As the solar industry grows and energy efficiency works to do the same, 2016 brought a significant expansion of breaking news for us to cover and curate. The articles below are our top stories showing the many new and surprising developments we saw last year.
While making strong motivational statements at the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York City on Jan. 27, speakers also laid forth an ambitious set of targeted goals to implement the Paris climate conference’s agenda.
These goals included implementing climate disclosure requirements; advocating for stable, economically meaningful carbon pricing; ceasing investment in coal; leveraging pension funds; scaling up green banks; clarifying what constitutes a green bond; and analyzing risks on an industry-by-industry basis.
Greentech Media’s first international Solar Summit, held on Jan. 27-28 in Mexico City, left more questions than answers about the future of solar in Mexico. Speakers said that the solar markets are in flux at all levels of development. The country is far from reaching a steady state. Developers who are willing to take risks could enjoy huge payoffs but must first face significant regulatory uncertainty.
Many promises were made at the Paris climate conference. But a January report from McKinsey & Company, “Financing Change: How to Mobilize Private Sector Financing for Sustainable Infrastructure,” shows countries without business-enabling environments may see their clean energy goals stall or be delayed. This could potentially compromise many national efforts.
The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit took place in New York City on April 4 and 5. In his international forecast keynote, Michael Liebreich, chairman of the BNEF advisory board, said 2015 was a landmark year for renewable energy but a dismal one for coal and oil. Demand for natural gas – especially exports of liquefied natural gas – is “alive and well and gathering speed,” he said.
Some of the high points of CEM7, a global clean-energy conference that took place in San Francisco on June 1-2, occurred when speakers took a stand to motivate their audience to accelerate the momentum of the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
Removing federal obstacles to property-assessed clean energy (PACE) has been a long-term subject of debate. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a guideline on July 19 enabling residential PACE financing and clarifying the conditions for purchasing or refinancing assessments with Federal Housing Administration loans.
The landscape of renewable-energy investment in Europe and the UK is in transition, driven by changes in programs and incentives. Current European Union targets require member countries to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. According to the European Commission, the bloc was on track to meet those targets as of June 2015.
Massachusetts’ new energy bill is an expansive approach to diversifying the state’s energy sources away from natural gas (H. 4568). This bill, which passed on Aug. 8, helps the state achieve its target of cutting emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This goal is part of the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry walked to the stage at COP22 on Nov. 16 in Marrakech, Morocco, turning to face the stuffy conference room filled with excited smiles, furrowed brows, and determined eyes. The inspiring speech focused on his hopes and fears for the future of action on climate change.
A July report by MIT Energy Initiative, “Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation,” has compared the performance of venture capital (VC) in the software, medical and cleantech sectors. The results showed VC is not the right model for investments in the cleantech sector. Public funding is crucial at the beginning of projects.
There is a growing momentum in Asia to advance climate finance. Asian Development Bank plans to double its climate financing from $3 billion to $6 billion by 2020. ADB’s member countries include some of the largest carbon dioxide emitters, such as China and India, as well as some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. These nations are six out of the top 10 countries most impacted by extreme weather, according to the Global Climate Risk Index.
The presidential election of Donald Trump complicates the potential of the United States Green Bank Act (H.R. 5802, S. 3382). The act, sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative and Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), is intended to offer additional financial structures to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency across the nation in the face of climate change.
Some of the largest battles at November’s United Nations climate conference, COP22, broke out over climate financing – who pays for it, who gets the money, and who meets the requirements. The stage for the financing challenges was set in 2009 when developed countries agreed to a target of raising $100 billion USD annually by 2020 in the Green Climate Fund.
Even without reliably supportive policies that help clean energy grow, Midwestern coal-producing states already have many more jobs from solar and wind power than from coal production. There is also a promising economic opportunity to repurpose assembly lines in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio to manufacture renewable-energy equipment.