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Renewable Energy Update
February 10, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

Renewables made up majority of new U.S. capacity in 2016

Solar Industry Magazine - Feb 6 Renewable energy dominated new U.S. electrical generation put into service during 2016, according to nonprofit SUN DAY Campaign. Citing data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), SUN DAY says newly installed capacity from renewable sources, such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind equaled 16,124 megawatts, or 61.5% of all new U.S. capacity added in 2016, exceeding newly installed capacity from natural gas (8,689 megawatts), nuclear power (1,270 megawatts), oil (58 megawatts), and coal (45 megawatts) combined. The nonprofit notes that 2016 was the second year in a row in which the majority of new generating capacity came from renewable energy sources. Five years ago, renewable sources cumulatively accounted for 14.26% of total available installed generating capacity; now they provide almost one-fifth (19.17%).

California hits 100,000 solar jobs as industry grows at record pace

The Desert Sun - Feb 7 The U.S. solar industry now employs more than a quarter of a million people, after a breakneck year that saw employment grow by a record 25 percent — and that growth is expected to continue into 2017, as low-cost solar panels nudge coal and natural gas out of the electricity marketplace. California led the country with 100,050 solar jobs in 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Solar Foundation. That was up from about 75,600 solar jobs in 2015. Nationwide, the group found, the solar workforce grew from 209,000 in 2015 to more than 260,000 last year — the fastest growth the Solar Foundation has seen in the seven years it's been publishing this data. "The solar industry currently has more (U.S.) workers than Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon combined," said Andrea Luecke, the Solar Foundation's executive director.

With tax reform on the table, senators prepare second push for energy storage incentives

Utility Dive - Feb 7 As President Trump's administration prepares to levy tax cut reforms, other congressional lawmakers are taking a different tack. Several bills that would bolster energy storage are waiting in the wings this congressional season, signaling the growing significance of the resource. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said he plans to re-introduce legislation in the current congressional session that would provide an investment tax credit for energy storage. He first introduced the tax credit in 2016, but it failed to pass out of committee. The Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act would provide the same investment tax credit (ITC) for commercial energy storage installations as is currently available for solar energy in section 48 of the Internal Revenue Service code.

U.S. electric vehicle sales soared in 2016

Forbes - Feb 5 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. More than half of all EV sales took place in California, driven by the state’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which requires that a certain percentage of an automaker’s sales must be ZEVs. California’s goal is to put 1.5 million ZEVs on the state’s roads by 2025.

VC funding for green energy reached record high in 2016, finds BNEF

PV Magazine - Feb 9 Venture capital (VC) funds are increasingly turning to clean energy for safe investments, with 2016 seeing record levels of cash funneled into rooftop solar and other low-carbon technologies, according to new Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) data. Last year, a total of $834 million went via VC funds into the clean energy industry. This is the highest figure recorded by BNEF since the analysts first started collecting data in 2004, and marked the third consecutive year that the figure invested increased. This momentum suggests a returning confidence among VC and private equity (PE) investors in solar, wind, and other green technologies, having been chased away from the sector by more mainstream investors over the past five years. In 2010, for example, solar and wind projects attracted more than $3.8 billion in VC and PE investment, albeit with the latter group accounting for the bulk of the capital.

Bill to boost small-scale renewables in Oregon runs into opposition

Portland Business Journal - Feb 7 Oregon’s two biggest utilities, major industrial users, and the Citizens’ Utility Board are all opposing legislation that would carve out a portion of Oregon’s renewable portfolio standard for small-scale projects. At a House committee hearing on Monday, advocates for H.B. 2136 said it would ensure diversity in Oregon’s energy sources, bringing projects beyond big wind and solar, and encourage economic development throughout the state. But opponents said the bill, by in effect proscribing the projects that utilities could use to meet their renewable requirements, would drive up costs.

NRG’s massive California solar plant making enough power

Bloomberg - Feb 1 The world’s biggest solar-thermal power plant is now producing enough electricity. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in Southern California initially failed to meet contractual obligations, and a yearlong forbearance deal with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. expired Wednesday. After fine-tuning the complex facility that uses 170,000 mirrors, output is up and it’s no longer at risk of defaulting on the deal, according to David Knox, a spokesman for operator and co-owner NRG Energy Inc. 

UPS goes big on solar

Energy Manager - Feb 8 United Parcel Service (UPS) plans to deploy solar energy assets worth $18 million to at least eight of its facilities by the end of the year. The new investments will produce almost 10 megawatts of power, which represents an almost five-fold increase over current generation. UPS has been using solar power since 2004, when it installed equipment at its facility in Palm Springs. Solar power also is in use at UPS facilities in New Jersey. The press release says that additional deployments are expected in the future.

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