Right About Tesla, Wrong About Yingli

Doug Young  Bottom line: Beijing should promote cutting-edge companies like Tesla that can help advance its new energy agenda, while abandoning ones like Yingli that use old technology to make cheap copycat products. Two green energy stories were in the headlines last week, spotlighting China’s drive to become a global leader in the new technology and also the right and wrong ways to achieve that aim. An item involving US electric vehicle (EV) powerhouse Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) represented the right approach, with reports that the company might near a deal with Beijing to build a manufacturing plant in China....

Net Metering Is the Solar Industry’s Junk Food

Shoppers who bring reusable bags to the grocery store buy more junk food. This example is part of a growing body of behavioral psychology research showing that when we feel good about ourselves for doing one thing right, we give ourselves permission to be careless in other areas. The solar installation industry seems to be falling into the "reusable shopping bag" trap. Solar itself is the reusable shopping bag. The junk food is net metering. Net metering is a simple, intuitive way to pay for solar generation at retail rates. But it puts solar companies on...

McKinsey Report Hits The G(reen) Spot

by Sean Kidney and the Climate Bonds Team Working on climate change involves reading a lot of reports. A lot. My general view nowadays is “Enough already! Can you we just do now and stop theorizing?” But sometimes you come across a report and you find yourself sitting up in your seat and shouting “Yes Yes Yes” like that scene with Meg Ryan in the movie When Harry met Sally. It usually means the report is saying what you’d like to say, but much better; and so it is with the McKinsey Center for Business and...

The War On Net Metering

by Paula Mints Net metering and interconnection are rights afforded distributed generation (DG) residential and commercial solar system owners through the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. The act required publically owned utilities to offer net metering and left the various policies up to the states to enact. In 2004, before that energy policy was enacted, 39 states had net metering and interconnection standards and policies. At the beginning of 2016, 43 U.S. states and three territories had net metering policies, and four states had policies similar to net metering that the Database of State Incentives for Renewables...

Is The Big Win For The Liberals In Canada Also A Big Win For...

Jim Lane Liberals sweep to victory in Canada; Trudeau to become Prime Minister, pledging sharp increases in infrastructure investment and a renewed focus on clean technology. In Canada, the Liberal party, under the leadership of 43-year old Justin Trudeau, swept to victory in the Canadian federal elections. As of 6am Eastern time, the Liberals have won 184 seats 14 seats more than needed to form a majority government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party won in 99 ridings, a loss of 60 seats, while the New Democratic Party has reeled in 44 seats, a...

Warren Buffett: Closet Tree-Hugging Billionaire

By Jeff Siegel Is Warren Buffett sending mixed messages on green energy? That's what the folks over at Bloomberg Business have suggested. But nothing could be further from the truth. After all, Buffett's making a fortune in the alternative energy space. Yet here's what was reported in Bloomberg this week: Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power. Berkshire’s NV Energy, the state’s dominant utility, opposes the proposal to increase a cap on...

US Crawls Closer to Energy Policy

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week President Obama signed into law the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015.  The law is intended to reduce energy requirements in commercial buildings, manufacturing facilities and residential structures.  The law improves building codes, provides assistance to manufactures to achieve energy efficiency and paves the way for conservation activities by federal agencies.  It is the closest thing the United States has to an energy policy…..so far. It took years to get this small piece of energy policy through Congress.  Indeed, at one point in its convoluted travels through the House of...

New Tariffs Likely To Raise US Solar Prices

Jennifer Runyon The US Department of Commerce announced preliminary findings in the new trade case against Chinese and Taiwanese PV products. On Friday evening the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its preliminary findings in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of some crystalline silicon PV products from China and Taiwan. Most solar products entering the U.S. market from China and Taiwan will now face import duties. According to a fact sheet released by the DOC, the AD law “provides U.S. businesses and workers with a transparent and internationally accepted mechanism to seek relief...

