March 2020 Clean Energy Headlines

Every month, we sift through hundreds of news items and research reports about clean, renewable energy and deliver the best ones directly to your inbox.

EPA announces enforcement discretion policy for COVID-19 pandemic. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throwing the US into economic uncertainty, the EPA announced that it would be easing the enforcement of certain environmental regulations to help ease the burden on companies facing financial hardship. Former EPA officials have balked at the move, calling it an abdication of the agency’s duty and “an open license to pollute.” Others, however, claim that the new policy offers necessary flexibility and still ensures the consideration of public health. If you have an opinion on this, please share your thoughts on Bill’ Nussey’s LinkedIn post of this article. (EPA/New York Times)

Florida approves largest community solar program in the US. The moniker “Sunshine State” may soon take on a new meaning thanks to Florida Power & Light Company’s SolarTogether program. The project, approved by the Florida Public Service Commission in early March, facilitates the development of 1,490 MW of solar by 2022 and provides over 120,000 families and businesses with clean, inexpensive energy.  (CleanTechnica)

US coal-fired power plants just had their worst year since the 1970s. The last 12 years have seen a steep decline in the US’s use of coal in relation to other sources: 48.5% of the country’s energy was produced from coal-fired plants in 2007, and in 2019 (just 12 years later) that number has fallen to 23.5%. The EIA estimates that July 2019 may be the last month that the US ever generates more than 100 terawatt-hours of electricity from coal. Looking at the numbers, the reasoning for this move away from coal becomes clear. Renewables have just become too cheap to ignore. (The Motley Fool/Vox)

US storage industry achieved biggest-ever quarter and year in 2019. California’s blackouts late last year seem to have sent a message to the state’s regulators and utilities. Q4 of last year saw unprecedented growth in the US storage industry, fueled in part by massive funding of battery initiatives in areas affected by the wildfires and subsequent blackouts. Market competition, along with advancements in battery tech and the increased prevalence of renewables, should continue to foster growth in an industry that promises to revolutionize the nation’s power grids. (Greentech Media)

Implementing Puerto Rico’s energy transformation. Though recent disasters highlighted the liability of Puerto Rico’s fragile, centralized power grid, little has changed. Work has been done behind the scenes to prepare the territory for an energy overhaul, but the island’s residents are still relying on expensive and antiquated means of generation. The actions of Puerto Rican regulators in the coming months will be crucial in shaping the island’s energy future. Fortunately, many of the pieces needed for clean, localized grids are already in place. (Rocky Mountain Institute)

The trillion dollar opportunity in grid decarbonization. With more and more entities across the globe committing to clean energy goals, investment in the clean energy sector is poised to explode in the coming decades. This money isn’t just for generation, either. A transition to clean energy involves a host of different industries, from data and analytics to retail and marketing. With the cost of renewables riding a tremendous downward slope, this gold rush in the energy industry could occur sooner rather than later. (Medium)

February articles from the Freeing Energy Project

Will rooftop solar drive up the cost of electricity, particularly for low income households?
Utilities often argue that widespread adoption of rooftop solar will disproportionately raise rates for other customers. While compelling on its face, this argument ignores several factors that could actually lower costs for electric utilities. (read more)

 

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Podcast #034 – Andy Klump: How COVID-19 is impacting the global clean energy supply

In this exclusive interview, global supply chain expert Andy Klump shares his unique insights on how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting Chinese manufacturing, the impact it’s having on renewable energy projects around the world, and the steps needed to get the global system back on an even keel. Klump’s international firm, Clean Energy Associates, is headquartered in Shanghai, China and advises manufacturers, suppliers, and users of renewable energy around the world.

Podcast #035 – Ashvin Dayal: How is the Rockefeller Foundation using mini-grids to tackle energy poverty in Africa and India?

Ashvin Dayal of Rockefeller talks about mini-grids africa

The foundation that helped shape modern philanthropy and improve health care institutions around the world in the 20th century is increasingly focused on energy poverty in the 21st century.  In this eloquent overview, Ashvin Dayal, the man who heads the Rockefeller Foundation’s Power Initiative, shares his insights on the origins of the foundation’s mission, and how they are using off-grid solar+battery mini-grids to tackle energy poverty.

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