Good morning and welcome back! Let's dive in . . .
Solar industry officials took their case against steep new import penalties on solar panel equipment to the White House yesterday.
Why it matters: The trip, organized via the Solar Energy Industries Association, signals how opponents of new tariffs are pushing to make headway with Trump aides even as the U.S. International Trade Commission is still weighing its upcoming recommendations to the White House.
What happened: SEIA didn't specify exactly who they met with, though Politico reported yesterday that SEIA president Abigail Ross Hopper told reporters ahead of the trip that it would include White House aides, as well as staff from DOE, the U.S. Trade Representative's office, and other agencies.
On the industry side, officials from SunPower, DuPont, RBI Solar and a few other companies attended. They're fighting the bid by two financially distressed panel makers — Suniva and SolarWorld — for major new tariffs and other restrictions.
What they're saying: Hopper, in a statement to Axios, called the meetings very productive.
While she didn't get into the details of the meetings, SEIA has recommended several policies, such as Commerce Department-led technical assistance to manufacturers, in lieu of steep new tariffs that would cause the price of new solar projects to rise sharply.
Yes, but: Their effort to ward off new tariffs and other import restrictions could be facing a steep uphill climb at a time when the White House has signaled it favor a tough posture on trade in general.
A note yesterday from ClearView Energy Partners makes a similar point. "We continue to believe President Trump may use this proceeding — which targets a relatively narrow energy subsector — as a test case for his tough-on-trade America First agenda," they said.
Record-breaking: The U.S. exported nearly 2 million barrels per day of crude oil in the week ending September 29, crushing the record of almost 1.5 million set the prior week, according to Energy Information Administration data released yesterday.
The global picture: Via the Wall Street Journal this morning, "Saudi Arabia and OPEC are lobbying Russia to stay on board with their efforts to raise oil prices, amid signals that Moscow wants to end its participation in costly petroleum-production cuts."
Aramco IPO: Per Reuters, the senior Saudi Aramco officials said the planned initial public offering of the state-owned oil giant is on track to happen in the second half of 2018.
"Chaos is a ladder": This is fun. CNBC reports on a new analysis that looks at Russia's petro-maneuvers through the lens of the hit HBO show, "Game of Thrones." Their lede: "RBC Capital Markets' Helima Croft warns that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be hewing to the motto of the notorious schemer [Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish] in HBO's 'Game of Thrones': 'Chaos is a ladder.'"
Interior regs battle: Back to the U.S. for a moment. As we previewed earlier this week, the Interior Department is seeking to delay Obama-era rules that force oil-and-gas producers to cut emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from projects on federal lands. But a federal judge just thwarted the effort. AP gets you up to speed here.
My Axios colleague Amy Harder caught up by phone Wednesday with Paolo Frankl, who leads the International Energy Agency's renewable division, to talk about the group's just-released report and more.
The highlights from her discussion with Frankl:
On beating expectations: "If someone just a few years ago would have told me that in the year 2017 we will be saying that solar is the first choice of new power capacity ahead of coal, I would have responded, 'You're kidding.'"
On the big picture: "We are speaking about solar entering a new era, but in terms of percentage of global electricity, it is still 1.5%."
On President Trump's policies and domestic renewables: "I may be proven wrong, but in my honest view, the drivers in favor of renewables remain very strong at the business, state and local levels."
However, he added that he sees a "limited impact" for the moment. Two specifics:
More gritty details: "[Regarding] the question about system integration of wind and solar, we hear many wrong things," Frankl said. "Like, 'You can't do solar without storage.' False."
Battery storage of electricity is one way to ensure the intermittent resources of wind and solar seamlessly integrate into an electricity grid, he said. Bigger factors are more flexible grid systems and other resources that can ramp up and down quickly, like natural gas.
New deal: The governors of eight western states — Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — have inked an agreement designed to bolster development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the region.
Why it matters: The projected growth in automakers' electric vehicles offerings is putting new focus on the need for public charging to accommodate — and catalyze — the technology's growth.
What it states: The agreement calls for a suite of steps to bolster EV acceptance and cut "range anxiety," such as...
Big picture: The western pact comes as analysts are mapping out the total U.S. charging infrastructure needed to accommodate EVs in the future as their use grows.
One analysis: A new National Renewable Energy Laboratory report tries to game out the amount of charging station expansion needed in the future in different types of areas (urban, rural and so forth) at varying levels of EV penetration.
The analysis shows a range of needs, but a "central scenario" of 15 million plug-in electrics on U.S. roads in 2030 shows over 8,000 direct current fast-charging stations to provide a minimum level of coverage (in addition to home-charging).
Go deeper: A new edition of the radio program "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" is a breezy but detailed and informative look at global EV market growth and how automakers are positioning themselves.
Efficiency gains and warnings: A big new IEA report finds continued gains in global efficiency, noting that worldwide energy intensity — that is, the amount of energy needed per unit of GDP — fell by another 1.8% last year.
Climate change: A few takeaways in a new HSBC research note on the global climate policy landscape...
Congress: A few odds and ends...
No promises: The Los Angeles Times reports that Bill Wehrum, Trump's choice to be EPA's top air pollution regulator, would not commit at his Senate confirmation hearing to maintaining the Clean Air Act waiver that allows California to impose tougher vehicle mileage rules than the federal standards.
Cleared: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday sent two Energy Department nominees to the full Senate. The panel approved Bruce Walker, who would head the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and Steven Winberg, who would lead the Office of Fossil Energy.
Coming up: A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee meets today to discuss "consumer-oriented perspectives" on the nation's electricity markets.