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Renewable Energy

Renewables Now Contribute Nearly One-Fifth of U.S. Electricity Generation

Renewable energy now makes up 18 percent of total electrical generation in the U.S., roughly double the amount a decade ago, a new report shows.

According to the sixth annual Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which outlines key U.S. energy trends, renewable energy output in the power sector soared to a record high last year and could eventually rival nuclear.

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Climate
Sven Hoffmann / Flickr

Germany Considers Free Public Transport to Fight Air Pollution

In car-obsessed Germany, the government is considering free public transportation in some of its most polluted cities to reduce road traffic and emissions from private vehicles.

"We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars," three ministers wrote in a letter to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in Brussels.

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Business

Chinese City to Become World's First to Switch Entire Bus Fleet to Electric

The city of Shenzen, China is home to a staggering 16,000 buses. To compare, that's more buses than the five largest North American bus fleets combined (New York City, Los Angeles County, New Jersey Transit, Chicago and Toronto).

Now, after a six-year effort to replace its diesel-fueled buses, the major Chinese city is well on its way to become the world's first city to electrify its entire public transit bus fleet.

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Climate

These 100 Companies Are to Blame for 71% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Since 1988

New research claims that just 100 fossil fuel producers are to blame for 71 percent of industrial greenhouse gases since 1988, the year human-induced climate change was officially recognized through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Despite the landmark establishment, the oil, coal and gas industry has expanded significantly and has become even more carbon-intensive since 1988, according the 2017 Carbon Majors report from the environmental not-for-profit CDP.

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Energy

U.S. Judge Approves Historic Settlement in Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

A U.S. federal judge approved a $14.7 billion settlement in the Volkswagen "Dieselgate" scandal.

Yuankuei / Flickr

This is one of the largest consumer lawsuits affecting more than 475,000 diesel cars in the U.S. The settlement gives Volkswagen owners the option to sell their vehicle back or get a free fix.

"The settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate," U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in his order.

The German carmaker will also pay $4.7 billion for environmental programs and promotion of zero-emissions vehicles.

"Judge Breyer is making them pay the price. Volkswagen chose to poison our families with dangerous pollution just to pad its pocketbook," Kathryn Phillips, California director for the Sierra Club environmental group, said.

For a deeper dive:

Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Detroit News, USA Today, New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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Find Out How Much the Earth Has Changed Since You Were Born

A unique interactive website gives you a new perspective on your time on Earth.

BBC Earth's "Your life on earth" interactive takes your birthdate, gender and height to give you a personalized look at how the Earth has changed since you were born.

Factoids provided include: how many times your heart has beaten; how far you have travelled through space; the amount of sea level rise; how far the tectonic plates have moved; and the number of earthquakes and volcano eruptions experienced since your were born.

Find out what has changed during your life and compare with friends. The interactive website is available here.

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Salt Lake City Makes Historic Commitment to 100% Renewables by 2032

Salt Lake City announced Wednesday its commitment to transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2032. The city also plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040.

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New Research Confirms Wind Energy Decreases Emissions and Electricity Costs

By Michael Goggin

New research released by an independent grid operator confirms that wind energy is drastically decreasing both the price of electricity and emissions of harmful pollutants. The study was led by PJM, the independent grid operator for all or parts of 13 Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) and DC. The results are posted here.

PJM, the independent grid operator for all or parts of 13 states, released a study this week showing that wind energy is decreasing electricity costs and emissions. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Highlights of the study:

  • Wind energy produces massive reductions in electricity production costs and wholesale prices. Obtaining 20 percent of PJM’s electricity from wind energy reduces the cost of producing electricity by $9 billion annually (about 25 percent of overall production costs of $37 billion), while 30 percent wind reduces production costs by $13 billion (about 35 percent) each year. Wholesale electricity prices are reduced by $9-21 billion annually across the 20 percent and 30 scenarios.

  • Wind energy drastically reduces pollution. The 20 percent wind case reduced fuel use and carbon pollution by 18 percent more than the 2 percent wind base case, while 30 percent wind reduced fuel use and carbon emissions by more than 29 percent relative to the 2 percent wind base case. The 20 percent wind case reduced annual carbon pollution by around 80 million tons, while the 30 percent wind cases reduced pollution by around 140-200 million tons annually.  These results include detailed modeling of how changing the output of fossil-fired power plants affects their emissions and efficiency. Even at high levels of wind energy, this power plant "cycling" has no significant negative impact on the efficiency or emissions of fossil-fired power plants, further confirming the results of a study released last month showing that such cycling only reduces the CO2 benefits of wind by 0.2 percent.

  • The study found that obtaining 30 percent of electricity from renewable energy would cause no reliability problems, noting that “all the simulations of challenging days revealed successful operation of the PJM real-time market.” This confirms the results of dozens of other wind integration studies and independent grid operator analyses of real-world wind operations data. As PJM’s Senior Vice President Andy Ott and other experts explain in this video, changes in wind energy output are reliably accommodated using the same tools grid operators have always used to accommodate fluctuations in electricity demand as well as abrupt failures at conventional power plants.

  • The PJM study also found that the grid upgrades needed to accommodate additional wind energy would have a reasonable cost, accounting for only 6 to 8 percent of the value provided by wind energy in nearly all scenarios. Importantly, other studies by independent grid operators have confirmed that these grid upgrades would more than pay for themselves by providing other benefits, such as improved electric reliability, reduced electricity prices, more competitive electricity markets, and higher efficiency of electricity transmission relative to today’s congested electric grid.

 

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