Converging crises call for converging solutions

November 20, 2020 by  
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Converging crises call for converging solutions Sarah Golden Fri, 11/20/2020 – 01:45 In the words of President-elect Joe Biden, America is facing four historic colliding crises: the economy; a pandemic; systemic racism; and climate chaos.  These aren’t four separate asteroids all coincidentally headed our way at once. They’re intertwined and part of the same challenges; they’re the consequence of decades of actions and inactions that are boiling over and activating one another. It stands to reason that we couldn’t silo solutions.  Perversely, it is possible that economic crises will be the catalyst we need to address climate change. That’s because the problems have the same solution: the rapid deployment of clean technologies across the economy.  COVID, the economy and emissions As the world pressed pause this spring in an attempt to flatten the coronavirus curve, our emissions curve flattened, too. We conducted a science experiment on a historic scale: What happens to emissions when everyone (or a large majority of people) stands still?  As the year rounds to a close, the results are becoming clear: We’re on track to reduce carbon emissions from energy by 8 percent.  While significant, I am surprised that the emission reductions are so small. It reflects the limits of individual action; even if we all do everything we can, the built-in emissions to our economy still will bust our carbon budget. America is at its best — most collaborative, innovative and productive — when we have a shared enemy and objective. More distressing is the projection of emissions as our economy recovers. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s New Energy Outlook , carbon emissions are set to rise through 2027, then decline 0.7 percent per year through 2050. That would put the world on track for 3.3 degrees Celsius of warming.  In order to have a chance at 2 C warming, emissions would need to decrease 10 times faster. If we’re striving for 1.5 C warming (and we are), emissions will need to drop fourteenfold faster.  We can rebuild the economy without ramping up emissions Historically, emissions and the economy are closely related. It makes sense; when people have more money, they tend to use more energy, travel more, buy more things. Likewise, the only three times emissions fell between 1975 and 2015 were during the recessions of the 1980s, 1992 and 2009. And when the economy rebounded, so did emissions .  Climate skeptics have weaponized this correlation to frame the economy and the environment as trade-offs.  But thanks to clean energy, this relationship is no longer true. In 2016, the International Energy Agency confirmed that emissions and economic growth have decoupled. For the first time in more than 40 years, global GDP grew in 2014 and 2015 — but emissions didn’t.  That’s great news for this moment; the work we need to do to decarbonize is the same work that can pull us out of a global recession. Building a new type of future  The concept of a Green New Deal predates the COVID crises. Yet the harkening to the New Deal, the massive federal effort to pull America out of the depths of the Great Depression, feels prescient as we reckon with the worst economy in a century.  And it may be the urgency to address the faltering economy that spurs the necessary policy alignment to reach true decarbonization.  The numbers are there. Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy released a report in September making the case for investment in clean energy R&D to create jobs and boost the economy, and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy commissioned a report to analyze the spillover economic gains from such an investment. Saul Griffith’s new organization, Rewiring America , shows how decarbonizing the economy would require around 25 million jobs in the U.S.  While the New Deal did wonders for the economy, it arguably had elements that lacked a strategic lens. Case in point: The Bureau of Reclamation damming every river it could in the west, regardless whether it was justified. Imagine what would be possible with a New Deal that has a guiding principle: rapid decarbonization.  America is at its best — most collaborative, innovative and productive — when we have a shared enemy and objective. Climate change, for reasons I don’t understand, proves to be a difficult unifier. But the economy — now that’s something Americans can get behind.  This essay first appeared in GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote America is at its best — most collaborative, innovative and productive — when we have a shared enemy and objective. Topics Energy & Climate Racial Issues COVID-19 Clean Economy Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Converging crises call for converging solutions

Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

March 30, 2018 by  
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One of the United States’ biggest electric utilities, American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to build a two-gigawatt wind farm – and they want consumers to pay for it. Bloomberg reports that the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection project could serve people in four states. People in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana could get power from AEP’s massive wind farm sprawling over 300,000 acres in the Oklahoma Panhandle. But Bloomberg said there’s a battle mounting over the project: AEP hopes to obtain up-front guarantees from regulators that consumers will foot the bill. Utilities have used the financial model of putting costs and a profit into customers’ bills to construct coal, nuclear, or natural gas power plants. But according to Bloomberg, AEP is pushing the limits by requesting permission to employ the strategy from regulators in four states. Related: Conservative billionaire to build America’s largest wind farm Critics say consumers could be saddled with the bill should the project fall apart. An Oklahoma administrative law judge advised regulators in February to reject the request. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wind power analyst Alex Morgan said that the industry — hoping to grow with the model — could take a hit if AEP fails. If they are unsuccessful, she said the next step might be smaller projects. The Wind Catcher website states that farm “is expected to bring approximately $300 million to local communities in property taxes over the life of the project and provide a cost savings of $7 billion over 25 years for customers. The project will support approximately 4,000 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs annually during construction and 80 permanent jobs once operational.” Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy scored approval in 2016 to recover costs on a $3.6 billion wind project, according to Bloomberg. It could be as large as two gigawatts, making it around the size of Wind Catcher. The difference is that a group of small wind farms on several sites comprises the MidAmerican Energy project, whereas AEP’s project is one huge wind farm. + Wind Catcher Energy Connection Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

