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Beyond the Environmental: Benefits of Renewable Energy Independence

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Economic

The main argument for U.S. energy independence based on renewables, other than the environmental, is economic. Investing heavily in renewable energy in the U.S. can not only create jobs but create better jobs. While wind and solar are rapidly growing industries, much of the current job growth in the U.S is coming from the restaurant industry and the medical industry, and many of these jobs are either low-paying or require a large amount of schooling to do. Jobs in renewables tend to be skilled, so they are higher paying than restaurant jobs, but don’t require as many years of expensive schooling as a higher-paid medical position. In addition, jobs in the renewable branch of the energy sector are safer and healthier for workers than jobs in the coal and oil industries.

In addition to adding jobs in the renewables sector, some economists predict a shift back to American manufacturing as American shale pushes energy prices down, making it possible for American manufacturers to compete with the E.U. and Asia in the face of rising energy costs (E.U.) and wages (China). While it’s great to hear that manufacturing jobs may be coming back to American shores, it must be pointed out that shale production will eventually slow and then stop altogether, leaving American scrambling for a new source of cheap energy to prevent losing manufacturing once again. As Richard Anderson from the BBC points out, “Remember also that shale oil and gas are finite fossil fuels. If the US is to achieve energy independence in perpetuity, it will need to do so using renewables.” Shale is a temporary solution to American energy needs, and both the public and private sectors should take the time provided by shale use to further research and invest in renewable energy, ensuring American energy independence is a steady state and not just a brief blip.

Nathan Jovanelly, of IGS Energy in Harrisburg, Pa., agrees. IGS started 30 years ago focused on selling gas commodity but has evolved its vision to include renewable energy, a solution that, Jovanelly says, “gets right into the future of energy.”  “Natural gas is a bridge fuel,”he notes. “Solar and wind have reached an inflection point and are getting cheaper. Energy independence is an economic benefit to the country.”

Increased energy independence could also help lessen the U.S. trade deficit. According to Paul Dales of Capital Economics as quoted by Richard Anderson, because the U.S’ oil import bill makes up about 2% of the country’s annual economic growth and its economy averages about 2% growth per year, “the annual benefits [of energy independence] over the next 10-20 years would range from 0.2%-0.1%,” a small but not insignificant amount. Switching from foreign oil to renewables could also save money domestically, as renewable prices are predictable and stable over much longer periods than oil. Renewables can also act as a money maker for farmers and landowners, as renting land out to wind and solar companies is a more reliable form of income than crops, allowing farmers to supplement their incomes in poor harvest years.

National Security

The most unexpected yet important effect of U.S. energy independence may be greater national security. Lack of reliance on foreign oil could mean huge gains in safety both within our borders and abroad. Within our borders, switching to renewable energy especially energy unattached to the grid, can protect us from cyber attacks that may knock out our traditional energy systems. The U.S. military is already working to increase their renewable portfolio, with Fort Hood in Texas getting nearly 50% of its energy from on-base renewables. This allows the base not only to keep functioning in the face of a possible attack on the U.S. energy grid but also is projected to save $100 million in the next 30 years. Renewables also help manage energy costs and their price can be projected out over several decades, whereas foreign oil changes year to year, month to month, and even day to day.

Abroad, reducing dependence on foreign oil could help stem terrorist attacks and overall terrorist activity. Many terrorist organizations are dependent on oil money to fund their operations and spread their message around the globe. According to Steve Yetiv at the Christian Science Monitor, investing in renewable energy to reduce oil dependence while supporting economic development in the Middle East outside of oil is key to reducing terrorist activity.

In addition to protecting us from terrorism, renewable energy can also aid U.S. national security interests by increasing resilience. A terrorist attack is not the only event that could knock out the energy grid, and not even the most likely: that would be a natural disaster.

