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Climate

Summer Electricity Bills Are on the Rise

On the cost of staying cool, battery passports, and orange crops

Summer Electricity Bills Are on the Rise
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Heat advisories are in effect across much of California • A large landslide buried cars in Taiwan • It is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and partly cloudy in Bonn, Germany, where delegates from 198 countries are gathering this week for the Bonn Climate Change Conference

THE TOP FIVE

1. IEA: World not on track to triple renewable capacity by 2030

A new report from the International Energy Agency released this morning concluded that the world isn’t yet on track to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 compared to 2022 levels – an ambitious goal set last year at COP28 in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But we’re not hugely far off: In examining countries’ unofficial energy policies, the IEA found we’re likely to increase renewable capacity by about 8,000 gigawatts by 2030, which is about 70% of the 11,000 GW goal. But these policies aren’t set in stone. In fact, very few countries (just 14) have included clear 2030 renewable targets in their climate action plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The IEA wants countries to make these ambitions official when they revise those NDCs next year, but also urges them to move quickly on things like permitting and grid infrastructure expansion, and in general, aim higher. “The tripling target is ambitious but achievable – though only if governments quickly turn promises into plans of action,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

2. U.S. energy bills expected to rise 8% this summer

U.S. household electricity bills are projected to rise by 8% on average this summer compared to last year, according to analysis from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association and the Center for Energy Poverty, and Climate. Costs are going up everywhere as Americans rely heavily on air conditioning to stay cool during intense heat. Here’s a look at expected summer electric bills across the country:

NEADA and CEPC

The report finds that “due to the unprecedented rise in summer temperatures and higher rates of extreme heat events,” summer energy bills have risen from an average cost of $476 in 2014 to a projected $719 this year. Low-income households will feel this financial strain the most because they spend a larger amount of their income (about 8%) on energy. Startlingly, the survey found that the percentage of customers that couldn’t pay their energy bills for one month or longer jumped from 21.3% to 23.5% last year, which saw the hottest summer on record. The largest increase was among households with children. The report calls for more efforts to ensure houses are weatherized, and installing heat pumps.

3. Researchers say climate change made Brazil floods more likely

The recent floods in southern Brazil, which have killed more than 170 people and displaced nearly 600,000, were made about twice as likely by human-induced climate change, according to an international group of researchers. The analysis from the World Weather Attribution also said the El Niño weather pattern played a big role in the disaster, increasing the risk by nearly five times and making rainfall between 3% and 10% more intense. Meanwhile, a bit farther north in Brazil’s “citrus belt,” orange growers are seeing a significant drop in crop production thanks in part to severe weather such as drought, disease, and pests. One research group is forecasting that the 2024-25 season could see production drop by a quarter. Brazil is the world’s top orange producer and exporter.

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  • 4. Puerto Rico to install solar arrays designed to withstand high winds

    An Australian company called 5B has designed solar arrays that can withstand some extreme weather. The 5B Maverick arrays are modular, fold up like an accordian for transporting, and can endure winds up to 166 mph. That makes them a good option for hurricane-prone areas like Puerto Rico, where 5B is installing 1,392 arrays, Electrekreported. Now, if only someone could design solar panels that can withstand the force of six-inch hail stones...

    5B

    5. Volvo to introduce EV battery passport

    Volvo is rolling out a “passport” for EV batteries that will show the origin of the battery’s components as well as its carbon footprint, according toReuters. The passport rollout will begin with Volvo’s EX90 SUV before expanding to include all of Volvo’s EVs. Drivers will be able to access the passport by scanning a QR code on the driver’s-side door. The European Union is set to require battery passports for all EVs starting in 2027, but Reuters reported that U.S. automakers are taking notes, as rules for EV subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act dictate where battery parts can be manufactured.

    THE KICKER

    The band Coldplay says it has reduced the carbon footprint of its latest world tour by nearly 60% compared to its 2016-17 tour using solutions like power-generating dance floors and bikes that charge the show’s battery system.

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    Jessica  Hullinger profile image

    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

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    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Texas and Mexico • Parts of southwestern France were hit with large hail stones • The temperature trend for June is making climate scientists awfully nervous.

    THE TOP FIVE

    1. Lengthy heat wave threatens nearly 80 million Americans

    About 77 million people are under some kind of heat advisory as a heat wave works its way across the Midwest and Northeast. In most of New England, the heat index is expected to reach or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. What makes this heat wave especially dangerous is its “striking duration,” Jake Petr, the lead forecaster with National Weather Service Chicago, toldThe New York Times. Temperatures are projected to stay exceptionally high for several days before beginning to taper off only slightly over the weekend. According toThe Washington Post, temperatures could be up to 25 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. And forecasters expect it to be unseasonably hot across the country for at least the next three weeks. Below is a look at the NWS HeatRisk projections today (top) and Thursday (bottom). The darker the color, the warmer the temperature and the higher the health risks.

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    Crux Is Getting Some Powerful New Backers

    The New York-based startup aims to create a market for clean energy tax credits.

    Green energy and money details.
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    One of the least-noticed changes in the Inflation Reduction Act may be one of the most important.

    For years, the government has encouraged developers, power utilities, and other companies to build clean energy by offering tax credits. But those tax credits were difficult to transfer to other companies, meaning that complicated financial instruments had to be created to allow them to share in the wealth.

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    The Saga of SunZia

    The roughly 550-mile SunZia power line is crucial to America’s climate goals. Here’s how it almost didn’t happen — and how it was saved.

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    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, Library of Congress

    Two years ago, John Podesta met with Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Podesta, a longtime Democratic aide, had just started a new role in the Biden administration, overseeing the Inflation Reduction Act’s implementation, and he was going to meet with Granholm about high-priority clean electricity infrastructure.

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