In today’s fleeting 24-hour news cycle it’s easy for an article or report to slip through the cracks. So, Solect scoured our favorite renewable energy news outlets to make sure you didn’t miss anything. For this week’s blog post, we decided to recap some of January's biggest stories in the world of solar and renewable energy.
Read on for reports on the latest developments in renewable energy, solar, storage, and energy legislature.
The Independent: Solar And Wind Power Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels For The First Time
According to a report from the World Economic Forum, solar and wind energy are now the same as, or equal to, the price of traditional fossil fuels in more than 30 countries. Energy prices have dropped significantly over the past decade, and solar has evolved from an alternative for clean energy enthusiasts to a legitimate option for companies looking to save money on their electric bills and achieve energy independence with the bonus of helping to save the environment. In the United States, approximately 125 solar panels are added every minute. Furthermore, new technologies are being developed every day that have the potential to create even more efficient and affordable panels. The best is yet to come.
Solar continues its impressive growth, as 2016 saw the number of people employed in the industry eclipse the combined total of their fossil-fueled counterparts! In fact, the actual numbers are even more striking, concluding that solar employs nearly twice as many people with a 43% share of the jobs within the energy sector, compared to the 22% held by those working in the fossil fuel industries. For anyone following the trends in the energy sector, this was an inevitable shift as the last decade has seen coal generation fall 53% in comparison to the 5,000% boon the solar industry has accomplished. With solar continuing to spread to new states, and plenty of opportunity remaining for the states that were early adopters, we don’t expect the momentum slow down anytime soon.
Last August, Governor Baker directed the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to determine if energy storage targets would be prudent and cost-effective in Massachusetts. In response, the DOER released an energy storage study called "The State of Charge" that investigates the impact energy storage could have on the grid in MA and examined how to get there. The report's major conclusion is that the state has the potential to achieve 600 MW of storage by 2025, if all recommended programs were adopted, and would save ratepayers nearly $800 million in the process. As expected, the DOER has decided that 2017 will see a new energy storage initiative for the Bay State, with plans to release the much-anticipated incentive program this summer. Massachusetts will be the third state to mandate energy storage, helping to lead the charge to cleaner energy and a more efficient grid.
Some states will be reaching their final target dates for the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), state laws that require a percentage of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy. 29 states as well as Washington D.C. have an RPS in place. These mandates are important, as they are driving renewable energy growth across the U.S.. An estimated 58% of all renewable energy capacity since 2000 is being used toward RPS demand, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. A number of benefits have come from RPS regulations, including significantly decreased greenhouse gas emissions, reduced consumer electricity bills, and an increase in renewable energy jobs.
As of January 3 2017, the Solar Energy Finance Association (SEFA) has joined forces with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to form a new organization called the Solar Energy Finance Advisory Council (SEFAC), which is part of the overarching SEIA. Both groups had the common goal of making it easier for solar companies to attain the capital they need to grow, which initiated the merging of the two organizations. Additionally, SEFA was experiencing limitations with its funding and staff, which added to the merge. Now, SEFA’s members are a part of the new SEFAC organization, allowing them to focus on the important solar finance issues at hand rather than daily operational needs.