Thursday, September 20, 2018

Electric for All Campaign from Volkswagen — 10 Million EVs Based on MEB Platform

Volkswagen MEB platform (Credit: Volkswagen) Click to Enlarge.
Volkswagen officially launched its “Electric For All” campaign this week with the official introduction of its MEB platform.  The platform system is the heart and soul of modern automobile manufacturing.  The platform is where the powertrain, suspension, brakes, and other vital components all come together.

Regardless of what bodywork the manufacture chooses to wrap around it — sedan, hatchback, SUV, or minivan — the platform is the same for all of them, which leads to substantially lower manufacturing costs.  On electric cars, the platform is often referred to as a skateboard.  It consists of a battery mounted low in the chassis between the wheels.  Companies can make it longer or shorter as market demands require, but the basic architecture remains the same.

At a press presentation in Dresden this week, VW gave members of the press an opportunity to see the MEB skateboard without the bodywork that will surround it in a completed automobile.  The company says it expects this platform to be the basis for 27 electric models from all its divisions by 2025.  In total, it says 10 million vehicles will use the MEB architecture in the years to come.  Production of the first ID branded electric cars will begin at the factory in Zwickau about a year from now.

The MEB is an important development for Volkswagen, as it seeks to make electric cars for millions of mainstream drivers.  VW board member Thomas Ulbrich told the press, “We will make electric vehicles popular and get as many people as possible excited about electric cars.  The MEB is one of the most important projects in the history of Volkswagen — a technological milestone, similar to the transition from the Beetle to the Golf.”

“We are making optimal use of the possibilities the electric car has to offer and creating massive economies of scale at the same time.  Some 10 million vehicles across the Group will be based on this platform in the first wave alone.  The MEB is the economic and technological backbone of the electric car for all,” Ulbrich added.

Building electric cars is one thing.  Providing a way to recharge their batteries quite another thing entirely.  The MEB platform incorporates fast charging technology developed by Volkswagen that will allow for an 80% charge in just 30 minutes.  “The use of a new generation of high-performance batteries begins with the ID models.  Thanks to their modular design and the multi-cell format, these batteries can be installed in smaller or larger ID. models,” said Christian Senger, head of e-mobility for Volkswagen.  “The ID will be a milestone in technological development.  It will be the first fully connected electric car with full everyday utility that millions of people will be able to afford.”

Read more at Electric for All Campaign from Volkswagen — 10 Million EVs Based on MEB Platform

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday 19

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

New Jersey Wants to Build 1,100 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Capacity

New Jersey plans to deploy 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030. (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is seeking proposals from developers to build 1,100 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity, the largest single-state solicitation of its kind in the United States to date, according to Greentech Media.  The order is the first step in New Jersey’s new goal to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2050.

Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has also asked the state’s utilities board to open two more offshore wind solicitations for 1,200 MW of capacity in 2020 and 2022.  The state is working toward a goal of building 3,500 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 — enough to power approximately 2.5 million homes.

“In the span of just nine months, New Jersey has vaulted to the front of the pack in establishing this cutting-edge industry,” Governor Murphy said in a statement.  “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind.”

Read more at New Jersey Wants to Build 1,100 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Capacity

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday 18

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Major ZEV Announcements at Global Climate Action Summit

Global Climate Summit (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
EV infrastructures across North America and Europe will receive a major boost in charging points by 2025.  In announcements at the Global Climate Action Summit, ChargePoint, and EVBox  — along with 3 other energy companies — have committed to a total of 3.5 million new chargers on the road.  EV industry growth projections confirm the messages coming out of the Global Climate Action Summit — determined leadership today will produce a rapid transition to a net-zero emissions society tomorrow, and the results will be good for both the environment and business.

Read more at Major ZEV Announcements at Global Climate Action Summit

More Than 130 Companies Have Made Science-Based Targets This Year Alone

Mexico City (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 130 new companies have joined the Science Based Targets initiative, pushing the total number of companies close to 500 and representative of approximately one-eighth of total global market capitalization.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) was first launched back in September of 2014 by Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and now in partnership with the We Mean Business coalition, with the aim of developing “a methodology that will help companies to set targets to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Over that time, and especially since the landmark Paris Agreement was drafted in 2015 and put into action the following year, the SBTi has grown from strength to strength, and now boasts nearly 500 companies from around the world (from 38 countries) which have committed to enacting science-based targets approved by the initiative.

