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As rooftop solar panels become increasingly popular, utilities are growing concerned that they will put pressure on local grids, destabilizing power service and requiring costly equipment upgrades.

Power Electronics Could Help Grid and Solar Power Get Along | MIT Technology Review

The economic slowdown was mainly driven by weaker infrastructure, says UBS:

What Are China’s Growth Drivers This Year? – Emerging Markets Daily –

The world’s most powerful central banks are struggling with their approach to “forward guidance” — what they tell investors about their plans for monetary policy. A practice meant to give the markets more clarity is causing confusion.

Central Banks Should Stop Confusing Investors – Bloomberg

There aren’t many people out there who agree with us that China has a yuan overvaluation problem, and that floating the currency will result in the opposite of the expected effect. But there are some.

On the overvaluation of the yuan | FT Alphaville

If Larry Summers is correct about secular stagnation, the natural interest rate is negative and interest rates at current levels are too high to ensure that planned savings match planned investment in a way that generates full employment.

Bubbles as a deflationary escape chute | FT Alphaville

As we alluded to earlier, there is a battle taking place in the oil markets at the moment. On one side there are conventional oil producers like Opec members desperate to stop oil prices from following the declining trajectory of the wider commodity complex. On the other side there are the new US shale oil producers, who — due to the US export ban — are unable to capture the full earnings potential of their production (on account of an inability to tap foreign bids directly).

A supply-side face-off in oil | FT Alphaville

Sea otters aren’t just cute – these fuzzy marine mammals also perform an important role protecting the kelp forests which maintain our climate and prevent storm damage.

BBC – Future – Science & Environment – Sea otters: Saving kelp forests and our climate

One stock that might be an intriguing choice for investors right now is Real Goods Solar, Inc. (RSOL – Snapshot Report). This is because this security in the solar space is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is in great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective.

Is Real Goods Solar (RSOL) Stock a Solid Choice Right Now? – January 21, 2014 –

Renewables are the fastest growing energy source in BP’s Energy Outlook to 2035. The Energy Information Agency predicts an even higher yearly growth rate of 9.8% for U.S. solar until 2040. Right now you can buy many solar manufacturers for around 1.5 times sales, which is a great deal considering the growth the sector is about to see.

The Coming Solar Boom

Security, predictability, climate change, safety – all of these are cited by the U.S. Department of Defense as motivating factors for its embrace of energy-efficient and renewable technologies. But a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts puts just as much emphasis on another factor that might come as a surprise: cost.

How Solar Saves The Military Big Bucks | EarthTechling

What I saw was no illusion. Though its starting point was quite extreme, Brazil is a country that has seen income inequality drop over the last decade. Unemployment is at near record lows. And the growth of the middle class is quite stunning.

Does Brazil Have the Answer? –

Faced with its worst-ever air quality and rising public demand for cleaner and more efficient sources of energy, China is now striving to reduce its dependence on coal and mitigate the severe environmental costs caused by the imbalance in the country’s energy mix. Since the alarming levels of smog appeared in Northern China in early 2013, both policy makers and the general public are seized with a sense of urgency that China must shift its energy consumption and reduce reliance on coal.


The following cities are in the world’s top five happiest countries, all of which are in northern Europe, including three in Scandinavia. Out of a possible high score of 10, the countries below received scores between 7.480 (Sweden) and 7.693 (Denmark). Canada missed the fifth spot by just a few thousandths of a point, coming in at 7.477.

BBC – Travel – Living in: The world’s happiest places : Living in…, Denmark

Years of banking crises, credit droughts and economic uncertainty have prevented businesses investing for the future. Instead, they have clipped costs, wages and jobs and built up huge stockpiles of cash rather than investing in new plants, staff, updated technology, equipment or acquisitions…  According to Thomson Reuters data, companies around the world held almost $7 trillion of cash and equivalents on their balance sheets at the end of 2013 – more than twice the level of 10 years ago. Capital expenditure relative to sales is at a 22-year low and some strategists reckon the typical age of fixed assets and equipment has been stretched to as much as 14 years from pre-crisis norms of about 9 years.

Global companies sitting on $7 trillion cash, double 2003

The wealthy city-state of Singapore, which boasts a high quality of life, is also home to Asia’s unhappiest employees, according to a new survey, closely followed by rival financial hub Hong Kong.

More money, more problems – Asia’s unhappiest workforce

“When you look at mobile, when you look at the bandwidth, when you look at the Internet of things, it’s going to change everyone’s daily routines really fundamentally,” she added.

Why 2014 is ‘tipping point’ for internet: Marissa Mayer

Needless to say, a delay in QE would crush Abenomics, as it would mean a surge in the Yen, a plunge in the Nikkei – really his only accomplishments so far – even as wages never rose, pushing the economy back in the deflationary limbo from whence it came as everyone rushes to sell financial assets.

