Monthly Archives: April 2015

Market Forces Driving “Great Transition” to Clean Energy, Says New Book

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Media Release

WASHINGTON, DC – The global economy is now undergoing a transition from fossil and nuclear energy to clean power from solar, wind, and other renewable sources, according to the latest book from environmental analyst Lester Brown and his colleagues at the Earth Policy Institute (EPI).

The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy lays out the rapidly evolving global shift toward cleaner sources of energy, driven by economics, policy, and the hard realities of accelerating climate change. Brown and co-authors Janet Larsen, J. Matthew Roney, and Emily E. Adams, stress that the shift taking place now represents a lasting change in the way we power the world economy.

“The worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way,” said Lester R. Brown, EPI President and lead author. “As fossil fuel resources shrink, as air pollution worsens, and as concerns about climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, oil, and natural gas, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old economy, fueled largely by coal and oil, is being replaced with one powered by solar and wind energy.”

The Great Transition details this evolving trend, focusing on falling prices and rising adoption for wind, solar, electric vehicles, hydropower, geothermal energy, and energy efficiency; and the emerging turn from coal, nuclear power, oil, and traditional transportation that is happening faster than anticipated.

Chapter 1 of The Great Transition: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Solar and Wind Energy is available online at www.earth-policy.org/books/tgt. Supporting data and a PowerPoint summary presentation are available for free downloading.

A few exciting trends:

  • The price of solar photovoltaic panels has declined 99 percent over the last four decades, from $74 a watt in 1972 to less than 70 cents a watt in 2014. Between 2009 and 2014, solar panel prices dropped by three fourths, helping global PV installations grow 50 percent per year.
  • Over the past decade, world wind power capacity grew more than 20 percent a year, its increase driven by its many attractive features, by public policies supporting its expansion, and by falling costs. By the end of 2014, global wind generating capacity totaled 369,000 megawatts, enough to power more than 90 million U.S. homes.
  • National and sub-national policies around the world are shifting to support renewables and put a price on carbon. These include 70 countries with feed-in tariffs; two dozen countries with renewable portfolio standards (RPS); 37 countries with production or investment tax credits for renewables; and some 40 countries implementing or planning carbon pricing.
  • U.S. coal use is dropping – it fell 21 percent between 2007 and 2014 – and more than one-third of the nation’s coal plants have already closed or announced plans for future closure. Meanwhile the Stowe Global Coal Index – a composite index of companies from around the world whose principal business involves coal – dropped 70 percent between April 2011 and September 2014.
  • For the world as a whole, nuclear power generation peaked in 2006, and dropped by nearly 14 percent by 2014. In the US, the country with the most reactors, nuclear generation peaked in 2010 and is now also on the decline.
  • In China, electricity generation from wind farms now exceeds that from nuclear plants, while coal use appears to be peaking.

“The energy transition amounts to a massive restructuring of the global economy,” the authors write. “Initially this energy transition was driven by government incentives, but now it is also being driven by the market. With the market today favoring both solar and wind energy in many locations, the transition is accelerating, moving much faster than anticipated.”

“We are all stakeholders” in the Great Transition, the authors conclude. “In the broadest sense, everyone who breathes cleaner air, drinks cleaner water, and benefits from a more stable climate will come out on top as the energy transition proceeds.”

Renewables Account for 75 Percent of New US Generating Capacity in First Quarter of 2015

By Kenneth Bossong, SUN DAY Campaign, Posted on Renewable Energy World.Com

WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower combined provided over 75 percent (75.43 percent) of the 1,229 megawatts (MW) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first quarter of 2015. The balance (302 MW) was provided by natural gas.

Specifically, during the quarter, eight new “units” of wind came on line with a combined capacity of 647 MW — accounting for 52.64 percent of all new generating capacity for the quarter. It was followed by 30 units of solar (214 MW), one unit of geothermal steam (45 MW), and one unit of hydropower (21 MW). Five units of natural gas provided the new capacity from that sector.

READ MORE HERE.

Kenneth Bossong is the Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. The SUN DAY Campaign is a non-profit research and educational organization founded in 1993 to promote sustainable energy technologies as cost-effective alternatives to nuclear power and fossil fuels.

