Wind

UN Climate Chief: “Urgent requirement to cut emissions”#StopAdani #Auspol 


Mission 2020’s Christiana Figueres says a clean energy policy with bipartisan support could have prevented many difficulties. Katherine Griffiths
The former climate chief at the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, has urged the federal government to stop obsessing about the fate of individual power plants and seize the opportunity to recast its power system in line with the urgent requirement to cut carbon emissions.

Figueres, who oversaw the negotiations on the landmark Paris accord in December 2015, said Australia has wasted 10 years in “constant back-and-forth” on climate policy while individual states and cities are pushing ahead on clean energy.
“It’s 10 years that are resulting in a very difficult chaotic situation that everyone is facing with very high levels of anxiety that could have been prevented,” Figueres said while in Sydney as part of her Mission 2020 initiative aimed at “bending the curve” on the world’s trajectory on greenhouse emissions by the end of the decade.
The former Costa Rican diplomat said a clear energy policy with bipartisan support that tackled security of supply, affordability and emissions could have prevented Australia’s current difficulties.
All three of those goals are possible, with no need to choose one over the other, Figueres said.

“This is a systemic issue: it’s not about closing or opening one plant here, or one plant there.”
“It’s a systemic challenge and it’s a systemic opportunity to really understand that the power sector of the future is very different to the power sector of the past.”
Broad support
Figueres’ comments come at a crucial time in the policy debate in Canberra, where the federal government has been unable to reach a consensus within the Coalition on the centrepiece of recommendations from the Finkel Review, the introduction of a clean energy target.
But she said she is still optimistic that the Finkel work will provide a direction for energy policy that will garner broad support and so have the potential to unleash needed investment in new, lower-emissions energy supply.
“There has been no direction and the result of that is that this policy uncertainty has not attracted the level of investment that Australia deserves and needs,” Figueres said.
“If we had had that investment over the past 10 years we wouldn’t be in a crisis mode now.”
Still she believes things can rapidly turn around.
“Let’s not cry over spilt milk. Let’s see if we can get more policy clarity, more predictability so that you can attract investment which can come very quickly if there is confidence in the system.”
Quizzed on worries about soaring costs for baseload power users, Ms Figueres insists that the problem is meeting demand spikes rather than continuous demand from round-the-clock electricity consumers.
Gradual transition
And in that regard, renewables are better placed to meet peak demand, when worked up in a package with gas, demand-response measures, smart metering, energy efficiency and storage.
Critical to remember is that the transition is a gradual one: “No-one is talking about a jump to zero fossil fuels – that is absolutely irresponsible,” she said.
“What is being considered here and should be accelerated is a smooth transition.”
At the same time making a proper start on the changes is urgent to avoid locking in further increase in emissions that contribute to climate change.
“The carbon intensity of the investments we make over the next three years is basically going to fundamentally decide the carbon intensity of the energy matrix over the next 20 or 30 years,” Mr Figueres said.
“So if we are talking about being net zero by 2050, guess what, we have to make those investments now.”

Press link for more: AFR.COM

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The Truth About Souring Power Prices #auspol #climatechange 

The truth about soaring power prices: wind and solar not to blame.
By ABC business editor Ian Verrender 


Between them, however, competition kahuna Rod Sims and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week demolished an old chestnut about renewable energy: it is not the cause for the recent spike in electricity prices.
In fact, according to both, it has had very little impact.
For the past decade or more, we’ve been bombarded with the message from a vocal but powerful minority within Parliament and the broader community that the switch to renewable energy has made Australia uncompetitive, crippled our industry and driven power prices higher.


The real issue is that, fundamentally, they don’t believe climate change is real or that humans have adversely affected the planet.
Having spent so long denying science and rejecting the overwhelming body of evidence, they’re now being forced to ignore economics; that renewables have become a cheaper longer term power source.
Coal is the future, they argue.

Coal-fired generators have no future here


Much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage, writes Ian Verrender.

That’s simply not a view shared by the power generators, whose primary motivation is to turn a profit and stay in business, or the banks who must finance them.
Nor is it a view shared by BHP, the nation’s biggest company that built a large part of its wealth on coal exports.
Last week, it confirmed it was reviewing its membership of the Minerals Council of Australia because of “materially different positions” on issues such as a Clean Energy Target and climate change.
Technical innovation around renewable energy generation has seen costs plummet.
So much so that US investment bank Goldman Sachs — hardly a standard bearer for radical ideology — now argues that, rather than pushing power costs higher, renewable energy is the cheapest form of power generation.

