Author: Green The Church Staff Published: 9/23/21 GTC
Author: Green The Church Staff Published: 9/23/21 GTC
Author: Jason Plautz Published: 9/20/21 Utility Dive
The House tax package would be a major step towards Democrats’ goal of producing 80% of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2030. The ITC and PTC would be extended through 2033, with added credits for facilities using domestic materials and union labor. The bill would also expand credits for energy efficiency improvements, zero-emission nuclear power production and electric vehicle purchases.
However, Barnes said advocates were disappointed to not see direct pay for the solar ITC for residential customers under section 25D. A recent working paper from the Rand Corp. found that the current structure of the program limits its availability for households and businesses with lower tax burdens. With the bottom 50% of U.S. income earners paying an average of $626 per year for electricity, it would take at least seven years to monetize the tax credit under the current structure.
“Millions of households are currently unable to benefit from that tax credit and without that credit, it takes too long to break even,” said Barnes. “This could be a way to address those inequities and the energy burden facing low-income communities.”
Appalachian Voices is one of the members of the Residential Renewables for All coalition, which launched this month to promote 25D reforms during the budget reconciliation debate. The coalition also includes the NAACP, Black Owners of Solar Services, National Wildlife Federation, Solar United Neighbors and other clean energy groups.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has indicated his committee, which will write the upper chamber’s tax language, would rely on the Clean Energy for America Act, which passed the committee in May. That bill would create technology-neutral tax credits for projects that meet certain emissions reduction and labor requirements, coupled with incentives for energy efficiency technology and electric vehicles.
The House bill also expands the ITC for solar projects that serve certain low-income communities. Projects can receive an additional 10% credit for being located in a low-income community and an additional 20% for being part of a qualifying low-income residential building project or economic benefit project. That credit increase for the section 48 ITC has a capacity limitation of 1.8 GW per year through 2031, with any unused capacity rolling over to the following year. A similar incentive is in the Senate bill.
The bill also creates a refundable competitive credit of $1 billion per year for higher education institutions working on environmental justice programs.
As Democrats combine committee language to assemble the budget reconciliation bill — and possibly pare the bill’s size down to gain the support of moderates — environmental groups say they’ll continue to fight for clean energy language that benefits environmental justice communities. In a statement, Sierra Club legislative director Melinda Pierce said the bill could “alleviate some of the pollution impacts that have been borne by communities and help the country build back better.”
“The tax package will serve as a major driver of climate action and clean energy deployment at a scale that can truly transform the way we power our economy — our homes, buildings and transportation sector — while protecting public health by cleaning up our air and water,” Pierce said.
Author: NAN Staff Published: 9/23/21 Reverend Al Sharpton@TheRevAl
Author: Children’s Health Defense Staff Published: 9/23/21 CHD
Author: Kimberly Cataudella Published: 9/20/21 WIF
Lovell Walls is a third-generation Washingtonian.
His maternal grandparents, Ada and John Wesley Bailey, bought an 18-year-old house on what is now Grant Street NE in 1939. They bought four plots of land at $10 each, public records show, and probably spent a few thousand dollars on the house, Walls said.
Today, Walls calls this house in Ward 7 his home. Its value is assessed by the District at more than $430,000. Real estate site RedFin estimates its worth at close to $500,000.
But this hot market comes at another price: Longtime Black Washingtonians say they’re getting pushed out of their city. In 1957, Washington, D.C., became the country’s first predominantly Black major city, earning the nickname “Chocolate City.” After years of gentrification, recently released Census numbers show that there are now more white District residents than Black.
Today, residents in Wards 7 and 8 – the areas with the city’s most Black residents – are getting offers left and right to buy their homes.
Walls, an auditor in the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, receives weekly phone calls, postcards, text messages and flyers from local investors, house flippers and developers asking to buy his property. Investors may not renovate houses and instead sell them to interested parties as-is, while flippers and developers will revamp homes to sell them at a larger profit. Developers often expand and add additions to homes, increasing their value all the more.
Since Walls began keeping track in 2018, he said he’s gotten more than 80 mailers, dozens of phone calls and constant texts, including a few in-person visits from interested investors.
He’s one of many District residents getting bombarded with offers to buy his house in “as-is condition” through a quick cash sale.
“No amount of money would get me to sell this house,” Walls said. “I don’t even engage in conversations with these people to know how much they’d offer, but neighbors and friends who’ve talked to these guys say that they offer pennies on the dollar, a fraction of what the house is worth.”
Walls wants to pass the house down to his sons, who would be fourth-generation Black homeowners in a neighborhood where the Black population dropped from 98% to 88% over the past decade, according to Census data.
“I grew up coming to this house on the weekends, mowing the lawn and taking my grandmother out grocery shopping,” Walls said. “The neighborhood was 95%, 98% Black. We all knew each other.”
