Environment and Climate Change News

Renewables on the Rise: A Look at How Far We’ve Come

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — When you’re climbing a big mountain, sometimes it’s good to turn around and see how far you’ve come, even if you still have a long way to go. Certainly, the transition to a clean energy economy is a huge mountain, but the folks at the Environment New York Research & Policy Center, have given us a breathtaking look back on what has been accomplished on this climb over the past ten years. At a time when so little is getting done in Washington, and what little movement there has been, has been in the wrong direction, it’s heartening to see how much has been accomplished, primarily as the result of efforts by other actors.

The group reports in Renewables on the Rise, that “Clean energy is sweeping across America, and is poised for further dramatic growth in the years ahead. “

Here are some highlights.

  • America produced almost 8 times as much electricity from sun and wind as we did in 2007, and those two sources combined to produce 10% of the nation’s total for the first time this past March.
  • At the same time, the country is using nearly 10% less energy per capita than a decade ago. Nearly all of that decline was in fossil fuels. [in 2007, fossil fuel consumption was 85.927 quads, compared to 2016 when it was 78.569].
  • Breaking it down further, solar produced 43x more power than ten years ago, while wind produced 7x as much.
  • Energy consumption fell 14% relative to GDP, which should put to rest the idea that more energy is needed to grow the economy.
  • Electric vehicle sales surged in 2016 by 40% to 157,000 vehicles
  • Utility scale energy storage grew twenty-fold between 2007-2016.

The report also breaks down the data along several dimensions including geography. Not only did no one region of the country dominate the renewable scene, neither did political affiliation. A number of traditional “Red states,” including Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina played leading roles in the deployment of solar or wind technology.

The Environmental Challenges and Opportunities Facing Food and Beverage Companies

(3BL/JustMeans) — Food and beverage companies need to buy agricultural commodities to make their products. Commodity sourcing can be very challenging. Agricultural productivity is affected by the increasingly erratic weather patterns that climate change brings, plus groundwater depletion and soil erosion. Illegal and questionable practices in supply chains are brought to light by campaign groups.

NRG Energy Is As Committed As Ever To Sustainability

(3BL/JustMeans) When you are the leading integrated energy company with a firm commitment to sustainable energy, announcing a new plan to transform your business might shake up stakeholders. NRG Energy is that company, and its recent announcement of its transformation plan caused some stakeholders to query the company about its commitment to being a sustainable energy company.

American Businesses, Cities and States Can Make Up For Trump’s Climate Inaction

Federal climate change policy is a mess. President Trump announced early in June that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris climate accord. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is skeptical of climate change. He told executives from the coal industry that he would create a team of researchers to look into the science behind climate change.

How Green Mountain Power Makes Grid Defection Work for Them

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Why would a utility company encourage its customers to produce their own power with the ability to completely disconnect from the grid? The fact that one New England power company is doing just that, and doing well as a result, is a testament to just how convoluted the electricity game has become, now that rooftop solar has literally turned everything upside down.

For starters, it’s not your average utility. Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP) was founded in 1997 with the mission to “use the power of consumer choice to change the way power is made.” They are “committed to sustainability every step of the way,” and offer only products with an environmental benefit and … a zero-carbon footprint.”

Green Mountain Power, the first energy utility to become a certified B-Corp, is a wholly owned subsidiary of GazMetro, a publicly traded Canadian corporation. Earlier this year, GMP was named one of Fast Company’s ten most innovative companies in the energy sector.

On their website’s home page, they advertise Tesla’s Powerwall battery.

The idea of encouraging customers to put solar on their rooftops and install Tesla Powerwall batteries, so that they can run independently, was the brainchild of Mary Powell, who became CEO in 2008. Powell was recently named one of the 25 most influential women of the Mid-Market by CEO Connection, based on her ability to influence innovation and change. She recognized that by allowing customers to produce their own power during peak daytime hours, when the sun is shining, the utility could reduce the amount of external power that they purchase from the regional transmission system, at the time when it is most expensive. The utility also has the ability to draw power from the network of residential batteries when needed. This give-and-take system, in which provider and customers essentially work together to ensure that demand is met, also saves the utility the expense of investing in large scale energy storage.

Mining Companies Generate $16B in Emission Costs

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Mining companies represent the beginning of the value chain for several sectors set to undergo significant change as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy, including utilities, industrials and transport. This transition represents new business opportunities, but also poses risks associated with shifts away from some incumbent commodity use.

America’s Aging Water Infrastructure Needs Upgrading

(3BL/JustMeans) Water infrastructure in the US is aging. Much of it was built over 100 years ago. The pipes have a lifespan of 75 to 100 years, and many were laid in the early to mid-20th century. There are one million miles of pipes across the nation that deliver drinking water to Americans. About 240,000 water main breaks occur every year, which wastes over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water in the US.

NRG Sustainability Commitments Stronger Than Ever

Guest blog by Bruno Sarda, NRG

I proudly joined NRG exactly one year ago as the new head of sustainability, knowing I was joining the power sector at a time of rapid transformation. It’s an exciting time of technology and business model innovation, but it’s also a time of uncertainty. The surest thing we know about the future of power is that it won’t look like the past.

Perdue Farms Wants Its Chickens To Live Better Lives

(3BL/JustMeans) Most chickens raised for meat in the US, called broiler chickens, live in horrendous conditions. All birds, including broiler chickens, are exempt from federal animal protection laws. Nearly all broiler chickens are housed in large sheds that contain 20,000 or more chickens. They are in very cramped quarters which leaves them unable to engage in normal and healthy chicken behaviors.

Johns Hopkins Adopts Innovative Solutions to Reduce Carbon Footprint

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Climate action is no longer limited only to the direction provided by a country’s policy makers. Private organizations are playing a proactive role, governed by economic and ethical imperatives and supported by investors, consumers and other stakeholders.

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