German village generates 500% more energy than it needs. #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #NEG

This German village generates 500% more energy than it needs

Charley Cameron

Wildpoldsried, a Bavarian village of about 2,600 residents, is leading the way in Germany’s extraordinary renewable energy transformation.

Over the past 18 years, the village has invested in a holistic range of renewable energy projects that include 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics, five biogas facilities, 11 wind turbines and a hydropower system.

As a result, the village has gone beyond energy independence – and it now produces 500% more energy than it needs and profits from sales of the surplus power back to the grid.

Renewable energy projects in Germany have gained enormous traction in recent years, propelled by government subsidies that are designed to lower costs, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and move the nation entirely away from nuclear power; this transformation is known as the Energiewende.

As a result, Germans will soon be getting 30 percent of their power from renewable sources—that’s twice as much as U.S. households receive.

On a local level, Wildpoldsried has far exceeded the successes seen across Germany. The villages’s commitment to renewable energy began in 1999, when the city council crafted a document titled “Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend” (WIR-2020, or Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership).

The document looked at how the town might encourage growth and invest in new community facilities without incurring debt. As Biocycle explains, the WIR-2020 contained three main areas of focus:

1) Renewable Energy and Saving Energy;

2) Ecological Construction of Buildings Using Ecological Building Materials (mainly wood-based); and

3) Protection of Water and Water Resources (both above and below ground) and Ecological Disposal of Wastewater.”

Through these three areas of focus, Wildpoldsried sought to produce 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. But in a relatively small, engaged community where, as one resident explained, there is a notion of “thriftiness… I don’t need to buy what I can make,” the projects advanced much faster than anyone might have expected.

By 2011, the village was producing 321 percent of the electricity it needed, and was receiving $5.7 million in payments for the surplus.

The entire list of Wildpoldsreid’s projects is pretty remarkable: in addition to the five biogas plants, 4,983 kWp of photovoltaics, 11 wind turbines and the hydropower system, the town is also home to several municipal and residential biomass heating systems and 2,100 m² of solar thermal systems.

Five private residences are heated by geothermal systems and passivhaus techniques have been used in some new construction.

One is also likely to see a fair number of electric cars dotting about.

With such a diversity of renewable energy sources, the town operates a smart grid that, as Siemens explains “maintains the balance between energy production and consumption and keeps the power grid stable.”

As Windpoldsreid’s Deputy Mayor, Günter Mögele, explained to the Financial Times: “I think people were surprised that the Energiewende is happening so fast,” and certainly it is not without it’s headaches for those looking at the issue on a national level. But Windpoldsried is a spectacular example of what can happen on a local level when residents and municipalities take matters into their own hands.

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A plan for serious action on #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

A plan for serious action on climate change

Below is a part of the Socialist Alliance’s climate action plan.

For more information go to the policy page.

1 Set immediate emissions cuts targets to reduce net emissions to zero as soon as possible, including a target to achieve 100% renewable energy within a decade. Introduce emissions reduction targets of at least 5% a year. Nuclear power is not a clean energy solution.

2  Begin new international treaty negotiations aimed to get all countries to agree on a global target aiming for 90% emissions cuts on 1990 levels by 2030. Prioritise emissions cuts to rich industrial nations and increase aid to exploited countries to help them to use clean energy for their development.

3 Start the transition to a zero-waste economy. Legislate to end industrial energy waste. Improve or ban wasteful consumer products, such as those with built-in obsolescence. Engage with workers and their unions to redesign their products and jobs so they are sustainable.

4 Require advanced energy efficiency measures and solar photovoltaic panels be fitted to existing buildings with measures to subsidise owner-occupiers for excessive costs. Require landlords to progressively install the same technology in rental properties. Improve mandatory energy efficiency standards for all new buildings.

5 No to nuclear. End uranium mining. Close Ranger (NT), Roxby Downs and Beverly (SA) and no new mines to be approved. No dumping of nuclear waste. Shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and switch to clean, safe medical technologies.

