Monday, April 3, 2017

ENERGY & CLIMATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Climate Progress - States to Exceed Targets - Clean Energy Future - Solar Surge - Wind Jobs - Grid Batteries

Climate Progress, With or Without Trump

By MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG | Op-Ed Contributor |  MARCH 31, 2017

President Trump’s unfortunate and misguided rollback of environmental protections has led to a depressing and widespread belief that the United States can no longer meet its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement. But here’s the good news: It’s wrong.

No matter what roadblocks the White House and Congress throw up, the United States can — and I’m confident, will — meet the commitment it made in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. Let me explain why, and why correcting the false perception is so important.

Those who believe that the Trump administration will end American leadership on climate change are making the same mistake as those who believe that it will put coal miners back to work: overestimating Washington’s ability to influence energy markets, and underestimating the role that cities, states, businesses and consumers are playing in driving down emissions on their own.

Though few people realize it, more than 250 coal plants — almost half of the total number in this country — have announced in recent years that they will close or switch to cleaner fuels. Washington isn’t putting these plants out of business; the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan hasn’t even gone into effect yet.

They are closing because consumers are demanding energy from sources that don’t poison their air and water, and because energy companies are providing cleaner and cheaper alternatives. When two coal plant closings were announced last week, in southern Ohio, the company explained that they were no longer “economically viable.” That’s increasingly true for the whole industry.


Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown Reaffirm Commitment to Exceeding Targets of the Clean Power Plan

March 28, 2017 Albany, NY

With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution:
"Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.

"Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change.

"Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future."
New York and California lead the nation in ground-breaking policies to combat climate change. Both states – which account for roughly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – have adopted advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to meet and exceed the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and have set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. New York and California will continue to work closely together – and with other states – to help fill the void left by the federal government.

For more information on climate leadership in New York and California, click here.

Propping up coal avoids hard facts while denying science and subverting Buffalo

EDITORIAL - The Buffalo News | March 31, 2017

President Trump’s order to undo his predecessor’s policies on clean energy is unnecessary, unwise and, regarding Buffalo’s economic hopes, unwanted.

Forget, for the moment, the fears about the effect of fossil fuels on climate change. Forget, too, that clean air and water prevent illness and support longer, healthier lives. Forget that smog once enveloped American cities, and that rivers were so polluted they caught fire.

According to Trump, the reason to try to reignite the coal industry is that American energy independence is more crucial to the nation than fighting climate change. It’s a dubious argument, since the nation is already approaching energy independence as a result of hydraulic fracturing, but even still, the road to true independence is not through coal but renewable energy. For Buffalo’s purposes, that specifically includes the kind of clean energy that will be made available by the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.

Buffalo today is in the business of the future, and coal – no matter how cleanly some systems may burn it – remains a fundamentally dirty fossil fuel whose days are numbered. Times change and coal’s is coming to an end. Nothing President Trump or anyone else does can change that fact. The future lies elsewhere: in wind, perhaps; in some technologies yet to be discovered, likely; and, to be sure, in the sun.

That’s the energy that SolarCity will produce. Coming on line soon as the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar-panel manufacturing plant, the project puts Buffalo at the leading edge of America’s energy future. Federal policies cannot stop it. Whatever government may do, economic forces will ultimately push it forward.

What Washington can do, though, is put obstacles in the way of clean energy, thereby kicking energy independence further down the road – thus rewarding the regimes that incubate terrorists and, yes, hastening the effects of climate change. That includes melting polar icecaps that will raise sea levels and create grave risks for coastal areas, including New York City.

No one really believes that coal is coming back or – except for those unfortunate people whose livelihoods depend on it – even that it should. What Washington and coal industry states should be doing is helping those regions to transition to a new economy, much as New York State has done for Buffalo and, before that, for the Albany area.


U.S. Solar Surged 95% to Become Largest Source of New Energy

By Chris Martin   | February 15, 2017

Can Solar Power Beat Out Coal in a Decade?

Solar developers installed a record 14.6 gigawatts in the U.S. last year, almost double the total from 2015 and enough to make photovoltaic panels the largest source of new electric capacity for the first time.

Solar panels on rooftops and fields accounted for 39 percent of new generation last year, according to a report Wednesday from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That beat the 29 percent contribution from natural gas and 26 percent from wind.

The surge is further evidence that solar power has become an important part of the U.S. energy mix, even as President Donald Trump pushes for wider use of fossil fuels. The solar industry employs 260,000 people and accounted for 2 percent of all new U.S. jobs last year, and Republican and Democratic governors from 20 states sent the White House a letter Monday saying that clean energy is an important economic driver.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments.”

Total installations surged 95 percent from 2015, led by large fields of solar arrays, which generally cost less than putting panels on rooftops. Utility-scale development increased 145 percent last year, the most in the industry, as costs became increasingly competitive with power produced from gas, according to the report.

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Wind Energy: Jobs & Economic Benefits in all 50 States

U.S. wind power is the number one source of renewable energy generating capacity in the country, and has grown at an average annual pace of 12 percent over the last five years.

The American wind industry is a leading creator of jobs and economic development in areas that need it most, from America’s rural areas to Rust Belt manufacturing hubs. Texas, the national leader, has more than 22,000 wind jobs. Oklahoma, Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas each have more than 5,000 wind energy employees. In total, half of U.S. states have 1,000 or more wind jobs.

The U.S. wind industry is a major source of investment and economic development. The industry has invested more than $143 billion in U.S. wind projects over the last decade.

The U.S. wind industry continues to grow American jobs at a rapid pace. In 2016, the industry added nearly 15,000 new jobs and now employs a record 102,500 Americans in all 50 states. Since 2013, wind jobs have grown more than 25 percent a year, and wind turbine technician is America’s fastest growing job. The industry provides well-paying jobs in wind energy project planning, siting, development, construction, manufacturing and supply chain, and operations.
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Vattenfall & BMW Reach Agreement For Grid Storage Batteries

April 3rd, 2017 by Steve Hanley

Vattenfall and BMW have inked a new grid storage agreement. The contract calls for the purchase of new lithium ion batteries to store electricity generated by company’s wind turbine facilities. Vattenfall is one of the largest utility companies in Europe with operations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. It is wholly owned by the Swedish government.

The batteries will be the same 33 kWh batteries used by BMW to power its i3 electric sedans and will include a proprietary battery management system created by BMW. The contract calls for the delivery of 1,000 batteries a year. Vattenfall is pushing ahead with aggressive clean energy goals. It recently announced that it would replace all 3,500 vehicles in its company fleet with EVs.

The announcement underscores how quickly things change in technology today. In late 2015, BMW was hard at work on a plan to use recycled EV batteries for grid storage. Last year, Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel gave a talk in which he said his company had carefully evaluated both new and used batteries and decided that new was the most effective strategy.

“Energy storage and grid stability are the major topics of the new energy world,” says Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president of Vattenfall and head of its wind energy division. “We want to use the sites where we generate electricity from renewable energies in order to drive the transformation to a new energy system and to facilitate the integration of renewable energies into the energy system with the storage facilities. The decoupling of production and consumption and the coupling of different consumption sectors are in the focus of our work.”

Read more at CleanTechnica

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