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Green, ethical, energy issues in the news (last 2 weeks)

edited 9 October 2018 at 10:41AM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
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  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    Even more pain and trouble for US coal generation as it gets targeted by schemes to 'swap it out' with cheaper RE. If (or 'as') FF's fail in the US, then the writing is Shirley on the wall for the rest of the World.

    Solar-For-Coal Swaps Could Turbocharge Clean Energy Revolution (#CleanTechnica Interview)

    In a new white paper, the clean energy group Energy Innovation has identified some low hanging coal fruit, in the form of 179 gigawatts that can’t compete on cost with solar any more. These coal units are still operating for various reasons even though solar saves money, but Energy Innovation has picked out a group of 22.5 gigawatts that could be rolled over in short order.

    If all goes according to plan, shifting those 22.5 gigawatts to clean energy would provide other coal-dependent utilities with a roadmap for retiring their coal units sooner rather than later.

    Energy Innovation focused on those particular 22.5 gigawatts because they come under the umbrella of publicly owned power companies and rural electric cooperatives. As not-for-profit entities they are more sensitive to public demand for clean energy. They answer primarily to their communities, not to shareholders.
    Solar-For-Coal Swaps

    That’s where the solar-for-coal swap concept comes in. If RECs could retire coal plants and replace them with locally sourced energy and new jobs, that would help offset the economic impact of the lost fossil energy jobs.

    Ideally, the new green jobs framework would foster improvements in the local economy rather than just enabling it to tread water. The whole idea of the swap is to reduce electricity costs for the entire community. That would benefit local businesses while giving consumers more folding money to throw around.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    More positive RE news from the NIC ["The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) provides the government with impartial, expert advice on major long-term infrastructure challenges."]

    It was the NIC who a few years ago advised the government to back off the nuclear deployment plan of 16GW, and scale back to HPC (3.2GW) plus one more, whilst watching RE and storage costs as they appeared to be the cheaper option. Now they are suggesting that even faster deployments of RE are not only possible but at the same anticipated cost for the lower targets.

    Britain urged to hit 65% renewables by 2030

    The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has advised increasing the UK’s renewable electricity target from 50% to 65% by 2030.
    New research carried out for the NIC shows how sharp falls in the cost of renewable generation mean that Britain should aim for renewables to meet two thirds of electricity needs by 2030, which can be delivered at the same overall cost as meeting only half of total demand by that date.

    I'm not surprised that renewables are the cheaper option, nor that they are getting ever cheaper, but I am surprised (and pleasantly shocked) at the incredible rate at which these options are improving. Nice.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    And another coal free run comes to an end, after 55 days this time, and due to low wind speeds and lower efficiency of gas generation during heatwaves - you learn something new everything day. Going to be a very low coal figure for 2020.

    National Grid fires up coal power station for first time in 55 days

    National Grid has fired up a coal-fired power station for the first time in 55 days after Britain’s record-breaking heatwave brought wind turbines to a near-standstill and caused gas-fired power stations to struggle.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • edited 13 August at 12:15PM
    ASavvyBuyerASavvyBuyer Forumite
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    edited 13 August at 12:15PM

    Low carbon heating can improve living standards of financially challenged households

    Significant demand reduction

    Although our study shows that the amount of energy used inside certain homes is likely to be more than we thought (if basing on actual rather than modelled required consumption), the energy used by heat pumps to meet that demand is only a third of what would be required by electric storage heaters or gas boilers. It’s also critical that the insulation of the leakiest homes is dramatically improved to further reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be supplied and reduce bills.

    4kWp, W roof, 30° pitch, Solar Edge Inverter + Optimisers. South Wales Valleys, Installed Aug 2015. Octopus Go Faster Electric Tariff.
    Solic 200 Diverter, Toshiba Ultra High Efficiency Air Conditioner/Heat Pump, Kia Soul & Renault Zoe EV's & Ohme Charger.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    A couple of US articles which both kinda say the same thing. It's cheaper to act, than not to.

    Trump exiting Paris accord will harm US economy – LSE research

    Withdrawing from the Paris agreement does not make economic sense for the US, a group of economists has argued, as the cost of clean energy has fallen since the agreement was signed in 2015, while the risks of climate catastrophe have increased.
    Economists from the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics examined the economic case for the US withdrawal, which President Donald Trump signalled in June 2017, and which will take effect on 4 November, the day after this year’s presidential election.
    They found that climate breakdown would cause growing losses to US infrastructure and property, and impede the rate of economic growth this century, and that an increasing proportion of the carbon emissions causing global heating would come from countries outside the US. That gives the US a vested interest in whether the Paris agreement succeeds or fails, regardless of whether the US fulfils its own voluntary obligations under the accord.

    Cleaning Up Our Polluted Air Would Save More Money Than It Costs

    On August 5, Drew Shindell, a professor of Earth science at Duke University, appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Shindell is the lead author of the two most recent IPCC reports. He told the committee the latest study by his colleagues and NASA shows that “Over the next 50 years, keeping to the 2º C pathway would prevent roughly 4.5 million premature deaths, and about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits.” He said many of these preventable deaths are tied to diseases resulting from poor air quality, including stroke, heart disease, and pulmonary diseases. The 2º C pathway refers to the guidelines adopted at the COP 22 climate conference in Paris in 2015 designed to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Centigrade.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    Probably could have posted this on the G&E investment thread, as we start to see the shift in value(s) from FF's to RE.

