The top tweeted terms are the trending power industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Solar – 1,963 mentions

Solar paint that can turn a house into a power station, floating solar farms being developed in Singapore, and solar panels installed on a cranberries bog were some of the popular topics discussed in Q2.

Mike Hudema, director of communications at Canopy Planet, an environmental non-profit organisation, shared a video on how solar paint can turn a house into a power station by generating hydrogen fuel. The paint contains synthetic molybdenum-sulphide compound, which absorbs water vapour from the air and separates each molecule into hydrogen and oxygen and the produced hydrogen is turned into fuel. Developed by researchers at the RMIT University in Australia, the compound can be added to any wall paint. The researchers, however, are yet to address the challenges with regard to the storage of the produced hydrogen, the article highlighted.

Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, shared an article about how Singapore is developing floating solar farms and installing vertical solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The initiatives are part of the country’s plans to install 2GW of solar power by 2030 and reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. Limited land availability, however, poses a significant challenge for the country. Singapore is, therefore, turning to floating solar farms and solar PV installations on vertical parts of buildings to achieve its goals.

Another discussion surrounding solar was shared by Kelly Pickerel, editor-in-chief of a magazine focused on the US solar industry, about solar panels being installed in a cranberry bog in Massachusetts. The shade of the solar panels creates ideal conditions for cranberries to grow beneath them, while simultaneously enabling the generation of solar electricity. The article noted that the project was an example of how farmland can be used for installing solar panels without giving up on cultivation.

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2. Coal – 1,378 mentions

The increase in coal plant developments in China, operating coal plants in the US being costlier than building renewable energy plants, and the need to reduce coal usage to tackle climate change were some popularly discussed topics in Q2.

Justin Guay, director, global climate strategy at The Sunrise Project, a hybrid campaigning and funding organisation, shared an article on how coal plant developments in China have led to an increase in global coal capacity. Coal plants with a total capacity of 37.8GW were retired globally in 2020, which was offset by the commissioning of 38.4GW of new coal plants by China. Coal plant development is declining outside China with countries such as Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia committing to cut planned coal capacity by 62GW. Commissioning of new coal plants also declined globally by 34% in 2020 from 2019 as developers struggled to secure financing and projects were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Silvio Marcacci, communications director at Energy Innov, an energy and climate policy firm, shared an article on an analysis conducted by the company that found that 80% of the existing coals plants in the US are too costly to continue operating compared to the development of new wind and solar plants. The cost of renewables has reduced considerably over the last two years. Furthermore, federal investment tax credits for small and large solar systems have increased to 26% in 2022, 22% in 2023 and 10% thereafter, which will make renewables cheaper. The analysis estimates that more than 77% of coal plants will be unable to compete against new renewables by 2025.

Coal also trended in a discussion shared by Simon Evans, deputy editor at Carbon Brief, a climate and energy news and analysis website, on the importance of reducing carbon emissions from coal to maintain the global warming levels below 1.5℃. The article noted that 45% of the global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 2030 and the first step towards achieving it is to cut coal usage. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep global temperature below 2℃, but there are huge gaps between the actions taken by countries globally. United Nations secretary-general António Guterres stressed on the need to end coal-fuelled power stations after 2020 to achieve reduction in carbon emissions.

 3. Gas – 1,332 mentions

The lack of reliable gas supply impacting the Texas electricity grid during the winter storm, Xcel Energy’s deal to procure low-carbon gas, and gas-powered power plants being uncompetitive were some of the major discussions that took place around gas in Q2.

Michael Noble, publisher and contributor at Energy News Network, a non-profit news site, shared an article on how the failure of the natural gas supply system in Texas resulted in power outages during the winter storm in February this year. Some of the gas suppliers voluntarily defaulted on supplies to power plants, while others took advantage of the rise in gas prices, noted the article. Curt Morgan, chief executive of Texas-based energy company Vistra, outlined certain measures that need to be taken to prevent such outages in future. He opined that power companies should be incentivised to add fuel storage facilities on-site and investments should be made in power generation facilities that can ensure reliable power supply.

Morgan Bazilian, professor and director of the Payne Institute for Public Policy, shared an article on electric and gas utility Xcel Energy signing an agreement with Crestone Peak Resources (CPR) to supply low-carbon natural gas. CPR will supply natural gas certified by Project Canary, a start-up that uses continuous monitoring technology to provide emissions rating for natural gas. The agreement is part of Xcel’s plan to generate 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, the article highlighted.

