# 11 - The American solar boom + Wall St. gets more warnings
Also: ‘We tried carbon capture: it didn’t work’
Every week I share and write about some of the biggest stories on the clean energy revolution. This is edition #11.
My aim? To cover the growing interest and investment in cheap, clean energy. It will make our lives vastly better and stop the climate crisis.
I take a tech and financial perspective. What technologies are around the corner? Where is the money coming and going? Who is doing interesting things?
US solar breaks records, but dark clouds loom
The U.S. installed 5.4 gigawatts-direct current (GWdc) of solar capacity in the third quarter of 2021, a 33% jump on the same period last year, said the Solar Energy Industries Association.
130,000 households installed 1 GWdc in total – the highest in a single quarter – suggesting home rooftop solar is becoming more attractive. Utilities also set a record for electricity-grid installations, at 3.8 GWdc. A total of 15.7 GWdc has been installed so far this year; the US solar industry should easily exceed its 20 GWdc target for 2021.
But, the horizon is cloudy. President Jo Biden’s Build Back Better bill was rejected in its current form by US Senator Joe Manchin over the weekend. Chinese and US solar energy company stocks dropped sharply on the news.
Moreover, a fight is looming over US tariffs on imported Chinese solar panels. Climate activists want them dropped so consumers get cheaper access. But US solar companies say they are necessary to build a domestic industry. The tariffs are due to expire in early 2022 after four years.
America’s battery boom
The Manatee Energy Storage Center was unveiled in Florida last week, as the world’s largest solar-powered battery.
It takes up 40 acres and has a capacity of 409 MW, allowing it to power 329,000 homes for more than two hours. The power is generated by Florida Power & Light solar array nearby. The company aims to generate 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Demand for batteries across America has shot up. This week the WSJ reported that American companies are on pace to add 6 GW of storage in 2021 - a 600% increase on 2020. Another 9 GW of storage capacity is expected to be added in 2022. While most of the US battery boom was driven by large companies (90%), home storage is also expected to boom in 2022.
Wall Street gets more climate warnings
Wall Street’s largest banks need to guard against climate-change-related risks, a top banking regulator said this week.
“Weaknesses in how banks identify, measure, monitor and control the potential physical and transition risks associated with a changing climate could adversely affect a bank’s safety and soundness, as well as the overall financial system,” the Comptroller of the Currency said.
Another study this week warned that Wall Street is close to triggering a climate financial crisis. It found that eight of the biggest US banks and 10 of its largest asset managers financed ~2 billion tons of CO2 emissions.
“If the financial-services industry was a country, it would rank as the world’s fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases,” Bloomberg News put it.
‘We tried carbon capture: it didn’t work’
The CEO of the multinational Italian energy firm Enel poured cold water on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology last week, saying it was time to accept the inevitable.
Here is some of what he said, in the CNBC interview.
“You can imagine, we tried hard in the past 10 years — maybe more, 15 years — because if we had a reliable and economically interesting solution, why would we go and shut down all these coal plants [when] we could decarbonize the system?”
“The fact is, it doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked for us so far. And there is a rule of thumb here: If a technology doesn’t really pick up in five years — and here we’re talking about more than five, we’re talking about 15, at least — you better drop it.”
Chart of the Week
More news and reading
Chinese companies are going into overdrive to dominate the growing ‘Green Hydrogen’ industry. Its solar energy giants are pouring cash into the technology.
Climate activist group Follow This is targeting Exxon Mobil Corp with a shareholder resolution urging it to deepen its carbon emissions reduction targets. It comes six months after hedge fund Engine No. 1 successfully placed three new directors on Exxon's board.
The UK government opened the latest – and largest, at £285 million a year – round of its flagship clean energy subsidy scheme. It aims to secure 12GW of electricity capacity.
A prototype battery-powered moped that can recharge in as little as 90 seconds could be on the road next year. The vehicle will be used to test a novel lithium-carbon battery developed by UK based Allotrope Energy.
‘Solid-state batteries are here and they're going to change how we live’. The new lithium cells can last 25 years, charge an electric vehicle in minutes.
Portuguese oil and gas company Galp is joining forces with Swedish battery start-up Northvolt to develop Europe’s largest lithium processing plant as part of a shift away from fossil fuels.
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