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This week In #CleanTech August 27, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of August 27, 2017.

SW USA MAP
Image Credit via Pixabay by AmberAvalona. Under Public Domain via the Creative Commons

The US Southwest is becoming a major player within the US renewable energy sector. Ecowatch.com earlier this week had written a good summary on the rise of clean power within the region. The article points to four southwest state ranking in the top ten in total solar capacity: Arizona (No.3), Nevada (#4), Utah (#6), and Texas (#9). Many southwest states also are becoming major players within the wind energy markets. Texas ranks number one in total capacity nationally with 21.044 GW, Kansas 5th  with 5.1 GW, and Colorado 10th with 3.026GW, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Ecowatch.com attributes a combination of declining prices for renewables, the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar energy, which is attracting utilities to increase clean power capacity. If that was not enough many southwestern cities have pledged to commit to the Paris climate agreement including Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Reno, and Tucson.

Considering this region has an abundant in solar energy potential, the region can seriously become a big-time player within the US renewable energy game. Policy makers, business, and regional non-governmental organizations will need to all work together in ensuring they are on the train.

Mexico announced this week they are planning to go in on upgrade their grid infrastructure. According to BNAmericas.com the Latin American giant said they plan to put $646 USD million into smart grids over the next eight years. Mexican utility CFE said this year alone they plan to invest approximately $794 USD million in updating transmission and distribution networks. This would allow private and pubic utilities to improve electricity service to consumers.

Mexican Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said in a presentation to an audience Mexico can take advantage of current day technology and communications, while utilizing the skills and knowledge of its people to provide a modern-day  safe, efficient and effective grid.

As more renewables are coming onto the grid, smart grid implementation is increasing. Estimates have smart grid markets reaching a total of $120 USD billion by 2020, according to Zion Research.

And finally, The Manitoba Environmental Industries Association is hosting the first annual Western CleanTech Innovation Forum at the Winnipeg Convention Centre November 29th and 30th. The conference will feature 34 technical presentations, and key note presentations from Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of Carbon Shift:  How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change will Define the Future, and Terry O’Reilly of This I Know. For registration, you can go to the (MEIA) website for more information.

Have a question on cleantech or climate policy? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

The Art of the Global Climate Deal: Review- An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Synopsis: Al Gore returns with an update to  2006’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT). An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power provides solid climate science, and a unique backstage pass of how global climate change political deals are done.

**** out of 5 stars

Its been eleven years since Al Gore’s ground breaking documentary on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. It was released to critical acclaim and won Best Documentary at the 2006 Academy Awards and was a box office success, as Al Gore brought the issue of global warming to the public forefront.

Fast Forward to 2017, and we get An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power (AIS:TTP) Call it AIT 2.0. The movie provides a good mix of climate science, economics, and global politics, all wrapped in one basket. The documentary gives a backstage pass of high stakes climate policy poker at the maximum level, which provides extra documentary value for the viewer.

This is what sells AIS:TTP as a compelling well thought out documentary. AIS:TTP has a balanced mix of showing the science of climate change, and its effects and tying it into the recent clean technology trends.

The opening section has Gore taking a jaw dropping trip to Greenland to see the effects of climate change there, melting area ice glaciers. In one scene, you can see the glaciers, crumble faster than an imploded house, which you could have taken out of a 1980’s science fiction movie. However, this is happening now and not in some science fiction flick.

If that does not make you think something is wrong, the Gore’s slides showing the effects of climate change from extreme weather events will get you pondering why we are seeing more of these violent weather phenomena (ranging from dramatic floods in Louisiana to wildfires in Alberta). Gore gives you a “walk through the book of Revelations” as he genuinely puts it into perspective for the public to understand how we see climate change risks in 2017.

While AIS:TTP does show the severe risks society is facing with climate change, it also showcases the rapid rise of cleantech since the original film. I was pleased how there was a good discussion of how the economics of wind energy, electric vehicles, and especially solar power worked out since AIT. Gore hits the point home of how much the price of renewables has fallen, especially solar today (which has dropped from $77.00/watt forty years ago to around $0.55/watt)

This also plays a critical aspect behind the second point of why this documentary works: AIS:TTP gives you a front-row access to the challenges, and deals behind the Paris climate agreement and how renewable energy policy plays a significant role in this deal. I appreciated how the films show you, as a viewer, of not only how the dynamics of global politics play out in the 21st century, but also how technology is attempting to bridge the gap for infrastructure for developing countries, including India. Consider India ranked fourth in global carbon emissions in the world, and is a rapidly growing player in the global economy. This leads to the film dynamic of India arguing they need to advance their economy to improve their citizen’s lives. Even if it means using fossil fuels, as Gore works feverishly in the lead up and during the COP21 in Paris to find a way to get India on side in signing onto the Paris agreement. Directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk do an excellent job of not letting any stone unturned in the behind the scenes political dealings, and the aftermath of the Paris climate agreement. It gives viewers in understanding the scope and scale of how political deals not only work, but the importance in an era of Trump and anti global sentiment, of why building global political capital is critical, especially in the 21st Century.

