Texas grid survives, thwarting NIMBYs, and companies turn to ‘greenhushing’ — This Week in Cleantech

Texas grid survives, thwarting NIMBYs, and companies turn to ‘greenhushing’ — This Week in Cleantech
ERCOT control room (Courtesy: ERCOT)

This Week in Cleantech is a new, weekly podcast covering the most impactful stories in cleantech and climate in 15 minutes or less. Produced by Renewable Energy World and Tigercomm, This Week in Cleantech will air every Friday in the Factor This! podcast feed wherever you get your podcasts.

This week’s episode features Grist reporter Kate Yoder, who breaks down a new trend of corporations “greenhushing,” or limiting what they say about sustainability efforts.

This week’s “Cleantecher of the Week” is Rondo Energy’s Helen Sweet. Nominate your picks for “Cleantecher of the Week” by emailing the show.

1. Winter storm tests Texas green grid upgrades — The Washington Post

Since Winter Storm Uri in 2021, Texas has built more renewables and batteries across the state, which are now helping to prevent or shorten the duration of future blackouts. It is now the state with the second most battery power, with enough to power one-third of Texas’ households for one hour — 3x more than in 2021. It now has about 22 gigawatts of solar energy, an increase from the 6 gigawatts before Uri. Additionally, its wind infrastructure can generate up to 39 gigawatts of power, up from 31 gigawatts before Uri.

2. Octopus Energy Has Texas-Size Ambitions — The Wall Street Journal

Octopus Energy Group is using its AI-based renewable-energy-management system to offer cheaper prices to Texas customers who let the platform manage their energy usage based on how much clean energy is available at a given time. This platform helps with grid stability and helps Texans use more clean energy.

Octopus Energy just needs a small percentage of households to agree to use it to make a big impact on energy costs. CEO Greg Jackson compares this platform to Uber — the price changes based on supply and demand at a certain time and place.

Watch the full episode on YouTube

3. States with big climate goals strip local power to block green projects — AP News

Michigan NIMBYs and local officials have derailed more than two dozen utility-scale renewable energy projects since May 2023, leaving some farmers to sell their land rather than benefit from having solar preserve it. Michigan and other states now have the option to give state authorities the power to decide on the approval or disapproval of locations for utility-scale projects to build more clean energy infrastructure. While developers still need local approval for projects, a three-person commission has the power to override a denied project as long as it meets state criteria.

4. California Has Dealt a Blow to Renewable Energy, Some Businesses Say — The New York Times

California’s rooftop solar policy that passed last April, NEM 3.0, has led to a large decline in homeowners installing solar panels on their roofs. These rules cut the amount homeowners are credited for feeding solar energy into the grid by 75%. Sales went down by 85% in some months of 2023 compared to the year prior, and they are predicted to continue declining. Now, some solar companies are reducing their presence or leaving the state altogether, sometimes leading to job cuts. 

Some energy experts say rooftop solar could gain more financial appeal as California raises electricity rates, which are already among the highest in the country. However, this pertains to those who can withstand the upfront cost.

5. Companies are hiding their climate progress. A new report explains why. — Grist

“Greenwashing” is an ongoing issue, where polluting companies present themselves as environmentally cautious. This led the EU to ban deceptive environmental ads.

These new rules have now caused “greenhushing,” where companies are afraid to talk publicly about their work on climate change. This has impeded clean energy companies from sharing insights and learning how to collectively reduce their carbon pollution.

In a report that looked into why “greenhushing” happens, especially among green businesses, companies pointed to heightened scrutiny from investors, customers, and the media and regulations that penalize deceptive environmental ads.