Emerging Nations Hit Record Clean Energy Investments

According to the new report Climatescope, developing nations have surpassed the world’s wealthiest countries in securing more renewable energy investments. Climatescope is a clean energy country competitiveness index, interactive report and online tool supported by the U.S., U.K. and Inter-American Development Bank Group. The report unveils a portrait of clean energy activity in 55 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America Climatescope2015and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others. Energy solutions reviewed included solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).

The news came shortly before a round of UN-organized climate negotiations kicked off in Paris prior to the start of COP21. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which released the report, says these talks often focus on the question of how much capital wealthier countries should make available to lesser developed countries to address the climate challenge.

Climatescope’s key findings include:

  • For the first time ever, over half of all new annual investment into clean energy power generating projects globally went toward projects in emerging markets, rather than toward wealthier countries.
  • New investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 Climatescope countries assessed to hit a record annual high of $126bn – up $35.5bn, or 39%, from 2013 levels.
  • The results were substantially bolstered by the remarkable growth in China, which added 35GW of new renewable power generating capacity all on its own – more than the 2014 clean energy build in the US, UK, and France combined.
  • Meanwhile, “South-South” investment (funds deployed in Climatescope nations from banks or other financial institutions based in those countries) surged to $79bn in 2014 from $53bn the year prior.
  • Continuing declines in clean energy costs appear to be driving growth. Costs associated with solar photovoltaic power have ticked down 15% year-on-year globally. Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions.
  • A total of 50.4 gigawatts (GW) of new clean capacity was built in Climatescope countries, marking a 21% uptick from the prior year. In another first, renewables capacity deployed in emerging markets topped that in wealthier Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations.
  • On a percentage basis, clean energy capacity is growing twice as quickly in Climatescope nations compared to OECD ones.

The report found that progress was achieved during 2014 despite a number of countries in the survey seeing economic growth rates slow. Average gross domestic product growth across Climatescope nations slipped to 5.7 percent in 2014 from 6.4 percent in 2013 with the slow-down most apparent in major nations, Brazil, South Africa, and China. Despite the pullback, these three countries attracted a total of $103bn in new clean energy investment in 2014.

Growth Energy Intros ‘Bachelor’ Chris Soules RFS Ad

During a press call this morning, Growth Energy launched a week-long TV ad campaign featuring Iowa Farmer Chris Soules of “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars” fame. The ad focuses on the economic benefits of ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in rural America. The spot hits airwaves just days before the Obama Administration is due to announce its final rule on the RFS. The ad is airing in Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.

“I’m proud to be a part of something that protects something important to my family farm operation as well as thousands of others,” said Soules about why he became involved in efforts around promoting the positive benefits of the RFS. “I’ve been able to see first-hand the benefits of renewable fuels and how they affect my family’s enterprise and other families who haven’t even been involved in farming by providing jobs in clean energy that helps our country diversify our energy resources.”

Soules noted that in light of the recent events in Paris, it re-emphases the need for the U.S. to become energy independent with a diversified energy portfolio.

Soules was joined on the call by Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy who noted that the RFS is a great American success story.

“We know our opposition is out there saying anything and doing anything in every possible way to keep the administration from rolling out an implementation of the volumetric standards of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 that are beneficial to this great nation,” said Buis.

The RFS proposal, as it currently stands, contains volumes that are below the legislative mandate. Biofuel supporters have been working to get the volumes back on track and moving forward as the law intended. Buis also noted that many eyes are on Paris for COP21 to see how countries, including America, identify strategies to reduce carbon emissions. Buis said the RFS has been a successful policy in doing just this.

