Biden’s clean electricity program is likely to be scrapped because of opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, who has made millions off the fossil-fuel industry, reports say

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Feb. 24, 2021.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin could block a key aspect of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
  • Biden staffers are removing a clean electricity program from a bill because of Manchin, reports say.
  • Manchin, who represents West Virginia, has close ties to the fossil fuel industry.

President Joe Biden’s clean electricity program will likely be scrapped from the Democrat’s reconciliation bill because of Sen. Joe Manchin, according to reports from The New York Times and CNN published Friday.

Three sources told The Times that Biden staffers are removing the program from the legislation after the Democratic senator told the White House he strongly opposed it. The program would have encouraged oil- and gas-fired power plants to transition to renewables like wind, solar, and nuclear.

Manchin, who represents the coal state of West Virginia, has made millions off the fossil fuel industry.

He owns a $5 million stake in Enersystems, a private coal brokerage he founded in 1988 that is now run by his son, The Guardian reported earlier this year. Manchin raked in $500,000 from the company in 2020 alone. According to Senate disclosure forms, he has made more than $5 million in dividends from 2011 to 2020, Salon reported.

Manchin has also received nearly $65,000 in campaign funding from political action committees and lobbyists associated with oil and gas giant Exxon.

The clean electricity program in the reconciliation bill amounted to $150 billion, according to The Times, and would provide benefits to power companies that replaced fossil fuels with renewable energy. It would also penalize companies that didn’t make the switch.

Leah Stokes, a climate policy expert advising Senate Democrats, told the outlet the program is “the most important climate policy in the package.”

“We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad,” she said.

In a statement to The Times, a Manchin spokesperson said: “Senator Manchin has clearly expressed his concerns about using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do things they’re already doing. He continues to support efforts to combat climate change while protecting American energy independence and ensuring our energy reliability.”

One Democratic aide told CNN that they are working on tweaking the program to satisfy Manchin, but that they do not believe whatever they end up with in the bill will resemble the originally proposed program.

The social spending bill, which Democrats are trying to pass through reconciliation without any Republican support, would need the support of every Democrat in the Senate.

Biden said on Friday that Congressional Democrats will not get the $3.5 trillion social spending bill they had hoped for, adding that the bill would need to be cut in order to pass.

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Volatile energy markets are here to stay if investment in sustainable power fails to keep up with energy demand, IEA warns

Solar installer working
Solar panels.

  • Recent volatility in energy prices could become the norm if investments in renewable sources aren’t enough to meet demand, the IEA warned.
  • “We are not investing enough to meet future energy needs, and the uncertainties are setting the stage for a volatile period ahead,” the agency said.
  • More investments in renewable energy are necessary to reduce carbon emissions and to prevent an economic shock from a surge in oil prices, the IEA said.
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A surge in energy prices in Europe and Asia due to an ongoing supply crunch could become the norm if investments in renewable sources aren’t accelerated, the International Energy Agency warned in its annual outlook report.

The watchdog group said that while demand for energy continues to surge as global population growth continues and millions of people are lifted out of poverty every year, it will be essential for supply to play catch-up to avoid an ongoing surge in oil, coal, and natural gas prices.

“We are not investing enough to meet future energy needs, and the uncertainties are setting the stage for a volatile period ahead,” the IEA said.

A lack of investment in renewable energy sources like solar and wind could be a lose-lose situation for the global population, as it would lead to a continued rise in carbon emissions and could also contribute to an economic shock if energy prices stay elevated.

To achieve the goal of transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050, the energy grid needs to play a delicate balancing act in matching supply with demand when transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward less carbon-heavy alternatives.

“If the supply side moves away from oil or gas before the world’s consumers do, then the world could face periods of market tightness and volatility. Alternatively, if companies misread the speed of change and over-invest, then these assets risk under-performing or becoming stranded,” the IEA report said.

The world is grappling with that imbalance after coming out of the pandemic, as demand was underestimated and energy suppliers are struggling to catch up. Oil prices are up 60% year-to-date, and US natural gas prices have more than doubled.

