Category Archives: Electric Vehicles

New money: Green banks and green bonds are bringing billions to utilities for the energy transition

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Hundreds of billions of dollars in untapped new money can finance the U.S. power system’s transition away from legacy fossil assets to renewables and distributed generation. Utilities like Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have issued billions in green bonds to fund renewables development. Green banks in New York, Connecticut and other states are backing investments in distributed resources and energy efficiency. It appears much more institutional money wants in on the green opportunity. Congress is considering proposals for a National green bank, which can help propel the energy transition if it can win the acceptance that major utilities told Utility Dive it deserves. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MIDWEST SOLAR ADVOCACY STORIES

From green-minded business owners to political activists: an industry shift in the Midwest, Solar Power World. For many Midwest solar companies, taking on advocacy roles in an industry just getting off the ground has been a necessary responsibility. Here is a look at solar policy in three Midwest states and how local solar installers have taken matters into their own hands.

CLIMATE ACTION GOALS & PROGRESS

MORE EV NEWS

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

  • Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough, CNN
    Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
  • Old dog solar panel manufacturer, Panasonic, learning new home storage tricks, PV Magazine
    Panasonic recently launched their EverVolt home energy storage system, with an AC and DC coupled unit that easily can scale up to 34 kWh and, when coupled with their HIT solar modules, can power your home indefinitely if the grid goes down.
  • Target in energy milestone — ahead of schedule, Chain Store Age
    During the past five years, Target has installed more solar systems than any other company, according to data from SEIA’s Solar Means Business report. The chain is also a four-time Energy Star Partner of the Year. 
  • Wind output to jump 37% because of climate shift — study, E&E News

FEATURED GREEN CAMPUS

Award spotlights UI’s energy efforts, Champaign/Urbana News- Gazette
Five years after it opened, the $98 million Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at the University of Illinois has been awarded “platinum” certification under the LEED environmental rating system. Designed to someday be a “net zero” energy user, the building has a $3 million rooftop solar array with 950 panels that generate renewable electricity for the building and, on sunny days, contribute to the campus-wide power grid. The building also uses power from campus solar farms.

TRACKING THE SUN REPORT

US Solar Panel Prices Continue Dropping, Solar+Storage Increasing — Tracking The Sun Report, CleanTechnica. Tracking the Sun (PDF) is an annual report from Berkeley Lab on installed solar panel prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.

SOLINATOR VIDEO

Renewvia’s New Solar Canopy System Protects and Powers Up EchoPark Dealerships in Colorado

Renewvia Energy Corporation News Release, Newswire

Renewvia Energy Corporation announces that the first two solar-canopy systems for EchoPark® Automotive, a subsidiary of Sonic Automotive, Inc., are up and running at the LEED-certified flagship store in Thornton, Colorado, and at EchoPark Centennial. These innovative carports, complete with energy-efficiency, under-canopy lighting, will protect a total of 929 cars and SUVs from millions of dollars’ worth of hail, snow and sun damage. By generating more than 1.21 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, Renewvia’s system is providing 100 percent of the power required to operate the dealerships on an annual basis. Read more here. 

Photos of Renewvia Projects

In Nebraska

Lexington city council considers housing development plan for St. Ann’s property, Lexington Clipper-Herald. A Kansas based development group interested in building a housing development on St. Ann’s property near Taft St. presented their plan to the Lexington City Council on Tuesday. The city council then looked into the opportunity to construct a 60kW solar facility and carport behind Lexington city hall. Over 25 years, the city could see a $150,000 benefit from the facility and this would improve car storage for the city itself.

Previously Posted PV Magazine Articles

EV Charging & Renewable Energy  

New solutions are needed to pair EVs and renewables, contributors Lori Bird and Norma Hutchinson, World Resources Institute. Published by GreenBiz.

Several utilities, automakers, cities and EV charging providers across the United States are rolling out new pilot programs and services that not only allow residential and commercial customers to use renewable energy for their EVs electricity needs, but also to charge at times that help integrate more renewable energy sources on the grid. Daytime charging syncs with peak solar output, while nighttime charging often can align well with wind output. Here are four types of programs offered, primarily highlighting examples that look to match the timing of EV charging with renewable energy generation more closely.

For a more in-depth view of the range of different approaches and emerging program designs in market, downloadUsing Renewables for Electric Vehicle Demand: A Review Of Utility Program Designs & Implementation Strategies.

Sustainability-linked loans soar as green bond issues slow

By Sara E. Murphy, Contributor, GreenBiz Group

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) data, total sustainable debt issuance surpassed $1 trillion in 2019, in what BNEF characterized as “a landmark moment for the market.” Some mechanisms for verification and setting standards already have emerged, including the Green Loan Principles promulgated in March 2018. Building on those principles, the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (PDF) (SLLPs) were launched this March. The framework features four core components: Learn more here.