Listen to the full press call here: Growth Energy-Chris Soules Ad Press Call

Fuels America Launches RFS Climate Ad Campaign

Leading up to COP21 in Paris in a couple of weeks Fuels America has launched a climate campaign targeted at President Obama. The campaign encourages him to tout the success of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) during the climate talks. Fuels America is calling on the administration to get the RFS back on track. During the call biofuel industry representatives discussed how the decision on the RFS will be critical in determining if the U.S. will lead by example on climate action. The campaign includes full page ad in the New York Times and digital ads in the Beltway.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 9.57.22 AM“If the President doesn’t reverse course on the disastrous proposal, he will effectively be letting the oil industry and climate deniers in Congress dictate our climate policy,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, during the press call. “It will upend America’s most successful policy cutting greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change, and stifle investment in advanced biofuels in America.”

Speakers noted the threat to the advanced biofuels industry is significant with $13.7 billion in investment in advanced biofuels currently frozen according to a report from BIO. Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at Abengoa Bioenergy, noted during the call that Abengoa is looking to deploy its cellulosic ethanol technology overseas due to the uncertainty caused by the current state of the RFS. The company’s first cellulosic ethanol plant went online last October in Hugoton, Kansas.

“This Administration’s proposal inserts a loophole into the RFS—our country’s most aggressive climate policy in force today—and allows oil companies to continue ignoring their obligations under the law,” explained Standlee. “Our industry has fought and won this battle before—this waiver was sought for years by the oil industry and would allow them to control the RFS and restrict the deployment of the lowest carbon fuels in the world.”

Listen to the presser here: Fuels America Launches Biofuel Climate Ad Campaign Presser Continue reading

DOE Releases 2015 Revolution…Now Report

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the 2015 Revolution…Now report, which details the state of multiple clean energy technologies in the U.S. that have the ability to provide climate change solutions. The report builds upon past versions that demonstrate an increase in deployment and a decrease in cost for transformational technologies including: wind turbines, solar technologies, electric vehicles (EVs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

revolution-now-infographic“We are experiencing a clean energy revolution in the United States, and this report confirms it,” Secretary Moniz said. “Today, clean energy technologies are providing real-world solutions – not only to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, but they also drive a domestic, low-carbon economy with technologies that are increasingly cost-competitive with conventional technologies. We have the tools for a cleaner and more secure energy future.”

The 2015 update finds that dramatic cost reductions are continuing to drive the adoption of clean energy technologies. The report reviews the rapid growth of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules for both large, utility-scale PV plants, and smaller, rooftop and distributed PV systems. DOE continues to invest in research and development for these technologies in addition to reducing market barriers in order to make these clean energy technologies even more cost-effective and widely available across the United States.

Between 2008 and 2014, land-based wind accounted for 31 percent of all new generation capacity installed in the U.S. The DOE says this is in part due to early investments from DOE that helped drive technology innovation.

RFA Urges Secy Kerry to Promote RFS

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to head to COP 21 in Paris, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on him to promote the success of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen urged Kerry in a letter to highlight the role of the RFS in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encourage other countries to follow the example.

rfalogo1“On behalf of America’s renewable fuel producers and farmers across the country poised to contribute to lower carbon fuels here and across the globe, I ask you to be bold in Paris,” the letter states. “I ask that you encourage other nations to follow the lead of the United States, which has the single most effective and aggressive low carbon fuels program the world has to offer – and it has been a phenomenal success.”

Dinneen’s letter noted that although the RFS is a potent weapon in combating climate change and has a proven track record of reducing GHG emissions, the U.S. government’s actions leading up to Paris have not sufficiently embraced what he called “America’s best kept climate policy secret”. Enclosed with the letter was a recent RFA report indicating that nearly 30 countries attending COP21 have included biofuels policies and programs in their post-2020 climate action plans, but the U.S. plan does not even mention the RFS or biofuels.

In closing, the letter states, “Mr. Secretary, a very convenient truth is that renewable biofuels are poised to replace a dramatically increasing share of the world’s liquid transportation fuel. We are doing that successfully and to great benefit in the United States. With your leadership, the world will follow. But we must not be afraid to trumpet our success.”

28 COP21 Countries Using Biofuels for CO2 Reduction

According to a new report from the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), 28 countries attending the climate talks in Paris in December have submitted carbon reduction strategies that use biofuels to help meet goals. Not included in this number? The U.S. despite its Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFA report found that America’s action plan did not acknowledge the important roles biofuels have played in significantly reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector over the past decade.

