Weekend Reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

March 26, 2022

Weekend Reads: The Barrier to Texas's Renewables Transition; Rebranding Bitcoin as Eco-Friendly

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

Ukraine war could extend bump in US coal use, but utilities remain confident in decarbonization path (Utility Dive) The U.S. power sector's success since 2005 in reducing carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) was slowed in 2021 as market factors now being reproduced by the war in Ukraine forced more use of coal. As the U.S. economy recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, electricity demand rose 3%, but economy-wide CO2 emissions grew 6.2% when the price of natural gas spiked and it was replaced by lower-cost, higher CO2 emitting coal generation, a January Rhodium Group preliminary assessment found. That may not disrupt long-term U.S. power sector CO2 reductions, but similar market changes caused by the war in Ukraine could, some utilities and analysts worry.

Texas has enough wind and solar power to phase out coal entirely. There’s just one huge catch (Fortune) Wind and solar power are growing fast in Texas. So fast, in fact, that it would take only one-third of the solar and wind energy projects that have already been proposed to almost entirely phase out coal in the state, according to a new study by researchers at Houston's Rice University. That’s huge news, considering President Joe Biden's goal for the U.S. to have a carbon-free power sector by 2035. But there is a big catch: The state’s energy grid is a mess, and it is standing in the way of a faster transition in Texas away from coal and toward renewables. "Transmission lines are the leading bottleneck that is slowing down the growth of wind and solar," Daniel Cohan, one of the study's coauthors, told Fortune.

Webinar: Managing Fleet Electrification - Real-life insights from GM, Houston, Portland and Genentech (eIQ) Wednesday, March 30, 2022, 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. We’re seeing an explosion in the transition to Fleet Electrification with new EV models, billions allocated to manufacturing investments, new state and federal incentives, growing charger networks, and utility programs. But the decision process for fleet leaders remains complex as both private corporations and public entities struggle to manage these variables while protecting the operational reliability of their vehicles - and their bottom line. This webinar will bring together a panel of experienced EV experts from General Motors, Evolve Houston, Genentech and the City of Portland, Oregon, who will share real-life strategies and learnings in a discussion with Yann Kulp, co-founder of eIQ Mobility the leading Fleet EV Advisory provider in North America. REGISTER HERE

The History Of Solar Power Has Many Lessons For Today (CleanTechnica) The history of solar power is fascinating. Solar power today is mostly photovoltaic technology that converts sunlight into electricity, with some concentrating solar power, solar hot water heaters, and solar ovens. Today, even for every small uses, we use sunlight in ways we might take for granted. In some countries, sunlight is used to disinfect water. Clotheslines are used to dry clothing with a combination of sunlight and exposure to fresh air. Some people make sun tea by placing water and tea bags in a glass container and putting the container in sunlight for several hours. When we expose our eyes to sunlight, doing so is a cue to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood.

Bitcoin Miners Want to Recast Themselves as Eco-Friendly (The New York Times) Along a dirt-covered road deep in Texas farm country, the cryptocurrency company Argo Blockchain is building a power plant for the internet age: a crypto “mining” site stocked with computers that generate new Bitcoins. But unlike other Bitcoin mining operations, which consume large quantities of fossil fuels and produce carbon emissions, Argo claims it’s trying to do something environmentally responsible. As Peter Wall, Argo’s chief executive, led a tour of the 126,000-square-foot construction site one morning this month, he pointed to a row of wind turbines a few miles down the road, their white spokes shining in the sunlight. The new facility, an hour outside Lubbock, would be fueled mostly by wind and solar energy, he declared. “This is Bitcoin mining nirvana,” Mr. Wall said. “You look off into the distance and you’ve got your renewable power.”

A Solar Microgrid Brought Power to a Remote Village, Then Darkness (Bloomberg) For a few years, Prai Witu village in Indonesia was a shining example of the good that clean energy can bring to an impoverished community. In 2017, the national government and Millennium Challenge Corp., a foreign-aid arm of the U.S., began installing micro electric grids to give residents access to a constant electricity flow for the first time. Within two years, only 3% of households connected to the grids were using nonrenewable energy, down from 21% before they were installed, according to Millennium Challenge. At first, life on the island was transformed. The entire network, when completed, included 300 street lights and 48 kilometers of distribution lines. More than 850 houses and 50 public facilities were able to get power throughout the day from 11 micro grids. 

Keywords: Weekend reads

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