The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden this week laid off 15 solar energy researchers and notified its workforce of plans to reduce its staff by another 50 to 60 people via buyouts, officials confirmed Wednesday. The cuts — which would amount to less than 5 percent of NREL’s 1,600 person Colorado workforce — were triggered by the U.S. Department of Energy reducing funding and shifting the priorities of its solar research program, NREL spokesman George Douglas said. The employees laid off Monday were engaged in long-term fundamental research.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday over a federal rule requiring that electricity providers give financial incentives to customers who slash power use in times of high energy demand. The fight over the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s demand-response rule will likely be the year’s most important energy case. “The stakes are really, really high,” said David Goldberg, an attorney representing environmental groups that back the rule. “It’s part and parcel to very important changes that have happened in energy regulation and energy provision, and is very, very important to the future of our nation’s energy supply because this is a dynamic, flexible method.”
Energy storage is fast becoming the next step in the continuing transformation of the electric utility sector. In just a few years, executives have moved from a “we’re studying it” phase to figuring out how to make storage actually happen on a larger scale. What’s more, all three of these electric companies have significant or growing renewable energy operations outside their regulated utility territories, creating opportunities to use storage across the United States and elsewhere, analysts say.
The European Union is struggling to create what it calls its “energy union.” This is largely a refinement of existing policies aimed at improving energy security, accelerating the shift to a low-carbon economy and, on a political level, showing that the 28 European Union member states can pull off a new integration project at a time when they are deeply divided on monetary and immigration policy. Much of it, therefore, is inward-looking.
Surging interest in the U.S., Brazil and China offset a 48 percent plunge in funding for projects in Europe, long the leader in clean-energy technologies. The industry’s capital needs declined because of a drop in the cost of wind power plants, which in the U.K. and Germany are now competitive with fossil fuels even without subsidies. Industry executives will discuss the trends at a conference hosted by New Energy Finance in London next week.
Denton announced a lofty plan Tuesday that aims to make the North Texas city one of the cleanest energy providers in the state. Mayor Chris Watts announced a Denton Municipal Electric plan to have 70 percent of the city’s electricity generated from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2019, up from 40 percent. “The renewable Denton plan is our proposed answer to the citizens’ requests of how can we increase that number,” Watts said at a news conference Tuesday.
Energy industry experts here predict that the growth of renewable energy will challenge natural gas in the years to come, based purely on the economics. Reporting relative ease with garnering long-term renewable power contracts with electricity distributors, renewables investors were beaming with optimism at the annual South by Southwest Eco conference, which wrapped up yesterday.
Billionaire U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump took his long battle against windfarms near his Scottish golf course to the UK Supreme Court on Thursday. The property mogul – who says plans for 11 offshore turbines will spoil the view from his greens – has lost a series of battles in lower courts, and has vowed to go on to the European Court of Justice if he fails again in London. “Mr Trump does not want a wind farm 1 km (0.6 mile) away from his golf course,” Trump’s lawyer John Campbell said.
Democrats yesterday afternoon blocked the Republican majority’s latest attempt to move forward with consideration of spending bills under disputed budget caps. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the only Democrat to vote “yes” on a motion to proceed on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s energy and water spending bill. He recently expressed interest in debating fossil fuel technology spending. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, accused Democrats of violating regular order and silencing lawmakers on the legislation.
This year’s eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference and Exhibition being held at the Omaha Hilton in Omaha, NE, November 4-5, will feature some exciting new speakers, and the return of a conference attendee favorite, Lauren Thirer with GE Renewables. A Consumer Energy Showcase, open to the public, will be held the evening of Tuesday, November 3.