Imagine painting your home with a special paint that also powers your lights using renewable energy drawn from the air.
The current Air-gen device can power small devices. UMass Amherst / Yao and Lovley labs<p>It was one of Yao's PhD students who discovered the key was moisture.</p><p>"I saw that when the nanowires were contacted with electrodes in a specific way the devices generated a current. I found that that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device," Xiaomeng Liu said in the press release.</p><p><a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-generate-electricity-out-of-thin-air-with-device-that-runs-on-humidity" target="_blank">Science Alert</a> explained how the device is designed:</p><blockquote>The Air-gen consists of a thin film of the protein nanowires measuring just 7 micrometres thick, positioned between two electrodes, but also exposed to the air.<br><br>Because of that exposure, the nanowire film is able to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adsorption" target="_blank">adsorb</a> water vapour that exists in the atmosphere, enabling the device to generate a continuous electrical current conducted between the two electrodes.</blockquote><p>Currently, 17 of these devices linked together can generate enough electricity to power a cell phone, <a href="https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/02/electric-bacteria-create-currents-out-thin-and-thick-air" target="_blank">Science Magazine explained</a>. While it requires some humidity, it can work in places as dry as the Sahara Desert.</p>
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There's a lot of good news about wind energy these days.
1. Texas<p>Wow. Everything really is bigger in Texas. The Lone Star State produces and consumes more energy overall than any other state in the country — in fact, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/electricity/state/" target="_blank">its electricity production</a> is double that of Florida, the next closest <a target="_blank">state.</a></p><p>Still, it's beyond impressive to see that the state accounted for more than <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">25 percent of the country's wind electricity generation in each of the past three years</a>.</p><p>Wind also generated <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/texas-wind-energy-trnd/index.html" target="_blank">22 percent of the state's electrical needs as of July 2019</a>: notably, edging out coal (21 percent, <a target="_blank">as of July 2019</a>, of the state's power). And just to show how quickly energy transition can happen with the right policies, this is a far cry from 2003 when wind made up just 0.8 percent of the Lone Star state's power.</p><p>Plus, Texas ranks first in the country for both installed and under-construction wind capacity — and <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Texas.pdf" target="_blank">supports more than 25,000 wind-related jobs</a>.</p>
2. Oklahoma<p>Way to go, Oklahoma! The bulk of Oklahoma's power generation for decades was from natural gas and coal, but in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/24/climate/how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state.html" target="_blank">2016 wind surpassed coal-fired generation in the state for the first time</a>. And in 2018, wind energy provided <a target="_blank">31.7 percent </a>of all in-state electricity production.</p><p>Plus, Oklahoma's incredible wind resource also provides economic development — it supported more than <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Oklahoma.pdf" target="_blank">7,000 direct jobs in 2018</a>.</p>
3. Iowa<p>Iowa's also a big FAN of wind energy (get it? We're so sorry). In fact the Hawkeye State <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">has almost doubled its wind generation since 2011</a>. Wind provided 34 percent of total electricity generation in Iowa in 2018, putting the state second in the nation for wind energy as a share of total electricity generation. It produces more power than it consumes, and sends a surplus to nearby states.</p><p>Iowa also ranks second in the nation for installed capacity with more than 10,100 MW of wind online, And as of 2018, Iowa is home to more than <a href="https://www.awea.org/Awea/media/Resources/StateFactSheets/Iowa.pdf" target="_blank">9,000 wind industry jobs</a>.</p>
4. Kansas<p>Rounding out the list is Kansas. Wind turbines accounted for <a href="https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=39772" target="_blank">36 percent of the electricity generated in Kansas in 2018</a> — a larger share than any other state — reflecting a fivefold increase since just 2010. Wind energy is also only just slightly lagging behind <a target="_blank">coal</a>, which makes up 39 percent of generated electricity in the state.</p><p>In 2018, developers installed <a href="https://infogram.com/wind-growth-in-2018-mw-1h7j4dj8xpzx4nr" target="_blank">543 megawatts of new wind generation</a> in Kansas, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy study.</p>
What You Can Do<p>Are you looking for ways to make a difference and be part of the movement for renewable energy?</p><p>Our upcoming <a href="http://climaterealityproject.org/training" target="_blank">Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in San Antonio, Texas</a> (the top producer of wind energy in the country!), is a good place to start. As a Climate Reality Leader, you'll join a network of more than 20,000 like-minded activists working to share the science of what's happening to our planet and secure the safe, sustainable tomorrow we all deserve.</p><p>We can't remain silent in the fight against the climate crisis. <a href="http://climaterealityproject.org/training" target="_blank">Learn more about a training today.</a></p><p>As we like to say: Give us three days. We'll give you the tools to change the world.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Sam Edwards
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico is one of the windiest places on earth. Hemmed in by two mountain ranges, the flat strip of land between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico is a natural wind tunnel. A single gust can flip over cars. It's the perfect place for turbines.
