Solar panels, solar manufacturing and solar trade case.

Duke Energy is investing $30 million into the two biggest battery storage projects in North Carolina -- a first for the regulated arm of the Charlotte-based utility. 

“We feel the technology has improved, the price has come down, and we think there are some niche applications where battery use makes sense for the regulated utility,” said Duke spokesperson Randy Wheeless. “In a regulated environment, you have to justify these projects to a commission and usually least cost is an overriding factor there.”

The projects may indicate new interest in storage among regulated utilities, as battery prices continue to fall.

Both of Duke’s projects --

A new survey report from GTM Squared shines light on utility investment trends and sales cycles for solar, energy storage, and grid edge products. For vendors sitting across the table from utility buyers, the Mastering the Utility Sales Cycle report presents answers to questions about technology strategies, regulatory hurdles, and competitive positioning.

The report reflects the perspective of more than 300 industry professionals, with roughly one-third from utilities, and two-thirds from vendors, consultants, regulators, and researchers.

Below is a preview of the survey and some key takeaways. The complete report is now available to GTM Squared members here.

Preparing for the challenges of

Solar panels, solar manufacturing and solar trade case.

Mercedes is investing more than $1 billion to upgrade a U.S. plant for assembling batteries and electric SUVs -- putting a big bet on the market for larger battery-powered vehicles. 

The German automaker, owned by Daimler, made the announcement Thursday at its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant, which makes its SUV models GLE, GLS and GLE Coupé.

Along with a nearby battery factory, Mercedes will upgrade factory lines to build its EQ brand electric SUV, the EQ C, starting sometime around 2020. 

The move comes as Mercedes prepares to launch its broader EQ line of EVs, starting with the EQ A midsize hatchback, and now

Solar panels, solar manufacturing and solar trade case.

Corporations continue to ignore President Trump’s charade over the Paris climate agreement.

During Climate Week NYC, the Climate Group announced a record number of companies have signed on to a 100-percent renewable power commitment by 2020. Big financial institutions Citi and JPMorgan Chase & Co. joined the pledge, bringing the group to 110 companies. Those corporations account for 150 terawatt-hours of energy per year.

New York State, where the event takes place, consumes less energy in a year, according to the Energy Information Administration.   

“Their leadership will help to shape energy markets away from fossil fuels and deliver on the Paris Agreement at speed,”

Solar panels, solar manufacturing and solar trade case.

Drax, the U.K.’s largest power plant, this month applied to build a 200-megawatt battery system as part of a wider move away from coal.

Plans for the battery -- which would be the largest in the U.K. and more than double the country’s current level of electrical storage -- followed a June proposal to convert two of Drax’s six coal generation units into 3.6 gigawatts of gas-fired capacity.

Three units in the plant, located in Yorkshire, northeast England, are already burning biomass, mostly imported from the U.S. and Canada.

The plans “are subject to a positive investment decision and would need to be underpinned

Donald Trump was in New York City this week. We left him some tickets for our live podcast at the box office, but he never showed up.

Still, we had a blast taping our latest episode at WNYC's performance space in Manhattan. And this week, we've got that episode in its entirety. 

Special guest Mark Chambers, director of the mayor's office of sustainability, joined us on stage for a lively discussion.

In this extended episode, we feature a variety of segments.

First, we tested the gang’s knowledge of New York’s energy scene with a little segment we called "Climate Week: The

Solar panels, solar manufacturing and solar trade case.

French oil giant Total is moving further into renewable energy, and may target the offshore wind market next, after this week’s investment in cleantech developer EREN Renewable Energy.

On Tuesday, Total said it took a 23 percent share in the company for €237.5 million ($284.9 million), with an option to buy the rest after five years. This week, Total also bought GreenFlex, a French energy efficiency player, for an undisclosed sum.

“Total integrates climate challenge into its strategy and is pursuing steady growth in low-carbon businesses, in particular in renewable energy,” said Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of Total, in a press release.

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