Solar and wind plants are springing up everywhere, but the electricity grid cannot always take maximum advantage of the clean energy they produce. As countries in the region ramp up their targets for renewables, they need to ensure that their power systems are flexible enough to accommodate ever-larger amounts of intermittent generation. That is doable—even 100% renewable energy is doable in some cases—but it will require governments to put new policies in place that reward flexibility, one energy company executive says; otherwise, a lot of that wind and solar will just go to waste.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, residents of many of the world’s largest cities were experiencing some of the clearest skies they had seen in years. The decrease in air pollution—captured in striking before-and-after photos and satellite images—has been one of the rare positive side effects of the pandemic-related shutdowns. Experts in air quality from some of Latin America’s major urban areas talked recently about the effects of the sharp declines in traffic in their cities—and some of the problems that cannot be solved just by taking vehicles off the road.