Sara E. Murphy is a consultant and freelance writer on sustainable investment and corporate responsibility, with a focus on climate change and extractive industries. Her articles have appeared in the Motley Fool and Responsible Investor.

BIFACIAL SOLAR MODULE EXEMPTION NEWS

Court Temporarily Halts Trump Administration’s U-Turn on Bifacial Solar Modules, Greentech Media The bifacial solar module exemption lives to fight another day in a provisional win for developers like Invenergy.

THE SOLINATOR GARDEN

Colorado’s Solinator Garden completed by Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar, Solar Builder
Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar – two Colorado-based solar firms that work nationwide – have completed The Solinator Garden, a 1-megawatt solar array at Kyle Ave in Fort Collins. The system involved over 100 Colorado-based people, including staff at Namasté Solar, Solaris Energy, and the Fort Collins Utilities as part of their Solar Power Purchase Program (SP3). The Solinator Garden is named to highlight the project’s use of land underneath and around the solar panels to provide a healthy habitat for local pollinator species. 

TRI-STATE

Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells electricity to 43 distribution cooperatives in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

  • Changing energy landscape shakes up rural co-ops, Albuquerque Journal
    This is the first part of a three-day series exploring how rural electric cooperatives served by wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission are struggling to meet new renewable energy and carbon-reduction mandates and transition to a cleaner, lower-cost grid. The co-ops want freedom to build or purchase a lot more renewable energy independent of Tri-State, which limits self-generation by its member utilities to 5% of their total electric load, meaning 95% of their power must come exclusively from Tri-State under long-term agreements that stretch to 2050.
  • Kit Carson Electric expects to be at 100% daytime solar by 2021, Mountain Town News
    In 2016, the coop began negotiating with wholesale provider Tri-State Generation and Transmission for an exit fee. It also hooked up with Guzman Energy, then a new full-requirements power supplier. With Guzman paying the $37 million exit fee, Kit Carson and Guzman in 2017 accelerated investments in solar energy.
  • For Colorado energy provider, the future of coal looks increasingly grim, Energy News Network

NEW EV REPORT

Incentives for EVS, charging infrastructure are key Q3 trend, American Public Power Association Among the top electric vehicle policy trends in the third quarter of 2019 was financial incentives for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, with the majority of incentives under consideration being rebate programs, a new report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center said.

Executive Summary: 50 States Of Electric Vehicles, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

EC TOOL FOR CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS

Building Transparency.Org: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)
EC3 is a free, industry-supported, construction-specific material search and planning tool that helps construction professionals quantify EC, find high-impact reductions, and guide procurement to reduce embodied carbon. Embodied Carbon (EC) makes up most of the 2030 climate impact of a typical new office building. EC is the CO2 emitted in producing materials for a building, e.g. concrete, steel, glass, and timber. Substantial emissions come from both the energy and the chemistry involved, and are about 8% of global emissions.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

A SERIES FOR CHILDREN

Curious Kids: how do solar panels work, The Conversation AU
The Sun produces a lot of energy called solar energy. Australia gets 20,000 times more energy from the Sun each day than we do from oil, gas and coal. This solar energy will continue for as long as the Sun lives, which is another 5 billion years.

Additional Recommended Reading: Curious Kids: how does electricity work?

Low-carbon cities are a $24 trillion opportunity

By Leah Lazer, Catlyne Haddaoui, and Jake Wellman, GreenBiz

A new report from the Coalition for Urban Transitions, “Climate Emergency, Urban Opportunity,” finds that low-carbon cities can reduce emissions while offering tremendous economic opportunities. Researchers found that investing in 16 low-carbon measures in cities could cut global urban emissions by 90 percent by 2050 and has a net present value of almost $24 trillion, equivalent to nearly one-third of the global GDP in 2018. This means that between now and 2050, the total benefits of these investments will exceed their total costs by almost $24 trillion. Broken down by years, an average annual investment of $1.8 trillion (about 2 percent of global GDP in 2018) would yield returns of $2.8 trillion per year by 2030, and $6.9 trillion per year by 2050. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Keith J. Semmelink / Flickr – Omaha skyline

ALSO IN THE NEWS

CORPORATE NEWS

REPORT: UTILITIES’ SELF-SCHEDULING COSTS FOR RATEPAYERS

Inefficient coal plant scheduling cost ratepayers $3.5B from 2015 to 2017, report says, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. Regulated utilities cost ratepayers over $3.5 billion from 2015 to 2017 through uneconomic coal practices, according to a report released Tuesday from the Sierra Club. Vertically-integrated utilities consistently operated coal units based on their own scheduling rather than relying on market signals to determine when running that plant would be most economic, the report found. The practice, known as self-scheduling, became common when there were fewer cost-effective alternative resources, but now hinders the ability of other resources, wind and solar, to compete in power markets, research has previously found.

