Gulf offshore wind dud, Google’s solar AI, and Las Vegas Sphere goes green — This Week in Cleantech

Gulf offshore wind dud, Google’s solar AI, and Las Vegas Sphere goes green — This Week in Cleantech
Google is mobilizing its vast data set and artificial intelligence to help streamline solar power deployment. (Courtesy: Google)

This Week in Cleantech is a new, weekly podcast covering the most impactful stories in cleantech and climate in 15 minutes or less. Produced by Renewable Energy World and Tigercomm, This Week in Cleantech will air every Friday in the Factor This! podcast feed wherever you get your podcasts.

This week’s episode features Reuters correspondent Nichola Groom, who shares insights from a lackluster offshore wind auction in the Gulf of Mexico.

This Week in Cleantech – September 1, 2023

1. Google to begin selling maps data to companies building solar products, hopes to generate $100 million in first year — CNBC

Google is launching a program to utilize the tech giant’s data and artificial intelligence to streamline solar deployment around the world.

In 2015, Google launched Project Sunroof in an attempt to help homeowners explore the estimated solar potential of savings in their area. Businesses became interested in this data, Google said, so the company is now releasing a new Solar API tool.

Google’s Solar API uses mapping and computing resources to make detailed rooftop solar potential data available for more than 320 million buildings across 40 countries, including the U.S., France, and Japan.

CNBC reports that Google hopes the project will generate $100 million in its first year.

2. Tennessee secured $7B in clean energy business this past year — representing nearly 80% of new investments — WPLN News

Tennessee has secured $7 billion in new clean energy investments over the past year, accounting for nearly 80% of its total capital investments, according to WPLN’s analysis.

Investments in electric vehicles, energy storage, and solar panel materials were worth three times more than all other sectors combined in the past year, WPLN reported. Fourteen projects accounted for the $7 billion invested, and companies committed to creating more than 5,600 jobs. WPLN’s analysis was based on public announcements and the state’s “Transparent Tennessee” business tracker.

The increase in Tennessee’s clean energy manufacturing investments occurred after the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act last August, which reflected a nationwide trend. WPLN noted that 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is also responsible for one of the projects: Novonix received a $150 million grant from the Department of Energy to manufacture synthetic graphite anode materials for electric vehicles and energy storage systems at its Chattanooga plant.

Other investments include $3.2 billion from LG Chem for electric vehicles, $25-$30 million from Mersen for solar, and $600 million from Piedmont Lithium for electric vehicles and energy storage. A full list of new projects is available from WLPN here.

3. MSG Sphere announces plan to power 70% of Las Vegas arena with renewable energy, pending approval — USA Today

Sphere Entertainment Co. announced it has submitted a 25-year agreement with NV Energy, the primary electric utility in Nevada, to provide solar power for the Sphere at The Venetian, a large spherical music and entertainment venue in Las Vegas.

If approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, the agreement would provide the highest amount of dedicated solar power available to Sphere. As part of the agreement, Sphere would maximize the amount of available green power serving the venue by using a dedicated renewable and battery storage resource being developed by NV Energy.

For any portion of electricity that is not derived from renewable sources, Sphere says it will voluntarily acquire certified renewable energy credits to fully mitigate the impact of emissions from the creation of electricity for the venue.

4. Chemical fertilizer is a climate disaster. Can high-tech biology fix it? — Canary Media

Startup Pivo Bio has developed what it calls a more sustainable nitrogen delivery system for crops.

The company’s genetically modified microbes pull nitrogen out of the air, with the product being deployed to 5 million acres of American farmland last year. Pivot says their product can replace 20% of a cornfield’s fertilizer without reducing yields.

Although scientists debate its effectiveness, Pivot Bio’s expanding customer base suggests success.

5. First US offshore wind auction in Gulf of Mexico attracts paltry interest — Reuters

RWE secured the right to develop an offshore wind project in the Gulf of Mexico during a lease auction on Aug. 29 that drew minimal interest from the industry.

The lease auction conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management lasted just two rounds and concluded less than two hours after it began. Two areas offshore Texas — Galveston I and Galveston II — did not receive any bids. RWE’s winning bid of $5.6 million for the right to develop a third area, 102,480 acres offshore Lake Charles, Lousiana, was one of only three bids submitted during the auction.

If fully developed, the area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana could support 1,244 MW of generating capacity and power 435,400 homes, BOEM said.

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This Week in Cleantech is hosted by Renewable Energy World senior content director John Engel and Tigercomm president Mike Casey. The show is produced by Brian Mendes with research support from Alex Petersen and Clare Quirin.