Obama’s Solar Goal Has Been Met, Trump’s Energy Department Brags

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s goal of slashing the cost of solar power has been achieved early, taking credit for milestone even though the new administration is skeptical of renewable power.

Here Comes the Sun: A State Policy Handbook for Distributed Solar Energy

Download the document.

The rapidly transforming energy sector presents a host of opportunities, such as increased resilience, cleaner energy technologies, a more efficient and reliable energy system, as well as greater flexibility, choice and control for consumers. One of the newer sector technologies driving this transformation is distributed generation, with distributed solar energy leading the way.

States have played a significant role in this energy revolution by creating policies, incentives and regulations that have transformed the solar and power markets. These efforts have been motivated by a range of factors, including economic development, job creation, improved air quality, sustainability goals, economic development, energy diversification and resilience to name a few.

Generating power on-site and close to where it is consumed has evolved over the past 20 years, requiring states to explore new regulatory and policy approaches. Most states’ electricity regulatory frameworks were designed with large centrally owned and operated power stations in mind. Adapting the grid and its supporting policies to accommodate consumers’ decisions to generate and use their own power, while sending some power onto the distribution grid, may require significant changes in regulatory and operational approaches.

The technical challenges of integrating consumer-produced power are being overcome by most utilities. Policy and operational approaches, however, can lessen the challenge, lower costs and increase reliability as distributed power gains market share.

This handbook is designed for state legislators, legislative staff, energy officials and others who want to learn about and assess their state’s distributed solar photovoltaic policies. It provides them with the tools to investigate options and practices to leverage the economic and reliability benefits of solar energy while addressing the challenges presented by this localized approach to energy generation. This document covers the many options and innovative approaches that states have implemented or considered when it comes to rate design, incentives, integration, financing, regulation and workforce development. While extensive, this report is by no means comprehensive, and provides readers with several references and resources for a deeper exploration of the topics covered.

This document will assist policymakers and planners that wish to tailor their state’s energy policy to best leverage the opportunities offered by the burgeoning of distributed solar energy.

The Energy 202: Eclipse tests growing power of renewable energy

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

On Monday, Mother Nature, seemingly unprompted, provided a test of one of the more controversial ideas tossed around by the energy and environmental staff installed by President Trump.

Here’s their question: Do recent changes to way power is generated in the United States — namely, more solar and wind, less coal and nuclear — mean the nation’s grid operators will not have enough power plants to meet electricity needs when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining?

Right now, the Energy Department is finalizing an overdue study asking whether the national electric grid can handle the lost of so-called “baseload” power plantas older coal and nuclear facilities are priced out of the electricity market by cheaper renewables.

“As the utility sector prepares for the short-term impact of a solar eclipse, a much larger problem looms for solar advocates — the diminishing value of intermittent solar as a reliable source of electricity,” said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and a member of Trump’s transition team for energy.

The grid reliability study has been delayed since June, though Shaylyn Hynes, a press officer at the Energy Department, told me it will be published “soon.”

But the concern over grid reliability got a real-world test on Monday when the moon cast its shadow across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina, dampening solar energy generation in the top two states for solar capacity — California and North Carolina.

Nanotechnology Gives Green Energy a Green Color

Read the full story at Science Daily.

Solar panels have tremendous potential to provide affordable renewable energy, but many people see traditional black and blue panels as eyesores. Architects, homeowners and city planners may be more open to the technology if they could install colorful, efficient solar panels, and a new study brings us one step closer. Researchers have developed a method for imprinting existing solar panels with silicon nanopatterns that scatter green light back toward an observer.

DC: Nonprofit installs solar panels on roofs of lower-income households — free

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Decked out in green hard hats, yellow T-shirts, and harnesses, the trainees were supervised by members of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, the regional branch of a national nonprofit group that helps implement solar power for low- to moderate-income families free.

The trainees are part of the summer cohort of the newly launched Solar Works DC, a low-income solar installation and job-training program jointly developed by the District’s Department of Energy and Environment and the Department of Employment Services. The program will train more than 200 D.C. residents over three years, and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic was awarded a grant to implement the first year of the program. The organization will train about 75 program participants in skills needed for careers in solar and related fields, and install solar panels for 60 to 100 income-qualified District homeowners.

Solar eclipse on August 21 will affect photovoltaic generators across the country

Read the full story from the Energy Information Administration.

On August 21, a solar eclipse will obscure the sunlight needed to generate electricity at approximately 1,900 utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the United States. However, relatively little solar PV capacity lies in the path of totality—where the sun will be completely obscured by the moon—and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) does not anticipate the eclipse will create reliability issues for the bulk power system.

China’s ageing solar panels are going to be a big environmental problem

Read the full story in the South China Morning Post.

The issue of how to dispose of hazardous waste from ageing panels casts a shadow over the drive towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.