Weekend reads - Smart Energy Decisions

Microgrids, Solar  -  June 27, 2020

Weekend reads: Tesla's game-changer for renewables; Building a West Coast electric highway

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

US localities signed 335 renewable energy deals since 2015: report (Utility Dive) In the last five years, local governments have signed 335 deals to procure 8.28 gigawatts of renewable energy, according to data from the new Local Government Renewables Action Tracker. That figure is more than the total combined energy generation capacity of Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. The tracker, launched Wednesday by the American Cities Climate Challenge Renewables Accelerator, has two main components: a transaction map that shows all the renewable energy transactions executed by local governments from Jan. 1, 2015 to March 31, 2020; and an engagement map that details the efforts those local governments have made to influence policy and advance their renewable energy goals.

Tesla’s Solar Bet Could Be A Game-Changer For U.S. Renewables (OilPrice.com) Last year EV news site Electrek reported that, according to Elon Musk, “the company’s energy division, Tesla Energy, is becoming a distributed global utility and it could eventually outgrow Tesla’s automotive business.” And back in October of last year, Musk himself told investors that “Tesla Energy is going to be a major part of Tesla’s activity in the future. And Tesla’s mission from the beginning has been to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy – that means sustainable energy generation and sustainable energy consumption in the form of electric vehicles.” Just this May, Musk expanded the purview of Tesla Energy with the unveiling of a new Tesla Energy software asset called Autobidder, which enables both providers and consumers to exchange their energy capacity to help take Tesla energy to the “giant distributor global utility” level. “The idea,” according to Electrek’s reporting, “is that Tesla would keep deploying more solar and energy storage systems, big and small, at the residential level and on utility-scale, and manage those distributed systems to act as a giant electric utility.”

A national US power grid would make electricity cheaper and cleaner (Vox) Electricity is the fuel of the future. And as more and more of American life is electrified — transportation and buildings are already on their way — the electricity grid will face greater demands and will need to evolve to meet them. One branch of that evolution is smaller. “Microgrids” are small grids that connect a college campus, a business, or even a house, allowing it to act as a semi-independent island within the larger grid. Microgrids help support the growth of distributed energy, with power generation, storage, and management taking place on the customer side of the power meter. But the other branch, and equally important, is bigger. The US does not actually have a national grid. Our grid is instead split into three regions — the western interconnection, the eastern interconnection, and, uh, Texas — that largely operate independently and exchange very little power.

West Coast States Are Teaming Up to Build an Electric Highway (Gizmodo) The West Coast is preparing for a future where giant diesel transport trucks go electric. Utilities and state agencies in California, Oregon, and Washington announced a plan to transform highway infrastructure that would speed the transition. Nine electric utilities and two agencies are behind the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, which would help the states reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in the U.S. Nearly a quarter of that comes from medium and heavy-duty trucks. That’s why these states have laid out the necessary steps to transform the shipping industry in a 185-page report released on Wednesday.

Vatican calls on Catholics to divest from fossil fuels (The Hill) The Vatican on Thursday urged Catholics to divest from fossil fuels, a call made in church documents warning against the dangers of climate change. The 225-page encyclical, which is sent to all bishops within the church, also encouraged divesting from arms and monitoring sectors like mining to ensure they are not damaging the environment. The document, "Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home," argues people “could favor positive changes ... by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters,” according to Reuters. That includes environmental factors, along with monitoring for human rights abuses like child labor.

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