Displacement in the Energy Industry: Fossil Fuels have “Lost the Race”; Wind Power Growing; Coal Workers Displaced

Analysis presented at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York on April 14 was titled: Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables: This is the beginning of the end (April 14). Bloomberg states that the shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels.

More statistics and a forecast are presented in a White Paper, Medium-term outlook for US power: 2015 = deepest decarbonization ever (April 8). And an International Energy Agency (IEA) press release in March states that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there is a drop in GHG emissions that was not tied to an economic downturn. “Preliminary IEA data point to emissions decoupling from economic growth for the first time in 40 years” (13 March, 2015). The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to expanding reliance on renewables in China and energy efficiency improvements in OECD countries. China alone added 23 GW in wind power, almost half the world’s new wind installation capacity in 2014, according to the Global Wind Energy Market Report 2014 by the Global Wind Energy Council. Canada ranked 6th in new wind installations in 2014 and now ranks 7th in cumulative installed capacity in the world. Canada also appears in the report regarding the use of green bonds to finance wind power, illustrated by  the case of Northland Power.
 
Duke University researchers used input output modelling to measure job loss, gains, and displacement in each sector of the electricity sector in “Employment Trends in the U.S. Electricity Sector, 2008-2012” in the journal Energy Policy in March (access restricted). They report that the U.S. coal industry lost more than 49,000 jobs, while the natural gas, solar and wind industries together created nearly four times that amount.  

 

Clean Energy Canada Moves to Simon Fraser University

Clean Energy Canada, formerly a project of Tides Canada, announced on March 2 that it will become a new program within the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. The Centre for Dialogue states that “uses dialogue to generate non-partisan and constructive communication around difficult topics. We partner with government, business, and community groups to explore critical issues that impact the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of our communities”. Merran Smith, Director of Clean Energy Canada, has been named a Fellow within the Centre and will continue to lead the program, which aims to accelerate Canada’s transition to a clean and renewable energy system.

Solar Jobs in the U.S., and a Survey of Working Conditions

 The newly released U.S. Solar Jobs Census 2014 from the Solar Foundation states that there are 173,807 solar workers in the U.S., representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013.  The installation segment of the solar sector represents the single largest source of domestic employment growth in the U.S., more than doubling in size since 2010.
The report also asserts that diversity is growing since 2013, and that wages remain competitive, with installers earning $20-$24 per hour; assemblers earning close to $18 per hour, solar designers, $30-$40 per hour, and sales staff ranging widely from $30 to $60 per hour. In his response to the release of the Census, the U.S. Energy Secretary highlights the DOE Solar Instructor Training Network at nearly 400 community colleges in 49 states. He states that the program has trained over 30,000 people since 2010, with a goal of 50,000 new solar workers trained by 2020.

 

The Solar Census covers all segments of the solar industry in the U.S. In contrast, The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Annual Scorecard surveys and ranks solar PV manufacturers internationally, with the goal “to enhance transparency around environmental health, safety, and sustainability issues for communities, workers, and the environment”. The latest edition, released in late November 2014 names manufacturers and ranks them on environmental issues such as Extended Producer Responsibility, water use, use of conflict minerals, and use of toxic chemicals. It also includes a category for Worker Rights and Health and Safety policies, measured by “a formal commitment to protecting worker rights, health, and safety that goes beyond compliance with local laws and regulations; commitment to improving employee wages; signage informing illiterate workers about minimum wage provisions; coverage of workforce by collective bargaining; workday case rates; recordable incident rates; and adoption of OHSAS for 100% of facilities”. Top ranked companies in the workers rights category in 2014, are Trina (owned by Chinese interests), SunPower (headquartered in California), and REC (recently taken over from Norwegian control by a Chinese company).

Study Examines “High Road”, Unionized Jobs in the California Solar Industry

A study released on November 10 by the University of California at Berkeley examines the environmental and economic impact of a boom in utility-scale solar electricity generation in California since 2010.

The report describes the overall economic and policy situation, then calculates the new construction, maintenance, and operations jobs created, plus the upstream and downstream jobs. It estimates the income and health and pension benefits of these new construction and plant operations jobs, most of which are unionized.

