EU10C. Stay Current—Our Energy Future

2023-01-23. ‘No miracles needed’: Prof Mark Jacobson on how wind, sun and water can power the world. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/23/no-miracles-needed-prof-mark-jacobson-on-how-wind-sun-and-water-can-power-the-world] By Damian Carrington, The Guardian. Excerpt: Wind, water and solar can provide plentiful and cheap power, he argues, ending the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis, slashing deadly air pollution and ensuring energy security. Carbon capture and storage, biofuels, new nuclear and other technologies are expensive wastes of time, he argues. …We have wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, electric cars. We have batteries, heat pumps, energy efficiency. We have 95% of the technologies right now that we need to solve the problem.” The missing 5% is for long-distance aircraft and ships, he says, for which hydrogen-powered fuel cells can be developed….

2023-01-04. Sun-powered water splitter produces unprecedented levels of green energy. [https://www.science.org/content/article/sun-powered-water-splitter-produces-unprecedented-levels-green-energy] By Robert F. Service, Science. Excerpt: …The latest iteration of their device uses not only the visible and ultraviolet photons able to split water, but also the less energetic infrared photons. The combined changes enabled the scientists to convert 9.2% of the Sun’s energy into hydrogen fuel, roughly three times more than previous photocatalytic setups, they report today in Nature. …In addition, …the new setup also works well, though somewhat less efficiently, with seawater, a cheap and inexhaustible resource. Being able to convert seawater cheaply into carbon-free fuel would truly be the ultimate in green energy.

2022-12-30. The U.S. Will Need Thousands of Wind Farms. Will Small Towns Go Along? [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/30/climate/wind-farm-renewable-energy-fight.html] By David Gelles, The New York Times. Excerpt: …In the fight against global warming, the federal government is pumping a record $370 billion into clean energy, President Biden wants the nation’s electricity to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2035, and many states and utilities plan to ramp up wind and solar power. But …the future of the American power grid is in fact being determined in town halls, county courthouses and community buildings across the country. …In Piatt County, population 16,000, the project at issue is Goose Creek Wind, which has been proposed by Apex Clean Energy, a developer of wind and solar farms based in Virginia. …If completed, the turbines, each of them 610 feet tall, would march across 34,000 acres of farmland. The $500 million project is expected to generate 300 megawatts, enough to power about 100,000 homes. The renewable, carbon-free electricity would help power a grid that currently is fed by a mix of nuclear, natural gas, coal, and some existing wind turbines. But with more and more renewable energy projects under construction around the country, resistance is growing, especially in rural communities in the Great Plains and Midwest. …Much of that skepticism appeared to be earnest concern from community members who weren’t sold on the project’s overall merits. On the fringe of the debate, however, was a digital misinformation campaign designed to distort the facts about wind energy. The website of a group called Save Piatt County!, which opposes the project, is rife with fallacies about renewable energy and inaccuracies about climate science. On Facebook pages, residents opposed to the project shared negative stories about wind power, following a playbook that has been honed in recent years by anti-wind activists, some of whom have ties to the fossil fuel industry. 

2022-12-15. California Reduces Subsidies for Homes With Rooftop Solar. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/15/business/energy-environment/california-rooftop-solar-subsidy.html] By Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: California regulators voted unanimously on Thursday to significantly reduce how much utilities have to pay homeowners with rooftop solar panels for power they send to the electric grid — a decision that could hurt the growing renewable energy business. The five members of the California Public Utilities Commission said the existing payments to homeowners through a program known as net metering amounted to an excessively generous subsidy that was no longer needed to encourage the use of solar panels. Under the proposal adopted on Thursday, compensation for the energy sent to the grid by rooftop panels will be reduced by about 75 percent for new rooftop solar homes starting in April. …By reducing the subsidy to rooftop solar owners, the commission aimed to establish what it said would be a more equitable system, agreeing with arguments by utility companies and some consumer and environmental groups like the Utility Reform Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Those groups had claimed that affluent homeowners were more likely to install rooftop solar systems, leaving lower-income residents to bear more of the cost of supporting the electric grid….

2022-12-13. The carbon-free energy of the future: this fusion breakthrough changes everything. [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/dec/13/carbon-free-energy-fusion-reaction-scientists] By Arthur Turrell, The Guardian. Excerpt: This is a moment that scientists have dreamed of for well over half a century. The US’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) has smashed the longest-standing goal in the quest for carbonfree energy from fusion, the nuclear process that powers stars. Researchers from NIF used the world’s most energetic laser to fire 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of energy into a millimetre-sized capsule of hydrogen fuel. Reaching temperatures many times those found in the sun’s core and pressures 300bn times those normally experienced on Earth, a wave of nuclear reactions ripped through the fusion fuel, releasing 3.15 MJ of fusion energy – 1.1 MJ more than was put in – over a few tens of nanoseconds. …it’s the first scientific proof that fusion can produce more energy out than is put in, also known as “net energy gain”. If the numbers check out, the experiment generated 54% more energy than was put into it. …Fusion would complement renewables by providing baseload energy, rain or shine, while taking up little precious land. So the prize is big – which is why scientists and engineers have stuck with it for decades. …that doesn’t mean fusion power that we can use is a reality yet. This is a single result on a single experiment. A commercially viable plant would need to produce 30 times energy out for energy in (30x), rather than the 1.54x seen in this experiment. Even with that magnitude of energy release, there would be engineering and economic challenges to overcome, such as firing the laser 10 times a second, rather than once a day. Gigantic lasers may not even be the best route to economical fusion power: promising alternative approaches are being explored that use magnetic fields to trap the 150mC fuel….

