SNAPSHOT: The Surge of Renewables and Energy Storage

 
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More than any other part of the climate change story in 2018, the continuing boom in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and affordable battery storage was a source of excitement, momentum, and hope.

By the time the year began, the plummeting cost of clean alternatives was already old news, with one industry publication stopping to mock a posted price of 1.79 cents per kilowatt-hour that still got Saudi Arabia the headline it wanted for low-cost solar development. And Project Drawdown had published its inventory of 80 proven solutions and 20 “coming attractions” that can drive the shift to a post-carbon future. In 2018, analysts and project developers showed that affordable, reliable technologies are a cornerstone of that transition, with far greater potential ahead if investment can scale up to meet the decarbonization challenge laid out in the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on 1.5°C pathways.

A $26-Trillion Transformation

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate laid out the sheer scope of the off-carbon opportunity, reporting that the “bold action” needed to address the climate crisis could deliver at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030, produce more than 65 million low-carbon jobs, prevent 700,000 premature deaths, and generate $2.8 trillion in government revenues in that year. Renewable electricity posted record growth, but both the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report and the International Renewable Energy Agency warned that a great deal more will be needed to match the targets countries adopted under the Paris Agreement, much less the more ambitious imperatives in the IPCC report.

A carbon bubble driven by cheap renewables risked triggering a global economic crisis. Subsidy-free solar swept Europe, as countries reaped the rewards for their early support for the technology. In the United States, veteran Vox.com climate columnist David Roberts said the precipitous fall in solar costs showed that government support programs work, renewables boomed in 2017 despite a hostile White House administration and state-level uncertainties, and corporate buyers set a massive new record for renewable energy procurement.

The energy transition council established by then-Canadian natural resources minister Jim Carr anticipated a future of wind, solar, energy efficiency, and the world’s “cleanest” liquefied natural gas production. U.S. utilities and global fossils tried to fight public opinion and slow down the transition to 100% renewables; and fossil-focused Houston, Texas, recognized that it risked Rust Belt status if it didn’t embrace a renewable energy future. Regional utility planners at PJM Interconnection concluded that big power supplier FirstEnergy Solutions could replace four gigawatts of coal capacity with renewables and efficiency without compromising grid reliability, and fossils’ days were numbered after the Trump-appointed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission cleared the way for battery storage to compete with conventional power plants.

South Africa mapped out a shift from coal and nuclear to renewables and natural gas, Danish Oil and Natural Gas transformed itself into an offshore wind powerhouse, and European renewables outpaced coal in 2017, though a full coal phaseout was still very much a work in progress. Pollinator-friendly solar sites boosted diversity while earning community support in Minnesota, and new wind and solar installations had the potential to green the Sahara. In Australia, local investment drove wider community benefits from wind farm development, a regulator reported the new Tesla mega-battery was working faster, smarter, and cheaper than competing natural gas plants, and the “Tesla effect” fueled enthusiasm for renewables and storage.

Renewables accounted for 10.3 million jobs worldwide in 2016, en route to 28 million in 2050; the massive job count had renewables and efficiency taking hold in every U.S. zip code; an Ohio energy innovation study showed the potential for 20,000 new jobs powered by US$25 billion in new investment; and Alberta introduced a new training course for solar farm and wind technicians.

The Drive for 100% RE

With some exceptions, the drive for 100% renewable electricity gained traction in 2018, with yet another low-carbon study concluding the apparently audacious target is doable and affordable. Renewables kept beating fossil energy on cost, electricity prices below zero heralded the end of the “energy mainframe,” and an Australian utility executive declared the end of 24/7 baseload power. The “electrification of everything” was on track to triple global grid capacity by 2050, renewables and storage began outpacing natural gas for peak power supply in the United States, Bloomberg said renewables would deliver 64% of global electricity supply by 2050, Project Drawdown said greater flexibility would enable an 80% renewable grid, and other studies showed 100% renewable energy grids were already a reality.

There was some pushback on the 100% renewable energy concept, with Vox.com’s David Roberts suggesting a reality check for deep decarbonizing targets, and University of Guelph geographer and community activist Kirby Calvert contending that cities need practical programs more than “earnest” 100% renewable energy targets. A study urged grid operators to treat solar as an asset to be maximized rather than as a problem to be managed. The Calgary-based Canadian Energy Research Institute said Canadian wind and bioenergy resources came in ahead of natural gas for the most affordable carbon reductions, and First Nations sought a bigger stake as Alberta opened a 700-megawatt tender for renewable energy procurement.

The Energy Mix stopped reporting news of 500-megawatt, one-gigawatt, even two-gigawatt renewable energy installations because they just weren’t news anymore, and readers were already getting too much email. (Which meant there was another avalanche of news out there, beyond the examples in this snapshot.) A five-gigawatt solar farm won planning approval in India, and the country set a mandatory renewables target for big power consumers, as falling solar costs and alarming levels of air pollution threatened a dominant but dirty coal industry. India also began encouraging hybrid wind and solar facilities to get the most out of both technologies.

