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Messages - Ken Feldman

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Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: Today at 12:53:51 AM »
BP announced that it's shifting substantial resources from fossil fuel extraction to developing renewable energy.  They've set a goal of developing 20 GW or renewables capacity by 2025 and 50 GW by 2030.  They only have 2.5 GW now.

BP Aims to Build 50GW of Renewables by 2030, Cut Fossil Fuel Output by 40%

The oil supermajor lays out further details on its path toward net-zero, keeping ahead of its fossil fuel rivals in its energy transition ambitions.
John Parnell August 04, 2020

BP will cut its oil and gas output by 40 percent by 2030 and increase its low-carbon investment tenfold by then, the company announced Tuesday as it begins to detail its 2050 net-zero strategy.

BP, which first revealed its net-zero ambitions in February, says it will ramp up its annual low-carbon investment from $500 million in 2019 to $5 billion per year by 2030, with an interim goal of $3 billion to $4 billion per year by 2025.

BP is now targeting 50 gigawatts of renewables capacity by 2030, an ambition that puts it on a level with French utility giant EDF. BP's renewables target includes a 20-gigawatt goal by 2025, up from the 2.5 gigawatts it has today.

BP will slash oil production by 40% and pour billions into green energy
By Hanna Ziady, CNN Business
Tue August 4, 2020

BP is planning to slash oil and gas production and pour billions of dollars into clean energy as part of a major strategic overhaul unveiled on Tuesday, alongside a huge second quarter loss and dividend cut.

BP (BP) has already sold its petrochemicals unit, and announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs as it reels from a crash in oil prices and tries to pivot towards renewable energy. The company said Tuesday it expects restructuring to cost $1.5 billion in 2020.

August 4, 2020
Breakingviews - BP gets serious about tough corporate reshaping
Ed Cropley

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Bernard Looney is betting BP’s house on his green energy ambitions. Besides cutting the dividend to free up cash for renewable investment, the chief executive of what is still essentially a 61 billion pound oil and gas company plans to reduce hydrocarbon production by 40% over the next decade.

Then there is growing the new. Some of the money not spent on oil and gas will go towards a tenfold increase in green energy investment over the decade, to $5 billion a year. That is roughly a third of forecast annual capital expenditure over the next five years. Tangible targets include 70,000 electric vehicle charging points and 50 gigawatts of renewable power capacity. 

'Worst-Case' CO2 Emissions Scenario Is Best for Assessing Climate Risk and Impacts to 2050

The RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions pathway, long considered a "worst case scenario" by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions.

"Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100," the authors wrote. "... Not using RCP8.5 to describe the previous 15 years assumes a level of mitigation that did not occur, thereby skewing subsequent assessments by lessening the severity of warming and associated physical climate risk."

The commentary also emphasizes that while there are signs of progress on bending the global emissions curve and that our emissions picture may change significantly by 2100, focusing on the unknowable, distant future may distort the current debate on these issues. "For purposes of informing societal decisions, shorter time horizons are highly relevant, and it is important to have scenarios which are useful on those horizons. Looking at mid-century and sooner, RCP8.5 is clearly the most useful choice," they wrote.

The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations."

Christopher R. Schwalm el al., "RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions," PNAS (2020)


A close read of the study shows that it didn't take into account economic considerations, such as the fact that renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels.  And it's also missing the point that emissions up through the 2020s are very close in all scenarios.  Here's a figure from the paper that shows that fact:

For future projections, they rely on the IEA assessment of Government policy decisions, ignoring the impacts of the energy transition underway.  And let's not forget how badly the IEA has been at forecasting the pace of the energy transition.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 31, 2020, 07:31:47 PM »
While we're mainly concerned about carbon emissions on this site, let's not forget what else coal brings to the surface.

Judge Rules Justice-Controlled Coal Company Liable For Pollution Violations At W.Va. Mine
By Brittany Patterson • Jul 27, 2020

A federal judge has ruled a coal company owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is liable for more than 3,000 violations of federal clean water standards stemming from pollution discharged from a coal mine in southern West Virginia.

In a motion issued Monday, U.S. District Judge David Faber ruled Bluestone Coal Corporation discharged selenium at the Red Fox Surface Mine in McDowell County many times at levels above its permitted allowances from July 2018 to March 2020. Selenium is a chemical element found in coal that accumulates in the body and has been linked to growth deformities and reproductive failure in fish.

Faber also ruled that the company violated its permit under the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act 183 times.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 31, 2020, 07:28:05 PM »
It looks like Ohio may repeal the law that was passed because of the corruption.  That's bad news for the nuclear reactors that are benefiting from the subsidies, but could be good news for renewables as they're the cheapest form of unsubsidized electrical generation now.

July 23, 2020
Ohio governor calls for repeal of state nuclear bailout bill under probe
Timothy Gardner

(Reuters) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Thursday reversed course and called on the state’s legislature to repeal and replace a nuclear energy bailout bill at the center of a federal investigation into bribery.

DeVillers said the company, without identifying it, gave $60 million to Generation Now, a political nonprofit operated by the five men, funds used for lobbying that secured passage of a controversial $1.5 billion bill.

The bill, which passed mostly on a party-line vote with Republicans in the majority, also rolled back renewable energy standards, requiring utilities to get 8.5% of their power from renewable energy, down from 12.5%. DeWine said the legislature should debate whether to reinstate the measure.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 30, 2020, 07:46:34 PM »
The Public Regulation Commission of New Mexico approved a plan to replace a coal-fired power plant with solar farms and battery storage.  The considered and rejected plans that included natural gas fired-power plants.

PRC approves all-renewable plan to replace power from San Juan
By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

The state Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved an all-renewable energy plan Wednesday morning to replace the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

The 5-0 decision sets in motion plans for Public Service Company of New Mexico to sign power purchase agreements with third-party providers to build 650 megawatts of solar farms in San Juan, Rio Arriba and McKinley counties, plus 300 MW of backup battery storage. Investment in those new resources could total about $1 billion, bringing 1,200 or more construction jobs to the northwestern region of the state.

Various power replacement options were discussed in public hearings in January, including proposals to rely entirely on solar energy and battery storage, and others that called for some new gas-fired generation to shore up system reliability as more renewables are added to the grid.

Eventually the heat stored in the deep ocean comes back to the surface.  If we can lower the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere before it comes back to the surface, the stored heat can radiate out to space when the warmer water upwells to the surface.

Only a small portion of the warm water comes into contact with the ice sheets.  Most of it circulates around the globe for centuries.

Here are a couple of studies that discuss the Southern Ocean (where most of the excess heat gets stored) and how it interacts with the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The Southern Ocean and its interaction with the Antarctic Ice Sheet
David M. Holland, Keith W. Nicholls and Aurora Basinski
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz5491 (6484), 1326-133

The Southern Ocean exerts a major influence on the mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, eitherindirectly, by its influence on air temperatures and winds, or directly, mostly through its effects on iceshelves. How much melting the ocean causes depends on the temperature of the water, which in turn is controlled by the combination of the thermal structure of the surrounding ocean and local ocean circulation, which in turn is determined largely by winds and bathymetry. As climate warms and atmospheric circulation changes, there will be follow-on changes in the ocean circulation and temperature. These consequences will affect the pace of mass loss of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Sallée, J.-B. 2018. Southern Ocean warming.
Oceanography 31(2):52–62,

Article Abstract

The Southern Ocean plays a fundamental role in global climate. With no continental barriers, it distributes climate signals among the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans through its fast-flowing, energetic, and deep-reaching dominant current, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The unusual dynamics of this current, in conjunction with energetic atmospheric and ice conditions, make the Southern Ocean a key region for connecting the surface ocean with the world ocean’s deep seas. Recent examinations of global ocean temperature show that the Southern Ocean plays a major role in global ocean heat uptake and storage. Since 2006, an estimated 60%–90% of global ocean heat content change associated with global warming is based in the Southern Ocean. But the warming of its water masses is inhomogeneous. While the upper 1,000 m of the Southern Ocean within and north of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are warming rapidly, at a rate of 0.1°–0.2°C per decade, the surface sub­polar seas south of this region are not warming or are slightly cooling. However, subpolar abyssal waters are warming at a substantial rate of ~0.05°C per decade due to the formation of bottom waters on the Antarctic continental shelves. Although the processes at play in this warming and their regional distribution are beginning to become clear, the specific mechanisms associated with wind change, eddy activity, and ocean-ice interaction remain areas of active research, and substantial challenges persist to representing them accurately in climate models.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 29, 2020, 06:40:23 PM »
I don't think the coal producers can hold off collapse much longer.  US coal production continues to decrease rapidly.

U.S. Coal Production Crashes To 1978 Lows
By Julianne Geiger - Jul 28, 2020

U.S. coal production fell another 7% in 2019—the lowest amount of coal produced in the United States since 1978, during the national coal miners' strike, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA).

And it is set to fall even further in 2020 as the international appetite for coal has waned with the pandemic.

U.S. coal production totaled 706 million short tones in 2019, compared to 756 million short tons in the year prior.

This year is shaping up to be even worse for coal, as production is expected to dip to levels not seen since the '60s.