BOJ Approaches Limit Of Its Existing Bond Buys, As Doubts Spread It Will Boost QE | Zero Hedge

The “fastest ever” broadband speeds have been achieved in a test in London, raising hopes of more efficient data transfer via existing infrastructure. Alcatel-Lucent and BT said speeds of 1.4 terabits per second were achieved during their joint test – enough to send 44 uncompressed HD films a second.

BBC News – ‘Fastest ever’ broadband passes speed test

RECORD 2013 PV MOVES U.S. NEAR TOP OF WORLD Record 2013 Solar PV Installations Promotes U.S. to Strongest Market Outside Asia-Pacific…California retains leading state ranking in 2013, with North Carolina surging into second place


In 2013 Japan not only exceeded the cumulative capacity of 10GW, but also jumped up to a top position in the world PV market, exceeding the US and Germany. The nationwide feed-in tariff (FIT) that was launched in July 2012 was the biggest driver for the market growth, rejuvenating the domestic PV market. However, many industry participants predict that the Japanese PV market will hit the ceiling in 2014.

Solar Novus – Business – A Turning Point for the Japanese Photovoltaic Market

In 2017 the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) will be cut by 66 percent, falling from 30 percent to 10 percent of the total solar project value. This legislative change will be significant for the industry, and it will also be a test. Overall, we believe that while the industry may be overestimating its ability to reduce the cost of capital (even in a mature marketplace with a mature asset class), the future is quite promising for solar in a number of markets as project costs continue to decline.

Peering Over the 2017 Horizon for Solar, Part 1: Securitization : Greentech Media

To illustrate the importance of the post-2017 investment tax credit (ITC), we have provided the following tables to compare certain electricity offtake prices for solar with the cost of capital and required all-in installation prices without the federal ITC and with a 10 percent ITC.

Peering Over the 2017 Horizon for Solar, Part 2: Beyond the ITC : Greentech Media

This paper provides an overview of the state of the U.S. labor market six years after the onset of the Great Recession. Key findings include

Six Years from Its Beginning, the Great Recession’s Shadow Looms Over the Labor Market | Economic Policy Institute

A key driver of this broad-based weakness is austerity in the public sector. Since the recovery began in June 2009, the public sector has lost 728,000 jobs. However, to keep up with population growth over this period, public-sector employment should have increased by around 750,000. That means the total gap in public-sector employment today is around 1.5 million jobs. Nearly 30 percent of that gap has occurred in local government education, which is mostly public K–12 employment.

Six Years from Its Beginning, the Great Recession’s Shadow Looms Over the Labor Market | Economic Policy Institute

Startup Thinks Its Battery Will Solve Renewable Energy’s Big Flaw

Startup Begins Making a Battery for Renewable Energy | MIT Technology Review

Going long on Japan’s economic revival story has been the consensus call, but more analysts are beginning to see weak spots in the plot.

Is the Japan story getting threadbare? – Yahoo Finance

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) predicted shrinking profit margins for its network-equipment division, signaling the company will sacrifice earnings to revive sales as it seeks to rebuild itself after selling its phone unit to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

Nokia Forecasts Lower Profit Margins on Network Slump – Bloomberg

According to a white paper released by UBS for this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, one of the surprising factors ‘reshaping the world’ – the Davos theme this year – is an aggregate absence of austerity among governments globally.

UBS at Davos: ‘Maybe the world’s not so austere’ | FT Alphaville

“Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.” If Paul Krugman’s famous saying is right, the UK economy is in trouble because today’s figures show that total hours worked rose by 1.1% in the last three months, which implies that output per hour is falling, and is well below its pre-recession peak.

Stumbling and Mumbling: Who needs productivity?

The European banking union is “crucial” but national governments in Europe need more decision-making powers, the Dutch Prime Minister told CNBC.

‘I’m not in favor of EU political union’: Dutch PM

Unusual volume can also be a major signal that hedge funds and momentum traders are piling into a stock ahead of a catalyst. These types of traders like to get in well before a large spike, so it’s always a smart move to monitor unusual volume. That said, remember to combine trend and price action with unusual volume. Put them all together to help you decipher the next big trend for any stock.

3 Tech Stocks in Breakout Territory – Stockpickr! Your Source for Stock Ideas

A utility solicitation that opens the door to 40 megawatts of battery-based energy storage in the California desert

Another 40MW of Grid-Scale Energy Storage in the California Pipeline : Greentech Media

New York Looking to Catch Up With California’s Lead in Energy Storage. The Empire State has several initiatives underway that just might get it there.

New York Looking to Catch Up With California’s Lead in Energy Storage : Greentech Media

The “robots are coming” narrative dominating discussions of the economy was popularized by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee in their 2011 book, Race Against the Machine. They have built on that theme in the richer, deeper The Second Machine Age (W.W. Norton, 2014).

The Robots Are Here and More Are Coming: Do Not Blame Them for our Wage or Job Problems | Economic Policy Institute