Sustainability

Renewable energy in the US surpassed coal for first time in more than a century

The coal era is officially over in the United States. Not since 1885, when coal replaced wood, have renewables taken the lead.

Record low solar PPAs in the Southwest mean ‘carbon capture is not going to save coal plants’

Recently approved solar PPAs could spell trouble for proponents of retrofitting the state’s San Juan Generating Station to capture the coal-fired plant’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Solar panel recycling: Turning ticking time bombs into opportunities

With the average lifespan of a solar panel at roughly 20 years, installations from the early 2000s are set to reach end-of-life. Will they end up in landfill or be recycled? The cost of recycling is higher than landfill, and the value of recovered materials is smaller than the original, so there’s limited interest in recycling. But given the presence of heavy metals, if waste is managed poorly, we’re on track for another recycling crisis.

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It may be safe to put PV panels in landfills, but that doesn’t mean we should

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), health risks from lead in crystalline silicon PV panels are one order of magnitude — or about one-tenth — below the risk levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Replacing peakers with storage to achieve the greatest health benefit

Regulators and community groups can use a new interactive resource to see the emissions impacts of existing and proposed peaker units. Storage developers may also find the tool helpful, to identify peakers likely to be replaced.

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Morning Brief: 5 experts predict the future of renewable energy, PG&E has procured more than 1 GW of storage

Also in the brief: Amazon has announced its first solar energy facility in China, the Borough of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and Sun Tribe have agreed to a PPA, Michael Moore has given climate deniers a platform and more.

Overbuilding solar at up to 4 times peak load yields a least-cost all-renewables grid

The global energy firm Wartsila found a least-cost renewables mix for the U.S. that involves overbuilding renewable capacity, but requires no seasonal storage, and needs only four to ten days of multi-day storage capacity. The analysis modeled meeting current uses of electricity, based on projected technology costs for 2030.

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1 MW battery system meets the challenge of supplying power to a remote Alaskan community

Cordova, Alaska, a small fishing community in a remote part of Prince William Sound, has been able to find long periods of fossil fuel independence thanks to a new battery system developed by Saft.

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Pollinator-friendly solar: a feel-good way to make projects cleaner and greener  

Opposition to solar project siting can be turned into broad support by designing projects with “pollinator-friendly” landscaping — a trend gaining momentum across the country.

Duke doubles renewable goals while staying committed to fossils

The utility giant now owns or purchases 8,000 MW of renewable generation, with plans to double that mark by 2025. However, while the company eyes zero-carbon electricity by 2050, it maintains that natural gas will remain a crucial source to achieve this goal.

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