Good stories are pouring in from around the world, so take heart and read about the worldwide trends in renewable energy that now appear to be unstoppable. Despite the roadblocks that Trump’s administration has recently thrown up, find out more about these innovative programs that are changing the look of energy in Blue Ocean’s renewable energy update
100% Renewables Pledged By 25 Cities
25 cities, across the U.S. have committed to supplying 100% of their energy needs with renewable sources, as reported by EcoWatch.
Last week the Madison, Wisconsin city council, unanimously voted to develop a plan for its future energy needs based 100% on renewables with net-zero carbon emissions. Zach Wood, a councilman said that Madison is determined to “lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment.” (photo – www.desertnews.com)
Madison joins 24 other cities that have made this commitment including major metropolis like San Diego and Salt Lake City, Utah. Smaller communities like Abita Springs (located in the Louisiana oil patch and supported Donald Trump for president) has also joined, demonstrating the bi-partisan nature of this movement.
“Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs” states the Republican mayor Greg Lemons.
“As the Trump Administration turns its back on clean air and clean water, cities and local leaders will continue to step up to lead the transition towards healthy communities and a more vibrant economy powered by renewable energy,” said Jodie Van Horn Director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign.
Solar Industry Creates Twice as Many Jobs as Coal
The handwriting is on the wall, solar is a new and thriving industry and coal mining is losing ground. In the US the solar industry is adding jobs 17 times faster than the overall economy and there are now twice as many jobs in solar as there are in the entire coal industry, as reported in Fast Company.
In 2016, 40 coal plants were retired in the US and no new ones built and the number of solar jobs doubled in 44 of the 50 states.
This amazing job growth is partially because solar is labor intensive, and offers entry-level positions with high wages. In 2016 the median wage for a solar installer was $26 hourly.
“We haven’t even come close to scratching the surface….we still are only 1.3% of the overall electricity mix. I think the rooftops in our land can support a tremendous amount of additional solar development” says Andrea Luecke, executive director of the Solar Foundation. See our Blue Ocean post: Solar Energy Industry is Shining Bright
Sunny Rooftops and Google
Google’s Project Sunroof gives you a tool to determine if your rooftop is suitable for solar panels. Local weather and even the trees surrounding your house are taken into consideration to see if the economics work for you.
80% of all rooftops are “technically viable” for solar panels, Google determined. Using, Sunroof you can search for your house and determine how large a solar array is appropriate for your conditions. The program will suggest how much energy you will generate against how much the panels will cost. (photo – Project Sunroof)
Is the Sunshine State In the Dark?
However, if you live in the “Sunshine” state of Florida, Google’s program might not help. Although widely promoted as the sunniest state, regulators and power companies successfully blocked most Floridians from generating their own solar power, apparently done in an attempt to avoid competition that could be generated by solar. (photo – primeroesoa-wikispaces)
“It has a ton of sunshine, a ton of rooftops….but there is no rooftop solar industry in Florida.” says Will Craven, spokesman for Solar City (an Elon Musk company). “People there want to be our customers.” as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Or this article in Politifact.
Elon Musk is not just about space flight and Tesla electric cars, his company Solar City is creating glass roof tiles that are solar panels and feed into a home system that also powers your car. Find out more in our post: Tesla’s Astonishing Transition in 2016 is Ocean-Friendly.
Wind Energy Flying High
Plans are in the works for the world’s largest floating windfarm as reported in the Guardian. The Hywind windfarm is to be built 15 miles off the coast of Scotland. Statoil, the Norwegian energy company, plans to have five 6MW turbines in the North Sea by the end of this year and more than 40 similar projects are in various stages of development worldwide. (photo – StatoilASA)
“Floating offshore wind is an exciting technology with huge, global potential, and it’s great to have this world first in Scottish waters,” states Lindsay Roberts, at Scottish Renewables.
Although it is to be firmly attached to the ocean floor, the US is set to lease 191 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean, 24 miles off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for the development of a wind farm. The U.S Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says that this announcement marks over six years of research and could take between five and ten years to reach completion. Read more at: The News & Observer.
What About India and China?
NASA Earth Observatory recently published a map showing worldwide rates of premature deaths due to air pollution. Not surprisingly northern China has one of the worst rates: 1,000 deaths per 1,000 square kilometers, a rate matched across northern India, stretching from New Delhi to Calcutta. Corresponding studies indicate that the air quality in New Delhi might even be worse than Beijing.
The World Health Organization describes India as having the highest rate of death caused by chronic respiratory disease worldwide and more asthma related deaths than any other nation.
The release of this information is forcing governments in India and China to address this issue and make more information available to their citizens. Hopefully this will cause popular opinion to demand action to accelerate the use of renewable, non-polluting energy. See the New York Times/Sinosphere for the entire article. Also in the New York Times: Delhi Wakes Up to an Air Pollution Problem It Cannot Ignore
Some More Good News in Our Renewable Energy Update
The Guardian has just reported that for the third year in a row, CO2 emissions have remained stable, despite growth in the global economy. And the International Energy Agency says that the growth in renewables; the switch from coal to natural gas and energy efficiency are the reasons. The largest drop in emissions was in the US.
Carbon Dioxide emissions are now at their lowest level since 1992, while the US economy grew 80% in that time. Emissions also dropped in China by 1% and were stable in Europe the IEA reported, again renewables and replacing coal with gas seem to be the reasons. The UK experienced a significant move from coal to cheaper gas, because of carbon pricing that now makes coal more expensive. The UK now uses 74% less coal than a decade ago. See the Guardians article: UK carbon emissions drop to lowest level since the nineteenth century.
Dutch Trains Powered 100% by Wind
Here’s some more good news coming out of Europe. The Dutch National Railway said that their target to power their electric trains with 100% renewable energy has been met, one year ahead of schedule. “Since January 1st, 100% of our electric trains have been running on wind energy,” said an NS spokesman, NS operates about 5,500 trains daily that carry over 600,000 passengers. The world’s first wind-powered train travelers. See the entire article in the Guardian. (photo – Geography Photos/UIG/The Guardian)
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