Iran’s invisible opportunity, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Amory B. Lovins, 30 Sept 15, “……….the areas that could do the most to keep Iran from drifting back towards the nuclear path? Energy efficiency and renewables.
Legendary possibilities. At the eye of the storm over the Iran agreement is a zone of silence—an almost unnoticed opportunity to raise the odds of success. On the Iranian side, wisely using the period of restrictions on potential military nuclear activities could help Iran shift its domestic electricity priorities from a failed nuclear power program to a world-class, faster-to-implement, and vastly cheaper program that combines energy efficiency, modern renewables, and advances in the electrical grid. By weakening the domestic case for nuclear power, this approach could help remove uncertainty about Iran’s continuing domestic nuclear activities (however benign they may allegedly be, such as the creation of medical radioisotopes for radiation therapy). Importantly, that would clear some of the fog around Iran’s nuclear program. This in turn would isolate bomb-seekers and allow outside intelligence and monitoring efforts to focus on needles instead of haystacks.
Modernizing Iran’s electricity investments could also reduce the risk of renewed sanctions, reward and reinforce political moderation, enhance Iran’s prosperity and energy independence, bolster national pride, and—since the same logic applies to neighboring countries already making similar energy shifts for economic reasons—help stabilize the region by reversing an incipient Gulf nuclear arms race. More broadly, it could even help guard the global nonproliferation regime from dangerously permissive interpretations by updating the purpose of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s (NPT’s) Article IV, which enshrines signatories’ “inalienable right” to the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy. Thus, a speedy alignment of Iranian domestic electricity investments with new economic realities could advance the security and economic interests of Iran, Israel, the Arab Gulf states, America and its P5+1 partners, and the world. It could strengthen Iran’s global integration, political evolution, and national stature without compromising others’ similar goals.
Key Iranian officials already publicly favor this approach to their nation’s energy needs, and the technologies are ready and the vendors eager. Continue reading
Near the town of Guadix, where summer temperatures often top 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the main sound at the site is a whirring of motors to keep the mirrors – mounted on giant steel frames – tracking the sun as the Earth turns.
The Andasol plant, whose name combines the local Andalucia region with the Spanish word for sun – “sol”, provides electricity for up to about 500,000 people from about 620,000 curved mirrors.
The glass alone would cover 1.5 square km (0.6 square miles) – the size of about 210 soccer pitches. Installed electricity generating capacity at this semi-desert site is about 150 megawatts.
There is little sign of life here, at an altitude of 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) near the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range. Some hardy red and yellow flowers grow around the fringes, a few pigeons flap past and workers say that the odd fox lopes by at night.
The environmental benefits of clean energy are judged to outweigh the scar to the landscape from the mirrors, which are visible from space. The land is infertile, there is little wildlife and few people live nearby. The biggest regional city, Granada, with about 240,000 people, is 70 km (45 miles) away.
Andasol was Europe’s first “parabolic trough solar power plant” when its first section opened in 2009 – California has the biggest.
Sunlight bounces off the mirrors to heat a synthetic oil in a tube to a blazing 400 degrees C (752 F). That energy is in turn used to drive a turbine, generating electricity.
At Andasol, some energy also goes into a “heat reservoir” – a tank containing thousands of tonnes of molten salt that can drive the turbines after sundown, or when it is overcast, for about 7.5 hours.
That gets round the main drawback for solar power – the sun does not always shine. The system is very different from better-known rooftop solar panels that transform sunlight directly into electricity……..
Solar power has massive potential – one U.N. study estimated the world’s electricity needs could be generated by harvesting solar power from an area of the Sahara 800 km (500 miles) by 800 km.
And in 2014, a report by the International Energy Agency said the sun could – with a radical shift in investments – be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear.
Capacity just from solar thermal plants like Andasol could expand to 1,000 gigawatts a year from 4 gigawatts at the end of 2013, the agency said…….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-climatechange-summit-earthprints-spai-idUSKCN0RV43O20151001
Want a Solar-Powered Home? Here’s a New Battery That Won’t Ignite
As solar panels and wind turbines spread worldwide, they’ll need batteries to store power for times when they don’t produce it. Harvard debuts a promising prototype. By Wendy Koch, National Geographic SEPTEMBER 24, 2015 If you dream of an off-grid house powered by the sun, plan on a battery to store energy for cloudy days—ideally, one that won’t catch fire. Harvard researchers might have just the fix.
