BNP To Halt Shale Oil Financing, Expand Funds For Renewables

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By Fabio Benedetti Valentini and Russell Ward for Bloomberg – BNP Paribas SA pledged to stop financing shale and oil sands projects, expanding earlier commitments in support of global efforts to tackle climate change. France’s largest bank will no longer do business with companies whose main activity stems from oil and natural gas obtained from shale or oil sands, it said in a statementWednesday. The policy covers companies involved in activities ranging from exploration to marketing and trading. The company also won’t fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. BNP Paribas said it’s committed to bringing its financing and investment activities in line with international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Achieving that goal relies on reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, starting with energy from shale and oil sands, the bank said. Echoing environmentalists on a disputed subject, the bank said the extraction of fuel from these sources emits high levels of greenhouse gases and harms the environment in other ways. BNP Paribas may be the first large bank to blacklist shale oil, which has enabled the U.S. to curb oil imports and pushed down energy prices. The lender’s financing for tar sands, Arctic oil and other carbon-intensive fuels totaled $1.94 billion last year, ranking it 17th among international banks, according to a report by the Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups. That’s down from $3.74 billion in 2014.

Forum In Oakland Brings To Light How Public Banks Can Fund Renewable Energy

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By Staff of Public Banking Institute – September 25, Friends of Public Bank of Oakland organized a public forum to hear Wolfram Morales of the German Sparkasse (East German Savings Bank Association) explain how Public Banking works in his country to fund renewable energy development. The East Bay Times as well as Oakland North covered the event and connected it to how Public Banks here could do the same thing in the US that Sparkasse do in Germany: offer low-interest rates to companies providing solar and wind resources, driving development. “Though public banks are a fixture in Europe, the only one that exists in the United States is the Bank of North Dakota, Morales said. There are more than 600 in Germany, most of which are county-level, putting billions into renewable energy development. Those banks are able to offer interest rates as low as 1 percent on loans, which is much lower than what commercial banks offer. “Speakers at the forum talked about how a public bank can help give the community more control over its energy sources.”

Puerto Rico Considering Returning Power Through Renewable Microgrids

A car drives under tilted power line poles in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Oct. 2, 2017.

By Brad Jones in Fururism. Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló proposed the idea of switching the island over to a microgrid system. This would localize the production of electricity to smaller regions, each of which would be powered by a small-scale power plant, such as a compact solar array or a few wind turbines. Some microgrids are connected to one another by transmission lines, but this is not necessary. “We can start dividing Puerto Rico into different regions…and then start developing microgrids,” said the governor, according to a report from Yahoo News. “That’s not going to solve the problem, but it’s certainly going to start lighting up Puerto Rico much quicker.” One German energy-storage company, Sonnen GmbH, is already donating microgrid systems that could get the process started. Working with local company Pura Energia, which hooks its solar panels to Sonnen’s batteries, Sonnen is providing microgrids to 15 storm-ravaged centers on the island, and expects demand for additional systems on the island to rise. If it does, the company plans to donate the profits from local sales to build up to 35 more microgrids on Puerto Rico.

Residents Send Duke Energy Giant Message: Clean Energy Now

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By Popular Resistance. Asheville, NC – Duke Energy is the largest utility in the US, and one of largest in the world. It emits more greenhouse gases than any other corporation (almost 2% of total GHG’s), and is fighting a losing battle to protect its right to create dirty energy for the foreseeable future. Many people were locked out of the hearing the public hearing last night. The doors were locked at 7 pm and no one could get in after that. Speakers at the hearing, even a local mayor as well as a range of environmental and justice organizations, were UNANIMOUSLY opposed to Duke’s Rate Hike proposal.

Britain Spent 'Twice As Much On Overseas Fossil Fuels As Renewables'

A vendor weighs coal for a customer in Lucknow, India. The country has been one of the top five beneficiaries of UK energy support this decade. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

By Arthur Neslen for The Guardian – The UK has spent more than twice as much overseas support on fossil fuels projects as on renewable ones so far this decade, according to research commissioned by the Catholic aid agency Cafod. The Overseas Development Institute, which analysed the figures, found that 46% of Britain’s £6.1bn energy spending in developing countries between 2010 and 2014 went on oil, coal and gas-fired schemes, compared with 22% for renewable energy projects. Overall, fossil fuel support increased by nearly £1bn this decade compared with the previous five years, with a staggering 99.4% of UK export finance support directed towards “dirty” energy investments. Cafod called on the government to clarify how it would bring public support for overseas projects into line with climate commitments under the Paris agreement. Dr Sarah Wykes, Cafod’s lead energy analyst, said: “To tackle climate change we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground and switch rapidly to renewable sources of energy. “Yet the UK carrying on a business as usual spending pattern overseas in recent years suggests a huge inconsistency in policy and a missed opportunity to promote greater investment in renewable technologies, as the Department for International Development (DfID) has tried to do through its spending.”

