2018: The Year of 100% Clean Energy

Last year, tense debate over the feasibility of 100 percent
renewables entirely consumed the
energy industry. Stanford professor Dr.
Mark Jacobson
stood on one side, arguing 100 percent renewables
is already technically possible by 2050, while Dr.
Christopher Clack
led
critiques
picking apart that modeling. The controversy even
spurred a
lawsuit

In 2018 those conversations didn’t entirely dissolve, but they
were overshadowed by action.

Two states, California and New Jersey, joined Hawaii in
committing to 100 percent clean energy (Hawaii’s
goal
is actually 100 percent renewables). In December, the
number of cities committed to 100 percent clean or renewable energy
surpassed 100. And recent progress for the “Green New Deal” in
Congress has federal policymakers also
mulling
a 100 percent renewable future.    

Deal or no deal 

Supporters of the Green New Deal call
for a select committee to develop a mobilization plan to tackle
climate change and aid the transition to a just economy. 

As the Washington Post recently
reported
, the phrase itself has been used many times in recent
history. But it’s gained momentum in its latest
form
due to protests from groups like the Sunrise Movement and
through endorsements by incoming progressive lawmakers like
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

This week, Democratic leaders indicated they would move ahead in
creating a select committee on climate change, but it will not
consider the Green New Deal as its “sole focus,” according to chosen
chair, Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida.   

Despite the defeat
of a more aggressive agenda, attention at the federal level has
spurred hope for many 100 percent renewables and environmental
advocates.

U.S. actions at the latest climate talks in Poland, however, did
not.

The Trump administration continues to say it will leave the
Paris climate agreement — which, based on the pact, it
cannot
legally do until 2020 — and promote
fossil fuels on the sidelines of climate talks. Meanwhile, U.S.
corporations, states and other subnational players are continuing
to assert their support of the Paris agreement. But that sideline
diplomacy didn’t entirely fill the vacuum left by U.S. leadership
at official negotiations.

Though countries came away from the Poland meeting with a set of
rules to meet the Paris agreement, they still aren’t close to
achieving what’s needed to avoid disastrous climate change. And
they couldn’t even agree on whether they should fully endorse the
findings of the IPCC’s dire report. 

One hundred for 100 percent

Many localities have announced 100 percent clean energy or
renewables goals in 2018. Some were more ambitious than others, but
the sheer volume suggests momentum for more commitments is
building. 

California’s
passage
of SB100 was arguably the most high-profile 100 percent
commitment of the year. Lawmakers in the state passed a bill
setting a 100 percent clean energy by 2045 mandate, which leaves
the door open to technologies aside from wind and solar.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order
calling for 100 percent clean energy by 2050. It specifically cited
the development of offshore wind, community solar and energy
storage. 

More recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
raised
100 percent zero-carbon energy by 2040 as a priority for
his administration in 2019. Other newly-elected
governors
, in states like Illinois and Connecticut, ran on

platforms
of reaching 100 percent renewables in coming
decades.

Two of the country’s jurisdictions where statehood is hotly
debated, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., also recently made moves
toward 100 renewables. In November, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo
Rosselló proposed a
target
of 100 percent renewables by 2050. The territory’s
legislature is considering a similar goal. 

In D.C., the city council passed an ambitious target of 100
percent renewables by 2032, although much of that will be
met
with renewable energy credits.

Over 100 cities joined D.C. in moving toward 100 percent
renewables or clean energy this year. And commitments came from
across the country, in regions with varied renewable energy and
power markets.

Minneapolis
pledged
to reach 100 percent renewables by 2030 and Cincinnati

targeted
100 percent renewables by 2035. Both
Denver
and Berkeley
set
targets more ambitious than those proposed or already
approved by their states, 100 percent by 2030 and by 2035,
respectively. 

Corporations joined as well, with Xcel Energy
announcing
a goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity by
2050 (a target that will have to come sooner if Colorados
Governor-elect Jared Polis gets his way). Visa
adopted
a fast goal of 100 percent renewable by 2019, and Sony

expanded
its 100 percent renewables goal to North America and
China operations.

Overall, it was a
record
year for corporate and industrial offtakers procuring
wind and solar.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
2018: The Year of 100% Clean Energy