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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Solar’s recent coronation by the International Energy Agency as the “king” of global electricity markets is a literal power shift that bodes ill for Alberta’s oilpatch, says one of the province’s top energy policy experts.

Global Hydrogen Race Will Be Only Won by Cleanest Producers, Smith and Petrevan Predict

As Canada moves to stake its claim in the burgeoning hydrogen fuel market—a claim that includes Alberta’s recent bet on “blue hydrogen”—policy experts are warning that it will be only the cleanest hydrogen that takes the prize in a zero-carbon world.

Ottawa City Plan Sets Sights on Zero Emissions, 4.4 GW of New Renewables by 2050

The City of Ottawa has released a long-awaited energy transition plan that has it eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out all fossil fuel use, shifting all heating and transportation to electricity or other zero-emission options, and adding 4.4 gigawatts of new solar and wind capacity by 2050.

Germany’s City Utilities Help Boost Clean Energy Revolution

Germany’s network of city utilities (stadtwerke) has moved to the forefront of the clean energy revolution, according to an urban planner based in Berlin, helping to drive the country’s transition off fossil fuels and often moving into an array of local services beyond energy.

Federal Committee Excludes Big Buildings from Key Airtightness Standard

All-Canadian EV Designers Aim to ‘Avenge the Avro Arrow’

German Environment Minister Wants 75-80% Renewables by 2030

Researchers See Big Tidal Potential in New Zealand’s Cook Strait

IEA Sees Solar as Europe’s Biggest Power Source in Five Years

Small Island States Speed Up the Shift from Imported Fossils to Local Solar, Wind

Small island states are working to accelerate the shift from imported fossil fuels to their own renewable energy resources, both to protect themselves from unpredictable global prices for oil and gas and to take a lead in addressing a climate crisis that is already endangering their safety—and in some cases, their very existence as countries.

New Carbon Regulations Give International Shipping a Free Pass Until 2030

International shipping companies are on track to get a free pass on their greenhouse gas emissions for the rest of this decade under what’s being called a “compromise” proposal that postpones energy efficiency requirement for marine vessels until 2030.

Mitsubishi Looks for Offshore Wind Opportunities on U.S. Side of Great Lakes

Ontario Set for New Conservation/Demand Management Framework in 2021

Whitby Adopts New Green Growth Standard

Comox, B.C. Gets First Home Built to Passive House Standard

Maine Turns to Solar to Meet Energy Transition Goals

IEEFA Sees Wind-Solar Hybrids Driving Renewables Growth in India

Construction Begins on Mekong River Delta Wind Project

Homeowners Fret about High Cost of EU ‘Renovation Wave’

Kenya Finishes Construction on 105-MW Geothermal Plant

Geothermal Supplies One-Third of Nicaragua Electricity

Western Australia Greets 26-GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub as Job Creator, ‘Major Contributor’ to Carbon Reductions

The state government in Western Australia has issued planning approvals for the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a vast solar, wind, and green hydrogen production complex whose backers have increased their long-term production target to 26 gigawatts.

Checkerboard Design More Than Doubles Solar Cell Light Absorption

Researchers at the University of York and NOVA University of Lisbon have come up with a new checkerboard design that could more than double the amount of light a solar panel can absorb.

Caisse de Dépot Buys Into Solar Installation in Spain

Edmonton Utility Pushes Solar Project Over First Nations’, Green Groups’ Objections

U.S. Communities Pay Higher Prices for Long-Term Coal, Hydroelectric Projects

Hawaii Utility Looks for 300 MW New Solar, 2,000 MWh Storage

Solar, Wind Exceed 50% of Australia’s Electricity Supply Despite Coal-Obsessed Government

France’s 250 Ski Resorts Embrace Hydrogen-Powered Snow Grooming Machines

Developer Plans 4.4 GW Offshore Wind for Taiwan

New ‘Solar Skin’ Could Power Headphones

Solar the ‘New King of Electricity’, Trans Mountain at Risk as IEA Analysis Sinks In

An acknowledgement that solar now delivers the “cheapest electricity in history” and a new source of uncertainty for Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are two of the takeaways emerging from the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2020—amid criticism that the release still falls short of the analysis that would guide governments and investors to a 1.5°C future.

