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Study shows tax on plug-in vehicles is not answer to road-funding woes

Given declining revenues from gasoline and diesel fuel taxes and the need for new ways of funding road infrastructure, state and federal policymakers are considering or have enacted annual registration fees for plug-in vehicles. In a paper to be published in the August issue of Energy Policy, researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis say that approach is misguided. According to the paper, the registration fees already adopted by at least eight states reflect concerns about how the growing number of electric vehicles may affect road infrastructure funding. Electric vehicles do not contribute through fuel taxes to road construction and maintenance. Those concerns are ref

Pollution From Canadian Oil Sands Vapor Is Substantial, Study Finds

An oil sands strip mine, north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. While Canada’s economy depends heavily on resources like the oil sands, the new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has made climate change a priority on his agenda. CreditIan Willms for The New York Times OTTAWA — The amount of pollution created by vapor from Canada’s oil sands, which contributes to climate change, ranks on par with most major cities in North America, according to a new study by the country’s environmental regulator that was published on Wednesday. While the connection between the oil sands’ carbon emissions and climate change is well documented, the study, which was funded by the regulator, Environment and Climate Chang

Portugal powered by 100% renewable energy for over four days

An exciting renewable energy feat in Europe shows us just what a sustainable energy future will look like – and that future is not too far away. From May 7 to May 11, Portugal was powered entirely by renewable sources. During the 107 hours of 100 percent renewable energy, the country drew on hydropower, wind power, biofuels, and solar to make this green electricity dream a reality. How did they make it work? According to the WorldWatch Institute, progressive policies played a large role. Feed-in tariffs, or guaranteed prices for renewable producers, and paying host municipalities combined to help make renewable energy cost effective. Further, the government has taken steps like altering grid

CNY town wants to turn old landfill into solar farm

This is part of a solar farm with more than 9,400 solar panels in a secluded field next to Onondaga County's Oak Orchard Waste Water Treatment Plant in Clay. SolarCity owns the solar farm, one of four it will build under a 20-year contract to provide electricity to Onondaga County. DeWitt also is proposing to put a smaller solar farm on its old landfill. (Tim Knauss) The town of DeWitt is taking steps to convert its old landfill into a solar farm. The 2 megawatt solar farm would be located on 57 acres of the closed landfill, which is across between Fisher Road and Cedar Bay Park in DeWitt. Part of the landfill runs along the state Old Erie Canal State Park. The landfill's closure was complet

Renewables Are Leaving Natural Gas In The Dust This Year

CREDIT: NATI HARNIK, AP In the first three months of 2016, the U.S. grid added 18 megawatts of new natural gas generating capacity. It added a whopping 1,291 megawatts (MW) of new renewables. The renewables were primarily wind (707 MW) and solar (522 MW). We also added some biomass (33 MW) and hydropower (29 MW). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” reports that no new capacity of coal, oil, or nuclear power were added in the first quarter of the year. So the U.S. electric grid added more than 70 times as much renewable energy capacity as natural gas capacity from January to March. Of course, generating capacity is often quite differ

Governor Cuomo Announces Winners of $3 Million Clean Energy Competition for Colleges and Universitie

Student-Led Coalitions at Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College Awarded $1 Million Each to Develop Innovative Clean Energy Projects in their Communities May 16, 2016 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will award $1 million each to Bard College, University at Buffalo and SUNY Broome Community College as part of the “Energy to Lead Competition.” The competition, first announced by the Governor in October 2015, challenged student-led coalitions from New York colleges and universities to design and develop innovative plans for campus and community-wide clean energy projects. The announcement was made at Bard College in Dutchess County. “T

Germany: 100% renewable power becomes a reality

Credit: The Energy Collective Germany met all of its power demand through renewable energy for a brief spell lasting around an hour on Sunday afternoon, new figures show, in what was a first for Europe’s largest electricity market. On Sunday, the brief 100% renewables window occurred between 13:00 and 14:00 Berlin time, as almost 23GW of wind power – robust generation even by Germany’s high standards – combined with more than 16GW of solar to meet typically subdued Sunday demand. Programmable forms of renewable electricity, in this case biomass-fired power plants at 5GW, and hydropower at 3GW, plugged the remaining gap between renewable supply and total demand. Consumption at the time was 46

April breaks global temperature record, marking seven months of new highs

Global land and sea temperature was 1.11C warmer in April 2016 than the average temperature for April during the period 1951-1980. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters Latest monthly figures add to string of recent temperature records and all but assure 2016 will be hottest year on record April 2016 was the hottest April on record globally – and the seventh month in a row to have broken global temperature records. The latest figures smashed the previous record for April by the largest margin ever recorded. It makes three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken by the largest margin ever, and seven months in a row that are at least 1C above the 1951-80 mean for that month. When t

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment for Owners?

