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Renewable energy, energy efficiency would create over 145,000 jobs in Alberta, Canada

green-collarAlberta could produce over 145,000 jobs by going green: report HTTP://EDMONTONJOURNAL.COM/BUSINESS/ENERGY/ALBERTA-COULD-PRODUCE-OVER-145000-JOBS-BY-GOING-GREEN-REPORT GORDON KENT April 22, 2016 Alberta could create more than 145,000 jobs by investing more heavily in renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transit, a report by three environmental organizations says.

The move would boost employment when oil prices have dropped, reduce carbon emissions and help shift the economy toward green industries, according to the report released Friday by Greenpeace, the Alberta Green Economy Network and Gridworks Energy Group.

“The government can start putting people back to work without having to wait for the price of oil to go back up,” co-author David Thompson said Friday, which was also Earth Day.

The report estimates 68,400 positions are available from energy efficiency upgrades on more than 183,000 older homes and other buildings, requiring spending of $1 billion over five years.

Another 30,000 to 40,000 places would come from building LRT lines at a cost of more than $3.6 billion, along with the unpriced expansion of bike lanes, sidewalks and other sustainable transportation.

As well, there could be 46,780 jobs created by 2020 by almost doubling the amount of wind power to seven per cent of the electricity grid, boosting solar and geothermal production, and improving energy efficiency and storage.

No price tag is attached to this development. The provincial budget calls for investing $6.2 billion raised by the new carbon levy in green infrastructure, renewable energy, energy efficiency and other work over five years.

Many communities are already shifting toward renewable power.

The Lubicon Lake First Nation of Little Buffalo, 465 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, put in an 80-panel, 20.8-kilowatt solar electricity system next to its health centre last summer. The Louis Bull First Nation at Maskwacis, 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, will start installing 340 solar panels on four public buildings next month, training residents to work in this field and cutting electricity bills, councillor Desmond Bull said.

The approximately $300,000 cost is being covered with money from the federal government.

The project is intended to help the environment as well as produce economic development, Bull said.

“There’s not really any template or model for how First Nations can move in this direction.”

City of Edmonton chief economist John Rose cautioned this week that governments need to be prudent about major investments in renewable energy, but Thompson said Alberta has big wind and solar resources.

“We can learn from the mistakes others have made … We can go down the tunnel and hopefully get less scratched.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Canada, employment, renewable | Leave a comment

Barack Obama’s climate change achievements

Obama solarObama’s science legacy: climate (policy) hots up President sidesteps Congress to curb US greenhouse-gas emissions. Jeff Tollefson 23 August 2016 Global warming was one of Barack Obama’s top priorities — and one of the most difficult to address, given strong opposition from Republicans in Congress. Yet he managed to help broker a global climate accord and push through regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks and power plants.

“Obama has established a terrific climate legacy,” says David Doniger, who directs the climate and clean-air programme at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group in New York.

The president’s earliest actions capitalized on the global financial crisis. In February 2009, Obama signed economic-stimulus legislation that included nearly $37 billion for clean-energy research and development (R&D) at the Department of Energy. Four months later, with failing car companies seeking a federal bailout, the Obama administration proposed higher fuel-efficiency requirements and the first greenhouse-gas standards for passenger vehicles. Theregulations, which took effect in 2012, will nearly double the average fuel efficiency of vehicles by 2025, to around 23 kilometres per litre.

And after his campaign for a comprehensive climate bill failed in 2010, an emboldened Obamaused existing laws to issue regulations that curbed greenhouse-gas emissions, bolstered energy-efficiency standards and expanded energy R&D programmes.

But the president’s big push on climate came in advance of the United Nations climate summit in Paris in 2015. He committed the United States to reduce emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, and negotiated directly with countries such as China to build support for a global climate agreement. The final version, adopted on 12 December, aims to hold average global temperatures to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

“Paris is a major achievement for the world,” says Robert Socolow, a climate scientist at Princeton University in New Jersey. “I don’t think it would have happened without Obama.”

Yet Obama’s domestic achievements could be undone by legal challenges. In February, the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked a federal regulation to reduce emissions from existing power plants. The fate of that rule— the cornerstone of Obama’s plan to reduce emissions — could depend on the election in November. The Supreme Court is down one member and the next president will choose a replacement, who could decide whether the climate rule stands.

Some environmental experts say that Obama should have pushed harder for a comprehensive climate bill, rather than settling for piecemeal regulations. “All of these things are actually small bites at the apple that won’t achieve meaningful emissions reductions over time,” says Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington DC.