6 Ban fracking. Shut down and cap unconventional gas wells. Begin phasing out coalmining and coal-fired power immediately. Provide replacement jobs and retraining on full pay for affected communities. Build new sustainable industries in these areas.

7 Redirect heavy industry, including remaining steel, aluminium and traditional car manufacturing industries, to manufacture essential products and infrastructure for the transition such as renewable energy generators, public transport vehicles and infrastructure and electric cars.

8 Bring power industries under public ownership. Set up public bodies to coordinate local, regional and national energy networks/grids. Plan and build a mix of renewable energy and energy storage technologies to supply 100% renewable energy. Technologies to be used include wind turbines, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and storage, pumped hydro storage and batteries. New technologies such as wave or geothermal power should be included as they become available. Support community-owned renewable power generation and grids and upgrade the national grid to facilitate the new renewable energy system.

9 Ban the logging of native forests and move to tree plantations and alternative crops for fibre and timber. Begin an urgent program of agroecological revegetation to sequester carbon and restore and protect biodiversity in the face of a changing climate. Promote synthetic-fertiliser-free and pesticide-free cropping pastures and decentralised farm forestry instead of industrial plantation monocultures where practical.

10 Create measures to support farmers to move from industrial agriculture to agroecology and integrated pest management, starting with less productive land where practical, for carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Provide education, research and direct assistance to move to “carbon farming”, which stores carbon in soils, or causes reduced carbon loss from soils. Encourage new farming practices ending the use of chemical fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides for pastures, organic and urban food production. Oversee the process to enhance regional employment and maintain or improve food sovereignty.

11 Transition to free public transport, starting with elimination of fares for concession holders, and expand services to enable all urban residents to use it for their regular commuting. Electrify all public transport networks. Encourage urban bicycle use through more cycleways and better facilities for cyclists. Nationalise and upgrade interstate freight, passenger train and ferry services including high-speed rail from Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane. Transition to making all new private cars and other road vehicles electric other than special-use vehicles, such as long distance vehicles for remote areas. Replace petrol stations with charging stations.

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Renewables record breaking 2017. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

New renewable energy capacity double fossil fuel growth in record-breaking 2017

Nick Kilvert

China was responsible for more than 50 per cent of the world’s solar investment in 2017.

(Getty Images: Xinzheng)

Solar power is continuing to surge ahead as the world’s emerging energy technology, according to a United Nations report that found global spending on solar was higher than any other energy source in 2017.

Key points:

• Australia increased renewable investment by 147 per cent to $8.5 billion

• Based on 2017 rates, Australia could replace coal power stations in next 20 years

• 45 per cent of worldwide renewable energy investment came from China

In a record-breaking year for renewable energy creation worldwide, the 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was higher than all other technologies, including other renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels.

Australia’s own spending on solar skyrocketed with a significant boost in investment from South Australia, according to Iain MacGill from UNSW.

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

But Australia was starting from a low base, according to the ANU’s Energy Change Institute director Ken Baldwin, who said our transition to renewables still has some way to go.

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

“If that keeps going, that’s a huge number and combined with wind that will be more than sufficient to replace the ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations in the next decade or two.”

According to the UN report, the proportion of the world’s electricity being generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro, rose from 11 to 12.1 per cent in 2017.

That equals a potential reduction of around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – more than three times Australia’s entire carbon emissions for 2016.

The 157 gigawatts of new renewable power commissioned in 2017 was more than double the 70 gigawatts of net fossil fuel generating capacity added.

Integrating variable electricity sources into the grid and managing the energy market is now the key challenge for countries investing in renewables, according to report co-author and head of research at the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre, Ulf Moslener.

“The coming phase is mastering the structural change within the electricity sector,” Professor Moslener said.

“[Working out] how to apply business models to energy systems where the energy production costs are effectively zero.”

Value for money undermined by policy uncertainty

In total, Australia invested a record $8.5 billion in renewables in 2017 and got far greater value for money than just a few years earlier.

The price per watt of solar photovoltaics in Australia in 2017 was just $1.40, compared to $6.40 in 2010, according to the report.

Professor Baldwin said although the increased investment in renewables is encouraging, Australia’s ability to develop our renewable infrastructure is being stunted.

“Government policy uncertainty has sent a wrecking ball through the energy industry over the last decade,” he said.

“It may be that we can get agreement between the states on the national energy guarantee…[and] this might enable renewables to move forward, but at the moment there is too much uncertainty.”

He said potential investors in renewables and fossil fuels are afraid of the impact future policies will have on energy values.

“In the future something will be introduced into the market in order to account for the damage that greenhouse-gas emissions are putting on the economy and putting on society, and that creates a risk for investment.”

China invests almost half of entire world renewable budget

While Australia’s renewable spending is locally significant, it pales in comparison to China’s record-breaking investment of more than $126 billion, or around 45 per cent of the total global renewable energy budget.

China’s huge solar budget took even the report authors by surprise, according to Professor Moslener.

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

Air pollution in China is believed to kill around a million people every year, and is also likely to be a key motivation behind their huge investment in clean energy technology, according to Dr MacGill.

“If we think about what’s motivating China in this space, climate change is a factor but regional air pollution is definitely significant,” he said.

“They’re investing in lots of renewables but they’re also doing other things as well – trying to close down coal, and switching to more nuclear and more gas.

“But we’re also seeing significant investments in developing countries – parts of the Middle East and Mexico as well.”

2015 was the first year that developing countries invested more in renewable energy than developed countries, and have done so ever since.

Although solar was the energy source of choice in 2017, wind power is a cheaper option in many regions according to Professor Baldwin.

“Wind has also decreased [in cost] considerably and in many countries is now the lowest price form of renewable energy, and that’s certainly true in Australia,” he said.

Large-scale hydro electric projects were outside the scope of the report, however investment in these projects was significantly less than wind and solar.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

UN Collects Data on Losses from Climate Change #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

UN Collects Data on Losses from Climate Change | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 2 March 2017 – The UN has launched a new initiative to quantify the impact of disasters, mainly from extreme weather, to help countries better cope with them.

The UN estimates that around 26 million people are pushed into poverty every year due to extreme weather events, 90% of which are linked to climate change.

A new UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) initiative will collect data on disaster losses as UN Member States implement the Sendai Framework, a global plan for reducing such losses.

“Improving how we manage risk is vital and this requires a deeper understanding of where these losses are occurring and not just for major internationally recorded events.

The silent, small-recurring events such as floods and droughts can take a huge toll on communities which lack essential health services and other coping capacities,” says Mami Mizutori, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

144 countries have indicated that they will send their 2017 data by the end of March to its Sendai Framework Monitor online data capture system.

Securing adequate food resources is set to become ever more challenging as climate change accelerates. Curbing emissions and meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is therefore crucial to protecting global populations.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be the most significant step we can take towards future climate risk reduction,” says Ricardo Mena, head of UNISDR Support and Monitoring of Sendai Framework Implementation Branch.

Since 2009, an estimated one person every second has been displaced by a disaster as a result of climate change, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

The uprooting of economic and social livelihoods is set to increase as the risk of climate-related disasters grow globally.

The Sendai Framework targets and indicators contribute to measuring disaster-related goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular SDG 13 – Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Read more about the UNISDR initiative here

More than 100 cities produce more than 70% of electricity from renewables. #auspol #StopAdani

100+ cities Produce More than 70% of Electricity from Renewables – CDP | UNFCCC

The transition to clean, renewable energy is a critical component of meeting Paris Climate Change Agreement goals, and cities around the world are increasingly taking up the challenge.

According to data published by the CDP, more cities than ever are reporting that they are powered by renewable electricity.

The global environmental impact non-profit CDP holds information from over 570 of the world’s cities and names over 100 now getting at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.

The list includes large cities such as Auckland (New Zealand); Nairobi (Kenya); Oslo (Norway); Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), and is more than double the 40 cities who reported that they were powered by at least 70% clean energy in 2015.

CDP’s analysis comes on the same day the UK100 network of local government leaders announce that over 80 UK towns and cities have committed to 100% clean energy by 2050, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and 16 London boroughs.

According to the World Economic Forum, unsubsidized renewables were the cheapest source of electricity in 30 countries in 2017, with renewables predicted to be consistently more cost effective than fossil fuels globally by 2020.

The new data has been released ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference in Edmonton, Canada on 5th March, when city government and science leaders will meet on the role of cities in tackling climate change.

Cities named by CDP as already powered by 100% renewable electricity include:

Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, now obtains 100% of its electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. The city has its own utility and citywide grid. In September 2014 the local community approved the city’s purchase of its ‘Winooski One’ Hydroelectric Facility.

“Burlington, Vermont is proud to have been the first city in the United States to source 100 percent of our power from renewable generation. Through our diverse mix of biomass, hydro, wind, and solar, we have seen first-hand that renewable energy boosts our local economy and creates a healthier place to work, live, and raise a family. We encourage other cities around the globe to follow our innovative path as we all work toward a more sustainable energy future,” added Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington.

Reykjavik, Iceland sources all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, and is now working to make all cars and public transit fossil-free by 2040. Iceland has almost entirely transitioned to clean energy for power and household heating.

Basel, Switzerland is 100% renewable powered by its own energy supply company. Most electricity comes from hydropower and 10% from wind. Advocating clear political vision and will, in May 2017 Switzerland voted to phase out nuclear power in favor of renewable energy.

CDP’s 2017 data highlights how cities are stepping up action on climate change with a sharp rise in environmental reporting, emissions reduction targets and climate action plans since 2015, following the ground-breaking Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.

There is a growing momentum of the renewable energy cities movement beyond the UK, with cities around the world now aiming to switch from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

In the United States, 58 cities and towns have now committed to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy, including big cities like Atlanta (Georgia) and San Diego (California). Earlier this month, U.S. municipalities Denton (Texas) and St. Louis Park (Minnesota), became the latest communities to establish 100% renewable energy targets. In addition to these recent pledges, CDP data shows a further 23 global cities targeting 100% renewable energy.

Much of the drive behind city climate action and reporting comes from the 7,000+ mayors signed up to The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy who have pledged to act on climate change.

Kyra Appleby, Director of Cities, CDP said: “Cities are responsible for 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions and there is immense potential for them to lead on building a sustainable economy. Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition. Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy but, most importantly – they can. We urge all cities to disclose to us, work together to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and prioritize the development of ambitious renewable energy procurement strategies. The time to act is now.”

Showing a diverse mix of energy sources, 275 cities are now reporting the use of hydropower, with 189 generating electricity from wind and 184 using solar photovoltaics. An additional 164 use biomass and 65 geothermal.

CDP reports that cities are currently instigating renewable energy developments valued at US$2.3 billion, across nearly 150 projects. This forms part of a wider shift by cities to develop 1,000 clean infrastructure projects, such as electric transport and energy efficiency, worth over US$52 billion.

Read the relevant CDP press release here

For a full view of cities generating electricity from renewables, visit the CDP’s list of world renewable energy cities

Press link for more: COP23.UNFCCC

Australia’s Energy Fiasco. How do we extract ourselves from a deep hole? #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

By Alan Pears

At present there is intense focus on the design of a National Energy Guarantee.

We need to step back and take a few deep breaths.

Energy policy in Australia is being distorted by a small number of conservative politicians in the Coalition party room: we are being held hostage.

This is no way to run a multi-hundred billion dollar industry.

The NEG is just the latest attempt to try to appease these people.

Our present centralised energy system, developed over a century, has become a point of critical vulnerability to our economic and social development.

We need a diversified and distributed system that delivers practical solutions that respond to real world requirements.

