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Category: Energy (Page 1 of 3)

Pollution is killing 9 million people a year » one in six of all deaths across planet

Damian Carrington, The Guardian »

The death toll from pollution dwarfs that from road traffic deaths, HIV/Aids, malaria and TB combined, or from drug and alcohol misuse. The researchers calculated the economic impact of pollution deaths at $4.6tn (£3.7tn), about $9m a minute.

The overall impact of pollution has not improved since the first global review in 2017, since when 45 million lives have been lost to it. Prevention was largely overlooked in the international development agenda, the researchers said, with funding increasing only minimally since 2015.

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California nearly 100% powered by renewables for first time

Desert Sun »

Renewable electricity provided just shy of 100% of California’s electricity demand on Saturday, a record-breaker, officials said, much of it from large amounts of solar power now produced along Interstate 10, an hour east of the Coachella Valley.

Environmentalists over the weekend celebrated as an official online supply tracker surged to 101%, but a power official said late Monday that they had doublechecked the data, and adjusted it slightly due to battery charging and reserves and other resource needs.

While partygoers celebrated in the blazing sunshine at the Stagecoach music festival, energy demand statewide hit 18,672 megawatts at 2:45 p.m., “and at 2:50, we reached 99.87% of load served by all renewables, which broke the previous record … of 97.58%,” said Anna Gonzales, spokeswoman for California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, a nonprofit that oversees the state’s bulk electric power system and transmission lines.

Half world’s fossil fuel assets could become worthless by 2036 in net zero transition

Jonathan Watts, Ashley Kirk, Niamh McIntyre, Pablo Gutiérrez and Niko Kommenda / The Guardian »

Countries that are slow to decarbonise will suffer but early movers will profit; the study finds that renewables and freed-up investment will more than make up for the losses to the global economy.

It highlights the risk of producing far more oil and gas than required for future demand, which is estimated to leave $11tn-$14tn (£8.1tn-£10.3tn) in so-called stranded assets – infrastructure, property and investments where the value has fallen so steeply they must be written off.

The lead author, Jean-Francois Mercure of the University of Exeter, said the shift to clean energy would benefit the world economy overall, but it would need to be handled carefully to prevent regional pockets of misery and possible global instability.

“In a worst-case scenario, people will keep investing in fossil fuels until suddenly the demand they expected does not materialise and they realise that what they own is worthless. Then we could see a financial crisis on the scale of 2008,” he said, warning oil capitals such as Houston could suffer the same fate as Detroit after the decline of the US car industry unless the transition is carefully managed.

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77 countries have pledged to phase out coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that drive global warming

But China, India and the USA did not sign the agreement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

One nation alone, China, accounts for more than 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal. China is not joining the world in this commitment and instead promises to increase building coal fired power plants to meet soaring power demand.

To boost coal output, China has “revived old mines, hurried through permits for expansions and loosened some safety regulations. They’ve also stepped in on prices to ensure electricity generators are incentivized to fully use power plant capacity.” (Bloomberg)

China is also seeking to increase imports of foreign coal. China’s demand for the fossil fuel in the power and industrial sectors could break the country’s 2013 record for emissions from coal.

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Lufthansa is purchasing $250 million of sustainable jet fuel to help curb emissions

Bloomberg »

Lufthansa has a mixed record when it comes to curbing emissions. While the company has invested in more fuel efficient jets, its planes are usually emptier than those of rivals including Ryanair Holdings Plc, meaning a Lufthansa flight typically generates more emissions per passenger.

The three-year period in question is also likely to coincide with a significant upturn in air traffic as the corporate and leisure travel industries recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Lufthansa is expecting to offer 70% of normal capacity in 2022, according to an earnings report released Wednesday, with that figure like to rise in subsequent years.

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Mapping every large solar plant on the planet using satellites and AI

Jenson / shutterstock

Lucas Kruitwagen, Climate Change and Artificial Intelligence Researcher, University of Oxford »

An astonishing 82% decrease in the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy since 2010 has given the world a fighting chance to build a zero-emissions energy system which might be less costly than the fossil-fuelled system it replaces. The International Energy Agency projects that PV solar generating capacity must grow ten-fold by 2040 if we are to meet the dual tasks of alleviating global poverty and constraining warming to well below 2°C.

Critical challenges remain. Solar is “intermittent”, since sunshine varies during the day and across seasons, so energy must be stored for when the sun doesn’t shine. Policy must also be designed to ensure solar energy reaches the furthest corners of the world and places where it is most needed. And there will be inevitable trade-offs between solar energy and other uses for the same land, including conservation and biodiversity, agriculture and food systems, and community and indigenous uses.

Colleagues and I have now published in the journal Nature the first global inventory of large solar energy generating facilities. “Large” in this case refers to facilities that generate at least 10 kilowatts when the sun is at its peak. (A typical small residential rooftop installation has a capacity of around 5 kilowatts).

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New York regulator blocks two new natural gas power plants

Natural gas produces 21% of global CO2 emissions.

Tim De Chant , Ars Technica »

The Department of Environmental Conservation denied permits for two proposed natural gas power plants, saying they were incompatible with the state’s climate law, which calls for an end to fossil fuel-generated electricity by 2040.

Though the proposed plants would be more efficient than those currently in operation, the state agency said the plants would generate “significant” amounts of pollution and that their construction now, less than 20 years from the targeted net-zero emissions date, would be “inconsistent” with what is required by the climate law.

New York’s climate law requires polluters to account for two sources of emissions: from the plants themselves and from the natural gas supply chain. Once the latter was included—figures which in the past were nearly always ignored when determining a power plant’s pollution—the emissions quickly exceeded the DEC’s thresholds, the decisions say.

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