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EGEB: What Biden and Sanders said about the Green New Deal in the debate

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • What did Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders say about the Green New Deal in last night’s debate?
  • The coronavirus slows solar and wind growth.
  • Green energy applications hit a new high in the UK.

The Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB): A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Biden, Sanders, and the Green New Deal

Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) debated last night on CNN (no audience present due to coronavirus precautions). What did they have to say about the Green New Deal, which would transition the US to a green energy economy? Bottom line, they both support it.

The Green New Deal includes a goal of switching to 100% green energy by 2030, among many other details. (The Sierra Club provides a comprehensive summary of what the Green New Deal is here.)

Biden said:

We both agree that we have a new green deal [sic] to deal with the threat that faces humanity.

We disagree on the detail of how we do it, but we don’t disagree on the principle.

The New York Times fact-checked Biden’s statement and concluded that it’s mostly true. Sanders is an original co-sponsor of the Senate version. He has incorporated a lot of the Green New Deal into his own climate-crisis plan, which he has also named the Green New Deal.

However, Biden wants to spend $1.7 trillion on addressing climate change, and his deadline for net zero is 2050. Sanders, on the other hand, proposes spending $16 trillion, and his deadline is 2030, as stated above.

Sanders wants a wholesale ban on fracking, while Biden wants to stop new fracking on public land. Further, when it comes to fossil fuels, Reuters reports:

Sanders wants to end fossil fuel use completely in power and transport in less than 10 years. Biden, meanwhile, sees traditional power sources like natural gas still having a role to play, with the help of technology to deal with emissions.

But bottom line, this is a great progress for the support of green energy from Democratic presidential candidates, as four years ago, it was barely on the agenda.

Coronavirus slows solar and wind

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting nearly every aspect of life in the world, and solar and wind power is no exception. In an attempt to contain the virus, factories that make solar panels and wind turbines in China were shut down, which slows the production of green energy equipment. Chinese factories are starting up operations again, but there will be a negative ripple effect as the virus spreads to other parts of the world.

Further, governments are having to turn away from focusing on green energy projects and turn their attention to coronavirus action plans. But Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told the Guardian:

We should not allow today’s crisis to compromise the clean energy transition.

We have an important window of opportunity. Major economies around the world are preparing stimulus packages. A well-designed stimulus package could offer economic benefits and facilitate a turnover of energy capital which have huge benefits for the clean energy transition.

These challenging market conditions will be a clear test for government commitments. But the good news is that compared to economic stimulus packages of the past we have much cheaper renewable technologies, have made major progress in electric vehicles, and there is a supportive financial community for the clean energy transition.

If the right policies are put in place there are opportunities to make the best of this situation.

UK green energy applications

Green energy project planning applications reached a four-year high in the UK in 2019.

The year saw 269 planning applications for new wind, solar, and bioenergy, up from 204 in 2018, according to energy consultancy PX Group, who analyzed UK government data.

It’s unsurprising since the UK is working toward meeting its goals to cut emissions. Further, the cost of green energy is falling, and lenders are now viewing renewables as lucrative investments. Planning applications are expected to continue to rise in the long term.

The ban of onshore wind was just lifted by the British government, as Electrek reported on March 3, so onshore wind will be able to compete for subsidies with other green energy sources.

Photo: Randall Hill via PBS

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.