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SfunCube: Lighting the Way for Solar Innovation in California

rp_ca_innov_series_icon_283x204.jpgEDF’s Innovators Series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goals of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technology and ideas.

By: Anna Doty, West Coast Policy Associate

Emily Kirsch calls herself a “solar-lifer.” Kirsch came onto the solar scene by way of former Obama advisor Van Jones’ green jobs campaign in Oakland. Now, as the co-founder and CEO of Oakland-based SfunCube—the world’s only solar-exclusive start-up business accelerator—Kirsch is growing California’s clean economy in an entirely new way and she knows the future of solar is bright.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Oakland, SfunCube—Solar for Universal Need—is supporting a growing “solar ecosystem” of the most promising solar startups that are making the San Francisco Bay Area the nation’s epicenter for solar innovation and entrepreneurship. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Emily Kirsch and some of the solar pioneers who are working at SfunCube to make universal access to solar a reality in California, throughout the US, and around the world.

In California today, there are over 1,889 solar companies that are part of the solar supply chain, creating more than 50,000 jobs—roughly a third of all the solar jobs in the country—and that is no coincidence. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Renewable Energy| 1 Response

Clean Energy Conferences Roundup: January 2015

rp_Source-National-Retail-Federation-Flickr-300x2001.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in January:

Jan 26-27: Net Metering 2.0 and Utility Solar Rates, Anaheim, CA
Speaker: Jamie Fine, Senior Economist

  • Net metering was a simple and appropriate rate mechanism when the solar industry was in its infancy and consumer-installed PV panels were relatively uncommon. But as policies and incentives enticed increasing numbers of home owners and businesses to adopt solar, the growing penetration of these resources onto the grid has resulted in some uncomfortable balancing acts among utilities, customers, regulators, solar providers, and other stakeholders important to the process. The objective of this conference is to explore rate structures that facilitate meeting solar development goals for consumer adoption, while striking an optimum balance among all solar development stakeholders, including utilities, and their business models.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Conference Roundup| Comments closed

Why Falling Oil Prices Don’t Hurt Demand for Renewable Energy

By: Victor A. Rojas, Senior Manager, Financial Policy, and Paul Stinson, Program Coordinator

solar greeneryIt’s understandable that many people would look at falling oil prices and wonder what it might mean for clean, renewable energy sources. Some recent headlines even suggest that cheaper crude might spell doom for the burgeoning clean energy economy.

Over the last six months, the price of crude oil has fallen by about 40 percent, currently trading below $60 a barrel, the lowest it’s been since 2009. Continuing global production and oversupply mean oil prices could remain low through the winter months and well into 2015.

While it’s true that stocks for some of the more trusted, clean energy investments are being dragged down by dipping oil prices, it doesn’t mean demand for clean energy is also suffering. In fact, as oil prices have tumbled, demand for energy efficiency and renewable energy only keeps growing.

Oil can mean energy, but energy doesn’t mean oil

The historic correlation between the price of oil and the demand for renewable energy has been increasingly weakened in today’s global markets. Like apples and oranges, we use oil and renewables to make completely different types of juice: oil primarily to produce transportation fuels, and renewables primarily to generate electricity. From an economics perspective, oil and renewables are not substitutes: when the price of one decreases, demand for the other does not decrease. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy| Comments closed

We need strong national methane rules. Here's how we get there.

By Karin Rives, EDF's editorial manager and editor of the EDF Voices blog

New York’s statewide ban on fracking is a vindication for communities around the country that have been hit hard by unconventional natural gas production, writes Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund’s president, in a Dec. 22 op-ed piece in The Washington Post.

It demonstrates what can happen when oil and gas producers erode public trust by brushing aside legitimate questions – and reinforces the urgent need for strong, sensible regulation.

The growing controversy surrounding our natural gas industry has created a decisive moment for President Obama.

As the administration prepares a policy to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, the president has an opportunity to cut both energy waste and climate pollution – in addition to protecting the ecosystem and public health.

In a second op-ed piece published Dec. 17 in The Hill, Fred lays out five principles that should guide the national methane standards the Obama administration is expected to announce soon: Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments closed

Untapped Incentives for Energy Efficiency Projects

By: Abraham Weiner, 2013 EDF Climate Corps Alumnus

money presentAs an EDF Climate Corps fellow back in 2013, one task that was of particular interest to me was figuring out how to help my host organization fund, in whole or in part, its efficiency upgrades. In my research, the most unique funding source I found was the energy efficiency forward capacity market.

This program allows those who invested in energy efficiency over the last several years to go back and obtain additional incentive dollars on top of traditional utility rebates. This is essentially free money for organizations who have invested in efficiency measures. In fact, when I was a fellow, I identified over $50,000 in incentives that my EDF Climate Corps host organization was eligible for from projects completed before I even arrived.

In order to explain how this program works, I need to explain who PJM is and what they do. PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization. They coordinate the activity of suppliers, generators, and utilities to maintain an adequate flow of electricity on the grid. Their territory touches 13 states and the District of Columbia, and they are the largest electricity market in the world. They are also unique because they allow energy efficiency to participate in their forward capacity markets. Fortunately, my EDF Climate Corps host organization was in their territory. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency| Tagged | Comments closed

Smart Meters Need Effective Electricity Pricing to Deliver Their Full Benefits

By: Beia Spiller, Economist, and Kristina Mohlin, Economist

walletSmart meters, which provide detailed electricity use data throughout the day, are a critical piece of a smarter, more resilient 21st century energy system. But they are not a cure-all for modernizing our antiquated power grid.

In Matthew Wald’s recent New York Times article, entitled “Power Savings of Smart Meters Prove Slow to Materialize,” he argues that smart meters have failed to produce measurable savings. And we agree – but not because smart meters themselves have failed. Rather, most customers with smart meters don’t have access to people-powered, or time-variant, electricity pricing, which creates opportunities to save money. This is a missed opportunity for customers, utilities, and the environment.

Time-variant pricing better reflects electricity costs

Throughout most of the country, the price paid for residential electricity is the same regardless of the time of day when it’s consumed. This arrangement is a byproduct of an earlier era, one in which electricity information was difficult to convey and the actions of individual customers was impossible to gauge in real time. In practice, electricity is actually dirtier and more expensive to produce and transmit at certain times of the day, particularly when everybody wants it – for example, at 6pm during a heat wave when customers are cooling their homes. Also, during this high-demand time, energy prices spike and electric utilities flip on expensive and dirty fossil fuel “peaker” power plants to meet energy demand. From an economic point of view, it would be more efficient for electricity used at these peak demand times to have a higher price. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Smart Grid| Comments closed
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    From time to time, the Energy Exchange blog includes posts from infrequent contributors, such as other EDF scientists and staff. Since these authors vary, we use this standard author bio profile for guest posts. For more information about this author, please see his/her link at the beginning of the post.

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