In a few places around the world, humans have achieved a feat that seemed impossible just a few years ago, and still seems inconceivable nearly everywhere else: They’ve stopped burning fossil fuels for electricity.
Throughout 2015, several nations, states and cities announced they had either managed the switch to renewables, or to a massive increase in non-polluting energy production. It’s a big shift from a time when, after the financial crash of 2008, many dismissed renewable energy as unscalable, niche, or too expensive to consider.
So who is producing the most power from renewable sources, and how are they doing it? The areas that go 100% renewable tend to combine two factors: great natural resources (like the terrain needed for hydropower) and small populations (getting power to everyone is easier when there are only a few million of them). Others might not be quite at 100% yet—but are taking impressive steps towards it.
Read more at Quartz
Video: Mark Jacobson on a Renewable World
Mark Z. Jacobson, PhD, of Stanford University, has modeled a transition to 100% renewable, carbon free energy, for 138 countries and all 50 US states. He was interviewed in December 2015.
Rooftop solar and energy efficiency just saved Californians $192 million in transmission costs
In regulatory proceedings across the country, we have long made the case that consumer investment in solar and other clean energy options can be a real cost-saver as it reduces the need for expensive new and upgraded utility infrastructure. Now, with solar on the rise, we’re seeing that promise turn into reality.
The governing board of the Golden State’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), recently approved its 2015-2016 Transmission Plan which … wait for it … calls for canceling THIRTEEN sub-transmission projects that had been planned for PG&E’s service territory.
Read more at Vote Solar
Renewables Are Leaving Natural Gas In The Dust This Year
The U.S. electric grid added more than 70 times as much renewable energy capacity as natural gas capacity from January to March.
In the first three months of 2016, the U.S. grid added 18 megawatts of new natural gas generating capacity. It added a whopping 1,291 megawatts (MW) of new renewables.
The renewables were primarily wind (707 MW) and solar (522 MW). We also added some biomass (33 MW) and hydropower (29 MW). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) latest monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” reports that no new capacity of coal, oil, or nuclear power were added in the first quarter of the year.
Continue reading at ThinkProgress
The Oil Industry Can Teach Offshore Wind Farms How to Stay Afloat
When turbines start spinning at the first U.S. offshore wind farm near Rhode Island later this year, some energy developers will already be eyeing a bigger prize.
There’s a steadier, harder wind blowing off the California coast. Those reliable Pacific gusts could yield nearly a terawatt of electricity, 13 times the capacity of all the wind turbines now installed on land in the U.S. -- without consuming real estate or blocking anyone’s views.
But Mother Nature isn’t going to make it easy. The continental shelf plunges fast and deep off the west coast, making it impossible to install conventional turbines into a seabed hundreds of feet under water. Some developers think they’ve found the solution: harnessing this renewable resource with technology borrowed from the fossil-fuel industry to keep turbines afloat.
"We can’t fix turbines into the ocean floor out there,” said Nancy Sopko, manager of advocacy and federal legislative affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. “To tap into that great offshore wind potential, we’re going to need these floating structures."
Read more at Bloomberg.com
Clean energy is now winning the race against fossil fuels — but the planet is still losing
A new United Nations report has found that 2015 set a slew of new records for global investment in clean energy — and furthermore, the bulk of investment was not in places like the United States or Germany but rather in the developing world. But the report also contained a grim punchline when it came to the impact this is having on the broader climate change problem.
The world invested an unprecedented $286 billion in clean energy in 2015, the report found — and with that money purchased a similarly unrivaled 118 gigawatts (or billion watts) of new wind and solar photovoltaic electricity generating capacity, among other installments. More than half of all new generating capacity in 2015 was in renewables, another new record.
In other words, for the very first time, the world spent more money setting up new wind, solar and other installations than it spent on all new coal, gas and nuclear plants. Indeed, if you just stack up renewables investments against new coal and gas investments for the generation of electricity, they were more than twice as large.
China led the way, with 36 percent of all the investment, or $102.9 billion — and developing nations, a group also including India and Brazil, invested more in renewables than developed countries for the first time. (The figures for renewables do not include investment in large hydroelectric dam projects, which stood at another $43 billion in 2015.)
The annual report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016, was released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Programme. It was written by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“All this happened in a year in which prices of fossil fuel commodities — oil, coal and gas — plummeted, causing distress to many companies involved in the hydrocarbon sector,” the report noted. In other words, we’re adding renewables for reasons that go beyond mere cost (such as concerns about climate change). It doesn’t hurt that wind and solar energy are also getting cheaper.
Read more at WashingtonPost.com