The parade of good news for the electric bus industry came to an abrupt halt Sunday with startling revelations from the <em>L.A. Times</em>.
Journalist Paige St. John <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-electric-buses-20180520-story.html">uncovered extensive problems</a> with L.A. Metro’s efforts to deploy electric buses from BYD, a massive Chinese firm with a factory in Lancaster, California.
BYD built an effective influence campaign to smooth its journey through L.A.’s procurement process, even after an initial five-bus deployment had to be sent back for failing to perform, documents and evidence in the article show. The story reports BYD buses ran out of charge before their advertised range, wouldn’t start and had trouble climbing hills in downtown L.A.
The news complicates the rosy narrative that <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ev-experts-say-buses-will-electrify-first-can-they-rise-to-the-challenge#gs.mbL04IY">electric buses are sailing to total domination</a> of the public transit segment, even as cities commit to full electrification of bus fleets. What remains to be seen is whether <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "BYD’s Electric Bus Woes Threaten to Tarnish the Broader Industry"
Two state-level policy actions this week failed to clarify the murky future of nuclear in the U.S.
The Minnesota House of Representatives failed to vote on a <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/minnesota-emerges-as-latest-frontier-in-showdown-over-nuclear-costs#gs.KZt2BTo">bill</a> allowing Xcel Energy to recover the costs of maintaining nuclear plants before the utility spends money.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed off on a <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/new-jersey-nuclear-subsidies-boosts-renewable-energy-target-50-percent#gs.oJ=9b0Y">law</a> that gives nuclear plants in that state a lifeline; they will now be considered under the Zero Emissions Certificate (ZEC) program.
In Minnesota, a state official cautioned that the bill would give Xcel a “blank check.” New Jersey Gov. Murphy, a Democrat, called the law there <a href="http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/05/murphy_signs_controversial_nuclear_law_hiking_nj_e.html" >“a down payment”</a> on the clean energy agenda he’s promised.
Meanwhile, the debate about the future of nuclear continues at the highest levels of government. While the <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/tag/ferc#gs.Vrnnz0w">Federal Energy Regulatory Commission</a> sorts through comments on its resilience docket, Energy Secretary Rick Perry is <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/rick-perry-emergency-action-not-the-way-to-save-coal-and-nuclear">reportedly investigating</a> multiple <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "A Loss for Nuclear in Minnesota and a Win in New Jersey"
What’s the optimal way to spend money raised by a carbon tax?
How should climate play in Florida’s big toss-up congressional race?
What’s the best energy platform for gubernatorial candidates?
This week: your questions answered. We received a bunch of queries from listeners about politics — so that’s the direction we’re headed. We'll discuss what these individual stories tell us about nationwide election themes in 2018.
Want us to talk about something? Record yourself on your phone or computer and send your question to email@example.com.
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Residential solar is fast approaching the gap between early adopters and the mainstream market.
Geoffrey Moore’s business classic <em>Crossing the Chasm</em> identifies the process of moving from early adopters — the small segment of the population that is excited about innovation and tends to overlook minor glitches as long as the product is relatively proven — to the mass market of pragmatists — who demand a fully finished product that is easy to buy, easy to use and worry-free — as the most difficult stage of a high-tech product’s adoption life cycle. This chasm between innovators and pragmatists is where countless technologies and companies have failed.
Given the growth of the residential solar market in the last decade, it is easy to forget that the industry is still in the very early stages of customer adoption. Only one state, Hawaii, has "crossed the chasm," which is due to uniquely favorable <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Approaching the Chasm: How Cutting Risk Will Help Residential Solar Reach the Mass Market"
A slate of new integrated resource plans and sustainability proposals indicate U.S. utilities are realizing the business case for clean energy technologies. But many utilities are still hedging their bets on a mix of resources.
It’s become politically and economically advantageous to embrace clean energy. Still, many utilities remain skeptical of a renewables-dominant future.
So where do power companies break down in their approach?
Continue reading "Resource Plans Show Some Utilities Are Still Cautiously Investing in Renewables"
In a Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) <a href="https://sepapower.org/2018-top-10-winners/" >ranking of utilities</a> integrating the most solar in their portfolios, the usual suspects — including PG&E, Southern California Edison, Austin Energy and Xcel Energy — mostly came out on top.
Those companies are known for their renewable energy commitments.
In its latest corporate sustainability report, Minnesota-based Xcel achieved a 40 percent carbon-free portfolio that mostly relied on wind and nuclear. By 2022, the utility says its wind capacity alone will reach 40 percent, totaling a <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Massachusetts and Rhode Island, two states on the forefront of the nascent U.S. offshore wind market, have awarded a combined 1,200 megawatts of contracts to build out what could become the country’s largest offshore wind complex.
