GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables, Wind - May 29, 2021
Weekend reads: How to Decarbonize Europe; Bitcoin Mining Council Explores RE Possibilities
It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.
Solar Power's Decade of Falling Costs Is Thrown Into Reverse (Bloomberg) A key selling point that made solar energy the fastest-growing power source in the world—rapidly decreasing costs—has hit a speed bump. Solar module prices have risen 18% since the start of the year after falling by 90% over the previous decade. The reversal, fueled by a quadrupling in the cost of the key raw material polysilicon, threatens to delay projects and slow uptake of solar power just as several major governments are finally throwing their weight behind it in an effort to slow climate change.
As Washington inks ‘most ambitious’ climate rules in U.S., lawmaker praises tech’s supporting role (GeekWire) Washington Gov. Jay Inslee this week signed into law what many are calling the nation’s most ambitious package of climate policies. One of the key lawmakers behind the legislation gives the region’s tech and business sectors some of the credit for the state’s ability to lead in tackling climate change. “We have an entrepreneurial spirit that allows us to think big,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle, prime sponsor of the Climate Commitment Act, which puts a cap on carbon pollution in Washington. Carlyle, a Democrat representing part of northwest Seattle, is himself an entrepreneur. He previously worked in telecommunications and aerospace, and has served on the boards of businesses in wireless networking, consumer electronics and energy.
'Powerful signal': In a single day, Big Oil suffers historic blows on climate (Politico) The oil industry, long a political heavyweight in Washington, suffered a series of extraordinary blows on Wednesday after shareholders, customers and the courts turned on the industry out of concern over climate change. In the space of a few hours, Exxon Mobil Corp. was bested by an upstart shareholder seeking to shake up the company’s board. Chevron Corp. investors instructed the company to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to slash emissions by 45 percent. And while the oil industry was taking its hits, longtime ally Ford Motor Co. widened its distance from fossil fuels. “Game-changer is an overused metaphor, but surely this is one,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said of the day’s events. “The policy environment for companies has already changed and will change more.”
Electrify everything directly or indirectly: the five policy steps needed to decarbonise Europe (Recharge) Increasing the amount of renewable energy and electrifying heating, transport and heavy industry will be the fastest and most cost-effective way to decarbonise Europe — yet the EU has “no overarching, strategic, legislative approach” for electrification, according to power industry body Eurelectric. In its new two-part Electric Decade report, Eurelectric points out that many barriers will need to be removed to speed up the growth of renewables and electrification — including high taxes, planning bottlenecks, a lack of adequate infrastructure, inadequate carbon pricing and unsuitable regulatory frameworks. The Brussels-based organisation has set out five “key policy pillars” that will need to be put in place if the EU is to meet its aim of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030.
Wind Power Is Popular Across Rural America (Wall Street Journal) Re Robert Bryce’s “Rural America Gets Bad Vibrations from Big Wind” (op-ed, May 6): The reality is that wind projects are driving unmatched investment and creating new opportunities in rural America in ways that improve real lives. Wind projects pay over $1.6 billion in local and state taxes every year—new revenue communities invest in schools, roads and emergency services. They also create new jobs that let young people stay and grow in their communities so they don’t face the awful choice of leaving home to find work to support a family. 120,000 Americans across all 50 states have direct wind jobs.
Bitcoin Mining Council to report renewable energy usage (BBC News) A new Bitcoin Mining Council has been created to improve the crypto-currency's sustainability, following a meeting of "leading" Bitcoin miners and Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO tweeted the development was "potentially promising". It's hoped the council will "promote energy usage transparency" and encourage miners to use renewable sources. The process of creating Bitcoin consumes large amounts of electricity. Its value fell earlier this month after Tesla withdrew its support of the crypto-currency, citing environmental concerns.
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