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EGEB: MidAmerican to offer clients 100% green energy, Dandelion seeks to democratize geothermal energy, market adapts to tariffs

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Today on EGEB, MidAmerican claims it will be the first U.S. utility to offer 100% renewable energy to willing clients. Dandelion seeks to take a foothold in the heating and air conditioning market with a new geothermal unit. Foreign companies adapt to Trump’s tariffs by planning new U.S. factories.

MidAmerican vows to build a new 591MW Iowan wind farm and thus be the first investor-owned U.S. utility company to supply 100% green energy to their clients. MidAmerican formally presented their project, Wind XII, to the Iowan utility board and plans to invest $922 million to see its completion.

The utility expects to complete the site without increasing customers’ rates by late 2020, it stated. A turbine supplier and the precise location of the wind farm have not yet been specified, but the company stated it is currently exploring potential locations.

This project combined with Wind XI, another 2GW cluster of wind farms in the making, will bring according to MidAmerican renewable energy to their Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota by 2021. The devil is in the details though, as the company will continue to use its natural gas, nuclear and coal-fired plants during low-wind periods.

Startup Dandelion launches its new geothermal unit. The company, an offshoot of Alphabet’s X that went independent, seeks to heat or cool your house using the geothermal energy under your own property. This eco-friendly option seeks to popularize one of the lesser known and usually unaffordable renewable energy:

“Our mission is to help enable the widespread adoption of home geothermal,” says Dandelion CEO Kathy Hannun.

If someone has the cash to buy Dandelion’s system outright–$20,000, or about half the cost of a traditional geothermal installation–they can save more than 60% on annual heating and cooling costs. But the company also offers financing with monthly loan payments, so customers without extra money on hand can still make the switch. It’s a similar business model as solar leasing companies use to sell solar panels affordably; since the monthly payments are lower than traditional utility bills, it makes financial sense.

The original price hovered around $35 000 before federal and state incentives. As this product doesn’t supply your home with electricity but only heat or cool it, each prospective customer ought to calculate if this substantive investment is worth it considering their particular location and heating system. The Hudson Valley was chosen in 2017 by Dandelion because it’s deemed one of the best market to develop this product, as winter gets very cold and electricity doesn’t come cheap.

Tariffs force foreign companies to open new solar factories and American ones to augment local production. In a move that will delight the President’s partisans, Hanwha Q Cells Korea and JinkoSolar Holding Co. of China announced they will open new production sites in Georgia and Florida respectively. SunPower Corp. and First Solar Inc. also declared they will increase production in their factories in Oregon and Ohio.

The expansion underscores how immediate the reaction has been to the tariffs Trump imposed on imported panels in January to spur domestic manufacturing. The duties could increase production capacity in the U.S. by at least 3.4 gigawatts, compared with 1.8 gigawatts at the end of last year, and would add to even more capacity already planned, based on Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. It remains to be seen whether these factories will create the jobs Trump is after, but analysts say his policies are having a clear impact.

Benefits will be fewer than popular anticipation may imagine, as these investments will not bring many jobs because these factories are mostly automated. Profits will also go offshore and consumers will take the brunt of the market’s adaptation to the tariffs.

Featured image is the Dandelion Air unit, from the Dandelion Energy.

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