Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Finance, Regulation, Solar, Wind  -  August 19, 2017

Weekend reads: Rainbow-colored solar panels; Mexico looks to cap-and-trade; 'PACE' loan defaults & more

Every Saturday, we'll bring you five of the most interesting — or quirky; it is the weekend after all — energy stories from around the web that you may have missed this week. This weekend's reads:

Interactive Map Shows You How Wind Power Is Taking Over America (IFL Science): Last week was the very first American Wind Week and to celebrate, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) launched a new tool to map out every utility-scale wind project and wind-related manufacturing facility in the United States. Wind is affordable and reliable – and is currently America’s largest source of renewable energy. In 2016, it provided over 5 percent of all energy used in the country.

Big Oil Follows Silicon Valley Into Backing Green Energy Firms (Bloomberg): Major oil companies are joining Silicon Valley in backing energy-technology start-ups, a signal that that those with the deepest pockets in the industry are casting around for a new strategy. From Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Total SA and Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest investor-owned oil companies are dribbling money into ventures probing the edge of energy technologies. 

More Borrowers Are Defaulting on Their 'Green' PACE Loans (Dow Jones Newswire): Loan defaults in a popular program meant to finance energy-saving home upgrades have increased substantially, despite lenders' claims that few borrowers have missed payments. The small, high-interest-rate loans were made as part of the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, or PACE, a nationwide initiative designed to help people afford solar panels, energy-efficient air-conditioners and other "green" appliances. PACE loans are among the fastest-growing types of loans in the U.S.

Solar Panels Could Soon Come in Every Color of the Rainbow (Inverse): "You can have any color, as long as it's black." That line from Henry Ford — admittedly a paraphrase from the slightly less pithy, more car-centric original version — was part of his strategy to make the Model T affordable to the masses, citing black’s durability and low cost. The best solar panels also obey Ford’s rule, with their colors typically varying from black to very dark blue. These darker colors are necessary to maximize the panels’ efficiency.

Mexico Looks to Curb Carbon with a New Cap-and-Trade System (Scientific American): Mexico kicked off 2017 with a 20 percent spike in gasoline prices, driven in part by the phasing out of subsidies. Some consumers set fires at gas stations—a response that highlights the backlash countries can face as they stop subsidizing carbon-based fuels and start encouraging climate-friendly alternatives. Now the Mexican government and stock market are experimenting with a gentler tool for discouraging carbon emissions: cap-and-trade. Mexico, which in 2012 passed the developing world's first climate law, is well placed to set an example for other developing economies looking to shrink their carbon footprints.

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