The 100-page analysis is an overview of nuclear waste storage facilities in seven countries: France, the U.S., Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Finland and Britain. Several of these nations' waste facilities were "near saturation," the AFP noted from the report.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Tara Lohan
In the last few weeks of 2018, the Trump administration set the stage for a big battle over water in the new year. At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration seeks to roll back important protections for wetlands and waterways, which are important to drinking water and wildlife.
By Jeff Deyette
Despite the Trump administration's ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERC, EPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies.
Friday the U.S. Navy released details of a plan to seize more than 600,000 acres of public land in central Nevada to expand a bombing range. The land under threat includes rich habitat for mule deer, important desert springs and nesting sites for raptors like golden eagles.
Video: Freedom to Breathe Tour Bus Visits Communities Across the Country Working on Climate Solutions
By Owen Agnew
Wildfires, sea level rise, air pollution, asthma—you don't have to go far to find communities living with climate change impacts. But there are also climate solutions everywhere you look. This summer, the Freedom to Breathe Tour visited communities across the country that are working to reduce carbon emissions and make their communities healthier and more resilient.
The Federal Government Has Long Treated Nevada as a Dumping Ground, and It’s Not Just Yucca Mountain
By Michael Green
Nevadans can be forgiven for thinking they are in an endless loop of "The Walking Dead" TV series. Their least favorite zombie federal project refuses to die.
In 2010, Congress had abandoned plans to turn Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, into the nation's only federal dump for nuclear waste so radioactive it requires permanent isolation. And the House recently voted by a wide margin to resume these efforts.
By Dylan Sullivan
Nevada's renewable portfolio standard requires electricity providers like NV Energy to buy a minimum amount of electricity from renewable sources like solar, geothermal and wind. Assembly Bill 206, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Brooks, would increase the renewable standard so that it requires electricity providers to get 40 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
By David Pomerantz
The Nevada Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.
Lawmakers in California and Massachusetts have recently introduced bills that would require their respective states to get all of its electricity from renewable energy sources.
California Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who introduced SB 584 last Friday, would require the Golden State to have a carbon-free grid by 2045. It would also accelerate the state's current goal of hitting 50 percent renewables by 2030 to 2025.
Thank you California Senate leader @kdeleon for your proposal to shift to 100% #cleanenergy for all of CA.… https://t.co/mLJfC5moCr— Leonardo DiCaprio (@Leonardo DiCaprio)1487798552.0
De León actually helped pushed through the initial 50 percent by 2030 law two years ago, but as he told the Los Angeles Times the legislation did not go far enough.
"We probably should have shot for the stars," he said.
As InsideClimate News noted, California is already well on its way:
"The California Energy Commission says the state got about 27 percent of its electricity from renewables last year, slightly better than the 25 percent required by law. Capacity has more than doubled over the past decade. California's largest utilities have also said they are ahead of schedule for meeting their 2020 goal."
Massachusetts legislators have also announced similar clean energy efforts. HD.3357 and SD.1932 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker and in the Senate by Sen. Jamie Eldridge.
The measure would require Massachusetts to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035. All of its energy needs, including heating and transportation, would have to come from renewable sources by 2050.
So far, the only state that has an official 100 percent renewable energy standard is Hawaii. Hawaii's aggressive clean energy mandate—requiring the state's electricity to come from renewable sources no later than 2045—was enacted back in 2015.
Hawaii Enacts Nation's First 100% Renewable Energy Standard http://t.co/z45mUzrpAS @clean_energy @Good_Energy— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1434074467.0
Many renewable-energy loving states—as well as town and city governments—are ramping up their clean energy goals in spite of the federal government's favoritism of fossil fuels and indifference towards fighting climate change.
This month, Nevada assemblyman Chris Brook introduced a bill to ramp up the state's renewable portfolio standard to 80 percent by 2040. Nevada's current standard calls for 25 percent by 2025.
