JPMorgan Chase Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2020 & Facilitating $200 Billion In Clean Energy Financing By 2025

 By: Joshua S. Hill

Multinational banking giant JPMorgan Chase has announced it is committing to sourcing 100% of its energy needs from renewable energy by 2020 and a promise to facilitate $200 billion in clean financing through 2025.

For those of us who have been covering global warming science and clean technology for a while now — for me, it’s been over a decade — the role that big business and big banking has stepped into in taking a leading role in advocating for sustainable business and banking, and a transition to a low-carbon economy, has been incredibly heartening. It would be naive to imagine that these moves have been made entirely on altruistic terms — they most certainly haven’t, but more so, they don’t need to be, considering the economic value in such moves — but it has been rewarding regardless, to see big money so actively engage in sustainable business.

JPMorgan Chase, one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States with assets of $2.6 trillion, and working in over 60 countries with more than 240,000 employees, announced this week that they “have gradually and thoughtfully been increasing our commitment to sustainability for over a decade.” Over a year ago, JPMorgan Chase announced that it was backing away from investing in new coal mining projects, adding such investments to a list of “Prohibited Transactions” alongside Forced or Child Labor and Illegal Logging. Further, and vitally important when we look to see beyond the altruistic motivations for such decisions, JPMorgan Chase explained that,

“When one of the world’s largest banks thinks about sustainability – it’s not just as an employer with a global real estate portfolio of 75 million square feet of space, which is approximately 27 times the square footage of the office space at the Empire State Building – but also as a financial services company helping its clients better manage sustainability challenges and capitalize on new opportunities.”

As such, JPMorgan Chase announced that it has “put a stake in the ground,” committing to sourcing renewable energy for 100% of its energy needs by 2020, and facilitating climate financing worth $200 billion through 2025. This impressive commitment is the largest made by a financial institution, and will likely spur many other institutions to match and exceed JPMorgan’s commitments.

“Business must play a leadership role in creating solutions that protect the environment and grow the economy,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. “This global investment leverages the firm’s resources and our people’s expertise to make our operations more energy efficient and provide clients with the resources they need to develop more sustainable products and services.”

JPMorgan Chase hasn’t just gone in for impressive-sounding-but-vague promises, either. In its announcement, the company explicitly laid out what its commitments look like.

Specifically, JPMorgan Chase will seek to develop on-site solar power generation for up to 1,400 bank-owned retail and 40 commercial buildings across the globe. The company will also begin seeking Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy — such as the recently signed 20-year PPA with a subsidiary of NRG Energy for approximately 75% of the electricity produced from the in-production 100 MW Buckthorn wind farm in Texas.

Further, JPMorgan Chase will seek to reduce its energy consumption through energy efficiency measures, such as the construction of the world’s largest LED lighting installation. Further, approximately 4,500 Chase branches will install new lighting technologies, and the company has already retrofitted 2,500 branches to date, for a total of 1.4 million light bulbs, cutting Chase’s lighting energy consumption by 50%.

On the clean financing side of things, the company — which has already facilitated and advised on some of the world’s largest clean financings — will begin advising its clients on “leading strategic transactions and capital raises in the renewable energy sector.” The company will also seek to finance and provide risk management solutions for clients’ renewable energy projects, as well as for companies facilitating new energy, technology, transportation, waste management, and water treatment.

JPMorgan Chase also underwrites debt with a sustainable use of proceeds for municipal, corporate, and multilateral clients, totaling nearly $15 billion in 2016, and already in 2017 Chase has served as active bookrunner on Apple’s $1 billion green bond offering in June. Finally, JPMorgan Chase will seek to support its clients’ sustainability measures.



Three Renewable Energy Numbers to Impress Your Friends With: 7, 43, 50

Credit: USC

By: John Rodgers

Next time you’re talking with a friend about the exciting things happening in our electricity sector (aren’t you always?), here are three easy numbers for remembering how we’re doing: 7, 43, and 50.  That’s: wind energy’s progress, solar energy’s growth, and the number of states making it happen.

Wind’s growth = 7

Renewables on the Rise, a new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the Frontier Group, details some of the progress we’ve made in this country over the last decade, and includes handy accompanying graphics. Here’s a glimpse of what it all looks like.

Growth in renewable energy in recent years has meant we produced almost seven times as much wind-powered electricity in the US in 2016 as we did in 2007. And wind’s share of our national electricity generation increased from 0.8% to 5.5%.

All told, the tens of thousands of wind turbines dotting the landscape generate enough to cover the electricity needs of some 25 million typical American homes.

The wind action is taking place from coast to coast and particularly in plenty of places in between, from coal-has-been-king-but-here-comes-wind Wyoming to where cod rule (think offshore wind).

And, increasingly, wind is an energy option that decision makers ignore (or get wrong) at their peril.

Solar’s growth = 43

Recent gains have in some ways been even more impressive for solar. The baseline is maybe a little tough to pin down (and our own calculations suggest an even greater growth), but the new report says that we got 43 times as much electricity from solar in 2016 as in 2007.

That steep upward trajectory has taken solar from a minuscule 0.03% of US electricity generation to 1.4%. Still small, but definitely noticeable—and definitely worthy of notice, in terms of solar past and future. As my colleague Julie McNamara points out in that post, our 19.5 billion kilowatt-hours of solar generation in 2016 would have been enough to cover residential electricity needs in half the states.

And solar, like wind, isn’t resting on its laurels. Just last year, the US industry installed enough new solar capacity to provide 2 million homes’ worth of electricity.

States involved = 50

So where’s all this progress coming from? Though some are still finding their way, every state has some generation from solar and wind, and some have taken those technologies to pretty impressive heights.

For Texas, it (mostly wind) added up last year to 59 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to keep 4 billion light bulbs burning every evening of the year. In North Dakota, wind generation added up to the equivalent of 45% of the state’s electricity consumption; in Iowa, 42%. For California and Hawaii, solar, with help from wind, produced enough to have accounted for one out of every six kilowatt-hour consumed.

Sure, some states really need to get in on the action in a much bigger way (the details in the back of the new report help highlight leaders and… others). And they’d benefit in doing that by reaping all that renewables have to offer.

But even states without much yet on the generation side are contributing—and benefiting—in other ways, through manufacturing, for example, of components for solar or wind installations (see map). And that progress has meant jobs—in most cases, more solar and wind jobs than coal has to offer.

Our 50 united states are far from done. Every one of them has a lot more potential in solar, wind, and other renewables. Taking it the next step, and beyond, will be crucial.

But for a moment, acknowledging and celebrating clean energy progress is really important. For that, for the near term, just remember 7, 43, and 50.

Credit: American Wind Energy Association



Solar Power Will Exceed Thermal Output by 2027: Economic Survey

India has set itself the goal of 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022 and 275 GW by 2027.

NEW DELHI: India’s renewable energy programme is proceeding at such a rapid pace that its contribution to total power generation will equal that of coal in 2026 and surpass it the following year, according to projections made in the second volume of the Economic Survey released on Friday.

At present, India’s installed power capacity is 327 GW of which thermal power from coal comprises 192.16 GW or 55% of the total, while renewable energy capacity is 57.26 MW or 18% of the total. India has set itself the goal of 175 GW of renewable power capacity by 2022 and 275 GW by 2027.

But coal capacity is expected to increase by only 50 GW by 2022 and thereafter remain almost constant, as a result of which by 2027, coal-based power capacity will 248.51GW, or a shade less than that of renewables.

However, that will depend on the ambitious yearly energy targets being persistently achieved.

Already in 2016-17, installed renewable capacity increased by 24.5%, while thermal went up by merely 5.3%.

The survey notes that the cost of renewable energy has fallen drastically in recent years putting economic cost of solar and wind power almost on par with that of thermal power.

It points out that the levelised cost of electricity from solar halved between 2010 and 2014 and has fallen further since to a record low of Rs 2.44 per kwH at a solar auction in Rajasthan in May. It notes that wind tariffs too have dropped, though not as dramatically. But the survey also provides a detailed analysis of the social costs of both coal–based energy and renewable energy.

In all, it estimates that currently the social cost of renewables is around Rs 11 per kwH, three times the social cost of coal. However, in coming years, the balance is expected to change considerably as the cost of stranded assets becomes less important.

The report also notes that India is well on its way to achieving the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals it had committed to at international climate conferences.



Solar Glasses Generate Solar Power

Semitransparent organic solar cells in eyeglasses to power microprocessor, example of future solar-powered mobile applications

These Solar Glasses with lens-fitted semitransparent organic solar cells supply two sensors and electronics in the temples with electric power. Credit: KIT

Organic solar cells are flexible, transparent, and light-weight — and can be manufactured in arbitrary shapes or colors. Thus, they are suitable for a variety of applications that cannot be realized with conventional silicon solar cells. In the Energy Technology journal, researchers from KIT now present sunglasses with colored, semitransparent solar cells applied onto lenses that supply a microprocessor and two displays with electric power. This paves the way for other future applications such as the integration of organic solar cells into windows or overhead glazing.

“We bring solar power to places where other solar technologies fail,” says Dr. Alexander Colsmann, Head of Organic Photovoltaics Group at KIT’s Light Technology Institute (LTI). The “smart” Solar Glasses designed as a case study by the scientist and his team at KIT, is self-powered to measure and display the solar illumination intensity and ambient temperature. The solar cell lenses, perfectly fitted to a commercial frame, have a thickness of approx. 1.6 millimeters and weigh about six grams — just like the lenses of traditional sunglasses. The microprocessor and the two small displays are integrated into the temples of the Solar Glasses. They show the illumination intensity and the ambient temperature as bar graphs. The Solar Glasses also work in indoor environments under illumination down to 500 Lux, which is the usual illumination of an office or a living area. Under these conditions, each of the “smart” lenses still generates 200 milliwatt of electric power — enough to operate devices such as a hearing aid or a step counter.

“The Solar Glasses we developed are an example of how organic solar cells may be employed in applications that would not be feasible with conventional photovoltaics,” stresses PhD student Dominik Landerer who largely contributed to the development of the solar glasses at the Material Research Center for Energy Systems of KIT. In the eyes of the engineer, these solar cells, which are based on hydrocarbons, are very exciting devices due to their mechanical flexibility and the opportunity to adapt their color, transparency, shape, and size to the desired application.

According to Colsmann, another field of application is the integration of solar cells into buildings: Since the glass facades of high-rise buildings must often be shaded, it is an obvious option to use organic solar modules for transforming the absorbed light into electric power. A future vision for the engineer, who works on the basic understanding of organic solar cell and semiconductor components at the Material Research Center for Energy Systems, is to coat large surfaces with organic solar cells using reel-to-reel technology. The KIT researchers present their study on solar sunglasses, entitled “Solar Glasses: A Case Study on Semitransparent Organic Solar Cells for Self-Powered, Smart Wearable Devices,” in the Energy Technology journal. Their research was funded by the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) within the scope of the POPUP project which is aimed at developing novel materials and device structures suitable for competitive mass production processes and applications in the field of organic photovoltaics.



A Solar Plant in the Sahara Could Help Power the EU

A proposed solar farm in Tunisia could provide over 4 gigawatts of power for Europe.