Pacific Business News: Hawaiian Electric Has 77,000 Installed Solar PV Systems Across Hawaii

The Hawaiian Electric Cos. have more than 77,000 installed solar photovoltaic systems on their grids across the state, which represents 17 percent of all of its customers, an executive from the Honolulu-based company said Thursday at an industry event.

The HECO Cos. also have 26,000 more PV systems that were installed or approved in 2015 alone, the most ever in one year, trumping the previous high of 18,000 PV systems.

New York Times: Ethanol Mandate, a Boon to Iowa Alone, Faces Rising Resistance

A powerful coalition including oil companies, environmentalists, grocery manufacturers, livestock farmers and humanitarian advocates is pushing Congress to weaken or repeal the mandate. As soon as this week, the Senate could vote on a measure to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard, just days after the Iowa caucuses close and the issue largely goes to rest for another four years.

Even here, as Iowa urbanizes and diversifies, ethanol may be losing its once-powerful hold, some political consultants say. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, one of the Republican front-runners in Iowa, has called for an end to subsidies for all forms of energy, as well as a five-year phasing out of the renewable fuel mandate that created the ethanol economy here.

InsideClimate News: California's Methane Leak Passes 100 Days, and Other Sobering Numbers

The ruptured well in northwest Los Angeles has been spewing methane into the atmosphere for 100 days as of Sunday -- and counting.

Well control specialists may not be able to plug the leak until the end of the month, although the rate of emissions has slowed 65 percent since peaking in late November. How long it’s taking underscores how difficult it can be to stop fossil-fuel-related accidents and leaks, and has drawn attention to aging infrastructure and lax regulations that probably played a role in the well’s failure.

PVTech: Middle East Has Arrived as a Multi-Gigawatt Solar Market

The Middle East will launch the procurement of more than 4 GW of solar power in 2016, according to a new report by the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA).

With around 3 GW added to the region's pipeline in 2015 and another 4 GW expected this year, the market’s arrival as a gigawatt-scale source of solar demand has been solidified. The 2016 MESIA Market Outlook anticipates the procurement to be led by 2 GW in Algeria, 1,150 MW by the UAE (800 MW in Dubai, 350 MW in Abu Dhabi), as well as a further 250 MW in Egypt, 245 MW in Morocco, Jordan (120 MW), Kuwait (85 MW) and even Saudi Arabia (170 MW).

Yale Environment 360: Once Unstoppable, Tar Sands Now Battered From All Sides

In the summer of 2014, when oil was selling for $114 per barrel, Alberta’s tar sands industry was still confidently standing by earlier predictions that it would nearly triple production by 2035. Companies such as Suncor, Statoil, Syncrude, Royal Dutch Shell, and Imperial Oil Ltd. were investing hundreds of billions of dollars in new projects to mine the thick, highly polluting bitumen.

Eyeing this oil boom, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was certain that the Keystone XL pipeline -- “a no-brainer” in his words -- would be built, with or without President Barack Obama’s approval. Keystone, which would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, was critical if bitumen from new tar sands projects was going to find a way to market.

What a difference 18 months makes. The price of oil today has plummeted to around $30 a barrel, well below the break-even point for tar sands producers, and the value of the Canadian dollar has fallen sharply.