 More on that later.
The truth about the power price spike
As the theatre over keeping open the creaking Liddell coal-fired power station in NSW’s Hunter Valley played an encore last week, the ACCC boss and the PM delivered a few sobering nuggets.
First, there was Rod Sims at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday: “Forty-one per cent of the increase in electricity prices over the last 10 years has been in network costs and we keep forgetting that.”
He went on: “Those poles and wires that run down your street are the main reason you are paying too much for your electricity.”
Video: Rod Sims addressed the National Press Club on “Australia’s Gas and Electricity Affordability Problem” (National Press Club)

According to Mr Sims, extra retail charges account for 24 per cent of the higher prices while higher generation costs as a result of a failure to invest make up 19 per cent of the price hikes.
Green energy initiatives contribute just 16 per cent to the recent price hikes.
On Thursday in Brisbane, responding to questions, the PM concurred, explaining that “particularly for retail customers, the largest single part of your bill is the network costs.”
“That’s the poles and wires basically,” he said.
Gas, not coal, will fix prices
The short-term fix to Australia’s soaring electricity prices is to fix the gas crisis, but long-term fix it’s greater investment in renewables and energy storage, writes Ian Verrender.

But then he elaborated on the more immediate issues, particularly around generation and the changes that have been foisted upon consumers.
“In terms of the green schemes, they do have a cost but it is a relatively small cost,” he said.
“Gas is the biggest single fact at this point in time.”
What does gas have to do with it? As the PM explained, the electricity price is set by the last generator to come into the stack.
It’s what economists call the marginal cost of production. You might be to meet half the demand at low price. But it is the expensive bit at the end that determines how much a producer will charge everyone.
When it comes to electricity, gas is that last final element.
“It is peaking power,” the PM said. “The increase in the gas price has increased the cost of electricity.”
The gas debacle

Gas prices haven’t just increased. They have quadrupled.
And the tragedy is that Australia, with one of the greatest reserves of gas on the planet, now charges its households and businesses far more to use that energy than the countries to which we export.
Gas forgotten in energy debate
As politicians continue trading barbs over the merits of renewable energy versus coal-fired power generation, missing from the debate these days has been the role of gas.

With the continued reversal of policy on carbon pricing and climate change, the unofficial industry consensus was to build solar and wind generation with gas-fired back-up to shore up reliability; a decision affirmed by the chief scientist Alan Finkel in his report on how to cope with future challenges.
But three major export terminals were built at Curtis Island just off Gladstone in Queensland, with Santos building a plant that required far more gas than to which it had access.
To fulfil its export contracts, it began sourcing gas previously destined for the domestic market.
That forced the price of domestic gas sky high just as a global glut sent international prices crashing.
It’s now cheaper to buy Australian gas in Asia. A fortnight ago, gas from West Australia’s giant Gorgon project was sold to India at $8.70 a gigajoule. East coast gas sells here for $17.50.
That’s why the Federal Government has shanghaied gas producers like Santos to direct export gas back into the local market.
If Australians could get the same deal on our gas that Indians have secured, our electricity would be much cheaper.
Renewables or coal: What is the cheapest?
 A line chart showing the price of LCOE dropping dramatically since 1983.


When it comes to cost, coal lobbyists usually refer to the subsidies doled out to the renewable sector to argue the industry wouldn’t exist if it had to stand on its own.
That’s a valid point. But it overlooks two things; the vast billions handed out to the coal industry and the increasing competitiveness of renewables.
Every coal fired generator in Australia was built, not just partially subsidised, entirely with taxpayer funds.
When they were privatised, many were given state owned coal mines with contract prices way below market, effectively a further subsidy.
Then there are the health costs.
A health study in the Latrobe Valley last year identified much higher respiratory and asthma admissions to hospital than the Victorian average while life expectancy was significantly lower than the state average.
But it is the cost of energy generation where the game really is changing.
As the Goldman Sachs graphs above show, renewable energy costs have plunged by up to 70 per cent since 2009 and will be the cheapest form of generation in Europe this year and in the US within eight years on a levelised cost basis.
When the cost of installation is taken into account, however, the story changes.

Wind and solar are much cheaper. Not only is the fuel free and faces no regulatory risk — in the form of a carbon price — but the technology is simpler and quicker to install.
Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel went one step further. He factored the extra costs of adding gas or battery backup to ensure stability or baseload power in the system.
Wind still came out cheapest, with solar only marginally more expensive than black coal.


Renewable plants can be built within one to three years while coal-fired plants take between four and seven years to build.
Putting aside arguments about climate change, the main problem with coal-fired electricity is that the numbers no longer stack up.
It’s too expensive, it has much higher regulatory risks and renewable technology is rapidly advancing.
It will take more than a taxpayer subsidy to build one here. It will need a full taxpayer handout. And it will result in more expensive power bills.
Coal is simply a form of stored solar energy. New technology has delivering cleaner, more efficient and cheaper ways to directly harvest solar energy to power our lives.
Don’t expect that innovation to stop.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

#Irma & #Harvey should kill all doubt #climatechange is real. 

Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real

By By Michael E. Mann, Susan J. Hassol and Thomas C. Peterson

As we begin to clean up from Hurricane Harvey, the wettest hurricane on record, dumping up to 50 inches of rain on Houston in three days, and await landfall of Irma, the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic Ocean, people are asking: What is the role of human-induced climate change in these events, and how else have our own actions increased our risks?

