The Grid: To Be Green, Be Real.
Welcome back to The Grid, where INKers Mallory Baker and Mya Wilkes recap the top clean energy news from the last month. In this edition, we get you caught up on the biggest wind energy event of the year and also dive into what we can all learn from May’s political chatter. Stay tuned to the end for a bit of #RoyalWedding happiness (yes, even in a clean energy newsletter).
A standing ovation goes to…
Gina McCarthy. The former EPA Administrator spoke to a gathering for the Union of Concerned Scientists where she delivered advice for scientists and advocates alike on climate change messaging. Gina dropped many golden tidbits, including demanding the end of excessive jargon in favor of plain English. Basically, all of our acronyms are great but they’re putting everyone else to sleep, IMHO.
The advice that stood out the most to us? Focus on the outcomes. The future can seem bleak when discussing climate change. Rather than preaching the consequences, hit on the benefits of combating it. One of the best arguments right now is the economics. Not only are renewables price-competitive, Stanford University recently found that limiting climate change could potentially save more than $20 trillion globally. Another tactic: focus on human-impact stories. From former coal miners turned wind turbine engineers (tons more on that below) to farmers who have income that is drought-resistant thanks to landowner payments. These are the stories that resonate with new audiences. At INK, we boil this idea down to Think Global, Act Local.
It’s easy to get stuck in our silo, frustrated, wondering why renewable energy isn’t being embraced throughout the country as quickly we want it to. The thing is, people don’t need to want to save the environment to support wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energies. Renewables promise a better future for our children and us through clean air, affordable power, more jobs. Simple as that.
#Trending: Industry leaders blowing in for AWEA’s annual conference
While most people were live tweeting the Met Gala, we were following #Windpower2018 for clean energy news from the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual wind energy conference – and yes, we feel that’s normal. Here’s what you missed:
- Wind energy in the post-Production Tax Credit (PTC) era will survive, though space may get a little tight. As wind technology continues to mature, the market will certainly become more competitive. Luckily, this is no news to the industry. In 2016, Mortenson, a leader in the wind energy market, published a study on this post-PTC era and found that industry experts believe efficiency will be the key to surviving and thriving in the coming years. Another thing they found? 96 percent of peers see energy storage as the biggest key for the industry. Which leads right into our next point.
- Storage is like … bacon? Our favorite metaphor from the conference refers to storage’s compatibility with all energy sources. Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) Kelly Speakes-Backman was only referring to storage compatibility when she dropped this metaphor, but to us storage-bacon extends to the mouth-watering grid reliability on the rise with increased use of the technology. Fun fact: The U.S. has about 23 gigawatts (GW) of storage capacity, equal to the capacity of approximately 38 typical coal plants.
- Innovation remains king. From blockchain to better bathroom breaks, Windpower 2018 showed that the wind energy market is continually supporting and developing new tools and technologies.
Our favorite tweets from the event include:
— Vestas Wind Systems (@Vestas) May 8, 2018
— Suzanne Tegen (@tegensuzanne) May 8, 2018
The @ENERGY #CWC18 #CollegiateWindCompetition began this morning at @AWEA #WINDPOWER2018 and competition is fierce as team test their #WindPower turbine designs in the NREL wind tunnel Learn more at https://t.co/zpmf3zkvX7 pic.twitter.com/yXyxWW13R0
— NREL (@NREL) May 8, 2018
That’s a wrap folk! Thanks for another fantastic show and we’ll see you next year in Houston! #WINDPOWER2018
— American Wind Energy (@AWEA) May 10, 2018
There are some big changes coming the way of the wind industry, but everyone is putting on their game faces. Whether it’s the end of the PTC or the rise of “storage bacon,” it’s essential for brands to convey they have a plan and they are ready.
#TheMoreYouKnow: IRENA’s fifth Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review was released this month.
The run down
- More than half a million renewable energy sector jobs were created globally in 2017. The number of people employed in the sector is now more than 10 million.
- Solar jobs increased to reach 3.4 million around the world in 2017, meaning the solar photovoltaic sector supports the most jobs out of all the renewable technologies.
- The report goes against the perception that shutting fossil fuel power plants will lead to a net loss of jobs.
What’s the big deal?
The IRENA report stands in stark contrast to the current narrative in the US. The debate here continues around federal support for coal despite numerous studies like the IRENA report that show the massive potential for renewables jobs. But the federal government is still pursuing efforts to prop up the coal industry, ostensibly to save jobs, while industry experts argue that federal efforts should be focused on helping transition coal workers to renewable energy jobs.
Moral of the story
We can learn a lesson in effective communications from this political debate. Namely: human-level narratives are far more impactful than the most compelling facts and figures. Despite reports of runaway renewables job growth, coal retains support because the loss of coal jobs creates tangible stories of personal impact.
Ensure your facts and figures are supporting your human-centric storytelling, rather than letting the data drive the narrative alone. Take a page out of West Virginia company Solar Holler’s book. They have gained widespread national coverage as part of the coal debate because of their unique focus on sharing the stories of local impact from their work in solar power.
Wait! Here’s more clean energy news
The New York Times – At the Royal Wedding, Something Green
Schneider Electric + Greentown Labs – Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge: Do you have an idea for transforming the world of energy?
Union of Concerned Scientists – Wait—Offshore Wind Offers HOW Much Power? Use This Calculator
The Grid is INK’s newest clean energy resource. While you’re waiting for next month’s installment, check out April’s The Grid or our other thoughts on the subject after being in the green biz for over a decade. In other news: we’d love to hear from you! See something we should cover in next month’s The Grid? Drop us a line anywhere on social media at @heyINKco.