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, flood, earthquakes, and hurricanes can take out large swatches of the grid for long periods of time, putting people in danger. An excellent example of this is in hospitals, which rely on consistent, uninterrupted electricity to run life-sustaining systems. In the past, outages have resulted in deaths for patients on life support or ventilators. Renewable energy, as a backup or main energy source, could help prevent this. “This isn’t too long after Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, and everyone wants that independence, that resiliency,” says Jovanelly of IGS, talking about his own company’s shift into solar and their explorations of battery storage in Ohio. In today’s interconnected and energy-dependent world, energy independence may be the key to stability and resiliency in the face of unexpected disaster.

 

Sun, Wind, and Waves: How a Day at the Beach Can Power Your Business

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The weather’s warming up, which for many people means it’s time to hit the beach! While you’re out, you may notice a few things: the heat of the sun, the warm breeze, and the waves and tides that make playing in the ocean so fun. Not only are all three of these natural processes key ingredients for a wonderful day (or week!) off, they are also powerful sources of renewable energy. In this article, we look at how sun, wind, and waves generate power and their relative advantages and disadvantages to each other, so you can make an informed decision for your business. It’s summer! So sit back, relax, and let Holocene do the legwork for you.

Solar

Overview

The sun’s energy isn’t just a way to work on your tan – it’s heat can be converted into electricity for human consumption. Solar comes in two main types: thermal and photovoltaic. Thermal solar systems use the heat of the sun to run a heat engine that turns a generator and thereby produces electricity. Photovoltaic panels directly convert the sun’s light into energy. Solar panels can be ground mounted or roof mounted, and can be done on a large scale and sold into the grid (utility scale solar), or can be installed on individual homes and businesses in a distributed generation model. Most of the nation’s solar plants can be found on the East Coast (especially North Carolina, PJM, and New Jersey), Southern California, and the Southwest, with companies such as Ikea and General Motors investing in solar energy. Ikea has almost 700,000 solar panels on its stores and distribution centers worldwide, and General Motors uses a total of 48 megawatts of solar power spread across 22 facilities. Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) typically last 15-20 years. While solar is more expensive than wind (as of 2017, the levelized cost of electricity, or LCOE, is at USD 0.10/kWh for photovoltaics and USD 0.22/kWh for concentrated solar power), prices have been dropping consistently and rapidly over the last decade, with solar prices nearing those of wind and expected to drop even further as technology improves. Solar is a great choice for companies looking for versatility in their power portfolios, as solar can be installed almost anywhere and projects can vary in size, allowing companies to decide to buy all their energy from a single large solar source or to use smaller solar projects to supplement their energy portfolio. This also makes solar a great choice for smaller companies who don’t need the power provided by a 50 MW project, with many smaller sizes of solar projects on the market.

Pros

  • Low O&M (operation and management) costs
  • Can help offset peak loads, so less brown power is required to meet demand
  • No emissions from energy production
  • Rapidly decreasing costs
  • Not very site-dependent

Cons

  • Less effective on cloudy days
  • Can’t generate power at night
  • Requires considerable free/open space to produce sufficient amounts of energy
  • Higher upfront costs (these are dropping rapidly, but still may be affected by the dissolution of subsidies)

 