And this is not only feasible, but attractive – except to powerful incumbent interests and those whose thinking is trapped in the past.

We are in the early stages of an exciting period of disruptive innovation in which future predictions are difficult to predict to a level of accuracy where business models with financially manageable risk can be implemented.

This means incremental, modular, flexible projects and products will have advantages.

It will be a very different world.

The reality is that the only group interested in energy for its own sake is the energy supply sector.

The rest of us want the services that run our economy and society and are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Energy is just one of many factors considered in decision-making, and in delivery of those services.

A cubic metre of gas or kilowatt-hour of electricity is not much use without the technology to use it, the businesses that provide it, and the desire for the outcome delivered by that technology.

Historically the energy sector is one of the industries least responsive to, and with least understanding of, its customers.

The National Energy Market has been predicated on incorrect assumptions, such as the fully informed, empowered, economically rational customer who has an infinite amount of free time and is motivated to focus on something that should be (and mostly is) actually a small factor in rational decision-making.

The NEM’s formal objective is focused on low energy prices, not low overall costs of delivered services. And the sector knows little about the actual services its customers want.

Customers need a seat at the table

It is on a steep learning curve, though, driven by a whole new customer focused industry that still does not have a ‘seat at the table’ within the formal policy-making structure.

No wonder energy ‘experts’ continue to be surprised by unexpected change.

As someone who has spent forty years focusing on the interface between energy, people, technology and society, I am still bemused by the energy supply sector – which includes many within the renewable energy industry.

Effective policy starts with people and businesses who want services that respond to needs and desires such as comfort, productivity, shelter and access.

Today these requirements can be delivered by an increasingly diverse range of solutions that may be ‘virtual’ and interactive, and require a lot less energy than in the past.

A key flaw in energy policy is its isolation of the fundamental drivers of demand for energy from the perceived core business of the sector.

For example, even the enlightened Finkel Review reinforced this disconnect in its recommendation on energy efficiency.

While it emphasised that energy efficiency was important, and action should be accelerated, it declared it was a job for governments.

Yet the efficiency of energy use is a fundamental factor driving how much, what kind, and when energy is needed.

It is at the core of the energy sector’s existence. And efficiency of energy use is being transformed, along with our capacity to optimise and control it, store it, produce it ‘behind the meter’ and replace it with smart solutions.

An efficient TV now uses around 30 watts, compared with 250 watts or more for early plasma flat screen TVs.

Smart phones and laptop computers are examples of astounding energy efficiency.

It is the most energy-efficient solar car that wins the Darwin to Adelaide race.

We can build comfortable homes that require almost no heating or cooling in most Australian climates.

On-line services are transforming our economy – and saving a lot of energy in material production, reducing time spent travelling and offering services we could not imagine a few years ago.

The need to consider “Enoughness”

Of course, many point out that, associated with technology and energy efficiency improvement, we may buy bigger TVs or seek greater comfort.

That’s a reason why governments and business need to focus more on improving efficiency and, as a society, we need to consider ‘enoughness’.

But history has shown that trends are complex.

For example, many people now watch ‘TV’ on extremely efficient smart phones, and efficient virtual reality technology can replace big screens while providing a superior entertainment experience.

The proliferation of access to entertainment via new media opens up many issues, such as how much screen time kids should have, whether we are becoming more isolated as we spend more time on social media, and so on.

It also provides an incentive for more people to use public transport instead of driving – so they can play with their mobile devices!

The world is a complex place, but it is now possible to decouple energy use from economic and social development – if we decide it is important to do so.

For example, policy makers I spoke to recently in the Philippines recognise that many of their islands will never have a school teacher or doctor.

But they don’t want them migrating to their overcrowded cities.

They have recognised that fast broadband and low energy technologies can deliver education and health care services, as well as access to business opportunities and entertainment, to transform lives.

Somehow we have to refocus energy policy so that it is part of the real world, and a facilitator of a sustainable future, not a barrier.

