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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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The Future is California – How the State is Charting a Path Forward on Clean Energy

29812927675_a0c937acac_kThe late California historian Kevin Starr once wrote, “California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.” These words have never felt truer. Just ask Gov. Jerry Brown or the leaders of the state legislature, who are all issuing various calls to action to protect and further the state’s leading climate and energy policies.

California is the sixth largest economy in the world and the most populous state in the nation. What’s more, we’ve shown that strong climate and energy policy is possible while building a dynamic economy. We’ve proved that clean energy creates far more jobs than fossil fuels – nationwide, more than 400,000, compared with 50,000 coal mining jobs – while protecting the natural world for all people.

It’s no shock our leaders are fired up. There’s too much at stake. With our state’s diverse, booming yet unequal economy, we are not unlike the rest of the nation. State-level leadership is more important than ever, and other states can and should learn from California to drive action across the U.S. Read More »

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Like Clockwork: California Utilities Should Embrace Clean Energy Solutions when Testing Time-of-Use Electricity Rates

electricity-1330214_1920California’s three major utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) – have proposed plans to move Californians to electricity prices that vary with the time of day. Time-of-use pricing, or TOU, is critical to aligning our energy use with times when clean, cheap electricity powered by sunshine and wind is already available. TOU works because electricity is cheap when it can be powered by renewable resources and more expensive during times of peak (high) energy demand. As with any shopping, knowing prices empowers people to choose wisely to save money.

New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab estimates TOU rates could collectively save customers up to $700 million annually by 2025 by getting the most out of our solar and wind resources. They find that absent TOU rates, we will waste up to 12 percent of existing renewable generation capacity, and solutions like TOU can reduce this waste by six-fold. We at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimate that if this clean electricity were instead provided by natural gas power plants, it would generate 8 million additional tons of greenhouse gas pollution each year. Burning gas when we could instead rely on clean energy would dramatically impede the 11 million tons per year of greenhouse gases we need to eliminate from our economy to reach California’s 2050 environmental goals.

Testing TOU

The three big utilities are half-way through “opt-in” pilot programs that test these new rates. They’ve just submitted plans to the California Public Utilities Commission to test automatically switching some people to TOU in 2018, leading up to a complete roll out in 2019. TOU rates will work for most customers right away, reducing their bills and providing new opportunities to save money. Further, people can always opt out of the program.  Read More »

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The Killer App for The Internet of Things? Combating Climate Change.

graphicCo-authored by David Kirkpatrick, Techonomy’s CEO.

When Elon Musk announced his lower-priced Tesla 3 electric car in the spring of 2016, he opened the press conference with rhetorical questions. “Why does Tesla exist? Why are we making electric cars?” The audience of car fanatics and techies didn’t expect the answer he gave, though a clue came from the fact that Musk was already working to fold his other company, SolarCity, into Tesla. He continued: “Because it’s very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport…for the future of the world.”

Then Musk started talking about the world’s “record CO2 levels,” noting, “The chart looks like a vertical line, and it’s still climbing!” He sees Tesla as targeting climate change — the cars will connect to the solar systems and home storage batteries, so “every individual is their own utility,” and less carbon is emitted. Not what you’d expect from a car company.

Musk seldom uses the phrase, but what he was talking about was the Internet of Things (IoT) — putting computing intelligence into the objects and systems that surround us, connecting them to the network, and stitching it all into a digital ecosystem. Tesla’s cars, solar collectors and batteries all are connected, communicating via the internet. While the concept of IoT has been batted around the tech industry for a decade, with companies including Cisco and Intel placing hefty bets on its success, only now — suddenly — is it starting to make sense. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Utility Business Models, Wind Energy / Language: / Comments are closed