A Market-Driven Green New Deal?

April 18, 2019

The kind of discussion we ought to be having sounds more like this.

A “market driven” Green New Deal, at least in Amory Lovins telling below, need not include the progressive wish list like job guarantees and medicare for all. It does include a Carbon Tax, which is its own political issue.

Above, Rob Meyer’s very smart take on why the Green New Deal suddenly got legs after last year’s election, and what the idea’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Amory Lovins and Rushad R Nanavatty in the New York Times:

Here’s how:
First, we should let competition and flexibility rule our electricity system. Abundant market data show that a renewably powered future would cost less than our current system. Electricity providers have gotten the memo, even if Washington hasn’t. To save their customers money, utilities in IndianaMichiganMinnesota, Colorado and Utahare phasing out old coal and nuclear plants and replacing them with wind and solar. Clean energy portfolios — including affordable battery storage and other flexible resources — are starting to displace natural gas in California and New York.
Concerns about round-the-clock availability of electricity from a highly renewable grid, a common fear, are mostly misplaced. The Department of Energy has assessed that renewables “that are commercially available today,” combined with a more flexible electric grid, can reliably supply up to 80 percent of our electricity in 2050 (and these technologies are advancing every year). Four European countries with modest or no hydropower get from 46 percent to 71 percent of their electricity from renewables, with grids more reliable than those in the United States. 
In America, Iowa and Texas are leading the way on wind. Over 35 percent of Iowa’s electricity is wind-generated. This has provided a second source of income to farmers whose lands host turbines and given Iowans among the lowest power prices in the nation. Over all, the estimated $476 billion needed to build a flexible grid that integrates renewables would yield $2 trillion in saved energy and reliabilitybenefits.
Second, correcting our biggest market failure by putting a price on carbon by taxing it would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale and speed,” according to a recent statement signed by more than 3,500 economists, including 27 Nobel laureates. Combining carbon pricing with border tax adjustments and rebates for citizens would ensure we didn’t export our emissions or hurt working-class Americans. Clearer price signals could drive cheaper and cleaner practices if we eliminated market barriers that are obstacles to efficiency and clean energy.

For sectors with fewer market-ready substitutes and less sensitivity to fuel prices, like industry and agriculture, we need other approaches. Hence our third point:
We need to take advantage of the world’s most successful research and development organization — the federal government — to solve our remaining technology challenges. Government R&D helped develop the internet, the Global Positioning System, fracking, many vital drugs and, more recently, breakthrough battery technologies. The government now needs to apply its early-stage investment muscle, in concert with private enterprise, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in these harder-to-abate sectors.

Failures should outnumber successes, as in any sound early-stage investment portfolio. But just a handful of big wins can deliver potentially incalculable value to our economy and planet. Which brings us to our final point.
We should base investment decisions on net value, not cost alone.
Green New Deal critics often look at only one side of the accounting ledger. A columnist for The Wall Street Journalfor example, recently pointed to the $400 billion estimated cost of retrofitting American buildings without mentioning the $1.4 trillion net value (retrofit costs minus saved energy costs) of doing so.
Much of this value can accrue to working Americans who need it most. Nationally, the average energy burden for low-income families is three times greater than for the rest of the country. Low-income families tend to rely more on expensive heating fuels, and have older, less efficient furnaces, appliances and homes. They are likelier to get sickfrom living near fossil fuel production. Consequently, they can benefit the most from lower-cost renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuels and improved buildings.
And for economywide industrial competitiveness, we can’t afford not to speed these changes. In 2018 China added four times as much solar capacity as the United States, bolstering China’s industrial competitiveness for decades to come. And while American automakers suffer from the collateral damage of this administration’s trade war, China is expected this year to double its sale of electric cars, to two million — half of the world total, by some industry estimates.
Energy efficiency and renewables enjoy overwhelming public support because they offer so many benefits — for competitiveness and jobs, national security and community choice, health and environment, equity and innovation. If you like any of those outcomes, you can support a market-driven Green New Deal without needing to like every outcome — or agree on which outcome is most important.

PV Magazine:

Solar may become not only the cheapest energy source by 2050 but also the largest, with an impressive 68% share of global power generation, according to the Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy report presented this morning in Berlin.
The new study – by Christian Breyer, professor of solar economy at Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology, and Claudia Kemfert, head of energy, transportation and environment at the German Institute of Economic Research, written with the support of German non-profit the Energy Watch Group – describes a scenario which could solve the global climate crisis and lead to a world energy system based on renewables by 2050.
The authors of the study expect primary energy demand, including transport and desalination, to shift from being 89% fossil fuel and nuclear power based in 2015 towards an energy system in which low-cost electricity from renewables account for 90% of consumption by 2050. The report predicts high levels of electrification will improve energy savings by around 50% compared to low electrification with current practices.
The workhorse of the energy transition
As a result of massive electrification of energy and transport – and the constantly declining costs of renewable energy technologies – solar is expected to be able to meet around two-thirds of energy demand by 2050, with wind having an 18% share, followed by biomass and waste (6%), hydropower (3%) and geothermal energy (2%). That would mean renewables meeting almost all the world’s primary energy demand, up from only 22% four years ago.
In the electricity sector, PV is expected to become the largest and cheapest source, increasing its share from 32% in 2030 to 73% in 2050, with wind power seeing its stake decreasing from 43% in 2030 to 20%. The report predicts PV will reach an installed capacity of 34.8 TW worldwide by 2050, while wind will achieve 4.6 TW. “Solar PV and wind energy emerge as the new workhorses for the power and heat sectors by 2050,” the report stated.
Storage is also expected to see its share rise to almost 5 PWhel (electric petawatt-hours) by 2030 and more than 30 PWhel in 2050, with the proportion of power demand met by storage expected to rise to 18% in 2030 and 23% in 2050.

