#PathTalks: Energy transition in Central America and the Caribbean

The renewable energy transition is complex, but it is possible, practical and affordable.

#PathTalks‘ Host Fernanda Castro speaks with Business Development Manager, Energy Solutions, Central America & Caribbean for Wärtsilä, Francisco Picasso about the energy transition and excitement around renewable fuels, energy storage and progress being made around renewable energy in Central America.

 

#PathTalks: Chile moving towards a future of 100% renewable energy

Chile has one of the most ambitious decarbonization plans in the world, targeting carbon neutral electricity in 2050. This South American country is already at a 70% renewable energy share with some of the world’s best wind and solar resources available. It is possible to retire coal in Chile before 2030 and to reach a 100% carbon neutral power system before 2050.

#PathTalks host Fernanda Castro speaks with Wärtsilä Chile General Manager, Alejandro McDonough about the updated study “Towards a Future of 100% Renewable Energies” and what it could mean in accelerating the energy transition in Chile.

The study indicates that although competitive renewable energy and battery storage are available, the missing piece of the puzzle is long-term energy storage, which has the role of ensuring proper system function and reliability even during longer usual weather patterns such as drought, extreme heat or cold waves, cloud cover and rain, low wind periods as well as low solar seasons such as winter.

This video is in Spanish, but includes English subtitles.

#PathTalks: Developments and challenges of decarbonization in Brazil

#PathTalk Host Fernanda Castro chats with Wärtsilä AMER Region South Energy Business Director Jorge Alcaide and Wärtsilä Senior Manager, Project Development Gabriel Cavados about the opportunities and challenges of Brazil’s energy transition to decarbonization.

Want to know more about energy transition in Brazil? Join Jorge, Gabriel and industry experts to discuss ways to balance the electrical system with large renewable share.

This video is in Portuguese, but it includes English subtitles.

Should Google and Microsoft focus on sourcing their own 100% clean power or cleaning up the dirtiest grids?

At-a-Glance:

Major companies with ambitious clean energy goals face a complicated set of options for how they ought to prioritize their efforts over the coming decade. Should they make their own electricity supply as clean as possible, or should they focus first on cleaning up the dirtiest power grids? To learn more, read, “Should Google and Microsoft focus on sourcing their own 100% clean power or cleaning up the dirtiest grids?”

Key Takeaways:

  • Google’s 24/7 clean energy pledge, made a year ago, which sets a 2030 deadline for powering its data centers and corporate campuses with 100 percent carbon-free energy every hour of the year.
  • Microsoft followed up earlier this year with a 100/100/0 pledge to match 100 percent of its corporate power consumption with zero-carbon resources 100 percent of the time by decade’s end.
  • Maximizing corporate carbon reductions has been gaining traction in recent years: investing in clean energy projects based on their ​“emissionality,” or their ability to directly reduce carbon emissions

Path to 100% Perspective: 

Clean energy goals along with clean energy investments is accelerating the decarbonization journey by putting a focus on decreasing carbon emissions. Google and Microsoft have been making headlines for their clean energy efforts for several years. Each organization has been able to promote their 100% achievements within the past five years. The path to 100% renewable energy does not look the same for every organization, community or region, but the steps to decarbonization are similar. Investing in renewable energy as well as clean-technology is consistently producing clean energy solutions as well as additional pledges and milestone accomplishments.

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

California to boost solar and wind capacity to meet renewable goals

At-a-Glance:

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) region plans to increase its solar and wind power capacity in 2021 to help meet the state’s target of 50% renewable generation by 2025, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). To learn more, read, “California to boost solar and wind capacity to meet renewable goals.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The CAISO plans to add an additional 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity, 0.4 GW of onshore wind turbine capacity and 2.5 GW of battery storage capacity this year, the EIA said.
    • These batteries could be charged using renewable power generation that would otherwise have been curtailed.
  • Additionally, two projects are being developed to facilitate hydrogen production and hydrogen-based energy storage, which could also help reduce curtailments of excess solar output.
  • Excess supply from renewable sources has prompted the grid to increasingly curtail solar and wind generation at times, even as it struggles to balance its clean energy push with the need to boost tight power supplies and avoid rolling blackouts amid heatwaves.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

California can reach its goal of serving 100% of retail load with renewable energy. However, this cannot be achieved with its current portfolio of resources. The rolling blackouts in summer 2020 show that California needs additional resources to supplement the tools already in place. More specifically, California needs new resources that complement the wind, solar, and hydro needed for a shift to a 100% renewable electricity system. Slow ramping, long start, baseload resources must be replaced by faster, more flexible resources that are capable of running on sustainable fuels. Sustainable fuels produced by excess wind and solar energy, plus storage resources, can enable California to cleanly and reliably shift energy from low-net loads to high-net loads.

