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Beyond the Tipping Point


April 25, 2013 - In the world as we presently know it, the truth seems to sneak up on us.  Media of every description trumpet their version of reality, and after hearing it long enough and often enough, it becomes as familiar as an old sweater.   Yes, there’s a niggling at the back of the brain that asks “But what about A, B, or C?”  That question, along with so many others, never gets asked – or answered – in the media, and that is supposed to help us forget our doubts.  Time passes, doubts fade away to nothing, then all of a sudden – there it is!  THAT’S what we thought all long.   The truth has snuck up on us once again.
Such, I would contend, is the case with the story of renewable energy.  HA! says the fossil fuel industry.  They can never catch up with us.  We have all those lovely government subsidies, people love to drive all those gas-guzzling cars, we are the most profitable business in the world.  Consumers don’t care about breathing clean air, they care about ease and convenience.  So they say, so say the media.   As the old paradigm dies its slow, two-steps-forward-one-step-back death, it can be hard to tell who is headed for the exit.  Rest assured, nevertheless: it ain’t renewable energy.

At least, not according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report just issued.  Analysts at BNEF integrated economic prosperity, demand growth, technology cost evolution, expected climate policies, and fossil fuel market trends in order to come up with their projections.  This Global Energy and Emissions Model, based on the preceding criteria, tells us that wind and solar will dominate renewables, with 30% and 24% of the power capacity added between 2012 and 2030, respectively.  Seventy percent of all new power generation, 2012 – 2030, will come from clean technologies.  Renewable, sustainable energy will account for 37% of total energy output in 2030.  Remember, this is a global projection.
Remember, too, that clean, green technology is dropping rapidly in price.  Energy demand in the United States is in decline.  China, of course, is the real story.  If renewables can hold the line on cost, and if Chinese leaders continue to heed the protests of the Chinese people, all of whom are disgusted by the dirty air they breathe, they may well embrace renewable technology.  According to Michael Liebreich, CEO of BNEF, “What [the report] suggests is that we are beyond the tipping point towards a cleaner energy future.”

If that’s not enough to make you exclaim “Amen, brother!” then try this on for size:  Walmart’s newest energy policy requires them to make or obtain 7 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy globally by the end of the decade.  This amounts to a 600 percent increase over 2010 usage.  At the same time, Walmart will cut their energy consumption by reducing power usage per square foot by 20 percent in their stores and warehouses.  Considering that the retail behemoth operates 10,500 stores in 27 countries, a concerted effort should make these goals realizable.
Finally, let’s hear it for North Carolina.  Though the chairman of the General Assembly’s House Committee on the Environment is a member of ALEC and proposed that organization’s model bill for repealing state clean energy standards to his committee, it was defeated in committee by an 18-13 vote.  Perhaps committee members are aware that clean energy generates $3.7 billion in annual gross revenue for North Carolina.  Perhaps they know that 108,000 North Carolinians work in the clean energy sector.  Maybe they’re proud of the fact that North Carolina ranks 5th in the nation for solar energy production.  Way to go, environmental committee members – you did the right thing on behalf of your constituents.

 

With thanks to Climatewire, Climatedesk, and Climateprogress.

 

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