By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association
“Wood Mackenzie concludes that [100 percent renewable energy] goals remain largely aspirational, but attainable given a reasonable time horizon to allow for technology development, regulatory realignment and socio-economic reforms,” the consulting firm said in a report released in late June. The report comes as states like California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Washington and the District of Columbia have adopted 100 percent renewable and clean energy goals and mandates, generally in the 2050 timeframe.
In summary — excluding supply chain impacts and other items, such as stranded costs — an investment of $4.5 trillion would be required to fully transition the US power grid to renewables over the next 10 to 20 years, which implies an investment of roughly $225 to $450 billion a year, a scale comparable to the total US defense budget. Read more here.
FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES
- According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States subsidizes fossil fuels at a cost of $649 billion a year.
- United States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education, Forbes
IMF leader Christine Lagarde has noted that the investments made into fossil fuels could be better spent elsewhere, and could have far reaching positive impacts: “There would be more public spending available to build hospitals, to build roads, to build schools and to support education and health for the people. We believe that removing fossil fuel subsidies is the right way to go.”
DECARBONIZING THE GLOBAL ECONOMY GAINING MOMENTUM
- Green Finance Is Now $31 Trillion and Growing, Bloomberg News
In addition to broader strategies for green investing, more funds are divesting from fossil fuels, according to a study by 350.org, a campaign group that wants to limit funding for oil and coal companies. By the middle of May, it counted 1,048 institutions managing $8.73 trillion as having some sort of strategy restricting funding for fossil fuels. And both of those figures have more than doubled in the past four years.
- Bloomberg New Energy Outlook 2019: The future of the energy sector, Power Technology
Renewables as a whole are expected to contribute 62% of the world’s energy demands by 2050, with 31% coming from fossil fuels and oil being phased out around 2030.
- In the United States: Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Beyond Carbon Initiative
- Is Your Company Ready for a Zero-Carbon Future?, Harvard Business Review
More than 900 global companies representing over $17.6 trillion in market cap are already ensuring that their business strategies are built for growth and emissions reductions through the We Mean Business Take Action campaign. Beyond that, companies are beginning to use their influence to speed an economy-wide transition by supporting climate policies targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. Others are demanding climate action throughout their supply chains.
- Thriving in a low carbon future: M&A and the new energy economy, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Mary Anne Sullivan, Sarah Shaw and Alex Harrison, Partners at Hogan Lovells.
COUNTRIES & REGIONS LEADING THE WAY
- A 100% renewable grid isn’t just feasible, it’s in the works in Europe, Think Progress
Europe will be 90% renewable powered in two decades, experts say. Many countries are already at very high levels of renewable power: Iceland (100%), Paraguay (100%), Costa Rica (98%), Norway (97%), Uruguay (96.5%), Kenya (91%), New Zealand (84%), Austria (80%), Brazil (80%), Austria (74%), Canada (65%) and Denmark (61%). The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal, and solar. In addition, many large population regions are at 100% (or higher). As a September 2018 international study documented, these include Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region in the Northeast and the Schleswig-Hostein region north of Hamburg, New Zealand’s South Island, and Denmark’s Samsø island. In Canada, both Quebec and British Columbia are at nearly 100% renewable power. This trend is spreading as rapidly as the prices for solar, wind, and batteries are dropping.
- A Vision for Midwest Zero-Carbon Power Starts to Take Shape, Natural Resources Defense Council