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The Ocean Cleanup develops technologies to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution. The Ocean Cleanup’s goal is to fuel the world’s fight against oceanic plastic pollution, by initiating the largest cleanup in history.
Article | April 8, 2020
Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft — the five companies that arguably make up “big tech” — say they are either already powered by 100% renewable energy or are close to getting there. Together these companies own and operate more than a hundred data centers (each the size of multiple football fields), close to a thousand offices, and countless other buildings, making them some of the most power-hungry companies in the world. Given this, running on 100% renewable energy is a significant achievement. But there are plenty of critics who argue that these claims are misleading. Some say carbon offsets might do more to assuage guilt than they do to help the environment. To understand where these arguments come from, let’s start with the basics.
The U.S. renewables industry was left out of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill passed last week, but the battle is far from over. Congress is already considering further legislation to rescue the economy from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and renewable energy groups are ready to bring their proposals back to the table. As with the last stimulus bill, the industry's plans center on securing changes to two federal policies: the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power. Renewables groups have a powerful claim to make as they push for those changes: Unlike many of the industries seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in collective aid, the desired tweaks to the renewable tax credits would not add significantly to the federal government's costs.
Across our country, there is an increased focus on renewable energy sources to combat the extreme impacts of climate change, and address the problems caused by a growing demand for power from an aging grid. While significant progress has been made through federal and state incentive programs that have helped drive down the costs of deployment, there is still so much to be done to chart a path toward a clean energy future. Accelerating development of solar and wind projects is a key to achieving renewables goals, but this is not enough. Storage solutions must be integrated to ensure renewable projects can deliver power when and where individuals and businesses need it, and minimize, or even eliminate, reliance on fossil fuels.
The effect that fossil fuels are having on the climate emergency is driving an international push to use low-carbon sources of energy. At the moment, the best options for producing low-carbon energy on a large scale are wind and solar power. But despite improvements over the last few years to both their performance and cost, a significant problem remains: the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. A power grid that relies on these fluctuating sources struggles to constantly match supply and demand, and so renewable energy sometimes goes to waste because it’s not produced when needed.
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