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Course: Clean Energy and Jobs: What Everyone Needs to Know - Focus on Illinois and CEJA

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  1. Part 1: Understanding Why We Can and Must Transition to Clean Energy and Jobs Now
    Transition to Clean Energy and Jobs: A Vision of the Future - 10 points for each topic completed
    5 Topics
  2. The Problems We Have Now and Why It’s Time to Stop Using Fossil Fuels for Electricity and Transportation - 10 points for each topic completed
    8 Topics
  3. Part 2: Causing the Change We Want to See
    Creative Solutions for the Clean Energy Transition - 10 points for each topic completed
    3 Topics
  4. Issues That Intersect with the Clean Energy Transition that Need to Be Addressed - 10 points for each topic completed
    4 Topics
  5. Part 3: A Toolkit for a Clean Recovery 2021: Clean Energy and Jobs - Focus on Illinois and CEJA
    Introduction to Clean Energy and Jobs Toolkit - Focus on Illinois and CEJA - 10 points for each topic
    8 Topics
  6. Part 4: Assignments - 50 points for each assignment students complete that is approved by instructor
    Assignment 1: Participate in Course Discussion Forum
  7. Assignment 2: Do a Group Effort
  8. Assignment 3: Take Target Actions
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Fossil fuels have been our main source of energy for 100 years, but all reputable sources of information on global energy agree: the transition away from fossil fuels is happening. Costs of renewable energy have fallen drastically and states, including Illinois, have been taking the lead on getting to 100% renewable energy. While challenges remain to overcome the obstacles such a massive change entails, human ingenuity will prevail.

solar prices falling

Solar keeps getting used more, and prices keep going down. In terms of cost, Lazard’s levelized cost of electricity studies provided the following information for 2020:

In a base comparison, without taking into account subsidies, fuel prices or carbon pricing, utility-scale solar, both thin-film and crystalline silicon, as well as wind have the lowest LCOE of all sources considered. Utility-scale crystalline silicon PV comes in anywhere from $42 to $31/MWh, while utility-scale thin-film PV ranges from $38 to $29 and utility-scale wind registers the lowest possible LCOE over the largest range, from $54 to $26/MWh.

For comparison, under these same criteria, gas peaking comes in at $198 to $151/MWh, nuclear is $198 to $129/MWh, coal is $159 to $65/MWh and gas combined cycle is $73 to $ 44/MWh.
PV Magazine

Besides the falling costs of renewables, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has done a “lifecycle analysis” of solar energy to coal:

“LCA can help determine environmental burdens from ‘cradle to grave’ and facilitate comparisons of energy technologies. Comparing life cycle stages and proportions of GHG emissions from each stage for PV and coal shows that, for coal-fired power plants, fuel combustion during operation emits the vast majority of GHGs. For PV power plants, the majority of GHG emissions are upstream of operation in materials and module manufacturing.”

The analysis shows that the greenhouse gas emissions over the total lifecycle of solar are far lower than coal, by a measure of 40 to 1000:

life cycle analysis

This massive waste associated with coal energy is beyond astounding, and makes clear why a transition is so obviously necessary. We know there is a better way.