By George Harvey
In the April edition of Green Energy Times, we had an article, “This Is Not a Tragedy – It’s the First Act of a Comedy.” Now, it looks like the second act has started. More than once in the same week, as I worked on finding news items, I broke out laughing.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry wants to subsidize coal-burning and nuclear power plants. The funny part came soon after he announced his plan, when utilities stepped up to say they were closing down coal-burning plants anyway. The Guardian ran an article, “The War on Coal is Over. Coal Lost.”
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Clean Power Plan is being scrapped. The next thing a variety of utilities announced that they would continue to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewables regardless of Pruitt’s announcement. Among them were utilities in Arizona and Texas, where the Clean Power Plan would require the greatest changes.
Pruitt also called for subsidies for renewable power to be abandoned, in keeping with the conservative mantra, “Let the market decide.” Meanwhile, the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association has taken up that same mantra, because the market is moving strongly toward wind power and away from fossil fuels and nuclear power.
The fall in the costs of solar panels and wind turbines are not the only problems the fossil fuels industry faces. Electric cars and storage batteries are others. In fact, Royal Dutch Shell has indicated that it will sell all its gas stations in Italy because cars will be electric.
The disruption has begun, opening the comedy’s second act. My guess is that in the next act, some of the mighty will fall, much to the amusement of the spectators.
More News Items:
Extreme weather worsened by climate change and the health impacts of burning fossil fuels have cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion per year over the past ten years, according to a report Universal Ecological Fund. The report does not factor in this year’s record breaking hurricanes, scores of wildfires in Western states, and losses to our wheat crops due to drought, which are estimated to cost over $300 billion in total.
The US DOE has offered conditional loan guarantees worth $3.7 billion to help save efforts to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia. This brings the total federal backing for the project, which is behind schedule as well as over-budget, to $12 billion. This comes from a department whose leadership has called for elimination for subsidies for renewable energy.
A new report from the International Energy Agency said solar energy was the fastest-growing source of electric power in the world last year. It spoke of the “birth of a new era” for the renewable energy sector. Last year solar energy grew at a pace faster than wind power, natural gas, or coal.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis released a report documenting the disruption of the electricity markets by renewables, which it says is increasingly obvious. It says the price of electric power from renewable resources is a key driver of this change, and it gives eleven case studies revealing the trend.
On the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi, forty Catholic institutions announced that they were divesting themselves of ownership in the fossil fuel industry and its ancillaries. The total value of the divestments was not disclosed, but it is thought to be in the neighborhood of $5.5 trillion.