MORPHIZM ARCHIVE

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SunPower Expands Reach into Batteries, Big Data

Panel efficiency leader SunPower is surviving the Fall of Oil by making friends and forming alliances. Last week alone, it invested $20 million to license Tendril’s energy-services management cloud software platform to crunch its hotly expanding solar data. Two days later, it partnered with Sunverge’s solar integration systems to provide energy storage solutions for its customers.

When the internet of things utopia comes calling, SunPower’s portfolio and people will be ready with solar batteries charged and streaming data analyzed.

It is these team-ups and more that have kept SunPower’s capital and innovation afloat as both the fossil fuel sector and the Dow Jones lose value like unneeded pounds. Which in turn is why Morgan Stanley in the same period upgraded SunPower‘s stock to overweight with a target price of $35, about a third more than it’s currently trading. Morgan Stanley knows that if SunPower spins off its growing operational solar farms and homes into a publicly traded yieldco, everyone on board with its efficient vision could stand to make more money and change. With more new power plants coming online, and partnerships with smart data and storage players like Sunverge and Tendril joining the ranks of alliances past and to come, SunPower is impressively puzzling together a space in the renewable energy future that is hard to match.

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Utility Customers Want More Energy Efficiency, Home Solar

Thirty percent of Americans would drop their utilities like a bad habit, if they could. Seventy percent would also like their homes optimized for energy efficiency before they move in, thanks very much. And if an intransigent utility happens to go extinct while being replaced by SolarCity or Google, that’s fine too.

These are the mounting popular mandates being handed down to utilities, builders and manufacturers, according to the Tennessee-based Shelton Group‘s 10th annual Energy Pulse study. Especially from minorities and millennials, who are abandoning their loyalties to 20th-century utilities as the 21st century is overtaken by clean tech like home solar and more.

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California's How-To Guide to Speed Solar Permits

California was the first state to mandate a standardized process for solar permits, and now it has the how-to guide to prove it.

Available now from the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), the California Solar Permitting Guidebook (PDF) is positioned as a manual for improving permitting review and approval for the small solar systems that make up our inevitable distributed generation future.

Born as Assembly Bill 2188 and signed into law by governor Jerry Brown, CSE’s guidebook aims to bring solar paragon California into compliance with its renewable portfolio standard requiring that one-third of the state’s electricity comes from clean energy by 2020.

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NREL: Smart Policies Can Grow Solar in Every State

One size does not fit all when it come to the United States’ solar success, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found. But the good news is that everything is connected.

The major takeaway of NREL’s new report The Effect of State Policy Suites on the Development of Solar Markets (PDF) is that ” the value of strong foundational policies is applicable to all states.” To achieve overall success, all states need a varied series of smart solar policies, hopefully including robust net metering and interconnection components, in place for years — and the more, the better.

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10 Lessons from the World’s Top EV Cities

The second edition of the International Energy Agency’s electric-vehicle city casebook (PDF) is a pretty handy manual for how to chop down your unfriendly neighborhood transport emissions. Released in 2012, IEA’s first edition predated the reign of Tesla and the rise of its game-changing Gigafactory. But it still presciently promised that cities’ adoption and support of EV initiatives and infrastructure would decrease emissions, increase innovation and unlock a decarbonized transportation future.

The second edition builds on that foundation by spotlighting “50 big ideas shaping the future of electric mobility,” a selection of which I have paraphrased below as guidelines from the world’s top EV cities. From China’s EV vending machines to California’s autonomous EVs from Google, IEA’s casebook is an international sneak peek at the clean power revolution that should be mandatory reading for cities, and their people.

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Community Colleges: Gateway to Clean Energy and Climate Resiliency

When it comes to preparing for, fighting against and adapting to global warming, community colleges are resiliency no-brainers. So it makes sense to the American Association for Community Colleges, whose thousand-plus campuses serve over half of America’s undergraduates, that their students should be trained in job skills with a real future.