The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is expected to decline slightly from €54/MWh in 2015 to €53 by 2030. “The report confirms that a transition to 100% renewables is possible across all sectors, and is no longer more expensive than the current energy system,” said Hans-Josef Fell, former German MP and president of the Energy Watch Group, which presented the study. The LCOE of the power sector, however, is expected to decrease substantially, from around €78/MWh in 2015 to around €54 by 2050.
Jobs growth
The dominance of solar by 2050 would also result in the mass creation of new energy jobs, with around 22 million workers active in PV by the end of the first half of the century, to take the total number of employees in the global energy industry to 37 million. More than half the industry would be working in operations and maintenance.
Policy recommendations
The report’s authors have compiled a list of suggestions for policymakers to make a 100% renewable world a reality. They include: maintaining incentives for renewable energy projects up to 40 MW in capacity; holding auctions for larger projects; eliminating fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies; supporting education and R&D; and reducing administrative burdens for the development of clean energy.
100% renewables, zero CO² emissions is not a dream
The study is also said to be the first of its kind to envisage a 1.5° degrees Celsius global warming scenario with a 100% renewable energy system completely based on technologies with zero CO² emissions. “The transition in all sectors will reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector continuously, from roughly 30 GtCO²-eq [gigaton carbon equivalent] in 2015 to zero by 2050,” the report’s authors stated.

12 Responses to “A Market-Driven Green New Deal?”

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The clips themselves are comments the Fox people made about Obama, but they are so jaw-droppingly apt with respect to Trump.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Yep, but when they said them about Obama, they were Faux. Now, when applied to Trump, they are TRUTH. And the fact that they are so “jaw-droppingly apt with respect to Trump” is why I couldn’t resist posting the clip—-seeing it made my day.

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Abundant market data show that a renewably powered future would cost less than our current system. Electricity providers have gotten the memo, even if Washington hasn’t.

    Until those utilities and investroids start out-donating and out-lobbying the fossil fuel industries, Washington will continue to ignore those memos.

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    “correcting our biggest market failure by putting a price on carbon by taxing it would be “the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the necessary scale and speed,” according to a recent statement signed by more than 3,500 economists, ”

    Gosh. Economists favor an economic “solution” to what they see as an economic problem—a “market failure”. Wadda surprise. Maybe if they could stop being so personally and professionally offended by the imperfect a-capitalist inefficiency of it all, worrying that it’s keeping our dear rich people from making yet more in profit,,,they would think differently.

    We’re sorry, economists, that our dire eco-psycho-social crisis is interfering with your perfect wet dream of a theoretical model of The Free Market. It’s important to understand that a carbon price is not actually a solution like building wind turbines and shutting down fossil fuel burners is, or planting and tending forests or growing food with permaculture. It does not directly provide clean safe renewable electricity or reduce fossil fuel use. It has to gradually reach an effective level, then gradually change consumer prices, then gradually change behavior.

    There’s no time left for that.

    Republicans now in power are not interested in old-fashioned conservative fiscal responsibility or even new-fashioned small-government or business-friendly policies. They’re interested in (aka compelled to pursue) the destruction of civilization and nature. IOW they’re so full of (mostly unconscious) rage that nothing acceptable will be acceptable to them.

    They will not compromise. Any moves on their part that appear to be compromises are 1. more delaying tactics and 2. traps to wangle things they want. In their unconscious grief they’ll bargain for prices on carbon so pitifully weak (like almost all of the 40 or so carbon price laws in place or being considered) that they’ll have virtually no effect for years or decades. The things they want are immunity from prosecution for what they’ve done, and to avoid government action on…well, anything.

    So no effective carbon price will pass in the US until either climate is wrecking oil fields and it’s too late to save anything, or the left has enough power to do whatever’s needed. Once the latter happens, while a carbon price might be nice to sweep up the crumbs, solutions that are actually solutions can be implemented: a Green New Deal nationalizing the fossil fuel, agro-chemical, and banking industries; coordinating their shut-down with their replacement by efficiency, wiser lives, and clean safe renewable energy; equalizing and democratizing the US; and many other actions.

