NEWS Yale Climate Connections: Wind and solar key in 21st century energy economy

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Eco­nom­ics, tech­nol­ogy, and global pub­lic opin­ion are dri­ving the surge in wind and solar renew­able energy resources, with changes devel­op­ing at a pace few had anticipated.

A “rev­o­lu­tion” in use of renew­able energy is embrac­ing not only the elec­tri­cal sec­tor, but also, and increas­ingly, the trans­porta­tion sec­tor, the cur­rent Yale Cli­mate Con­nec­tion video points out.

The video por­trays a range of energy experts point­ing to the surge in wind and solar use – fueled by decreas­ing costs, improv­ing tech­nol­ogy, and global civil con­cerns over air pol­lu­tion and adverse health effects. Experts point to impres­sive growth of renew­able energy not only in China, India, and west­ern Europe, but also in polit­i­cally con­ser­v­a­tive states in “the heart of the coun­try,” says long-​​time jour­nal­ist Keith Schnei­der, senior edi­tor with Cir­cle of Blue.

You can­not out-​​source solar and wind invest­ments the way you can with nat­ural gas or oil that might go off-​​shore,” says Dan Kam­men, energy pro­fes­sor at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity. The video shows footage of Gen­eral Motors and Royal Dutch Shell exec­u­tives singing the praises of renewables.

The next buy I do is my next car, which will be an elec­tric vehi­cle,” says Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurn­den. “We need to be at a much higher degree of elec­tric vehi­cle penetration.”

The video points to Volvo plans to phase out “con­ven­tional engines” by 2019. The Rocky Moun­tain Institute’s Amory Lovins points to aggres­sive renew­able energy plans by India, Ger­many, and Hol­land over the next two-​​and-​​a-​​half decades. Experts point to plans by the United King­dom and France to ban sales of gas and diesel engines by 1940 and to growth of wind and solar energy across the U.S. Midwest.

In look­ing at the post-​​Paris cli­mate agree­ment out­look, the video explores impli­ca­tions of the Trump administration’s with­draw from the Paris agree­ment. It delves into impacts on cli­mate change, but also on likely impacts of a declin­ing U.S. role in inter­na­tional diplo­macy. “Prob­lem­atic,” says Andrew Hoff­man of the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, adding that China and other coun­tries are tak­ing the approach that “if you don’t want to lead, then we’ll lead.”

Kam­men sees U.S. com­pa­nies increas­ingly being at a “very sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage” with no fixed price on carbon.

New video explores ‘rev­o­lu­tion’ in use of #Renew­ableEn­ergy. CLICK TO TWEET

Schnei­der, a for­mer envi­ron­men­tal reporter with the New York Times, says he fears the U.S. has ceded its lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­ity in the com­ing clean-​​energy econ­omy, which Hoff­man says is unques­tion­ably the mar­ket of the future. Schnei­der says his con­cerns espe­cially involve the U.S.’s walk­ing away from being “a big part, should be the lead­ing part” of the 21st cen­tury global economy.

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