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Monday, 27 July 2015

Another myth busted...

There are those in the UK who argue that we shouldn't really be doing much about climate change because China, supposedly one of the biggest polluters in the world, isn't doing anything either.

Except that's not quite true....

Premier Li Keqiang has just announced a plan to make China's carbon emissions peak by 2030 or earlier. China will also reduce carbon emissions in the economy by 65 percent by 2030, and there are also some major targets for renewable energy.

So China is actually making a serious attempt to drive its emissions down and move into a new clean energy era.

Source: Irish Times

Meanwhile, in the US...

Okay, so enough about the UK. To be pretty honest, since the Tory wrecking ball started swinging a couple of weeks ago, I am feeling like there's not too much left to destroy in the UK at the moment, so its fairly heartening to see Hilary Clinton spreading a positive message in the US. At least the Americans seem to be getting on with stuff, in spite of the loopy Republicans.

Part of Clinton's plan involves the installation of half a billion solar panels by 2021. That seems to me to be fairly impressive to say the least. As ThinkProgress explains, that's a 700 percent increase on current installations. Clinton also intends to fight the Republican attempt to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan and she also wants to encourage innovation with a Clean Energy Challenge for cities, states and rural communities.

“We can make a transition over time from a fossil fuel economy, predominantly, to a clean renewable energy economy, predominantly” Clinton said.

Hilary Clinton's renewable energy plans

How would she fund this?

Partly, through extending and strengthening tax breaks for renewable industries she says. However, there is a problem, a pretty big one in fact. It seems many of her backers are connected to the fossil fuel sector or indeed were at one time or another. Clinton's opponents have also pointed out her support for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline as well as for domestic gas production.

Clinton revealed her plans while on a visit to Iowa. This is a state that is actively engaged in building wind farms and also produces ethanol for green motoring. At present, 28 percent of Iowa's electricity demand is met by wind power, closely following Texas, the current front runner in wind energy. On a national level, renewable energy provides just 13 percent of American electricity. The Clean Power Plan would boost that to 25 percent by 2027. Clinton's plan would take that figure to 33 percent.

Brad Plumer, writing on the Vox website, thinks that such a plan is 'not implausible', given that US solar energy grew by 418 percent between 2010 and 2014. However, there would be numerous technical challenges relating to how the grid would cope with all the new sources of intermittent renewable power. Some of these challenges are explained in greater detail by David Roberts, but the point is that at least Clinton has a vision, which is certainly more than the Tories have got over here in the UK.

Bloomberg Politics 

Friday, 24 July 2015

In 2011, wind energy reduced the Irish wholesale market cost of electricity by around 74 million euros and in 2012, the country generated 15 percent of its electricity from wind, adding 125 MW to its existing capacity. By 2015, Ireland was able to meet one-quarter of its electricity demand from wind with one-fifth of demand being met by wind in June 2015 alone.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Is the Treasury trying to sabotage UK green energy?

Shortly after winning the election, the new Conservative government moved swiftly to begin implementation of some of their most controversial policies. Alongside all the social and economic announcements – regarding welfare benefits for example, a whole host of policy decisions have been announced that are arguably hostile to the UK renewable energy sector.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

More emissions will mean more megadroughts

Climate and Capitalism: NASA reports more emissions will mean more megadroughts

(NASA) Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains during the last half of this century could be drier and longer than drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years, according to a new NASA study. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, is based on projections from several climate models, including one sponsored by NASA. The research found continued increases in human-produced greenhouse gas emissions drives up the risk of severe droughts in these regions.

North American map of estimated ground moisture in 2095 based on a high emissions scenario Soil moisture 30 cm below ground projected through 2100 for high emissions scenario RCP 8.5. The soil moisture data are standardized to the Palmer Drought Severity Index and are deviations from the 20th century average.

“Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less,” said Ben Cook, climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City, and lead author of the study. “What these results are saying is we’re going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years.”
According to Cook, the current likelihood of a megadrought, a drought lasting more than three decades, is 12 percent. If greenhouse gas emissions stop increasing in the mid-21st century, Cook and his colleagues project the likelihood of megadrought to reach more than 60 percent.

However, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase along current trajectories throughout the 21st century, there is an 80 percent likelihood of a decades-long megadrought in the Southwest and Central Plains between the years 2050 and 2099.

The scientists analyzed a drought severity index and two soil moisture data sets from 17 climate models that were run for both emissions scenarios. The high emissions scenario projects the equivalent of an atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration of 1,370 parts per million (ppm) by 2100, while the moderate emissions scenario projects the equivalent of 650 ppm by 2100. Currently, the atmosphere contains 400 ppm of CO2.

In the Southwest, climate change would likely cause reduced rainfall and increased temperatures that will evaporate more water from the soil. In the Central Plains, drying would largely be caused by the same temperature-driven increase in evaporation.

The Fifth Assessment Report, issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013, synthesized the available scientific studies and reported that increases in evaporation over arid lands are likely throughout the 21st century. But the IPCC report had low confidence in projected changes to soil moisture, one of the main indicators of drought.
Until this study, much of the previous research included analysis of only one drought indicator and results from fewer climate models, Cook said, making this a more robust drought projection than any previously published.

“What I think really stands out in the paper is the consistency between different metrics of soil moisture and the findings across all the different climate models,” said Kevin Anchukaitis, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study. “It is rare to see all signs pointing so unwaveringly toward the same result, in this case a highly elevated risk of future megadroughts in the United States.”
This study also is the first to compare future drought projections directly to drought records from the last 1,000 years.

“We can’t really understand the full variability and the full dynamics of drought over western North America by focusing only on the last century or so,” Cook said. “We have to go to the paleoclimate record, looking at these much longer timescales, when much more extreme and extensive drought events happened, to really come up with an appreciation for the full potential drought dynamics in the system.”

