Tag Archives: Energy Policy / Independence

Lithium mining

Lithium mining in the United States: why is it so controversial?

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Lithium, the lightest element of all the metals, is a crucial resource for the United States’ clean energy future: it’s key in the production of lithium ion rechargeable batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles and serve as home storage systems. While the U.S. is the largest consumer of lithium and will only increase its future consumption as it strives to meet the Biden Administration’s ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets, America’ domestic mining of lithium is limited to just one percent of annual global production.

Currently, only one lithium mine operates in the United States, the Silver Peak mine in Clayton Valley, Nevada; most of the global lithium supply is extracted in Chile and Australia. While some politicians are calling for increased domestic mining of the metal, at the end of May 2021, Reuters reported that the Biden Administration would supply the majority of lithium from ally countries, including Canada, Australia, and Brazil. Though this strategy may seem antithetical to the Administration’s clean energy jobs goals, it comes on the heels of many environmentalists’ concerns over two potential lithium mines in Nevada that could become operational in a few years. In this article, we’ll break down lithium mining and why these two mines are so controversial.   

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Ethical Solar Sourcing

Ethical sourcing of solar components

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The solar industry is very much a part of the global economy: its supply chain traverses countries, oceans and continents, sourcing raw materials from certain regions, manufacturing products in others, and, ultimately, sending solar products to home and business owners everywhere. With how interconnected the solar industry is, it’s important to be cognizant of where and how solar equipment is sourced. In lieu of recent credible reports of human rights abuses and forced labor in parts of China that feed into the solar supply chain, it’s worth looking at how to ensure that the solar equipment you purchase is ethically and sustainably sourced. 

Before digging into this, a quick note: allegations of human rights abuses and other unethical practices are an atypical topic area for us. After all, we write about clean energy, not issues of geopolitical intrigue. But we don’t take these reports of human rights violations and forced labor lightly, and we want to make sure you’re aware of this ongoing investigation and have options to ensure your solar equipment is ethically produced.

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NEM 3.0

Net metering 3.0: what does it mean for you, and how can you help?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you look at the best solar markets in the US, they all have one thing in common: a strong net metering policy. Net metering–or NEM–allows you to earn credits for any excess solar electricity you send to the grid when your solar panel system generates more than you need. 

Over the next year, California will be releasing the third iteration of net metering, or NEM 3.0. And as of summer 2021, there’s still a lot for the state to decide on – we don’t know exactly how credit values will change, or what they’ll change to, but we do know that whatever happens will have large implications for the country’s leading solar market. We’ll continue to keep this article updated with the most recent news on NEM 3.0, and in the meantime, discuss some of the proposed changes to the state’s current net metering policy, along with timelines.

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solar carve-out

Solar carve-outs

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More than thirty states in the United States currently have renewable energy policies. Most of these goals, targets, and mandates allow for compliance from a range of different types of renewable energy technologies. In a few cases, however, states have included a technology-specific mandate as a part of their renewable energy policies. One such policy mechanism is a solar carve-out.

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100 percent renewable targets

100 percent renewable targets

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Since Hawaii became the first state in the country to pass a 100 percent renewable energy target in 2015, a number of other states, cities and utilities have followed suit. In fact, more than a dozen states and US territories have gotten in on the action with targets to procure all of their electricity from either renewable or non-emitting resources. As new states pass legislation, we will be sure to keep this list up to date.

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fight climate change

What you can do to fight climate change?

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Climate change is no longer something in the distant future: from severe storms, to wildfires, to rising sea levels, we’re already experiencing the deadly side effects of a warming planet. While there’s nothing we can do to stop climate change in its tracks immediately, there are actions we can take to mitigate. 

So, as an individual, what can you do? Here are five ways that you can help in the fight against climate change: 

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net metering in california with calssa

What’s happening to net metering in California? A Q&A with CALSSA

Reading Time: 5 minutes

California has historically been the best market for solar in the US, and the success of the solar industry as a whole can largely be traced back to the success of solar in California. In fact, out of the more than 2.5 million residential solar installations in the US, more than 1.2 million are in California alone! 

However, the future of solar in California –and of residential solar in particular–hangs in the balance. In a current review of the future of net metering in the state, a series of proposals before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recommend significantly reducing the value of residential net metering credits. For a sense of the types of proposals submitted, check out this joint proposal from the major utilities in the state, which would reduce residential net metering credits to 23 percent of their value today and impose a monthly fee on solar owners of nearly $80 per month, making new residential solar all but impossible in the state. 

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