Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution

Corporations and other institutional buyers accounted for nearly one-quarter of new installed wind capacity in the U.S. in 2014. Image copyright Thinkstock / kojihirano.

The global transformation of energy use continues, and there are recent encouraging signs that it’s as strong as ever. We’ve seen progress on the fronts of rooftop solar, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency, including — most excitedly — their integration.

For example, in early April SolarCity and Nest announced a partnership to make their technologies jointly available to customers in California, opening possibilities to better integrate rooftop solar’s electricity production with a home’s thermostat and air conditioning. At the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Future of Energy summit in New York City in mid-April, analysts shared the latest data showing that in 2013 for the first time renewable electricity beat fossil fuels for new capacity additions globally. And earlier this year, the International Energy Agency announced that for the first time in 40 years energy-related CO2 emissions were stable even as the global economy grew.

For sure our job is far from done. Much remains to do with dwindling time to do it. But these milestones demonstrate that the revolution is gaining momentum.

In this issue of Solutions Journal, you’ll read many other exciting stories about how we’re transforming global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure future. In our main feature, we discuss Rocky Mountain Institute’s strategic merger with Carbon War Room (CWR), a complementary nonprofit that similarly seeks gigaton-scale carbon emissions reductions through profitable market-based solutions. Publicly announced in December 2014, these first months of 2015 have seen several examples of RMI and CWR going further, faster, together — in the Caribbean with the Ten Island Challenge to transition island-nations from fossil-fuel dependence to efficiency and renewables (read about our recently announced partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative), in the next stage of the Shipping Efficiency operation to reduce the carbon intensity and improve the fuel efficiency of the world’s shipping fleet, and with the Business Renewables Center to accelerate renewable energy purchasing among Fortune 500 companies.

Rooftop solar combined with batteries will be cost effective for millions of customers in the years just ahead. Image copyright Thinkstock / hansenn.

You’ll also read how RMI is at the heart of the electricity system’s evolution, coming at the challenges and opportunities from both sides of the equation: as a strategic advisor to New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision regulatory proceeding, which reached a major milestone earlier this year, and with our recently released report The Economics of Load Defection, about how grid-connected solar-plus-battery systems could supply a majority of customers’ electricity within the next 10–15 years.

For the second year in a row, RMI is also proud to be part of a BNEF FiRe award at the Finance for Resilience event in April. Last year our Business Renewables Center won. This year, beEdison — powered by the truSolar platform co-developed by RMI to create a FICO-like risk score for commercial solar projects — won. We’re equally excited about the launch of our new mobility program, with an opportunity for the U.S. to save $1 trillion and 2 billion barrels of oil per year. And speaking of oil, our esteemed chief scientist Amory Lovins weighs in on the causes and effects of oil’s recent price drop.

Finally, on the home front, construction on RMI’s Innovation Center in Basalt, Colorado, continues, with occupancy anticipated for late this year. In this issue, we take a look at the cutting-edge ways we’re addressing the thermal comfort of staff and visitors, a key component of making the building one of the single most energy-efficient buildings of its size in its climate zone anywhere.

These and other stories within these pages are more signs than ever that a clean, prosperous, and secure energy future is within grasp. But will we seize it within enough time, before the worst effects of climate change take hold? Will businesses around the world grasp this enormous economic opportunity to lead the transition? And will customers and society fully grasp the vast range of economic, equity, security, and environmental co-benefits?

Image copyright Rocky Mountain Institute.

Looking ahead to the 21st United Nations conference on climate change in Paris this upcoming December, there’s hope that the joint U.S.-China greenhouse gas emissions announcement of late 2014 paved the way for real international agreements. In the meantime, RMI and CWR’s market-based solutions forge ahead, driving an energy transformation and gigaton-scale carbon emissions reductions that — with our diverse industry and philanthropic partners — are changing the world.

You are one of those partners. As our fiscal year draws to a close at the end of June, you are as integral to the energy revolution as ever. Thank you for your support.

Jules Kortenhorst is the CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room.


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