Clean Energy at a Price<p>The Gunaa Sicaru wind park is planned to be built next to Union Hidalgo. Run by French energy giant EDF, it would provide 252 megawatts of power. But first it needs approval from locals through an ongoing public consultation. And as for many multinational-backed wind parks in Oaxaca, that's proving a challenge.</p><p>In a country historically reliant on oil revenue, wind power and other renewables could bring a transition to cleaner energy. But Alejandra Ancheita, director of NGO ProDESC, warns green power must not replicate the environmental harm and mishandling of local communities typical of the global fossil fuel sector.</p><p>"Renewable energy projects can't be justified solely on the basis they are creating clean energy," Ancheita told DW. "It's not 'clean energy' if it isn't developed with a strict respect for the local communities where the project will be built."</p><p><span></span>ProDESC's legal team represents a group of Union Hidalgo residents in an injunction against EDF and local authorities, alleging violations of the consultation process. The NGO claims the local authorities and EDF failed to provide accurate information on the project's impacts and distributed misleading translations from Spanish to Zapotec.</p>
Community Conflict<p>Ramirez and other local activists say oil runoff from the turbines that already dominate the landscape pollutes waterways, while the sound of the wind farms — many of which are close to towns — disturbs residents and local birdlife.</p><p>But while Ramirez and others fight to prevent further damage to their land, some in Union Hidalgo support the development, particularly those who can earn a steady income from leasing their land.</p><p>"It's creating a lot of division in our community," Ramirez said.</p><p>According to a report by the Berlin-based <a href="https://www.ecchr.eu/fileadmin/Publikationen/ECCHR_PP_WINDPARK.pdf" target="_blank">European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights</a> (ECCHR), conflict in the community escalated in 2018, after critics of the project were condemned as "enemies of development" in the EDF consultation meetings.</p><p>ProDESC and ECCHR said in a formal letter last year, that the company needed to do more to prevent conflict in the community.</p><p>EDF told DW it had met its obligations in the consultation process for Gunaa Sicaru but it was the Mexican authorities who ultimately bore the responsibility for ensuring residents were informed and free to make a decision. EDF has received no reports of threats against critics of the Gunaa Sicaru project, the company added.</p><p>The Oaxaca state government did not respond to DW's request for comment.</p>
Future of Clean Energy<p>Mexico, one of the world's top 15 carbon emitters, has committed to producing 35% of its electricity from clean energy by 2024. Renewables have drawn significant interest from investors since a reform opened the sector to private investment in 2013. Both the solar and wind sectors reported record growth last year.</p><p>But observers fear the future of renewables is uncertain under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado. Lisa Viscidi, from think tank The Inter-American Dialogue, told DW that regulatory changes under the current administration are undermining incentives to invest in the sector. Winning consent from communities in Oaxaca has been another significant challenge. A 2019 report authored by Viscidi on Mexico's first clean energy auction found several projects had been delayed due to a failure to get the community on board.</p>
Alternative Development<p>The challenges of wind energy in Oaxaca are not unique.</p><p>The transition to renewables will be an "epochal shift" in most countries, says Cymene Howe, an anthropologist with Rice University in Texas and author of a book about wind energy in Oaxaca. That's because energy infrastructure will move into parts of the planet untouched by fossil fuel industries.</p><p>"[It will be] a fundamental shift in how we imagine landscapes, what land is to be used for, who lives there and who has responsibility," she said. "This is a new frontier."</p><p>In Union Hidalgo, Ramirez says the conflicts over wind parks have already forced some people to move elsewhere searching for work or new land to farm. She fears that if Gunaa Sicaru goes ahead, the town will soon be bordered on most sides by wind turbines and unable to grow.</p><p>"No one is coming here to force us off our land. [But] one day we'll have to leave ourselves because we won't be able to handle being surrounded," Ramirez said.</p><p>For her, it is not about stifling wind power development, but empowering locals to shape it — for example through community-owned wind parks that would funnel profits back into the local community.</p><p><span></span>"Development can take many forms," Ramirez said.</p>
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By Cullen Howe
When Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) into law in July 2019, it cemented New York State as a national leader in ramping up clean energy and the broader fight against climate change. In addition to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, the law requires that the state obtain 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (and that it be emissions-free by 2040). No state has a more aggressive emissions reduction target.
