We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now

Only major spending on clean energy R&D can save us.

Image result for mother jones: We Need a Massive Climate War Effort—Now

I’ll take a wild guess that you don’t need any convincing about the need for action on climate change. You know that since the start of the Industrial Revolution we’ve dumped more than 500 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere and we’re adding about 10 billion more each year. You know that global temperatures have risen 1 degree Celsius over the past century and we’re on track for 2 degrees within another few decades.

And you know what this means. It means more extreme weather. More hurricanes. More droughts. More flooding. More wildfires. More heat-related deaths. There will be more infectious disease as insects move ever farther north. The Northwest Passage will be open for much of the year. Sea levels will rise by several feet as the ice shelves of Greenland and the Antarctic melt, producing bigger storm swells and more intense flooding in low-lying areas around the world.

Some of this is already baked into our future, but to avoid the worst of it, climate experts widely agree that we need to get to net-zero carbon emissions entirely by 2050 at the latest. This is the goal of the Paris Agreement, and it’s one that every Democratic candidate for president has committed to. But how to get there?

Let’s start with the good news. About three-quarters of carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for power, and we already have the technology to make a big dent in that. Solar power is now price-competitive with the most efficient natural gas plants and is likely to get even cheaper in the near future. In 2019, Los Angeles signed a deal to provide 400 megawatts of solar power at a price under 4 cents per kilowatt-hour—including battery storage to keep that power available day and night. That’s just a start—it will provide only about 7 percent of electricity needed in Los Angeles—but for the first time it’s fully competitive with the current wholesale price of fossil fuel electricity in Southern California.

We devoted 30 percent of our economy to fight WWII—1,000 times what we spend on green tech.

Wind power—especially offshore wind—is equally promising. This means that a broad-based effort to build solar and wind infrastructure, along with a commitment to replace much of the world’s fossil fuel use with electricity, would go pretty far toward reducing global carbon emissions.

How far? Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that by 2050, wind and solar can satisfy 80 percent of electricity demand in most advanced countries. But due to inadequate infrastructure in some cases and lack of wind and sun in others, not all countries can meet this goal, which means that even with favorable government policies and big commitments to clean energy, the growth of wind and solar will probably provide only about half of the world’s demand for electricity by midcentury. “Importantly,” the Bloomberg analysts caution, “major progress in de-carbonization will also be required in other segments of the world’s economy to address climate change.” MORE

Mitsubishi Eyes Leading Position in Europe’s Energy Market With Eneco Acquisition

Offshore wind will be at the center of Mitsubishi’s growth plans in Europe as it leads an acquisition of Dutch utility Eneco.

offshore wind europe photoPhoto via papundits

A group led by Mitsubishi beat out other bidders including Shell in reaching a €4.1 billion ($4.5 billion) deal to buy Dutch energy company Eneco, which the Japanese conglomerate intends to make the centerpiece of its growth in the European energy market.

The winning consortium includes Mitsubishi, with an 80 percent stake, and Japanese utility Chubu, with the remaining 20 percent.
Owned by several dozen Dutch municipalities, Eneco is the second largest electricity supplier in the Netherlands and is also active in Germany and Belgium. The company operates about 2 gigawatts of wind capacity, roughly a quarter of it offshore, alongside nearly 300 megawatts of solar.
Mitsubishi is already a substantial investor in Europe’s electricity market, including a 20 percent stake in U.K. electricity supplier OVO. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, part of the Mitsubishi Group, is co-owner of offshore wind turbine manufacturer MHI Vestas.
Mitsubishi plans to transfer 400 megawatts of offshore wind assets to Eneco once the all-cash acquisition goes through.
Eneco offers “a platform to further grow in the European market, in which we intend to have a leading position in the energy transition,” Takehiko Kakiuchi, CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation, said in a press statement. MORE

 

THESE COMMUNITY WIND FARMS IN DENMARK AND SCOTLAND ARE DECENTRALISING POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Image result for middelgrunden wind farm

“Middelgrunden” Offshore Wind Farm:  Offshore wind farm in the strait between Denmark and Sweden. The towers are over 60m high, and the rotors are almost 80m in diameter. Each turbine can produce 2MW. Notice the second kayaker (for scale). PHOTO: Mads Prahm

Green municipalism offers solutions to the escalating climate catastrophe, pathways that both complement and could extend the Green New Deal being proposed by progressives in the UK Labour and US Democratic parties. A decentralised wind power revolution is already happening in Denmark and Scotland, where community ownership is delivering power to the people.

MIDDELGRUNDEN AND DENMARK’S REVOLUTION

As the 21st century rolled in, Denmark created the world’s largest offshore wind farm: Middelgrunden. It consisted of 20 turbines, located four kilometers from Copenhagen, with a capacity of over 40 Megawatts. Since 2001, Middelgrunden has supplied approximately 4 percent of the Danish capital’s energy needs.

