Climate Change now front and center of U.S. foreign policy, plus some of the winners in the “Great Green Rush.” Solar and wind installations set new renewables record in the U.S., and why is geothermal the “Rodney Dangerfield of renewable energy”?
Climate Change Front and Center of U.S. Foreign Policy, Winners in the Great “Green Rush”, Solar and Wind Set New U.S. Record, What’s with Geothermal?
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENGE AVRIL HAINES PUTS CLIMATE CHANGE AT FOREFRONT OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY
In remarks before leaders at the recent two-day Climate Leaders summit, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said the Biden administration views climate change as an “urgent national security threat” that will be at the “center” of the country’s foreign policy.
“For the intelligence community, climate change is both a near-term and a long-term threat that will define the next generation,” Haines went on to say. “Our services have been raising increasing alarms about the impact that climate change has across every aspect of our work, as geophysical features of our Earth are being reshaped.”
In fact, the CIA said it is adding a new environmental category to its World Factbook, which will provide data on climate, pollution, infectious diseases, and food security for different countries. Haines wrapped up her remarks Haines said she it was “necessary to inject climate science and analysis” across the work of the U.S. intelligence community, linking the threat of climate change to a spate of societal ills that could span generations.
Haines said the United States is taking this approach moving forward, adding that climate change “needs to be fully integrated with every aspect of our analysis in order to ensure that policymakers understand the importance of climate change on seemingly unrelated policies.”
DEEPER DIVE: HuffPost, Foreign Affairs, CBS News
SOME JOB WINNERS IN THE NEW “GREAT GREEN RUSH”
In response to President Biden announcing the US increased its NDC goals from 28% to 52% reduction in GHG by 2030, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would now shoot for a 78% reduction in GHG emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by 2035.
Why it matters to us is that the US and the UK are in an escalating green race to see which nation will go greenest fastest. This competition IS A GOOD THING. IT will accelerate green jobs as well as green tech R&D. The Guardian newspaper put together a list of winners across British industry sectors resulting from this green rush. And why this list matters to us is because it gives Americans a good indication of the green job expansion to come on this side of the pond: Highlights of the British list include:
- · Battery Storage Manufacturers—With the increase in renewable projects coming online commensurate with the increase in closures of coal-fired and natural gas power plants, grid-scale electricity storage capacity will become a top priority
- · Home/office Energy Efficiency Experts—According to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, British homes were “shockingly unprepared” for the challenge of meeting net-zero targets. U.S. homes are just about as unprepared. According to the Energy.gov website, “More than 76% of all U.S. electricity use and more than 40% of all U.S. energy use and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are used to provide comfortable, well-lit, residential and commercial buildings—and to provide space conditioning and lighting for industrial buildings. Look for big growth in this sector
- · Carbon Capture Technology–A favorite of Bill Gates and technophiles. Look for increase in venture capital here.
- · A darkhorse surpise–Geothermal
DEEPER DIVE: The Guardian
ELECTRICAL GENERATION BY U.S. WIND/SOLAR SETS A RECORD
According to recent analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, US solar and wind power generation in jumped 16.7% in 2020, setting a new record. Even more significantly, annual electrical production by all renewable energy sources combined (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) reached an all-time high last year.
Renewable energy provided over 20% of the nation’s electrical output. According to “Electric Power Monthly” solar-generated electricity – including distributed solar – expanded by over 24% (compared to 2019) and provided over 3% of the nation’s total. Wind grew by 14% and accounted for over 8% of total generation. During the year, electrical generation by geothermal energy and hydropower also increased – by 9.4% and 1.1% respectively. The only renewable that did not increase in 2020 was biomass. That sector fell 2.5%
In the last ten years, renewables have doubled their share of the nation’s electrical generation.
And why this matters to us is this: The increase in new electricity from wind and solar was greater than the increase in electrical generation by natural gas. During 2020, solar and wind produced over 67,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) more than they did in 2019. By comparison, electrical generation by natural gas increased by only about 31,000 GWh.
“Within the next five years, renewables will probably be providing more than a 25% of the nation’s electrical generation … and quite possibly more,” noted an industry spokesperson.
DEEPER DIVE: Renewables.info, EIA.gov, Solar Industry Magazine
GEOTHERMAL—THE RODNEY DANGERFIELD OF RENEWABLES
As just reported, geothermal energy production grew almost 10% in 2020, but it’s one of the least known sources of renewables. So, a little bit about geothermal and why it matters to us. Geo, the Earth’s core holds heat (hence “thermal”), that radiates out to the subsurface. That heat is continuously replenished by the decay of naturally occurring radioactive elements. Not like nuclear radioactive. Geothermal energy is clean, safe, and renewable. It’s extremely reliable, because it’s always-on. That makes it an excellent balance for other intermittent renewables like wind and solar.
There’s enough geothermal energy in the Earth’s crust to supply humanity’s total energy needs for 2 million years. Accessing it requires little more than tapping into it, though. That turns out to be kind of tricky. Unlike oil and gas, which require drilling into relatively soft sedimentary rock, geothermal requires drilling through much harder and more fractured igneous and metamorphic rocks.
That’s why geothermal plants are often found around Earth’s easy-access points, where the heat breaks the surface, in hot springs, geysers, and steam vents near volcanic activity. Places like New Zealand, Iceland and Idaho. But, there are new technologies that could make it more widely available.
One is Enhanced Geothermal System technology. EGS involves creating a subsurface system in which water is added through injection wells and then is heated by contact with the rock. That heated water then returns to the surface through production wells and is distributed. Geothermal energy has practically unlimited potential, and intelligently accessing less than 1% of it could power the entire planet.
DEEPER DIVE: Energy Central, RFF.org, Renwables.info