Arizona stopped its coal production late last year, while Kansas and Arkansas stopped production in 2017 and 2018 respectively, shortening the list of states that produce the energy source that is now looked upon most unfavorably, even among the not-terribly-climate-conscious crowd.

For 2020, the EIA's outlook on coal production in the U.S. is grim, with the agency expecting another annual loss of 29%. The EIA uses railcar loading data to estimate production, which as of July 18, were 27.1% off compared to the same period last year.

The anticipated dip this year is primarily due to a fall in U.S. coal exports, which were 29% off as of May, compared to the same five months in 2019.

Ken Feldman,

Thanks for mentioning the article by Lynch et al. It is a good example of what worries me.

It addresses the peak temperature target of the Paris Agreement and avoids an issue that may be important. An example ...
Imagine two scenarios, which stay within the 1.5C limit:

(A) Global surface temperature rises to the 1.5C limit immediately and remains there until 2100.

(B) Global surface temperature rises steadily to 1.5C just reaching 1.5C  in 2100.

Both are Compliant with the Paris Agreement.
(A) heats  the Earth more than (B).

Is the difference important?


Lynch et al. say
Sustained SLCP emissions result in stable forcing. Eventually, if maintained indefinitely,this results in no additional warming

Surely they mean "no additional rise in the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST)".

Not the same thing as "no additional warming"

What are the other differences?

Sea-level rise?

Feedbacks triggered?

In a simple energy balance model, no changes in forcings would result in stable energy exchanges and no increase in temperatures.  In reality, there would be interannual variations in temperatures and forcings due to natural release of GHGs and variations in sinks.  However, temperatures wouldn't vary too much from the long term average once it stabilizes.

Our goal though would be to decrease the forcings over time and bring the temperatures down to avoid losing too much of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.  If West Antarctica starts to collapse due to marine ice sheet instability, sea levels will continue to increase by multi-meter amounts per century.  For comparison, they're currently increasing about 38 cm per century, and that's already causing problems.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 28, 2020, 09:59:17 PM »
Vietnam is considering delaying or scrapping 13 planned coal plants and building natural gas and renewables instead.  Renewables would make up more than half of their capacity by 2030.

Vietnam considers scrapping half of coal power plant pipeline in favour of gas and renewables
With coal development sluggish, the country eyes alternative power sources to meet burgeoning demand. Analysts say the plan is contingent on gas prices staying low.

By Tim Ha
July 28, 2020

The coming decade could see Vietnam shelve nearly half of its currently planned coal power plant capacity as alternative sources of energy take up growing shares in its power mix, the government-affiliated research body tasked with drawing up the nation’s next power sector roadmap has said.

Together, the 13 plants concerned boast a staggering capacity of 17.1 gigawatts (GW), almost matching the current 18.9 GW of coal power installed. Development scenarios presented at the meeting, seen by Eco-Business, show Vietnam expects wind and solar energy together to comprise the largest share in its capacity mix by as early as 2030.

In a statement released last week, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and Vietnam-based environmental group Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) said amid plummeting clean energy prices, difficulties in obtaining financing and increasingly ambitious climate targets, it was unlikely the 13 projects would be revived, once shelved.

Vietnam’s coal power expansion strategy has been among the most ambitious in Southeast Asia, with consumption of the fossil fuel—the single biggest contributor to man-made climate change—tripling over the past decade.

Beyond the nation’s power sector, the cancellation plans are set to further shake up the Asian coal market if formalised. The announcement comes a month after Bangladesh indicated it may review up to 90 per cent of planned coal power capacity. Southeast Asia’s largest coal producer, Indonesia, has already had to drastically cut production amid falling demand this year.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 28, 2020, 08:46:05 PM »
It looks like oil production is set to pick up again, just as the second wave of coronavirus is hitting several countries.  Will the futures prices go negative again?

Oil Markets Face New Glut As OPEC Prepares To Open The Taps
By Rystad Energy - Jul 28, 2020

The upcoming partial return of curtailed OPEC+ oil production from August is set to create a new four-month supply glut of around 170 million barrels, a Rystad Energy analysis reveals. The analysis is based on the assumption that oil demand will not rebound as quickly as previously thought due to the persistent expansion of the Covid-19 pandemic in key markets, or what we call a mild second wave of the virus.

But with the mild second wave already hitting several countries, we scale back our total liquids (crude, condensate, NGLs, other liquids, and refinery gains) demand recovery expectations in the short-term. Between August and October, total liquids demand levels will stay flat at around 90.5 million bpd, before rising to 92.9 million bpd in November and 94.6 million bpd in December.

Unlike demand, global oil supply is set for a mini growth rally after reaching an astonishing low of 86.4 million bpd in June and an expected 88.2 million bpd in July. The planned output increase from the OPEC+ alliance and the reactivation of other global shut-in production is forecast to push supply to 91.2 million bpd in August, 92.5 million bpd in September, 92.9 million bpd in October and 93.3 million bpd in November, before closing at 93.4 million bpd in December.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 28, 2020, 08:19:56 PM »
India is aiming to have renewables supply 60% of their power by 2030.

India to have 60% renewable energy by 2030: Power minister RK Singh
July 21, 2020 9:55 PM

In September last year at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced increasing the renewable energy target to 450 GW by 2030 from 175 GW by 2022.

The minister explained that by 2030, 450 GW of power generation capacity would come from renewables like solar and wind. Besides 60 GW would come from hydro-electric power, he said.

About the progress on clean energy, he said that India’s clean energy capacity including under development projects and hydro electric power is around 190 GW, which is more than the targetted 175 GW by 2022.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 28, 2020, 08:15:53 PM »
It looks like China and India can skip the "natural gas bridge" and go straight to renewables.  That would give them a huge competitive advantage over the western countries with billions in stranded assets related to natural gas infrastructure.

We're already seeing that LNG export terminals in the US are being underutilized with the glut in natural gas.

Nat Gas Prices Crash As U.S. Exports Fall
By Julianne Geiger - Jul 20, 2020

The price of natural gas fell nearly 5% on Monday, as lower U.S. LNG exports threaten to exacerbate inventories, which are already significantly higher than the five-year average.

The price of natural gas was just $1.636 as of 4:27pm EDT, a drop pf $0.082 or 4.77%.

The EIA reported that U.S. LNG exports fell week over week for the week ending July 15, with just four vessels with a combined carrying capacity of 15 Bcf leaving the United States that week. This is the lowest volume since the end of 2016—a time when the Sabine Pass LNG was the only LNG export facility in the United States, according to FX Empire.

Last year at this time, natural gas deliveries to U.S. LNG export facilities were setting records, according to the EIA. This year, the pandemic is cramping the style for the cleaner fuel, and inventories are well above the five-year average, at 3.178 billion cubic feet as of July 10. That compares to the year ago levels of 2.515 Bcf, and the five-year average of 2.742 Bcf.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 27, 2020, 08:38:32 PM »
US oil production is holding steady at around 11 million barrels per day, down from 13 million barrels per day in January and February.  New well drilling is still down, but producers are still fracking drilled but uncompleted wells.

US oil production wells up after Covid price crash
Output expected to stabilise at about 11m barrels a day after recovery from June low
Derek Brower and Myles McCormick yesterday

US oil companies have increased production by 1.2m barrels a day over the past six weeks, as they restore wells shut earlier this year and start producing from others they left unfinished as prices sank.

Output bottomed out at 9.7m b/d in the second week of June but has since risen to 10.9m b/d as activity starts to pick up in the big shale fields of Texas, according to Genscape, a division of consultancy Wood Mackenzie that monitors energy flows. That figure is more than the UK’s entire crude production of 1.1m b/d.

Despite the restarting of wells shut around the time the US oil price plunged below zero in April, drilling activity remains weak. The number of operating rigs was just 251 last week, compared with about 800 in January.

The number of so-called frac crews carrying out well-completion work crashed to a low of 45 in May, just 10 per cent of the levels a year earlier, according to Primary Vision, an oilfield data provider.

But the research firm said 62 frac crews were now operating across the country. Rystad estimated more than 400 wells would be fracked this month, up from a low of 325 in June.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 27, 2020, 08:19:50 PM »
Gas flaring remains a problem in Texas and it's growing globally.

1 In 10 Gas Flares In Permian Malfunction
By Irina Slav - Jul 23, 2020

More a tenth of gas flares in the Permian play tend to malfunction and release unlit methane into the atmosphere, the Environmental Defense Fund has reported, based on a new aerial survey.

According to the Fund, the survey revealed that one in ten flares either didn’t burn the methane completely, with some of it escapimg into the atmosphere, or they didn’t burn it at all, releasing it as it is.

Flaring is a serious problem and it is getting increasingly serious, it appears. The World Bank reported earlier this week that global gas flaring last year jumped to 150 billion cu m, from 145 billion cu m in 2018.

It is also a growing problem in the Permian, specifically: after a decline in flaring accompanying the decline in oil production during the worst of the crisis, flaring in the Permian is once again on the rise, the Environmental Defense Fund reported, with flaring in June 50 percent higher than the previous month.

The linked article about the differences between the short-term and long-term global warming potentials of methane indicates that focusing exclusively on methane reductions at the expense of reducing carbon dioxide emissions results in higher long term temperature increases.

