Cost Of U.S. Solar Drops 75% In Six Years, Ahead Of Federal Goal

A 250-MW solar project on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Moapa Indian River Reservation in southern Nevada. It is the first utility-scale solar project on tribal land in the U.S. FIRST SOLAR/DOE

By Staff of E360 DIGEST – The Trump administration has announced that a federal goal to slash the cost of utility-scale solar energy to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020 has been met early. The goal, set by the Obama administration in 2011 and known as the SunShot Initiative, represents a 75 percent reduction in the cost of U.S. solar in just six years. It makes solar energy-cost competitive with electricity generated by fossil fuels. The Department of Energy attributed achieving the goal so quickly to the rapidly declining cost of solar hardware, such as photovoltaic panels and mounts. And it said it will next focus its efforts on addressing “solar energy’s critical challenges of grid reliability, resilience, and storage,” according to a press release. The DOE also announced $82 million in new funding for solar research, particularly for research into “concentrating solar” — which uses mirrors to direct sunlight to generate thermal energy — and into improved grid technology. It set a new goal to reduce the cost of solar even further: 3 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2030.

Half Of California’s Energy Met With Solar For First Time

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By Danielle Ola for PV Tech – From the hours of 11am to 2pm on 11 March, the total solar share of gross demand exceeded 50%, according to the EIA. Source: Flickr/ lindalino. On 11 March, for the first time ever, over 50% of California’s power needs were met with solar power, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). From the hours of 11am to 2pm, “the total solar share of gross demand probably exceeded 50%,” the EIA said – noting that it was a combination of residential and commercial rooftop generation that constituted 4 million kWh of electricity during peak time. During the same time window, wholesale electric rates dipped below zero, compared to the average price of between US$14-$45MWh in March between 2013 and 2015.

Utility Survey: Trump Will Not Stop the Clean Energy Transition

Power Lines

By Gavin Bade for Utility Dive. Today, President Trump is poised to release a long-anticipated executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature climate initiative. The order is expected to be accompanied by directives to lift a moratorium on federal land coal leases and to cease the use of the social cost of carbon — all part of a broad campaign to dismantle environmental regulations on the power sector that Trump blames for the decline of the coal economy in the United States. But while rescinding the rules could help slow coal power’s decline in the short term, analysts say it is unlikely to reverse its long-term downturn, mostly due to the economics of natural gas and renewables. That attitude is shared not just by market observers, but by electric utilities themselves.

Solar Accounts For 1 In 50 New U.S. Jobs In 2016

“There’s room for improvement in solar policies across all 50 states, but it’s especially shameful to see the sunniest states fail to lead the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.” Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy

By Avery Palmer for The Solar Foundation – WASHINGTON, D.C., February 7, 2016 — The American solar workforce grew at a historic pace in 2016, a year when one out of every fifty new U.S. jobs was in the solar industry, according to the new National Solar Jobs Census 2016, the seventh annual report on solar employment issued by The Solar Foundation. The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 found that solar industry employment growth outpaced the overall U.S. economy by 17 times as it increased by over 51,000 jobs, for a total of 260,077 U.S. solar workers. The solar workforce grew by 25 percent over 2015, the largest annual growth percentage since The Solar Foundation’s first National Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010.

Oregon To Replace Coal With Clean Energy

Coal fired power plant

By Mary Anne Hitt for the Sierra Club. The “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan”, will move Oregon completely off coal by 2030 – including phasing out coal power being imported into the state on the grid – and ensure that most of that power is replaced by clean energy by doubling the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2040. It was passed with bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, and it’s an historic victory for climate and clean energy leadership. Oregon coal plants make of 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Analysis of the legislation’s expected impact has shown that the plan will reduce carbon pollution across the western states by 30 million metric tons – the equivalent of taking 6.4 million cars off the road. It also includes measures to keep electricity prices affordable and ensure reliable electric service.

