Author: L. Michael Buchsbaum

L. Michael Buchsbaum is an energy and mining journalist and industrial photographer based in Germany. Since the mid-1990s, he has covered the social, environmental, economic and political impacts of the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables for dozens of industry magazines, journals, institutions and corporate clients. Born in the U.S., he emigrated to Germany and Europe to better document the Energiewende. He is also the host of The Global Energy Transition Podcast.

EU secures a dirty LNG deal with Argentina but no clean path with critical Mercosur partners

Days after his nation assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, opened a key session of the bloc’s meeting with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Given its cultural ties to the region, Spain hopes to make progress on the European Commission’s new strategy for Latin America. This includes negotiating a new Free Trade Agreement with Brazil, Argentina and other Mercosur nations securing critical raw materials for the EU’s energy transition – in this case access to both the continent’s lithium and vast volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for its still grey present. With Argentina set to join Brazil as a key supplier of oil and LNG, Brussels is seeking to install green strings onto their new agreements. But CELAC nations are pushing back, countering that their interests shouldn’t be dictated by their former colonial powers. As lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews, though oil deals are easy, Mercosur agreements are proving harder to forge.

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Lithium-rich Chile, already a global renewable energy leader, proposes a new strategy

Despite its historic ties to fossil fuels and copper mining, in recent years Chile has accelerated its energy transition. With a population of just under 20 million, Chile is now targeting 80% renewable electricity by 2030 and a 100% zero emissions power grid by 2050. Last year wind and solar overtook coal as renewables now dominate the local energy sector. Containing massive lithium reserves, a metal critical for renewables, this April Chile’s leadership announced a new national lithium strategy aimed at ensuring that future mining and development proceed equitably as well as environmentally friendly. Already offering global policymakers a playbook for a successful transition towards renewables, Michael Buchsbaum reviews Chile’s emerging plans for its lithium future. Read More

Spain’s domestic elections put both EU and domestic green ambitions in jeopardy

The outcome of Spain’s upcoming snap federal elections in late July will become a key driver of the European Union’s climate and energy agenda now that Madrid has assumed the rotating leadership of the Council of the EU, a crucial institution of the 27-member bloc. The incumbent liberal and ecologically-focused Spanish government led by prime minister Pedro Sanchez aims to push for stronger renewables and fossil-free energy adoption and advance the European Green Deal. However, if he loses his bid for re-election, a more EU-sceptic government coalition with less ambition on climate policy will take over. Crucially, Spain holds the last complete six-month presidency before the 2024 EU elections, which increases the pressure to bring important energy and climate legislation to a close before the end of this year as well as to maintain European democratic institutions. Temporarily based in Madrid, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews some of what’s at stake.

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Brussels delays billions in recovery funds after Romania halts coal unit closures

By the end of 2022, Romania had met only 33 of the 55 milestones established in its multi-billion euro National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). Most problematically, major provisions around lignite-fired power plant closures remain blocked. Days before the first coal units were set to shutter, citing the ongoing war in Ukraine, lawmakers in Bucharest decided to delay closure until October 2023. While also moving forward with the construction of both new EU-funded fossil gas plants as well as U.S. subsidized nuclear reactors, NGOs and activists worry Bucharest is simply trying to cash in on the recovery monies while playing the European Union. Now regulators in Brussels have taken notice by delaying disbursement of billions in much needed green energy funding. Continuing the Romanian Power Move series, lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews the unfolding situation.

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Germany and LNG | The Global Energy Transition Podcast

In response to Russia’s invasion and brutal war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022, many European nations, particularly Germany, have banned Russian fossil fuels imports. For Germany this has meant not only finding new sources of liquified natural gas (LNG), but also spurred the government to establish several new LNG terminals. However, LNG, which is mainly cooled and compressed methane, represents a major source of climate-harming emissions. Read More

Renewable record: new solar and wind installs prevent catastrophic EU energy crisis

With war raging in Ukraine, Europe simultaneously scrambled to cut ties with Russia, its biggest fossil gas supplier, while also dealing with the lowest levels of hydro and nuclear generation in at least two decades. Though many feared a swing back to coal, a new analysis by the climate think tank, Ember reveals that wind and solar energy largely filled the gap, generating a record fifth of all the EU electricity and overtaking fossil gas for the first time in the process. Additionally, as shown in their newly published European Electricity Review, increased renewable deployment saved consumers billions in higher bills while staving off a larger return to climate-damaging coal. Proving itself to be a potent solution to the triple crisis of energy availability, affordability and sustainability, Ember sees Europe’s response as accelerating the energy transition going forward. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the new data.

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Finito: Colombia halts new gas, oil and coal exploitation

President Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s first-ever progressive leader, wants to help slow global climate change, protect regional biodiversity and bolster Indigenous people’s rights by decoupling the nation’s economy from fossil fuels, starting with a ban on new oil and coal exploration permits. The contentious policy change for the long fossil fuel dependent nation comes on the back of a bonanza year for the industry, which enjoyed a record-setting $22 billion in export revenues. Making good on his campaign promises, in early February Petro presented a $247.1 billion four-year development plan to lawmakers full of sweeping social and economic changes. Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews the evolving situation in this installment of the Colombian Conundrum series.

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Greening India: plans to slash emissions in half by 2030 require massive renewables surge

In early April 2023, India announced plans to issue tenders for 250 GW of new renewable capacity by March 2028, as it looks to cut its emissions by 45% from 2005 levels. However, coal remains the dominant source of electricity. The share of clean power generation needs to more than double for the nation to meet its climate goals. Additionally, to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s targeted energy self-sufficiency by 2047 — the centenary year of India’s independence, the nation will require domestic capacity increases for manufacturing green technologies, such as solar modules, battery storage and electrolyzers for making renewable hydrogen. The second part of our focus on India highlights the nation’s ambitious plans. L. Michael Buchsbaum reports.

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India needs it all: nation plans a rapid renewables buildout while still sticking to coal

While India’s government, currently holding the G20 presidency, lays out plans for a massive build out of renewables aimed at cutting emissions nearly in half over the next three years, coal still remains the nation’s dominant energy source, and its 72% share is growing. Nevertheless, federal Power Secretary Alok Kumar recently announced plans to surge clean energy production to 90% of electrical generation before mid-century. But as heatwaves blast the nation today and as citizens and industry finds ways to keep cool, electrical demand is surging. India’s solution: more coal power, more fossil fuels and more renewables all at once. L. Micheal Buchsbaum reports.

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Sunny breezes: Latin America’s energy transition set for swift expansion

With nearly a billion solar panels’ worth of large-scale clean-electricity projects slated to come online in the next seven years, Latin America is poised to become a major renewable energy producer. A newly published report by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) tallies more than 319 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar and wind-power projects continent-wide due to be launched by 2030 – nearly equal to 70 percent of the region’s combined total of all current electrical capacity today. Since 2022, investing in this region’s energy potential has both accelerated and taken on more importance as Europe races to replace Russian fossil fuels with cleaner sources, including soon truly green hydrogen. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum reviews how clean energy growth throughout Latin America is reaching a tipping point – and how they’ll be competing with China too.

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