Study Urges Fast Transition Off Fossil Fuels for Asia’s Electricity Grids

It’s time for Asia—the region that British Columbia and Alberta are counting on as a future market for oil and gas exports—to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and risk of stranded assets by embracing low-cost renewable energy options, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis concludes in a new report.

Nunavut Hamlet Gets Approval for Solar Array to Run Community Freezer

7,332 U.S. Schools Install Solar, Mostly with Third-Party Funding

U.S. Regulator Breaks 40-Year Precedent on Small-Scale Solar

Illinois Startup Raises $90M for Solar-Electric Kits for Sub-Saharan Africa

Turkish Solar Farm Begins Delivering Power, Will Hit 1.3 GW in 2023

Homeowners in Coal-Obsessed Australia Embrace Rooftop Solar

Goldman Sachs Touts $12-Trillion Green Hydrogen Market

Daimler’s Long-Haul Hydrogen Truck to Start Customer Trials in 2023

Vietnam Could Install 10 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030: World Bank Study

Breeze-Powered Nanogenerator Could Replace Phone Chargers, Wind Turbines

Sacramento Utility Moves to Measure Energy Efficiency by Avoided Carbon Emissions

The publicly-owned utility in the California capital of Sacramento is shifting the focus of its energy efficiency programs by adopting a metric that emphasizes the carbon dioxide emissions the programs avoid, rather than the electricity consumption they eliminate.

India Plans to Replace Old Gas Plants with Renewables

Zinc-Air Battery Designer Wins U.S. Innovation Award

UK Wind Farm Expansion Could Power a Million Homes

Myanmar Issues Call for 1 GW of Solar, Receives Low Bid of 3.48¢/kWh

Solar Module Manufacturing Gets Rolling in Burkina Faso

Analysis: Alberta Natural Gas Plan Has Kenney Venturing Boldly Backwards

The Jason Kenney government in Alberta is pitching hydrogen, plastics recycling, and even geothermal energy as elements of an economic diversification strategy that leans heavily on natural gas to create tens of thousands of jobs and reboot the province’s sagging economy.

‘Silver Bullet’ Hopes Shouldn’t Distract from Today’s Renewable Energy Solutions, Experts Say

Faced with a massive wave of hype for a new generation of “silver bullet” climate solutions, from green hydrogen to carbon capture to (relatively) small nuclear reactors, experts are pointing back to the established technologies that can already deliver on a decarbonization agenda while bringing solid financial returns to investors.

Wildfire Smoke Cuts Into California Solar Production

Severe smoke from the wildfires that have been sweeping parts of California reduced power output from the state’s utility-scale solar installations by 13% in the first two weeks of September, even after factoring in a significant gain in solar capacity compared to the previous year.

University of Calgary Sees Plummeting Enrolment for Oil and Gas Sciences

University of Calgary undergrads are fleeing en masse from oil and gas-friendly majors as job security in the industry plummets. And renewable energy studies are picking up the slack.

Batteries Reach Tipping Point, Usurp Gas

U.S. Solar, Wind Grow 15.5% Despite Pandemic

Ottawa Funds Five Green Energy Projects in Yukon

U.S. Groups Form New Clean Power Lobby

British Rigs Are Biggest Carbon Polluters in North Sea Oilfields

Energy-Efficient Buildings in UK Will Need ‘Retrofit Army’

Vattenfall Refines Focus to Offshore Wind Projects in Europe

Exxon Projections Show Massive Emissions Increase as Quarterly Financial Losses Mount

ExxonMobil may be plotting to increase its already enormous annual greenhouse gas emissions by 17% over the next five years, as much as the entire nation of Greece, according to an internal assessment of the company’s US$210-billion investment strategy obtained by Bloomberg Green.