While AIS:TTP is very strong, the only down point of this film was at times it felt like an update, rather than something new. AIS:TTP does a good job on updating info about the science, risks related to climate change, and the economic benefits of falling cleantech prices. That is what any good updates should do, is provide the public with the most up to date information for them to make educated decisions on the main issues which will affect their livelihoods.

That is what you I guess you should expect from sequels to documentaries: Good solid updated information, but nothing earth shattering. This is why its hard for sequels to documentaries to be wildly successful. That lies part of the challenge why AIS:TTP has not done so well, compared to the original, where AIT made $50 USD million. This film will not even come close to making what the original did.

Another reason why AIS:TTP has been lackluster at the box office has been Paramount Pictures having it in limited release for opening weekend, then only adding a few selected theatres the week after. In Winnipeg, it did not open up on August 4th, but rather the next week August 11th. There has been disappointment amongst environmentalists on the lackadaisical promotional strategy by Paramount Pictures.

Third, and the primary reason why AIS:TTP has not done as well is that there are much more options in distributing and seeing films. Although in 2006, when AIT came out the Internet was around, there were not as many streaming options as there is in 2017. Today, in an age of Netflix, there are so many ways to distribute a film, including digital download, Blu-Ray, DVD, and streaming services. Factor in going to see a movie cost around $10.00 and you wonder if it’s not just  AIS:TTP, but documentaries in general, which could be more suited for these different distribution platforms, and achieve a high reach of engaged viewers. Look for example the critically acclaimed documentary, Sons of Ben, which focuses on the rise the soccer supporters group, which played a critical role in landing the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer. It gained critical acclaim while reaching a wide audience amongst both the soccer community and public.

Despite these challenges, AIS:TTP is a definite must-see in a year of weak movies (Besides Dunkirk). A likely Best Documentary contender at Academy Awards time. Go see This film. Not only to be inspired by the rise of the sustainability revolution through the sharp price drops in renewable energy, not only for the updates on the increased risks of climate change towards society, but go see it for the most important part: Go to it for The Art of The Global Climate Deal. This will be the invaluable lesson you will get, and ensure we strive to limit the worst impacts of climate change, while we help developing nations leap-frog past their dirty fossil fuel infrastructure.

 

This week In  #CleanTech July 30, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of July 30, 2017.

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In one blockbuster announcement, JP Morgan Chase announced this week it plans to use only renewable energy by 2020. According to CNBC.Com, the global financial giant said it plans to cut its energy consumption while buying purchase power agreements (PPA’s) and creating on-site renewable energy power plants. JP Morgan Chase will install on-site solar at 40 commercial and 1,400 retail buildings, and work with GE to add LED lights at 4,500 Chase locations.

Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase CEO said business must be leaders in developing answers to grow the economy and protect the environment.

If that were not enough, JP Morgan Chase by 2025 would provide $200 billing of cleantech financing.

This announcement is big news and continues a steady trend of global financial institutions going all in on renewable energy as prices continue to plummet. Bank of America announced last year  $125 billion in clean energy financing. However, climate activists have been severely harsh on big global banks, on investing in fossil fuel projects, including the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

Despite these challenges, significant financial institutions are seeing the possibilities of a clean energy economy, as the world gradually shifts towards low-carbon solutions.

And finally, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power is now in limited release. This time the documentary focuses on Gore’s continued battle on climate change, including behind the scenes work in getting the Paris Accord finalized, to the challenges faced by a new Donald Trump administration.

The documentary has received positive reviews by critics.

An Inconvenient Truth was one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time and received an Academy Award for best documentary in 2006. The film is in full release August 4th. A full review will be on our website August 8th.

I am off at the Canada Summer Games. If you live in Winnipeg, get out and support our future Canadian Olympians as they strive for excellence.

What do you think of JP Morgan Chase’s new renewable energy plans, including to go all in on renewables by 2020? Drop a line at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

This week In #CleanTech July 23, 2017

Here is your weekly roundup of the unique, hottest stories related to cleantech, and climate policy for the week of July 23, 2017.