On Wednesday, Massachusetts announced that Vineyard Wind, a project backed by Iberdrola’s Avangrid Renewables and Danish investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, had won a contract to build up to 800 megawatts of wind turbines off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The consortium beat out two other contenders, Bay State Wind and Deepwater Wind, which also hold leases on the stretch of windy coastline.
This is the first contract to meet a goal set by Massachusetts lawmakers in 2016 to build 1.6 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2027. Vineyard Wind expects to have the wind farm operational and selling power to Massachusetts utilities by 2021.
Also on Wednesday, Rhode Island <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Massachusetts and Rhode Island Contract for 1,200MW of Offshore Wind"
The standards body TÜV Rheinland has cast doubt about inverter makers’ cybersecurity measures after it hacked commercially available PV inverters “within a few minutes.”
The Cologne-based organization <a href="http://www.tuv.com/en/corporate/about_us_1/press/news_2/newscontent_cw_371010.html" >stated</a> that the finding was “all the more critical since storage systems typically communicate with the inverter, too.”
By hacking inverters, cybercriminals could gain access to battery management systems and trick batteries into operating in unsafe modes, TÜV Rheinland said.
On a wider scale, it might be possible to attack the entire electricity grid, causing massive power fluctuations, the researchers warned.
“We were able to re-parametrize commercially available inverters without any problems,” said Roman-Alexander Brück, laboratory head for solar components at TÜV Rheinland, in the press note.
His team hacked inverters using various techniques, including brute-force attacks and stealing passwords.
Although there are no known instances of such attacks happening outside the lab, the findings could call into question the extent <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Inspection Firm Hacks Inverters Within Minutes, Casting Doubt on Security"
Batteries could play a key role in helping to roll out an electric vehicle supercharger network across the U.K., according to a company called Pivot Power.
The firm, which describes itself as a special-purpose venture formed between energy storage project developer Become Energy and renewables investment company Downing, hopes to install the world’s biggest battery network.
It plans to deploy forty-five 50-megawatt batteries at substations close to major auto routes across the U.K. Each battery would make money from grid services and energy trading.
Crucially, though, the cost of adapting each substation for battery storage would also allow it to be used for EV charging.
By connecting rapid charging stations directly to the high-voltage transmission network, Pivot Power intends to gain access to up to 20 megawatts of cheap power per site. This would grant it efficiencies that would be hard to attain via regional distribution <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Pivot Power Plans Massive UK Supercharger Network Paired With 2 Gigawatts of Batteries"
Would electricity work during a zombie apocalypse?
Does Elon Musk own Amazon or Uber?
Are electric vehicles better for the environment?
These are questions that people are asking Google — and we're going to answer them.
This week on <em>The Interchange</em>, what our collective search history tells us about our perception of Elon Musk, electric vehicles and zombies.
Plus, we'll have the results of last week's Deep Decarbonization Draft. (<a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/deep-decarbonization-draft" >Listen to that episode</a>, if you haven't already.)
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Continue reading "Would Electricity Work in a Zombie Apocalypse?"
In its latest forecast for electric bus fleets, Bloomberg New Energy Finance is bullish. By 2030, BNEF expects that 84 percent of all municipal bus sales will be electric.
That’s a statistic supported by commitments from around the world, where cities including Mexico City, Cape Town and San Francisco have pledged 100 percent electric bus fleets in the future. So far, though, 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses on the road in 2017 were located in China, according to BNEF.
As sales of light-duty electric vehicles have <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=36312&src=email" >hovered between 2.5 and 4 percent</a> of total car sales in the last five years, EV experts have framed municipal buses as the low-hanging fruit of electrification, because they travel specific distances at specific times and carry a lot of passengers. But the global penetration of electric buses remains minimal.
<img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/BNEF_Electric_Buses.png" style="max-width: 100%;" />
<em>Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance</em>
A recent report from the <em><div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "EV Experts Say Buses Should Electrify First. Can They Rise to the Challenge?"
On Monday, NextEra Energy Resources announced its <a href="http://www.investor.nexteraenergy.com/news-and-events/news-releases/2018/05-21-2018-123013163" >$6.5 billion bid</a> to buy Southern Company subsidiaries Gulf Power and Florida City Gas — its third attempt this decade to expand its <a href="http://www.apple.com/">share of regulated utility business</a> beyond its flagship utility, Florida Power & Light.
