Rooftop Solar Industry Creates $18.3 Billion in Economic Impact for Florida, Conservatives for Clean Energy Study Finds


The rooftop solar industry supports sustained economic development throughout Florida and generates $18.3 billion in economic impact, according to a new study issued by Conservatives for Clean Energy Florida (CCE).

The Washington Economics Group produced the study, Comprehensive Economic Development Impacts of the Rooftop Solar Power Industry on the State of Florida. 

Among its key findings, the study assessed the economic value of rooftop solar in Florida, determining that the industry provides a combined $3.2 billion in household income for Florida workers and contributes $10.6 billion to the state’s gross domestic product.

This study demonstrates just how economically important the solar energy industry is to Florida, from the state level down to individual homeowners,” said Conservatives for Clean Energy Florida Director George Riley. “The rooftop solar industry is a catalyst for economic growth that will help power our state forward, and that’s why lawmakers should support important policies like net metering that provide opportunities for small businesses and families to take control of their energy bills and create jobs.”

The study found that more than 40,000 Florida jobs are supported by the rooftop solar power industry, from knowledge-based services and government roles to wholesale trade and construction jobs. Florida’s rooftop solar industry is the fourth largest in the nation, with over 400 solar businesses in the Sunshine State.

“The growth of Florida’s rooftop solar power industry creates vast, measurable economic impacts that generate high-wage employment for Floridians and make important contributions to household income each year,” said Tony Villamil, Founder and Principal Advisor of the Washington Economics Group, Inc. “This study makes clear that the industry’s impacts enhance long-lasting economic growth and will benefit Florida’s residents and businesses for years to come.”

Solar energy currently powers almost 800,000 Florida homes, and that number is expected to continue growing. According to the study, solar is projected to meet up to 30% of Florida’s total electricity needs over the next 10 years.

About Conservatives for Clean Energy. Conservatives for Clean Energy (CCE) educates the public and decision-makers on the economic benefits of clean energy initiatives in the Southeast.


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GE to break up into 3 companies focusing on Aviation, Health Care and Energy

The company will be divided into separate units.  

The decision by GE earned praise from Wall Street analysts when announced.

GE shares have badly under performed in the market over the last two decades.

U.S. industrial giant General Electric will split into three companies following years of seeing its stock under perform, the company announced.

The company will be divided into separate units focused on aviation, healthcare and Energy. GE plans to spin off the health-care unit by early 2023 and the energy unit by early 2024, the company said in a news release.

GE shares, which were already up 55% over the last 12 months, jumped more than 6% in early trading after the announcement.

“By creating three industry-leading, global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation, and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors, and employees,” CEO Lawrence Culp said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We are putting our technology expertise, leadership, and global reach to work to better serve our customers.”

The moves are a ways off so specific naming decisions have not yet been made, but the current General Electric will be the aviation-focused company.

General Electric was co-founded in the late 1800s by Thomas Edison and went through several transformations over the last century as the U.S. economy changed, becoming a leader in appliances, jet engines and power turbines.

The conglomerate expanded rapidly in the 1980s under the late Jack Welch, getting into financial services and back into broadcasting with the purchase of NBC, sporting enviable earnings growth and returns for investors along the way.

GE spent periods as the largest company by market value as recently as the early 2000s, but then the financial crisis hit. Weighed down by its troubled financial arm, GE was never able to climb back on top under Welch’s successor, Jeff Immelt. The stock was dumped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2018 after being one of the original members of the blue chip index going back to 1896.

Culp, who previously ran Danaher, took over as CEO of GE in 2018. The company has spun off or sold several of its units under Culp as the executive has tried to simplify the conglomerate’s business structure.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, not only with the balance sheet but improving our core operations, over the last several years,” Culp said on a call with investors and analysts. “But I think as we’ve seen in so many instances outside of GE over the last decade, spinning good business heightens focus and accountability.”

Despite the recent out performance, GE shares have badly under performed the market over the last two decades. The stock has lost 2% annually since 2009, compared with a 9% annual return for the S&P 500, according to FactSet. The decision by GE earned praise from Wall Street analysts.

“The move does add cost, but nimbleness of three focused companies will likely be viewed as an opportunity set to more than offset any new costs,” Wells Fargo analyst Joseph O’Dea said in a note to clients.

The company has been plagued by high levels of debt in recent years that have drawn skepticism on Wall Street. The capital structures of the new firms will be announced at a later date, GE said, and Culp added on a call with investors that the energy segment will have the least amount of debt.

The company said it will use proceeds from the recent sale of its aviation financing unit to pay down debt, with gross debt expected to total less than $65 billion by the end of 2021. The spinoffs will cause about $2 billion in transaction and operational costs, GE estimated.