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Image Credit via Pixabay by lukabieri. Under Public Domain via Credit Commons

General Electric’s (GE) renewable energy section saw a strong profit jump in the first half of 2017. According to reNEWS, GE’s cleantech division showed a gain of $267US billion, up from $211US billion (27%) for the first six months of 2016. A big wind turbine order for Invenergy’s Texas wind farm and collaboration with Fortum’s digital hydro plant in Sweden provided underlying support for GE, reNEWS noted. Overall, GE renewable energy business earned $4.5US billion, another big jump compared to the first half of 2016 ($3.8US billion). GE’s investments in renewable energy were perhaps one of the few highlights for the multinational company, whose revenue was 2% for the first half of 2017, compared to the first six months of 2016. GE Jeffrey Immelt in recent years have been adamant on the need for going big on renewable energy investment, as he sees it as a key growth sector. He even urged US president Donald Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord. Too bad, Trump did not see it that way. Moving forward in the second half of 2017, it will be interesting how not only GE’s overall financial performance is but their cleantech section. If GE’s renewable energy continues to grow, while the rest of the company’s margins drop, expect more investors eyes to glaze over GE’s renewable energy portfolio.

In India, Tata Power will infuse $90US million in Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited. CleanTechnica.com said the Indian company would use the financing to support large-scale solar projects totaling 320MW. Currently, Tata Power has 2GW worth in wind and solar energy projects. Although India is one of the highest carbon emitting countries on Earth, they are also becoming an emerging leader in the global renewable energy markets. Earlier this spring, India had passed 12GW of solar installed, more than four times of total capacity in 2014 (2.650GW). Concerns over extreme weather events from a changing climate, reducing energy poverty, while utilizing clean power, are some reasons why India is building on its renewable energy investments in recent years.

Just when you thought 2017 would not be one of the hottest years on record, you could be wrong. According to Scientific American, global temperatures have been 1.64F above the global temperature average (56.3F) this year. If everything continues at this pace, 2017, will be the second hottest year, just behind last year, 2016.

What scientists are stumped is how high the temperature increase is. Scientific American notes in periods after El-Nino, global heat patterns would drop or stay flat. However, temperatures have continued to go up, even without El-Nino. Gavin Schmidt predicts a 57% chance 2017 will be the second warmest year in the planet’s history, only behind 2016.

With increasing temperatures also increases the risks of extreme weather, according to analysts. This year is holding those patterns valid all over the globe. Ontario February thunderstorms, record rainfall in eastern Canada, causing flooding, to British Columbia wildfires are just some of the extreme weather events which have played across Canada this year. Meanwhile, Futurism said 2017 in the US has been one of the wettest and hottest recorded.

Perhaps Climate Progress said it best when “This matters because when a month — or six-month period — see record high global temperatures in the absence of an El Niño, that is a sign the underlying global warming trend is stronger than ever.”

Do you think GE’s Renewable Energy division will continue being a bright spot heading into the last six months? Do you think 2017 will be the second hottest year on the planet?

Drop a line with your thoughts at salayconsulting@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @salayservices.

Electric Vehicles Are Reaching Their “iPhone” Moment in 2017

When the history books come to pass on 2017, one will look on this year as to where electric vehicles (EV’s) had its “iPhone moment.”

A decade ago, Apple released its revolutionary product. Although smartphones were around before, the iPhone helped change a lot of things. It helped changed how smartphones, and eventually the public warmed to mobile computing. It helped create new spillover industries while flipping old ones upside down.

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Image Credit via Pixabay. Under Public Domain via Creative Commons.

Three factors are contributing this year to why EV’s are reaching that watershed or “iPhone” moment.

EV’s are becoming More Affordable as Battery Prices Plummet: The first shipments of Tesla’s Model 3 have now begun to hit the streets. Initially showcased last year, Elon Musk’s company took 373,000 in reservations as of March 2017. What is so special about this car? It’s Tesla’s first EV into the affordable mass consumer market at $35,000 USD a piece. One of the criticisms with EV’s was the initial excessive costs for consumers.

However, declining lithium-ion battery prices are now making it more affordable to mass produce EV’s, along with Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

With batteries coming less costly, EV’s are nearing a tipping point where they are near cost competitive with combustible engine vehicles. A recent report underlines this. By 2025, all new vehicles will be electric. It’s especially important to know given the Paris climate agreement requires all participants keep CO2 levels well below 2C while aiming for 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.  Transportation alone creates 23% of all carbon emissions, according to the World Bank. Thus, creating affordable, clean tech transportation options at the mass consumer level is essential in cutting carbon emissions out from transportation.

While other companies, including Nissan, Chevy already produce EV’s. Tesla has had critical acclaim with its prior other models, including the Model S. Just like how the iPhone 10 years ago was synonymous with smartphones.

