The Used Solar Panel Tsunami, Shell wants to be a Clean Energy Company, Can America Decarbonize the Grid?

A newsletter for people serious about the low carbon economy.

The Downside of the Solar Panel Revolution

(photo credit: Getty)

As renewable energy expands, used photovoltaic panels are creating a growing waste problem.

The solar economy continues its dramatic growth, with over a half-terawatt already installed around the world generating clean electricity. But what happens to photovoltaic (PV) modules at the end of their useful life? With lifespans measured in decades, PV-waste disposal may seem to be an issue for the distant future. Yet, the industry ships millions of tons every year, and that number will continue to rise as the industry grows.

Total e-waste—including computers, televisions, and mobile phones—is around 45 million metric tons annually.  By comparison, PV-waste in 2050 will be twice that figure.  Scientific American

Issue No. 7

Welcome to the latest issue of Carbon Creed! Last week our top two articles were Amazon, Google, Microsoft: Here's Who Has the Greenest Cloud AND COP25: Europe now has its own Green New Deal.

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(photo credit: Axios)

Shell wants to be a Clean Energy Company

Royal Dutch Shell has tightened its grip on Australia's energy market with the purchase of a 49% stake of utility-scale PV developer ESCO Pacific, just weeks after the oil major completed an AU$617 million (US$425 million) acquisition of one of the country’s largest electricity retailers, ERM Power.

Shell, the world’s second-largest oil player, unveiled plans in March to become the biggest global power producer within 15 years and has committed to pour US$2 billion a year into clean energy investments.

Shell’s growing appetite for investments in the global electricity supply chain has included the acquisition of German battery firm Sonnen and British C&I supplier Hudson Energy, on top of sponsoring major utility-scale PV developments in Texas and purchasing stakes in Bangalore-based rooftop solar firm Orb Energy and French floating wind developer EOLFI.  PV Tech

Is Shell transitioning to become the world’s first global electric utility?


(photo credit: GreenBiz)

12 Eastern States Introduce a Plan to Cap Tailpipe Carbon Emissions

A coalition of 12 eastern states and the District of Columbia released a draft plan for an ambitious cap-and-trade program to curb tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation, tackling what has fast become the largest source of planet-warming gases.

More than a fifth of the United States population would be affected by the plan, which sets a cap, to be lowered over time, on the total amount of carbon dioxide that can be released from vehicles that use transportation fuels, like gasoline and diesel fuel. 

Under the program, which could start as early as 2022, fuel companies would buy allowances from the states, either directly or on a secondary market, for every ton of carbon dioxide their fuel will produce. The states then put the proceeds toward efforts to reduce carbon emissions from transportation, including investment in trains, buses, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. NY Times


(photo credit: NY Times)

Can America Decarbonize the Electric Grid in Time?

It will be a huge undertaking to decarbonize the electric grid and slow climate change, but America’s done big things before. 

When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, most of rural America still had no electricity. In 1935, he created the Rural Electrification Administration, and in just five years the nation built 250,000 miles of power lines and hooked up nearly a million farms. By the early 1950s, virtually the entire country had electricity.

Today we face our generation’s Manhattan Project moment – it will require significant financial resources, workforce mobilization and bold leadership. NY Times

The Debate over Nuclear Power and Climate Change

(photo credit: c2es)

Nuclear energy obviously has a long and contentious history in the US. Until relatively recently, being an environmentalist in the US more or less meant being hostile to nuclear power. 

But as climate change has become a bigger concern, it has become clear that the environmentalist lens on nuclear and the climate-hawk lens on nuclear are different and can lead to different conclusions. 

“From a climate perspective, there are three separate issues to understand: existing power plants, the prospect of building new power plants now, and new, yet-to-be deployed technology in development.”  David Roberts, VOX

In this well documented analysis, David Roberts takes an objective approach to nuclear power purely through the lens of climate change. .  VOX


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Curated by Walter McLeod, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Carbon Creed and Managing Partner with Eco Capitol Energy.