Demonstrating GWP*: a means of reporting warming-equivalent emissions that captures the contrasting impacts of short- and long-lived climate pollutants
John Lynch et al 2020 Environ. Res. Lett.15 044023

The atmospheric lifetime and radiative impacts of different climate pollutants can both differ markedly, so metrics that equate emissions using a single scaling factor, such as the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100), can be misleading. An alternative approach is to report emissions as ‘warming-equivalents’ that result in similar warming impacts without requiring a like-for-like weighting per emission. GWP*, an alternative application of GWPs where the CO2-equivalence of short-lived climate pollutant emissions is predominantly determined by changes in their emission rate, provides a straightforward means of generating warming-equivalent emissions. In this letter we illustrate the contrasting climate impacts resulting from emissions of methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, and CO2, and compare GWP100 and GWP* CO2-equivalents for a number of simple emissions scenarios. We demonstrate that GWP* provides a useful indication of warming, while conventional application of GWP100 falls short in many scenarios and particularly when methane emissions are stable or declining, with important implications for how we consider ‘zero emission’ or ‘climate neutral’ targets for sectors emitting different compositions of gases. We then illustrate how GWP* can provide an improved means of assessing alternative mitigation strategies. GWP*allows warming-equivalent emissions to be calculated directly from CO2-equivalent emissions reported using GWP100, consistent with the Paris Rulebook agreed by the UNFCCC, on condition that short-lived and cumulative climate pollutants are aggregated separately, which is essential for transparency. It provides a direct link between emissions and anticipated warming impacts, supporting stocktakes of progress towards a long-term temperature goal and compatible with cumulative emissions budgets

We can demonstrate the utility of multi-gas cumulative CO2-w.e. totals in a decision making context by considering how they would describe alternative mitigation pathways, as infigure8. In this scenario, the emissions of one gas cease in year 50, and then the emissions of the remaining gas in year 100. Stopping methane first results in a large initial reversal of recent warming, but temperatures then start to rise again due to the ongoing CO2 emissions. Temperature then stabilises at the temperature reached in year 100 when CO2 emissions are also stopped. Stopping CO2 first,we see that the rate of warming declines, and then when methane emissions stop in year 100 we have a significant reversal of warming, stabilising at a lower long-term temperature than in the methane-first scenario. Cumulative CO2-w.e. provides a clear indication of these dynamics, while cumulative CO2e suggests either strategy would lead to the same response, but which represents neither scenario.

Antarctica / Re: Methane in Antarctica
« on: July 22, 2020, 08:07:45 PM »
Not a video, but a pretty clear narrative explanation.

Because CO2 has a very long residence time in the atmosphere, its emissions cause increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 that will last thousands of years [8]. Methane’s average atmospheric residence time is about a decade. However, its capacity to absorb substantially more energy than CO2 gives it a GWP ranging from 28 to 36. The GWP also accounts for some indirect effects; for example, CH4 is a precursor to another greenhouse gas, ozone.

What happens to the methane GWP if a 20-year averaging time is used?

A 20-year GWP is sometimes used as an alternative to the 100-year GWP. The 20-year GWP is based on the energy absorbed over 20 years, which prioritizes gases with shorter lifetimes, since it ignores any impacts that occur after 20 years from the emission. The GWPs are calculated relative to CO2, so the GWPs are based on an 80% shorter time frame that will be larger for gases with atmospheric residence times shorter than that of CO2 and smaller for gases with residence times greater than CO2.

Since CH4 has a shorter atmospheric residence time than CO2, the 100-year GWP is much less than the 20-year GWP. The CH4 20-year GWP has been estimated [8] to be 84–87, compared with the 100-year GWP of 28–36.

A new metric, GWP*, has been developed to address the confusion between the short term and long term GWPs of short lived greenhouse gases like methane.  Here's a link to a study about GWP*.

Demonstrating GWP*: a means of reporting warming-equivalentemissions that captures the contrasting impacts of short- and long-lived climate pollutants
John Lynch, Michelle Cain, Raymond Pierrehumbert and Myles Allen

The atmospheric lifetime and radiative impacts of different climate pollutants can both differ markedly, so metrics that equate emissions using a single scaling factor, such as the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100), can be misleading. An alternative approach is to report emissions as ‘warming-equivalents’ that result in similar warming impacts without requiring a like-for-like weighting per emission. GWP*, an alternative application of GWPs where the CO2-equivalence of short-lived climate pollutant emissions is predominantly determined by changes in their emission rate, provides a straightforward means of generating warming-equivalent emissions. In this letter we illustrate the contrasting climate impacts resulting from emissions of methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas, and CO2, and compare GWP100 and GWP* CO2-equivalents for a number of simple emissions scenarios. We demonstrate that GWP* provides a useful indication of warming, while conventional application of GWP100 falls short in many scenarios and particularly when methane emissions are stable or declining, with important implications for how we consider ‘zero emission’ or ‘climate neutral’ targets for sectors emitting different compositions of gases. We then illustrate how GWP* can provide an improved means of assessing alternative mitigation strategies. GWP* allows warming-equivalent emissions to be calculated directly from CO2-equivalent emissions reported using GWP100, consistent with the Paris Rulebook agreed by the UNFCCC, on condition that short-lived and cumulative climate pollutants are aggregated separately, which is essential for transparency. It provides a direct link between emissions and anticipated warming impacts, supporting stock takes of progress towards a long-term temperature goal and compatible with cumulative emissions budgets.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 22, 2020, 07:01:48 PM »
The share of electricity generated in Europe increased from 37% last year to 44% this year during the Covid shutdowns.

July 22, 2020
Green energy ratchets up power during coronavirus pandemic
Susanna Twidale

LONDON (Reuters) - Renewable power has taken up a record share of global electricity production since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Reuters review of data, suggesting a transition away from polluting fossil fuels could be accelerated in the coming years.

Most grid operators automatically turned to the cheapest energy supplies to meet the falling demand. Wind and solar power costs very little to generate once the installations are built and is often backed by government mandates and subsidies. As a result, more expensive fossil fuel sources were the first to be pulled.

Data from Finnish energy technology group Wartsila, collated from Europe’s electricity grid operators, shows renewables generated an average of 44% of power across the 27-nation bloc and Britain from April to June, when many countries were in lockdown, against 37.2% in the same period last year. Daily peaks hit 53%.

The leading performer was Austria which saw renewables average 93% from a previous 91%, thanks largely to hydropower, the data showed. Portugal saw its share of renewable energy surge to 67% from 49%, while in Europe’s biggest economy Germany it averaged 54% up from 47.5%.

It's interesting to see that the Netherlands is lagging behind other countries.  Perhaps that's why posters from that country are so skeptical about the energy transition which is well underway in the rest of the world.

As elsewhere in the world, the share of renewable energy in India’s electricity market climbed during the COVID-19 lockdown, hitting a record high of 30.9% in the week of June 15 from 17.9% in mid-March, the IEA said.

The United States is a world leader when it comes to storage, notably battery technology, and some businesses are investing heavily in the sector.

Renewables, including hydro, wind and solar, provided 23% of U.S. electricity during the April lockdown, up from 17% in the same period of 2019, latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows. The peak share rose to almost 80% in parts of the windy interior of the country.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 22, 2020, 06:47:25 PM »
New York state issued a solicitation for 4GW of renewable power yesterday.

State to procure 2,500 more megawatts of offshore wind power
By Mark Harrington
July 22, 2020

New York State this year will seek bids for another 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind power, along with 1,500 megawatts of land-based renewable energy projects in what the state is calling the country’s largest clean-energy solicitation of its kind.

The new plans for wind, solar and other green energy projects follow last year’s awarding of nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind to two developers, Equinor of Norway and Orsted of Denmark — part of the state’s march toward some 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind for the New York grid by 2035. LIPA has contracted for another 130 megawatts.

The combined 4,000 megawatts of new green energy, if built, will be enough to power some 1.5 million homes, the state said. The plan includes $400 million in public and private investments for 11 state-selected port facilities to make or stage key wind-farm components, or operate the facilities once completed, said the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is overseeing the bids. The New York Power Authority will also administer bids for around half the land-based projects.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 22, 2020, 06:17:03 PM »
Much of the optimism in the oil and gas industry came from China's buying of large quantities of oil this spring.  Turns out, it was just small refiners taking advantage to the super low prices due to the worldwide supply glut.  Now that prices have increased, they aren't buy so much, as they have plenty of oil in storage.

China’s Oil Buying Spree May Be Coming To An End
By Tsvetana Paraskova - Jul 21, 2020

While the rest of the world continues to struggle with fuel demand recovery in fits and starts, China has been a key factor in supporting oil prices as it breaks crude oil import records.  Record Chinese crude oil imports over the past few months have supported still weak global oil demand and instilled confidence in the market that the demand recovery will continue.   

But the Chinese buying spree may be coming to an end, as oil is not as dirt cheap as it was in April and as China is estimated to have amassed large crude inventories in commercial and strategic storage.

Despite processing rates hitting a record in June, China’s exports of refined oil products were lower than those in May and lower by 29 percent compared to June 2019, according to Reuters estimates of customs data. This suggests that demand in Asia is still weak, even if China’s domestic demand looks strong.

Going forward, China’s record crude oil buying spree may be coming to an end.