“It is a huge step forward. It opens this up for anyone to use,” says Michael Aziz, Harvard University engineering professor and co-author of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. Because the battery is safe and non-corrosive, he says, it’s well suited for both businesses and homes, adding: “This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement.”………http://news.nationalgeographic.com/energy/2015/09/150924-nonflammable-battery-could-charge-solar-homes/
World could go 100% renewable by 2050 for net economic gain REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 21 September 2015 [excellent graphs and tables ] Whether or not last week’s unceremonious changing of the guard in Canberra will shift Australia’s political debate on renewables from bickering over costs, to developing sensible policy for growth, remains to be seen.
But a new report released by Greenpeace International on Monday has reinforced the view that there are no major economic or technical barriers to shifting the world to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050; nor to the complete phase-out of fossil fuels. All we need now is the political will to do it.
Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution scenario 2015 phases out coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy as fast as technically and economically possible, by expanding the renewable energy share to 42 per cent in 2030, 72 per cent in 2040 and 100 per cent in 2050.
The only remaining use for fossil fuels, says the report, would be in the non-energy sector, such as petrochemicals and steel making.
Of course, the transition will not come cheaply. As you can see in the chart below, [on original] there is a lot to be done, and according to, the costs will be “huge” at around $US1 trillion a year. But the analysis also shows that the savings are even bigger.
“The investment costs for the switch to 100% renewables by 2050 is about $US1 trillion a year,” the report says.
“But because renewable energies don’t need fuel, the average fuel cost savings are $US1.07 trillion a year. So the investment over the period is met in full (107 per cent) by fuel cost savings, with the cross-over happening between 2025 and 2030.
Beyond 2050, there are no further fuel costs in renewable energy, thus stabilising energy costs for socities, as well as reducing energy sector emissions to near zero.
So it is not only achievable by 2050, according to Greenpeace’s analysis, but affordable, cost competitive, a net job creator and would bring a huge cut in global emissions. You can see in the table below[on original] how this plays out under Greenpeace’s scenario, as compared to the International Energy Agency’s “Current Policies” scenario.
A large part of the report focuses on the global power generation sector, which it notes has been the most dynamic, with a renewables comprising 60 per cent of new generation world wide in 2014, despite energy subsidies still being “weighted heavily in favour of fossil fuels.”
According to the report, the transformation to a carbon free 100% renewable energy system in the Advanced Energy [R]evolution scenario – Greenpeace’s optimum scenario – will increase global electricity demand in 2050
to more than 40,000 TWh/a from about 18,860 TWh/a in 2012.
“Electricity will become the major renewable ‘primary’ energy, not only for direct use for various purposes but also for the generation of synthetic fuels for fossil fuels substitution,” says the report……………http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/world-could-go-100-renewable-by-2050-for-net-economic-gain-90746
China continues to invest in renewables at a scale that dwarfs that of other countries. China invested nearly $90bn in clean energy in 2014, or 73% more than the US, building large solar parks in Qinghai and wind farms in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, just to name a few.
as solar power rapidly becomes a mainstream energy option, the industry could create over 670,000 new, clean-energy jobs in India.
virtually infinite potential from wind and solar energy can truly democratise the generation of, and access to, power.
Race to renewable: five developing countries ditching fossil fuels
Costa Rica, Afghanistan, China, India and Albania are all embracing renewable energy sources – five experts give their opinion on what the future holds Continue reading
Columbia, Maryland Running On 100% Renewable Energy Energy Matters, 15 Sept 15 A new solar power station has enabled Columbia Association to complete its transformation to running facilities and services in Columbia, Maryland on 100 per cent renewable energy.
Columbia is an unincorporated city of nearly 100,000 people that was established in the 1960’s; part of the New Towns Movement in the United States. Its founder, James Rouse, sought to build a complete city that would respect the land and provide for the growth of people as well as making a profit.
Columbia Association (CA) is the nonprofit service corporation that manages Columbia. It operates a vast array of infrastructure, recreational, cultural and community services within the community; including fitness facilities, tennis clubs and dozens of swimming pools.
Columbia Association had been sourcing 75 percent of its energy from wind renewable energy credits. The final 25 percent is now being generated by a newly completed two megawatt solar farm; a project of SunEdison and Bithenergy.
The Nixon Farm solar project is located West Friendship, Maryland. Electricity generated by the plant is provided to Columbia via virtual net metering and under a 20 year power purchase agreement with SunEdison.
