Here’s what’s happened in the energy industry from the first week of June.
EPA Announces Controversial Carbon Regulation
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday a much-anticipated power plant rule requiring all plants to reduce their carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030, compared to emissions in 2005. This move is expected to reduce roughly 550 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Applauded by President Obama, the new rule received quite a bit of commentary from Republicans and Democrats. Many compared this rule to the CAFE standards, which require all new vehicles to have a 54.5 miles per gallon average fuel efficiency by 2025 and is projected to cut six billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the vehicles’ lifespan. (It’s important to note that the emissions won’t be cut by 2025, but many years down the road.)
Labor unions across the country criticized the regulation, claiming it would have negative economic costs, including cutting more than 150,000 jobs by 2035. More than 40 Republican Senators asked the White House to rethink the rule, which they claim will cause electricity and energy costs to soar, and many question whether the President had the legal authority to approve the project. Still, many feel the new plan brings the United States one step closer to a greener, more economically stable country.
Residential Solar Beats Commercial Solar for First Time
In the first quarter of 2014, residential solar PV outnumbered commercial PV, at 232 MW to 225 MW, respectively. Overall, there was nearly an 80 percent increase in solar PV across all industries, accounting for 1,330 MW of solar PV. Thanks to this jump, the U.S. is generating nearly three-quarters of its electricity from solar.
China Comes Under Fire for Questionable Solar Production Tactics
Purchasing solar panels from China might be more cost-effective, but it is highly destructive to the environment, according to new research. There are several reasons for this, included less-strict environmental standards and Chinese manufacturers using energy sources that produce more pollution. Overall, solar panels produced in China is twice as environmentally destructive as those produced in Europe.
Several scholars published a letter in the environmental journal Nature outlining possible solutions for this issue, including taxing energy consumption and carbon emissions produced by solar panel manufacturers, improving waste treatment and improving environmental monitoring.
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