President's Column: Newsletter feeds show strong global support of renewable energy despite policy shifts in U.S.

As I am sure is the case with most of our members, my e-mail in box is flooded daily with newsletters, conference offerings, blogs, and announcements of recent publications, all coming from numerous sources (industry and associations, research institutes, non-profits, commercial news outlets, etc.).  Most of my subscriptions are related to renewable energy developments, and, as you might expect, have somewhat of a U.S. focus. Given the realities of my daily schedule of activities, I often must delegate many of these e-mails to the “unread” bin, without even taking the time to click on them to see their contents.


But from time to time I do read some of them.  So as an experiment, for this column, I decided to sort through the many newsletter-related messages I received recently to get a fuller picture of their content, and perhaps to learn more about activities around the world on renewable energy developments.  I found that many of these newsletters are useful compilations of news reports already published elsewhere.  One notable example is the well-known German journalist Franz Alt’s “Ihr Sonnenseite Newsletter”.  Although most of his articles are in German, he does include English news that I invariably scan every Saturday morning when his weekly newsletter is sent out.  Other well-known and respected feeds such as Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Greentech Media (now called GTM Research) provide summaries of more comprehensive research articles developed by their own staff (often requiring purchase of the full document). I am sure I collect only a small sample of every reliable online English-language newsletter that is available.  But collectively, I see that the many newsletters I do receive paint a consistent and positive picture of the worldwide growth of renewable energy and clean technologies (with spectacular growth in some regions), and in some cases addressing how these technologies are addressing our global climate change challenges.  Here are some examples, admittedly a somewhat random sampling, of what I found in my in-box recently.


On the political side a few newsletters are highlighting Tuesday’s (28 March) announcement of President Trump’s signing an Executive Order to undo President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and how such a decision can reverse the recent greenhouse gas emission reductions that have been achieved in the U.S.  For example PennEnergy Power, which produces frequent reports on developments in the U.S. power sector included a report in their 28 March newsletter titled “European officials urge rethink of Trump climate plan”, where President Trump’s Executive Order is being challenged by European scientists and leaders as equivalent to putting a car in reverse (and, I might add, without the benefit of a rearview mirror).  In a related story, “UtilityDive: Solar” which includes three additional feeds, “UtilityDive”, “Utility Dive:  Demand Response”, and “Utility Dive:  Storage”, provided late breaking news on why utilities do not think Trump will stop the clean energy transition.

However, despite policy reversals such as these, there is plenty of evidence that the growth of renewable energy worldwide will continue unabated, and most likely accelerate. For example, the American Council of Renewable Energy (ACORE), in their January 19 issue of ACORE EnergyWatch  shows that the solar industry in the U.S. saw significant job growth in 2016, expanding to nearly 374,000, a 24.5% increase over 2015. Wind jobs grew from 77,000 to over 100,000, a 32% increase. Bloomberg New Energy Finance summarizes a variety of development highlights in its weekly newsletter, and showed in its March 21 issue, for example, how China, India and the U.S. are expected to be the largest solar markets through 2019. ClimateAction (in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program) reported on March 22 that plans for new coal-fired power plants fell nearly 50% globally in 2016.  EnerG, a North American newsletter reporting on the business of renewable energy had an article in its 1 March edition that the Governor of New York State, Andrew M. Cuomo announced that USD $360 million would be made available for 11 renewable energy projects on his state.  The Energy Watch Group, a German Newsletter, in its March 2017 issue published a success story about 100% Renewable Energy on the Danish Island of Samso.  On 24 March the Australian Solar Council reported on an AU $380 million injection for large-scale solar projects in Australia was highlighted.   Greening the in its 30 March issue reports on how Hawaii has accelerated its renewable energy development leading toward its fossil-free target within 5 years.

The very popular PV Magazine provides daily news updates on PV developments world wide, such as the announcement in their most recent issue of how financing has been secured for a 133 MW PV plan in Jordan.  . Sun and Wind Energy publishes three to four issues a week on developments around the world.  For example on 27 March they also published an article on a solar company planning to provide solar power to 80,000 homes in Jordan, complementing a long list of articles of solar and wind programs in the country.


Also popular, Renewable Energy World publishes frequent Renewable Energy News reports that contain articles and podcasts on development in the U.S. and around the world.  Their articles can be reproductions (with permissions) from other sources, such as this article originally published by the Environmental Defense fund, again on the growing solar opportunities in New York City.


Some newsletters are devoted to off-grid and energy access issues.  Notably, the Energy Access Practitioner Network, under the United Nations Foundation’s Sustainable Energy for All program, is the worlds largest consortium of decentralized energy stakeholders.  The Network publishes a monthly newsletter on off-grid and distributed energy news and events, such as a recent article about a significant energy access loan from the African Development Bank to The Gambia.

Despite the policy shifts in the U.S. there is room for optimism globally.  Franz Alt’s most recent Ihr Sonnenseite Newsletter (March 25) presents a series of articles by the IEA and IRENA that show how a deep energy transformation is needed by 2050 to avoid steep global temperature increases (IEA)  but that decarbonization of the global energy system is not only possible, but would create global economic gains as well (IRENA).  Power Engineering summarizes weekly news highlights from a variety of sources, such as Moody’s and Greentech Media.  In their March 28 newsletter they cite a recent article by Moody’s on how wind generation has become so cheap it is even competitive with coal as an electricity source, despite the changing pro-coal political shifts in the U.S. and some other countries. 

Articles on future strategies in key markets such as the U.S., India, and Saudi Arabia are also prevalent.  After Installing 60% of Global PV Capacity in 2016, Appricum GmbH, on 22 February, published an article titled “What’s In Store for the Giant Chinese and U.S. PV Markets.  On 13 March Greentechlead reported how net metering and transmission infrastructure, and not subsidies, will help push rooftop solar in India, an important component of their 100 GW solar goal by the year 2022.  The NYSolarSmart Newsletter dated 1 March announced a publication of the NY City Resilient Solar Roadmap   Solar United Newsletter…produced by the Global Solar PV Technology and Industry Association reports on the industry such as the February 20 report on the Saudi Arabia Solar Energy Beyond 2017 and Vision 2030.

My point here is that we are living in an era when an incredible amount of information from thousands of sources around the world on virtually any topic is available to us almost instantly with just a few clicks on our keyboards.  The news feeds identified in this article are undoubtedly of the highest integrity and accuracy.  Unfortunately, and especially recently, we are also living in an era when our politics are becoming more and more divided, and schemes such as the dissemination of “fake news” and e-mail hacking are having a greater and greater influence on our political decisions, and even on our basic scientific understandings.   ISES has long had a reputation for its scientific integrity, which has helped lead the solar industry from laboratory to commercial success.  We will continue to make every effort to keep our members properly and accurately informed of the energy transformation that is occurring at such a significant rate around the world.


This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President