1. The PSC Should Act on NYSERDA’s Petition to Boost Local Solar<p>Even before the CLCPA's passage, New York was a leader in making <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/solar">solar</a> more accessible to homeowners and businesses. In 2014, Governor Cuomo established <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun" target="_blank">NY-Sun</a>, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-administered program that seeks to add 3,000 MW of installed solar capacity by 2023. The program works by establishing cash incentives for developers that decline over time as solar installations increase in different parts of the state.</p><p>The results have been impressive: Almost 1,000 MW of NY-Sun supported projects have been installed, with another 1,000 MW in the pipeline. Just this week, <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2019-Announcements/2019-12-17-NYSERDA-Announces-Milestone-of-Two-Gigawatts-of-Solar-Capacity-Installed-in-New-York" target="_blank">NYSERDA announced</a> New York has surpassed 2,000 MW of installed solar generation (including non-NY Sun projects), enough to power almost 250,000 homes.</p><p>In addition to the 2,000 MW of solar that's been installed, another 1,262 MW of solar is under development, including 351 <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/samantha-wilt/community-solar-comes-new-york" target="_blank">community solar projects</a> (this week, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved consolidated billing for these projects, which should spur <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/cullen-howe/new-york-state-greenlights-boost-community-solar" target="_blank">their deployment in the state</a>).</p><p>In November, NYSERDA filed a <a href="http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=14-M-0094" target="_blank">petition</a> with the PSC seeking $573 million in additional funds to extend the NY-Sun program through 2025. If approved, approximately half of the funds would be added to existing cash incentives to support an additional 1,800 MW of solar projects. About a quarter of the money would be used to replenish "community adder" incentives for community solar projects in certain utility territories, providing additional compensation for these projects. </p><p>Importantly, NYSERDA proposes using $135 million of the additional funds to expand NY-Sun programs focused on low-to-moderate income (LMI) customers, as part of a new Framework for Solar Energy Equity. Among other things, the Framework envisions an expansion of its <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/NY-Sun/Solar-for-Your-Home/Community-Solar/Solar-for-All" target="_blank">Solar for All</a> program, which provides no-cost community solar to low-income households. It also provides incentives for projects sited on affordable housing, LMI homeowners who install rooftop solar, and projects that pair solar with energy storage. Combining solar and energy storage provides resiliency benefits and can also reduce local air pollutants from fossil fuel peaking units, which are often located in environmental justice communities.</p><p>The PSC hasn't yet acted on NYSERDA's petition, which sets forth a roadmap for meeting the state's 6,000 MW goal by 2025.</p>
2. The PSC Needs to Move Quickly to Decarbonize the Power Sector<p>Achieving 70 percent renewable energy in the power sector by 2030 won't be easy. Currently, New York gets <a href="https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=NY" target="_blank">28 percent of its total electricity</a> from renewable sources, and the vast majority of this (about 80 percent) comes from legacy large hydropower facilities <a href="https://www.nypa.gov/power/generation/generation-overview" target="_blank">owned and operated by the New York Power Authority</a>. Scaling up renewables to hit 70 percent in 10 years will require a massive amount of new clean generation to come online. </p><p>The first step to make this happen is commencing a proceeding to establish how this process will work, which the CLCPA requires by 2021. There is little time to waste. NRDC, along with a number of other environmental organizations and clean energy industry partners, last week <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6586462-E93F0201-61A9-4C53-A36D-EAE5C4AE6E04.html" target="_blank">filed a list of eight principles</a> we believe should guide the state through this process. The principles include establishing a full procurement schedule to get to 70 percent renewables by 2030, the creation of new tiers of renewable energy credits for existing renewable energy facilities, and a PSC final implementation order by the end of 2020. This deadline is especially important because it takes approximately four years between the approval of contracts for large-scale renewable projects and their completion and operation (thus, the state will need to approve contracts no later than 2026 for projects to be up and running by 2030).</p>
