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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http://midwestenergynews.com/2013/10/24/as-pipeline-concerns-mount-a-renewed-focus-on-the-great-lakes-enbridge-mackinac-line-5/

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Fossils Join the Push for Solar Development in Ocean Waters

Nine Dead, 140 Missing as Fractured Himalayan Glacier Triggers Flash Flood in Northern India

Officials are already pointing to climate change as the cause of a devastating disaster Sunday that killed at least nine people and left 140 construction workers missing in northern India, after a Himalayan glacier fractured and triggered a torrential flood that slammed into two hydroelectric plants.

‘Hydropower Era May Be Over’ as Wind Farms Draw New Investment in Quebec, B.C.

Wind energy investment received twin boosts in Quebec and British Columbia last week, with one of the announcements prompting the Globe and Mail to comment that “the era of building big new hydropower dams in Quebec might be over”.

Ottawa Instructs Infrastructure Bank to Invest $1 Billion in Indigenous Projects

Despite ‘Tons and Tons of Space’, Canada Lags on Rooftop Solar

Federal, Provincial Governments Fund Heating Efficiency in Manitoba

Empire State Building Now Powered by Wind

Poland Plans to Sideline Coal, Embrace Renewables

Germany Claims it Beat its 2020 Carbon Reduction Goal

WoodMac Foresees Green Hydrogen Costs Falling Fast

Wyoming Citizens Divided on Economic Shift from Fossil to Renewables

As the low-carbon transition takes hold, fossil-producing Wyoming is at a crossroads. The windy state is grasping at the potential to invest big in renewable power—but old habits die hard, and uncertainty about wind’s ability to deliver has many citizens fearing change.

Italian Utility Giant Enel to Close All Gas Plants by 2050, Sees No Future in CCS

Italian utility giant Enel SpA is promising net-zero operations by 2050, setting out to eliminate natural gas from its power generation portfolio—and swearing off any effort to offset gas consumption by investing in carbon capture technology.

China Reports Record 72 GW of New Wind in 2020

Indigenous Ownership of B.C. Small Hydro Project Boosts Community Health, Well-Being

B.C. Offers 20% Power Subsidy for ‘Clean’ Biofuel, Hydrogen Industries

Florida Utility Shutters its Last Coal Station

Morocco Touts Green Hydrogen Gains

Iberdola, Danone Build Europe’s Biggest Solar Project in Spain

Italian Fossil Leads Push for Wind Energy

Serbia Hires Norwegian, Belgian Developers for 800 MW of Wind by 2026

Aging Dams Could Put Large Populations at Risk by 2050

Norwegian Firm Aims to Make Green Hydrogen Cost-Competitive by 2025

Mars, DHL Invest £350 Million in Sustainable Warehousing, Logistics

Fossils Plan Biggest Geothermal Investments in Three Decades

German Company Touts Progress in Airborne Wind Power

Solar Will Deliver World’s Cheapest Electricity by 2030, WoodMac Predicts

2020 Sees UK Renewables Overtake Fossils for First Time

445-MW Coal Plant in Tampa to Close in 2023, 18 Years Early

Regulatory Rubber Stamp Sets Nova Scotia Behind on Climate, Coal

Toronto Firm Delivers Renewable Power for Off-Grid Electronic Devices

First Nations Say Hydro-Québec Jumping the Gun on U.S. Transmission Line

Toronto Heat Pump Project Shows 36% Saving on Electric Heat

Analyst Suggests Path to Clean Up Ontario’s Hydro ‘Mess’

California Hydrogen Producers Look to Displace Diesel Backup

U.S. Announces $123.6 Billion for Manufacturing Innovation

Sámi Herders Go to Court Against Norwegian Wind Farm

UAE Claims World’s First Solar Aluminium

Overbuilding, Pricey Coal and LNG Imports Drive Up Power Costs for Bangaldeshis

Denver Sets 2030 Net-Zero Target for New Homes, Buildings

Abu Dhabi Funds Solar Project for 50,000 in Somaliland

Danish Vertical Farm Gets Power from Wind, Produces 1,000 Tons of Food Per Year

Major Canadian Solar Firm Denies Reports of Forced Labour

A Canadian solar company is claiming that no Uyghurs are employed at its 30-MW solar farm in China’s Xinjiang region, nor are any members of the persecuted Muslim community being forced into labour anywhere along its solar supply chain. But human rights observers say that last assertion doesn’t stand up to the evidence.

