Dotting the US landscape with wind turbines and solar panels is a key component of President Joe Biden energy transition plan, but the White House plan may fall short of its goals if major investments aren't made in the transmission lines needed to get all that renewable energy from where it is generated to where it needs to go. But the build out of those transmission lines will require the Biden team to solve the three Ps that have long plagued transmission system upgrade ambitions: planning, permitting, and paying for it.
The Biden administration's 2035 target of decarbonizing the power sector won't be reached on the current trajectory, even if the US wind and solar fleet triples in 10 years, according to a report from BNEF. "More renewables will likely be needed to come close to the government's target of zero emissions by 2035," BNEF said.
Green mortgage products that help single-family homeowners pay for energy efficiency upgrades exist, but a revamp of how government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac market those products could drive increased adoption. A new report from RMI outlines key steps the GSEs can take, including rolling bonds that include the retrofitting existing homes into the established green bond market.
RESB Murmurs: The "last mile" is already a common phrase when it comes to delivering energy, so what should we call efforts like the ones outlined in this RMI report? How 'bout getting energy efficiency "across the threshold"? - Sean
Falling battery prices -- with costs plummeting 89% in the past 11 years -- are leading to rising energy storage for increasing uses, with five times more capacity expected to be installed in 2025 than in 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie and US Energy Storage Association. US policymakers are working on investment tax credits and already have created a manufacturing roadmap to speed development and production.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration inked an agreement with developer Ørsted to share data on offshore wind farms. "Having more data sharing and more sampling from the wind developers is going to help us, wherever there are wind development projects, to understand that bigger picture," said Carl Gouldman, director of the integrated ocean observing system program office for NOAA.
President Joe Biden announced plans to issue an executive order to direct financial institutions and companies to disclose climate-related risks. The goal of the executive order is for investors to weigh climate risk as part of an overall investment strategy, and the order is modeled after similar requirements in the EU.
President Biden directed 40% of benefits from clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities in his executive orders in January, but climate justice leaders are now demanding more, including additional allocations for those communities and a more defined plan to track the benefits. "If we make 40% the target, then we've failed," said the Asian Pacific Environmental Network's Miya Yoshitani.
Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, outlines 11 ways a renewable energy system that depends entirely on wind-water-solar electricity and heat generation can help stabilize the grid. "To eliminate air pollution deaths as fast as possible and to avoid 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming since the 1800s, we need to transition all energy sectors to WWS quickly -- with at least 80 percent by 2030 and 100 percent ideally by 2035-2040," he writes.
The localized business of renewable energy, at least in the short term, cannot produce the same returns oil and gas have for Alberta, but the fight to decarbonize is still worth fighting, writes energy consultant Samir Kayande. "[I]f that hydrocarbon past is gone and never to return, moving on is not a luxury," he writes.
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