In California, the union contracts have required payments into apprenticeship training programs; the study calculates the new monies that have been generated for apprenticeship programs, and asserts that the boom in utility-scale solar construction has set in motion a related boom in apprenticeship and other forms of training for electricians, operating engineers, ironworkers, carpenters, millwrights, piledrivers, and laborers. The author estimates how apprenticeship affects lifetime earnings- using the example of electrical apprentices, who are estimated to see a lifetime income approximately $1 million higher than that of workers without similar training.

Finally, the report describes the policy environment that has facilitated this solar boom, and makes recommendations for the future. The author, Peter Philips, from the University of Utah, is currently a Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, at the Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy.

Literature Review of Job Creation Impact of Energy Efficiency Investments

A study released by the U.K. Energy Research Centre (UKERC) on November 4 presents an analytical literature review of fifty studies published since 2000 on the relationship between green energy investment and job creation in the U.S., Europe and China. The report outlines the key concepts and modelling methodologies, and provides a comparative analysis of the job impact results of the studies surveyed.

Overall, the authors found that renewable energy and energy efficiency create up to ten times more jobs per unit of electricity generated or saved than fossil fuels. However, they conclude that the job creation issue is complex and is often wrongly focussed on short-term benefits. “The proper domain for the debate about the long-term role of renewable energy and energy efficiency is the wider framework of energy and environmental policy, not a narrow analysis of green job impacts.”

 LINKS

Low Carbon Jobs: The Evidence for Net Job Creation from Policy Support for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is available from the Energy Research Centre website.

Superlatives for the U.S.-China Agreement on Climate Change, and what it Means for Canada

Media superlatives signal the importance of the surprising climate change announcement by the U.S. and China on November 11. President Obama pledged that the U.S. will emit 26 to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005, and will double the pace of reduction it had previously targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020. China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, and that clean energy sources would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.

See the White House press release and the White House Fact Sheet. For a summary of U.S. reactions, see the Blue Green Alliance at “What Leaders are Saying about the Historic Agreement”.

What is the impact in Canada? A Globe and Mail article stated that the agreement would put pressure on Prime Minister Harper to act on climate change, yet columnist Jeffrey Simpson wrote, “Leadership means a willingness to spend political capital on an issue, and in Canada’s case, there is no such leadership at the top. That this absence would suddenly shift as a result of a China-U.S. understanding is improbable in the extreme”.

Alberta’s new premier Jim Prentice announced that the province will “stiffen” its regulations for fossil fuel extraction. “It’s the desire of Alberta to be participatory in any sort of international agreement that we can arrive at, modeled on what the United States and China have been able to achieve”. When the U.S. – China agreement was announced, Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne, accompanied by green business leaders, had just returned from a trade mission to China.

According to the University of Victoria PICS Newscan, Guelph’s Canadian Solar Solutions signed a $70-million deal to build solar energy plants in China, and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group signed an agreement for future collaboration.  

Grid Parity for Solar and Wind Energy

According to the Global Wind Energy Outlook published by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International, wind power alone could supply as much as 19 percent of global electricity needs by 2030, and 30% by 2050, given policy support. The economics of wind and solar production are leading the way: see an overview of recent studies relating to grid parity of solar and wind energy, including the October report by Deutsche Bank analyst Vishal Shah, and a New York Times article. The Deutsche Bank report found that solar has already reached grid parity in the ten states that represent 90 % of U.S. solar electricity production. Wind continues to face community opposition, but a Health Canada study in November concludes that there is no evidence of a causal relationship between exposure to wind turbine noise and self-reported medical illnesses and health conditions. See the Health Canada study.

New European Targets for Emission Reductions and Renewables

On October 24, members of the European Union reached agreement on new emissions targets for 2030: 40% cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, 27% target for the renewable energy market share and, an optional target of 27% increase for energy efficiency improvement. The EU is holding up the agreement as a model for other countries in advance of the Paris climate talks of 2015, though like all politically-driven compromises, it has its critics. According to Greenpeace EU: “People across Europe want cleaner energy, but EU leaders are knocking the wind out of Europe’s booming renewables sector”, and from the European Green Party, “It is shameful that the council gave veto power against better goals to Poland on renewables, to France on interconnectors, and to the UK on efficiency. […] We used to have a polluter-pays-principle; now we’ve gotten a polluter-vetos-principle”.