Another discussion related to gas was shared by Brendon Slotterback, programme officer for Midwest climate and energy at The McKnight Foundation, shared an article on how gas-fired power plants are expected to become uncompetitive before the end of their life span. Electricity utilities Minnesota Power and Xcel Energy have announced plans to develop gas-fired power plants despite pledging to become carbon-free by 2050. The article noted that gas-fired power plants are being proposed despite growing evidence that renewable energy sources are more cost-competitive. A study by Rocky Mountain Institute, for example, found that 90% of the proposed gas plants were likely to be obsolete by 2035 or within ten years of their 40-year life span due to the availability of cheaper renewable sources.

4. Renewables and Renewable Energy – 1,039 mentions

New renewables being cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives, the need for Puerto Rico to invest in renewable energy, and global renewable energy capacity in 2020 beating estimates, were some of the trending discussions around renewable energy in the last quarter.

Ketan Joshi, a freelance writer specialising in climate change and energy, shared an article on how 62% of the total renewable power generation added in 2020 globally was cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The cost of concentrating solar power (CSP) declined by 16% between 2019 and 2020, while the cost for onshore wind, offshore wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power declined by 13%, 9% and 7% respectively. The report also found that the cost of operating 800GW of new coal plants was higher than that of building new wind and solar plants in 2021.

Carl Siegrist, member of the board of directors of Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), a not-for-profit organisation, shared an article on how renewables hold the key to Puerto Rico’s energy future. Puerto Rico is in the process of redeveloping its electric system, which was affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and an earthquake in 2020. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) allocated $9.6bn for developing the electric system.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is planning to develop fossil fuel power plants and continue its existing centralised power distribution system. The article noted that PREPA is ignoring the benefits offered by renewable energy sources and distributed transmission systems for low-income groups. The funds provided by FEMA could help the country in transforming its energy system by including renewable energy sources that can generate jobs and make the power system more reliable during disruptions, the article highlighted.

Renewables was also discussed in an article shared by Assaad Razzouk, CEO of Gurin Energy, a renewable energy company, on more than 260GW of global renewable energy capacity being added in 2020 breaking an earlier record set in 2019 by approximately 50%, according to IRENA’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021. Solar and wind power accounted for 91% of new renewables added last year. The decommissioning of the global fossil fuel power plants partly led to the increased addition of renewables, the report highlighted.

5. Wind – 744 mentions

The need to boost wind and solar installations to meet the 1.5℃ climate target, a bill passed by the Ohio senate creating hurdles for solar and wind development, and Pattern Energy and Uniper signing a power purchase agreement (PPA) for Western Spirit Wind power plant were some of the popular discussions on wind in Q2.

Tor Valenza, founder of UnThink Solar, a public relations firm for solar and cleantech brands, shared an article on how new fossil fuel projects need to be stopped to ensure that the 1.5℃ global climate target under the Paris agreement is achieved. The article noted that global warming can be kept under 1.5℃ by deploying renewables such as wind and solar, which are capable of meeting global energy demands by more than 50 times. Wind and solar technologies are market-ready and cost competitive and can scaled up easily to meet global energy demands, the article noted.

Dick Munson, author at Island Press, a not-for-profit publisher focused on sustainability and environment, shared an article on a bill passed by the Ohio senate, which is expected to create hurdles for development of solar and wind projects. The Senate Bill 52 requires energy developers to hold public hearings with local officials, which could lead county commissions to either ban or reject wind or solar projects. The article noted that the bill adds a layer of bureaucracy and would discourage new wind and solar developments.

Another discussion on wind was shared by Mark Burger, a clean energy advisor at Blacks In Green, a non-profit organisation, on a 15-year PPA signed by Pattern Energy, a renewable energy company, and Uniper, an energy company. Uniper will supply power from the 1.05GW Western Spirit Wind project being developed in New Mexico, US, under the PPA. The project will supply power through the 150-mile (241.4km) 345kV Western Spirit Transmission Line being developed by Pattern Energy and New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA). The wind project along with the transmission line will enable the wind energy resources in New Mexico to be supplied to the western markets, the article highlighted.