Fundamental physical principles and observed weather trends mean we already know some of the answers — and we have for a long time.
Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the oceans are warming because of the human-caused buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

 The strongest hurricanes have gotten stronger because of global warming.

 Over the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.

We also know that warmer air holds more moisture, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased because of human-induced global warming.

 We’ve measured this increase, and it has been unequivocally attributed to human-caused warming. 

That extra moisture causes heavier rainfall, which has also been observed and attributed to our influence on climate. 

We know that rainfall rates in hurricanes are expected to increase in a warmer world, and now we’re living that reality.

And global warming also means higher sea levels, both because ocean water expands as it warms and because ice in the mountains and at the poles melts and makes its way into oceans.

 Sea level rise is accelerating, and storm surge from hurricanes rides on top of higher seas to infiltrate further into our coastal cities.
Heavier rain and higher sea levels can combine to compound flooding in major hurricanes, as the deluges cause flooding that must drain to the sea but can’t do so as quickly because of storm surges. 

Sadly, we saw this effect in play in the catastrophic flooding from Harvey.


We don’t have all of the answers yet. 

There are scientific linkages we’re still trying to work out. 

Harvey, like Hurricane Irene before it in 2011, resulted in record flooding, because of a combination of factors. 

Very warm ocean temperatures meant more moisture in the atmosphere to produce heavy rainfall, yes. 

But both storms were also very slow-moving, nearly stationary at times, which means that rain fell over the same areas for an extended period.
Cutting-edge climate science suggests that such stalled weather patterns could result from a slowed jet stream, itself a consequence — through principles of atmospheric science — of the accelerated warming of the Arctic. 

This is a reminder of how climate changes in far-off regions such as the North Pole can have very real effects on extreme weather faced here in the Lower 48.
These linkages are preliminary, and scientists are still actively studying them. But they are a reminder that surprises may be in store — and not welcome ones — when it comes to the unfolding effects of climate change.

Which leads us, inevitably, to a discussion of policy — and, indeed, politics. Previous administrations focused on adapting to climate change, with an eye to what the planet would look like in the future. 

But events such as Harvey, and probably Irma, show that we have not even adapted to our current climate (which has already changed because of our influence).
The effects of climate change are no longer subtle. 

We are seeing them play out before us here and now. 

And they will only worsen if we fail to act.
The Trump administration, however, seems determined to lead us backward. 

In recent months, we have witnessed a dismantling of the policies put in place by the Obama administration to

 (a) incentivize the necessary move from climate-change-producing fossil fuels toward clean energy, 

(b) increase resilience to climate change effects through sensible regulations on coastal development, and

 (c) continue to fund basic climate research that can inform our assessments of risk and adaptive strategies.

 Ironically, just 10 days before Harvey struck, President Trump rescinded flood protection standards put in place by the Obama administration that would take sea level rise and other climate change effects into account in coastal development plans.

And as Trump kills policies that would reduce the risks of climate disasters, our nation continues to support policies that actually increase our risks.

 For example, without the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program, banks would be less likely to provide mortgages for rebuilding houses in locations that have been flooded before, sometimes repeatedly. 

And the flood insurance program is itself underwater: badly in debt and set to expire at the end of this month unless Congress finds a way to keep it afloat, just as billions of dollars in claims from Harvey come pouring in.
Harvey and Irma are sad reminders that policy matters. At a time when damage from climate change is escalating, we need sensible policy in Washington to protect the citizens of this country, both by reducing future climate change and preparing for its consequences. We should demand better of our leaders.

Press link for more: Washington Post

The Light’s Still Out On LNP Energy Policy #Auspol #StopAdani 

Power For Power’s Sake: The Light’s Are Still Out On Coalition Energy Policy
Ben ElthamSeptember 8, 2017


(BACKGROUND IMAGE: mendhak, Flickr)
When it comes to energy policy, the government has no-one to blame but itself, writes Ben Eltham.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has run hard on energy this week.
He gave a media conference mid week after the release of the latest report by the Australian Energy Market Operator, or AEMO. AEMO was asked by the government to give advice on electricity supply in the forthcoming summer.
Unsurprisingly, the government is worried about the possibility of blackouts. AEMO says that the national grid “is not delivering enough investment in flexible dispatchable resources to maintain the defined target level of supply reliability.” 

In other words, there hasn’t been enough investment in new generation, particularly the dispatchable kind.
None of this should be news to anyone, let alone the federal government.
Australia’s electricity grid is undergoing rapid change. 

The generation mix is changing, and so are the technologies that underpin it.

 As newer forms of generation like wind and solar are added to the grid, older forms like coal are being phased out. 

In recent years, we’ve seen the retirement of a significant number of coal-fired power generators, most notably Victoria’s Hazelwood plant in Morwell.

