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Yesterday the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a new forecast showing that renewable energy is set to expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024, and will be led by solar PV. Now, the IEA has a history of underestimating renewable energy growth, and some experts still think the 50% estimate is low, but both sides can agree on the fact that deployment of renewable energy must accelerate even faster if we’re to meet long-term climate goals.
States Lead the Charge: In the U.S., states have been leading the effort in passing 100% renewable energy mandates which drive the expansion and lower costs of renewable energy. However, this means that some states are leaders and others are laggards in the absence of federal mandates. While there was a bill in the Senate to require a 50% federal mandate for renewable energy, it’s unlikely that it’s a bill that President Trump would sign.
Is 100% Renewable Energy Possible in the US? While a complete shift away from fossil fuels is a prescription for which many climate activists are pushing, the feasibility of such a move depends on who you ask and by what date you’re looking to achieve it (2030 vs 2050 and beyond). Eric Gimon summed up pretty well in Forbes the opportunities and barriers in play when talking about a shift to 100% renewable energy.
Why This Matters: Ramping up renewable energy to the levels that we’ll need to truly tackle the climate crisis will involve governments, businesses, and institutions, working in lockstep to fund and deploy renewable projects.
So far we haven’t seen the necessary level of coordination (it’s “well short” as the IEA explained): international development banks are short-changing renewable energy projects, top oil and gas companies jointly spent only around 1% of their 2018 budgets on clean energy, and the Trump administration has dealt blow after blow to renewable energy projects.
The trajectory of renewables is undeniable in the U.S. but we will need to put pressure on the public and private sectors to go all-in on their deployment. We’ll also need to use our foreign policy to encourage other nations to do the same.
President Trump trumpeted his trade deal with China, but so far it has been a bust, according to The Wall Street Journal — the Chinese have not purchased nearly the amount of energy (in terms of total dollars) as they promised — only $2B in oil and gas purchases against a commitment of $25B for this year.
A federal judge in Washington, DC ruled yesterday that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down and empty all its oil until the government completes an environmental review of the pipeline’s impacts, giving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies downstream, a huge victory. Similarly, late in the day, the Supreme Court refused to overturn the order of a district judge that shut down construction of parts of the Keystone XL pipeline so it is also blocked for now.
Why It Matters: The Dakota and Keystone XL news is greatly tempered by the fact that numerous other pipeline projects can go ahead despite their inadequate permit unless they are individually challenged in court and blocked.
Yesterday, Dominion Energy and its partner, Duke Energy, announced they were ending a 600-mile natural gas project that would have cost at least $8 billion to complete. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, Dominion and Duke canceled the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the face of mounting regulatory uncertainty caused by a federal court […]
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