What kept Governor Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) up all night in December? According to Katie Trachsel, manager of the Michigan Renewable Energy Certification System (MIRECS) program, it was the passage of two pieces of legislation that transformed the state’s renewable-energy laws, encouraged energy efficiency, and reshaped utility regulation. Meanwhile, Illinois rolled out its new renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Brian Granahan, chief counsel at Illinois Power Agency, said the RPS was designed to resolve a confusing set of policies. The new goals are clearer and easier to follow than the previous ones.
Quietly, while the United States focused on its national election, a set of federal clean-energy incentives phased out at the end of 2016. Now that they have vanished, states may seek to create replacements to keep these markets alive and help them grow. For example, New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is now strategically replacing the missing incentives for renewable heating and cooling.
As the solar industry grows and energy efficiency works to do the same, 2016 brought a significant expansion of breaking news for us to cover and curate. The articles below are our top stories showing the many new and surprising developments we saw last year.
Even without reliably supportive policies that help clean energy grow, Midwestern coal-producing states already have many more jobs from solar and wind power than from coal production. There is also a promising economic opportunity to repurpose assembly lines in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio to manufacture renewable-energy equipment.
The presidential election of Donald Trump complicates the potential of the United States Green Bank Act (H.R. 5802, S. 3382). The act, sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative and Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), is intended to offer additional financial structures to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency across the nation in the face of climate change.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry walked to the stage at COP22 on Nov. 16 in Marrakech, Morocco, turning to face the stuffy conference room filled with excited smiles, furrowed brows, and determined eyes. The inspiring speech focused on his hopes and fears for the future of action on climate change.
Massachusetts’ new energy bill is an expansive approach to diversifying the state’s energy sources away from natural gas (H. 4568). This bill, which passed on Aug. 8, helps the state achieve its target of cutting emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This goal is part of the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
In most of the United States, low-to-moderate-income (LMI) communities have little to no voice about how solar energy can bring jobs and economic stability. New York is an exception. The state held an extended dialogue on this subject this year through the CDG Low-Income Collaborative. Although the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC) dismissed the committee’s recommendations, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) decided to put some of them in place.
The landscape of renewable-energy investment in Europe and the UK is in transition, driven by changes in programs and incentives. Current European Union targets require member countries to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to the European Commission, the bloc was on track to meet those targets as of June 2015.
Angola, one of Africa’s oil-producing OPEC countries, has recently announced an ambitious plan to add 800 MW of renewable-energy capacity by 2025. In contrast to its carbon-intensive petroleum exports, the country’s energy mix is fairly clean, with over 70 percent of electricity production coming from hydropower. The government plans to maintain a clean energy mix – 66 percent from hydropower and an additional 8 percent from renewable energy – while doubling access to electricity within the next decade.
At a public event in Boston on June 11 called "Designing Solar’s Value: A Stakeholder’s Forum," speakers outlined an ambitious proposal to shift the entire framework of solar financing in Massachusetts to a value-of-solar model. The newly founded Northeast Solar Energy Market Coalition (NESEMC) cosponsored the event, which was hosted by Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE).
Greentech Media’s first international Solar Summit, held on Jan. 27-28 in Mexico City, left more questions than answers about the future of solar in Mexico. Speakers said that the solar markets are in flux at all levels of development. The country is far from reaching a steady state. Developers who are willing to take risks could enjoy huge payoffs but must first face significant regulatory uncertainty.
How can green banks collaborate internationally to scale up private financing to meet the challenge of climate change? A new international organization, the Green Bank Network, hopes to lead the way. During the Paris climate conference, six green banks and two nonprofit organizations jointly announced the opening of the network on Dec. 7. The network will accelerate clean energy installations and mobilize private investments worldwide.
While making strong motivational statements at the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York City on Jan. 27, speakers also laid forth an ambitious set of targeted goals to implement the Paris climate conference’s agenda. These goals included implementing climate disclosure requirements; advocating for stable, economically meaningful carbon pricing; ceasing investment in coal; leveraging pension funds; scaling up green banks; clarifying what constitutes a green bond; and analyzing risks on an industry-by-industry basis.
What are the political options the United States solar industry faces as it seeks to avert the impact of the phase-out of the federal investment tax credit (ITC)? A policy paper produced by researchers at The George Washington University, “Softer Solar Landings: Options to Avoid the Investment Tax Credit Cliff,” explores four potential alternatives to the current plan and assesses their political viability.
The CEO of green utility Good Energy has called UK government cuts to renewable-energy subsidies "a hatchet job" enacted without appreciation for the positive impact renewables were having on wholesale energy prices...
One of the overlooked elements in President Obama's Clean Power Plan is the positive effect it will likely have on low-income United States citizens - those who suffer most from climate change and who are facing a crisis in available affordable housing...