The smoke stacks of the Hazelwood coal-fired power plant, in Morwell, Victoria. (IMAGE: Jonathan Warner, Flickr)
In the long term, this is good news, as renewable energy is the cheapest form of new electricity generation, and will eventually bring prices down. 

Renewable energy is also cleaner, obviously, which is a good thing if you think dangerous global warming is a problem.

 But in the short term, there might be some short falls in electricity supply. 

Which might mean blackouts.
The AEMO report has been misunderstood by many in the media.

 AEMO is not saying there will be rolling blackouts in the southern states this summer, but it is saying that supply will be tight, particularly on hot days when the wind isn’t blowing. 

According to AEMO, this is because “radically changing dynamics of the power system are resulting in a tight supply-demand balance in parts of the National Electricity Market.”
AEMO recommends the creation of a 1 gigawatt “strategic reserve” of dispatchable energy (in other words, energy available to be sent to the grid), to ride through any problems on those really hot days.

 The agency has been preparing for months. 

According to AEMO’s boss Audrey Zibelman, speaking to the ABC’s Rafael Esptein on Wednesday, “no, we’re not in trouble this summer.”
The government is still worried, though. It knows that when the lights go out, voters tend to blame whoever is in charge. 

And so they should: this is a failure of planning. 

The failure is entirely the Coalition’s.

When the Coalition took government in September 2013, it inherited an electricity grid that was in transition. 

It also inherited a comprehensive plan to manage that transition, in the form of Labor’s Clean Energy Future policy. 

Labor’s policy represented a plan to transition Australia slowly to renewable energy, but with rather conservative safeguards for energy security. 

A carbon price penalised dirty industries for pollution, while a renewable energy target subsidised investment in new, clean technology. 

There was money for technology innovation, and consumers were compensated for the cost of higher electricity bills. 

Carbon permit sales that raised billions a year provided a steady stream of revenue.
Tony Abbott got rid of all that. 


He killed the carbon price, slashed nearly all funding to green energy, and launched a jihad against renewables that spooked investors. 

New renewable energy investment essentially stopped for two years. 

The government then tried to wind back the Renewable Energy Target by 15,000 gigawatt hours. 

In the end, after Labor negotiated, the government reduced it by 8,000 GWh, from 41,000 to 33,000 GWh in 2020.
Four years later, we can see the results. Coal hasn’t flourished – indeed, it’s being rapidly phased out. 

Renewable energy is still the only new generation being built – because it’s the cheapest and most profitable.

 Electricity bills are even higher than they were under Julia Gillard’s carbon price. 

Carbon emissions are going up. 

It’s failure on every front.
Not to put too fine a point on it: this is all the Coalition’s doing. By killing off the carbon price, sabotaging the RET, but refusing to put in place a viable alternative, the Coalition essentially guaranteed that the grid’s problems would deteriorate.


A coal-loader in action. (IMAGE: Thom Mitchell.)

It’s pretty obvious what Australia has needed in energy policy: certainty.

 The carbon wars have led to crippling uncertainty for investors, terrible outcomes for consumers, and even worse outcomes for the environment. 

What we should have done was put in place a plan, and stick to it.
As happens so often to this government, political expediency has blinded it to policy reality, such that the inevitable somehow surprises it. 

But no-one should be surprised that coal plants are closing. 

They were always going to close.
The sad irony is that no amount of Coalition special treatment can save coal as an electricity source. 

The dirty black rock has had its day.


 As the Guardian’s Adam Morton pointed out earlier this year, “coal generators usually operate for about half a century and most Australian plants are pushing that age”. 

Many of Australia’s plants were built in the 1970s, and have simply reached the end of their productive lives.


Hazelwood, for instance, was built in the 1960s. 

It was closed by French multinational Engie this year, essentially because it was old, expensive to maintain, and highly polluting. 

“The closure of Hazelwood is in line with Engie’s strategy to gradually end its coal activities,” the company announced last year.

 “Besides, Hazelwood power station has been operating in difficult market conditions, with lower electricity prices and a surplus of electricity supply in Victoria State.”
The same can be said for the Liddell power plant in the Hunter Valley, which the government now wants to try and keep operating after 2022. 

That’s five years away, but the fact that energy oligopolist AGL wants to shut it down makes for a handy political weapon for a government keen to be seen to be doing something – anything – about energy security.

Like everything else to do with this government, ideology has trumped economics, or even common sense. 

Liddell is 46 years old. 

It suffered serious boiler leaks in 2016 and 2017.

 The reason that AGL wants to close Liddell is that it will cost too much to keep running. 

Upgrading it will be even more expensive, and coal plants don’t make as much money as they used to.
AGL’s boss Andy Vesey always seems to be smiling when you see him the media.

