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Category: Climate

Will solar energy push out now – COVID-19 consequence?

Will solar energy push out now – COVID-19 consequence?

From Seeking Alpha editors today, quote:

“Solar stocks (TAN -6.2%) are under notable pressure today, possibly due to disappointment over the U.S. stimulus bill which failed to contain any specific help for the renewable energy industry.

While solar companies can apply for loans just like any other business, the bill does not include the tax credit extensions and direct pay provisions sought by the industry. Solar names trade sharply lower: RUN -16.5%, SPWR -13.6%, JKS -13%, CSIQ -10%, ENPH -7.3%, VSLR -7.2%, SEDG -5.9%, FSLR -2.3%.

New reports from Morgan Stanley, Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy foresee sharp cutbacks for wind, solar and battery growth in the U.S. and beyond this year as cities impose lockdowns and economies stagnate. Rystad expects global growth of wind and solar will be wiped out this year as the dollar rises and other currencies fall amid the pandemic, driving up project costs. Morgan Stanley projects American residential solar volumes may plunge 48% Y/Y in Q2, followed by respective declines of 28% and 17% in Q3 and Q4. Wood Mackenzie trims its forecast for behind-the-meter batteries to be installed in the U.S. during 2020 by 31% to 436 MW from 632 MW previously, though the figure is still above the 272 MW installed last year.”

Dem candidates on climate

Dem candidates on climate

Grist put together a really good side-by-side of the two remaining plausible Dem candidates and their climate positions

Closing paragraph quote, “That idealism, which is easy to denigrate as naivete, may be Sanders’ biggest weakness heading into Sunday’s debate. Meanwhile, Biden’s biggest weakness is a different kind of idealism — the hope that technology and market-based solutions, without major changes to the fossil fuel industry, will be enough to confront the scale of the climate crisis. (Both candidates have called it an “existential crisis.”) In a speech Sanders gave on Wednesday about his decision to stay in the race, he said he plans to confront Biden about his energy and climate plans at Sunday’s debate and specifically press him on developing science-based targets. With no one else on stage to interrupt them, will the candidates dare push past their tried-and-true talking points and get more specific about what, exactly, they want to do to prevent catastrophic climate change, and how they plan to do it? We’ll have to tune in to find out.”

A car even i could love …

A car even i could love …

It’s not fast; it does not have a huge range for battery … but

Quote: “The business plan, too, frames the Ami as a scooter replacement when it hits streets this June. You could buy it outright for $6,600, or you could lease it for $22 per month (with about $3,000 down), or rent it for 30 cents a minute with ride-share apps. The monthly lease is on par with current e-scooter subscriptions, though the minute-by-minute rate is about twice what the e-scooter company Bird is charging.”

https://www.fastcompany.com/90469594/this-tiny-electric-car-costs-just-22-a-month

Indicator species – ‘canary in goldmine’ – not good enough

Indicator species – ‘canary in goldmine’ – not good enough

A new research report is out that concludes, quote: “By combing through a public dataset of over 1,000 species and 64 habitats in British Columbia, they were able to compare the surrogacy value of each species — a numerical score based on the association of two species through their use of shared habitats. They found that a mixture of five to 10 game and non-game species offered the best value as surrogates for biodiversity conservation.”

And a bit more, “We discovered what we called an ‘all-star’ team of species for each of the province’s nine wildlife management units, as well as an all-star team for the province as a whole,” says Sarah Falconer, graduate student at Laurentian University and study co-author. “Our findings suggest that if we commit to preserving these collections of species rather than just the charismatic megafauna, we’re likely to achieve much better conservation outcomes.”

This makes sense on so many fronts. I can easily think of a scenario where the change to an ecosystem would impact different species at different times and if the ‘canary’ was not one of the earliest impacted, the signal will be late … as well as the overall interdependence of the different species.

Grist advice – “avoid jargon!”

Grist advice – “avoid jargon!”

A corporate president I interfaced with often one time said to our team, “you have completely failed to understand the power of the English language.” How we use language has tremendous impact on what we can accomplish with other humans. Grist has some great advice!

Key words and their ‘non jargon’ explanation … which would you prefer to hear? (quoted below)

  • Carbon footprint: How much carbon-dioxide emissions can you attribute to a country, company, or maybe your neighbor? The answer is their carbon footprint.
  • Circular economy: A system where nothing really gets thrown away. In other words, your old smartphone gets broken up into its different parts and recycled — or more likely, you’re repairing it.
  • Climate adaptation: Improving our ability to cope with climate change. Think building sea walls, breeding crops that can tolerate droughts, and restoring the natural course of rivers. (See “resilience” below.)
  • Environmental justice: A phrase underscoring the broad idea that the people who did the least to cause climate change and pollution are the often the most at risk from the consequences.
  • Just transition: Shifting to an economy that runs on solar and wind energy without killing jobs.
  • Geoengineering: Using technology to try to counteract some of the warming caused by burning coal, oil, and gas. Like spraying tiny particles in the air to reflect the sunlight back into space so it doesn’t heat up the planet.
  • Net-zero: Canceling out the carbon dioxide we emit by making sure that the same amount gets sucked up by trees, plants, machines, or other things. (See: Offset.)
  • Offset: Something you buy that promises to cancel some or all of the carbon dioxide produced by, say, your next cross-country flight.
  • Resilience: Our ability to deal with climate change’s effects. Simply put, a more resilient New York City will be better able to withstand another Superstorm Sandy.
  • Sustainable: Using a resource in a way that won’t deplete it. Example: Making sure a forest has a bunch of new trees growing before you cut down an old one.
Upside to wind power?

Upside to wind power?

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200224183457.htm

Quote – no comment needed

The United States could generate 20% of its electricity from wind within 10 years, without requiring any additional land, according to Cornell University research published in Nature Scientific Reports.

“The United States currently produces about 7% of its electricity from wind energy,” said Sara Pryor, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “This research shows that a quadrupling of the installed capacity of wind turbines from 2014 levels will allow us to attain the goal of 20% of electricity from the wind, without requiring additional land, or negative impacts on systemwide efficiency or local climates.”

wow! Possible solar technology breakthrough

wow! Possible solar technology breakthrough

Quote: “Researchers have set a world record for the conversion of solar energy to electricity via the use of tiny nanoparticles called ‘quantum dots’. The technology has a huge range of potential applications, including the possibility to use it as a flexible, transparent skin to power cars, planes, homes and wearable technology.”

This is really cool if it pans out and is commercially viable; no surprise that the research does NOT come from US (seems we spend all our research $ on guns and bombs).

A bit more detail, quote: “Professor Wang’s team set the world record for quantum dot solar cell efficiency by developing a unique surface engineering strategy. Overcoming previous challenges around the fact that the surface of quantum dots tend to be rough and unstable — making them less efficient at converting solar into electrical current. “This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies,” said Professor Wang. “The near 25 per cent improvement in efficiency we have achieved over the previous world record is important. It is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting ‘prospect’ and being commercially viable.'”

Source https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200218182208.htm

Cobalt study – a flawed conclusion

Cobalt study – a flawed conclusion

I disagree and find this almost inflammatory in its complete disregard for environmental impact.

Article: Cobalt supply can meet demand for electric vehicle and electronics batteries (reference)

Here is there summary, quote: “Greater use of electric vehicles might be good for the environment, but further growth hinges on continued availability of critical battery components such as cobalt. Cell phones and other electronics also depend on the element’s availability. Supplies of the metal are adequate in the short term, but shortages could develop down the road if refining and recycling aren’t ramped up or made more efficient, according to new research.”

The bold is my emphasis. Why not advocate a different technology completely?

To add fuel to the fire, (no pun intended) think about cobalt’s source, quote: “Roughly 60% of mined cobalt is sourced from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The element is often recovered as a byproduct from mining copper and nickel, meaning that demand and pricing for those other metals affects the availability of cobalt. Half of the current supply of cobalt is incorporated into cathodes for lithium-ion batteries, and many of those batteries are used in consumer electronics and electric vehicles.”

The authors seem more concerned about meeting the cobalt needs based on today’s technology and usage models without any regard to the impact of DRC environmentally and / or socially. Just a sad, sad perspective to omit those potential impacts and conclude, quote: “the researchers concluded that cobalt supply is adequate in the short-term. They estimate supply will reach 320-460 thousand metric tons by 2030, while demand will reach 235-430 thousand metric tons. The team recommends that the industry invest in additional efficient refining and recycling capacity, so it can continue to meet demand.”

Plastic Recycling – is the landscape changing?

Plastic Recycling – is the landscape changing?

Pyrolysis recycling – black
Mechanical recycling – green
Recycled plastic demand surplus – grey

Basically, the demand for recycled plastic is growing faster than the supply (not supply of ‘old’ plastic, but the supply of recycled available plastic).

From Bloomberg, quote: “About 8 million tons of plastics are going into the ocean annually,” he said in an interview. “If you look at plastic packaging, around 95% is not being recycled each year which is $100 billion worth of plastic, and that’s valuable for entrepreneurs.”

And the punchline: “An estimated $80 billion-$120 billion of value is lost because of packaging that goes into the environment, said Navneet Chadha, principal operations officer at the World Bank’s International Finance Corp., which helps fund private sector investment in developing countries. “We have to think of used plastic as a resource, not as a waste.”

Dishes – greenest method: hands or machine?

Dishes – greenest method: hands or machine?

There is an answer (from Grist)

Quote: “When it comes to water use, the difference between manual and machine practices was even starker: Hand-washers used 34,200 gallons of water to a dishwasher’s 16,300 gallons over 10 years. In short, a dishwasher that’s being used correctly emits 63 percent fewer emissions in its entire lifecycle — including manufacturing and disposal — than a typical sink.

However, there’s a silver lining for resource-savvy hand-washers. If you happen to have a two-basin sink, filling one basin with hot water and the other with cool water, and then soaking and scrubbing your dishes in the first and rinsing them in the second — and then letting them air-dry — was the least energy-intensive method out of all the techniques the researchers tested. The two-basin method only produces 1,610 kilograms of emissions over 10 years. Adopting this technique leads to a 249 percent reduction in emissions for people who wash dishes manually.”

Only if somebody would complete and publish these types of comparisons for all consumer goods / products …

GE’s new DRC (Congo) MOU

GE’s new DRC (Congo) MOU

The history of developing country investments especially in power generation space is filled with corruption (bi-directional) and extreme climate and ecosystem impacts and – probably even more disastrous – human health, well being and livelihood impacts.

The recent announcement that GE has a new MOU in DRC is troublesome on so many fronts. I get the point that electricity in DRC (and many other areas of sub-shara Africa) is inconsistent, insufficient and intolerably expensive for those living there. But why are we (and more importantly the Congolese) being forced to make a false choice between modern electricity supply and massive ecological and human disruption (and financial bondage via debt)?

Snippet on The Congo River, quote: “The Congo River is the deepest river in the world and the fifth longest, with a flow rate second only to the Amazon’s. The Congo River is home to at least 700 fish species, with 300 documented fish species in its lower section alone. The river empties water and sediment into the Atlantic Ocean, creating “the Congo Plume” – a natural process which is thought to be one of the largest carbon sinks in the world. The river is unique in that it has large rapids and waterfalls very close to the mouth while most rivers have these features upstream. The rapids and waterfalls give the Congo River huge hydropower potential, hence it has been targeted by hydropower developers since the Belgian colonial period.” 

The Inga Dams project is worthy of a Harvard Biz School case study on graft, corruption, ecological and human tragedy. As one who has lived in Africa, the power of these big rivers – Congo, Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Zambezi and the Nile – are truly amazing for their ecosystems and ability to power human civilization. However, these are highly complicated systems that support life and climate at magnitudes poorly understood imho.

news-image

Inga is just a VERY big example of good intentions just going so terribly wrong; and sadly, probably mostly avoided IF … corruption and profit were not the stronger characteristics of those involved. Who gets impacted, the ones it was supposed to help in the beginning. Human and ecological tragedy! Environmental and social justice advocates have long fought against unnecessary tragedy – a post from 2013

What can you do? Learn about it and help in any way you can …

A list of resources

Good news wrt EU carbon

Good news wrt EU carbon

From Grist, quote: “The European Union has undergone a pretty dramatic transformation as of late — and we’re not talking about Brexit. The group of member states, which pledged as a collective to become carbon neutral by 2050 as part of Europe’s Green Deal, cut carbon emissions from electricity by a whopping 12 percent in 2019, according to a report compiled by the European thinktanks Agora EnergieWende and Sandbag. Coal use, in particular, plummeted by about 25 percent.

“What surprised us most was the magnitude of the collapse of coal and the accompanying decrease in CO2 emissions,” said report coauthor Fabian Hein. “The speed of it was impressive.”

Seattle parent on plastic – Petition on Change.org

Seattle parent on plastic – Petition on Change.org

Quote: “When I saw a new film called “The Story of Plastic,” a lightbulb went off for me with regards to how I think we ought to be tackling the plastics issue. Rather than shaming consumers for personal consumption — which I also agree is good to curb — we need to focus on the plastics that get forced on us by the tons.”

And, if that was not enough for you … think thru the implications here: Quote – “Amazon has upped its used of film and bubbled bags in the last year in an effort to fit more packages in freight. Most recycling facilities do not accept these bags or many types of film so the environmental impact is that they either get put permanently in a landfill, incinerated or end up as litter.”

I don’t think either one of us is bashing Amazon, but we (the consumers) should get a voice into environmental costs (and economic) of our purchases.

Request: Give us an option to pay $1.00 (or whatever) more to have recyclable packaging.

Negative emissions – a positive post!

Negative emissions – a positive post!

From Grist an up-beat positive article on currently available methods to remove carbon – negative emissions! I understood that in order to reach Paris agreement, negative emissions will be required globally and in material fashion. This is the first post I’ve seen on an available method today – just some good ol’ fashioned wherewithal to make it happen is needed.

Quote:

A report recently published by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Getting to Neutral, suggests that power plants across the state could profitably convert wood from forests and orchards into liquid or hydrogen fuels, all while capturing their carbon.

“This isn’t predicated on any technological breakthroughs, said George Peridas, a scientist at the lab and an author of the report. “It’s all available today, it’s just a question of getting it to the cookie-cutter [mass production] phase.”

The idea, which often goes by the awkward acronym BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage), relies on the fact that trees soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their tissues. Burn them while capturing their carbon and you’d have an energy source that was removing greenhouse gases: voila, so-called negative emissions. Harvest trees sustainably, so that they are naturally reseeded, or replanted in orchards, and you have what starts to look like a long-term solution.