RFA-RFS COP21 report coverThe report notes that transportation-related emissions, which account for 27 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, have “steadily trended downward since adoption of the RFS, and current levels are 10 percent below 2005 levels.” The report also notes that both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) cite that the use of biofuels has had a positive net impact on reducing GHG emissions.

“It is unquestionable that biofuels have delivered substantial GHG emissions reductions from the transportation sector over the past decade,” said RFA’s President and CEO, Bob Dinneen. “And these emissions reductions would not have been possible without the adoption of the RFS. Inexplicably, the United States’ initial submission to COP21 completely ignores past GHG reductions and the future promise of even greater reductions as the RFS drives further improvements in biofuels technologies.”

Dinneen continued, “It is ironic that the climate talks will take place just as EPA is due to release its final rule on the 2014-2016 RVOs. If EPA sticks to its initial proposal, it will roll back the single most successful climate change program the world has ever seen. The administration wants to be viewed as a leader on climate change; then it must do what nearly 30 other countries who are attending COP21 plan on doing and embrace, not ignore, biofuels.”

President Obama is heading to Paris later this month to participate in some preliminary discussions prior to COP21. In tandem with this visit, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL released a poll that found two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects including increased used of clean energy technologies.

Poll Shows African Americans Back Climate Action

According to a new poll released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and GREEN FOR ALL, two-thirds of African Americans believe global warming is a serious program and want more action to curb its effects. This group also supports the Clean Power Plan (CPP), finalized in August, as a tool to address the climate crisis while 83 percent of respondents back setting the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from coal-and gas-fired power plants under the CPP. In addition, a strong majority of African Americans believe that as the nation drives down dangerous carbon pollution it can drive up the use of clean energy including wind and solar energy.

African American Climate PollThe survey also found that the move to clean energy will create new jobs – six times the proportion that believes it will results in job losses- and 57 percent believe the expansion will reduce their energy costs.

Mark Davis, CEO of minority-owned WDC Solar, said this morning during a conference call releasing the poll results, “I am a Green For All Climate Champion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency are two pillars of our plan for low-income communities to lower the cost of energy, create green jobs for low-income residents, and improve the environment. The Clean Power Plan can accelerate an increase we’ve already seen in African American participation in clean energy and can enhance economic empowerment in low-income communities.”

Davis was joined on the call with Adrianna Quintero, director of Partner Engagement at NRDC; Vien Truong, national director, GREEN FOR ALL; and Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. The speakers stressed that the African American community has been directly affected by the effects of climate change. Rates of childhood asthma have increased 50 percent between 2001-2009 and 68 percent live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant.

“The African American community has been hard hit by injustice, from violence against young people to disproportionate environmental harms from pollution, so it’s no surprise the community wants action. It’s time to hold polluters accountable and fight the pollution that causes climate change,” said Quintero.

Listen to the poll release press conference here: African American Climate, Clean Energy, Poll Presser

Here are some key energy findings of the report: Continue reading

Renewable Industries Call on Secy of State for Support

COP 21 is fast approaching and the U.S. will be in the spotlight for its efforts to reduce climate change impacts. In anticipation of the worldwide climate event, leaders of the U.S. biomass, geothermal and hydropower industries are urging Secretary of State John Kerry to support a “pan-renewable technologies approach”. The National Hydropower Association, Biomass Power Association and Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) said in the letter that today these technologies provide 86 percent of the world’s renewable power and this amount is anticipated to grow in the coming years.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.57.22 PM“As baseload renewable power technologies, our industries are particularly critical to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and we encourage Secretary Kerry to recognize the contributions our industries are making to fight climate change,” said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association.

The letter highlighted some of hydropower, biomass and geothermal benefits:

  • Hydropower was the leading renewable power technology in each of the top five renewable electricity producing countries: China, U.S., Brazil, Canada and Russia.
  • Biomass provides a significant percentage of renewable power around the world, and was the leading renewable electricity source in Germany in 2014, providing 10% of the country’s electricity.
  • Geothermal provides power in 24 countries, including 51% of in-country power supply in Kenya, where these additions are credited with reducing consumer bills by over 30%.