Alan Pears is a senior industry fellow at RMIT University

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We can’t build the Seawalls fast enough! #StopAdani #ClimateEmergency #auspol #qldpol

Opening new coal mines when our seawalls are already being breached is crazy!

Stop Adani

Demand serious climate action

When it comes to the climate fight, Australia is barely in the ring. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Federal ministers are fond of trumpeting how Australia “punches above its weight”, such as in our military commitment to Middle Eastern wars.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg (left) and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull need a climate plan – and fast.  Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But when it comes to tackling climate change, this country’s record is nothing to brag about.

That’s probably why the Turnbull government left it until just before Christmas to release the latest national greenhouse gas emissions figures and review of its climate policies.

The 2015 Paris climate deal will be reviewed in 2018 with nations to be asked to get their emissions goals more in line with the two-degree warming limit. Photo: AP

This past week Josh Frydenberg, the environment and energy minister, had to be pressed repeatedly to concede emissions rose in the year to last June by 0.7 per cent to 550 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

But the broader picture is even more concerning.

Buried near the back of the emissions report was a table revealing the nation’s carbon pollution has risen in each of the past five years.

What will confuse many is that Australia will likely meet its pledge to cut emissions 5 per cent by 2020 even though pollution is rising.

Thank the special treatment Australia got during the Kyoto Protocol period.

We were permitted to increase emissions by 8 per cent during the 2008-12 period, even as other rich nations agreed to cuts.

As actual emissions fell 128 million tonnes short of that bloated goal, Australia generated a “surplus” it is now using to count towards the 2020 goal.

Five nations, including Germany and the UK, cancelled similar surpluses.

A rising pollution trajectory, though, will eventually catch up with Australia.

As part of the 2015 Paris climate deal, the Turnbull government pledged to slice 2005-levels emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030, and the surplus will be long used up by then.

As Fairfax Media’s Eryk Bagshaw highlighted last week, separate data released on the quiet late last year revealed Australia will overshoot the 2030 goal by at least 140 million tonnes of CO₂ on current growth rates.

The sole area of significant improvement has been the electricity industry, accounting for about a third of total emissions.

The 2.2 per cent year-on-year drop, though, owes much to the abrupt closure last March of Victoria’s dirtiest power plant, Hazelwood, an event met with dismay by the Turnbull government.

The government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee – still far from a shoo-in with several states and territories wary if not publicly opposed – would lock in just a par performance for emissions reductions from the one sector almost every other country expects to lead carbon-cutting efforts.

The review of climate policies did not offer much indication how other sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, will come near any 26-28 per cent reduction goal.

Take residential housing, for instance.

The climate review is silent despite massive potential savings for occupants who happen usually to be voters.

Phil Harrington, an energy consultant with Strategy Policy Research, notes minimum energy codes for new houses were last changed in 2009 and are weak by rich nation standards.

They are unlikely to be strengthened before 2022, locking in poor performance – and higher energy bills – for decades to come.

Dodging these issues isn’t a strategy.

Later this year, Australia will be pressured, along with all the other signatories to the Paris accord to lift its climate action to give the Earth a fair chance of avoiding two degrees of warming.

The arc of emissions must start bending lower soon, and certainly more sharply than current policies would point it.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Renewables cheaper than fossil fuels. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Renewable energy set to be cheaper than fossil fuels by 2020, according to new report

Josh Gabbatiss Science CorrespondentMonday 15 January 2018 16:00 GMT

Some solar energy projects are expected to deliver electricity by 2p or less by next year Getty

Renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels in two years, according to a new report.

Experts predict that investment in green infrastructure projects will lead to decreases in the cost of energy for consumers.

Continuous technological improvements have led to a rapid fall in the cost of renewable energy in recent years, meaning some forms can already comfortably compete with fossil fuels.

The report suggests this trend will continue, and that by 2020 “all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range”.

Of those technologies, most will either be at the lower end of the cost range or actually undercutting fossil fuels.

