News Archive
  • Court Not Conivinced by Challenge to EPA Biofuel Mandate

    by Henry Kaplan | May 08, 2014
    The EPA’s 2013 biofuel mandate has survived a court challenge intact. A U.S. court of appeals threw out a legal challenge to the mandate launched by oil refiner PBF Energy. PBF said that the EPA shouldn’t be considering ethanol produced in 2012 but used in 2013 when setting targets for 2013, but the court said it was within the EPA’s powers to do so. The court said that “EPA was entitled to conclude, as it did, that it had wide latitude to consider a range of factors as appropriate...
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  • In Rural India, Solar Power and Cell Phones Grow Together

    by Henry Kaplan | May 07, 2014
    An Indian company is using solar panels to bring electricity to unpowered communities. In a country where a third of the rural population has little access to electricity, Simpa Networks hopes to sell personal solar panels on an installment plan. These solar panels wouldn’t be connected to a wider grid. Rather, they’d be connected to a small battery that would store up some power. It likely wouldn’t be enough to power an American home, but it would provide a source of power for a very important piece of electronics in India: the cell phone...
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  • NRDC Wants Michigan to Move Whole Trees out of the Renewable Biofuel Category

    by Henry Kaplan | May 07, 2014
    Are whole trees a renewable fuel source? The state of Michigan says yes – its renewable energy standard considers any biomass a renewable energy source. But the National Resources Defense Council is asking them to exclude whole trees. The NRDC says that energy producers should instead be encouraged to use “short-rotation crops, wood waste and reclaimed wood, and timber harvest residues (tops and branches)...
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  • Abu Dhabi Trying Out Renewable Energy for its Energy-Hungry Desalination Plants

    by Henry Kaplan | May 06, 2014
    Abu Dhabi wants to run their desalination plants on renewable energy, and they’ve created a pilot program to test out their options. Four energy companies have been contracted to provide renewable energy to a trial desalination plant...
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  • Very Tall Wind Energy Tower Approved in Arizona

    by Henry Kaplan | May 06, 2014
    The City of San Luis, Arizona, has given a company called Solar Wind Energy Tower (SWET) approval to construct a water wind energy tower near the desert border town. The tower would spray water into the air, cooling the air and creating a downward current. As the current reaches the bottom of the tower, it would be redirected through wind turbines. What’s left of the water – the developer calls it the “vast majority” – would be collected and redistributed.
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  • Kansas Legislature to Vote Again on Ending the State’s Renewable Standards

    by Henry Kaplan | May 05, 2014
    Kansas conservatives have been trying to end the state’s renewable energy standards for some time. Their previous bill was stopped a few weeks ago. Now, a new bill that would slowly wind down the renewable energy standards will be up for a vote in the House at the end of this week. It’s up for debate just how different this bill is from the previous one. The bill’s supporters say that it’s a compromise, as it would allow the status quo to remain in place for a few more years. Opponents say that that’s not much of a compromise, as the end result would still be the end of the state’s renewable energy standards...
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  • Construction and Operation News Roundup – May 5

    by Henry Kaplan | May 05, 2014
    As always, new renewable energy projects are being planned, being constructed, and sometimes being canceled. Here’s the latest news about specific sites and companies around the country and around the world…
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  • DOE Releases New Study of U.S. Hydro Potential

    by Henry Kaplan | May 02, 2014
    The DOE’s National Hydropower Asset Assessment Program has analyzed every subbasin in the lower 48 states and figured out each area’s potential for “new stream-reach” hydropower development. They’re calling it the highest fidelity national study on the topic yet. The big picture is that they’ve found 65-GW of hydropower capacity that has yet to be developed, once you take federally protected lands out of the picture. Prime areas look to be the Pacific Northwest, the Appalachians, and the Rockies. The study doesn’t take economics into consideration, though, so that doesn’t mean that it would be worthwhile to develop each one of the streams studied...
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  • Can Massive Solar Plants be Monitored with Drones?

    by Henry Kaplan | May 02, 2014
    The Agua Caliente solar plant made some news this week. Though the Arizona facility has been producing power for two years now, ramping up its generation, its owners announced this week that the plant has achieved “substantial completion,” however they define that. So with a 290-MW capacity, it now holds the title of the most powerful solar plant in the world. (A title soon to be broken by the Topaz Solar Farm in California, which is currently ramping up generation, and which is expected to nearly double the Agua Caliente capacity next year...
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  • Why Does the Navy Invest in Renewable Energy? It Helps Them Fight.

    by Henry Kaplan | May 01, 2014
    We’ve seen few stories with Navy connections in recent weeks. There was the Navy’s breakthrough method for transforming seawater into fuel, and there’s been some stories about the Navy’s wave energy project in Hawaii, including this recent funding announcement. Like large energy-hungry tech companies, the Navy also has a strong stake in renewable energy. But unlike Apple or Google, the Navy is less interested in the stability and long-term financials of renewable energy, and they’re certainly less interested in any of the PR benefits of going renewable. In a recent speech, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made it clear that the Navy is interested in renewable energy for one reason...
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  • Solar Silicon Predicted to Boom this Year

    by Henry Kaplan | May 01, 2014
    Bloomberg is predicting a surge in demand for solar silicon, thanks to a surge of solar panel purchases in China and Japan. They report that those two countries may account for half of the 45-GW of solar capacity that they expect to see constructed worldwide in 2014. Here’s what they predict for the market...
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  • DOE Offering $10 Million in Funding for Wave Energy in Hawaii

    by Henry Kaplan | Apr 30, 2014
    The DOE has put up a new funding opportunity announcement. They’re looking for developers to build two wave energy converters at the Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site (WETS) at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe, Hawaii. From the FOA...
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  • Biofuel Producers Predict That Ethanol Production Will Outstrip EPA Mandates

    by Henry Kaplan | Apr 30, 2014
    Although the ethanol industry has struggled with production and distribution this year, leading the EPA to retroactively cut their biofuel mandate for 2013, biofuel producers are predicting a strong year ahead. They say that they expect to exceed the EPA production levels set for the coming year...
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  • Illinois’ Renewable Energy Laws Are Accidentally Forcing the State to Hoard Money Meant for Solar Power

    by Henry Kaplan | Apr 29, 2014
    As part of their renewable energy law, the state of Illinois has built up a renewable energy fund of $53 million. The fund is expected to grow by another $80 million by the fall. All of that money is meant to buy solar power for consumers through electric utilities Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois. But there’s a problem – neither of those utilities need any more power at the moment. They’ve been losing customers to cheaper energy suppliers, leaving them with more power than they need. So the state is forced to continue collecting money from consumers for solar power, but they’re not able to actually spend the money and buy the solar power...
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  • Major Restructuring at Suntech

    by Henry Kaplan | Apr 29, 2014
    Massive Chinese solar panel manufacturer Suntech, has fallen on hard times recently. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Wuxi Suntech, the Chinese manufacturing arm and the main subsidiary of Suntech, has been acquired for $480 million by Shunfeng Photovoltaic International, making Shunfeng a top solar supplier. Wuxi Suntech had begun bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year...
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