See The Guardian at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/24/eu-leaders-agree-to-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions-by-40-by-2030; Statements and Reactions are found at: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-priorities-2020/eu-leaders-adopt-flexible-energy-and-climate-targets-2030-309462.

Investment in Canadian Clean Energy Mirrors Global Trend to Solar Pre-Eminence

Two new reports on investment in clean energy were released in March/April, both showing a global decline in investment levels, and that investment in solar now exceeds wind investment. A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows a 14% decrease in global investment in renewables in 2013, but even so, renewables attracted $192 billion for new capacity and comprised 43.6% of newly installed generation capacity in 2013. The U.S. continues to rank first among developed economies for investment in renewable energy with $33.9 billion in 2013 – although this represents a 10% decrease, largely attributable to the uncertainty over the continuation of the Wind Tax Credit. Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom were the only G-20 countries in which investment increased. Canada ranked 6th amongst the G-20 countries with $6.4 billion investment, largely in wind energy ($3.6 billion) and solar energy ($2.5 billion) in 2013. See “Six Canadian companies shaping the future of clean energy” (March 27) in Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/six-canadian-clean-energy-companies/article17685931/?page=4. To read the Global survey, see Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, produced jointly by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2787&ArticleID=10824&l=en.

A related report was issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts, also utilizing Bloomberg data. Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2013 Edition contrasts a 16% decline in renewables investment in developed markets of G-20 countries (led by the U.S. and EU) with a growth of 15% in non G-20 countries, led by such countries as Chile and Uruguay. Pew ranks China as the top destination for investors; solar capacity in China increased fourfold in 2013. See Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? At: http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-report-finds-that-global-clean-energy-investment-declined-in-2013-85899543052. See also the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s April 2014 Electricity Monthly Update which shows that U.S. solar capactiy also increased by 418% between 2010 and 2014, as described at: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/24/us-solar-energy-capacity-grew-an-astounding-418-from-2010-2014/.

Advancing the Role of Women in Ontario’s Renewable Energy Sector

Women in Renewable Energy (WiRE) is a new group, launched at the 2013 CanWEA conference, with the aim to highlight, enhance, and expand the role of women in the renewable energy sector in Ontario. WiRE is taking over from the Greater Toronto Chapter of Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) and is led by women working in diverse sectors of the clean energy economy, including the engineering, legal, insurance, technology, environmental assessment and services, permitting, project and business development fields. WiRE focuses on advancing the knowledge base and professional development of its members and conducting community outreach.

Future initiatives will likely involve connecting women who work in the sector with students and others not currently involved in renewable energy. Related organizations worldwide include: Women in Renewable Energy Scotland and Women in Renewable Energy Hawaii. WoWE also continues to connect women working in wind energy through local chapters across North America.

See Women in Renewable Energy website at: http://womeninrenewableenergy.ca/; “New Ontario Organization is Advancing the Role of Women in Renewable Energy” Blog post at the Alternatives Journal website at: http://www.alternativesjournal.ca/community/blogs/renewable-energy/new-ontario-organization-advancing-role-women-renewable-energy.

Women of Wind Energy website is at: http://www.womenofwindenergy.org/;Women in Renewable Energy Scotland website is at: www.wirescotland.com/; Hawaii Women in Renewable Energy website is available at: http://hawaiiwire.org/.

OECD Analysis of Innovation for Clean Energy Emphasizes the Importance of Human Capital

A recent OECD working paper reviews case studies of renewable energy initiatives in Australia, Brazil, China, Mongolia, Spain and the United Kingdom, and  emphasizes the importance of local governments in the transition to low-carbon economies. “What sets a region on a path to innovation is openness to new ideas of business…their ability to source and absorb new ideas; in effect, a region’s ability to learn. This is also strongly related to the training and skills ecosystem present in the region. A region’s capacity to innovate relates to the stock and quality of human capital embodied in its workforce. The successful transition to a low-carbon economy will only be possible by ensuring that the labour force is able to transfer from areas of decreasing employment to other industries, and if adequate human capital exists to develop new industries that will grow as a result of climate change mitigation and adaptation activities. Skills development activities will play a major role in each of these transitions.”

