New York Times: Westinghouse Files for Bankruptcy, in Blow to Nuclear Power

Westinghouse Electric Company, which helped drive the development of nuclear energy and the electric grid itself, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, casting a shadow over the global nuclear industry.

The filing comes as the company’s corporate parent, Toshiba of Japan, scrambles to stanch huge losses stemming from Westinghouse’s troubled nuclear construction projects in the American South. Now, the future of those projects, which once seemed to be on the leading edge of a renaissance for nuclear energy, is in doubt.

“This is a fairly big and consequential deal,” said Richard Nephew, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “You’ve had some power companies and big utilities run into financial trouble, but this kind of thing hasn’t happened.”

The Independent: ExxonMobil Urges Donald Trump to Keep U.S. Signed Up to Paris Agreement

Oil giant ExxonMobil is urging Donald Trump to keep the United States signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In a letter to the president’s special assistant for international energy and the environment, a senior Exxon official described the historic international deal as an “effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change.”

But the letter also suggested it is worthwhile to stay at the negotiating table to ensure energy markets “remain as free and competitive as possible."

Bloomberg: Rooftop Solar Facing U.S. Consolidation as 'Weaker Hands' Fold

It’s not the best time to be a midsize U.S. rooftop solar company.

Growth is slowing nationally, especially in California, the biggest solar market. Interest rates are creeping up. As larger rivals gain share and expand into new cities and states, some of the smaller ones are looking like possible takeover targets or closing down.

This new landscape is filtering out what Angelo Zino, a New York-based analyst at CFRA Research, described Friday as “the weaker hands.” Sungevity Inc. filed for bankruptcy this month, following the September collapse of Verengo Inc. And another rooftop company, OneRoof Energy Inc., is being wound down.

Rice University: Artificial Photosynthesis Steps Into the Light

Rice University scientists have created an efficient, simple-to-manufacture oxygen-evolution catalyst that pairs well with semiconductors for solar water splitting, the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy in the form of hydrogen and oxygen.

The lab of Kenton Whitmire, a Rice professor of chemistry, teamed up with researchers at the University of Houston and discovered that growing a layer of an active catalyst directly on the surface of a light-absorbing nanorod array produced an artificial photosynthesis material that could split water at the full theoretical potential of the light-absorbing semiconductor with sunlight.

RenewEconomy: Japan Is Investing Heavily in Overseas Renewables

Our report, Japan: Greater Energy Security Through Renewables -- Electricity Transformation in a Post-Nuclear Economy, details how the country is at a crossroads in terms of how it decides where to go from here.

One hint on which way this decision will turn can be found in Japanese renewable investments abroad.

A total of $20 billion to $30 billion (USD) annual domestic Japanese solar PV investment over the period 2013-2015 made Japan the second-largest installer of solar PV globally behind China. Japanese companies, working in their own backyard, have gained important expertise and a deep understanding of the full implications of rapidly evolving renewable energy technology. This has also raised awareness of  investment opportunities emerging elsewhere in the inevitable transition toward a lower-emission global energy market.