Wind was set to become Europe’s biggest electricity source by 2027, Sweden expected to reach its 2030 renewable energy target in 2018, offshore wind in the United Kingdom was on track to hit price parity in 2025 and grow sixfold by 2030, UK renewable energy capacity exceeded fossils for the first time, and subsidy-free British renewables were on track to push out natural gas by 2030. Affordable renewables were seen as an enabler for tougher EU climate targets, the low price of new renewables was undercutting existing fossil plants on the U.S. grid, and the economics of new coal and gas plants crumbled as solar and wind hit an inflection point. Analysts took a wait-and-see attitude to Saudi Arabia’s US$200-billion, 200-gigawatt solar plan, the world’s biggest if it had come to pass—and sure enough, the deal collapsed later in the year.

Low Prices, High Targets

Average wind power costs came in at 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour in the United States, a U.S. utility received “fabulous” bids of 2.1 cents for wind+storage and 3.6 cents for solar+storage, and a Nevada utility project came in at 2.37 cents. More than 100 cities produced at least 70% of their electricity from renewables in 2017, San Diego set a 2035 deadline to meet a 100% renewable energy target, Regina settled on 2050, and Edmonton planned to power 100% of its operations with renewables by 2030 after the Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, extolled the benefits of making the shift. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, co-chair of the 400-member Climate Mayors network, invited his counterparts across the United States to share their energy demand data as a first step in pooling their requests for proposals to renewable energy developers. California issued a new mandate that boosted energy-efficient buildings and rooftop solar, a Yale University undergrad had a plan to put more solar panels on rental rooftops, and zero-energy homes were affordable enough for mainstream markets. A proper microgrid could have prevented an 11-hour power outage at the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta, and a study by Stanford University’s Mark Z. Jacobson showed multiple pathways to grid stability in a 100% renewable energy future. De-manufacturing and recycling emerged as a new challenge for aging solar modules.

Modern bioenergy supplied half of the world’s renewables and showed big potential for future growth, but the EU renewable energy directive risked triggering enough deforestation to destroy global carbon sinks. In her closing summary of the annual Scaling Up Bio conference in Ottawa, Montreal-based environmental lawyer Karine Péloffy envisioned an “economy without a tailpipe”, but cautioned participants that “there are no silver bullets: if you think you have one, you haven’t thought about it enough, or thought about it from an ecosystem approach.”

Financing for the post-carbon transition was a mixed story in 2018. A report showed China leading the world in clean energy investment in 2017, and the country topped the annual Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index for the third year in a row, with the United States regaining second spot. The International Energy Agency saw renewables investment falling and fossil projects receiving more. Analysts predicted a solar and offshore wind boom for the Asia-Pacific, Apple’s US$300-million renewables fund was expected to power a million homes in China; and southeast Asia was urged to scrap its fossil subsidies in favour of affordable, reliable renewables.

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board closed renewable energy investment deals in India and Ontario, a new C$2.3-billion production facility in Quebec was set to deliver durable, all-glass solar panels, the Whabouchi mine in northern Quebec, on the territory of the Cree Nation of Nemaska, looked like an early winner in the race to supply lithium for electric vehicle batteries, and Energy Mix correspondent Will Dubitsky’s analysis showed Canada missing the moment to develop a homegrown clean transportation industry.

Energy Storage Hits Prime Time

For years, as distributed renewable energy emerged as a practical alternative to traditional fossil-fired electricity generation, grid managers fretted that renewables couldn’t deliver the reliability that utilities depend on and their customers expect. In 2018, battery storage continued to transform the conversation.

Tesla’s renowned big battery in South Australia saved consumers A$35 million in four months, putting up performance numbers that defied skeptics and sent industry “bananas”. Another big battery in Australia was quietly changing attitudes about the grid. India pushed ahead with battery storage for a renewable grid, and Tesla closed a land deal for a US$2-billion battery gigafactory in Shanghai.

Solar and wind with storage became the default choice for United States utilities, and battery manufacturing in the European Union was set to grow 20-fold by 2025. Green Mountain Energy used home batteries to cut peak demand during a mid-summer heat wave and save its ratepayers US$510,000. Duke Energy floated a $1-billion green bond to fund solar+storage in North and South Dakota, a California utility replaced three natural gas peaker plants with batteries, and utility-scale storage became an enabler for distributed renewables on the grid.

A battery system in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario became Canada’s biggest, saving local businesses C$3 million per year. A new zinc-air battery design promised to undercut lithium-ion on price, and a company in China planned to start producing next-generation, low-cobalt batteries in 2019.

Energy for the Rest of Us

At its best, the shift to energy efficiency and renewable energy isn’t just a great investment opportunity, nor even just a climate solution. For decades, community energy developers and advocates have seen the potential for a more democratic energy system, where the most vulnerable in any society can better control their energy at less cost. As one organizing handbook put it in the early 1980s, no one should ever have to choose between heat and rent.

Colorado kept making news on energy access and equity, with wind becoming a new cash crop for struggling farmers, Denver busting down barriers to community solar, and state low-income solar programs setting an example for other U.S. states. Rural electrification programs needed to place greater emphasis on distributed renewables, and U.S. fossils’ war on wind was hurting Oklahoma’s poorest citizens. In storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, local solar emerged as the best way to rebuild after Hurricane María, though analysts fretted about the potential for scandal as the island began a drive toward 100% renewable energy.