New Electrical Energy Generated In January Came From Wind & Solar

The new renewable energy capacity added in January is continuing a trend. Photo credit: Shutterstock

By Staff of Eco Watch – In the first 2016 issue of its monthly Energy Infrastructure Update report, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notes that five new “units” of wind (468 megawatts) and six new units of solar (145 megawatts) accounted for 100 percent of new electrical generation brought into service in January. No new capacity for nuclear, coal, gas or oil was reported. Renewables now account for 17.93 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: hydropower (8.56 percent), wind (6.37 percent), biomass (1.43 percent), solar (1.24 percent) and geothermal (0.33 percent). In fact, installed capacity for non-hydro renewables…

EPA Protested At 10 Regional Offices Over Clean Power Plan

Our Power Campaign Frontlines of Change

By Staff of Our Power Campaign. Below is a storify of the national day of action against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan which people see as rhetorical cover for expanding the use of methane gas, which is usually fracked gas, incinerators to burn waste and nuclear power. On Tuesday January 19th, activists with the Climate Justice Alliance’s (CJA) Our Power Campaign met with EPA administrators and held rallies outside of EPA offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle. Our Power Campaign, Climate Justice Alliance The actions called for stronger safeguards for frontline communities and a “just transition” to a clean energy future. The called for community-based solutions and transition to a clean energy future. Clean energy does not include methane gas, incinerators or nuclear energy

With State Squashing Rooftop Solar, Clean Energy Fight Heats Up In Nevada

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By Deirdre Fulton for Common Dreams – Renewable energy advocates in Nevada are outraged by the state’s solar-killing moves, and they’re not going down without a fight. The state’s Public Utilities Commission considered requests Wednesday from solar company groups, homeowners, activists, and the state consumer advocate to put a stay on a rate hike that took effect January 1. The Republican-appointed Commission (PUC) in late December voted to increase a fixed monthly fee for solar customers by about 40 percent while simultaneously reducing the amount customers get paid for excess power they sell to the grid.

There Are Now More Solar Jobs In America Than Oil Jobs

Solarschiff (Solar ship) in the residential area Solarsiedlung in Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany

By Shane Ferro for The Huffington Post – Solar is the energy employer of the future — or at least that’s how the numbers look today. A new report on the state of the solar industry out Tuesday from the nonprofit Solar Foundation shows that the number of jobs in the United States in the solar industry outpaced those in the oil and gas industries for the first time ever. As of November 2015 there were almost 209,000 people who worked in the solar industry, 90 percent of whom only work on solar-related projects, according to the report. There were only about 185,000 people working in oil and gas in the United States in December 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

National Geographic: Blueprint For A Carbon-Free World

Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and other researchers have calculated how to meet each state's new power demands using only the renewable energies of wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and tiny amounts of tidal and wave available to each state. (Vaclav Volrab / Shutterstock)

By Staff for Popular Resistance. National Georgraphic has published an interractive tool that allows you to search their data base of nations and determine the mix of renewabale energy they could have if the were to move to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy. National Geographic describes the project: “Mark Jacobson, a Stanford engineering professor, believes the world can eliminate fossil fuels and rely on 100 percent renewable energy. Following up on his state-by-state road map for the United States, he has now released data on plans for how 139 countries could wean themselves from coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. For more coverage of Mark Jacobson’s 100 percent renewable plans, For example, the mix for the United States would be: – 30 percent onshore wind – 17 percent off shore wind – 24% solar plant – 8% residential rooftop – 7% commercial and government rooftop – 7% concentrated solar – 3% hydroplant

