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IEA Warns CO2 Emissions Set to Climb to ‘All-Time High’ as Rich Nations Skimp on Clean Energy

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

The International Energy Agency warned Tuesday that global carbon dioxide emissions are on track to soar to record levels in 2023—and continue rising thereafter—as governments fail to make adequate investments in green energy and end their dedication to planet-warming fossil fuels.

In a new report, IEA estimates that of the $16 trillion world governments have spent to prop up their economies during the coronavirus crisis, just 2% of that total has gone toward clean energy development.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, slammed what he characterized as the hypocrisy of rich governments that promised a green recovery from the pandemic but have thus far refused “to put their money where their mouth is.” Research published last month revealed that between January 2020 and March 2021, the governments of wealthy G7 nations poured tens of billions of dollars more into fossil fuels than renewable energy.

On top of being “far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century,” Birol said that the money allocated to green energy measures thus far is “not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record.”

“Governments need to increase spending and policy action rapidly to meet the commitments they made in Paris in 2015—including the vital provision of financing by advanced economies to the developed world,” Birol continued. “But they must then go even further by leading clean energy investment and deployment to much greater heights beyond the recovery period in order to shift the world onto a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, which is narrow but still achievable—if we act now.”

The IEA’s analysis—which examines roughly 800 policies implemented throughout the coronavirus crisis by more than 50 countries—finds that “full and timely implementation” of the economic recovery measures would result in CO2 emissions surging to an “all-time high” in 2023 and continuing to rise in the following years, more than wiping out the pandemic-related emissions drop.

“While this trajectory is 800 million tonnes lower in 2023 than it would have been without any sustainable recovery efforts,” the analysis notes, “it is nonetheless 3,500 million tonnes above” what’s necessary to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Paris-based agency’s latest findings come just months after it said world governments must immediately halt all new investments in oil and gas projects in order to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis, which is wreaking havoc across the globe in the form of catastrophic flooding, deadly heatwavesdrought, and wildfires.

Birol plans to present the IEA’s new report to the leaders of G20 nations, which—according to research published Tuesday morning—have handed more than $3.3 trillion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris climate accord was finalized in 2015.

“The action taken by these countries up until this point is a far cry from what is needed,” Antha Williams, the environment lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies, which helped conduct the subsidy research, told The Guardian. “As a host of climate emergencies intensify around the world, the continued development of fossil fuel infrastructure is nothing short of reckless. We need more than just words—we need action.”


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‘Future Belongs to Renewable Energy’: Greenland Ditches All Oil Drilling

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

Greenland announced Thursday a halt on new oil and gas exploration, citing climate and other environmental impacts.

“Great news!” responded the Center for International Environmental Law.

The government of Greenland, an autonomous Danish-dependent territory, framed the move as necessary to transition away from fossil fuels.

“The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect, we have much more to gain,” the Greenland government, Naalakkersuisut, said in a statement.

A government statement posted in English points to federal geological data showing there could be 18 billion barrels of oil off the country’s west coast as well as likely “large deposits” off the island’s east coast.

“However,” the statement reads, “the Greenlandic government believes that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based upon economic calculations, but considerations of the impact on climate and the environment also play a central role in the decision.”

According to the Associated Press,

No oil has been found yet around Greenland, but officials there had seen potentially vast reserves as a way to help Greenlanders realize their long-held dream of independence from Denmark by cutting the subsidy of the equivalent of about $680 million Canadian the Danish territory receives from the Danish government every year.

“As a society, we must dare to stop and ask ourselves why we want to exploit a resource,” said Naaja H. Nathanielsen, minister for housing, infrastructure, mineral resources, and gender equality. “Is the decision based upon updated insight and the belief that it is the right thing to do? Or are we just continuing business as usual?”

“It is the position of the Greenlandic government,” said Nathanielsen, “that our country is better off focusing on sustainable development, such as the potential for renewable energy.”

Pele Broberg, Greenland’s minister for business, trade, foreign affairs, and climate, says the decision is simply good economics.

“International investments in the energy sector in recent years are moving away from oil and gas and into renewable energy. It is therefore natural that we emphasize business on the opportunities of the future and not on the solutions of the past,” he said.

“The decision to halt oil exploration is also the story of a population that puts the environment first,” said Broberg.

Greenland’s left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit Party [Community of the People party) gained control of the government after the April elections, which some saw as a referendum on further mining of rare earth elements and uranium. The Ataqatigiit Party had campaigned against a major mining project in Kvanefjeld.

Mikaa Mered, lecturer on Arctic affairs at HEC business school in Paris, told Reuters following the election that “Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it’s not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development.”

The Thursday statement also announced the release of a draft-bill to ban preliminary investigation, exploration, and extraction of uranium.

The ban on future oil drilling comes amid a slew of extreme weather events and planetary changes linked to the climate crisis, including what researchers say is a destabilizing of the Greenland ice sheet.

In a Friday tweet sharing AP‘s reporting on the ban, Greenpeace appeared to reference the climate emergency, writing that there’s “no time to lose. Who’s next?”


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Record Heat and Flimsy Power Grid Across US Illustrates Urgent Need for Green Infrastructure

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

With states across the southern and western United States facing record high temperatures weeks before the hottest months of the year, scientists and progressive lawmakers on Wednesday doubled down on calls for green infrastructure to ensure the nation is prepared for increasing levels of extreme weather on a rapidly warming planet.

For the second time in four months, state regulators in Texas on Monday warned residents that the demand for energy was straining the state’s power grid, asking millions to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights, and avoid washing clothes and cooking.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance.” —Julie McNamara, Union of Concerned Scientists

Nevada and Arizona residents were also advised about drought conditions, wildfires, and extreme heat, and in California regulators on Tuesday warned people that they may soon be asked to conserve energy as parts of the state saw temperatures rising to 110 degrees and several wildfires burning.

Temperatures across Texas have reached the 90s this week, and the power demand on Monday came to 70 gigawatts—breaking the state’s record for June and coming close to the maximum that the grid was able to offer with some power plants offline for reasons that were unclear.

The New York Times noted that in the state’s deregulated energy system, power producers sometimes “simply choose not to offer electricity into the market because it might not prove economically beneficial, leaving customers short on energy and paying high prices for the power they do get.”