India added more rooftop solar in 2017 than the past 4 years combined

December 8, 2017 by  
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India’s rooftop solar sector has been exploding. In 2017, the country added 715 megawatts (MW) in roof installations – more than MW added in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 put together, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). And the cost of electricity from rooftop solar power has been cut in half in the past five years. Rooftop solar is the quickest-growing sub-sector of renewable energy in India, according to BNEF. Rooftop PV installations totaled 32, 78, 165, and 227 MW in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively – and then this year saw installations of 715 MW. Rooftop solar has “clocked a four-year compound annual growth rate of 117 percent,” according to BNEF. Related: Solar prices in India dip below coal Low solar panel prices and increased competition has allowed Indian rooftop system installations to be less expensive than the global average by around 39 to 50 percent, according to Quartz India . And in all major states in the country, rooftop solar energy is cheaper than industrial and commercial power. Government policies and incentives have also spurred the growth, CARE Ratings analyst Gautam Bafna told Quartz India. Individual projects have also escalated in size, from an average of 250 kilowatts (kW) in 2015 to 855 kW in 2018. BNEF said, “We estimate India will reach 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of rooftop PV capacity by FY2022 – seven times its current total.” That’s still short of the government’s goal of 40 gigawatts by 2022. There’s still a ways to go. India’s power distribution companies are hesitant to promote rooftop solar, according to Quartz India, because they are concerned about finances. A KPMG partner with infrastructure and government services, Anish De told Quartz India, “During the day, there’ll be sudden spikes of generation; in the evenings, there’ll be a reverse flow. So till [power] storage comes in a much larger way, utilities might find it difficult to manage this.” And over half the rooftop solar market is concentrated in only six of India’s 29 states. Via Quartz India and Bloomberg New Energy Finance Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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India added more rooftop solar in 2017 than the past 4 years combined

How Automakers are Driving the Future of Net-Zero Building

October 16, 2017 by  
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The path forward for net-zero buildings will come from the road in the form of electric vehicles. Yet EVs still comprise less than one percent of the global market. This is about to change as automakers boost volume in the next few years. Daimler, for one, is unveiling the EQ brand and committing to ten all-EV models by 2025. For context, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that one in four vehicles sold globally will be EVs by 2030.

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How Automakers are Driving the Future of Net-Zero Building

Harriet Langford, The Ray

October 16, 2017 by  
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Harriet Langford, The Ray

The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

October 2, 2017 by  
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How does public policy determine clean economy business outcomes?  Why is it imperative for business leaders to leverage their market power to truly accelerate clean energy, climate and sustainability innovations at the policymaking level — especially under this challenging federal administration? A Congressman, Google’s head of energy policy and market development, and a former White House Chief Sustainability Officer turned renewable energy finance entrepreneur share their stories and insights on the way forward.

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The Power of Business Advocacy to Accelerate a Clean Economy

Feeling the pulse of the renewables transition

August 14, 2017 by  
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An interview with Ethan Zindler, head of Americas at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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Feeling the pulse of the renewables transition

Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

June 21, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy is on track to take over the world, if Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)’s predictions are correct. This month they released their annual New Energy Outlook (NEO) report, which reveals 51 percent of the world’s power generation could come from renewables by 2040. During the next 23 years, 72 percent of the $10.2 trillion spent on new power generation will go into solar power and wind power . The future sure looks bright for renewable energy. NEO 2017 lead author Seb Henbest said their report indicates “the greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable” as costs for wind and solar continue to plummet. Batteries will also play a role in the shift of the world from polluting fuels to clean ones. Related: Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy Coal is on its way out, if the NEO 2017 predictions are correct. The BNEF team wrote in Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, and the United States, solar is at least as cheap as coal, and in just a few years – by 2021 – it will be less expensive than coal in Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom, China, and India. And while the report suggests 51 percent of the world’s power could come from renewables in 2040, Greentech Media pointed out that’s an average. Some countries could get more than 51 percent energy from renewables – countries like Mexico, Italy, Brazil, and Chile could get as much as 80 percent of their energy from clean sources. Wind and solar on their own will account for more than 50 percent of power in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico. Green technology adoption – like rooftop solar – will be on the rise. Electric vehicles will “bolster electricity use and help balance the grid .” Henbest told Greentech Media, “The cost declines that we are seeing with these technologies are so steep that it becomes a matter of time as to when they start crossing over and becoming competitive in different ways. These things are getting cheaper faster than we thought even a year ago.” Via Bloomberg New Energy Finance ( 1 , 2 ) and Greentech Media Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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Renewables will reign supreme by 2040, latest BNEF report shows

How the world’s power mix is about to change

July 7, 2015 by  
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The world’s power generating capacity will more than double by 2040 and most of the new electricity will be from renewable sources, predicts Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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How the world’s power mix is about to change

Third-party solar ownership can energize the Southeast

July 7, 2015 by  
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A new rule is paving the way for more solar leases and power purchase agreements to flourish across the region.

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Third-party solar ownership can energize the Southeast

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