Walls’ mother, Gwendolyn, took over the property after his grandmother died in the 1980s. She rented out the home, but after issues with tenants, she wanted to get it off her hands. Walls jumped at the opportunity and moved into the house in 1990 to make renovations, which included turning the four plots of land into one. He bought the house with his wife in 1998.
Walls began getting requests to buy the house as soon as he moved in, but they’ve become more frequent in the past few years.
“Wards 7 and 8 aren’t cheap, but investors see the ability to make more profit than if they were to buy property west of [Rock Creek Park] and spend millions,” said Ericka S. Black, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent who bought property in Walls’ neighborhood in 2011. The area has more yard space than most places in the city, she said, allowing investors to expand properties and increase profits when they sell.
A hot real estate market can put stress on residents whose incomes are fixed or aren’t keeping up with increased taxes and other pressures.
Walls said he successfully appealed his property taxes, with Black’s help, a few years ago. When the city increased his assessment value by tens of thousands of dollars, his taxes increased by about $1,200 too, he said. Black helped him navigate the appeals process and avoid the tax increase.
“Why should I be penalized for keeping my property livable and up to standards? For the benefit of other people?” said Walls, who attributes the assessment value increase to beautification in his neighborhood.
Black, who has successfully appealed her own property taxes too, wants District residents to know they can appeal their tax assessment annually: “It’s a tedious process, but it could be worth it for so many residents.” Telling others about the appeals process is one of the ways she works to retain the city’s Black homeownership and keep housing affordable, she said.
But when you’re struggling, it can be hard to think about your house as a long-term investment, said Sunya Musawwir, a homeowner in Ward 7. It’s sometimes more appealing to get quick cash.
Musawwir, who has owned property in Ward 7 for more than 25 years and grew up in Ward 8, said she also gets offers from buyers on a weekly basis. She’s not interested in selling her home, hoping to let its market value rise with time.
“[Investors] offer $300,000 or $400,000, … and you’ll think that’s a lot of money, especially when you’re facing hard times, so you’ll take it. Then you turn around, and the person who put the house on the market sold it for $500,000,” Musawwir said. “That’s happened to people I know.”
Musawwir bought her home for less than $80,000 in 1994. Today, its assessed value is more than double that.
The pressure to get quick cash – even when you’ve been told over and over again to keep your property – amplifies when you’re receiving frequent requests to buy.
“It’s accurate to say that residents of the District continue to receive what seems like an exorbitant number of solicitations to purchase their house,” said Kevin Link, part owner of 4 Brothers Buy Houses.
MarketPro Homebuyers, HomeVestors and 4 Brothers Buy Houses, among the firms that are offering to buy residential properties in Wards 7 and 8, spoke to Public Integrity for this story. Seven other companies that District residents said frequently contact them with requests to buy their homes either declined interviews or did not respond to requests for comment.
Executives with those firms said they respect the first request to be taken off of contact lists and do not show up to houses without a prior appointment.
HomeVestors, also known as We Buy Ugly Houses, is a national organization that works with independently owned franchises all over the country, said CEO David Hicks. HomeVestors works with eight franchises across the District to buy homes, rehab them and sell them for a profit. The group rarely expands the properties, he said.
“There are people out there who prey on [sellers], and they offer pennies on the dollar,” Hicks said. “We make a fair margin on [our houses], but we’ve been in this business for 25 years, and we’ll be here for 25 more. To do that, we have to offer a fair price, … but we need to make a profit to stay in business. And we need the reputation to do that, so we offer fair prices.”
As co-founder of MarketPro, Danny Bronstein’s name and contact information is on most mailed flyers. He said they send yellow flyers by mail monthly to homeowners across hundreds of zip codes throughout the Washington metro area. The company provides a web link to get removed from all correspondence at the bottom of its flyers.
“We consistently mail out these flyers over and over again to the same houses because people’s situations change,” and someone who might not want to sell right now might want to in six months, Bronstein said. “And if they want to opt out, they have a clear process to do that.”
HomeVestors typically sends flyers through the mail every three months, Hicks said, and the flyers include written instructions to stop receiving them.
Past District policies have helped investors snatch up properties whose owners were under financial duress. A 2013 Washington Post investigation revealed that longtime homeowners – most in Wards 7 and 8 – were losing homes via foreclosure when they owed as little as $44 back taxes. In response, officials prohibited the sale of liens on homes whose owners owe back taxes under $2,500.
“Mayor Bowser and our entire Administration are focused on ensuring all Washingtonians have a fair shot and can thrive in the neighborhoods they know and love,” said Shayne Wells, a spokesperson for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, in an email to Public Integrity.
And for the past four years, DC Housing Finance Agency has had a partnership program with developers to build homes for residents who earn too much money to qualify for affordable housing, yet not enough money to buy a house within the expensive market. It’s also an opportunity to partner with local emerging developers of color, said agency spokesperson Yolanda McCutchen.
Even with what the city has to offer, longtime residents – especially those who are Black – say they feel like development is ultimately pushing them out.
The Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) is a multi-faith, nonpartisan organization of religious leaders in the District that has been organizing on the issue of affordable housing for more than 20 years. The group is rallying around a theme of “housing equity” this year, hoping to teach struggling residents – especially younger generations – about resources they can use to keep homes.
The Rev. William H. Lamar, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church’s senior pastor and WIN member, said he wants the government to put as much effort into helping Black, brown and poor residents as they do in building partnerships with developers.
“They’ve been focused on helping developers complete projects that would not exist without support from our elected officials and our public funds,” he said. “The District does not belong to the donor class. It belongs to us all.”
Author: US DOE SETO Staff Published: 9/21/21 SETO
Author: Diana Olick Published: 9/10/21 CNBC
The number of borrowers in both government and private sector Covid mortgage bailout programs is falling fast, but for those still in trouble, the future is not as bleak as originally thought.
Extraordinarily high levels of home equity, thanks to the recent runup in home prices, has struggling borrowers in a far better position now than they were at the start of the pandemic.
The number of active mortgage forbearance plans, in which borrowers were allowed to delay their monthly payments, fell by more than 5% from the previous week, according to a new report from Black Knight, a mortgage data and analytics firm.
The drop was driven by August expirations. Borrowers were allowed up to 18 months of forbearance from entry into the programs, so expirations are now rolling. September is expected to see an outsized group of 400,000 expirations because the wave of borrowers enrolling was highest in March and April 2020.
There are still 1.618 million borrowers in forbearance programs (down from roughly 5 million at the peak in May 2020), or 3.1% of all outstanding mortgages, representing an unpaid balance of $313 billion. But 98% of those troubled borrowers now have at least 10% equity in their homes, not counting their missed payments. Including those payments, 93% still have more than 10% equity. Given today’s tight housing market, the majority could easily sell and still pocket some profit.
“Such strong equity positions should help limit the volume of distressed inflow into the real estate market as well as provide strong incentive for homeowners to return to making mortgage payments — even if needing to be reduced through modification,” said Ben Graboske, president of data and analytics for Black Knight.
So-called tappable equity — the amount of cash available for homeowners with mortgages to take out of their homes while retaining at least 20% equity — rose by a collective $1 trillion in the second quarter of 2021 alone. Fast-rising home prices have pushed the level of home equity up from a little over $6 trillion at the start of the pandemic to just over $9 trillion.
The latest read from CoreLogic in July showed home prices nationally up a record 18% from July 2020. Some states, like Idaho and Arizona, saw even bigger gains at 33% and 28%, respectively.
“Home price appreciation continues to escalate as millennials entering their prime homebuying years, renters looking to escape skyrocketing rents and deep pocketed investors drive demand,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic.
Even with sky-high prices and equity, foreclosure starts (the beginning of the foreclosure process), rose in August, up 27% from July and up 60% from August 2020, according to Attom, a foreclosure and data company. While those jumps may seem large, they are off a very low base. Foreclosure starts were more than three times higher in August 2019, pre-pandemic.
“As expected, foreclosure activity increased as the government’s foreclosure moratorium expired, but this doesn’t mean we should expect to see a flood of distressed properties coming to market,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at RealtyTrac, an Attom company that lists foreclosed properties for sale.
Sharga expects to see foreclosure activity increase over the next three months, as loans that were in default prior to the pandemic-related foreclosure moratorium reenter the foreclosure pipeline, and states begin to catch up on months of foreclosure filings that weren’t processed during the pandemic.
“But it’s likely that foreclosures will remain below normal levels at least through the end of the year,” he added.
Author: Paul J. Saunders Published: 9/14/21 Our Energy Policy
Full Title: Ambitious Mandates, Ambivalent Communities: Land Use Challenges to New York’s Renewable Power Goals
Author(s): Paul J. Saunders
Publisher(s): Energy Innovation Reform Project (EIRP)
Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Full Text: Download Resource
The report reviews New York’s evolving renewable power and its performance in meeting them as well as the state’s efforts to accelerate permitting despite local opposition in some communities. A concluding section presents lessons for other states seeking to develop low and zero-emission power.
Author: KRON4 Staff 9/17/2021 KRON4
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, and his students have created the whitest paint on record.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WANE) — Researchers at Purdue University have created the world’s whitest paint, which in a few years may dramatically reduce or even eliminate the need for air conditioning in your home.
The paint has earned a record in the 2022 edition of Guinness World Records.
According to Purdue, breaking a record for the whitest paint wasn’t a goal for the researchers – limiting global warming was.
“When we started this project about seven years ago, we had saving energy and fighting climate change in mind,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.
Ruan invented the paint with his graduate students. The idea was to create paint that would reflect sunlight away from a building. Making the paint really reflective, however, also made it really white. The formulation that Ruan’s lab created reflects 98.1% of solar radiation at the same time as emitting infrared heat. Because the paint absorbs less heat from the sun than it emits, a surface coated with this paint is cooled below the surrounding temperature without consuming power.
