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Wind and solar growth
Wind and solar reached a record-high market share of 10% of global electricity in the first half of 2020, up by 14% compared to the same period in 2019, according to a new report from think tank Ember, which focuses on accelerating the global energy transition. This is despite a 3% drop in power demand globally due to the impact of COVID-19. Wind and solar have doubled their market share since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
Many key countries now generate around a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar: China (10%), the US (12%), India (10%), Japan (10%), Brazil (10%), and Turkey (13%). The EU and UK were substantially higher with 21% and 33%, respectively; Germany rose to 42%. (Russia is the largest country to so far shun wind and solar, with just 0.2% of its electricity coming from them.)
This year, for the first time, the world’s coal fleet ran at less than half of its capacity. Coal dropped by 8.3% in the global electricity mix from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020. The drop was led by major falls in the US (-31%) and the Europe Union (-32%). For the first time ever, the existing global coal fleet ran at less than half capacity. In the US, existing coal plants ran at less than a third of their capacity (32%). In contrast, China’s coal fell only 2%, meaning its share of global coal generation rose to 54% so far this year, up from 50% in 2019 and 44% in 2015.
But here’s the important part: The global electricity transition is off track for 1.5 degrees.
Coal needs to fall by 13% every year this decade, and even in the face of a global pandemic, coal generation has only reduced 8% in the first half of 2020. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1.5 degree scenarios shows coal needs to fall to just 6% of global generation by 2030, from 33% in the first half of 2020. The IPCC shows in all scenarios that most of coal’s replacement is with wind and solar.
Six former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators from both Democratic and Republican administrations joined a prominent group of former EPA officials to raise a bipartisan call for a new forward-looking direction at the EPA in an open letter.
Administrators Lee M. Thomas, William K. Reilly, Carol M. Browner, Christine Todd Whitman, Lisa P. Jackson, and Gina McCarthy discuss their concerns about the far-reaching impacts of climate change, new toxic hazards and other emerging health risks, and the disproportionate burdens that pollution and global warming place on lower-wealth communities, communities of color, and indigenous people. They write:
As EPA approaches its 50th anniversary this December, we believe the time has come to reset the future course for EPA in a new, forward-looking direction to address the environmental challenges we face today and those that lie ahead.
They cite a new report, “Resetting the Course of EPA,” from the Environmental Protection Network, a bipartisan group of more than 500 former EPA senior managers and employees. It provides a comprehensive set of recommendations to guide the EPA in addressing the most significant and emerging threats to public health and the environment.
It covers 10 action areas, from reducing emissions from vehicles, to safeguarding drinking water, to restoring science as the backbone of agency decision-making, to elevating environmental justice in all aspects of EPA’s work.
Siemens eMobility solutions announced this week that it will field test new EV charging technology, a Meter Integrated Charger (MIC), in New York. The MICs measure the quantity of electricity needed to charge EVs so that drivers, utilities, and others can track and manage consumption. The standard utility meter can be used to record the energy usage, and the meter will send the data back to the utility, which can then be shared with the customer. The data could be used to bill the EV on a separate rate in the future.
German multinational conglomerate Siemens is partnering with New York utility Con Edison to recruit up to 20 residential customers in New York with smart meters to participate in the project.
John DeBoer, head of Siemens eMobility solutions and Future Grid Business in North America, said:
Currently, for most customers who own EVs, EV energy consumption is mixed in with all other usage in the owner’s electricity bill, making it impossible to identify the energy costs from charging the EV versus the home’s air conditioning or lighting. With the MIC, the power used for the EV will show up separately. Siemens is working to promote EV adoption with our full range of charging equipment and solutions, and this could be a game-changer for EV drivers in understanding their fuel savings when they switch to EVs.
Con Edison will collect information on the charging habits of the participating customers and share it with Siemens. The project is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.