Positive Environmental news thread

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Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-28 12:25pm

Because this forum needs more good news damnit. Here's a thread dedicated to positive news about the environment:


In Texas, Wind power is supplanting coal power in capacity:
Texas Monthly
Wind Power Capacity Has Surpassed Coal in Texas
Scientists at UT predict that by 2019, the state will get more energy from wind than coal.

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Wind turbine on the Texas prairie.
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Wind power capacity edged out coal for the first time in the Texas history last week after a new 155-megawatt wind farm in Scurry County came online. The farm in question is the Fluvanna Wind Energy Project, located on some 32,000 acres leased from more than 130 landowners.

Fluvanna pushed total wind power capacity in the state to more than 20,000 megawatts, while coal capacity stands at 19,800 megawatts and is slated to fall to 14,700 megawatts by the end of 2018 thanks to planned coal powerplant closures. Next year, Luminant will shutter three coal-fired plants—Monticello, Sandow, and Big Brown—and San Antonio’s CPS Energy will close J.T. Deely Station. Wind capacity in the state will reach 24,400 megawatts by the end of 2018, according to projections from Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at UT Austin’s Energy Institute.

But capacity is one thing, electricity generation is another. In the first ten months of 2017, wind generated 17.2 percent of power in the state, and coal 31.9 percent, according to ERCOT. But wind should soon see large gains there. “By our analysis, in 2019 we’ll have more energy from wind than coal,” Rhodes said.

The next hurdle for wind is improvements in batteries. “Without good storage, there is a limit to how much energy you can get from renewables,” Rhodes said. But impressive strides are being made, Rhodes added, pointing to a 100-megawatt lithium-ion battery that Tesla just switched on in the state of South Australia Friday. (The football-field-sized battery is the largest in the world. Tesla’s Elon Musk promised to deliver the finished $50 million battery within one hundred days of signing the contract, or it would be free. The company took only sixty days to complete the task.) Maybe some enterprising Texas mayor can give Musk a call next.

The Fluvanna Wind farm is located across the highway from Amazon Wind Farm Texas that came online in late October. That farm—built, owned, and operated by Lincoln Clean Energy—is the largest of Amazon’s eighteen existing wind and solar projects. Amazon has signed an agreement to buy 90 percent of the farm’s output to power its cloud data centers.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos marked the opening of his company’s farm in October by making his way to the top of one three-hundred-foot turbine, where he smashed a bottle of champagne beneath his feet. And, naturally, promptly posted the video footage to Twitter.
Speaking of Tesla's battery:

Electrek
Tesla’s giant battery in Australia reduced grid service cost by 90%
Fred Lambert

- May. 11th 2018 7:45 am ET

@FredericLambert


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Tesla’s giant Powerpack battery in Australia has been in operation for about 6 months now and we are just starting to discover the magnitude of its impact on the local energy market.

A new report now shows that it reduced the cost of the grid service that it performs by 90% and it has already taken a majority share of the market.
When an issue happens or maintenance is required on the power grid in Australia, the Energy Market Operator calls for FCAS (frequency control and ancillary services) which consists of large and costly gas generators and steam turbines kicking in to compensate for the loss of power.

Electricity rates can be seen reaching $14,000 per MW during those FCAS periods.

Tesla’s 100MW/129MWh Powerpack project in South Australia can provide the same service cheaper, quicker, and with zero-emissions, through its battery system.

It is so efficient that it reportedly should have made around $1 million in just a few days in January, but Tesla complained last month that they are not being paid correctly because the system doesn’t account for how fast Tesla’s Powerpacks start discharging their power into the grid.

The system is basically a victim of its own efficiency, which the Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed is much more rapid, accurate and valuable than a conventional steam turbine in a report published last month.

Now McKinsey and Co partner Godart van Gendt presented new data at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne this week and claimed that Tesla’s battery has now taken over 55% of the FCAS services and reduced cost by 90%.

van Gendt said (via Reneweconomy):

“In the first four months of operations of the Hornsdale Power Reserve (the official name of the Tesla big battery, owned and operated by Neoen), the frequency ancillary services prices went down by 90 per cent, so that’s 9-0 per cent. And the 100MW battery has achieved over 55 per cent of the FCAS revenues in South Australia. So it’s 2 per cent of the capacity in South Australia achieving 55 per cent of the revenues in South Australia.”

South Australia is reportedly the only state that has seen a decline in FCAS costs over the period. Some estimates put the savings at over $30 million in just a few months.

Tesla Energy’s regional manager of business development Lara Olsen was also at the conference and she explained that thermal plants are bidding on FCAS based on their fuel costs, which are volatile, while Tesla is charging its batteries from wind power at a stable and cheap price.

The success of the project in Australia has led to a lot more demand for Tesla’s stationary energy storage products.

We recently reported that Tesla’s Powerpack was chosen again to deploy another large energy storage project in Australia after securing $25 million in funding.

Tesla also now has its own plans for a 50,000-home virtual power plant with Powerwalls in Australia, which would represent even more energy storage capacity.

During Tesla’s Q1 2018 earnings call last week, CEO Elon Musk even hinted at a possible 1 GWh project to be announced soon.
Meanwhile, in China:

The Independent
China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution
Area to be planted by the end of the year is roughly the size of Ireland

Samuel Osborne
@SamuelOsborne93
Tuesday 13 February 2018 23:26
21 comments

A large regiment of the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts to work non-military tasks, such as planting trees
A large regiment of the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts to work non-military tasks, such as planting trees ( China Photos/Getty Images )
China has reportedly reassigned over 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in a bid to combat pollution by increasing the country's forest coverage.

A large regiment from the People's Liberation Army, along with some of the nation's armed police force, have been withdrawn from their posts on the northern border to work on non-military tasks inland.

The majority will be dispatched to Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, according to the Asia Times which originally reported the story. The area is known to be a major culprit for producing the notorious smog which blankets the capital city.

The idea is believed to be popular among members of online military forums as long as they can keep their ranks and entitlements.

It comes as part of China's plan to plant at least 84,000 square kilometres (32,400 square miles) of trees by the end of the year, which is roughly equivalent to the size of Ireland.

The aim is to increase the country's forest coverage from 21 per cent of its total landmass to 23 per cent by 2020, the China Daily newspaper reported.

"Companies, organisations and talent that specialise in greening work are all welcome to join in the country's massive greening campaign," he said.

"Cooperation between government and social capital will be put on the priority list.”
Someone should warn Trump about the Chinese tree planting menace, and see if he takes the bait to 'close the dangerous oxygen production gap'. :wink:

So, if you spot, or want to discuss, good things happening with the environment, please post them here.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by SolarpunkFan » 2018-09-17 11:27am

Crappy one on my part IMO, but hey.

Lego-style solar panels to smash energy bills
Ready-made snap-together solar panels that turn waste heat into hot water are being developed at Brunel University London in a £10 million sustainable energy scheme starting next month.

With energy use in buildings predicted to double or even triple by 2050, and most home energy used to heat water, project PVadapt promises to crack several sustainable energy problems at once.

Funded by Horizon 2020, the three and a half-year multi-disciplinary project aims to perfect a flexible solar powered renewable energy system that generates both heat from hot water and electricity.

The hybrid solar panels combine photovoltaic (PV) cells with flat heat pipes. Heat pipes transfer unwanted heat away from surfaces. They're widely used in industry to recycle waste heat and to cool electronic devices from PCs to the International Space Station, which they stop the sun from melting. PVadapt will use heat pipes to cool the PV cells themselves to make them more efficient and longer-lasting. And the heat removed from the cooling is reused.