South Australia Hits 100% Solar with Lowest Prices in Country

First Nations Demand Horgan Release Site C Report

Ontario Pension Fund Buys In to U.S. Solar Project Developer

U.S. Fossils Seek Farm Belt Allies to Fight Biden EV Plan

NREL Looks to Solar for Industrial Process Heat

Cambodia Lines Up Investors for $400M Large Hydro Project

Norwegian-Dutch Study Suggests Better Site Selection for Greener Hydropower

LNG in Vietnam Faces Regulatory, Market Obstacles

Tesla Battery Shipments Up 83% Last Year, Exceed 3 GWh

Three Floating Solar Plants to Deliver 265 MW in Greece

EU Sees Renewable Power Easing Environmental Burdens

Can a City Truly Be 100% Renewable?

Sweeping Biden Executive Orders Halt Fossil Leases, Boost Renewables, Stress Environmental Justice and Scientific Integrity

With a set of three sweeping executive orders Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden launched an abrupt shift from four years of climate denial and inaction. The orders included measures to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, increase its reliance on renewable energy, accelerate government renewables procurement and research, restore scientific integrity, and begin addressing the searing inequities and environmental justice issues that had been allowed to fester under his predecessor’s watch.

‘Net Negative’ Claims from Alberta Fossils Underscore Flaws with Carbon Capture

Two Alberta-based fossil companies are reporting that they’ve reached “net-negative” carbon emissions, thanks to carbon capture technology. But while the news sounds promising for CCS—which experts increasingly believe will be necessary to keep average global warming below 2°C—there are still concerns about how emissions reductions are calculated, and how CCS may reduce the incentive to actually reduce emissions.

New York Approves New Transmission Line, Calculates 39,000 MW of Renewables Demand by 2040

New York’s utility regulator has approved a new 93-mile, US$854-million transmission line that is just one part of a wider effort to decarbonize the state’s electricity grid by 2040.

Government Review Connects Canadian Solar Firm to Alleged Forced Labour in Xinjiang

Incoming New Leader of Merkel’s Party Brings ‘Stained’ Climate Record

Tesla Renews Research Partnership with Dalhousie University

Construction Set to Start on Montana’s Biggest Wind Farm

170 Jobs Lost as SunPower Shuts Oregon Assembly Plant

Wisconsin Sees Booming Interest in Home Solar

France to Clear 1,000 Hectares of Forest for Massive New Solar Plant

Foundations Support Solar Module Recycling Plan for India

Japan Aims for 50% RE by 2050

UK’s Drax Promises Green Skills for a Million People by 2025

Study Recommends Targeting New Renewables for Greatest Carbon Benefit

Vulcan County, Alberta Sets Sights on 500-MW Wind Farm

The rural county in Alberta that brought Canada its biggest solar farm to date is at it again, with word this week that it is seeking regulatory approval for a 500-megawatt wind farm.

Hydro-Québec Lands 88-MW Green Hydrogen Deal with Thyssenkrupp

Provincial utility Hydro-Québec has signed a deal with a division of Essen, Germany-based industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp to build one of the world’s biggest green hydrogen plants, an 88-megawatt facility in Varennes that will produce 11,100 tonnes of the product per year.

Polish Utilities Dump Coal for Offshore Wind

6,000 Home Batteries to Help Power Hawai’i’s Green Grid

IEEFA Warns Investors Off Two New Virginia Gas Plants

Minnesota Ratepayers to Save $160M from Wind Farm Repowering Project

EU Boosts Solar Output by 7 TWh in Third Quarter of 2020

Two Spanish Developers Compete for Big New Pumped Storage Project

Eastern Indonesia Aims for Big Solar-Electric Deployment

Cyprus Touts Gas Pipeline as Part of 2050 Carbon-Neutral Goal

German Company Plans to Licence Solar Truck Trailer Design

Time to Move On from Keystone, Ambassador Says, as Biden, Trudeau Talk Climate Cooperation

With U.S. President Joe Biden making climate action a top priority for his new administration, and an analyst warning that the Keystone XL pipeline cancellation will stifle Alberta’s fossil industry for years, Canada’s U.S. ambassador is saying that it’s time to move on and focus on other opportunities in the bilateral relationship.

