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Category: Global Energy Trends

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Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

If you enjoyed learning more about the global solar industry via the International Solar Energy Society webpage, you’re going to like our next featured group: the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA (https://www.seia.org/ ).

What does SEIA do? Well, according to their ‘Advocacy’ page, “SEIA is the voice of the solar industry, advocating for the protection and expansion of the U.S. solar market. We represent the entire industry, from small-business owners to large, publicly traded companies. Along with our members and coalitions of allies, we advocate on behalf of solar and a transition to a clean energy economy at the federal, state, and local levels.” Because of their vast member network, they’re able to cover a wide range of topics relating to renewable energy, and are not limited to simply energy data (though they also produce charts/infographics/webinars to help), but are also able to better explain what financing options may be available to those hoping to diversify their energy production, discuss tax laws and how they apply to each system (residential and commercial), and break down the knowledge barriers to learning about the newest technology in renewable energy and how it will improve the overall effectiveness of each system.

As if this weren’t an extensive enough list, SEIA has partnered with the Smart Electric Power Alliance and other partner orgs to put on one of the largest solar conferences in the U.S. – Solar Power Intnernational (SPI), https://www.solarpowerinternational.com/. Every year thousands of energy industry experts gather to share the latest knowledge, gain insights into the energy industry, and to build their network of energy professionals at SPI – including small and big businesses, researchers and manufacturers alike. For more details about the incredible work SEIA is doing, check them out here: https://www.seia.org/initiatives-advocacy.

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International Solar Energy Society (ISES)

A couple of years ago I went to an energy conference where I met someone from the International Solar Energy Society, or ISES (https://www.ises.org/ ), who gave a talk on the global reach of solar power, and our collective role in promoting it and helping others do so. After his talk I approached him to thank him for the work they were doing, but also to ask him about the origin of their acronym which, I hate to admit, had been bugging me ever since I heard him say it. He laughed, as this was not the first time someone had asked him this question, and then assured me that the International Solar Energy Society had been around for a long time (60+ years in fact), and was in no way related to the group that seemed to share, at least phonetically, a similar acronym. 

I was interested to learn more about how they were building their network of renewable energy providers, and what work they were doing to promote solar energy solutions at the international level. Upon doing just a little research online, I found that their vision for solar is pretty similar to ours: “For over 60 years the members of The International Solar Energy Society (ISES)have undertaken the product research that has helped the renewable energy industry to grow. ISES, through its knowledge sharing and community building programs, helps its global membership provide the technical answers to accelerate the transformation to 100% renewable energy and thereby achieve the following vision: The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) envisions a world with 100% renewable energy for everyone used wisely and efficiently” (https://www.ises.org/who-we-are/about-ises). So, their vision for solar answers the “what” question, but if you look further down on this same page you’ll find information about “how” they are currently working to accomplish this through advocacy: “ISES has members in more than 110 countries, and Global contacts and partners in over 50 countries with thousands of associate members, and almost 100 company and institutional members throughout the world.” In addition to making global connections, they provide information and presentations at seminars, and publish source material, webinars, and info-graphics dispelling myths about solar power (check out a few here: https://www.ises.org/what-we-do/dispelling-myths). Curious to learn more about solar? Feel free to check out other links within their website for some helpful tidbits!

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Department of Energy (DOE)

At the intersection of local and global climate information – from smaller-scale projects to foreign policy decisions – is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Because they’re in charge of writing the micro and macro energy policies for the entire country – in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA (https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/downloads/mou/Summary_of_EPA-DOE_Partnership.pdf) – it would stand to reason that their online repository is a vast resource of information, and a great place to conduct your own research on what may be coming down the pipeline in the near future, or down the utility cable in this case (check it out here: https://www.energy.gov/). The most important information this site provides however, is insight into the U.S. energy budget, which more than words demonstrate just where environmental protection falls on the priority list. For example, if you check out the Energy Economy page, and scroll to the Funding & Financing tab, you’ll find a ton of potential resources for small business loans, large-scale utility grants, research grants for scientists and universities, and everything in between. Curious about our current national energy production? Check out the following link, which breaks down the data by energy source and/or global location: https://www.energy.gov/energy-economy/prices-trends. It’s safe to say there is a lot of good information on this site for contractors, scientists, and anyone with a curious eye towards the future. What’s something you’d like to see on this site in the future? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

In all honesty, unless you’re an industry professional, or are currently working on a related project, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, or DSIRE as it is also known, might be a little robust for what you need – but that’s exactly the appeal as well. This platform houses the country’s entire online database for renewable incentives in the U.S., broken down by state, and further filtered down to the city/county level. Just take a look at the table at the bottom of this page: https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/tx for more information about energy rebates and efficiency incentives in Texas.

If you’re in the Dallas area, you’re probably aware that ONCOR has a solar rebate program, however if you click on the ONCOR rebate link within the DSIRE portal, and read through the page, you’ll see information about program eligibility as well as the key changes to the program year after year. If you’re in Austin, you can learn more about the Value of Solar rate and how it differs from a traditional net metering program. If you’re in San Antonio you can learn more about how CPS is implementing their renewable rebate program – which has helped thousands of home owners in the San Antonio area save money going solar.

