World’s most efficient wind power plant doubles capacity

If  Norway can develop this 400 GWh wind park in its Arctic, why can’t Canada?

The Raggovidda wind park in Berlevåg, Arctic Norway, teams up with Luxembourgian investors and boosts green generation. Some of it will be used to produce hydrogen.

The Raggovidda wind farm is located on the coast of the Barents Sea. Photo: Atle Staalesen

The 15 turbines on Mount Rákkočearru have since they were built in 2014 had an annual production of close to 200 GWh. That is almost twice as much as an average wind park.

The open landscapes of the Varanger Peninsula offer little resistance and winds blow with an average speed of 9,5 meter per second all through the year. Hardly any other wind park in the world has the efficiency of Raggovidda.

Now, a major expansion is in the air. Owner Varanger Kraft sells 49 percent of the park to Cube Infrastructure Managers, a Luxembourian investment company, and announces a doubling of capacity.

By late 2021, the wind park will increase annual generation to more than 400 GWh, the company informs.

Big potential

It is the shape of the landscapes that is the main reason for the high efficiency of the plant. There is no vegetation. And the area is covered by snow major parts of the year.

“Nowhere else, the conditions are as suitable for development of wind power as along the coast of Finnmark,” Tore Martinsen, wind power developer for Varanger Kraft, told the Barents Observer in 2018.

“We have done some informal investigations and have not been able to find a single land-based facility that produces this well,” he underlined.
The project development license obtained by Varanger Kraft in 2010 includes up to 200 MW. But the company has not been able to take advantage of more than 45 MW. The reason is the insufficiently developed transmission grid in the region.
Tore Martinsen is wind power developer for Varanger Kraft. Photo: Atle Staalesen
Hydrogen production

The expansion of the Raggovidda comes as Varanger Kraft is developing a test facility for production of hydrogen.

Down by the sea port of nearby Berlevåg, the company this year started to build a 400 square meter facility that ultimately is to produce a minimum of 120 tons of hydrogen.

It is an experimental project, and production will initially be modest on an industrial scale. But if successful, the hydrogen generation would mean that the increasingly cheap electricity from Raggovidda will not necessarily have to be transferred out of Finnmark, but instead used for alternative purposes. MORE


Many people want to set aside half of Earth as nature

A new survey of 12,000 adults in 12 countries revealed overwhelming support for conservation, as well as knowledge gaps in subjects like extinction rates.

Image result for national geographic: Many people want to set aside half of Earth as nature
A male Bornean orangutan rests in Gunung Palung National Park. The species is critically endangered, in large part due to habitat loss. PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM LAMAN, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION

Famed biologist E.O. Wilson has argued in recent years that humans should set aside half of Earth as nature, an ambitious proposition to stave off mass extinction and safeguard the bulk of our planet’s biodiversity, including its people.

Now, a new poll reveals Wilson isn’t alone in his thinking. On average, the majority of survey respondents across a dozen countries said more than half of the planet’s land and sea should be protected.

Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist of National Geographic Society, notes that this Half-Earth plan is necessary to meet the Paris climate target of limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degree Celsius) and achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. “People want what is scientifically needed for us to have a secure future,” he says.

Though people across the globe generally support conservation and saving wildlife, the survey results also revealed a poor understanding about topics such as extinction, in part due to lack of education. (Here’s what we lose when species go extinct.)

For instance, respondents in all countries were highly aware of the rapid pace of mass extinction underway, yet “they don’t know exact details or understand the extent of what we could lose,” says Baillie. MORE

Nunavut warmed, Siberia burned and Greenland melted — the Arctic summer that was like no other

A forest fire burns outside of Delta Junction, Alaska on June 29, 2019. In June, fires in Alaska, Siberia, Canada and Greenland released 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide — equivalent to Sweden’s total annual fossil fuel emissions, according to a scientist with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

It has not been a good summer for the Arctic.

Perhaps more than anywhere on Earth, the Arctic has felt most acutely the effects of climate change — evidence of which is unfolding in real time as residents and wildlife contend with a mess not of their own making.

While Europeans baked under a few sweltering days in June and July, Arctic residents faced an altogether different paradigm.

A changing Arctic brings problems foreign to those in the south: The inability to travel, the struggle to secure nutritious food, the arrival of new species, the loss of others, and perhaps most damaging, the potential disappearance of one’s culture.

“The people in the North are the most affected from the impact of climate change,” said Mishak Allurut, a community leader in Arctic Bay, Nunavut. “Their whole livelihood revolves around the environment.

Here is a look at how the Arctic and some of its people fared over the past three months while being subjected to some of the hottest weather on record.

Mercury Rising

"The people in the North are the most affected from the impact of climate change," says Mishak Allurut, a community leader in Arctic Bay, Nunavut. "Their whole livelihood revolves around the environment."

Parts of the Arctic felt more like Ontario cottage country this summer as the world experienced its hottest June followed by scorching temperatures in July, making it the hottest month since record keeping began in 1880.

Multiple records were smashed in Alert, Nunavut, the northernmost permanent community on Earth. Temperatures hit a record 21 degrees on July 14, breaking the previous record of 20 degrees set in 1956.

“This is an example of what we’re seeing across the entire planet, which are a lot of records being broken, particularly in the maximum temperatures,” said Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The heat refused to let up in Alert as the temperature hit 20.3 degrees on July 15, breaking the previous record of 15.7 degrees for that day set in 1971. The next day, July 16, reached 17.8 degrees to tie the record for that day set back in 2015.

August turned out to be the warmest August on record in Alert by more than one degree, with an average temperature of 4.3 degrees, according to weather watcher Patrick Duplessis, an atmospheric science PhD student at Dalhousie University.

“Beating a monthly average temperature record by a whole degree is quite impressive, especially in summer months, where variability is small,” Duplessis said.

To the south, in Nunavut’s capital Iqaluit, the temperature hit 22.7 degrees on June 28, setting a record for that month, while July 9 – Nunavut Day – was a balmy 23.4 degrees, breaking the previous record of 22.2 degrees set in 1969.

The story was much the same internationally. On July 26, Sweden recorded 34.8 degrees in the village of Markusvinsa, setting that country’s record for the highest temperature inside the Arctic Circle. The next day, the municipality of Saltdal, Norway, saw the mercury hit 34.6 degrees, also the highest temperature ever recorded inside the Arctic Circle in that country.

Alaska recorded its hottest month on record in July, with an average temperature of 14.5 degrees, beating the previous warmest month of July 2004.

Rick Thoman, a climate scientist at the Alaska Centre for Climate Assessment and Policy, said what’s happening in the Arctic “is a preview of things to come for those south of the Arctic. Temperature is on an escalator “going up,” he said. “With the combination of very warm oceans, low sea ice, we loaded the dice and then the atmosphere co-operated by giving us the third piece of the puzzle to push it up yet again.”  SOURCE

Meeting Paris Agreement Targets Would Create 24 Million Jobs Globally

A rapid transition to clean energy would create, not eliminate, jobs.

This month, when diplomats met in Poland to negotiate the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the United States took on the role of the villain. The United States, which plans to formally withdraw from the pact, rejected a landmark scientific report and touted the need for fossil fuels. Why? In justifying his opposition to the Paris Agreement, Trump has repeatedly said that it will eliminate millions of U.S. jobs.

According to research, however, his position is unfounded, especially over the long term. By working to achieve the stated goal of the Paris Agreement, to limit warming to 2 degrees C, most countries will see a net gain in employment.

“Our findings show that if we take action to limit climate change, we will have more jobs by 2030 than by not doing anything,” said Guillermo Montt, author of the study and a senior economist in the research department of the International Labor Office, a special UN agency that focuses on labor issues. “More jobs will be created than those that are lost, so the economy and countries as a whole stand to gain.”

The study, which appears in the journal International Labour Review, found that accelerating the transition to clean energy could add 24 million jobs globally by 2030. In reaching their conclusions, Montt and his colleagues developed a model of the world economy to reflect how it would look with widespread adoption of renewables and enhanced energy efficiency. They found the impact in the renewables sector will ripple across other industries, such as construction and manufacturing.