Even more impressive is that more than 130 new corporations have made science-based emissions reduction commitments this year alone, a 39% increase from the same period last year.  Nearly a fifth of Fortune Global 500 companies have committed to set science-based targets, including this year alone big names such as McDonald’s, IKEA, and AB InBev.  Altogether, the combined market capitalization of those companies that have joined the Science Based Targets initiative amounts to nearly $10 trillion.

“This is a pivotal year for global climate action.  Nearly three years after the world came together for the historic Paris Agreement, the race is on to meet its goal of restricting global temperature rise to below 2°C and heading off the worst effects of climate change,” said Anand Mahindra, CEO of the Mahindra Group and co-chair of the Global Climate Action Summit held California last week at which the news was announced.

“Targets based on science are the only effective way to meet the challenges we face.  Around the world, hundreds of businesses are already showing that this is possible with substantial benefits to brand reputation and the bottom line.  I urge all other companies to join this initiative immediately; the time for science-based action is now.”

What’s even more important, however, is the belief within the Initiative that the current momentum is not likely to run into a wall anytime soon.

“Yes, the momentum for science-based targets is growing at pace.  130 new companies joined the initiative between January and August 2018, with commitments to set science-based targets within two years,” said Alexander Farsan, Global Lead, Science Based Targets, WWF, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners.  “This is a 39% jump from the same period in 2017, so interest is clearly snowballing.  We fully expect this trend to continue.  And it’s critical that it does – with global emissions needing to peak by 2020 at the latest and start declining rapidly afterwards.

“So far in 2018, the number of companies committing to set science-based targets is up almost 40% compared to last year, with 130 new commitments,” Farsan added.  “In particular we’re seeing huge momentum in India, which has had a four-fold increase in commitments since January 2018 – rising from 6 to 24.  Globally, we’ve seen the monthly rate of company commitments go up from an average of 13 per month between February-August 2017, to an average of 18 per month between February-August 2018.  We can be confident this trend will continue apace as more and more corporate leaders realize the business imperative of future-proofing their business with a science-based target.”

Read more at More Than 130 Companies Have Made Science-Based Targets This Year Alone

Paul McCartney’s New Climate Anthem Is Fire

Storm & Ship--McCartney (Credit: Grist / Jimmy Baikovicius) Click to Enlarge.
The music legend who co-wrote the 1966 hit The Yellow Submarine is back with another marine-themed song, and guess what?  It’s about climate change.

“Despite repeated warnings of dangers up ahead, the captain won’t be listening to what’s been said,” Paul McCartney sings in “Despite Repeated Warnings,” a 7-minute, rage-fueled song on his new record Egypt Station.

Despite Repeated Warnings

The solo album, McCartney’s 17th, soared to the No. 1 spot on Billboard 200 last week, transmitting an important message to thousands of eager fans:  This submarine we’re all living in might never resurface if we don’t do something to rein in emissions.

The opening bars of the track are evocative of Golden Slumbers, part of a medley that appeared on Abbey Road.  But the song quickly sails into less tranquil waters as McCartney sings angrily about a captain steaming ahead “despite repeated warnings.”
Below decks, the engineer cries

The captain’s gonna leave us when the temperatures rise

The needle’s going up, the engine’s gonna blow

And we are gonna be left down below
Who’s the delusional captain in “Despite Repeated Warnings”?

“Well, I mean obviously it’s Trump,” the singer told BBC in an interview last week.  “But there’s plenty of them about.  He’s not the only one.”

The song touches on climate-related issues, including wildfire smoke — “red sky in the morning (What can we do?).”  It’s a timely reference, as smoke from fires choked the western U.S. in August.  McCartney’s song also alludes to the scientists who raised the alarm about climate change:  “a sailor’s warning signal should concern us all.”

But the best part of the song, in this writer’s opinion, is McCartney’s not-so-subtle jab at climate deniers:  “Those who shout the loudest may not always be the smartest.”  He doubled down on those lyrics in the BBC interview.  “People who deny climate change … I just think it’s the most stupid thing ever,” the second-best Beatle said.

Read more at Paul McCartney’s New Climate Anthem Is Fire

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday 17

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

It’s Time to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Damages

School children in the Philippines contemplate the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Climate change is making tropical storms more intense (Picture Credit:  Pio Arce/Genesis Photos) Click to Enlarge.
In the last few days as Hurricane Florence battered the east coast of the United States of America and Super Typhoon Mangkhut hit Philippines and China an important scientific breakthrough took place.

Previously, scientists have taken weeks to assess the contribution of global warming to extreme weather events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves.  This time, a study emerged as the storms were gathering and even before they made landfall.

It estimated that Hurricane Florence carried up to 50% more water (which led to extreme rainfall and flooding) than it would have done without human influence on the climate.  Experts say with increasing confidence that climate change makes storms wetter and fiercer.