Transitioning to 100 percent clean energy is not as far-fetched as it seems.
Last year, The Solutions Project team published a study explaining how each state can replace fossil fuels by tapping into renewable resources available in each state such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and even small amounts of tidal and wave power.
The Solutions Project
The authors found that converting the nation's energy infrastructure into renewables is ideal because it helps fight climate change, saves lives by eliminating air pollution, creates jobs in the rapidly booming renewable energy sector and also stabilizes energy prices.
"It is now established that such a transition is possible state by state and country by country," Jacobson commented to EcoWatch in December.
Also, as USA TODAY pointed out from a University of Texas at Austin study, wind turbines and big solar farms are the cheapest sources of new electricity generation across much of the U.S. Certainly in sun-soaked California, where solar is the cheapest form of energy in much of the state.
I had the chance to take a deeper dive with Jacobson via email on Wednesday. He took the time to answer these following questions:
What do you say to the critics who say it is not feasible for California, Massachusetts (or any other state) to get to 100 percent clean energy?
Jacobson: They speak without having every studied the issue or examined the numbers, including the ability to keep the grid stable or the costs of energy.
What are some of the specific benefits for California and Massachusetts if they transition to clean energy?
Jacobson: Create more net long-term jobs than lost, stabilize energy prices because the fuel costs of wind and solar are zero, reduce the costs of energy since onshore wind and large-scale solar are the least expensive forms of new energy in the U.S. today, eliminate 13,000 air pollution deaths and hundreds of thousands of illnesses in California alone saving 3 percent of the GDP, reduce terrorism and catastrophic risk because of the more distributed nature of the grid and reduce dependence on foreign energy.
What are some of the biggest obstacles (i.e. technology, politics, fossil fuel industry) for states to get to 100 percent clean energy?
Jacobson: Lack of information and people with a financial interest in the current infrastructure. Once people have full information about the transition and its benefits, most are likely to support the transition. Ninety percent of the blockade to faster progress is due to individuals and companies that have a financial interest in the current infrastructure thus profit over it not happening.
Are you working with any of the legislators who have proposed these 100 percent clean energy bills? If so, who? And, what role is The Solutions Project playing in helping states advance renewable energy policies?
Jacobson: We provide information to all parties who request it, thus our goal is not partisan. It is purely to help facilitate the healthiest and cleanest future for Americans and the world.
How do you feel about President Trump and his administration's pro-fossil fuel agenda? Does it make the push to 100 percent clean energy harder?
Jacobson: The transition will occur regardless of what President Trump wants or does because costs are favorable and most people want healthy air and lower energy prices, and see all the benefits in terms of jobs, price stability, health and security that clean, renewable energy provides.
Elon Musk's Master Plan to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy is becoming reality. Tesla and Panasonic have officially kicked off the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at the massive Gigafactory outside Sparks, Nevada.
The race to build the world's largest solar power plant is heating up. California-based energy company SolarReserve announced plans for a massive concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in Nevada that claims to be the largest of its kind once built.
The 110 MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant near Tonopah, Nevada was the first utility-scale facility in the world to feature advanced molten salt power tower technology. The developer wants to build 10 more of these at an undisclosed location in Nevada. SolarReserve
SolarReserve CEO Kevin Smith told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the $5 billion endeavor would generate between 1,500 and 2,000 megawatts of power, enough to power about 1 million homes. That amount of power is as much as a nuclear power plant, or the 2,000-megawatt Hoover Dam and far bigger than any other existing solar facility on Earth, the Review-Journal pointed out.
"It's a big project," Smith told the publication. "It's an ambitious project."
The $5B Sandstone project would create enough energy for 1 million homes https://t.co/0OBKK8mq3F— Las Vegas RJ (@Las Vegas RJ)1476280803.0
SolarReserve's Sandstone project involves at least 100,000 mirrored heliostats that capture the sun's rays and concentrates it onto 10 towers equipped with a molten salt energy storage system. The molten salt, heated to more than 1,000 degrees, then boils water and creates a steam turbine that can drive generators 24/7.