GLOBAL COAL DIVESTMENT

Over 100 and counting, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
To date, over 100 and counting globally significant financial institutions have announced their divestment from coal mining and/or coal-fired power plants. New announcements are occurring on average every week.

INTERVIEW

#Solar100’s Adam Browning: The Michael Jordan of Solar Policy, PV Magazine
In this #Solar100 interview, Richard Matsui, Founder and CEO of kWh Analytics, speaks with Adam Browning, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Vote Solar.

ENERGY STORAGE

EV CHARGING

EV Connect Raises $12M for Electric Vehicle Charging Software, Greentech Media
The L.A. startup wants to let customers mix and match charging hardware and software controls to suit their needs.

ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA

Acciona News Release

ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the US company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country. The portfolio comprises approximately 3,000 megawatts (MW) of rated power in utility-scale photovoltaic plants and 1.000 MW of battery storage. The transaction covers 20 projects located in the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, within the scope of the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) markets. Tenaska – through Tenaska Solar Ventures, the company’s solar development services business – will work with ACCIONA to complete development of the projects.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has a robust renewables program that includes solar and wind generation in various stages of development, construction and operation. Tenaska Solar Ventures provides development services to approximately 40 projects in 11 states, totaling roughly 6,000 MW of renewable solar capacity. Read more here.

Related Article

ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.

Previously Posted

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

More Regional & State Energy Transition News

Green Bonds

Green bonds lead sustainable funding past $1tn mark, PV Magazine International
In the past 12 years, green bonds have raised nearly $800 billion for investment in clean energy and other sustainability projects and companies are now pegging bond interest payments to their environmental performance.

Grid Decarbonization

Carbon-free – are we at a tipping point?, sponsored content by DistribuTECH, written by Julia Hamm, SEPA President. Published by Utility Dive. Of all the changes and industry trends I’ve witnessed over the past two decades, I believe the most significant is one we are witnessing today: voluntary utility commitments to get to 100% clean or carbon-free energy within the next two-and-a-half to three decades. 

EV News

Featured Nonprofit Energy Transition Initiative

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.

With 10% penetration, EVs could shift all residential peak load to night, analysis of SoCal Ed finds

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Electric vehicles have the potential to act as virtual power plants that can help utilities soak up midday renewable energy and discharge in the evenings to reduce peak load, according to a study from Jackson Associates released Wednesday. The analysis, based on 5,000 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers’ hourly loads, commuting behavior and “potential electric vehicle (EV) ownership,” concluded that at a 10% EV penetration, the batteries could shift the utility’s entire residential peak load to nighttime hours.

Over 20 million EVs are expected on U.S. roads by 2030 — a rapid increase from the 1.26 million on the road as of June, according to a Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) report released this month. “[U]tilities need to plan ahead to minimize grid impacts” of growing EV adoption, the group concludes. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: Flickr; National Renewable Energy Lab

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Op-ed: Natural gas vs. renewable energy — beware the latest gas industry talking points

Written by Derrick Z. Jackson, Publisher, Environmental Health News

Two groundbreaking reports from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that America has reached “a historic tipping point” where “combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects,” and will undercut the operating costs of existing gas plants within the next 10 to 20 years. Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that by 2030, “new wind and solar ultimately get cheaper than running existing coal or gas plants almost everywhere.”

An analysis by Lazard Asset Management found that the range of unsubsidized levelized costs of onshore wind and utility-scale solar to be below that of natural gas. The federal Energy Information Administration has estimated that by 2023, the levelized cost of producing power by onshore wind and solar, will be considerably cheaper than natural gas ($36.60, $37.60 and $40.20 per megawatt hour respectively for each energy source). Read the entire op-ed here.

Derrick Z. Jackson is on the advisory board of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate. He’s also a Union of Concerned Scientist Fellow in climate and energy. This post originally ran on the UCS Blog.

EV NEWS

Electric buses for mass transit seen as cost effective, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

Selling electricity doesn’t make EV charging stations a utility, Iowa rules

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A recent decision by Iowa utility regulators has removed a significant obstacle to the widespread development of public charging stations for electric vehicles. The Iowa Utilities Board ruled last week that providing electric vehicle charging service does not make a business a public utility. That’s significant because public utilities are subject to state oversight on all aspects of their business, including the setting of prices. The board’s finding also clarified that sellers of charging services may structure fees as they wish, and, in most cases, even sell power they generated on site such as with solar panels. Continue reading here.