Innu Nation Files $4-Billion Compensation Claim for Churchill Falls Hydropower Project

The Innu Nation of Labrador has filed a C$4-billion court claim against Hydro-Québec and Churchill Falls Corporation, saying their culture and way of life have been devastated by construction of the 5,428-megawatt Churchill Falls hydropower project beginning in 1967.

TD Bank Subsidiary Launches Canada’s Biggest Grid Storage Project in Alberta

A Toronto-Dominion Bank subsidiary is planning a 60-megawatt battery storage project, Canada’s biggest to date, using arrays of Tesla batteries to store electricity and help balance and stabilize the Alberta power grid as it adds more renewable power.

Analysts See ‘Green’ Hydrogen Costing Less than Fossil-Sourced Product within a Decade

While the definition of “clean” or “green” hydrogen is still distinctly fuzzy, the truly green variety produced from wind- or solar-generated electricity could become the cheapest form within a decade, far sooner than analysts previously expected.

Rocky Mountain Institute Sees Clean Energy Cancelling U.S. Gas Plants

First Geothermal Test Well Exceeds Expectations in Saskatchewan

North Dakota Consultants Look to Wind to Diversify Oil and Gas Jobs

Majority of UK Fossil Workers Would Welcome a Shift to Renewables, Offshore Wind

Just over four-fifths of offshore oil workers in the United Kingdom would consider leaving the industry, more than half would be interested in working in renewable energy or offshore wind, but 91% had never heard the term “just transition”, according to survey results released last week by Platform London, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and Greenpeace UK.

New Floating Solar + Hydro Combo Could Meet Nearly Half of Global Power Demand

Combining solar power with hydroelectricity in floating reservoirs could meet nearly 50% of global electricity demand, says a new study being described as “potentially market-making.”

Climate Plan, Coalition Tensions Put Denmark’s 70% Emissions Cut at Risk

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has thrown her country’s 2030 emissions reduction target of 70% into doubt, and may have jeopardized her governing coalition, with a climate plan that falls short of coalition partners’ expectations and steps away from past promises to tax pollution.

Chinese Chemical Plants Begin Capturing Nitrous Oxide, a Super-Pollutant 300 Times More Potent than CO2

An industrial gas company in China has taken a “noteworthy step” to capture and reuse nitrous oxide, a climate pollutant that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, InsideClimate News reports.

Green Hydrogen Could Decarbonize Steel Production by 2050 in ‘Multi-Billion-Dollar Opportunity’

The global steel industry is on the verge of a transformative, multi-billion-dollar opportunity, with plummeting renewable energy costs and green hydrogen pointing to a possible pathway to completely decarbonize an extremely energy-intensive industry by 2050, writes Rocky Mountain Institute principal Thomas Koch Blank in a recent blog post.

Prominent Canadians Demand Immediate Construction Halt at Site C

Coal Retirements Help Drive U.S. Emissions Down 2.8% in 2019

BP Stocks Hit 25-Year Low

Indiana Looks to Green Energy to Attract New Investment

Michigan Utilities Will Shift Plan to Match Governor’s Carbon-Neutral Goal

Walmart Works with Energy Automation Giant to Shift Suppliers to Renewables

Researchers Use Wastewater, Biosolids to Produce Hydrogen

Infrastructure Bank to Pour $6 Billion into Clean Grid, Building Retrofits, Zero-Emission Buses

Climate and energy analysts are mostly praising a new two- to three-year, C$10-billion “growth plan” that includes $2.5 billion for clean power and storage, $2 billion for building energy retrofits, $2 billion to extend broadband access to underserved communities, $1.5 billion for zero-emission buses, and $1.5 billion for agriculture infrastructure, unveiled yesterday by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Utility Boss Sees India Phasing Out 60 GW of Coal Capacity, Replacing 40 GW with Newer Coal Plants

The head of Mumbai-based utility company Tata Power is calling on the government of India to phase out nearly 500 older coal plants that have been in operation for 25 or 30 years—but only sees about one-third of the demand that opens up being met by renewable sources of electricity.

