Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables - March 21, 2020
Weekend reads: How social distancing is helping combat climate change; Habitat for Humanity's energy efficiency program
It's the weekend! Kick back and catch up with these must-read articles from around the web.
Coronavirus crisis opens new paths toward clean energy (The Hill) Opportunities emerging from the current crisis arise from three main jolts — historically low-interest rates, plunging oil prices, and looming job losses. I’m no market guru, so I can’t foretell whether these will persist. But if they do, they’ll open opportunities to do what has not been done before. Low-interest rates make it cheaper to invest in clean energy infrastructure. That includes solar and wind farms; transmission lines linking them to cities; charging stations for electric cars; and pipelines to move captured carbon dioxide underground and hydrogen and advanced biofuels to consumers. Building all of these would create lots of blue-collar jobs when the economy may need them most.
Clean Power Crowds Out Dirty Coal As Costs Reach Tipping Point (Forbes) The global economy needs power to enable it to function. For a century, the cheapest, most efficient way to do that was to burn fossil fuels to produce steam to turn a turbine. But not any more. The dominance of fossil fuels has come under growing pressure from clean power sources in recent years. At the start of the renewables revolution, technologies such as solar and wind were much more expensive than coal and gas, but a tipping point has been reached.
Habitat for Humanity launches energy efficiency program (The Spooner Advocate) Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity has launched a new program to preserve and modernize affordable housing availability within its service areas. The Home Energy Efficiency program will pioneer new ways to help low-income households create energy-efficient and sustainable households. The new program is made possible through a partnership with Focus on Energy and Habitat for Humanity International. “This program allows homeowners to make an easy home repair to increase energy efficiency,” Executive Director Jennifer Johnson said. “Participation also opens the door for families to participate with Habitat programs before their need becomes too great.”
Social Distancing? You Might Be Fighting Climate Change, Too (The New York Times) As the nation shifts abruptly into the fight against coronavirus, a question arises: could social isolation help reduce an individual’s production of greenhouse gases and end up having unexpected consequences for climate change? The biggest sources of carbon emissions caused by our lifestyles come from three activities, said Kimberly Nicholas, a researcher at the Lund University Center for Sustainability Studies in Sweden: “Any time you can avoid getting on a plane, getting in a car or eating animal products, that’s a substantial climate savings.” Many people trying to avoid the coronavirus are already two-thirds of the way there.
U.S. Clean-Energy Tax Breaks Sought in Virus Stimulus Package (Bloomberg) The clean-energy industry is trying to get billions of dollars in tax breaks for electric vehicles, wind and solar power, and battery storage into the massive coronavirus stimulus package being formulated in Congress. Renewable energy advocates are angling for an extension of the consumer tax credit for electric vehicles and other incentives for storage and renewable energy -- most of which were left out of a year end tax deal. “Like most other industries, the renewable sector is not immune to pandemic related impacts, in particular the supply chain disruptions and shrinking tax equity market are putting projects in jeopardy,” said Bill Parsons, chief operating officer for the American Council on Renewable Energy, a Washington-based trade group.
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