Forbes: Trump's Energy Policy Agenda Faces Landmines And Lawsuits

The Obama administration is pouring as much regulatory sand in the Trump team’s energy policy fuel tank as possible on its way out the door. Incoming policymakers will need to carefully decide where to focus effort/political capital because they won't be able to overturn everything at once. Generally, rules that have not been finalized (like existing source methane emission regulations) can be tossed out fairly easily, but final rules require lengthy comment periods and other procedural hurdles that will necessitate strategically choosing battles.

At the same time, however, in many cases market forces will dictate corporate strategy more than policy over the short to medium term. The coal industry’s future is probably the most commonly cited example where cheap natural gas and renewable energy sources are pressuring business models as much if not more than regulation. Additionally, the high-profile move to ban offshore Arctic and Atlantic oil and gas drilling is interesting due to its lack of legal precedent, but energy companies with embattled balance sheets would be unlikely to plow lots of risk and capital into these prospects under current market conditions regardless.

PV Magazine: SolarCity Raises Another $241 Million

As the nation’s largest distributed solar installer and a third-party solar company, SolarCity has an insatiable appetite for capital to deploy more solar. After being formally acquired by Tesla a month ago, it would appear that SolarCity’s capital worries were over.

However, the company is still raising cash at a furious rate, with the latest being a $241 million cash equity transaction which closed on December 16. Texas-based Sammons Renewable Energy (SRE) led the equity portion of this transaction, which Tesla has not reported in its financial filings.

As part of this deal Sammons is investing in SolarCity PV projects in 16 U.S. states, including 26,000 residential systems and 19 commercial and industrial arrays. Sammons says that this is part of its plans to expand its renewable energy holdings.

Biomass Magazine: Hawaii Releases Annual Energy Report

The Hawaii State Energy Office has released its annual energy report documenting progress toward its renewable energy and energy efficiency goals, particularly its renewable portfolio standard goal of 100 percent by 2045.

The 91-page report includes a map of the locations of the state’s 65 renewable energy projects, which include biomass, biofuels, wind, ocean, geothermal, solar, waste-to-energy and hydroelectric, and data indicating growth in each respective renewable sector.

According to the report, Hawaii achieved 23.4 percent renewable energy in 2015, up 2.3 percent from 2014, with the most notable advances occurring in the solar and wind sectors. Biomass experienced a slight dip in its share of Hawaii’s renewable energy supply, dropping from 21.7 percent to 19.2 percent. Biofuels increased slightly from 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent. Distributed PV rose from 27.3 percent to 31 percent, wind dropped from 29.1 percent to 27.9 percent, geothermal dropped from 12.3 percent to 10.5 percent, and hydro and commercial solar experienced less than a 1 percent change.

Energy Policy: Historical Construction Costs of Global Nuclear Power Reactors   

The existing literature on the construction costs of nuclear power reactors has focused almost exclusively on trends in construction costs in only two countries, the United States and France, and during two decades, the 1970s and 1980s. These analyses, Koomey and Hultman (2007); Grubler (2010); and Escobar-Rangel and Lévêque (2015); study only 26% of reactors built globally between 1960 and 2010, providing an incomplete picture of the economic evolution of nuclear power construction.

This study curates historical reactor-specific overnight construction cost (OCC) data that broaden the scope of study substantially, covering the full cost history for 349 reactors in the U.S., France, Canada, West Germany, Japan, India, and South Korea, encompassing 58% of all reactors built globally. We find that trends in costs have varied significantly in magnitude and in structure by era, country, and experience. In contrast to the rapid cost escalation that characterized nuclear construction in the United States, we find evidence of much milder cost escalation in many countries, including absolute cost declines in some countries and specific eras. Our new findings suggest that there is no inherent cost escalation trend associated with nuclear technology.