Decentralized renewables brought electricity to rural Nigerians, crowdfunded solar delivered a new cash crop for small-scale farmers in Kenya, a “next-gen” utility in Africa bundled pay-as-you-go solar and Internet services, a MasterCard-based system aimed to serve 625 million off-grid customers, an emerging solar deal in sub-Saharan Africa looked set to serve 250 million more, and Ukraine was poised to go big on renewables.

In Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation announced plans to promote community-led renewable power. Ontario demolished two obsolete coal smokestacks to make way for a 44-megawatt solar farm. But a few months and one election later, a new government proceeded to demolish the province’s successful carbon cap-and-trade program and cancel 759 renewable energy contracts, while pushing ahead with a costly nuclear relicencing scheme. The province undercut investor confidence by cancelling the virtually complete White Pines wind farm at a cost of at least C$100 million to ratepayers, then introduced a poorly detailed climate plan with a new carbon reduction target that was 30 million tonnes less stringent than the one it replaced.

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Positive Feedback Loops Could Speed the Shift Off Carbon, Study Finds

Large-scale progressive change can be accomplished as much by “positive-sum” cooperation as by “zero-sum” thinking, argues a new study co-authored by the deputy director of the UK’s Cabinet Office COP26 Unit.

Africa Needs ‘Decarbonization Shock’ to Prevent Decade of New Fossil Fuel Investments

It will take a “decarbonization shock” to jolt utilities and governments in Africa into a quick transition to renewable energy this decade that avoids investments in fossil fuel projects that will lock the continent into a future of high-carbon development, warns a report this week in the journal Nature Energy.

China’s Solar Industry Faces Charges of Forced Labour

While the solar industry in China’s Xinjiang region touts itself as a model of clean, responsible economic growth, a New York Times exposé cites five companies that may be using members of the country’s persecuted Uighur ethnic minority as forced labour.

New Edmonton Liaison Unit Helps Smooth Retrofit Red Tape

Jurisdictions seeking to safely expedite permits for complex deep retrofits of multi-unit residential buildings would do well to follow the City of Edmonton’s example and establish client liaison units, says a new report.

Abu Dhabi Confirms Funding for 2-GW Al Dhafra Solar Plant, World’s Biggest

CPPIB Pours $380 Million into European Wind Farms

Senegal Seeks Mini-Solar Plants for 177 Rural Villages

Western U.S. States Look for Regions with Best Wave Power Potential

South Korea Aims for 42% Renewables by 2034

Indonesia Looks for Private Partners to Build Large Solar Installations

Greece Approves 2.8 GW of New Renewables

Desert-to-Power Plan to Deliver Solar for Sahel

IKEA Tiny House Could Help Cut Emissions

Scientists Devise ‘Rainy Day’ Storage Option for Solar

Canada Pushes Back on ‘Unwarranted’ U.S. Solar Tariffs

Renewables Output Exceeds Fossil for First Time in Germany

Land Institute Urges Net-Zero Action on Toronto Rental Housing

Minto Hosts Hackathon to Find Energy, Circular Economy Solutions

Hydro-Québec Unveils Energy Storage Subsidiary

Virginia Solar Farms Grapple with Land Use Issues

Storm Drives UK Wind Above 50% of Power Supply on Boxing Day

Japan Plans ‘Huge’ Boost for Offshore Wind

Plastic Pollution Threatens to Clog Serbian Hydropower Dam

Solar to Power Irrigation, Water Treatment in Jamaica

Wind, Solar Industries Must Address Environmental Costs as Renewables Expand

Determined that there can be no “green halo” for renewables, solar and wind stakeholders in the United States are tackling the reality that their “green” and “clean” technologies carry their own environmental costs—and that those costs that must be addressed head-on, and not left for someone else to pay.

Solar Stocks Close Out 2020 on Record High

Fossil Worker Retraining Program Looks to Expand

U Waterloo Students Add Solar Panels to Boost EV Range

Virtual Consultation Tool Supports Home Energy Audits

New York Considers Tiny 35-kW Tidal Generators for East River

Rockefeller Aims for Sustainable Energy for a Billion People by 2030

Ecuador Buys 200 MW Photovoltaics at 6.9¢/kWh

BP, Amazon Unveil Closer Digital Partnership

Pandemic Drags Down Green Energy Projects in Developing Countries

New Megadams in China, India Risk Catastrophic Flooding, New Study Shows

With Plenty of Wind, Water, Scotland Has No Need for Nuclear, MP Says

Study Looks at Feasibility of Remanufacturing Old Solar Cells

New Solar Panel Made of Ag Waste Captures UV Energy

Battery Packs Hit ‘Historic Milestone’ with Record-Low Price Below $100/kWh

Lithium-ion battery pack prices dipped below the milestone of US$100 per kilowatt-hour in 2020, and the average price of batteries plummeted 89% in a decade to land at $137/kWh, according to a year-end survey released in mid-December by Bloomberg NEF, formerly Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Federal Clean Fuel Standard Aims for 21-Megatonne Emissions Cut by 2030

Environment and Climate Change Canada has published draft rules for a new Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) that it says would focus primarily on fossil refineries, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from liquid fuels by nearly 21 million tonnes by 2030, and drive up the cost of a litre of gasoline by up to 11¢.

