Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan4
Top Cleantech Stories Of January
It’s really interesting to scroll through the last month’s stories in order to pick out the top stories of the month, and it’s really freakin’ hard! There are so many interesting stories every day, let alone during the month as a whole. Several cleantech industries are growing so fast. Below is my shot at the top 30 stories of January (with a bit of cheating). I’ve attempted, loosely, to order them, but that is even more challenging than picking 30. Have a look. Read the ones you missed that interest you. And share with friends!!
30. Wireless Electric Bus Trial Turned On In Milton Keynes, UK (In cases where the article was reposted to CleanTechnica from elsewhere, I’m added a link like this: on CleanTechnica. We get a lot of comments on some articles, and I figure you may like to check those out and may simply prefer reading here than elsewhere.)
Wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging really gets people excited — and for good reason, it could advance EVs for numerous reasons (cool factor, convenience, reliability). One of the earliest wireless bus trials was recently launched in the quite green city of Milton Keynes in the UK. We’ll see how that turns out!
One of the largest solar power plants in the world just started operating in California. The project isn’t actually complete, but the first phase is, and one of the wonderful things about solar power plants (and wind power plants) is that you can start sending power to the grid when just the first portion of the power plant is completed.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced in early January the commitment of $1 billion for solar power projects. That’s big.
Little old North Carolina is projected to join the ranks of some genuine heavyweights this year. Joining China, the US, Japan, Germany, California, and others, North Carolina (if it were a country) is projected to be a to rank as one of the top 10 countries for solar power demand in 2014, according to NPD Solarbuzz.
SolarCity continues to see massive growth. GTM Research reports that SolarCity took a whopping 32% of the US residential PV installation market in the 3rd quarter of 2013. It took about 4 times more of the market than #2 on that list, Vivint Solar.
Ceres hosted the Investor Summit on Climate Risk in January. CleanTechnica‘s Tina Casey attended and reported on a $36 trillion effort called the Clean Trillion Campaign, which focused on transitioning off of fossil fuels and onto a more safe and sustainable path.
With plenty of experience developing solar and wind farms, acquisition of Nest, and a filing for approval to be an energy marketer by FERC, could Google be on its way to becoming your next utility?
60 Minutes in January took a shot at explaining the cleantech market to millions of Americans. Well, no, not really — it simply cherry picked and warped the reality of the cleantech story of the day in order to present an upside-down cleantech world to its (hopefully more informed) viewers.
After much deliberation and posturing, the EU has announced a series of climate-based goals for the Union. As Josh wrote, “the new framework includes a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40% below 1990 levels, a Union-wide binding target for renewable energy of at least 27%, renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies, a new governance system, and a set of new indicators to ensure a competitive and secure energy system.”
Nissan has hit a pretty major sales milestone, surpassing 100,000 Nissan LEAF sales, half of which were sold in the past 11 months. It and the electric vehicle market in general are moving a lot faster than the hybrid market moved.
Cool science story of the month was probably this one about tiny windmills. It’s unclear how likely the option is to have any kind of market effect, but it’s super cool. Check out the pic and video in the link above, and of course more information about the tiny windmills.
Compact compact lithium-ion battery company Amprius has just raised $30 million for its commercialization move. Its li-ion batteries are notable for their use of silicon nanowire anodes. The startup also just added former US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to its board of directors. This is a company to keep an eye on.
But perhaps an even more promising energy storage startup is Aquion. It just raised $55 million in a $55 million Series D financing round. Investors in this round include Bill Gates, Yung’s Enterprise, Nick and Joby Pritzker through their family’s firm Tao Invest, Bright Capital, and Gentry Venture Partners. Again, an energy storage company to keep an eye on!
Tesla continues its massive expansion of Superchargers. I’m waiting for one to be within range of Wrocław, but it’s exciting to see a genuine European network developing at least. Perhaps I’ll take a trip from one end to the other this spring.