Karl Gawell, GEA executive director, called on the Administration to increase its support of renewable electricity generation. “We are asking for a U.S. approach that recognizes hydropower, biomass power and geothermal power are also important contributors to avoiding fossil fuel emissions today and will be important contributors to meeting future climate goals.

The group stressed in the letter, “. . .[P]ower grids will continue to be a vital means for electricity delivery. Therefore, enhancing the grid and grid-connected technologies is important.

Bob Cleaves, president, Biomass Power Association, added, “Biomass power is recognized the world over for its many environmental and economic benefits. As a baseload power source, it’s an essential part of any renewable energy mix that uses low-value materials that often have no other use. Biomass will play an important role in reducing the use of fossil fuels.”

P&G to Meet Power Demands with 100% Wind

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) made an announcement this week when they committed to meet 100 percent of its electricity demands with wind power. The company has developed a partnership with EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) that includes the development of a 370,000 MWh wind farm in Cooke County, Texas expected to be online by December 2016. The Tyler Bluff Wind Project will produce enough energy to meet all power demands for their North American Fabric and Home care plants where globally brands including Tide, Gain, Downy, Dawn, Cascade, Febreze and Mr. Clean are manufactured.

wideshotpinwheels_webThe announcement was made in conjunction with P&G’s signing of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge where they pledged to achieve 30 percent renewable energy to power its plants globally by 2020 with a longer-term vision of all facilities being 100 percent renewable energy powered.

Speaking about the project Shailesh Jejurikar, North America Fabric Care President, P&G, said, “I am delighted that our collaboration with EDF RE continues to provide our consumers with their favorite, high performing brands while reducing our environmental footprint. At P&G, when it comes to sustainability, actions speak louder than words and this move is a significant milestone in delivering that promise. It is incredible that the wind farm will generate enough electricity for all our P&G Fabric and Home Care plants; to put that in context: This is enough electricity to wash a million loads of laundry.”

The electricity consumption of the plants makes up about half of their total energy consumption, and this electricity will be exclusively generated by wind power. The plants will continue to use natural gas for process heating and comfort heating during winter.

To celebrate the scale of the collaboration, P&G Fabric & Home Care and EDF RE have constructed a mini-wind farm in Washington DC. The installation is placed on the lawn in front of the Capitol Building and is made up of thousands of spinning pinwheels.

Energy Companies Sign On to Climate Pledge

Energy company across the U.S. have signed on to support the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, a program the White House announced in July 2015. The 81 companies are part of the third round of pledges and have committed to reduce their impact on Earth. Abengoa Bioenergy US, Aemetis, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Biogen, Novozymes, Pacific Ethanol and Tri-Global Energy are just a few of the energy companies who have signed on to increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses.

White house logoSome examples of actions taken by Pacific Ethanol include: by 2025, produce a minimum of 50 million gallons per year of ultra-low carbon ethanol that will reduce GHG emissions by 90% on a relative basis (g/MJ) compared to gasoline. They also pledged to reduce their process carbon emissions by 40% by 2025, “as part of an effort to develop long-term business plans that align with the deep decarbonization necessary to keep global average temperatures from rising less than 2C”.

Other examples include commitments to add more wind and solar energy from Tri-Global Energy while Abengoa has pledged to require contractors and suppliers to calculate and report their GHG emissions in order to accurately and affirmatively achieve further incremental emissions reductions in the supply chain; and continue to improve energy efficiencies and emissions controls in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10%, compared to a 2005 baseline, by 2025.

The measures taken by these hundreds of companies helped President Obama set an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 26-28 percent. To date, 150 countries representing more than 85% of global carbon emissions have reported post-2020 climate policies to the United Nations. To read the American Business Act on Climate Pledge as well as to read the 81 companies’ pledges, click here.