New Congressional Funding, Tax Credit Extensions Create ‘Enabling Conditions for Decarbonization’

From solar and wind tax credits, to reductions in climate-busting hydrofluorocarbons, to financial support for battery storage, microgrids, combined heat and power, and carbon capture, the US$900-billion pandemic relief package adopted by the U.S. Congress late last month is being hailed as the most substantial federal investment and one of the biggest victories for climate action in a decade.

Smokestacks Come Down, Cleanup Begins as Navajo Coal Plant Closes

Geothermal Greenhouses Help East Coast First Nations Address Food Insecurity

Invenergy Nabs $1-Billion Caisse de Dépôt Investment

Home Heat Pumps Need Up-Front Financing to Tap Long-Term Savings

EU Transport Plan Risks ‘Biofuels Fiasco’

Solar Powers 200 Desalination Units in Kenya

Central Asia Looks to Renewables as Best Shot at Economic Recovery

Wisconsin Utility Touts Hydropower as the ‘Original Renewable’

Ottawa Releases Flurry of New Announcements on Tree Planting, Hydrogen, Clean Fuels, SMRs

The Trudeau government is continuing its flurry of year-end policy moves on climate change and energy, with announcements earlier this week on hydrogen strategy and tree planting and more news expected today on a narrowed Clean Fuel Standard and small modular nuclear reactors.

‘Damn It Feels Good to Win’: Historic Diversity, Serious Climate Expertise as Biden Cabinet Takes Shape

As U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet and senior White House appointments take shape, a picture is emerging of an administration that will be keenly focused on climate action and environmental justice—not only in the key portfolios traditionally responsible for environment and natural resources, but in important related areas from treasury to health, from transportation to trade.

In Conversation: World Energy Outlook’s Role is to Reflect Current Policy Plans, Push Decision-Makers to Do More, IEA’s Wanner Says

Brent Wanner is Power Sector Modelling Lead with the team that produces the annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) for the International Energy Agency. In this feature interview, he talks about the path to 1.5°C, the breakaway growth potential in renewable energy, and why the WEO’s purpose is to model the climate implications of current government policies and plans as a way to nudge policy-makers toward more ambitious climate action.

U.S. Solar Sees Record Expansion in 2020

Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor policy uncertainty held U.S. utility-scale solar back in 2020, with a record year on track to see more than 19 gigawatts of new capacity installed—enough to power 3.6 million homes.

EU Could Add 100 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030

Andhra Pradesh Plans 6.4 GW of Solar for Farm Users

U of T’s 750-Bed Student Residence in Scarborough Uses Passive House Design

WoodGreen Community Housing Retrofit Wins International Energy Efficiency Certification

B.C.’s Ballard Power Looks to Revamp Long-Haul Transport with Hydrogen

Minnesota Utility to Replace 1,151-MW Coal Plant with Wind

Sri Lanka’s 103.5-MW Wind Farm Comes Complete with Bird Radar

Solar Could Bring Down Energy Use in Tallest High Rises

Big Green Hydrogen Developers Aim to Boost Production 50-Fold in Six Years

Amazon Takes Lead in Corporate Clean Energy with 3.4-GW Buy

China Can Use Development Finance to Drive Green Recovery

Southern California Utility Orders 590 MW of Grid-Scale Batteries

Quebec E-Bus Builder Lion Electric Signs $500-Million Merger Deal, Enters NY Stock Exchange

Saint-Jérôme, Quebec-based electric bus and truck manufacturer Lion Electric announced what one industry newsletter calls a “power move on the competition” late last month, signing a US$500-million merger deal that will win it a coveted listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Afghanistan Hospitals Turn to Solar as Lifeline

Tasmania Hits 100% RE

Colorado Start-Up Receives Grant to Shift Oil and Gas Wells to Geothermal

Quebec Offers Discounted Clean Power for Greenhouse Operators

Texas State Senator Proposes Study of 100% RE

Enel Plans Green Hydrogen Production at U.S. Solar Site

Minnesota Ratepayers Get Refund to Reflect Falling Wind Costs

France Opens Bids for 1 GW of New Wind Off Normandy Coast

Uzbekistan Considers 11 Bidders for 200-MW Solar Procurement

Japan Aims for Net-Zero by 2050, Fossils Below 50% of Power Supply by 2030

Shipping Looks to Rotating Sails to Cut Fuel Use

With $170/Tonne Carbon Price, $15B in New Spending, Canada’s 2030 Carbon Target Still Falls Far Short

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled an updated national climate plan Friday that includes a $170-per-tonne carbon price in 2030, C$15 billion in new climate spending, a more modest Clean Fuel Standard, and a slight increase in the country’s 2030 carbon reduction goal—just barely enough to keep the government’s promise to boost its ambition beyond the 30% target originally adopted by the Stephen Harper government in 2015.

Paris Agreement Pushes Low-Carbon Solutions to Mass-Market Appeal This Decade, Analysts Conclude

While global greenhouse gas emissions have risen from 53 to 55 billion tonnes per year since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, low-carbon solutions are poised for mass-market appeal in sectors representing 70% of emissions by 2030, creating more than 35 million net new jobs along the way, according to an analysis released last week by SYSTEMIQ.

