Weekend reads - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  November 7, 2020

Weekend reads: Building efficiency in Virginia; How a glass shortage could threaten solar

It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.

Hydrogen is having a moment, and power generation is leading the way (Utility Dive) At the beginning of the last decade, renewable energy remained an industry-polarizing topic. Legacy energy companies held that fossil fuels would maintain their grip on the industry for generations to come, largely relegating emerging technologies such as solar to the realm of startups. In 2020, these legacy companies, such as GE and Siemens view hydrogen as a second chance, according to participants in an American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) webinar.

Glass Shortage Threatens Solar Panels Needed for Climate Fix (Bloomberg) The world’s biggest solar power company says a shortage of glass is raising costs and delaying production of new panels, throwing a wrench into China’s plans to accelerate its shift to clean power. Prices for glass that coats photovoltaic panels have risen 71% since July, and manufacturers are struggling to produce it fast enough to keep more than a week’s worth of sales in inventory, according to Daiwa Capital Markets. The shortage comes as the solar industry turns toward bifacial panels, which increase both power output and glass requirements.

Floating offshore wind and California’s zero-carbon grid (Energy Monitor) The deep waters off the coast of California offer a tantalising renewable energy prize – an estimated technical potential of 201GW of offshore wind capacity, four times the all-time record peak power demand on the state’s grid. However, there are barriers to overcome on the path to that prize. California’s deep water will require the use of floating wind turbines, an emerging technology so far limited to a few pilot projects installed globally.

On top of everything else, the U.S. withdraws from the Paris climate agreement tomorrow (Fast Company) Three years after the Trump administration began the process of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement—the landmark international deal to limit global warming—the U.S. has now reached the date when it can officially pull out: November 4, the day after the election. But depending on the results, the withdrawal might not last long. When Trump first announced his plans, it set back global progress on reducing emissions at a critical moment. “The U.S. was a vital party to the Paris Agreement,” says Anne Kelly, vice president of government affairs at the nonprofit Ceres. “Our leadership sets a really important example for others to follow as a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, and as a country that is so well equipped to put into place targets and goals and laws and regulations that would reduce emissions. For us to bail was just profoundly irresponsible.”

As Virginia tries to become more energy efficient, building codes come under the microscope (Virginia Mercury) It’s almost a ritual: As the days shorten and the drafts begin to sweep beneath the door or weasel around the window frame, the echo of a grumpy parental voice can be heard: “We aren’t paying to heat the neighborhood.” Variations of that experience play out across the U.S. every year. But if you thought the only people involved in the effort to keep the energy they’ve bought stay inside the walls they inhabit — from replacing windows to adding insulation — were individual families, you’d be wrong. Policymakers too hold significant sway over how airtight your house might be. And as concern about climate change increases Americans’ interest in reducing energy use, how strict building codes should be when it comes to energy is likely to become an ever more pressing issue. 


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