3. NY Needs to Improve the Siting Process and Ensure Adequate Transmission<p>Reaching the state's 70 by 30 goal will require that renewables projects are sited quickly and that there is enough transmission to transport this power to where it is needed. Unfortunately, the processes for both need fixing. </p><p>The siting process, known as <a href="http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/D12E078BF7A746FF85257A70004EF402?OpenDocument" target="_blank">Article 10</a>, establishes a procedure for approving energy production facilities over 25 MW. However, it has not worked well for renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Major delays within the Article 10 process have resulted in a bottleneck <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2019/04/22/environmental-groups-demand-clean-energy-action-from-nys-we-cant-afford-to-wait/" target="_blank">jeopardizing over 8,000 gigawatt-hours per year of land-based wind and solar projects</a> pending before the state's Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (known as the "Siting Board"), which considers these applications. For example, although the Article 10 process should take approximately 24 months, most of the pending renewable projects have taken much longer and most are still waiting for approval or have been withdrawn. </p><p>There are a number of steps the Department of Public Service (DPS) can take to improve Article 10, including enforcing application deadlines, completing compliance reviews on a fixed timeline, and reducing reliance on paper by expanding the use of digital technologies. To its credit, DPS has increased its staff to process these applications, and last week the Siting Board approved the <a href="http://www.calpine.com/operations/power-operations/our-fleet/new-york/bluestone" target="_blank">Bluestone Wind Farm</a>, a 124 MW project located in upstate New York, in the process overruling a local law that had placed a moratorium on wind turbines. This follows <a href="http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/All/763B187DD5A792DE8525847400667D6B?OpenDocument" target="_blank">approval of three other renewable projects in the last four months</a> after only one had been approved since 2011. While these approvals are encouraging, the pace of the approval process must be dramatically increased to meet our 2030 goal.</p>
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Solar panels that work at night? The idea isn't as far-fetched as it might seem.
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By Elliott Negin
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.
Updating an Antiquated System<p>Currently, <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/research/energy/renewable-portfolio-standards.aspx" target="_blank">29 states and the District of Columbia</a> require utilities to increase the amount of electricity they generate from renewable resources over time. California, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., are leading the pack with a target of 100 percent by mid-century.</p> <p>These renewable electricity standards have proven to be one of the most effective ways to curb U.S. global warming emissions. According to a 2016 Energy Department <a href="https://www.energy.gov/eere/articles/new-study-renewable-energy-state-renewable-portfolio-standards-yield-sizable-benefits" target="_blank">report</a>, these standards cut carbon pollution nationally by 59 million metric tons in 2013 alone, akin to closing 15 average-sized coal-fired power plants. It would be even more effective to have a national standard, and Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) has <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/steve-clemmer/national-renewable-electricity-standard" target="_blank">proposed</a> one of 50 percent by 2035. But ratcheting up renewable electricity requirements can go only so far without modernizing the grid and increasing storage capacity.</p> <p>While today's smartphones boast more than <a href="https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2019/07/02/your_mobile_phone_vs_apollo_11s_guidance_computer_111026.html" target="_blank">100,000 times</a> <a href="https://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2019/07/02/your_mobile_phone_vs_apollo_11s_guidance_computer_111026.html" target="_blank">the processing power</a> of the computer on board Apollo 11, most of the power plants, transmission lines, transformers and poles that comprise the grid are at least 40 to 50 years old, built during the expansion of the electric power sector in the decades following World War II. With its aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and vulnerability to climate impacts, today's grid gets a <a href="https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/energy/" target="_blank">barely passing grade</a> of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers.</p> <p>The grid was designed to transmit electricity from large, centralized plants, but power today flows from other sources, including solar and wind facilities. Rooftop solar panels and other "distributed" generation systems reduce the distance electricity has to travel, potentially increasing efficiency, but they also increase the complexity of transmitting electricity, and the amount generated from hour to hour varies. Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible, better able to integrate variable energy sources, and capable of providing real-time information so consumers can manage their energy use and save money.</p>