"With our system, there is no waste heat," said technical co-ordinator, Professor Hussam Jouhara, who invented the multifunctional Flat Heat Pipe and whose leading role will bring Brunel £816,000.

"The approach focuses on low-cost, high-efficiency and modular prefabricated "Lego'-type construction elements for near-zero-energy buildings,",he explained.

PVadapt is a team effort involving 18 organisations from 11 different countries. It will see click-in-place hybrid solar roofing panels installed into eight buildings such as homes, offices and shops in Spain, Greece, Austria and Portugal.

Professor Jouhara and the Brunel team will combine all the different technologies into a prefabricated building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) energy and thermal storage system of the future. The £260-a-square-metre panels could be used in social housing, public buildings and offices and even in developing countries and off-grid. And the prefab parts that only need snapping together on site mean buildings using PVadapt technology can go up very quickly.

A surprising problem the hybrid system solves is that the more sunlight solar PV panels suck up and the hotter they get, the less efficient they are at converting energy. That means the sunnier it is, the more energy they produce, but less is converted into electricity. Heat pipes use that snag to their advantage and whisk away that generated heat and use it to produce the building's hot water.

There's other practical wrinkles the ready-made hybrid panels iron out. Installing solar panels in new buildings with normal roofing structures has a poor track record.

"It needs an engineered approach," said Professor Jouhara. "Our solar panels are PV coated for the most southerly-facing aspect of the roof and are designed to clip together as a weather-tight roof as simply as clicking together Lego or laminate flooring."
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-09-27 02:20am

I wonder how diverse you can be while designing solar powered buildings without having it look garish due to the necessities of placing panels. Either way, glad these are coming about.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2018-09-27 06:10am

The power companies would actually like people to be more diverse about installing things. Because typically solar is installed at an optimal angle, which varies with your latitude of course, and due south or due north direction for generating the most possible power at the peak of the sun. Problem is when 100% of installations do this you end up with a surplus of power at high noon, and very little at any other time, most power will come during about a 4 hour window. Some solar heavy parts of the world like Hawaii have already hit this problem hard. It's a big deal since most of the power grid isn't designed to shift power in bulk over distance even if you do have say an industrial customer somewhere else for it.

So they'd like to see people angling some panels towards the sunrise and sunset to spread out this capacity. Which would also give more design options for people who don't have a giant flat roof to hide panels on. But typically nobody wants to do this because it means they'll generate less power in total and thus make less money back given a fixed rate. Which is a major flaw in the very generous ways electrical companies are typically forced to pay customers for power provided by their home and other small scale building mounted solar installations. It's starting to change now to be more market driven and thus sustainable in fiscal terms, but that's slow.

Of course the ideal solution is solar that actively tracks, but that's a lot less practical in most cases since its a major increase in the installed cost and something to break long before the panels do. Some panel installations also let you change the tile manually, so you can have a summer and a winter angle which is way simpler of course. But none of this is great if you care what it looks like.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-09-27 03:15pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
2018-09-27 06:10am
Some panel installations also let you change the tile manually, so you can have a summer and a winter angle which is way simpler of course. But none of this is great if you care what it looks like.
My dad had a setup like that-- he built a seesaw, basically, that he would adjust with a bit of rope for pointed one way, flat, pointed the other. A bit labor intensive to install, but once it was done, just a moment at various points during the day. Not practical for people who are outside of the house most of the day though, he was fortunate enough in that he had a clinic in his backyard rather than having to go out of the house for work most days.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Marko Dash » 2018-09-27 11:00pm

would it be possible to make the panels semitransparent and instead of rooftops use them use replace windows?
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2018-09-27 11:19pm

Transparent solar panels are possible but any existing design only captures about 1/3rd as much energy as normal types while costing considerably more. Using them as windows also presents a serious safety hazard if anything gets broken. The power generation can't be turned off without physically blocking off the sunlight. So the practical value of this is low.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by SolarpunkFan » 2018-10-04 11:59am

BBC: 'Feel good' factor not CO2 boosts global forest expansion
Forests are increasing around the world because of rising incomes and an improved sense of national wellbeing say researchers.

The authors refute the idea that increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are the key cause of the spread of trees.

As countries become better off, farmers focus on good quality soils and abandon marginal lands, the authors say.

As a result, trees are able to rapidly reforest these deserted areas.

The study highlights the fact that between 1990 and 2015 forest growing stock increased annually by 1.31% in high income countries and by 0.5% in middle income nations, while falling by 0.72% in 22 low income countries.

Several global climate models have attributed this change to what's termed CO2 fertilisation - where higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere boost the growing abilities of plants and trees.

But the authors say that this greening process has been going on since the 1800s in Western Europe when CO2 in the atmosphere was just starting to rise.

"When people are feeling good, it benefits forests," Prof Pekka Kauppi from the University of Helsinki, the paper's co-author, told BBC News.

"It is not just income. When a society works properly then deforestation automatically seems to disappear, and society reaches a sort of a balance with the forests. Once a country has a decent life, they do not deplete forests they want to protect them. When livelihoods come from other sources not subsistence farming then marginal lands are abandoned and people just leave the forests to grow back."

Other parts of the world have started to increase forest cover in relation to their development and not just levels of CO2 the professor says. Europe, the US, Japan and New Zealand have all increased cover over the past century while over the past 50 years China and Chile have also seen forests increase.

Between 1990 and 2015 some 13 tropical countries have transitioned from places with net forest losses to net forest gains.

"Weather observations confirm indisputably that global temperatures are rising together with atmospheric CO2 levels," said co-author Prof Antti Lipponen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

"However, the study shows that, over more than a century, changes in forest growing stock around the world have been virtually unrelated to those trends."

The authors say that development encourages market economies which tend to concentrate farming onto the best lands with farmers abandoning marginal lands and often moving to the cities. Better technology and higher yields also tend to reduce the need to clear new agricultural lands and usually, as incomes rise, other fuel sources other than wood become available.

Another factor is that as countries get wealthier, they tend to import more products based on natural resources rather than manufacture them.

India is an "amazing example" says Prof Kauppi, having increased forest cover between 1970 and 2010 while at the same time, seeing its population double.

"If food can be grown on smaller areas of the very best lands, then marginal lands can be left aside and India is one of the regions of the world where agriculture was very low yielding earlier on but with the green revolution and an excellent climate for plant growth they have managed to feed the population relatively well."

While development is critical the authors expressed concern about the future of Africa, with a majority of the 55 countries there have not reported moving from forest losses to forest gains. Losses are also being experienced in Nigeria, Brazil and Indonesia.

Brunei is only wealthy country the researchers found with decreasing forest cover.

