Tag: Opinion & Commentary

State and Metro Governments, Consumer Actions Drive Dramatic Shift in US Energy Landscape

The United States is experiencing a significant shift in its energy landscape. Last year, utility-scale wind and solar power combined for 47 percent of new generation capacity in the U.S. Based on this expansion, 11 states now generate more than 10 percent of their electricity from solar, wind, and geothermal power, with three of these states — Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas — exceeding 20 percent. In 2014, California became the first state in the nation to garner 5 percent of its electricity from utility-scale solar. When including hydropower, four states —Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and South Dakota — now exceed 70 percent renewables generation.

Listen Up: Affordable Solar Panels Made in the USA

Most of my rooftop solar customers express a preference for buying “Made in the U.S.A.” solar panels. And they were willing to pay a premium for domestically manufactured panels. But because there were very few U.S. manufacturers — and hundreds of overseas companies manufacturing panels at lower prices — the prices for U.S. made panels were always significantly higher.

 

Who Is Weathering the $50 Oil Storm in Biofuels, and How?

A period of lower-cost oil has, famously, descended on the market, reminding us that business models should always take into account “black swan” economic events such as the battle between OPEC and unconventional oil producers over some 10 percent of global market share, which has tumbled oil prices some 20 percent down, with US currency strength causing another 20 percent or so tumble.

Canada Announces Weak Climate Target

Last week, Canada has announced its contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases by announcing its post-2020 target. The target announced today is off-track to the 80 percent cut by 2050 they committed to in 2009 and significantly higher than the U.S. target. They also announced a series of new measures, but failed to address their largest source of growing emissions — tar sands.

What Drives Alternative Energy Stocks?

Alternative energy became a serious market player after the turn of the millennium. Since that time, solar, wind, smart grid and other alternative energy stocks have experienced both strong up and down trends. The forces at work driving these markets a…

Listen Up: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need?

For a homeowner, it’s a simple question. But in order to answer the question accurately, solar installers need to make a number of assumptions — as well as gather some pretty detailed information from a homeowner. Often, by the time these data gathering questions are answered, the homeowner is even more confused.

What’s In A Name? That Which We Call A Solar Microgrid Is By Any Other Name A Solar Installation

A few years ago in a solar marketing department near you an enterprising executive had an epiphany: the word “microgrid” could be adapted to describe any system of any size and then used to confer a marketing advantage. Moreover, the more timely and part of the solar-lexicon the phrase microgrid became, the bigger and broader the opportunity it could describe potentially applying to everything from a residential PV system with a battery to a multi-megawatt installation. As long as the installation could be described as distributed generation (DG), it can be a microgrid.

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.