Sunday, October 23, 2016

US Solar Capacity Triples in Three Years

Discovery News, which seems to be re-branding itself as Seeker, has the update.

Solar power has been on a tear in recent years partly because of cheaper solar panels and a federal tax credit for solar installations. Congress extended the solar tax credit early this year, helping to fuel a 39 percent annual growth rate for solar power-producing capacity, to 27 gigawatts by next year from about 10 gigawatts in 2014, or enough to power about 3.5 million homes, the data show.

Link:  US Solar Capacity Triples in Three Years

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Electric Cars Could Trash the Oil companies Sooner Rather Than Later

A brief article in Grist by Heather Smith reports that at least one credit rating agency is warning that breakthroughs in battery costs for electric cars could send the oil industry into a death spiral.

There is going to be a tipping point where the world wakes up from its carbon drunk. The longer that people take to put the bottle down, the worse the hangover is going to be.

Electric cars are a particular threat, according to Fitch, because transportation is a huge user of oil — it accounted for about 55 percent of total oil use in 2014. But a leap forward in batteries would also hit utilities hard, since it would eliminate the need to keep coal and natural gas plants running in order to balance the intermittent electricity generated by wind and solar installations.

Link:  Oil companies should be scared of electric vehicles

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Electric Car Transition

If you replace internal combustion engines with electric vehicles, you get rid of one quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions. And it looks like several nations are moving towards taking that step.

Joe Romm at ThinkProgress has a very informative article on the movement in several nations towards banning the sale of internal combusion vehicles by 2030. I had no idea this was going on but I'm jazzed. And if we get enough momentum going on this, then maybe we can get them banned sooner.

As noted above, Germany’s Bundesrat (senate) passed a resolution that would ban ICE cars as soon as 2030. A resolution is far from law, but as Forbes noted earlier this month, “the EU auto industry seems to be ready to switch to electric power, and politicians just signaled their willingness to force the switch to zero-emission, if necessary.”

Link:  Which will be the first country to ban fuel-burning cars: Norway, Germany, India?

Friday, September 30, 2016

How to Save the World With Used Car Batteries

Probably the biggest nut left to crack in figuring out our transition to a renewable energy economy is the problem of energy storage: how do we store energy for use when the sun isn't shining and the wind's not blowing?

We've seen Elon Musk tackle this challenge head on last year with his Powerwall and Powerpack home batteries. But Joe Romm at ThinkProgress pointed out last May that an even cheaper solution lies with used batteries from Electric Vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla, the Chevy Bolt and the Nissan Leaf. When the batteries of those cars degrade to the point that they no longer provide sufficient range for an electric vehicle, they still retain 80% of their storage capacity and are well suited for home or commercial energy storage.

A year ago, Toyota turned on its off-grid 85-kilowatt-hour (kWh) energy storage system built with 208 repurposed Toyota Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs. The batteries work with a new 40-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array system to “provide all-day, renewable power at the remote facility for the first time in its history.”

 So the growth of the EV market automatically makes it cheaper and easier to store renewable energy at home as well. A two-fer.

Link: Why Used Electric Car Batteries Could Be Crucial To A Clean Energy Future

Sunday, September 4, 2016

China and U.S. Clinch New Climate Deal

I've always thought that Obama was just kind of scrambling to do something about climate change, but maybe he's been working on a long term strategy all along. John H. Cushman Jr. at Inside Climate News has a report on how the new China-U.S. agreement is intended to help push along ratification of the Paris climate accords, and what the implications are if it is ratified.

According to the United Nations, the pact's early entry into force would have a "catalytic effect, spurring strong and decisive action" well before 2020. In particular, parties to the agreement would be bound by rules such as those governing "transparency," the ability of nations to monitor each other's compliance. A series of timetables would also kick in further tightening the Paris pledges.
Link:  U.S. and China Ratify Paris Agreement, Upping Pressure on Other Nations

Thursday, September 1, 2016

China Takes the Lead. Go China!

Marlene Cimmons at Think Progress runs down the numbers on how China has taken the lead in moving to a clean energy economy. It's impressive. I remember watching a Fox News special on global warming which argued that the U.S. couldn't do anything about global warming because our efforts would be useless unless the Chinese joined in. So now that China has clearly joined in, what's going to be the excuse now?

“Already, China hosts the largest installed capacities for most types of renewable energy technology,” said Dolf Gielen, director of the International Renewable Energy Association’s (IRENA) Innovation Technology Centre. “China’s progress in this area is just one example of the ongoing, dramatic shift occurring in the global energy system.”

Link:  China Is Emerging As A Global Clean Energy Leader

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SB 32: California Uber Alles

Brad Plumer at Vox has a great summary of California's new drive to reduce global warming emissions. If we make it, then we're number 1!

Add it up and scenario S3 is serious business. We’re talking about a world where California gets more than 50 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2030 (up from 25 percent today), where zero-emissions vehicles are 25 percent of the fleet by 2035 (up from about 1 percent today), where high-speed rail is displacing car travel, where biodiesel has mostly replaced diesel in heavy-duty trucks, where pastures are getting converted to forests, where electricity replaces natural gas in heating, and on and on.

Possible? Sure. Easy? Hardly. The level of effort is just orders of magnitude different from anything California has done so far.
 I'm amazed that this made it through the legislature, but it did and that makes our job easier. Going forward we just have to support our existing laws.

Link:  California is about to find out what a truly radical climate policy looks like