100 Percent Clean Energy Is Possible — With Storage<p>A modernized electricity grid would have the capacity to store large amounts of excess electricity. Today, utilities have to produce the exact amount of electricity needed at a specific time to meet demand. With advanced storage technology, it doesn't have to be that way.</p> <p>"Our electricity grid is where our food distribution system was before refrigeration," says Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst at my organization, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "Up until the 1920s, when the refrigerator became widely available, most people had to eat fresh food right away because they had no good way to keep it cold. A grid with storage capacity would allow consumers to light their homes at night with the extra energy from solar panels during the day."</p> <p>One storage technology — pumped hydroelectric — has been around since the 1890s, and there has been increased interest in it in recent years because it can be paired with variable renewable sources. Hydroelectric plants pump water to elevated reservoirs and release it through turbines to generate electricity when demand is high. With <a href="https://energystorage.org/why-energy-storage/technologies/pumped-hydropower/" target="_blank">23 gigawatts</a> of capacity, pumped hydro is currently the largest type of energy storage in the United States. That said, it represents less than 2 percent of U.S. generating capacity and is unlikely to grow much more due to the cost of building such facilities.</p> <p>The ideal solution would be rechargeable, factory-size batteries that can store massive amounts of energy for days or even weeks. Today's grid-scale batteries can store only a few hours' worth of energy before they need to be recharged. That's enough to accommodate solar or wind power variability but not nearly enough to completely switch from fossil fuels to renewables.</p> <p>Money is the main issue. Billions of private-sector dollars are now pouring into research and development for electric vehicle batteries, but they are only trickling in for grid batteries because the market is still in its infancy. That makes funding dependent on the U.S. government, which historically has <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dont-take-federal-science_b_4146736" target="_blank">supported</a> cutting-edge research before the private sector was ready to invest. But federal funding for grid battery R&D has been deficient, and the United States is <a href="https://americanenergyinnovation.org/2017/03/can-the-us-take-charge-in-the-global-battery-market/" target="_blank">falling behind</a> China, Japan and South Korea in the global battery market.</p>
Bipartisan Support in Congress<p>Deploying batteries to store electricity generated when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing would enable the grid to handle more renewable energy. Fortunately, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize that potential.</p> <p>There are a handful of bipartisan <a href="https://www.powermag.com/doe-lawmakers-looking-at-energy-storage-rd-funding/?pagenum=1" target="_blank">energy storage bills</a> now pending in the Senate. One bill, introduced by Angus King (I-Maine) and Martha McSally (R-Arizona), would provide $500 million over five years for a joint Energy and Defense department energy storage demonstration program. In September, the King-McSally proposal was folded into a <a href="https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/republican-news?ID=23EE00A2-2A58-40CE-B7CC-733D03DC5651" target="_blank">bill</a> proposed by King's fellow Mainer, Republican Susan Collins, which would dedicate $330 million over the next five years for storage R&D to help lower battery costs, which already have <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/giant-batteries-supercharge-wind-and-solar-plans-11565535601" target="_blank">dropped</a> nearly 40 percent since 2015. The Department of Energy <a href="https://www.powermag.com/doe-lawmakers-looking-at-energy-storage-rd-funding/?pagenum=1" target="_blank">supports</a> a number of the proposed research efforts, which is not surprising, given Energy Secretary Rick Perry has <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/rick-perry-hails-energy-storage-7cb6b0709a1a/" target="_blank">called</a> storage the "holy grail" of U.S. energy.</p> <p>The House is also jumping on the bandwagon. In June, it passed an <a href="https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/FY2020%20E%26W%20Sub%20Markup%20Draft.pdf" target="_blank">appropriations bill</a> that boosts the Energy Department's energy storage budget by nearly <a href="https://www.aip.org/fyi/2019/fy20-appropriations-bills-doe-applied-energy-rd" target="_blank">35 percent</a>, and the budget of its Advanced Research Projects Agency — which has invested as much as <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2018/07/federal-energy-storage-convening-summary.pdf" target="_blank">15 percent</a> of its funding in electricity storage projects — by <a href="https://www.aip.org/fyi/2019/fy20-appropriations-bills-doe-applied-energy-rd" target="_blank">17 percent</a>. More recently, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee proposed <a href="https://mikethompson.house.gov/sites/mikethompson.house.gov/files/GREEN%20Act%20Discussion%20Draft.pdf" target="_blank">legislation</a> in November that would provide tax incentives for a range of clean energy technologies, including energy storage.</p> <p>"Energy storage technology was developed right here in the United States, but we are losing out to other countries," says Rob Cowin, director of government affairs for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Increasing federal funding for energy storage R&D will pay big dividends for the U.S. economy and national security. Taking the right steps now will make our electricity grid cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable."</p>
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By Paul Brown
Nuclear power is in terminal decline worldwide and will never make a serious contribution to tackling climate change, a group of energy experts argues.
