Even With a Pandemic Renewable Energy Grows Stronger

The renewable energy sector has experienced its worst year in decades due to the pandemic, but new sources for producing electricity have managed to grow, the International Energy Agency said.

Consumption of power generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources will increase almost 7 percent in 2020, a remarkable leap because overall energy requirement will slump by 5%, the steepest fall since World War II, the Paris-based forecasting group asserted in a new report.  This performance indicates that these renewable sources of energy are resistant to Covid.

Actually, renewables will likely expand by almost 50 percent by 2025, the year when, collectively, they’re expected to eclipse coal as the world’s most significant source of electrical power.

According to the report, renewable electricity is growing due to government policies that promote such investments and strong interest among investors who wish to invest in clean energy jobs.

This year the world is expected to add almost 4 percent to its ability to create electricity from renewables like solar and wind, despite traveling limitations, factory closings, and other obstacles resulting from the pandemic.

Next year, growth is forecast to accelerate to approximately 10 percent. That’s because projects disrupted by the pandemic will come online and because governments in Europe and Asia are keen to ramp up spending to tackle climate change and to help kick-start their markets.

Mr. Birol declared a return to the Paris accord on climate change by America, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has vowed, could give “unprecedented positive momentum in the battle against climate change.”

In an indication of this new energy landscape that’s taking shape, the London-based petroleum giant BP said it had reached a preliminary agreement with Orsted, a Danish company that’s the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms, to create a large pilot plant for producing emissions-free hydrogen.

Hydrogen, a gas, is getting enormous attention as a possible clean fuel for transport and industry. In a refinery at Lingen, the proposed plant in northwestern Germany would use power by an Orsted wind farm in the North Sea to produce the gas. The refinery, such as other industrial installations, creates the hydrogen consumed in the center from natural gas.

The companies assert their plant could replace 20 percent of the refinery’s ingestion of the so-called grey or polluting hydrogen, reducing emissions annually by the equivalent of about 45,000 cars. The firms have applied for funding from the European Union.

The deal is interesting because it involves one of the world’s largest clean energy suppliers and an oil giant that produces countless barrels of polluting gas and oil daily. Orsted is scouting for new applications for the electrical power generated in its many large wind farms in the waters off northern Europe.

Under Bernard Looney, the new chief executive this year, BP expects to show investors that the company has a future as a wider energy provider. It is on the correct side of what might prove to be historical trends away from fossil fuels.

Certainly, throughout the pandemic, investors have proved eager to back clean energy while scorning heritage gas and oil production. Since the early days of the pandemic, stocks of “major solar and wind farms have rebounded, reaching all-time highs,” the International Energy Agency report stated. Strong share cost performance can make it cheaper to fund expensive renewable energy jobs, the report stated.

Biden Pledges Ambitious Climate Action. Here Is What He Can Actually Do.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s $2 trillion strategies to fight global warming is the most ambitious climate policy suggested by a leading presidential aspirant, a political lightning rod highlighted on Thursday night once the Democratic nominee acknowledged through a discussion that it would “transition” the nation” from the petroleum market.”

But no one understands better than Mr. Biden, the former vice president, it almost surely won’t be enacted, even though his party acquires the Senate and the White House. Thirty-six years in the Senate and the searing experience of observing the Obama government’s less ambitious climate plan die a decade ago have made him learn the art of the possible.

Still, President Biden could have a real effect: wind turbines and solar panels spread throughout the nation’s hills and prairies, electric charging stations almost as ubiquitous as gasoline stations, and a slow reduction in the country’s planet-warming greenhouse pollution.

“The oil industry pollutes greatly,” Mr. Biden said in the last presidential debate, adding, “it needs to be supplanted by renewable energy with time.”

Mr. Biden advisers insist that climate change isn’t just a political slogan. And on Capitol Hill, his group is already strategizing with Democratic leaders on how they could really turn some of these proposals into legislation.

“There are three things we need to do — economic equality, climate, and democracy,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, who would become the vast majority leader if his party wins control of the Senate. “All three are vital, and climate isn’t likely to be the caboose.”

President-elect Mr. Biden has won and he’ll encounter a problem he knows well — so much to do and so little time. As a recently introduced vice president, he and Mr. Obama dove first to pass an economic recovery bill in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, then concentrated on the Affordable Care Act. At the time Congress prompted to climate change, the political capital of the White House was consumed.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2010 urged the House to pass complex legislation to cap carbon emissions, but that “cap and trade” bill never came to a vote in the Senate. Its passage from the House helped to sweep Democrats from electricity months later.