Typical commercial white paint gets warmer rather than cooler. Paints on the market that are designed to reject heat reflect only 80%-90% of sunlight and can’t make surfaces cooler than their surroundings.
Using this new paint formulation to cover a roof area of about 1,000 square feet could result in a cooling power of 10 kilowatts, the researchers showed in a published paper. “That’s more powerful than the air conditioners used by most houses,” Ruan said.
This white paint is the result of research building on attempts going back to the 1970s to develop radiative cooling paint as a feasible alternative to traditional air conditioners. Ruan’s lab considered over 100 different materials, narrowed them down to 10 and tested about 50 different formulations for each material.
Two features make this paint ultra-white: a very high concentration of a chemical compound called barium sulfate – also used in photo paper and cosmetics – and different particle sizes of barium sulfate in the paint. What wavelength of sunlight each particle scatters depends on its size, so a wider range of particle sizes allows the paint to scatter more of the light spectrum from the sun.
There is a little bit of room to make the paint whiter, but not much without compromising the paint.
We talk about how the #BuildBackBetter agenda addresses impacts on vulnerable communities.
Author: CEWD Staff Published: 9/15/21 Center for Energy Workforce Development
Author : New Frontier Staff Published: 9/15/2021 NFD
A First-of-its-Kind Study on the Global Cannabis Economy
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Key Report Findings:
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Author: WIN Staff Published: 9/15/21 DOEE
Author: Emma Penrod Published: 9/14/21 Utility Dive
Clean energy may be one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the U.S., according to the partners behind a new report on diversity in the sector, but even with the growing emphasis on energy equity, the growth of renewables hasn’t translated to more jobs for underrepresented populations.
White, non-Hispanic men hold roughly three-fifths of jobs in wind and solar generation, energy efficiency, grid modernization and electrification, according to last week’s report, causing E2 Executive Director Bob Keefe to remark at a press conference on the report that “the face of clean energy is predominantly White and male.”
“We know that clean energy has become a huge part of the American economy, and it’s only going to get bigger,” Keefe said, noting that clean energy now employes 3 million workers, more than the fossil fuels industries, and that the pay is typically better than U.S. median. “But what we also know is this: the overwhelming majority of people getting these jobs are White and they are male.”
Hispanic and Latino workers held 16.5% of clean energy jobs and 18% of total U.S. jobs.
Women held 27% of clean energy positions as of 2020, despite representing nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce.
Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans actually held a greater percentage of clean energy jobs compared to their share of total U.S. jobs, according to the report, at 8% for Asians and 2.5% for Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. However, the proportion of clean energy workers who identified as Asian or Pacific Islander has declined since 2017.
Both women and Latinos also saw their share of clean energy jobs decline over the four years detailed in the report.
Whites hold nearly 80% or more of management and sales jobs within the clean energy sector, while Hispanics and Latinos represent a larger proportion of the installers and technicians in the industry. As a result, Latinos saw the worst of the economic downturn and pause in construction work at the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020; nearly a quarter of all clean energy workers laid off in April 2020 were Hispanic or Latino, according to the report.
Women, similarly, have dwindled in the industry, with their participation dropping more than 2 percentage points between 2017 and 2020, the report found. Black workers gained a slightly larger share of clean energy jobs in the same time frame.
On the regulatory side, Glover and Nicole Sitaraman, an attorney with Sustainable Capital Advisors and a member of the Black Owners in Solar Services advisory committee, said during a press conference unveiling the report that there is a need for policy measures such as requiring at least 40% of investment in new clean energy projects go to businesses owned by underrepresented groups. There’s also a need, they said, to increase access to capital and remove unnecessary red tape to ensure these businesses are able to secure the resulting contracts. They also emphasized a need to make education and workforce training more accessible to underrepresented communities.
Sitaraman said she has heard complaints from clean energy leaders that their companies want to hire a more diverse workforce, but simply can’t find appropriate candidates for the jobs. Yet there are dozens of organizations dedicated to diversity in clean energy and related fields that could help with such recruiting, she said, pointing to the National Society of Black Engineers, the American Association of Blacks in Energy, and other professional and student organizations dedicated to promoting underrepresented groups in energy jobs.
“There is really no excuse for not building the relationships that you need to build,” Sitaraman said.
Glover also noted that because people of color represent the majority of the rising generation in America, recruiting a more diverse workforce was no longer a question of optics, but likely a matter of survival for businesses.
“That is what the future looks like,” she said. “So as a sector, if you are planning to be there in another 10, 15, 20 years, and you’re not planning to make your workforce more diverse, I am not sure what you do, because the students coming in are more diverse.”
Author: Jean- Michel Huet Published: 9/14/21 Bearing Point
As Africa faces dramatic demographic development, we ask how technological advances can trigger a digital revolution through the growth of smart cities
In 2040, a young African scans the glittering skyline of her hometown. Her eyes fix on the central business district where rows of energy-efficient buildings, shaded by native flora, throng with ‘suits’ during the day. Electric vehicles glide by. Distantly, she watches as one car travels toward a dark zone, tracing the city’s outskirts, where LED streetlights have dimmed to conserve energy. It glows stronger as the car approaches.
For a continent more known for wars, famines and chronic poverty, this utopian imagery is not typically associated with Africa – more with scenarios for the West. Yet this is exactly the sort of long-term vision advocates of the ‘African smart city’ propose – and it may not be as far-fetched as you think.
Since the 2000s, Africa has been among the fastest-growing continents in the world (note 1). A decade-long commodity boom, buoyant foreign investment inflows, and relative political stability have quickened the pulse of the region, and it has not gone unnoticed. Today, alongside the traditional, dark narrative of ‘Africa’s plight’ is the narrative of ‘Africa rising’; a story that symbolises not only how far Africa has come, but also how far perceptions have changed.
people will live in Africa within three decades
But headwinds are gathering on the horizon with a looming demographic challenge. Within three decades, the continent will be home to some 2.4 billion people (note 2), more than double today’s population, and the majority will flock to the cities. The proportion of Africans residing in urban areas is set to grow from 40 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2050 (note 3), representing the highest urbanisation rate globally (note 4), exceeding even that of China.
As elsewhere around the world, the policy challenges of such a rapid influx of migrants to the cities are legion. On the one hand, swelling cities can perpetuate inequalities and urban poverty, fomenting social unrest and dragging down growth. Africa’s urban slums are evidence of this squalid truth. On the other hand, cities can be an engine of economic development, whilst also driving social justice, environmental sustainability and human development.
Technological advances are seen as the best answer to these challenges. Equally, they might also represent the new frontier of opportunity for an innovative Africa. The prime example is mobile phones, which are ubiquitous (extending even to remote African villages); and internet penetration is estimated to climb to 50 per cent in the coming decade (note 5). The prevalence of low-cost technologies has spurred a wave of innovation amongst home-grown firms as they strive to meet the surging demands of new migrants – such as mobile banking in Kenya, which has brought millions of unbanked individuals into the financial system (note 6).
Whatever the merits of these technological breakthroughs, a technical approach to addressing Africa’s rapid urbanisation by itself may lead to counterproductive outcomes. Instead, African policymakers must pursue a much broader industrial reform agenda, which fully harnesses the best innovations in a ballooning urban landscape.
But what shape will the reform agenda take? It is safe to say that African leaders rummaging in their policy toolkit are unlikely to reach instinctively for ‘smart cities’ as the solution. Arguably, smart cities will find the best staging ground in advanced developed economies, and surely not in a region that still struggles with weak infrastructure, chronic power shortages, and severe deprivations in basic human needs. In any case, they bear scant resemblance to African cityscapes today.
Low-cost technologies has spurred a wave of innovation amongst African firms as they strive to meet the surging demands of new migrants
Yet the reality is smart cities form the most potent and holistic framework available, which can give shape to the overarching development goals of African states whilst staying true to the plural voices of thriving cities. These increasingly connected populations will demand ready access to the global economy – for example, through platform technologies and other digital networks – rather than having to be situated at the confluence of a river and ancient road. Africa is well-placed to embark on the smart city journey, to lay the groundwork for building and evolving smart cities in practice.
After thousands of years, the vast majority of people will leave the countryside en masse and pour into urban areas in search of work. The profile of Africa’s cities will alter permanently and, in the process, radically challenge policymakers to leverage these forces for sustainable and inclusive growth.
But this is good news. History suggests that population density is essential for economic prosperity, and that urban expansion is a critical precondition for accelerated growth: ‘Long-run growth needs an efficient system of urban
centres that produce industrial goods and high-value services, along with transportation networks to link national economies with regional and global
markets’ (note 7).
Compared with developing countries confronting similar pressures, Africa’s institutional development lags far behind, fraught as it is with gross inadequacies. All of its countries require smarter infrastructure and smarter urban management and planning. Key elements – the usual suspects – include more jobs and better workplaces, schools, universities, universal access to power, healthcare facilities, and robust transport networks necessary to link these facilities to the people who need them. Managing this urban network comprises the crux of Africa’s development challenge.
Africa is well-placed to lay the groundwork for building and evolving smart cities in practice
For all this, there may in fact be advantages here. Unlike other countries seeking to implement a smart city program, African countries are not burdened by obsolete, legacy infrastructure. They are not encumbered in the same way as western states by having to navigate complex, politicised government programs and systems.
Further, Africa’s own technological progress is yielding solutions that may help forge a path towards a positive future. For instance, mobile phones are pervasive across the continent. This opens up the possibility for the vulnerable and marginalised in society to transmit messages, access political news, health and consumer information, and even search for jobs and engage in mobile banking. Activity of this sort kindles the emergence of social networks (note 8). As the BBC reported, ‘You cannot talk about Africa without talking about mobile. Most innovation involves mobile devices and wireless technology in some way or other’ (note 9).