“With the completion of the Nixon Farm solar power plant, the people of Columbia now enjoy the environmental and cost benefits of getting 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources,” said Steve Raeder, SunEdison’s general manager of Eastern U.S. commercial and industrial solar…….In addition to its renewable energy efforts, Columbia Association has been very active as an Energy Star Partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), promoting the benefits of the program to the community as well as carrying out various energy efficiency upgrades within the facilities it operates. http://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/sunedison-columbia-solar-em5061/
Alabama has 2 megawatts of installed renewable power at present, which ranks it among the bottom 10 states in that category. But that is going to change quickly, after the Alabama Public Service Commission gave its blessing recently to a plan that will allow Alabama Power to add 500 megawatts of new renewable power within 6 years……..
Southern-tier states enjoy much more sunlight than northern states and could generate most if not all the electricity they need from renewable sources. Alabama has failed to capitalize on its renewable assets until now, but will soon become a model for its neighboring states to emulate. http://cleantechnica.com/2015/09/15/alabama-power-getting-500-mw-renewable-energy-plan/
Aspen Stands Tall As Third US City Achieves 100% Renewable Energy http://cleantechnica.com/2015/09/15/aspen-stands-tall-third-us-city-achieves-100-renewable-energy/ September 15th, 2015 by Glenn Meyers
Aspen, the Colorado skiing-Mecca, now stands tall as a renewable energy visionary, having become one of three US cities to run on 100% renewable energy. This news was recently reported by The Aspen Times, citing staff members at Aspen’s environmental and project departments. The City of Aspen, a famed tourist location in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, serves a population of just over 6,600 people, and its renewable power supply comes from a combination of wind, hydro, geothermal heat, and solar.
The plan for shifting to renewable energy and meeting the challenges of climate changedates back to 2005. According to Chris Menges and Will Dolan, from Aspen’s Sustainability and Utility departments:
“In 2005, the City created the Canary Initiative, which identifies Aspen and other mountain communities as “canaries in the coal mine” with respect to their sensitivity to the effects of climate change. Aspen relies on a stable climate and thriving natural environment for its economic viability and quality of life. In 2007, Aspen City Council adopted the Canary Action Plan, committing to the GHG reduction goals.”
Aspen’s transition to 100% renewable occurred September 10, after the city signed a contract with wholesale electric energy provider Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska in order “to achieve this final leg of our goal,” city Utilities and Environmental Initiatives director David Hornbacher said.
Aspen receives wind energy from four wind farms in Nebraska and South Dakota, and the city also uses energy from Ruedi Reservoir, Maroon Creek, and Ridgway Reservoir, a hydropower facility near Montrose. Two utilities, Aspen Electric Utility and Holy Cross Energy, serve the community.
Mother Nature Network reports other cities aiming for 100% renewable energy include Copenhagen, Denmark; Bonaire, a Caribbean island; Munich and Frankfurt, Germany; San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, California; Sydney, Australia; and Isle of Wight, England.
Why solar energy is poised for yet another record year.
The growth boom is being fueled by a combination of declining costs, low interest rates, and a federal solar investment tax credit, a new report suggests.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/09/why-solar-energy-is-poised-for-yet-another-record-year/ & http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/3864796633753627934
Energy boss tips solar explosion
One of the sector’s most experienced leaders has predicted a major investment in ‘utility scale’ solar power.
Sophie Lewis: Sure, winter felt chilly, but Australia is setting new heat records at 12 times the rate of cold ones
Melbourne, Canberra and much of southern Australia have shivered through a cold winter. But on a longer view, record cold snaps are disappearing, while Australian heat records continue to be broken.
Forest fires in Alaska: A ticking climate time bomb
As US President Barack Obama visits Alaska to focus attention on climate change, scientists warn that this very bad wildfire year is part of a vicious cycle caused by – and accelerating – climate change.
Solar power supplies 10 percent of Japan peak summer power: Asahi http://news.yahoo.com/solar-power-supplies-10-percent-japan-peak-summer-030520802–finance.html?utm_content=buffer78331&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer September 2, 2015 TOKYO (Reuters) – Solar power generation contributed to about 10 percent of peak summer power supplies of Japan’s nine major utilities, equivalent to more than 10 nuclear reactors, the Asahi newspaper reported on Thursday.