2022-12-09. Could Floating Solar Panels Help Mitigate Climate Change?. [https://eos.org/articles/could-floating-solar-panels-help-mitigate-climate-change] By Sofia Moutinho, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: Many countries bet on solar panels when engaging in the switch to cleaner energy. But the technology requires much larger areas than conventional fossil fuel plants to generate the same amount of electricity. An emerging solution to save space is to float the panels on bodies of water: floatovoltaics. Scientists believe this new approach could help solar energy to scale globally and fight climate change, but its environmental impacts are largely unexplored….

2022-11-27. Giant Wind Farms Arise Off Scotland, Easing the Pain of Oil’s Decline. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/27/business/scotland-wind-farms-offshore.html] By Stanley Reed, The New York Times. Excerpt: It was a regular workday for these employees and contractors of a Scottish utility, SSE, and its partners, which operate the vast Beatrice wind farm off the northern tip of Great Britain. …Mr. Larter also considers himself fortunate to have signed onto a business that is growing as Europe seeks to replace oil and gas, whose production has been a mainstay of this part of Scotland, with cleaner energy. …These initiatives are attractive to investors and lawmakers because they produce enormous amounts of clean energy and can be placed far enough from shore that they are largely out of sight. Britain is already generating more than 10 percent of its electricity from wind at sea, and on some gusty days, like Nov. 2, wind produces more than half. As energy security becomes a critical issue in wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the country aspires to nearly quadruple offshore capacity over the next decade. …skepticism about the future of fossil fuels remains strong in Britain and much of Europe, and the numbers tell a story of decline. After reaching a peak in 2014, investment in oil and gas in Britain plummeted by about three-quarters to around £3.7 billion last year, according to Offshore Energies UK, an industry group. Jobs supported by the business have fallen by more than half over roughly a decade, to around 200,000….

2022-11-10. Solar Energy Gets Flexible. [https://www.science.org/content/article/ultrathin-organic-solar-cells-could-turn-buildings-power-generators] By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: In November 2021, while the municipal utility in Marburg, Germany, was performing scheduled maintenance on a hot water storage facility, engineers glued 18 solar panels to the outside of the main 10-meter-high cylindrical tank. It’s not the typical home for solar panels, most of which are flat, rigid silicon and glass rectangles arrayed on rooftops or in solar parks. The Marburg facility’s panels, by contrast, are ultrathin organic films made by Heliatek, a German solar company. In the past few years, Heliatek has mounted its flexible panels on the sides of office towers, the curved roofs of bus stops, and even the cylindrical shaft of an 80-meter-tall windmill. The goal: expanding solar power’s reach beyond flat land. “There is a huge market where classical photovoltaics do not work,” says Jan Birnstock, Heliatek’s chief technical officer. Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) such as Heliatek’s are more than 10 times lighter than silicon panels and in some cases cost just half as much to produce. Some are even transparent, which has architects envisioning solar panels not just on rooftops, but incorporated into building facades, windows, and even indoor spaces. “We want to change every building into an electricity-generating building,” Birnstock says. Heliatek’s panels are among the few OPVs in practical use, and they convert about 9% of the energy in sunlight to electricity. But in recent years, researchers around the globe have come up with new materials and designs that, in small, labmade prototypes, have reached efficiencies of nearly 20%, approaching silicon and alternative inorganic thin-film solar cells….

2022-11-10. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Increased in 2022 as Crises Roiled Energy Markets. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/10/climate/carbon-dioxide-emissions-global-warming.html] By Brad Plumer, The New York Times. Excerpt: Global fossil fuel emissions will most likely reach record highs in 2022 and do not yet show signs of declining, researchers said Thursday, a trend that puts countries further away from their goal of stopping global warming. This year, nations are projected to emit roughly 36.6 billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide by burning coal, natural gas and oil for energy, according to new data from the Global Carbon Project. That’s 1 percent more than the world emitted in 2021 and slightly more than the previous record in 2019, which came before the coronavirus pandemic caused a temporary drop in global energy use and emissions. The findings were released at the United Nations climate change summit in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, where world leaders have gathered to discuss how to avert catastrophic levels of warming. Scientists have warned that the world as a whole will need to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by around midcentury in order to stabilize global temperatures and minimize the risks from deadly heat waves, sea-level rise and ecosystem collapse….

2022-10-19. Space-based solar power is getting serious—can it solve Earth’s energy woes?. [https://www.science.org/content/article/space-based-solar-power-getting-serious-can-it-solve-earth-s-energy-woes] By Daniel Clery, Science Magazine. Excerpt: Late last month in Munich, engineers at the European aerospace firm Airbus showed off what might be the future of clean energy. They collected sunlight with solar panels, transformed it into microwaves, and beamed the energy across an aircraft hangar, where it was turned back to electricity that, among other things, lit up a model of a city. The demo delivered just 2 kilowatts over 36 meters, but it raised a serious question: Is it time to resurrect a scheme long derided as science fiction and launch giant satellites to collect solar energy in space? In a high orbit, liberated from clouds and nighttime, they could generate power 24 hours a day and beam it down to Earth. …Private space company SpaceX has made the notion seem less outlandish. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lofts cargo at about $2600 per kilogram—less than 5% of what it cost on the Space Shuttle—and the company promises rates of just $10 per kilogram on its gigantic Starship, due for its first launch this year.…

2022-10-15. The great hydrogen gamble: hot air or net zero’s holy grail?. [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/oct/15/the-great-hydrogen-gamble-hot-air-or-net-zeros-holy-grail] By Alex Lawson, The Guardian. Excerpt: …Companies including Cadent, National Grid, Centrica and boiler maker Worcester Bosch joined Bamford’s companies Ryze Hydrogen and Wrightbus in trying to convince Labour and Conservative MPs that hydrogen, the emissionless, highly combustible gas, can be a valuable weapon in the fight against the climate crisis. …Since Jo Bamford bought bankrupt London bus maker Wrightbus in 2019, the grandson of JCB founder Joseph Cyril Bamford has bet big on hydrogen. It has won several taxpayer-funded contracts for green transport, including an £11.2m deal to develop hydrogen fuel cell technology in Northern Ireland. Last year, he launched HyCap, a £1bn investment fund designed to back hydrogen specialists from producers to fuelling stations and transport firms. …Hydrogen is seen as a transition fuel to a future powered by renewables such as wind and solar, allowing existing gas pipes to be used to pump the gas. “Green” hydrogen is produced by splitting water using electricity from renewables, with minimal emissions. However, detractors argue that creating green hydrogen for home heating is six times less energy efficient than using heat pumps powered by electricity. Meanwhile, “blue” methods to produce the gas from fossil fuels require the carbon dioxide released to be captured and stored to prevent emissions. However, this relies on the success of the unproven carbon-capture and storage industry, which is in its infancy. Last year, the chief executive of the hydrogen lobby group quit, saying he could no longer lead an association that included oil firms backing blue hydrogen projects, because the schemes were “not sustainable” and “make no sense at all”.

2022-10-06. Solar and wind farms can hurt the environment. A new study offers solutions. [https://www.latimes.com/environment/newsletter/2022-10-06/solar-and-wind-farms-can-hurt-the-environment-a-new-study-offers-solutions-boiling-point] By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times. Excerpt: …would you be willing to pay 3% more on your energy bills to protect the natural world? I didn’t pluck that number out of thin air. It comes from a new study by the Nature Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group, finding the American West can generate enough renewable power to tackle climate change even if some of its most ecologically valuable landscapes are placed off-limits to solar and wind farms — without causing costs to spiral out of control….

2022-10-05. What Does Sustainable Living Look Like? Maybe Like Uruguay. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/05/magazine/uruguay-renewable-energy.html] By Noah Gallagher Shannon, The New York Times. Excerpt: No greater challenge faces humanity than reducing emissions without backsliding into preindustrial poverty. One tiny country is leading the way.…

2022-09-21. Are There Better Places to Put Large Solar Farms Than These Forests? [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/21/opinion/environment/solar-panels-virginia-climate-change.html] New York Times opinion piece by Gabriel Popkin. Excerpt: CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE, Va. — In Charlotte County, population 11,448, forests and farms slope gently toward pretty little streams. The Roanoke River, whose floodplain includes one of the most ecologically valuable and intact forests in the Mid-Atlantic, forms the county’s southwestern border. On a recent driving tour, a local conservationist, P.K. Pettus, told me she’s already grieving the eventual loss of much of this beautiful landscape. The Randolph Solar Project, a 4,500-acre project that will take out some 3,500 acres of forest during construction, was approved in July to join at least five other solar farms built or planned here thanks to several huge transmission lines that crisscross the county. When built, it will become one of the largest solar installations east of the Rocky Mountains. Although she is all for clean energy, Ms. Pettus opposed the project’s immense size, fearing it will destroy forests, disrupt soil and pollute streams and rivers in the place she calls home. “I was so excited and hoped to see solar canopies over parking lots, solar panels on rooftops, solar panels on big box stores” after Virginia passed a 2020 law requiring the elimination of fossil fuels from its power sector by 2050, Ms. Pettus says. “I never dreamed it would involve so much deforestation and grading in a place I deeply care about.” The conflict Ms. Pettus described is becoming increasingly common in rural Virginia, where a recent boom in solar farm construction has given many people pause.…

2022-09-15. Facing Budget Shortfalls, These Schools Are Turning to the Sun. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/15/climate/solar-energy-school-funding.html] By Cara Buckley, The New York Times. Excerpt: One school district was able to give pay raises to its teachers as big as 30 percent. Another bought new heating and ventilation systems, all the better to help students and educators breathe easier in these times. The improvements didn’t cost taxpayers a cent, and were paid for by an endlessly renewable source — the sun. As solar energy gains traction across the country, one beneficiary have been schools, particularly those in cash-strapped districts contending with dwindling tax bases. From New Jersey to California, nearly one in 10 K-12 public and private schools across the country were using solar energy by early 2022, according to data released Thursday by Generation180, a nonprofit that promotes and tracks clean energy. That’s twice as many as existed in 2015. The savings in electric bills from schools with solar panels often topped millions in each district, and many have been able to adopt the technology without shouldering any costs up front.…

2022-09-15. Ethereum cryptocurrency completes move to cut CO2 output by 99%. [https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/sep/15/ethereum-cryptocurrency-completes-move-to-cut-co2-output-by-99] By Dan Milmo, The Guardian. Excerpt: Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, has completed a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99%. The software upgrade, known as “the merge”, will change how transactions are managed on the ethereum blockchain, a public and decentralised ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency and generates ether tokens, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency after bitcoin. …The move means that ethereum will no longer be created by an energy intensive process known as “mining”, where banks of computers generate random numbers that validate transactions on the blockchain and generate new ether tokens as part of the process. The process, known as “proof of work” in the cryptocurrency world, will now move to a “proof of stake” system, where individuals and companies act as validators, pledging or “staking” their own ether as a form of guarantee, to win newly created tokens. …Ethereum mining used up as much electricity as Austria, according to the Digiconomist website, at 72 terawatt-hours a year. Alex de Vries, the economist behind the website, estimates that the merge will reduce the carbon emissions linked to ethereum by more than 99%. De Vries added that the move could represent 0.2% of the world’s electricity consumption disappearing overnight. However, he said bitcoin remained the biggest single contributor to the crypto world’s carbon footprint. “All eyes will be on bitcoin. It remains the largest polluter in the crypto space. Even today bitcoin is responsible for as much electricity consumption as Sweden. And we know that’s not going to change,” said De Vries.…

2022-09-07. Clean Energy Projects Surge After Climate Bill Passage. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/07/business/energy-environment/clean-energy-climate-bill.html] By Jack Ewing and Ivan Penn, The New York Times. Excerpt: In the weeks since President Biden signed a comprehensive climate bill devised to spur investment in electric cars and clean energy, corporations have announced a series of big-ticket projects to produce the kind of technology the legislation aims to promote. Toyota said it would invest an additional $2.5 billion in a factory in North Carolina to produce batteries for electric cars and hybrids. Honda and LG Energy Solution announced a joint venture to build a $4.4 billion battery factory at a location to be named. …At a time of economic uncertainty, the legislation gives companies more confidence that they can earn a return on their bets. The investments serve as affirmation of political leaders’ intent: to further accelerate America’s transition away from fossil fuels and to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers, especially those in China.…

2022-09-06. Out of thin air: new solar-powered invention creates hydrogen fuel from the atmosphere. [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/07/out-of-thin-air-new-solar-powered-invention-creates-hydrogen-fuel-from-the-atmosphere] By Donna Lu, The Guardian. Excerpt: Researchers have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen fuel directly from moisture in the air. According to its inventors, the prototype produces hydrogen with greater than 99% purity and can work in air that is as dry as 4% relative humidity. The device would allow hydrogen to be produced without carbon emissions even in regions where water on land is scarce, they say. Hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel that yields only water as a byproduct when combusted. However, pure hydrogen is not abundant in nature and producing it requires energy input. Large-scale production commonly involves fossil fuels that generate carbon emissions. The study’s lead author and a senior lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Melbourne, Dr Gang Kevin Li, said the hydrogen-producing device could be powered by solar or wind energy.…

2022-08-31. California Installing Huge Solar Panels Over Canals to Combat Drought
[https://futurism.com/the-byte/california-installing-huge-solar-panels-over-canals] By Victor Tangerman, The Futurist. Excerpt: Canal Shade California is spending $20 million on a pilot project that will involve 8,500 feet of solar panels being installed over sections of important water sources, including canals — a futuristic effort to fight a devastating drought hitting California this summer. The idea is simple. The massive panels, to be installed over the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) in central California by the end of next year, are intended to stop dwindling water reserves from evaporating too quickly and forming vegetative growth — while simultaneously providing renewable energy for the local grid. …The TID is citing a 2021 study which found that shading 4,000 miles of public water delivery systems with solar panels could save approximately 63 billion gallons of water a year. That’s enough to meet the demands of more than two million people, according to the organization. The solar panels themselves would generate enough energy to represent “one-sixth of the state’s current installed capacity,” according to TID’s website.…

2022-08-04. Where the Clean Energy Jobs Are: 2022. [https://climatenexus.org/climate-issues/energy/clean-energy-jobs-2022/] By ClimateNexus. Excerpt: At the end of 2021, over 3.3 million people worked in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy fields, according to the Energy Department’s 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which uses data from 2021. That’s more than the number of people employed as registered nurses. Like many industries, the energy sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, but is experiencing a strong recovery. Energy sector jobs last year grew 4 percent over 2020, while overall U.S. employment only grew 2.8 percent year-to-year. The clean energy sector experienced especially high growth: jobs in net-zero aligned sectors made up nearly 40 percent of total energy jobs in 2021, and emissions-reducing vehicle manufacturing grew 25 percent between 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs continue to decline, with the coal sector seeing job losses of nearly 12 percent. The continued decline in fossil energy jobs underscores the importance of investing in clean energy jobs and economic diversification in communities historically dependent on fossil fuels. Even as they laid off thousands of American workers, oil and gas CEOs made record profits.…

2022-07-05. Green hydrogen storage system project launched on NREL Colorado campus. [https://www.energy-storage.news/green-hydrogen-storage-system-project-launched-on-nrel-colorado-campus/] By Cameron Murray, Energy Storage News. Excerpt: Hydrogen storage company GKN Hydrogen, gas utility SoCalGas and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory are collaborating on a new green hydrogen storage solution. The three will work together to deploy two of GKN’s ‘HY2MEGA’ green hydrogen storage subsystems on NREL’s Flatirons Campus in Colorado, US. They will connect to an existing electrolyser and fuel cell at the ARIES (Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems) facility at Flatirons. The electrolyser will use renewable energy sources, possibly wind based on photos provided in the press release, to produce hydrogen for storage in GKN’s storage solution. HY2MEGA stores hydrogen in a solid state under low pressure, which can then be converted to produce electricity. The two systems will store a total of 500kgs of hydrogen on-site and GKN said its solution can enable long duration clean energy storage, providing resilient power in case of widespread outages. The three-year project is set to launch by the end of 2022. …“This project is exactly what the ARIES platform was designed for: demonstrate the benefits of a new technology that efficiently stores energy produced from renewable electricity,” said Katherine Hurst, group manager and research scientist at NREL. “It brings together a national laboratory, a clean energy technology developer, and a large utility to work on solutions that help decarbonize the power grid.”.…

2022-06-28. Can Dual-Use Solar Panels Provide Power and Share Space With Crops?. [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/28/business/dual-use-solar-panels-agrivoltaics-blue-wave-power.html] By Ellen Rosen. The New York Times. Excerpt: In its 150-year history, Paul Knowlton’s farm in Grafton, Mass., has produced vegetables, dairy products and, most recently, hay. The evolution of the farm’s use turned on changing markets and a variable climate. Recently, however, Mr. Knowlton added a new type of cash crop: solar power. …He had already installed solar panels to provide electricity for his home and barn. When a real estate agent came knocking to see if he was interested in leasing a small portion of his land for a solar array, “she planted the seed that I could do more,” Mr. Knowlton said. …Soon, two small parcels of largely unused land were home to low-to-the-ground panels that produce power. This year, Mr. Knowlton’s farm will go one step further: In a third parcel, solar panels will share space with crops so that both can thrive. This approach is called agrivoltaics — a portmanteau of agriculture and voltaic cells, which transform solar power to electrical power. Also called dual-use solar, the technology involves adjusting the height of solar panels to as much as 14 feet, as well as adjusting the spacing between them, to accommodate equipment, workers, crops and grazing animals. The spacing and the angle of the panels allows light to reach the plants below, and has the added benefit of shielding those crops from extreme heat.…

2022-05-17. Michael Bloomberg Plans a $242 Million Investment in Clean Energy. By Maggie Astor, The New York Times. Excerpt: Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, will announce a $242 million effort on Tuesday to promote clean energy in 10 developing countries. The investment is part of Mr. Bloomberg’s push, announced last year, to shut down coal production in 25 countries and builds on his $500 million campaign to close every coal-fired power plant in the United States. The announcement is tied to a gathering this week in Rwanda hosted by Sustainable Energy for All, an international group working to increase access to electricity in the global south. The money will fund programs in Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/climate/michael-bloomberg-climate-coal.html]

2022-05-13. Lithium Valley: Imperial County big winner in California budget revision. By Janet Wilson, Palm Springs Desert Sun. Excerpt: California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to add up to $400 million to the 2022-23 budget to accelerate development of a potential huge global supply of lithium and clean energy at the south end of the Salton Sea, …. “Lithium Valley represents an extraordinary economic opportunity for the Imperial Valley and all of California, with the potential to power the transition to clean energy and zero-emission vehicles nationwide — and beyond,” Newsom said. “We’re doubling down on our progress with new investments to develop Lithium Valley while keeping our values of inclusive, green growth and sustainability front and center to ensure communities in the region share in the benefits.” …President Joe Biden and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, along with Newsom, have in recent months promoted the little known portion of the state as a major potential provider of global and domestic lithium and clean energy supply.… [https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2022/05/13/lithium-valley-imperial-county-big-winner-california-budget-revision/9752840002/]

2022-05-06. Hawaii Legislature Calls For Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams. Excerpt: Hawaii lawmakers put the state on the path to making history after the Legislature passed a resolution Thursday endorsing a document called the “Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.” “Hawaii has reminded the world of the climate leadership and spirit communities throughout the Pacific have embodied for decades by calling for the immediate phaseout fossil fuels and… a just transition to ensure the survival and continued flourishing of our peoples and our planet for generations to come,” said Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio, a campaigner with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. …Senate Concurrent Resolution 108, introduced by state Sen. Karl Rhoads (D-13), passed the upper chamber Thursday after clearing the House last month. The measure affirms Hawaii’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s targets for greenhouse gas reductions. …Launched in 2020, the treaty initiative is grounded in three pillars, the first of which is immediately ending all new exploration and production of oil, gas, and coal. At the same time, existing fossil fuel production must be phased out in line with the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C threshold for warming, with wealthier nations leading the effort. The third pillar calls for a “peaceful and just transition” to a renewable energy system that provides “real solutions… for every worker, community, and country.”.… [https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/05/06/hawaii-legislature-calls-fossil-fuel-non-proliferation-treaty]

2022-05-02. The west can cut its energy dependency on Russia and be greener. By Jeffrey Frankel, The Guardian. Excerpt: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has amplified the importance of national-security considerations in western countries’ energy policies. At the same time, governments must continue to focus on reducing environmental damage – in particular, on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Both goals, geopolitical and environmental, are urgent and should be evaluated together.  These two objectives are not necessarily in conflict, as some believe. There are plenty of energy measures the west can adopt that would benefit the environment and further its geopolitical aims. The most obvious steps, especially for the European Union, are sanctions that reduce demand for imports of fossil fuels from Russia. …governments should not prolong the life of coal and should withdraw coal subsidies. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that global energy subsidies (including for oil and natural gas, as well as coal), at either the producer or consumer end, exceed $5tn a year. Direct US fossil-fuel subsidies alone have been conservatively estimated at $20bn annually.… [https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/may/02/west-energy-depencency-russia-green-ukraine-war]

2022-04-13. ‘Thermal batteries’ could efficiently store wind and solar power in a renewable grid. By Robert F. Service, Science Magazine. Excerpt: How do you bottle renewable energy for when the Sun doesn’t shine and the wind won’t blow? …Massive battery banks are one answer. …Another strategy is to use surplus energy to heat a large mass of material to ultrahigh temperatures, then tap the energy as needed. This week, researchers report a major improvement in a key part of that scheme: a device for turning the stored heat back into electricity. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory achieved a nearly 30% jump in the efficiency of a thermophotovoltaic (TPV), a semiconductor structure that converts photons emitted from a heat source to electricity, just as a solar cell transforms sunlight into power. …The idea is to feed surplus wind or solar electricity to a heating element, which boosts the temperature of a liquid metal bath or a graphite block to several thousand degrees. …TPVs …Funnel the stored heat to a metal film or filament, setting it aglow like the tungsten wire in an incandescent light bulb, then use TPVs to absorb the emitted light and turn it to electricity. …With researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, [Asegun] Henry’s team laid down more than two dozen thin layers of different semiconductors to create two separate cells stacked one on top of another. The top cell absorbs mostly visible and ultraviolet photons, whereas the lower cell absorbs mostly infrared. A thin gold sheet under the bottom cell reflects low-energy photons the TPVs couldn’t harvest. The tungsten reabsorbs that energy, preventing it from being lost. The result, the group reports today in Nature, is a TPV tandem that converts 41.1% of the energy emitted from a 2400°C tungsten filament to electricity.… [https://www.science.org/content/article/thermal-batteries-could-efficiently-store-wind-and-solar-power-renewable-grid]

2022-04-10. Wind Energy Company to Pay $8 Million in Killings of 150 Eagles. By Eduardo Medina, The New York Times. Excerpt: A wind energy company pleaded guilty last week to killing at least 150 eagles at its wind farms and was ordered to pay $8 million in fines and restitution, federal prosecutors said. …ESI [Energy] acknowledged that at least 150 bald and golden eagles had died at its facilities since 2012, and that 136 of those deaths were “affirmatively determined to be attributable to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade,” the Justice Department said in a statement. …The company agreed to spend up to $27 million on measures to “minimize additional eagle deaths and injuries,” prosecutors said. …The case comes as the bald eagle, the nation’s symbol whose resurgence is considered one of the greatest conservation stories of the 21st century, faces a new threat: lead poisoning. All but a few hundred bald eagles were presumed dead by the mid-20th century, killed off largely by the widespread use of the synthetic insecticide DDT. A ban on DDT in 1972 and conservation efforts helped the population to rebound. The bald eagle was removed from Endangered Species Act protection in 2007 and its estimated population grew to 316,700 by 2019. …A 2013 study found that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed each year in the United States at monopole turbines. …Roberto Albertani, a professor of mechanical engineering at Oregon State University, said in 2017 that he and his team had devised a system …using cameras to determine if the birds were approaching the blades, triggering on-the-ground inflatable tubes, or “wind dancer” figures, like those often seen at car dealerships, to scare the birds away, Professor Albertani said in a presentation last year. Eagles appear to be “annoyed by anthropomorphic figures,” he said. Professor Ponder said some researchers were looking into using audio signals to keep the birds away from turbines… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/10/us/bald-eages-dead-wind-farms.html]

2022-03-28. Solar Cookers International at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum. [Youtube video] By Solar Cookers International. Excerpt: …Approximately 2.6 billion people cook over open fires around the globe and women and girls carry the greatest burdens of this cooking method. Gathering fuel and cooking over open fires increases the risks of rape, premature deaths, burns, and disability. Solar cooking frees women from those burdens with an affordable, healthy, sustainable, off-grid solution. SCI advocates for the adoption of solar cooking to empower women and their families to live healthier and more sustainable lives while alleviating climate change.… [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccZR9Np3vWI]

2022-03-16. A high-performance capillary-fed electrolysis cell promises more cost-competitive renewable hydrogen. By Aaron Hodges et al, Nature Communications. Abstract: Renewable, or green, hydrogen will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors and will therefore be important in limiting global warming. However, renewable hydrogen is not cost-competitive with fossil fuels, due to the moderate energy efficiency and high capital costs of traditional water electrolysers. Here a unique concept of water electrolysis is introduced, wherein water is supplied to hydrogen- and oxygen-evolving electrodes via capillary-induced transport along a porous inter-electrode separator, leading to inherently bubble-free operation at the electrodes. An alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis cell of this type demonstrates water electrolysis performance exceeding commercial electrolysis cells, with a cell voltage at 0.5 A cm−2 and 85 °C of only 1.51 V, equating to 98% energy efficiency, with an energy consumption of 40.4 kWh/kg hydrogen (vs. ~47.5 kWh/kg in commercial electrolysis cells). High energy efficiency, combined with the promise of a simplified balance-of-plant, brings cost-competitive renewable hydrogen closer to reality.… [https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28953-x]

2022-03-08. The largest remaining tall-grass prairie in Texas is getting solar panels. Environmentalists can’t stop it. By Mary Beth Gahan, The Washington Post. Excerpt: A solar facility on a 3,594-acre tract of land has environmental groups searching for a way to save what they consider a living museum …“We recognize the importance of this native prairie ecosystem,” said Daniel Willard, a biodiversity specialist at Orsted. “One of the best ways to protect biodiversity is the development of clean energy, and we are taking several steps to ensure that development is done in balance with nature.”… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/03/08/texas-prairie-solar-panels-climate-change]

2022-03-01. Forecast for Solar Power Boom: Sunny and Bright. By Nathanael Greene, Nature’s Voice (NRDC). Excerpt: Clean power just keeps winning in the marketplace. According to the federal Energy Administration, wind and solar made up 62 percent of new electric generating capacity in 2019, and 76 percent in 2020. The reason is clear…wind and solar are simply less expensive than dirty fossil fuels. And costs for wind, solar, and battery technologies continue to fall. …In 2021 more than 10,000 megawatts of utility-scale solar projects came online—triple the amount just five years before. …here’s more good news: the Energy Department also found that the disturbed lands that are suitable for solar use—that is, lands denuded or contaminated by prior use, impacted by invasive species, or good for rooftop solar—are about eight times what is needed to decarbonize the whole country…. [https://issuu.com/nrdc/docs/naturesvoice-spring-2022]

2022-02-20. A year after Texas cold spell, study shows renewable energy could help prevent blackouts. By Kasha Patel, The Washington Post. Excerpt: …a recent study shows that electricity blackouts can be avoided across the nation — perhaps even during intense weather events — by switching to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, such as solar, wind and water.[https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/02/20/texas-energy-winter-renewable-jacobson-dessler-rogan]

2022-01-27. Gas stoves in kitchens pose a risk to public health and the planet, research finds. By Maxine Joselow, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Gas-burning stoves in kitchens across America may pose a greater risk to the planet and public health than previously thought, new research suggests. The appliances release far more of the potent planet-warming gas methane than the Environmental Protection Agency estimates, Stanford University scientistsfound in a study published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The appliances also emit significant amounts of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that can trigger asthma and other respiratory conditions. Scientists and climate activistshave increasingly urged homeowners to switch to all-electric stoves, water boilers and other appliances, even as the natural gas industry fights in New York and across the country to keep the signature blue flames of gas-burning stovesas a staple in American homes.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/01/27/gas-stoves-kitchens-pose-risk-public-health-planet-research-finds]

2022-01-24. Science Off the Seashore. By Heather Goss, Eos/AGU. Excerpt: In January 2021, the United Nations launched the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The initiative encourages partner nations to fund scientific research that “achieves the ocean we want by 2030.” …Ocean thermal energy conversion is a fairly simple concept that could help island nations find independence from fossil fuels, but it’s suffering from the “innovation valley of death.” Read more about the potential of this ocean-based power source…. …The deep-sea mining industry is impatiently waiting for international regulators to take the leash off so they can begin collection of the rare earth elements waiting on the floor of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific. We report on the stakes that are all going to become clear in less than 2 years—for the ocean ecosystems, for the investors in deep-sea mining, and for the renewable energy tech that currently depends on these resources…. [https://eos.org/agu-news/science-off-the-seashore]

2022-01-20. Superstores can meet half their electricity needs with rooftop solar, says a new report. By Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: From Walmart to Ikea, a report finds that the rooftops of big-box stores offer enough solar potential to power the equivalent of 8 million American homes.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/20/superstores-can-meet-half-their-electricity-needs-with-rooftop-solar-says-new-report/]

2022-01-04. These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash. By Nick Aspinwall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Earthships originally spawned from the arid climate of Taos, maximizing abundant sunlight while squeezing whatever they can from about eight inches of annual rainfall. Each Earthship shares a set of core organs such as a water organization module, which filters and separates water as it moves throughout the house. In the Earthship ecosystem, water is first used for drinking, showering and hand washing before moving to interior plants, such as fig and banana trees, along with hanging gardens of herbs and flowers. The resulting “gray water” is used to fertilize ornamental outdoor plants and can be safely released into the groundwater supply or used in the toilet, from which “black water” is flushed into a septic tank. …Another module controls solar power, which is used primarily for lights and appliances. Earthships use about one-sixth as much power as a conventional house. “You take care of it, it’ll take care of you,” Albury said. “It’s very symbiotic.” A typical Earthship can produce 25 to 50 percent of the food its residents need, .… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/04/earthship-houses-climate-change/]

2022-01-03. As U.S. moves toward solar energy, this roofing company hopes ‘solar shingles’ will get homeowners to buy in. By Tik Root, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Thousands of Americans install solar energy systems on their roofs each year. Most commonly, that means solar panels mounted on racks, but another option may become more accessible: solar shingles. Starting Monday, one of the largest roofing companies in the United States will be selling a new solar shingle product. The aim is to drive the cost of installation down and the rate of solar adoption up. …The goal is to lower the cost of rooftop solar by combining roofing and solar installation, said DeBono, …. His traditional roof, he said, cost around $28,000, and the solar panels he installed would be around $24,000, for a total price tag of around $52,000, or about $44,000 after rebates and incentives…. In comparison, he estimated a GAF Energy solar roof would cost approximately $42,000 and drop to around $30,000 after incentives, saving about $14,000. …Rooftop solar on small buildings could theoretically meet a quarter of electricity demand in the United States, a 2016 assessment from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found. But putting efficient, durable and eye-pleasing solar panels on roofs at a reasonable cost hasn’t been easy. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, less than 3 percent of single-family homes have any type of solar system installed.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/03/solar-energy-roof-shingles-climate/] See also CNBC article, Roofing giant takes on Tesla to make solar roof shingles more affordable.

2022-01-04. These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash. By Nick Aspinwall, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Earthships are off-grid, self-reliant houses built from tires, dirt and garbage that have long been an offbeat curiosity for travelers passing by the ski town of Taos, but suddenly look like a haven for climate doomers. Residents of the 630-acre flagship Earthship community treat their own waste, collect their own water, grow their own food, and regulate their own temperature by relying on the sun, rain and earth, which Reynolds and other adherents call natural “phenomena.” At this Earthship community in New Mexico, renters can give sustainable living a try. Reynolds, 76, has been building these structures — he calls them “vessels” — since the early 1970s when, after graduating from architecture school at the University of Cincinnati, he took up off-road motorcycle racing on the high desert plateau around Taos to try to injure himself to avoid being drafted to the Vietnam War. He never left, attracting interest and eyerolls as dozens of Earthships arose from the dirt.… [https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/01/04/earthship-houses-climate-change/]

2022-01-02. Coming Soon to This Coal County: Solar, in a Big Way. By Cara Buckley, The New York Times. Excerpt: MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. — In Martin County, Ky., where coal production has flatlined, entrepreneurs are promising that a new solar farm atop a shuttered mine will bring green energy jobs. …For a mountain that’s had its top blown off, the old Martiki coal mine is looking especially winsome these days. With its vast stretches of emerald grass dotted with hay bales and ringed with blue-tinged peaks, and the wild horses and cattle that roam there, it looks less like a shuttered strip mine and more like an ad for organic milk. The mountain is poised for another transformation. Hundreds of acres are set to be blanketed with solar panels in the coming year, installed by locals, many of them former miners. The $231 million project, which recently cleared its last regulatory hurdle, may well be the biggest utility-scale coal to solar project in the country.… [https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/02/climate/coal-mines-solar-climate.html]

cover for gss book Energy Use

Non-chronological resources

100.org – also The Solutions Project – http://thesolutionsproject.org …specific plans, by locale, for energy mixes that are 100% renewable energy.The Energy Challenge (NY Times) – a series of articles examining the ways in which the world is, and is not, moving toward a more energy efficient, environmentally benign future. 
Green Hotels

National Energy Education and Development Project (NEED) 

Rock the Bike – generate electricity with a bike. 

Solar Estimator – allows you to make calculations of a solar energy photovoltaic system’s expected performance.

Renewable energy potential regional maps from the U.S. DOE Energy Information Administration 

Solar Cookers International (SCI) – Establishes programs in countries around the world to teach people to make and use solar ovens and cookers. Reduces deforestation and saves time for cultures that normally would gather wood for cooking fires. Reduces carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emission in cultures that normally use natural gas or electricity for cooking. See SCI Newsletters

Wind Powering America Programs that help put up wind turbines at school