EFS Offering Hawaii Homeowners Solar Financing

Energy Finance Solutions (EFS) has partnered with the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program to help make clean energy improvements accessible to Hawaii utility customers. EFS has developed financing options that make the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems simple and affordable for Hawaii residents.

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

“Often, utility customers want to install solar, but the upfront installation cost is a challenge, and it’s not always easy for them to obtain financing through a traditional channel,” explained Cyd Miyashiro of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority. “We are thrilled to offer an easy, affordable way to get our customers the financing they need—and to work with EFS, a partner with a long history and strong track record in financing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The State of Hawaii is committed to renewable power and hopes this initiative will drive increased adoption amongst our residents.”

Loans through the GEMS Program are now available to finance up to 100 percent of the cost of solar electric systems (up to $75,000), with no down payment required. The Program partners with qualified installers to assist borrowers with the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. Fixed-rate loan terms are available for up to 20 years, and there are no closing costs or prepayment penalties associated with the loans. To be eligible, owner-occupied, single-family homes must be located in the State of Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO) utility service territories.

Speaking of Hawaii, a recent Today in Energy report looks at Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that were recently passed by Hawaii and Vermont. Both pieces of legislation require significant increases in renewable electricity and home solar systems will be an important factor in achieving mandates. Hawaii is requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 while Vermont passed a bill creating 75 percent RPS by 2032. Both RPS targets are higher than any other U.S. states.

Ocean Energy to Play Global Role

The Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy of the Committee of Regions has endorsed a recent report that focuses on the development of ocean energy to meet growing demand for renewable energy. The report states the ocean energy sector will make an “important contribution….to meeting the future energy needs of the European Union.”

ocean-energy-europeIn response to the news, Rémi Gruet, CEO Ocean Energy Europe, noted, “The ocean energy industry welcomes this report from the Committee of the Regions, and recognises the strong leadership Europe’s regions have played in driving the sector forward. With the resource anchored at regional level, ocean energy developments will mean fresh economic activity for existing port infrastructures and maritime supply chains.”

The report looks at Europe’s global leadership in the ocean energy sector and the benefits in terms of industrial growth, jobs and exports. The report also underlines both the pivotal role of the EU in pushing the development of the sector and the significant potential that could be unlocked through exploiting synergies between regions, Member States and the EU itself.

“With 100GW of installed capacity by 2050, the ocean energy industry can make a major contribution to Europe’s energy security and decarbonisation goals. This report is particularly timely and correctly identifies the key actions for Europe to maintain its global dominance and benefit from the growth of ocean energy around the world,” added Gruet.

The report supports the European Commission’s Ocean Energy Forum initiative, assigned to draft an industry roadmap by September this year. The final roadmap will be presented to European Ministers during a summit on ocean energy taking place in Dublin, on October 20, 2015.

Golf Course Repurposed to Solar Farm

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

Abandoned golf course in Japan that will be repurposed into a 23 MW solar farm.

The joint venture between Kyocera TCL Solar and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation has birthed a solar farm on an abandoned golf course in Koyto Prefecture, Japan. Once complete, the 23 MW solar power plant will generated an estimated 26,312 megawatt hours per year.

In addition to this project, Kyocera and Century Tokyo Leasing, along with two other companies, are developing a 92MW solar power plant at another abandoned golf course in the region. Not limited to Japan, several states in the U.S. including Florida, Utah and Kansas are also considering re-purposing abandoned golf courses for solar development among other uses.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Rendering of the Kanoya Osaki Solar Hills Solar Power Plant in Japan.

Solar, said Kyocera, can provide a particularly productive and environmentally friendly use for defunct golf courses, which are characterized by expansive land mass, high sun exposure, and a low concentration of shade trees.

When completed, the new plant will become the largest solar power installation in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. The site is located in Fushimi Ward, where Kyocera established its first major solar energy research center in the mid-1970s. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kyocera’s entry into the solar energy business.

Sen Klobuchar: Time to Govern by Opportunity

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) keynoted the opening session of the BioEnergy 2015: Opportunities in a Changing Energy Landscape conference in Washington, D.C. During her remarks, she noted it isn’t an easy time to be in Washington in terms of Sen Amy Klobuchar BioEnergy 2015energy policy and the country has “lost opportunities” in energy policy since 9-11.

Sen Klobuchar explained that in the summer of 2008, right before the downturn, energy legislation was pushed through but legislators were unable to push through a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Instead, President Obama, during the worst downturn since the Great Depression, opted to move forward with failed Cap and Trade legislation.