Following the winter storm in Texas in February that left nearly five million homes and businesses without electricity for days and was linked to more than 100 deaths, state lawmakers introduced legislation to better weatherize the power grid, but critics said this week’s heatwave has demonstrated how the plan is inadequate.

“If we talk about infrastructure without considering how that infrastructure needs to match the climate conditions from today on into the future, then we’re building something that won’t stand a chance,” Julie McNamara, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times. 

According to The Guardian, solar power generation—demand for which skyrocketed after February’s power failure—has kept millions of Texans’ lights from going out this week.

“We have over five times as much solar as we had a few years ago and that made the difference in having these afternoons when we’ve had calls for conservation,” Dan Cohan, a civil engineering professor at Rice University, told The Guardian. “There likely would have been rolling blackouts if we didn’t have solar farms online.”

Kevin Doffing, a Houston resident who bought a solar energy system after the winter storm, told the Times, “I just don’t see how we keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results.”

The state’s power grid was “deregulated and designed 20 years ago,” said Mike Collier, a former adviser to President Joe Biden who is running for lieutenant governor in the state, and is now in “desperate need of modernization and simply hasn’t kept up with technology.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted that the power grid’s failure to provide for the state’s needs in unseasonably cold and hot weather—both of which are expected to continue amid the climate emergency—underscores the need “to invest in clean and renewable energy infrastructure.”

“The need to include climate action in any infrastructure package should not be in question,” said Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power.

As February’s storms left 69% of Texans without electricity, the state’s Republican leaders were quick to blame progressives who have pushed for a Green New Deal and an infrastructure plan that includes clean energy investments—despite agreement among experts that failures of fossil fuel-powered energy sources were behind the crisis.

In fact, said Dan Lashof of the World Resources Institute, “investing in modernizing our electricity grid to make it more resilient” is one key component of rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, despite Republican claims that the proposal doesn’t qualify as “traditional” infrastructure.

“Which provisions of the American Jobs Plan do opponents want to cut when they say they want to limit spending to ‘traditional’ infrastructure?” Lashof asked on social media.

“If we do all of these things fast enough and at large enough scale we will create millions of good jobs, reduce death and disease, and cut our emissions of heat-trapping pollution in half within a decade,” said Lashof.


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‘Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy’ Shows Transition to Renewable Future Totally Doable

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

Ditching fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy in order to keep warming below the 1.5ºC threshold is both “necessary and technically feasible.”

That’s the conclusion of an analysis released Thursday entitled Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy. Produced by the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, the report states clearly that “there is no need for more fossil fuels” because the world is overflowing with renewable energy capacity.

“The world has more than enough renewable energy resources that can be scaled up rapidly enough to meet the energy demands of every person in the world without any shortfall in global energy generation.” —Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy

Such a pathway, said Sanjay Vashist, director of Climate Action Network South Asia, would avert a “criminal waste of money” that would “have devastating climate and humanitarian consequences.”

A key point in the analysis is that simply stopping the industry’s planned expansion of fossil fuel projects is insufficient to meet the Paris climate agreement’s temperature goal and would actually “push warming well above 1.5ºC.”

With this angle, the new analysis goes beyond the International Energy Agency’s report last month calling for no oil and gas expansion in order to meet a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That’s because even if there were no expansion, the report’s projections show, the world would produce 35% more oil and 69% more coal than is consistent with meeting the 1.5°C targets.

As such, Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy lays out a dirty energy phaseout with an annual decline of 9.5% for coal, 8.5% for oil, 3.5% for gas from 2021-2030.

A further difference between the new report’s 1.5ºC scenario and the IEA report is its rejection of carbon capture technology and bioenergy as well as nuclear energy going forward.

Leaving those sources aside is no problem because expanding efficiency measures will lower overall energy demands, even amid increased electrification. That’s because wind and solar power—sectors that are accelerating—are in a position to take over fossil fuels.

“Our analysis shows that even applying a set of robust, conservative estimates that take into account environmental safeguards, land constraints, and technical feasibility, solar and wind energy could power the world more than 50 times over,” the report states. “This is the case even for Africa and India with their growing energy demand.”

“With this report, it is even clearer to everyone that world leaders have no excuse. We must act now.” —Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Youth Advocates Climate Action Philippines

The report points also to previous estimates showing Africa’s potential as a renewable “superpower” because “the solar and wind potential across the continent far outstrip every other region of the world.”

There are also global financial benefits to be considered. The report notes that renewable costs are becoming at least cost-competitive with fossil fuels. What’s more, investments in dirty energy are becoming “stranded assets.”

The good news is that “the world has more than enough renewable energy resources that can be scaled up rapidly enough to meet the energy demands of every person in the world without any shortfall in global energy generation,” according to the report.

Rebecca Byrnes, deputy director for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, welcomed the new publication as providing evidence “that a practical pathway exists where there are no new fossil fuel projects, existing projects are phased out, emissions are kept within a 1.5°C budget, and energy access becomes universal, all while using existing and increasingly cost-competitive technologies.”

“The hurdle is no longer economic nor technical; our biggest challenges are political,” she added. “A cleaner future is within reach and, while international cooperation is essential for innovation and investment, nation-states can and should act now to regulate fossil fuel production decline.”

Referencing the record number of extreme weather events that have battered her home country, Mitzi Jonelle Tan of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines and Fridays For Future Philippines called the “current level of warming… already hell for us in the Global South.”

Tan sharply criticized the possibility of further fossil fuel expansion, saying it “will clearly put us past the 1.5°C limits [and] is a death sentence to the most marginalized people.”

“With this report,” she added, “it is even clearer to everyone that world leaders have no excuse. We must act now, the science and the people are united in calling for justice.”


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The Most Colossal Planning Failure in Human History

By Richard Heinberg | Common Dreams

A couple of days ago I happened to pick up an old book gathering dust on one of my office shelves—Palmer Putnam’s Energy in the Future, published in 1953. Here was a time capsule of energy concerns from nearly a lifetime ago—and it got me to thinking along the lines of Howard Baker’s famous question during the Watergate hearings: “What did [w]e know, and when did [w]e know it?”  That is, what did we know back then about the climate and energy conundrum that threatens to undermine civilization today?