In many cases the damage caused by such events is non-linear, in that it is the extra severity due to climate change that causes most of the damage, like the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.  We now have unequivocal scientific proof that human-induced climate change is causing loss and damage to lives, property, and livelihoods here and now.

This is significant in the context of the ongoing negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where the discussions on loss and damage under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) and Article 8 of the Paris Agreement have stalled.

The main issue for discussion is financial support for the victims of climate impacts.  Developed countries have promoted insurance against these risks but proved unwilling to consider other solutions.  While insurance can certainly play a role and there are several pilot programs going on around the world, it is no panacea.  It is particularly unsuitable for the poorest and most vulnerable communities who cannot afford to pay of the insurance premiums, even if they are subsidized.

Hence the time has come to think about raising money for compensate victims of climate change through innovative sources, applying the “polluter pays” principle wherever possible.  A global fund does not require developed countries to accept liability but could be based on solidarity contributions or a tax levied on polluters.

Read more at It’s Time to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Damages

Renewables = 43% of New Power Capacity in USA in 1st Half of 2018

Solar Farm (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
In the 2nd quarter of 2018, renewable energy accounted for 21% of new power capacity in the country, which is unfortunately down from 30% in the same quarter of 2017.  The market share was down due to an increase in the natural gas boom and a decrease in the renewables boom. (Solar + wind, which now dominate new capacity additions among renewables, accounted for 20% of additions in Q2 2018, compared to 29% in Q2 2017.)

In the first half of 2018, those figures were better, but still not as good as they were in 2017.  Renewables accounted for 43% of new power capacity in the country, down from 46% in the first half of 2017.  (Solar + wind accounted for 42% of new power capacity in the country, down from 44% in the first half of 2017.)
Because of changes across the power capacity base, the result is that renewables have risen to 21.6% of US power capacity versus 20.5% at this point in 2017.  (Solar + wind rose to 11.4%, versus 10.2% at this point in 2017.)  In particular, aside from the natural gas and renewable energy additions noted above, the most notable change in the industry is the decline of coal power, which is simply not competitive any longer.

Read more at Renewables = 43% of New Power Capacity in USA in 1st Half of 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday 16

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

This Is Absolutely Unacceptable - By Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres was executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016.

The coal-fired Plant Scherer in Juliette, Georgia. June 3, 2017. (Credit: AP Photo/Branden Camp) Click to Enlarge.
Climate change is here now, and it’s time to urgently ask ourselves:  What kind of future do we want to work toward?  The air we breathe is key to answering this question.  Global warming is not just manifesting in devastating fires, floods and heatwaves; its causes are impacting nearly every breath we take.

A recent World Health Organization report said that nine out of 10 people on the planet breathe dangerous air, and an estimated 7 million premature deaths a year are caused by air pollution-related diseases, including stroke and heart disease, respiratory illness and cancer.  A recent Health Effects report reiterated these statistics, saying more than 95 percent of the world population breathes bad air.  Just a few weeks ago, another study showed that air pollution damages cognitive abilities.

Thick, heavy smog caused by the burning of fossil fuels and crops is choking cities around the world.  China has been forced to close tens of thousands of factories to reduce its air pollution.  Air pollution in Africa has been ruled responsible for more deaths than unsanitary water or malnutrition.  Last November, Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of India’s capital city, wrote:  “Delhi has become a gas chamber.”

Pollution is not invisible — but it can be hard to see.  The pollutants that give most cause for concern are toxic gases such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, or PM2.5. These gases come from car, truck and bus exhaust, the burning of fuels such as coal, oil, gas and petrol, as well as burning crop materials or naturally-occurring forest and grass fires.  These particles are so small — a fraction of the size of the diameter of a human hair — that they are easily ingested deep into the lungs.

PM2.5 is now increasingly showing up in places like Europe and North America, partly due to wildfires.  Studies have linked air pollution to about 40,000 deaths a year in the United Kingdom — with about 10,000 in London, partly due to the rise of diesel vehicles there.  Meanwhile, wildfires are reversing decades of air quality improvements across wide swaths of the western United States.

The most vulnerable people are impacted the hardest.  Fossil fuel combustion byproducts have been deemed one of the most serious threats to children’s health and global equality.  Emerging evidence indicates that pollution from coal combustion and motor vehicles has been linked to development delays, reduced IQ and autism in children.

Carrying on along this trajectory is irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable.

Read more at This Is Absolutely Unacceptable

Farms Can Grow More and Slow Climate Change

New ways of digging the dirt could both deliver more food and slow climate change.  And farmers in the developing world are making a difference.