And unlike its previous <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/breaking-nexteras-4-3-billion-heco-acquisition-rejected-by-hawaiis-puc#gs.WX07_7c">$4.3 billion bid for Hawaiian Electric</a>, or its <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-06/texas-moves-to-reject-second-nextera-attempt-to-save-oncor-deal">$18.7 billion bid for Texas utility Oncor</a>, both of which failed to garner state regulator approval, NextEra’s new bid has some significant home-court advantages — as long as it can satisfy Florida regulators that the deal won’t stifle competition.
FPL and Gulf Power also share some complementary technology implementations, many under the same vendor, smart grid networking company Itron. Meanwhile, Florida City Gas serves territories overlapping FPL’s, possibly allowing it to leverage its existing grid edge investments to serve those customers.
<strong>Territories Served by FPL, Gulf Power <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/FPL_GulfPower_FlaCityGas_Map_XL.jpeg" style="max-width: 100%" /></div>
Continue reading "The Data Behind NextEra’s $6.5B Bid for Gulf Power and Florida City Gas"
In 2008, some colleagues at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42305.pdf">noticed</a> that power systems with growing shares of solar PV would start to look different from those we are used to seeing today.
Most load curves charting the power demand in the US and Europe tend to look something like this:
<img alt="" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/EIA_electric_load_curve.png" style="max-width: 100%;" />
<em>Source: Energy Information Administration</em>
Power demand rises early in the day as people wake up and businesses start to open. In the late afternoon, electricity demand experiences a peak, one that is often exacerbated by air conditioning loads (and previously, by millions of inefficient light bulbs).
While not all jurisdictions will have the same “stack” of generation sources, the basic profile of the demand curve is broadly similar across most developed countries.
However, as the share of solar power starts to grow, it starts to reduce the net power demand during the daytime, leading to <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/CAISO_DuckCurve.jpg" style="max-width: 100%;" /></div>
Continue reading "Introducing the Shark Curve"
Trina Solar said Monday it will turn its partnership with Spanish tracker company NClave Renewables into a full-blown purchase.
The acquisition of NClave marks the first time a Chinese company has purchased a solar tracker producer not based in China, a nod to the globalization of the tracker market. According to GTM Research, the market has become less concentrated, with the top-four vendors responsible for 64 percent of global shipments in 2016 as compared to 74 percent in 2015.
“Trina's acquisition is the latest in a long line of investments in the global solar tracker industry,” said Scott Moskowitz, a senior solar analyst at GTM Research. “This market has become extremely global, and a number of vendors are looking for partners or acquirers to help them increase their geographical reach and fuel their growth.”
The relationship between Trina and NClave originally <a href="https://www.power-technology.com/news/trina-solar-introduces-new-smart-pv-solution/" >began as a partnership</a> in March, when the <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/NCLAVE_CHARTS.png" style="max-width: 100%;" /></div>
Continue reading "Trina Solar Acquires NClave Renewables, Adding Trackers to Its Portfolio"
A hybrid storage project is showing batteries and gas plants can coexist, even as peakers elsewhere <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/squared/read/five-trends-to-watch-in-the-coming-storage-natural-gas-collision#gs.q=sjvV0">fight for survival</a> in the face of battery competition.
The hybrid project, developed by Alinta Energy for a gas-powered microgrid at an Australian mine, involves a 30-megawatt, 11.4-megawatt-hour power battery plant from Kokam linked to a 178-megawatt open-cycle gas turbine.
The turbine, housed at the Newman Power Station, is in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, 737 miles north of Perth, and provides all the power for an iron ore mine operated by the mining giant BHP Billiton.
The station was built in 1996 and is owned and operated by Alinta. The storage system consists of five 2.2-megawatt-hour containerized units equipped with Kokam ultra-high-power lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries.
Kokam served as the system integrator on the project, which started operating last month and also features an ABB PowerStore virtual generator for <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Kokam Shows Gas and Batteries Can Get Along"
One of the easiest ways for a household to save energy and money is to install energy-efficient light bulbs in as many sockets as possible. But, according to a new University of Michigan <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306261918302769" >study</a>, the low-income households that benefit most from these savings have a harder time finding CFL and LED bulbs than do households in more affluent neighborhoods. They pay more money for them, too.
For the study, a team led by Tony Reames, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability and director of the <a href="http://energyjustice.seas.umich.edu/" >Urban Energy Justice Lab</a>, canvassed 130 stores across Wayne County, Michigan, which encompasses Detroit and surrounding suburbs. Graduate students Michael Reiner and M. Ben Stacey conducted much of the on-the-ground data collection.
The researchers tracked prices and availability for inefficient incandescent and halogen light bulbs as well as high-efficiency CFLs and LEDs at five store types: large big-box retailers (Home Depot, <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Harder to Find, More Expensive in High-Poverty Neighborhoods"