Beyond these individual benefits, the spoils may be wider still owing to the big data generated from this social activity. By utilising the city’s large data volumes, smart-city designers are in a better position to improve citizen safety, the efficiency of transport and telecommunications networks, optimise energy consumption and waste collection, and even solve thorny problems in public health. The value is immense.
A lack of resources has long blighted Africa’s effort to produce goods and services to scale. Now, low-cost technologies are bequeathing to the region a heightened ability to participate in the global economy, albeit with marked differences between countries. When you couple that with the prospect of a swelling middle class, it is not difficult to see some merit to the claim that Africa is on the brink of a ‘third revolution’.
Part of the reason why people are increasingly upbeat about the notion of smart cities in Africa has to do with the region’s experiments with technology parks. Diverse as they are, these parks have acted as development catalysts: inducing foreign investment, augmenting infrastructure networks and, more recently, fibre-optic connections.
Leading the charge was Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Having their early initiatives crowned with success paved the way for industrial hubs to propagate across the continent. These tech clusters hatched innovative businesses, creating thousands sometimes tens of thousands of jobs, and serving to integrate IT throughout their economies (note 10).
ITC growth in Egypt in 2014, catalysed by its SmartVillage technopole
For example, Egypt’s SmartVillage technopole, which debuted in 2001, bolstered ITC growth in the country by 10 per cent in 2014, resulting in upwards of 50,000 people being employed in the sector. In Tunisia, meanwhile, the El Ghazala Technopark in 2015 accommodated some 250 businesses (including 10 multinationals), with almost 3,000 jobs on site and more growth anticipated (note 10). It forms a showcase for the country’s ITC and microelectronics innovations.
A technopole (technology park) is a business area comprising manufacturing and service companies in the high technology sector. Characterised by an intermediate level of technological innovation, the hub brings together a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders drawn from a variety of sectors with the aim of fostering creativity, innovation and, crucially, employment and training, in the digital sector (note 11).
Technopoles may be planned or not; and financed privately, publicly or via public-private partnerships. Today, they are increasingly seen as an important development tool for policymakers.
Typically located on the outskirts of major cities close to research organisations (universities, private laboratories) – Silicon Valley being the most famous example – they began flourishing in the West from the 1980s. More recently, developing countries have tuned into the importance of innovation to their future competitiveness and have been actively developing technopoles. African states have been no different in this regard.
In the next phase, more technopoles will take root and become the seedbeds from which smart cities grow – cities synonymous with supreme connectivity that optimises digital capacities, sustainability and economic growth. These smart cities are digital ecosystems, based as they are upon platform technologies. And they are already springing up in ten of the continent’s 54 countries (note 10). If this trend continues, Africa will leapfrog to the ‘third revolution’ (note 10), vaulting over traditional development phases straight to the high-tech new world of the digital economy.
At present, there is little doubt that North African cities (such as Cairo, Tunis, Algiers and Casablanca) are ahead of the game (for example, Casablanca’s smart city cluster, e-madina), but they are not the only ones to watch. Accra, Lagos, Abidjan and Nairobi are enclaves that are agglomerating urban and periurban areas, which are attracting new investors. Johannesburg and Kigali, too, are benefitting from the emergence of a dynamic and connected middle class (note 10).
Smart cities are springing up in many parts of Africa. If this trend continues, Africa may leapfrog to the ‘third revolution’
Due to the geographical, historical and cultural variations across Africa, there is no one-size-fits-all model for any city in Africa. Each country is at a different phase of development and there are widely varying levels of political and economic stability. Further, when projecting forwards and considering the evolution of smart cities in Africa, in response to rapid urbanisation and emerging technologies, smart cities will establish and take full advantage of these resources.
A smart city is a digital ecosystem within the city that enhances its liveability, workability and sustainability.
Smart cities are zones within a territory where technology and connectivity play a central part in infrastructure. They address issues of urbanisation, economic development, and the technological needs of its inhabitants and visitors. They offer a place to live, learn and work; a space to develop innovative businesses and entrepreneurial activity in the digital arena, while also providing healthcare – a crucial issue in Africa. Equally crucial, smart cities are built upon sustainable energy infrastructure. Indeed, one could argue that smart cities will be a crucial means by which Africa may avoid a demographic, political and human disaster over the next three decades (note 10).
The cascade of interest in Africa’s growing metropoles drives home a larger truth. The continent is at a crossroads, and much will depend on the decisions taken by policymakers today. Most countries recognise the reform imperative (note 12), but the development strategies required to address the mounting challenges of urbanisation and footloose international investors are not quickly solved with traditional policy instruments.
Nurturing the smart cities of the future is a viable way forward. It builds upon Africa’s already pronounced leaning toward digital technologies, and
broadens this to harness the innovative ideas of the city.
