Talk about an energy revolution. In 2007, there were no utility-scale solar power plants in the US. Today, there are hundreds. It’s not just what this growth means for cutting carbon pollution and fighting climate change that’s so exciting – it’s also what it means for the economy. Solar power is creating jobs almost 12 times faster than the overall US economy. Last year, the US solar workforce grew by more than 20 percent for the third year in a row. Better for the environment and a dynamic tool for economic growth and job creation, solar power shines in plenty of ways. That’s why many states are investing in it – and seeing the results. To show how, new statistics from the Solar Energy Industries Association ranks the top 10 solar states, based on cumulative solar capacity installed, as of March 2016.
There are 332,519,000 cubic miles of water on the planet. That's 352,670,000,000,000,000,000 gallons just sloshing around out there. Anyone who's ridden or been tossed by a wave has a sense of the kinetic energy contained in our perpetually moving oceans. If we could harness it, it could provide a clean, renewable source of energy. But efforts to turn our oceans into power generators—often in the form of "aqua-mills," windmill technology adapted to water—have foundered on the complexity of their many moving parts in the corrosive and remote environs of the sea.
The U.S. invested $14.7 billion in wind energy in 2015, and the industry created jobs in every single state, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association. The wind industry installed 4,304 utility-scale wind turbines comprising 8,598 megawatts of capacity, making it the top source of new electric generation capacity in 2015, according to AWEA’s annual market report. Wind power made up 41 percent of new electric-generating capacity last year, compared to 28.5 percent by solar power and 28.1 percent by natural gas.
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.
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