It’s Here Now: Cheap 100% Renewable Energy

Driven by solar and wind, world investments in renewable energy leapt in 2014. Photo credit: Jürgen from Sandesneben, Germany/Licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall for Dissident Voices – George Goodall’s The Switch: How Solar Storage and New Technology Means Cheap Power for All was enormously valuable in rectifying many of my prior misconceptions about renewable energy. First and foremost was my erroneous belief that high production costs would make renewable energy far more expensive than fossil fuels – that the renewable energy revolution would require either a) a major reduction in population or b) major sacrifice in terms of lifestyle choices. Both turn out to be totally untrue. Renewable energy (mainly photo-voltaic solar energy) is already cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world. By 2040 the low cost of producing renewable energy will make fossil fuels virtually obsolete. The first section of the book focuses on a mathematical explanation of what he refers to as the “experience curve.” Energy economists use this formula to explain the rapid decrease in the cost of manufacturing PV cells, solar panels and solar batters. The same process can be used to predict future costs of manufacture. Which is one of the main reasons Wall Street financiers are refusing to invest in new coal and gas-fired power plants. They know the electricity they produce will never compete with the low cost and efficiency of renewable energy.

Occupy Sonoma County Holds Climate Change Summit

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By Occupy Sonoma County. On July 31, Occupy Sonoma County hosted a gathering of local climate change activists at the Peace & Justice Center in Santa Rosa. Over 70 people, representing 25 different organizations, attended. Climate change activists are working together in Sonoma County. Every group is also involved in educating the public and empowering people to take action. We ended the evening with a plan to meet again at the Peace & Justice Center on October 30th at 7:00 pm to form action plans and coordinate our efforts. “It was extremely gratifying to see all the climate change groups taking this important step towards coordinating our efforts. Sonoma County climate change activists have their act together! This dynamic group of experienced activists combined with fresh, new energy from the many youth who attended, gives me hope that we can work together to stop climate change,” said Stefana Morales, Occupy activist.

Three Forces Fighting Local Renewable Energy And Three Ways To Fight Back

A new rate settlement in Colorado could help boost rooftop installations like this one in Boulder. Credit: Getty Images

By John Farrell for ILSR – Across many economic sectors, we at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance identify ways that cities can take charge of their local economy. In energy, that includes ideas like a city takeover (municipalization) of the utility, banning fracking, or increasing franchise fees charged to private, monopoly utilities for use of public property to deliver energy services. Unfortunately, some state legislatures have decided to reduce local authority to make these moves. Through municipalization laws passed decades ago, states preempted or limited local authority to take over utilities, instead favoring state regulation and oversight. State lawmakers In Colorado in 2016 passed a law that overturns local bans on gas fracking. In 2017, the Minnesota legislature considered a bill that would add complexity when cities consider changes to franchise fees, despite ample public notice and deliberation required by cities that have such fees. While there aren’t numerous examples of local energy policy preemption, we fear it may grow as states become more accustomed to preempting cities, or making it expensive for local governments to exercise authority.

Renewable Energy Is Becoming So Cheap US Will Meet Paris Commitments

Why insist on coal as solar gets cheaper?	(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

By Zoë Schlanger for Quartz – Research analysts at Morgan Stanley believe that renewable energy like solar and wind power are hurtling towards a level of ubiquity where not even politics can hinder them. Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast. Basic economics, the analysts say, suggest that the US will exceed its commitments in the Paris agreement regardless of whether or not president Donald Trump withdraws, as he’s stated he will. “We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe,” with the exception of a few countries in Southeast Asia, the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published Thursday. “By our forecasts, in most cases favorable renewables economics rather than government policy will be the primary driver of changes to utilities’ carbon emissions levels,” they wrote. “For example, notwithstanding president Trump’s stated intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, we expect the US to exceed the Paris commitment of a 26-28% reduction in its 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020.” Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power “can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants.”

Renewables Generated More Power Than Nuclear In March And April

A new rate settlement in Colorado could help boost rooftop installations like this one in Boulder. Credit: Getty Images

By Eric Wesoff for GTM – Solar farms planted on an abandoned nuclear plant site or powering a coal museum or atop a strip mine offer stark images of the ascendance of renewables. But forget metaphorical images — utility-scale renewable electricity generation in March and April actually surpassed nuclear for the first time since July 1984. (Ronald Reagan was president, and “When Doves Cry” was the No. 1 hit on the radio.) Recent months have seen record generation from wind and solar, as well as increases in hydroelectric power because of 2017′s wet winter (note that these numbers, from the Energy Information Administration, do not include distributed solar). Most of the time, conventional hydroelectric generation is still the primary source of renewable electricity. But one of the takeaways from this data set is the emergence of wind in the last decade as a material slice of the energy mix. The U.S. wind industry installed more than 8 gigawatts in 2015 and did it again in 2016. The country now has over 84 gigawatts of installed wind capacity. Another takeaway is the relatively diminutive contribution from solar, which falls between geothermal and biomass in its annual contribution. The U.S. installed 14.5 gigawatts of solar last year, up 95 percent over 2015.