The fossil fuel age had begun over a century prior to 1953, and it was known by then that coal, oil, and natural gas represent millions of years’ worth of stored ancient sunlight. At the start, these fuels had appeared capable of supplying useful energy to society in seemingly endless quantities. Since everything we do depends on energy, having much more of it meant we could do far more farming, mining, fishing, manufacturing, and transporting than was previously possible. The result was an economic miracle. Between 1820 and today, the human population has grown eight-fold, while per-capita energy usage has also grown eight-fold. We went from horse-drawn carts to jetliners in just a few generations.

Good planning would entail the creation of a pilot project, in which a medium-sized industrial city is transitioned to get all its energy (for food, manufacturing, heating and cooling, and transportation) from renewables. Such a project would itself require subsidy and planning, but it would yield invaluable practical data.

But there were a couple of snags. One was that, though initially abundant, fossil fuels are nonrenewable and therefore subject to depletion. The second was that extracting and burning these fuels pollutes air and water, subtly but surely changing the chemistry of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans. Neither issue seemed compelling to the majority of people who first benefitted from coal, oil, and gas.

So, back to Putnam’s book. This thick tome wasn’t a bestseller, but it was considered authoritative, and it found a place on the desks of serious policymakers. Remarkably, it explored both of the core drawbacks of fossil fuels, though these were as yet on almost no one else’s radar screen.

Putnam understood that the fossil fuel age would be relatively brief. With regard to coal, he wrote: “. . . costs of extraction continue to rise, while the average heat value in a ton of coal has begun to decline, at least in the United States.” Similar symptoms of depletion would inevitably overtake the oil and gas industry, the author noted, even if the tar sands of Canada and shale oil (Putnam used these specific terms), as well as improvements in exploration and production technology, were all accounted for.

In a section at the very end of the book, titled, “The Combustion of Fossil Fuels, the Climate and Sea Level,” Putnam wrote, “Perhaps such a derangement of the CO2 cycle would lead to an increased CO2 content of the atmosphere great enough to affect the climate and cause a further rise of sea level. We do not know this. We ought to know it.” Now we know, and it turns out that a lot more than just a hike in sea level is in the offing. But we still haven’t done much to change the worrisome trend of soaring greenhouse gas emissions.

While the writing and publication of Energy in the Future were paid for by the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Putnam was not a single-minded proponent of nuclear power as a substitute for fossil fuels. The subject did get substantial treatment in his book, but he spent as much ink on limits and downsides as he did on the potential of nuclear sources to meet energy needs. Putnam concluded that “Based on present knowledge, it does not appear likely that the fission of uranium or thorium could ever support more than 10 to 20 percent of the energy system of the United States patterned as at present. The figures for the world energy system would hardly be higher.” Today, the US gets about 8 percent of its total energy from nuclear power, while the global figure is closer to 4 percent.

Putnam explored a range of alternative energy sources, including fuelwood, farm wastes, wind power, solar heat collectors, solar photovoltaics, tidal power, and heat pumps, but judged that these would not be sufficient to propel the continued economic growth of modern societies. Putnam, who died in 1984, was himself a pioneer in the development of wind power.

Energy in the Future was favorably reviewed in the prestigious journal Science, but it had a negligible impact on public policy. And here we are, seven decades later, using fossil fuels globally at roughly three times the rate we were depleting and burning them in 1953. They still supply 85 percent of global energy.

Here’s the essence of our planning failure: we have built up civilization to a scale that can temporarily be supported by finite and polluting energy sources, and we have simply assumed that this scale of activity can continue to be supported by other energy sources that haven’t yet been developed or substantially deployed. Further, we have incorporated limitless growth into the requirements for civilization’s success and maintenance—despite the overwhelming likelihood that growth can occur for only a historically brief interval.

Failing to plan is often the equivalent of planning to fail. Planning is a function of language and reason—of which we humans are certainly capable. We plan all sorts of things, from weddings to the construction of giant hydroelectric dams. Yet we are also subject to cognitive dysfunctions—denial and delusion—which seem to plague our thinking when it comes to issues of population and consumption, and their implications for the future. In effect, we have collectively bet our fate on the vague hope that “somebody will come up with something.”

Our failure continues—now with regard to the transition to renewable energy sources, primarily solar photovoltaics and wind power. Putnam himself, after surveying the limits to fossil fuels and nuclear power, seemed to settle on solar as humanity’s long-term hope; yet he acknowledged that the realization of this hope depended on the development of technologies to make solar electricity available “in more useful forms and at lower costs than now appear possible.” His wording suggests that he was grasping at straws.

There have indeed been significant technical improvements in wind and solar PV technology, along with huge cost reductions. Nevertheless, limits still exist. Sunlight and wind are themselves renewable, but the machines we build to capture ambient energy and convert it to electricity are made from non-renewable minerals and metals. Making these collectors requires energy for raw materials extraction, processing, manufacturing, transport, and installation. And renewable energy sources require considerably more land area than is needed for fossil fuel infrastructure. Further, solar and wind power sources are inherently intermittent, since the sun doesn’t always shine nor the wind always blow; so, energy storage, source redundancy, and a major electrical grid upgrade are needed. There are workarounds for each of these issues, but the difficulty of deploying the needed workarounds increases dramatically as the scale of renewable energy production increases.

Without planning, this is what will most likely happen: we’ll fail to produce enough renewable energy to power society at the level at which we want it to operate. So, we’ll continue to get most of our energy from fossil fuels—until we can’t, due to depletion. Then, as the economy crashes and the planet heats, the full impacts of our planning failure will finally hit home.

It may already be too late to avert that scenario. But let’s assume there is indeed enough time, and that we suddenly get serious about planning. What should we do?

We should start with conservative estimates of how much energy solar and wind can provide. No one has a definitive figure, but for industrial nations like the US, it would be wise to assume some fraction of the energy currently provided by fossil fuels: half, for example, would be a highly ambitious goal (one of the first projects of the planning process would be to come up with a more precise estimate). Then, planners would explore ways to reduce energy usage to that level, with a minimum of disruption to people’s lives. Planners would also seek to determine approximately the scale of the population that can be supported long-term by these sources without degradation of the environment (yes, Putnam discussed the relationship between population and energy back in 1953), and then create and implement policies to begin matching population to those levels in a way that reduces, rather than worsening, existing social inequities.

A comprehensive plan would detail the amount of investment required, and over what period of time, and would specify the sources of the money.

Finally, as I have suggested elsewhere, good planning would entail the creation of a pilot project, in which a medium-sized industrial city is transitioned to get all its energy (for food, manufacturing, heating and cooling, and transportation) from renewables. Such a project would itself require subsidy and planning, but it would yield invaluable practical data.