First, oil prices are now double the lows from April—this could discourage refiners from importing record volumes from August onwards, especially as oil in storage is abundant.

Then, weaker fuel demand recovery in the rest of Asia still weighs on refining margins in the region—this could discourage refiners in China from continuing to process record volumes of crude oil. 

Next up, there’s the storage wild card—no one outside China is really certain how much crude the world’s largest oil importer has amassed in commercial and strategic inventories. But estimates point to growing amounts of oil in both onshore storage and floating storage off China.

If China doesn’t keep its record imports of crude oil through the rest of the year, it could remove a major support factor for oil prices, especially if oil demand recovery elsewhere wanes in a second coronavirus wave.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 22, 2020, 06:10:32 PM »
Despite the rosy projections from the oil and gas industry about the pace of the recovery from the Covid recession, demand remains "subdued" and the gas and oil supply glut is growing.

Oil Prices Drop After EIA Confirms Crude Inventory Build
By Irina Slav - Jul 22, 2020

Crude oil prices fell further today after the Energy Information Administration reported a crude oil inventory build of 4.9 million barrels for the week to July 17.

The EIA said that at 536.6 million barrels, inventories were 19 percent above the seasonal average as demand for fuels remains subdued.

Yesterday, the American Petroleum Institute reported an inventory increase of 7.544 million barrels, dampening any nascent optimism about U.S. oil demand. As has now become usual, the inventory build surprised markets in an unpleasant way, weighing on oil prices.

In the past few weeks, the EIA’s inventory report has lost some of its influence over prices as fears of an uncontained spread of the coronavirus have strengthened on record-high numbers of new cases in several states. These fears appear to outweigh any positive messages the EIA or the API might have for the oil market.

There are already signs the spread of the infection has all but cancelled the demand boost from driving season this year: while many expected a pickup in demand for fuels spurred by the pandemic as people chose their cars over airplanes, this has failed to materialize.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 22, 2020, 12:05:02 AM »
Remember when Ohio passed a law to subsidize those two nuclear reactors that can't compete against cheap renewables?

Ohio House Speaker Arrested In Connection With $60 Million Bribery Scheme

July 21, 2020

FBI agents arrested Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder on Tuesday morning at his rural farm. Householder was taken into custody in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme allegedly involving state officials and associates.

Four others were also arrested: former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, Householder adviser Jeffrey Longstreth and lobbyists Neil Clark and Juan Cespedes.

The charges are linked to a controversial law passed last year that bailed out two nuclear power plants in the state while gutting subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Federal prosecutors say that between March 2017 and March 2020, entities related to an unnamed company — but that would appear to be nuclear power company FirstEnergy Solutions — paid approximately $60 million to Householder's Generation Now.

"Make no mistake, this is Larry Householder's 501 (c)(4)," U.S. Attorney David DeVillers told reporters on Tuesday. The money from the scheme was spent to the detriment of other political candidates and the people of Ohio, DeVillers said.

Members of Householder's enterprise used those payments for their own personal benefit and to gain support for Householder's bid to become speaker, prosecutors say.

In exchange for payments, prosecutors say, Householder and his associates helped pass House Bill 6, then worked to ensure it went into effect by defeating a ballot initiative.

The plan worked. The complaint says Householder-backed candidates that benefited from money from Generation Now helped to elect Householder as the Speaker. House Bill 6 was introduced three months into his term – legislation worth $1.3 billion to Company A.

Regular payments to Householder's secret company from Company A began in March 2017, a couple months after he took a trip on Company A's private jet, according to the federal complaint. But the payments got much bigger after the legislation was introduced: In May 2019, while the bill was pending before lawmakers, Company A allegedly wired $8 million to Generation Now.

In total, Company A allegedly paid the Householder enterprise $60 million over a three-year period, in exchange for the billion-dollar-bailout.

Prosecutors say the payments were "akin to bags of cash – unlike campaign or PAC contributions, they were not regulated, not reported, not subject to public scrutiny—and the Enterprise freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise's political interests and to enrich themselves."

Last year's nuclear bailout law tacked on a charge to residents' power bills, sending $150 million a year to the nuclear power plants. They are owned by the company Energy Harbor, which was previously known as FirstEnergy Solutions.

The law also included a subsidy for two coal plants.

NPR member station WOSU reported that FirstEnergy contributed more than $150,000 to Ohio House Republicans in the run-up to the 2018 election — including over $25,000 in donations to Householder's campaign.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 21, 2020, 06:48:41 PM »
In Australia, emissions from coal are down and renewables are replacing coal.  Natural gas is also down, despite very low prices.

Grid emissions hit record low, as both coal output and prices plunge
Giles Parkinson 22 July 2020

Australia’s main electricity grid achieved a remarkable trifecta in the last three months: The level of greenhouse gas emissions fell to a record low in the June quarter, even as the level of both coal production and wholesale market prices plunged at the same time.

This next graph shows th inexorable trend. Black coal proaction down significantly, gas also falling, brown coal increasing slightly (only because the previous corresponding quarter featured many outages), and growth in wind, solar, and rooftop solar. Good recent rains meant that hydro generation was also up.

Nearly all that increased competition for coal came from new wind and solar. AEMO says grid-scale VRE (variable renewable energy, or wind and solar) output increased by 454 MW on average, accounting for 13 per cent of the supply mix, up from 10 per cent in the second quarter of last year. That doesn’t include rooftop solar.

And before anyone assumes that this is the end of the road for VRE, AEMO estimates that there are several gigawatts of new capacity under construction or awaiting connection, and by 2030 the share of renewables will be 50 per cent, at least.

By 2040, it could be as high as 90 per cent, and in any case at least 70 per cent because wind, solar and storage remain the cheapest option to replace ageing coal generators. By 2035, it has suggested, the “instant” penetration of wind and solar alone could reach 75 per cent, or even higher in a faster transition.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 17, 2020, 10:07:23 PM »
We are in peak "driving season" in the US, a time when many people hit the road on summer vacations.  Not so much this year with the Covid and all.

Surge In Coronavirus Cases Sparks Concerns About Demand Recovery
By Irina Slav - Jul 17, 2020

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Surge In Coronavirus Cases Sparks Concerns About Demand Recovery
By Irina Slav - Jul 17, 2020, 10:00 AM CDT
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A surge in new cases in parts of the world and a resurgence of the coronavirus in places that had thought they’d beat it are leading to renewed lockdowns and worry that the recovery in oil demand, already hesitant, might end, Reuters reports.

GasBuddy data, for instance, shows that gasoline demand in the world’s top consumer fell by 5 percent on the week in the seven days to July 11. Meanwhile, new Covid-19 case numbers in the U.S. have been rising fast: yesterday, the country broke all records by reporting 77,000 new cases. The number of deaths, however, is falling.

In the U.S., demand for gasoline fell for two straight weeks in July, when it was supposed to be rising the most. Reuters notes that this coincided with a sharp increase in new Covid-19 cases in some of the most populous states, which together account for more than 25 percent of total gasoline consumption.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 17, 2020, 10:03:31 PM »
The US oil and gas rig count continues to decline.

U.S. Oil Rig Count Falls For Nineteenth Straight Week
By Julianne Geiger - Jul 17, 2020

Baker Hughes reported on Friday that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US fell again this week, by 5, to 253, marking the nineteenth straight loss in the number of active rigs, even as some analysts were predicting a rise in the number of active drilling rigs.

The total oil and gas rigs is now sitting at 701 fewer than this time last year.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 17, 2020, 08:27:20 PM »
Renewables only became cheaper than fossil fuels in some areas starting in 2018.  With costs of renewables continuing to decline, they are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels in more areas.  And given that it can take two years for a new wind or solar farm to come online, and five to ten years for a fossil fuel plant, it will take some time for the full impact of the cost reductions in renewables to be seen.

We're already seeing it in new investments.  Investments in renewables are now outpacing investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.

Goldman Sachs says renewable-energy spending will surpass oil and gas for the first time ever in 2021 — and sees total investment spiking to $16 trillion over the next decade
Ben Winck
Jun. 17, 2020

Green-energy investing will account for 25% of all energy spending in 2021 and, for the first time ever, surpass spending on traditional fuel sources like oil and gas, Goldman Sachs said in a Tuesday note.
Should the US aim to hold global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the pivot to renewable energy sources will create between $1 trillion and $2 trillion in yearly infrastructure spending, the team of analysts added, or an investment opportunity as big as $16 trillion through 2030.
While past economic downturns halted efforts to lift clean energy initiatives, the coronavirus recession "will be different," the firm said.
Green technologies "are now mature enough to be deployed at scale," and the transition can benefit massively from cheap capital and "an attractive regulatory framework," according to Goldman.

In the US, electric utilities are retiring coal plants early and replacing them with renewables.  Becuase they can save lots and lots of money.  It's cheaper to build new renewable power plants than to operate existing coal fired power plants.  And that trend is spreading around the world.  It's estimated that $141 billion can be saved by replacing coal with clean energy by 2025.

Replacing coal with clean energy can save up to $141 billion by 2025

Out of 2,500 coal plants, the share of uncompetitive coal plants worldwide will increase rapidly to 60 per cent in 2022 and to 73 per cent in 2025

ETEnergyWorld July 10, 2020

New Delhi: Replacing coal with clean energy can potentially save electricity customers around the world $141 billion by 2025, according to a report by US-based Rocky Mountain Institute launched in collaboration with Carbon Tracker Initiative and the US-based environmental organisation Sierra Club.