 Perhaps that’s because the energy giant dominates Australia’s dysfunctional energy markets. High wholesale prices are contributing to fat times for the vertically integrated ‘gentailers’. AGL raked in more than $1.5 billion from its wholesale electricity operations last financial year, contributing to underlying profits of $1.3 billion. While AGL enjoys good publicity for its claims to be getting out of coal, it’s making big dollars from the coal plants it still runs.
Note that the price rises faced by consumers are largely the government’s fault, too. Had it wanted to, the Coalition could have attempted to reform Australia’s absurdly dysfunctional National Electricity Market, in which the price gouging by the energy generators is so profitable. This has nothing to do with renewable energy: it’s simply a consequence of a poorly-designed market where clever oligopolists are gaming the system. But the Coalition hasn’t done anything to reform the NEM either.
All of this is due to policy failure. Australia can have cheaper energy, and still have energy security, and reduce emissions at the same time. We just need a plan.
It’s fairly obvious what should replace antiquated coal plants at the end of their productive lives: new technology that will be cheaper to run and cleaner for the environment. It’s not as though we don’t have the know-how. According to the Finkel Report, which the government commissioned, the cheapest new form of electricity generation is wind. But the govenrment finds such facts inconvenient, because it is completely in thrall to the fossil fuel enthusiasm of the troglodyte Liberal right wing. We’re still waiting for the government’s response to Finkel’s recommendations.


According to chief scientist Alan Kinkel, the cheapest new source of electricity generation is wind power. (Source: Finkel Review)
If we need more dispatchable energy, and a more secure electricity grid, the cheapest way to deliver that is by smart grid technologies that better manage demand. Batteries and stored hydro can also play a role. Solar thermal is now being built for the first time in Australia, promising renewable energy at all times of the day or night. A sensible combination of these options will be vastly cheaper than building new coal plants or keeping ageing plants operational well past their use-by date.
The problem for the government is that it is now so invested in the political value of fossil fuels that it seems unable to acknowledge that renewable energy has won the economic race.
“Many of the problems we face at the moment have taken a long time to create,” Turnbull said at his media conference this week. “They can’t be solved overnight.”
He got that right. Energy policy in Australia has been a train wreck for years – roughly, you might say, since the Coalition took office.

Press link for more:  New Matilda

100% Renewables Needed “As Fast As Humanly Possible” #StopAdani #auspol 

Bill McKibben: ‘100% Renewables Needed ‘As Fast as Humanly Possible’

By Jake Johnson
“Given the state of the planet,” wrote 350.org founder Bill McKibben in his new feature piece for In These Times, it would have been ideal for the world to have fully transitioned its energy systems away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable sources “25 years ago.”

But we can still push for the “second best” option, McKibben concluded. To do so, we must move toward wind, solar and water “as fast as humanly possible.”
The transition to 100 percent renewable energy is a goal that has gained significant appeal over the past decade—and particularly over the past several months, as President Donald Trump has moved rapidly at the behest of Big Oil to dismantle even the limited environmental protections put in place by the Obama administration. 

Trump also withdrew the U.S. from the Paris agreement, a move McKibben denounced as “stupid and reckless.”


“Environmental groups from the Climate Mobilization to Greenpeace to Food and Water Watch are backing the 100 percent target,” McKibben wrote, as are many lawmakers, U.S. states and countries throughout the world.
Given the climate stance of both the dominant party in Congress and the current occupant of the Oval Office, McKibben noted that we shouldn’t be looking toward either for leadership.
Rather, we should look to states like California and countries like China, both of which have made significant commitments to aggressively alter their energy systems in recent months.

The newest addition to the push for renewables is Maryland, which is set to announce on Thursday an “urgent” and “historic” bill that, if passed, would transition the state’s energy system to 100 percent renewables by 2035.
McKibben also pointed to individual senators like Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who in April introduced legislation that would transition the U.S. to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2050. The bill will not pass the current Congress, “but as a standard to shape the Democratic Party agenda in 2018 and 2020, it’s critically important,” McKibben argued.
“What Medicare for All is to the healthcare debate, or Fight for $15 is to the battle against inequality, 100 percent renewable is to the struggle for the planet’s future,” McKibben wrote. “It’s how progressives will think about energy going forward.”

Previously a fringe idea, the call for 100 percent renewables is “gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves,” McKibben added. This is in large part because technology is such that a move toward 100 percent renewable energy “would make economic sense … even if fossil fuels weren’t wrecking the Earth.”
“That’s why the appeal of 100% Renewable goes beyond the left,” McKibben wrote. “If you pay a power bill, it’s the common-sense path forward.”
Writing for Vox last week, David Roberts noted that “wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money” already.
“[W]ind and solar produce, to use the economic term of art, ‘positive externalities’—benefits to society that are not captured in their market price,” Roberts wrote. “Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths.”
For these reasons, and for the familiar environmental ones, 100 percent renewables is no longer merely an “aspirational goal,” McKibben argued. It is “the obvious solution.”
“No more half-measures … Many scientists tell us that within a decade, at current rates, we’ll likely have put enough carbon in the atmosphere to warm the Earth past the Paris climate targets,” McKibben concluded. “Renewables—even the most rapid transition—won’t stop climate change, but getting off fossil fuel now might (there are no longer any guarantees) keep us from the level of damage that would shake civilization.”

Press link for more: Eco watch

Adani will Hasten Climate Catastrophe “See you at the barricades” #StopAdani 

The Adani coalmine will hasten a climate catastrophe. 

As faith leaders, we must act | Jonathan Keren-Black and Tejopala Rawls
Wednesday 23 August 2017 15.10 AEST

Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg


‘Josh Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate.’ Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Earlier in August, six faith leaders met Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg. Our group included Bishop Philip Huggins, the president of the National Council of Churches, a Uniting Church reverend, a rabbi, a Catholic nun and an ordained Buddhist. This is not the start of a joke, but a polite and serious exchange.
It might seem that religion has little to do with the environment or energy. Yet each of us at the meeting wanted to raise a matter that, when we consider the deepest values of our respective traditions, is of grave moral concern: the proposed Adani coalmine. We were there to ask the minister to revoke its environmental licence.

The delegation reminded the minister that a number of faith leaders from across Australia wrote him an open letter about it on 5 May, to which he had not yet replied.
Around the world a great many people of faith are deeply concerned about the climate crisis. 

Despite the reactionary nature of some in the United States, faith leaders are almost completely united and supportive of the science.

 The pope has issued his famous encyclical, Laudato Si, faith leaders were part of the successful movement in the US to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Dalai Lama has spoken of the need for strong action. The co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, is a mild-mannered Methodist Sunday school teacher.
Of course, the faith traditions do not have a monopoly on morality. 

There are very proud secular and indigenous traditions in this struggle that we honour and respect. 

Yet we do have much to offer when it comes to ethics and morals. And on this issue, there is a significant groundswell.
In Buddhism, the first precept is non-harm, or loving kindness, towards all beings. The tradition also points out the profound interconnectedness of all things, including all forms of life.


In Judaism, the first portion of the Torah, B’reshit, makes it clear that our human responsibility is to look after God’s world. We may use it, we may eat from it, but it is clear that we must maintain it in a healthy state to pass on to generations to come. In short, thousands of years before the term was coined, Torah has the strongest of mandates for sustainability.
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time
Muslim leaders in the UK say: Allah in His Mercy has placed an amanat (trust) upon all of humanity to safeguard and nurture creation. He has appointed humanity as guardians of His creation, as “a khalifa (steward)” [Qur’an 2:30].
In the US, the evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe states: “The poor, the disenfranchised, those already living on the edge, and those who contributed least to this problem are also those at greatest risk to be harmed by it. That’s not a scientific issue; that’s a moral issue.”
Pope Francis writes in his encyclical: “Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing our world … Those who will have to suffer the consequence of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”
Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time. Nothing less than the stability of civilisation and the viability of life on Earth is at stake.
Frydenberg told our delegation that, if Australian coal were not burnt in India, dirtier coal would be burnt instead, resulting in greater carbon emissions. We pointed out that one argument against the abolition of slavery in Great Britain was that they would just have lost market share to the Dutch and the French, who would apparently have treated the slaves worse. The minister rejected the comparison.


Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate. We need the employment. We point out how a fraction of the promised subsidies could employ more people, in clean, renewable energy jobs, while further coral bleaching and 500 extra ships per year through the reef would jeopardise thousands of tourism jobs. We emphasise the crucial truth that the world can only produce around 700bn tonnes more CO2 if we are to avoid climate catastrophe, and that global emissions are currently around 50bn tonnes a year, so time is extremely limited. Adani alone will add 4.6bn tonnes. We do appreciate the complexities; even so, this mine ultimately involves a simple moral choice.
Aside from the dangers of rising temperatures and seas, more intense storms, floods and droughts, World Health Organisation figures show that over 100,000 people each year will also die prematurely from lung diseases from burning the coal from this reef-wrecking mega-mine. The minister seems unmoved.
Rabbi Keren-Black asked the minister what he thought were the views of climate scientists employed by the Australian government about building this mine. Momentarily, Frydenberg seemed lost for words.


As the meeting came to a close, our Buddhist member, Tejopala, told the minister that he would stand in front of machinery if digging started and that other members of his order had said the same thing. Reverend Sangster concurred.
Faith communities have real influence. The minister probably only granted us a meeting because we are religious leaders. Perhaps the two most powerful things people of faith can do are to encourage moving our accounts from banks and superannuation funds that invest in fossil fuels, and to practice non-violent direct action – peacefully obstructing the worst coal, oil and gas projects by physically standing in their way.
As we stepped outside the meeting, Reverend Sangster turned to the group and said: “Well, then. See you at the barricades.” Indeed.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black is an environmental adviser within the Progressive Jewish Movement. Tejopala Rawls is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. If you would like to get involved in a faith-based response to the Adani coalmine or climate action generally please contact faithsforclimatejustice@gmail.com

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

Renewables Could Eliminate 99% of CO2 Emissions by 2050 #auspol #StopAdani

A New Roadmap to Renewable Dependence Could Eliminate 99% of CO2 Emissions by 2050

Far-Reaching and Inclusive
Setting goals to reduce carbon emissions and then figuring out a way to achieve those goals is difficult for any country.