Utility-Scale Solar Could Replace Coal Jobs in Appalachia

Desjardins Buys into U.S. Renewables Assets

Muskrat Falls Hydro Completes First Link to Labrador Grid

Moody’s Sees State Mandates Driving U.S. Renewables Growth

Ann Arbor, Michigan Launches Solar-Powered Resilience Hub

Germany Lays Plans to Triple Spending on Climate, Energy

Fitch Sees Solar, Asia Pacific Setting the Pace as Renewables Rise

Cameroon Plans $3-Billion Hydropower Dam to Feed Power Exports

Lake Erie Wind Farm Clears Major Hurdle

Renewables Employed 11.5 Million in 2019, Could Approach 30 Million by 2030, IRENA Reports

Renewable energy created 11.5 million jobs around the world in 2019, up from 11 million in 2018, according to the latest in a series of annual reviews released this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

adam scott Shift:Action

In Conversation: Canadian Pension Managers Must Divest Fossil Fuels, Catch Up with the Shift Off Carbon, Scott Says

Adam Scott is director of Shift:Action, an organization that engages with Canadian pension funds on climate accountability and risk. In this interview, he talks about the ideologies that still drive fossil fuel investment, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board’s adventures in Colorado, and what it takes to make pensions a fascinating topic.

Sweden, Norway Take a Lead in EU’s Swing to Renewable Energy

Nordic countries are helping to lead on the European Union’s commitment to source 30% of its energy from renewables by 2030, thanks to renewable-driven heating systems and smart energy developments.

Yukon Green Plan Includes EV Rebates

FERC Allows Distributed Energy to Compete with U.S. Power Plants

Turkey Virtual Power Plant to Combine Geothermal, Renewables

South Africa’s Informal Coal Miners Push for Just Transition

UK Government Admits Wind, Solar 30-50% Cheaper than Thought

Rocky Mountain Institute Urges New Approach to Cooling

BREAKING: ‘First Blueprint’ Lays Out China’s Path to Carbon Neutrality

China would rely on a massive increase in solar, nuclear, and wind capacity while cutting its coal consumption 96% between 2025 and 2060 under a “first blueprint” for fulfilling the carbon neutrality target unveiled by President Xi Jinping at last week’s United Nations General Assembly.

Ottawa Needs Wide-Ranging Programs to Match Big-Picture Throne Speech, Torrie Says

Ralph Torrie is a senior associate with the Sustainability Solutions Group, partner in Torrie Smith Associates, and one of Canada’s leading energy and carbon modellers. He helped design and lead a series of green recovery webinars and publications that laid some of the groundwork for last week’s Throne Speech. In this interview, he talks about what the speech got right, the tough path to 1.5°C, and what’s still needed to get Canada’s transition off carbon on track.

California Bans New Internal Combustion Car Sales After 2035

The U.S. state that likes to style itself the world’s fifth-largest economy will ban all sales of new gasoline-powered cars after 2035 under an executive order signed last week by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

World Nuclear Industry Loses Ground to Cheap Renewables as Canada Considers Small Modular Reactors

The world nuclear industry “continues to be in stasis,” with power plants shutting down at a faster rate in western Europe and the United States, the number of operating reactor units at a 30-year low, and the few new construction projects running into “catastrophic cost overruns and schedule slippages,” according to the latest edition of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR), released last week.

Australia Grid Could Hit 30% Renewable This Year

Canada’s Green Recovery Will Depend on Rail

Here’s What a Canadian Solar Incentive Could Look Like

U.S. Storage Providers Set 100-GW Target by 2030

China Considers Integrated Coal-Renewables-Storage Plants

Painting Wind Turbine Blades Black Prevents 73% of Bird Kills

Toyota Reports Progress on 1,000-Kilometre EV Battery

Swiss Parachutist Completes World’s First Solar Skydive

Climate Hawk Declares ‘Most Progressive Throne Speech in a Generation’ as Ottawa Pledges Tougher Emission Targets, Links Cleantech to Million-Job Strategy

Climate change moved to the centre of Canada’s million-job recovery strategy, the Trudeau government pledged immediate action on more ambitious carbon reduction targets, neither the fossil nor the nuclear industry rated a single explicit mention, and a government-appointed senator was more deeply critical than many of the country’s leading campaign organizations as Governor General Julie Payette read a much-anticipated Speech from the Throne Wednesday afternoon.

