The US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) counts on massive direct subsidies to its private sector to stimulate a green transformation of the economy. The EU has opted largely for carbon pricing and other taxes to make the same transition. The two approaches are in no way mutually exclusive – and both have benefits. Paul Hockenos looks at the European answer to the IRA in the second installment of the two part series. Read part one here.
Moonshot Moment: Biden’s IRA Ups the Global Ante on Climate Protection
The US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a moonshot moment in global climate protection, underscoring that the public sector will spend hundreds of billions in subsidies to drive decarbonization and a green economic transition. The EU’s bet on carbon pricing doesn’t rule out state aid, too. It now has to match the US plan. Paul Hockenos explains the details in the first installment of a two part series.
EU smashes renewable records as it urgently breaks free of Russian fossil fuels
Since Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, European Union member states have been feverishly reworking their energy policies to reduce their reliance on Russian gas, coal, and oil. To help accelerate the shift, energy developers are rapidly increasing investments in solar and wind power. This summer, solar, helping the EU tackle not only its energy problem but also soaring inflation. According to a new report by climate think tank Ember, about a quarter of the EU’s electricity now comes from just wind and solar. Combined, Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews how clean domestic energy is saving EU ratepayers money while helping slow global climate change.
When Germany Can’t Give it Away: Negative-Price Power Hours
In 2022, negative prices occurred during 69 of the total of 8,760 hourly prices in German day-ahead trading. Last year, there were 139 cases of hours when utilities had to pay to give away electricity. This adds to the high price of electricity in Germany, but it doesn’t explain it. Paul Hockenos has the details.
Despite Fossil Fuel Price Rise, Germany’s Emissions Miss Target
Although overall energy consumption fell, Germany’s emissions declined only slightly: because coal-fired power plants stepped in for Russian gas. A leading German energy think tank argues that Germany has to undertake structural reforms to get on track. Nevertheless, Germany’s emissions are lower than ever before – evidence that Germany can hit targets by replacing fossil fuels with renewables. The catch is that once replaced, fossil fuels must be eliminated from energy production altogether. Experts think that Germany can still phase out all coal-fired generation by 2030.
Clean energy: The untapped solution to Zimbabwe’s power crisis
Zimbabwe citizens currently experience power cuts of up to 18 hours on a daily basis despite the country’s largely untapped renewable energy potential that for years could be a panacea to the enduring power crises. According to its national clean power plan, the country would have enough green energy to satisfy local demand through sources including solar, hydro, biomass, geothermal and wind. However, a lack of investment and political will has prevented most of the Southern African country’s renewable projects from taking off. Kennedy Nyavaya has the story.
South Africa secures international aid at COP27 to champion the coal to renewables shift
South Africa’s ambitious plan to transition away from coal was endorsed at the recent COP27 climate conference in Egypt where officials from Britain, France, Germany, the United States, and the European Union signed pledges of $8.5 billion to help fund its initial steps. Currently South Africa relies upon coal to generate up to 87% of its electricity, but by the end of the decade the nation wants to close more than half its aging, unreliable coal-fired power stations and replace them with new solar and renewables. Yet today state-owned energy provider Eskom is struggling to provide consistent electricity. But despite the climate benefits, citizens and miners fear the plan may end up costing hundreds of thousands of jobs, lead to the privatization of Eskom and rapid market liberalization as operators race to construct solar farms near existing coal facilities. Lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews the situation. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this series.
A bright light in times of crisis: Solar Power in Lebanon
Since its devastating port explosion in August of 2020, Lebanon has been making headlines for its failing currency and pervasive corruption. Since 2020, the country has been struggling with significant electricity cuts from its state electricity supplier EDL – Electricite du Liban – and shortages of diesel for generators that serve over a million customers. In the wake of this crisis, the Lebanese people are doing the same thing they’ve done for as long as most Lebanese can remember: taking matters into their own hands. Solar power has proven to be a powerful tool for energy independence, and it has seen unprecedented growth in Lebanon since the onset of these tough times. Could solar power be the solution to Lebanon’s decades-old energy problem?
Appalachian Phoenix: solar rises in the heart of the United States’ dying coal industry
Closed and abandoned surface mines, often flattened, despoiled and desolate, can make ideal sites for re-purposing into clean energy centers. For over a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that renewable energy projects be installed on former mined lands, particularly closed mountain top removal sites. Though solar is the fastest growing source of new electricity across the United States, developers are only now starting to install panels throughout central Appalachia, the long-suffering heart of America’s once dominant coal sector. Now following the passage of President Joe Biden’s $370 billion Inflation Recovery Act (IRA), loaded with clean energy construction incentives, a solar revolution lies just over yonder. Lead blogger and podcaster, Michael Buchsbaum, reviews the state of transformation in the third part of his coal to solar series. Read part 1, part 2 and part 4.
Saudi Arabia’s new energy diplomacy
There has been no shortage of news about Mohamad Bin Salman, more commonly known as MBS, the 35-year crown prince of Saudi Arabia. A controversial figure, he has been hailed as a reformer, but also criticized for corruption and human rights abuses. He came to power at a time when Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical prowess as an energy giant may be threatened by the energy transition. This year, Saudi Arabia has embarked on a massive diplomatic effort to set itself up for success in a world inching towards clean energy, but still grappling with energy security, independence and resilience issues brought on by recent conflicts like the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Among many of the many topics on MBS’s desk are: how will Saudi Arabia fare in a post-oil world? MBS’s diplomatic moves of the past few months may signal the future direction of MBS’s energy diplomacy. Joelle Thomas reports.