BusinessGreen: Off-Grid Solar Market to Reach $3.1B by 2020

The market for off-grid solar technologies is growing fast and will make a major dent in the $27B currently spent each year on lighting and charging mobile-phones using kerosene, candles, battery torches, or other fossil-fuel-powered technologies.

That is the conclusion of a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) commissioned by the World Bank-backed Lighting Global initiative, which predicts off-grid solar technologies will firmly establish themselves in the mainstream over the next five years, generating sales of around $3.1B by 2020.

Forbes: Is Uncle Sam Baking The Books on Energy Efficiency?

The costs and benefits of energy efficiency are about to get controversial on Capitol Hill, thanks to a new study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Chicago.

In a paper titled “Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver?” Meredith Fowlie, Michael Greenstone and Catherine Wolfram compared the predicted and actual energy savings from more than 30,000 energy-efficiency projects participating in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the largest residential energy-efficiency program in the United States.

Washington Post: Greenland's Melting Is 'Feeding on Itself,' Scientists Say

A new scientific study released Thursday has delivered yet another burst of bad news about Greenland -- the vast northern ice sheet that contains 20 feet of potential sea-level rise. The ice sheet is “darkening,” or losing its ability to reflect both visible and invisible radiation, as it melts more and more, the research finds. That means it’s absorbing more of the sun’s energy -- which then drives further melting.

“I call it melting cannibalism. You have melting feeding on itself,” says Marco Tedesco, the lead author of the study and a researcher with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The research was published in The Cryosphere by Tedesco and five other authors from U.S. and Belgian universities.

DOE: Building Better Batteries for Long-Distance Driving and Faster-Charging Electronics

If you drive an electric vehicle, you want a battery that recharges fast and holds enough capacity to keep you on the road for long distances before needing a recharge. Same goes for your cell phone and other rechargeable electronic devices. And you’d like the batteries that run these devices to have a long, useful lifespan.

Scientists have long been looking for ways to engineer batteries with better staying power that won't break down under the constant wear and tear of the chemical reactions that provide the power.

Now scientists from the Energy Department’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Berkeley Lab, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory say they’ve found a way to potentially use a simple manufacturing technique to build a high-capacity battery material that protects itself from damage. As the team describes in a paper published in the first issue of the journal Nature Energy, test batteries incorporating this cathode material could keep going, and going, and going.

Jigar Shah: Aubrey McClendon: Extraordinary Legacy of Fighting Coal

The former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon, died in a car crash this week in Oklahoma.  He is often credited as a pioneer of the shale gas boom, but I will remember him as the man who stepped up in 2007 to fight coal.

In 2005, the head of the Sierra Club, Carl Pope, learned that coal plants were being built in Illinois and other places without the proper permits to start construction.  He diverted a few resources to investigate further and realized that there were many such power plants and that this could be the start of a legal strategy to help defeat coal plants across the country. There was just one problem: where would the tremendous resources come from?