 

Photo by Anders J on Unsplash

Corporate giants back clean energy standard

At-a-Glance:

Over 75 companies including names like General Motors, Apple, Unilever and eBay are urging lawmakers to require that power companies supply rising amounts of zero-carbon electricity. A new open letter shows an effort to keep a proposed “clean energy standard” (CES) in the mix on Capitol Hill despite huge political hurdles. To learn more, read “Corporate giants back clean energy standard.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The effort is organized by the sustainable investment advocacy group Ceres, the Environmental Defense Fund and others.
  • “A federal clean electricity standard should achieve 80 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030 on the pathway to 100% clean power by 2035,” the letter states.
  • “Millions of Americans are already feeling the impacts of climate change. From recent extreme weather to deadly wildfires and record-breaking hurricanes, the human and economic losses are profound,” the letter continues.

Path to 100% Perspective: 

The eyes of the world are now on the energy sector. Global leaders now expect power producers to deliver the lion’s share of emissions cuts that are so vital for meeting national decarbonisation goals. Investment remains a key hurdle, especially in the post-COVID world. The International Energy Agency (IEA) calculates that investment in clean electricity must leap from $380 billion to $1.6 trillion by 2030 to put us on a path to net zero by 2050. As a result, oncoming incentives and regulation are set to ensure clean power is always the most attractive option. 

 

Photo by Laurenz Heymann on Unsplash

Exclusive: Major companies united to push climate solutions

At-a-Glance:

A group of eight large companies, including tech and entertainment heavy hitters such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Disney and Netflix, are joining environmental groups and the U.N. to devise ways to scale funding for climate solutions. The collective will be called the Business Alliance to Scale Climate Solutions (BASCS), and will serve as a knowledge-sharing network that has the potential to accelerate companies’ emissions reduction efforts. To learn more, read “Exclusive: Major companies united to push climate solutions.”

Key Takeaways:

  • The new alliance allows firms that might otherwise compete with one another to launch clean energy projects to collaborate before engaging in such competition.
  • The alliance is explicit about preventing companies from simply trying to offset their emissions, and firms that join need to agree to core principles that emphasize the need for absolute emissions cuts.
  • Max Scher, who heads clean energy and carbon programs at Salesforce, told Axios that the alliance is unique in that it’s by businesses for businesses, and aims to break down silos in which many currently operate.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The global energy market is constantly evolving. Current market trends show the energy landscape is in transition towards more flexible energy systems with a rapidly increasing share of renewable energy, declining inflexible baseload generation and wider applications of storage technology. The declining costs of renewables have begun to reduce new investments into coal and other inflexible baseload technologies; a transition which will eventually cause renewables to become the new baseload. In 2017 itself, 14% of electricity generation worldwide was attributed to wind and solar. A focus on a renewable energy future is now unwavering for collaborators across public and private sectors alike.

Serie de preguntas y respuestas: Fernando Damonte sobre la aceleración de la descarbonización en Argentina

Damonte tiene más de 20 años de experiencia como consultor de servicios públicos principalmente en América Latina, pero también ha participado en proyectos de regulación de servicios públicos en América, Europa, África y Oceanía.

Pregunta: ¿Podría hablarnos de usted y de su trabajo?

Fernando: Soy el Chief Operating Officer de Quantum America, una consultora internacional especializada en el área de servicios públicos, con fuerte presencia en el mercado latinoamericano y en expansión al resto del mundo. A lo largo de mis 20 años de carrera, he participado en numerosos trabajos sobre la regulación de empresas de servicios públicos en América, y también en países de Europa, África y Oceanía. Previamente, fui gerente de proyectos en estudios destacados, entre ellos: Diseño de Marcos Regulatorios, Diseño de Estructuras Tarifarias Modernas y Estudios de Eficiencia Comparativa (Benchmarking) tanto en Energía Eléctrica como en Gas Natural.

