The U.S. energy storage market surged 243 percent in 2015 — its best year of all time, according to research this week from the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research. Led by deployment in the PJM wholesale utility market and residential installments in California and Hawaii, the industry deployed 112 megawatts of energy storage capacity in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone. That was higher than all deployments in the previous two years combined, according to the report. The technology is considered key for deploying more renewables, as well as allowing more backup power for utilities during blackouts and other grid challenges.
Short-term deals are growing in Europe’s wholesale power market as a surge in renewables requires traders to ensure that volatile wind and solar energy meets demand at all times. The European Union is pushing towards clean energy sources, whose output follows weather patterns and is hence unpredictable. This means more sales and purchases of power occur nearer the time of consumption, because electricity cannot yet be stored in large volumes and grids must keep a stable voltage to uphold supply security.
The towering white turbines are hard to miss in many areas as wind farms continue to sprout, but the production of wind energy in the region is already about to overwhelm some of the lines that take it to the more populated areas of Texas. Those lines cost more than $1 billion when completed about three years ago. Sharyland Utilities, one of the utility companies that completed transmission lines from the Texas Panhandle to the grid serving the rest of the state, is asking to double its capacity on 166 miles of its route.
The sun is becoming big business in Utah. Whether it’s in the sun-drenched deserts of Dixie or the sometimes smoggy valleys of northern Utah, more and more homeowners are taking the plunge and betting that solar energy will pay off for them in the future. The boom has pushed employment in Utah’s solar industry to a point well beyond the job numbers in a more traditional energy sector, Utah’s coal industry.
Oregon lawmakers Wednesday approved a bill to raise the state’s share of renewable energy to 50 percent and quit its reliance on coal-fired power. S.B. 1547, sponsored by state Sen. Lee Beyer (D), passed the state Senate 17-12 on a party line vote. It now heads to Gov. Kate Brown (D), who is expected to sign it. It passed the state House 38-20 on Tuesday. Originally put forth by the state’s two largest utilities and a cadre of environmental groups, the bill would instruct the utilities — Pacific Power and Portland General Electric — to exit their out-of-state coal contracts by 2030. It would also raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2040 from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.
New statistics just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that in the coming year, the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other — including natural gas and wind.
Chief Justice John Roberts signaled today that the Supreme Court won’t intervene to block every major environmental rule that comes before it. Roberts took swift action to rebuff a request from 20 states to put a major U.S. EPA mercury rule on hold. The states’ request, led by Michigan, was widely seen as an attempt to test the court’s willingness to freeze controversial EPA regulations after the justices recently agreed to halt the agency’s Clean Power Plan.
“This is a pretty strong way of sending a signal that the fact that the court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan was highly extraordinary, and they don’t want to be inundated with these,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer with the firm Bracewell and a deputy administrator of the E.P.A. in the George W. Bush administration. “I think this is Justice Roberts’s effort to say that the Clean Power Plan is an extraordinary situation.”
Public comments about a Washington state proposal to control greenhouse gases may give a clue to the changes that state officials will make to the regulations that it withdrew last week. Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Department of Ecology received a wide variety of feedback from private companies, utilities and environmental groups between proposing its Clean Air Rule on Jan. 5 and withdrawing it Friday. Agency staff suggested that the comments influenced their decision to replace the draft rule with a new one in the spring.
The Obama administration has taken a major step toward developing commercial-scale solar projects in specially designated zones in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management today announced that it has completed regional mitigation strategies for four formally designated solar energy zones (SEZs) covering 25,000 acres for the Dry Lake Valley North SEZ in southeast Nevada and 8,500 acres for three other SEZs in Arizona. In addition, BLM unveiled a draft regional mitigation strategy for three SEZs covering about 33,200 acres of federal lands in the solar-resource-rich San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.