Solar

Wind & Solar get the thumbs-up. #auspol #StopAdani

One of the biggest criticisms against wind and solar energy has been quashed
Akshat Rathi

One of the biggest criticisms of the renewable-energy industry is that it has been propped up by government subsidies. 

There is no doubt that without government help, it would have been much harder for the nascent technology to mature. But what’s more important is whether there has been a decent return on taxpayers’ investment.

A new analysis in Nature Energy gives renewable-energy subsidies the thumbs-up.

 Dev Millstein of Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory and his colleagues find that the fossil fuels not burnt because of wind and solar energy helped avoid between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths in the US between 2007 and 2015. 

Fossil fuels produce large amounts of pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which are responsible for ill-health and negative climate effects.

The researchers found that the US saved between $35 billion and $220 billion in that period because of avoided deaths, fewer sick days, and climate-change mitigation.
How do these benefits compare to the US government’s outlays? “The monetary value of air quality and climate benefits are about equal or more than state and federal financial support to wind and solar industries,” says Millstein.
Between 2007 and 2015, Quartz’s own analysis* finds that the US government likely spent between $50 billion and $80 billion on subsidies for those two industries. Even on the lower end of the benefits and higher end of subsidies, just the health and climate benefits of renewable energy return about half of taxpayers’ money. If the US were to stop subsidies now, those benefits would continue to accrue for the lifetime of the already existing infrastructure, improving the long-term return of the investments.
What’s more, those benefits do not account for everything. Creation of a new industry spurs economic growth, creates new jobs, and leads to technology development. There isn’t yet an estimation of what sort of money that brings in, but it’s likely to be a tidy sum.
To be sure, the marginal benefits of additional renewable energy production will start to fall in the future. That is, for every new megawatt of renewable energy produced, an equal amount of pollution won’t be avoided, which means the number of lives saved, and monetary benefits generated, will fall. But Millstein thinks that we won’t reach that point for some time—at least in the US.
The debate whether subsidies to the renewable industry are worth it rages across the world. Though the results of this study are only directly applicable to the US, many rich countries have similar factors at play and are likely to produce similar cost-benefit analyses.

Press link for more: QZ.Com

Coal is a big contributor to air pollution. #StopAdani #Auspol 

Energy the key to fight climate change
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate accord must not become a distraction from urgent global efforts to combat climate change.


Countries in Asia were among the most committed supporters of the Paris goals.

 Thailand, for example, has committed to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

 Now is not the time to break stride, but to reinforce the resolve.
Energy demand is set to double this century, with the world’s population reaching 11 billion, up from 7.5 billion today. 
As the world changes, so will the energy system that powers it, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions and – crucially for Asia – tackle air pollution that blights so many lives. 

Coal is a big contributor to that air pollution. 

This can, and must, change. 

Put simply: we will need more and cleaner energy if Asian countries are to continue to thrive in the coming decades. 

Today, coal is still the biggest source of power in the region, at 47 per cent of the power mix, compared to natural gas at 10 per cent. 

In some countries, coal’s share is rising.

For Asia’s population, renewable energy will be essential to meeting growing demand while tackling climate change and air pollution.
But renewables chiefly produce electricity. 

And there are parts of the economy, such as industries that produce iron, steel, cement, plastic and chemicals, that cannot be electrified yet – certainly not at a reasonable cost. 

That’s one reason why the world will still need oil and gas in large quantities in the coming decades.
During this time we will see a big change in the way energy is produced, used and made available to people. 

And I see a combination of renewables, such as wind and solar, and natural gas – the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon – playing an increasingly important role.

 Modern gas-fired power plants can quickly respond to an increase in demand for electricity when there’s no sun or little wind.
By the end of the century many millions of people in emerging economies will join the middle class. 

Most will use cell phones and refrigerators. 

Many will drive cars – or travel in self-driving cars – as their quality of life improves.
All this will create enormous pressures on the global energy system. 

At the same time, we face serious environmental challenges.

 What kind of air will our children and grandchildren breathe?

 How will climate change effect the quality of life of people in the most exposed areas, such as coastal regions?

Natural gas is one of the few energy sources that can be used across all sectors of the global economy, including fuelling transport, heating and lighting homes, and powering industries. Reserves are abundant and available in many regions. 
The environmental benefits are also clear. 

In power generation, for example, natural gas emits around half the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and less than one-tenth of air pollutants compared to coal.
Some countries are already taking significant steps to boost the use of gas.
In Thailand, the government has introduced policies to open up the market to new suppliers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as it aims to meet the country’s future energy needs while reducing emissions.
China plans to raise the share of gas in primary energy from 6 per cent today to 15 per cent by 2030. 