LINKS

Improving the Effectiveness of Green Local Development: The role and Impact of Public Sector-led Initiatives in Renewable is available from a link at: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment-and-sustainable-development/improving-the-effectiveness-of-green-local-development_5k3w6ljtrj0q-en

A Strategy for Growth for Human Resources and Training in Renewable Electricity Sectors

The Renewing Futures research project aims to assess the capacity of Canada’s skilled workforce to meet the labour needs of the electricity-related renewable energy systems. The research project is a collaboration of Electricity Human Resources Canada (formerly the Electricity Sector Council), Employment and Social Development Canada, and industry stakeholders. Several documents from the project were released in November – the documents listed below are all free, but are mostly Executive summaries of priced reports.

A Technology Review report creates a profile of the seven technologies – wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, marine/tidal, small and large hydro, and transmission, storage and distribution. It also includes provincial energy market assessments that project renewable electricity capacity from 2011 to 2022.

The Labour Market Information System is based on a synthesis of 5 different models; it focuses on eighteen key occupations, grouped in three broad groups; leaders and managers, engineers and technologists, and skilled trades. In 2012, approximately 41,000 employees are estimated to work in renewable electricity jobs. The LMIS forecasts 3 different scenarios of growth: Utility case, Reference case (based on the National Energy Board 2011 Energy Supply and Demand Projections to 2035), and the most optimistic, the “Vision” case. The Vision case projects the creation of 620,000 person years of short term employment in manufacturing, construction and installation, and another 34,000 full time and long term operator jobs by 2022. Most of the jobs that are created are “good jobs” – high-skilled, well paid, with opportunities for advancement.

A National Human Resources Strategy for Renewable Electricity. Since even the Utility case rate of growth may result in labour shortages in the renewable electricity sector, the Human Resources Strategy proposes joint action by the employers, trainers, unions and governments to expand the breadth and depth of the skilled workforce. The strategy acknowledges that “Collaboration is not an obvious outcome”, noting the large number of small companies spread across the supply chain, many of whom are currently satisfied with their HR operations and who prefer to focus their attention on the challenges of government policy and business conditions. “The implementation of the any national strategy faces a significant challenge in convincing many employers that there is a problem to solve.”

The project also reviews post-secondary training and certification across Canada and makes recommendations for general and sector-specific initiatives. The Strategy document suggests changes to the education of professional engineers, including curriculum changes and increased co-op programs. The report identified 95 community colleges programs for engineering technicians and technologists, and commends this as an important beginning, but recommends bringing together unions, provincial labour market planners, college faculty and employers to consider new objectives, such as “new curriculum, registration targets, specializations related to sectors and to occupations. The latter content might target training in preparation for sales, design, project and cost management, construction estimation and other non-technical jobs.” Noting that there are no apprenticeship programs targeted to renewable electricity, the Strategy recommends a long-term goal of creating Red Seal trades specializing in Renewable Electricity, as well as national occupational standards, and certification to improve mobility across provinces.

LINKS:

Trends and Technology Review: Executive Summary is at: http://renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrfttr.pdf

Renewing Futures Labour Market Information System is at: http://renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrflmis.pdf

A National Human Resources Strategy for Renewable Electricity is at: http://www.renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//EHRCrfs.pdf

Analysis of the Renewing Futures Employer Survey is at: http://www.renewingfutures.ca/CMFiles//RFES.pdf

Ontario’s Fit 3.0 Program Lowers Domestic Content Requirements for Renewable Energy, Discourages Wind Projects

The final version 3.0 of Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff Rules, posted on October 9th, includes reductions to the minimum domestic content requirement levels (MDCR) in order to move towards compliance with the World Trade Organization ruling of May 2013. The levels of domestic content have been lowered from 50% to 28 – 19%, depending on the solar (PV) technology used. For on-shore wind projects, the MDCR has been lowered from 60% to 20%. Furthermore, minimum domestic content levels will no longer be required throughout the entire project, but only during the development and construction phases. According to the Minister’s letter of direction, further changes will follow.

