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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 If the industry's investment tax credit is repealed earlier than currently scheduled as part of broader tax reform, "that would have an impact," Frankl says.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

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

7 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.