Wind

Overview

In the not so distant future, you may go to the beach and see, far out in the water, wind turbines that generate energy using the same wind that gently ruffles the corners of your beach blanket (and gets sand all over everything). While many people default to onshore turbines when thinking of wind power, wind, like solar, comes in two main types: onshore and offshore. Onshore refers to wind turbines located on land, while offshore refers to turbines located in water. This water can refer to either the open ocean or a body of freshwater. When the wind blows, it turns the turbines; their turning is what generates electricity. Turbines themselves come in two types, Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWT) and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT). HAWTs are the most common, especially for commercial use, while VAWTs are commonly used for individuals and businesses and in places where the wind may be too turbulent for HAWT use as they sustain damage in high-velocity winds. Most wind projects are found in the Midwest, Texas, and New England. Major companies such Adobe and Nike use wind as part of their renewable energy portfolio, with Adobe signing a PPA for a 320 MW wind farm which also signed a major PPA with Facebook, and Nike signing its second major wind PPA for an 86 megawatt project in Texas in January 2018. Wind PPAs are typically 15-25 years, with the LCOE at USD 0.06/kWh as of 2017. While wind has traditionally been cheaper than solar, falling solar prices, combined with solar’s low impact on the visual landscape and ability to be installed in areas wind turbines cannot be installed, such as urban environments, have caused corporations to think beyond wind for their renewable needs. Wind has a few more geographic limitations than solar, and is considered at least, if not more, consistent. However, while solar panels convert light into energy even on a cloudy day (albeit in much smaller amounts), large turbines don’t blow in a slight breeze. A company set on having on-site power may shy away from wind, as HAWTs require wide, open spaces and VAWTs, while they can be installed on buildings, produce less energy than HAWTs.

Pros

  • Minimal emissions from installation
  • Rapidly decreasing costs
  • Low upfront costs

Cons

  • Least predictable renewable energy source
  • Can be expensive without subsidies
  • Some consider turbines an eyesore
  • RP Siegel at Triple Pundit notes that there is concern that turbines can interfere with wildlife such as birds and bats and affect local nighttime temperatures and weather

 

Waves

Overview

You may be no stranger to the idea of wind and solar, but the movement of the waves you love to splash in or the tides that force you to move your beach chair halfway through the day can also be leveraged for human use. There are several ways to turn the movement of water into energy, known in the renewable world as hydropower. Wave power, which uses the movement of waves to create electricity, is dependent on wind, and is sometimes considered part of overall wind power. Tidal power depends of the movement of the tides, which is linked to factors such as Earth’s rotation, the movement of the Sun and Moon, and the shape of local terrain. The third type of water-based renewable power generation is hydroelectric power, which is most commonly procured through dams. In hydroelectric systems, energy is produced by the movement of water through turbines. Dams are one of the most recognizable styles of hydropower production in the U.S. and are often built of rivers and lakes. Power can also be generated through river diversion, which does not require a dam. Hydropower is found almost everywhere, with the lowest concentrations in Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. PPAs vary greatly in length, anywhere from 5 to 40 years, and are typically signed between developers and utilities rather than companies on large-scale projects. Hydropower itself is on the whole cheaper and more efficient than solar and wind the 2017 LCOE for dams at USD 0.11/kWh or less, but it suffers from other barriers. Dams are expensive to build, technology for wave and tidal power is relatively new and not as efficient as dams or pumped storage, and all three are geographically limited, as dams need a river and tides and waves need the ocean or other sufficiently large bodies of water. While not as common as solar or wind, there are few small-scale hydropower companies in the U.S., making hydropower a great option for companies looking for smaller amounts of renewable energy or who are trying to build a diversified energy portfolio.

Pros

  • Power from hydroelectric dams is among the most reliable of renewables
  • Wave energy is less variable than wind
  • Tides are more predictable than wind or solar

Cons

  • Wave and tidal power is site dependent, meaning that it is very effective at a good site, but sites may be difficult to find and cannot be set up just anywhere
  • Dams are one of the most expensive forms of renewable energy in terms of capital expenditures
  • Tidal power has high upfront costs
  • Dams can harm the surrounding environment by disrupting riparian areas and degrading water quality

 

Conclusion

So there you have it! Next time you’re on vacation, look around and take in how many natural processes occurring around you have potential for untapped power. In the meantime, what we’ve learned from our beach adventure is that while all three major sources of renewable power have their advantages and disadvantages, solar offers the most flexibility and reliability with low lifetime cost. For a more in-depth exploration of the pros and cons of various renewables, including charts and statistics, check out Solar DAO’s article on Medium. If your company is looking to make a move to solar, contact Holocene Clean Energy for a complimentary assessment of your energy needs and options.