It’s gob-smacking to think that such a planning process actually could have started as early as 70 years ago, and that, at this late date, it has still barely begun. Instead, today’s policymakers mostly just extrapolate PV price trends, hope for further technological improvements, and assume that huge systems for supplying society’s needs using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels will somehow self-assemble in an optimum way and at full scale—all in just a couple of decades.

Without planning, it just won’t happen.

Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of thirteen books, including his most recent: “Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy” (2016). Previous books include: “Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels” (2015), “Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future” (2013); “The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies” (2005); “Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines (2010); and “The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality” (2011).

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‘A Remarkable Story of Resilience and Hope’: Renewable Energy Smashes Records in 2020

By Kenny Stancil | Common Dreams

Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity in 2020, according to data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021 shows that global renewable energy capacity grew by more than 260 gigawatts (GW) last year, beating the previous record set in 2019 by nearly 50%. Last year marked the second consecutive year in which clean energy’s share of all new generating capacity increased substantially, with renewables accounting for over 80% of all new electricity capacity added in 2020.

Total fossil fuel additions, by contrast, fell by more than 6% last year—from 64 GW worth of new electricity capacity in 2019 to 60 GW in 2020.

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Despite the challenges and the uncertainty of 2020, renewable energy emerged as a source of undeniable optimism for a better, more equitable, resilient, clean, and just future,” IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said in a statement.

“The great reset,” as La Camera called the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown, “offered a moment of reflection and chance to align our trajectory with the path to inclusive prosperity, and there are signs we are grasping it.”

Referring to 2020 as “the start of the decade of renewables,” La Camera noted that “costs are falling, clean-tech markets are growing, and never before have the benefits of the energy transition been so clear.”

Though hydropower—responsible for more than 43% of the world’s total renewable energy generation capacity—still constitutes the largest global source of clean energy, other sources are catching up; solar and wind contributed 127 GW and 111 GW of new installations, respectively, together accounting for 91% of the growth in renewables in 2020.

While La Camera described the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources as an “unstoppable” trend, he also emphasized that “there is a huge amount to be done.”

Notwithstanding recent momentum in favor of clean energy, La Camera said that in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, “significant planned energy investments must be redirected to support the transition if we are to achieve 2050 goals” of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as outlined last month in IRENA’s World Energy Transition Outlook.

La Camera’s words of caution about the inadequate pace of the global energy transformation echo a recent warning by Fatih Bitrol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, who said last week that even though the world’s biggest economies have pledged to achieve net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century, few have implemented the policies necessary to realize that objective.

Regarding the worldwide expansion of renewable energy capacity in 2020, La Camera stressed that “in this critical decade of action, the international community must look to this trend as a source of inspiration to go further.”

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Green Development LLC Helps Landowners to Preserve Family Farms and Land

Recent breakthroughs in renewable energy present a range of opportunities for landowners and farmers. Since farming in the 21st century can be incredibly complicated, today’s family farms face a range of practical and economic challenges. Consequently, symbiosis is emerging between regional farmers looking to preserve their land and culture and renewable energy companies such as Green Development LLC that proudly offers clean, renewable energy to the people of Rhode Island.

Housing Versus Renewable Energy Development

With shifts in climate and rainfall, some farmers are facing mounting financial burdens. Many landowners feel pressure to sell their land for residential use. Some people believe that selling family farms to housing developers is the only option available to local farmers who want to preserve at least a portion of their farms, but there are other options.

Solar and wind energy development is much more beneficial for Rhode Island’s communities because renewable energy allows farmers to continue contributing to the local food supply, and it does not increase the burden on schools, fire districts, roads, and other local services. Farmers’ contributions to their local economies are crucial. Solar and wind energy projects make it possible for open land to serve more than one use. In the case of solar, the project is typically limited to a small percentage of the overall farm property, and nearly all of the land surrounding a wind turbine can be used to grow crops or to graze livestock.

Rhode Island farms are also an important part of regional history and culture. Green Development LLC can help landowners to preserve their acreage for future generations. This is a benefit that housing developments simply cannot offer.

Providing a Financial Lifeline to Local Farms

This country’s farmers have had to deal with a difficult economic outlook for some time. Food production and revenue are impacted by uncertainties and fluctuations, such as weather and produce market prices. Because of this, many family farms have been unable to continue operation. Of those farms that are still operating, many of the owners desperately need additional revenue streams.

Fortunately, farmers who lease their land to Green Development generate new revenue streams with minimal impact on their land. Income from crop sales can be wildly unpredictable, but the money garnered from a solar or wind land lease can provide a steady income source for farmers for years to come.

Dual-Use Arrays

Some types of land development represent an upset in the surrounding ecosphere. This includes housing development. Renewable energy development presents a win-win situation for farmland and farmers’ bottom lines.

Green Development has partnered with local farmers to develop dual-use solar arrays. Rather than mounting solar panels on gravel or dirt, panels can be mounted above crops. This allows farmers to yield crops and solar energy from the same areas of land.

For example, Our Kids Farm in Exeter, RI, plants many crops below the solar panels on their land. In fact, certain types of crops see an advantage from the partial shade that the panels provide. These crops include kale and other leafy greens.

Planting beneath panels is not the only dual-use option. Some farms have solar panels that are spaced apart to allow farmers access to the soil between them, or to accommodate tractors and other large farm machinery for planting and harvesting.

Renewable energy provides opportunities that can help family farms to thrive in today’s economy. Solar and wind energy development also preserve valuable land for generations to come.

About Green Development LLC

Green Development LLC is the leading developer of utility-scale renewable energy projects in Rhode Island, specializing in wind, solar, and battery storage. The company delivers significant energy savings to municipalities, quasi-public entities, nonprofits, and other qualified entities through the virtual net metering program while providing long-term lease payments to landowners and farmers.




Study Shows US Switch to 100% Renewables Would Save Hundreds of Billions Each Year

By Kenny Stancil | Common Dreams

While President Donald Trump has baselessly attacked plans to eradicate fossil fuel-based sources of energy from the United States’ power grid on the grounds that doing so would be expensive and economically destructive, a new analysis reveals the opposite to be true—aggressively transitioning to 100% renewables would save Americans up to $321 billion per year while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are heating the planet.