The Utility Death Spiral: Beyond The Rhetoric

by Lynne Kiesling Unless you follow the electricity industry you may not be aware of the past year’s discussion of the impending “utility death spiral”, ably summarized in this Clean Energy Group post: There have been several reports out recently predicting that solar + storage systems will soon reach cost parity with grid-purchased electricity, thus presenting the first serious challenge to the centralized utility model. Customers, the theory goes, will soon be able to cut the cord that has bound them to traditional utilities, opting instead to self-generate using cheap PV, with batteries to regulate the intermittent...

The EPA’s Carbon Rule: Likely Stockmarket Winners

By Harris Roen Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector   A seismic shift in the power generation landscape is starting to sink in. It has been two weeks since the EPA announced its new proposed carbon rules, one of the flagship efforts of the Obama Administration to address climate change. This shift is meant to move the country in the direction of inevitable changes coming to the energy economy. It is important for investors to know which companies and sectors stand to benefit from the...

Obama’s Climate Plan

James Montgomery Yesterday President Obama spoke at Georgetown University about his plans to broadly address climate change. Ahead of his actual talk, the White House released the gist of what he would propose. The EPA, working with states, industry, and other stakeholders, will establish new carbon pollution standards. "Tough new rules" will be established similar to those that exist for toxins like mercury and arsenic. These new rules, as anticipated, will target existing power plants as well as new ones. The federal government will make available up to $8 billion in loan guarantees for "advanced...

China Trys to Cork EU Solar Tariffs With Wine Probe

Doug Young China is quickly learning how to play the game of tit-for-tat trade wars, with news that Beijing has launched a new anti-dumping probe against wines imported from the European Union. Anyone who has followed recent China-EU trade relations will know, of course, that announcement of this new probe by the Commerce Ministry comes the same day that the EU formally announced anti-dumping tariffs against imported Chinese solar panels. While I certainly don’t condone this kind of trade war rhetoric, I have to say that China’s decision to target Europe’s wine industry looks like a very...

The Farm Bill: 5-Minute Guide to the Energy Title

  Jim Lane Only 5 min BigStock Photo What’s in that Durn-tootin’ US Farm Bill, anyhow? For the harried taxpayer, some relief. For energy security and rural economic development, targeted investments that now head to the legislative floor. Here are the need-to-knows. In Washington, the House and Senate Agricultural committees have now passed their respective versions of the proposed 2013 farm bill, which would take effect for fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2018. Both bills have energy titles meaning that, should they find passage, as expected this summer,...

Does Buying Green Stocks Do Any Good?

Tom Konrad CFA Volt owners are almost universally happy with their cars, despite the fact that very few will recoup the extra costs of the car in gas savings.   Even though the financial savings are small compared to the large up front payment for the vehicle, the emotional payback more than compensates. As someone who helps people invest in green stocks, I can tell you from first hand experience that investor enthusiasm has everything to do with recent financial returns, and not much to do with the good we’re doing. In 2007, when practically any stock which could be...

A 10-Minute Guide to Obama’s New Energy Policy

Jim Lane   Stopwatch photo via BigStock A major push from Obama on energy. From DOE: “Liquid fuels demand can be sufficiently reduced so that biomass can meet all liquid fuel needs.” What’s up? What is an Energy Security Trust, anyway? The Digest’s 10-Minute Guide tells all. In an address at the Argonne National Laboratories on Friday, President Obama said: “You see, after years of talking about it, we’re finally poised to take control of our energy future.  We produce more oil than we have in 15 years. ...

Obama’s New Energy and EPA Appointments

Jim Lane   Ernest J. Moniz is the nominee for US Secretary of Energy In Washington, President Barack Obama nominated MIT professor Ernest J. Moniz as US Secretary of Energy, replacing Steven Chu, and nominated Gina McCarthy as EPA Administrator. Moniz is currently serving as the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems, as well as the director of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. He was formerly undersecretary of Energy and associate director of the White House office...