Renewables Investment Would Boost Economy, Health for Both U.S. and Developing India
By Paul Brown
Although the two countries are at completely different stages of development, they have both been seen as among the most problematical in matching their needs for electricity with the global attempt to avoid dangerous climate change.
But separate pieces of research into the problem of reaching an emissions-free future by 2050 show that both the U.S. and India would both improve their economies and the health of their citizens, as well as save natural resources by concentrating on developing renewables.
India, which until recently made economic development its number one priority over tackling climate change, can now do both without any economic penalty. This is despite the fact that the country currently has enormous power shortages and plans to increase electricity production dramatically.
India Doubles Down on Renewables https://t.co/4vDGjaDBZp @Green_Europe @globalactplan— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1488025815.0
Research by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) as part of a Finnish Solar Revolution project showed that India, with its abundance of renewable resources, principally solar, can avoid the path of western countries where increasing living standards have been coupled with heavy emissions from electricity generation and industry.
"The possibility that a country like India could move to a fully renewable electricity system within three decades, and do it more economically than the current system, shows that the developing countries can skip the emission intensive phase in their economic development. It is a competitive advantage to not take the road of the developed world," said Pasi Vainikka, principal scientist at renewable energy research group Soletair.
The biggest problem for India is the monsoon season, the research showed, when solar supply is substantially reduced. The country can compensate by developing more wind farms and using hydropower—which is abundant at exactly these times. The proposed system is cheaper than India's current grid, which runs principally on coal. The researchers believe that individual consumers and businesses can play a part by having their own solar panels backed up by battery storage for evening and night use. These so-called "prosumers" would contribute about 15 percent to 20 percent of total electricity demand of India.
This would also enable a faster transition to electric vehicles, another ambitious aim of the government.
"Given India's burgeoning electricity demand and the persistent supply demand gap along with the summer shortages and outages, solar PV prosumers will have a crucial role in enabling the country's transition to a fully sustainable energy system," said Christian Breyer, professor of solar economy at LUT and one of the researchers.
By 2050 the cost per megawatt hour of electricity from an all-renewable system would be 52 euros compared with 57 euros (approximately 61 dollars compared with 67 dollars), the cost of the current system. The scientists believe that using renewables to desalinate seawater and create synthetic gas will further reduce costs to the country.
A huge investment of 3,380 billion euros (approximately 3.97 trillion dollars) would be needed to achieve this, but the country would have to spend these sums in any case to achieve its aim of meeting strong demand increases from 1,720m MWh in 2015 to about 6,200m MWh in 2050.
None of the Indian costings include health benefits. LUT researcher Ashish Gulagi said the financial benefits are already outstanding without even counting the "reduced health costs or even substantial reduction of premature deaths due to improved air quality."
The American research, however, does need to factor in these benefits to show that the U.S. economy would gain from switching to renewables.
The American researchers examined rolling out the existing renewable energy portfolios standards (RPS) adopted by 29 U.S. states across the whole country, and concluded that by 2050 the country would save hundreds of billions of dollars in health and environmental costs.
There is a net economic gain even when all the implementation costs are taken into account.
These findings are completely contrary to the current policies of the Trump administration that are designed to boost coal production.
Lead author Dr. Ryan Wiser, senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said, "Our analysis shows that, even under conservative assumptions, the health and environmental benefits of using renewable energy to meet RPS demand will likely exceed the costs.
"For existing RPS policies, the lower-bound estimates for human health benefits associated with improved air quality come in at least $48 billion, plus $37 billion in benefits from reduced damage to the climate."
The study also found there were additional gains as a result of reduced water use. Both coal and nuclear power stations need large quantities of cooling water—a serious problem in some parched areas of the U.S.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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