The coal industry is dying, and they are desperately trying to place the blame for their impending doom on someone other than themselves. The world around them is changing, and the industry is absolutely terrified of change.
Vancouver city council’s unanimous decision to commit to running on 100 per cent renewable energy is the kind of political leadership the world desperately needs says Jørgen Randers, professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway.
“Despite the looming catastrophe of climate change the market will choose to do nothing,” Randers said in the keynote speech at the ICLEI World Congress 2015, the triennial sustainability summit of local governments in Seoul, South Korea.
Nor will voluntary actions on climate be enough. Strong legislation, intelligent policy and collective action are the only ways to keep humanity from a nightmare future, said the former business executive who still sits on boards of major corporations.
Many states are already on track to meet or beat the renewable energy targets laid out for them by the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, according to a new report from Earthjustice, which is calling on the agency to strengthen the plan in order to promote more ambitious renewable energy growth.
The Clean Power Plan sets out different emissions reduction levels for each state to reach by 2030, and suggests renewable energy targets as one means of achieving those goals. But Earthjustice has found that many states have already adopted their own renewable energy standards that either meet or even exceed the suggestions made by the EPA.
Three extreme examples are California, Colorado, and Hawaii, some of the states that have done the most to embrace renewable energy. California ranks first in installed solar capacity and third in wind—it even set a record earlier this year for single-day solar photovoltaic energy generation—and has set a mandatory goal of generating 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Yet the Clean Power Plan sets a standard of 21% by 2030 for the Golden State.
Colorado has a similarly ambitious self-imposed goal of 30% by 2020, but the EPA’s suggestion is also 21% by 2030. And Hawaii, which is aiming for 40% by 2030, is being urged by the Clean Power Plan to hit just 10%.
Here’s how several other clean energy early adopter states' own commitments stack up against the goals called for in the Clean Power Plan:
Uncertainty over the future of the wind production tax credit and the solar investment tax credit—and Congressional inaction on both matters—could pose a serious challenge to development in the renewable energy sector.
Wind energy had a huge year in 2012, with 13,128 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity installed, but has failed to get anywhere close to matching that number since. The fact that the wind production tax credit (PTC) expired last year might have something to do with that.
Wind energy developers only need to have made minor investments by the 2013 deadline to qualify for the tax credit, so there are still a number of new installations in the works, and 2014 has so far seen a fair amount of growth in wind energy capacity. But that will not be the case for long if Congress doesn't act.
According to the American Wind Energy Association's latest quarterly market report, some 711 turbines capable of producing 1,254 megawatts of wind energy were installed in the US during the first three quarters of 2014, which is more than in all of 2013.
But while there are more than 13,600 more MW of wind capacity currently under construction, that number is expected to drop off sharply as projects are brought online and fewer new projects are started due to the expiration of the wind production tax credit (PTC).
The sun could be our biggest single source of energy and prevent 6 bilion tonnes of climate-warming CO2 pollution by 2050, according to two new reports.
Issued by the International Energy Agency, the two “Technology Roadmap” reports conclude that solar photovoltaic (PV) systems could supply 16% of the world's electricity needs and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants could provide another 11% by the mid-point of the 21st century.
Underscoring these findings, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven says, “The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades.”
To get there, however, the reports warn that “clear, credible and consistent signals from policy makers” must be provided in order to inspire confidence in investors, as both PV and solar thermal electricity technologies like CSP require big up-front capital expenditures.
“Lowering the cost of capital is thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps,” Van der Hoeven adds.
California and Texas continue to break new ground in making electricty generation from renewable sources a vital part of the United States' energy mix.
California, for its part, is following up on the huge year solar energy had in 2013 by breaking the record for single-day solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation back in March, and then breaking its own record on June 1. The new record in California — 4,767 Megawatts of utility-scale solar PV energy fed into the grid in one day — is the national record, as well.
California installed some 2,261 MW of solar capacity in 2013, more than any other state, and looks to be on track to post up even bigger numbers this year. PV Magazine reports that “California’s solar footprint is growing bigger with each passing day, week and month, with May recording three times as much solar generation as recorded during the same month in 2013.”
Texas may seem like a strange bedfellow for California when it comes to the mainstreaming of energy sources that aren't oil, but the Lone Star State set a new record for itself on March 26 when 10.2 GW, nearly a third of the state's electricity generation that day, came from the wind. State regulators don't expect that record to last long, either.
These two examples point to a clear trend of renewable energy scaling up nationwide in blue states and red states alike.
In a positive sign for United States energy consumption, a new report shows that the market share of renewable energy sources grew at a larger pace than fossil fuels for the year 2012. Additionally, the first half of this year has seen an enormous surge in renewable energy infrastructure and generating capacity.
For 2012, a decline in the cost of solar and wind infrastructure is partly credited with the surge in use. The International Energy Agency is now feeling more optimistic that renewable sources of energy could make up as much as 25% of global electricity generation by the year 2018.
And in another positive step for America, consumer energy consumption fell significantly in 2012, although that was in the wake of increased consumption from corporations.
A July Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that renewable energy provided 25% of new electricity generation for the first six months of 2013.
The increased use and infrastructure build-out become even more remarkable when you consider the attacks that have been flowing towards renewable energy standards all over the country.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) launched an all-out assault on renewable energy standards last year, managing to get at least 16 different states with imposed Renewable Portfolio Standards (rules that provide a guaranteed commitment to investment in fossil fuels) to consider legislation that would have either scaled these requirements back, or eliminated them altogether.
Just three short years ago, it appeared that North America was on the verge of finally kicking that nasty dirty energy addiction that was crippling our economies and our energy independence. The United States had elected a president (Barack Obama) who set incredibly lofty goals for renewable energy targets, and green energy investments across the continent were higher than anywhere else in the world.
With only a few weeks left for American voters to decide between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, more and more attention is being paid to the candidates’ respective energy policies.
We’ve reported in recent months that Mitt Romney has stacked his energy team of advisors with dirty energy industry insiders and lobbyists, which gives us an idea of how he would run the country. With Obama, we have the benefit of using the past as an example of what to expect in the future.
But both candidates are now in a position where their current proposals and policy ideas are being shown to the public, so let’s break down what each presidential candidate says they will do with regards to energy and the environment, if elected.
Think Progress has put together a great side-by-side comparison of the two candidates, which gives us a very clear picture of where each candidate would take the country:
Jim Talent, a former Republican Senator and one of Mitt Romney’s top campaign advisors, has played an instrumental role in the Romney camp’s positions on energy. Specifically, Talent has pushed for greater consumption and mining of coal to meet America’s energy needs.
What the campaign failed to mention is that the lobbying firm that Talent is still on the payroll with lists one of the largest coal-producing companies in the country as one of its top clients.
And although Talent is not registered as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. (thereby making it illegal for him to engage in lobbying activities,) his website clearly states that “lobbying” is one of the services he is able to personally provide for clients.
David Halperin has the story at Republic Report: