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Posts from the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

What Value Should We Place on Our Future?

Courtesy of the Old Marlovian

Courtesy of the Old Marlovian

By: Alexandra Czastkiewicz

October 2013

The social cost of carbon might not be a conversation that comes up at the dinner table, but realize it or not the implications of global climate change are far reaching and daunting. How important is the fate of the future generation? When your children grow up, what kind of world do you want them to experience? Putting a numeric value on the future is difficult, but it must be done if we are to change the direction of our energy future, and introduce cleaner energy technologies that produce less harmful pollution and emissions.

Coal is perceived as a more economic energy source then many renewable technologies. The Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences recently published an article about the implications of modernizing our electricity systems. The US government needs an official cost estimate associated with the production of CO2 from fossil fuels. According to report, without counting pollution and carbon emissions, coal, on average, costs 3.0 cents/kWh versus wind energy (8.0 cents/kWh) or photovoltaics (13.3 cents/kWh) (Johnson et al. 2013). The government is now trying to take into account the environmental costs of using fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas. This includes adding a cost of potential damages caused by the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. These potential and already realized costs include damages and deaths incurred from drought, floods, heat waves, hurricanes and other natural phenomenon that have been exacerbated given human induced climate change. Additionally, the social cost of carbon has serious public safety and health implications. Increased pollution has led to increases in asthma, water contamination, and rises in climate sensitive diseases. Every day our health and wellbeing are being compromised and if we do not change our current energy practices, and it will only continue to worsen for our futures. Read more

The Road to 100 Percent Renewables is Closer than you Think

Photo by Ben Bocko of solar panels and an American flag on top of the governor's office in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by Ben Bocko – Governor’s Office in Boston, Massachusetts

By: Stephanie Borsum, September 2013

Conventional ways of thinking of renewable energy as too expensive or unreliable are old and outdated, according to Renewables 100, a nonprofit organization founded to study and advance the global transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future. This organization firmly believes that, “it is not a question of ‘if’ the 100% renewable energy future will become a reality; it is solely a question of ‘when’ and ‘how’.” Renewables 100 was the first to host an international conference in the United States that focused on 100 percent renewable energy targets and solutions. The Pathways to 100 Percent Renewable Energy Conference was held on April 16, 2013 in San Francisco and intended on providing the public with knowledge of renewable energies along with hope for a completely sustainable future.

At the conference there were various esteemed and influential speakers who discussed global warming, climate change, technology, policy and economics in relation to renewable energy systems. These speakers all put forth the compelling claim that entire towns, cities and countries could, and eventually will be, powered and run completely on renewable energies. They also helped to prove, by citing a number of recent authoritative energy studies, that the shift away from fossil fuels is technically and economically viable in today’s world.  With current technologies, including photovoltaic solar panels, wind turbines, biomass and hydropower, enough energy security can be provided to supply societies demands and more. These speakers have helped create a vision for the potential of renewable resources and illustrated it becoming a reality. Their research and presentations helped to educate the public and overcome some barriers found when transitioning to a renewable system.

Since the conference, 8 Countries, 41 cities, 48 regions, 8 utilities, and 21 NonProfit, educational and public institutions committed to shifting to 100% renewable energy within the next few decades. Read more

Colorado at the Forefront of Renewables

JanieHernandez

Photo by Janie Hernandez

On June 6th, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 13-252, making it a day to be celebrated by all who are interested in furthering renewable energy sources in Colorado. As stated in the article by EcoWatch, the new bill will increase “Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard for co-operative associations that provide wholesale electricity in the state, and for large electric associations that provide service to at least 100,000 customers. The bill doubles the amount of renewable energy these utilities must provide to 20 percent (from 10 percent) by 2020, while capping cost increases at two percent.” Bill 252 will not only add renewable energy to the grid, but it will increase the number of jobs and renewable energy projects in rural Colorado, as well as lead to clean, renewable energy investments.

Xcel Energy is also realizing the benefit of investing in renewable energy sources, and not just because of the bill. As of February 2013, Xcel proposed to add 550 Megawatts of wind energy to the grid, primarily because of the cost savings. According to an article in the Denver Post, “Xcel’s average purchase cost for wind since 2007 has been $42.16 a megawatt-hour,” while “the cost of electricity from a new conventional combined-cycle natural-gas plant is about $68.60 a megawatt-hour.” Based on these numbers, Xcel will be saving $26.42 per megawatt-hour by using wind power instead.