The Interview: After a ‘Bold’ Throne Speech, the Details Come Next, St-Pierre Says

Éric St-Pierre is Executive Director of the Trottier Family Foundation in Montreal. He recently coordinated an opinion piece from a dozen Canadian philanthropic foundations that set expectations for the Throne Speech and a green recovery. In this interview, he talks about the highlights and gaps in the speech, the next steps for the government, and the hard work ahead for the climate community.

German Study Finds No Health Impact from Wind Turbine Noise

New Jersey Sets Sights on Another 2.4 GW of Offshore Wind

Facebook Contracts for 235 MW of Solar in Utah

Illinois County Approves Commercial Solar Projects on Farms

U.S. Looks to Future with Multi-User Microgrids

Grid Operator Pitches 12-GW Offshore Wind Hub for Europe

Spanish Wind Giant Iberdola Buys Projects in Brazil

New Joint Venture Plans 3.3-GW Wind Farm Off Japan

IEEFA Sees Renewables-Rich Rajasthan Leading India’s Shift Off Fossils

Bulgaria Plans to Mix 2.6 GW of Renewables with Coal

Alberta Surges, Ontario Fades as Canada’s Leading Jurisdiction for Wind, Solar

Alberta is set to surpass Ontario as Canada’s leading jurisdiction for utility-scale wind and solar, with 83% of the country’s new installations over the next five years, according to a new analysis by Oslo-based Rystad Energy.

Tech Giant Google Pledges Carbon-Free Operations by 2030

Tech behemoth Google is promising to run all its operations on carbon-free electricity by 2030, and says it has bought enough carbon offsets to balance all its emissions since it began operations in 1998.

New Green Hydrogen Project Could Transform UK’s Heavy Transport System

The UK’s buses, ferries, and trains could be swapping diesel fuel for green hydrogen as early as 2022.

Solar+Storage to Replace Colorado Coal Plant

Ottawa Announces $4.5M for Sherbrooke Bioenergy Firm

U.S. Utility Giant Duke Sees Carbon Cuts Up to 70% by 2030

Oilfield Services Giant Schlumberger Plans Geothermal Company

IEEFA Sees Renewables Repowering Aluminum, Heavy Industry in Australia

South Africa Wants 6,800 MW of New Renewables

New Energy Storage Facility will Rely on Gravity

Hydrogen Won’t Be Profitable for Another Decade, German Utility Estimates

GM, Ford, Toyota Unveil Plans for Electric, Hydrogen Trucks

Three different automakers are unveiling new plans to introduce electric pick-up trucks, or to use the vehicles as emissions-free “power plants” by equipping them with hydrogen fuel cells.

France Budgets Record €6 Billion for Renewables in 2021

Climate Adaptation Could Cost Africa $200B Per Year by 2070

Religious Charity Becomes Ontario’s Biggest Passive Solar Developer

Ottawa Puts $3 Million into Energy-Efficient Building Projects in Alberta

Alberta Community Felt Duped by Wind Developer’s Sales Tactics

Indiana Solar Ordinance Requires Pollinator-Friendly Ground Cover

U.S. Emergency Management Grants Could Open Doors for Microgrids

Financing Falls Into Place for Fifth Phase of Massive Dubai Solar Park

Utility Front Group Fights Rooftop Solar in Florida

Wind Giant Siemens Gamesa Plans Push Into Hydrogen

Energy Retrofits, Green Grids, ZEVs Lead Recommendations from Resilient Recovery Task Force

A $27-billion energy retrofit program, stepped-up investment in green electricity, and building an “industrial ecosystem” for zero-emission vehicles are lead elements of a five-year, $55.4-billion green investment program released Wednesday by the 15-member Task Force for a Resilient Recovery.

67% of Low-Income U.S. Households Face High Energy Burden

Two out of three low-income households in the United States face disproportionately steep energy bills, says a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

BP Plans ‘Five-Year Sprint’ to Deploy 20 GW of Renewables by 2025

Colossal fossil BP is launching what Bloomberg Green calls a “five-year sprint” to increase its renewable energy portfolio eight-fold, or by 20 gigawatts, by 2025.

TAF Fetes ‘Big Canadian Moment’ as Community Investment Model Goes National

India’s Tata Power Wants Older Coal Plants Replaced with Renewables

Maryland Approves Offshore Wind Farm Using 12-MW GE Turbines

So Cal Ed’s $436M EV Charging Program is Biggest in U.S.

U.S. Funds Industry Pushes Back After Trump Tries to Limit Green Investments

Chicago-Area Landfill Site to Supply Local Solar

Senegal Offers Tax Incentive for Off-Grid Solar

China Coal Miner Plans Big Solar Manufacturing Investment

Fast Renewables Ramp-Up Drives Down Australian Coal Use

San Diego Utility Plans All-Renewable Microgrid

Bosch Aims to Decarbonize Operations with Three New Solar Contracts

Tech CEO Touts Wireless EV Charging for Smart Cities

Exclusive: NDP Riding Presidents Push Singh, 150 MPs and Staffers Talk Green Recovery, as Throne Speech Looms

The federal New Democratic Party leadership is taking grassroot fire for failing to use its position in a minority parliament to press the Trudeau government for tougher green recovery measures in its hotly-anticipated Speech from the Throne September 23.

EU Targets 55% Emissions Cut by 2030, but Real Progress Hinges on U.S. Election Result

Europe is on track to increase its 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target from 40 to 55% after the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the continent’s “biggest and most influential political faction”, threw its support behind an updated EU-wide goal.

BP Says Oil Demand Will Never Recover as OPEC, IEA Predict Continuing Losses Due to COVID

The global fossil industry is facing a parade of bad news this week, with colossal fossil BP concluding that global oil demand has already peaked, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) predicting a steeper demand drop due to the slow recovery from the pandemic, and the International Energy Agency warning that “the path ahead is treacherous”.

Ontario’s Ford Government Guts Environmental Protections, Undermines Health Record

While Ontario’s Ford government has proven to be an able defender of health in the face of COVID-19, it continues to be a profound threat to the environment, gutting established protections, hobbling climate action at every opportunity and, most recently, hamstringing the province’s environmental review process.

New Solar+Storage Megaproject a ‘Game Changer’ for Kansas Utilities

A massive proposed solar+storage project in Kansas City could be a “game-changer” that shuts down claims that fossil fuels are still needed as a backstop for when the sun doesn’t shine.

Opinion: Now Is the Perfect Moment to Decarbonize Global Trade

International freight transport—whether by air, land, or sea—still relies overwhelmingly on fossil fuels, accounting for 30% of transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions and more than 7% of all global emissions. Experts agree that freight, and international trade more broadly, must be decarbonized if we expect to hit the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. With the world’s freight carriers deeply shaken and supply chains upturned by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is exactly the right time to begin reshaping it.

Poland Plans Billions for Renewables, Nuclear to Speed Up Coal Phaseout

Researchers Produce ‘Thin-Skinned’ Solar Panels with Inkjet Printer

Feds Back 10-MW Solar+Storage Project on PEI

Swift Current, Saskatchewan Starts Work on 10-MW Solar Project

Chicago Suburb Decides to Carry On with Community Solar Program

Big Investors Get Behind $100M Floating Wind Project Off Maine

U.S. Utility Regulator Urges High-Voltage Lines to Boost Renewables

Saudi Arabia Unveils World’s Biggest Green Hydrogen Project

Irish Auction Nets Contracts for 19 Wind, 63 Solar Projects

Apple Turns to Low-Carbon Aluminum as ‘Climate Game-Changer’

Brazilian Researchers Use Lithium Battery Waste to Improve Biodiesel

Justin Trudeau

Fossils Troll for Relief as Throne Speech Focus Veers Toward Housing, Income Support

With the latest news and commentary out of Ottawa pointing to housing, employment insurance reform, and long-term care as main focal points for the September 23 Speech from the Throne, the fossil industry is pushing the Trudeau government for more bailout dollars and regulatory delays as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic.

