From Apple to General Electric, it is common practice in the corporate world for established juggernauts to invest significant sums for research and development. Why? Maintaining one’s reign atop a sector requires dynamic, cutting edge innovation.
The same logic applies to state economies. And when it comes to energy, Texas – where oil and gas reign king – has arguably been America’s most dominant state for the past century. Over recent years, however, technologies and developments reshaping the sector have advanced at an unprecedented rate. As a result, it’s become clear that the energy sector of the future will rely far more on clean energy and smart technologies than on fossil fuels.
The good news: Texas has by far the most potential for solar and wind generation in the United States, which means the Lone Star state might be even more energy-rich in the 21st century than it has been in the past. In addition, the state’s energy sector is trending cleaner due to market forces.
And, in case you needed more proof, 2015 has been a dynamite year for clean energy momentum in Texas. Here are five reasons why: Read More
1. Methane is a supercharged climate pollutant
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas packing a climate punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. More than a third of the climate impact we feel today is caused by short-lived pollutants, including methane, which accounts for most of that amount. These emissions are worsening already extreme weather patterns responsible for more frequent, higher intensity storms. And, in the absence of action, these trends are expected to accelerate.
2. The oil and gas industry is responsible for over 7 million tons of methane pollution
The U.S. oil and gas sector is estimated to release more than 7 million metric tons of methane emissions into the atmosphere each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Read More
The Paris climate negotiations can set the stage for a global shift on climate change – when our world’s emissions finally stop rising, level off, and begin to fall.
There is reason to be optimistic: from China to the United States, from Europe to South Asia, countries are coming together with commitments to cut climate pollution. And so are cities, companies, investors, entrepreneurs – and even moms. That’s real momentum that could open a new era for how we make and use energy.
The real action starts after we all go home from Paris with the biggest question coming out of COP-21: Now what? I want to share three specific ideas for the future – ideas that could accelerate access to clean energy.
First, the biggest barriers today lie in how to deploy the technology we have or will soon have. Solar panels, “smart” buildings, electric cars – the cost of these technologies is on its way down. Yet we still face problems of scale, because barriers in policy and finance limit the ability of clean technologies to deploy in ways accessible to everyone. Read More
When you think about something that is 85 years old, you might think of history and tradition but not necessarily innovation. However, when the 85-year-old in question is a Chicago landmark committed to finding new ways to tackle energy management, cutting-edge solutions are par for the course.
The Merchandise Mart is a massive commercial space, spanning two city blocks along the Chicago River and offering some 4.2 million square feet of floor space. As expected, its energy consumption is also enormous, but the building has long been a leader in efficiency. And recently, the Mart took an even bigger step forward by unveiling an innovative battery storage unit that will help balance the electric grid – and earn money while doing it.
How the Mart came to be a clean energy leader
Built in 1930 for Marshall Field & Co., the Kennedy family owned the art deco structure for more than half a century, before selling it in 1998 to Vornado Realty Trust. Efficiency efforts began in the 1980s with the installation of an ice-storage cooling system that freezes tons of water overnight when cooling needs are minimal, allowing the building to shift power consumption to off-peak periods, save money, and reduce pollution. Read More
When operators pull oil out of the ground, it often comes up with copious amounts of natural gas. This “associated gas” can be captured and brought to market, creating an additional revenue source for operators. But if no gathering infrastructure or other methods of capture are deployed, operators either vent the gas to the atmosphere or burn it off with controlled flares. Venting results in the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Flaring results in troublesome emissions as well, including CO2 and hazardous air pollutants.
According to the Wyoming Oil and gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC), Wyoming’s oil and gas operators vented and flared more than five billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014. Five billion cubic feet of gas that could be sold to generate taxes and royalties, heat homes and power machinery across the country, instead was wasted. Read More
Solar power in California has, in many ways, been an unparalleled success: the state has more solar power installed than the rest of the country combined. There are more solar workers in California (55,000) than working actors or utility workers. Solar workers earn a higher than average wage, and the industry is making strides in employing more women, veterans, and people of color. And, the median income of households installing solar in California in 2012 was between $40,000-$50,000, mostly middle- and working-class homeowners.
But there are two sides to this story because, unfortunately, solar power is still inaccessible to many low-income households.
Take my neighborhood of Boyle Heights, on the east side of Los Angeles, for example: over 70 percent of residents are renters and cannot install solar on roofs they don't own. For those who do own their homes, many can't afford to purchase their own solar system (the median income is just over $33,000) or don’t qualify for traditional financing. Residents here have captured a paltry $0.33 per capita in solar incentives over the past 15 years, as compared to Bel Air (yup, that Bel Air) which received almost $200 in solar incentives per capita – over 600 times more than Boyle Heights. Read More