

According to a new report from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), wind power can exceed gas, coal and other forms of energy by 2030 if European member states follow the ambitious policy framework put in place through 2030.

EWEA Report - Aiming HighThe report finds total wind installations in Europe could reach 392GW with 294GW of onshore and 98GW of offshore wind. Today, Europe’s 128.8GW can meet 10 percent of European power consumption in a normal wind year. Giles Dickson, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, noted wind power can be the foundation of the European energy system within the next 15 years.

The report outlines a number of policy priorities that need to be addressed including the development of national renewable energy action plans for member states; streamlining national permitting procedures; proposing legislation for well-functioning energy markets and driving reform of the Emissions Trading System. Should these policies be implemented the report finds the measures will result in a net gain of EUR13 billion, the equivalent of the EU’s funding for transport infrastructure over the next 5 years. The wind industry would also support up to 366,000 direct and indirect jobs.

“Wind power makes economic sense. But policymakers must demonstrate more determination than is on show today,” said Dickson. “Wind power can deliver economic growth in Europe by boosting investments, creating jobs and reducing electricity bills. A new market design, a reformed ETS and rigorous accountability on 2030 targets are essential if these goals are to be achieved.”

“Already onshore wind is cheaper than any form of new power generation. Last year wind power installed more than gas and coal combined in the EU. Europe’s energy and economic transition is underway.” Dickson added, “Now politicians must decide whether to accelerate this transition or drag their heels, which would damage investments and job creation.”

Effect OSG Unveils “Hybrid” House

The Effect Operational Sales and Systems Group (Effect OSG) has unveiled a “hybrid” house on a private home in Laurentians in Quebec. The home is powered by an Enerdynamic Hybrid Technologies (EHT) wind and solar hybrid system. The systems, coined EnerCubes, consists of eight vertical axis wind turbines featuring an innovative vane design and solar panels fully integrated into an automated battery management and control system.

PaulDionneThe Outback Power management system controls eight 500 watt EnerCubes, 3.8 kilowatt (kW) of solar panels and batteries with 54 kWh energy capacity. According to Effect OSG, the roof mounted EnerCubes has features such as:

  • self-start at wind speeds as low as 1.7 meters per second (3.8 miles or 6.1 kilometers per hour) sustained rotation;
  • low maintenance since the system has no drive shaft, no gear boxes, no brushes, bushings or slip rings;
  • modular design, which allows ‘flat-packed’ shipping to the deployment site with plug and play installation;
  • scalable, since they can be installed either as single functioning units or grouped together for additional power, low vibration, through the use of precision matched bearings, which are the only turbines’ moving parts; and
  • no electromagnetic interference (EMI) since the generator emits a frequency of 14 HZ when operating at its rated output, which is too low to produce EMI.

21892-effect-osg-wind-solar-hybrid-de-300x172President and CEO of Enerdynamic Hybrid Technologies Inc., John Gamble, said, “We are most pleased to deliver an advanced wind and solar hybrid resource with key performance parameters.

Paul Dionne, President Effect OSG, added that, “as a specialist firm in linking client needs to custom fit energy solutions, we felt that introducing this wind generator technology, which turns with much greater ease than traditional turbines, gave our clients a significant edge in using an ultra-efficient wind energy system to be less dependent on electric utilities.”

Other companies involved in the project included O² Globale Énergie, Phase3 Energy and EnShift Power. Other contributors include Gagnon & Zollner Maîtres Artisans, for system installation and building structure; Triacta Power Solutions, for power monitoring system; and Budget Propane, for gas heating systems, as an alternative to further reduce customers’ electrical bills.