Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/20/15)

March 20th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/20/15).

  1. Reuters reports, “Electrical grids in Europe claimed success on Friday in managing the unprecedented disruption to solar power from a 2-1/2-hour eclipse that brought sudden, massive drops in supply.”
  2. RenewEconomy explains “why battery system costs may fall 3x faster than solar PV.”
  3. Reuters reports, “Greater cooperation between China and the United States, the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, has helped create ’strong momentum’ ahead of climate change negotiations due at the end of the year, the U.S. climate envoy said on Friday.”
  4. NRDC’s Switchboard blog describes “A New Tool to Assess the Benefits and Costs of Distributed Energy Resources from the Electric Power Research Institute.”
  5. Climate Progress reports: “On Thursday morning, President Obama signed a new executive order that requires the federal government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025 from 2008 levels. A fact sheet distributed by the White House noted that this could boost government renewable energy sources to 30 percent, and save taxpayers $18 billion in energy costs.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/19/15)

March 19th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/19/15).

  1. The New York Times reports, “Outlook for Solar Gets a Bit Brighter.”
  2. David Roberts of Grist writes: “Power utilities are fleeing open competition and seeking security in the sweet, protective bosom of Big Government. You can see this in two concurrent trends.”
  3. The Guardian reports, “The Australian government has been urged to place US-style regulations on coal-fired power plants to ensure they shut down, as a new analysis highlights the vast scale of emissions pumped out by the largest carbon dioxide polluters in the country.”
  4. The Week asks, “Can Google bring solar power to the masses?”
  5. InsideClimate News: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making it tougher for governors to deny man-made climate change. Starting next year, the agency will approve disaster preparedness funds only for states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that address climate change.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/18/15)

March 18th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/18/15).

  1. According to Renewable Energy World, “Energy storage announcements this week show that the new technology is continuing to make gains from coast to coast as companies work to cuts electricity costs and help stabilize the grid.”
  2. The Washington Post reports, “The Obama administration will seek tougher standards for companies extracting oil, gas and coal on taxpayer-owned land during its remaining months in office, even as it pushes for expanded solar and wind projects, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday.”
  3. Climate Progress explains “How The National Black Chamber Of Commerce’s Leader Is Harming African Americans.”
  4. The Charlotte Business Journal reports, “N.C. Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) made good Monday on a recent promise to submit a bill allowing renewable-energy developers to sell power directly to customers in North Carolina, bypassing the state’s utilities.”
  5. According to President Obama, in an interview with Vice: “In some cases, you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry and there’s a lot of money involved…Typically in Congress, the committees of jurisdiction are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil and pump a lot of gas.”

DBL Investors: For States, More Renewable Energy Means Lower Power Prices

March 17th, 2015

Another day, yet another strong piece of evidence that sticking with a fossil-fuel-heavy power generation portfolio isn’t just bad for the environment and for people’s health, it’s also bad for the bottom line. This time, it’s a study by DBL Investors, entitled “Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices? WAIT, WHAT?” The key takeaway is as follows:

states with the greatest share of electricity generation from renewable sources have often experienced average retail electricity prices that are cheaper than both the national average and also states with the smallest share of electricity generation from renewable sources.

In 2013, U.S. states generated electricity from renewable sources at a variety of different levels. And yet, as the graph below demonstrates, greater generation from renewables did not mean skyrocketing electricity prices. In fact, states generating more electricity from renewables often experienced average retail electricity prices well below states producing less electricity from renewables.

Or, as this article puts it, “states boasting robust green energy programs have the nation’s cheapest electricity,” and “trend lines suggest it’s only going to get better for their consumers.” Actually, switching to renewable energy at this point is basically a no-brainer, that is if you want an inexhaustible, clean, and increasingly cheap form of power for your state. Keep in mind that:

*The cost of wind power has decreased 58% over the past 5 years, and there’s no reason to think that improvements in wind technology and cost will end anytime in the foreseeable future.

*The cost of solar power has been plummeting, down 78% between 2009 and 2014, and that trend is highly likely to continue indefinitely, utlimately leading to the “singularity”, in which “solar power will be close to free in the coming decades.”

*As for natural gas, which some people foolishly want to lock us into for decades to come, it’s cheap right now, but that is highly unlikely to continue. Also, as this article notes, the price of natural gas is highly volatile, to the extent that it “can increase by a factor of six over the course of five years, then decrease by the same amount in four years.”

*Finally, of course, energy efficiency continues to be the cheapest form of energy that exists — far, far less expensive than a new coal-fired power plant, for instance, and without any of the environmental damage that comes with coal.

As always, the lesson here is that you shouldn’t believe anything the entrenched, “incumbent” fossil fuel companies try to tell you about renewable energy, as they’ve got it exactly backwards. Of course, as Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” That certainly helps explain the disinformation coming out of the fossil fuel industry folks and their political allies. As for the rest of us, our futures depend on understanding that clean and cheap energy, not dirty and expensive fossil fuels, represent the future for our states, our country and the planet.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/17/15)

March 17th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/17/15).

  1. Renewable Energy World debunks the utility and fossil-fuel-industry “canard”  about rooftop solar, explaining, “Rooftop solar provides substantial benefits for everyone, regardless of who installs it.”
  2. The Hartford Courant reports: “The solar industry in the Northeast has found its voice. Solar business representatives from nine states have formed a coalition with two universities to push for uniform clean energy policies.”
  3. RenewEconomy lists the “Abbott government’s 10 biggest renewable energy whoppers.”
  4. DeSmogBlog reports, “A new report by CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club provides compelling evidence that the death knell for the global coal boom might very well have rung some time between 2010 and 2012.”
  5. According to Phys.org, solar power “could meet California energy demand three to five times over.”