It is also widely using gas for transport, with more than 200,000 trucks and buses fuelled by LNG.
In the city of Lanzhou, strict air pollution policies reduced coal consumption by 40 per cent and significantly increased the number of days with clear skies between 2012 and 2016.
In India, where gas makes up only 8 per cent of the energy mix, the government is moving towards its greater use, creating infrastructure such as gas pipelines and LNG terminals. 

In Gujarat, India’s most industrialised state, gas now makes up 25 per cent of the energy system, fuelling transport and cooking, as well as major plants producing petrochemicals, fertilisers and glass. 

Policies of successive governments will determine the extent to which gas will play a key role in coming decades.

 Their decisions must reflect the commitments made at the UN Paris climate summit. 

Government-led mechanisms that put a price on CO2 emissions would stimulate the development of low-carbon and renewable technologies. 

Singapore, for example, will be the first country in Southeast Asia to have a carbon tax to encourage industries to reduce emissions.
Beyond policy choices from governments, a lot will also depend on the action of energy companies. 

For Shell’s part, we continue to increase our investment in gas, now around half of our total production. And we are exploring commercial opportunities in areas such as biofuels, hydrogen and wind power. 
Governments, companies and consumers have the power to shape a new energy future, where renewables and natural gas play critical roles. Now is the time to step up the drive to deliver on the environmental pledges made in Paris. 
The writer is integrated gas and new energies director of Shell

Press link for more: Nation Multimedia

Scientists: Action needed on #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Auspol 

Scientists: Action Needed on Climate
Various studies suggest the problem of rising temperatures is growing.

As new reports indicate that Earth’s temperature will likely increase by two degrees Celsius by the end of the century, scientist and economists are once again urging the government to take immediate action to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.


The call for change comes at an unusual time in U.S. climate policy. 

President Donald Trump recently said the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and key officials in his administration continue to cast doubt on the evidence surrounding global warming.
Two studies this week from the University of Washington and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, confirmed previous findings on global warming. 

Former Vice President Al Gore also released a new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, on August 4, to draw attention to the climate crisis.

 

Scientists and economists call on the federal government to implement carbon pricing and invest in carbon capture technologies to slow the process of global warming, and to establish adaptation measures to deal with inevitable temperature rises.
The reports, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, build on the existing research on climate change. 

They demonstrate that “we have to move even faster,” said Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 “The trend overall has been us underestimating climate change,” he said. “Each new study has been more and more sobering.”
One study used observational data to show that even if all greenhouse gas emissions were suddenly turned off today, Earth would still continue heating up about 1.3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

“[The study] tells us about the momentum of the climate system,” said Robert Pincus, one of the lead authors and a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies, a partnership of the University of Colorado–Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“Even if you stop pushing on the climate system, it continues to change and warm.”
The study also shows a 13 percent chance that we are already committed to a 1.5-degree C increase by the end of the century. 

The 2016 Paris Agreement set a target for keeping temperature increases to 1.5 degrees or lower by 2100.
The other study from the University of Washington used statistical analysis to show only a 5 percent chance that Earth will warm 2 degrees or less by the end of the century.
Climate Change Could Do Damage By Century’s End
“Our analysis shows that the goal of 2 degrees is very much a best-case scenario,” said lead author Adrian Raftery, a professor of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington, in a news release. 

“It is achievable, but only with major, sustained effort on all fronts over the next 80 years.”
The 2 degree threshold was first introduced by economist William Nordhaus in his 1977 paper, “Economic Growth and Climate: The Carbon Dioxide Problem,” and is commonly seen by scientists as the “line in the sand that we shouldn’t cross,” said Gilbert Metcalf, professor of economics at Tufts University, whose research centers on environmental economics.
Two degrees corresponds closely to when carbon dioxide levels have doubled from pre-industrial levels, explained Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The threshold marks the point “when disruptions from climate change become so large, they can’t just be brushed aside and adapted to in the normal way of things. The environmental pressures and the number of people that are affected by them become potentially overwhelming.”
Researchers say that slowing the warming process and adapting to the rise in temperature that has already happened are crucial. “The clear implication [of the studies] is we need to get to a zero-carbon economy as quickly as we can,” Metcalf said.
Carbon pricing––either in the form of a carbon tax or a cap on the total level of emissions allowed by each company––is an especially important tool.
“It’s the single most impactful policy we could put in place,” Metcalf stated. A carbon tax would increase the price of carbon-intensive goods to the point that consumers begin seeking out alternatives, he said. “A carbon tax is a way for the invisible hand to have a green thumb.”

But John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at MIT, pointed out the difficulty involved in convincing governments to impose carbon prices at necessary levels.

 And without economic consequences, most industries continue emitting greenhouse gases.


“It’s hard for [companies] to imagine cutting their emissions by 80 percent by 2050 without the right economic incentives to do it,” Reilly said. “If companies want to do good, and do good, and go out of business, then all the efforts are wasted.”
Right now, few regions have implemented sufficiently high carbon prices, Mehling said, echoing Reilly. 

The International Monetary Fund has proposed a carbon price of $25 per ton, but carbon prices in most regions in the world with such prices are still far below that.
Investing in carbon capture and storage technologies is another, more aggressive, way to mitigate the effects of global warming, specialists say. Those technologies involve capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. But Mehling said carbon capture has not yet been deployed at scale anywhere.
Other possible solutions are in the works, notably with battery development, which is crucial to an “electric economy,” Gilbert said.
But given the inevitability of global warming, experts also advocate developing adaptation measures to deal with more extreme weather conditions including rising sea levels, stronger storms, greater risk of wildfires, and longer dry spells.

Press link for more: USnews.com

Green renewable energy and Australia’s lack of commitment.

While Australia is a co-founder of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action on green renewable energy, the country has maintained considerable distance from the other co-founders.

This action has again put the Government headed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a controversial position at the Lima, Peru summit, deemed to be critical in the 2015 Paris global agreement.

The 14 Australians delegates, the lowest number in two decades, didn’t go unnoticed by attendees from other nations who observed that the Australian voice was barely heard compared with previous summits. This show of short staff may be an indication that although Australia has not yet officially cut its ties to the Cartegena Dialogue, the country it is no longer as invested in green renewable energy targets.

Cartagena Dialogue highlights Abbott’s lackluster commitment to climate change

The Australian Government’s decision to downgrade Cartagena’s position on their priority list has not boded well for the Abbott administration. This is the first conference on climate change which Australia has attended since the country scrapped the carbon price policy. Overtures of climate funding contribution have been dismissed by Australia as it cut funding of the UNEP.

The UNEP – short for United Nations Environment Programme – coordinates environmental activities worldwide and assists developing nations in their implementation of environmental-friendly practices and policies. With this apparent display of indifference from Australia climate talks are stalled every time the country participates in one of them.

Australia became upset at the mention of climate change during the G20 summit and has denied that climate change can be a threat to the Great Barrier Reef. Notwithstanding that work on its general carbon emission targets has not even been begun by Australia climate talks have progressed between Cartagena’s member-countries, including Australia’s neighbour, New Zealand.

Press link for more: Australian Solar Quotes

Global carbon emissions experienced zero growth in 2014. 

In what has been described as a real surprise by the International Energy Agency (IEA), annual global emissions of carbon dioxide experienced zero growth in 2014, even as the globe’s economy continued to grow. According to IEA data CO2 emissions for 2014 were 32.3 billion tonnes, the same as 2013, meanwhile the global economy grew by 3 per cent.

While this is not the first time that growth of emissions has stalled, on previous occasions it was coupled with a significant economic downturn such as the Global Financial Crisis in 2009 and the collapse of industrial production with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On this particular occasion it appears to be driven by structural changes in China and decarbonisation and enhanced energy efficiency across China, the United States and Europe.


Press link for more: Tristan Edis | businessspectator.com

Climate change the biggest threat to humanity yet journalists struggle to tell the story. 

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity. Yet journalism has struggled for two decades to tell a story that doesn’t leave the public feeling disheartened and disengaged.

This podcast series lets you behind the scenes as the Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, and team set out to find a new narrative. Recording as we go, you’ll hear what works, as well as our mistakes. Is there a new way to make the world care?

Press link for more: Aleks Krotosky | theguardian.com

China eyes fundamental shift in energy policy.

In 2013, China consumed an extra 93 million tonnes of the stuff.

That amount – a mountain of the black fuel that would at one time have kept the best part of a quarter of a million British miners in work – represented only a 2.6% increase in China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for coal.

Like Britain, China’s industrial revolution has been coal-powered, but it has been on a scale and speed like nothing else in world history, bringing with it serious environmental implications.

China surpassed the United States to become the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in 2007 and, if that trajectory is followed, it is well on track to double US emission levels within the next few years.

