renewable energy

CERES Report Reveals Which Electric Utilities Recognize the Clean Energy Future We Need

Electric utilities tend to take a lot of heat for clouding public understanding of climate change and standing in the way of energy resources that won’t cook the planet.

A number of utilities, for instance, have spent hundreds of millions over the past few years lobbying against the Clean Power Plan. Likewise, the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association representing the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) that serve nearly 70-percent of electric customers in the United States, has developed and is executing a multi-million dollar fight against rooftop solar.

It is, of course, unfair to lump all electric utilities together. A couple of recently published reports — including one released Tuesday by Ceres — reveal which investor-owned utilities are climate laggards and clean energy obstructionists, and which are working to transition to the clean, renewable energy future that the atmosphere demands. (Or at least are begrudgingly accepting said transition.)  

The Ceres report looks at actual renewable energy deployment. In Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2016, the report's authors analyze and rank investor-owned utilities — which serve over two-thirds of American electric customers — for how much clean energy and energy efficiency they deliver to customers.

South Australia’s Renewable Energy Progress Sets An Example For The World

First-time visitors to Australia are often drawn to the big city attractions of Sydney and Melbourne or the fabulous beaches of Queensland’s Gold Coast. I’ve always had a soft spot for Adelaide in South Australia, a city built more on a human scale, where downtown can be easily navigated on bike, foot or tram. For me, Adelaide’s greatest attraction is a huge market right in the city’s centre.

When I first visited Adelaide in 1993, I met Mike Rann, a young, charismatic aboriginal affairs minister in South Australia’s Labor government. His party lost the election that year, but Rann later became party leader and then state premier in a minority government in 2002. I met him again in 2003 when he outlined ambitious plans to address climate change by aggressively moving South Australia into renewable energy. Wind and solar were the obvious opportunities, but he was also enthusiastic about “hot rocks”, superheated pockets that could create steam to drive turbines for electricity.

Renewable Energy Jobs Keep Growing While Fossil Fuel Jobs Keep Shrinking

More than 8.1 million people are now employed by the renewable energy industry worldwide, an increase of five percent over last year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The number of renewable energy jobs worldwide went up in 2015 while jobs in the broader energy sector fell. In the United States, for example, renewable energy jobs increased six percent, but employment in oil and gas fell 18 percent.

That’s perhaps not surprising, as renewable energy continues to break records. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), utility-scale electrical generation from renewable sources like solar and wind hit an all-time high of 16.89 percent of the country’s total electricity generation in the first quarter of 2016. During the same time period in 2015, renewable energy's share of net generation was just 14 percent. Distributed solar photovoltaic and wind energy have also continue to grow quickly, the EIA found.

Shareholders Demand Stronger Climate Commitment From Oil Giant Shell

I do believe in 2 degrees, but I do not believe I can do it on my own”. The words that Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden used at Tuesday’s annual shareholder meeting mirror the company’s ‘could do, won’t do’ attitude to limiting global warming.

Shell’s chairman Charles Holliday described their management of the energy transition after the Paris climate change conference as “so far so good” despite a page one disclaimer in their latest report saying they have no plans to use their pathway to net zero in their next 10-20 year investment horizon.

As van Beurden said in response to a shareholder question: “My expectation that oil will be phased out in 2070 is actually quite arbitrary” going on to say oil and gas could still be relevant until 2100.

Why Is Coal Suddenly Becoming A Major Talking Point In The Presidential Election?

It simply wouldn’t be an election year in the United States without the fictitious “war on coal” talking point rearing its ugly head. But something is different this year. In years past, the “war on coal” was admittedly fake, but today we really do have presidential candidates who have expressed interest in making the industry a thing of the past, and those quotes are being used as a catalyst to rally voters in coal-dependent states like West Virginia and Kentucky.

Republican State Attorneys General Trying To Kill The Clean Power Plan Have Taken Millions From Dirty Energy Interests

Republican attorneys general from more than 20 states issued responses last Friday to the broad coalition of health organizations and businesses that filed briefs in support of the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan, which sets state-by-state emissions reduction targets from electricity generation but leaves it mainly up to the states to decide how to achieve those reductions, has picked up a lot of support. Earlier this month, more than 200 current and former members of Congress from both parties filed a brief in support of the plan.

But 27 states, led by coal-heavy West Virginia, are suing the federal government to stop the plan, and the Supreme Court issued a stay last February that bars its implementation until all legal challenges have been resolved. That means the ball is now in a D.C. Circuit Court that is not expected to make a decision on the case possibly until as late as this fall.

Tapping Canada's Geothermal Potential

In the midst of controversy over B.C.’s Peace River Site C dam project, the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association released a study showing the province could get the same amount of energy more affordably from geothermal sources for about half the construction costs. Unlike Site C, geothermal wouldn’t require massive transmission upgrades, would be less environmentally disruptive and would create more jobs throughout the province rather than just in one area.

Despite the many benefits of geothermal, Canada is the only “Pacific Ring of Fire” country that doesn’t use it for commercial-scale energy. According to Desmog Canada, “New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United States and Mexico all have commercial geothermal plants.” Iceland heats up to 90 per cent of its homes, and supplies 25 per cent of its electricity, with geothermal.

Oregon First to End Coal Era: Landmark Ban Sets National Standard for Clean Energy

The Oregon legislature just put another nail in the coffin of the coal era.

On Friday, Oregon governor Kate Brown signed into law one of the most ambitious and sweeping pieces of energy legislation in the country’s history, one which will eradicate the use of coal for electricity generation entirely within two decades.

The pioneering law makes Oregon the first state in the nation to legislate a ban on coal for the electric supply, while also mandating that utilities provide half of their electricity from new renewable sources by 2040.

Add those new renewables to Oregon’s existing hydropower resources and, in less than 25 years, the state’s electric sector will be between 70 and 90-percent carbon-free, one of the cleanest energy portfolios in the country.

Renewable Energy Growth Blows EIA Forecasts Out of the Water, Again

Another year, another U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) assessment report that makes the agency's own forecasters look foolish.

In the latest Electric Power Monthly report, which covers all twelve months of 2015, the EIA revealed that renewable energy sources accounted for nearly 13.5-percent of the nation’s utility-scale electrical output. This is up by more than 2-percent over 2014. But get this: less than three months earlier, in the “Short-Term Energy Outlook,” the agency predicted “total renewables used in the electric power sector to decrease by 1.8% in 2015.”

The EIA’s record for long-term forecasts is no better. In fact, it’s consistently worse.

US Solar Jobs Double As Clean Energy Continues Explosive Growth Around The World

Renewable energy continued its explosive growth in 2015 — and I don’t mean explosive like an oil train accident.

A new global record was set last year with the investment of $328.9 billion in clean energy. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 2011, by 3 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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