Lax COVID-19 Safety at B.C. Man Camps Puts Indigenous Communities at Risk

WorkSafe BC documents have revealed shocking carelessness with worker protections in the province’s northern “man camps.” And as COVID-19 cases continue to mount in the region, more than 180 front-line health workers have signed an open letter urging the immediate closure of camps on Indigenous territory.

‘New Energy Super-Majors’ Are Renewable, Bloomberg Finds

CPPIB Plans New Investments in European Renewables

Oregon, California, Two Indigenous Tribes Restart Biggest Dam Removal Project in U.S.

Ecuador Could Install 400 MW of Photovoltaics this Decade

North Sea Consortium Looks to Old Oil Wells for Geothermal

Skyscrapers Use, Lose More Energy than Four-Storey Buildings, Researchers Say

IEA Touts Solar as Solution for Africa as Electricity Access Declines

Indonesia Considers Closing 3,400-MW Coal Plant

Indonesia Nabs $600M Renewables Loan from Asian Development Bank

13 Small Hydro Projects Boost Rural Electrification in Pakistan

New Zealand Looks to Volcanoes for Geothermal Power

High-Voltage DC Line with Storage Would Link California with U.S. Midwest

Poland Could Cut Emissions 44-51% by 2030, Think Tank Says

$875M Quebec Biofuel Project Will Process Non-Recyclable Waste, Prevent Methane Emissions

Quebec and federal officials announced an investment Tuesday in a biofuel production facility that will use non-recyclable residual materials, diverting those items from landfills while reducing greenhouse gases in the province.

‘Checking the Box’ on Environmental Justice Produces $8-Billion Liability for Virginia Utility Giant

Callous disregard for community health has left a Virginia utility giant on the hook for a US$8-billion cancelled pipeline. And more of the same lies ahead for fossil interests as citizens, courts, and legislators increasingly say to no to projects that bode ill for people and climate.

Chinese Private Investors Drive Zimbabwe Support for Coal Over Renewables

Policies, Business Models Make Rooftop Solar Less Available to Low-Income Americans

New Installations to Deliver 1,000 MWh of Battery Capacity in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas

Virginia Clean Economy Law Pushes Coal Utility Toward Renewables

Pandemic Drives Indonesia Focus on Energy Security, Renewables

German Study Finds Increased Potential for Onshore Wind

Developers See Bright Future for Small Hydro in Africa

Switzerland Studies Geothermal Potential

Alberta Power Producer Announces 2023 Coal Phaseout as Province Pushes Rocky Mountain Mining Leases

Alberta took one step forward and one step back on the road to phasing out coal, with independent power producer Capital Power announcing it was speeding up its shift to coal-free electricity but the province opening up new mining leases across nearly 2,000 hectares on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

Energy Efficiency Improvements Stall Out as COVID-19 Roils National Economies

The International Energy Agency is blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for dragging annual improvements in energy efficiency down to their lowest pace since 2010, in a report that urges governments to pick up the pace on efforts to reduce global primary energy intensity.

Climate Crisis will Force Gulf Petro-States to Embrace Renewables, Expert Review Concludes

Member petro-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Middle East can—and must—accelerate their adoption of renewable energy if they are to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, say a team of experts from the region.

Overnight Demise of Film Cameras Could Predict Future of Fossil Fuels, Investment Writer Says

Look no farther than the demise of film cameras from 1995 to 2007—and the subsequent crash of the digital cameras that briefly replaced them—as evidence that the clean energy “crossover” will be the investment story of the year in 2021, Australian business writer Ryan Dinse advises in a post published late last month.

Fort Nelson-Area First Nation Seeks Provincial Funding for Geothermal Project

Massachusetts Okays 809-MW Offshore Wind Project

Belgium Ready to Flip the Switch on North Sea’s Biggest Wind Farm

Poland Approves Funding for 10.9 GW of Offshore Wind

Albania Invites Bids for 100-MW Solar Park

Projection Shows Central, Eastern Europe Renewables Hitting 34% by 2030

Boris Johnson

BREAKING: UK Declares 68% Carbon Reduction Target for 2030 After Analyst Warns to Watch the Fine Print

The United Kingdom will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 68% from 1990 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced today, a plan he said would put the country on track for net-zero emissions by 2050 and represent the fastest rate of GHG reductions of any major economy.

Don’t Let Fossil-Derived Hydrogen Undermine New Federal Strategy, Climate Hawks Urge

The Canadian government has a chance to tap into renewably-produced hydrogen as a way to decarbonize key sectors of the economy, but not if it allows that potential to be “undermined by a focus on fossil fuel-derived hydrogen,” a list of 27 environmental organizations and other non-profits warned last week in a letter to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan and three of his cabinet colleagues.

Ontario Making Little or No Progress on GHG Reduction Strategy, New Report Concludes

The Doug Ford government in Ontario has made little or no progress on key elements of its 2030 climate action plan, putting the province’s greenhouse gas emissions on track to increase rather than falling, Environmental Defence warns in a new report this week.