“We’ve been governing by crisis,” said Klobuchar who stressed that now is the moment to govern by opportunity. She quoted Pope Francis who recently released his Encyclical on climate change who asked, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?” A better world, said Klobuchar.

Klobuchar ended her remarks focusing on ways the country can build on the progress of the past few years, including the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Listen to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s remarks: Senator Amy Klobuchar Remarks

View the 2015 BioEnergy 2015 photo album.

(Note: two days after her presentation the EPA held a public comment hearing in Kansas City where hundreds of people from across the country came together to support the RFS. Coverage can be found here.)

Martifer Solar Opens PV Plant in Belgium

Martifer Solar has completed the construction and connection of a 738.45 kWp PV system on the rooftop of the Decathlon building in Evere, Belgium for the company Orka NV. The company handled all aspects of the plant development and construction.

According to Martifer, The building hosts the largest Decathlon store in Europe and currently stands as one of their largest stores in the world. With an area of 10,600 m2, the 738.45kWp PV plant installed on the building’s rooftop, was built using 2,735 monocrystalline solar panels installed on fixed structures. The rooftop PV plant will produce an estimated 632.3 MWh/year.

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“This PV plant installed by Martifer Solar in the Benelux region represents the reliability, safety and bankability of the projects and work that we have been doing in this region. The achievement of more than 150 projects built on over 300 rooftops in Belgium, together with our global expertise allows us to consolidate and expand our strategy for the EPC and O&M business in the Benelux region,” said Luis Pinho, operations manager in Belgium for Martifer Solar.

Jan Heyse, managing director of Orka, investor and asset manager for the project, added, “This project was more complex and had a longer development lead time due to the close integration with the construction of the building itself. We have enjoyed working with Martifer Solar to realize this project to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. With this realization Orka’s capacity in rooftop PV in the Brussels region totals 7Mwp, divided over 6 rooftops.”

With the completion of this project, Martifer Solar has installed approximately 35 MW of total PV capacity installed in Belgium.

#NEO2015 Identifies Five Power Trends

Worldwide power generation will experience five trends over the next 25 years according to the New Energy Outlook 2015 published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report is based on analysis country-by-country and technology-by-technology of electricity demand, costs of generation and structural changes in the electricity system.

New Energy Outlook 2015“NEO 2015 draws together all of BNEF’s best data and information on energy costs, policy, technology and finance. It shows that we will see tremendous progress towards a decarbonised power system. However, it also shows that despite this, coal will continue to play a big part in world power, with emissions continuing to rise for another decade and a half, unless further radical policy action is taken,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

New Energy Outlook focuses on five major shifts that will occur through 2040:

  • Solar, solar everywhere. The further decline in the cost of photovoltaic technology will drive a $3.7 trillion surge in investment in solar, both large-scale and small-scale.
  • Power to the people. Some $2.2 trillion of this will go on rooftop and other local PV systems, handing consumers and businesses the ability to generate their own electricity, to store it using batteries and – in parts of the developing world – to access power for the first time.
  • Demand undershoots. The march of energy-efficient technologies in areas such as lighting and air conditioning will help to limit growth in global power demand to 1.8% per year, down from 3% per year in 1990-2012. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
  • Gas flares only briefly. Natural gas will not be the “transition fuel” to wean the world off coal. North American shale will change the gas market, but coal-to-gas switching will be mainly a US story. Many developing nations will opt for a twin-track of coal and renewables.
  • Climate peril. Despite investment of $8 trillion in renewables, there will be enough legacy fossil-fuel plants and enough investment in new coal-fired capacity in developing countries to ensure global CO2 emissions rise all the way to 2029, and will still be 13% above 2014 levels in 2040.

Jon Moore, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added, “Last year’s forecast from BNEF identified the big share that renewables would have in power investment – that raised eyebrows at the time, but other energy forecasters have since piped a similar tune. This year’s report pushes our thinking further, with updated analysis on the slowing levels of demand we are already seeing, and on the proliferation of small PV systems.”

New CESA Clean Energy Report Available

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has released a new report, “Clean Energy Champions: The Importance of State Programs and Policies“. The report provides a comprehensive look at the ways in which states are supporting clean energy as well as offers suggestions on how to further encourage growth.

The report includes 31 case studies form 22 states covering various clean energy programs including Renewable Portfolio Standards, renewable energy tax credits, rebates and other less known programs used to develop the clean energy industry.