Source: CNBC’s John Melloy and Michael Bloom
Image credit: CNBC  

Old Planes to Be Transformed Into 100-Passenger Electric Planes by 2026, Startup Announces

The aviation industry is responsible for about 2.5% of global emissions, and its climate impact is about 3.5% of all anthropogenic global warming. While some passengers may buy carbon credits for a little peace of mind after a flight, the issue of aviation emissions still stands on a large scale. Enter electric aircraft, which startup company Wright Electric plans to have in the skies by 2026. Wright Electric will convert existing BAe 146 planes, first made by British aerospace company BAE Systems in the 1980s, into electric planes.

By reusing existing planes, Wright Electric can speed up certification processes to start flying zero-emissions aircraft sooner. Certifications for new aircraft can take many years. The company will slowly transition each of a BAe 146 plane’s four jets into new, 2 MW motors until the entire plane is converted by 2026.

“The level of power and weight demonstrated with our new 2 MW motor will become the baseline for any new electric aircraft and is a key technology in our megawatt system,” said Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric, in a September 2021 press release about the new motors.

The electric planes, called Wright Spirit, will comfortably carry 100 passengers in a quiet ride, unlike conventionally noisy planes. The planes will have a range of about 460 miles, according to CleanTechnica, which is about a one-hour flight. This may seem quick, but these short flights are often the norm across Europe or even for business travelers. Replacing frequent, short-haul flights for zero-emissions travel could make a big impact.

Wright Electric is focusing on reducing emissions for these short, high-demand flights, particularly Seoul to Jeju, which is the world’s busiest route with 14 million passengers annually, as well as London to Paris, Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo and San Francisco to Los Angeles.

“Aviation has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Wright Electric is committed to a 100% reduction in all emissions starting in 2026,” Engler said. “Because we built the world’s largest aerospace propulsive powertrain, we can build the world’s largest zero-emissions retrofit directly serving the world’s busiest routes.”

Wright Electric’s efforts in getting zero-emissions passenger planes off the ground has been noticed by many. The company has received funding, contracts, and/or collaborations with several governmental departments, organizations, and airlines to bring this technology to life, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force, Viva Aerobus and easyJet.

Flight testing with one electric propulsor will begin in 2023, followed by testing with two electric propulsors in 2024 and leading to flying the fully electric planes in 2026. Wright Electric is also working on developing a flagship plane that will carry 186 passengers with over 800 miles of range. Their goal is to have this larger plane in service by 2030, the company said in its press release.

Source: Paige Bennett,

Experimental “Solar Windows” Tested in Pilot Program for Commercial Buildings

UbiQD Inc. a New Mexico-based advanced materials company, has installed its electricity-generating windows in three commercial building sites. The buildings, which now feature quantum dot-tinted glass luminescent solar concentrator technology, include a Holiday Inn Express hotel, UbiQD’s headquarters in Los Alamos, N.M., and a collaborative project at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo.

These building pilot installations represent the first real-world tests for UbiQD, and some of the earliest and largest known luminescent concentrator window installations in the world.

The trials aim to validate the importance of parameters like window orientation, time of day, seasonality, temperature, and manufacturing and installation methods.

The double pane insulated glass units can be installed in most existing commercial frame constructions, and were made with support from a local window manufacturer in Albuquerque, N.M.

In late 2018, UbiQD was awarded a phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which provided $750,000 in funding over two years to scale up. In 2020 and 2021, NSF awarded UbiQD supplemental grants totaling $660,000 for UbiQD’s continued window development, and pilot projects. The company’s solar window program has also received support from NMEDD, U.S. DOE, and Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator IN2 Program, and in late 2020 the company announced the close of a $7M venture financing.

“My partners and I are excited to be at the forefront of energy technology and building-integrated sustainability, and frankly we were lucky to have the opportunity,” says Brian Patrick Martin, co-owner of the Holiday Inn Express and Suites Los Alamos. “The window upgrade was part of our recent $2.4 million, Formula Blue renovation and I know our guests will enjoy the solar-powered pancakes for breakfast.”

UbiQD intends to accelerate the deployment of its quantum dot window technology in 2022. Additional window projects are planned in New Mexico, Colorado and Washington State.

Source:  Ariana Fine, Solar Industry Magazine 

Image credit: UbiQD

Philadelphia Energy Authority Launches Solar Training Lab to Prepare Youth for Clean Energy Workforce

Mayor Jim Kenney, Superintendent William Hite, PECO CEO Mike Innocenzo and others joined the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) to celebrate a milestone in Pennsylvania’s equitable transition to clean energy with a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of a new solar training lab at Frankford High School.

Bright Solar Futures (BSF), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, PECO and other industry partners, provides access to solar careers for young Philadelphians.

The three-year career and technical education (CTE) vocational program will launch young people into careers in clean energy.

Philadelphia is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and that effort will create thousands of jobs,” says Mayor Kenney. “We need our young people to have access to those careers, and this lab will ensure they do. Congratulations to the school district, Frankford High School and the Philadelphia Energy Authority on this important milestone.”

“Supporting Bright Solar Futures and the opening of this new solar training lab is at the intersection of two very important priorities for us at PECO – supporting clean energy resources to mitigate the impact of climate change and furthering initiatives to spur the clean energy workforce of tomorrow,” states Mike Innocenzo, president and CEO at PECO.

“We are so proud to be here today at Frankford with these partners and these students. Solar is the fastest-growing job in Pennsylvania, and this lab will ensure equitable access to these jobs,” comments Emily Schapira, CEO of PEA. “Bright Solar Futures students train in solar and battery storage installation, sales and design, along with weatherization, construction basics and job site safety, ensuring that Philadelphia has the best-trained clean energy workforce in the region.”

PEA is an independent municipal authority building an equitable clean energy economy in Philadelphia. PEA has facilitated over $167 million in clean energy projects in Philadelphia since launching the Philadelphia Energy Campaign in 2016, creating more than 1,700 jobs.

Source: Ariana Fine, Solar Industry Magazine

Image credit: Solar Industry Magazine


EV startup Rivian could be worth nearly as much as Honda in U.S. IPO

Rivian Automotive Inc, which is backed by Inc, is targeting a valuation of more than $53 billion for its U.S. debut, making the electric vehicle manufacturer potentially almost as valuable as rival Honda Motor.

The startup is looking to raise up to $8.4 billion, setting it up to be the third-largest initial public offering (IPO) by funds raised in the past decade in the United States. Only three other companies have raised more than $8 billion while going public since 2011, according to data from Dealogic.

Alibaba raised a record $25 billion in 2014, Meta Platforms Inc garnered $16 billion in 2012, while Uber made $8.1 billion in 2019.

Since last year, companies in the EV space have emerged as some of the hottest investments, especially among SPAC investors on the hunt for the next Tesla Inc.

While Rivian has yet to sell any significant volume of its electric vans or trucks, it could likely be valued higher than Ferrari, although less than Honda, General Motors or its backer Ford Motor Co.

Founded in 2009 as Mainstream Motors by R. J. Scaringe, the company changed to Rivian in 2011, a name that is derived from “Indian River” in Florida, a place Scaringe frequented in a rowboat as a youth.

The startup has been investing heavily to ramp up production, including for its upscale all-electric R1T pickup truckwhich was launched in September, beating out competition from established rivals such as Tesla, General Motors and Ford.

Rivian, which disclosed nearly $1 billion in losses for the first half of this year, had about 48,390 pre-orders for its pickup trucks and R1S SUVs in the United States and Canada as of September.

It is currently pursuing a two-track strategy: building electric delivery vans for Amazon and developing an electric pickup and SUV brand aimed at affluent individuals.

Amazon, which disclosed a 20% stake in Rivian at the end of October, has ordered 100,000 of its electric delivery vans as part of the e-commerce giant’s effort to cut carbon footprint.

Ford holds a more than 5% share in the EV startup, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rivian, which confidentially filed paperwork for an IPO in August, will, however, face tough competition from automakers in both the consumer and commercial van markets.

Ford said last week it has more than 160,000 orders for its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck and that an electric version of its Transit commercial van is “completely sold out.”

General Motors is gearing up production of electric delivery vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

Rivian said it would sell 135 million shares at a price range of between $57 and $62 each. Reuters reported in September that it could seek a valuation of nearly $80 billion and raise up to $8 billion in its U.S. listing.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are the lead underwriters. Rivian will list on the Nasdaq under the symbol “RIVN”.

Source: Reuters, Noor Zainab Hussain, Niket Nishant, Sanjana Shivdas, Editing Arun Koyyur
Image credit: Rivian

These World Heritage Forests have gone from removing carbon from the atmosphere to emitting it!

Human activity and climate change-fueled disasters have turned 10 of the planet’s internationally recognized forests, also known as World Heritage sites, from carbon absorbers into carbon emitters, researchers have found.

The report from UNESCO found these sites can absorb approximately 190 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year — roughly half the amount of the United Kingdom’s annual fossil fuel emissions. 

