Overnight Energy & Environment

Overnight Energy: Solar installations dropped in 2018 | UN report says rising Arctic temperatures ‘locked in’ | Fiat Chrysler to recall 850K vehicles


SOLAR INSTALLATIONS DIPPED LAST YEAR: The growth of solar installations across the U.S. dipped in 2018, according to a new report out Wednesday.

Solar installations were down 2 percent from 2017, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest report. Nonresidential solar photovoltaic capacity saw an annual decline of 8 percent, with utility-scale solar use contracting dropping 7 percent in 2018.

The drop is being attributed to tariffs that the Trump administration placed on foreign imports of aluminum and steel last February, which solar companies relied on for the creation of solar cells used to create electrical energy.

Last year it was estimated that the tariffs led to the cancelation and freezing of investments of more than $2.5 billion in large installation projects, as well as thousands of solar jobs. At least one major U.S. solar company had to lay off a significant portion of its workforce following the tariffs. Some companies were later able to gain an exemption from the rule.

“The solar industry experienced growing pains in 2018, in large part due to the unnecessary tariffs that were imposed on solar cells and modules, but this report still finds significant reason for optimism,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president.

In total, 10.6 gigawatts of solar panels came online in 2018, according to the report.

The report, however, anticipates that solar installations will soon rebound next year and in following years. Installed photovoltaic capacity is expected to increase by 14 percent in 2019, with installations reaching 15.8 gigawatts by 2021, according to the study.

“The total amount of solar installed in America is on track to more than double in the next five years, proving solar’s resiliency and its economic strength. It’s clear, this next decade is going to be one of significant growth,” said Hopper.

More on the report here.


Happy Wednesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news.Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com. Follow me on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @thehill.

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UNITED NATIONS REPORT FINDS TEMP RISE ‘LOCKED IN’ FOR ARCTIC: The Arctic is now “locked in” to experiencing unnatural levels of temperature rise by as early as 2050, according to a new United Nations environmental report out Wednesday.

Dramatic temperature increases in the globe’s northernmost region, which is typically covered by permafrost, is unavoidable, according to the report released at the United Nations Environment Assembly.

Even if countries were to meet the original goals of the Paris climate agreement, it would do nothing to stop Arctic winter temperatures from increasing 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and 5 to 9 degrees Celsius by 2080, according to the report.

The resulting sea level rise worldwide would be devastating.

The report also warned that the rapid thawing of permafrost in the region could likely accelerate the effects of climate change, which could completely negate any long-term international pacts and goals to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius compared to 1986-2005 levels.

The report comes the same day that the U.N. released its sixth Global Environment Outlook, which is intended to help policymakers worldwide assess the state of the planet and layout environmental goals. The outlook issued a blunt warning about the effects of human activity on the Earth, projecting that air pollution and other environmental consequences could lead to the premature deaths of millions of people over the next few decades.

Last fall the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that warned of irreversible damage to the globe if temperature increases were not limited to 2 degrees of warming. The report found that the U.S. had 12 years to act to remediate the effects of global warming.

Wednesday’s report indicates the timeline could be even shorter.

“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” said Joyce Msuya, U.N. Environment Programme’s acting executive director, in a statement. “We have the science; now more urgent climate action is needed to steer away from tipping points that could be even worse for our planet than we first thought.”

To put the study’s findings into perspective, even if global emissions were to completely stop overnight, winter temperatures in the Arctic would still increase between 4 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2100 compared to the late 20th century’s temperatures, the study found.

The reason for the continued warming lies in the temperature-locking nature of greenhouse gas emissions already in the atmosphere and ocean heat storage.

Read more here.


And more climate report news…


ANOTHER REPORT SAYS ‘URGENT ACTION’ NEEDED TO PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH: A separate United Nations report released Wednesday issued a blunt warning about the effects of human activity on the Earth, projecting that air pollution and other environmental consequences could lead to the premature deaths of millions of people over the next few decades.

The U.N. issued its sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO), which is intended to help policymakers worldwide assess the state of the planet and lay out environmental goals.

“The overall condition of the global environment has continued to deteriorate since the first edition of GEO, despite environmental policy efforts across all countries and regions,” the report states. “Environmental policy efforts are being hindered by a variety of factors, in particular unsustainable production and consumption patterns in most countries and climate change.”

“Urgent action at an unprecedented scale is necessary to arrest and reverse this situation, thereby protecting human and environmental health and maintaining the current and future integrity of global ecosystems,” the report continues.

The 740-page report calls on international leaders to implement practices to reduce land degradation; cut down on air, land and water pollution; address climate change; and improve water and resource management.

Wednesday’s report is the latest instance of the United Nations warning countries of the impending consequences of climate change.

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, told global leaders in September that the world has less than two years to avoid “runaway climate change.”

A report issued in October by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the world might be on a path toward catastrophic climate change if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t cut dramatically by 2030.

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association said 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record by average temperature.

Environmental activists have criticized the Trump administration for cutting regulations and failing to adequately address the issue of climate change.

President Trump has long cast doubt on the existence and effects of climate change. The president late last year downplayed a government report on the subject, telling reporters that he doesn’t believe its warnings about the economic impacts of climate change.

More here.


FIAT CHRYSLER TO RECALL 850K VEHICLES THAT DON’T MEET EMISSIONS STANDARDS: Automobile maker Fiat Chrysler has agreed to recall 862,520 vehicles in the U.S. that don’t meet emissions standards, the EPA said Wednesday.

The recall is the result of an EPA emissions investigation and follows testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement that the agency “welcomes the action by Fiat Chrysler to voluntarily recall its vehicles that do not meet U.S. emissions standards,” Reuters first reported.

“We will provide assistance to consumers navigating the recall and continue to ensure that auto manufacturers abide by our nation’s laws designed to protect human health and the environment,” Wheeler added.

The EPA said the recall will affect 2011-2016 Dodge Journeys, 2011-2014 Chrysler 200s and Dodge Avengers, 2011-2012 Dodge Calibers and 2011-2016 Jeep Compass/Patriots.

Fiat Chrysler did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

“EPA will continue to investigate other FCA vehicles which are potentially non-compliant and may become the subject of future recalls,” the agency said in a statement.

More on the recall here.



House GOP leadership Thursday will hold a press conference in the Capitol to discuss the Green New Deal. Details are limited, but the meeting will be led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and include Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.), Rob Bishop (Utah), Mike Conaway (Texas), Sam Graves (Mo.), Frank Lucas (Okla.) and Patrick McHenry (N.C.).

Also Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee will hold a hearing to examine “opportunities to improve access, infrastructure, and permitting for outdoor recreation.”



Grand Teton National Park pursuing disputed cell-tower build, The Washington Post reports.

Colorado Senate gives final approval to oil and gas reform bill, The Denver Post reports.



Check out Tuesday’s stories…

-De Blasio announces ‘Meatless Mondays’ in all NY public schools next year

-UN report finds temperature rise is ‘locked in’ for Arctic

-Solar panel installations dip in 2018: report

-UN report: ‘Urgent action’ needed to protect human, environmental health

Tags Arctic Climate change Donald Trump Electricity emissions Energy Frank Lucas Greg Walden Kevin McCarthy Mike Conaway Patrick McHenry POWER Rob Bishop Sam Graves solar panels
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