Investment is the key to 21st century innovation. It is the catalyst for revolutionary technologies in the renewables field and for the energy industry as a whole. This month, the largest ever utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project in the U.S. will go online. It has been made possible by a government finance program that revolutionized the solar utility market and ultimately established an efficient private financing program for the renewables industry. The project – which represents the pinnacle of the solar energy industry in the US – is the result of this savvy 21st century investment.
Despite the rapid growth of renewable energy in the United States, pro-renewable policy support in the country is erratic. The industry is plagued by expiring tax credits, shifting policy landscapes, and delayed permits. This means that the renewable energy industry does not have a fighting chance to grow and impact the way we responsibly produce and consume energy. But there is a solution, and all we have to do is look across the pond to find it.
All it takes is some vegetable oils and animal fats to power a diesel engine. This may sound absurd, but it’s actually what ACORE member Imperium Renewables does every day. And that’s a good thing: biodiesel reduces greenhouse gasses by more than 50% over petroleum diesel. Plus, it’s much more price stable than notoriously variable fuel prices, and it puts Americans to work generating domestic energy. Even so, the industry faces challenges.
Washed up tilapia carcasses litter the pearly white shoreline. A carelessly placed sign reading “This Park is Closing Due to Budget Cuts” welcomes visitors to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. It is the worst nightmare of every environmental agency. This is the state of affairs that the Salton Sea, a body of water stretching from Riverside to Imperial County, is faced with. In 2012, a rotten odor attributed to the decaying fish from the sea had people from southern California holding their breaths. Combined with rising salinity and falling water levels, the Salton Sea is confronted with its toxic fate: to drain out.
Even though the year-end numbers haven’t rolled in yet, there’s no question that 2014 was another banner year for renewable energy. Renewables made up nearly half of all electricity capacity added in the U.S. last year, and the American wind industry has over 13,000 megawatts currently under construction despite some seriously destructive policy uncertainty.