HSBC Sees China Solar Installations Exceeding 75 GW Per Year by 2025

First ‘Merchant’ Solar Plant Opens in Central Alberta

Montreal’s Boralex Buys Solar Farms in Alabama, Indiana, California

Big Utility to Shutter 1.6 GW of Texas Coal Capacity in 2028

European Wind, Solar Join Forces to Promote Green Hydrogen Over Blue

Deutsche Bahn, Siemens Look to Hydrogen Trains to Replace Diesel

Solar Irrigation Replaces Diesel, Saves Egyptian Farmers $875M per Year

Rystad Cites Africa as Renewable Energy Hotspot

Controversial Philippine Mega-Dam is ‘Too Big, Too Risky’

EU Will Treat Nuclear-Generated Hydrogen as Low-Carbon

Goldman Sachs Sees Renewables Dominating Energy Investment in 2021

Shell-Owned Storage Company Unveils $9,500 Home Battery

New Electrical Connector Could Help Prevent Solar Panel Fires

BREAKING: Countries’ Fossil Extraction Plans Drive Emissions Far Past 1.5°C Limit

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a “potential turning point” in global fossil fuel production, countries will drive greenhouse gas emissions far beyond a 1.5°C limit on average warming if their published plans to increase coal, oil, and gas extraction come to pass, according to the 2020 Production Gap Report issued this morning by five major international agencies.

Fiscal Update Delivers ‘Downpayment’, Falls Short of Full Funding for Green Recovery

Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is receiving mixed reviews for the green components of a Fall Economic Statement that includes $5,000 grants to help households fund energy retrofits, a $150-million boost for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, nearly $4 billion over 10 years for a list of nature-based climate solutions, and a promise of permanent funding for public transit systems.

Home Retrofit Grants Won’t Deliver the Energy Savings the Climate Crisis Demands, Analysts Warn

Impatience is building among policy analysts behind the push for mass, deep energy retrofits as a cornerstone of Canada’s post-pandemic green recovery, after this week’s Fall Economic Statement from Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland came up with just a fraction of the funding and none of the design and structure that a comprehensive program would require.

Saskatoon Company Strikes ‘Gusher’ with Groundbreaking Geothermal Project

In a global first, a Saskatoon-based geothermal company has successfully drilled and fracked a 90-degree horizontal well, delivering enough heat to supply electricity to 3,000 homes. And it did so thanks to the expertise of over 100 oilfield technicians—a switch that is offering hope to many such workers facing unemployment as fossil fortunes tank.

Small Modular Reactors ‘Very Inappropriate for Remote Locations’, CELA Warns

It’s a potentially dangerous mistake to pitch small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) as a potential electricity source or remote Northern communities, according to one of the 30 local, regional, and national public interest organizations that have come out against federal financial support for the technology.

Report: Just Transition to Renewable Energy Requires Mining Industry Reform

The coming energy transition may be carbon-free, but it is still very much dependent on mining—and that has experts warning that stringent regulation is needed to ensure that the shift to renewable energy is truly sustainable. MiningWatch Canada has released some recommendations on how to make it happen.

Departing Oilfield Services Exec Launches Clean Energy Accelerator Fund

Innovative Business Models Needed to Drive Southern Africa Solar

Medical Teams in Remote Areas Can Use Solar Device to Sterilize Equipment

Texas Steelmaker Signs Up for 15-Year Solar Buy

Toledo Joins Solar Co-op with 59 Other Communities

Connecticut Project Could Set the Pace for Energy-Efficient Hotels

The Rise of SWB: Seba Says Solar, Wind, Batteries Can Deliver 100% RE by 2030, Make New Fossil Investment Irrational

An all-renewable electricity system is “both physically possible and economically affordable by 2030,” according to a new report from the RethinkX think tank, write co-founder Tony Seba and research fellow Adam Dorr in an early November post for Utility Dive.

UK Green Plan Funds ‘Long-Shot’ Small Modular Reactors but Emphasizes Offshore Wind

News that two more reactors in the United Kingdom are to shut down on safety grounds earlier than planned has capped a depressing month for nuclear power in Europe.

Enbridge Touts Hydrogen Blend to Justify Gas Heating

Alaska Village Sees Biomass as Cheaper Heating Source

South Africa Aims for ‘Exponential Growth’ in Agri-Photovoltaics

European Researchers Look for Green Hydrogen from Flow Batteries, Tidal Power

Coal India Plans $760M Solar Investment to Cut Operating Costs

New Energy Trading Plan Puts Power in Consumers’ Hands

Yellen Expected to Bring Climate Concerns to New Role as U.S. Treasury Secretary

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary is being interpreted as the latest sign the new administration is planning a serious response to the climate crisis.

Ottawa’s Greening of Government Plan Foresees Building Retrofits, 80% Hybrid/Electric Fleet by 2030

Building retrofits, more telecommuting, and a fleet consisting of 80% hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030 are among the highlights of a greening of government strategy unveiled yesterday by Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.

Opinion: An Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable Electricity Future for Atlantic Canada is Renewable

Wind and solar are the cheapest forms of electricity on Earth, far cheaper than coal, nuclear, or natural gas. When paired with energy storage technologies and regional hydropower networks, they can deliver reliable power while reducing utility bills for ratepayers who most need the savings, say the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the Ecology Action Centre.

