RTO Insider: Solar Puts NRG Ahead of the Curve

NRG Energy will continue to focus on its residential solar and renewable energy technology businesses, despite posting losses of $53 million and $163 million in those units, respectively, in 2014, company executives said in an earnings call Friday.

Those losses -- and another $981 million in losses in the “corporate” segment, which includes international business and electric vehicle services -- were offset by net income of more than $1 billion in NRG Business, the unit that primarily serves businesses and includes the company’s generation assets. Total net income for the company in 2014 was $134 million ($0.23/share), compared to a loss of $386 million in 2013.

The company posted a $119 million profit for the fourth quarter of 2014, after reporting a $297 million loss in the same period of 2013.

Fourth-quarter results show NRG Renew reported an adjusted EBITDA of $237 million in 2014, up from $101 million in 2013, due to new wind assets and the operation of large-scale solar projects. NRG Home Solar reported a loss of $65 million, $60 million lower than 2013, primarily driven by higher expenses to support expansion plans.

Climate Central: Solar Takes Off in Eastern U.S.

Though the Southeast is a bit less sunny than Southern California, the bull's-eye of solar power development in the U.S., utilities in the South are scrambling to capture their own rays of sunshine. In fact, North Carolina is leaping ahead of California for the amount of new utility-scale solar farms currently under development, a new SNL Energy report released Wednesday shows.

The trend is occurring as the solar industry in the U.S. is coming off one of its best years ever. The number of solar installations connected to the electric power grid jumped about 140 percent between 2013 and 2014 nationwide, SNL Energy data shows. More than 3.7 gigawatts of solar power capacity were installed across the U.S. in 2014, which closed out with more than 10 gigawatts of utility-scale solar farms in operation, enough to power more than 2 million homes.

The Guardian: Australia's largest solar farm set to sprout in a Queensland field

A sea of glass panels, to be located at Bulli Creek on Queensland’s Darling Downs, could be capable of cranking out 2 gigawatts of power within eight years. That is equivalent to one-fifth of the current total renewable energy target for the entire country in a single power station. It is also more power than any coal-fired station in Queensland can currently muster.

Huffington Post: Solyndra's Fall Was Great for Solar -- Just Ask Henry Ford

In case you haven't heard, February is the month to buy a solar company. There have been recent acquisitions by Enphase and Canadian Solar, and Trina Solar stated earlier it is in the hunt. From the utilities, both Duke and NRG have made massive solar investments. Even Apple and First Solar struck a deal in what CEO Tim Cook described as Apple's "biggest and most ambitious project ever."

On the other hand, for years Eric Wesoff at Greentech Media has cataloged all the solar companies that have gone six feet under. Why is there so much investment and M&A activity in an industry plagued by bankruptcy? The answer is that solar energy is now on a growth path that will make it the energy story of the 21st century. How could bankruptcy lead to such fantastic growth? I say it all started with Solyndra.

I would like to assert that Solyndra was actually great for the solar manufacturing industry, and recent consolidation news is further evidence of it. That may sound insane, but the rise and fall of Solyndra was an important indicator that the solar industry would grow at an amazing rate. This can be seen by looking at the history of a comparable industry: automobiles.

Renew Economy: Even at $10/Barrel, Oil Can’t Match Solar on Cost, Says National Bank of Abu Dhabi

One of the biggest banks in the Middle East and the oil-rich Gulf countries says that fossil fuels can no longer compete with solar technologies on price, and says the vast bulk of the $US48 trillion needed to meet global power demand over the next two decades will come from renewables.

The report from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi says that while oil and gas have underpinned almost all energy investments until now, future investment will be almost entirely in renewable energy sources.

The report is important because the Gulf region, the Middle East and North Africa will need to add another 170 gigawatts of electricity in the next decade, and the major financiers recognize that the cheapest and most effective way to go is solar and wind. It also highlights how even the biggest financial institutions in the Gulf are thinking about how to deploy their capital in the future.