Utilities are increasingly skip the "bridge" of replacing coal with natural gas and just jumping strait to solar or wind.

More utilities bypassing natural gas bridge and going straight to renewables

Utilities that are transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step.
July 2, 2020 Jean Haggerty

Utilities that are transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step. Last week utilities in Arizona, Colorado and Florida announced plans to close one or more of their coal plants and build renewables without adding any new gas-fired generation.

There are many more examples I could post of renewables replacing operating fossil fuel plants.  And the trend will accelerate in the future as the costs of renewables continue to decrease.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 10:27:39 PM »
India's share of electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel is planned to grow from 36.5% in 2019 to 64% in 2030.

India to overachieve UNFCCC 2030 target, share of non-fossil fuels to increase to 64 per cent by 2030

The percentage of non-fossil fuel in India’s electric power installed capacity is estimated to increase to 64 per cent in March 2030, according to a recent report by the Central Electricity Agency.

The report on optimal generation capacity mix for 2029-30 added that the percentage of non-fossil fuel in installed capacity stood at 49 per cent and 36.5 per cent in March 2022 and March 2019, respectively.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 10:24:10 PM »
China will subsidize 434 solar power projects with a capacity of almost 26 GW this year.

China Boosts Subsidy-Eligible Solar Projects by 13% in 2020
Bloomberg News
June 28, 2020

China, the world’s biggest solar market, plans to subsidize 434 photovoltaic power projects with a combined capacity of almost 26 gigawatts of this year.

The projects, located in 15 regions, include 25.6 gigawatts of utility-scale ground-mounted plants, with the rest for smaller projects at industrial and commercial sites, the NEA said in a statement dated June 23 and posted online Sunday.

The scale is “within expectations” after the nation announced earlier this year it will allocate 1 billion yuan ($141 million) of financial support for large solar projects, according to Jonathan Luan, a Beijing-based analyst at BloombergNEF. He expects China to add about 37 gigawatts of solar power in 2020, including some zero-subsidy projects and plants that were approved but not commissioned last year.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: July 16, 2020, 08:57:44 PM »
As NeilT mentioned, when nuclear reactors explode, it's usually from a hydrogen explosion.  Of course this still releases a lot of radiation and the area around the reactor needs to be evacuated for decades, but not as bad as a nuclear bomb. 

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster is a good example.

The article correctly notes that the reactors successfully withstood the seismic events and were scrammed in accordance with emergency procedures.  However, when the ensuing tsunami destroyed the backup power generators that kept the cooling systems going, the three reactors that had been operating melted down, which lead to hydrogen explosions and massive radiation leaks to the atmosphere, surrounding land, and ultimately the ocean.

When the power failed at 3.42 pm, about one hour after shutdown of the fission reactions, the reactor cores would still be producing about 1.5% of their nominal thermal power, from fission product decay – about 22 MW in unit 1 and 33 MW in units 2&3. Without heat removal by circulation to an outside heat exchanger, this produced a lot of steam in the reactor pressure vessels housing the cores, and this was released into the dry primary containment (PCV) through safety valves. Later this was accompanied by hydrogen, produced by the interaction of the fuel's very hot zirconium cladding with steam after the water level dropped.

As pressure rose, attempts were made to vent the containment, and when external power and compressed air sources were harnessed this was successful, by about 2.30 pm Saturday, though some manual venting was apparently achieved at about 10.17 am. The venting was designed to be through an external stack, but in the absence of power much of it apparently backflowed to the service floor at the top of the reactor building, representing a serious failure of this system (though another possibility is leakage from the drywell). The vented steam, noble gases and aerosols were accompanied by hydrogen. At 3.36 pm on Saturday 12th, there was a hydrogen explosion on the service floor of the building above unit 1 reactor containment, blowing off the roof and cladding on the top part of the building, after the hydrogen mixed with air and ignited. (Oxidation of the zirconium cladding at high temperatures in the presence of steam produces hydrogen exothermically, with this exacerbating the fuel decay heat problem.)

Much of the fuel in units 2&3 also apparently melted to some degree, but to a lesser extent than in unit 1, and a day or two later. In mid-May 2011 the unit 1 core would still be producing 1.8 MW of heat, and units 2&3 would be producing about 3.0 MW each.

In Unit 3, the main back-up water injection system failed at about 11 am on Saturday 12th and early on Sunday 13th, water injection using the high pressure system failed also and water levels dropped dramatically. RPV pressure was reduced by venting steam into the wetwell, allowing injection of seawater using a fire pump from just before noon. Early on Sunday venting the suppression chamber and containment was successfully undertaken. It is now understood that core damage started about 5:30 am and much or all of the fuel melted on the morning of Sunday 13th and fell into the bottom of the RPV, with some probably going through the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel and onto the concrete below.

Early on Monday 14th PCV venting was repeated, and this evidently backflowed to the service floor of the building, so that at 11 am a very large hydrogen explosion here above unit 3 reactor containment blew off much of the roof and walls and demolished the top part of the building. This explosion created a lot of debris, and some of that on the ground near unit 3 was very radioactive.

Found the paper.  It was published in PNAS in 2004.

Greenhouse gas growth rates
James Hansen* and Makiko Sato

We posit that feasible reversal of the growth of atmospheric CH4 and other trace gases would provide a vital contribution toward averting  dangerous  anthropogenic  interference  with  global  cli-mate. Such trace gas reductions may allow stabilization of atmospheric CO2 at an achievable level of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, even if the added global warming constituting dangerous anthropogenic  interference  is  as  small  as  1°C.  A  1°C  limit  on  global warming, with canonical climate sensitivity, requires peak CO2 ~440 ppm if further non-CO2 forcing is ~0.5 W/m2, but peak CO2 ~520 ppm if further non-CO2 forcing is ~0.5 W/m2. The practical result is that a decline of non-CO2 forcings allows climate forcing to be stabilized with a significantly higher transient level of CO2 emissions. Increased ‘‘natural’’ emissions of CO2, N2O, and CH4 are expected  in  response  to  global  warming.  These  emissions,  an indirect  effect  of  all  climate  forcings,  are  small  compared  with human-made climate forcing and occur on a time scale of a few centuries,  but  they  tend  to  aggravate  the  task  of  stabilizing atmospheric composition.

We have suggested (13) that a concerted effort to reduce CH4 emissions could yield a negative forcing, which would be amplified ~40% by the indirect effects of CH4 on stratospheric H2O and tropospheric O3. CH4by itself could yield a forcing change of ~0.25 W/m2 if it were reduced from today’s 1,755 ppb to 1,215 ppb, which would require reducing anthropogenic CH4 emissions by 40–50% (ref. 14 and Drew Shindell, personal communication). Conversely, CH4 could provide large positive forcing if emissions grow, e.g.,CH4 increases to 3,140 ppb in 2100 in the IPCC (3) IS92a scenario,yielding ~0.5 W/m2 forcing.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 16, 2020, 06:57:37 PM »
Keep in mind that RCP 2.6 is a scenario with a peak above 3.0 w/m2 and then a decrease in the later half of the century back down to 2.6 w/m2.  Given the rate at which renewables are replacing coal and natural gas plants and the coming transition from gas to electric vehicles, RCP 2.6 is still very possible.

Also, RCP 4.5 is currently possible too.  This article was written before the Covid recession and the oil and natural gas gluts that are currently stifling further investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.  (It also uses the new SSP scenarios, which are an update over the RCPs).

Our business-as-usual projection of 3C of warming — rather than 4 or 5C — is a testament to the progress in global decarbonization over the last few decades. It also reflects the fact that rapid growth in coal use during the 2000s was not necessarily characteristic of longer-term energy use trends. The world has taken concrete steps to move away from coal in the past decade, and this progress should be reflected in our assessment of likely emissions pathways — and their resulting climate impacts — going forward.

The worst case outcomes of ten years ago appear far less likely today. But there is also a risk of overenthusiasm about progress; there is still an ever-growing gap between current emissions and what would be needed to limit warming below 2C. With every year of continued emissions growth and increased deployment of clean energy, we make both low warming (<2C) and high warming (>4C) increasingly unlikely.

IEA CPS emissions in 2040 are in-between the SSP4-6.0 and SSP2-4.5 scenarios, and are in the bottom 15% of all the baseline scenarios in the SSP database. The SPS scenario is a bit below SSP2-4.5, and lower than any baseline scenarios — though this is not necessarily unexpected, as baseline scenarios exclude current commitments that have not yet been translated into policy.

The recent UNEP Emissions Gap report provided an estimate of combined emissions from all greenhouse gases — including land use change — in the year 2030 under both current policy and under a scenario where countries meet their Paris Agreement nationally determined contributions (NDCs). UNEP’s current policies scenario has 2030 GHG emissions of 60 GtCO2e. This falls between SSP2-4.5 (57 GtCO2e) and SSP3-6.0 (62 GtCO2e), and is well below SSP3-7.0 (69 GtCO2e) and the worst-case SSP5-8.5 (71GtCO2e). UNEP projects 2030 emissions of 54 GtCO2e if all Paris Agreement NDCs are met.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 01:29:52 AM »
In the US, a seven year-old financial technology startup raised $100 million to invest in 300 solar power companies.

