Solar Rocking the Economy, and it’s Just Beginning
February 8, 2017
Revolutions are not always bloody, but there are usually winners and losers. The current Renewable Energy Revolution, -and the current earth tremors are merely the distant rumbling of its approach – is perhaps the greatest Technological change since the invention of fire
We are watching, in the current crisis, what amounts to a Hail Mary pass by the masters of fossil fuels, corporations and countries, who are sitting on mountains of what would have been riches 50 years ago, but are rapidly becoming useless tracts of land, as the renewable revolution takes off, the writing on the wall is clear.
For Big Energy – technology says you will change, or you will die. Whether they are able to take democracy and Human Freedom with them as they go down, is what we will decide in the immediate future.
Russia is the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Yet the plan it submitted under the Paris agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is one of the weakest of any government and actually permits Russia to increase carbon pollution over time. The Paris agreement went into effect last November, but Russia is the only major emitter that has not ratified it. Instead, it has laid out a timetable that would delay ratification for almost three years.
“Russia will not artificially accelerate the process of ratification of the Paris climate agreement,” Russia’s special presidential representative on climate, Alexander Bedritsky, said last September.
A new alignment between Russia and a friendlier United States under Trump could slow climate action even more. Trump denies global warming more nakedly than Russian President Vladimir Putin, who pivoted from years of downplaying climate change to calling it a grave threat in 2015, but has done little to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Russia’s sluggishness on climate could bolster the Trump team’s plans to abandon climate action, and vice versa.
The Russian Federation has a history of denial and inaction on the issue. The country is a petro-state: It was the world’s second-largest exporter of oil in 2015, after Saudi Arabia, and biggest exporter of natural gas. Russia’s top politicians and its largest companies have long been reluctant to reduce fossil fuel extraction and use. Recently, some in the government and Russian business have begun taking steps to shift away from fossil fuel dependence. But that progress may slow now that the United States, the world’s second-biggest emitter, is shifting its priorities toward increased fossil fuel production, experts on Russian climate policy said.
Highlights from Solar Jobs Census 2016:
- One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2% percent of all new jobs.
- Solar jobs in the United States have increased at least 20 percent per year for the past four years, and jobs have nearly tripled since the first Solar Jobs Census was released in 2010.
- Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total solar industry employment increase by 10 percent to 286,335 solar workers.
- In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.
Since 2010, the National Solar Jobs Census has defined solar workers as those who spend at least 50 percent of their time on solar-related work. The Solar Foundation has consistently found that approximately 90 percent of these workers spend 100 percent of their time on solar-related work. This year’s Census was part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy and Employment Report data collection effort that included more than 500,000 telephone calls and over 60,000 emails to energy establishments in the U.S. between October and November 2016. This resulted in a total of 3,888 full completions for establishments involved in solar activity in the U.S.
Percentage wise, the industry achieved a growth rate of 25% over 2015. That beats the rate of growth for every other Solar Foundation census going back to the first one in 2010.
Solar Energy Can Surprise You
On a state by state basis, California came in first for highest number of total solar jobs. That’s no surprise given its size and its favorable policies for solar energy and other clean tech.
California is also staking out a leadership position in terms of making solar energy affordable. The new solar seed fund RE-volve, for example, chose the University of California – Santa Barbara as one of three launch sites for a nationwide affordable solar program.
Of the remaining top five job-creating states for solar energy, three may surprise you. Texas, Florida, and Nevada all made the top five despite the outsized influence of Republican party members on energy policy in those states.
The state of Massachusetts is also a bit of a surprise. Unlike the other top five, Massachusetts can hardly claim fame for a warm, sunny, solar-friendly climate. However, this deep blue state shows that favorable policies can counterbalance less than ideal conditions.
On the other hand, Michael Liebreich, the head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, expects oil demand to peak in 2025. The CFO of Royal Dutch Shell agrees — he said the company expects it to peak within five to 15 years. The World Energy Council predicts peak demand in 2030.
Into this milieu comes a big new study that claims all those previous projections are hopelessly pessimistic.
New study says oil and coal are F’d
Today saw the release of a new study from the Grantham Institute for Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. It argues that solar photovoltaics (PV) and EVs together will kick fossil fuel’s ass, quickly.
“Falling costs of electric vehicle and solar technology,” they conclude, “could halt growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020.” That would be a pretty big deal.
The “business as usual” (BAU) scenarios that typically dominate these discussions are outdated, the researchers argue. New baseline scenarios should take into account updated information on PV, EV, and battery costs. (The EIA doesn’t expect inflation-adjusted prices of EVs to fall to $30,000 until 2030, even as multiple automakers say they’ll hit that within a few years.)
And baseline scenarios should take into account the commitments made in the Paris climate agreement, they say.