Though solar power accounts for about 2 percent of annual generation of all power sources, summer’s favorable sunlight conditions increased power output, generating up to about 15 gigawatts of power in total in early August, the paper said.
Japan has been pouring billions of dollars in clean-energy investment after introducing a feed-in tariff (FIT) program in 2012, aiming to help the world’s third-biggest economy shift away from its reliance on nuclear power after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Asahi’s survey showed that the ratio of solar power at peak hours was as low as Hokuriku Electric Power’s <9505.T> 5.9 percent and as high as Kyushu Electric Power’s <9508.T> 24.6 percent, depending on access to ample land with favorable sunlight conditions.
The installed capacity of solar power taking advantage of FIT scheme has reached more than 24 gigawatts at the end of April, government data showed, up from about 5 GW before the scheme started.(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
Renewable Energy Rises in Russia: The Early Steps Huffington Post By Woodrow W. Clark II and Dimitri Elkin(*) Woodrow Clark Economist for environment and renewable energy
As renewable energy becomes more widespread, its “green” transformational impact can be seen in some of the most remote corners of the world. Here are two recent examples from Russia, a country not typically associated with the green energy industrial revolution. The EU countries, Asian nations and now China are all embarked on this green revolution. While the USA just started, Russia is moving ahead with its own green renewable energy industrial transformation………..
Russia’s image as an ecologically ignorant oil superpower is so well established that it may come as a surprise that during the Soviet period, Russia had many groundbreaking achievements in the renewable energy sector. For example, in the 1930s, USSR was the first nation in the world to construct utility-scale wind turbines. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union opened an ocean tidal electric plant and took the lead in building geothermal power plants. There are currently around 100 MW of geothermal power plants operating in Russia, and about 55 MW of more geothermal planned additional capacity in the near future.
Whatever progress the Soviet Union made with renewables, it was derailed by Russia’s economic upheaval during the post-Soviet period (1991-2014), when electricity production fell by one third, creating plenty of spare capacity. During the presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-2000) when the USSR transformed into a new Russia, and then the first two terms of Vladimir Putin (2000-2008), the Russian government was preoccupied with delivering economic growth without considering its impact on the environment through the exploiting and exporting of coal, oil and now natural gas………
Social attitudes are also changing. Russia, just like other BRIC nations and developing countries around the world, is seeing a burgeoning middle class who now worries about their environment. And with the recent declines of the cost of renewable power, including solar panels, these renewable energy systems now seems a feasible solution for many energy consumers in Russia.
With its diverse geographic area that stretches from Arctic Circle to the subtropics, Russia sees an especially compelling opportunity for on-site power from renewable energy that is distributed through the country in cities and communities…..
While many areas of Russia will probably remain dependent on gas and coal for the foreseeable future due to central plant energy distribution, there are plenty of communities like Oktyabrsky and Batagai in Russia where renewables make economic and environmental sense. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/woodrow-clark/renewable-energy-rises-in_b_8061382.html?ir=Australia
he Koch political network has carefully singled out renewable energy while working to preserve government support for fossil fuels. Groups founded and funded by the Koch political network regard repealing oil and gas subsidies as a “tax hike” while deriding renewable energy subsidies as “a textbook case of corporate welfare.” Moreover, Koch’s lobbying campaign to distort climate science and prevent government action on greenhouse gas emissions transfers costs from the company, a major polluter, to the public.
Emails Show Koch Industries Backed Effort to Undermine Renewable Energy in Kansas Lee Fang https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/28/emails-show-koch-industries-backed-effort-undermine-renewable-energy-kansas/
Aug. 28 2015 Emails and financial documents released by the University of Kansas on Thursday reveal earmarked funding from Koch Industries to develop research used to lobby against the state renewable energy standard.
On November 12, 2013, Art Hall, the director of the university’s Center for Applied Economics, emailed Koch Industries’ Laura Hands to discuss a grant from a Koch-controlled foundation to fund research on the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Hall is the former chief economist for Koch Companies Public Sector, the lobbying subsidiary of Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in America with a significant stake in oil refining, pipelines, gas production and coal. Hands is the current community affairs director at Koch Companies Public Sector.
The Koch money was part of an ongoing project Hall described as an effort to develop “intellectual products” to be used “as a tool in economic policy debates.” Hall’s center also provides special classes to teach about the virtues of capitalism. Koch-controlled foundations approved $40,000 for work that included the renewable energy standard, as well as at least $250,000 to the center in 2008 and $100,000 to the center in 2009.