También he sido expositor en numerosos cursos y congresos, entre los que destacan 16 Seminarios Internacionales de Regulación y Tarifas, organizados anualmente por Quantum. He sido expositor en Brasil en dos ocasiones en el Gas Summit y en tres ediciones del Smart Grid Forum. Por último, he sido ponente en el Curso de Regulación organizado por el PURC de la Universidad de Florida en Estados Unidos.

A lo largo de mi carrera, he sido coautor de artículos en libros y publicaciones académicas sobre temas de diseño de tarifas y estimación de eficiencia en empresas distribuidoras de energía eléctrica. Anteriormente, me desempeñé durante cinco años como jefe de tarifas en Distribuidora de Gas del Centro y Cuyana en Argentina (ECOGAS). Tengo una licenciatura en ingeniería industrial de la Universidad Católica de Córdoba, Argentina, y una maestría en economía de la Universidad de Florida, Estados Unidos de América.

P: ¿Qué le hizo querer unirse al Path to 100%?

Fernando: El futuro de la energía es distribuido, renovable y digitalizado, pero la velocidad a la que llega la humanidad es crucial para revertir el cambio climático. Debemos involucrarnos para acelerar ese proceso. El paradigma del cambio ahora es diferente. En el pasado era centralizado, de arriba hacia abajo. Las autoridades tomaban decisiones y definían políticas para que todos las siguieran. En la actualidad, muchos cambios se gestan desde abajo hacia arriba, desde una conciencia social colectiva que comienza a actuar y a elegir de determinada manera. Para conseguir un 100% renovable, no podemos esperar que las autoridades lo hagan por si mismas en sus propios tiempos, necesitamos gestar movimientos sociales, horizontales, distribuidos que comiencen a generar energía limpia de manera distribuida, que almacenen energía en sus vehículos y en baterías en sus viviendas. Este movimiento distribuido se complementará obligatoriamente con medidas que tomen los planificadores energéticos regionales. El camino al 100% renovable no tiene una única solución, sino al contrario, requiere que a todos los niveles ocurran cambios para que entre todas la pequeñas y grandes soluciones se acelere la transición energética.

P: Describa su pasión por la energía renovable y cómo la ha puesto en práctica en Argentina.

Fernando: ¡La energía limpia e ilimitada es emocionante! Fundé IRIS con mis colegas consultores, que es una empresa de asesoría en consumo de energía inteligente que incluye instalación de paneles solares y desarrollo de comunidades solares.

IRIS, es una empresa que tiene como misión ayudar a los consumidores de energía a convertirse en protagonistas del mercado de la energía. Las nuevas tecnologías de generación y almacenamiento de energía junto con los desarrollos en soluciones digitales, inteligencia artificial y domótica revolucionarán la economía mundial. Es importante desarrollar soluciones locales, cerca de los consumidores, para ayudarles a consumir y a generar su propia energía, que puedan compartirla entre pares, cooperar y colaborar en el desarrollo de soluciones creativas que fomenten las economías regionales, las economías circulares, estimulando la sustentabilidad y el cuidado del medioambiente. El nuevo paradigma de la energía es colaborativo, participativo, sostenible, inteligente, digital y distribuido.

Dentro de estas iniciativas estamos desarrollando el concepto de Generación Comunitaria de Energía mediante la cual un grupo de usuarios se asocian para generar su propia energía en un punto remoto de sus puntos de consumo, inyectan su energía a la red y el Distribuidor les descuenta el valor de esa energía es la factura de cada consumidor copropietario. La Generación Comunitaria puede ser solar (Comunidad Solar) pero también puede ser de Generación Térmica a partir de Biogás, pequeña Hidro, Eólica, etc.

P: Su carrera se ha extendido por más de 20 años, ¿podría describir algunos de sus proyectos o logros notables?

Fernando: Participé en el diseño de prefactibilidad y determinación de precios para la licitación de más de 3000 km de gasoductos en México en 2014 dentro de un plan estratégico de importar gas natural (shale gas) desde Estados Unidos. Este proyecto ayudo a convertir la matriz energética mexicana hacia una más limpia.

