Oct 5, 2017

IEA expert on Trump, tariffs and solar

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 If the industry's investment tax credit is repealed earlier than currently scheduled as part of broader tax reform, "that would have an impact," Frankl says.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

What we know: Deadly Storm Dennis whips at England, Wales and Ireland

Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

At least two deaths are being attributed to Storm Dennis on Monday as it continues to strike at parts of England, Wales and Ireland, per AccuWeather.

The big picture: Dennis is the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains have caused widespread flooding across the United Kingdom. The army has been deployed in the U.K. to help with flood relief.

Go deeperArrow14 mins ago - Science

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.