Others criticize Obama for encouraging a vast expansion of domestic oil and gas development, even as he sought to wean the country off coal and curb its greenhouse-gas emissions. “The administration is still trying to have it both ways,” says Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, an advocacy group in Washington DC.

Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried oil from the Canadian tar sands to US refineries, and has said that some fossil fuels should be kept “in the ground”. But his administration continues to push an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that leads to higher production of domestic fossil fuels, Kretzmann says.

Nonetheless, Obama has helped to change the conversation about global warming at home and abroad, says Doniger. “The next president needs to do more,” he says, “but did the Obama administration move the ball forward? They sure did.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Climate Change Gravest Health Threat of 21st Century

flag-canadaLeading Doctor Calls Climate Change Gravest Health Threat of 21st Century

‘When you cannot feed your children, you will do anything, even if it means going to war. This is the reality of climate change’

Climate change is the greatest threat to public health worldwide and doctors must step up to help mitigate it, according to a leading advocate speaking at the annual Canadian Medical Association (CMA) meeting in Vancouver on Monday.

Dr. James Orbinski, a former top official with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who is now an an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, urged physicians to “step up and step out” in the fight against climate change as part of their duties to create “health-in-all” policies.

“We’re not separate from our biosphere, or our planet,” Orbinski told the audience of 600. “We can’t possibly live, survive, and thrive without our biosphere. It affects us and we affect it.”

“Climate change is very much of our own making…but as doctors, we have a vital responsibility to urge the development of a health-in-all-policies approach,” he said.

The summit is taking place following extreme weather events and other environmental catastrophes throughout Canada, from wildfires in Fort McMurray to a massive oil spill in Saskatchewan.

The Vancouver Sun reports on Orbinski’s comments:

Droughts, fires like the one in Fort McMurray in May, floods, food security and infectious diseases are all linked to climate change.

Mental health problems and respiratory ailments from air pollution as well as rising rates of infectious diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease are also some of the consequences of climate change.

He also noted that Canada’s yearly rate of warming is twice the global pace, which means the effects of climate change will increase as time goes on, absent a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

“The implications are utterly profound,” Orbinski said.

“People go to war over water, food and territory, and when you cannot feed your children, you will do anything, even if it means going to war. This is the reality of climate change.”

CMA president Dr. Cindy Forbes said the organization would attempt to create an action plan. “I appreciated greatly Dr. Orbinski’s call to action, and I agree as a nation and as a planet we cannot ignore climate change,” she said.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | climate change, health | Leave a comment

Entergy and Exelon ask New York regulators to approve sale of FitzPatrick nuclear plantby Nov 18

Companies ask regulators to approve sale of FitzPatrick nuclear plant ,, 23 Aug 16  By Tim Knauss |  Email the author | Follow on Twitter SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The companies involved in the $110 million sale of FitzPatrick nuclear plant have asked New York regulators to approve the transaction by Nov. 18, saying the deal could fall apart without prompt regulatory approval.

Entergy Corp., the current owner, and Exelon Corp., the buyer, filed a petition Monday asking the state Public Service Commission to approve the sale. They also will seek approvals soon from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the IRS and other agencies.

The sale will be automatically canceled, unless Entergy and Exelon mutually agree to move ahead, if PSC approval and other conditions are not met by Nov. 18, according to a copy of the sales agreement provided to state regulators.

Exelon wants state regulators to approve the sale before investing “tens of millions of dollars” in a planned refueling outage in January that would extend FitzPatrick’s operating life, according to the petition…..

Exelon and Entergy could face other obstacles to completing the deal, including court challenges.

Several parties, including the owners of non-nuclear power plants, warned the PSC that nuclear subsidy payments might violate federal rules over wholesale energy markets……..

Before they approve the sale of FitzPatrick, New York regulators will examine whether the transaction would give Exelon the ability to manipulate the wholesale market by giving it control over too many power plants…..

August 24, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

safety-symbol-SmFlag-USAInadvertent’ Nuke Risks Still Not Tracked Eight Years After Warning  

ETHAN BARTON A Department of Energy contractor still has problems with a nuclear weapons safety program eight years after a federal watchdog pointed out issues, the agency’s inspector general (IG) reported Monday.

Sandia National Laboratories’ system designed to track how problems with the nuclear weapons safety program were addressed was never completed, according to the IG report. The watchdog warned the contractor that such a system was necessary in 2008.