“The significant factor in not getting climate change done in 2010 was healthcare,” stated Phil Schiliro, who had been Mr. Obama’s liaison to Congress at the moment. “And this could happen again, together with the other things which need to come first. The coronavirus is such a big wild card.”

President-elect Biden got the White House, but if Republicans maintain Senate control, Mr. Biden’s highest climate commitments will definitely die.

In that situation, “All Biden can attempt to do is cobbled back together with the Obama environmental scheme,” said Douglas Brinkley, a historian who specializes in presidents’ ecological legacies. That would include, he said, rejoining the global Paris accords — the agreement between countries to fight climate change, which President Trump is removing — and reinstates Obama-era climate regulations. With a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, that could be prevented.

Yet even a small Democratic majority in the Senate would leave a President Biden with options. And this time, Mr. Biden wants to do it otherwise, perhaps not with a standalone climate bill but by tucking climate steps into wider, popular law to separate them from partisan attack.

Democrats’ initial approach would probably come in an economic recovery scheme. The 787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted in 2009, which Mr. Biden was liable for placing in effect, added around $90 billion in clean energy infrastructure investment.

With Congress disputing over a coronavirus relief bill estimated in trillions of dollars, that $90 billion total is “likely to seem very simple,” said Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts. “It is going to be a big, big, big number that goes in that stimulus bill.”

An infrastructure bill, long-promised by President Trump, could follow and include a speech from Mr. Biden’s climate strategy to promote the construction of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and construct 1.5 million new energy-efficient houses. Additionally, it is anticipated that a Biden White House would force aggressively for provisions to promote high-speed rail and trains.

“I will fight for a bold, big climate package, ” Mr. Schumer stated,” and as a leader, will be focused on constructing a climate package that satisfies the scale and the scope of the issue.”

Suppose those spending proposals can’t secure enough Republican support to conquer a filibuster. In that case, Mr. Schumer intends to use a budgetary procedure, known as reconciliation, to muscle through climate spending and taxation policy. George W. Bush and Trump used the agreement to pass their huge tax cuts, and Mr. Obama passed a part of the Affordable Care Act with the rule.

Over a year past, Mr. Schumer assigned Democrats on the Senate committees accountable for climate policy to start crafting a climate-related tax bill that could be packaged into a larger budget bill. Such policies may include extending tax credits for solar and wind power or raising royalties for oil and gas drilling on public lands. They might possibly contain a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. However, the passage of such a step would disrupt Mr. Biden’s pledge to not raise taxes on families with income under $400,000.

“Nothing is off the table,” Mr. Schumer stated.

Several Republicans are anticipated to thwart those efforts, countering that they might damage the market. Still, some gas-and-coal-state Democrats who refused at Mr. Obama’s cap-and-trade bill say they’ve shifted over the past decade since the politics and reality of climate change have grown more urgent.

“What’s changed is that it has become worse,” stated Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat, who stated in 2010 he feared Mr. Obama’s bill would damage his nation’s agriculture and coal businesses.

“We’re thought to get our first frost tonight — in October, a month late,” Mr. Tester told, speaking by phone from his farm at Big Sandy, Mont.”You really need to have your head buried in the sand to not see we have got an issue.”

Senator Bob Casey, a Catholic and Democrat of Pennsylvania, said his thinking was formed in part by Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, which needs transformational change to prevent environmental degradation and climate change.

“We can’t wait 10 more years,” he added. “I don’t believe we can wait for five years.”

Other coal-state democrats aren’t there. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who took a replica of Mr. Obama’s climate bill in a campaign advertisement in 2010 and re-upped it in 2018, will play an integral role in virtually any climate debate, especially if he becomes chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

I share Biden’s concern for handling climate change; Mr. Manchin addressed in an email, though he added that major policy changes wouldn’t be accepted at face value. “The devil is in the details,” he explained.

With so much legislative knowledge, Mr. Biden knows what he’d be up against, but few would count him out.

“Throughout his career, Joe Biden has proved that he can bring people unitedly to pass stricter laws,” stated Matt Hill, a spokesman for Mr. Biden.

Michael McKenna, who worked as a liaison to Congress for President Trump, compared a possible Biden government to Bill Clinton’s negotiating team.

“They would say, ‘Here is what we can do,’ and then you start searching for the Venn diagram of what you can do and what they wanted,” said Mr. McKenna, a veteran energy lobbyist.

But beyond investment and taxation, real policy changes can’t pass through reconciliation under Senate rules. They’ll require 60 votes and Republican support. One policy goal is a”clean energy standard” — a law mandating a quick transition to Zero-carbon electricity generation from wind, hydro, solar, and nuclear energy. That goes a long way toward ensuring that Mr. Biden matches his campaign pledge of removing planet-warming pollution from the power sector by 2035.

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