Colaboré en 2017 en el desarrollo del Marco Regulatorio de Gas Natural para El Salvador que permitirá sustituir combustibles líquidos en la generación de energía y en la industria. En 2013 participé en un estudio para la transición energética hacia la masificación del servicio eléctrico mediante energías limpias en Islas Salomon, Oceanía. Estos son solo algunos proyectos de los muchos y muy interesantes que he tenido oportunidad de participar a lo largo de estos años.

P: ¿Qué son las comunidades solares y por qué son importantes para un futuro de energía 100% renovable?

Fernando: Las comunidades consisten en la realización de instalaciones de generación de energía limpia de manera conjunta por varios usuarios en vez de que cada uno realice instalaciones individuales. De este modo se logran beneficios para la sociedad y para los individuos. Los usuarios invierten sus ahorros en generación de energía, lo cual es preferido a que el Estado o grandes corporaciones lo hagan, pero al asociarse pueden lograr mejor escala que la que lograrían en sus propios domicilios.

Algunos de los beneficios de las comunidades solares (y cualquier tipo de generación comunitaria renovable) son:

  • Democrático: Pueden participar incluso los que no poseen espacio en su vivienda o condiciones para hacerlo (alquilan, viven en un edificio, tiene sombra, etc.)
  • Inclusivo: Pueden participar con cualquier nivel de aporte ya que son propietarios del generador de manera proporcional a su aporte.
  • Impacto Social: Algunos programas permiten acceder a la propiedad mediante aporte de trabajo en la construcción
  • Economías de Escala: Construir un generador comunitario de 1 MW de potencia puede ser hasta 3 veces menos costoso en USD/kW instalado que pequeñas instalaciones domiciliarias
  • Eficientes: Al instalar 3 veces más potencia con el mismo nivel de inversión se generan al menos 3 veces la cantidad de energía contribuyendo de forma mas eficiente al medio ambiente (mas CO2 desplazado)
  • Colaborativo/Cooperativo: Los usuarios se asocian para producir energía en vez de recurrir a la solución individualista fomentando el espíritu de sociedad de bienestar y el sentido de pertenencia al grupo social
  • Sinérgico: Al evitar el autoconsumo ya que la energía se genera en una locación diferente del punto de consumo, la Distribuidora no pierde sus ingresos por el uso de sus cables, postes y transformadores. De esa forma los generadores comunitarios son aliados de las distribuidoras y pueden fortalecerse mutuamente generando fuertes sinergias, mejorando la calidad del servicio eléctrico y la resiliencia de la red.

P: Ahora bien, ¿cuál considera que es uno de los principales desafíos que enfrenta Argentina en su camino hacia una energía limpia y asequible?

Fernando: Tenemos un grave disenso sobre el rumbo, Argentina es un país con gran riqueza en hidrocarburos, hay muchas opiniones que favorecen su explotación masiva antes de que pierdan valor. Por otro lado, la migración hacia energías renovables requiere inversiones y las inversiones perciben alto riesgo dada la baja credibilidad institucional.

Es decir, hay fuertes incentivos para explotar los fósiles antes de que pierdan valor por la sustitución por alternativas renovables. Un Ministro de Energía de Arabia Saudita dijo hace muchos años en relación al fin de la era de los combustibles fósiles que la edad de piedra no terminó por falta de piedras. En el caso del petróleo y el gas natural, quedarán reservas bajo el suelo que nunca serán explotadas dada la sustitución por alternativas renovables.

Por otro lado, una transición hacia una energía 100% renovable requiere importantes montos de inversión. Argentina tiene muy baja credibilidad para inversionistas dada la alta inseguridad jurídica y las malas políticas fiscales de los últimos 20 años.

Estas dos fuerzas, acceso a combustibles fósiles y falta de acceso a financiamiento impiden el desarrollo de energías limpias.

P: Finalmente, ¿qué pasos específicos puede tomar Argentina para ayudar en el camino hacia una energía 100% renovable? ¿O qué cambios ve que se están produciendo ahora? 