“This new dynamic signals a significant shift in the energy paradigm,” said Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA), which published the report.

“Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now – overwhelmingly – a smart economic one.”

The report looked specifically at the relative cost of new energy projects being commissioned.

As renewable energy becomes cheaper, consumers will benefit from investment in green infrastructure.

“If the stuff you’re building to generate electricity costs less, the end effect of that is having to pay less for the electricity that comes from it,” Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) told The Independent.

“The cheaper you install it, the better it is for everyone.”

The current cost for fossil fuel power generation ranges from around 4p to 12p per kilowatt hour across G20 countries.

By 2020, IREA predicted renewables will cost between 2p and 7p, with the best onshore wind and solar photovoltaic projects expected to deliver electricity by 2p or less next year.

Other methods of producing renewable energy, such as offshore wind farms and solar thermal energy, are not yet as competitive as fossil fuels.

However, the results of recent renewable power auctions for projects to be commissioned in the coming years suggest these forms too are due to drop in price.

Auctions provide a useful means of predicting the future cost of electricity.

“These cost declines across technologies are unprecedented and representative of the degree to which renewable energy is disrupting the global energy system,” said Mr Amin.

The new report comes after 2017 was declared the UK’s “greenest year ever” by WWF, when data from the National Grid revealed 13 different renewable energy records had been broken.

However, current UK policy may hamper the development of renewable energy capacity.

“Under current policy, the UK is at risk of being left behind as other countries take full advantage of the relentless fall in the cost of renewable energy,” said Mr Marshall.

Notably, the subsidy ban for new onshore wind farms has been singled out, with the ECIU predicting it could add £1bn onto energy bills over five years.

“If the Government is serious about achieving the lowest cost electricity in Europe, the ban on onshore wind has to be first in the firing line,” said Mr Marshall.

“Until this happens – and all low-carbon electricity sources are allowed to compete on equal footing – the gap between the cost of electricity in the UK and elsewhere will prevail; to the ire of politicians, businesses and household bill payers.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government could still support onshore wind where there is local support, such as on the Scottish islands.

“We are pleased to see that established technologies, such as onshore wind and solar, are driving costs down for consumers,” they said.

“If this continues, and they have local support, they may play a significant role in the energy mix in future.

“Since 2010, the UK has invested more than £52bn in renewable energy and in October, we confirmed that up to £557m would be made available for future clean power auctions.”

Press link for more: Independent

Doughnut Economics a compass for the 21st Century #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

What on Earth is the Doughnut?…

Humanity’s 21st century challenge is to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet.

In other words, to ensure that no one falls short on life’s essentials (from food and housing to healthcare and political voice), while ensuring that collectively we do not overshoot our pressure on Earth’s life-supporting systems, on which we fundamentally depend – such as a stable climate, fertile soils, and a protective ozone layer.

The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries is a playfully serious approach to framing that challenge, and it acts as a compass for human progress this century.

The Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries (2017)

The environmental ceiling consists of nine planetary boundaries, as set out by Rockstrom et al, beyond which lie unacceptable environmental degradation and potential tipping points in Earth systems.

The twelve dimensions of the social foundation are derived from internationally agreed minimum social standards, as identified by the world’s governments in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

Between social and planetary boundaries lies an environmentally safe and socially just space in which humanity can thrive.

Here’s a one-minute introduction to the Doughnut, by the brilliant animator Jonny Lawrence.

And here’s a commentary published in The Lancet Planetary Health, May 2017.

Since the first iteration of the Doughnut was published as a discussion paper by Oxfam in 2012, it has had traction in very diverse places – from the UN General Assembly and the Global Green Growth Forum, to Occupy London.

Why such interest?

I think it is because the doughnut is based on the powerful framework of planetary boundaries but adds to it the demands of social justice – and so brings social and environmental concerns together in one single image and approach.

It also sets a vision for an equitable and sustainable future, but is silent on the possible pathways for getting there, and so the doughnut acts as a convening space for debating alternative pathways forward.

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