How Puerto Rico’s Energy Sector Can Revitalize the Island’s Struggling Economy.

by Byron R. Núñez

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has more than $70 billion of debt, most of which can be attributed to the United States’ decision to cut corporate tax breaks. The current financial crisis has created a mass exodus by U.S. companies and people from the Island. To ameliorate the situation, President Barack Obama signed the Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which led to the creation of a committee design to manage the island’s finances. This economic instability has forced Puerto Rico’s energy sector to reinvent itself and become more cost-effective and efficient. Currently, Puerto Ricans pay two to three times more for electricity than average Americans. The strongest factor for the island’s high energy costs is that 80% of the energy used on the island comes from imported petroleum as the island itself does not produce nor refine crude oil. Sustainable energy is key to Puerto Rico’s future as the island hopes to comply with a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) that hopes to supply 20% of electricity with green energy by 2035. One company that is hoping to revitalize the island’s struggling economy though the energy sector is Green Kinetic Power (GKP), LLC. Continue reading

Harvesting Wind Energy with Invelox Technology

by Chloe Soltis

In September 2011, Dr. Daryoush Allaei founded Sheerwind, an energy start-up focused on using wind power to generate electricity. Dr. Allaei realized that current wind turbines are obsolete in the sense that they must passively wait for wind to operate (Breunig). Dr. Allaei believes that wind’s velocity should be accelerated so that electricity can be generated from wind energy in areas that are not suitable for turbines. Therefore, he created the Invelox, a system that can both capture and accelerate wind power. Continue reading

The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy?

by Emil Morhardt

Barack Obama has been busy during his last days in office writing well-documented policy articles for major publications. Barely a week before turning over the Presidential reigns to Donald Trump he has commented in some detail in Science about how, in his view, the clean energy horse has left the barn and is unlikely to be stopped even by it’s most fervent detractors (Obama, 2017). He cites four reasons for believing this. The first is that as the US economy has grown, emissions have fallen; since 2008, the amount of energy consumed per dollar of GDP has fallen by 11%, the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of energy has fallen by 8%, and the CO2 emitted per dollar of GDP has fallen by 18%. Furthermore, worldwide the amount of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were essentially the same as 2014, despite economic growth. He also points out that carbon pollution is increasingly expensive. Given the rhetoric of the incoming administration, though, this reasoning alone doesn’t appear to assure continuing in the same direction. Continue reading

Federal Leasing of Gulf Waters for Fossil Fuels Meet Protests

by Max Breitbarth

While the United States publicly seeks to shift its energy usage to greener sources, a recent New Orleans federal auction—and the protests created in response—demonstrate that the United States is far from over its oil addiction. CNN’s John D. Sutter details the scene at an auction at New Orleans’ Superdome, where environmental protesters objected to the government’s lease of federal property in the Gulf of Mexico for fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Cities and District Energy

by Judy Li

As part of a special National Geographic series on energy issues, Christina Nunez published an interesting piece about district energy, the distribution of thermal energy through a network of underground pipes to heat and cool a group of buildings, and how it is being harnessed for sustainable energy development. District energy is widely used and has a long history; many cities around the world have extensive subterranean systems built decades ago. Continue reading

Solar Jobs Explode In California

by Max Breitbarth

The Golden State is leading the United States’ push for more solar energy. Sammy Roth’s Desert Sun article summarizes a recent report from the nonprofit Solar Foundation, which notes that solar jobs are on the rise, and they are increasing the fastest in California.

According to the report, California’s solar jobs have increased almost 40 percent since last year. Their current number now exceeds 75,000 workers, more than enough to lead the country. Roth notes that California actually has more solar workers than the next ten states combined. Continue reading

Last Ditch Effort to Block Clean Power Plan

by Katy Schaefer

In August of 2015, the Obama Administration finalized what has come to be known as the Clean Power Plan. This controversial plan aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Each site would have different requirements of how, and how much it needs to reduce, but plans for how to meet this goal must be submitted in 2016. If everything goes well, implementation is expected to begin by 2022. However, 27 states, led by West Virginia have a problem with this plan, and are doing everything they can to stop it in its tracks. Continue reading

How the Clean Power Plan May Actually Become America’s First Real Clean Energy Law

by Jesse Crabtree

The Clean Power Plan is an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Barack Obama to reduce carbon emissions from US power plants. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, power plants make up 40% of all U.S. carbon emissions—more than all our cars and planes combined. The plan seeks to cut energy carbon emissions 30% by 2030, a number that some are calling “ambitious” or as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, a form of climate radicalism. On the other hand, many followers of the plan have argued that the plan is actually quite weak in its goals. According to Polito.com, market shifts towards renewable energy, towards low-carbon natural gas, and a general reduction in electricity demand have already brought the U.S. almost halfway to that goal of 30%. Continue reading

Samsø Inspiration

by Chloe Rodman

New York Times’ Diane Cardwell (2015) writes about the impact that Samso, a 44 square-foot island off the coast of Denmark, has been making in regards to clean energy production. A majority of the island’s 3,800 citizens decided that they no longer wanted to rely on foreign, costly fossil fuels. Rather, they made it their goal to become completely powered by green energy. This $80 million project has resulted in 10 wind turbines as well as solar, geothermal and plant- based energy systems. These four methods have allowed the island to thrive, producing more energy than it consumes. Samso, which used to be primarily dependent on coal and diesel, has become a role model for many other islands around the globe, which are also striving to wean off of fossil fuels. The Samso Energy Academy was created to educate others about new forms of green energy. Many individuals are sent to the academy to learn about the island’s methods and return home to teach their own communities about the changes they can make. Continue reading

Funding for Energy Initiatives in Africa: U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance Initiative

by Alison Kibe

The U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) initiative launched at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. As of August 2014, the U.S. had pledged $30 million to fund ACEF. The United States Trade and Development Agency’s (USTDA) January 2015 press release announced the two entities in charge of funding AFEC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and USTDA, have both obtained initial funds for AFEC projects. Both organizations are involved with connecting private American businesses to international development projects. The goal of ACEF is to promote privately financed clean energy projects with the hope that ACEF acts as a catalyst for economic development and promotes U.S. foreign policy goals in Africa. Continue reading