To meet the expected surge in energy demand and at the same time reach a net-zero emission goal by 2050, the IEA forecasts that $4 trillion in annual spending on renewable energy will be needed by 2030. Much of that funding must come from the private sector, but leadership is required.

“Clear signals and direction from policy makers are essential. If the road ahead is paved only with good intentions, then it will be a bumpy ride indeed,” the IEA report said.

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How do we solve climate change? Abolish fossil fuels

giant green head blowing out smoke stacks against a red sky
Fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal contribute tremendously to the climate crisis.

  • Our climate change goals are way too small for the severity of the crisis.
  • Calling for the complete end of fossil fuel extraction is the only way forward.
  • Other movements have proven that bold calls for abolition can radically change politics.
  • P.E. Moskowitz is an author, runs Mental Hellth, a newsletter about capitalism and psychology, and is a contributing opinion writer for Insider.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As Joe Biden campaigned for president in 2020, he outlined an environmental agenda that included achieving 100% clean energy in the US by 2050. The goal was ambitious, but details were scant on how to get it done. How, for example, would Biden meet the target while simultaneously promising to not ban fracking, an extractive process that contributes tremendously to the climate crisis?

More recently, Biden pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030. But again, details on how to actually achieve this goal were sparse. Hobbling the administration’s chances even further is the fact that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a pro-oil politician who directly profits from the industry, will craft a large part of the party’s climate change policy.

And while the president tours global-warming ravaged communities, his administration has nonetheless opened up 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil leasing, leading to lawsuits from environmental groups.

Even the ambitious climate goals laid out by politicians in campaign promises fall far short of what’s needed to stop the climate crisis.

Though Biden and the Democrats can be blamed for their conflicting and inconsistent priorities, the base of the issue lies not with politicians, but with those of us who care about combating global warming. If Biden represents the most ambitious mainstream climate plan to date, that means we have not been ambitious enough in what we demand of our politics. We can no longer ask for abstract goals, or rely on the slow machine of electoralism. We must demand radical action – the complete abolition of the oil and gas industry.

We need a big, concrete goal

We already know that the time for action on climate is past-due. Even if we stopped all oil and gas production today, it’d be too late to arrest many of the effects of climate change. The desire to do something about climate change is there – public concern about climate change has grown steadily over the last few years, and the majority of people in most developed countries say they’d be willing to take action to prevent climate change.

Yet the demands we make of our politicians are milquetoast. Climate was not a central feature of the 2020 presidential debates, and the broadcast media barely covers climate at all, meaning our politicians are rarely pressured to take the drastic measures necessary to tackle the crisis.

And that’s because Americans don’t have a concrete goal for how to tackle climate change – we get lost in the morass of individual action (reduce, reuse, recycle), or in the technocratic, long-term goals of politicians. Only when the mainstream public has a real target to strive for will we be able to make actual progress on climate change. We need to call for the complete abolition of extractive industries.

There is no moderate solution to a global crisis. Fossil fuel combustion accounts for the vast majority of US carbon dioxide emissions. Eliminating these emissions by replacing our power grid with 100% clean energy is feasible and would work to get us to net zero, but right now it’s not politically palatable, largely because politicians are bankrolled by the corporations threatened by green energy. We often talk about global warming as if it’s an abstract concept that’s too complex to solve, when in reality its cause is relatively simple: Oil and gas companies are largely to blame, and stopping them will largely stop the problem.

But as long as there’s a profit incentive to keep extracting oil and gas, there will be no reason for oil and gas companies to stop. So we must eliminate the ability of oil and gas companies to profit from extraction, whether through laws that make the process illegal, or through massive protests that make the daily functions of oil and gas companies untenable.

This might seem like a lofty goal considering the bleak political moment we live in, but by drawing this line in the sand, we can then effectively evaluate whether politicians are moving toward that goal or not, and can develop a clearer sense of what actions need to be taken to meet that goal.

As Naomi Klein writes in “This Changes Everything,” politicians almost never declare an issue a crisis worth taking drastic action on until people force them to.

