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.

9.8 Million People Employed By Renewable Energy

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By Anmar Frangoul for CNBC – Nearly 10 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector last year, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said on Wednesday. IRENA’s report, Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017,states that global renewable energy employment in 2016, excluding large hydropower, hit 8.3 million. If direct employment in large hydropower is included, that figure climbs to 9.8 million. “Falling costs and enabling policies have steadily driven up investment and employment in renewable energy worldwide since IRENA’s first annual assessment in 2012, when just over seven million people were working in the sector,” Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA’s director-general, said in a statement. “In the last four years, for instance, the number of jobs in the solar and wind sectors combined has more than doubled,” Amin added. The report showed that solar photovoltaic was the biggest employer last year, accounting for 3.1 million jobs, up 12 percent compared to 2015. The wind sector represented 1.2 million jobs, while biofuels were responsible for 1.7 million jobs. Amin went on to state that the potential for renewable jobs was significant.

China, India To Reach Climate Goals Years Early, As U.S. Likely To Fall Far Short

India’s renewable energy burst has put it eight years ahead of its 2030 goal, and China’s emissions from energy use appear to have peaked more than a decade early, a new report says. Credit: San Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – Slowing coal use in China and India has put the world’s two most populous countries on track to beat their carbon emission goals under the Paris climate agreement, according to a new analysis. Greenhouse gas emissions from both countries are growing more slowly than they predicted just a year ago, and the difference is substantial—roughly 2 to 3 billion tons annually by the year 2030. That would be enough to more than offset the relatively poor performance expected from the United States as President Donald Trump rolls back controls and puts the U.S. on track to miss its Paris pledge. The forecasts were issued by Climate Action Tracker, a consortium of three international research organizations, as negotiators from around the world met in Bonn, Germany, to carry out the global climate treaty’s work. “Five years ago, the idea of either China or India stopping—or even slowing—coal use was considered an insurmountable hurdle, as coal-fired power plants were thought by many to be necessary to satisfy the energy demands of these countries,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, one of the research consortium members.

Germany Breaks Record: 85% Of Energy Comes From Renewables Last Weekend

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By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – “Most of Germany’s coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday, April 30th,” Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende told RenewEconomy. “Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced.” Graichen added that days like Sunday would be “completely normal” by 2030 thanks to the government’s continued investment in the Energiewende initiative. Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Germany announced in May 2011 that it plans to phase out nuclear and shut down all its nuclear power plants by 2022. That Sunday, nuclear power plants reduced their output from 7.9 to 5 gigawatts. Germany’s ambitious energy transition aims for at least an 80 percent share of renewables by 2050, with intermediate targets of 35 to 40 percent share by 2025 and 55 to 60 percent by 2035.

Countries Need To Transition To Renewables Sooner To Meet Paris Climate Goal

A windmill is seen during 2016 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 30, 2016 in Indio, California. 
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach

By Yessenia Funes for Color Lines – A study published yesterday (April 13) in the journal Nature Communications shows countries that have signed the Paris Climate Accord must reduce their carbon emissions much sooner than anticipated to reach the agreement’s goal. Meeting that goal means that fossil fuels should make up less than a quarter of global energy production by 2100 when they currently power the world’s energy almost entirely. The study, by researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, shows that this shift needs to happen “well before 2040,” according to a press release, which individual countries aren’t on track to accomplish. “This study gives a broad accounting of the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, where it comes from and where it goes,” said World Bank consultant Brian Walsh, who led the study, in the press release. “We take into account not just emissions from fossil fuels, but also agriculture, land use, food production, bioenergy, and carbon uptake by natural ecosystems.” Even if countries took on a “high renewable” energy plan where wind, solar and bioenergy increase production by five percent a year…

Cheaper Renewables To Halt Coal And Oil Demand Growth From 2020

Two workers walk in front of coal accumulated at a thermal power plant in Abono, near Gijon, northern Spain, June 5, 2012. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

By Nina Chestney for Reuters – The falling cost of electric vehicle and solar technology will halt demand growth for oil and coal from 2020, according to research published on Thursday, posing a threat to fossil fuel companies unprepared for the transition. The Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and independent think tank Carbon Tracker Initiative analyzed cost forecasts for electric vehicle (EV) and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, government policies and the impact on road transport and power markets, which account for half of global fossil fuel consumption. “Fossil fuels may lose 10 percent of market share to PV and EVs within a single decade.

