Sunrise brief: Innovative Portland program is poised to approve clean energy portfolio


City officials in Portland, Oregon, are expected to vote April 1 on a package to fund nearly four dozen clean energy projects aimed at supporting the city’s marginalized communities.

The 45 proposals were recommended by committee members of the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund. Local reports said the proposals include everything from energy retrofits for Black homeowners to rooftop gardens run by a local yoga studio.

Portland’s mayor and commissioners could authorize up to $8.6 million in grants, a portion of the grant program’s projected $160 million bank account. The program is funded by an annual tax on large retailers approved by voters in 2018.

City officials estimate the tax will generate up to $60 million a year. The fund can be used for any project related to clean energy, green infrastructure, and regenerative agriculture or workforce development programs in those fields.

Go for a hike, charge your EV

Lots of folks head outside to cut stress and recharge their batteries. Now, Jeep and Electrify America say they plan to set up trailhead charging sites for electric vehicle batteries at three sites: Moab, Utah; the Rubicon Trail in Pollock Pines, California; and Big Bear, California.

Jeep and Electrify America are installing EV chargers at three popular trailheads.

Image: Jeep

Other charging stations are slated to be in place by the end of 2021. The stations either will be grid connected or use solar power to generate electricity.

The chargers will use Level 2 (240-volt) charging. The automaker said that with Level 2 charging, the 17 kWh battery pack in its Jeep Wrangler 4xe can be recharged in about two hours, providing around 21 miles of electric range.

Jeep 4xe owners would unlock free charging via an Electrify America app, which also would allow drivers to monitor their charging session.

Worldwide wind growth

Wood Mackenzie said that 114 GW of new wind capacity was added globally in 2020, an 82% increase year-over-year. The total was the highest global annual installation total on record, the firm said.

China’s National Energy Administration reported 72 GW of installed capacity in 2020; that alone would have qualified as the most capacity added globally in a single year.

The rest of the world added nearly 43 GW in 2020, a 15% increase from a year earlier. Big additions came from the U.S. (+6,565 MW), Brazil (+1,055 MW), the Netherlands (+1,878 MW), and Australia (+1,363 MW).

Wyoming net metering bill fizzles

A Wyoming bill that would have directed utility regulators to review the state’s net metering program suffered a setback after a legislative committee voted to postpone a decision on the matter.

The bill was tabled and is not expected to be brought back.

The bill would have required the Public Service Commission to hold hearings and set up a new net metering system that minimizes potential subsidies. After public testimony on the measure, however, legislators voted to table the bill; it is not expected to be brought back.

Canadian pension fund eyes Spanish solar

Renewable Power Capital, an investment platform backed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, said it plans to develop 3.4 GW of solar energy projects in Spain. The Canadian investor formed a 50:50 joint venture partner with Spanish PV developer Benbros Solar S.L. Financial details were not disclosed.

Together, the partners agreed to work on 14 projects in the five regions around the country. The investment group said the Spanish market was attractive due to the country’s target of 50 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025 and one of Europe’s lowest solar levelized cost of energy.

Enphase enters South Africa’s solar market

Enphase Energy said it signed a deal with Rubicon Energy to distribute Enphase IQ microinverters for grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) applications to residential and commercial installers in South Africa. The deal signals Enphase’s entry into the market.

The microinverters are grid-tied and compatible with 60-, 66-, or 72-cell solar modules up to 465 W. In addition, all Enphase solar systems distributed by Rubicon Energy will be outfitted to connect with software monitoring software for operations and maintenance.

Enphase said that the African continent represents approximately 40% of the world’s solar potential, but currently produces about 1% of the solar electricity generated globally.

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