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Economy

What to Expect From Solar and Battery Storage This Year

On 2024 power projects, pension funds, and the king’s car

What to Expect From Solar and Battery Storage This Year
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Rush hour commutes in the Midwest could be snarled by snow today • The whole of England and Wales is under a weather warning for heavy rain and floods • February temperatures in parts of the Atlantic Ocean are nearing highs normally seen in July.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Solar and battery storage expected to set records in 2024 for new electricity generating capacity

The vast majority – 81% – of new utility-scale electricity generating capacity expected to come online this year will be in the form of solar and battery storage, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency’s latest Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory shows projects with 62.8 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity are in the pipeline, a 55% increase over the 40.4 GW added last year. More than half of that will be solar, and about a quarter will be battery storage. “We expect U.S. battery storage capacity to nearly double in 2024,” the report said. Electrek also noted that “2024 will see the least new natural gas capacity added in 25 years.”

EIA

2. House passes bill to reverse Biden’s LNG pause

The Republican-controlled House voted yesterday to pass a bill reversing President Biden’s pause on approvals of liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. The vote was 224-200, with nine democrats voting in favor. While the bill is unlikely to get the green light in the Senate, its passage “could embolden House Republicans to include language easing the pause in future government funding legislation,” Bloombergsaid. This particular bill would end the Department of Energy’s (DoE) power to approve exports, handing it instead to the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Biden paused approval of new export terminals recently until the DoE can study their environmental impact, earning praise from activists who claim LNG may be worse for the climate than coal, but scorn from many Republicans who say the move compromises energy security.

3. Major climate investor group loses key asset managers

The world’s largest group aimed at leveraging investor power to pressure corporations to prioritize climate change lost some of its biggest members this week. JPMorgan Asset Management and State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) said yesterday they are leaving the Climate Action 100+ (CA100) group, and BlackRock Inc. said it will no longer be affiliated. CA100 partners with more than 700 investors – which collectively manage about $70 trillion in assets – to pressure oil giants, shipping firms, airlines, and other big companies “that are critical to the net-zero emissions transition.” It initially focused on encouraging companies to make climate disclosures but recently decided to go further and start pushing them to actively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. It seems this was a step too far. The departures remove nearly $14 trillion in assets from the climate group, and follow intense political pressure from Republicans targeting ESG investing. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more defections,” Lance Dial, a Boston-based partner at law firm K&L Gates LLP, toldBloomberg.

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  • 4. New York state pension fund divests from fossil fuel firms

    In more news from the financial world, America’s third-largest state pension fund is scaling back its investment in some oil and gas companies. The New York State Common Retirement Fund, which holds about $260 billion in assets, will divest about $27 million from seven firms including Exxon Mobil Corp. following a review of the companies’ preparedness to shift to a low-carbon economy. The move is “a compromise measure” between the fund and environmentalists who want to see full divestment, Reuterssaid. “The decision could deal another blow to Exxon’s reputation,” reportedInside Climate News, but the fund will still maintain $500 million worth of Exxon shares.

    5. U.N. might create expert group to study solar geoengineering

    Switzerland wants the United Nations to create a group of experts dedicated to studying solar geoengineering, according toClimate Home News. The panel would “examine risks and opportunities” of solar radiation management (SRM) techniques, which are “hypothetical technologies that could, in theory, counteract temperature rise by reflecting more sunlight away from the Earth’s surface,” as Carbon Briefexplained. Reactions from scientists are mixed, with some suggesting more research is warranted, but others concerned about “the risks of opening a Pandora’s box.” Governments will vote on the proposal next week.

    THE KICKER

    The Royal Family’s first-ever electric vehicle, King Charles III’s 2018 Jaguar I-Pace, is up for auction and could go for up to $88,000. The king once called the car “silent but deadly.”

    Yellow

    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. Read More

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