Nicaragua Joins Clean Energy Revolution, Vows 90% Renewables By 2020

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By Cole Mellino for Eco Watch – Nicaraguan officials have set goals of 75 percent renewable energy by 2017 and 90 percent by 2020, ProNicaragua reported. An International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report from January 2015 found that “Nicaragua’s renewable energy sector has a bright future, both for utility-scale and small-scale projects, due to the country’s largely untapped renewable resources.” Javier Pentzke, manager of Amayo Wind Farm, told NPR his farm’s location on the shores of Lake Nicaragua is one of the top places in the world for wind energy. “You have all the opening here from the lake all the way to the Caribbean, so it’s like a tunnel,” he said.

8 States That Made 2016 A Huge Year For Clean Energy

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By Jessica Collingsworth for Nation of Change – In August, the California legislature passed remarkable climate change legislation. SB 32 builds on Assembly Bill 32, the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 that required California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. SB 32 now sets the next target, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Another bill, AB 197 increases legislative oversight and transparency for the state’s climate change programs and emphasizes the state’s commitment to ensuring these policies help communities most impacted by climate change and air pollution.

Las Vegas’s city government is now powered by 100% renewable energy, and more cities will follow

How Las Vegas wants to power its neon.	(Jason Reed / Reuters)

By Michael J. Coren for Quartz – Ten years of effort finally paid off for Las Vegas this week when officials announced the city government will now be powered entirely by renewable energy. After a large solar array, Boulder Solar 1, came online on Dec. 12, the city was able to buy enough carbon-free electricity to power its 140 buildings, streetlights and other facilities. The power flows from a mix of solar panels and hydroelectric turbines including the Hoover Dam. The renewables, plus energy efficiency savings, are estimated to save the city roughly $5 million per year, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Las Vegas is one of many cities pushing ahead with aggressive efforts to leave fossil fuels behind.

World Energy Hits A Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Seih Al Dahal, about 50 kilometers south of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Photo credit: First Solar

By Tom Randall for Bloomberg – A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The chart below shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil.

America’s First All-Renewable-Energy City

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By Colin Woodard for Politico. Much of the rest of what Burlington’s 42,000 citizens need to keep the lights on comes from a combination of hydroelectric power drawn from a plant it built a half mile up the Winooski River, four wind turbines on nearby Georgia Mountain and a massive array of solar panels at the airport. Together these sources helped secure Burlington the distinction of being the country’s first city that draws 100 percent of its power from renewable sources. The net energy costs are cheap enough that the city has not had to raise electric rates for its customers in eight years. And Burlington is not done in its quest for energy conservation. Add in the city’s plan for an expansive bike path, a growing network of electric vehicle charging stations and an ambitious plan to pipe the McNeil station’s waste heat to warm downtown buildings and City Hall’s goal to be a net zero consumer of energy within 10 years starts looking achievable.

Renewable Revolutionary Railroad Renaissance

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By David Swanson for Let’s Try Democracy – Here’s the idea. There is huge potential for solar and wind energy in vast open spaces of the United States. There is a need for pathways through which to transmit renewable-produced electricity to where it’s needed in big cities and small towns. Meanwhile, under-used railroad lines crisscross the country. As coal and oil use drop, those lines will be even more under-used, unless we change something. Yet, trains are more efficient than trucks even now, and would be much more so if electrified.

Jobs, Justice, and the Clean-Energy Future

“There’s room for improvement in solar policies across all 50 states, but it’s especially shameful to see the sunniest states fail to lead the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.” Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy

By Jeremy Brecher for Dollars & Sense. A series of reports by the Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS), and partners provides good news: The U.S. can meet the targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction that climate scientists say are necessary while also creating half-a-million jobs annually and reducing the cost of energy to consumers. The reports, gathered in the LNS Climate, Jobs, and Justice Project, also show that protecting the climate in a way that maximizes the benefit for working people and discriminated-against groups will take deliberate public policies and action by unions and their social movement allies. The Clean Energy Future will create a substantial number of new jobs. The increase in jobs created, compared to the business-as-usual scenario, will start around 200,000 per year in 2016–2020 and rise to 800,000 a year in 2046–2050. The average job gain compared to business-as-usual scenario is 550,000 per year for the entire period.