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Renewable Energy

China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower

Vast plant in Qinghai province is part of China’s determination to transform itself from climate change villain to a green energy colossus.

High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus.

To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

Behind him, a sea of nearly 4m deep blue panels flows towards a spectacular horizon of snow-capped mountains – mile after mile of silicon cells tilting skywards from what was once a barren, wind-swept cattle ranch.

“It’s big! Yeah! Big!” Gu Bin, one of the engineers responsible for building the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in the western province of Qinghai, enthused with a heavy dose of understatement during a rare tour of the mega-project.

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter.


(The Guardian 19.1 2017)

Reasons to be cheerful: a full switch to low-carbon energy is in sight

Climate change optimism is justified – a complete transition from carbon to solar and wind power looks practical and affordable within a generation.


My first book on climate change was published 10 years ago. I looked at how responsible individuals could choose to run their lives to cut their carbon footprint.

Inevitably minimising your carbon footprint meant making some uncomfortable choices – stopping eating meat, for example, or giving up flying. Hair-shirtism, in short. In 2009, I advised individuals on how they could cut their carbon emissions by 10%.

I then disobeyed some of my own recommendations, flying to the US to visit a daughter at university, for example. Over the subsequent years, it increasingly seemed to me that changing western lifestyles in the way my first book suggested was going to be an impossible struggle.

Moreover, the world still had more than a billion people without an electricity supply. Any solution that didn’t give them access to power was unfair and unworkable. So I switched to writing about how we could substitute low-carbon energy sources for fossil fuels.

At first it seemed that renewable electricity would always be more expensive and solar power would languish unless it was heavily subsidised. Using alternative energy sources seemed difficult, expensive and inconvenient. I now think I was completely wrong.

In fact, optimism about successfully tackling climate change has never been more justified because 2016 was the year in which it finally became obvious that the world had the technology to solve the problem. Even as the political environment has darkened, the reasons have strengthened for believing that a complete transition to low-carbon energy is practical and affordable within one generation.

(The Guardian 19.1 2017)




Scotland sets ambitious goal of 66% emissions cut within 15 years

Scotland is seeking to dramatically cut its reliance on fossil fuels for cars, energy and homes after setting a radical target to cut total climate emissions by 66% within 15 years.

In one of the world’s most ambitious climate strategies, ministers in Edinburgh have unveiled far tougher targets to increase the use of ultra-low-carbon cars, green electricity and green home heating by 2032.

The Scottish government has set the far higher target after its original goal of cutting Scotland’s emissions by 42% by 2020 was met six years early – partly because climate change has seen winters which are warmer than normal, cutting emissions for home heating.

The new strategy, which is expected to cost up to £3bn a year to implement and is closely linked to a new renewable energy programme due to be published this month, will call for:

40% of all new cars and vans sold in Scotland to be ultra-low-emission by 2032, with 50% of Scotland’s buses to be low-carbon.

A totally carbon-free electricity sector based entirely on renewable energy sources by 2032, when Scotland’s last nuclear power station will close.

Four out of five of Scotland’s 2m homes to be heated using low-carbon technologies.

The repairing of 250,000 hectares of degraded peatlands, which store a total of 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 in Scotland.

At least 30% of Scotland’s vital publicly owned ferry fleet to be low-carbon, powered by hybrid engines.


(The Guardian 19.1 2017)

Das Ende der Kohle ist absehbar

Die Zukunft der Kohle hat die Bundesregierung in eine kleine Tabelle verbannt, sie steht auf Seite 26 ganz unten. Bis 2030, so legt der kürzlich erlassene Klimaschutzplan der Bundesregierung dort fest, darf die deutsche Energiewirtschaft noch höchstens 183 Millionen Tonnen Kohlendioxid ausstoßen. Das entspricht ziemlich genau der Halbierung der derzeitigen Emissionen. Wie das genau gehen soll, steht nicht in dem Plan, denn die Konsequenz gilt als unbequem. Schließlich könnten davon auch Kohlekraftwerke in Nordrhein-Westfalen betroffen sein. Und da wird am Muttertag gewählt.

Doch ohne massive Einschnitte bei der Kohle wird es nicht gehen. “Für die Erreichung der Klimaziele”, so heißt es in einer Studie des Umweltbundesamtes, “ist eine stärkere Minderung der Emissionen aus Kohlekraftwerken um etwa 60 Prozent gegenüber dem Jahr 2014 erforderlich.” Die Studie liegt der Süddeutschen Zeitung vor. 60 Prozent weniger Kohlekraft binnen weniger als 14 Jahren – das passiert nicht von selbst.

Die Varianten für einen Kohleausstieg liefert das Gutachten deshalb gleich mit. So könnten sich “durch einen ordnungsrechtlichen Ansatz oder eine Verhandlungslösung” bis 2030 drei Viertel aller Braunkohlekraftwerke stilllegen lassen. Braunkohle verursacht wesentlich mehr Kohlendioxid als Erdgas, auch mehr als Steinkohle. Mit Variante zwei ließe sich ein Höchstalter für alle Kohlekraftwerke festlegen. Nach 40 Jahren Laufzeit wäre dann Schluss, sowohl für Braun- als auch für Steinkohle.


(Suddeutsche Zeitung 16.1 2017)

Today all Dutch trains are powered 100% by wind energy

Travelling by train has been the most environmentally friendly way of transportation for a long time already. In the Netherlands they have now taken it to the next level using wind turbines to power all of its trains.

The Dutch have a long history of using wind energy to advance. They used windmills to drain land covered by water since the 17th century.


Energy company Eneco provides NS the energy to transport 600.000 people per day. That’s 1.200.000 train trips per day without any CO2 emissions.

NS requires 1.2B kWh of wind-powered energy per year, which is the same amount all households in Amsterdam consume per year. The partnership with NS, allowed Eneco to invest substantially in the expansion of its wind turbine parks.

(Brightvibes 2.1 2017)


99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year

Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too.

If it bleeds, it leads” isn’t a phrase coined by some cut-throat tabloid editor. It’s a potent truth that lies at the heart of the modern day media machine. It’s time for some balance. That’s why our team at Future Crunch spent the year gathering good news stories you probably didn’t hear about, and sent them out in our fortnightly newsletter.

Here’s our full list for 2016…

(Medium 5. 12 2016)

The City Of Las Vegas Is Now Powered Entirely By Renewable Energy

Las Vegas just became the largest U.S. city to rely solely on green energy to power its municipal facilities.

All Las Vegas city facilities ― from government buildings to streetlights ― are now running entirely on renewable energy, city officials have announced.


“We can brag that the city, this city of Las Vegas, is one of the few cities in the entire world that can boast using all of its power from a green source,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said in a news conference Monday.


The achievement marks the completion of the city’s nearly decade-long goal to fully transition to clean energy only ― a project that was expedited after the city partnered with public utility company NV Energy almost a year ago. While all government facilities are now only powered by renewable energy, many residential and commercial buildings are not.


Officials were able to make the announcement after Boulder Solar 1, a massive solar array in the southeast corner of Nevada, went on line last week.


(Huffington Post 20.12 2016)

India plans nearly 60% of electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by 2027

Expansion of solar and wind power will help exceed Paris targets by almost half and negate need for new coal-fired power stations

The Indian government has forecast that it will exceed the renewable energy targets set in Paris last year by nearly half and three years ahead of schedule.

A draft 10-year energy blueprint published this week predicts that 57% of India’s total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027. The Paris climate accord target was 40% by 2030.

Wind and Solar Are Crushing Fossil Fuels

Record clean energy investment outpaces gas and coal 2 to 1.

Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable.

While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.

One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

“We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”


(Bloomberg 6.4 2016)

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