Energy News

NRG Powers Global Sustainability with Innovation and Transparency

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In 2016, the number of Fortune 500 companies committing to 100 percent renewable power grew to 87. For the first time in history, natural gas surpassed coal as the leading source of power in the US, and solar became the cheapest source of new power in many parts of the world.

Climate Whistleblower James Hansen Sides with Republicans on Carbon Plan

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — As hundreds of thousands marched last weekend, waving signs and urging their government representatives not to turn their backs on the urgent question of climate change, it felt to many that they were little more than waves bashing against unhearing, unfeeling rocky cliffs. Yet, the president and his cabinet cronies do not represent the entire Federal government, where many, even in his own party do not share his stance of willful oblivion. Indeed, unlike the president’s ill-informed followers, the majority of Americans are very concerned about the changing climate.


Given the divisive nature of our political landscape, the only hope for action seems to be in the form of a bi-partisan solution. The problem with Al Gore’s approach, said Carlos Curbelo,  a Republican Congressman from the low-lying Florida Keys was that Gore, “did all that without a Republican partner, so we got to a state of affairs where Republicans automatically oppose anything to do with the environment... there’s a lesson there. We need a proper, sober discussion on this issue.”


Curbelo is the co-chair of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of 19 Democratic and 19 Republican lawmakers committed to looking for a solution that both parties can live with. Ted Deutsch, the Democratic co-chair, says, “If you want to join as a Democrat, you have to bring a Republican. It’s a Noah’s Ark approach, which is appropriate.”


One solution that the group may well get behind is the so-called carbon fee and dividend approach. This proposal has been backed by the environmentally- leaning Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), but it also has some powerful support on the right as well. For starters, James Baker, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, along with George W. Shultz and Henry Paulson—all former Republican cabinet members—support it.

NYS Energy Symposium Shows Determination and Direction

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — The 12th annual Energy in the 21st Century Symposium, a forum for energy and energy policy practitioners in NY State, took place recently. This year’s  focus was “How Can We Reach Our Renewable Energy Goals?” There was an unspoken understanding in the room that the question held a deeper significance than it had a year earlier.

Speakers included NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Janet Joseph, VP of Innovation and Strategy at NYSERDA, David Mooney, NREL’s Director of Strategic Energy Analysis and Anne Reynolds, Director of Alliance for Clean Energy, NY. A tremendous amount of information was shared. We will attempt to hit a few of the highlights here.

Janet Joseph opened the proceedings with an assessment of that state’s progress to the ambitious goal under the NY Clean Energy Standard, of 50% renewable electricity by 2030, a 40% reduction in GHG levels from 1990, and a 23% decrease in building energy usage from 2012 levels. While the current 26% renewable share is definitely a feel-good number, the fact the most of that currently comes from hydro (think Niagara Falls) means that NY will need considerable additional growth in solar, wind and other renewables in order to meet that target. To reach the goal of nearly 35,000 GWh of renewables by 2030, will require exponential growth to continue at an accelerating pace, with about 40% of that expected to come from wind.

She then announced that NYSERDA would soon be releasing a solicitation for renewable energy, its largest ever. Included for the first time, will be funding for offshore wind (OSW) projects. The state has committed to developing 2.4 GW of offshore wind by 2030.  The state’s first offshore wind energy area, consisting of some 80,000 acres off the Long Island coast has been established. The solicitation will also include funds for renewable heating and cooling, such as ground source heat pumps. Joseph also talked about the rollout of NY’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF) a key pillar in the state’s energy transformation that will provide necessary funds for critical projects.

Finally, Joesph mentioned that the governor has authorized a study to find out what it would take for the state to reach 100% renewable power.

Alfred Griffin, President NY Green Bank spoke of some of their work with CEF. They have distributed approximately $1B in funding so far, with another $600 million worth of renewable projects in the pipeline. Most of the projects are loans against future revenues through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and other similar arrangements.

The Whole US Energy Picture in a Single Chart (Almost)

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has released their annual US energy consumption chart (Click for larger image). Yes, it looks like spaghetti, but it contains a lot of useful information. It shows, on one page, how much energy we used in 2016, and specifically, what sources we got it from and what we used it for.

For starters, it says that we used 97.3 quads, which is short for quadrillion BTU’s. That’s a lot of energy. As Dave Roberts points out in Vox, that’s equivalent to 8 billion gallons of gasoline of 36 million metric tons of coal. It’s also the same amount that we used in 2011 and 2.2 quads more than we used in 2012.

However, in 2012 (Click for larger image), we used 17.4 quads of coal,26 quads of natural gas, 34.7 quads of petroleum, and 4.512 of renewables. Compare that with last year where we used 14.2 quads of coal, 28.5 quads of natural gas, 35.9 quads of petroleum, and 5.407 quads of renewables These four sources account for the bulk of the difference.

Perhaps the most startling information is found on the upper right hand side of the chart. That’s where it shows is the amounted of rejected, or wasted energy (an excellent measure of efficiency) and the amount of useful services received from all that energy.

Will Shifting Trends Rock the Solar Market?

(3Bl Media/Justmeans) — There appears to be upheaval in the US residential solar market.

Clean Energy Sector Creates Jobs 12 Times Faster than Average

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Over the last few decades, the US has been making a gradual transition to a more sustainable and energy efficient economy. New business models to support renewable energy and sustainability have emerged, which are also helping create thousands of sustainability jobs across the nation.

What's Behind State Efforts to Kill EV Incentives?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Back in 2006, there was a popular documentary film, called “

IAEA Supports Climate Goals through Nuclear Energy

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Nuclear power is among the energy sources and technologies available today that could help meet the energy-climate challenge. GHG emissions from nuclear power plants are negligible, and nuclear power, together with hydropower and wind-based electricity, is among the lowest GHG emitters when emissions over the entire life cycle are considered.

More Companies Choosing Wind Power Over Solar

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Businesses looking to sign renewable energy contracts or even develop their own solar or wind projects often find themselves on a steep learning curve about borrowing money, structuring contracts and understanding the complex rules that govern the energy industry. Streamlining the supply of renewable energy can help a company to save money and time.

Renewable Energy’s Growing Pains

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — A recent article in The Economist, called A World Turned Upside Down, portrayed a rather gloomy outlook for renewable energy. This was not because of shifting political winds, as some might expect, or the oft-repeated fact that the sun does not shine at night. Instead, the authors pointed to two discrete facts. First, building out the infrastructure required to reach critical mass for renewables will be enormously expensive. Second, the economics around the receipt and delivery of electricity are changing dramatically, largely due to the impact of renewables. While the two facts themselves are indisputable, the conclusions drawn from them are less so.

The story goes on to point out how utility revenues are falling. Renewables cost much less to operate, which brings prices down. Plus, when people put solar panels on their roofs, they no longer need to buy power from utilities, at least not during the peak sunshine hours. However, they still expect the utility to provide power to them when the sun goes down. That requires a lot of resources on the part of the utility that someone needs to pay for.

In many ways, the issue is analogous to—though slightly ahead of—what will soon be playing out on the highways. Money to maintain the roads is largely collected from state and federal taxes on gasoline. As more people shift to efficient hybrids or fully electric cars, less money is collected for road repairs, while the amount of driving remains roughly the same. This is an issue you can expect to hear more about in the future and it will likely cause some consternation, though I don’t expect to see getting rid of EV’s widely supported as the solution.

It’s also important to note where the analogy falls apart. Roads are maintained largely by the government as public infrastructure and paid for through taxes. Most of the electric grid is owned and maintained by private interests that are expected to show a profit each quarter. This difference is the current point of pain.

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