“Slavery wasn’t a crisis for British and American elites until abolitionism turned it into one,” Klein writes. “Racial discrimination wasn’t a crisis until the civil rights movement turned it into one … if enough of us stop looking away and decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one, and the political class will have to respond.”

Shifting the Overton window

Having a concrete goal (stopping the worst effects of climate change) with a concrete target (stopping oil and gas extraction) is the only way to move a pro-environment agenda forward.

As of now, there is no mainstream coherent objective when it comes to climate beyond “do something about it.” Contrast that with other successful political movements: Occupy Wall Street fought not for incremental change, but against the actions of specific banks and for the end of economic inequality. During the uprisings over police killings of people of color in the past year, activists fought not for an abstract idea of reform, but the complete abolition (or at least defunding) of the police. Socialist activists who supported Bernie Sanders in 2020 fought not to “do something” about healthcare, but for an actual policy proposal – Medicare for All.

Though all of these movements met setbacks and were repressed by the state, they undoubtedly shifted the Overton window of our politics so that once seemingly impossible ideas are now part of everyday political dialogue. Dramatic restructuring of police departments, vast economic change and free healthcare – ideas that just a few decades ago were barely even part of mainstream discourse – are now discussed as realistic goals. This push creates a positive cycle of change: The discourse shifts, lofty goals then seem feasible, and that allows people to push for more change – more people show up at pipeline protests, more people support movements against police brutality, more people pressure politicians into action – which then further shifts the discourse.

We can now see the same thing happening with the climate crisis: Even major publications are platforming what once seemed like radical solutions to stopping oil and gas production and consumption.

There are already many groups who have gotten the memo to push for massive, systemic change on climate. Students have forced over 100 colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuel corporations. Indigenous rights movements blocked 1.6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from being released through protest campaigns, pipeline blockades and other actions, equivalent to 25% of the emissions of the US and Canada each year.

But these movements, as powerful as they are, still remain on the fringe of the fight against climate change. As Klein points out, mainstream environmental organizations push for incremental change, while people thirst for something more radical.

We cannot end climate change without ending the extraction of fossil fuels. But if we keep considering that an unrealistic proposition, we’re doomed to use up massive amounts of people’s energy to push for small reforms, a cycle that creates cynicism and defeatism.

It’s a tall order to abolish all fossil fuel extraction, but the first step is simply naming it as a goal.

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Elon Musk says he’s ‘pro-nuclear’ power and is ‘surprised by some of the public sentiment’ against it

Tesla CEO Elon Musk with a hardhat.JPG
Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Germany.

  • Elon Musk said he’s a proponent of nuclear power and is “surprised” by public backlash against it.
  • Musk opposes building new nuclear power plants, but said safe ones should keep operating.
  • Musk cited Germany’s denuclearization effort, which caused a rise in dirtier coal plants.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday he’s a proponent of nuclear power and that he’s “surprised by some of the public sentiment against nuclear.”

“I’m not saying we should go build a whole bunch of nuclear plants, but I don’t think we should shut down ones that are operating safely,” Musk said at the Code Conference in Los Angeles.

Musk pointed to Germany’s push to decommission its nuclear power plants, which he said forced the country to rely more heavily on coal-fired power plants. Research published last year showed Germany’s coal plants ultimately led to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions and increased pollution that likely killed an additional 1,100 people.

“I don’t think that was the right decision,” Musk said of Germany’s approach.

Musk’s comments came in response to a question about rising energy demands that may come with a shift to electric vehicles. Despite his support for nuclear power, Musk said meeting this increased demand will depend on “large sustainable power generation developments, primarily wind and solar.”

While utilities will need to boost their production capacity, they can only do so much because power lines also have a limited capacity to distribute electricity to homes and businesses, he added.

“This is why I think it’s actually very important that a necessary part of the solution is local power generation,” Musk said, referencing Tesla Energy’s solar roof and battery products.

However, customers have complained about the expensive solar panels and nightmarish customer service, suggesting Tesla’s solution to the problem still has a long way to go.

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Legendary gas trader says Europe’s energy crisis could spread to the US if it ditches fossil fuels too fast

natural gas
Europe’s energy crisis holds lessons for the US, John Arnold said.

