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The Silicon Valley Idea That's Driving Solar Use Worldwide

December 2 -- Silicon Valley has something to offer the world in the drive toward a clean energy economy. And it’s not technology.

It’s a financing formula. In a region that spawned tech giants Apple Inc. and Google and is famous for innovators and entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, a handful of startups began offering to install solar panels on the homes of middle-class families in return for no-money down and monthly payments cheaper than a utility bill. This third-party leasing method -- which made expensive clean energy gear affordable -- ignited a rooftop solar revolution with annual U.S. home installations increasing 16-fold since 2008, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. >>View Article

Wind, Solar Power to Supply More Energy Than Shale, Goldman Says

December 2 -- New wind turbines and solar panels worldwide will provide more energy over the next five years than U.S. shale-oil production has over the past five, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The leading renewable-energy technologies will add the equivalent of 6.2 million barrels of oil a day to the global energy mix, exceeding the 5.7 million barrels a day pumped from U.S. shale oil wells since 2010, analysts including Brian Lee and Jaakko Kooroshy said in a research report Monday.

The findings come as world leaders gather in Paris to negotiate a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. While countries are setting targets for emission reductions in 2030 and 2050, Goldman Sachs said the biggest shift will occur over the next decade as demand for renewable energy, LED lighting and plug-in vehicles accelerates. >>View Article 

Ray Lewis Launches Clean Energy Non-profit

December 2 -- Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced Monday he is leading a new clean energy non-profit organization that aims to expand access to renewable energy in low-income communities.

The non-profit, Power52, aims to build clean energy projects in low-income areas of Baltimore and produce energy that can be used by people living in them.

The projects will help provide job training in the renewable energy sector for people in the communities, the non-profit announced. It also aims to give college or trade school scholarships for low-income people.

"Power52 will not only give people opportunities, but it will also educate people so that they can understand the importance of energy independence while cutting their utility bill," Ray Lewis said in a statement. >>View Article 

Airbnb Hosts Could Get Incentive for Going Solar

December 2 -- A solar energy company is rolling out a program that will offer incentives to Airbnb hosts to install rooftop solar panels on the spaces they rent through the home sharing service.

NRG Home Solar, a residential solar company a division of Houston and New Jersey-based NRG Energy, and San Francisco-based Airbnb, announced the new partnership to increase the adoption of solar energy on Monday.

The companies will provide incentives to existing and new members of the Airbnb community and travel credits to encourage individuals to experience home sharing system, which they companies call a more sustainable way to travel than hotels. >>View Article 

Bill Gates Expected to Create Billion-Dollar Fund for Clean Energy

November 30 -- Bill Gates will announce the creation of a multibillion-dollar clean energy fund on Monday at the opening of a Paris summit meeting intended to forge a global accord to cut planet-warming emissions, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

The fund, which one of the people described as the largest such effort in history, is meant to pay for research and development of new clean-energy technologies. It will include contributions from other billionaires and philanthropies, as well as a commitment by the United States and other participating nations to double their budget for clean energy research and development, according to the people with knowledge of the plans, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the fund.

The announcement of the fund, which has the joint backing of the governments of the United States, China, India and other countries, the people said, is intended to give momentum to the two-week Paris climate talks. >>View Article 

Unilever Aims to Use Only Renewable Energy by 2030

November 30 -- Consumer goods maker Unilever said it would switch to using only renewable energy by 2030 and would stop using energy from coal by 2020, as businesses jostle to highlight their green credentials ahead of a global climate summit.

World leaders were set to meet in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 to agree on a plan to curb global warming.

Unilever was among 81 companies, along with rivals Nestle and Procter & Gamble, that have signed up to set emissions targets for their businesses with the aim of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman is a leading advocate for the idea that there is a business case for sustainability even as his company's sales have slowed under the weight of a weak margarine business and slowing emerging market economies. >>View Article 

Guest Commentary: Wind Energy Protects Wildlife

November 30 -- Wind farms are not a major source of bird mortality. Wind turbine sites represent only a tiny fraction of bird deaths caused by human activities — an estimated 214,000 to 368,000 annually, according to a 2014 study from the American Wind Wildlife Institute. This compares to other human causes such as buildings (550 million), power lines (130 million), cars (80 million), and pesticide poisoning (67 million), according to a 2002 study published in a 2005 U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report.

The same holds true for eagle mortality. While eagles do occasionally collide with turbines at some wind farms, this is not a common occurrence. Modern wind facilities represent only 2 percent of all documented sources of human-caused golden eagle fatalities.

Bird mortality has been studied many times by many different researchers, and wind's impacts are much less than other sources of power generation. Indeed, many other human-made sources have a significantly larger effect. Judith Lewis Mernit informs her article largely on the basis of one discredited report, which a proper peer-review later found was flawed with a wide variety of serious mistakes. >>View Article 

Editorial: Energy Plan Secures Power Supply

November 30 -- Michigan will lose nine coal plants over the next year; 25 coal-fired units will be retired in the next five years. Across the region, scores of coal facilities will go offline during that period.

Between the state’s aged energy infrastructure and the continual onslaught of federal environmental regulations, Michigan must decide now how it will meet its future energy needs. Bills have passed out of committee in the state House and are pending in the Senate to address energy policy for the next several decades. With an emphasis on long-term generation planning, goals for energy efficiency, and room for the market to help direct costs and the type of generation, these bills should meet Michigan’s goals. >>View Article 

Offshore Wind Energy Worth a Spin

November 30 -- By now, every coastal municipality and the three coastal congressional representatives have rightly voiced opposition to drilling for oil and natural gas off the state’s coast. Fortunately, a much cleaner energy alternative is showing offshore potential.

This month, the federal government asked businesses to submit proposals for wind farm leases off the South Carolina coast. That’s the most concrete step so far in opening up the coast to offshore wind energy.

Four broad areas are currently open to potential development in state waters, including much of the Grand Strand coast and waters off northern Charleston County. >>View Article 

Yet Another Study Finds The US Could Quit All Fossil Fuels By 2050

November 25 -- Earlier this year, the Clean Power Plan pledged to cut US power plant carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2050. A new study says the US can do way better than that: reducing all greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and running the country entirely on renewable energy by 2050.

This most optimistic scenario is released by Labor Network for Sustainability and, with research by economist Frank Ackerman of Synapse Energy Economics, just as the world’s leaders are about to grapple with slashing global emissions by 80 percent at the Paris climate talks. It’s named the Clean Energy Future, and it sounds wonderful. >>View Article 

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