Renewable Energy Soars Amid Plummeting Fossil Fuel Prices
One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the sharp decline of oil prices, which fell this year to levels not seen in more than a decade.
"After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30 percent in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel," the Wall Street Journal reported.
"A repeat in early 2016 could well push crude oil to fresh closing lows not seen since the early 2000s," the Fiscal Times added.
It was good news for fuel consumers—drivers who flocked to SUVs and pickup trucks in 2015, for instance—as well as for governments that import crude oil.
But this trend could easily translate into bad news for stemming climate change, a goal that depends on keeping the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground.
Indeed, Warrick wrote, 2015 saw "a global surge for wind and solar energy, which occurred despite oil, coal and natural gas selling at bargain rates." He pointed to "massive new projects" under construction from China and India to Texas, as well as growing capacity in the U.S., which recently "crossed the 70-gigawatt threshold in wind-generated electricity, with 50,000 spinning turbines producing enough power to light up 19 million homes."
Common Dreams outlined several other global renewable energy "bright spots" in November 2015.
Improved technology, combined with "new government policies here and abroad that favor investment in renewables" and "a growing willingness by Wall Street to pour billions of dollars into projects once considered financially risky," are all contributing to the boom, according to the Washington Post.
"Renewables have turned a corner in a fundamental way," Dan Reicher, a former Energy Department assistant secretary who is now executive director of Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, told the paper.
Warrick credited the Paris agreement hammered out at last month's COP21 climate talks in part for spurring this momentum. As Common Dreams reported at the time, fossil fuel stocks tumbled while renewable energy soared on the first day of trading after global leaders cemented the landmark pact in Paris.
Interestingly, at least one wind-energy company said the effect of cheap fossil fuels has been counter-intuitive. Warrick reported:
"At Vestas Wind Systems, which is based in Denmark, [CEO Anders] Runevad said the recent drop in prices for traditional fuels has prompted some of his customers to actually increase their spending on wind farms, especially in countries that are heavy importers of petroleum.
"Some countries are having a budget surplus now because of low oil prices and they’re using that money to invest in new infrastructure. For importing countries, it’s a net-positive. Because of the uncertainty with gas prices, we haven’t seen any of our wind customers say, ‘Let’s build a gas-fired plant instead.’"
The Associated Press reported that, for reasons ranging from technical to regulatory, while "[c]onverting the wind and sun into electricity is increasingly affordable ... it can be difficult to get that electricity from distant plains and deserts to the places where it’s needed."
But surmounting such obstacles is critical, as bidding farewell to fossil fuels could have enormous implications not just for the global climate, but for the world's population. "[E]specially for the people of Beijing—and Delhi and Tehran, among other cities currently choking on dirty emissions—that final goodbye can't come soon enough," the Huffington Post's Lynne Peeples wrote.
Indeed, as renewables boom, Harvard University environmental health expert and pediatrician Aaron Bernstein said at a panel on climate change and health, "We actually stand at an entry point to perhaps the greatest public health intervention ever."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
By Grayson Jaggers
The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.
- 15 Indigenous Crops to Boost Your Immune System and Celebrate ... ›
- 15 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now - EcoWatch ›
- Should I Exercise During the Coronavirus Pandemic? Experts ... ›
- The Immune System's Fight Against the Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.
- FDA Approves First In-Home Test for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- When Should You Get a COVID-19 or Antibody Test? - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Plans to End Federal Funding for COVID-19 Testing Sites ... ›
- Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial Into Agency Reports ... ›
- Climate Denier Is Named to Leadership Role at NOAA - EcoWatch ›
New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.
Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.