New York Times: Deutsche Bank Pulls Back From Deals in Coal Mining Sector

Pressured by environmentalists and worried about big losses from a troubled industry, many large banks and other lenders have made a hasty retreat from coal mining in recent years.

But even in these dark times, there was one bank that many coal miners could still count on for financing and advice: Deutsche Bank.

Not any longer.

The German banking giant is pulling back from the embattled coal sector, another sign of the increasing risks for banks that finance industries that contribute to climate change.

Microgrid Knowledge: Exelon Readies Super Microgrid Controller That Allows Microgrids to ‘Talk’ to Each Other

Exelon is becoming known for its emphasis on the public purpose microgrid. Less well known, but possibly more significant, is early work the utility giant has underway that could lead to a "grid of microgrids." At the heart of the effort is development of a kind of super microgrid controller by Exelon’s subsidiary Commonwealth Edison.

Microgrid Knowledge recently had the opportunity to talk to Shay Bahramirad, director of smart grid and technology for the Chicago utility. She is one of the key figures in the project.

Reuters: Solar Power Is Finding Its Day in the Sun

Solar power is on pace for the first time this year to contribute more new electricity to the grid than will any other form of energy -- a feat driven more by economics than green mandates.

The cost of electricity from large-scale solar installations now is comparable to and sometimes cheaper than natural-gas-fired power, even without incentives aimed at promoting environmentally friendly power, according to industry players and outside cost studies.

Buoyed by appeals to self-reliance and environmental stewardship, as well as government subsidies, the early solar industry was dominated by rooftop panels that powered individual homes and businesses. But such small-scale installations are expensive, requiring hefty incentives to make them attractive to homeowners.

Atlantic: The Winds Are Changing for Renewable Energy

In the policy arena, the distance is widening between blue and red states over whether to promote, or resist, the shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources like solar and wind. But the economics of generating electricity from alternative sources are growing more attractive for states across the political divide. The pivotal, and unresolved, question is whether the political divergence or economic convergence will more heavily shape the next stages of the fractious debate over climate change and the nation’s energy mix.

Starting with Iowa in 1983, 29 states have required utilities to generate a fixed share of their power from renewable sources. Initially, these renewable portfolio standards found favor in states throughout the political spectrum.

But as on almost every other major domestic issue, red and blue states are now separating. In recent years, West Virginia, Kansas and Ohio each repealed or suspended renewable-power requirements. Four other states with Republican-controlled legislatures (and in three cases, with Republican governors) chose not to extend earlier renewable requirements when utilities met the initial state goals in 2015. Flipping Crystals Improves Solar Cell Performance

In a step that could bring perovskite crystals closer to use in the burgeoning solar power industry, researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Northwestern University and Rice University have tweaked their crystal production method and developed a new type of two-dimensional layered perovskite with outstanding stability and more than triple the material's previous power conversion efficiency.

"Crystal orientation has been a puzzle for more than two decades, and this is the first time we've been able to flip the crystal in the actual casting process," said Hsinhan Tsai, a Rice graduate student at Los Alamos working with senior researcher Aditya Mohite and lead coauthor of a study due out this week in the journal Nature. "This is our breakthrough, using our spin-casting technique to create layered crystals whose electrons flow vertically down the material without being blocked, midlayer, by organic cations."