So, what are some realistic steps policymakers can take when thinking about a possible smart-city project? Here are a few:
Define clearly the purpose of the smart city and obtain alignment
Anticipate the future business model and the ecosystem of partners
Smart city ecosystems need an IT platform
Quick wins to solve short-term problems as well as longer-term growth
Don’t forget the rural space
The world currently wants access to Africa’s commodities, and they are investing in Africa’s services (note 14). But in the future it will want to source tertiary services from Africa’s smart cities. The question for all stakeholders today is whether to support and channel this development or to sit back and observe.
Author: Matthew Daly Published: 9/8/21 AP NEWS
The report by the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says the United States would need to quadruple its annual solar capacity — and continue to increase it year by year — as it shifts to a renewable-dominant grid in order to address the existential threat posed by climate change.
The report released Wednesday is not intended as a policy statement or administration goal, officials said. Instead, it is “designed to guide and inspire the next decade of solar innovation by helping us answer questions like: How fast does solar need to increase capacity and to what level?″ said Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s solar energy technologies office.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that the study “illuminates the fact that solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.”
The report comes after President Joe Biden declared climate change has become “everybody’s crisis ” during a visit to neighborhoods flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Biden warned Tuesday that it’s time for America to get serious about the “code red” danger posed by climate change or face increasing loss of life and property.
“We can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse,” Biden said before touring a New Jersey neighborhood ravaged by severe flooding caused by Ida. “We don’t have any more time.”
The natural disaster has given Biden an opening to push Congress to approve his plan to spend $1 trillion to fortify infrastructure nationwide, including electrical grids, water and sewer systems, to better defend against extreme weather. The legislation has cleared the Senate and awaits a House vote.
The U.S. installed a record 15 gigawatts of solar generating capacity in 2020, and solar now represents just over 3% of the current electricity supply, the Energy Department said.
The “Solar Futures Study,” prepared by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, shows that, by 2035, the country would need to quadruple its yearly solar capacity additions and provide 1,000 gigawatts of power to a renewable-dominant grid. By 2050, solar energy could provide 1,600 gigawatts on a zero-carbon grid — producing more electricity than consumed in all residential and commercial buildings in the country today, the report said. Decarbonizing the entire energy system could result in as much as 3,000 gigawatts of solar by 2050 due to increased electrification in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors, the report said.
The report assumes that clean-energy policies currently being debated in Congress will drive a 95% reduction from 2005 levels in the grid’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2035, and a 100% reduction by 2050.
But even without aggressive action from Congress — an outcome that is far from certain in an evenly divided House and Senate — installed solar capacity could still see a seven-fold increase by 2050, relative to 2005, the report said.
“Even without a concerted policy effort, market forces and technology advances will drive significant deployment of solar and other clean energy technologies as well as substantial decarbonization,″ the report said, citing falling costs for solar panels and other factors.
To achieve 40% solar power by 2035, the U.S. must install an average of 30 gigawatts of solar capacity per year between now and 2025 — double its current rate — and 60 gigawatts per year from 2025 to 2030, the report said.
Those goals far exceed what even the solar industry has been pushing for as the Biden administration and Congress debate climate and clean-energy legislation. The Solar Energy Industries Association has urged a framework for solar to achieve 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.
Abigail Ross Hopper, the group’s president and CEO, said the DOE study “makes it clear that we will not achieve the levels of decarbonization that we need without significant policy advances.″
The solar group sent a letter to Congress Wednesday from nearly 750 companies spelling out recommended policy changes. “We believe with those policies and a determined private sector, the Biden administration’s goals are definitely achievable,″ Hopper said.
Author: Zack Budryk Published: 9/11/21 THE HILL
The House Ways and Means Committee’s portion of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package includes increased tax incentives for clean energy and the creation of new tax credits for electric-vehicle owners, according to text released by Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) late Friday night.
The committee’s portion would increase the production tax credit rate for wind and solar power to the full applicable rate through the end of 2031, which would then phase down to 80 percent in 2032 and 60 percent in 2033.
It would also increase the energy credit for solar energy facilities built in low-income communities, the rate of which would be based on a combination of health and economic benefits for those communities as well as job opportunities and engagement.
The Biden administration has made incentives for use of solar energy a major priority, announcing a roadmap last week in which it comprises 40 percent of U.S. electricity generated by 2035.
The bill would also provide a $2,500 tax credit for energy-efficient, single-family new homes, as well as credits for energy-efficient, multi-family homes. It would triple the credit for installation of nonbusiness energy efficiency improvements to 30 percent and substitute a $1,200 annual lifetime cap on such credits.
Separately, it would create a new tax credit for the production of renewable hydrogen, with the percentage based on the reduction to lifecyle greenhouse gas emissions. Although some renewable energy advocates have touted major potential in hydrogen, environmental groups like Earthjustice have warned it would present a “false solution” if it is derived from fossil fuels.