Growth in green energy jobs outpaces coal industry losses

By Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Far more jobs have been created in wind and solar in recent years than lost in the collapse of the coal industry, and renewable energy is poised for record growth in the United States this year . . . Researchers at Duke University, using data from renewable energy trade associations, estimate in a new study published in the journal Energy Policy that more than 79,000 direct and spinoff jobs were created from wind and solar electricity generation between 2008 and 2012.

That compares with an estimate of about 49,530 coal industry job losses, according to the study.

Read the entire article here.

Ravenna, Nebraska is site of the nation’s first integrated wind-solar hybrid system installed at a public school

Ravenna Solar School

Pika Energy, a Maine-based manufacturer of residential wind turbines and wind-solar hybrid systems, and GenPro Energy Solutions, a South Dakota-based provider of customized energy solutions, announced they have completed the installation of a wind-solar hybrid energy system for Ravenna Public Schools in Ravenna, Nebraska. Funded by a private grant, it is the first integrated wind-solar hybrid installation in the country at a public school.

READ MORE HERE.

Aspen goes 100% renewable with new Nebraska wind deal

By Robert Walton, Utility DIVE

Aspen, Colorado, has proposed purchasing enough wind power from the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) to shift the city’s generation mix to 100% renewable, the Aspen Daily News reports. Under the proposal, MEAN would replace about 20% of the city’s generation, which comes from coal, with wind power and the output from a small methane project in Iowa.

Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Aspen Daily News City utility reaches deal to get all power from renewables

Wind energy tax credit breezes to 2nd round in Nebraska Legislature

By Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau

LINCOLN — State senators amended and then advanced a bill Wednesday that would provide a first-ever production tax credit for wind farms and other renewable energy facilities.

The 25-3 vote to advance the proposal from the first round came after a long debate over whether such a tax break could succeed in creating an incentive or whether Nebraska is too late to become a big player in wind energy.

Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Amended version of Legislative Bill 423

Update of Nebraska’s C-BED (Community-Based Energy Development) law:
LB402 Bill Signing is a Positive Step Forward for Wind and Solar Development in Nebraska, Nebraska Farmer’s Union

LB 402

Solar Powering Your Community: Fremont, Nebraska

Sponsored by the City of Fremont

Local governments interested in learning about how to make their community solar ready in the Fremont, NE region are invited to a free workshop with national and local experts on Wednesday, May 27th at the Christensen Field Meeting Room. (Please see our calendar for additional details).

This interactive workshop will provide actionable information on creating local-level solar policies and permitting processes.

Areas of focus include:

  1. The benefits and barriers of solar development in Nebraska;
  2. Understanding the regulatory landscape of solar;
  3. Getting Fremont solar ready; and
  4. Innovative financing options for solar projects.

Lunch Provided for Registered Participants
REGISTER HERE.
Email questions to solar@icma.org

The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative Workshop, Solar Powering Your Community: Omaha, which Nebraskans for Solar helped the City of Omaha organize and present, was held on June 7, 2013 at Metro Community College.

Reports: Cutting carbon can benefit low-income ratepayers

By Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

Low-income residents’ health and pocketbooks are disproportionately affected by burning fossil fuels, and they stand to benefit the most as states comply with federal carbon regulations, according to two new reports released last week.

Those findings run counter to coal industry campaigns suggesting the opposite — that low-income residents are facing rate increases as states and utilities comply with the Clean Power Plan, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Continue reading here.

Links to the two reports featured in the article:
Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow
Clean Energy Brings Health, Savings and Jobs to Low-Income Michigan Communities

Macalester College commits to solar for its electricity

By David Shaffer, Star Tribune

The St. Paul college will join Northfield’s St. Olaf College as a carbon-neutral campus.

Macalester College said Thursday that solar power will offset all of its electricity use in two years, resulting in substantial savings on its utility bills.

The St. Paul liberal arts school is the second college in Minnesota to announce solar deals that will result in carbon-neutral campuses. In February, St. Olaf College in Northfield said it would add more solar to its existing wind energy, offsetting all its electricity with renewable power.

Read more.

How the public views America’s energy revolution

Two new polls show that support for renewables is on the rise across demographic divides

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Recent numbers from two nationally-recognized polling agencies offer an instructive look into how Americans view electricity generation sources.

Findings from Gallup and Zogby Analytics concur – the public increasingly thinks the nation’s future is in renewables and energy efficiency, while they are losing confidence in nuclear and coal. Natural gas, meanwhile, appears to be in good standing as well, save for apprehensions surrounding fracking.

Continue reading.