PEI Energy Corporation Appeals Rejection of Wind Farm Expansion

Minnesota Hydro Plant Gets $2.75-Million Upgrade

Solar Lighting Improves Safety in Malawi Village

Wales Aims for Zero-Emission Biogas from Sewage

Italian Fossil Eni Enters North Sea Wind with Norwegian Partner

Hydro Reservoirs Emerge as Prime Location for Floating Solar

Columnist Cites Solar as ‘Lifeline’ for Vulnerable Communities

Kerry Named White House Climate ‘Czar’ as Analysis Shows U.S. Could Cut Emissions 38-54% by 2030

Paris Agreement architect John Kerry was appointed White House climate “czar”, a half-dozen other senior appointments signalled stability and continuity, and a few glass ceilings were shattered as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced nominees for senior administration positions Monday.

With Fossils Crashing, Renewables Surging, Alberta and Saskatchewan Need a New Narrative

Across nearly a dozen pieces of news and analysis over the last week, a consistent theme is emerging: Canada’s fossil sector crash is accelerating, the renewable energy industries are beginning to surge, and oil-producing provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan need a whole new narrative if they’re going to catch up, keep up, and thrive in an emerging, low-carbon world.

Climate-Focused Green Banks Could Spur Sustainable Cities, Just Recovery

In an effort to help cities balance climate action with pandemic recovery, C40 Cities has released a guide to establishing local green banks as an equitable, resilient, and sustainable path to achieving both goals.

China’s Carbon Neutral Plan Could Push Belt and Road Initiative Toward ‘Cleaner Growth’

China’s landmark commitment to domestic carbon neutrality could help jump-start a “cleaner growth pathway” for countries participating in the country’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, international climate advocate Han Chen writes in a recent post for China Dialogue.

Researchers See Carbon Reduction Potential in Producing Bioenergy from Switchgrass

The right approach to bioenergy production using the right kind of feedstock can play a role in reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause climate change, a cross-border research team concludes in a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Opens Canada’s Biggest Solar Farm

Invenergy’s 1.3-GW Solar Project is Biggest in U.S. History

EU Plan Calls for 25-Fold Growth in Offshore Wind

California to Buy Mobile Microgrids to Counter Utility Shutoffs

Iowa Utility Shuts 46 Wind Turbines for Review of Recent Blade Failures

Botswana Sets Funding Scheme for Rooftop Solar

In Conversation: Local Climate Action Depends on Reaching Out to a Wider Community, Moffatt Says

Scott Moffatt has been an Ottawa city councillor since 2010 and became chair of the city’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management in 2018. In this feature interview, he talks about what it took to get the city’s Energy Evolution decarbonization strategy adopted by a disparate group of councillors, and how to turn ideas into action.

B.C. Leads, Alberta and Ontario Imperil National Results in Efficiency Canada’s Latest Provincial Scorecard

British Columbia maintained its lead as Canada’s top jurisdiction for energy efficiency in 2019, Saskatchewan came in last for a second year running, Prince Edward Island distinguished itself as most-improved province, and program cuts in Alberta and Ontario emerged as a serious threat, as Efficiency Canada released its second annual scorecard of provincial efficiency programs.

Ørsted, U.S. Building Trades Union Form Training Partnership for Offshore Wind

Offshore wind giant Ørsted and North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU) have arrived at a deal to train a construction work force for the new projects the Danish company expects to build along the East Coast of the United States.

Pennsylvania/Maryland Utility to Shutter 3.6 GW of Coal Capacity by 2025

Solar+Storage to Power New Gold Mine in Mali

140-MW Wind Farm Goes Online in South Africa

Chinese Manufacturer Starts Work on 2-GW Solar-Wind-Battery Project in Upper Mongolia

Mammoth Ag Trader Wants Sails Added to Ships to Cut Emissions

Cyprus Needs Modernized Grid for Wind, Solar

G20 Survey Finds Canada’s Renewables Growth Stagnating, Fossils at 76% of Total Energy

While Canada has the second-largest share of renewable energy in its electricity mix, it was one of only four that didn’t have plans to increase renewables output in 2020, even as its greenhouse gas emissions soared far above its fair share of a 2030 carbon budget, according to the latest edition of the Climate Transparency Report released earlier this week.

Front-Line Communities Are Driving Force for Biden’s Climate Transformation, Salazar and Goloff Say

Adrien Salazar is Senior Campaign Strategist for Climate Equity at Dēmos, a U.S. racial and economic justice policy organization. Ben Goloff is Senior Climate Campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. In this feature interview, they talk about what the Biden-Harris administration can get done on climate, energy, and environmental justice, and how front-line communities across the United States put them in a position to make a difference.

‘Scathing’ Auditor General’s Report Shows Ontario At Risk of Missing 2030 Carbon Targets

The Doug Ford government’s failure to make greenhouse gas reductions a “cross-government priority” has placed it at risk of missing its 2030 carbon targets, and Ontario has reached “surprising” levels of non-compliance with a decades-old requirement to consult the public on environmentally significant projects, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk warned Wednesday in her annual review of the province’s Environmental Bill of Rights.

Midwestern U.S. Mayors Launch $60-Billion Energy Transition Blueprint

Mayors in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia recently unveiled a US$60-billion Marshall Plan for Middle America, intended to accelerate a compassionate, equitable, just, and sustainable transition away from fossil fuels.