More impressively, Danish people co-created this wind farm. Ten of the 20 turbines are owned by a cooperative, while Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company, owns the other 10. “If you own shares in a project, when you look over at that turbine, with each turn of the blades, that’s cash to you,” local resident and energy expert Justin Gerdes told the Green Economy Coalition.

More than 50,000 people participated in the project, giving input into the sea wind farm’s location and design. Another 8,500 Danes invested directly and are now making a 7 percent return on their investments. Under consideration are plans to upgrade Middelgrunden with larger turbines that will help it generate even more power in the years to come.

Broad public involvement overcomes the negative spin about wind energy happening elsewhere across the world. I heard similar positive sentiments visiting other wind farms in Denmark, a country that harnesses the most wind power for electricity anywhere in the world. In 2017, it re-broke its own previous world record, taking 43 pecent of its electrical needs from the wind.

THE FIGURE CONTINUES TO SPIN UPWARDS

Denmark’s success is built on a number of factors. National policy has supported green municipalism. Since the 1970s oil shock, the country realised it needed to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel imports. Nuclear was originally mooted, but activists and engineers innovated to show how communally-owned wind meant they did not need dangerous nuclear fusion.

The government supported green innovation with tax breaks that incentivised households to buy into wind cooperatives. By 2001, 86 percent of wind energy came from cooperatives, which only dropped as multinationals like Ørsted realised the powerful potential and jumped into the market.

Three other ways that Denmark created communal wind was giving wind developments the right to connect and sell energy to the grid – both requiring that the electricity be bought, and guaranteeing a good price. In 2011, it established a law that all new wind must include 20 percent community ownership.

With support like that, no wonder wind power is so popular in Denmark.

THE CASE IN SCOTLAND

Across the North Sea, Scotland also showcases how communities can harness wind power to great effect.  MORE

Renewables ‘have won the race’ against coal and are starting to beat natural gas

Meanwhile, the president remains clueless about the clean energy revolution.


GIANT WIND TURBINES ARE POWERED BY STRONG WINDS IN FRONT OF SOLAR PANELS ON MARCH 27, 2013 IN PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA. CREDIT: KEVORK DJANSEZIAN/GETTY IMAGES.

‘Spectacular’ price drops for clean energy obliterate the cost arguments against Green New Deal

Republicans push phony attack on Green New Deal’s cost, ignore ‘tens of trillions’ in benefits.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY) UNVEILS THE GREEN NEW DEAL RESOLUTION IN FRONT OF THE U.S. CAPITOL, FEBRUARY 7, 2019. CREDIT: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES.

Opponents of serious climate action are routinely using a nonsensical $93 trillion dollar cost projection to attack the Green New Deal — an effort to mobilize the U.S. economy to shift away from fossil fuels as fast as technologically possible to preserve the livable climate that has made modern civilization possible — even though the figure has been roundly debunked by fact checkers.

The reality is that the price of what are called “core” clean energy technologies — including solar power, onshore and offshore wind, and batteries — have seen “spectacular gains in cost-competitiveness” in just the last year, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report released Tuesday.

Modernizing and decarbonizing the country’s aging energy infrastructure now has so many economic, environmental, and health benefits that the overall benefit of strong climate action would be enormous.

FactCheck.org notes that, by itself, “the cost of climate change could easily balloon into the tens of trillions” for this country based on recent research. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) by hundreds of the country’s top scientists — approved by the Trump administration in November — warns that a do-nothing climate policy will end up costing Americans more than a half-trillion dollars per year in increased sickness and death, coastal property damages, loss of worker productivity, and other damages.

And so the biggest benefit of the Green New Deal would be avoiding those costs. MORE

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More bad news for coal: Wind and solar are getting cheaper

Report says offshore wind could beat onshore wind on cost

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Onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of renewable power. However, without change to planning restrictions, Cornwall Insight estimates offshore wind is likely to surpass onshore wind power to be the new source of cheap renewable energy in less than 10 years.

Offshore wind has seen significant innovations, such as higher turbines with longer blades, allowing it to capture more of the wind.

Onshore wind is one of the cheapest sources of renewable power. However, without change to planning restrictions, Cornwall Insight estimates offshore wind is likely to surpass onshore wind power to be the new source of cheap renewable energy in less than 10 years.

Offshore wind has seen significant innovations, such as higher turbines with longer blades, allowing it to capture more of the wind.

The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of offshore wind could fall below onshore wind by 2028. The projections are based on capital costs by technology, fixed and variable operational costs, expected hurdle rates, and locational factors such as transmission losses and connection fees, and using the current load factors for offshore wind at 58.4% and onshore wind at 38%. MORE

 

9 Renewable Energy Highlights of 2018

Image result for Wind farm with solar panels in southern California. 4kodiak / E+ / Getty Images

Despite the Trump administration’s ongoing attempts to prop up coal and undermine renewables—at FERCEPA and through tariffs and the budget process—2018 should instead be remembered for the surge in momentum toward a clean energy economy. Here are nine storylines that caught my attention this past year and help illustrate the unstoppable advancement of renewable energy and other modern grid technologies. MORE