“Municipal leaders are charged with mobilizing the community and training workers in climate change-related disaster preparedness and recovery,” president Walter G. Bumphus prefaced AACC’s new report A Guide to Climate Resiliency and the Community College. “Two-year colleges are clear partners in setting and meeting local and regional resiliency goals. They have the expertise and community relationships to effectively deliver training and community programs that will help rebuild infrastructure, make advances in clean energy and rebound after natural disasters.”

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California Renewables Employ More People than Hollywood

California leads America in the advanced energy industry, and for that you can thank its forward-thinking politics. According to a recent survey from the Advanced Energy Economy institute — an association of conventional and renewable energy companies like General Electric, First Solar and more — California houses over 40,000 businesses providing over 430,000 jobs in solar, wind, EVs and more. That makes it the avant-garde of the United States’ cleantech assault, mostly because its people, and the people they elect to represent them, are demanding solutions and accountability.

“California is the nation’s leader in advanced energy policy, that much we already knew,” CEO Graham Richard explained in AEE’s press release, which also includes testimonials from the state’s assembly and senate politicians. “Now we also know that California is on the way to half a million people employed in the advanced energy industry by next year.”

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The World’s 3 Big Energy Threats, and the Countries Most Ready to Face Them

Everyone needs to help each other build the clean energy future we need today, according to the World Energy Council’s latest report. That means investing, and legislating, around a few inconvenient environmental and political truths. Plus, it’s not like we don’t have the money.

“Our report finds that capital is available in the private sector to the required scale, but investors and developers will have to invest way beyond their comfort zones, and they will need better help from governments, regulators, and international financial institutions than is currently envisaged,” executive chair of WEC’s 2014 World Energy Trilemma study.

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Yieldcos Drive the Renewable Energy Industry Forward

News flash: Thanks to catastrophic climate change and fossil fuel divestment, Wall Street is zeroing in on renewable energy yieldcos. This is not necessarily news to those who have been paying attention and already buying into an evolving clean energy sector. Its asset class is shiny, after all. From solar panels and electric vehicles to wind farms and other emergent zero-emission solutions, renewable energy yieldcos can bank on future industries to accelerate today’s too-slow buildout.

“We are positive on the overall alternative energy and renewables space,” investment research firm Edison explained in a recent bullish yieldco report. “In shifting discussion away from preoccupation with the labyrinth that is global regulation,” the report added, yieldco companies “have enabled better visibility on underlying asset portfolios, which often generate cash flow secured by long-term power purchase agreements. As a result, they are able to pay dividends now, provide potential for capital appreciation in the future, and have simplified the investment thesis.”

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Plug-and-Play Solar Panels Come to Life

You want to go solar. So you head to the store, buy some panels, slap them on your roof in 10 hours, then watch the savings roll in and the emissions decrease. Congratulations, you have changed the world in a day!

This is the macrocosmic view of Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) promising new Plug and Play PV Systems, whose successful public installation and interconnection aptly unveiled in Boston pretty close to Thanksgiving. The microcosmic view really isn’t that much more technical: CSE’s system is a no-brainer solar job you can daisychain on your roof, plug into the utility meter and immediately solarize and save. During its demo, it took Fraunhofer a single hour to complete the installation and commissioning of its plug-and-play solar panels. Next up? A commercial-ready system demonstration in 2015.

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Nest and Airbnb Team Up to Green the Sharing Economy

Google bought Nest for $3 billion to help kickstart the smart home zeitgeist. Nest teamed up with Airbnb to share the searing demand of the rental hypermarket.

So far, it’s a three-way tie for first in line to prove their energy efficiency bonafides.

Nest’s Learning Thermostats give Airbnb’s hosts and guests the ability to remotely control their rentals like self-aware microgrids. According to Airbnb’s environmental impact report, that means their hosts use 63 percent less energy than hotel guests in North America and 78 percent less than those in Europe. That equivalent, the company added, to thankfully yanking 33,000 to 200,000 cars off the road. For their part, Nest’s smart thermos can save families both energy usage and cash on their bills; its “Saving Energy scenarios” posited savings of 14-26 percent, depending on the family.

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