Compared to photovoltaic arrays, the appeal of CSP systems is that solar power can be used after sunset.
SolarReserve already operates a CSP plant near Tonopah, a revolutionary 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant that's now powering Nevada homes. The company says on its website that this "completely emission free" CSP plant runs without the requirement for natural gas or oil back up.
World’s First 24/7 Solar Power Plant Powers 75,000 Homes https://t.co/9Bm2fBBOgR @pvmagazine @votesolar— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1466473810.0
"Energy storage provides a firm, reliable electricity product on-demand, day and night," SolarReserve says, adding that the plant "helps meet growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources."
Smith told the Review-Journal that Sandstone construction probably won't begin for another two or three years. Once construction begins, Smith estimated the project should create about 3,000 jobs for about seven years.
He said the company will also have to build a new transmission infrastructure to carry the energy to market, and the generated power will likely will be "exported to the California market."
SolarReserve is narrowing down project sites for its 6,500-hectare project. Smith said two potential sites on federal land in Nye County have been shortlisted. However, as NPR reported, environmentalists such as Solar Done Right's Janine Blaeloch are concerned about the environmental impact of such a project.
"It transforms habitats and public lands into permanent industrial zones," she told the radio station.
The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a ballot referendum, which could have rolled back a controversial December 2015 regulator decision that lowered payments to rooftop solar customers. The ruling means that the referendum will not be voted on by the public in November.
Backed by Elon Musk's SolarCity, the referendum was challenged in court by Warren Buffett-owned NV Energy, in many ways reflecting the net-metering battle taking place across the country. There is still a proposal to grandfather in rooftop solar customers who bought or applied for systems before Dec. 31, 2015, allowing them payments at the original rates. The proposal will be decided upon by Nevada's Public Utilities Commission.
For a deeper dive:
By Climate Denier Roundup
In Nevada, the utility NV Energy is fighting against rooftop solar, specifically opposing the net metering policy that gives rooftop solar users credit for the power their panels produce. They've been releasing 30-second ads, with the most recent alleging that solar subsidies would send a billion Nevada tax dollars to out-of-state solar companies.
So how did we get to this point, where outlandish claims are the subject of ads? Last year, the state's Public Utilities Commission slashed the net metering rates, cutting how much NV Energy paid to solar power producers by 75 percent. This led to an exodus of solar companies from the state and came as a major blow to rooftop solar customers. In response, solar advocates are pushing for a ballot initiative that would restore the rates and in the process of the fight, NV Energy offers yet another shining example of how the dark art of propaganda works by co-opting language to hide its true intentions.
Like most utilities, NV Energy doesn't have a sunny outlook on the competition from distributed rooftop solar. After the solar industry and clean energy advocates started to push back on the rate change, last February, NV Energy hired an attorney to create a PAC to lobby to prevent any rollbacks to the solar credit cuts. And like its counterpart in Florida named "Consumers for Smart Solar," they chose a rosy name that conveys the opposite of what it really is: Citizens for Solar and Energy Fairness. Opposing policies that pay solar users for the power it produces hardly seems fair.
Their main contention is that non-solar customers shouldn't subsidize those with solar, which on its face does make sense. But when one factors in the benefits of solar power to the grid, public health and the planet, as Solarcity and the NRDC did, a different picture comes to light. It turns out the clean energy these solar customers are delivering provides between $7-$14 million in net benefits, every single year. Even if you assume that such a figure is a little high, that's still a huge return on investment.
It's worth reiterating that's a "net" benefit, meaning the perks of net metering provide as much as $14 million in benefits above and beyond the increase in power bills that the site claims residents will pay (and it oddly contradicts itself on that, claiming it's both $10-12 million and $16 million, on the same page…)
So net metering nets Nevada a net benefit, despite what's said on the net by solar's shady oppon-nets.