Modern measurements of drought indicators go back about 150 years. Cook and his colleagues used a well-established tree-ring database to study older droughts. Centuries-old trees allow a look back into the distant past. Tree species like oak and bristle cone pines grow more in wet years, leaving wider rings, and vice versa for drought years. By comparing the modern drought measurements to tree rings in the 20th century for a baseline, the tree rings can be used to establish moisture conditions over the past 1,000 years.

The scientists were interested in megadroughts that took place between 1100 and 1300 in North America. These medieval-period droughts, on a year-to-year basis, were no worse than droughts seen in the recent past. But they lasted, in some cases, 30 to 50 years.

When these past megadroughts are compared side-by-side with computer model projections of the 21st century, both the moderate and business-as-usual emissions scenarios are drier, and the risk of droughts lasting 30 years or longer increases significantly.

Connecting the past, present and future in this way shows that 21st century droughts in the region are likely to be even worse than those seen in medieval times, according to Anchukaitis.
“Those droughts had profound ramifications for societies living in North America at the time. These findings require us to think about how we would adapt if even more severe droughts lasting over a decade were to occur in our future,” Anchukaitis said.

Enel Green Power to build new wind farm in Chile

Enel Green Power (EGP) will be investing $55 million in a new 24 MW wind farm at Los Buenos Aires in the Chilean region of Bio-Bio.

Wind and solar project to challenge Australian PM's obsession with coal

Giles Parkinson on ReNew Economy has reported that a new, giant, wind and solar park will be competing with a proposal for a coal plant favoured by the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. The plant would be constructed in North Queensland by Windlab, based in Canberra. The project is a direct rival to the Australian government's planned coal plant in the same area.

The Kennedy Energy Park would consist of a 600 MW wind farm combined with a 600 MW solar farm and would be based at Hughenden. It would supply around 80 percent of the local electricity demand once completed.

The coal plant favoured by the government and some local businesses would require subsidies because of the high price of coal generated power, which Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimates at around $130 per MWh. However, according to Roger Price, CEO of Windlab, the renewable energy project would need the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to become involved in order to act as a catalyst for banks. Tony Abbott has just instructed the CEFC to stop providing money to wind and solar projects, a totally ludicrous decision.

Source: ReNew Economy

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Public Enemy Number 1: The British Government's Attack On Renewable Energy

Before I begin, let me first apologise on behalf of the British public to the rest of the world for the insufferable bunch of deluded idiots that currently runs this country.

After this weeks announcement that the government is to scrap the UK Zero Carbon target, I am more  convinced than ever that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is an imbecile. The decision is utterly moronic. Not only is it a smack in the face for the green building industry and another attack on renewable energy, it will also jeopardise any hope of energy efficiency for householders, for the simple reason that although gas prices are low at the moment, they will inevitably rise again at some point, meaning a continued increase in energy bills.

Julie Hirigoyen, the Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, has said that the Chancellors decision is "the death knell" for the zero carbon homes policy. Phillip Selwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, pointed out that under the Climate Change Act, the UK has to achieve an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from homes by 2050. However, I have to say I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Climate Change Act itself as next on the Chancellors wrecking list.

Daisy Sands, Energy and Climate campaigner at Greenpeace added that it would mean the UK having to import gas from insecure sources, like Russia. Rob Lambe, Managing Director of Willmott Dixon Energy Services, said that the decision seriously undermines industry confidence in government policy. Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) described the Zero Carbon budget as a world leading initiative for sustainable development adding that the cancellation of the policy is also a "marked contrast to other nations who have created entirely new industries from building highly sustainable new places.”

The thing is, this comes hot on the heels of the announced intention to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) a year early and the proposed scrapping of the exemption granted to renewable energy businesses in the Climate Change Levy (CCL), which effectively turns the CCL into a 'carbon tax' for renewables.

A carbon tax on renewables? Completely ludicrous!! It also means by the way, according to Friends of the Earth, that renewable energy generators will have to charge extra for their energy.

That it isn't all. The Chancellor also intends to give tax breaks to North Sea oil and to drivers of gas guzzling vehicles and to support the building of new roads in the North of England, in addition to his support for fracking and the news that most of the Green Inestment Bank is going to be sold off, that is to say, mostly privatised.

But the killing blow has probably already been made. Back in March 2014, the Chancellor cancelled Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax breaks for companies benefitting from the RO and the Renewables Heat Incentive (RHI). These tax breaks were aimed at companies investing in startups and the effect, if it hasn't already begun, will be to slow down the development of renewable energy in Britain. It's hardly surprising that some energy analysts are beginning to believe that it will be almost impossible to invest in the country.

So what what happened to all the claims of the Conservatives forming a 'green government'? We can see cleary now that all along it was a blatant lie.

You would have to be blind not to notice the derision now being meted out by the global community to the Australian government after all the meddling by that coal-obsessed, climate change denying lunatic Tony Abbott, but under Osborne's watch that is where the UK will be heading before too long.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

US government announces initiative to increase access to solar for all Americans

The US Government has announced a new initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, in particular low and moderate income communities while expanding opportunities to join the solar workforce.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Climeon and SSAB install waste heat recovery system to generate electricity

Swedish company Climeon and steel manufacturer SSAB have jointly installed a Climeon Ocean system to capture waste heat from SSAB’s Borlänge Plant and produce 100% clean electricity.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Westermost Rough offshore wind farm officially inaugurated

The offshore wind power plant Westermost Rough, consisting of 35 Siemens 6 MW wind turbines and located 8 kilometres off the east coast of the UK, was officially inaugurated this week on July 1st 2015.

Energy & Environment Dates 2012