An article in North American Wind Power discusses the new FIT program and concludes that wind power projects will suffer. He notes, “As long as the Small FIT cap remains at 500 kW, the FIT program is no longer accessible to wind developers, except for those using small-scale turbines”, and “The greater latitude given to municipalities in the location and siting of wind farms may make permitting more difficult for developers and preclude the siting of wind farms in municipalities that have a strong anti-wind bias.”

LINKS

Ontario Power Authority FIT 3.0 documents are available at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/october-9-2013-FIT-3-final-documents, with an August 16, 2013 background document about Domestic Content Regulations at:http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/newsroom/august-16-2013-program-update, and the Minister’s Letter of Direction at:http://powerauthority.on.ca/sites/default/files/page/DirectionAdministrativeMatters-renewables-Aug16-2013.pdf

“Political Football: Ontario Sacks Large-scale Wind” in North American Wind Power (October 2013) at: http://nawindpower.com/issues/NAW1310/FEAT_01_Political-Football-Ontario-Sacks-Large-Scale-Wind.html

How Green are Solar Jobs? Solar Scorecard Ranks Manufacturers on Working Conditions and Health and Safety

The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Annual Scorecard measures and ranks how solar manufacturing companies around the world perform on sustainability and social justice benchmarks, including extended producer responsibility, emissions transparency, chemical reduction policies, use of prison labour and conflict minerals, water policies, and the presence of internal policies for worker health and safety. In 2013, despite low survey response levels, the Scorecard ranked 40 companies, representing over 80% of the market share in the photovoltaic industry.  Of those 40, only 7 have comprehensive internal policies that address worker rights and health and safety. These were: Astronergy (China), Sharp (Japan), SolarWorld (U.S.), SunPower (U.S.), Suntech (Japan), Trina (China), and Yingli (China). Solar Valley Toxics Coalition is a San Francisco-based advocacy group with the stated goals of reducing the use of toxic chemicals in the photovoltaic solar manufacturing industry, developing responsible recycling systems, and protecting workers throughout the global PV supply chain.     

Another source of information may soon be available. In May 2013, the U.S.-based Solar Energy Industry Association finalized a Solar Commitment – a voluntary agreement which sets out “solar-specific and general best practice provisions regarding the environment, labor, ethics, health and safety, and management practices of the company.” Labour guidelines include freedom of association, hours and wages, and protection from sexual harassment. Health and safety standards include machine protection, training, protection from toxic substances, and protection from discipline for raising safety concerns. Companies that sign on to the Solar Commitment must provide an annual report on key performance indicators – no reports have been released yet. Signatories to date are: Dow Solar, Gerhlicher Solar America, PV Recycling, SunEdison, SunPower, Suntech, Trina, and Yingli Solar. 

LINKS

Solar Valley Toxics Coalition Solar Scorecard is available athttp://www.solarscorecard.com/2013/2013-SVTC-Solar-Scorecard.pdf

 Background  discussion, and links to solar companies featured in  the SVTC Scorecard is at CleanTechnica at: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/08/13/silicon-valley-toxics-coalitions-2013-solar-scorecard-just-release/

SEIA Solar Commitment Factsheet is at:http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/Solar%20Commitment%20factsheet_2013.pdf

Quebec Energy Review Aims to Encourage Renewables and Develop Hydrocarbons

A review of Quebec’s energy strategy is underway, with public consultations from September to October 11, and the final strategy document promised in 2014. The six strategic objectives to the energy review are: “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote the electrification of transportation and develop the industry; promote energy efficiency in all sectors ; rely on the production of renewable energies (hydroelectricity and wind energy) and develop alternative renewable energies (underwater generators, passive solar energy, geothermal energy, and so on) and foster development and innovation; responsibly explore and exploit Québec’s hydrocarbon reserves; and ensure the long-term security and diversity of Québec’s energy supplies.” The Public Consultation on Energy Issues in Quebec website is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/english/ (English) and http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/ (French language). 