The study has been published in the journal PLOS One.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by madd0ct0r » 2018-10-05 08:16am

All of the major construction consultancies and contractors seem to be launching One Planet Strategies.
We'll still get paid to build stuff, but wether it is improved roads to increase resiliance to climate effects, or better design to reduce/eliminate emissions. Sample: https://cundall.com/News/One-Planet--On ... tegy-.aspx
Cundall has launched their new sustainability roadmap, One Planet, One Chance which includes far reaching targets including being a carbon positive business by 2025.
Cundall is committed to delivering positive change in the world. We have chosen key areas to focus on which align with our skills and impacts, using the One Planet Living Principles and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide us.
Tomás Neeson, Managing Partner said “We all have so much more we can and need to do. Business as usual is no longer enough and therefore in 2017, Cundall embarked on a journey to create a new sustainability roadmap to increase our commitment to positive change.”
Cundall started this with a materiality review, which involved a number of internal and external stakeholders including people identified as future leaders of the business and Cundall’s current leaders, key clients across the globe and industry bodies including the UK Green Building Council, Bioregional and Forum for the Future. This process looked critically at the Cundall business, what has been  achieved and where they are going, with the aim of ensuring Cundall keep driving sustainability in the industry.
“UK Green Building Council  are delighted to have been an external reviewer during the update of Cundall’s Sustainability Strategy. Cundall are very much taking a leadership role in the services they deliver as well as their own operations, which is fantastic to see. We are particularly impressed with Cundall’s aspiration to be carbon positive as a whole business by 2025 and we hope this will encourage other consultants to follow suit.” Cat Hirst, Director of Learning & Innovation, UK Green Building Council.
A key finding of the review was to prioritise our effort to address the following priority impacts:
1. Climate Positive Action
2. Zero Carbon Energy
3. Materials and Supply Chain
4. Health and Wellbeing
5. Ethics and Equity
6. Climate Change Adaptation
The updated roadmap and action plan set out clear and very stretching targets and initiatives under these impact areas. These will be applied across their projects, their own offices, their homes and communities and through industry leadership. Cundall refer to these four areas as the cornerstones of the business.
Noteworthy targets include being a carbon positive business by 2025 and conducting Life Cycle Assessments on 95% of their projects, with initiatives including the implementation of an ethical bid no bid process, training staff to become mental health first aiders and undertaking research on climate change adaptation.
“Through our competitor analysis we are not aware of a consultancy with such a challenging strategy.  I ask our staff, our clients and our fellow designers to join us on this important journey, without collaboration these important but testing targets cannot be achieved. We only have one planet and limited time to act, this is our chance to make a positive difference.”  Neeson added.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-10-08 07:10pm

Bloomberg News
World to Install Over One Trillion Watts of Clean Energy by 2023
By Jeremy Hodges
October 7, 2018, 6:00 PM CDT
Solar power output seen tripling in five years, IEA says
China will become largest consumer of renewables, report says
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The world could install more than a trillion watts of renewable power over the next five years, more than the entire current generation capacity of the European Union.

The International Energy Agency’s latest annual report on renewables forecasts as much as an extra 1.3 terawatts of clean energy will be installed by 2023 under one scenario. Even in its more conservative central forecast, the agency predicts that global renewable energy capacity will grow by 1 terawatt, driven by a boom in solar installations and more accommodating government policy.

New Power Capacity
The world started commissioning more gigawatts of clean energy than fossil fuels from 2015


Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence World Electric Power Plant Database, Platts

Note: Fossil fuels include oil, gas and coal; clean energy includes solar, wind, hydro and nuclear

The positive outlook for clean energy comes with a warning that government support and market design is critical to ensuring that renewables continue to be invested in and built.

Energy from solar, wind and hydro will continue to outpace natural gas and coal over the next five years, the IEA said. Generation from natural gas will be squeezed by cheap coal and ever more competitive solar and wind technologies.

Despite renewable energy expanding its share of global electricity output to 30 percent by 2023, growing coal generation in Asia means that the dirtiest fossil fuel will remain the largest source of power in the world.

Hydropower is forecast to increase 12 percent over the next five years and will still be the largest renewable electricity generation source by 2023. Wind output is expected to increase its share by two-thirds to 7 percent. Solar power is seen tripling, overtaking bioenergy to become the third-largest source of renewable energy.

Coal Slide
Fossil fuels' share of power generation growth is declining


Source: International Energy Agency

China will be responsible for 41 percent of global renewable growth, adding 438 gigawatts of clean energy to become the largest consumer of green energy in the world, overtaking the EU, the IEA said. Almost half of Brazil’s total power consumption will come from renewables by 2023, in large part down to hydro and bioenergy.

The IEA focused on “modern bioenergy,” saying it is the “blind spot” of the renewables world even though it accounted for half of all clean energy consumed in 2017. Most modern bioenergy, which includes liquid fuels produced from plants, gas from anaerobic digestion and wood pellets, is used to heat buildings in industry. It excludes traditional bioenergy, which comes from biomass such as wood and animal waste.

“Modern bioenergy is the overlooked giant of the renewable energy field,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “We expect modern bioenergy will continue to lead the field, and has huge prospects for further growth.”

Only bioenergy that reduces life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions while avoiding social, environmental, and economic impacts should have a future role in a clean energy system, the IEA said.

Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy use climbed 1.6 percent in 2017 after three years of little change.

Coal currently feeds about 27 percent of the world’s energy demand. That proportion is likely to drop to about 22 percent in 2040 as governments move toward cleaner energy policy, according to the IEA’s last World Energy Outlook in 2017. The agency’s next global report will be published in November.
Good to hear that we're getting out of the coal and gas game, albeit slower than I'd like.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-10-13 11:15am

Clean Technica
Japan To Add 17 Gigawatts Of New Solar By End Of 2020
October 12th, 2018 by Joshua S Hill

Growth in Japan’s solar power sector is predicted to slow over the coming decade, according to a new analysis from the Fitch Group, but not before the industry adds 17 gigawatts (GW) worth of new solar capacity between the end of 2017 and the end of 2020.


Floating solar in Japan

US credit, macro, and industry solutions firm Fitch Solutions Macro Research, part of the Fitch Group, published a new Industry Trend Analysis for Japan’s solar sector this week, in which it forecast growth in Japan’s solar power sector to slow over the coming decade. The slowdown comes in the wake of the company’s transition to competitive auctions for utility-scale solar power capacity procurement in 2017. Another catalyst for this slowdown is the September announcement from the Japanese Government which sees the country’s feed-in tariffs (FiT) for solar installations reduced at the household- and company-levels by half by the mid-2020s.


This transition away from feed-in tariffs to competitive auctions, as well as FiT reductions, are intended to address the high costs of subsidizing the country’s solar power industry which has nevertheless resulted in explosive growth, with the Japanese solar sector growing from 13.6 GW at the end of 2013 to 48.6 GW by the end of 2017, making it one of the fastest growing solar sectors in the world.

However, while the long-term outlook expects a slowdown, Japan’s project backlog stemming from the successful and attractive FiT will continue to support robust growth, and Fitch expects another 17 GW worth of solar capacity to be brought online between 2018 and the end of 2020.

The transition to competitive auctions for utility-scale procurement comes as the Japanese government begins to prioritize reducing retail electricity prices rather than simply prioritizing solar growth. Unfortunately, the second competitive auction held this year failed to attract any successful bidders, leaving the transition treading water for the time being. According to Fitch, this failure “was a result of a gap in the prices offered by the government under the mechanism, and the prices required to attract project developers to bid in the auction.”


Things are expected to go more smoothly for the country’s third auction which is scheduled for the second half of this year, but Fitch nevertheless believes “limited investor appetitive registered in the second auction” is a tell-tale sign of a slowing solar sector. Specifically, while Fitch expects Japan’s solar sector to add 17 GW in the next few years, it conversely expects Japan will only see 14 GW of new solar brought online between 2021 and 2027.
They're slowing down, but not stopping.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-10-13 11:29am

Clear Technica
Cleantech News — Solar, Wind, EV News (#1 Source) | CleanTechnica logo
10:21AM

0 5'
India Increases Its Massive 2022 Renewable Energy Target By 28%
June 10th, 2018 by Kurt Lowder

For the last several years, CleanTechnica has covered renewable energy development in India quite closely. Several years ago, India set what seemed like a lofty target of 175 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by March 2022. Few believed that was a practical target, but then India plowed forward and happily impressed the world. This week that goal was increased to 227 gigawatts!