Attention Homeowners: What You Need to Know Before Investing in Solar Panels Are solar panels a more financially sound investment than stocks? It’s a bold assertion. However, some experts say yes– emphatically. According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center explains that a 5 kilowatt solar panel system not only provides ample opportunity for return, the solar PV system saves homeowners an average $44 to $187 per month in local utility costs. When you consider the national average monthly bill is $107, this can mean deep savings for homeowners. Still, even with compelling evidence to support this healthy investment, there are factors

Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2015 were lowest since 1993

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation totaled 1,925 million metric tons in 2015, the lowest since 1993 and 21% below their 2005 level. A shift on the electricity generation mix, with generation from natural gas and renewables displacing coal-fired power, drove the reductions in emissions. Total carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector declined even as demand for electricity remained relatively flat over the previous decade. In both 2013 and 2014, total electricity sales and electricity-related CO2 emissions increased. But in 2015, both sales and emissions fell. In 2015, warm winter tempe

From out of nowhere, the US Energy Department launches a great podcast

The folks at the US Energy Department adore the NPR-style radio program so much, they made their own human interest podcast. Direct Current, a new show from the Energy.gov team, borrows liberally from the public radio playbook. Hosts Matt Dozier and Allison Lantero, have that warm start-and-stop cadence of This American Life, a show they parody early in the premiere episode with a skit called This American Lightbulb. It's hosted by, who else, Ira Fiberglass. The episode moves at a clip. By the five minute mark, we're deep into a story about President Carter and the formation of the US Energy Department in 1977. "Our decision about energy," says Carter, "will test the character of the America

This Country Generated So Much Renewable Energy It Paid People to Use It

Germany aims to become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2050. On May 8—a particularly sunny and windy day—Germany’s renewable energy mix of solar, wind, hydropower and biomass generated so much power that it met 88 percent of the country’s total electricity demand, or 55 GW out of 63 GW being consumed. This means, as Quartz reported, “power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.” “We have a greater share of renewable energy every year,” said Christoph Podewils of Agora Energiewende, a German clean energy think tank. “The power system adapted to this quite nicely. This day shows again that a system with l

Global Warming Cited as Wildfires Increase in Fragile Boreal Forest

Charred trees near Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Canada. Climate change is a prime suspect in a rise of wildfires in the boreal forest. Credit: Ian Willms for The New York Times Scientists say the near-destruction of Fort McMurray last week by a wildfire is the latest indication that the vital boreal forest is at risk from climate change. Scientists have been warning for decades that climate change is a threat to the immense tracts of forest that ring the Northern Hemisphere, with rising temperatures, drying trees and earlier melting of snow contributing to a growing number of wildfires. The near-destruction of a Canadian city last week by a fire that sent almost 90,000 people fleeing for their

New York Plans to Make Fighting Climate Change Good Business

A governor wants to lead on green energy. The state’s utilities are nervously falling in line. Young entrepreneurs are buzzing, determined to be part of the generation that finally solves climate change. To most ears, that might sound like California, where all those things and more are happening. But it also describes New York. New York? The state may not leap to mind as being in the vanguard of the green economy. But under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the most populous state in the Northeast is in a close race with its counterpart in the West in setting ambitious climate goals. And in some ways, New York may be on the verge of pulling ahead of California. Without much fanfare, Mr. Cuomo has started

Solar power is contagious. These maps show how it spreads.

(Shutterstock) Rooftop solar is expanding rapidly in the United States — by some estimates, a new system goes up every four minutes. There are plenty of reasons for that, from falling prices to generous federal subsidies to innovative leasing schemes. But there's another, little-discussed factor here: Residential solar power is contagious. Yep, contagious. Studies have found that if you install solar photovoltaic panels on your roof, that increases the odds that your neighbors will install their own panels. SolarCity, the largest solar installer in the United States, just published some fascinating data on this "contagion" effect. The company has installed 230,000 rooftop systems nationwide

It’s Official: Japan Now has More Electric Car Charging Spots than Gas Stations*

Japan is blanketed with charging stations. (PHOTO: CHARGEMAP) One of the first countries in the world to embrace modern electric cars, Japan has long been considered something of a shining example on how electric car rapid charging infrastructure should be implemented. In fact, look at the charging station maps for Japan, and you’ll see a sea of CHAdeMO DC quick chargers blanketing every major route from north to south and east to west, thanks in part to pro- electric car incentives and a nationwide — rather than regional — approach to charging station deployment. As of earlier this month, there were more than 2,819 CHAdeMO DC rapid chargers installed across the country, far more than the 1,

ChargePoint Raises $50M as EV Charging Market Hits Its Stride

Rising EV sales and California utility rollouts mean growth capital for the country’s biggest charging network. Building a network of electric-vehicle charging stations to replace the corner gas station network we have today will take billions of dollars, eventually. It’s taking hundreds of millions of dollars to bring ChargePoint up to scale. On Tuesday, the Campbell, Calif.-based startup announced a $50 million investment led by Linse Capital, and joined by Braemar Energy Ventures and Constellation Energy. The Series F round brings ChargePoint’s total investment to north of $164 million, with previous backers including Kleiner Perkins, Rho Ventures, and strategic investors BMW iVentures an

Will Utilities Lease Rooftops of Commercial Buildings for Solar Power Generation?

Third-party leasing of rooftops or other spaces for solar arrays is a growing trend. Last month, for instance, Energy Manager Today posted a blog about a project being run by Soltage, LLC. The company is providing Quinsigamond Community College in West Brookfield, MA with about 2.4 MWh of energy. The 5,800 photovoltaic panels generating the energy are 25 miles away in Worcester, MA. To date, these creative net-metering arrangements have largely been the work of entrepreneurial companies. That may change, however. Roy Palk, the Senior Energy Advisor for the law firm of LeClairRyan, thinks that the utilities are set to more actively participate in these this sector. “I thought about utilities

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