Greening Big Data: Exploring Your Energy Sourcing Options

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If you’re a data center owner or operator, you may be considering a shift to renewable energy. Many industries are integrating renewables as prices drop and demand for sustainability increases, and the data center industry is no different. In fact, industry experts such as Kevin Hagen, Vice President Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Strategy at Iron Mountain, assert that while the data center and colocation industry is a small segment of the IT sector, it represents a large portion of the power consumption and therefore needs to consider the environmental impact of living in a digital world.

“Look at the top ten EPA Green Power Partner list, and you will see wholesale colocation customers like Microsoft, Google, Intel, Apple and Cisco leading the way. Earlier this year, an article was released on a large provider of streaming content that required 100 percent renewable energy as a core component for their data center RFP,” writes Hagen.

So, exactly how can renewable energy developers help data center operators expand their renewable portfolio? David Chernicoff at DataCenterDynamics.com calls attention to the fact that data centers can fulfill their claim on sourcing renewable power through the use of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and power purchase agreements (PPAs).

When a renewable energy developer brings an asset online, they may sell their RECs to companies looking to offset their brown energy use, with one REC equaling one megawatt hour of consumption. The REC gives the purchaser ownership of the environmental attribute of renewable energy production, allowing them to claim the environmental impact of the generated energy without having to be physically connected to the renewable system itself. There are several advantages to RECs: companies don’t have to be directly connected to a grid supplied by the renewable asset; they don’t need to build and maintain a capital-intensive, on-site renewable asset; and they can promote their commitment to renewable energy. Finally, RECs may be the only available option in certain areas of the country where other renewable energy options are unviable.

However, REC-only contracts have some limitations. First, they are an added expense. The RECs are only certificates; they are not purchases of usable power, so the price of the REC is an added expense on top of the price of power. Second, the purchase of RECs alone may not help to create what the industry refers to as “additionality,” or the creation of a new renewable energy source. Proponents for the distinction argue that new renewable energy projects cannot be financed and built without a green power purchase agreement. When a company purchases RECs, they have the legal right to claim the environmental attributes of the generation, even if they did not help to finance, build, or bring the renewable power generation asset online.

Another option for data centers looking to become more sustainable are longer-term PPAs. Like RECs, the purchasing company does not need to be directly connected to the renewable energy source to be able to claim that they are powered by renewable energy. However, since PPAs are contractually tied to the renewable energy generation either through a physical PPA or a virtual (financial) PPA, it is this long-term contract with the new project that creates the additionality that REC-only contracts do not. When companies sign a PPA with a new construction, they are ensuring that clean, renewable energy is added to the grid, whether they are the direct user of the energy or not. This distinction may be important to companies who are looking to use their renewable energy or carbon reduction commitments to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) Make Sense for Your Business

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Over the past few years, America has seen a number of its largest companies switch their energy consumption over to 100 percent renewable sources.  Back in the early days of solar and wind, firms like Google, Apple, and Walmart sought power purchase agreements (PPAs) from renewable energy developers to help meet their (mostly self-imposed) corporate sustainability goals.  Being large companies with “deep pockets”, Google et. al were not necessarily concerned with the short-term economics associated with purchasing renewable energy and, instead, decided they could reconcile the financial impact by attracting new customers and increase their top-line revenue by “going green”.

Up until recently, the conventional thinking among corporate energy purchasers was that pursuing a renewable energy PPA only made sense from a “good will” perspective and the financial justification for executing one was “shaky” at best. However, with the considerable advances in technology and manufacturing, the cost of solar has decreased to a point to where businesses much smaller than Google and Apple can confidently justify the transition to renewables and, as a result, actively manage their energy costs. The question then becomes: exactly what financial advantages do today’s PPAs offer to corporate energy buyers?

