Chapter 14 Shaping Your Practice to Include Renewable Energy

JurisdictionUnited States
Chapter 14 Shaping Your Practice to Include Renewable Energy

Andrew Gibbons
Distributed Solar Development
St. Paul, MN

Peter Hansen
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Denver, CO

ANDREW GIBBONS is Senior Commercial Counsel at Distributed Solar Development in St. Paul, MN. He is the lead attorney on transactions and regulatory matters related to DSD's project origination, acquisition, development, and construction efforts for its pipelines of solar and battery storage installations. He has over 10 years of experience in the renewable energy sector, having worked on all aspects of the development, permitting, and financing of wind, solar, and storage projects located throughout the country.

PETER HANSEN is counsel in the Energy, Environment and Infrastructure practice group at Bryan Cave Leighton Pasiner in Denver. He has more than 25 years of experience working with clients in the energy and natural resources sectors, including a decade of service as the General Counsel of ADA Carbon Solutions, LLC, in Littleton, Colorado. His experience as a member of an executive management team has provided him the opportunity and experience of working with senior leadership teams and boards of directors to manage operational activities, financings, merger and acquisition activities, and regulatory matters. As a 1995 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law who also earned an M.B.A. from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver that same year, Peter has provided a broad range of legal services to his clients in the Colorado and Rocky Mountain region for decades.


I. Introduction

a. The goal of this paper is to provide you with an overview of the substantive overlap between the extractives industry and the renewable energy industry, and to provide you with some practical examples of ways to make renewable energy a part of your practice.

II. What is Renewable Energy?

a. Broadly speaking, renewable energy is energy from sources that are naturally replenished and do not run out. In contrast, conventional energy sources such as coal and natural gas are finite and could get depleted.
b. Primary renewable energy sources:
i. Solar Power
1. Thermal Solar - Solar radiation is used to produce heat.
a. Solar thermal systems are used to heat water and air.
b. Solar thermal power plants focus solar radiation to heat a fluid and produce steam to turn a turbine and produce electricity.
2. Photovoltaic Systems - PV modules convert solar radiation directly into electricity.
3. Types of Projects:
a. Utility Scale
b. Distributed Generation
c. Community Solar (a subset of distributed generation)
d. Residential
ii. Wind Power - Wind is used to turn a turbine and produce electricity.
1. Onshore
a. Utility Scale
b. Distributed Generation
2. Offshore
iii. Biomass - Organic materials from plants and animals. Biomass is burned to produce heat or is processed into solid, liquid or gaseous fuel.
1. Wood
2. Municipal Waste
3. Landfill Gas/Biogas
4. Ethanol
5. Biodiesel
iv. Hydropower
1. Conventional - Moving water in a dam or river turns a turbine to produce electricity.
2. Pumped-Storage - Water is moved between two reservoirs at different elevations.


v. Geothermal - Natural sources of steam or heat are used to turn a turbine and produce electricity.
c. Electricity Storage - Electricity storage projects can be combined with variable generating resources such as solar and wind generating plants to smooth delivery of power from those projects to the grid by storing excess energy for later delivery (for example, solar battery storage allows the project to store energy produced during daylight hours for delivery at night when the project is not generating solar power).
i. Batteries
ii. Hydropower Pumped Storage
iii. Compressed Air
iv. Many other technologies

III. Current and Projected Mix of United States Electricity Generation from Selected Fuels1


Percent of U.S. Electricity Generation


2050 Projected










Natural Gas









IV. Rapid Growth of Renewable Energy - Particularly Wind and Solar

a. The share of wind and solar in the United States energy generation mix is expected to grow from 13% in 2021 to 36% in 2050.2
b. FERC currently estimates approximately 76.8 GW of wind generation facilities and 180.8 GW of solar generating facilities will be added to the U.S. generation mix between January 2022 and December 2024.3
c. United States electric utilities are committed to building more renewable energy generating capacity.
i. American Electric Power has publicly announced a plan to:4
1. Achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, with an 80% reduction from 2000 levels by 2030.
2. Add approximately 16 GW of regulated wind and solar generation capacity by 2030.
3. Invest $8.2 billion in renewables through 2026.


ii. Duke Energy has publicly announced a plan to:
1. Achieve a 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
2. Own or purchase 16 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2025.5
iii. Southern Company has announced a plan to:6
1. Achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with a 50% GHG emissions reduction from 2007 levels by 2030.
2. Expand its portfolio of zero-carbon resources, including nuclear, solar, wind, storage and hydroelectric.
d. Corporations are continuing to adopt aggressive Sustainability/ESG programs that commit to purchasing renewable power.
i. 2021 Corporate Renewable Energy Purchases7















ii. Amazon's goal is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, and Amazon expects 100% of its operations to be powered with renewable energy by 2025.8
iii. Meta's operations are supported by 100% renewable energy and its corporate goal is to reach net-zero emissions across its supply chain.9
iv. Verizon committed to source or generate renewable energy equivalent to 50% of total annual electricity consumption by 2025 and to reach net zero operational emissions by 2035.10
v. Google claims to be the first major company to be carbon neutral, which it achieved in 2007, and made the commitment to operate on carbon-free energy by

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