Currently, India has added a little more than 70 gigawatts of that goal. Assessing the progress to date on a linear scale, the trend would seem to indicate the country is behind. However, renewable energy growth is not linear.




For a few years, renewable energy prices in India were rather high due to high finance costs. Now that those finance costs have come down substantially, renewable energy investment is accelerating. In a recent statement to the media, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) wrote, “New opportunities have emerged — altogether a new business space has been created. Indian companies have begun to explore foreign stock exchanges as a source of funds. India is progressively becoming a most favored destination for investment in renewables.”

Of course, global prices for renewable energy have continued to drop as well, allowing this goal to be increased. R K Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy, recently stated at a press conference, “India’s current renewable-based power capacity stands at 70 Gw, and we will cross the 175-Gw target well before 2022. We have new schemes like offshore wind, floating solar, which will help us over-achieve the current target.”

Should India reach this new goal, it will be only behind China and the US in terms of installed renewable energy capacity. This increased goal is perfect timing as it is expected that renewable energy growth in China may contract this year due to lower subsidies.


Energy demand in India continues to grow and renewable energy is allowing that demand to be met at the best price possible. Unfortunately, India continues to add thermal (fossil fuel) power each year, but the good news is its utilization is decreasing. With the old renewable energy target, thermal power plant utilization was expected to be 57%; with the new target, it stands to reason that will drop even further.

The Indian government is going all out to ensure renewable energy is integrated into the national grid and curtailments are minimized. According to the ministry, “We have waived the Inter State Transmission System charges and losses for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to be commissioned by March 2022. This will encourage setting up of the projects in states that have greater resource potential and availability of suitable land.”

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It is truly incredible to see developing countries begin to take the lead with regard to installing renewable energy. It was not long ago that they complained they could not take a global role in fighting climate change. Now that renewable energy makes sense economically, they are taking a leading role in continuing to bring down the costs of renewable energy.


Every country can expect to benefit from this drastic investment in renewables by India. Their additions will continue to drive down the cost of renewables. Consequently, we can expect to see more fossil fuel power plants across the world stranded. While it is sad to see that the current US government is taking a step backwards in regards to renewable energy, actions by countries like India can help pick up the slack. When the US political climate changes, renewable energy prices will be substantially lower and we can get on with the transition at a feverous pace.
Meanwhile, India increases their goal for renewable energy.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-10-13 12:11pm

Renew Economy
Hawaii to add more than 1GWh of storage as it heads to 100% renewables
Joshua S Hill 12 October 2018 2 Comments
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Photo by J de Gier on Unsplash
The Hawaiian Electric Company is in contract negotiations with developers to add seven solar-plus-storage projects which would bring a total of 1,055MWh of storage and 260MW worth of solar capacity to three of the state’s islands, representing the largest infusion of renewable energy and storage capacity in the island state’s history.

The negotiations are expected to yield long-term contracts on the islands of Oahu, Maui, and Hawai’i. The seven projects include:

On Oahu, three projects totalling approximately 120MW of solar and 515MWh of storage
On Maui, two projects totalling approximately 75MW of solar and 300MWh of storage
On Hawaii Island, two projects totalling approximately 60MW of solar and 240MWh of storage
“These large-scale solar and battery projects will accelerate our renewable energy drive at some of the lowest prices we’ve seen to date,” said Shelee Kimura, senior vice president of business development and strategic planning for the Hawaiian Electric Company.

“With support from our communities, these projects will reduce our reliance on fossil fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions while benefitting all with low-cost renewable energy.”

Each of the solar projects will be connected to a storage system that is expected to provide at least four hours of stored electricity that, according to Hawaiian Electric Company, will serve to “further reduce fossil fuel use in the evening or other times when the sun isn’t shining.”

Overall, these seven projects, if approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission, will displace a total of 1.2 million barrels of fossil fuel-equivalent per year.

Further, the planned capacity builds on an existing 500MW of renewable energy capacity under contract by the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light companies, as well as a further 80,000 private rooftop systems.

The move builds on Hawai’i’s 2015 direction to state utilities to generate 100% of their electricity sales from renewable energy sources by 2045.

This was followed up a year and a half later by the Hawaiian Electric Companies detailed plan outlining how they would likely beat each of the interim goals (2020, 2030, and 2040) and reach 100% by the end of 2040, five years ahead of the deadline.

This procurement phase was initiated in February with the intent of expanding the Companies’ renewable energy portfolios. Working with the Public Utilities Commission, the Hawaiian Electric Companies increased their original procurement scope for Hawai’i Island from 20MW to 60MW, expedited project selection, and upped the number of projects expected for this phase of procurement.
Hawaii is chain of islands, so them heading towards 100 percent renewable is a great idea.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by SolarpunkFan » 2018-10-16 08:46pm

The App that Fights Congestion, Emissions
The average American lost 41 hours to rush-hour congestion in 2017, according to a scorecard published by transportation analytics company INRIX, placing the U.S. with nations like Indonesia, Venezuela, and Russia on the list of top five countries with the highest average peak hours spent in congestion. And while expanding road networks and public transit systems may seem like the only way to combat gridlock, researchers at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering are betting they can meaningfully shave these hours down with a more personal approach.

They’ve built an AI and big-data based travel app that nudges users to make smarter travel decisions—ones that benefit the environment, the user, and other travelers.

“We know that we will never build our way out of congestion,” said Lei Zhang, director of the Clark School’s Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI) and the Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor of civil engineering. “But with artificial intelligence, we can build tools that get more accurate and helpful with each use, allowing us to manage travel demand while also helping people get where they want to go more smoothly.”

incenTrip, part of a $4.5 million project funded by the Department of Energy to reduce energy consumption in personal transportation, awards points based on how a user chooses to get around, giving more points for taking public transportation or commuting outside peak travel times, for example. These points can then be redeemed for gift cards to Amazon and the Apple Store.

Like other travel apps, incenTrip offers users a handful of travel modes to choose from: car, ridesharing, bus, subway, and biking. But the UMD app takes this formula a bit further, showing travelers how much fuel is consumed by each option and even suggesting that a user travel at another time or mix-and-match modes to ultimately cut time spent in traffic.

The options displayed—as well as the points assigned to them—are generated by algorithms that consider real-time road and transit conditions, how traffic will change throughout the trip, and the user’s individual behavior. The modeling and data fueling these algorithms come from MTI and the Clark School’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory, which manages the largest big data transportation archive in the world.

Zhang, along with collaborators Chenfeng Xiong and Ya Ji, began piloting incenTrip in the D.C.-Baltimore region in 2017. Today, they have 35,000 total users on Android and iOS.

That might not seem like many for a region with around 4 million commuters, but the pilot phase has shown that significant reductions in congestion, energy use, and emissions are possible through even a small number of travelers adjusting their decisions.

“Our research indicates that when an incenTrip user saves one minute in traffic, there’s a five to 18 minute travel delay savings systemwide for other travelers,” Xiong, an MTI assistant research professor, explained.

To reach their goal of cutting regional congestion and energy use by 10 percent over the next few years, Zhang and Xiong estimate they’ll need just 160,000 active users. They’ll leap closer to that goal later this year when the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments adds incenTrip to the Commuter Connections accounts of tens of thousands of members.

Zhang, Xiong, and Ji are also working to expand beyond the pilot region through partnerships with government agencies as well as fleet managers, not-for-profit organizations, and others interested in immediately deployable solutions for reducing costs, energy use, and congestion.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by SolarpunkFan » 2018-10-21 06:10pm

Climate change concerns unite Gens X and Y
Contrary to stereotypes of young generations being narcissistic or complacent, researchers say both groups are united in concerns about the future of the environment.

Generation X worries what climate change will mean for their own children, while Generation Y is concerned about the impact on future generations, the study shows.

The Life Patterns longitudinal study has followed both generations of Australians since they left secondary school, tracking their experiences in education, the job market, family and personal relationships, as well as their attitudes to life, concerns, health, and wellbeing. The first group left high school in 1991 and the second left high school in 2006.

“In 2017, we asked participants to nominate the three most important issues facing Australia,” says Julia Cook, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education Youth Research Centre.

“One major issue unites both generations: concerns about the environment and climate change. Other areas of concern tended to reflect people’s life stage,” Cook says.

For Generation X, the next major concerns were cost of living, security and terrorism, education, and the economy.

For Generation Y, the other important issues were lack of jobs/job security, drug abuse, housing affordability, and health.

“While specific views of what needs to be done about the problem varied, both groups consistently expressed grave concerns about the general lack of action towards climate change mitigation from the current government,” Cook says.

More detailed analysis showed that in the older cohort, women were nearly twice as likely as men to hold this concern for the environment, while in the younger group, men were more likely than women report concern about the environment.

One mother living in a country town, told researchers “we’re not going to have air to breathe soon,” while a father living in a rural area, noted “climate change could ruin their [his children’s] lives and our governments are not acting”.

For both generations, concerns about the environment stem from an apparent mistrust of governments to address climate change, Cook says.

“This sentiment was echoed in comments on other issues, indicating they believe governments are not adequately addressing everyday issues such as the cost of living, education, job security, and housing affordability,” she says.

The Australian Research Council supports the Life Patterns research program.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by SolarpunkFan » 2018-12-03 12:09pm

Great strides for carbon capture using earth-abundant elements as photocatalytic system
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have designed a CO2 reduction method based only on commonly occurring elements. Achieving a 57% overall quantum yield of CO2 reduction products, it is the highest performing system of its kind reported to date, raising prospects for cost-effective carbon capture solutions.

As global warming presents one of the biggest challenges to humanity in the 21st century, the quest to curb mounting CO2 emissions is more pressing than ever.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Osamu Ishitani and colleagues at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology report a photocatalytic[1] system that brings scientists closer to achieving artificial photosynthesis -- the goal of creating a sustainable system similar to the way that plants convert CO2 to useful energy by using earth abundant metals.

Although metal-complex photocatalytic systems have been reported for CO2 reduction, many of them used noble- and/or rare-metal complexes. Compared to these approaches that utilize rare metals (such as ruthenium and rhenium), the use of earth abundant metals is "greener" and inexpensive, and has thus attracted much interest.

Their new process is made up of two components: 1) a copper complex (CuPS) that behaves as a redox photosensitizer[2] and 2) a manganese-based catalyst, Mn(4OMe).

CuPS proved to be a stable and efficient redox photosensitizer, as decomposition was only 2% after 12 hours of irradiation. In addition, CuPS exhibited a much stronger reduction capability compared to other photosensitizers investigated to date.

The team reported that the total quantum yield of CO2 reduction products was 57%, the turnover number based on the manganese catalyst was over 1300 and the selectivity of CO2 reduction was 95%.

In particular, the figure of 57% is remarkable, as the researchers comment: "To the best of our knowledge, this is the highest quantum yield for CO2 reduction using abundant elements and the yield would be comparable to that obtained with rare metals."

The study highlights the way that incremental advances in chemistry may have a large impact on the wider goal of working towards a fossil-fuel-free future.

The research was supported by the Japan Science and Technology Agency's CREST program aimed at accelerating strategic innovation.

Technical terms

[1] Photocatalytic: Referring to a light-driven process that can accelerate a particular reaction of interest.

[2] Redox photosensitizer: A component that initiates the photochemical one-electron transfer from a reductant to a catalyst.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-12-04 06:31am

Electrek
Tesla’s giant virtual power plant with Powerwalls expands to 1,000 more homes in Australia

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Tesla’s giant virtual power plant with Powerwalls expands to 1,000 more homes in Australia
Fred Lambert - Dec. 3rd 2018 10:00 am ET @FredericLambert

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Tesla’s plan to deploy 50,000 Powerwalls in Australia in order to create a giant virtual power plant is moving forward with 1,000 more homes as part of the second phase.


The project is the biggest of its kind and it would dwarf any other stationary energy storage deployment if it is ever completed.

It came around after Elon Musk visited South Australia following the launch of its giant battery system in the state.

Musk gave an interview during which he was informed of the significant hardship that Australia’s high electricity prices are putting on families.

Visibly affected by the issue, Musk vowed that Tesla would “work harder” to help solve the problem.

A few months later, Tesla announced that it reached a deal with the South Australian government to install solar arrays and Powerwalls on up to 50,000 homes.

The deal was jeopardized after a new government was elected in the state a few weeks later, but they have since come around and confirmed that they will be moving forward with Tesla’s initiative as long as it is financed successfully.

In July, Tesla deployed the first 100 Powerwalls with solar for the new virtual power plant and focus on reducing the cost of electricity for low-income households.

It is already having a great impact for the families. Local news featured a public housing tenant in Adelaide who was spending over $500 every quarter for electricity and she has now seen her bill reduced to $175 since the installation of the system.

Now the government announced that they are moving forward with the “second phase”, which includes 1,000 homes.

Minister van Holst Pellekaan said:

“The VPP will deliver cheaper electricity to some of South Australia’s most disadvantaged households whilst increasing the reliability of the state’s electricity network,”

They have also announced Energy Locals as a new retail partner in the project to help Tesla and the government deploy the systems.

The 1,000 homes that will be part of the second phase of the VPP still need to be SA Housing Trust properties to facilitate the direct impact for low-income families.

With the upcoming third phase, they say that they will open up the process to other South Australian households.
Hopefully the rest of the world can follow this idea.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-01-11 03:17pm

LA Times
California set a goal of 100% clean energy, and now other states may follow its lead
By SAMMY ROTH
JAN 10, 2019 | 3:00 AM

California set a goal of 100% clean energy, and now other states may follow its lead
A view from Highway 14 of wind turbines in May 2013. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
It’s been less than four months since California committed to getting all of its electricity from climate-friendly sources by 2045. But the idea is already catching on in other states.

At least nine governors taking their oaths of office this month, from Nevada to Michigan to New York, campaigned on 100% clean energy, or have endorsed the target since it was enshrined in California law. The District of Columbia also set a 100% clean energy goal last month. So did Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based utility that serves 3.6 million electricity customers across eight Western and Midwestern states.

The policy’s growing popularity is driven in part by market trends and technological advances that make it easier to envision a future in which fossil fuels are no longer burned for electricity. But experts say California’s recent passage of Senate Bill 100 is also playing a role.

“Sometimes other states don’t want to admit that they’re looking to California for leadership. But they really are,” said Carla Frisch from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that has worked with cities and states on energy policy.

As the world’s fifth-largest economy, California wields enormous power to influence environmental policy nationally and even globally. The state’s actions have reshaped how industries do business, changed people’s habits and set the agenda for other states and countries. Automakers, for instance, have been forced to build increasingly fuel-efficient cars for decades because of California’s authority to set tailpipe-emission rules stricter than those of the federal government.

The Golden State’s aggressive policies can also prompt a backlash. In the four-plus years since California lawmakers voted to ban single-use plastic bags at most stores, nine states have passed laws blocking local governments from enacting such bans.