In their white paper entitled “The Economic Case for Renewable Energy”, John Powers and Amy Haddon of Renewable Choice Energy present three considerations for why PPAs make perfect financial sense for commercial and industrial (C&I) businesses. These include:

  • A bottom line impact – Technology-based power generation, which is not dependent on the fluctuating price of fossil fuels, allows renewable energy developers to offer a fixed-price to their corporate off-takers.
  • Short position exposure – Electricity prices are dependent on the energy supply, coupled with demand, and they tend to have seasonal peaks. In many markets it is impossible to purchase electricity more than 2-3 years into the future, which subjects corporate energy buyers to fluctuating market prices over the long-term. Renewable energy PPAs allow for much longer pricing terms which insulate buyers against these fluctuations.
  • Financial risk management – Most industry experts would agree that the future direction of government regulation relative to carbon footprint is unpredictable. Future directives, such as an imposed carbon tax, could economically hinder organizations to a dramatic degree.

Likewise, Sunpower, a leading US-based manufacturer of solar panels, puts forth in an article, Understanding Commercial Solar Financing Options: Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), several data-based PPA financial advantages that speak directly to corporate energy buyers. They include:

  • $0 capital investment: There is usually no upfront costs associated with entering into a solar PPA.
  • No ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs: The energy developer pays for the O&M of the solar system, not the energy buyer.
  • No production or performance risks: Under a PPA, the corporate energy buyer does not incur any expenses whatsoever if the renewable system does not produce energy because of damages caused by nature or other unforeseen events.

Are you an energy buyer for your organization who is trying to determine whether executing a renewable energy PPA make sense? Here are two solid reasons why we believe you should give it serious consideration:

Solar PV technology costs continue to drop: According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the unit cost for solar (in $ per watt) has decreased 80 percent from 2009 levels and continues to drop. Furthermore, the justification for executing a PPA has never been more financially compelling and is no longer a prickly conversation with senior management.

Meet Your Sustainability Goals…Without the Headaches:  Solar PPAs enable your business to take advantage of clean, renewable energy, actively manage your energy costs, and avoid all the O&M expenses associated with keeping a renewable asset in service. Additionally, PPAs can be easily be tailored to meet the specific financial needs of your business.

When looking to buy energy, keep in mind that an experienced renewable energy developer will be uniquely positioned to adequately address your PPA concerns and successfully guide you along your journey to an expanded renewable portfolio. Holocene Clean Energy finances, constructs, and sells complete solar PV systems and executes PPAs for smart energy buyers. As such, Holocene fully engages itself in the entire solar project lifecycle and is able to offer clients a streamlined and seamless renewable energy sourcing process from an engineering, business and legal perspective.

“I see opportunity everywhere”: A Moment with Solar Superstar Kathy Miller

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Kathy Miller, co-founder and CEO of Yes Solar Solutions, is one of the foremost female entrepreneurs in the North Carolina solar industry. In honor of Women’s History Month, we asked her to give some insight into how the solar industry is changing, and where women fit into the picture.

Holocene Clean Energy: How have you seen the solar industry change over the years, both for women specifically and overall?  

Kathy Miller: The solar industry, unfortunately, has not seen as much change for women as we might have expected.  When we founded Yes Solar Solutions in 2009, I was the only woman in the building for quite a few years (although we were a pretty small team).  We did add a female solar installer who held her own and got NABCEP certified within two years, and our Director of Finance is a woman. I have noticed more women in renewable energy conferences and on boards over the last few years. The industry is maturing to a degree, which means our workforce is maturing.  When we started we were a team of mostly young, white male recent college graduates. Increased diversity has resulted in our company including more people of color, [and] more diverse work experience in trades like roofing, electrician, and construction. Where everyone in 2009-2013 was young, we have seen our team get married, have children, buy houses and need more work life balance and higher incomes.  Providing health insurance used to be relatively inexpensive with just young males, but including spouses and children has increased cost. Our 401K used to be a small piece of our cost, but with a larger group and higher salaries, those costs have risen dramatically. Ultimately, it is up to women leaders in solar to make room for more women in solar.

HCE: What will it take to get women in solar?  