No matter where you are in the United States, chances are there is help available for you – check out this link, and the others on this list and you’re sure to find at least one or two options – and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions!

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American Council of Renewable Energy (ACORE)

There are a ton of really great resources for you if you’re looking to learn more about renewable energy, that cover a wide array of topics from articles and research papers to virtual events and webinars – you just have to know where to look. It’s easy to say “check out our website or give us a call with any questions” because I know SUNTEX employees are happy to help, but what if you want to do a little research on your own ahead of time? That’s where experts and non-profit organizations can help, and the best place to start is on the American Council on Renwable Energy, or ACORE, website. They have curated information from local and federal governments to help you understand the total cost of renewable, and how they’re being implemented into our nation’s energy grid. Because part of their mission is to make the information more digestible for the every-day American (in other words, people outside of the energy industry not reading articles about it daily), their site includes a ton of great info that is easily digestible and based on the latest intelligence coming directly from the White House, so you don’t have to be an expert to understand it.

According to their website, ACORE was “Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization that unites finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy” (https://acore.org/). It was created in effort to connect real-working people with Washington and Capitol Hill policy decision-makers, and has been an enormous asset for our team as we navigate the changes in this industry.

SUNTEX is a proud member of the ACORE community, and we’re happy to share what we learn with communities in Texas that may not have access or resources to tackle these questions themselves. As a member of ACORE, we’re able to leverage their database of information, attend events to learn more about what’s coming down the pipeline in renewables in the U.S., and expand our network to incorporate other ideas and solutions into our market offering. We’re happy to help you go solar, but more importantly we want to make sure we’re helping you make the best energy decisions for you and your family – which is why we believe it’s important to have access to the right information so you’re able to do just that! Please do check out their website to learn more, and feel free to respond in the comments section if you still have questions about ACORE or how they can help you to learn more about the renewable industry and how it impacts you.

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Resources to learn more about the Energy Industry: ACORE, DSIRE, DOE, EPA, ISES, SEIA, and TREIA

If you’re doing your own research on the solar industry, and would like a few resources to point you in the right direction, feel free to check out this week’s blogs! We’ll be analyzing different national and international organizations that specialize in the modernization of the energy industry – with a high emphasis on solar and solar energy storage (batteries). While this is not an extensive list, the groups we’ll review this week include some of the best and brightest in the industry, and each has a ton of resources for you to learn more about each different facet of the green energy market, see the short list along with links to each, below:

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Earthly Innovations to Celebrate Around the World

Everyone wants to build their own home, or must, to survive the earthly elements – try being in a hail storm, for example, without even a tarp over your head. When we ask ourselves what our ideal homes would look like, how many of us ask what the ideal energy solution would look like too? For example, you might want vaulted ceilings and marble flooring – and all of the latest Energystar rated appliances, of course – but how many architects are ensuring that these tall-walled rooms are bright and warm in the winter, and lit but cool in the summer? By design, and perhaps a couple of windows/sky lights in the right place, and you’re set! When you apply then the carbon footprint cost, how many of us decided to build our homes with locally-sourced materials?

Some people are clearly making this connection, like the woman in Kenya who created her own recycled bricks using locally sourced materials. Nzambi Matee’s buildings are not only structurally sound, but installations of art as well: “Kenyan woman’s startup recycles plastic into bricks that are stronger than concrete”(https://www.designboom.com/technology/gjenge-makers-recycled-plastic-bricks-kenya-02-08-2021/). According to the article on Designboom.com, “before creating gjenge makers ltd, nzambi matee majored in material science and worked as an engineer in kenya’s oil industry. in 2017 she quit her job to start creating and testing pavers, which are a combination of plastic and sand. she gets the waste material for free from packaging factories and also buys it from other recyclers. through experimentation, she understood which plastics bind better together and then created the machinery that would allow her to mass produce them.”

For another example of a local innovation, check out the young entrepreneurs featured (right) whom created a solar-powered cooking station! According to his account on Twitter, Mr. Usman Dalhatu and partners had this to say of the collaboration, “We met with Dalsman Technologies Limited, creators of the iCart Solution. We explored areas of mutual interest, and avenues to empower petty traders in Kaduna. iCart is a solar powered, compact kiosk targeted at small businesses including Shayi, Suya and Kosai vendors,” and also the following: “The journey from ideation to final development of products is a truly fascinating one. It was delightful to discuss with @KadunaMarkets, our dev’t vision for Kaduna through deployment of the iCart. Looking forward to the exciting implementation journey that lies ahead.” https://twitter.com/UsmanDalhatu5

What’s in your area, or in your home, that could be re-purposed into something sustainable? It could be something as complex as designing a brick for a home using locally sourced materials and keeping natural heating and cooling elements in mind, or a solar-powered food-cart instead of using a gas or electric-powered stove – to something as simple as a dish-rack, for example – which is a much more sustainable way to dry your plates and dishes, and costs little to nothing to purchase and use. What else will make a difference in energy consumption in your home, your schools, in your business?

