Report Unveils that U.S. Solar Industry Employs More People than Fossil Fuel Industry

by Genna Gores

The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, reveals that the renewable energy industry employs more people than the entire fossil fuel industry (including petroleum oil, natural gas, and coal). The report goes on to compare employment opportunities between 2015 and 2016 for all types of energy within the Electric Power Generation sector, which includes: solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy, hydropower, nuclear, fossil fuels, and other generation/fuels. It is evident with this report that solar and other renewable energies are a rapidly growing industry with increasing employment opportunities for Americans. Continue reading

State-level Renewable Energy Regulations

by Emily Audet

States have often passed environmental regulations that extend past and are more stringent than federal regulations. With the current administration and Congress appearing to not prioritize sustainability nor clean energy regulations and legislation, pushes at state-level policy could be a viable political strategy for those concerned with advancing clean energy. As of January 2017, 29 states and Washington, D.C. have passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a type of regulation that bolsters use and production of renewable energy [http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/01/09/report-benefits-of-state-renewable-energy-policies-far-outweigh-costs/]. State-level RPSs significantly impact the nation’s energy landscape—RPSs caused the creation of the majority of all renewable energy projects established from 2000 to 2017, and if states fully implement existing RPSs, a projected 40% of the energy for the whole country will come from renewable sources by 2050. Continue reading

Indigenous Communities Resist Hydroelectric Dam Projects in Guatemala

by Sara R. Roschdi
The government of Guatemala has approved hydro electric dams to be built on indigenous territories.  Fitzpatrick-Behrens reports in the article, “Electrifying Guatemala: Clean Energy and Development” that these hydroelectric dam projects are expected to produce 181 megawatts of energy for the country [https://nacla.org/news/electrifying-guatemala-clean-energy-and-development]. For indigenous communities like the Ixcán community, these dams mean the pollution of their waters and the corporatization of their sacred lands. Telesur reports that on January 17th, two Indigenous Guatemalan activist, were assassinated by the state as they engaged in a peaceful protest against the building of a hydroelectric dam in San Mateo Ixatan, Guatemala [http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemalan-Activist-Killed-Protesting-Hydroelectric-Project-20170118-0013.html].   Continue reading

Renewable Energy in India

 

by Aurora Silva

India’s government has a bold goal for deploying renewable energy: 175 gigawatts of electricity-generating capacity by 2022, including 100 gigawatts of solar power. The country has a history of promoting renewable energy and a rapidly growing portfolio of solar and wind projects, but meeting the solar target alone will require a growth rate equivalent to doubling India’s installed solar capacity every 18 months. It will also require a clear understanding of the three factors that drive energy demand in India (access, security, and efficiency); new federal and state policies and incentives; innovative financing for capital investments estimated at $100 billion or more; and additional funding for manufacturing, training, and job creation. Project developers will have to grapple with the cost and availability of land, grid connections, and backup power. To meet the electricity needs of the poor and encourage rural entrepreneurship, India’s energy policies should aim for a mix of grid— connected and decentralized renewable energy sources. Continue reading

Energy Growth is More Renewable than Ever

by Max Breitbarth

A February 2016 Huffington Post article by Ben Walsh explores the profile of the new American energy projects in light of last December’s COP21 Paris climate agreement.

Walsh analyzes a recent report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report shows that 68% of new energy projects in the US are renewable. There are very few coal and oil projects, but the fossil fuel, natural gas, continues to make up a significant portion of new energy projects. Continue reading

IRENA Partners With ENGIE for Terrawatt Initiative

by Woodson Powell

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has partnered with French multinational electric utility company ENGIE (formally known as GDF Suez) to increase solar power production. In December of 2015, ENGIE CEO Gérard Mestrallet announced the Terrawatt Initiative which calls for one terawatt of additional solar photovoltaic capacity to be installed by 2030, and includes an additional $1 trillion of investment for solar power infrastructures [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/01/19/irena-partners-engie-terrawatt-initiative/]. Since then, IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin has met with Deputy CEO and COO of ENGIE and first Chairman of the private sector Terrawatt Initiative, Isabelle Kocher, to assist in ENGIE’s efforts. Possible areas of future cooperation include reducing the cost of technology for solar generation assets, supporting industrial capacities via implementation of appropriate regulatory frameworks and risk mitigation instruments, and developing a systemic approach for the integration of renewables, paving the way for later solar energy storage and technology solutions that meet each country’s specific needs [http://irenanewsroom.org/2016/01/18/irena-and-terrawatt-partner-for-massive-solar-scale-up/]. Continue reading

Africa Renewable Energy Initiative Aims to Produce 300 GW by 2030

by Dion Boyd

An intriguing article by Joshua S. Hill, on the Clean Technica blog posted in December of 2015, examines an attempt by the head of state of African nations to lead a coalition called the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The primary objective of the AREI is to provide the continent of Africa with 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030. AREI aims to produce 10 GW by 2020, so already we can infer that significant progress is intended to be made over those ten years. This article caught my attention because it is closely related to a documentary I recently watched called Burning in the Sun. This film portrays the mission of West African and Italian Daniel Dembélé on his quest to bring electricity to the rural communities of the Sahara Desert. Immediately after reading the article about AREI, I made the connection between the article and the film. I began to realize that (contrary to popular belief or at least contrary to the non-existent amount of information you hear from media outlets about positive initiatives taking place in Africa) there are people in the world after all who are aware of people living in regions of Africa that do not have access to energy resources, and are taking a stab at resolving some of those issues. Continue reading

National Parks or Energy: Kenya’s Dilemma

by Jessie Capper

According to a recent report released by the International Energy Agency’s ‘Africa Energy Outlook,’ unreliable power supply has been a persistent problem in African countries. The IEA claims that by addressing this uncertainty, African governments help increase investment in their respective country’s power sector, and ultimately boost their GDP by an estimated $15 (International Energy Association 2014). Kenya continues to address its problems with efficient, reliable, and high-cost energy through the pursuit of renewable energy sources—varying from solar and wind power, to hydropower, and geothermal energy. Although Kenya’s energy initiatives are progressive and admirable, there is rising concern over detrimental side effects, especially to the national parks. Continue reading

Pumped Hydroelectric Storage: Putting Gravity to Work

by Chad Redman

Damming natural flowing rivers is an ancient and effective method for generating renewable energy. However, sufficient rivers are a scarce resource and modern dams produce an array of undesirable environmental effects. In response to the drawbacks of traditional dams, the main commercial technique for storing potential energy in water is pumped hydroelectric storage (PHS). Traditionally, these facilities use a massive pump and two reservoirs, one elevated above the other. During off-peak hours, excess energy produced from sources such as wind farms and nuclear power plants is used to power a pump which moves water into the elevated reservoir. When energy demand rises, the water is released back into the lower reservoir, spinning the pump which effectively becomes a generator. Continue reading

The Immense Risk Climate Change Poses to Electricity Supply

by Caroline Chmiel

US and European electricity supply is increasingly defenseless to climate changes. 91% and 78% of the total electricity in the US and Europe, respectively, is produced by thermoelectric power plants, which are nuclear and fossil-fueled. These plants and the processes to get electricity rely on the availability and temperature of water resources for cooling. The changing climate directly affects temperature and water resources, so the heavy reliance on these factors in electricity is at high risk. Freshwater withdrawals for cooling coal, gas and nuclear-fuelled power plants are highest in North America. Next highest worldwide is Europe. Continue reading