Fernando: Argentina debería estimular la participación privada en inversiones de generación de energía limpia. El Estado es ineficiente e insolvente y las empresas requieren de altos retornos para reducir la inseguridad jurídica. Miles de pequeños ahorristas que demuestran interés en ser protagonistas del sector eléctrico, que tienen conciencia medioambiental podrían generar el cambio que necesitamos, porque el nuevo paradigma es descentralizado y democrático.

 

Photo: Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash

Q&A Series: Fernando Damonte on Accelerating Decarbonization in Argentina

Damonte has more than 20 years of experience as a public services consultant mainly in Latin America, but he has also participated in public service regulation projects in America, Europe, Africa and Oceania.

Question: Could you please tell us about yourself and your work?

Fernando: I am the Chief Operating Officer of Quantum America, an international consulting firm specializing in the area of ​​public services, with a strong presence in the Latin American market and expanding to the rest of the world. Throughout my 20-year career, I have participated in numerous works on the regulation of public utilities in America, and also in countries in Europe, Africa and Oceania. Previously, I was a project manager in several  studies, among them: Design of Regulatory Frameworks, Design of Modern Tariff Structures and Comparative Efficiency Studies (Benchmarking) in both Electric Power and Natural Gas.

I have also been a speaker at numerous courses and conferences, among which 16 International Seminars on Regulation and Rates stand out, organized annually by Quantum. I have been an exhibitor in Brazil on two occasions at the Gas Summit and in three editions of the Smart Grid Forum. Finally, I have been a speaker at the Regulation Course organized by the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) of the University of Florida.

Throughout my career, I have co-authored articles in books and academic publications on tariff design and efficiency estimation issues in electric power distribution companies. Previously, I worked for five years as head of rates at Distribuidora de Gas del Centro y Cuyana in Argentina (ECOGAS). I have a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the Catholic University of Córdoba, Argentina, and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Florida.

Q: What made you want to join the Path to  100%?

Fernando: The future of energy is distributed, renewable and digitized, but the speed at which humanity arrives is crucial to reverse climate change. We must get involved to accelerate that process. The paradigm of change is now different. In the past it was centralized, top-down. The authorities made decisions and defined policies for everyone to follow. Currently, many changes are made from the bottom up, from a collective social conscience that begins to act and choose in a certain way.

To achieve 100% renewable energy, we cannot expect the authorities to do it themselves in their own time, we need to create social, horizontal, distributed movements that begin to generate clean energy in a distributed manner, that store energy in their vehicles and in batteries in their homes. This distributed movement will be compulsorily complemented by measures taken by regional energy planners. The path to 100% renewable does not have a single solution, but on the contrary, it requires changes to occur at all levels so that between all the small and large solutions the energy transition is accelerated.

Q: Describe your passion for renewable energy and how you have put it into practice in Argentina.

Fernando: Clean and unlimited energy is exciting! I founded IRIS with my consulting colleagues, which is a smart energy consulting company that includes solar panel installation and solar community development.

IRIS is a company whose mission is to help energy consumers to become protagonists of the energy market. New energy generation and storage technologies together with developments in digital solutions, artificial intelligence and home automation will revolutionize the world economy. It is important to develop local solutions, close to consumers, to help them consume and generate their own energy, that they can share it among peers, cooperate and collaborate in the development of creative solutions that promote regional economies, circular economies, stimulating sustainability and caring for the environment. The new energy paradigm is collaborative, participatory, sustainable, smart, digital and distributed.

Within these initiatives we are developing the concept of community energy generation through which a group of users associate to generate their own energy at a remote point from their consumption points, inject their energy into the grid and the distributor discounts the value of that energy is the bill of each co-owner consumer. The community generation can be solar (solar community) but it can also be thermal generation from biogas, small hydro, wind, etc.

Q: Your career has spanned over 20 years, could you describe some of your notable projects or achievements?

Fernando: I participated in the pre-feasibility design and pricing for the tender for more than 3,000 km of gas pipelines in Mexico in 2014 within a strategic plan to import natural gas (shale gas) from the United States. This project helped to convert the Mexican energy matrix towards a cleaner one.