The report (pdf), No Place Like Home: Fighting Climate Change (And Saving Money) by Electrifying America’s Households, published Wednesday by Rewiring America shows that a complete switch to clean energy sources like solar and wind would not only put the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions, but it would also save each household on average between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on utility bills.

“Too often we are told doing the right thing for the environment requires sacrifice and costs more,” Adam Zurofsky, executive director of the energy policy organization, told The Guardian. “But no one is talking about the upside—we can actually make a better economy and save people money and a byproduct will be to cut emissions from residential buildings.”

According to the study, more than 40% of the nation’s energy-related carbon emissions are determined by daily activities like bathing, cooking, and commuting. Today, most of the household appliances and neighborhood infrastructure used to facilitate refrigeration, lighting, heating, cooling, and mobility are powered by fossil fuels.

But, the researchers explain, the process of extracting and delivering dirty energy to households and communities is enormously wasteful and costly.

If we “electrify” residential buildings and “decarbonize” what the authors call “life infrastructure” by linking household consumption to renewable sources of power, we can reduce energy use, costs, and emissions, they say, and therefore “fight climate change starting right in our own homes.”

The report states that “electrification is the only viable pathway to decarbonizing a household.” The authors say that doing so “is possible with the technology we have now,” giving several examples of changes that could be adopted:

We can decarbonize our driving with electric cars, and charge them cleanly with solar on our rooftops and renewable electricity from the grid. Where most homes now burn methane in the kitchen to run the stove, we can switch to electric induction for cooking… We can use electric water heaters, or better still, heat pump hot water heaters that more efficiently provide us with hot showers and warm water. A heat pump, potentially with energy storage cheaply attached, can replace our furnace or other heating systems with electricity. We can buy electric clothes dryers to replace natural gas ones.

“To make this all work,” the report notes, “we need to install a bigger load center, wire in electric car chargers, and attach a battery capable of running the loads in the house for a half-day or so.”

One of the biggest barriers to change may be the high upfront costs associated with upgrading household infrastructure—yet, as the report points out, “we only succeed in fighting climate change if all households can transition to the new economy.”

In order to ensure an equitable and environmentally just future, the authors advocate harnessing the power of the state to implement “creative policy solutions,” from low-cost financing to direct purchasing assistance for low- and moderate-income households and those with low credit scores.

Zurofsky told The Guardian that “the federal government can make it ‘dirt cheap’ for people to switch to renewables,” especially now that solar is the cheapest form of electricity in human history.

In addition to public subsidies, the report acknowledges that “regulatory reform and restructuring of monopoly control of energy services is absolutely necessary.”

Transforming household energy consumption would not only result in the decarbonization of more than 40% of the U.S. economy, but the efficiency gains would also generate savings that “are more than enough to return money to households,” Zurofsky said.

As the report notes, “It is the poorest households that have the most to gain from household energy savings.”

The authors write that “if we apply the same technologies and approaches to the commercial sector, it would eliminate around 65% of emissions.”

Bryan Snyder, an energy and environment expert at Louisiana State University, told The Guardian that such an undertaking would be difficult because it would require the country “to build an electrical generation system on top of our roofs that is the same size as contemporary U.S. generation,” while regional inconsistencies in sunlight would add to the challenge.

Zurofsky retorted that the widespread adoption of rooftop solar power is feasible. “That does not mean it will be easy to do,” he said, “or that we won’t have to stretch our existing capacities to make it happen.”

According to Zurofsky, Rewiring America’s new report—which echoes a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute confirming that investments in energy efficiency and clean energy would create millions of jobs—is meant to demonstrate “what the future can look like if we are motivated to make it so.”

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Federal Panel Rejects Attack on Rooftop Solar in US

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

Federal regulators on Thursday released a pair of decisions expected to impact the expansion of renewable power nationwide—one that was celebrated by environmentalists and clean energy advocates as a crucial win and another that critics warned: “could lead to more pollution by propping up fossil fuel power plants.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) delivered a victory to supporters of renewables by rejecting an April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) calling for federal rather than local jurisdiction over solar net metering policies, which had provoked strong condemnation from a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers, solar investors, and hundreds of advocacy groups.

As Public Citizen explained last month:

Net-metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar power generators for the electricity they add to the grid. It is a crucial component of rooftop solar project financing because it makes solar energy systems affordable for small businesses and families through energy credits for the solar power they generate. The NERA petition would grant FERC sole jurisdiction to govern such programs through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act [PURPA] or Federal Power Act.

Public Citizen, the Center for Biological Diversity, and over 450 other environmental, faith, and consumer groups sent a letter to FERC in June arguing that “state net-metering policies and distributed solar systems are foundational to achieving the nation’s urgently needed clean and just energy transition—to address historical environmental injustices, fight the climate emergency, and ensure long-term resilience.”

Howard Crystal, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity’s energy justice program, authored a legal intervention filed with FERC regarding the petition. In a statement Thursday, he welcomed the Republican-led commission’s rejection of the NERA proposal.

“This is a big win for our climate and for communities embracing clean solar power,” Crystal said. “FERC’s unanimous ruling ensures that states can keep appropriately compensating people who install rooftop solar. That allows community solar and other distributed renewables to continue playing a critical role in the urgent transition to clean energy.”

Abigail Ross Hopper, president, and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association applauded the panel’s dismissal of the “flawed petition” in a statement that highlighted the solar industry’s record on job creation and contributions to the U.S. economy.

“Our industry holds great promise to help create jobs and revive local economies,” she said. “We are grateful to the state utility commissions and many other partners who strongly opposed this petition. We will continue working in the states to strengthen net metering policies to generate more jobs and investment and we will advocate for fair treatment of solar at FERC where it has jurisdiction.”

Tom Rutigliano, an advocate in the Sustainable FERC Project, which is housed at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), similarly welcomed the decision, saying that “FERC did one thing right today in rejecting the outrageous petition that would have upended the ability of rooftop solar owners to get a fair price for the excess electricity they generate.”

However, Rutigliano expressed concern about the panel’s vote to overhaul PURPA, which is more than 40 years old and has been key to renewable energy growth across the country. As he put it: “Instead of promoting the small, clean generation, FERC is undercutting the ability of solar and wind power to get a fair chance to compete.”

