Which German companies should be exempt from a surcharge to support renewable energy? The question remains unanswered. EU regulators already fear that too many German companies might have benefited from state aid by being exempt from paying the surcharge. While the German government is updating its law, EU new rules, to be unveiled next Wednesday, will set out which types of industry can benefit from state aid and come into force on July 1. 

Quote of the day

“If member states ask us for a very long list of industry sectors to be exempt, the intensity of benefits will decrease. If the list is shorter, the intensity will increase.”

EU’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia in the Dow Jones story Germany, EU Yet to Agree on Rules on Energy Subsidies. 

Lead Stories

Germany, EU Yet to Agree on Rules on Energy Subsidies 
Dow Jones Business News
There is still no agreement between Germany and the European Union over new rules on subsidies for energy-intensive industries, Germany’s economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said Wednesday.
***LB: Also in the story: German energy-intensive industries have applied for exemptions to the tune of EUR5.1 billion ($7.03 billion) for this year, with many arguing they otherwise cannot compete against rivals, particularly in the U.S. 

Hoeven: GOP will move on Keystone in May
Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill
If President Obama doesn’t make a decision when the clock runs out on the State Department’s national interest review of the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said Republicans will act. The GOP is pushing to attach approval of the $5.4 billion pipeline to the unemployment bill now before the Senate.

EU ‘unhappy’ climate change is off G20 agenda
The Australian 
European Union officials say Australia has become completely “disengaged” on climate change since Tony Abbott was elected in September last year.
***LB: The EU’s emissions trading scheme was going to be linked to Australia’s market.

Energy Future Talks Pit Billionaires Against Billionaires
By Beth Jinks, Richard Bravo and Mary Childs – Bloomberg
For those hungry to watch billionaires fight over scraps in the smoking crater of a balance sheet, Energy Future Holdings Corp. is a 64-ounce rib-eye hanging off the plate.
The Dallas-based energy company will likely file for bankruptcy protection this month. Talks between owners and creditors on how to slice up Texas’s largest power provider and avoid a free-for-all in Chapter 11 have been “constructive,” Energy Future said March 31.

Vestas’ hot streak continues with new orders for wind turbines
Denver Business Journal
The Danish company announced Tuesday that EDF Renewable Energy ordered 97 of Vestas’ V100-2.0 megawatt turbines for wind farms to be built in Texas. The turbines will be capable of generating up to 194 megawatts of power, or enough to support the electricity demands of 58,200 homes.

Plug Power buys fuel-cell stack maker ReliOn for $4 mln
Plug Power Inc said it bought hydrogen fuel-cell stack technology provider ReliOn Inc for about $4 million in an all-stock deal. Plug Power said it expects the acquisition to add to earnings in 2015. ReliOn also develops fuel cell systems.

John Laing and Ingenious investment funds beef up clean energy portfolios 
James Murray, BusinessGreen
Two of the UK’s largest green funds have today announced significant new investment in the renewable energy sector, underlining the growing interest in clean energy assets amongst investors.

China and EU pledge joint climate action
The EU and China have pledged to “strengthen cooperation” on climate action ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of next year.

Green bonds hit record $9 bn mark in first quarter of 2014
The figures, compiled by the Climate Bonds Initiative, cover fixed-income securities that raise capital for a project with specific environmental benefits, where the proceeds go to climate mitigation or adaptation efforts. Last year, $10 bn worth of green bonds were issued as part of a wider $346 bn climate-themed bond market.

Showdown puts energy credit at risk
Timothy Cama and Bernie Becker, The Hill
The Senate Finance Committee’s abrupt move to take up “tax extenders” legislation is testing the lobbying clout of the renewable energy sector and other special interests in Washington.

Pew Report Finds Policy Uncertainty Stalled U.S. Clean Energy Sector in 2013
Solar installations grew, wind installations and investment fell.

Pew Report Finds Offshore Wind Propelled Clean Energy Investment Growth in UK in 2013
Clean energy investment in the United Kingdom grew by 13 percent to $12.4 billion, in 2013, according to research released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The U.K. wind sector, which increased by nearly 50 percent to $5.9 billion on the strength of offshore projects and expanded activity in public market financing, drove the increase.


Solar Summit
Greentech Media’s flagship annual solar conference that focuses on global market trends, relevant technologies and project finance. With sessions on everything from Latin American market dynamics to BOS innovations, Solar Summit attracts high-level decision makers from all areas of the industry.
April 14-16, 2014
Phoenix, Arizona

Minnesota’s Marquee Solar Event
The Midwest Solar Expo is bringing together solar leaders from across the Midwest to advance dialogue on key issues, provide insight on the latest industry trends and best practices, and serve as a nexus between the solar industry and the public.
May 16, 2014
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Natural Gas/Coal 

Brazil’s Vale CEO confident on lining up coal partner
Sonali Paul, Reuters 
Brazil’s Vale SA expects to line up a partner for its coal operations in Australia and Mozambique despite weak conditions facing the industry, its chief executive said on Thursday.
***LB: Also in the story:Vale booked a loss of $480 million on its coal business in 2013.

Coal-reliant states readying for EPA power plant rules
Valerie Volcovici, Reuters 
Long before the Obama administration promised sweeping rules to limit pollution from power plants, states in the crosshairs of what critics call a “war on coal” have been finding ways to meet the expected new standards.

House Dems ask EPA to investigate nat gas drilling’s connection to water contamination
Timothy Cama, The Hill
Eight Democrats in the House have asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reopen its investigations into water contamination incidents in Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Texas that they say may have been connected to natural gas drilling, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

US feared coal ash pollution settlement was too lenient, documents show
The Associated Press 
The US Environmental Agency expressed concern last year that a proposed deal between North Carolina regulators and Duke Energy to settle pollution violations at two of the company’s coal ash dumps was too lenient.


Tories plan new attack on wind farms
Rowena Mason, the Guardian 
David Cameron is considering whether to go into the general election promising new restrictions on onshore wind farms as influential Tories launch an attempt to rid the countryside of turbines, a senior source close to the prime minister said.

Cities waffle on incinerator proposals 
Nate Seltenrich, The Daily Climate 
New incinerators appeal to cities looking to get rid of garbage and produce renewable power. But local leaders find it tough to weigh sparse evidence on health threats against public opposition.


Automakers join up to launch £31m hydrogen fuel cell challenge
Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen
Plans to roll out a new fleet of ultra-low emission hydrogen vehicles across Europe have taken a major step forward today, after a coalition of automakers and fuel cell manufacturers signed up to a £31m project that aims to ramp up refuelling infrastructure in major cities.
***LB: Also in the story: BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota are the five auto giants that will take part in the so-called HyFive scheme, which aims to deploy 110 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in Europe.

Does Tesla Really Need a $5 Billion Battery?
Mike Ramsey – The Wall Street Journal
In a project that is befuddling industry experts and competitors, Tesla Motors Inc. is looking for possible sites for a giant electric-car battery factory in four Southwestern states.

DOE overhauls controversial vehicle tech loan program
Timothy Cama, The Hill
The Department of Energy (DOE) is revamping the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loans program to be more responsive to companies that apply for loans and to also include vehicle component manufacturers in the program.


Apple, Facebook, Google Web data centers getting greener: report
Alexei Oreskovic, Reuters 
Apple Inc, Google Inc and Facebook Inc have made significant progress in adopting renewable energy sources to power their Web services, the environmental group Greenpeace said in a report on Wednesday.



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