I collaborated in 2017 in the development of the Natural Gas Regulatory Framework for El Salvador that will allow the substitution of liquid fuels in power generation and in industry. In 2013, I participated in a study for the energy transition towards the massification of electric service through clean energies in the Solomon Islands, Oceania. These are just a few of the many and very interesting projects that I have had the opportunity to participate in over the years.

Q: What are solar communities and why are they important to a 100% renewable energy future?

Fernando: The communities consist of the creation of clean energy generation facilities jointly by several users instead of each one carrying out individual installations. In this way, benefits are achieved for society and for individuals. Users invest their savings in power generation, which is preferred to the State or large corporations to do so, but by partnering they can achieve better scale than they would in their own homes.

Some of the benefits of solar communities (and any type of renewable community generation) are:

  • Democratic: Even those who do not have space in their home or the conditions to do so can participate (they rent, live in a building, have shade, etc.)
  • Inclusive: They can participate with any level of contribution since they own the generator in proportion to their contribution.
  • Social Impact: Some programs allow access to the property through contribution of construction work
  • Economies of Scale: Building a community generator of 1 MW of power can be up to 3 times less expensive in USD / kW installed than small residential installations
  • Efficient: By installing 3 times more power with the same level of investment, at least 3 times the amount of energy is generated, contributing more efficiently to the environment (more CO2 displaced)
  • Collaborative / Cooperative: Users associate to produce energy instead of resorting to the individualistic solution, fostering the spirit of a welfare society and the sense of belonging to the social group
  • Synergic: By avoiding self-consumption since the energy is generated in a different location from the point of consumption, the distributor does not lose its income from the use of its cables, poles and transformers. In this way, community generators are allies of the distributors and can strengthen each other by generating strong synergies, improving the quality of the electricity service and the resilience of the grid.

Q: Now, what do you consider to be one of the main challenges Argentina faces on its way to clean and affordable energy?

Fernando: We have serious disagreements about the course. Argentina is a country with great wealth in hydrocarbons and there are many opinions that favor their massive exploitation before they lose value. On the other hand, migration to renewable energies requires investments and investments are perceived as high risk given the low institutional credibility.

In other words, there are strong incentives to exploit fossil fuels before they lose value due to the substitution of renewable alternatives. A Saudi Arabian Energy Minister said many years ago in relation to the end of the era of fossil fuels that the stone age did not end for lack of stones. In the case of oil and natural gas, there will be reserves under the ground that will never be exploited given the substitution by renewable alternatives.

On the other hand, a transition to 100% renewable energy requires significant investment amounts. Argentina has very low credibility for investors given the high legal uncertainty and bad fiscal policies of the last 20 years.

These two forces, access to fossil fuels and lack of access to financing impede the development of clean energy.

Q: Finally, what specific steps can Argentina take to help on the path to 100% renewable energy? Or what changes do you see taking place now?

Fernando: Argentina should stimulate private participation in clean energy generation investments. The state is inefficient and insolvent and companies require high returns to reduce legal uncertainty. Thousands of small savers who show interest in being protagonists of the electricity sector, who are environmentally conscious, could generate the change we need, because the new paradigm is decentralized and democratic.

 

 

Photo: Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash

Joe Biden wants 100% clean energy. Will California show that it’s possible?

At-a-Glance:

There are several economic and environmental arguments for the $1.9 billion Pacific Transmission Expansion. The undersea power line would run south from San Luis Obispo County, hugging the California coast for 200 miles before making landfall in or near Los Angeles. It would be able to carry electricity from a fleet of offshore wind turbines, providing Southern California with clean power after sundown and helping to replace fossil-fueled generators. Fewer planet-warming emissions, less risk of blackouts, and no chance of igniting the wildfires sometimes sparked by traditional power lines are among the cases being made for this project. To learn more, read Joe Biden wants 100% clean energy. Will California show that it’s possible?” Reading this article could require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Policymakers across the country are looking to California to show that it’s possible to phase out fossil fuels. State law mandates 100% clean energy by 2045 and, in 2019, nearly two-thirds of California’s electricity came from climate-friendly sources.
  • As demonstrated by summer 2020’s rolling blackouts, there’s a clear longer-term need for clean energy sources that can be relied on when electricity demand is high and there’s not enough sunlight to go around.
  • The Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a proposal that made its 2030 target to reduce emissions from power plants by 25% the basis for approving or rejecting new transmission lines, which is crucial for connecting renewable-energy facilities with cities that consume large amounts of electricity.
  • Climate advocates are urging Governor Newsom to play a more active role in utility infrastructure decisions to ensure the state is prepared to meet its clean energy targets.