Noting that “utilities have long sought changes to the law” over cost concerns while solar and wind developers say it “is critical to giving renewables a leg up in states that aren’t green-leaning,” Bloomberg reported Thursday that the panel

reduced the mandatory purchase obligation for utilities to five megawatts from 20 megawatts in some markets, and gave states more authority to set the price at which small generators sell their power. The “one-mile rule,” which determines whether generation facilities should be considered to be part of a single facility, was also changed. The agency will now require that qualifying facilities demonstrate commercial viability.

Commissioner Richard Glick, the lone Democrat on the panel, dissented in part but said that the changes would benefit consumers. “Under the old regime, customers were overpaying for power they were receiving” to the tune of $2.2 billion to $3.9 billion, he said.

Rutigliano warned that “homeowners putting solar panels on their roof, farmers leasing their land to wind turbines, and industrial facilities with efficient on-site power all lose under FERC’s rule today.”

“FERC is pushing the nation to use more fossil fuels,” he said, “just when it should be doing everything it can to support clean power.”




The City of Sydney, Australia Now Runs On 100% Renewable Energy

By Anthony McLennan | Truth TheoryWaking Times

As of this month, the central City of Sydney is being powered exclusively by renewable energy sources.

The City of Sydney is one of Sydney’s central neighborhoods. It incorporates the central business district as well as several residential areas and about a quarter of a million people live there.

The power is being generated by wind and solar farms in New South Wales.

Private residences are not included but council buildings, street lights, swimming pools, and even the Sydney Town Hall will now all run off renewable sources. The value of this green energy deal is estimated to be worth over €37m.

Carbon emissions are expected to drop by around 20,000 tonnes per annum as a result.

“Cities are responsible for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, so it is critical that we take effective and evidence-based climate actions,” said Clover Moore, the Sydney Lord Mayor.

Creating News Jobs Through Renewable Energy

In a time of great job uncertainty during the coronavirus crisis, the good news is that increased reliance on renewable energy sources can also help create employment.

Moore says that the move will provide a boost for regional jobs in wind and solar farms in the Shoalhaven, Glen Innes, and Wagga Wagga areas.

Three-quarters of the City of Sydney’s power will come from wind power with the remaining quarter being generated by solar.

The mayor also claimed that the initiative will save half a million Australian dollars for rate-payers each year over the next decade

Sydney was certified as a carbon-neutral city in 2011 and has been targeting a 70 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

Shoalhaven Solar Farm, a non-profit community scheme, is one of the power contributors. They are also expected to start generating additional electricity which will be used to subsidize local homes.

About the Author

Anthony McLennan is an experienced journalist who has written for some of South Africa’s biggest publications. Also, a photographer, soccer coach, dog-lover and surfer, enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful Cape Town. He believes that a new approach is needed to sustain our planet and that it is important to put this message out.




To Support ‘Urgently-Needed Clean and Just Energy Transition,’ 450+ Groups Demand Federal Regulators Rebuff Attack on Community Solar

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

Over 450 environmental, faith, and consumer advocacy groups on Monday urged federal regulators to reject a proposal from a secretive rightwing organization that would upend policies seen as “foundational to achieving the nation’s urgently-needed clean and just energy transition.”

The call comes in a letter (pdf) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and concerns the New England Ratepayers Association’s (NERA) April petition arguing for federal jurisdiction over solar net metering policies, which are now under states’ control.

Public Citizen—one of the signatories to the new letter—explained Monday:

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar power generators for the electricity they add to the grid. It is a crucial component of rooftop solar project financing because it makes solar energy systems affordable for small businesses and families through energy credits for the solar power they generate. The NERA petition would grant FERC sole jurisdiction to govern such programs through the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act or Federal Power Act.

The alternative to net metering is gross metering. Under this scenario, as Pine Tree Watch reported last month,

utilities pay solar users a low credit for supplying solar energy to the electric grid, then charge them a higher rate—the same as what non-solar users pay—for any energy they consume. This can result in solar customers paying for electricity even if they use less than their panels produce. “

[…]

The petition also could lay the groundwork for the elimination of states’ ability to promote renewable energy policies that incentivize solar.

According to Nathan Phelps, regulatory director at Vote Solar, “If this is approved, families and businesses across the country will be blindsided by this malicious affront on their good faith investments that were based on state policies that have been protected by FERC for the past 20 years.”

The fact that the attack on clean energy comes in the midst of both a climate emergency and economic crisis—as well as longstanding and unresolved environmental injustices—should compel FERC to reject the petitions, the groups argue.

From their letter:

State net metering policies and distributed solar systems are foundational to achieving the nation’s urgently-needed clean and just energy transition—to address historical environmental injustices, fight the climate emergency, and ensure long-term resilience. Families classified as low-wealth and Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the pollution from centralized dirty fossil power and the ravage of climate disaster. As we tackle the climate emergency and make the urgently-needed energy system reforms, it is critical that the new energy paradigm not only be powered by clean and renewable energy, but also pioneer electricity structures that build community resilience and distribute wealth, power, and decision-making about energy choices equitably. Solar is vital to that future, delivering benefits of equitable community development, local job generation, customer choice, and the energy security and resilience of communities in the long-term. As millions across the country face the threat of electricity shut-offs due to coronavirus-precipitated job losses, it is more apparent than ever that decentralized solar systems can help families generate their own power and decrease dependence on dirty centralized generation to weather such crises, only sure to rise in the face of growing wealth inequality and increasing climate impacts.

“The climate and economic crises are fundamentally linked,” Shiva Patel, an energy justice campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

“Our energy future must not only be powered by clean and renewable energy but have systems that address racial and economic justice through centering community control, ownership, and resilience,” she continued.

NERA’s petition had already sparked concern from two dozen federal lawmakers, who wrote in a letter to FERC sent last month, “States have engaged in deliberate, thoughtful processes to develop and implement net metering laws, which has led to the development of a renewable energy industry employing more than 800,000 workers nationwide.”

The lawmakers, whose ranks include Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also suggested NERA’s shadowy membership should raise eyebrows.

“It is also unclear based on public information whether this group actually represents any New England interests—consumer or corporate—and if it does, it is unclear why a group that advocates for ratepayers in New England is asking FERC for a sweeping order preempting net metering nationwide,” they wrote.

“At a time when states need to ensure low-cost and reliable energy transactions for consumers,” the letter continued, “FERC should not upend 45 existing state policies—and certainly not at the behest of a group funded by 12 anonymous donors whose interests are unknown to FERC or the public.”