UK Citizen Climate Assembly Calls for ‘Fair’ Green Recovery

A ban on SUVs, a frequent flyer tax, carbon emissions labelling, and protections for those most exposed in the push to net zero were among the core recommendations when the UK’s citizen-led Climate Assembly issued its final report last week.

Analysts Foresee Big Boom in Asia’s Renewable Energy Generating Capacity

Analysts are predicting a massive renewable energy boom across the Asia Pacific region over the next decade, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) anticipating a 250% increase in renewables’ share of power generation between 2014 and 2025 and Wood Mackenzie forecasting more than 170 gigawatts of new renewables capacity each year through 2030.

Renewables in Latin America Set to Grow 250%, to 123 Gigawatts, by 2025

Renewable energy capacity in Latin America is set to grow 2½ times, from 49 gigawatts today to 123 gigawatts in 2025, with Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina leading the rise of an emerging “green powerhouse”, analysts at Rystad Energy write in a new assessment for Energy Voice News.

Germany Links Green Hydrogen to Hydro Megaproject in Congo

BP Buys Into $1.1-Billion Offshore Wind Farm

Unstable Foundations Have B.C. NDP Fretting About Site C Cost Overruns

Canada Launches New Satellite to Track Methane Emissions

Masdar Buys Into 1.6-GW Renewables Portfolio in U.S.

U.S. Utilities Pitch $100M Cleantech Research Effort

Australia’s Rooftop Solar Boom Holds Lessons for Others

Singapore Looks for New Output from Rooftop Solar

Uganda E-Bus Plant Delivers Jobs, Helps Cut Pollution

Congo Starts Work on 1,000-MW Solar Project

Botswana, Namibia Aim for 5 GW New Solar

Audi Looks Into Bi-Directional Charging for EVs

Barry: U.S. Must Choose ‘Dignified Life’, Regenerative Economy for Citizens in Sacrifice Zones

Millions of Americans live in so-called “sacrifice zones,” where racism and rapacious economic imperatives are robbing entire communities of the fundamentals for a healthy and dignified life. That has activists calling for the creation of a regenerative economy in which communities have a direct say in the policies and decisions that affect their world.

Replace Pickering Nuclear Plant with Renewables, Not Gas, OCAA Urges

The impending closure of Ontario’s Pickering Nuclear Station is an opportunity to build a sustainable energy system based on sound energy efficiency programs, investment in local renewables, and hydroelectric power held in the public control—not ramped-up gas power generation, says the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.

Trump Administration Suppresses Landmark Grid Study that Boosted Renewables, Undercut Coal

The Trump administration has spent the last two years suppressing a landmark study by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that showed the potential of a national “supergrid” to jump-start the country’s use of solar and wind energy—to the detriment of the coal industry that Trump himself swore to protect when he turned the White House into his latest reality TV studio.

New Bacterial Research Uncovers Fossil-Free Building Block for Plastic

In news that bodes ill for a fossil industry that has pinned its hopes for survival on plastics production, scientists have discovered that ethylene, a fundamental building block of plastic polymers, can be created by a type of sulfur-metabolizing bacteria. The findings could lead to a future of fossil-free plastics.

Giant U.S. Utility Con Ed Will No Longer Invest in Gas Pipelines

Three-Quarters of Utilities World-Wide Failed to Expand Renewables

Liberals Promise Green Home Retrofits in New Brunswick Election

Nalcor Says Spill Contained After Muskrat Falls Powerhouse Leaks Oil

Nova Scotia Company Plans Another Try at Bay of Fundy Tidal

U.S. Sees Rise in EV Charging Stations

NJ Utility Plans to Sell Off Nearly 7 GW of Fossil Capacity

Solar, Wind Present $10B Opportunity for Australia

Solar Irrigation Helps Stem Migration in India

$1B New York State Program Boosts Home Energy Efficiency, Cuts Bills

West Michigan City Saves $354,000 with New Solar Array

Big Financial Loss Prompts Petronas to ‘Reassess’ Oil and Gas Investments, Expand Renewables

One of the partners in British Columbia’s massive LNG Canada megaproject, Malaysian state fossil Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), is planning to cut global oil and gas production and expand its presence in solar and wind after posting a US$5.06-billion loss between April and June of this year.