  • Europe’s energy crisis holds a warning for the US, former Enron natural gas trader John Arnold said.
  • Moving away from oil and gas too quickly could cause energy price spikes, the Centaurus Capital founder argued.
  • The billionaire said it would risk a voter backlash to decarbonization, vital to tackling climate change.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A billionaire former natural-gas trader said the US could soon be hit with big energy price spikes of the sort currently causing chaos in Europe, if the country tries to move away from fossil fuels too quickly.

John Arnold, the billionaire founder of the energy-focused Centaurus Capital hedge fund, said at the weekend that “efforts by some to kill oil/gas industry will result in price spikes to levels that risk losing voter support for the energy transition.”

“The energy crisis in Europe is a wake-up call that [the] US must ensure a smooth transition to decarbonization,” he tweeted.

Countries and corporations have made commitments to net-zero carbon emissions within decades to help combat climate change.

Natural gas prices have soared in Europe in recent months, as governments have loosened COVID-19 restrictions and demand for energy has bounced back. A long winter and strong demand from Asia has also depleted supplies.

Yet another key factor pushing up energy prices has been a slowdown in production from renewable sources, with a lack of wind in the North Sea reducing wind-generated energy.

Arnold, who was also a trader at Enron, said Europe’s experience holds lessons for the US. He said a rapid shift away from oil and gas at a time when renewable energy infrastructure might not be able to make up the shortfall could be damaging.

Read more: 2 commodities experts told us this is one of the most exciting environments they’ve seen in 40 years of investing. Here’s why they’re upbeat, and what they’re buying to profit from it.

“While some advocate trying to destroy the fossil fuel industry as quickly as possible, the reality is oil and gas consumption will be high this decade in any decarbonization scenario. Clean energy is growing quickly but off a very low base,” Arnold said.

“Very high oil/gas prices risk a voter backlash against decarbonization policies, which are vital to a cleaner future.”

US natural gas prices have risen less sharply than those in Europe, where gas futures have risen more than 500% over the last year.

But investors reckon the natural gas crunch will force users to turn to oil, helping the benchmark Brent crude oil price surge above $80 for the first time in three years on Tuesday. WTI crude, the US benchmark price, rose more than 1% to $76.20 on Tuesday and has climbed 57% over the last year.

Environmental campaigners have argued that Europe’s energy crisis would be less severe if governments had invested more in green energy, particularly storage.

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Tesla has applied to enter the multi-billion dollar US renewable energy credit market, sources say

Elon Musk Tesla Shanghai
The move is likely to frustrate US oil-refining companies, who will need to buy the credits.

  • Tesla is looking to enter the US market for renewable energy credits, unnamed sources told Reuters.
  • The program is currently dominated by ethanol producers, but the White House is expected to include EV makers soon.
  • The move could anger oil-refining companies, which will need to buy the credits from Tesla.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar US renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The electric car maker is one of at least eight companies with a pending application at the Environmental Protection Agency tied to power generation and renewable credits, the sources said. The EPA produces a list of pending applications with some details, but not companies’ names.

Tesla’s entry could potentially reshape the renewable credit market, established in the mid-2000s to boost investment in the US biofuel industry. The market generated some 18 billion credits in 2020 and is currently dominated by ethanol producers. Tesla’s application would likely be tied to the production of electricity associated with biogas.

The Biden administration is expected to review the EPA applications and lay out how electric vehicles could qualify for tradable credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this summer, the two sources said.

Read more: The auto industry didn’t see the chip crisis coming – and now it’s threatening a recovery from the pandemic

The move could represent the largest expansion of the RFS program that was created by President George W. Bush and aimed at boosting rural America and weaning the country off oil imports.

The entry of Tesla and other EV makers to the renewable energy scheme could attract investment for a much-needed infrastructure network, including charging stations, for electric vehicles.

However, it is likely to anger some in the US refining industry who would need to buy the credits, known as RINs, generated by Tesla and other alternative fuel providers, essentially subsidizing an electric car company that seeks to put petrochemical refiners out of business.

