News Quiz: How Many People in California Have Solar Jobs?

News Quiz: How Many People in California Have Solar Jobs?

Welcome to GTM’s energy news quiz. I’m your host, Alex Trebek Mike Munsell.

We’ve provided explainer links to all of the solutions below the quiz, so try not to cheat by looking ahead! Sign up for our newsletter to improve your score every week.

How’d you do? Share this with colleagues and see if they can beat your score. Feel free to brag (or shame yourself) in the comments section.


1. According to GTM Research, how many states are at grid parity today?

2. According to the Solar Foundation, how many people have solar jobs in California?

3. What did the U.S. Supreme Court just stall the adoption of?

4. Which company is reportedly working on wireless charging for electric cars?

5. Which utility just launched a community solar program?

6. Which company just unveiled an underwater, energy-efficient data center?


Mike Munsell is GTM’s resident game show host. In addition to creating the GTM Energy News Quiz, he writes original riddles at Sign up to get them in your inbox every Monday and Friday.

News Quiz: How Many People in California Have Solar Jobs?

Nearly One-Fifth of Hawaiian Electric’s Customers Now Have Solar

Nearly One-Fifth of Hawaiian Electric’s Customers Now Have Solar

Pacific Business News: Hawaiian Electric has 77,000 Installed Solar PV Systems Across Hawaii

The Hawaiian Electric Cos. have more than 77,000 installed solar photovoltaic systems on their grids across the state, which represents 17 percent of all of its customers, an executive from the Honolulu-based company said Thursday at an industry event.

The HECO Cos. also have 26,000 more PV systems that were installed or approved in 2015 alone, the most ever in one year trumping the previous high of 18,000 PV systems.

New York Times: Ethanol Mandate, a Boon to Iowa Alone, Faces Rising Resistance

Now a powerful coalition including oil companies, environmentalists, grocery manufacturers, livestock farmers and humanitarian advocates is pushing Congress to weaken or repeal the mandate. As soon as this week, the Senate could vote on a measure to roll back the Renewable Fuel Standard, just days after the Iowa caucuses close and the issue largely goes to rest for another four years.

Even here, as Iowa urbanizes and diversifies, ethanol may be losing its once-powerful hold, some political consultants say. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, one of the Republican front-runners in Iowa, has called for an end to subsidies for all forms of energy, as well as a five-year phasing out of the renewable fuel mandate that created the ethanol economy here.

InsideClimate News: California’s Methane Leak Passes 100 Days, and Other Sobering Numbers

The ruptured well in northwest Los Angeles has been spewing methane into the atmosphere for 100 days as of Sunday — and counting.

Well control specialists may not be able to plug the leak until the end of the month, although the rate of emissions has slowed 65 percent since peaking in late November. How long it’s taking underscores how difficult it can be to stop fossil fuel-related accidents and leaks, and has drawn attention to aging infrastructure and lax regulations that probably played a role in the well’s failure.

PVTech: Middle East Has Arrived as a Multi-GW Solar Market

The Middle East will launch the procurement of more than 4GW of solar power in 2016, according to a new report by the Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA).

With around 3GW added to the region’s pipeline in 2015 and another 4GW expected this year, the market’s arrival as a gigawatt-scale source of solar demand has been solidified. The 2016 MESIA Market Outlook anticipates the procurement to be led by 2GW in Algeria, 1,150MW by the UAE (800MW in Dubai, 350MW in Abu Dhabi) as well as a further 250MW in Egypt and 245MW in Morocco. Jordan (120MW), Kuwait (85MW) and even Saudi Arabia (170MW).

Yale Environment 360: Once Unstoppable, Tar Sands Now Battered From All Sides

In the summer of 2014, when oil was selling for $114 per barrel, Alberta’s tar sands industry was still confidently standing by earlier predictions that it would nearly triple production by 2035. Companies such as Suncor, Statoil, Syncrude, Royal Dutch Shell, and Imperial Oil Ltd. were investing hundreds of billions of dollars in new projects to mine the thick, highly polluting bitumen.

Eyeing this oil boom, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was certain that the Keystone XL pipeline — “a no-brainer” in his words — would be built, with or without President Barack Obama’s approval. Keystone, which would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, was critical if bitumen from new tar sands projects was going to find a way to market.

What a difference 18 months makes. The price of oil today has plummeted to around $30 a barrel, well below the break-even point for tar sands producers, and the value of the Canadian dollar has fallen sharply.

Nearly One-Fifth of Hawaiian Electric’s Customers Now Have Solar

Survey: Half of Small Solar Installers Don’t Offer Leases or PPAs

Survey: Half of Small Solar Installers Don’t Offer Leases or PPAs

More than half of small residential solar installers surveyed said that they do not offer any leases or power-purchase agreements, according to a new survey from EnergySage.