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Renewable Energy Could Power the World by 2050

Power to heat, to cool, to drive the world’s industries: Renewables can supply it all. Image: By Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

By Paul Brown | Climate News Network

Wind, water and solar sources − the renewable energy trio − could meet almost all the needs of our power-hungry society in 30 years.

LONDON, 19 February 2020 − Virtually all the world’s demand for electricity to run transport and to heat and cool homes and offices, as well as to provide the power demanded by industry, could be met by renewable energy by mid-century.

This is the consensus of 47 peer-reviewed research papers from 13 independent groups with a total of 91 authors that have been brought together by Stanford University in California.

Some of the papers take a broad sweep across the world, adding together the potential for each technology to see if individual countries or whole regions could survive on renewables.

Special examinations of small island states, sub-Saharan Africa and individual countries like Germany look to see what are the barriers to progress and how they could be removed.

In every case, the findings are that the technology exists to achieve 100% renewable power if the political will to achieve it can be mustered.

“It seems that every part of the world can now find a system that edges fossil fuels out in costs”

The collection of papers is a powerful rebuff to those who say that renewables are not reliable or cannot be expanded fast enough to take over from fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Once proper energy efficiency measures are in place, a combination of wind, solar and water power, with various forms of storage capacity, can add up to 100% of energy needs in every part of the planet.

Stanford puts one of its own papers at the top of the list. It studies the impacts of the Green New Deal proposals on grid stability, costs, jobs, health and climate in 143 countries.

With the world already approaching 1.5°C of heating, it says, seven million people killed by air pollution annually, and limited fossil fuel resources potentially sparking conflict, Stanford’s researchers wanted to compare business-as-usual with a 100% transition to wind-water-solar energy, efficiency, and storage by 2050 – with at least 80% by 2030.

By grouping the countries of the world together into 24 regions co-operating on grid stability and storage solutions, supply could match demand by 2050-2052 with 100% reliance on renewables. The amount of energy used overall would be reduced by 57.1%, costs would fall by a similar amount, and 28.6 million more long-term full-time jobs would be created than under business-as-usual.

Clean air bonus

The remarkable consensus among researchers is perhaps surprising since climate and weather conditions differ so much in different latitudes. It seems though that as the cost of renewables, particularly wind and solar, has tumbled, and energy storage solutions multiplied, every part of the world can now find a system that edges fossil fuels out in costs.

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Affordable Ways to Live Sustainably

With global warming increasingly becoming an alarming issue, it is time to make drastic changes to our lifestyles. This may seem like a difficult and expensive task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to bring sustainability into your life without breaking your budget — in fact, it can even help you save money.

From breaking bad habits around the house to making upgrades in your home, you can live guilt-free and keep your newly saved dollar bills while making a positive impact on the environment.

Waste Not

If you’re looking for an easy place to start, head to your kitchen. Whether or not you’ve already begun a personal boycott against plastic silverware and paper plates, look around and count the disposable items around the area. Maybe you can replace Ziploc bags and plastic containers with Mason jars, which can have many surprising uses. For example, you can use them as to-go containers or make them into DIY air fresheners.

Composting is the future of recycling. As more cities across the US fund programs to promote the practice of transforming leftovers into nutrient-rich soil, it is easier than ever to get started. More and more cities are gifting their residents with composting bins to accompany their trash and recycling bins, complete with curbside service. Even if your city is not quite there yet, you can still learn to compost at home.

To take it a step further, replace any disposable products in the kitchen with compostable ones. This can combine the convenience of plastic forks and cups with the responsibility of taking care of the environment.

Related Article: HomeBiogas Device Turns Food Waste Into Clean Cooking Fuel And Nutrient-Rich Fertilizer

Options for Tiny Homes

Tiny homes are a trending way to limit your environmental footprint. Many have been able to live comfortably in functional and stylish tiny homes. This solution is great for those looking to downsize and aren’t bothered by a little less elbow room. Some sellers, like City Design Inc, even sell their these small homes on Etsy. Their smallest model costs less than $20,000 and includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living space in 180 square feet.

Compared to a small house, this home could save most people hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, that may still be too expensive for some, as the home will require land to stay on, and those building their own tiny home will have to navigate building regulations. If you’re looking live sustainably while avoiding these potential issues, living in an RV might be right for you.

Related Article: Tiny House Must-See – Couple Converts a School Bus So Well You Won’t Believe It’s a Bus

Affordable Solar Power

A staple in sustainable living, solar power may be what your mind wanders to first, only to be struck down because of the cost. It’s true that converting your home to solar power can be quite an investment, but before you turn away from this alternative source of energy, you may want to look into the available options that can make this change an affordable one.

Funding this endeavor should be the first thing you look into, and grants, rebates, and tax refunds should make up a huge part of your research, which can save you thousands of dollars. Though initially this might take more money upfront, you can also rest assured knowing that your electricity bill payments won’t fund anti-clean energy bills. Reports have found a portion of utility profits help fund companies that, among other things, promote fracking and spread misinformation about climate change.

Though sometimes it seems like we are only getting further from our goal of practicing kindness to our planet, there are many ways to do your part. Whether you start composting, move into a tiny home, or upgrade your energy source, every small victory in sustainable living is a victory for the planet.

Related Article: This Portable, Off-Grid Solar System Is Powerful Enough to Be Your Emergency Back Up

About the Author

Brooke Faulkner is a green-souled writer from the pacific northwest. If pressed, she’ll tell you that her green soul is made up of ferns, recycled goods, and a love of the “shop local” movement. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gallivanting around the woods behind her house. To read more of her work, follow @faulknercreek.




Study: Even Short-Lived Solar Panels Can Be Economically Viable

By David L. Chandler | TechXplore

A new study shows that, contrary to widespread belief within the solar power industry, new kinds of solar cells and panels don’t necessarily have to last for 25 to 30 years in order to be economically viable in today’s market.

Rather, solar panels with initial lifetimes of as little as 10 years can sometimes make economic sense, even for grid-scale installations—thus potentially opening the door to promising new solar photovoltaic technologies that have been considered insufficiently durable for widespread use.

The new findings are described in a paper in the journal Joule, by Joel Jean, a former MIT postdoc and CEO of startup company Swift Solar; Vladimir Bulovic, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of MIT.nano; and Michael Woodhouse of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado.