Cost Pressure<p>Loss of coolant because of power cuts could also be a serious risk as climate change worsened over the 60-year planned lifetime of a reactor. However, he did not believe that even the reactors currently under construction would ever be operated for that long for commercial reasons.</p><p>"The fact is that the electricity from new reactors is going to be at least three times more expensive than that from renewables and this will alarm consumers. Governments will be under pressure to prevent consumers' bills being far higher than they need to be.</p><p>"I cannot see even the newest reactors lasting more than a decade or so in a competitive market at the prices they will have to charge. Nuclear power will become a stranded asset," Schneider said.</p><p>The report shows that only 31 countries out of 193 UN members have nuclear power plants, and of these nine either have plans to phase out nuclear power, or else no new-build plans or extension policies. Eleven countries with operating plants are currently building new ones, while another eleven have no active construction going on.</p><p>Only four countries – Bangladesh, Belarus, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey – are building reactors for the first time. In the last 12 months only Russia and China have started producing electricity from new reactors – seven in China and two in Russia.</p>
Unable to Compete<p>One of the "mysteries" the meeting discussed was the fact that some governments, notably the UK, continued to back nuclear power despite all the evidence that it was uneconomic and could not compete with renewables.</p><p><a href="https://www.ieac.info/" target="_blank">Allan Jones, chairman of the International Energy Advisory Council</a>, said one of the myths peddled was that nuclear was needed for "baseload" power because renewables were available only intermittently.</p><p>Since a number of countries now produced more than 50% of their power from renewables, and <a href="https://www.clickenergy.com.au/news-blog/12-countries-leading-the-way-in-renewable-energy/" target="_blank">others even 100% (or very close) while not experiencing power cuts</a>, this showed the claim was untrue.</p><p>In his opinion, having large inflexible nuclear stations that could not be switched off was a serious handicap in a modern grid system where renewables could at times produce all the energy needed at much lower cost.</p><p>Amory Lovins said the UK's approach appeared to be dominated by "nuclear ideology." It was driven by settled policy and beliefs, and facts had no connection to reality. "Nuclear is a waste of time and money in the climate fight," he concluded.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://climatenewsnetwork.net/nuclear-power-cannot-rival-renewable-energy/" target="_blank">Climate News Network</a>.</em></p>
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The growing demand for renewable energy led to record setting growth in wind power capacity as technology has made harnessing wind power increasingly efficient and more wind farms have been completed and have joined the electrical grid, according to The Telegraph.
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By Stuart Braun
1.3 billion plastic bottles are sold daily around the world. And that's just the tip of the fossil-based plastic iceberg. Plastic preserves our food. It's in the nylon and polyester we wear, and it protects medical staff from the coronavirus.
1. Olive Pits<p>Countries that produce a lot of olive oil have a byproduct that can be used for plastic: olive pits. A Turkish startup called Biolive began creating a range of began creating a range of bioplastic granules created from olive seeds that result in bio-based, partially biodegradable products that can decompose in a year.<br></p><p>The active ingredient oleuropein found in olive seeds is an antioxidant that extends the life of the bioplastic while also hastening composting of the material into fertilizer within a year. </p><p>And since Biolive's granules act like fossil fuel-based plastics, plastic producers can simply substitute the conventional granules without disrupting the production cycle for industrial products and food packaging. </p><p>Biolive claims that by utilizing olive oil waste, production costs are reduced by up to 90% in relation to some existing bioplastics. This is important says founder Duygu Yilmaz, since starch-based bioplastics made from corn are often more expensive than petroleum-based plastics are therefore not a viable alternative. </p><p>In 2019, award-winning Biolive was chosen to represent Turkey at the United Nations Development Programme.</p>
2. Sunflower Hulls<p>Like olive seeds, the husks of sunflower seeds used for oil production is a waste product also being used to created bioplastics. And luckily, they're in near endless supply.</p><p>The German start-up Golden Compound has created a unique Sustainable Sunflower Plastic Compound bioplastic – referred to as S²PC. It's reinforced with sunflower hulls, which they claim are 100% recyclable.</p><p>The S²PC bioplastic is being moulded into everything from office furniture to recyclable transport and storage boxes and crates.</p><p>Golden Compound also produces a "green" bioplastic that is 100% biodegradable, GMO-free and can be fully composted at home. Products include award-winning, <a href="https://www.plasticsinsight.com/golden-compound-and-alpla-bring-a-world-first-biodegradable-coffee-capsule-compostable-at-home" target="_blank">world-first biodegradable coffee capsules</a>, plant pots and coffee mugs. </p><p>The German start-up attributes the success of its bioplastics to performance. "In the end, the only reason people will be willing to switch, is if it works," Marcel Dartée, General Manager at Golden Compound, told the <em>Plastic Today </em>trade publication.</p>
3. Fish Waste and Algae<p>The growing attempt to transform organic waste into plastic now includes fish processing refuse.</p><p>A UK initiative called MarinaTex is using fish skin and scales – 500,000 tons of which are generated annually in the UK alone – bound with red algae to make a compostable plastic alternative that can replace single-use plastics such as bakery bags and sandwich packs.</p><p>MarinaTex claims the biopolymer creates stronger packaging than a conventional plastic bag — flying in the face of perceptions that bioplastics lack strength and durability.</p><p>Lucy Hughes, who created the product in her final year at the University of Sussex, says MarinaTex's flexibility, strength and pliability was inspired by actual fish skin and scales.</p><p>"It kind of struck me that nature can make so much from so little, so why do we need to have hundreds of man-made polymers when nature has so many already available," she told the World Economic Forum in November. </p><p>MarinaTex, which won the 2019 James Dyson Award worth €35,000, describes its product as home compostable and says it can break down within four to six weeks.</p>
4. Plant Sugars<p>While PET is one of the most recyclable fossil-based plastics it takes hundreds of years to decompose. In response, Amsterdam-based Avantium has created a revolutionary "YXY" plants-to-plastics technology that converts plant-based sugars into a new biodegradable packaging material, polyethylene furanoate or PEF.</p><p>A trial of PEF biodegradability in the natural environment is showing promising signs.</p><p>"PEF degrades much faster than PET under industrial composting conditions," Caroline van Reedt Dortland, Director Communications at Avantium, told DW. Degrading in 250-400 days as opposed to 300-500 years is significant.</p><p>It is used as a textile, film, and has the potential to become a major player in the packaging of soft drinks, water, alcoholic beverages and fruit juices, having already collaborated with the likes of Carlsberg to create <a href="https://www.avantium.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/20191011-Press-release-Avantium-joins-Paper-Bottle-Project-final.pdf" target="_blank">a "100% bio-based" beer bottle</a>.</p><p>According to Hasso Pogrell of European Bioplastics, it's even possible to " recycle PEF together with PET, and it makes the PET recyclate perform even better than the original PET."</p>
5. Mushrooms<p>Gadget blog<em> Gizmodo</em> wrote back in 2015 about resilient and biodegradable fungal mycelia-based materials which, unlike oil-based plastic, "create no toxic byproducts."</p><p>One emerging brand utilizing fungi is Reishi, a sustainable, fine mycelium leather substitute created from a woven cellular microstructure derived from mushrooms. By emulating the collagen structure of animal leathers, Reishi fine mycelium is both sustainable and versatile.</p><p>Reishi creator MycoWorks has taken the water-resistant biomaterial to the next level, promising the performance, quality and aesthetics of leather or synthetic plastic materials, but with a negative carbon footprint.</p><p>Already utilized by a selection of European luxury and footwear brands, in late 2019 $17 million (€18 million) financing was raised to help deliver commercially viable non-plastic, non-animal Reishi materials to the market.</p><p>In terms of limiting fossil-based plastic consumption, the biomaterial aims to outperform existing "vegan leathers" that are created with unsustainable plastics. <br></p>
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By Gero Rueter
Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.
Germany's financial capital has big environmental plans.
The Swiss city of Schaffhausen is among the growing number of municipalities using heat pump technology.
Experts and environmentalists are calling for a ban on the installation of new polluting heating systems.
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By Deidra Miniard, Joe Kantenbacher and Shahzeen Attari
Political divisions are a growing fixture in the United States today, whether the topic is marriage across party lines, responding to climate change or concern about coronavirus exposure. Especially in a presidential election year, the vast divide between conservatives and liberals often feels nearly impossible to bridge.