Rural farmers could view Tesla’s entry as the Biden White House prioritizing EVs over biofuels as an answer to the climate crisis.

Biogas logistics

In 2016, just before the Obama administration exited office, the EPA published a proposal seeking comment on how best to structure credits for renewable electricity that is used as a transportation fuel.

The proposal largely sat dormant during the Trump administration, which spent most of its time on fuel credits trying to find common ground among rivals in the corn and oil industries.

Electricity from biogas – mainly pulled from the nation’s landfills – is already eligible for generating credits under the RFS program, but the EPA has never approved applications to do so because the agency hasn’t yet figured out the logistical issues.

Key questions include how to trace the credit-eligible biogas from its origin through to a car’s battery, and who along that supply chain should be allowed to claim the lucrative credits.

Under the RFS, refiners must blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel pool or purchase compliance credits in a credit market, where prices have swung wildly in recent years.

The program has helped drive investment in ethanol plants in states like Iowa and Nebraska, but liquid fuels have been under attack from the Biden administration.

Tesla would generate the most lucrative type of credits, known as D3s, which trade at a significant premium to the larger pool of traditional ethanol credits.

As well as building electric cars, Tesla is also investing in charging stations and large-scale batteries.

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Renewable energy sources grew at their fastest rate since 1999 last year when COVID-19 struck, the IEA says

Wind farm denmark
A working ship stands on stilts between wind turbines erected in the Baltic Sea between the islands of Rügen and Bornholm (Denmark). In the foreground is the “Arkona” wind farm about 35 kilometers northeast of Rügen with a capacity of 385 megawatts. In the background the offshore wind turbines of the Baltic Sea wind farm “Wikinger” of the energy supplier Iberdrola.

  • Renewable energy capacity increased by 45% in 2020 the International Energy Agency said.
  • The IEA predicts that renewable energy sources will cover 90% of global power expansion in the next two years.
  • Demand for renewable energy increased during the pandemic, whilst use of other energy sources declined.
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Renewable energy sources increased by 45% in 2020, accelerating at their fastest rate since 1999, as demand for clean power grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Energy Agency said in a report on Tuesday. Wind energy led the expansion, as global capacity increased by 90%. Solar energy capacity grew by 23%.

The IEA links this increase in renewable energy capabilities to global policy decisions and deadlines that countries had set themselves in terms of expanding their renewables sectors. China, the US and Vietnam are credited with leading the renewables push after momentum slowed when the pandemic first hit.

“Overall, IEA quarterly deployment estimates indicate that the slowdown in renewable capacity additions was limited to Q1 2020 only, mainly in China, while construction activity continued strongly in the rest of the world despite continuous movement restrictions and supply chain delays,” the agency said in the report.

Energy markets were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw travel come to a halt, as lockdown restrictions forced people to stay at home. Oil prices fell and turned negative for the first time in early 2020, as demand for the fuel vanished. Crude has since recovered, as investors anticipate economies reopening.

The decline in fossil fuel use also affected biofuel demand, the IEA said. Production fell by 8% in 2020, but still exceeded expectations – 150 billion liters of biofuel were needed in 2020 vs the 144 billion the IEA had predicted. The agency expects demand to rebound in 2021 and grow by a further 7% in 2022.

Looking ahead, the IEA predicts renewable energy sources will be responsible for 90% of global power expansion in 2021 and 2022. The agency expects solar and hydrogen power to play key roles, while the growth of wind power is set to slow down after its surge in 2020.

“The acceleration of hydropower additions through 2022 is driven by the commissioning of mega-scale projects in China. Meanwhile, expansion in other renewables, led by bioenergy, remains stable and represents 3% of total new renewable capacity additions,” the IEA said.

China had already been the driving force of renewable energy expansion in 2020, accounting for half of the new capacity installations and is expected to keep this leadership position, the IEA said.

Despite President Joe Biden’s recent infrastructure plans, Europe is set to replace the US as the second-largest renewable market in 2021 thanks to national policies on climate change and deadlines that are looming. Biden’s infrastructure spending may not take effect until later this decade, the IEA said.