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The Solution: Paris Climate Accords – Why Should I Care About Paris?

If you’ve been following along with our blog this week, you know that: 1) energy usage isn’t just increasing in the U.S. – it’s increasing all over the world; 2) energy production is meeting energy consumption in a few countries, but severely lacking in many other countries outside of the U.S. and China (which will lead to blackouts), and 3) that Carbon Dioxide – a harmful greenhouse gas associated with climate change – is not produced when using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, or hydro-electric energy.

If this is true, what’s the solution? This is where things get really interesting! For many years, climate scientists and activists have been the only ones sounding the alarm on climate change, however thanks in large parts to their efforts (and to the increase in the price of non-renwable resources like oil and gas), world leaders are finally starting to listen. In December 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Climate Accords! This was monumental because no other agreement of it’s kind had included such a wide array of countries all advocating for the same cause: the reduction in climate change. To learn more about what this agreement entails, check out the following link: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement; or for a more detailed look, check out the full text of the Paris Climate Accord here: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/english_paris_agreement.pdf. With this agreement, each country designated their own goals for CO2 reduction – which means if you’re thinking about increasing the energy efficiency of your home, you’re not alone! Almost every country in the world is doing the same thing, and hopefully if we work together, we can see notable changes before it’s too late.

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Energy Production Around the World

One thing we did not specifically call out in yesterday’s blog, that I’d like to call attention to now is on the CO2 production page, here – https://yearbook.enerdata.net/co2-fuel-combustion/CO2-emissions-data-from-fuel-combustion.html – take a look at the CO2 production contributors by source titled, “Breakdown by energy 2019”. Notice anything interesting? On this chart, you will find that the CO2 production comes directly from Oil, Coal, and Gas – even though there are other energy contributors in these countries, namely Wind, Solar, and Hydro. This is because while there may be some negligible CO2 costs with regard to transportation of goods or the initial installation, these sources do not contribute to the production of CO2 in the air! 

If this is obvious, then congratulations – you’re ahead of the game – since this is part of why they’re called “renewable sources”. If you read the paragraphs below this chart, you’ll get a better picture as to which countries specifically are increasing/reducing their carbon footprint and how. The short story is that by harnessing sun power, wind power, and water power to create electricity, they are reducing their consumption of CO2-producing energy sources (oil, coal, and gas)which is why renewable energy is so very important to the reduction of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Now that we have this basic understanding of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy, let’s take a look at some of the energy production numbers around the world.

Global energy production: see here – https://yearbook.enerdata.net/total-energy/world-energy-production.html, and for a more detailed look, here – https://www.iea.org/reports/world-energy-balances-overview.

What do you notice about energy supply and energy demand (or energy consumption, as discussed in yesterday’s blog)? Post your comments about global energy production trends below!

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Energy Usage Around the World

Back to the Basics: let’s take a look at energy usage trends. The way in which we choose to use energy in our homes and in our lives is not fact or fiction, or personal opinion, or necessity – it’s cultural.

I’ve always considered myself an energy advocate, but it wasn’t until I visited Spain that I realized that clothes dryers are not essential to every day life. Are they helpful? Absolutely! However they also use a ton of energy (we’ve looked into this before, but according to Direct Energy it’s about 2-6 kWh, https://www.directenergy.com/learning-center/how-much-energy-dryer-use#:~:text=Electric%20dryers%20span%20a%20wide,cents%2C%20depending%20on%20the%20model), and while I understand that I’m not going to get the same soft, “fresh out of the dryer” effect with a clothing line, it made me wonder how I could reshape my cultural norms of energy usage, and what this might look like on a global scale.

Global Energy Usage: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/total-energy/world-consumption-statistics.html

This data is interesting though probably not surprising. China used the most electricity from 1919-2019, followed by the U.S., and then India – but that correlates *almost* directly with populations, at least for the most populous three countries (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/), since the top three nations with the highest population are currently: China, India, and the U.S., respectively. After the top three however, this correlation between energy usage and population weakens – the following countries with the highest energy usage, according to the same link – Russia, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Canada – are not the countries with the next highest populations – Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, and Bangladesh. Thus, energy per person is not the same in every country.

The picture is even more puzzling when looking at CO2 emissions. You might think that CO2 emissions correlate directly with energy usage – but take a look at the following link, and you’ll find that’s once again, not true: https://yearbook.enerdata.net/co2-fuel-combustion/CO2-emissions-data-from-fuel-combustion.html. This implies that some countries use energy more efficiently than others – they use more energy, but produce less CO2. There is of course more to this story – which we’ll continue onto later in the week – but for now, I hope this gets you thinking about energy efficiency and how you can improve it on an individual level, by changing the culture around energy usage one step at a time.

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