A transition from fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change will require large amounts of metals and rare earth elements that could create environmental challenges, the World Bank has warned. Technologies needed to meet the Paris climate agreement from wind, solar, and electricity systems are “more material-intensive” than our current fossil-fuel supply systems, a report by the bank said. The mining or extraction of metals and rare earth elements could create environmental problems in terms of energy, water and land use, the report said.
California is poised for a swift transformation of its electricity landscape — and that could bring tumult if preparations aren’t made soon to maintain quality and avoid reliability problems like rolling blackouts, the state’s leading energy regulator is warning. After decades of dominance by investor-owned utilities, electricity markets in the state are becoming more competitive. Ratepayers today have a growing number of choices for powering their lights, laptops and electric cars — from installing rooftop solar panels and consumer-scale batteries to joining increasingly popular government-run electricity programs known as community choice aggregation, or CCA. Currently, investor-owned utilities such as San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric together buy and sell more than 75 percent of the state’s electricity. Their collective share could plunge to 10 percent within the next five years, with CCA programs causing most of the change, according to the state’s most aggressive forecast. More conservative estimates still show major shifts away from the utilities.
Wall Street investors have gone cold on one of the main mechanisms banks invented to fund the green-energy revolution. The business structure, known as the yieldco, feeds dividends from operating solar and wind farms to investors. Yieldcos raised $7.9 billion in public equity in 2014 and 2015 but only $1 billion since then, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The shift is further fallout from the collapse of yieldco promoter SunEdison Inc. and has changed the way clean-energy developers finance themselves. In years past, they started yieldcos to buy projects once they were operating, recycling the capital into new installations. Now, they’re turning to a large and deepening pool of buyers -- insurance companies and pension funds -- to provide funding and sometimes take control of income-producing assets.
Europe has a long history of playing fast and loose with its emission numbers, especially when it comes to carbon captured by forests. The EU considers burning biomass (read: wood chips) to be carbon neutral, under the logic that if felled forests are replanted, there’s “no harm, no foul” in the long run. That’s a problematic assumption, though, for a long list of reasons. For one, the mere acts of cutting down trees, transporting them, and then processing them into wood pellets all produce emissions. For another, oftentimes the trees that are cut down aren’t replanted, and those purchasing this “green” biomass often don’t do their due diligence to ensure they’re sourcing their wood from responsible foresters.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned four years ago as someone who would stand up for Department of Water and Power ratepayers, is pushing a proposal to give six raises within five years to more than 9,000 workers at the utility.
The salary agreement, backed Tuesday by Garcetti’s appointees on the DWP board, would provide raises of least 13.2% and as much as 22.3% by October 2021, depending on inflation. Beyond that, the pact would deliver a 4% boost over two years to the base pay of hundreds of DWP electrical distribution mechanics, also known as linemen.