 Now, imagine doing that for not just one nation but 139 of them.
That’s the enormous task a team of researchers led by Stanford University environmental engineer Mark Jacobson decided to take on. 

He and his colleagues built a roadmap for 139 countries across the globe that would lead to them relying solely on renewable energy by 2050, and they’ve published that plan today in Joule.
renewable energy solar energy wind energy water energy


Image Credit: The Solutions Project

The 139 countries weren’t picked arbitrarily. 

The researchers chose them because data on each was publicly available through the International Energy Agency. Combined, the chosen nations also produce more than 99 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.
To develop their roadmap, the researchers first analyzed each country. 

They looked at how much raw renewable energy resources each one has, and then they determined the number of wind, water, and solar energy generators needed for that country to reach 80 percent renewable energy dependence by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.


The researchers also calculated the amount of land and rooftop area such power sources would require, as well as how a transition to renewables could reduce each nation’s energy demand and costs. 

Aside from the energy sector, the team also took into account the transportation, heating/cooling, industrial, and agriculture/fishing/forestry industries of each of the 139 countries while creating their roadmap.

“Aside from eliminating emissions and avoiding 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit] global warming and beginning the process of letting carbon dioxide drain from the Earth’s atmosphere, transitioning eliminates 4-7 million air pollution deaths each year and creates over 24 million long-term, full-time jobs by these plans,” Jacobson said in a press release.

“What is different between this study and other studies that have proposed solutions is that we are trying to examine not only the climate benefits of reducing carbon but also the air pollution benefits, job benefits, and cost benefits,” he added.
Benefits Beyond the Climate
As each of these 139 countries is unique, their paths to 100 percent renewable energy are necessarily unique as well. 

For instance, nations with greater land-to-population ratios, such as the U.S., the E.U., and China, have an easier path to renewable dependence and could achieve it at a faster rate than small but highly populated countries surrounded by oceans, such as Singapore.
For all countries, however, the goal is the same: 100 percent dependence on renewables.

According to the study, this transition would lessen worldwide energy consumption as renewables are more efficient than their fossil fuel-powered counterparts.
It would also result in the creation of 24 million long-term jobs, reduce the number of air pollution deaths by 4 to 7 million annually, and stabilize energy prices.

 The world could potentially save more than $20 trillion in health and climate costs each year.
And these 139 nations now know exactly what they need to do to reach this goal and all the benefits that come with it.
“Both individuals and governments can lead this change.

 Policymakers don’t usually want to commit to doing something unless there is some reasonable science that can show it is possible, and that is what we are trying to do,” Jacobson explained. 

“There are other scenarios. 

We are not saying that there is only one way we can do this, but having a scenario gives people direction.”
For co-author Mark Delucchi from the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, the study sends a very clear message: “Our findings suggest that the benefits are so great that we should accelerate the transition to wind, water, and solar, as fast as possible, by retiring fossil-fuel systems early wherever we can.”

Press link for more: Futurism.com

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

Systemic Change our only hope. #StopAdani #auspol 

By Richard Heinberg.

Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope
Our core ecological problem is not climate change.

It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom.

Overshoot is a systemic issue.

Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.

The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival.

Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

The ecology movement in the 1970s benefitted from a strong infusion of systems thinking, which was in vogue at the time (ecology—the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments—is an inherently systemic discipline, as opposed to studies like chemistry that focus on reducing complex phenomena to their components).

As a result, many of the best environmental writers of the era framed the modern human predicament in terms that revealed the deep linkages between environmental symptoms and the way human society operates.

Limits to Growth (1972), an outgrowth of the systems research of Jay Forrester, investigated the interactions between population growth, industrial production, food production, resource depletion and pollution.

Overshoot (1982), by William Catton, named our systemic problem and described its origins and development in a style any literate person could appreciate.

Many more excellent books from the era could be cited.
However, in recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion.

Today, most environmental reporting is focused laser-like on climate change, and systemic links between it and other worsening ecological dilemmas (such as overpopulation, species extinctions, water and air pollution, and loss of topsoil and fresh water) are seldom highlighted.

It’s not that climate change isn’t a big deal. As a symptom, it’s a real doozy.

There’s never been anything quite like it, and climate scientists and climate-response advocacy groups are right to ring the loudest of alarm bells. But our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.

Why have environmental writers and advocacy organizations succumbed to tunnel vision?