CESA Clean Energy Champions Report“Over the past decade and a half, states across the country have implemented innovative policies that have achieved significant, measurable results,” said Warren Leon, executive director of CESA. “This report clearly outlines how renewable energy production has far surpassed expectations and created a thriving clean energy sector. We must sustain this momentum by supporting various initiatives at the state level, working in tandem with federal agencies, and advancing clean energy with continued bipartisan support.”

In examining the state’s role in clean energy development over the past 15 years, the report identifies seven lessons to consider for the continued growth of clean energy into the future. Those lessons cover the following:

  • The significance of state experimentation and the ways states can continue to innovate to move the clean energy sector forward;
  • The need for the states to strengthen their existing consumer protection role regarding clean energy technologies;
  • The approach states should take when modifying distributed generation policies;
  • The value of continuing to address clean energy policy in a non-partisan manner;
  • The specific research analysis the federal government should undertake to assist the states;
  • The role of federal tax incentives in leveraging state initiatives for clean energy market growth; and
  • The importance of structuring EPA’s Clean Power Plan in ways that support existing state clean energy initiatives.

In addition, the report found four key areas where state activity has made significant progress to overcome market barriers: developing the clean energy supply;
overcoming barriers by building the infrastructure for clean energy growth; building a vibrant clean energy industry; and protecting and including consumers.

Pope Francis Advocates for Renewable Energy

Addressing all persons living on the plant, Pope Francis’ LAUDATO SI’, Encyclical Letter calls on mankind to address climate change and heal earth. He writes, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”. He stresses throughout the Encyclical, “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change“.

do908_laudato_si-255x363“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” writes Pope Francis and notes that while efforts have been undertaken, they are not enough. “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest.”

Pope Francis’ Encyclical spans six chapters with each section focused on a particular area of importance to climate change discussions and action steps to be undertaken. In chapter 5 he focuses on approach and action as it relates to energy and calls for the end of fossil fuel use.

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions,” continues Pope Francis. 

He calls for a worldwide consensus – all countries – to come together to develop “renewable and less polluting forms of energy”. While he acknowledges the work already being done to develop more sustainable, alternative forms of energy, he stresses that countries must come together and take responsibility for paying for the costs of energy transition and that politics and businesses must speed up their pace of acknowledgement and action to curtail climate change.

If only one message were received by those reading LAUDATO SI, it is that humans are at the center of climate change, that none of us is without fault, and it will take all of us to restore earth to a state of health and beauty.

BayWa r.e.’s Beethoven Wind Project in Operation

The Beethoven wind project located in South Dakota is in full operation. BayWa r.e. bought the project from a local developer in August 2014. The power is sold under a 20 year contract to NorthWestern Energy and GE has been engaged to maintain the turbines for the next 10 years.

BayWa r.e. Beethoven Wind Project“The 80 MW Beethoven Project is the largest wind project brought online in the US and the second largest one in BayWa r.e.’s history worldwide. Its output will supply clean, reliable, renewable energy to 31,000 homes.” said Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e. and BayWa AG board member for the energy sector. “The completion of Beethoven is an important milestone and we are on to the next project. As we continue to seek out the next opportunity, we welcome any introduction to exciting projects.” said Florian Zerhusen, CEO of BayWa r.e.’ wind business in the US.

In 2014, BayWa r.e. sold two operational renewable energy projects located in New Mexico but is still managing the facilities.

California Breaks the 10,000 MW Solar Barrier

According to the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, California has become the first state in the country to exceed 10,000 MW of installed solar capacity. California has more solar assets than most nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia and Belgium. The report was conducted by GTM Research and supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

During Q1 2015, California installed 718 MW of solar energy raising the state’s total capacity to 10,649 MW – enough to power nearly 2.6 million homes. The report went on to point out that California had big increases in Q1 across all solar sectors. Of the new capacity added, 231 MW were residential, 88 MW were commercial and 399 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $1.7 billion investment across the state in the first quarter alone, found the report.

FIGURE- U.S. PV Installations, Q1 2010-Q1 2015“When it comes to creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, California is showing the world how to get the job done,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, today California has 10 times more installed solar capacity than the entire nation had in 2007. We congratulate Gov. Brown, his administration, legislative leaders and the people of California for being at the forefront of America’s efforts to create a vibrant and growing clean energy economy.”

Resch said California’s explosive growth in solar is due, in large part, to stable and effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM). Nationwide, solar remains the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States.

The residential market also continued to flourish in Q1, with installed system prices dropping 4 percent year-over-year – and down nearly 50 percent since 2010. The upswing in residential installations is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, especially in light of a recent report by the California Energy Commission, which shows that more than a quarter of all new homes being built in Southern California are being constructed with solar energy systems. Presently, there are 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians.