Weekend Reads - Smart Energy Decisions

February 17, 2024

Weekend Reads: Red States Cash in on IRA; Taylor Swift's Carbon Problem

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

Texas Shatters Own Solar Power Record, Weird Political Situation Or Not (Clean Technica)  Texas is in an unusual position, grid-wise. In other parts of the US, grid operators can trade electricity with various states to balance daily needs and respond to unexpected shortfalls. In contrast, Texas is a grid almost entirely to itself. About 90% of the state comes under the umbrella of the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) grid operator, and they are pretty much on their own when catastrophe strikes. That is why ERCOT has been pursuing new in-state renewable energy resources, despite state legislation seeking to protect the oil and gas industry. 

New report: Rooftop solar delivers 10 times more power than a decade ago (Environment America)  In 2022, small-scale rooftop solar produced enough energy to power 5.7 million typical American homes, a tenfold increase over the last decade. That’s according to Rooftop Solar on the Rise, a new report unveiled on Tuesday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. “This report celebrates the dramatic growth of rooftop solar power in the United States over the last decade and illustrates how far we have yet to go to take full advantage of our immense solar energy potential,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “

Red states are big winners of Biden’s landmark laws (CNN)  Last month, battery recycling company Redwood Materials broke ground on a $3.5 billion battery plant in South Carolina that is expected to create 1,500 new jobs. The plant aims to eventually make enough battery components to power more than a million electric vehicles a year. Redwood Materials specifically cited the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, America’s biggest-ever climate investment, as a reason why it decided to build the facility. This is just one example of a Republican state benefiting from the private investment boom set off by the IRA, a signature legislative achievement for President Joe Biden that every Republican in Congress voted against.

With the state mandating zero emissions, Bay Area agencies are split on hydrogen vs. electric (The Mercury News)  In September, the governing board of Santa Cruz Metro made a big bet on the future of green public transit when it approved the purchase of 57 buses fueled by hydrogen — the largest order of hydrogen-fueled buses made so far in the U.S. The brand-new vehicles, which could arrive as soon as the end of 2024, have water as their only tailpipe emissions. They will replace most of the authority’s aging buses, which run on compressed natural gas. There’s just one problem: Most of the hydrogen that is currently available is produced from fossil fuels, and that causes more of the greenhouse gas emissions that hydrogen buses are supposed to reduce.

Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl flight shows what’s wrong with carbon removal (Grist)  To get to the Super Bowl on time, Taylor Swift took a private jet from Tokyo to Los Angeles and then hustled to Las Vegas. The carbon removal company Spiritus estimated that her journey of roughly 5,500 miles produced about 40 tons of carbon dioxide — about what is generated by charging nearly 5 million cell phones. But don’t worry, the company assured her critics: It would take those emissions right back out of the sky. “Spiritus wants to help Taylor and her Swifties ‘Breathe’ without any CO2 ‘Bad Blood,’” it said in a pun-laden pitch to reporters. “It’s a touchdown for everyone.” 

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