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Elon Musk says Tesla will only sell solar panels together with its Powerwall storage battery from next week

elon musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk said Tesla will now only sell its solar panel products together with its Powerwall storage battery.
  • Musk had a Twitter exchange with a solar panel customer who said their panels haven’t generated a “single watt-hour” since January.
  • Musk said in January the company was working on integrating Powerwall with its solar products.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is going to shake up the way the company sells its solar panels.

In a tweet late on Wednesday, Musk said from next week, all sales of the company’s solar energy products will come together with its energy storage battery Powerwall.

“Solar power will feed exclusively to Powerwall. Powerwall will interface only between utility meter & house main breaker panel, enabling super simple install & seamless whole house backup during utility dropouts,” he said in a followup tweet.

Bloomberg reported this followed a complaint from Brett Winton, Director of Research at Ark Investment Management that his Tesla solar panels haven’t generated a “single watt-hour” since they were installed in January because he was waiting on his utility to approve the connection.

After Musk asked Winton if he had Powerwall he replied: “Hmm. Yes have powerwall. Everything right now is switched off; just awaiting LADWP [Los Angeles Department of Water and Power].”

Musk’s decision hasn’t come entirely out of the blue. He said during Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January that the company was focusing on integrating Powerwall with its solar division.

It also comes a week after numerous customers waiting for installations of Tesla’s Solar Roof product reported receiving new contracts increasing the price of installation by as much as 70%. It’s not yet clear whether including Powerwall in all sales of Tesla’s solar products will increase the price. Insider has emailed Tesla for clarification.

Are you a Tesla Solar Panel or Solar Roof customer? Contact this reporter at ihamilton@insider.com or iahamilton@protonmail.com.

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Honolulu-based energy storage company Blue Planet Energy hopes to bring sustainable, renewable power to Hawaii – and the world

Henk Rogers Hawaii Big Island Ranch Lab
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

  • Energy storage company Blue Planet Energy is focused on energy independence and sustainability.
  • It was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who acquired the rights to Tetris in the 1980s.
  • It’s part of Hawaii’s climate change initiatives and hopes to make renewable energy more accessible.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

Residents and businesses in Hawaii pay more for energy than just about anywhere else in the country. Honolulu-based Blue Planet Energy is one organization that’s attempting to ease that energy burden.

Blue Planet Energy has created an energy storage system to encourage energy independence and broaden the use of renewable power. The company has about 25 employees and a network of more than 250 certified dealers that have installed thousands of its energy storage products.

“We want to decarbonize our energy system,” Chris Johnson, the company’s CEO, told Insider. “However, climate is changing. Storms are getting more intense and knocking out the grids, and so that’s where we need to deal with it.”

2   Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson, CEO of Blue Planet Energy.

Climate change conversations typically focus on mitigation and adaptation, he said, and the company aims to make the homes and businesses that use renewable energy, such as solar panels, more resilient.

Since 2013, Honolulu has ranked first in solar power per capita among the country’s 50 largest cities and third in the amount of existing photovoltaic solar power, which generates electricity directly from sunlight, installed as of 2020, according to a report by the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group.

“With renewable energy, you can’t control when the sun shines or when the wind blows,” Johnson said. “But we need steady, reliable energy for our homes, for our businesses, for our critical infrastructure, and so we create energy storage solutions that allow the energy to be consumed when you need it. And they’re also resilient, so even if the grid goes down, you can still stay up and running.”

Blue Planet Energy Bamboo Living Big Island Hawaii
Blue Planet Energy solar panels on a home on the Big Island in Hawaii.

Here’s a look at how Blue Planet Energy’s renewable energy systems work, and how the company’s mission aligns with Honolulu’s sustainability goals.

The Blue Planet name has influenced climate change policy in Hawaii

Blue Planet Energy was founded in 2015 by Henk Rogers, who discovered and acquired the rights to the video game Tetris in the 1980s. More recently, he’s been committed to expanding clean energy and reducing and ultimately eliminating dependence on fossil fuel.

