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Clear Power, Not Pure Fuel, Drove Decarbonization in 2017

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Regardless of makes an attempt by the Trump administration and the coal business to restrict clear power in favor of fossil fuels – together with a tariff on photo voltaic power, a thinly-disguised bailout for coal and nuclear energy crops (that was rightly rejected), and a dramatic proposed reduce to power analysis – we’re accelerating the transition to a cleaner electrical grid. Actually, final 12 months was the primary time the discount in energy sector emissions may be attributed extra to power conservation and renewable power than switching from coal to pure fuel.

The brand new 2018 Enterprise Council for Sustainable Power (BCSE) Factbook* highlights the electrical energy sector because the driving drive behind the decarbonization of the U.S. economic system. In complete, energy sector emissions declined four.2 p.c in 2017, largely because of the 18.four GW of recent renewable power we added to the grid (a 14 p.c enhance over the earlier 12 months’s complete U.S. renewable capability). In 2017, renewable technology represented about 18 p.c of complete U.S. technology (round10 p.c from non-hydro renewables alone).

This explosive progress additional cements renewable power’s position in lowering emissions from the U.S. energy sector. Let’s dig into the components that led to this progress, and the way we will prolong this pattern of emissions reductions from renewables past 2017.

Rising funding, traditionally low prices

Funding in clear power worldwide grew to $333 billion in 2017. Regardless of a 20 p.c decline in photo voltaic funding – due partially to the uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s coverage surroundings – U.S. clear power funding held regular at about $57 billion, due to a 25 p.c enhance in power sensible applied sciences investments (e.g. digital power, power storage, and electrified transportation).

Renewable power can also be being procured at traditionally low prices. In 2017, probably the most aggressive energy buy agreements (PPAs) for photo voltaic and wind tasks had been simply over $20/MWh and $17/MWh, respectively. Capital expenditures – price to assemble tasks from starting to finish – for photo voltaic and wind additionally declined from $1.14 million/MW and $1.12 million/MW, respectively, in 2016 to $1.1 million/MW and $zero.99 million/MW in 2017.

Corporations have responded to those deep price cuts by betting on renewables.

Corporations have responded to deep price cuts by betting on renewables.

In 2017, U.S. firms signed 2.9 GW of renewable power PPAs – the second highest 12 months on document, in accordance with the BCSE 2018 Factbook. Increasingly firms are actively looking for out clear power to energy their operations, each for his or her bottom-line and since it’s the appropriate factor to do for the world. The latest State of Inexperienced Enterprise Report highlighted that 71 Fortune 100 firms have a public goal for renewable power, and of those firms, 21 have dedicated to utilizing 100 p.c renewable power. Additional, 125 firms all over the world have pledged to satisfy a 100 p.c renewable goal via the coalition, RE100.

How can we construct on this pattern of lowering energy sector emissions?

That is encouraging progress, however we nonetheless have an extended method to go to make sure a resilient, sustainable future. Listed here are some steps policymakers can take to additional cut back emissions, together with, however not restricted to:

  • Investing in a modernized grid Designing a wiser, extra versatile grid that retains power prices reasonably priced and permits for extra integration of renewable power is significant to sustaining financial progress and a sustainable future.
  • Optimizing distributed power sources – Distributed power sources like demand response, rooftop and group photo voltaic, power effectivity, sensible home equipment, and power storage – particularly when rewarded correctly – may give prospects extra management over their power payments and assist align electrical energy demand with renewable power sources.
  • Driving the expansion of electrical automobiles – With declines in energy sector emissions, the transportation sector is now the largest supply of carbon emissions within the U.S. At present, electrical automobiles are an increasing market, and if charged with renewable power and managed effectively, they’ve the potential to scale back greenhouse gases and different dangerous air pollution, assist additional funding in renewable power, present grid companies, and save folks cash.
  • Increasing buyer choices for dynamic pricing – Dynamic or real-time pricing expenses completely different costs for electrical energy all through the day based mostly on the precise wholesale electrical energy prices. When designed effectively, these real-time electrical energy charges might help to combine extra renewable power, restrict using fossil gasoline energy crops, and importantly, save folks cash on their electrical energy payments.
  • Making certain fairness and entry to wash power – It’s essential to guarantee the advantages and alternatives of unpolluted power are made obtainable to all communities. If fairness isn’t ensured and the mandatory widespread participation in clear power isn’t achieved, we’ll fall effectively wanting our local weather and power targets.

By engaged on these and different initiatives, clear power can drive additional decarbonization of the ability sector and create a extra sustainable world. We have now a robust basis – let’s construct on it.

*Observe: This weblog put up is predicated on the Govt Abstract of the 2018 Enterprise Council for Sustainable Power Factbook; EDF has not reviewed the methodology contained within the full report.

By Andy Bilich

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