Climate Progress: Florida Supreme Court Clears Hurdle Out of the Way for Solar Power to Flourish

Solar power could soon be flourishing in the Sunshine State. Thursday morning the Florida Supreme Court approved an initiative for the 2016 ballot that would allow Floridians to vote to reduce the state’s restrictions on rooftop solar power.

A coalition of solar advocates called Floridians for Solar Choice has been leading the effort to change this policy by pursuing a ballot initiative to permit third-party financing for rooftop solar by private companies. To get the initiative on the ballot, Florida required the coalition to first collect 68,314 voter signatures and then have the initiative language approved by the state Supreme Court.

On Thursday, the ballot initiative cleared this major hurdle when the Florida Supreme Court approved the “Solar Choice Amendment” for the November 2016 ballot. Advocates now have to collect the requisite 683,149 signatures to ensure the initiative goes on the ballot. It will then have to pass with 60 percent of the vote in 2016.

Guardian: Former Foes Greenpeace and Enel Stand Together in Low-Carbon Push

Just a year ago, the Italian energy giant Enel was in a bitter court battle with Greenpeace, which accused the utility’s coal plant pollution of killing people. Today, the two groups are firm friends, and Greenpeace says Enel is on track to be the “first truly green energy giant."

What changed was the observation by new Enel CEO, Francesco Starace, that the tide was flowing in only one direction for utilities -- toward low-carbon energy -- thanks to fast-dropping renewable energy costs, smarter and more-efficient grids and increasing government action on climate change.

“There is a huge tide flowing, and you can decide in which direction you want to swim,” he told The Guardian in an interview. “The tide is not in our control -- it is the evolution of technology. I think it is crazy if there is someone thinking that he can actually influence this.”

PVTech: PV and Batteries Could Be Cheaper Than the Grid in Japan, Says Solar Frontier

Solar Frontier is not only targeting a widely reported reduction in costs of around $0.40 per watt within two years, but it is also hoping to reach grid parity in Japan for residential PV systems with integrated battery storage in the next three to four years.

The thin-film manufacturer and developer has elaborated on remarks made by its CEO Atsuhiko Hirano, as reported by Bloomberg at the beginning of this week. Following the opening of the company’s latest 150 MW plant in its homeland in April this year, Hirano reportedly said that this was the minimum size of factory necessary for efficient production for Solar Frontier’s thin-film CIS technology.

Science: The Bizarre Reactor That Might Save Nuclear Fusion

If you’ve heard of fusion energy, you’ve probably heard of tokamaks. These doughnut-shaped devices are meant to cage ionized gases called plasmas in magnetic fields while heating them to the outlandish temperatures needed for hydrogen nuclei to fuse. Tokamaks are the workhorses of fusion -- solid, symmetrical, and relatively straightforward to engineer -- but progress with them has been plodding.

Now, tokamaks’ rebellious cousin is stepping out of the shadows. In a gleaming research lab in Germany’s northeastern corner, researchers are preparing to switch on a fusion device called a stellarator, the largest ever built.

Washington Post: New Canadian PM Still Supports Keystone XL Pipeline

The Canadian election Monday ousted a strong supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline. And it brought into office another strong supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The new Canadian prime minister, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, has supported the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as well as TransCanada’s proposed $12 billion Energy East pipeline, both of which would carry bitumen from Alberta’s vast oil sands to ports and world markets.

Trudeau has said that the pipelines should be important parts of a national infrastructure program he supports. But at the same time, he advocates the adoption of a national plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental groups say that the two positions are incompatible.