This week in renewable energy: 3/28/14

Every week, Community Renewable Energy shares important clean energy developments– and some that are just plain cool.

Here’s what we’ve been reading.

Global progress

  • Community Renewable Energy backs Power AfricaThis Thursday, the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on African Affairs held a hearing on Power Africa (“Powering Africa’s Future: Examining the Power Africa Initiative”) that emphasized the importance of partnering with African nations to capitalize on their amazing renewable energy capacity(Brookings)
  • Ghana’s government’s investment in renewable energy is paying off. 25 years ago, Ghana established the National Electrification Program, which has resulted in 4,000+ communities connected to power. Today, they have a feed-in tariff in place and are poised to make even more progress and improve the lives of millions of citizens. (Vibe Ghana)
  • The largest solar power plant in Latin America is now online in Baja California Sur. Currently, 1/4 of all power in Mexico is derived from clan energy, and the country aims to increase that amount to 35% within 10 years. (Fox News/Latino)
  • Norway may soon be investing even more in international renewable energy. While reporting the news, the Huffington Post took the chance to discuss the massive off-grid market— mostly rural communities that lack access to electricity:

Already the off-grid solar lighting market in sub-Saharan Africa, aimed to improve access to better lighting in areas not yet connected to the electricity grid, is almost doubling every year, according to an international program called Lighting Africa. In Bangladesh, renewable energy company Grameen Shakti and others are deploying 30,000 to 40,000 solar home systems every single month. But India is already falling behind these fast-moving markets, even though states like Uttar Pradesh are housing a hotbed of distributed solar activity.

Community-owned solar

Oregon is now shared solar friendly. SB 1520 enjoyed bipartisan support in the state’s legislature, and this week, Governor Kitzhaber signed the bill into law. The bill allows community-owned power projects to form without having to deal with securities registration. This makes it simpler for shared solar groups for organize and raise capital.

Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress  writes, “Support for the bill was overwhelming. Supporters and local governments from across the State sent letters of support to the Legislature and their voices were heard. These letters of support and the sponsorship of Senator Bruce Starr and Representative Kim Thatcher were key to the bill’s passage.”

Green success, green careers

An article in the New York Times Economix blog celebrates the progress of solar power. Among the sector’s successes, the post highlights green careers, noting:

Public support for photovoltaic technologies is accomplishing its intended goal — speeding the development of innovative and environmentally sustainable technologies. It’s also worth noting that solar installations are relatively labor-intensive, helping revive demand in the building trades. The Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census estimated that there were almost 143,000 solar workers in the United States in 2013, a nearly 20 percent increase over employment totals in 2012.

Policy watch

  • President Obama is considering regulations to reduce methane emissions in order to combat climate change. Regulations would affect oil and gas companies and unsurprisingly, those industries’ lobbying groups are pushing back. The Environmental Protection Agency would be able to regulate through the Clean Air Act. In the next few months, the EPA might introduce methane regulations for landfills. Factory farms and coal mines are also big producers of methane, which is the second most common greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. (Reuters)
  • Iowa is set to become a leader in solar power. This week, Iowa’s state Senate voted unanimously (!) to triple tax credits for households that install solar. (Radio Iowa)
  • In 2008, Massachusetts established policy that boosted wind and solar, and the state is already seeing benefits. A recent study indicated that “the programs put in place by the law, and financed with $2.7 billion in higher electric and natural gas rates, would create enough economic activity to cover those costs and yield a net benefit of $1.2 billion over about 15 years” (according to the Boston Globe). Additionally, 16,000 green sector jobs have been created and cut harmful emissions by 31 million metric tons. (Barr Foundation)Green Communities Act impacts infographic

What do you think was the most important renewable energy story this week? Share your insights and thoughts below or by email.

For news about sustainable community and economic development, visit Praxia Partners’ blog.

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