Bug-to-Bowl Companies Create Feed and Fuel from Fly Larvae

Hardy, easy to breed, and above all voracious, insect larvae are being recruited to the cause of bio-waste treatment, an innovation critical both to building a circular economy and lowering emissions.

Vattenfall to Convert Retired German Coal Plant to Green Hydrogen

Japan Development Bank Earmarks $500M for Wind

North Macedonia Issues Call for 60 MW of Solar

Turkey Places Itself Among Top Four Countries for Geothermal

UAE Touts Blue Hydrogen as Pathway to Emission Cuts

Seven Big Producers Team Up to Deliver 25 GW of Green Hydrogen by 2026

Canadian E-Bus Maker, Battery Recycler Announce Successful Pilot Project

Vestas Cuts 220 Wind Manufacturing Jobs in Denmark, UK

Flurry of Biden Executive Orders Returns U.S. to Paris Agreement, Begins Reversing Trump Deregulatory Agenda

News reports Wednesday heralded the dawn of a new era in U.S. climate, energy, and environmental justice policy, as President Joe Biden marked his first day in office by signing a wave of executive orders to begin rolling back four years of deregulation under Donald Trump.

Global Energy Transition Investment Grows 9% in 2020, Hits Record $501 Billion Despite Pandemic

Global investment in the energy transition hit a record US$501.3 billion last year, posting a brisk 9% increase in spite of the severe restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data released this week by BloombergNEF.

Power Corp. Division Says $1-Billion Renewables Fund Will Be ‘First of Several’

A division of storied Quebec industrial conglomerate Power Corporation is launching a C$1-billion investment fund focused on solar and wind projects.

Wind power turbine

Alberta, B.C. Polls Show Strong Support for Net-Zero, Low Buy-In for LNG

More than two-thirds of Albertans support a 2050 target for net-zero emissions, and six in 10 British Columbians back clean energy over liquefied natural gas (LNG) development, according to separate research released last week by the Pembina Institute and Clean Energy Canada.

After Early Momentum, Cascadia Region Loses Focus on Climate Action

Political infighting, misinformation campaigns, and serial communication failures have dashed any hopes that the Cascadia region would take the lead in the climate fight and significantly reduce its emissions by the end of last year. Now, angry young people are asking the courts to force their leaders to do a better job, and fast.

Residents’ Court Claim Links Landslide to Site C Construction

VANCOUVER — Residents of a tiny community in northeastern British Columbia are suing the local and provincial governments over two slow-moving landslides they claim caused their property values to plummet.

Fitch Sees Asian Solar, Wind Exceeding 1,500 GW by 2029

Hydrogen Train Deal Brings Investor Attention to B.C-Based Ballard

Analysts Tout Intertie Between Site C in B.C., Electricity Demand in Alberta

U-Sherbrooke Students’ Off-Grid Greenhouse Feeds a Family of Four for a Year

Canada Launches Ocean Energy Integration Plan

Developer Makes First Pitch for 2.5-GW Wind Development Off Virginia, NC Coast

New Renewables Investment Follows South Korea’s Net-Zero Promise

Political Uncertainty Drives Fossils, Renewable Developers Out of Mexico

Brazil’s Installed Solar Reaches 7 GW as Country Sets 45% RE Goal for Mid-Century

Colossal Fossil Total Buys French Biogas Company

$38-Million Investment to Help Nigerian Firm Bring Solar to West Africa

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Emerge as Affordable Backup for Solar Microgrids

84% of New U.S. Generating Capacity Will Deliver Fossil-Free Electricity This Year

Wind and solar will deliver 70% of new U.S. renewable energy capacity this year, compared to only 16% expected to come from natural gas, while battery storage will vault to 11% of the total, according to new data released last week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Be Wary of Plans for Direct CO2 Removal, Greenpeace Warns Investors

While direct carbon removal (DCR) technologies like afforestation and direct air carbon capture are showing up in climate plans across the corporate world, it will be sharp emissions reductions, not DCR, that actually will keep a 1.5˚C climate target in view, Greenpeace UK warns in a new report.