Boulder solar industry fintech company raises more than $100 million
By Greg Avery
July 15, 2020

Solar financing company Wunder Capital raised a fresh $100 million fund from which it will help finance commercial and industrial-scale solar power projects around the U.S.

The money will go to solar project loans that Boulder-based Wunder Capital arranges with its network of more than 300 solar project installers and developers.

Wunder Capital assembles funds from credentialled investors and then finances the commercial and local government solar power projects that property owners and investors build at malls, factories, warehouses, libraries and other places. Its goal is to eliminate bottlenecks that have traditionally limited investment in solar power projects.

The 24-employee startup formed in 2013 and later graduated from the Boulder startup accelerator Techstars. It built financing software designed to match solar projects with funding, and its loans have financed solar projects with a total generating capacity of 185 megawatts of electricity.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 16, 2020, 01:18:51 AM »
The Netherlands is going to pay Denmark 100 million Euro to count some of Denmark's renewable energy generation toward their goal.

Netherlands to pay EUR 100m to count Danish renewables towards 2020 goal
June 24 (Renewables Now) - The Dutch State will pay EUR 100 million (USD 113m) to Denmark under an agreement for statistical transfer so as to be able to count 8 TWh of Danish green power towards the Netherlands’ binding 2020 renewable energy target.

Arctic sea ice / Re: When will the Arctic Go Ice Free?
« on: July 15, 2020, 11:15:30 PM »
The "ice free" definition was set at less than 1 million square km because there will be many years when the thick ice near Greenland and the CAA won't melt out but the rest of the Arctic will be ice free.  So you'll have deniers claiming that a BOE isn't a BOE because there's still 100,000 to 900,000 of ice around the fringes.

An "ice-free" Arctic Ocean is often defined as "having less than 1 million square kilometers of sea ice", because it is very difficult to melt the thick ice around the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.[20][21][22] The IPCC AR5 defines "nearly ice-free conditions" as sea ice extent less than 106 km2 for at least five consecutive years.[4]

James Hansen wrote a paper that emphasized the benefits of decreasing methane concentrations in the short term while we worked on bringing down CO2 (a much harder task).  I can't find it thought (he's written a ton of papers).

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 15, 2020, 08:59:00 PM »
The UK is relaxing planning rules related to energy storage projects (excluding pumped hydro) to spur the installation of more utility scale battery storage.  And construction began on a cable to link the UK grid to Denmark's, a project that will be completed in 2023.

UK hopes to ramp up battery storage and boost renewables by loosening planning rules
Published Wed, Jul 15 2020
Anmar Frangoul

The U.K. government is to relax planning rules to make the development of large battery storage systems easier.

In an announcement Tuesday, authorities said secondary legislation would be introduced to get rid of “barriers for storage projects above 50 MW (megawatts) in England and 350 MW in Wales.”

In simple terms, the change will be a technical one related to who has the authority to grant permission to a project. At the moment, if a facility is 50 MW or less in England or 350 MW or less in Wales, planning permission is needed from a local planning authority.

Larger projects are deemed to be “nationally significant” and need consent from the secretary of state under something called the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, or NSIP, regime. Under the plans, legislation will be introduced to remove electricity storage, excluding pumped hydro, from the NSIP regime in England and Wales.

The government explained that while the U.K. was home to the “largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world” the fact that “the availability and speed of wind” was not constant meant energy could “sometimes be produced when it is not needed and then lost.” It added that 1 gigawatt (GW) of battery storage was currently in operation, with 4 GW of projects being planned.

The battery storage news comes in the same week that construction on Viking Link, a major energy infrastructure project, began.

On Monday, National Grid said that work on a 2.4 kilometer access road to a converter station site in Bicker Fen, Lincolnshire, had started.

The Viking Link Interconnector project is a subsea, high-voltage direct-current link between Denmark and the U.K. that will be 765 kilometers long once completed.

The 2 billion euro ($2.29 billion) scheme, which will enable the two countries to share clean energy, is a joint venture between National Grid Ventures and Denmark’s Energinet. Siemens Energy is undertaking construction work on the project’s converter stations. The cable is slated for completion at the end of 2023.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 15, 2020, 08:51:07 PM »
The European Union is reviewing its policies on bioenergy in recognition that much of it is not sustainable.

Not all biomass is carbon neutral, industry admits as EU reviews policy
Published on 14/07/2020, 11:51am

The EU is working on stricter sustainability criteria for bioenergy, posing a challenge for the industry and several member states

By Frédéric Simon for Euractiv

Leading industry figures acknowledge that not all biomass brings benefits to the climate, insisting that only low-value wood and forest residues should make the cut under EU law.

“Not all biomass is good biomass,” says Jennifer Jenkins, chief sustainability officer at Enviva, a US-based company which is the world’s largest producer of industrial wood pellets used for electricity and heat production.

To bring climate benefits, biomass needs to come from low-value wood residues or smaller trees coming from timber harvests – not from high-value trees that could be used in products like furniture or construction material, Jenkins said.

The question now facing policymakers in Brussels is how to ensure EU energy policies do not encourage the wrong sort of biomass, even inadvertently.

Biomass currently represents almost 60% of the EU’s renewable energy, more than solar and wind power combined, according to the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.

And even though wind and solar are growing fast, countries such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia and Sweden would be unable to achieve their 2020 renewable energy targets without biomass, experts say.

Earlier this year, the European Commission announced it would perform a comprehensive assessment of biomass supply and demand in Europe and globally with a view to “ensure that EU biomass-related policies are sustainable”.

“The overall objective is to ensure that EU regulatory framework on bioenergy is in line with the increased ambition set out in the European Green Deal,” the Commission said in its biodiversity strategy, published on 20 May.

But sorting out “good” from “bad” biomass is notoriously tricky.

Last year, a group of climate activists filed a lawsuit against the European Union to challenge the notion that forest biomass is carbon neutral, a principle which is currently enshrined in the bloc’s renewable energy directive.

“The treatment of biomass as carbon neutral runs counter to scientific findings” showing that burning wood for energy typically emits 1.5 times more CO2 than coal and 3 times more than natural gas, the plaintiffs claimed.

So how could policymakers distinguish “good” from “bad” biomass? According to some experts, one way could be to contrast the impact of biomass on global carbon stocks in the short and long term.

“If you burn biomass, then of course there is CO2 being emitted,” said Junginger, adding that from that point of view, biomass “critics have a point” and that climate scientists are concerned about the immediate CO2 emissions, which can be “up to twice more than natural gas”.

However, what critics fail to acknowledge is the long-term positive effects of biomass on the climate, Junginger added, saying bioenergy from sustainably managed forests is carbon neutral in the long run because trees re-absorb carbon dioxide as they grow.

Ultimately within two or three decades, even the less sustainable kinds of biomass will have repaid their carbon debt and perform better than fossil fuels,” he argued.

Permafrost / Re: Toward Improved Discussions of Methane & Climate
« on: July 15, 2020, 01:30:51 AM »
An update to the global methane budget comparing 2017 (latest year with full data available) to the period when methane concentrations weren't increasing (2000 to 2006) was just published.  The good news is that the Arctic permafrost isn't a major source (yet).  The bad news is that much of the anthropogenic increase is from agriculture, which will be really hard to reduce.

Global Methane Emissions Soar to Record High, Even As Pandemic Has Reduced Carbon Emissions
By Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences July 14, 2020

The pandemic has tugged carbon emissions down, temporarily. But levels of the powerful heat-trapping gas methane continue to climb, dragging the world further away from a path that skirts the worst effects of global warming.
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record. Increases are being driven primarily by growth of emissions from coal mining, oil and natural gas production, cattle and sheep ranching, and landfills.

Globally, fossil fuel sources and cows are twin engines powering methane’s upward climb. “Emissions from cattle and other ruminants are almost as large as those from the fossil fuel industry for methane,” Jackson said. “People joke about burping cows without realizing how big the source really is.”
Throughout the study period, agriculture accounted for roughly two-thirds of all methane emissions related to human activities; fossil fuels contributed most of the remaining third. However, those two sources have contributed in roughly equal measure to the increases seen since the early 2000s.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, carbon emissions plummeted as manufacturing and transportation ground to a halt. “There’s no chance that methane emissions dropped as much as carbon dioxide emissions because of the virus,” Jackson said. “We’re still heating our homes and buildings, and agriculture keeps growing.”

Tropical and temperate regions have seen the biggest jump in methane emissions. Boreal and polar systems have played a lesser role. Despite fears that melting in the Arctic may unlock a burst of methane from thawing permafrost, the researchers found no evidence for increasing methane emissions in the Arctic – at least through 2017.

And here's a link to the scientific study:

ncreasing anthropogenic methane emissions arise equally from agricultural and fossil fuel sources

R B Jackson, M Saunois, P Bousquet, J G Canadell, B Poulter, A R Stavert, P Bergamaschi, Y Niwa, A Segers and A Tsuruta
Published 15 July 2020
Environmental Research Letters, Volume 15, Number 7

Global average methane concentrations in the atmosphere reached ~1875 parts per billion (ppb) at the end of 2019, more than two-and-a-half times preindustrial levels (Dlugokencky 2020). The largest methane sources include anthropogenic emissions from agriculture, waste, and the extraction and use of fossil fuels as well as natural emissions from wetlands, freshwater systems, and geological sources (Kirschke et al 2013, Saunois et al 2016a, Ganesan et al 2019). Here, we summarize new estimates of the global methane budget based on the analysis of Saunois et al (2020) for the year 2017, the last year of the new Global Methane Budget and the most recent year data are fully available. We compare these estimates to mean values for the reference 'stabilization' period of 2000–2006 when atmospheric CH4 concentrations were relatively stable. We present data for sources and sinks and provide insights for the geographical regions and economic sectors where emissions have changed the most over recent decades.

The linked study provides a good assessment of our ability to reduce methane emissions over the next few decades.

Lena Höglund-Isaksson et al 2020 Environ. Res. Commun. 2 025004
Technical potentials and costs for reducing global anthropogenic methane emissions in the 2050 timeframe –results from the GAINS model


Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide contributing to human-made global warming. Keeping to the Paris Agreement of staying well below two degrees warming will require a concerted effort to curb methane emissions in addition to necessary decarbonization of the energy systems. The fastest way to achieve emission reductions in the 2050 timeframe is likely through implementation of various technical options. The focus of this study is to explore the technical abatement and cost pathways for reducing global methane emissions, breaking reductions down to regional and sector levels using the most recent version of IIASA's Greenhouse gas and Air pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model. The diverse human activities that contribute to methane emissions make detailed information on potential global impacts of actions at the regional and sectoral levels particularly valuable for policy-makers. With a global annual inventory for 1990–2015 as starting point for projections, we produce a baseline emission scenario to 2050 against which future technical abatement potentials and costs are assessed at a country and sector/technology level. We find it technically feasible in year 2050 to remove 54 percent of global methane emissions below baseline, however, due to locked in capital in the short run, the cumulative removal potential over the period 2020–2050 is estimated at 38 percent below baseline. This leaves 7.7 Pg methane released globally between today and 2050 that will likely be difficult to remove through technical solutions. There are extensive technical opportunities at low costs to control emissions from waste and wastewater handling and from fossil fuel production and use. A considerably more limited technical abatement potential is found for agricultural emissions, in particular from extensive livestock rearing in developing countries. This calls for widespread implementation in the 2050 timeframe of institutional and behavioural options in addition to technical solutions.

This article summarizes the study:

Three workable strategies for putting a big dent in methane, the “other” greenhouse gas
April 16, 2020
Andrew Urevig

Improve Waste Management

Yard waste and uneaten food decomposing in landfills vent methane into the air, so the study finds lots of potential in improved garbage management. The researchers estimate that separating waste by source, with better recycling and schemes to capture energy from some trash — plus a ban on organic waste in landfills — could help the world avoid emitting 778 million metric tons (858 million tons) of methane that would otherwise make its way into the air between now and 2050.

Repair Leaks

Ultimately, fossil fuels will also need to be phased out, Höglund Isaksson writes. But in the meantime, the study finds that we could slow the growth of methane emissions by taking steps such as implementing programs to detect and repair leaks in oil production and the extraction and transportation of natural gas. Coal mines could consistently implement degasification and improve ventilation, and oil drillers could try to recover associated gas. Such steps — with leakage detection and repair being the biggest — could prevent 2.35 billion metric tons (2.57 billion tons) of methane emissions by 2050.

Modify Agricultural Practices

Methane emissions from agriculture, the study finds, will be the hardest area for technical improvements. Rice cultivation’s footprint could decrease if farmers used alternative hybrids, improved water management and added materials to improve soil properties. These steps could avoid 335 million metric tons (370 million tons) of emitted methane by 2050. Livestock breeders could continue efforts to raise more productive animals: If farmers could use fewer cows to produce the same amount of milk, for example, that would cut back on emissions. This approach could yield different emissions results in cows, pigs, sheep and other livestock.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 07:18:55 PM »
Ken, could you please state the country where your post is about? And another please: No politics, yes policies.

Basically if it´s not in the text body it is visible in the quotes.

No problem.  I modified my posts to make them clearer for non-English readers.

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: July 14, 2020, 07:12:48 PM »
Tesla, GM and CATL are ready to deploy a million-mile batteries that can be repurposed for grid storage after the car wears out.

Tesla’s Million-Mile Battery Will Fuel A New Green Energy Boom
By Tsvetana Paraskova - Jul 13, 2020

The million-mile battery for electric vehicles (EVs) could hit the market very soon, giving a boost not only to zero-emission vehicle ownership but also to renewable energy generation.    While the million-mile battery will outlast whatever car it is placed in, it could still be put to good use after its initial purpose, providing a boon to the used EVs market or to energy storage, Maddie Stone writes in Grist.

Tesla is reportedly set to launch a million-mile battery as soon as this year or early in 2021 for its Model 3 in China, as part of a wider plan to introduce longer-lasting, low-cost batteries that would bring EV prices to parity with conventional gas-powered cars.

Last year, a team from the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who does research for Tesla, said in a paper that they had tested lithium-ion battery cell chemistry expected to be able to power electric vehicles (EVs) for more than 1 million miles and last at least two decades in grid energy storage.

GM is "almost there" in its efforts to make a million-mile battery, GM's Executive Vice President Doug Parks said at an online conference in May.

China's battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL) is ready to produce a battery that could last more than 1 million miles – 1.24 million miles, to be precise – and 16 years, the company's chairman Zeng Yuqun told Bloomberg in an interview last month.

A million-mile battery could increase vehicle ownership and the resale value of EVs, giving impetus to the secondhand EV market and making EVs more popular.

Battery packs can also serve as energy storage for renewable energy generation once they have outlasted the original vehicle they were intended to serve.

Science / Re: 2020 CO2 emissions
« on: July 14, 2020, 07:00:41 PM »
US CO2 emissions are forecast to decline by 12% this year.  However, they may increase in 2021 (albeit still well below 2018 levels) if we ever get our act together on the Covid front.,million%20b%2Fd%20in%202021.

EIA forecasts that energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, after decreasing by 2.8% in 2019, will decrease by 12.2% in 2020 and increase by 6.0% in 2021. This forecast is highly dependent on assumptions regarding the economic impact and subsequent recovery from COVID-19 mitigation efforts. In addition to economic growth, energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, energy prices, and fuel mix.

Note that the forecast for 2021 assumes that natural gas prices will rise enough for coal to increase its share of electricity production.  Once again the EIA ignores all of the renewable projects in the pipeline.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 14, 2020, 06:57:02 PM »
US natural gas production and consumption is also decreasing (same web link as above).,million%20b%2Fd%20in%202021.

    EIA expects U.S. dry natural gas production to average 89.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2020, down from 92.2 Bcf/d in 2019. This 3% decrease is the result of falling natural gas prices that caused a decline in drilling activity and production curtailments. EIA expects annual average dry natural gas production in the United States will decline by 6% in 2021 to 84.2 Bcf/d. However, EIA expects production to increase during the second half of 2021 as natural gas prices in the forecast rise.

    EIA expects U.S. natural gas consumption will decline by 3% in 2020. The main driver of the decline is lower consumption in the industrial sector because of COVID-19 mitigation efforts and related reductions in economic activity. Forecast U.S. natural gas consumption declines by 5% in 2021 as a result of expected rising natural gas prices. The rising prices will reduce the use of natural gas in the electric power sector, which will more than offset increases in natural gas consumption in the industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.

AS Kassy noted above, the global natural gas glut has especially impacted LNG exporters, which creates storage problems.

EIA forecasts working natural gas in storage will reach 4,039 billion cubic feet (Bcf) at the end of October, which would be the most U.S. natural gas in storage as of the end-of-October on record. This forecast level surpasses the previous end-of-October record of 4,013 Bcf reached in October 2016.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 14, 2020, 06:51:07 PM »
US oil production is forecast to be down for the next two years as consumption has dropped.,million%20b%2Fd%20in%202021.

    EIA expects annual average U.S. crude oil production to fall in 2020 and 2021 as forecast West Texas Intermediate (WTI) spot prices remain less than $50/b through 2021. EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will average 11.6 million b/d in 2020 and 11.0 million b/d in 2021. These levels are 0.6 million b/d and 1.2 million b/d, respectively, lower than the 2019 average of 12.2 million b/d. EIA finalized this month’s forecast before a U.S. District Court ordered on July 6 the temporary closure of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The operators of the pipeline have announced they will file a motion to stay the decision.

    EIA forecasts U.S. liquid fuels consumption will average 18.3 million b/d in 2020, down 2.1 million b/d from 2019. Declines in U.S. liquid fuels consumption vary across products. From 2019 to 2020, EIA expects jet fuel consumption to fall by 31% and gasoline and distillate fuel consumption to both fall by 10%. The declines reflect travel restrictions and reduced economic activity related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. EIA expects the largest declines in U.S. liquid fuels consumption have already occurred and consumption will generally rise through the second half of 2020 and in 2021. EIA forecasts U.S. liquid fuels consumption will average 19.9 million b/d in 2021.

Arctic sea ice / Re: What the Buoys are telling
« on: July 14, 2020, 06:07:21 PM »
Cross-posted from the questions thread.
That we have no camera buoys doesn't mean we can't learn from buoys past.

It is quite typical that melt pond surfaces freeze over when the sky becomes cloudy and temps go colder. Often it's just a thin layer of floating ice. However, the location of the melt pond remains the most vulnerable and as soon as conditions turn around the pond normally returns right where it was.
To understand what really happens in situ, I strongly recommend watching all the movies archived as part of the O-Buoy project that ran a few years back. Must-see for any sea ice enthusiast.

Try this one first.
Best to watch the whole 25 minutes, but if you're in a hurry just watch the 2016 season unfolding in the Beaufort/CAB, with melt ponds appearing in late June and the floe breaking up in August. Lots of occasions where the melt ponds are widening and then refreezing. (05:00 to 08:00). Amazingly the buoy survives until next season in the CAA, with ponds again appearing in late June. (16:00 to 22:00).
Conditions appear to have been mostly cloudy both seasons, but one can discern the quick result of the sun making an appearance. While watching, try to imagine the effects of weather that leads to melt pond formation a month earlier, and mostly sunny skies.

As proof of watching - when do the bear tracks appear?

Other movies:
Short, 2011
2012, deep CAB and Fram
2011, Beaufort/CAB
2012, deep CAB and Fram
2013, Beaufort, with open ocean and new ice refreeze at the end
2014+2015, CAB and Fram
2014+2015, Beaufort
2015, Beaufort
2015, Chukchi/CAB

Thanks, that was very helpful.  It's one thing to read about the processes involved with melting and freezing sea ice and another thing to see it happening.

You should probably modify your post to include a warning about the strobe effects at the start.  When the sun was very low and going down, it was annoying for me.  Some people have conditions that can be triggered by strobe lighting.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 01:06:28 AM »
Utility scale solar installations in the US were up 65.5% from 2019 in the first quarter of 2020.

US utility-scale solar installations accelerate with 1,962 MW of new capacity in Q1'20
06 Jul 2020
Gaurang Dholakia

New York — Utility-scale solar installations in the U.S. totaled 1,962 MW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2020, which was 65.5% higher than the total installed in the first quarter of last year and the strongest first quarter in the last five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The analysis aligns with data from the Solar Energy Industries Association Inc., which said that the first three months of 2020 was the strongest first quarter on record with new additions, including residential solar, totaling 3.6 GW.

Cumulative installed utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. as of March 31 reached 40,652 MW, up 18.4% from 12 months prior.

As of June 8, the amount of capacity scheduled to come online in the next five years is expected to peak in 2021, with 28,172 MW planned. Most planned capacity over the five-year period is in early development.

Edit:  Modified to make clear that this is in the US.

Policy and solutions / Re: Low GHG Meat
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:55:27 AM »
Another new feed additive has been found to decrease methane emissions from dairy cattle by up to 40% while increasing butterfat levels and not affecting the milk yield.

Feed Additive Reduces Methane Emissions Up to 40 Percent In Dairy Cows
Jim Dickrell
June 25, 2020

A feeding trial using 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) reduced enteric methane emissions in dairy cows 22 to 40 percent in a short-term study done at Pennsylvania State University. The average level of methane reduction was 31 percent.

The European Union is formulating policies to address methane emissions.

EC consults on methane leaks in push to clean up EU gas imports
13 Jul 2020
Siobhan Hall

Brussels — The European Commission is seeking views on how to reduce leaks of potent greenhouse gas methane from oil, gas and agricultural sectors as part of the EU's efforts to become climate-neutral by 2050.

Most of the methane leaks from fossil gas production and transport happen before the natural gas or LNG reaches the EU, so a new EU policy on methane emissions could have far-reaching impacts on the global gas market.

The key challenge is how to improve measuring, reporting and verifying emissions at the level of private entities, it said.

On average, 5% of sources account for 50% of the leaks, known as "super-emitters".

Leak detection and repair programs, as well as finding and addressing these "super-emitters, can be a very effective action," the EC said.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:37:06 AM »
While both China and the US are trying to prop up coal, both countries are failing to do so.  Coal just isn't competitive with the alternatives, formerly natural gas and now increasingly solar and wind power.

Global demise of coal-fired generation driven by idle and unprofitable plants

China grapples with overcapacity by slowing coal plant construction while more U.S. plants have closed during the first three years of the Trump administration than in Obama’s two terms.
June 23, 2020 K Kaufmann

The demise of coal is now a global phenomenon that — rather like Covid-19 — is no respecter of borders or governments, with both China and the United States grappling with the social and economic impacts of overcapacity.

In other words, baseload power just isn’t what it used to be, and too many coal plants around the world are sitting idle and unprofitable too much of the time. In China, the issue has surfaced in a recent government policy statement calling for the elimination of outdated coal-fired plants and stricter controls on new capacity.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the coal industry have not slowed the snowballing pace of plant closures, now running at a higher rate than during the eight years of the Obama administration. According to figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), reported in E&E News, 15 GW and 33 GW were retired during Obama’s first and second terms, respectively, versus 37 GW since Trump took office in 2017. Another 3.7 GW of capacity are projected to close in the next six months.

While China leads the world in solar capacity, its continuing reliance on coal and on the construction of new coal-fired plants to drive economic growth has also made it the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Coal accounted for 57.7% of the country’s energy consumption in 2019.

Capacity up, utilization down

But, according to a recent analysis published on the Carbon Brief website, as capacity has increased, utilization has gone down, with many Chinese coal companies running at a loss, and plants typically operating at 50% capacity.

The story in the U.S. is more familiar and more certain, with the EIA reporting coal-fired generation at its lowest point since 1976, undercut primarily by cheap natural gas and wind. Even with ongoing plant closures, utilization rates also fell to 48%, and for the first time, Americans consumed more renewable power, including hydroelectric, than coal-fired generation.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:21:31 AM »
New solar farms in Texas (a large state in the United States) will result in the idling of the remaining coal-fired power plants supplying the state grid (abbreviated ERCOT in the story).

Solar Surge Set to Drive Much of Remaining Texas Coal-Fired Fleet Offline Growth in Utility-Scale PV Production Is Rapidly Changing the ERCOT Market

Executive Summary

Coal-fired power generation in Texas, pummelled by clean, no-fuel-cost wind over the past 10 years, is about to be hit by a second wave of competition from renewables as utility-scale solar power, which is still only a small component of the state’s generation mix, stands to gain significant market share over the next few years.

While installed solar power capacity in the U.S. has grown by almost 4,000% over the past 10 years, its growth rate in Texas—specifically across the vast footprint of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has been even faster, with installed capacity increasing from just 15 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to 2,281MW at the end of 2019,a 15,107% increase. ERCOT’s installed capacity could climb at a comparable annual rate this year, with current projections showing solar topping 5,800MW by the end of 2020.

Even though solar is still a small percentage of ERCOT’s overall numbers, both in terms of generation and installed capacity, it is beginning to have a noticeable impact. This June, for example, solar generation supplied 4-5% of daytime electricity demand on many occasions. Given its low cost, and given the Texas grid’s energy-only business model, which pays for electricity produced rather than mere generation capacity, solar is gaining—and will continue to gain—market share. This will come at the expense of more costly generation, most likely coal-fired, which will be backed out of the ERCOT generation mix by a comparable amount.

This is clear in ERCOT’s generation figures from this year through the end of June. Overall, ERCOT demand has increased slightly since last year, even with the pandemic and the oil price collapse. But there is a much bigger story behind these grid-wide totals. So far this year, coal-fired generation has fallen across ERCOT by more than 8.6 million megawatt-hours (MWh), while solar and wind generation has increased by just over 8.5 million MWh, an increase of almost 21%.

Coupled with expected continued increases in wind capacity, which totalled just under 24,000MW at the end of 2019 across ERCOT and is projected to top 34,000MW by the end of2021, IEEFA sees a number of the 11 remaining ERCOT coal plants likely retiring by 2025. The economic competitiveness of the ERCOT market makes such closures a near certainty.

Edit: Modified to clarify that this applies to a state in the United States.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:03:42 AM »
The Biden campaign (for US President) has released their climate change plan, which includes policies that would lead to a huge expansion of renewable energy.

Biden-Sanders task force calls for 500m solar panels in five years

A wide-ranging joint report published by the Democratic presidential candidate and his former rival includes the section: ‘Undoing the harms of the Trump administration and righting the wrongs.’
July 13, 2020 Eric Wesoff

On renewables, the task force aims to:

    Dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility scale systems. Within five years, states the report, “we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems and 60,000 made-in-America onshore and offshore wind turbines”
    Cut red tape, by promoting fast and easy permitting for rooftop solar and energy retrofits
    Launch a battery storage and clean energy transmission line moonshot to super-charge investment in innovation and the deployment of American-made battery technology and clean energy transmission lines
    Improve transmission planning by increasing transparency and fairness in the power markets for clean energy generators. The report also aims to develop and implement a long-term transmission plan to deliver more renewables
    Adopt scaled-up tax credits for renewable energy projects that meet labor standards

Edit: Modified to clarify that Biden is running for President of the United States and that these are policy proposals, not politics.

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