For anyone, anywhere worried about climate change, China has become the problem, and with the country opening a new coal-fired power station on average every week, it is a problem that has looked likely to simply grow and grow.

‘Peak coal’

Except that the recently released figures for 2014 suggest that something very interesting may now be happening.

Rather than another giant increase in coal consumption, for the first time in 15 years, government data shows that China’s annual coal consumption declined by 2.9%, with an accompanying 1% fall in carbon dioxide emissions.

Press link for more: John Sudworth | bbc.com

10 myths about fossil fuel divestment put to the sword.

1. Divestment from fossil fuels will result in the end of modern civilisation

It is true that most of today’s energy, and many useful things such as plastics and fertilisers, come from fossil fuels. But the divestment campaign is not arguing for an end of all fossil fuel use starting tomorrow, with everyone heading back to caves to light a campfire. Instead it is arguing that the burning of fossil fuels at increasing rates is driving global warming, which is the actual threat to modern civilisation. Despite already having at least three times more proven reserves than the world’s governments agree can be safely burned, fossil fuel companies are spending huge sums exploring for more. Looked at in that way, pulling investments from companies committed to throwing more fuel on the climate change fire makes sense.

2. We all use fossil fuels everyday, so divestment is hypocritical

Again, no-one is arguing for an overnight end of all fossil fuel use. Instead, the 350.org group which is leading the divestment campaign calls for investors to commit to selling off their coal, oil and gas investments over five years. Fossil fuel burning will continue after that too, but the point is to reverse today’s upward trend of ever more carbon emissions into a downward trend of ever less carbon emissions. Furthermore, some of those backing a “divest-invest” strategy move money into the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors which have already begun driving the transition to a low-carbon world.

Press link for more: Damian Carrington | theguardian.com

Here’s how much faster wind and solar are growing than fossil fuels.

There’s been a lot of positive news about clean energy lately. For instance, we’ve reported that from 2008 to the present, wind and solar energy capacity in the United States has tripled.

Now, a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration makes a similar point. It finds that the electricity generated from wind and solar grew a lot faster than electricity generated by fossil fuels last year. In fact, solar more than doubled, and wind outgrew all other sources.

“I think the story that renewable generation is up from wind and solar and other sources is certainly the story to tell,” said Emily Williams, deputy director of industry data and analysis at the American Wind Energy Association, which heralded the report.

Here’s the bad news, though: Wind and solar are still only contributing a small fraction of the total electricity that we use, and far, far less than coal. They may be growing faster, but they’re very far behind.

The new data come from the EIA’s latest installment of Electric Power Monthlywhich provides stats on net electricity generation, across different energy sources, on a monthly and also annual basis. “Net generation” is defined by EIA as the gross electricity generated from a particular power source, minus the “electrical energy consumed at the generating station(s).” It should not be confused with electricity generating “capacity,” which is how much a source can potentially generate, vs. how much it actually produced.

Based on EIA’s data, there was considerably more growth in non-fossil electricity than in fossil based generation in 2014. In particular, wind and solar grew much more than coal or natural gas:

Press link for more: Chris Mooney | washingtonpost.com

Solar impulse for a cleaner sky and human conscience.

The cries of pollution of all kinds are hitting the sky. Global warming is as much a reality as the day light is. In that sense, when science and technology come together with their conscience in the right place, it sure can create miracles for the humankind and increase the longevity of this tiny ball of life called earth.

When Solar Impulse took off from Abu Dhabi and landed in Oman, the world exhaled a sigh of both relief and hope. Reason: The world’s first and only solar powered plane holds the potential to change the way we fly. On its broad shoulders that appear grey from the skies above, it carries the fruits of 13-years of research that went into building this plane.

After Muscat in Oman, the quintessential Ahmadabad in Gujarat played host to the plane. When it landed, the country was thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking technology invention that the world would greatly benefit from. Soon, the plane will leave for Varanasi, making it two stops in India for Solar Impulse 2. Indeed a rare honour, just around the time when India is all set to take on the world economically and historically.

The founder of Solar Impulse 2 Andre Borschberg has been at the controls when the single-seater took off from Al Bateen Executive Airport. Borschberg and Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard are alternating as pilots as the plane goes around the world, taking over five months to complete the spin. When it ends its journey, the world would have started on a new one, that of celebrating the triumph of sun power, the new ways to harness the solar energy and of course, a better way to maintain bilateral relations with countries that provide oil to the world.

When Solar Impulse 2 wins, the new road opens into the inner alleys of human conscience.

Press link for more: Preetam Kaushik | businessinsider.in