Power plant emissions of carbon dioxide have been falling for a decade, even without national regulations. However, further progress could cease in the absence of the Clean Power Plan, whose fate awaits hearings by the Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals. That's the conclusion of scenarios modeled by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the "early release" issued last week of its "Annual Energy Outlook 2016." The scenarios predict that power plant carbon dioxide emissions would be 20 percent lower with the Clean Power Plan than without it.
When the news hits that a company has bought into a monster renewable energy project, chances are that company is the likes of Facebook, Microsoft or Google. Now those tech darlings are using a new vehicle to encourage other companies to do the same -- especially in places where coal power reigns supreme, like South Carolina or Kentucky.
Representatives from these tech firms were headline speakers at a meeting late last week of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), a new but fast-growing group that intends to make direct purchase of clean power easier for humbler sorts of firms, like hoteliers, clothiers and aluminum manufacturers.
In the global effort to fight climate change, cities have some of the greatest potential– and the greatest imperative — to make a difference. With an increasing global migration into the world’s urban areas, which are expected to support at least two-thirds of the total human population by 2050, experts have argued that cities have no choice but to transition toward low-carbon systems if they’re going to remain sustainable.
Energy will need to be a primary focus of that effort. From the expansion of renewable energy sources to the adoption of cutting-edge energy efficiency and storage technologies, cities have the opportunity to drastically reduce their carbon footprints.
New analysis of the Clean Power Plan shows average U.S. electricity demand growth will decline from 0.61% to 0.31% annually, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corp. Annual growth rates have been declining for years, but NERC said the CPP would accelerate the decline. Combined wind and solar capacity will rise by an additional 10 to 20 GW over the next 15 years, while coal capacity will decline by up to 27 GW.
Floating solar arrays — they are often referred to as “floatovoltaics,” a term trademarked by one company — also have advantages over solar plants on land, their proponents say. Renting or buying land is more expensive, and there are fewer regulations for structures built on reservoirs, water treatment ponds and other bodies of water not used for recreation. Unlike most land-based solar plants, floating arrays can also be hidden from public view, a factor in the nonprofit Sonoma Clean Power Company’s decision to pursue the technology.
With global solar capacity surging over 200 gigawatts, solar energy is maturing into its technological adolescence. However, it has to start pulling its own weight on the grid instead of relying on elder power sources to bail it out on cloudy days and to step in once the sun sets.
Storing solar energy is one way to make power from the sun a productive member of the grid, especially as utilities work to accommodate photovoltaic panels distributed across rooftops. But battery technology isn’t up to the job just yet in terms of cost and performance to shift solar power across all hours. To keep the electrons flowing even when the sun isn’t shining, many researchers are increasingly looking for better ways to capture and store thermal energy, in concentrating solar plants as well as independent storage systems on the grid.
Today, the Energy Department released the On the Path to SunShot reports, a series of eight research papers examining the state of the U.S. solar energy industry and the progress made to date toward the SunShot Initiative’s goal to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by 2020. The solar industry is currently about 70 percent of the way towards achieving the Initiative’s 2020 goals, but as solar has become more affordable, helping the industry grow by an astonishing 23-fold since the beginning of the Obama Administration, new challenges and opportunities have emerged.
A new survey by Lazard Ltd., a financial advisory and asset management firm, has found bipartisan support for clean energy policies has increased among U.S. voters. The Lazard Alternative Energy Poll was previously conducted in 2012, the prior presidential election year.
According to Lazard, the poll showed a striking change in attitudes over the last four years among likely voters describing themselves as conservative. In 2012, 46% of this group said it was “not important” for America to transition toward a cleaner, more energy-efficient economy. In 2016, only 18% said it was not important. Of the same group, 52% now consider this a “most important” objective, up from 35% four years ago.
Solar power could deliver $400 billion in environmental and public health benefits throughout the United States by 2050, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
"We find that a U.S. electric system in which solar plays a major role—supplying 14% of demand in 2030, and 27% in 2050—would result in enduring environmental and health benefits. Moreover, we find that the existing fleet of solar plants is already offering a down-payment towards those benefits, and that there are sizable regional differences in the benefits," said Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab's Energy Technologies Area.
A Q1 infrastructure update from FERC shows renewable energy made up almost all new capacity added in the United States so far this year: 1,291 MW, compared to 18 MW of new gas capacity and no nuclear or coal. More than 700 MW of wind and 500 MW of solar were added in the first quarter, from a combined 53 new generating facilities.
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