Wind and solar are now cheaper than fossil fuels

For years, grid parity – the time when solar and wind would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear – was the holy grail of renewables energy, a target to reach in a distant future. But the future is now. 

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Renewables: how Puerto Rico could turn a crisis into an opportunity

Many of us these days are horrified at the situation Puerto Rico is currently witnessing. An island with a population of 3.5 million people, it currently has very little electricity or water access. 

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Canada, the US and Mexico to partner on energy

The agreement signed late last month may be the beginning of a new era of collaboration on climate change as the three North American countries signed an agreement to push cleantech and fight climate change.

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Should solar panels really face west ?

pointing westIt is almost common knowledge that solar panels should face South as it maximizes the amount of energy the panels can produce. However a study from Pecan Street Research Institute show some interest in pointing solar panels west.

Solar panels facing in this direction produce more electricity when demand peaks, thus reducing the need for coal and other dirty fossil fuels at a key moment. So if you don’t have roofs pointing South, this could be a good idea to point them west.

But given how doing so reduces the total amount of energy produced, it is not sure this will maximize the investment for private persons.

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Energy efficiency brings huge returns on investment

SEEA Report on energy efficiencyYou must know if if you have been reading this blog : albeit it is not as ” sexy “ as renewables, energy efficiency is simply a must as we embark our societies and economies on a journey towards sustainability.

Here is further proof as Cleantechnica notes : ” Energy efficiency retrofits (…) created a 387% return on investment (ROI), according to a recent report from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA).”

” The SEEA energy efficiency retrofit effort spurred $3.87 million in economic input and 17.28 new jobs for every $1 million invested “

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Global wind capacity grew by 12.5 % in 2013

wind capacity grew in 2013To Enerdata ” global wind capacity increased by 12.5% in 2013, reaching 318,137 MW. During the year, 35,467 MW were installed worldwide, which is almost 10 GW below capacity additions in 2012. “

” US installations were badly impacted by a policy gap created by the US Congress in 2012; in Europe, installations grew by a modest 8%, and were pulled by two countries, Germany and the United Kingdom. “

” Installations soared in China (+16.1 GW, i.e. +21% to 91.4 GW), in Canada (+1.6 GW, i.e. +26%, to 7.8 GW) and in Australia (+655 MW, i.e. + 25%, to 3.2 GW). “

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The energy transition already creates jobs

Green jobsThe energy transition from our model based on a huge majority of polluting fossil fuels to a model based on cleantech technologies such as energy efficiency and renewable energy sources will require a lot of money.

Indeed, we have seen recently that up to a trillion dollar would be needed every year to do so. The major advantage of doing so would be averting the worst of climate change, which would save our civilization.

Besides saving people from pollutions of all sorts, another added benefit – and not the least – would be staggering job creations. The proof in four parts.

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Emissions in United States rebounded in 2013

US emissions rebounded in 2013This was a major setback for me last week, US greenhouse gases emissions related to energy rose two percent in 2013 compared to 2012. To the US EIA this is due to ” a small increase in coal consumption in the electric power sector. “

” Coal has regained some market share from natural gas since a low in April 2012 “ This is explained by decreased coal prices and rising natural gas prices as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Overall, US emissions are still around ten percent lower than in 2005. President Obama goal’s is to have 17 percent lower emissions in 2020.

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United States emissions decreased by 3.8 percent in 2012

Solar energy and American flagAccording to new data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA, how confusing…), the national energy-related carbon dioxide emissions declined by 3.8 percent last year, thus reaching their levels of 1994 while the economy grew.

Many factors contributed to this drop in emissions. Among them are a warmer winter, a more efficient economy (notably new mileage for cars), less miles driven and a switch from dirty coal to cleaner natural gas and renewables.

The latter, including wind power, seem to have had a very limited role in this trend. This is why it’s important to increase our efforts in the clean energy transition.

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The VolturnUS, a US floating wind turbine

VolturnUSI almost never watch news on TV as I find them too depressing and too little focused on the topics that matter to me. So I prefer scanning a few newspapers, my Netvibes page and its many RSS feeds, and, of course, Twitter.

But my dear mom still watches the news and thus came across a short report on how the US State of Maine is investing on offshore wind. This took place just a few days after my own article on how the French Côte d’Opale should too.

To the University of Maine – which is currently testing a floating wind turbine – the State has an offshore wind capacity of no less than 156 GW. Quite an impressive figure.

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