Assessing Perceptions<p>To explore people's views on energy sources, we conducted an online survey of 2,429 adults across the U.S. Our participants represented a range of political ideologies, with 51% self-identifying as liberals, 20% as moderate and 29% as conservative. To investigate patterns in the data, we analyzed responses based on participants' political ideologies.</p><p>Our survey asked people to estimate the shares that various energy sources contributed to all energy use in the United States, including activities like generating electricity, running factories, heating homes and powering vehicles. We asked participants to estimate what percentage of U.S. total energy used came from nine energy sources: coal, oil, natural gas, solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal and nuclear power.</p><p>Next we had participants describe what they viewed as an optimal mix of these nine energy sources that they hoped the U.S. would use in the year 2050. We also asked what kinds of policies they would support to move the nation from its current status to the future that they envisioned. In a follow-on study, we are examining how factors such as cost and environmental impact influence people's preferences for one energy source versus others.</p>
Estimations of Today’s Energy Mix<p>We found that our respondents had some misperceptions about <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/us-energy-facts/" target="_blank">where energy in the U.S. comes from</a>. They tended to underestimate U.S. reliance on oil and natural gas and overestimate coal's contribution. We believe Americans may not realize how dramatically electric utilities have <a href="https://rhg.com/research/preliminary-us-emissions-2019/" target="_blank">switched from coal to gas for power generation</a> over the past decade, and may therefore have dated impressions of coal's prevalence.</p><p>Conversely, we found that participants overestimated the contribution of lesser-used energy sources – specifically, renewables like wind and solar power. This pattern may partially be explained by people's general tendency to inflate estimates of small values and probabilities, which has been seen in areas ranging from <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/107/37/16054" target="_blank">household energy use</a> and <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/111/14/5129.short" target="_blank">water use</a> to <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1980-20983-001" target="_blank">risk of death</a>.</p><p>In the case of the U.S. energy system, this bias means that people think our current energy system is greener than it really is, which could reduce the perceived urgency of shifting to lower-carbon sources.</p>
Shared Goals, Divergent Pathways<p>When we asked participants to indicate the amount of each energy source they hoped the U.S. would use in 2050, the broad consensus favored a future in which the nation primarily relied on renewable energy and used much less fossil fuel. Conservatives, moderates and liberals shared this outlook.</p><p>Particular preferences for a lower-carbon future varied somewhat by political ideology, but on average all groups supported an energy mix in which at least 77% of overall energy use came from low-carbon energy sources, including renewable fuels and nuclear power.</p><p>This bipartisan consensus wavered, though, when we asked participants whether they supported or opposed 12 energy policies – six that would lead to larger roles for low-carbon energy sources, and six that would increase use of fossil fuels.</p><p>Liberal participants showed strong support for policies consistent with increased use of low-carbon energy sources, such as providing government funding for renewable energy and subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles. They strongly opposed actions that would increase reliance on fossil fuels, such as relaxing oil drilling regulations or lowering fuel economy standards.</p><p>On average, conservative participants supported several policies that favored low-carbon energy use, though not as strongly as their liberal counterparts. Conservatives tended to be closer to neutral or only slightly opposed to policies that promote fossil fuel use.</p><p>The sharpest contrast between the two political groups was over building and completing pipelines to move oil from extraction points to refineries in the U.S. Several <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/03/31/824445928/builder-of-controversial-keystone-xl-pipeline-says-its-moving-forward" target="_blank">proposed pipelines</a> have generated <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/climate/dakota-access-pipeline-sioux.html" target="_blank">intense controversy</a> in the past years. Conservatives generally supported pipeline development, and liberals generally opposed it.</p>
Achieving a Low-Carbon Future<p>An important argument for transitioning to low-carbon energy sources is to limit climate change to manageable levels. Recent polls show that climate change remains a politically divisive issue, with <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/276932/several-issues-tie-important-2020-election.aspx" target="_blank">far more Democrats than Republicans</a> rating it as extremely important to their vote in the 2020 presidential race.</p><p>Recent research has shown that both Democrats and Republicans strongly support renewable energy development, but <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111448" target="_blank">do so for different reasons</a>. Democrats prioritize curbing climate change, while Republicans are more motivated by reducing energy costs. We see these motivations playing out in the real world, where conservative oil-producing states like Texas are experiencing <a href="https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/03/12/a-renewable-energy-boom-is-changing-the-politics-of-global-warming" target="_blank">huge booms in renewable energy generation</a>, driven primarily by the improving economics of renewable energy.</p><p>Realizing the shared vision of an energy system dominated by renewable energy will mean reconciling partisan differences over how to achieve that future. While there is no single rationale that will convince all Americans to support a transition to low-carbon energy sources, our results are encouraging because we find consensus on the U.S. energy future – everyone agrees that it should be green. </p>
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