Supreme Court Says Regulating Emissions from Power Plants is Lawful
In a 7-to-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Environmental Protection Agency imposing regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from “large, industrial polluters,” according to the New York Times. However, the court did reject a key argument from the E.P.A.’s reasoning for the regulations, stating that the agency overstepped its reach.
The decision was a compromise ruling that split the Court: the vote was five to four to reject EPA’s broadest view of its power over greenhouse gas emissions, but the Justices voted seven to two to allow EPA to impose air pollution control strategy on many of the power plants and other fixed sources of greenhouse gases.
New statistics shows that renewable energy capacity grew immensely in 2013, with solar capacity growing nearly 55 times higher and wind power growing nearly seven times higher than in 2004. The U.S. added the second-highest amount of wind power capacity in 2013, increasing by 1.1 percent to just over 60 gigawatts. For solar power, the U.S. grew 4.8 percent to about 12 gigawatts.
The growth in renewable energy installations is also prompting an increase in jobs. There are currently more than 6.5 million employees in the clean energy industry.
Exponential growth might not seem like much at first, but after enough time has passed, things start to happen really quickly. Case in point, renewable energy has been around for decades, yet we’ve made more progress increasing capacity in the past few years than in all the preceding decades.
Just weeks after the EPA announced its plan to limit carbon emissions, President Obama’s Climate Action Plan celebrated its first anniversary. Implemented with the goal of making American more energy efficient, the Act On Climate plan is serving as the guide for the Administration’s clean energy initiatives.
The President’s Climate Action Plan reiterates the goal of reducing U.S. GHG emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and of doubling our nation’s energy productivity by the year 2030. It provides a blueprint for mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts nationally and internationally.
Brazil in the Headlines for More Than the World Cup
All eyes were on Brazil this week as the country kicked off the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but it’s not just soccer people were talking about. Out of the 12 stadiums in use for the duration of the tournament, four have a combined solar capacity greater than 11 of the competing countries. Overall, the stadiums have a solar electricity capacity of 5.4 MW.
Buffet Promises Renewable Energy Industry Another $15 Billion
Warren Buffet announced this week that he is doubling his original investment of $15 billion in clean energy to a cool $30 billion. Buffet is already one of the biggest clean tech investors in the country and took further steps to make renewable energy the norm when he published a report telling Congress to restore renewable production tax credits. The investor specifically cited the importance of PTCs for “wind power, biofuels and energy efficiency technologies.”
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.)
After decades of hovering just above the level of irrelevancy – not to mention insolvency – the global commercial rotorcraft industry is entering a new golden era of design, production and sales thanks to the oil and gas industry. More specifically, the explosion in unconventional exploration from deep-water offshore platforms is the catalyst to this shift.
The boost couldn’t be happening at a better time for the helicopter makers, whose survival over the past fifty years owes almost entirely to the sale, maintenance and constant updating of military helicopters. Today, in light of spiraling national debts, skyrocketing social costs, and stagnant economic growth, most governments in the western world are sharply reducing their military budgets and cutting way back on expensive new equipment like tanks, missiles, fighter jets and, you guessed it, helicopters.
Catch up on the latest news in the renewable energy industry from the week of May 26, 2014.
White House to Announce Plan to Combat Climate Change
President Obama is taking significant measures to fight climate change. In a new plan, up to 20 percent of carbon emissions will be cut from the nation’s coal-fired power plants, which are one of the nation’s largest sources of greenhouse gases.
A new proposal limiting the movement of fossil fuels in San Francisco goes before city officials
San Francisco may soon wage war against the powerful fossil fuel industry and limit exports of coal and petroleum coke. If the San Francisco Environment Commission agrees to a proposal presented Thursday, city leaders will then be brought in to evaluate and approve or deny the plan. The ban would include the movement of materials like coal, petroleum coke, and crude oil (already under a 38-year national band).
Catch up on the latest energy industry news from the week of May 12, 2014.
Are Streets Soon be Paved with Solar Panels?
An Idaho couple has covered the driveway in front of their office building with hexagon-shaped solar panels and is spearheading a project to turn the local roadways solar as well. Some features of the panels include:
Heating elements to melt snow and ice
LED lights to serve as dividing lines
Special storm-water pathways to eliminate flooding
A textured glass surface that can support up to 250,000 pounds
The couple is seeking funding through Indiegogo and has received funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Find out more about this project here.
Solar Power Saves Music Program in California School District
Because of extreme budget cuts in the California school system, many schools were forced to minimize resources and shut down programs like music. However, the Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District in Fresno County found a way to reduce its energy costs to by installing solar structures at three of its five schools.
This move is expected to save the district $750,000 over the next five years and $9 million over 25 years.
Solar Industry Leads in the Rise in Number of Renewables Jobs Globally
Renewable energy has become one of the largest and most significant employers worldwide. Global data shows that the solar industry grew to 6.5 million renewables jobs in 2013, a 14 percent rise.
The solar panel industry contributed the most jobs, hiring 2.27 million people in 2013. China was the largest renewable employment nation with 2.6 million jobs, followed by Brazil with 0.89 million jobs, and the US with 0.63 million jobs.
The report from the International Renewable Energy Agency identifies increasing installations of solar photovoltaic panels as the main reason for the growth in jobs.
From hydropower to the fossil fuel industry, catch up on the latest energy news in this week’s Friday Fastbreak.
U.S. Looks to Hydropower to Cut Dependency on Coal
A new study from the U.S. Department of Energy suggests that the country can reduce its reliance on coal and, thus, lower greenhouse gas emissions, by embracing hydropower. Untapped waterways around the country in non-protected areas could produce roughly 65 gigawatts of hydropower capacity annually. That would be enough electricity to power more than 45.5 million homes and would increase U.S. hydropower production to nearly twice its current amount.
Baker Hughes Inc. says it will become the first major oil field services company to stop ignoring the elephant in the room and begin disclosing all the chemicals it uses in its hydraulic fracturing operations.
Rivals Schlumberger and Halliburton, the largest and second-largest service companies, respectively, have not yet commented on when, or whether they will follow No. 3 Baker Hughes’ lead. Industry watchers, however, now widely expect them to eventually disclose the nature of all their fracking chemicals as well.