But in the past 20 years, many of these sites showed an increase in emissions, some even exceeded how much carbon they were removing from the atmosphere. 

UNESCO researchers said two main factors are causing forests to flip from sinks to sources: climate change-fueled extreme weather events including wildfires, storm and drought; and human land-use pressures such as illegal logging, wood harvesting and agricultural practices such as livestock grazing. 

Given the scale of these forests, Tales Carvalho Resende, project officer at UNESCO’s natural heritage unit and co-author of the report, says this is increasingly a global issue, meaning global action is needed. 

“What the results revealed here is that it’s not necessarily an issue related to a specific country or region, but that it’s really a global issue,” Resende told CNN. “When we see where the 10 sites that have become carbon sources are, they are scattered all around the world, so the takeaway of the findings is that climate action is needed at a global level.” 

From the Congo Basin to the Redwood National and State Parks, the planet’s 257 World Heritage Forests cover more than 170 million acres of land, nearly twice the size of Germany. 

But the report shows that since 2000, the threats of extractive industries, environmental degradation and climate change have been reported in roughly 60% of the World Heritage sites, which have lost more than 8.6 million acres of forests, larger than the size of Belgium. Out of 10 sites they found to have flipped to carbon emitters, three are located in the United States. 

The report’s findings are a timely warning of the limitations of trees and forests as a climate solution. Leaders and negotiators are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss ways to limit global warming, and tree planting is one of four top priorities outlined by the UK government, which is chairing the event. 

Protecting forests and tree planting have enormous potential to absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but in a fast-changing world of wild weather, trees in areas prone to wildfires could become part of the problem, rather than the solution, as these UNESCO sites show. 

The authors point out that it’s the first time researchers have quantified how the world’s forests are sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Over the centuries, the World Heritage Forests have stored approximately 13 billion tons of carbon, which exceeds the total amount of carbon in Kuwait’s oil reserves. 

“We can now see the important role World Heritage forests play in stabilizing the global climate,” Nancy Harris, research manager for the World Resources Institute’s Global Forest Watch and co-author of the report, told CNN. “And the truth is, we are completely undervaluing and underappreciating them.” 

Most of the sites that sequester the most carbon dioxide were in tropical and temperate regions, such as South America and Australia. Although those sites are still sequestering carbon, researchers said there are signs that more of them could join the rest in becoming carbon sources. 

Wildfires, in particular, have burned vast swaths of these forests in recent years. While fires are a critical part of the forest ecosystem, with many plant species relying on them to disperse their seeds, scientists say fires are intensifying which risks the potential of releasing the carbon long stored within the soil and trees. 

In the last decade, warming temperatures and dry conditions have primed much of the environment for wildfires to ignite. The report pointed to several examples of significant fires that have occurred in the last decade at World Heritage sites, including in Russia’s Lake Baikal in 2016, and Australia’s Tasmanian Wilderness and Greater Blue Mountains Area in 2019 and 2020. 

We have seen some wildfires in some sites that have emitted more than 30 million megatons of CO2 — that’s more or less what Bolivia emits in from fossil fuels in one single year,” Resende said.

“One single event can actually be the emissions of a whole country,” he added. “And bear in mind, the fact that the emissions that have been accounted for in the study are only within the limitations of the sites, so this means that they represent only a small portion of fires in the broader landscape.” 

The report builds on recently published maps that track the global exchange of carbon between forests and the atmosphere during the 2001 to 2020 period, using site-level monitoring to analyze the forests’ climate impacts as well as the consequences of human activities to these World Heritage sites. 

“Our analysis illustrates how we can stop taking nature for granted and start putting a value on the climate benefits generated by these and other important forest sites around the world,” Harris said.
Forests play a vital role across societies. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which also contributed to the report, nearly 25% of the world’s population — many in developing nations — depend on the forests for their livelihoods. Additionally, forests bring in up to $100 billion per year in goods and services. It’s also home to 80% of Earth’s land biodiversity. 

The forests’ ability to prevent the climate crisis from spiraling out of control makes the threats they face all the more concerning, Resende said. 

World leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, next week for the UN-brokered international climate negotiations, where the focus will be on getting countries to commit to stronger fossil fuel cuts and putting an end date on coal. They will also discuss stronger commitments to protecting and restoring the planet’s forests as carbon sinks and to ultimately halt deforestation. 

“We hope to really trigger climate action, to safeguard these jewels that are World Heritage sites,” said Resende. “These are laboratories for environmental changes as a whole, not only related to climate but also biodiversity. We want to facilitate dialogues with the key stakeholders to actually fund and provide some sustainable investments to these sites.” 

Source: Rachel Ramirez, CNN
Image credit: CNN