Companies are Going All In on EV’s: 2017 is also the breaking point where companies are making plans to slam the brakes on fossil fuel based vehicles.

Volvo recently announced by 2019 they will cease to make combustion engine vehicles, and manufacture only EV’s or hybrids. This is the silver bullet car manufacturers need to go all-electric. In 2007, Apple entering the smartphone market with the iPhone helped lure other companies, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and Chinese tech companies to get into the smartphone game, providing more consumer choice. Smartphone costs also came crashing down to insanely low levels. It’s now possible to get a smartphone for $32 (compared to $499 or $599 US in 2007 for an iPhone). While it’s highly unlikely anyone will see an EV for $32 in their lifetime, it’s entirely possible as more entrants flood the market, prices will drop to make EV’s even more affordable for Main Street.

 

Global Policy: You can also thank public policy makers around the world around the globe for helping contribute to EV’s watershed moment happening now.

While Trump dumped the Paris accord, other countries are strengthening their ties by supporting cleantech. France recently announced earlier this week by 2040. They will be eliminating the sale of all petrol fuelled based vehicles. Last year, Germany vowed to do the same by 2030. Policy makers are helping to shift towards cleaner vehicles, which adds another layer towards EV’s becoming a real force.

Thomas Friedman’s 2016 book Thank You For Being Late discussed how in 2007 was the watershed moment for many key technologies, ranging from cloud computing storage, solar energy, and smartphones.  Ten years later, thanks to declining lithium-ion battery prices, companies moving towards just electric cars, and supporting legislation, are helping EV’s have their “iPhone moment.”

So what you think? Has electric vehicles reached their watershed moment this year? You can reach me on Twitter at @salaysevices, or by email at salayservies@gmail.com

 

Analysis: REthinking 2017 Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation

Reports are key indicators of where modern trends are going. That’s especially true with developing industries like renewable energy. Report after report have only confirmed renewable energy is shaking up traditional energy markets.

The International Renewable Energy Association’s (IRENA) REthinking Energy: Accelerating the Global Energy Transformation confirms these trends. IRENA recently released their findings in energy and policy development.

According to the report, global solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity reached 219 gigawatts (GW) in 2015, more than five times the capacity in 2010 (40 GW). This trend is expected to continue with new global PV capacity in 2017 supposed to reach 79 GW, according to an IHS technology report. By 2030, solar PV capacity could account for 7% of total global power generation.

What’s been helpful for solar energies rise to the top has been sharp declines in prices. In many countries, solar prices have reached new lows, according to IRENA. Solar energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many nations. Solar PV prices have fallen by 80% since 2009, said IRENA.

Wind power is also strong. Currently according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), global capacity reached 432.33 GW in 2015, 63.48 GW more than from in 2014.

IRENA said wind turbines prices have fallen by one-third since 2009. Even without government support, onshore wind farms are cost competitive or less than gas-fired power plants, oil, or coal, according to IRENA.

Falling prices in both wind and solar have not only increased capacity but investment, as these two technologies captured a whopping 90% of 2015 global renewable energy investments.

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Photo Credit via Pixabay by Steppinstars. Under Public Domain by the Creative Commons.

While the wind and solar power’s growing energy prowess is necessary, battery storage units, which can store both these technologies when needed during non-peak periods will play a critical role going forward. By 2020, IRENA expects this growing market to reach USD $14 billion, up from USD $2.2 billion in 2015. Falling lithium-ion battery costs, along with Tesla’s Powerwall are giving glimpses of its potential. By 2030, IRENA projects battery storage for electricity could reach 250 GW, nearly 250 times more than currently.

Policy-wise, the move towards cleaner sources of energy is helping move nations in the right direction. Currently, 170 countries have created renewable energy targets, while 150 have a policy in place to boost renewable energy investments, IRENA said.

This strong support by countries overwhelmingly to transition to renewable energy has seen strong global investments this century. In 2004, this figure was USD $50 billion. In 2015, renewable energy investment reached a record USD $348 billion.

Emerging market countries including China and India have been serious players. China recently has said they are committed to spending USD $361 billion through 2020 on renewables. Meanwhile, accounting firm Ernst & Young’s 2016 report pointed to developing nations including Egypt, Mexico, and Chile are becoming hotspots for renewable energy investors compared to European markets.

There will be challenges, including the new US administration lead by Donald Trump who has vowed cut backs in renewable energy investments and may pull out of the Paris climate accord.

However, countries, including China are promising to pick up the slack and pull away in the cleantech race.

IRENA’s analysis of the cleantech market proves renewable energy on the global level, will only become more competitive and transform energy markets.

To read IRENA’s full report, view here.

 

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