Rebuilding The World: An Interview with Lester Brown

Lester Brown with Globe

By Amitabh Pal for the Progressive. The two big issues we are facing are climate change and water shortages. Water shortages are more imminent. They’re here now. We suddenly look around and realize that water tables are falling everywhere: throughout the high plains of the United States, for instance, in the Ogallala Aquifer. This is a huge source of water, but it has already been pumped out in Texas-Oklahoma. Much of the water used in the world comes from aquifers. There are thirty-seven major aquifers. More than twenty of them have no major recharge at all. When they’re gone, they’re gone. Over the last thirty years, numerous lakes and rivers have disappeared in the world, and that’s going to continue. Some of the larger rivers no longer make it to the sea, such as the Colorado River or the Yellow River. We’ve got to reshape the economy to make it much more water-efficient than it now is. We know that there are already a number of countries that are running out of water. They’ve pumped their aquifers dry or they’re getting very close to it. This includes Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. And in India, water tables are falling everywhere. The question is: What happens when wells start to run dry?

Newsletter: The Obvious Blinds Us, Unless The Truth Is Told

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance – It has been a busy two weeks since our last newsletter for #BlackLivesMatter, seeking climate justice, fair wages and stopping the TPP. We have been doing weekly newsletters since Occupy, last week we missed our first week as we were at the Localize This Action Camp of the Backbone Campaign. The reality of our times and of our history is that truth needs a messenger. Truths, especially difficult ones to face, do not become known on their own. Telling the hard to face truths is where movements begin; spreading that truth creates a national consensus for change and is the source for mobilizations that force essential transformations.

Obama Administration Moves To Make Solar More Expensive

Chinese solar factory workers from Chinatopix.

By Amy He for the China Daily – The US Commerce Department is imposing higher tariffs on Chinese solar products imported to the US marketplace. Commerce had indicated that Chinese companies may be entitled to lower rates, but the decision announced on Wednesday to impose tariffs of 238.95 percent reverses that. The department had conducted a review of whether solar manufacturing companies in China had received subsidies from the government between March 2012 and November 2013. Manufacturers now face anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rates of about 31 percent on products made in China. “The Department of Commerce chose against lowering the tax on solar imports. Keeping these stiff tariffs in place makes solar power less affordable, slows job growth and prevents more American homes, businesses and utilities from switching to clean solar energy,” Shah said in a statement released in response to the review’s results. “Despite booming solar employment, economically counterproductive tariffs have artificially made solar panels prices in the United States the most expensive in the world. This decision does nothing to correct this imbalance,” Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energ added.

Research: Rooftop Solar Is Simple, Local Solution

Edward Boghosian, Patrick Aziz,

A Stanford University study published earlier this week found that utility-scale solar development built alongside existing infrastructure, on rooftops or in backyards, may be more than enough to power whole communities. The research, published in Nature Climate Change, modeled land-use efficiency in California, a global solar energy hotspot. The study examined how urban areas could be made more efficient by developing more localized sources for renewable energy. “The quantity of accessible energy potentially produced from photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) within the built environment exceeds current statewide demand,” the study found. “Our results show that we do not need to trade these places of environmental value for the production of renewable energy as ample land and space exists elsewhere,” said Rebecca Hernandez, study lead author and an environmental earth system scientist at Stanford. “Additionally, developing renewable power generation in places close to where it is consumed reduces costs and loss of electricity associated with transmission.”

Newsletter: Our Task-The Future As A Frontier

It's Our Future

Sam Smith gave this talk, “On Becoming and Being an Activist,” at a teen conference. The essence of his message is that we are facing serious crises and we have to make a choice of whether we will act or not. We are on a dangerous path and it takes courage to see that and not be paralyzed into inaction. It is easier to ignore the truth and succumb to the many distractions in our lives. Smith writes: “It is this willingness to walk away from the seductive power of the present that first divides the mere reformer from the rebel — the courage to emigrate from one’s own ways in order to meet the future not as just a right but as a frontier.” Smith goes on to describe that traditional tools for social change, working within the system, are not effective in this time. We must raise our voices, do the unexpected and try the improbable. We need to use our passion, our energy, our magic and music to burst the illusion being hand fed to us in the media and taught in our schools.