Henk Rogers Founder Blue Planet Energy 2
Henk Rogers, founder of Blue Planet Energy.

Rogers also founded the Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit working to solve climate change by leading the way in the transition to 100% clean energy. The organization has been influential in clean-energy policy adoption in Hawaii and Honolulu, including a bill requiring the state’s utilities to generate 100% of their electricity from renewable energy, which Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law in 2015. Hawaii was the first state to have such a law.

Blue Planet Energy’s energy storage systems are an extension of Rogers’ vision. While the company was founded in Honolulu and has a strong footprint in Hawaii, Johnson said it now has installations in more than 30 states, Puerto Rico, and several Caribbean islands, and is growing its presence in Mexico, Central America, and Canada.

Blue Planet Energy Violeta Reyes Perez School Puerto Rico 2
Violeta Reyes Perez School in Puerto Rico.

“Henk, our founder, really thought that if we can achieve this in Hawaii, we could take that as a model to other places,” Johnson said. “It’s essentially a learning laboratory for sustainability.”

Energy storage solutions offer homes and businesses more resilient power sources

In March 2021, Blue Planet Energy launched a new product, the Blue Ion HI. The new energy storage system joins the company’s Blue Ion LX.

“Those are basically similar in approach and functionality but designed for slightly different situations,” Johnson said. “The LX is for larger installations, including commercial and industrial or community resilient infrastructure. Our HI offering is residential and small commercial.”

The Blue Ion LX accommodates on- or off-grid requirements for facilities like warehouses, corporate headquarters, and manufacturers. The battery stores excess solar energy or adjusts to traditional energy sources to avoid power interruptions, and increases the value of a company’s investment in renewable energy.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion LX Brick Warehouse
Blue Ion LX by Blue Planet Energy.

The Blue Ion HI is a solution for homes and businesses. It captures energy from renewable and traditional sources, easily switches from grid to battery power, and provides on-demand energy. The products are also stackable and can be configured in different ways to suit the needs of the property.

Blue Planet Energy Blue Ion HI Stacked
Blue Ion HI by Blue Planet Energy.

Henk, Johnson said, “likes things to be able to fit together nicely,” so they made the batteries stackable and easily scalable.

Blue Planet Energy’s customers mainly use its batteries to store excess solar energy, either displacing their use of a grid or a generator, Johnson said. This is a valuable service as energy bills continue to rise and natural disasters impact power grids.

Hawaii has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, according to the US Energy Information Administration. It’s also vulnerable to hurricanes, flooding, and tsunamis, causing a loss of electricity. The cost of power is also going up across the country, where natural disasters also knock out power. For instance, Texas saw massive power outages after a major snowstorm and unusually cold temperatures hit in February.

“We need to have resilient infrastructure so we can bounce back quickly,” Johnson said. “If we put a lot of renewables out there without balancing it out with energy storage, the grid could be unstable or not available when you need it, and so we’re part of making sure that the grid can absorb a lot of renewables, it can recover and always be on.”

Expansion plans aim to make renewable energy more affordable and accessible

Helping to create more resilient and affordable energy systems aligns with the initiatives of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency, Johnson said. Blue Planet Energy has worked with the office on developing renewable energy and resilience best practices, and the company plans to continue this work with the city’s new administration under Mayor Rick Blangiardi, which just took over in January.

To further address affordability, Johnson said the company recently launched a new financing product to make its energy storage systems more accessible to commercial customers. It doesn’t require a down payment and offers instant energy savings on solar power and Blue Ion storage installation.

The cost of Blue Planet Energy’s installations vary depending on a property’s energy needs and can range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands for large buildings with extensive power needs, according to the company. Energy storage installation costs roughly the same as solar installation.

The average cost for solar panel installation in the US varies by state, but averages $17,760 to $23,828 after the federal solar tax credit, which lowers the cost by 26%, according to EnergySage. Some states and local governments also offer rebates and tax credits for solar systems.

Blue Planet Energy Life Edited Maui Hawaii 1
Blue Planet Energy in Maui, Hawaii.