A new report out of Germany’s Fraunhofer institute demonstrates the degree to which solar power is already cutting into wholesale electricity prices in Germany. Take a look at the charts and article for more cost-dropping fun.
10 initial cities in the City Energy Project have committed to massively cutting their greenhouse gas emissions (and other pollution) through greater building efficiency. Silvio has the details.
What would be the largest solar power project in the world (nearly 7 times bigger than what is currently the largest solar power project in the world, also in India) has now received its MoU. Watch out — India might just blow the roof off the solar industry soon!
We’ve covered the fallibility of the “intermittency problem” in the past (a few times). A new report from NREL goes even further and notes that wind energy can boost the electric grid’s reliability. Case in point, see the related post below.
Back to India, I thought it was worth noting separately that it doubled its solar power capacity in 2013. Again, keep an eye on this fast-growing solar market.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in January published a new report, REmap 2030, showing how we can double renewable energy’s share of the energy market by 2030. I got to see the report a day or two before it was unveiled and also had the opportunity to interview Dolf Gielen, Director of the IRENA Innovation & Technology Centre, over lunch in Abu Dhabi following the press conference for another big IRENA announcement. The report is very interesting. It is quite ambitious and yet also realistic. IRENA will soon follow up with 26 country-specific renewable energy roadmaps. Keep your eyes peeled, and certainly keep an eye on CleanTechnica, as we might have more exclusives related to those.
In an interesting thread over on the GM-Volt.com forum, several Volt owners note that their electric bills actually went down after they got the Chevy Volts. Find out why by clicking through on that link. A few things come into play there.
No bis against Europe — as you know, I live in Europe — but the biggest Tesla news in January was probably that its US Supercharger network now extends from the East Coast to the West Coast (er, I guess we should say from the West Coast to the East Coast in this situation). Tesla owners are already making cross-country trips to enjoy the free (often even solar-powered) Supercharging. (And Tesla envy grows….) In all seriousness, it’s worth noting at this point that Tesla isn’t just a car company — it’s offering a pretty amazing transportation package that has no rival.
The country of Spain is still struggling economically and from a super austere government, but it is now benefiting from super cheap wind power more than almost any other country out there. Meeting 21.1% of electricity demand, wind power was the #1 source of electricity in Spain in 2013. Impressive.
Thanks to a solar industry insider, I received a copy of a new Credit Suisse report that includes some very bullish statements regarding renewable energy. For example: “Renewables will meet most of US demand growth. We estimate that ~85% of future demand growth for power through 2025 (including the impact of coal plant retirements) could be met by renewable generation with compliance to the existing 30 mandatory and 8 voluntary RPS programs.” We’ll see.
US electric car sales surged in 2013, rising ~229%. Check out my monthly report at one of the links above for plenty of details, my commentary/insights on specific models and car companies, and somewhat interactive charts!
ABB’s head of e-mobility/electric transportation replied to some questions some of our commenters had, offering a pretty sweet rundown of EV battery price reports — all of which show a tremendous drop in EV battery prices, and one that is likely to continue.
Not even counting rooftop solar power, solar was the #2 source of new power capacity in the US last year. Word.
In an exclusive interview with Boeing’s director of biofuels, CleanTechnica and Energy Post got the scoop on a brilliant breakthrough in the biofuels arena. Seriously, that one is worth a read. And thanks to my friend Karel Beckman at Energy Post (who I pulled into the interview at the last minute), there’s also a podcast in the article that allows you to listen to Boeing’s biofuel director tell us the big story.
It’s hard for anything to compete with China’s tremendous surge in solar power installations. In 2013, China installed more solar than the US has installed in its entire history, and it also installed more than analysts had projected. It’s hard to fathom how fast China is growing, and how fast its solar power industry is growing as well.
Given that this was our most popular January article by far (112,000+ views), it seemed appropriate to put it at #1. As it indicates, the electric vehicle market is growing fast not only in sales but also in offerings. While previous years were marked by the introduction of low-cost electric cars, this year seems to stand out for the numerous higher-end electric vehicles coming to market.