California’s role as a global leader was front of mind of then-state Sen. Kevin de León as he crafted the 100% climate-friendly energy legislation. The Los Angeles Democrat had previously written a bill raising the state’s clean energy target to 50% by 2030. But within a few years, it had become clear the state could meet that goal far sooner than expected, without the massive economic disruption opponents had predicted.

“California has long shown the rest of the nation how to protect the environment while growing the economy,” De León said. “If California can do it, everyone else can.”

What’s unique about 100% clean energy, supporters say, is that it’s caught on with lawmakers and the public in a way other climate change policies haven’t.

Many economists say a market-based tool that puts a price on planet-warming carbon emissions is the cheapest way to fight climate change. But even in places with broad support for climate action, it’s been difficult to build support for those types of policies. Voters in Washington state, for instance, overwhelmingly rejected a carbon tax in 2016 and again in 2018.

How a tax on carbon has divided Northwest climate activists »
Adam Browning, executive director of the Oakland-based advocacy group Vote Solar, cited a common refrain among climate advocates — that the only two problems with a carbon tax are “carbon” and “tax.” Nobody likes taxes, and most people don’t have strong feelings about carbon.

A 100% clean energy policy, on the other hand, is simple and focused on positive change, Browning said. Supporters can highlight the potential benefits of cleaner air, job creation and cutting-edge technologies.

“It’s exciting to be a part of, it speaks to values, it speaks to solutions, and it speaks to things people like. And it has overwhelming bipartisan support,” Browning said.

Alejandro DeLeon carries a solar panel as crew members from Sunrun home solar company install a solar system on a home in Van Nuys in 2016.
Alejandro DeLeon carries a solar panel as crew members from Sunrun home solar company install a solar system on a home in Van Nuys in 2016. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The concept didn’t originate in California. Hawaii became the first state to pass a 100% clean energy mandate in 2015, and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced federal legislation to that effect in 2017. More than 100 cities have endorsed the concept, according to the Sierra Club, as have 150 major corporations that are part of the RE100 coalition.

But in the months since California passed its 100% clean energy mandate, the idea has gained significant political momentum.

Voters in Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin elected new governors in November who signed a pledge from the League of Conservation Voters to support 100% clean energy by 2050. In several states, the new governors mark a dramatic shift from their predecessors.

In Maine, for instance, Democrat Janet Mills has replaced Republican Paul LePage, who issued a moratorium on new wind turbines and vetoed a bill to study how climate change would affect the state.

In Oregon, voters reelected Gov. Kate Brown, who also signed the League of Conservation Voters’ 100% clean energy pledge. In New Mexico, newly elected Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned on a promise of 80% renewable energy by 2040 and has touted California’s 100% clean energy law as a success story. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced his support last month for 100% climate-friendly energy.

David Bookbinder, chief counsel for the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., described the groundswell of support for 100% clean energy policies as a “political trend” first and foremost.

“These are all governors who are Democrats, and they’re all trying to be progressive. And saying ‘100% renewables’ is money in the bank as far as their base is concerned,” Bookbinder said.

The Niskanen Center encourages politicians to support a carbon tax as an economically efficient way to reduce emissions. Still, Bookbinder described the expanding support for 100% clean energy as a positive development in the fight against climate change. It shows that the public is beginning to take the problem seriously, he said, and that lawmakers see “political mileage” in committing to ambitious climate action.

That’s certainly the case in Colorado, where Jared Polis, who was sworn in as governor on Tuesday, made 100% renewable energy a key campaign promise. That pledge may have been a factor in Xcel Energy’s decision to become the first major U.S. utility to commit to 100% carbon-free electricity, with a target date of 2050. Xcel’s biggest electricity customer base is in Colorado.

Then-state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) holds up his environmental measure Senate Bill 100 after it was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 10, 2018, in Sacramento.
Then-state Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) holds up his environmental measure Senate Bill 100 after it was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 10, 2018, in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Washington, D.C., has set the most aggressive target date, 2032, for getting off of fossil fuels. The nation’s capital also set a strict goal of all-renewable energy, meaning only naturally replenishing resources such as sunlight, wind and geothermal heat. California and Xcel set zero-carbon targets that could also include nuclear power or fossil-fueled power plants that capture carbon dioxide before it is emitted into the atmosphere.

For many of the newly elected governors, it’s unclear exactly what flavor of “100% clean energy” they’ll ultimately seek.

But whatever standards they endorse, the effects of simply setting the goal could be felt immediately, even with a target date 20 to 30 years in the future. Wade Schauer, a research director at the energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, said investors might hesitate to invest in gas-fired power plants in states looking to eliminate fossil fuels in the next few decades.

“Why would you want to go into New York and build a power plant that by 2035 would barely be running, and by 2040 wouldn’t be running at all?” Schauer asked. The adoption of 100% clean energy targets, he said, “could completely change the game” for natural gas.

California is aiming for 100% clean energy. But Los Angeles might invest billions in gas plants »
At the same time, goal-setting is the easy part. When it comes to eliminating fossil fuels from electricity, the devil will be in the details — and other states will be looking to California to see if it’s really possible.

The biggest issue California needs to work out: how to move beyond natural gas, the state’s largest source of electricity.

Some ideas are already being put into practice, such as batteries that store solar power for nighttime use, geothermal plants that generate clean energy around the clock and time-varying electricity rates that encourage people to use energy at different times of day. But it’s not yet clear how those policies and technologies will fit together, or how quickly California can radically reduce its use of gas.

Another proposal favored by former Gov. Jerry Brown is to merge California’s power grid with those of other Western states.

So far, the plan has been derailed by the thorny politics of red states and blue states working together. But in the long run, most energy experts say an expanded power grid that makes for easier sharing of electricity across state lines is one of the least expensive ways to meet 100% clean energy targets.

One other problem facing California: Cars and trucks, not electricity, are the state’s biggest source of planet-warming emissions. California already gets nearly one-third of its electricity from renewable sources. When nuclear and large hydropower plants are counted, the amount of electricity from zero-carbon sources rises to half. But the state has made far less progress transitioning away from oil-powered vehicles as the main source of transportation.

“It’s easy to switch from coal to gas and from gas to renewables. Relatively easy,” Bookbinder said. “Getting rid of the internal combustion engine is a whole nother thing.”
Because this thread needs to be constantly updated.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by madd0ct0r » 2019-01-11 04:08pm

Wales has announced anyone can build in the country side. http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk

IF your house design and travel budget is carbon neutral or better, if you are creating a business on your land (carbon neutral) and if you can grow most of your own food.

That, coupled with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act means wales is world leader on green sustainable living.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-01-14 05:37pm

Sometimes this just becomes the Tesla thread, doesn't it?

Electrek
Tesla proposes microgrids with solar and batteries to power Greek islands
Fred Lambert

- Jan. 14th 2019 6:00 am ET

@FredericLambert


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Tesla has met with the Greek government to propose ways to modernize the electric grid of the country’s many islands in the Mediterranean sea with microgrids and renewable energy to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Several Greek islands are relatively remote and rely heavily on fossil fuels to power their electric grid.

Over the years, Tesla has acquired some experience in building microgrids to power remote islands using solar panels and its energy storage systems, like the Powerpack.

On the island of Ta’u in American Samoa, Tesla deployed a 1.4 MW solar array and a 6 MWh energy storage system with 60 Tesla Powerpacks back in 2016.

It enables the islands to cut back significantly on its use of diesel to power generators.

The company has since deployed many similar systems in Samoa, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and many other places.

Now they want to do something similar in Greece.

The Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. George Stathakis, confirmed last week that they have met with Tesla to discuss the deployment of microgrids in Greek islands.

They issued the following statement (translated from Greek via Capital.gr):

“Today, the Minister of Environment and Energy, Mr. George Stathakis, met with Tesla executives in order to exchange views on the strategy of fossil fuel dependence on the islands of the country, especially those not connected in the next years with the mainland power grid. The National Energy and Climate Plan provides for a gradual abandonment of oil burning units and a switch to Renewable Energy Sources (RES). However, the stochastic character of photovoltaic or wind power action creates significant energy storage and recovery needs of modern network management technologies.

The extremely interesting thing that emerged from the meeting is that technological progress has now significantly reduced the cost of energy storage. At the same time, successful competitions for new RES investments in Greece, led to an equally significant reduction in the cost of energy production. As a result, the conversion of the islands to RES, apart from being environmentally useful, is now also economically viable. In this context, cooperation with Tesla can prove to be extremely beneficial, as the American company officials have highlighted, showing strong interest in the initiatives promoted by the Ministry for “smart” and “energy” islands.”

Tesla has reportedly already suggested a pilot project to demonstrate their microgrid system in the region.

The government would like it to be on the island of Limnos:
So, question is whether Greece will accept it or not. Either way, another step forward.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-01-14 05:50pm

But what about the bees, you ask?

Scientific American
Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies
A trend of planting wildflowers on solar sites could maintain habitat for disappearing bees and butterflies

By Jodi Helmer on January 14, 2019
Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies
NREL scientist Jordan Macknick and Jake Janski, from Minnesota Native Landscapes survey a pollinator test plot planted underneath the photovoltaic array at the Chisago Solar Site, part of the Aurora Solar Project in Minnesota. Credit: Dennis Schroeder National Renewable Energy Lab Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The tidy rows of gleaming solar panels at Pine Gate Renewables facility in southwestern Oregon originally sat amid the squat grasses of a former cattle pasture. But in 2017 the company started sowing the 41-acre site with a colorful riot of native wildflowers. The shift was not merely aesthetic; similar projects at a growing number of solar farms around the country aim to help reverse the worrying declines in bees, butterflies and other key pollinating species observed in recent years.

Up to $577 billion in annual global food production relies on pollination by insects and other animals such as hummingbirds and bats, according to the United Nations. But more than half of native bee species (pdf) in the U.S. have seen their numbers drop sharply since 2005, with almost 25 percent now at risk of extinction. Meanwhile the North American monarch butterfly population has declined 68 percent over the past two decades, the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity says. Suspected factors include climate change, pesticide use and parasites—along with shrinking habitat, largely blamed on natural landscapes (such as scrublands or wetlands) being converted for agricultural use.

And as pollinator habitat wanes, solar installations are taking up ever more land. The U.S. is expected to convert six million acres of land to such facilities before 2050, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Some researchers see this as an opportunity to reclaim land for pollinating species by replacing the usual grass or gravel at these sites with wildflowers that need insects to pollinate them, and that produce the nectar those insects eat. “If we can create some habitat where there wasn’t habitat before, like on solar farms, we can likely have a positive impact,” says Scott McArt, an entomologist at Cornell University.


A monarch Butterfly feeds on flowers being grown for seed at Minnesota Native Landscapes in Foley, Minn. Credit: Dennis Schroeder National Renewable Energy Lab Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
MORE PLANTS = MORE POLLINATORS?
Minnesota-based Great River Energy (pdf) has also introduced pollinator-supporting plants—such as purple prairie clover and wild lupine—at several of its solar sites, as has SoCore Energy at some of its outfits in Wisconsin. In 2018 the NREL identified 1,350 square miles of land near existing and planned utility-scale solar energy facilities around the country that could be similarly converted. Although no national statistics are available, in Minnesota alone it is estimated that half of the 4,000 acres of commercial solar projects installed in 2016 and 2017 included pollinator habitat.

Designing such habitat is not a matter of simply scattering some wildflower seeds, though. The right mix of a broad range of native plants is needed to attract and support the hundreds of pollinator species, from bees to birds, that can be found in some areas. A number of them have adapted to specific plants—such as monarch butterflies that feed on milkweed—or are extremely imperiled, as is the case with native bumblebees, says Sarah Foltz Jordan, a senior pollinator conservation specialist for the nonprofit environmental organization Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “A common issue with pollinator habitat is that the seed mixes aren’t very diverse,” she says. “So they may look pretty, but when you don’t have a highly diverse plant community, you don’t support a highly diverse pollinator community.”

There is some limited evidence (pdf) solar farms with mixed plant life can support a wider array of bee and butterfly communities than those with grass or gravel beds can, but researchers are still investigating just how much this can affect the insects’ long-term survival. “We don’t have the data to say whether meaningful changes occur at a broad scale just due to solar sites,” McArt says. “We don’t know if this is going to have a substantial impact.” But he hopes to change that. In July, through a partnership between Cornell and North Carolina–based solar developer Cypress Creek Renewables, McArt launched a three-year study to determine whether—and how much—establishing habitat on solar sites benefits pollinator populations.

The team will compare the abundance and diversity of wild bee species at a solar site planted with native wildflowers with an installation that has turfgrass growing beneath its panels. Then the researchers will test which seed mixes are most effective at attracting wild bees over longer periods. “Maybe it’s not the seed mix that looks fantastic and attracts a lot of bees in the first year,” he notes. “Maybe the better seed mix is the one that takes longer to establish but is much more resilient over time.”


Minnesota bee keeper, Jim Degiovanni, inspects "BareHoney" hives outside IMS Solar, a pollinator-friendly photovoltaic array site in St. Joseph, Minn. Credit: Dennis Schroeder National Renewable Energy Lab Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
BOOST TO FARMS AND BUSINESS
When solar developers consider planting pollinator habitat, they also look at the bottom line, notes Lee Walston, an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago. Despite a higher upfront cost to purchase and plant seed mixes, Walston contends this can actually offer long-term savings. For example, a field of wildflowers requires less mowing and pesticides than conventional grass does. And gravel absorbs heat whereas plants can help keep panels cool, improving energy efficiency.

Moreover, Walston believes planting wildflowers can help garner support in rural communities that might be resistant to leasing productive farmland to solar developers. New research has found raising pollinator numbers can bring higher yields of crops such as fruits and nuts, offering an obvious boon to farmers.

But one problem with siting insect-friendly solar installations next to pesticide-using farms is the chemicals can drift onto the wildflowers. Pesticides have been shown to impair various pollinating insects’ foraging ability, decrease their immune responses, interfere with their absorption of nutrients and shorten their life spans. Mandatory buffer zones could help protect habitat from pesticide drift, Foltz Jordan says. Ultimately, she adds, converting some farmland to solar sites could also reduce overall pesticide use.

Still, experts warn such projects are hardly a panacea. “Establishing pollinator habitat on solar facilities is not the answer to pollinator decline,” says Argonne ecologist Ihor Hlohowskyj—but he believes it is still one valuable way to prop up imperiled species. “With the large surface areas that solar facilities occupy,” he says, “they offer a pretty unique opportunity to plant and establish pollinator habitat that could help conserve pollinator diversity.”
Sounds like a great way to have both a power plant and a honey farm on the same plot of land. Also, this means that Stellaris needs to have a way to combine Agricultural and Power Generator tiles.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-01-27 10:19pm

LA Times
Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants, will rely primarily on renewable energy
By ERIK KIRSCHBAUM
JAN 26, 2019 | 12:35 PM
| BERLIN

Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants, will rely primarily on renewable energy
In this Jan.6, 2019, file photo water vapor rises from the cooling towers of the Joenschwalde lignite-fired power plant of Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG in Brandenburg, Germany. (Patrick Pleul / AP)
Germany, one of the world’s biggest consumers of coal, will shut down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants over the next 19 years to meet its international commitments in the fight against climate change, a government commission said Saturday.

The announcement marked a significant shift for Europe’s largest country — a nation that had long been a leader on cutting CO2 emissions before turning into a laggard in recent years and badly missing its reduction targets. Coal plants account for 40% of Germany’s electricity, itself a reduction from recent years when coal dominated power production.

“This is an historic accomplishment,” said Ronald Pofalla, chairman of the 28-member government commission, at a news conference in Berlin following a marathon 21-hour negotiating session that concluded at 6 a.m. Saturday. The breakthrough ended seven months of wrangling. “It was anything but a sure thing. But we did it,” Pofalla said. “There won’t be any more coal-burning plants in Germany by 2038.”

The plan includes some $45 billion in spending to mitigate the pain in coal regions. The commission’s recommendations are expected to be adopted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

“It’s a big moment for climate policy in Germany that could make the country a leader once again in fighting climate change,” said Claudia Kemfert, professor for energy economics at the DIW Berlin, the German Institute for Economic Research. “It’s also an important signal for the world that Germany is again getting serious about climate change: a very big industrial nation that depends so much on coal is switching it off.”

Students demonstrate outside the federal chancellery during a meeting of the country's coal commission in Berlin on Friday.
Students demonstrate outside the federal chancellery during a meeting of the country's coal commission in Berlin on Friday. (Adam Berry / EPA-EFE/REX)
The decision to quit coal follows an earlier bold energy policy move by the German government, which decided to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

At the time, that was harshly criticized as reckless by business leaders, who worried that it would raise electricity prices and make their industries less competitive against foreign rivals. They also pointed out the futility of the move because no other major industrial country followed Germany’s nuclear exit.

Twelve of the country’s 19 nuclear plants have been shuttered so far.

The plan to eliminate coal-burning plants as well as nuclear means that Germany will be counting on renewable energy to provide 65% to 80% of the country’s power by 2040. Last year, renewables overtook coal as the leading source and now account for 41% of the country’s electricity.

German CO2 emissions fell appreciably in the early 1990s, largely because of the implosion of Communist East Germany and its heavily polluting industry. Still, the country continued to rely on coal-fired plants for a significant share of its electricity.

Powerful utilities and labor unions helped keep coal-burning plants operating and previous governments even planned to expand the number of coal plants to compensate for the pending withdrawal from nuclear power. There are still about 20,000 jobs directly dependent on the coal industry and 40,000 indirectly tied to it.

Cheap and abundant, coal is the world’s leading source of energy to produce electricity and will remain so despite Germany’s exit.

Trump administration rewrites coal emissions rules in a boon for heavily polluting facilities »
The panel that made the recommendation to close coal plants included leaders in the federal and state governments along with top industry and union representatives, scientists and environmentalists.

Germany long saw itself as a global leader in fighting climate change but was forced to concede in recent years that it would by miss its target date of 2020 to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% from 1990. It is expected to be 32% below 1990 levels by next year.

Germany and nearly 200 nations around the world agreed to the landmark Paris climate accord in 2015 to work to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees. The planet has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times as a result of the human-caused build-up of greenhouse gases. Scientists say the world is already experiencing the consequences in the form of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes and wildfires.

Despite its stumbles in recent years that led critics to accuse Germany of hypocrisy, Kemfert said Saturday’s decision will make it likely that Germany can meet the target of a 55% reduction from 1990 CO2 levels by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050.
Progress.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-02-06 05:49pm

Energy Central
Egypt Is Building One of the Largest Solar Parks in the World

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February 6, 2019 759 views
Six hundred and fifty kilometers (nearly 400 miles in freedom units) south of Cairo, right in the Western Desert, one of the most ambitious solar energy projects in the world is taking shape as we speak. Known as the Benban Solar Park, this facility is meant to produce enough clean energy to power a million homes.

Besides being the largest solar power project currently under development, it’s the first project that combines the efforts of both the Egyptian government and private enterprise; a new strategy they’re trying on for size.

The Benban Solar Park is expected to become operational this year, with 32 power stations and a generation of 1,650 megawatts, which will help the country reach its goal of having 20% of its energy be completely derived from renewables.

This ambitious project is also projected to have a meaningful effect on both the economy and the environment, because Egypt currently relies heavily on fossil fuels. What’s more, almost every power facility is owned by the government. This is where the Benban project stands out, because 13 private enterprises working alongside the Egyptian government means that there’s no room for fuel subsidy schemes, which are a big problem in the country.

In other words, Egypt is working on an economic reform program where the participation of the private sector is heavily promoted and encouraged so that it’s possible to provide quality services for the entire region.

One of the supporters of this reform is the World Bank, which granted a $3 billion loan to help finance the Benban Solar Park. Additionally, the International Finance Corporation division of the World Bank also pledged $653 million, and the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency provided $210 million in “political risk insurance” for private lenders and investors.

The Arab world faces an important challenge when it comes to universal access to energy, which is why they’re so interested in the rise of renewable energy. This is evidenced in the fact that there are many solar projects underway in this region.

For example, the Ladakh solar farm in India will go live in 2023, and it’s estimated to produce 3,000 megawatts. In Australia, the Yarrabee Park is another great example, and it’s meant to generate 900 megawatts.

In Dubai, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is meant to be the largest single-site solar power facility in the world and will have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts by 2020, with potential to grow to 5,000 megawatts by 2030. In Morocco, the Noor complex is expected to generate 580 megawatts of electricity. These are only just a few solar projects to keep an eye on.

Egypt has a great capacity for solar power because of its climate, but they aren’t solely planning to invest on solar power; they also have plans to build wind farms on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez as well, and a nuclear plant that will be going live in 2026.

In general, Egypt is making momentous investments in renewables, and the hope is that they’ll continue to move away from fossil fuels faster than anticipated.
It's an interesting note that this development is coming from the private sector and the Egyptian government, not Egypt's government solely. I wonder if someone could spin that to US Republicans about supporting the solar panel business.
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by FaxModem1 » 2019-02-06 05:58pm

Associated Press
LG&E in Kentucky seeking renewable energy proposals
yesterday
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The state’s largest electric utility is seeking proposals to generate renewable energy.

Louisville Gas and Electric says there is a growing interest and declining costs associated with renewable energy. The company is conducting a formal review and has issued a request for proposals from suppliers.

David Sinclair, the company’s vice president of Energy Supply and Analysis, says renewable energy options could help attract energy-conscious businesses.

LG&E’s request requires that the respondents be ready to supply a minimum of 10 megawatts and no more than 200 megawatts by 2022.

They also want the source to be in Kentucky or surrounding states.

LG&E says in a release that the company and its parent, PPL Corporation, are committed to cutting carbon dioxide emissions 70 percent from 2010 levels.
Can someone explain to me why they would require a maximum? I'd assume that more energy equals better. So what reasoning would they have behind it? Is it a cost issue, space issue, labor issue? Or something else?
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Re: Positive Environmental news thread

Post by Darth Yoshi » 2019-02-06 06:02pm

As a complete layman, my immediate guess would be that the transmission infrastructure only supports that much wattage, so anything else would be wasted.
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