EnergySage works with nearly 300 installers. The online solar marketplace polled more than 100 small- and mid-sized installers and found that the majority offer only cash purchases or unsecured loans.

Earlier this year, EnergySage polled its shoppers and found that 90 percent of those customers reported choosing solar loans.

Although customer-owned systems are increasing in prevalence, GTM Research doesn’t project that customer-owned systems will overtake third-party-owned systems until 2020. “Leases and PPAs still account for the majority of systems installed by the top five installers, which make up more than half the residential market,” explains Nicole Litvak, senior solar markets analyst with GTM Research.

Smaller installers certainly feel the squeeze of larger competitors. The top-ranked competitive need cited in the survey results was access to more financing options, which was followed by access to better quality leads. Most of the installers said they faced an average of 15 competitors in their markets, and lower prices from those competitors remain a major barrier to closing deals.

To close sales in the competitive landscape, installers were nearly evenly split as to whether it makes more sense to gain market share even if it meant cutting margins, or increasing margins at smaller volumes.

Most installers said they were investing more heavily in reaching customers, whether through online channels like EnergySage or more traditional marketing. That will only become more important as more and more residential solar markets pick up steam. In 2015, one-fifth of respondents said they compete with more than 80 installers across the territories they serve.

GTM Research has found it costs 49 cents per watt to acquire a solar customer in the U.S., or nearly 10 percent of the cost of an average residential solar system. For the little guys, that means competing with names that are increasingly household brands, such as SolarCity, which spend tens of millions per quarter on sales and marketing.  

EnergySage says it will repeat the survey annually and all solar installers that are interested can participate.

Survey: Half of Small Solar Installers Don’t Offer Leases or PPAs

Morocco Cancels Inauguration of a 160-Megawatt CSP Plant

Morocco Cancels Inauguration of a 160-Megawatt CSP Plant

AFP: Morocco Postpones Opening of Huge Solar Plant Without Explanation

Morocco postponed without explanation the inauguration of Noor-1, a solar power plant due to open Sunday in Ouarzazate, part of what will eventually be the world’s largest solar power production facility.

When asked by AFP, the communications agency that organized the inauguration on behalf of Moroccan solar energy agency Masen gave no reasons for the last-minute delay.

With an electricity production capacity of 160 megawatts, Noor-1 is supposed to allow Morocco to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Reuters: Spain’s Abengoa Signs Accord With Creditors for Emergency Loan

Spanish thermal solar power and engineering firm Abengoa signed an agreement with its creditor banks on Thursday for a 106-million-euro ($116.1 million) credit line to help avert what would be Spain’s biggest-ever bankruptcy.

The loan will be used for general corporate necessities, Abengoa said in a statement to the stock market regulator. It is using some shares held in the affiliate Abengoa Yield as collateral, it said.

The banks also agreed to free up a further 7 million euros related to a previous loan, backed by the Abengoa Yield shares, a source familiar with the matter said.

EV Obsession: Over 75,000 EVs Registered in Europe in 2015

More than 75,000 electric vehicles were registered in the European market in 2015, according to the most recent figures from Avere France. The top 4 markets in Europe for the year — Norway, France, the U.K., and Germany — accounted for roughly 75% of all registrations/sales for the year.

Given that these figures are for the first 11 months of the year, and don’t include the month of December, the final figures for 2015 will end up notably higher. Altogether, though, January through November 2015 already saw 76,301 electric-vehicle registrations. This represents a 48.5% increase over 2014.

Solar Power Portal: North Star Solar to Test Solar-Plus-Storage Systems in London Boroughs

North Star Solar is set to deliver a new solar battery storage pilot scheme in four London boroughs as it tests four battery combinations across 40 council homes.

The company began testing solar battery storage and LED lighting combinations and approached Camden Council with proposals that would see social housing occupants save money on their energy bills. The project was then able to secure a grant of £160,000 from National Energy Action, while Camden council attracted three other London boroughs to the scheme.

Reuters: Porsche Plant Workers Agree to Less Pay to Produce Electric Car

Porsche workers have agreed to concessions worth several hundred million euros to secure production of an all-electric sports car at the manufacturer’s biggest plant, a spokesman for the company said.

The Volkswagen-owned manufacturer said earlier this month it would spend about 1 billion euros ($1.10 billion) at its base in Zuffenhausen and create more than 1,000 jobs there to build the battery-powered “Mission E” model.

Morocco Cancels Inauguration of a 160-Megawatt CSP Plant