Avoiding bare fields can increase soil carbon storage. (Image Credit: Whatlep, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
Two new studies have confirmed that farmers can win both ways, achieving a boost in harvests and helping to slow climate change.

One says that they can successfully farm with techniques that can help slow global warming and add to the store of carbon sequestered in the soils around the globe.

And a second study confirms that a range of tested and sustainable practices is already stepping up yields in small farms worldwide, while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion and pesticide use.

Both studies address a planetary dilemma.  Global agriculture is at serious risk from global warming and climate change driven by profligate fossil fuel combustion.  But global agriculture – powered by greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, ploughing, pesticides, and herbicides – is also helping to drive global warming and climate change.

Massive changes needed
And while researchers have persistently argued that it should be possible both to feed the 9bn people expected by 2050, and to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, such advances can be achieved only by massive changes in diet and expectations.  But both new studies focus on what is both practicable and possible right now.

US researchers report in the journal Science Advances that they have identified a range of well-established farming practices that – if adopted by everybody – could capture enough carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the world’s soils at a rate that could make a significant difference.

They suggest that simple approaches – cover crops, more thoughtful use of grazing animals, the planting of legumes on rangelands and so on – could, if coupled with dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, notionally add as much as 1.78 billion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere to soils, lowering temperatures by 0.26°C. Since 1880, global average temperatures have already risen by about 1°C.

More tentatively, they suggest that if farmers added biochar – the residue of crops burned to make charcoal – to their soils, this could reduce global warming by as much as 0.46°C.

Massive shifts to renewable energy worldwide would also be necessary:  ever more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would make changes in farming practices proportionately ever less effective.  The bonus is that more carbon drawn down from the atmosphere and stored in the soil would pay off with healthier soils and better crop conditions.

Read more at Farms Can Grow More and Slow Climate Change

Hospitals Take Aim at ‘the Greatest Health Threat of the 21st Century’

Ambulance unloading patient (Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
One of the larger themes at this week’s massive Global Climate Action Summit taking place in San Francisco is the relationship between climate change and human health.

“Health is the best way to relate to human beings on the issue,” former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Friday during a session titled “Health is where climate change hits home.”  “Let’s put a face on climate.”

Activist artist (and 2018 Grist 50 honoree) Favianna Rodriguez was among those to lend their visage to the cause.  “I grew up in a very dirty community — a community that is plagued by asthma as a result of fossil fuels burning up and down the freeway,” said the Oakland native, who spoke at a session on climate justice and equity (where health was also front and center).

In response to the public health threat posed by warming, members of the health care sector pledged to go beyond just treating patients and shrink their carbon footprints.  That might not sound huge, but consider that if America’s health care system were a country, it would be the world’s seventh-largest producer of carbon dioxide.

Earlier this week, health care institutions representing more than 17,000 hospitals and clinics across more than two dozen countries agreed to slash four coal plants’ worth of carbon emissions from their operations each year.  The initiative, led by the Global Climate and Health Forum, calls climate change “the greatest health threat of the 21st century.”  The forum notes that warming threatens food and water systems, helps to spread mosquito-borne diseases, and exposes more people to heat waves and other extreme weather events.

Read more at Hospitals Take Aim at ‘the Greatest Health Threat of the 21st Century’

Paris Conundrum:  How to Know How Much Carbon Is Being Emitted?

As climate negotiators consider rules for verifying commitments under the Paris Agreement, they will have to confront a difficult truth:  There currently is no reliably accurate way to measure total global emissions or how much CO2 is coming from individual nations. 

An industrial complex in Oberhausen, Germany in January 2017. (Credit: Lukas Schulze/Gett) Click to Enlarge.
Will we be able to verify the Paris climate accord?  Right now science is not up to the task, say the people in charge of assessing our annual emissions of CO2.  There is, they say, no sure way of independently verifying whether national governments are telling the truth about their own emissions or of knowing by how much global anthropogenic emissions are actually increasing.

And that is distinctly alarming, given the contradiction between reports that anthropogenic emissions have stopped rising and atmospheric measurements showing that annual increases in CO2 levels have reached record levels.

Climate negotiators are committed to concluding a rule book for implementing the Paris Agreement at their next annual conference, in Katowice, Poland, in December.  Central to that will be an agreed plan to monitor, report, and verify the pledges made by almost 200 countries.

It will require, as Edinburgh University’s Paul Palmer has put it, “looking for small, gradual reductions of large numbers; so we need to make sure we get the numbers right.”  But the science of accurate carbon accounting is in its infancy. And while international efforts are aimed at helping developing nations gear up to the task, it is far from clear that just having more carbon counters can fix the gaps in the data.

Even developed nations with lots of climate scientists do not deliver demonstrably reliable emission statistics, according to Sourish Basu, a research scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  He reported in 2016 that national CO2 emissions are only known “to within 5-10 percent for most developed countries,” while the error bars on declarations by developing countries are “larger by unknown amounts.”

Until now, national figures have been taken largely on trust.  But with the rubber about to hit the road on climate accounting, the emissions declarations of countries such as China, the world’s largest emitter, are being increasingly questioned.  The potential for climate conflicts over who is putting what up their power station chimneys and out their car and truck exhaust pipes seems set to grow.

Accurate carbon counting has two practical goals for the Paris Agreement.  The first is to establish the current trends and future trajectories of global emissions, so we can chart whether the world is on target for restricting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.  The second is to determine whether individual nations are meeting their Paris promises.

Good verifiable data is essential to allow signatories of the agreement to assess progress and agree on new targets, which they are pledged to do every five years.  But right now, even verifying total global emissions is out of reach, according to some researchers.

Read more at Paris Conundrum:  How to Know How Much Carbon Is Being Emitted?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday 15

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Elizabeth Warren Bill Would Mandate Companies Disclose Climate Risks

“Climate change is a real and present danger,” the Massachusetts lawmaker said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the Climate Risk Disclosure Act on Friday. (Credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Friday introduced legislation that would require public companies to disclose risks to their business posed by climate change.

The Climate Risk Disclosure Act would impose sweeping rules mandating that publicly traded companies disclose direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, the value of all fossil-fuel related assets, and risk-management strategies to deal with a warming world.  Companies also would have to tell investors how their valuation would change under worst-case and best-case scenarios to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is a real and present danger ― and it will have an enormous effect on the value of company assets,” Warren said in a statement on Friday, noting that the phenomenon can be “an economic opportunity if we act boldly and decisively.”

“But if we don’t,” she continued, “we will see a global catastrophe that will put the 2008 crisis to shame.”

The bill has the support of several environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Greenpeace USA.

Former Vice President Al Gore, who has long warned of a coming “carbon asset bubble” comparable to the subprime mortgage crisis, said the legislation would help the country shift toward renewable energy and demonstrate the financial toll of runaway climate change.

Read more at Elizabeth Warren Bill Would Mandate Companies Disclose Climate Risks

Rapid Electrification Together with Wind & Solar Will Drive Massive Grid Expansion

Saerbeck wind solar (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Ongoing and rapid electrification of global energy demand and the increase of wind and solar sources in the energy mix is expected to lead to massive growth of the world’s electricity transmission and distribution systems, according to global quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL.

Saerbeck Wind and SolarDNV GL published its new Energy Transition Outlook 2018 last week which included sub-sections focusing on Oil & Gas, Maritime, and Power Supply & Use, which provided an outlook of the global energy landscape through to 2050.  The Power Supply & Use report forecasts continuing “rapid electrification” of energy demand leading to electricity accounting for 45% of total energy demand in 2050, driven by “substantial” electrification in the transport, buildings, and manufacturing sectors.  Specifically, the electrification of the transport sector will result in 50% of all new cars sold in 2027 throughout Europe being electric vehicles (EVs).

The energy sector will similarly see significant electrification through the increase of renewable energy sources which will account for an estimated 80% of global electricity production in 2050.  Wind and solar will account for a significant share of electricity generation due to continued declines in technology costs, and by 2050 solar PV will provide 40% of electricity generation and wind energy 29%.  DNV GL expects that high percentages of solar and wind will result in the need for increased market mechanisms and changes to market fundamentals in many countries requiring large-scale regulatory intervention.

This rapid electrification will also lead to major expansion of electricity transmission and distribution systems both in the length and capacity of transmission lines, with the total installed power line length and capacity expected to triple by 2050.

Despite all this, DNV GL expects energy to become more affordable and it is expected that the total cost of energy expenditure as a share of global GDP will fall from 5.5% to 3.1% by 2050, a drop of 44%.  Absolute energy expenditure will still of course increase, by 30% according to DNV GL, to $6 trillion a year, but this will take place alongside natural GDP growth which will grow at a faster rate than energy expenditure.  DNV GL also expects to see a shift in costs, from operational expenditure to capital expenditure and from 2030 more capital expenditures will go into electricity grids and wind and solar than into fossil fuel projects.

“The Energy Transition Outlook has some very encouraging findings, and the good news is that the energy transition is achievable and affordable,” explained Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL’s Energy business.  “However, the rapid transition we are predicting is still not fast enough to achieve the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. If we are to decarbonize the world’s energy system at the required speed, we need to adapt and automate our electricity grids, and regulators and politicians will need to re-think, re-shape and take major policy decisions about market models.”

Read more at Rapid Electrification Together with Wind & Solar Will Drive Massive Grid Expansion

Heat-Related Deaths Likely to Increase Significantly as Global Temperatures Rise, Warn Researchers

Models show that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is critical to avoid a large increase in temperature-related deaths.

The world needs to keep global temperatures in check by meeting the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, or more people could die because of extreme temperatures, say authors of a new study in the letters section of Springer's journal Climatic Change.

The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), binds nations to hold warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (°C) in global mean temperature, relative to pre-industrial levels.  It also urges countries to make additional efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Led by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), this is the first study that evaluates global temperature-related health impacts under scenarios consistent with the Agreement.  The researchers assessed the mortality impacts projected for a range of temperature increases, either compatible with the thresholds set in Paris (1.5°C and 2°C) or higher (3°C and 4°C).  These projections took into account how an increase in heat-related deaths might be offset against a decrease in deaths due to cold, as global temperatures rise.

The scope of the study allowed global comparisons across various areas of the world.  The team at LSHTM first analyzed historical data on temperature-related deaths from 451 locations in 23 countries with different socio-economic and climatic conditions.  They then projected changes in mortality under climate scenarios consistent with the various increases in global temperature, while keeping demographic distributions and temperature-health risks constant.

The results indicated dramatic increases of heat-related deaths under extreme warming (3°C and 4°C) compared to the mildest threshold (1.5°C), with additional excess mortality ranging from +0.73 per cent to +8.86 per cent across all regions.  The net difference remained positive and high in most of the areas, even when potential decreases in cold-related deaths were considered.

Read more at Heat-Related Deaths Likely to Increase Significantly as Global Temperatures Rise, Warn Researchers

Building America's Regional Offshore Wind Powerhouses – 10 GWs & Counting

By making firm commitments to more than 10 GW of OSW (see list below), these states are taking the lead and laying a foundation for a booming new U.S. offshore energy sector, one that will strengthen America's all-of-the-above energy mix by tapping into a vast homegrown resource and market, and help the nation achieve not just energy independence but energy dominance in the global economy. 

Bigger is Better – And Essential for OSW Success
This commitment to scale confirms one of the secrets to success and key milestones on the roadmap to realize America's OSW potential — bigger is indeed better.  For OSW, big is essential for driving the economies of scale necessary to spur industry momentum, market competition and declining costs.

The latest proof points in U.S. OSW progress are clear to see:  
  • In Massachusetts, contracts for its first 800 megawatts (MW) of OSW delivered a remarkable $65/MWh for the final project phase, significantly below expectations and saving consumers as much as $14/MWh.  Shortly thereafter, the state doubled its OSW commitment to 3.2 GW.
  • New York is issuing an RFP for the first 800 MW of its 2.4 GW OSW commitment later this Fall, and has asked the Department of Interior to designate additional lease areas recommended by the state's OSW master plan.
  • New Jersey also plans to issue an RFP for the first 1.1 GW of its 3.5 GW OSW commitment this Fall.  A new study reports every OSW dollar invested by the state will yield $1.83 in economic benefits.  Similar positive returns were cited for OSW investments by other Atlantic coast states.
  • Nationally, the Department of Energy's new 2017 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Update reports the total project pipeline for U.S. OSW development rising to 25.5 GW capacity in 13 states on the East and West Coasts and Great Lakes.  To continue cutting costs, the size of OSW turbines is also growing along with scale of GWs.  New OSW turbines being tested or planned will reach or exceed 10 MW of power and stand taller than San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid.
Next Step:  Creating Regional U.S. OSW Powerhouses
By going big, state policymakers are enabling OSW developers to build a thriving new U.S. heavy industry, one that finally has reached America's shores after years of generating cost-effective electricity in Europe.  Now it's time to take another important step — shifting from competition among individual states for which can go biggest, to collaboration between states – early and strategic — to build strong regional OSW powerhouses that take competition and scale to the next level.  States that do so will benefit most — in jobs, supply chain and low-cost power.  

Read more at Building America's Regional Offshore Wind Powerhouses – 10 GWs & Counting

Court Upholds Illinois Nuclear Subsidies Law in Important Win for Clean Energy

Wind turbines accompany Exelon's nuclear power plant near Marseilles, Illinois. A state law helps support both nuclear and renewable energy. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a 2016 Illinois law that provides subsidies to nuclear power plants and also supports clean energy programs in the state.

It's the latest of several federal rulings to uphold the right of states to regulate electricity prices within their borders, giving states latitude to subsidize certain energy sources.

"The decision is a big win for states' authority over energy policy.  That's important because states have been the big driver for clean energy in the U.S.," said Miles Farmer, staff attorney for the climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The ability of states to regulate electricity prices is at the heart of several state renewable energy programs that are considered critical to the nation's ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.  A defeat in the Illinois case likely would have been used to challenge those renewable energy policies, such as support of offshore wind farms in the Northeast and a new California law requiring all electricity in the state be zero-carbon by 2045, environmental laws experts said.

Read more at Court Upholds Illinois Nuclear Subsidies Law in Important Win for Clean Energy

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday 14

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Hurricane Florence Expected to Drop 50 Percent More Rain Due to Climate Change

Projected rainfall totals for Hurricane Florence vs. what the storm would have dropped without global warming. (Credit: Reed et al. 2018) Click to Enlarge.
Hurricane Florence measures 50 miles wider and will drop 50 percent more rainfall on the U.S. East Coast than it would have without global warming, according to a new attribution study by a team of U.S. scientists.  The research is the first to examine climate change’s impact on extreme weather before a storm hits, rather than in the weeks following a disaster.

The scientists — from Stony Brook University, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research — used real-time forecasts and climate conditions to model the storm, and then re-ran the models with what those values would have been without climate change.

“This is the first time we’ve done this predictively,” Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and co-author of the new study, told National Geographic.  “Climate change increases the amount of water in the atmosphere that can rain out in a hurricane.  It also changes the structure of the storm to make it more efficient at precipitation.”

Hurricane Florence is expected to bring as much as 40 inches of rain and “life-threatening, catastrophic flooding” to parts of North and South Carolina in the coming days, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.  While the storm has weakened from its peak as a Category 4 hurricane and is now a Category 2, it is still expected to deliver a storm surge of up to 13 feet and winds around 100 miles per hour.  More than a million people in the southeastern U.S. have been told to evacuate coastal areas, and officials are warning floodwaters and power outages could last for weeks following the storm.

Hurricane Florence Expected to Drop 50 Percent More Rain Due to Climate Change

Governments Keep Making Ambitious Climate Pledges.  Comparing Texas and California Show How Pledges Impact Economic Growth.

Delegates from around the world are in San Francisco for this week’s Global Climate Summit, aiming to provide “confidence to governments to ‘step up’ and trigger [the] next level of ambition” in cutting carbon emissions.   And their efforts were jump-started by Governor Jerry Brown's executive order pledging California to economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2045.

But governments considering ambitious climate pledges must inevitably ask:  How do these stronger emissions reduction commitments impact economic growth?

Compared to other places, like Texas – known for its oil and gas production – California’s economy is performing better on most measures, showing that it is entirely possible to pair steep emission reductions with vibrant growth.

California has established some of the world’s most ambitious carbon emission reduction targets, and is achieving them faster and at lower cost than expected.   The state hit its 2020 target four years early, while its economy grew much faster any other state and the U.S. economy as a whole – California’s economy climbed from 10th largest in the world in 2012 to 5th largest today.

Read more at Governments Keep Making Ambitious Climate Pledges.  Comparing Texas and California Show How Pledges Impact Economic Growth.

United Airlines Targets 50 Percent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A United Airlines aircraft taxis as another lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, U.S., February 7, 2015. (Credit: Reuters/Louis Nastro/File Photo) Click to Enlarge.
United Airlines said on Thursday it has set a goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next few decades to help reduce its carbon footprint and its dependence on fossil fuels.

The third-largest U.S. air carrier will invest more than $2 billion a year in more fuel-efficient aircraft, expanding its use of low-carbon biofuels in daily flights and implementing ways to better conserve fuel.

“This is not only good for the environment but guards against oil price instability,” Aaron Stash, a United manager of environmental strategy and sustainability, told reporters.

Fuel costs account for a major portion of airlines’ expenses, and rising oil prices over the past year have eaten in to industry profits, sending carriers scrambling to mitigate the impact.

Read more at United Airlines Targets 50 Percent Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

There’s Still a Future for Nuclear Power

Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050 (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
The world is consuming ever-growing amounts of energy, and consumption is set for a particularly intensive growth in electricity.  Put simply, people are going to need more electricity in the years to come as we shift away from fossil fuels.  This fast growth will require more generation capacity, some of which will be nuclear.  In fact, according to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear power generation capacity may grow to 511 GW(e) by 2030 from 392 GW(e) in 2017, and further to 748 GW(e) by 2050.

This is the high case scenario outlined in IAEA’s Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the period up to 2050 report that came out this week.  In the low case scenario, global nuclear capacity would shrink to 352 GW(e) by 2030 but will inch up later, reaching 356 GW(e) by 2050. In other words, nuclear will continue taking part in the generating electricity for an increasingly electricity-hungry planet and the worst that can happen is that it loses some ground to natural gas and renewables.

The IAEA notes in the report that cheap natural gas and subsidized renewables are the top factors that act as deterrents to nuclear capacity growth, along with policies following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Nuclear still has a bad reputation despite the fact it is virtually emission-free. This reputation is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Read more at There’s Still a Future for Nuclear Power

Bombardier Transportation Presents a New Battery-Operated Train

Battery Powered Train (Credit: Bombardier Transportation) Click to Enlarge.
Bombardier Transportation has introduced a new battery-operated train:  the BOMBARDIER TALENT 3 train.  The new battery-operated train is the first of its kind to enter passenger operation in Europe in more than 60 years.

It does not generate any exhaust and sets the standards for smart mobility with peak values of 90 percent in the areas of efficiency and recyclability.  It is also around 50% quieter than modern diesel trains.  According to a comparative study by the Technical University of Dresden, the battery-operated train clearly has an edge with respect to the total costs across the service life of 30 years.

The range of the train will increase proportionally with the continuous capacity increases due to new battery developments.  The current prototype is equipped with four BOMBARDIER MITRAC traction batteries ... and can travel routes of around 40 kilometers.  In 2019 the next generation of battery-operated trains will be able to cover distances of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) on non-electrified railways.

Read more at Bombardier Transportation Presents a New Battery-Operated Train

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday 13

Global surface temperature relative to 1880-1920 based on GISTEMP analysis (mostly NOAA data sources, as described by Hansen, J., R. Ruedy, M. Sato, and K. Lo, 2010: Global surface temperature change. Rev. Geophys., 48, RG4004.  We suggest in an upcoming paper that the temperature in 1940-45 is exaggerated because of data inhomogeneity in WW II. Linear-fit to temperature since 1970 yields present temperature of 1.06°C, which is perhaps our best estimate of warming since the preindustrial period.

Curbing Emissions Isn’t Enough—We Need Emergency Solutions for Climate Change

Top energy scientist Daniel Schrag says we have to adapt and innovate, because we’re already signed up for centuries of higher global temperatures.

Daniel Schrag (Credit: Jake Belcher) Click to Enlarge.
It would be great if we could overhaul the energy system quickly and prevent further environmental devastation.  But Daniel Schrag, the director of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment, says the more practical approach is to prepare for life in a world that is warmer, wetter, and more vulnerable to natural disaster.

During a presentation Wednesday at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference, Schrag emphasized the difficulty of transforming the global energy supply in time to halt environmental disaster.  “This may be the hardest problem we’ve ever tackled in the world,” he said.

The challenge stems, in part, from the carbon cycle’s extremely long time scale.  More than half of the carbon dioxide emissions currently in the atmosphere will still be there 1,000 years from now—and roughly one-third will still be there in 20,000 years.

Shifting energy infrastructure is also extremely complex and expensive.  It took more than 150 years for coal to replace wood as the dominant source of energy, said Schrag.  And climate change is a truly global problem.  “As long as some countries continue to use fossil fuels and give off emissions, the [climate change] problem will continue to get worse,” he said.

Technology will help, said Schrag, who helped set up Harvard's effort to  investigate solar geoengineering as a way to artificially counteract global warming.  The basic idea involves releasing sunlight-reflecting particles into the atmosphere to cool the planet.

Geoengineering is still in its infancy, but Schrag believes research should take place before we get desperate enough to use the technology.  “If we don’t do research now, it’s likely that people will do it the wrong way,” he says.  “Hopefully we’ll have one to two decades [before we need to deploy it] to figure out all the ways it could go wrong.”

Even as we move toward curbing emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change, though, we are also going to have to adapt.  Schrag believes that means new developments in architecture, agriculture, and transportation will be important.  “I think we will change the ways people build homes and how we live in and organize cities and suburbs … and [create] new, more resilient transportation systems,” he said.  “The seeds are there for an incredibly innovative, exciting [next] century, though there also may be quite a bit of suffering.”

Read more at Curbing Emissions Isn’t Enough—We Need Emergency Solutions for Climate Change