Don’t Be Fooled By Rosy Renewables Projections

From ecowatch.com

By Wenonah Hauter for Eco Watch – To the casual observer, we are making tremendous progress moving off fossil fuels and developing a clean, renewable energy system. The good news seems to be everywhere: The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution calling for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, and legislation passed in the California Senate to mandate 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. After Trump announced he was backing out of the Paris climate agreement, communities across the country pledged to meet its goals. The cost of renewable energy is dropping fast, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” seems to show that renewables are surpassing nuclear power. All of this might give the impression that, even with the Trump administration aggressively pushing fossil fuels, a renewable energy future is a forgone conclusion. But the reality is that while we certainly have momentum, we still need massive political action, because we still have a long way to go—and not a lot of time left. Beyond the sunny headlines, the numbers speak for themselves, especially when you don’t mix hydroelectric and biogas in renewable energy estimates.

U.S. Mayors Back 100% Renewable Energy, Vow To Fill Climate Leadership Void

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (right) and Michael Bloomberg address the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Bloomberg announced a $200 million grant program to support city initiatives in areas including climate change. Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate Change – As the nation’s mayors closed their annual meeting on Monday in Miami Beach, they sent a clear signal that cities are looking for action on climate change and are eager to fill a policy gap created by the Trump administration. The United States Conference of Mayors, which includes both Republican and Democratic mayors from cities across the nation, adopted a series of resolutions that are far more assertive than federal climate policy, including a pledge supporting cities’ adoption of 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. “We are showing the world that cities and mayors can and will lead the transition away from fossil fuels to 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin, a co-sponsor of the resolution, in a statement. Cities have been pushing for stronger action on climate change for years, but the efforts have taken on new urgency since President Donald Trump took office in January. After Trump announced his intention to withdrawthe United States from the Paris climate agreement, more than 200 cities joined with nearly a dozen states and hundreds of businesses to announce that they would remain committed to the goals of the agreement.

Renewable Record: Wind And Solar Supplied 10% Of US Electricity In March

Activists demand that the COP20 government delegates approve measures to foment investment in renewable energies and eliminate their huge subsidies for fossil fuels. Credit: Joshua Wiese/IPS

By Julian Spector for GTM – March produced the highest share of wind and solar generation the U.S. has ever seen. The saying about March — “in like a lion, out like a lamb” — plays extremely well for renewable generation. Wind and solar together crossed the 10 percent mark of total U.S. electricity production in March, reports the Energy Information Administration. That’s the first time they’ve reached double-digit market share for a month, marking an important milestone in the growth of renewables nationwide. Wind supplied 8 percent of U.S. electricity and solar produced 2 percent. Overall for 2016, wind supplied 5.6 percent of generation, utility-scale solar contributed 0.9 percent, and small-scale solar about 0.5 percent, for a cumulative total of 7 percent. Why did the record occur in March, when the days haven’t reached their sunny summer maximum? Most of the electricity is still coming from wind, for one thing. And more of that wind comes from Texas than any other state, by a long shot. The winds blow more forcefully in Texas and surrounding states in the spring.

Shell Will Test Energy-Generating Kites This Summer

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By Anna Hirtenstein for Bloomberg – “The reason we are interested in something like this is that it has potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind in the future,” said Geert van de Wouw, managing director of Shell Technology Ventures BV. “Fundamentally, looking at the science, flying the kite at high altitudes so there’s lots of wind, and the cost of materials is quite a lot lower than a normal offshore wind turbine.” Alternatives to traditional wind turbines are in the works at multiple start-ups, some backed by corporations in energy and tech such as Alphabet Inc. German utility EON has also invested in a test site in Ireland for dronesthat are designed to fly at high altitudes and generate energy. The kites work by sending aloft a wing to fly in a circular looping path much like the tip of a wind turbine blade. The machines harness aerodynamic lift from the wind exerted against the tether linked to the ground. Tension in that tether causes the line to rapidly spool out from a drum, which is connected to a generator. Kite Power Systems will start testing its machines in July or August at a site in Scotland. Offshore wind farms could someday be repowered with the technology, according to David Ainsworth, interim chief executive officer.

U.S. Renewable Energy Jobs Employ 800,000+ People And Rising: In Charts

China leads the world in renewable energy jobs. In the U.S., solar and wind industry employment has skyrocketed in recent years, but now the Trump administration is trying to stop it. Credit: Kevin Grayer/Getty

By Paul Horn for Inside Climate News – Renewable energy jobs are growing around the globe as prices fall and interest in clean power rises. Worldwide, 9.8 million people are now employed in the renewable energy industry, including 3 million in the booming photovoltaic solar sector, up 12 percent from just a year ago, a new study shows. The United States has seen explosive growth in renewable energy jobs over the past three years, led by solar jobs (up 82 percent) and wind jobs (up 100 percent), according to new numbers released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Each year, IRENA counts employment in renewable energy by technology and country, including in energy generation, related construction, manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and maintenance. The numbers tell the story. In 2016, solar was creating U.S. jobs at 17 times the rate of the national economy, rising to more than 260,000 jobs in the U.S. solar industry today. In the U.S. wind industry, now with over 100,000 jobs, a new wind turbine went up every 2.4 hours this past quarter. One driver of this rush to build out solar and wind capacity over the past few years was the expected expiration of key federal tax credits, which were ultimately renewed but with a phase-out over time for wind and solar.