The year that was: RenewEconomy's top 20 stories of 2014 | RenewEconomy

The year that was: RenewEconomy’s top 20 stories of 2014

From India’s ‘saffron revolution’ to SA’s day of 100% renewables, to energy storage and Tony Abbott’s cuddle with coal. It’s our most read stories of 2014.


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It’s been quite a year for renewable energy, green investment and climate change policy; a year that saw “Team Australia” dump its carbon price and put its renewable energy target on ice, while The Rest of the World appeared to set higher and more ambitious targets for clean energy growth and carbon emissions reduction.

Amid stories of how climate denialists were influencing policy, in finance, the fossil fuel divestment campaign built up some serious momentum, while the green bond market soared towards more than $40 billion for the year. Solar continued to flourish, and undercut conventional technologies….  And did we mention energy storage…?

Here are our top 20 most read – voted by you! – stories for the year that was 2014…

1. Worse news for Australia as India taps solar, Beijing bans coal

As the Indian government commits to funding development of some of the world’s largest solar PV parks, and China commits to cutting coal use in its capital by 2020, the Abbott government’s fossil-fuel powered plan for Australia’s economic future look more and more shaky.

2. The $500-a-day service charge designed to kill solar

Businesses in Queensland now face a $500-a-day “service” charge – essentially to read the meter. The new tariff appears designed to prevent uptake of rooftop solar, and energy efficiency. But will likely accelerate the “death spiral” and cause more to leave the grid.

3. Solar cheaper in India than imported Australian coal

Results of solar auction shows solar PV projects in India are cheaper than the electricity price needed to pay for imports of coal from Australia.

4. World’s largest coal miner to invest $1.2 billion in solar power

Coal India in talks with Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) for the development of 1,000MW solar power plants.

5. Australia chooses climate change denier to head renewables review

Australian government chooses climate science denier Dick Warburton to head review of renewable energy target. Other members of the panel are also poor on climate and science. The review will be controlled within the PM’s office.

6. Utilities move to kick solar off the grid

New standards are being introduced to stop households and businesses exporting excess solar back into the grid. That may buy greater stability for networks, but it risks accelerating the adoption of battery storage, and grid defections.

7. India’s plan to stop importing coal deals another blow to Australia

India’s ambitious plan to cease thermal coal imports within 2-3 years blows another hole in Abbott government’s backward-thinking policies.

8. Solar sends energy prices below zero – in middle of day

Rooftop solar pushes energy prices in Queensland below zero in middle of day, something that used to only happen at night, when people slept.

9. Abbott bets house on coal as price crashes. And plan B is?

As Tony Abbott commits Australia’s economy to a fossil fuel future, the market price of coal is crashing, and global capital is turning quickly to clean energy and climate solutions. Has the Abbott government got a Plan B?

10. Massive Australia coal project dumped in the face of China energy revolution

Another major Australian coal infrastructure project – a proposed 180m tonne coal port – has been dumped as coal markets turn and China Premier plans “energy revolution”.

11. South Australia hits 100% renewables – for a whole working day

Wind energy provided more than 100% of electricity for South Australia during working day last Tuesday. And that didn’t include rooftop solar.

12. Chinese coal consumption just fell for the first time this century

China’s coal use dropped for the first time this century — while the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) actually grew.

13. Don’t trust Bureau of Meteorology, says Abbott’s business advisor

Tony Abbott’s main business advisor wants an investigation into Bureau of Meteorology, accusing it of being caught up in global warming politics.

14. Solar Insights: Australia’s Top 20 solar companies

The most successful Australian solar companies;  one minute solar data to help deployment; is China’s solar bubble bursting?; Kyocera lights up Fiji.

15. How big is a house? Average house size by country

Small is beautiful to deal with carbon emissions. But Australia has the biggest houses, and the most floor space.

16. Greg Hunt: The ‘extreme left is against electricity’

In an audience with right wing commentator Andrew Bolt, Australia’s environment minister Greg Hunt says the left is “against electricity” and anyone opposed to coal mines is trying keep hundreds of millions of people in poverty. Not only does this just parrot extreme blogs and the coal lobby, it doesn’t make financial sense.

17. UBS: Time to join the solar, EV, storage revolution

UBS says payback time for combined EV plus solar plus battery storage will be as low as 6 years by 2020 – unsubsidised. This means centralised fossil fuel generation will become “dinosaurs” – inflexible and irrelevant, even as back-up. “Large scale power stations could be on a path to extinction”.

18. Why Australian households are desperate for battery storage

Households are looking to get more value from rooftop solar systems, particularly as utilities are paying nothing for their output. New research shows that competitive pricing for solar and storage is closer than we think, paving the way for massive solar arrays and battery storage in the suburbs. But is that the best outcome?

19. Bluescope unveils “world first” solar roof with heat and power

Bluescope unveils “world first” built-in solar array that generates electricity and heat, and acts as roofing.

20. Ergon says renewables and batteries may be cheaper than grid

Ergon Energy, which operates the sprawling regional electricity network that covers 97 per cent of Queensland, says ‘times are changing’ and renewables and battery storage may soon be cheaper for domestic consumers than grid power. But it warns that current subsidies are delaying innovation and investment.

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