The Consultation paper From Greenhouse Gas Reduction to Québec’s Energy Self-Sufficiency – Consultation Paper, is at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/pdf/energy-issues-consultation-paper.pdf. An archive of all written briefs submitted to the Commission is available at the French language section of the website only, at: http://consultationenergie.gouv.qc.ca/documents/memoires.asp

Canadian Wind Energy Update

A special edition of British reNews was released on September 26, focussing on Canadian wind energy development. The report summarizes the policy environment for each province, with detailed tables showing the existing and planned wind energy installations for 2013 and 2014. Ontario remains the leader in wind energy in Canada. The president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association predicts “an average over the next three years of 1500MW of wind power installed per annum”, but with an uncertainty after 2016, given that Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are reviewing and redrafting their energy policies. The “Canada Special Report 2013” by reNews is at: http://renews.biz/wp-content/assets/reNewsCanada2013.pdf 
Where are wind energy technicians being trained? In the Summer 2013 edition of Windsight, the Canadian Wind Energy Association magazine, there is a feature article about training at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario – see http://www.canwea.ca/media/windsight_e.php.CanWEA also maintains a list (last updated in 2012) of wind training courses at colleges and universities at: http://www.canwea.ca/pdf/Education-and-Training-Programs.pdf.

On September 19th, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens opened a 40,000-square-foot, $7 milliontraining centre for technicians in Orlando Florida. The facility is one of four in the world operated by Siemens (the others are in Brande, Denmark; Bremen, Germany; and Newcastle, U.K.), and is intended to serve North and South America, training more than 2,400 wind service technicians annually. See:  http://theenergycollective.com/timholt/277131/siemens-inaugurates-new-state-art-wind-service-training-center-us

 

How can Renewable Energy Meet Future Needs in Canada?

A survey released in March by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Trottier Energy Futures Project states that Canada’s supplies of solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass energy are much larger than the current or forecast demand for fuel and electricity. It concludes that Canada can achieve an 80 % reduction in energy-related GHG emissions by 2050 by creating an integrated energy system which includes: a smart electricity grid which uses information technologies “to balance a wider range of supply sources, energy storage, interprovincial transfers of electricity and a wide variety of energy management and efficiency tools.” Still, the report sees “up to half of Canada’s energy demand would still be met by liquid fuels”. An Inventory of Low-Carbon Energy for Canada, released on March 27 at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2013/03/renewable-energy-sources-can-drive-canadas-low-carbon-future-trottier-energy-fut/ is the second research report released by the Trottier Energy Futures Project.

IN THE U.S. 

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that current renewable energy technologies-wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower-could supply 80% of U.S. electricity in 2050, reliably and across the entire country. Such a conversion would require new power transmission lines, new technologies to store renewable energy and to create a “smart” grid, and economic policies to encourage energy efficiency and lower market barriers to renewable technologies. Read Ramping up Renewables: Energy you can Count on at:

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_energy/Ramping-Up-Renewables-Energy-You-Can-Count-On.pdf 

IN NEW YORK STATE

A new study by Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, published in the journal Energy Policy, proposes that New York State’s power needs could be met by solar, wind power, hydro and geothermal sources as early as 2030. See “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water, and Sunlight” in Energy Policy 2013 v. 57, at: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/NewYorkWWSEnPolicy.pdf

 

IN EUROPE 

A newly released report from the World Future Council documents an October 2012 workshop in Denmark where representatives from around the world, including Canada, discussed strategies for implementing renewable energy, and shared successful examples from around Europe. From Vision to Action: A Workshop Report on 100% Renewable Energies in Europe is available at: http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Climate_and_Energy/From_Vision_to_Action_Policy_Recommendations_for_100__RE_in_European_Regions.pdf

U.S. Proposals to Encourage Large-scale Wind Power

The costs and benefits of developing a commercial-scale offshore wind industry in the United States are explored in a report released on February 28. Policy recommendations are: accelerate the existing “Smart from the Start” program, enact the proposed Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act; establish a carbon tax, and roll back fossil fuel subsidies. Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind was commissioned by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative, and conducted by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read it at:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/report/2013/02/28/54988/making-the-economic-case-for-offshore-wind/