Tag: Opinion & Commentary

The New Normal? Renewables, Efficiency, And “Too Much Electricity”

Just over a decade ago, the state of California faced serious concerns about whether its utilities could generate and/or buy enough power to assure that the world’s seventh-largest economy could keep the lights on. The infamous California energy crisis, which affected several other western states as well, was a complex tangle of poorly structured deregulation, significant market manipulation (remember Enron?), and other causes. Along with rolling blackouts, California endured an official state of emergency that lasted 34 months, led to the recall and replacement of Gov. Gray Davis, and cost the state and its ratepayers billions of dollars — a cautionary tale for all states of electricity supply unable to meet demand.

Summers’ Law Strikes Again

Lawrence Summers famously wrote, “there are idiots, look around” in an attack on the theory that markets are rational. What some have called “Summers’ Law” certainly applies to the markets’ response to the slide in the price of oil as it relates to stocks of renewable energy companies.

Why Fracking May Support Renewables

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is shunned by the environmentalists that laud renewable energy sources. However, by not supporting both initiatives, they may be working at cross purposes. Natural gas, booming largely because of fracking, complements…

First Lady Announces Solar Industry Plan to Hire 50,000 Military Veterans by 2020

I’ve written before about how the solar industry and the nation’s veterans make a great team. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement last week that the solar industry has committed to hiring an additional 33,000 veterans and their spouses by 2020 is such very good news for our country. “Veterans bring rich and diverse skills, leadership and experience that can help in every portion of the industry value chain,” said Tom Kimbis, vice president for executive affairs & government counsel at the Solar Energy Industries Association, the country’s major solar trade group, about last week’s announcement. “We are not talking about installers alone; veterans can excel from rooftop to boardroom.”

Wind Energy: It’s What Texas Does Best, If State Leaders Will Let Us

The story of Texas wind energy is a success, but it’s an odd history. In 1999, when Texas deregulated the energy market, a deal was struck to include a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a requirement that power companies source a certain amount of their electricity from renewable energy by certain dates. Texas surpassed the original targets, as well as subsequently increased targets, eventually making Texas the U.S. wind leader. In fact, the wind industry’s success has been an integral part of the “Texas Miracle” of job creation, especially in West Texas, which hasn’t seen an economic boom like this since before the Great Depression.

International Remedies for Foreign Investors in Europe’s Renewable Energy Sector

International investors who have suffered losses in the renewable energy sectors in Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, among others, may be entitled to compensation for their losses under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and/or relevant bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Once viewed as the nuclear option, companies now recognise investor-state arbitration as simply another dispute resolution mechanism — albeit one with more teeth — which does not preclude a continuing relationship with the Respondent state.

Listen Up: Paperwork Makes Solar Much More Expensive

Eight years ago I was puzzled as to why residential solar installations were $2.50/watt cheaper in Germany compared to the U.S. Perfect excuse for a road trip — so after meetings with installers and visiting job sites in Germany, I finally discovered the reason. It wasn’t the beer, but the paperwork and associated regulations. Unfortunately, the price gap is still about the same: a typical 4,000 watt residential system costs about $10,000 in Germany compared to $20,000 in the U.S.

Residential Solar and Uniform Commercial Code: A Primer on Solar-Financiers’ Rights in a Foreclosure

U.S. residential solar PV has been growing at a breakneck pace. Annual installations have increased nearly five-fold in the past five years and, in 2014, surpassed annual commercial capacity additions for the first time in the history of PV market tracking. Additionally, nearly a third of the entire solar industry’s workforce — comprising over 174,000 employees — works in residential solar.

Using Geothermal Solutions to Desalinate Oil Field Water

Clean water — it’s a precious resource in hot demand right now, for more than taking a shower or watering our crops. The United Nations projects the world’s population will grow by another billion people, to 8.4 Billion, by 2030. More people means more need for food, water, electricity, and other necessities. Beyond the obvious demands for water, our increasing appetite for electricity also requires water — and plenty of it. Most of the electricity generated in the U.S. uses water in some capacity.