Koch Industries Inc. and a political organization founded by President Obama’s former green jobs czar Van Jones each spent five-figure sums on the same side of an environmental campaign last week.They are working against a ballot measure in the Pacific Northwest that would impose the first-ever statewide carbon tax. With high-profile endorsements and big spending on both sides of Washington State Initiative 732, observers say the debate over an escalating, revenue-neutral carbon tax could foreshadow a broader national dialogue about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement on climate change enters into force on Friday — faster than anyone had anticipated — after a year with remarkable success in international efforts to slash man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases. It means the world has moved a little closer to fixing what scientists say is the root cause of the world’s rising temperatures.
Watch out, Tesla. Mercedes-Benz is making a play for the U.S. energy storage market. In a brief statement this morning, Daimler AG announced the formation of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas LLC to sell lithium-ion batteries for homes, businesses and utilities starting in early 2017.
SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith has bold plans for building a solar power plant that’s more than triple the size of any other on the planet. Without that massive plant, he says, California won’t meet its renewable targets. “If people are skeptical about our project, then they ought to be skeptical California will get anywhere close to 50 percent renewables,” Smith said in an interview.
Turning to turbines: As commodity prices remain low, wind energy leases offer a welcome source of income for farmers
In Iowa, which got 31 percent of its power from wind in 2015, more than any other state, money from turbines has protected farmers from falling corn prices. Annual lease payments of about $17 million helped some avoid foreclosure as they prepared for a record corn harvest that could drive receipts to a 10-year low. Tim Hemphill, a corn and soybean farmer outside Milford, gets about $20,000 a year for leasing land for turbines. “A few years ago corn was $7 a bushel,” he said. “Now my cost to raise it is $4.20 and (the price) could fall to $2.70. It’s going to break a lot of people.”
Shares in Vestas Wind Systems A/S soared on speculation Donald Trump is less likely to win the U.S. election, removing a perceived threat to the renewable energy industry. Vestas gained as much as 4.9 percent, the most in 11 weeks, and traded 3.6 percent higher at 515.50 kroner as of 9:18 a.m. in Copenhagen, making it the best performing stock in Denmark’s benchmark index. Vestas had lost about 8 percent in the week through Friday, after concern a decision by the FBI to resume an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails might jeopardize the Democratic candidate’s chances of victory.
Opponents of a controversial Florida ballot initiative for rooftop solar want the state Supreme Court to review the measure again, arguing that its backers intentionally misled justices in order to get it before voters on Nov. 7. The state’s solar trade group and Floridians for Solar Choice, an umbrella group of mostly clean energy advocates, filed a petition yesterday that also asks for the amendment to be removed from the ballot and for any votes cast in favor of it not be counted.
In an effort to encourage electric vehicle ownership, the White House yesterday announced a network of 48 charging corridors on the nation’s highways. The network will cover 25,000 miles, including 55 interstate highways spanning 35 states. Ultimately, drivers will encounter a charging station within every 50 miles, said the White House. As required by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act passed last year, the corridors will include infrastructure for electric vehicle charging, and hydrogen, propane and natural gas fueling.
The U.N. Environment Programme dumped a bucket of cold water this morning on nations riding high from the Paris climate change accords’ taking effect this week. In a new report, UNEP found that even if every country that made an emissions-cutting pledge in the Paris Agreement keeps its promise, the world will still fall 12 to 14 gigatons short each year of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels.
A new cash crop has sprung up on Nicholas Beatty’s enchanting farm near here. Rows of gray solar panels range over about 25 acres, turning sunlight into electricity, as dog-size muntjac deer hop by. The panels themselves, trouble-free money earners that feed into the electric grid, are no longer unusual on farms in Britain or other countries. What’s new in Mr. Beatty’s field is a hulking 40-foot-long shipping container.