Explainer: Bloomberg Analysis Highlights Inefficiency of Fossil Fuels

The argument that overhauling the energy system is too daunting is easily undercut by the fact electrification can offer efficiencies in excess of 100%—a figure that makes fossil fuel combustion look spectacularly inefficient. And throwing more light on this under-reported comparison could make the carbon-free transition a whole lot more saleable, says a UK-based energy analyst.

More Than 600 Million in Africa Lack Access to Electricity

Ballard Power Hands Off Fuel Cell Unit to Honeywell

Canada Touts Investment in Nova Scotia Tidal Power

Philadelphia Cuts Fees, Red Tape for Solar Installers

New South Wales Introduces Renewable Transition Plan

Abu Dhabi Funds 500-MW Solar Development in Sudan

JPMorgan, Brookfield Plan 100% RE for 500 New York Offices

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Governor Yanks Line 5 Pipeline Easement, Citing Enbridge Violations

Citing repeated and routine refusals by Calgary-based Enbridge to address safety concerns surrounding the 6.4-kilometre Straits of Mackinac section of its Line 5 pipeline, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has terminated the easement that allowed the submarine pipeline to operate.

Quebec Green Plan Falls Far Short of 2030 Carbon Target, Analysts Say

The Quebec government may have nabbed some early headlines by tipping the centrepiece of its Green Economy Plan, a 2035 phaseout of internal combustion vehicle sales. But once the full strategy was released Monday, climate analysts and campaigners quickly concluded that it won’t meet the province’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Safety Issues, Cost Overruns Mean It’s Time to Cancel Site C Megadam, Dogwood Says

With its price nearly doubling, construction deadlines slipping, and serious geological challenges on the ground, BC Hydro’s plan to complete the Site C megadam on the Peace River may be slipping away, Dogwood B.C. warns in a recent blog post.

Ørsted, BP to Launch Hydrogen Partnership with 50-MW Electrolyzer in Germany

Offshore wind giant Ørsted and colossal fossil BP have sealed a deal to build a 50-megawatt electrolyzer in northern Germany, in what the two companies see as a first step in a broader partnership to produce green hydrogen.

IESO Extends Deadline for Nation Rise Wind Farm Near Cornwall

Iowa Utility Shuts Coal Plant, Builds Solar

Arizona Regulator Sets 2050 Carbon-Free Target for Utilities

Grid Limits Could Slow Maine’s Shift to Renewables

Las Vegas Fire Captain Teaches Solar, Battery Safety to First Responders

Singapore Aims for 1.5 GW New Solar by 2025

French Developer Starts Work on 41-MW Solar Plant in Mozambique

Tesla Reports 59% Hike in Quarterly Battery Storage Demand

Hydrogen Offers ‘Different Ballgame’ for Seasonal Storage

Electrode Stability Emerges as Issue for Solar Hydrogen

First Solar Recycles Old Panels Into New Ones

Early Signs Show Biden Setting Up to Deliver on Bold Climate Action Agenda

It’s still the earliest of early days in the Biden administration’s transition process, with countless decisions to be made, cabinet appointments to be vetted, and senior staff to be recruited. But the news reports so far are coming to an astonishing consensus: that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris meant it when they declared climate action a priority, and they seem determined to deliver on the promise.

Vertical-Axis Wind Design Could Replace Diesel on Island Grids, Offer Quieter Turbine for Cities

A designer in South Korea has come up with a prototype for a new, 12-storey vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) that could be located in urban areas and deliver up to four times as much power as a standard, ground-mounted wind machine.

Ohio Grid Modernization Deal Emphasizes Renewables

Chinese Firm Signs On for $1-Billion, 800-MW Wind Project in Ukraine

Clean Energy Would Bring 40,000 More Jobs to British North Sea

Developer Plans 300-MW Solar Farm in Denmark, Northern Europe’s Biggest

Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina Join Forces to Develop Offshore Wind

Michigan Utility Undervalues Small-Scale Solar

BP Subsidiary Says Solar Projects Already Hitting Profit Targets

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Hanukkah_Party

Analysts Expect Fast Action on Infrastructure, Possible White House ‘Climate Czar’ as Biden-Harris Priorities Take Shape

Rolling back environmental deregulation, investing in green economic stimulus, restoring trust in science, and possible appointment of a White House “climate czar” are expected to be key priorities for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he’s sworn in January 20, sparking an equal and opposite reversal after the four years of deep damage caused by a soon-to-depart Donald Trump.

IEA Sees Global Solar and Wind Capacity Doubling, Outstripping Gas and Coal by 2025

Global solar and wind capacity is on track to double over the next five years and outstrip both coal and gas, after continuing to surge in spite of the economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports in its annual renewable energy update issued this week.

China’s Solar Surge Leads to Glass Shortage

With glass supplies running short and prices correspondingly spiking, Chinese solar manufacturers are appealing to Beijing to approve new glass factories—an industry that hit the brakes in 2018 when the country banned further expansion due to overcapacity concerns.

Poland Plans Solar, Wind at Europe’s Biggest Coal Plant

Sunrun Sees Home Solar+Storage as Emerging New Standard

New Mexico’s Biggest Utility Plans 950 MW Solar, Moves Farther from Carbon Capture