Hundreds of Thousands Face Blackouts, Wildfires, Evacuations as California Heat Wave Continues

Hundreds of thousands of Californians are facing down a continuing, extreme heat wave, while coping with power system blackouts brought on by a new round of uncontrolled wildfires that are “knocking out power plants, triggering evacuations, and threatening to take out the lights no matter how much the state conserves,” Bloomberg Green reports.

IRENA Flags ‘Staggering’ $3.1 Trillion in Fossil Subsidies, 20 Times More than Renewables

The global fossil industry received a “staggering” US$3.1 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies in 2017, 20 times more than renewable energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) revealed in an analysis released last week.

Site C Hydro Project Becoming a ‘Cash Bonfire’, Globe and Mail Warns

Renewables Surge Past Coal, Nuclear to Deliver Second-Largest Share of U.S. Electricity in Q2

Honda Unveils First Mass-Produced EV

Oakville Buys 73 New Electric Buses

Pembina Sees Renewables Helping Canadian Communities Build Back Stronger

‘Super-Hybrid’ Offshore Wind Farm Includes Floating Solar, Batteries, Hydrogen

Spanish Wind Producer Iberdola Plans Europe’s First Big Green Hydrogen Project

Electricity Access is Missing Link for Africa’s Economic Development

Brazil Could See 10-Fold Wind Energy Growth by 2050

Africa Looks to Benefits of Cross-Border Renewable Energy Trading

Jamaica Plans Call for 500 MW of Renewables

Estonia, Latvia Build 1-GW Baltic Sea Wind Farm

Nuclear Industry Survey Shows 86% Public Support for Federal Investment in Clean Energy

More than three-quarters of Canadians see climate change as a serious issue, 57% say it has affected them or their loved ones, and 86% want the federal government to invest in clean energy technology to help address the crisis, according to an Abacus Data report released this week by the Canadian Nuclear Association.

Renewables Post ‘Seismic Shift’, Deliver Two-Thirds of New Power Generation in 2019

Renewable energy delivered more than two-thirds of the 265 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity installed around the world last year, with solar alone accounting for 45% of the total, according to the Power Transition Trends 2020 report issued this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Puerto Rican Regulator Favours Solar Over Gas

Transit Fleets Could Draw New Life from Diesel-to-ZEV Shift

GM Canada Commits to EV Charging Solutions

Salt Spring Island Enviro Solutions Must Include People: Mogus

Western U.S. Sees Solar+Storage Boom

California Regulators Approach ‘Tipping Point’ on New Building Electrification

Botswana Boosts Coal While Much of Sub-Saharan Africa Embraces Solar

New Data Points to Wind Potential in Florida

World’s Biggest Floating Wind Project Delivers Power to Portuguese Grid

Thin Triple-Pane Windows Emerge as Energy Efficiency Bright Spot

Biden Win Would Deliver ‘Next Big Push’ to Renewable Energy Stocks

Renewable energy stocks that have “performed superbly” in spite of the Trump presidency are poised to do even better, if a Biden victory in the U.S. election this fall gives the cleantech sector its “next big push,” the Globe and Mail reported last month.

Shutting Most Coal, Gas Plants Could Save Southeastern U.S. $384 Billion by 2040

Seven states in the southeastern United States could save US$384 billion by 2040 by setting up competitive pricing for grid electricity and phasing out most of their coal-fired power stations and natural gas peaker plants, according to a new analysis released last week.

‘Unlikely Allies’ Create Renewable Energy Opportunities in Alberta

What do oil executives and climate activists have in common? Not much, if you listen to popular media narratives pitting environmental protection against economic growth. But at the Energy Futures Lab, diverse innovators and stakeholders in Alberta’s energy sector are finding plenty of room for collaboration.