“Our proposals allow us to both address our perilously changing climate and create new, good jobs, all while strengthening the economy and reinvigorating local communities,” Neal said in a statement. “Taken together, these proposals expand opportunity for the American people and support our efforts to build a healthier, more prosperous future for the country.”
The House is set to continue its markup of the measure Tuesday.
Updated: 9:01 a.m.
Author: US DOE Staff Published: 9/13/2021 SETO
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released two requests for information (RFI) seeking input on pathways to use solar energy to decarbonize industrial processes and impacts of large-scale solar plants on wildlife and ecosystems. Both topics were identified in DOE’s Solar Futures Study, which examines solar energy’s role in a decarbonized grid and lays out a blueprint where solar would contribute 40-45% of our country’s electrical supply by 2050 and contribute to the electrification of buildings, transportation, and industry.
Decarbonizing Industrial Processes with Solar Thermal RFI
Concentrating solar-thermal (CST) technologies have great potential to decarbonize the industrial sector because they can directly produce steam and other high-temperature fluids for integration with thermally driven industrial process, including steel, cement, and bulk chemicals. These three industries represent 15% of the total fossil consumption by the industrial sector and 5% of total fossil fuel consumed, which is nearly 10% of all carbon dioxide emitted in the United States.
The RFI seeks information from industry and researchers on opportunities to develop solar thermal industrial process technologies for high temperatures above 400°C that are capable of being rapidly advanced to industrial-scale demonstrations. Additionally, the RFI is interested in the production of fuels, including hydrogen, that can be generated using CST energy for simplified transportation and storage of renewable heat.
The responses will help DOE better understand the capabilities of CST technologies for use in industrial processes. DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has previously funded CST projects that use lower-temperature heat in food processing, waste management, and water desalination.
RFI submissions are due on October 13, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. Visit SETO’s website to download the full RFI and learn more about how to submit responses.
Solar Impacts on Wildlife and Ecosystems RFI
The Solar Futures Study estimates that, to meet the Biden administration’s decarbonization goals, the country would need 1 terawatt (TW) of solar capacity by 2035. This would require about 5.7 million acres of land for utility-scale solar installations. Although the land requirements are less than 0.3% of the land in the contiguous United States, minimizing the impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat—as well as maximizing the benefits—will be critical to meeting these climate goals in partnership with local communities.
Understanding these impacts will also be key to ensuring that the transition to a decarbonized electrical grid is managed in a way that is conducive to energy justice and in collaboration with local communities.
The RFI seeks information on the current practices related to siting large-scale solar energy plants and how stakeholders evaluate the impacts and potential benefits these plants may have on the surrounding environment, especially on wildlife.
Industry, government agencies, non-profits, academia, research laboratories, and other stakeholders are encouraged to respond. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is specifically interested in information on current practices and trends as well as identifying what data or resources would enable greater confidence in solar energy impact assessments.
RFI submissions are due on September 30, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET. Check out SETO’s website to download the full RFI and learn more about how to submit responses.
Author: US Dep. of Edu. Published: 9/8/2021 US Dep. of Edu.
WASHINGTON — Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint Dr. Tony Allen as the Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The Board will advance the goal of the HBCU Initiative, established by the Carter Administration, to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting the vital mission of HBCUs. Through the American Rescue Plan and by forgiving capital improvement debt of many these institutions, the Biden-Harris Administration has already committed more than $4 billion in support. Reestablishing the White House HBCU Initiative – and placing strong leadership at the head of the Board – will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support.
Dr. Tony Allen, Chair, President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
Tony Allen became President of Delaware State University in January 2020, after serving as Provost and Executive Vice President since July 2017. Prior to joining the university, he brought a diverse background in the private and nonprofit sectors. He was the Managing Director of Corporate Reputation at Bank of America; co-founded the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and Public Allies Delaware; and led Delaware’s K12 public education reform effort from 2014 – 2019.
Allen’s tenure has largely been through the pandemic, but he and his team have built a strong portfolio of accomplishments focused on student success. The university has seen its elevation to the #3 public HBCU in America (US News), an R2 “high research activity” designation, and the historic acquisition of nearby Wesley College. The university’s “Together” COVID-19 plan has been touted as a national example of campus safety strategy, and a year into the pandemic enrollment has shattered all previous records.
Allen has drawn national attention to Delaware State University through successful fundraising ($40 million in 2020) and national appearances on major media platforms including ABC World News Tonight, CNN, the Black News Channel, and many others. He also served as the chief executive officer of the 59th Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies.
He is Chairman Emeritus of the National Urban Fellows and a Whitney Young Awardee for Advancing Racial Equality, the National Urban League’s highest honor. Currently, he serves on the boards of Graham Holdings and Pepco Holdings and on the Economic and Community Advisory Council for the Philadelphia Federal Reserve.
Allen holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Delaware.
Author: SETO Staff Published: 9/8/2021 SETO