Weekend reads - Smart Energy Decisions

August 28, 2021

Weekend Reads: The Battle for a Clean Electricity Standard; Extreme Weather Sparks Growth in Solar Demand

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

The US is inching closer to passing a game-changing climate policy (Vox) A time when the United States runs mostly on wind- and solar-powered electricity could be a reality in only a few years. It wouldn’t require any scientific breakthroughs or technological leaps for clean energy to overtake coal and natural gas, which still dominate 60 percent of the US power sector. What it would take to challenge a century of fossil-fuel dominance in record-breaking time is one sweeping, underappreciated policy: a clean electricity standard. This policy could be “the biggest change in our energy policy since the lights went on,” Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith told Vox in a July interview. She called it the “centerpiece” of Democratic climate policy under President Joe Biden.

Narrow House budget vote tees up billions in efficiency investments, but advocates want more (Utility Dive) House Democrats on Tuesday approved a $3.5 trillion budget framework, keeping alive the clean energy sector's hope for a national standard to slash greenhouse gas emissions while also setting up a vote next month on a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Efficiency advocates are closely watching the process, as the infrastructure bill includes billions in investments needed to meet President Joe Biden's goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions economywide by at least 50% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels.

Floating solar power to quadruple by 2025 (The Korea Herald) The global market for floating solar panels is set to more than quadruple by 2025, a recent report has revealed. The report published by Korea Energy Economics Institute on Sunday estimates that the total power generation capacity of floating solar farms around the globe had surpassed 3 gigawatts as of October 2020. By 2025, the volume will grow by another 10 GW, the institute said, citing data from market researcher Fitch Solutions. The findings come as the Korean government announced the Green New Deal plan last year, pledging to increase solar power and wind power output by 30 GW in the next six years. But finding the locations to install sufficient solar panels has emerged as a challenge due to the country’s abundance of mountains and resistance from nearby residents. Against this backdrop, offshore solar power plants should be considered, the report argued.

A Methane Hunter Finds Leaking Gas That Threatens EU’s Climate Goals (Bloomberg) One of the most dangerous greenhouse gases is leaking into the atmosphere relentlessly from the European Union’s easternmost edge. Invisible plumes of methane escape from Romania's oil fields, gas pipes, rusting storage containers and even a well next to a playground. The job of finding the leaking gas, with more than 80 times more warming power than carbon dioxide in the short term, falls to James Turitto from the nonprofit Clean Air Task Force. He's found more than 70 leaks using a special infrared camera capable of detecting the odorless gas. “It felt like every well in Romania is leaking,” said Turitto, who’s traveling around Europe with the 100,000 euro ($118,000) camera to track down fugitive releases. “Tanks were rusted out. It was impossible to document all the methane emissions.”

Extreme weather events are pushing consumers to solar and residential storage (CNBC) Extreme weather events across the U.S. — from wildfires and drought in the West, to deep freezes and floods in the South and Southeast — have disrupted the electric grid this year. As a result, homeowners are buying solar and energy storage systems at rates never before seen, according to data from solar website SolarReviews.com. As California faces devastating wildfires and record drought, the website saw a 358% year-over-year jump in solar estimate quotes requested by California residents between June 30 and Aug. 6.

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