KM: Ultimately, it is up to women leaders in solar to make room for more women in solar. As our company human resources manager, among other hats I wear, I post jobs, vet resumes, interview and hire.  I wish I got more resumes from women, but I do see more women choosing degrees that will ultimately result in more women in solar. And as solar companies grow, there is more room for jobs not requiring specifically solar experience or education:  project coordinating, law, marketing, finance, design, administrative (unfortunately often categorized as women’s occupations). Women getting a foot in the door in those roles are learning more about the solar business and advancing, our own Director of Finance, Bethany Theede, being a good example.  She started as an administrative assistant, although with a degree in Environmental Studies, and of her own initiative, took on the interconnection process, eventually our accounting, and is now our go-to for job costing, profit and loss statements, and an integral part of our Leadership Team.

HCE: Do you have any bold predictions for the solar industry?

KM: I don’t know how bold my predictions are, since every day there are new developments in renewable energy that are both challenges and blessings.  The challenge posed by the tariffs, for example, being announced within a week of Duke Energy’s proposed rebates. Tax credits pumping contracts in and then expiring.  But I see opportunity everywhere, from energy storage to products that may make a whole roof solar, to technology we haven’t even seen yet. Yes Solar Solutions is on the energy storage bandwagon, having been the first certified Tesla Powerwall installer in North Carolina and we are installing them as fast as we can get them.  Consumers are interested in having some independence from the utilities, and are willing to pay for it. They are also the biggest advocates for renewable energy and that segment gets larger every day. Despite the challenges of the “solar coaster” solar is not going away.

Learn more about Kathy’s journey into solar and her entrepreneurial spirit in Yes Solar Solution’s International Women’s Day Post: https://www.yessolarsolutions.com/news-and-updates/international-womens-day-woman-owned-small-business/

Trump’s Solar Tariff: Should You Be Worried? 

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Since the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) announcement on January 22, 2018, the press has been awash with articles and opinions concerning President Trump’s new import tariffs on solar cells and modules. Several renewable energy industry pundits have made wide-ranging speculations as to its impact on the US solar industry relative to market growth, price levels and jobs. On the surface, it seems that government regulation is stepping in to hamstring the industry by imposing a tariff designed to ‘protect’ domestic interests just as solar becomes a viable and economical renewable energy source. Everyone is asking the same questions: “Should we be worried about this? And is the future of solar in jeopardy?”

Recently, Stephen Lacey, Editor-in-Chief of GreenTech Media, a premier news outlet that serves to inform global clean energy market leaders, conducted a podcast which brought together solar industry experts to analyze and discuss the impact of Trump’s tariff “by the numbers”. Highlights from the discussion include:

  • USTR imposes a 30% tariff on non-domestic solar cells & modules
  • The tariff will decrease by 5% per year over the next 4 years
  • 2.5 GW of imported solar cells are exempted from the tariff each year
  • US solar developers (in anticipation of the tariff) purchased in advance significant quantities of solar panels which were not subject to the tariff. These quantities are expected to satisfy a large portion of the US solar demand through 2018.

Overall, the podcast panel believed that President Trump’s tariff would only briefly slow the industry, mainly for utility-scale and distributed (i.e., residential) solar projects in emerging markets where cost structures have not matured. However, they noted a “silver lining” in that the ongoing cost improvements being pursued by all industry players would more than offset the effects of the tariff.

But what about those stakeholders considering new solar projects who might be asking: “How does this tariff affect the price I might pay for my planned asset?” Andrew Sendy, chairman of Solar Investments, Inc. presents a plausible solar project cost breakdown in a recent article written in response to the tariff’s announcement. In his analysis:

  • Solar modules account for approximately 23% of the total project cost
  • A 30% price increase due to tariffs translates to only a modest 6.8% increase in the total solar project retail cost

Sendy supports his analysis by conservatively assuming a higher price for solar modules and asserts that technology improvements by overseas suppliers will most certainly bring this pricing further downward. Furthermore, he agrees with GreenTech Media’s assertion that “the immediate impact over the early months of 2018 from the 30% import duty will be reduced by the fact that many non-domestic solar companies have moved large volumes of stock into the United States prior to the announcement of this tariff.”

