This year’s annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum, hosted by ACORE, took place on the heels of an important policy update for key technologies. In December 2015, Congress approved a combined tax and budget package giving wind and solar what amounts to between five and seven years of policy “certainty” for investors and developers. But tax policy is only one part of the equation. We got another important boost that some month from the successful international climate meetings in Paris where 129 nations came together and, in essence, agreed to move to a low-carbon economy. But just a few weeks later the Supreme Court’s issued a surprising stay of EPA’s carbon-cutting regulatory initiative, the Clean Power Plan, which threw sand in the gears of an implementation effort that was just gaining momentum. The stay is likely to delay implementation efforts by more than a year, even as states respond in dramatically different ways. In the meantime, it will be up to the renewable sector and its allies to maintain the public and private sector momentum behind the shift to renewable generation.
Below is our quick overview of the key discussions and leading news stories emerging from this year’s Policy Forum. Three major stories reported on from this year’s Policy Forum:
Fortune 500 companies are at an all-time high in terms of value – some $17+ trillion dollars as of this time last year. The explosive growth of tech businesses in particular, Google, Amazon, Apple and many more, has set the standard for modern capitalism in terms of profits and advancement up the Fortune list. But one key to success for these companies has flown relatively under the radar: the sustainability-driven push towards using renewable energy.
This past March, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) used day one of its annual National Renewable Energy Policy Forum to highlight the work being done by corporate leaders to power their operations increasingly using clean, renewable energy. With over 150 companies having signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge – covering $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion – Corporate America's commitment to clean energy is undeniable and growing rapidly. ACORE’s Corporate Procurement Working Group Executive Meeting: “Advancing Corporate Energy Solutions,” hosted many of these businesses, and highlighted several critical challenges and opportunities ahead of the sector as this trend continues.
After COP21 in Paris, there are still many questions being posed: how will the U.S., and the world, meet these ambitious emissions reductions targets? Will time run out before we can cut emissions enough to avoid the irreversible consequences of climate change? Should the U.S. turn to other technologies like nuclear generation to meet emissions targets? To answer these questions, many leaders from around the world are looking to Denmark to study how this small country has become a leader in implementing renewable energy solutions and serving as a catalyst for change. Within Denmark, one needs look no further than Samsoe for inspiration.
Over the next two weeks, leaders from around the world will convene in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP21. This year, there is renewed, if cautious optimism about the possibility of a binding agreement among governments to act on this critical global issue.
But there’s another side to the climate change story that’s being written not in parliaments or at diplomatic summits, but in boardrooms and corporate executive suites.
I was speaking with a friend the other day when she asked, “What’s going on with renewable energy tax extenders this year? Are the PTC and ITC going to be extended?” As we know, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) expired at the end of 2014 and the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will expire at the end of 2016. That’s in addition to a dozen other energy credits affecting biofuels, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency that have also expired.
Oct. 15 -- U.S. Geothermal now has its 22-megawatt power plant near Vale, Ore., online, sending electricity produced from Neal Hot Springs into Idaho Power’s grid. >>View Article
April 11 -- A nearly unanimous House voted Wednesday to lift barriers to the development of hydropower around the country, something that the bill's supporters say would help develop cheap, clean energy and create jobs. >>View Article
March 26 -- President Barack Obama recently paid a visit to the Argonne National Laboratory where he strongly voiced concerns about the national security threat Americans face from dependence on oil as a single source of fuel. As an Army veteran now working to develop advanced-energy technologies, I was proud to be there, too, standing next to a president who listens to the advice of military and national security leaders — and offers solutions to tackle our nation’s toughest energy challenges. >>View Article
November 12 -- GCube, the leading provider of underwriting services for renewable energy projects, has launched an insurance solution to cover losses incurred by wind energy developers or contractors in the event of the cancellation of the Production Tax Credit (PTC). A key Presidential election issue, the potential non-renewal of the PTC for wind energy projects has caused the US wind energy industry to see a substantial slowdown in equipment orders and new projects slated for 2013. With investors increasingly nervous, project capital for new developments has become progressively harder to secure. GCube’s latest offering is designed to bolster market confidence for the remaining projects currently under development. >>View Article
November 8 -- Once this pesky presidential election gets behind us, politicians will again talk about renewable energy and climate change, predicts the founder and president of Oakland-based Sungevity, Danny Kennedy. "The consumer market will force them to," he predicts, because for the past two years, consumers have been turning to solar power in droves, with rooftop installations up 426 percent industry wide since 2010. Moreover, Hurricane Sandy has made clear that the harm to the planet from burning fossil fuels will soon be an intolerable trade off. >>View Article