The U.S. wind energy industry had a memorable 2015, from installing thousands of new turbines across the country to supporting a growing number of jobs. But perhaps one of the most noteworthy brights spots of the past year, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), was the growing demand for wind energy from major corporations. High-tech firms such as Google Energy, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, as well as more traditional companies such as Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Walmart and Dow Chemical, have signed contracts to purchase increasing amounts of wind energy in coming years.
The energy from the sun is one of the most renewable and cleanest sources of thermal and electrical energy all over the world, but experts believe there are still a lot of untapped potential when it comes to the efficiency of solar cells. And while solar energy is on the rise, one of its disadvantages is that photovoltaic cells no longer produce energy during inclement weather. The question now is this: could we generate electricity from the rain, too? Apparently, we can.
The global climate change agreement brokered in Paris in December by 195 nations will come into effect two years earlier than originally planned, the top United Nations climate diplomat predicted. “You heard it here first: I think that we will have a Paris Agreement in effect by 2018,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a lecture Monday at Imperial College London. The prediction suggests that countries may initiate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions earlier than expected, and increases the chances of meeting the pact’s ultimate goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since industrialization began.
Cities are a driving force behind the U.S. adoption of solar energy. According to Environment California, the United States currently has 27 GW of installed solar capacity, and much of that comes from more than 780,000 rooftops around the nations. Cities are not just centers of demand, but are also potentially major providers of electricity. Those are a few of the facts found in America’s Shining Cities 2016.
SolarCity closed two major rounds of funding this week that will give a boost to its residential and commercial solar businesses, and could possibly breathe new life into a languishing commercial and industrial (C&I) solar market. On April 7, the California-based company announced it had closed the second round of financing as part of its renewable energy tax equity investment program with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and another investor. The program will finance approximately $188 million in solar projects, covering the upfront cost of the solar equipment and installation.
States with renewable portfolio standards have been highly successful at meeting their targets, with a handful of states setting higher targets within the past year while at the same time average compliance costs added an average of 1.3 percent to customer bills. Those are among the findings of an annual report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that looks at the mandatory renewables policies in 29 states and the District of Columbia. "RPS policies are just one part of the larger renewable electricity pie," said Galen Barbose, the research scientist who authored the report, which is presented as a graphics-rich slide deck. "Which is to say there is a lot of renewable energy development happening outside of these programs. But that's not to say these programs haven't been impactful and a critical driver for some of that growth," he said in an interview.
The United Nations says more than 130 countries have committed to sign the Paris climate change deal during a kickoff ceremony on April 22, Earth Day. In a statement, the U.N. said representatives of the nations, including 60 world leaders, will meet in New York in two weeks to sign the landmark climate deal, hatched by negotiators in Paris in December.
Offshore wind development will be necessary for New York to achieve its 50% renewable energy goal by 2030, according to the state’s Energy and Finance Chair Richard Kauffman, recently appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help reform the state's energy system. Though offshore wind has struggled to compete with other energy sources on cost, Kauffman told Bloomberg the ability to tap high-capacity-factor wind energy near the coast of New York could help the resource compete with other central station renewables, many of which would require large transmission projects to deliver energy to the state. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) last month officially designated a 127 square mile tract off the New York coast as a wind energy development area.
Maryland senators yesterday voted 31-14 to expand the state's renewable energy goals, boosting targets solar and wind targets to 25% by 2020.The higher goals would would make Maryland's renewable target the sixth highest nationally, behind Vermont, California, Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut.
Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable. While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.
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