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The DOE Has a Plan to Speed Up New Grid Connections

On the “Transmission Interconnection Roadmap,” solar tariffs, and AI

The DOE Has a Plan to Speed Up New Grid Connections
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Parts of Dubai remain waterlogged after this week’s epic rainfall • A volcanic eruption in Indonesia produced a 1.6-mile ash column • Severe thunderstorms are headed for the Midwest and Southern Plains.


1. DOE unveils roadmap to speed up clean energy grid connections

The Department of Energy yesterday unveiled its plans to help solve a problem plaguing the clean energy sector: the backlog of grid connections. According to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, nearly 12,000 solar, wind, and storage projects are ready and waiting to be connected to the grid. “The high volume of projects and inadequate existing procedures for interconnection has led to uncertainties, delays, inequities, and added costs for developers, consumers, utilities, and their regulators,” the DOE said in its announcement. The new “Transmission Interconnection Roadmap” aims to speed up connection times by providing more transparency on data for existing projects, creating fast-track options for interconnection, and adopting requirements and standards for generation interconnection, among other initiatives. The Biden administration has a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.


2. Study: Rising temperatures will cost global economy $38 trillion a year

A new study published in the journal Nature concludes that global incomes will be at least 20% lower over the next 26 years due to climate change compared to what The Associated Press called “a fictional world that’s not warming.” These income losses will amount to $38 trillion per year by 2049, and that’s regardless of how much we limit emissions going forward, or whether per capita income increases – in other words, this financial toll is already baked in and could grow dramatically depending on how much or little we cut emissions now. The researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research also said the losses will be six times more expensive than it would be to cut emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. “Protecting our climate is much cheaper than not doing so,” said Leonie Wenz, who led the study. Lower-latitude areas and countries least responsible for man-made climate change will be hit the hardest, but everyone will be affected.

3. U.S. expected to restore tariffs on imported solar tech

For two years, the solar panel technologies imported into the U.S. from China and other countries have been exempt from tariffs, but that policy will soon be reversed, according toReuters. Two sources familiar with the Biden administration’s plans say the change comes at the request of Hanwha Qcells, a South Korean company investing billions in manufacturing in the U.S., and several other U.S. solar manufacturers. There’s no clear timeline for when the tariffs will be reinstated. The report propelled shares of America’s biggest solar manufacturer, First Solar. Bloombergnoted that the existing exemption applies to imported two-sided solar panels, resulting in those panels being installed all over the place, including on rooftops “where the attribute offers no benefit.”

First Solar shares, up as of pre-market trading on Thursday morning.CNBC

4. Research links West Africa heat wave to burning of fossil fuels

An intense heat wave that hit West Africa and the Sahel recently “would have been impossible without human-caused climate change,” according to analysis from climate scientists from the World Weather Attribution. Temperatures soared above 113 degrees Fahrenheit in late March and early April, at one point reaching 119 degrees in Mali. At least 102 heat-related deaths were recorded in the first four days of April. The researchers analyzed weather data and climate models and concluded that such extremes wouldn’t have occurred without increased global temperatures from burning fossil fuels. “Events like these will become much more common, and even more dangerous, unless the world moves away from fossil fuels and countries rapidly reduce emissions to net zero,” the report said. “If global warming reaches 2°C, as is expected to occur in the 2040s or 2050s unless emissions are rapidly halted, similar events will occur 10 times more frequently.”

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  • 5. Bezos Earth Fund to award $100 million for AI climate change solutions

    Jeff Bezos wants ideas for how the power of artificial intelligence can be harnessed to help address climate change and nature loss, and he’s willing to throw some money at the best ones. His Bezos Earth Fund announced this week its “AI for Climate and Nature Grand Challenge,” which will award $100 million in grants to help support proposals from “practitioners, researchers, and innovators in universities, NGOs, private companies, and organizations.” It’s starting with projects that focus on “sustainable proteins, biodiversity conservation, and power grid optimization” plus one “wild card” category. Up to 30 seed grants will be awarded. Applications open in May and the recipients will be unveiled in September.


    Researchers say installing reflective materials called “retroflectors” on roads and buildings could reduce surface temperatures in cities by up to 20 degrees Celsius.

    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.


    AM Briefing: Displacement Fears

    On the Biden administration’s carbon removal investments, the climate refugees of Brazil, and more

    Wednesday sunrise.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    Current conditions: More storms and possible tornadoes are forecast to hit Texas and the Plains, where millions of people are still without power • Cyclone Remal, the first tropical storm of the season, killed at least 23 people in India and Bangladesh • Brazilian authorities are investigating up to 800 suspected cases of waterborne illness following unprecedented flooding over the past month.


    1. Biden administration invests in carbon removal

    The Department of Energy on Tuesday gave $1.2 million to companies competing for a chance to sell carbon removal credits to the federal government. These 24 semifinalists, which were each awarded $50,000, include nine direct air capture projects, seven biomass projects, five enhanced rock weathering projects, and three marine-based projects. Up to 10 of them will be offered federal contracts amounting to $30 million. “The Department of Energy hopes that by selecting 24 companies that have been vetted by government scientists, it’s sending a signal to the private sector that there are at least some projects that are legitimate,” Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo writes, referencing struggles in the broader carbon credits marketplace.

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    Carbon Removal’s Stamp of Approval

    The Department of Energy is advancing 24 companies in its purchase prize contest. What these companies are getting is more important than $50,000.

    Heirloom DAC.
    Heatmap Illustration/Heirloom Carbon

    The Department of Energy is advancing its first-of-a-kind program to stimulate demand for carbon removal by becoming a major buyer. On Tuesday, the agency awarded $50,000 to each of 24 semifinalist companies competing to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere on behalf of the U.S. government. It will eventually spend $30 million to buy carbon removal credits from up to 10 winners.

    The nascent carbon removal industry is desperate for customers. At a conference held in New York City last week called Carbon Unbound, startup CEOs brainstormed how to convince more companies to buy carbon removal as part of their sustainability strategies. On the sidelines, attendees lamented to me that there were hardly even any potential buyers at the conference — what a missed opportunity.

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    Tom Steyer Is Baffled By Warren Buffett’s Oil Bets

    “In the case of fossil fuels, he doesn’t seem to recognize how quickly our ability to develop and deploy clean energy is growing — and how cheap that energy is becoming.”

    Tom Steyer and Warren Buffett.
    Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

    If you’re looking for a relatively optimistic read on the fight against climate change, Tom Steyer’s new book is out today. Called Cheaper, Better Faster: How We’ll Win the Climate War, it dives into the billionaire’s perspective on the state of the climate crisis and the clean energy solutions helping the world decarbonize. Steyer’s perspective is informed by the many hats he wears — investor, philanthropist, long shot 2020 presidential candidate, Yale man, and co-founder of the investment firm Galvanize Climate Solutions.

    I chatted with Steyer a few weeks ago about his book, his guiding investment principles, and how and why people become environmentalists. Here are three things I found noteworthy:

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