Following his grant request, Hall testified before the Kansas legislature in 2014 in favor of repealing the state renewable energy portfolio, which calls for major utility companies to use an increasing ratio of renewable energy such as wind and solar.
The emails and financial documents were released in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request filed by KU student Schuyler Kraus, the president of Students for a Sustainable Future.
Hall also helped craft unprecedented tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and backed by Koch’s local political network. The tax cuts have been viewed roundly as a historic flop, resulting in a downgrade of the state bond rating and drastic education cuts that forced public schools to close early this year. Critics argue that the tax cut and ensuing budget chaos may have hurt employment as bordering states such as Missouri are quicklyoutpacing Kansas on job growth.
President Barack Obama recently criticized Koch Industries owners Charles and David Koch, scolding the billionaires for “pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards.” In response, Charles Koch said he is opposed to “crony capitalism” in all forms.
Though the Koch Industries chief executive has said that he opposes corporate subsidies or mandates of any kind, the Koch political network has carefully singled out renewable energy while working to preserve government support for fossil fuels. Groups founded and funded by the Koch political network regard repealing oil and gas subsidies as a “tax hike” while deriding renewable energy subsidies as “a textbook case of corporate welfare.” Moreover, Koch’s lobbying campaign to distort climate science and prevent government action on greenhouse gas emissions transfers costs from the company, a major polluter, to the public. CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Lee Fanglee.firstname.lastname@example.org@lhfang
US President Barack Obama unveils measures to encourage solar power use,SMH, August 25, 2015 GARDINER HARRIS. The Obama administration has announced a slew of small measures designed to encourage the use of solar power in the US hours.
The measures included making an additional $US1 billion ($1.4 billion) in loan guarantee authority available in an existing federal program for the kind of residential rooftop solar projects that have become popular in places like California.
But none of the announced measures would provide the impact on the solar industry of the Clean Power Plan, which was announced this month and requires states to cut carbon emissions by an average of 32 per cent. That plan provides strong incentives for much of those reductions to come from the development of renewable energy resources – exactly what executives at the conference in Nevada are looking to sell.
“We’re going to make it even easier for individual homeowners to put solar panels on their roof with no upfront cost,” President Barack Obama told the summit. “A lot of Americans are going solar and becoming more energy-efficient not because of tree huggers — although trees are important, just want you to know — but because they’re cost-cutters.
With the nation’s new electrical needs growing only modestly, renewable power executives are depending on electric utilities finally retiring their aging coal-fired power plants and replacing them with renewable power sources. That process is happening anyway, but the administration’s power plan is expected to accelerate it……..http://www.smh.com.au/environment/us-president-barack-obama-unveils-measures-to-encourage-solar-power-use-20150825-gj71e8.html#ixzz3jsRuU7g4
China builds huge solar power station which could power a million homes, http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/china-builds-huge-solar-power-station-which-could-power-a-million-homes-10446840.html The Independent, ALEXANDRA SIMS, 08 August 2015 China is set to build a giant solar power station in the Gobi desert, which could generate enough energy to supply one million homes. The proposed power station will measure 10 square miles and generate 200 megawatts of solar energy.
The plans will fall in line with the Chinese government’s ambitious initiative to reduce the country’s fossil fuel energy by 20 per cent by 2030 in addition to cutting its green house gas emissions.
Construction began six years ago on the country’s first large –scale power station, according to National Geographic.Recent photos from NASA satelites show that the solar panels making up the plant cover an area roughly three times bigger than was seen three years ago.
China is quickly becoming a world leader in solar power.
According to the International Energy Agency, the country produces two-thirds of all solar panels and it gained more solar capacity than any other country in the world last year. China invested $83.3 billion dollars last year into renewable energy, more than any other country, according to a report from the UN Environment programme.
The United States, despite being the second highest investors in renewable energies, invested less than half this amount.
Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute told National Geographic: “China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force.”
She added that China, presently the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases, will be able to meet its pledge if it continues with its new emphasis on renewables.Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said: “China’s carbon dioxide emission will peak by around 2030 and China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date,” according to Reuters.
A global boom in solar power could be on the cards, according toBloomberg New Energy Finance, as panels get cheaper and batteries become more advanced.
By 2040, they predict, in moves led partly by China, solar power could account for one-third of new electricity.
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