solar power

Catching The Sun: Documentary Highlights Link Between Solar Energy And American Job Creation

A man laid off in his forties who wants to be part of the green economy of the future. A Chinese solar energy executive whose childhood village didn’t get electricity until he was seven. A right-wing Tea Party activist crusading for rooftop solar.
 
These are some of the people featured in Shalini Kantayya’s new documentary, Catching the Sun, which presents the climate crisis and American employment woes together with one solution: solar energy.
 
Despite America’s huge solar capacity and consistent history of ingenuity, China has excelled as the world’s leader in solar panel manufacturing, and European and Central American nations lead in percent renewable energy production.
 
Decades of manufactured climate change denial, political contributions and lobbying of U.S. politicians resulting in huge tax breaks to powerful dirty energy companies, and other tactics have propped up fossil fuels as the dominant energy sources.
 
Factor in fossil fuel industry-funded attacks on clean energy, and it becomes clear why real change or challenges to fossil fuel incumbency are difficult at the federal level.

More Money Invested in Renewable Energy in 2015 Than New Fossil Fuel Power Projects

A record US$367 billion was invested in renewable energy in 2015, according to a new report out today by the Clean Energy Canada initiative of the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University.

Renewables investment increased by seven percent since 2014, with China, the US, and Japan representing more than half of the total investment last year, shows the report.

The report also finds that for the first time, more money was invested in clean energy than in new power from fossil fuel ($253bn).

Warren Buffett Attacks Clean Energy While Increasing Dirty Oil Investments

Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest men and a campaign fundraiser and donor for Hillary Clinton's presidential run, has made headlines lately for the attacks on rooftop solar energy launched by subsidiaries of his holding company Berkshire Hathaway.

As Ben Jervey explained here on DeSmog, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway have numerous ties to coal-fired power plants, the utility industry and the coal-by-rail industrial complex.

But Buffett's tentacles reach far into the oil industry, as well. 

Are Solar Subsidies Amber Rudd’s Next Target?

Solar subsidies might be next on the DECC chopping block. Amber Rudd, secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), has warned that the government is “looking carefully” at the payments.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal at the official opening of the second phase of Ketton Solar Farm’s 13MW project, Rudd said: “There has been a lot of subsidy in this area – a lot. 

“More than people anticipated when the feed-in tariffs and the renewable obligation were set up and we have to find ways of supporting solar that doesn’t involve subsidy.”

This comes just a month after DECC announced it will scrap subsidies for new onshore wind projects from 1 April 2016. But it also follows Rudd’s post-election statement that she hopes to “unleash a solar revolution” across Britain to encourage homeowners to install panels on their roofs.

Europe Poised to Press Ahead on Drastic Greenhouse Gas Reductions As Other Nations Lag Behind

Solar farm

Pressure continues to grow for European politicians to agree to further reductions of greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030.

The European Union’s 2020 climate and energy package, which is binding legislation, calls for emissions to be cut by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, the plan calls for energy efficiency savings of 20 per cent and a 20 per cent increase in renewable energy technologies.

While the European Union seems largely on track to meet those targets, later this month politicians are going to vote on even greater emissions reductions, energy savings and growth in renewables by 2030.

In January, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, published the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy.

Despite six years of economic uncertainty, the plan includes targets to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below the 1990 level by 2030, which would ensure that Europe would meet its objective of cutting emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050.

As You Sow: Coal Investments, Shale Gas, a Bad Bet

In a missive titled “White Paper: Financial Risks of Investments in Coal,” As You Sow concludes that coal is becoming an increasingly risky investment with each passing day. The fracking boom and the up-and-coming renewable energy sector are quickly superseding King Coal's empire as a source of power generation, As You Sow concludes in the report.

As You Sow chocks up King Coal's ongoing demise to five factors, quoting straight from the report:

1. Increasing capital costs for environmental controls at existing coal plants and uncertainty about future regulatory compliance costs

2. Declining prices for natural gas, a driver of electric power prices in competitive markets

3. Upward price pressures and price volatility of coal

4. High construction costs for new coal plants and unknown costs to implement carbon capture and storage

5. Increasing competitiveness of renewable generation resources

What Chesapeake Energy's Financial Scandals Mean For The Rest of Us

Given radioactive wastewater, earthquakes, and flammable tap water, one might think that drilling and fracking could not possibly have any more dirty secrets. But here’s the biggest secret of all: it’s expensive.

With natural gas at historic low prices – the Wall Street Journal ran a column recently suggesting that the price of gas might even sink to negative numbers, so that producers would need to pay buyers to take it off their hands – it may seem odd to think that fracking is costly. But it’s true. Not just in terms of its environmental footprint, but also in terms of its financial costs.

And everyone should care about how expensive gas is, especially those concerned about energy security and the environment, because the answer will determine the fate of renewables, the way we use land and water, and whether our nation’s energy policies are fundamentally sound.

To understand what’s going on, you need to look at Chesapeake Energy, the second largest producer of natural gas in the US, the company described by its founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon as the “biggest frackers in the world.”

For 19 of the past 21 years, the company has operated at what investors call “cash flow negative” – last year by $8.547 billion dollars – meaning that Chesapeake has consistently spent a whole lot more than it earned. For decades.

To fund all that fracking, the company has been flipping land, engaging in so many financial transactions that it’s been said to resemble a hedge fund more than a gas driller.

McClendon's company has become the environmental Enron, with Chesapeake's accountants creating some of the most labyrinthine and impenetrable books since Enron, according to some investors.

The Guardian Exposes Fossil Funded Groups Coordinating Renewable Energy Attacks

Ever wonder why a blooming green energy industry has faced such harsh opposition? Now, as the old adage goes, “the cat's out of the bag.”

The Guardian today revealed the network of fossil-funded groups coordinating the ongoing onslaught of attacks on renewable energy, particularly wind power. A memorandum passed to The Guardian from the Checks and Balances Project details the organizations and personnel acting as ringleaders to build an astroturf echo chamber of clean energy critics.

Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg writes in “Conservative thinktanks step up attacks against Obama's clean energy strategy,” 


“A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.”

A confidential memo seen by The Guardian and obtained by DeSmogBlog “advises using 'subversion' to build a national movement of wind farm protesters,” explained Goldenberg.

That memo was crafted by John Droz, a Senior Fellow at the American Tradition Institute (ATI).*(see update below)* ATI was the right-wing think-tank behind the lawsuit to obtain University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann's “ClimateGate” emails. 

Job Security Unstable? Renewable Energy is Looking for Employees.

Author Jeff Goodell's quote, “[a] full-blown push for clean energy could unleash a jobs bonanza that would make what happened in Silicon Valley in the 1990s look like a bake sale,” rings true when you look at yesterday's job report published by the UN.

The report found that solving global warming has resulted in world wide employment gains.


Let There Be Light - Solar That Is

Gudda, a small village in India received its first encounter with light after sunset with the arrival of solar panels.

Solar powered batteries have enabled them to study later for school, do more business and play music.

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