Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Storage, Solar  -  April 25, 2020

Weekend reads: The evolution of corporate sustainability; The power behind the solar revolution

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

The Solar Revolution Cannot Be Stopped (Benzinga) The coronavirus outbreak has severely hit the entire economy, and the solar industry is by no means spared. The Solar Energy Industries Association has estimated that half of the 250,000 industry workers could lose their jobs at least temporarily as the projected growth for this year has been downgraded by as much as one-third. One of the best-performing renewable energy companies of 2019, SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SEDG) shares plunged 34% in March after previously rising 31% in the previous two months, with only the outbreak to blame for this drop. One year ago, the company purchased a 57% stake for $73 million in S.M.R.E. Spa, a developer of powertrain solutions for electric vehicles headquartered in Italy, the worst-hit country by COVID-19.

Germany, With Skies Cleared by Coronavirus Lockdown, Produces Record Solar Power (TIME) Germany’s solar panels produced record amounts of electricity, exacerbating market forces that were already hammering the profitability of the country’s remaining coal plants. Gin-clear skies over central Europe helped photovoltaic plants produce 32,227 megawatts on Monday, beating the previous record on March 23. Bright conditions are expected to continue this week, according to Germany’s DWD federal weather service. “There is hardly a cloud over Germany,” Andreas Friedrich, a spokesman for the DWD, said by phone. “And a high-pressure system over Scandinavia will keep these conditions in place until at least Friday.” Renewables are cutting deeper into the market share for coal, the fuel on which Germany’s wealth and industrial prowess was built. The government forecasts that green power will make up about 80% of the electricity mix by 2038, compared with just over 40% in 2019.

Storage, smart grid, energy efficiency sectors see $337M in Q1 corporate funding: Report (Utility Dive) Battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency companies raised $252 million in venture capital (VC) funding in the first quarter of 2020, according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group, a 20% increase over the first quarter of last year. Total corporate funding for these sectors — which includes debt and public market financing —​ amounted to $337 million, slightly more than the $317 million that was raised as part of 27 deals for the same period in 2019 but much lower than the $1.1 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of last year. Overall, it was not a bad quarter for the battery storage industry, Mercom CEO Raj Prabhu told Utility Dive. These numbers do not show a lot of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, since they represent deals that were probably in the works six months to a year before the outbreak, "but it's going to be very crucial to see what happens in Q2, Q3, Q4," he said.

An Earth Day CEO summit shows how dramatically corporate values have changed (Fortune) Fifty years ago, smog choked cities from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles; a recent oil spill had blackened Santa Barbara’s beaches; and Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River had caught fire. In the face of widespread industrial degradation across the country, the public rose up in outrage. At that time, most companies saw environmental problems as a side issue, or even an obstacle to their real business of making and selling goods for a thriving nation. But the world is very different today—in no small part because on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets demanding reduced air pollution, improved water quality, and better waste management.

The Best Way to Slow Global Warming? You Decide in This Climate Simulator (Bloomberg) It was on Earth Day 2016 when more than 170 nations signed the Paris Agreement calling for limiting global warming “to well below 2°C.” Putting together the terms took years, with the difficult diplomatic work wrapped up by the end of 2015. Of course, the world’s climate emissaries would want to wait for a more dramatic date to sign. We’re now five Earth Days since Paris, and 50 years since the very first Earth Day. The world has moved from an average temperature increase of 0.06°C in April 1970 to 1.16°C today. That means we’re nearly 60% of the way towards breaching the Paris target, and a stretch goal of staying below 1.5°C is all but dead.

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