The safety program is intended to “minimize the possibility of accidental or inadvertent nuclear explosive detonation,” the report said. (RELATED: US Nuclear Weapons Could Die Thanks To $20 Million Of Neglect)

“[T]he project that Sandia established in 2011 to improve the formal tracking system has languished for several years without a defined scope or firm completion date,” the IG wrote. “Sandia officials postponed any updates to the tracking system.”

The contractor started a tracking system in 2008, but stopped updating it in 2011 when it launched an improvement project.

“As a result, the information that is needed to make informed decisions about safety improvements in future weapon refurbishment programs may not be readily accessible,” the watchdog continued. “[F]uture engineers may have difficulty finding the latest information on soft spots if Sandia does not maintain its tracking system.”

Employee turnover could also decrease the amount of knowledge surrounding the gaps in the nuclear weapons safety program, the IG noted. A system that tracks problems with nuclear weapons safety would reduce the knowledge lost from such turnover.

Sandia “identified 23 high priority nuclear weapons safety issues” in 2008, “for which there were either no plans to resolve the issues or plans were incomplete,” but wasn’t tracking how the contractor tracked corrections for those problems, the IG wrote.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The national security case against Trans Pacific Partnership

texy-TPPThe national security case against TPP, By John Adams, BG USA (Ret), The Hill, 17 Aug 16  “……..Our military is now shockingly vulnerable to major disruptions in the supply chain, including from substandard manufacturing practices, natural disasters, and price gouging by foreign nations. Poor manufacturing practices in offshore factories lead to problem-plagued products, and foreign producers—acting on the basis of their own military or economic interests—can sharply raise prices or reduce or stop sales to the United States.

The link between TPP and this kind of offshoring has been well-established.  The proposed deal would not only repeat but magnify the mistakes of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), offering extraordinary privileges to companies that move operations overseas.  Just this spring, an official U.S. government study by the International Trade Commission noted that the pact would further gut the U.S. manufacturing sector.  This, following the loss of 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, is a perilous proposition.
Foreign policy and national security have long been the arguments of last resort for backers of controversial trade deals.  A quarter century ago, we were warned that, unless NAFTA and deals with eight Latin American nations were enacted, China would come to dominate trade in the hemisphere.  NAFTA passed, but America’s share of goods imported by Mexico fell, while China’s share rose by a staggering 2,600 percent. Today, following the implementation of several additional major trade deals, we’re still waiting for China to comply with its WTO commitments, and we’re still waiting for progress in dealing with our astronomical trade deficit.
While the TPP’s backers present our choice as one of trade versus protectionism, this couldn’t be further from the truth.  We already have free trade agreements with the six TPP countries that account for more than 80 percent of the promised trade. Because all TPP nations are currently members of the World Trade Organization, their tariffs have already been cut to minimal levels.
Of TPP’s 30 chapters, only six deal with traditional trade issues. The rest deal primarily with special privileges for multinational corporations and investors—like establishing the rights of companies to sue governments for cash compensation over the impacts of health and safety regulations.  These dominant features of the TPP would vastly expand the rights of multinational firms that do not necessarily represent America’s national interests.
Critics of the TPP come from both parties in Congress—and from the business, labor, environmental, consumer, human rights, and defense communities.  These diverse players are not opposed to trade.  Rather, most simply want a different trade model that facilitates the worthy goal of global engagement without shortchanging American workers, policymaking prerogatives, and national security capacities.
While the Obama Administration has been wise to shift our defense and diplomatic attention towards the Asia-Pacific region, it’s now time for a “pivot” in our approach to trade.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world – Chile leads in the solar age

Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’ Dr. Joe Romm , Founding Editor of Climate Progress, “the indispensable blog,” 24 Aug 16 

Half the price of coal!  Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports.

In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developerSolarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced.

Carlos Finat, head of the Chilean Renewable Energies Association (ACERA) told Bloomberg that the auction is “a strong warning sign that the energy business continues on the transition path to renewable power and that companies should adapt quickly to this transition process.” Indeed, in the same auction, the price of coal power was nearly twice as high!

Grid-connected solar power on Chile has quadrupled since 2013. Total installed capacity exceeded 1,000 megawatts this year — the most by far in South America. Another 2,000 megawatts is under construction, and there are over 11,000 megawatts that are “RCA Approved” (i.e. have environmental permits).

Chile is aided by the fact that its Atacama desert is “the region with the highest solar radiation on the planet,” according to the Inter-American Development Bank. So much solar is being built in the high-altitude desert that Northern Chile can’t use it all, and the government is rushing to buildnew transmission lines.

Chile is part of a global trend where solar energy has doubled seven times since 2000. In the U.S. alone, it has grown 100-fold in the past decade thanks to a sharp drop in prices that has brought the cost of solar (with subsidies) to under four cents a kilowatt hour in many places, as I detailed last month.

The future for solar could not be sunnier.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | renewable, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

World needs a longer-term view on climate – beyond the Paris agreement

Without a longer-term view, the Paris Agreement will lock in warming for centuries, The Conversation, , August 24, 2016 The Paris climate agreement set a “safe” global warming limit of below 2℃, aiming below 1.5℃ by 2100. The world has already warmed about a degree since the Industrial Revolution, and on our current emissions trajectory we will likely breach these limits within decades.

However, we could still come back from the brink with a massive effort.

But let’s take a closer look at that warming limit. If we accept that 1.5-2℃ of warming marks the danger threshold, then this is true whether it applies tomorrow, in 2100, or some time thereafter. What we need is to stay below these limits for all time……

August 24, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Trends in Europe’s changing energy systems

Europe’s Energy Transition: Megatrends & Tipping Points (Part 3)  Shifting Power-Generating Resources, Forbes, 18 Aug 16 By Mark Livingstone & Jan Vrins In our initial blog on Europe’s energy transition, we discussed seven megatrends that are fundamentally changing how we produce and use power. In this third blog in the series, we discuss the shift in power generation fuel mix and how this is transforming the European power industry.

European electricity-generating facilities that use oil, coal, and nuclear are devaluing and at risk of becoming stranded as generation sources shift to less expensive renewable generation and natural gas generation. This shift is playing out in different ways across Europe.

 Generation Fuel Mix Shift Is Accelerating

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), net European generation capacity will increase by 7 GW in 2016. Much of Europe’s new capacity comes from renewables, with close to 75% of new capacity coming from wind (44%) and solar (29%). While new coal (16%) and gas (6%) capacity was added, far more coal assets were decommissioned. As a result, net new capacity in Europe is virtually 100% renewables. While recent subsidy cuts have tempered solar’s growth, wind is marching onward. There is still no effective utility-scale solution to the inherent intermittency in renewable generation, as storage solutions and grid interconnection/active management are still lacking penetration at scale. Natural gas is the bridging fuel during the shift to renewables, supported by the abundance of natural gas available globally, lower long-term prices, and increasing import capacity in Europe.

What Are the Drivers Behind This Shift?

We see five main drivers for the shift in generation resources described above:

  1. Climate Change Policy: Europe has taken definitive steps to decarbonize its power generation, including relatively generous support for renewables and economic penalties for carbon emitters via the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). See our previous blog on the rising number of carbon emissions reduction policies and regulations.
  2. European Market Coupling: A second aspect of Europe’s power sector is the physical and economic integration of markets. Interconnection growth has been strong, and the economic incentives via use of power exchanges for dynamic price signaling has provided further support for low-carbon generation.
  3. Generation Economics: While policy and regulatory support for low-carbon generation has taken centre stage, the economics of various forms of generation have also been shifting. Within 7 years, solar power has gone from a heavily subsidized resource to a key component of the generation mix, even with zero or minimal subsidies. Europe continues to lead the world in development of offshore wind, particularly in the North Sea. Thermal generation economics have also changed—despite relatively low gas and coal prices, low marginal cost renewables are increasingly forcing thermal plants to shift from stable baseload operation to less efficient cycling and reliance on ancillary service contracts.
  4. Decentralization of Generation: The scale of distributed energy resources (DER) is not yet huge across Europe; however, this trend is already shaking the traditional utility business models. The rise of the prosumer is gathering momentum, be it an industrial customer who invests in combined heat and power, a new commercial building with a biomass boiler, or a housing development with rooftop solar panels.
  5. Public Sentiment: This driver cannot be underestimated given the prevalence of democratically elected governments in Europe. Public support for action to curb climate change despite the costs has been most obvious in Germany, where the changes via nuclear shutdowns and solar growth have been massive—and expensive. In the UK, it is more expensive to construct offshore wind than onshore, but the public and political preference is that location trumps economics.

How Does This Play Out Across Europe?…….

August 24, 2016 Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE | Leave a comment