“When you talk to people in the solar field, they say any new solar panel has to last 25 years,” Jean says. “If someone comes up with new technology with a 10-year lifetime, no one is going to look at it. That’s considered common knowledge in the field, and it’s kind of crippling.”

Jean adds that “that’s a huge barrier because you can’t prove a 25-year lifetime in a year or two, or even 10.” That presumption, he says, has left many promising new technologies stuck on the sidelines, as conventional crystalline silicon technologies overwhelmingly dominate the commercial solar marketplace. But, the researchers found, that does not need to be the case.

“We have to remember that ultimately what people care about is not the cost of the panel; it’s the Levelized cost of electricity,” he says. In other words, it’s the actual cost per kilowatt-hour delivered over the system’s useful lifetime, including the cost of the panels, inverters, racking, wiring, land, installation labor, permitting, grid interconnection, and other system components, along with ongoing maintenance costs.

Part of the reason that the economics of the solar industry looks different today than in the past is that the cost of the panels (also known as modules) has plummeted so far that now, the “balance of system” costs—that is, everything except the panels themselves—exceeds that of the panels. That means that, as long as newer solar panels are electrically and physically compatible with the racking and electrical systems, it can make economic sense to replace the panels with newer, better ones as they become available while reusing the rest of the system.

“Most of the technology is in the panel, but most of the cost is in the system,” Jean says. “Instead of having a system where you install it and then replace everything after 30 years, what if you replace the panels earlier and leave everything else the same? One of the reasons that might work economically is if you’re replacing them with more efficient panels,” which is likely to be the case as a wide variety of more efficient and lower-cost technologies are being explored around the world.

He says that what the team found in their analysis is that “with some caveats about financing, you can, in theory, get to a competitive cost, because your new panels are getting better, with a lifetime as short as 15 or even 10 years.”

Although the  of solar cells have come down year by year, Bulovic says, “the expectation that one had to demonstrate a 25-year lifetime for any new solar panel technology has stayed as a tautology. In this study, we show that as the  get less expensive and more efficient, the cost balance significantly changes.”

He says that one aim of the new paper is to alert the researchers that their new solar inventions can be cost-effective even if relatively short-lived and hence may be adopted and deployed more rapidly than expected. At the same time, he says, investors should know that they stand to make bigger profits by opting for efficient solar technologies that may not have been proven to last as long, knowing that periodically the panels can be replaced by newer, more efficient ones.

“Historical trends show that solar panel technology keeps getting more efficient year after year, and these improvements are bound to continue for years to come,” says Bulovic. Perovskite-based solar cells, for example, when first developed less than a decade ago, had efficiencies of only a few percents. But recently their record performance exceeded 25 percent efficiency, compared to 27 percent for the record silicon cell and about 20 percent for today’s standard silicon modules, according to Bulovic. Importantly, in novel device designs, a perovskite solar cell can be stacked on top of another perovskite, silicon, or thin-film cell, to raise the maximum achievable efficiency limit to over 40 percent, which is well above the 30 percent fundamental limit of today’s silicon solar technologies. But perovskites have issues with the longevity of operation and have not yet been shown to be able to come close to meeting the 25-year standard.

Bulovic hopes the study will “shift the paradigm of what has been accepted as a global truth.” Up to now, he says, “many promising technologies never even got a start, because the bar is set too high” on the need for durability.

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Shifting Subsidies to Renewable Energy Instead of Propping Up Fossil Fuel Giants Would Prompt ‘Clean Energy Revolution’, Study Shows

A new report by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) showed that if just 10 to 30 percent of the annual coal, oil, and gas subsidies were given to the renewable energy sector instead, the world could see a prompt reduction of fossil fuel emissions by nearly 20 percent.

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

After two Democratic candidates in this week’s presidential primary debates called for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuel companies, a new study revealed that even reducing those subsidies—as the world’s wealthiest countries pledged to a decade ago—would kick-start “clean energy revolution.”

As The Guardian reported Thursday, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a report showing that if just 10 to 30 percent of the annual coal, oil, and gas subsidies were given to the renewable energy sector, the world could see a prompt reduction of fossil fuel emissions by nearly 20 percent.

“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry. All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”
—Richard Bridle, IISD
Fossil fuel companies receive more than $370 billion per year in subsidies from world governments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculates the amount given to extractive industries as $5.2 trillion, including the cost of the yearly damage done by fossil fuel companies. In the U.S. in 2015, the government spent 10 times more on the fossil fuel industry than it did on education.

Renewable energy companies providing solar, wind, and hydropower electricity are given only $100 billion yearly.

“Public money is far better spent delivering the clean energy transition than propping up the fossil fuel industry,” said Richard Bridle, senior policy adviser for IISD, in a statement. “All countries should be looking to identify where swaps can kick-start their clean energy transitions.”

In 2009, countries at the G20 summit agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, but 10 years later, the economies have made little progress.

In the Democratic primary debates on Tuesday and Wednesday, both Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden called for an end to the subsidies.

On social media on Thursday, the global climate action group 350.org highlighted recent comments from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said in May, “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money—which means our money—to boost hurricanes, to spread droughts, to melt glaciers, to bleach corals. In one word: to destroy the world.”

Contrary to the claims of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in the U.S. and other leaders aligned with fossil fuel industries abroad, even with less financial assistance from governments, the renewable energy sector is growing.

Renewable energy sources are expected to provide nearly 30 percent of electricity by 2023, up from 24 percent in 2017, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that natural gas and coal power fell by 7.7 and 2.5 percent, respectively, between 2016 and 2017, while solar, wind, and hydropower saw gradual growth.

Swapping subsidies for extractive industries for assistance that would go to sustainable energy companies would quickly “tip the balance,” Bridle told The Guardian.

The switch would turn renewables “from a technology that is slowly growing to one that is instantly the most viable and can replace really large amounts of generation. It goes from being marginal to an absolute no-brainer.”

The IMF estimates that completely ending fossil fuel subsidies would cut global emissions by a quarter while reducing the number of premature deaths due to pollution by half.

“The reform of subsidies alone is not enough to meet global emissions targets, but it is a good first step,” Bridle said. “Ultimately, the cost of each energy source should reflect its social and environmental impacts. That means increasing taxes on dirty energy and redirecting subsidies to align with government priorities.”

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