Solar panels that are part of the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association's community gardens. Photo: Jim Mone / AP

We caught up by phone Wednesday with Paolo Frankl, who leads the International Energy Agency's renewable division, to talk about the group's just-released report and more. The highlights:

Beating expectations: "If someone just a few years ago would have told me that in the year 2017 we will be saying that solar is the first choice of new power capacity ahead of coal, I would have responded, 'you're kidding. ' "

Big picture: "We are speaking about solar entering a new era, but in terms of percentage of global electricity, it is still 1.5%."

On President Trump's policies & domestic renewables: "I may be proven wrong, but in my honest view, the drivers in favor of renewables remain very strong at the business, state and local levels."

Yes, but: "I see for the moment a limited impact," Frankl says. Two specifics:

  1. Potential tariffs on imported solar equipment could increase costs for the domestic industry, but the impact would be limited because "the rest of the system is the biggest chunk of the price," Frankl says.
  2. If the industry's investment tax credit is repealed earlier than currently scheduled as part of broader tax reform, "that would have an impact," Frankl says.

Gritty details: "The question about system integration of wind and solar, we hear many wrong things," Frankl says. "Like, 'You can't do solar without storage.' False." Battery storage of electricity is one way to ensure the intermittent resources of wind and solar seamlessly integrate into an electricity grid, he says. Bigger factors are more flexible grid systems and other resources that can ramp up and down quickly, like natural gas.

Go deeper: Axios story on the IEA renewables report, and the report itself.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 min ago - Politics & Policy

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes.

  • A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

  • With a firm moderator, NBC News' Kristen Welker — along with threats of mic cutoffs and advisers' pleas for Trump to cool it — voters finally heard clear contrasts.
  • Trump swung several times, but never quite landed a punch as he tried to connect Biden to a nebulous cloud of allegations about business dealings by his son Hunter.

Between the lines: Trump didn't focus on assuring women voters or seniors. But his economic argument could reassure some men in swing states.

  • Trump went back to 2016 mode — the outsider, chiding career politicians. But he's one of them now.

During an exchange about race in America, Trump said: "Nobody has done more for the black community than Donald Trump, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln — possible exception. ... I'm the least racist person in this room."

  • Biden retorted sarcastically, referring to Trump: "Abraham Lincoln here is one of the most racist presidents we’ve had in modern history."

Videos:

Reporting was contributed by Stef Kight, Alexi McCammond, David Nather, Hans Nichols, Margaret Talev and Alayna Treene.

Biden to Trump: "I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life"

Former VP Joe Biden pushed back Thursday against allegations from President Trump, saying he had never profited from foreign sources. "Nothing was unethical," Biden told debate moderator Kristen Welker about his son Hunter's work in Ukraine while he was vice president.

Why it matters: Earlier on Thursday, Hunter Biden's former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, released a statement saying Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed overseas business dealings with his son were "false."

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.