Photo by J. Stephen Conn: The Iowa 80 Truck Stop was at the center of a regulatory case in Iowa over whether owners of EV charging stations can charge for electricity.

 MORE EV NEWS

  • Minnesota shuts down oil, manufacturing groups’ attempt to derail Xcel EV pilot, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. Minnesota regulators on Monday stamped out a group of manufacturing and petroleum groups’ attempt to reverse approval of Xcel Energy’s $25 million electric vehicle pilot program. EV and clean energy stakeholders were skeptical of the groups’ involvement, noting that it may be the beginning of a longer fight between oil and electric power interests as EV adoption grows.

NEBRASKA NEWS

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

CUSTOMER CHOICE AGGREGATION

TAX CREDITS

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY / CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS

RE: BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE’S UPDATED MISSION STATEMENT

  • Shareholders vs. stakeholders: Fundamental changes in an old debate, contributed opinion by Terry F. Yosie, Former President and CEO, World Environment Center. Published by GreenBiz. The movement for an expanded stakeholder voice in corporate decision making is challenging and adds complexity to already crowded executive calendars, but it is not antagonistic to shareholder value. In a world driven by changing demographics, disruptive technologies, climate change, less stable financial and political systems and market volatility, integration of both approaches is necessary for business to maintain its social license to operate.

Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation

MORE SOLAR INDUSTRY NEWS

  • Solar stocks soar in 2019, PV Magazine
    A true representation of health in any industry is said industry’s standing in the stock market. That sounds painfully simple, and it is, but sometimes we can get so lost in the weeds between policy, emerging technology, legal battles and system failures that we forget what makes the world go round: money.
  • Beyond the PPA, PV Magazine
    Contract lengths are getting shorter and hedges are replacing PPAs in the Texas solar market. Are we headed toward a future of merchant solar? These shorter PPAs are driven by a number of factors, but chief among these is that corporate off-takers are demanding them. Colin Smith, a solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie, describes a “tremendous amount of pressure” from Google, Facebook and Microsoft for shorter terms.

OFF-GRID GUIDE

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Opening markets to solar & wind could save billions in the Midwest

By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

When we think of hot solar markets, the area covered by PJM Interconnection does not usually come to mind. The 14 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest do not have the sunlight that California and the Southwest have. Additionally – New Jersey aside – they do not have the high electricity prices and supportive policy environment for solar seen in states like New York and Massachusetts.

The same could be said of the Midcontinent System Operator (MISO), the grid that covers the heart of the Midwest and stretches in a narrow band south to Louisiana. While MISO has some wind resources, none of the states that it covers have been leading solar markets. All of this is changing. As of the end of July, PV Magazine counted 47 GW of active solar projects in PJM’s interconnection queue, and 57 GW in MISO’s queue.
Read more here.

FERC: Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) / Independent System Operators (ISO)

Wind Solar Alliance Website

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

LEGISLATION

Duckworth, Booker File Bill to Reduce Cost of Solar Energy for Poor Families, WTTW U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is the lead sponsor behind a new bill that aims to make solar energy more affordable for low-income Americans. Duckworth and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., recently introduced the Low-Income Solar Energy Act, which would expand an existing energy assistance program while also creating new energy financing programs for the poor.

NEW CESA INITIATIVE

Clean Energy States Alliance Launches Major Initiative to Advance Solar in Under-Resourced Communities

Department of Energy Funds CESA’s Efforts to Scale Up Solar for Low-and Moderate-Income Households, News Release. Montpelier, VT – The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) will lead a wide-ranging initiative to accelerate the development of solar projects that benefit low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households and communities. The “Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project” is being supported by a three-year funding award of $1.1 million from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. The project team will focus on three distinct subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES / CIRCULAR ECONOMY 

Climate Week 2019: Huge commitments, big money and collaboration

By Deonna Anderson, Associate Editor, GreenBiz Group

During 2019’s Climate Week, companies, foundations and others have made dozens of announcements of commitments, partnerships, new research and more to address the climate crisis. As GreenBiz published last week, the commitments this year are much bigger — think trillions — than those announced during previous Climate Weeks.

For example, during the U.N. General Assembly, 130 banks from 49 countries — with more than $47 trillion in assets — launched The Principles for Responsible Banking. Backed by the United Nations, the effort from one-third of the global banking sector, commits the banks to “strategically align their business with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals” in addition to “massively scale up their contribution to the achievement of both.”
Continue reading here.

About the Author
Deonna Anderson is an award-winning journalist and associate editor at GreenBiz. Previously, she was the Surdna reporting fellow at YES! Magazine. She’s an alumna of UC Davis and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING