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Battery Storage Revolution Could 'Sound the Death Knell for Fossil Fuels'
If we want to accelerate the world's renewable energy transition, we'll have to modernize the electric grid and we'll need much better batteries. Just look at Germany, which generates so much clean energy on particularly windy and sunny days that electricity prices are often negative.
Sure this is good news for a German person's wallet, but as the New York Times noted, "Germany's power grid, like most others around the world, has not yet adapted to the increasing amounts of renewable energy being produced."
The problem is that the electrical grid was designed for fossil fuel use, meaning it can struggle to manage all the renewable energy being added to the grid. For instance, California sometimes produces so much solar power that is has to pay neighboring Arizona to take the excess electricity that Californians aren't using to avoid overloading the power lines. Meanwhile, battery storage capacity is not yet advanced enough to take in the surplus generation.
Thankfully, a sea change appears to be well underway.
WIRED UK reported that 2018 will see energy storage for home use becoming more commonplace. Investors will also increasingly look towards renewable energy storage solutions rather than supply.
"We will see a tipping point," Alasdair Cameron, renewable energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told WIRED. "Even IKEA has launched a renewable solar battery power storage for domestic use."
Coupled with Tesla's Powerwall domestic battery, Cameron added, "storage is moving from the grid to the garage to the landing at home."
Furthermore, WIRED pointed out, companies such as EDF Renewable Energy, electric services company E.ON and Dyson are investing in storage development. Energy giants ExxonMobil, Shell and Total are also coming on board with renewable battery systems.
Other examples of the battery storage revolution include South Australia, which recently switched on the world's largest battery storage farm. Tesla CEO Elon Musk famously built the massive facility in less than 100 days to help solve the state's energy woes. Musk's battery already proved itself late last month after responding to power outages within milliseconds.
In November 2016, Ta'u, an island in American Samoa, turned its nose at fossil fuels and is now almost 100 percent powered with solar panels and batteries thanks to technology from Tesla and SolarCity.
And this past October, Scotland switched on the Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, that's linked with Statoil's Batwind, a lithium battery that can store one megawatt-hour of power to help mitigate intermittency and optimize output.
All that said, 2018 could be a major year for batteries. As WIRED reported:
"According to Hugh McNeal of the wind industry's trade body RenewableUK and solar expert Simon Virley of KPMG, this storage revolution is capable of transforming the industry. In 2018, it will become even more competitive and reliable—and will sound the death knell for fossil fuels in the process."
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Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.