    The other solution the article proposes to go along with the conservative-friendly action is…to make the federal government bigger, which I’m sure conservatives will be happy with once it’s explained to them. And I’m sure they’ll also go happily along with what’s really needed now—not R&D nearly as much as Deployment—rapid, immediate, and massive building out of renewable and organic permaculture infrastructure.

    “Much of this value can accrue to working Americans who need it most. Nationally, the average energy burden for low-income families…”

    Whoa. Stop right there. Does anyone really think the right wing gives a mutant cockroach’s ass about poor people, their energy problems, their exposure to pollutants, or ways to fix anything that concerns them?

    IOW, everything here is meant to appeal to the left, not the right. It seems like it’s meant to convince the left that simple, easy things that are the moral equivalent of recycling, like “compromising with the lunatics on the right wing” will fix everything. Trying to bribe the right with a “market solution” which is not really that at all but just another expansion of government, is trying to fool the left, too. Little tweaks, and agreements to not notice the world is collapsing around us? When is the non-radical center-right climate milquetoast movement going to catch on to this bit of reality?

    Read David Roberts’ columns at Vox on tribal epistemology, (going back to his twitter essay time at Grist) and on carbon pricing, gaslighting, etc.

    • redskylite Says:

      Agreed economists have been trained to think and understand the world in their terms, as have other professional fields. All the facets of professionalism and humanity have a contribution to make to get us on an even keel.

      I just wish that you could think beyond Trump and the present (awful) state of the republicans. Take the blinkers off.

      I wish you could think as an Earthling, a member of a global community. We have been through Canada’s version of Trump (Harper) and down under Australia’s Trump (Abbott). They have gone and vanished into the mist’s of time (I hope), although other Trumps are lurking and dangerous. I hold the hope that the latest crop of humans are more educated and reasonable.

      All these right wing freaks are anti-globalist, they want to divide and rule. Please think global, we must at this time.

      As IBM say THINK.

      • redskylite Says:

        I love science and Penn State back me up on that . . .

        Study finds global action needed to ensure acceptable climate futures

        “Ensuring a tolerable climate future, one that reduces warming while considering the costs, requires immediate global action, according to an international team of scientists.”


        • J4Zonian Says:

          “while considering the costs”–often right wing code for “let corporations do whatever the hell they want while pretending to care about nature and civilization”. Haven’t read the study so no reason to think that’s what it means here, but it’s a warning flag.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        I don’t know what posts you’ve been reading but clearly they weren’t mine; what you’re saying has nothing to do with what I’ve said or what I believe. Besides that, most of it is bad advice and doesn’t seem to take account of other reality any more than it takes account of the reality of what I’ve said.

        The US and so-called civilization is skewed far too much toward economics and far too little toward many-faceted wise awareness of psychology and ecology. We are in fact not on an “even keel” because economics is used to justify the actions of psychotic psychopaths. Professional killers and torturers, professional neoliberal and neocon economists, and various other professions have no contributions to make to humanity, so please don’t say all do.

        You’re the only one here who even mentioned Il Ducebag der Gropenführer’s name. (4 times, btw–you a little obsessed with him, maybe?)

        Holding hope like you claim is pointless wishing. I’m working to change humanity’s chances of surviving the current crisis, maybe even with a relatively functional psyche.

        One has to be in the present to have any chance of helping with the current crisis and creating a future for humanity. Any specific way you think I’m not doing that… well, live it yourself and let us know how it goes. My eyes are on the prize, which is why I keep talking about the root cause of all our problems; without addressing them our actions to solve the current GHG crisis are much more likely to fail, and even succeeding will only lead deeper into the larger crisis.

        Maybe IBM should have say PROOFREAD.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Dammit, Jeffy You’ve made some cogent and coherent comments lately—-I even complimented you—-but this one has slipped back into the cesspool of your self-imagined skill with the English language. Many good points buried in your narcissistic, self admiring BS, but the science and logic are obscured. Why can’t you be satisfied with the occasional sarcasm, irony, and/or word play that other Crockers employ?

      If you want to massage your ego on-line with your “creative writing”, why don’t you instead enter one of the many writing contests? Here’s a site that lists 368 contests—-The Best Writing Contests of 2019 https://blog.reedsy.com/writing-contests/ Knock yourself out!

    • otter17 Says:

      ” Little tweaks, and agreements to not notice the world is collapsing around us? When is the non-radical center-right climate milquetoast movement going to catch on to this bit of reality?”

      A good question, and one that may be explained by the “authoritarian activation” concept that has gained notoriety in the Trump era (example article in link, but many results can be found via search terms). Right now, the only way to move a significant fraction of the little guys into pitching in on this problem, is if the big guy moves towards solving the problem. So, I suppose like on the schoolyard, somebody has to step forward directly confronting and stripping whatever perceived strength the bully has in the eyes of the followers. It may be as simple as just repeatedly confronting the man for an apology after one of those childish names gets thrown about… stare him down to an apology and go from there.


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