Perhaps it’s simply that they assume systems thinking is beyond the capacity of policy makers. It’s true: If climate scientists were to approach world leaders with the message, “We have to change everything, including our entire economic system—and fast,” they might be shown the door rather rudely.

A more acceptable message is, “We have identified a serious pollution problem, for which there are technical solutions.”

Perhaps many of the scientists who did recognize the systemic nature of our ecological crisis concluded that if we can successfully address this one make-or-break environmental crisis, we’ll be able to buy time to deal with others waiting in the wings (overpopulation, species extinctions, resource depletion and on and on).
If climate change can be framed as an isolated problem for which there is a technological solution, the minds of economists and policy makers can continue to graze in familiar pastures.

Technology—in this case, solar, wind and nuclear power generators, as well as batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and, if all else fails, solar radiation management via atmospheric aerosols—centers our thinking on subjects like financial investment and industrial production.

Discussion participants don’t have to develop the ability to think systemically, nor do they need to understand the Earth system and how human systems fit into it.

All they need trouble themselves with is the prospect of shifting some investments, setting tasks for engineers and managing the resulting industrial-economic transformation so as to ensure that new jobs in green industries compensate for jobs lost in coal mines.
The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes.

The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors.

After all, everybody loves technology.

It already does nearly everything for us. During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined.

Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose.

But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology?

Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity and demand adaptation.


At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating and transportation) to electricity.

Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution.

When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth.

The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management.

That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle.”

It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy.

But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.
The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (“There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).

Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior.

Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well.

We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment.

We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.
In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point.

Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations.

These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.
Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed?

Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether.

Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice.

Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope.

The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either.

A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.
The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself.
The good news is that systemic change is fractal in nature: it implies, indeed it requires, action at every level of society.

We can start with our own individual choices and behavior; we can work within our communities.

We needn’t wait for a cathartic global or national sea change.

And even if our efforts cannot “save” consumerist industrial civilization, they could still succeed in planting the seeds of a regenerative human culture worthy of survival.
There’s more good news: Once we humans choose to restrain our numbers and our rates of consumption, technology can assist our efforts.

Machines can help us monitor our progress, and there are relatively simple technologies that can help deliver needed services with less energy usage and environmental damage.

Some ways of deploying technology could even help us clean up the atmosphere and restore ecosystems.
But machines can’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path.

Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had.

Press link for more: Eco watch

South Australia to build World’s biggest Solar Thermal Plant. #auspol 

South Australia Will Be Home to the World’s Biggest Single-Tower Solar Thermal Power Plant
South Australia has approved the biggest solar thermal power plant of its kind in the world. The 150-megawatt structure received the green light from government officials this week. The plant will be constructed in Port Augusta. 

The project will provide employment for over 600 construction workers and will provide more than enough energy for the state’s requirements.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]
Project expects to be running by 2020
The renewable energy project will kick off next year and be completed by 2020. 

The US$510 million project is the latest in a long line of renewable energy projects the state is tackling.

 Wasim Saman, from the University of South Australia, explains “The significance of solar thermal generation lies in its ability to provide energy virtually on demand through the use of thermal energy storage to store heat for running the power turbines.”

 He adds, “This is a substantially more economical way of storing energy than using batteries.”

The most common form of solar power uses solar photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight directly into electricity. 

This method of energy production then requires batteries to store the excess power.

 Solar thermal plants on the other hand use mirrors to concentrate the sunlight into a heating system. 

The method of heating can vary but for the South Australian plant, molten salt will be heated up.
This is a much more economical method than using regular batteries.

 The hot salt is then used to boil water, spin a steam turbine, and generate electricity when required.
Designers of the Port Augusta project say that the plant will have the ability to generate power at full load for up to 8 hours after the sun’s gone down.

 The South Australian project will be modeling itself off another big solar thermal power plant. 

The 110-megawatt capacity Crescent Dunes plant in Nevada was built by the same contractor who will use the US model as the base.

[Image Source: Solar Reserve]

South Australia leading the way in renewables.
South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy. 

This latest project now means that around 40 percent of the state’s entire electricity needs are generated by renewable sources. 

It is hoped that the conversion to solar will also mean a cut in residential electricity costs. 

The new plant costs less than building a new coal-fired power station and works out to a similar cost per megawatt as other renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Challenges still lie ahead
It isn’t all happy news though. 

South Australia was plagued by electricity blackouts last year and the unreliable renewable sources were blamed. 

Engineering researcher Fellow Matthew Stocks, from the Australian National University, says we still have “lots to learn” about how solar thermal technologies can fit into an electric grid system. 

He explains, “One of the big challenges for solar thermal as a storage tool is that it can only store heat. 

If there is an excess of electricity in the system because the wind is blowing strong, it cannot efficiently use it to store electrical power to shift the energy to times of shortage, unlike batteries and pumped hydro.”

Press link for more: Interesting Engineering