Despite President Trump pulling out all the stops to prevent America’s coal industry from dying, renewables are rapidly overtaking its share of the U.S. electricity generation mix—and even cutting into fossil gas’ expansion. Since it’s clearly not America’s relaxed federal regulations pushing the toxic-gas belchers into the dustbins of history, what’s driving the green train? The rapidly maturing economics of clean energy, L. Michael Buchsbaum explains in part 2 of his series on America’s energy transition.
Despite Trump proudly rolling back at least 85 environmental rules to prop it up, America is mining and burning less coal today than it has in over four decades. Since the 2016 election, 27% of the entire coal-fired power fleet has retired—with many more closures expected. As the King dies, two questions remain: what will take its place? And who will clean up the industry’s mess? L. Michael Buchsbaum explores these questions and more in the first of a series treating America’s Energy Transition.
Though fracking enabled the U.S. to finally re-achieve the long held conservative dream of energy independence, the ever-increasing volume of fracked fossil gas flowing out of the U.S., has led to an international glut as prices continue to fall. Now neck-deep in debt and historically unprofitable, pure play gas frackers are starting to struggle. Mass bankruptcies, shut-ins, and layoffs are likely. But Trump’s evisceration of environmental protection laws combined with ludicrously low liability bonds virtually ensures the public will be stuck with the clean up bill. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
Preliminary figures conclusively reveal that renewables produced over 40 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2019. Combined with offshore production, wind energy overtook both filthy lignite and hard coal, and has now become the nation’s largest energy source. But as fossil gas prices fall and the ruling government’s fragile coalition stumbles its way through the Energiewende it created, 2020 will likely prove a make or break year for the clean energy transition. Only the future will reveal if 2019 will actually be remembered as the year renewables really powered past coal in Germany. L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.
While ostensibly trying to craft policy that both transforms Germany’s energy sector to 65% renewables by 2035 and protects the security of Germany’s 20,000 coal workers, the Grand Coalition Government’s halting energy policies have just cost the jobs of over 30,000 workers through the wind sector. Facing the worst domestic slowdown in 20 years, manufacturers spent much of 2019 hemorrhaging jobs, going bankrupt or heading into reconstruction. As 2020 begins, L. Michael Buchsbaum brings us up to date.
Despite all their rhetoric, Angela Merkel’s Grand Coalition government is clearly not all that interested in really powering past coal. The latest evidence is its decision to allow the Uniper-owned 1,200 MW hard coal-fired power plant, Datteln 4, to come online in 2020 — against the recommendations of the Coal Commission. As the government embarks on a bizarre sales campaign peddling the idea that Datteln’s advanced technology will somehow help improve the climate, activists are organizing a protest wave that will dwarf previous actions around the embattled Hambach Forest. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation.
Published jointly by Break Free From Plastic, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the German Association for the Environment and Nature (BUND), the new report portrays a startling window into the toxic deluge fouling our planet. In just 60 years over 8.3 billion tons of petroleum-based plastics have been produced worldwide – more than one ton per person living on earth today. But only 10% has been recycled. As new production rates are accelerated by cheap fracked gas, the only solution is to drastically reduce our dependency. Buchsbaum reviews the Atlas’ findings.
Accepting the truth about the climate and ecological emergency—and acting upon it—is the core message of Extinction Rebellion. Since April, through non-violent acts of civil disobedience, they have globally staged protests and street blockades. During October’s wave of action, Buchsbaum joined them in Berlin.
With only 500 megawatts of new onshore wind energy coming on-line through September, Germany’s pioneering onshore sector is suffering through its worst year since the beginning of the Energiewende. But instead of helping, the new Climate Package actually sharply reduces onshore wind targets, endangering the whole industry. L.Michael Buchsbaum reports
After months of deliberations, in late September Germany’s ruling coalition, made up of the center-right CDU/CSU and the Centrist SPD unveiled their new climate action strategy—to near universal disappointment. Now approved by the government, the plan’s architects hope a weak plan is better than none at all. L. Michael Buchsbaum summarizes