“Energy is related to many other sectors in the economy. Changes in energy affect the rest of the economy as well, affecting jobs all over,” Montt said. “Also, there are more jobs in a world with renewables and energy efficiency because we need more workers to produce one gigawatt-hour of electricity from renewables than from fossil fuels.” MORE

Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive Friday climate strike

The international protest will come ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, uses a bullhorn to speak to a crowd.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivers remarks to campaigners in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2019. She will lead the Global Climate Strike on Friday. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Young people from around the world are leading a massive coordinated strike from school on Friday, September 20, to protest government and business inaction on climate change. It is likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in history.

The Global Climate Strike comes just before countries will gather at the United Nations for the Climate Action Summit on September 23. It’s a meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly where countries are supposed to ramp up their ambitions to curb greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

“If you can’t be in the strike, then, of course, you don’t have to,” 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, the original school striker who began last year demanding more action from her government on climate change with weekly protests, told Teen Vogue. “But I think if there is one day you should join, this is the day.”

Thunberg has become an increasingly influential figurehead and voice for youth climate angst and activism. Since she no longer flies because of the aviation industry’s high carbon emissions, she was offered the opportunity to travel to the US on a zero-emissions sailboat. After arriving on August 28, she’s now in Washington, DC, speaking before Congress and meeting with US lawmakers and activists before heading to New York City for the strike and the summit.

It’s a big moment for Thunberg and the legions of youth and adult activists and leaders she’s inspired since she began skipping school on Fridays to protest outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018. Thousands of young people in the movement, called Fridays for Future, now strike every Friday to demand more aggressive action from their governments and the international community. The last large-scale coordinated climate strike on May 24 drew participants from 130 countries.

The New York strike is expected to attract thousands of people, and parallel strikes in DC, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, Los Angeles, and Denver may, too. But this is truly a global strike and it will be the movement’s largest yet, with 2,500 events scheduled across 150 countries. (The Global Climate Strike website has a searchable map showing all the events.) Millions in all may participate.

Thunberg will be leading a demonstration at Foley Square starting at noon Friday in New York City, followed by a rally and march to Battery Park. The 1.1 million students in the city’s public schools have even been excused students to join the strike.

And it’s not just young people joining in. In Sweden, a group of senior citizens called Gretas Gamilingar (Greta’s oldies) is participating. Indigenous activists, labor groups, faith leaders, humanitarian groups, and environmental organizations like Greenpeace and will be there, too. Outdoor equipment company Patagonia said it will close its stores on Friday in solidarity with the strike. So is snowboard brand Burton. More than 1,000 employees at Amazon have pledged to join the strike. MORE

Tick. Tock. People of all ages have had enough. The Climate Crisis must be stopped. This Friday people will descend on cities and towns across the world…will you?


In Alberta, a shocking abuse of political power to protect the oil industry

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage speak to reporters after the Senate energy committee on May 2, 2019. Photo by Andrew Meade

The Government of Alberta has created the new “Energy War Room” (with an annual budget of $30 million) to combat environmental NGOs, specifically those who have been campaigning against the oil sector.

This may come as a surprise to taxpayers wondering why a billion-dollar industry needs such government-subsidized assistance in the first place. Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage provided an answer of sorts, offering the following as the higher purpose of the Energy War Room:

“For more than a decade, anti-fossil fuel interest groups from around the world have been leading a deceitful campaign to landlock the oilsands. Not only has this campaign — founded entirely on lies — damaged the reputation of our world-class energy sector, it has caused significant damage to our province and hurt thousands of people who work hard and are proud of the work they do.”

This official statement shows that the government has the oil industry’s back. Declaring the campaigns by the environmental NGOs to be “founded entirely on lies,” as the rationale for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do the bidding of a billion-dollar industry, seems like a stretch. Surely, these corporations can handle their own legal challenges. The Energy War Room seems to be just another frivolous waste of taxpayer money.

Perhaps no one should be surprised that the Energy War Room only targets the NGOs against the oil industry.

None of the friends of oil are under attack by the taxpayer-funded Energy War Room, such as the hypocritically-named Friends of Science, even though this Calgary-based organization has been accused of “false and misleading representations” about the science of climate change.

Clearly, lies aren’t driving the Government of Alberta to establish the Energy War Room. What is?

Soon after the announcement of the Energy War Room in early June, what had simply been persecution escalated to prosecution: a public inquiry was launched into an alleged “foreign-funded defamation campaign” on the part of environmental NGOs.

At the announcement, Premier Jason Kenney said, “most importantly, it will serve notice that Alberta will no longer allow hostile interest groups to dictate our economic destiny as one of the most ethical major producers of energy in the world.” Hmmm, does “ethical oil” combat climate change?

The premier seems to think so.

When Danielle Smith, a zealous advocate of the oil industry, claimed, in a Calgary Herald column, that “Alberta’s energy industry is on the cusp of saving the planet,” Kenney quickly tweeted the article.

This retweet is just part of his own personal campaign. For example, on the federal price on carbon, he tweeted that the carbon tax would “punish Albertans for heating their homes & driving to work.” So much for defending the truth.

And it is not only organizations being targeted by the premier. At the launch of the Energy War Room, he notably singled out the respected environmental activist Tzeporah Berman for a personal attack; afterwards, she received a barrage of death threats.

Ms. Berman had already been mentioned in over two dozen derogatory tweets of his: she was labelled an “anti-energy zealot,” an “eco-radical” and “anti-Alberta.” With the creation of the Energy War Room, Jason Kenney has essentially branded Tzeporah Berman an enemy of the state.

The war room amounts to censorship and intimidation of any environmental group or person daring to challenge Kenney’s biggest corporate supporters. This new McCarthyism is a shocking abuse of political power to undermine free speech, and the inquisition has been mocked and appropriately called the “Un-Albertan activities committee.”

Chillingly, Postmedia has lobbied to be a partner in the Energy War Room. How can journalistic integrity exist within an organization advocating for an industry? The Energy War Room is a propaganda weapon that rings of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth. Only so-called lies against the oil industry are “investigated” by the agency, while ones for the oil industry are encouraged by those in power. In other words, Big Brother is protecting big oil. MORE


Eco-Friendly Phone Companies Brace for 5G’s Energy Bill

Inside The Swisscom 5G Networking Lab

The next generation of telecommunications technology could be the key to ending years of stagnation in the industry. But it’s also set to create a difficult dilemma for European phone companies.

Carriers shelled out $80 billion to power the world’s antennas last year, according to Nokia Oyj. The prospect of having to raise spending on electricity – energy demand could triple with the introduction of 5G equipment, according to industry body GSMA – won’t sit well with phone companies that are already struggling to pay their dividends. At the same time, firms such as BT Group Plc and Vodafone Group Plc have pledged to slash emissions, and that will require a rapid shift to renewable energy.

Just as carriers are about to roll out vast quantities of power-hungry gear, they’re also promising to save the planet. And funds are tight. Accomplishing everything at the same time could be a tall order.

“If they have set up ambitious targets for overall power consumption and CO2 emissions, those could potentially be in conflict when they start to roll out 5G,” said Jerker Berglund, industry consultant at JB Sustainable Approach AB. “Reducing total power consumption is going to be a challenge.” MORE


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Top Progressive Group Endorses Elizabeth Warren For President

The Working Families Party endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2016 election cycle.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential hopeful, nabbed the big endorsement...
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential hopeful, nabbed the big endorsement ahead of a campaign rally in New York City on Monday. PRESTON EHRLER/SOPA IMAGES/LIGHTROCKET/GETTY IMAGES

The Working Families Party, a leading progressive organization with roots in organized labor, announced Monday that it is endorsing the presidential bid of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The group’s backing provides a boost to Warren as she seeks to solidify her climb in the polls and replace Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, as the leading alternative on the left to former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Senator Warren strikes fear into the hearts of the robber barons who rigged the system, and offers hope to millions of working people who have been shut out of our democracy and economy,” Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party national director, said in a statement. “Our job now is to help Senator Warren build the mass movement that will make her transformational plans a reality.”

As part of the group’s endorsement process, Mitchell grilled five presidential candidates ― Warren, Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ― on live broadcasts that gave members the opportunity to submit questions or ask them live.

Warren distinguished herself in her interview by, among other things, promising to repeal the 1994 crime bill authored by Biden.  MORE


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