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A generation of Germans picked up the renewable torch that President Reagan tossed aside. The renewable energy revolution didn't end; it moved overseas.
"Can the American renewable energy revolution be restarted? William Reilly, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the George H.W. Bush administration, thinks so. "We're going to get there, one way or another," he told me during a 2009 interview about his solar-powered home.
Indeed, optimists look at recent energy figures and see evidence that a seismic shift has already begun. Since Reilly and I talked, 3,700 megawatts of solar power have been installed in the United States—nearly twice the amount that existed in 2009. More wind power (4,728 megawatts) was added to the U.S. electrical grid in the first three quarters of 2012 than the total generating capacity from wind just a decade ago (4687 megawatts). All told, over the last four years the percentage of our electricity generated by renewables (not including hydroelectric) has doubled.
Still, energy expert John Farrell warns that it's too early to celebrate an America renewable energy renaissance along the lines of Germany's Energiewende."The U.S. electric grid is poised for a transformation," Farrell, a senior researcher with the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, told me, "but we're not there yet."
Via Arno Neumann
This voter guide outlines the records and positions of President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney on key climate and energy issues. A side-by-side summary at the top links to more details below.
The nonpartisan guide is based on an examination of the candidates' actions in office, public statements, campaign materials, news reports, and other publications. It is offered to inform the electorate and contribute to public debate about the nation's pressing climate and energy issues. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) does not endorse candidates.
C2ES is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Via M. Laederich, Stephane Bilodeau
New research published in Energy Policy (see footnote) suggests that electric-vehicle proponents and policymakers have missed the mark when it comes to targeting mainstream consumers, arguing that electric-vehicle tax incentives for mainstream buyers are “wasteful, inefficient and ineffective.” http://bit.ly/1m6vLkM
Via The Daily Fusion
Examining the network of power plants, transmission wires, and pipelines gives new insights into the inner workings of the electrical grid.
Every time you switch on a light, charge your electronics or heat your home in the winter, you’re relying upon a tremendous network of energy infrastructure that literally stretches across the country: power plants, pipelines, transmission wires and storage facilities.
It can be hard to visualize all this infrastructure and understand how it makes abundant energy available throughout the country. To help see a bigger picture, a new map, just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, combines a range of data (locations of power plants, electricity lines, natural gas pipelines, refineries, storage facilities and more) into an elegant, interactive interface that helps to piece how it all fits together. You can also zoom in on your own city to see the types of power plants generating electricity nearby.
The map also includes layers of real-time information on storm movement and risks, allowing energy analysts to better understand the potential impact of storms.
Via Lauren Moss
A large share of total U.S. energy consumption—40 percent—occurs in homes and buildings. Homes and buildings are less energy efficient than they would be if people could assess the value of energy savings more easily and correctly, and if energy prices provided them with stronger incentives to do so. This paper identifies three reasons why people undervalue energy savings: misperceived energy prices, imperfect information about energy efficiency, and biased reasoning about energy savings. The paper then examines four types of policy options for addressing those underlying market imperfections: prices that reflect the social costs of energy use, financial incentives, energy-efficiency standards, and better information about energy efficiency.
Via Hans De Keulenaer