Massachusetts Governor Vetoes 2050 Net-Zero Law

Muskrat Falls Hydro Megaproject Gets $844M in Federal Debt Deferrals

Former Michigan Iron Ore Mine Gets 300-MW Solar Array

Minnesota Considers Solar for Closed Landfill Sites

Engie, Neoen Plan $1.2-Billion Solar+Storage Project in France

Swedish Utility Vattenfall Aims for Wind-Powered Mining

New 210-MW Wind Farm is Russia’s Largest

Cyclones Force India to Shut Down Wind Turbines, Curtail Power Production

Qatar Investment Fund, Colossal Fossil Enel to Fund Renewables Push in Africa

Ørsted Green Hydrogen Plan Gains EU Backing

Solar+Hydro Storage Brings Hawaiian Island to 80% RE

New Exposé Reveals $171 Million in No-Bid Contracts on Site C Hydro Megaproject

Disgraced engineering giant SNC Lavalin and a former BC Hydro chief engineer were among the big winners when the provincial utility awarded C$171 million in sole-source, “no-bid” contracts for its controversial Site C hydropower megaproject, according to an exposé published by The Narwhal last week.

New Ministerial Mandate Letters Lay Out Federal Agenda on Climate, Green Recovery

While the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is still necessarily taking up most of the oxygen on Parliament Hill, climate action and a green recovery figure fairly prominently in a new batch of ministerial mandate letters released last Thursday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

McCarthy: 2021 Could Be ‘Pivotal Year’ for Climate Action

With climate action and ambition accelerating toward the end of last year, in Canada and internationally, and COVID-19 vaccine distribution under way, 2021 could be a pivotal year in the fight to get the climate crisis under control, writes Shawn McCarthy, senior counsel at the Sussex Strategy Group, in a post last week for Policy Options.

U.S. Expects 15.4 GW of New Grid-Scale Solar in 2021

Polish Parliament Unanimously Approves Offshore Wind Bill

Ottawa Funds Solar Projects with Two Northern Sask First Nations

Renewable Microgrid is Port of San Diego’s ‘Crown Jewel’

California Could Need 55 GW of Storage by 2045

Louisiana Sees Offshore Oil and Gas Hub Shifting to Wind

Scotland Looks to Offshore Wind Opportunities for Small Businesses

Pumped Storage Helps Stabilize UK Grid

Uzbekistan Sets Course for Up to 800 MW New Solar

Bangladesh Brings 50-MW Solar Plant Online

Orlando Utility’s ‘Net-Zero’ Plan Allows Continuing Fossil Fuel Use

Campaigners Fear Greenwashing in U.S. Manure-to-Biogas Projects

EVs Exceed 50% of Norway’s New Car Sales

Photo Essay Captures Iceland’s Drive to Net-Zero

Carbon emissions from a coal plant in Germany

Higher Emissions from Fossil Plants Could Drive Up Global Power Demand by 27 Gigawatts

In a global first, a study just published in the journal Environmental Research Letters concludes that reliance on fossil-fuelled power plants in a warming world could drive up global electricity demand by as much as 27,000 megawatts.

More Investment, More Renewable Options Needed to Hit Rapid Decarbonization Goals

Renewable energy investment is falling short of what’s needed to meet rapid decarbonization goals, and national implementation strategies often work to the disadvantage of small and medium-sized renewable energy producers, according to a think tank study released late last year.

Nike, H&M Among 29 Brands Pressing Vietnam for More Renewables

Two Quebec Firms Team Up on Green Hydrogen Development

Feds Fund 100 Edmonton Building Retrofits Over Two Years

Ottawa-Area Arena Gains Zero-Carbon Certification

Cornell Turns to Manure to Meet Peak Heating Needs

New Consortium to Develop Ocean Energy for Puerto Rico

Spain Issues New-Style Tender for 3 GW Solar, Wind

Former Golf Course in Japan to Get 77-MW Solar Farm

African Cities Provide Customer Base for Minigrids

GE’s New 13-MW Offshore Wind Turbine Sets Off ‘Industry Arms Race’

European Investment Bank Backs Geothermal for Dutch Greenhouses

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