    Seven top oil firms downgrade assets by $87bn in nine months

    The world’s largest listed oil companies have wiped almost $90bn from the value of their oil and gas assets in the last nine months as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a global shift away from fossil fuels.
    In the last three financial quarters, seven of the largest oil firms have slashed their forecasts for future oil market prices, triggering a wave of downgrades to the value of their oil and gas projects totalling $87bn.
    Analysis by the climate finance thinktank Carbon Tracker shows that in the last three month alone, companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, Repsol, Eni and Equinor have reported downgrades on the value of their assets totalling almost $55bn.
    The oil valuation impairments began at the end of last year in response to growing political support for transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources, and they have accelerated as the pandemic has taken its toll on the oil industry.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    I think this might squeeze under G&E energy as it helps towards RE/BEV technology?

    Scientists Have Discovered How To Extract Rare Earth Elements From Acid Mine Drainage

    Scientists have found a way to extract rare earth elements (REE) from acid mine drainage, mining.com reports. Researchers at Penn State University detailed their findings in a paper published in the Chemical Engineering Journal. They’ve developed a two-stage treatment process for acid mine drainage which allows them to recover higher amounts of REEs. They are able to do this using smaller amounts of chemicals than before.
    Rare earth elements or REEs are a group of 17 minerals that are used in advanced technologies, such as the creation of EV batteries. They have been marked as critical to the economic and national security of the US. Almost 100% of these materials are imported. China produces ~85% of the world’s supply. Many devices that you use day to day, such as your computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, our phones, magnets, and even fluorescent lighting contain REEs.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    US continues to roll out a lot of on-shore wind, now at 110GW.

    US adds '2.5GW of new wind in Q2'

    More than 2500MW of new wind power capacity was added in the US in the second quarter of 2020, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

    Total capacity in the US is now almost 110GW, AWEA said in its 'Wind Powers America Second Quarter Report 2020'.

    AWEA said that the report shows that many wind developers managed to complete projects during the three-month period, despite the significant challenges associated with Covid-19.

    Fourteen new wind projects totalling 2546MW became operational across nine states during the second quarter, enough to power 860,000 American homes and setting a record for second quarter additions.


    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    I've seen a vid and a few articles on this recently. It covers the idea of extracting polymetallic nodules from the sea floor (around 4km down) which are very rich in metals. The article explains the pros and cons, and is suggesting an alternative/addition to conventional mining:

    CEO Of DeepGreen Metals Talks Mining Nickel & Other REEs From The Seafloor — CleanTechnica Interview

    GB: We were looking at the specific metal needs of the climate transition to understand where the four metals contained in polymetallic nodules (Ni, Mn, Co, Cu) are needed most. A wind turbine needs many tonnes of manganese. Electric transmission wires require copper. All steel structures require nickel.

    And then we looked at EV batteries and it struck us that battery cathode chemistries were not only moving towards nickel-intensive chemistries but specifically towards NMC chemistries containing Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt, with the nickel-to-cobalt ratio in the ultimate NMC 811 chemistry very closely approximating this ratio in deep-sea nodules. It was uncanny. The term “NMC battery in a rock” itself was not coined by us but an EV manufacturer who reached out to us to understand how far along we were in the process.
    GB: First, it’s important that we are real: collecting polymetallic nodules from the deep seafloor still means that we are taking from the planet a resource that is not renewable on human time scales. These rocks precipitate metals that are in solution in the ocean and take millions of years to form. There is some wildlife living on and near these rocks. So, these metals come with environmental costs. But they also offer an opportunity to dramatically reduce the environmental impacts compared to what we do today — mining metal deposits on land in some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. This dramatic compression is possible because of two factors — the properties of the rocks themselves and then the choices we can make as a steward of these rocks. Let’s start with the rocks themselves:
    • They sit unattached on the seabed. This means we don’t need to do what we do on land: clear rainforests, remove topsoil, drill and blast hard rock to excavate the ore. We need to go 4 km under the surface of the ocean and collect them using water jets that hit the rocks in parallel with the seabed, using the “Coanda effect“ to gently channel them into a collector and then into an enclosed 4 km–long pipe that brings them to the surface vessel.
    • They contain high grades of four metals all in a single rock. On land, you would need to dig up at least three types of ore from three different mines and process four times more mass to get the same amount of metal.
    • What they don’t contain is as important as what they do contain: nodules have no toxic levels of hazardous elements. This is a big deal because it makes it much easier to use 100% of the rock mass and produce no solid waste. On land, you often have to spend energy to remove toxic elements like arsenic and antimony from the metal products, then separate and deal with the residual toxic sludge. In the worst cases, it gets dumped into rivers, oceans, and nearby land poisoning ecosystems. In best cases, this toxic sludge is placed into constructed tailings dams that then need to be maintained indefinitely into the future. This is not a trivial task as man-made structures decay and has a nasty habit of failing (too many recent awful examples to site here but search for “Brazil and tailings dam”).
    • Nodules sit in the dark, quiet abyss — a food-poor bottom of the ocean with two orders of magnitude less biomass than what you would find in the soil on land. Just because there are so few creatures in the abyss and they tend to be very small does not mean they are not important or not worth protecting. 90% of these rocks sit in the top 5 centimeters of the seabed (think of it as fields covered with a 5 cm layer of loose rocks), so this presents an opportunity we don’t have on land: we can set large areas as preservation zones, we can leave ecologically-sensitive areas untouched, we can leave a pattern of rocks that connects habitats and aids recovery. On land, you have no choice, to make an open pit to access the ore, you have to cut down the forest and remove the topsoil.

    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
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