The buzz this week is investment, with reports of more dollars committed to advanced energy. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investment in solar, wind, electric vehicles, and related technologies is up 22 percent this quarter over Q1 2013, although 2013 is still underperforming compared to 2012. Most of the additional investment comes from the United States and China, as German and UK investment fell last quarter.
No surprise, given recent announcements. Here are a few: $42 million for solar farms from Eastern Bank, new wind projects under development in Minnesota and North Dakota, and a colossal 33,600 acre wind farm in development in New Mexico. Soitec, a concentrated photovoltaic firm, just completed the Newberry Solar 1 project near San Bernadino, CA, and Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, is just weeks away from completion.
Other issues lurk. Arizona faces a challenge to its net metering policies from its largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS). Currently in Arizona and 42 other states, households that produce more power than they use are given full credit for the power they feed back into the grid. APS is seeking to shrink the financial benefits of net metering by either increasing the monthly service charge sixfold for consumers with solar panels or charging those consumers full price for the power they use and buy the surplus power back at lower rates. APS argues that the changes, one or the other, are needed so that solar owners pay their fair share of costs for grid infrastructure.
Sara Birmingham, director of Western states for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said either policy would have a “deleterious effect” on solar adoption, and the second option would be “a death knell for solar in Arizona.”
Idaho’s Public Utilities Commission, which also faced a net metering challenge from a utility last month, ruled that no change was needed, allowing consumers to sell excess power back to the utility with full credit. The Idaho Statesman reported that Idaho Power’s proposal was dealt a “sharp slapdown” from the PUC.
Finally, in electric vehicles, the Detroit Free Press reported that Tesla Motors is worth more than twice what Fiat is worth. Tesla’s stock hit a new high of $129.90 on Friday, lifting its market capitalization to $15 billion. Fiat, in contrast, ended the week at $7.1 billion.
Nissan is holding off on introducing the Infiniti LE, its luxury electric car, but only because it sees cheaper and more advanced electric vehicle technology on the horizon. “Certain technologies that we see now, which we didn’t see two years ago, are going to be available in a time frame that was relatively close to where we were going to introduce the Infiniti,” Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said to the Wall Street Journal. “Rather than miss those opportunities, and then have to reconfigure the car to adopt them in its life cycle, what we wanted to do is to bring those from the beginning.”
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