Path to 100% Perspective:

California is a clean energy leader and state-level renewable energy infrastructure decisions made now will likely influence similar decisions across the country. State-of-the-art power-system modeling reveals that California can reach its renewable energy and emissions targets faster by utilizing flexible thermal generation. Flexible thermal generation assets can be converted as needed to use carbon-neutral fuels produced with excess wind and solar energy through power-to-gas technology, forming a large, distributed, long-term energy storage system. Such a system can provide a reliable source of electricity in cases of extreme or variable weather.

 

Photo: Nuno Marques on Unsplash

Shell enters supply deal with Amazon to provide renewable energy

At-a-Glance:

Shell Energy Europe BV has agreed to supply Amazon.com Inc. with renewable energy, which will help the U.S. online retailer power its business completely using clean energy by 2025 which is five years ahead of Amazon’s target. To learn more, read “Shell enters supply deal with Amazon to provide renewable energy.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Shell Energy Europe BV said it will provide the renewable energy from a subsidy-free offshore wind farm constructed off the coast of the Netherlands.
  • According to a press release distributed by Shell, the wind farm will be operated by The CrossWind Consortium, a joint venture between Shell and Eneco.
    • Starting in 2024, Amazon will offtake 250 megawatts (MW) from Shell and 130 MW from Eneco, for a total of 380 MW.
    • “Supplying Amazon with electricity from this offshore wind farm contributes to their net-zero pledge while progressing our own ambition to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050 or sooner,” stated Elisabeth Brinton, Executive Vice President of New Energies at Shell.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Achieving a 100% renewable energy future requires collaboration and innovation to serve organizations and utility partners. Mutually beneficial partnerships, such as the newly established agreement between Shell and Amazon, is an impactful strategy with the potential to accelerate decarbonization. Although costs continue to decline for renewables, the need for ongoing solutions to create flexible, reliable and sustainable grids continues to be the overarching challenge in reaching renewable energy goals.

 

Photo: Nicholas Jeffway on Unsplash

The World Is Moving Toward Net Zero Because of a Single Sentence

At-a-Glance:

In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Global Warming of 1.5°C report stated, to have a shot at achieving the Paris Agreement’s stretch goal of limiting warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre industrial levels, every nation must cut its carbon-dioxide emissions in half by 2030—and neutralize them by 2050. Two years later, eight of the 10 largest economies have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. Twenty-nine countries, plus the European Union, have net-zero pledges for either CO₂ or all greenhouse gases, accounting for 14.5 percent of global emissions. About 400 companies, including Microsoft, Unilever, Facebook, Ford, Nestle, Pepsi Co, and Brunswick Group, have signed on with the Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge, which is built on the IPCC’s analysis. To learn more, read The World Is Moving Toward Net Zero Because of a Single Sentence.”  Reading this article could require a subscription to the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Like most statements the IPCC sets down, the most important sentence ever written is just terrible—clunky and jargon-filled. What it says, in English, is this:
    • By 2030 the world needs to cut its carbon-dioxide pollution by 45%, and by midcentury reach “net-zero” emissions, which means any CO₂ still emitted would have to be drawn down in some way.
  • The half-by-2030, all-by-2050 guidance is keyed specifically to emissions of CO2, by far the biggest contributor to warming.
  • According to the World Resource Institute’s Kelly Levin, “Countries with the highest emissions, greatest responsibility, and capability should adopt the most ambitious target time frames.”
  • Since the Clean Energy D.C. Act became law in early 2019, it has been joined by dozens of other national or subnational jurisdictions trying to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The IPCC’s statement has proven to be a catalyst that sparked a sense of urgency for government leaders, corporate decision makers and utilities. Renewable energy goals are taking many forms, but they have similar targets and deadlines which can only be achieved through commitment, continued research and collaboration. The renewable energy future has not yet been achieved, but with the growing number of investors, innovators and subject matter experts working towards this goal, the path to decarbonization is coming into focus.

 

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