Spending and Tax Deal Brings ITC and PTC Extensions

Sahir Surmeli for National Law Review:  Early Wednesday morning Congressional leaders reached agreement on a year-end spending and massive tax deal that would prevent a government shutdown and extend a series of tax breaks that benefit businesses and individuals. The agreement has major implications for the future of the energy industry and is being hailed by many as a dramatic victory for those in the renewable energy community.  The Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which was slated to drop to 10 percent from 30 percent for solar systems on commercial properties after 2016, would now remain at 30 percent for projects that start construction by December 31, 2019. Projects that start construction in 2020 would qualify for a 26 percent credit and that level would drop to 22 percent for facilities started in 2021. From 2022 on it would remain at 10 percent.   Cont'd...

Breakout Year for Energy Storage

Locational Capacity will be the dominant application in 2016. In other words, battery systems targeted at the grid's most congested load centers will be first and foremost used to provide four hours of peak shaving capability, and other grid balancing services when available.

Global Solar Industry Saved from 2017 Cliff-Edge as US Set to Extend Solar ITC

An extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) - the main driver of solar growth in the United States - was unexpectedly included in an omnibus spending bill agreed upon in Washington, D.C. late Tuesday night. It will be finalized and voted on later this week.

Could this be the future of biofuels?

Anmar Frangoul for CNBC:  A common sight in the British countryside, bracken -- a type of fern -- is now being hailed as the next big source of biofuel.  Based in the south west of England, Brackenburn produces "brackettes" – biomass pellets made from bracken that they shred and compress into briquettes which produce much more heat when burnt than oak. "In our estimation there's 2.5 million acres of bracken in the UK… it's a huge area," Barry Smith, Brackenburn's marketing and sales director, told CNBC in a phone interview. "Left unchecked, bracken encroaches by three percent a year… at the end of the day there's no use for it whatsoever," Smith added. "It's a nuisance and to call it a crop is kind of giving it a status it doesn't deserve."   Cont'd...

Kyocera Expands Number of Solar Recharging Stations in Japan as Electric Vehicle Use Grows

Solar-powered recharging stations also provide off-grid back-up power during emergencies.

Energy Storage in Underwater Balloons

Tom Lombardo for Enegineering.com :  Grid-level energy storage takes many forms, including flow batteries, Li-ion batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air in underground caverns, and even flywheels. Toronto’s Hydrostor just added another tool to the arsenal: underwater compressed air energy storage (UCAES). Hydrostor recently activated a pilot UCAES plant - the first of its kind - that will provide grid-level storage for the city of Toronto. In addition to supplying the city with cost-effective energy storage, the system will allow engineers to study its behavior and optimize the design. Can UCAES become a viable energy storage technology? The idea has been around for many years: when supply exceeds demand, use the excess energy to run an air compressor and store the air in an underwater balloon. When power is needed, open a valve and let the compressed air run a turbine to generate electricity. The principle is simple, but the economic feasibility has yet to be demonstrated. Hydrostor hopes that their facility becomes the proving ground.   Cont'd...  

China Finds New Funding Model to Allow Free Solar Panel Installation

Manny Salvacion for Yibada:  Singapore-based real estate investment firm Redwood Group has recently launched a 248-kilowatt (KW) pilot project in China. The company also signed a power purchase agreement with New York-based solar developer UGE International and its financing partner, Hong-Kong's Blue Sky Energy Efficiency Co. Under the Redwood deal, UGEI and Blue Sky would lease rooftop space from Redwood to operate solar panels and then sell the electricity back to Redwood, the building owner, at prices lower than grid rates. "The time is right now for solar on rooftop in China because the cost of putting a system on the roof is becoming much more attractive," said Tianyu Sieh, chief executive of Blue Sky. UGEI and Blue Sky have also partnered with real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle in China to offer the same model to its commercial clients.   Full article:

Events to Attend - AEE Solar Dealer Conference

Sunrun Chairman and co-founder Ed Fenster will present the keynote address about efforts to extend the federal ITC but also how to prepare for the various outcomes that could occur.

36 countries launch world alliance for geothermal energy

Thirty-six countries gave the official start Monday to an initiative to promote geothermal energy in developing economies as a cleaner alternative to oil, gas and coal. The Global Geothermal Alliance, launched on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Le Bourget, aims at a sixfold increase in geothermal electricity production and a tripling of geothermal-derived heating by 2030. At present, geothermal is growing modestly, at three to four percent per year, providing 12 gigawatts of electricity annually. But this is just a fraction of its overall potential of 100 gigawatts, according to the industry. Only 24 out of 90 countries with geothermal potential actually use the resource. The alliance said its members will seek to overcome "political uncertainty" about geothermal and strengthen the industry's skills base. The Global Geothermal Alliance initiative was sketched out in September 2014 at a summit organised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Members include countries on thermal "hotspots" in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, ranging from Kenya and Tanzania to Malaysia, the Philippines and Guatemala.   Cont'd...

Rolling Out Smart Inverters

Greater utility familiarity with smart inverters, as well as the further evolution of guiding standards and grid codes, are likely to enable the gradual emergence of optimal electric utility rollout strategies.

YCombinator's Alternative Energy Investments

YCombinator is the most prolific seed investor in the world. Their portfolio of hits include AirBnB, Dropbox & Stripe. They have now publicly committed to backing alternative energy investments.

5 Reasons a String Inverter Won't Cut It

Knowing the limitations of string inverters may tell you just why the Module Level Power Electronics segment - microinverters - is on the rise.

Tidal power: An inside look at how it works

From EnergyDigital:  Tidal power, a sister resource to wind, takes advantage of the predictability of the ocean tides to generate electricity, either via estuary barges or directly from the currents themselves via tidal streams. According to the Ocean Energy Council, the ideal area to net the most potential power is an area with a tidal range of at least seven meters. Energy can be generated via floating devices that drive hydraulic pumps, oscillating water columns within cylindrical shafts to create air movement, or hydropower turbines. The Pacific Northwest coast of the United States is an excellent location for tidal power, given its broad range of tide movement. According to Renewable Northwest, some areas of potential development include: • Makah Bay, Washington (by AquaEnergy Group) • Newport, Oregon (by Oregon State University / Oregon Department of Energy) • Tacoma Narrows (by Tacoma Power) • Puget Sound (by Snohomish County Public Utility District) The following sites are under development in Wales due to their wide tidal height variation and economically receptive marketplace: • Swansea Bay (by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay) • St. Asaph (by North Wales Tidal Energy & Costal Protection) As a whole, the UK has the potential for over 11,000 MW, a staggering amount given the relatively small landmass of the country. This makes it the single largest source of hydrokinetic power in Europe, enough theoretically support 10 percent of the world’s energy consumption.   Cont'd...

Small-scale solar power growing in the United States

By Daniel J. Graeber for UPI.com:  Small-scale solar installations in the United States account for about a third of the overall capacity on the grid, a report from the federal government said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates total U.S. solar-power output in September, the last full month for which data are available, at 3.5 million megawatt hours. Of that, just more than 30 percent came from small-scale solar installations. "Generation from roof-top photovoltaic systems has become an increasingly important part of total solar generation in the United States," EIA AdministratorAdam Sieminski said in an emailed statement. A September report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, with support from green energy market adviser GTM Research, found second quarter residential solar capacity grew 70 percent year-on-year to 473 megawatts.   Cont'd...

The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2015

The Fuel Cell Industry Review 2015 offers data and analysis by region, application and fuel cell type and includes objective commentary on key events in the industry over the past year.

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