Selected category: Clean Energy

This Earth Day, 100 percent clean energy is 100 percent possible

More than 25 U.S. cities, 12 countries, and at least 89 companies have all committed to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. That’s because they all recognize the unstoppable potential clean energy has to create jobs, strengthen and protect the economy, and fight climate change.

Now, U.S. states are throwing their hats into the 100-percent renewable ring. California and Massachusetts have proposed plans to get there, while Hawaii has made the pledge. This 100-percent dream does not come from fantasy, but is actually the result of a number of coalescing factors.

Earth Day is our time to recognize what’s more: With the right mix of clean energy technologies and solutions, 100 percent renewable is 100 percent possible.

100 percent is possible

Cost competitive and scalable renewable energy has taken off over the past 10 to 20 years. The hungry solar market in California for example, has resulted in exponential growth of utility-scale and rooftop solar over the last decade, creating over 150,000 jobs throughout the Golden State.

Recently, California powered 40 percent of its midday energy demand with solar power. A steady stream of policy actions at the state and local level – timed with the dramatic drop in costs of renewables – have helped make this possible. Across the U.S., current RPS policies alone could result in these benefits:

  • Renewables contributing 40 percent of total electricity generation in the U.S. by 2050;
  • Reducing climate change-causing greenhouse gases and harmful air pollutants like SOx and NOx (which together form ozone) by 6 percent; and
  • An almost 20 percent increase in jobs.

The bold inspiration, urgency, and benefit of 100 percent renewables is without question, but the pathway for getting there is less clear and will vary by state and region. Read More »

Also posted in California, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Time of Use, Utility Business Models| Leave a comment

Four reasons to be optimistic this Earth Day

I’m going to stay positive this Earth Day. I know that’s not what you might expect from me this year, but really, when it comes to America’s shift to cleaner, smarter, advanced energy, there’s reason to be optimistic.

  1. Business is booming…

The advanced energy industry is booming. This includes everything from solar and wind power, to new energy innovations that are smarter and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, like energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and demand response.

The industry grew 29 percent in the last five years, and last year was worth $200 billion – about the same size as the pharmaceutical industry. Tesla – a sort of poster child for the advanced energy industry – just passed Ford Motor Company and General Motors in market cap. In fact, the company dropped “motors” from its name last year, a simple recognition that it’s far more than a car company. Read More »

Also posted in California, Demand Response, Illinois, Ohio, Solar Energy, Time of Use, Wind Energy| Leave a comment

Business owners share clean energy success stories

Smuttynose Brewery in New Hampshire uses clean energy incentives to succeed.

By Roger Stephenson, EDF’s senior adviser for New Hampshire affairs

In New Hampshire, the clean energy economy is at a crossroads. On one hand, the legislature and governor remain ambivalent at best about clean energy and its role in our state moving forward. But local businesses are confident that renewable energy and energy efficiency choices already are making a positive impact. And many are calling for clean energy policies in the state to be strengthened.

Several owners were kind enough to share their time and explain what clean energy means to them and their businesses.  Through a series of videos, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is now sharing those stories with lawmakers, fellow business community leaders, and the clean energy sector.

Last fall, EDF sought out businesses that were growing, competing, and thriving in the Granite State with the help of existing clean energy policies. We worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority, and the NH Clean Tech Council.

The search did not take long: Manufacturers; restaurants; construction companies and hotels; advanced manufacturing facilities; and Main Street mom and pops are investing in their competitive future with clean energy.

Here are two samples of these enlightening clean energy videos. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Financing, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy| Leave a comment

Why We Still Need America’s Nuclear Power Plants — At Least for Now

Today’s American nuclear power industry is in a state of upheaval. Four new, large-scale nuclear power plants are under construction in the United States, helped by large federal subsidies. All are being built by Westinghouse, and all have faced massive cost overruns and delays. Westinghouse’s parent company, Toshiba, recently posted a $6 billion loss due to Westinghouse’s nuclear woes. (For context, that loss is half a billion more than Toshiba spent to buy Westinghouse a decade ago.) Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection on March 29.

Westinghouse’s bankruptcy shines a spotlight on nuclear power’s role as an electricity source – currently providing about 17 percent of our electricity in the U.S. – and raises issues concerning whether we can count on low-carbon electricity from nuclear power. The Energy Information Administration projects nuclear power’s share of electricity generation will decline slightly through 2040, but these projections don’t reflect current trends.

Existing plants face challenging economics

Nuclear plants have long been very expensive to build, and the continued low price of natural gas has only increased cost pressure. Many nuclear plants are losing money, leading utilities to consider retiring them. Total nuclear capacity is declining, and will continue to decline in the near future as plant retirements exceed the capacity of Westinghouse’s Vogtle and Summer plants, expected to come online in 2019-2020. Read More »

Also posted in Illinois, New York, Utility Business Models| 4 Responses

How One Clean Energy Solution Can Help Fix Both Price Shocks and Energy Waste

Andrew Bilich, Clean Energy Analyst, contributed to this post.

Here in California, we know a thriving economy and forward-thinking clean energy policy go hand in hand. An important way for us to do this is to keep using cost-competitive renewable sources of energy to power our economy.

Transitioning California to a clean energy economy is good for our wallets, our lungs, and our workforce. Today, electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind are far cheaper than fossil fuel-based generation, and in California we’re powering our homes with nearly 30 percent clean resources. In fact, as the sun shined brightly last week more than half of California’s electricity was powered by renewable sources.

Yet, recent spikes in natural gas bills remind us why alongside renewables, we need to thoroughly green the grid and bring down costs for everybody. One way to accomplish these dual goals is to use our clean energy optimally by deploying efficient tools like TOU, or time-of-use pricing. Read More »

Also posted in California, Electricity Pricing, Time of Use| Read 1 Response

With New Distributed Energy Rebate, Illinois Could Challenge New York in Utility Innovation

By Andrew Barbeau, senior clean energy consultant

How does the electric utility fit in to a rapidly-evolving energy system? That’s what the Illinois Commerce Commission is trying to determine with its new effort, “NextGrid.” Together, we’re rethinking the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.

In some ways, NextGrid will follow in the footsteps of New York’s innovative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process, a multi-year effort to re-examine how electric utilities and customers interact. A new approach is essential to accelerating the adoption of clean energy technologies and services in the state.

Like REV, NextGrid is gaining national attention for stakeholder-driven processes to reveal new ways to value distributed energy resources (DER), like rooftop solar and batteries. New York and Illinois’ efforts also seek alternatives to simply building more and more wires, poles, and power plants to meet the energy needs of tomorrow.

Yet, Illinois is may go a few steps beyond New York, creating a comprehensive framework for utilities to measure how DER are making the grid smarter and more efficient. Here is what we know will happen so far.

Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization, Illinois, Utility Business Models| Read 2 Responses
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    EDF Energy Exchange - Accelerating the clean energy revolution

    EDF's energy experts discuss how to accelerate the transition to a clean, low-carbon energy economy.

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