If you a renewable energy stakeholder trying to determine the effects of this tariff on your business, here are three things to keep in mind as you decide to move ahead with your solar project:

Cost Benefits Still Apply: Solar renewable energy currently is and will remain an affordable and attractive option. Organizations today can save on their energy bill by using solar over traditional brown power. Even if the tariffs cause prices to rise for some solar developers and off-takers, there are still considerable savings to be enjoyed over longer-term contracts. In addition, companies who invest in solar can attract consumers to their business in an increasingly sustainability-focused world.

Proceed with Caution…But Proceed! If the tariffs have you concerned, you are not alone. But there’s no reason to halt or roll back your clean energy plans as the industry continues to show very positive signs overall both globally and domestically. Proceeding judiciously and with a sense of reality-based optimism can help you understand what lies ahead, plan strategically, and ultimately generate new value for your organization.

Get the Help You Need: Renewable energy buyers should keep in mind that an experienced renewable energy developer will be uniquely positioned to adequately address their tariff concerns and successfully guide them along their journey to an expanded renewable portfolio. Holocene Clean Energy finances, constructs, and sells complete solar PV systems and executes PPAs for smart energy buyers. Because Holocene fully engages itself in the entire solar project lifecycle, they are able to offer clients a streamlined and seamless renewable energy sourcing process from an engineering, business and legal perspective.

‘Energy Developer vs. Energy Advisor’: 3 Real-World Perspectives

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You’re a renewable energy buyer and you may be asking yourself, “Do I need to hire an energy advisor firm to help me determine my renewable energy requirements and negotiate a savvy power purchase agreement (PPA), or am I safe in dealing directly with an energy developer?”

Marketplace surveys on how renewable energy advisors advertise their value, find their ‘job description’ (engineering, finance and legal expertise) mirrors most if not all the roles and benefits that experienced energy developers provide buyers. So, is it really true that energy developers are not aligned with the interests of their buyers?

And let’s ask another question: “If you’re an energy buyer who wishes to implement a renewable energy sourcing strategy that satisfies the demands of all your relevant stakeholders, why would you not deal directly with an energy developer to negotiate a mutually beneficial PPA and eliminate the “middle man”?

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We’ve been underestimating the solar industry’s momentum. That could be a big problem.

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By Chelsea Harvey

Analysts have been underestimating the expansion of solar energy for nearly two decades, scientists report in a new study released Friday. And that could be a serious problem for the industry and, maybe, the planet.

If policymakers believe solar is growing more slowly than it actually is, they may be less likely to prioritize the kinds of research and development that will help better integrate renewables onto the grid, such as improving battery storage technology. This could lead us to continue relying on more carbon-intensive energy sources.

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Renewable energy no longer a niche to institutional investors

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Institutional investors remain eager to put money to work on renewable energy projects even as U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to revive their chief competitor: coal, financial executives said at a conference this week.

“Five or six years ago, funds weren’t specifically targeting renewable investment; today it’s a key component of infrastructure investment,” said David Giordano, managing director and head of North American, Latin American and Asia Pacific investments at BlackRock, on the sidelines of the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York.

Giordano, who is also a board member of the American Council on Renewable Energy, which put on the forum, said renewable energy was no longer considered a niche.

BlackRock’s renewable infrastructure investment platform, launched in 2012 by Giordano’s team, now manages more than $4 billion in client assets, mostly in wind and solar projects.

Strong interest in green energy comes as Trump is championing fossil fuels and targeting environmental regulations as job killers. Trump’s administration, however, has made no moves to target federal tax incentives for renewable energy projects, which have helped make the technologies more competitive with traditional fuels like coal and natural gas, thanks mainly to bipartisan support in Congress.

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