Blue Planet Energy is in a period of “scaling and acceleration,” Johnson said. Over the next decade, the company plans to expand and strives to alleviate the effects of climate change, which are expected to worsen.

“This is really crunch time,” he said. “How do we deliver the highest-quality, most reliable, safest solution at scale as fast as we can? Get it out on the ground, into homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure so that we can stabilize the grid and we can stabilize our climate.”

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16 inventions getting us off fossil fuels and into renewable energy

  • Much of the world’s energy is sourced from fossil fuels.
  • Several innovators and companies have developed inventions to help get the world off of non-renewable energy.
  • For example, the HomeBiogas 2.0 turns food waste into gas, producing up to three hours of cooking gas.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

1. This whirlpool turbine can power dozens of homes in rural areas. It generates energy 24 hours a day. And can be installed in most rivers and canals. Free-flowing water powers up the generator’s turbine. It’s even safe for fish to pass through!

2. The Waterotor turbine is made specifically for slow-moving water. It works in currents as slow as 2 mph…So it can be used almost anywhere. The designers say the turbine is the first of its kind. It’s also safe for aquatic wildlife!

3. This giant flower is made of solar panels. The SmartFlower mimics the way sunflowers absorb solar energy. The flower has a tracking system…Which it uses to track the sun, the same way real flowers do.

4. The HomeBiogas 2.0 turns food scraps into gas! Bacteria digests the waste and turns it into biogas. The appliance can take up to 6 liters of waste per day… And can produce up to three hours of cooking gas. It can even make fertilizer!

5. This floating solar plant generates more electricity than traditional solar plants. The water helps cool down the panels, improving their efficiency. The panels are designed to withstand extreme weather… And are even recyclable.

6. These floor tiles use footsteps to generate electricity. They’re made by Pavegen and can generate up to 7 watts of power per step. They’re most effective in high-traffic areas, like cities. The company even used the tiles to charge a Tesla!

7. The GoSun Grill is powered using sunlight. Reflectors focus the sun’s light rays onto a metal tube… Creating cooking temperatures up to 550° F. The food goes directly inside the cylindrical tube.

8. This panda image is made out of solar panels. China is on a mission to build 100 of these panda power plants. A single plant could power more than 10,000 households annually. The idea was proposed in 2015 by 15-year-old Ada Li Yan-tung. She suggested the design would get young people involved in renewable energy.

9. These turbines make up America’s first offshore wind farm. General Electric and Deepwater Wind collaborated on the project. Over a year… They’ll emit 40,000 fewer tons of greenhouse gas than fossil fuels. And still generate the same amount of energy.

10. The Ecocapsule is a micro housing pod. And can house two people for up to a year. It has all the necessary amenities: Kitchen, bathroom, and storage space. It’s powered by solar cells and a wind turbine. It even collects and filters rain for drinking water.

11. The Saphonian is a bladeless wind turbine. It imitates a bird’s wing or a fish’s tail. And was designed after a ship’s sails. Going bladeless could be cheaper than making traditional turbines… And it doesn’t interfere with magnetic or radar waves!

12. The Hydralight lantern is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional gas-lit lanterns. It runs on salt water and an energy cell. And uses the charged particles in the water to create electricity.The lantern is simple to use… Just a single dip in salt water… And it can give off over 250 hours of light.

13. This floating wind farm in Scotland is the first of its kind. Don’t worry; it won’t float away. It’s held in place by suction anchors on the seabed. And can power 20,000 households for a year.

14. This sewage is being turned into biodiesel. The carbon content in human waste is converted into energy. The engineers say biodiesel can be used in regular diesel car engines… With little or no modifications.

15. This bladeless turbine mimics a hummingbird’s wings! The Tyer Wind Converter uses a flapping motion instead of rotating blades. It’s not as powerful as bladed turbines… But the smaller size makes it ideal for populated areas.

16. This battery can make, supply, and store its own energy. The Eli-Home charges itself and can be used as an electric grid. Solar panels gather and store energy. It’s easily removable and portable, and the best part… You can even control it with your smartphone.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider