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In Praise of Soil: A Conversation with the Founder of Coyote Creek Farm

In Praise of Soil: A Conversation with the Founder of Coyote Creek Farm | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Farmer Jeremiah “Jerry” Cunningham’s neighbors are talking. Not just because his ponds fill and drain better than theirs, or because he can walk across his field without mud clumping on his boots. It’s his compost tea.
Duane Tilden's insight:

My soil is so well flocculated that it is like a thatched roof. It allows a clump of my silver-tipped bluestem grass to have as much as 25 miles of root system, and for every 25 miles of root system, it probably has 50 miles of mycelia or fungi that bring nutrients to that grass. I feed the microorganisms compost tea, which I learned how to make when I studied with Elaine Ingham from the University of Oregon, and now scientific director at Rodale Institute. She built on the work of Sir Albert Howard, the father of organic farming, from the U.K. I have two 250-gallon tanks in a special barn called the Tea Barn. I pull out the protozoa and the fungi, all of the biology out of the compost into a solution, just like making tea, then spray that all over my pasture. I did that four times a year for seven years, believing that was the way to a healthy farm, and it was. Now we only have to spray compost tea every other year.

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Cover-up: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused

Cover-up:  Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

Four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster which has caused incredible an ongoing destruction, in the meantime authorities have tried to cover up the serious consequences...

 

Image source:  www.businessinsider.com

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe. [...]

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.”

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth. [...]

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her. [...]

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.” [...]

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster:The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.” [...] "<


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Water Quantities Used for Hydraulic Fracturing Varies According to Drilling Methods

Water Quantities Used for Hydraulic Fracturing Varies According to Drilling Methods | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new USGS study accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...]  from 2000 to 2014, median annual water volume estimates for hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells had increased from about 177,000 gallons per oil and gas well to more than 4 million gallons per oil well and 5.1 million gallons per gas well. Meanwhile, median water use in vertical and directional wells remained below 671,000 gallons per well. For comparison, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons.

“One of the most important things we found was that the amount of water used per well varies quite a bit, even within a single oil and gas basin,” said USGS scientist Tanya Gallegos, the study’s lead author. “This is important for land and resource managers, because a better understanding of the volumes of water injected for hydraulic fracturing could be a key to understanding the potential for some environmental impacts.”

Horizontal wells are those that are first drilled vertically or directionally (at an angle from straight down) to reach the unconventional oil or gas reservoir and then laterally along the oil or gas-bearing rock layers. This is done to increase the contact area with the reservoir rock and stimulate greater oil or gas production than could be achieved through vertical wells alone.

However, horizontal wells also generally require more water than vertical or directional wells. In fact, in 52 out of the 57 watersheds with the highest average water use for hydraulic fracturing, over 90 percent of the wells were horizontally drilled.

Although there has been an increase in the number of horizontal wells drilled since 2008, about 42 percent of new hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells completed in 2014 were still either vertical or directional. The ubiquity of the lower-water-use vertical and directional wells explains, in part, why the amount of water used per well is so variable across the United States.

The watersheds where the most water was used to hydraulically fracture wells on average coincided with parts of the following shale formations:

Eagle Ford (within watersheds located mainly in Texas)Haynesville-Bossier (within watersheds located mainly in Texas & Louisiana)Barnett (within watersheds located mainly in Texas)Fayetteville (within watersheds located in Arkansas)Woodford  (within watersheds located mainly in Oklahoma)Tuscaloosa  (within watersheds located in Louisiana & Mississippi)Marcellus & Utica (within watersheds located in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and within watersheds extending into southern New York)

Shale gas reservoirs are often hydraulically fractured using slick water, a fluid type that requires a lot of water. In contrast, tight oil formations like the Bakken (in parts of Montana and North Dakota) often use gel-based hydraulic fracturing treatment fluids, which generally contain lower amounts of water. [...]"<

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Jet Contrails Worse for Climate Change Than Planes' Carbon Emissions

Jet Contrails Worse for Climate Change Than Planes' Carbon Emissions | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
By John Timmer, Ars Technica Air travel has come under fire for its potential contributions to climate change. Most people probably assume that its impact comes through carbon emissions, given that aircraft burn significant amounts of fossil fuel to stay aloft. But the carbon released by air travel remains a relatively minor part of the…
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...]Others include the emissions of particulates high in the atmosphere, the production of nitrogen oxides and the direct production of clouds through contrail water vapor.

Over time, these thin lines of water evolve into “contrail cirrus” clouds that lose their linear features and become indistinguishable from the real thing.

Although low-altitude clouds tend to cool the planet by reflecting sunlight, high-altitude clouds like cirrus have an insulating effect and actually enhance warming.

To figure out the impact of these cirrus clouds, the authors created a module for an existing climate model (theECHAM4) that simulated the evolution of aircraft-induced cirrus clouds (they could validate some of the model’s output against satellite images of contrails).

They found hot spots of these clouds over the United States and Europe, as well as the North Atlantic travel corridor.

Smaller affects were seen in East Asia and over the northern Pacific. Over central Europe, values peaked at about 10 percent, in part because the output of the North Atlantic corridor drifted in that direction.

On their own, aircraft-generated cirrus produces a global climate forcing of about 40 milliwatts per square meter. (In contrast, the solar cycle results in changes of about a full watt/M2.) But these clouds suppressed the formation of natural cirrus clouds, which partially offset the impact of the aircraft-generated ones, reducing the figure to about 30 mW/M2. That still leaves it among the most significant contribution to the climate produced by aircraft.

Some reports have suggested we might focus on makingengines that emit less water vapor, but the water is a necessary byproduct of burning hydrocarbon. We’ll almost certainly be accomplishing that as a result of rising fuel prices, and will limit carbon emissions at the same time.

The nice thing is that, in contrast to the long atmospheric lifespan of CO2, if we can cause any changes in cloud formation, they’ll have an impact within a matter of days. [...]"<

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E.P.A. Proposal to Regulate GHG Emissions and Fuel Economy for HD Trucks

E.P.A. Proposal to Regulate GHG Emissions and Fuel Economy for HD Trucks | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose rules requiring heavy trucks to increase their fuel economy by up to 40 percent by 2027.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] This week, the E.P.A. is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, requiring that their fuel economy increase up to 40 percent by 2027, compared with levels in 2010, according to people briefed on the proposal. A tractor-trailer now averages five to six miles a gallon of diesel. The new regulations would seek to raise that average to as much as nine miles a gallon. A truck’s emissions can vary greatly, depending on how much it is carrying.

The hotly debated rules, which cover almost any truck larger than a standard pickup, are the latest in a stack of sweeping climate change policy measures on which President Obama hopes to build his environmental legacy. Already, his administration has proposed rules to cut emissions from power plants and has imposed significantly higher fuel efficiency standards on passenger vehicles.

The truck proposals could cut millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution while saving millions of barrels of oil. Trucks now account for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in the United States, even though they make up only 4 percent of traffic, the E.P.A. says.

But the rules will also impose significant burdens on America’s trucking industry — the beating heart of the nation’s economy, hauling food, raw goods and other freight across the country.

It is expected that the new rules will add $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of a new tractor-trailer, although E.P.A. studies estimate that cost will be recouped after 18 months by fuel savings.

Environmental advocates say that without regulation, the contribution of American trucks to global warming will soar.

“Trucking is set to be a bad actor if we don’t do something now,” Jason Mathers, head of the Green Freight program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

But some in the trucking industry are wary.

“I’ll put it this way: We told them what we can do, but they haven’t told us what they plan to do,” said Tony Greszler, vice president for government relations for Volvo Group North America, one of the largest manufacturers of big trucks. “We have concerns with how this will play out.”

The E.P.A., along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, began its initial phase of big truck fuel economy regulation in 2011, and those efforts have been widely seen within the industry as successful. But meeting the initial standards, like using more efficient tires, was not especially difficult by comparison. [...]"

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California's Carbon Cap-and-Trade Fund Attracts Energy Industry Project Proposals

California's Carbon Cap-and-Trade Fund Attracts Energy Industry Project Proposals | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

With California’s growing cap-and-trade program expected to yield a budgetary bonanza, lawmakers and interest groups have ample ideas for how to spend the money. Floating proposals ahead of a pivotal period for budget negotiations, they say they want to fund port improvements, pay for heavy-duty trucks and ferries, nurture urban rivers, sponge up carbon in soil and provide discounted bus passes.

 

Image source:  http://mammothlakeshousing.com/120-million-available-through-cap-and-trade-funds-for-affordable-housing-in-ca/

Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] Seeking to counteract climate change, lawmakers in 2006 authorized California to establish its first-in-the-nation carbon auction program, compelling businesses to purchase allowances for what they pump into the atmosphere.

By this time last year, the system already had generated hundreds of millions of dollars that were parceled out via the budget, including a controversial annual outlay to support high-speed rail. But this year is different: Oil and gas producers have been obligated to buy permits for the first time, likely generating a multibillion-dollar influx.

“With transportation fuels coming under the cap, there will be more money for years to come. That changes the dynamic,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. “Because there’s going to be a lot more money, there’s going to be that many more projects competing for dollars.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s January proposal underestimated the amount available in the coming fiscal year by as much as $3.9 billion and most likely by around $1.3 billion, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The updated numbers will come this week in Brown’s May revision.

Per a formula established in last year’s budget agreement, 60 percent of the auction dollars will flow to areas such as high-speed rail, urban transit and housing. The remaining 40 percent is up for debate in the Legislature.

[...]

The competing proposals raise a larger question about what type of project qualifies. Money spent out of the cap-and-trade fund must verifiably work to curtail the greenhouses gases that fuel climate change.

“It is a fee, and we want to spend it appropriately,” said Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, who carried the bill establishing the program.

Critics assailed Brown last year for directing revenue to the high-speed rail project, arguing that carbon reductions wouldn’t materialize for years. Legislative leaders are scrutinizing ideas this year and filtering out proposals that don’t pass muster.

At de León’s prodding, a Senate bill seeking to clean up urban watersheds was amended to seek funding from a different source. Another proposal floated by a range of environmental and community activist groups argued for subsidized bus passes.

“We know that the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California is from transportation, so there a number of ways we are addressing that, and one way of getting cars off the road is improving the choices in public transit,” said Magavern, whose organization was among those making the proposal.

In his January budget, Brown proposed using the money over which lawmakers have control on an array of areas, including energy-efficiency upgrades for public buildings, waste diversion and fire prevention (forest fires pour huge amounts of carbon-thick smoke into the air). That largely holds the line on last year’s proposals.

A potential addition would direct dollars to help water resources. As a prolonged drought has prompted extraordinary conservation mandates from Brown, the administration has been studying the ways in which energy and water overlap.

There, too, policymakers have experts working to quantify how much energy is used in transporting and heating water. If they can establish they’re reducing emissions, they can tap into the cap-and-trade money.

“There are a lot of really smart people working on getting this right,” said Pavley, who has a bill directing the state to study the energy footprint of water systems. “I think it opens up an amazing possible win-win for expenditure of auction revenues.”

With a growing pile of money spurring interest, Pavley said, officials must be vigilant about keeping their focus on cutting greenhouse gases. Sacramento suffers from no shortage of ideas for spending money, but not all of them fit that framework. [...]"<


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/state-budget/article20639208.html#storylink=cpy

 

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The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuel Dependency

The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuel Dependency | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation, and there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] Just last week, on May 19, a pipeline rupture caused over 100,000 gallons to spill into Santa Barbara waters. The channel where the spill occurred is where warm water from the south mixes with cold water from the north, creating one of most bio-diverse habitats in the world, with over 800 species of sea creatures, from crabs and snails to sea lions and otters, and a forest of kelp and other undersea plants; it's also a place through which 19,000 gray whales migrate this time each year. [...]

Hidden Costs of Using Fossil Fuels for Energy

It is estimated that 80 to 85 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. is from fossil fuels. One of the main reasons given for continuing to use this energy source is that it is much less expensive than alternatives. The true cost, however, depends on what you include in the calculation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are so many costs not figured in the bills we pay for energy. The following includes just some of them:

Human health problems caused by environmental pollution. Damage to the food chain from toxins absorbed and passed along.Damage to miners and energy workers.Damage to the earth from coal mining and fracking.Global warming caused by greenhouse gasses.Acid rain and groundwater pollution.National security costs from protecting oil sources and from terrorism (some of which is financed by oil revenues).

Additional Costs From Continued Subsidies

That's not all. In addition to the above costs, each and every U.S. taxpayer has been subsidizing the oil industry since 1916, when the oil depletion allowance was instituted. Government subsidies in the U.S. are estimated to be between $4 billion and $52 billion annually. The worldwide figure is pegged between $775 billion and $1 trillion. Why don't oil and gas companies and governments around the world divert at least some of these subsidies to invest in alternative clean energy sources? Rather than invest in the depleting and damaging energy sources of the past, isn't it time to look to the future and stop "kicking the can down the road"?

More Hidden Costs

While some call it an urban legend, others say quite emphatically that the oil industryconspired with the automobile industry and other vested interests to put streetcars out of business so that people would be forced to use automobiles and buses to get from point A to B -- selling more automobiles, tires, fuel, insurance, etc. Fact or fiction, many big cities (and especially Los Angeles, where alternatives are sparse) are choking from traffic gridlock. The first study on this subject determined that traffic congestion robbed the U.S. economy of $124 billion in 2013. That's an annual cost of $1,700 per household. This is expected to waste $2.8 trillion by 2030 if we do not take immediate measures to reverse the situation. For those who are skeptical, visit Los Angeles and try to drive around. Even with Waze, much more time and energy is wasted sitting in traffic than you could ever imagine. A commute that formerly took five to 10 minutes can now take upwards of an hour. 

There Is a Solution

The solution to many of the problems related to gridlock, damage to the environment and human health includes the following:

Clean energy and storage. [...]More effective and efficient transportation (clean and safe mass transit [...]Better marketing of, and accounting for, the true cost of the alternatives.Investment to do it.Political vision and will to transparently tell the truth and make the investment.

Doing the Right Thing Is Rarely Easy

While what is most worthwhile is rarely easy, it is necessary for the planet and living things that call it home.  [...]"<


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Water Waste, Leaking Pipes and Infrastructure Maintenance

Water Waste, Leaking Pipes and Infrastructure Maintenance | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Imagine Manhattan under 300 feet of water, not from a flood or rising sea level, but from the 2.1 trillion gallons of water lost from leaky pipes every year. That is nearly 6 billion gallons a day! The majority of leaks are a result of old infrastructure, pressure changes in the water mains, and small household leaks.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] 

Infrastructure leaks

About 14-18% of water treated in the United States is wasted through aging and damaged infrastructure, as well as faulty meters. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the US a “D” grade for water infrastructure. Let’s take a look at a few cities around the US.

Chicago wastes about 22 billion gallons of treated water a year, enough to serve 700,000 individual needs for a whole year.The state of California loses about 228 billion gallons a year, which is more than the city of LA uses in a year. On average the state loses 49 gallons a day for every service connection, and Sacramento loses a whopping 135 gallons per connection.In 2013 San Francisco experienced over 100 water main breaks and New York averages over 400 a year.Houston lost 22 billion gallons of water in 2013, 15% of its total water supplyAccording to the EPA we lose about 34 billion gallons of drinking water a day in the United States, about 1/6 of public water systems supply.

Household water waste

Average household leaks can add up to over 10,000 gallons of water a year, enough water to wash 270 loads of laundry. Nationally, household water waste totals over a trillion gallons - or the equivalent of 11 million households' yearly usage. The most common types of leaks at the household level are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaky showerheads. 10% of US homes waste over 90 gallons a day just from these small fixtures. Here are some quick facts:

Faucets: 1 drip/second adds up to over 3,000 gallons a year (you can take 180 showers with that water!)Speaking of showers… a showerhead leaking at 10 drips/minute wastes over 500 gallons a year (that’s 60 loads of dishes)Old inefficient toilets can water up to 13,000 gallons a yearIrrigation leaks just the size of a dime will waste nearly 6,300 gallons a month

[...] Fixing easy leaks can save about 10% on your monthly water bill. Replacing that old toilet with a new efficient toilet could save you upwards of $2,400 over the toilet's lifetime. [...]"<

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DOE Energy Review Report Recommends Grid Modernization and Transmission System Upgrades

DOE Energy Review Report Recommends Grid Modernization and Transmission System Upgrades | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) - a comprehensive report examining how the United States can modernize energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental responsibility. This installment...
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

Electric grid reform is timely due to a confluence of factors. First, our grid infrastructure is old and in dire need of upgrade. We could just patch up the existing system by replacing old poles and wires with new ones and call it a day. But given evolving customer preferences for more control over energy usage and newly available efficiency-enabling technologies, doing that would be like replacing an old rotary phone with a newer one instead of upgrading to a smart phone. Grid reform should also consider the changing environment, as grid reliability is increasingly threatened by severe weather. The continuing shift in the energy generation mix to include the benefits of more roof-top solar and remote wind generation will also require changes to our transmission grid.

 

QER electric grid modernization findings and recommendations

 

Here are some QER highlights relevant to FERC and what it can do to support a clean electricity grid. (Our Sustainable FERC Project coalition submitted comments to DOE on some of these items before the QER was finalized.)

 

The necessary transmission build-out for a low-carbon future is likely consistent with historic investment

 

To access wind and solar renewable resources far from populated cities, we need long-distance transmission infrastructure. But how much is enough? The QER studied a variety of clean energy future cases, including scenarios with high penetrations of wind and solar power, a cap on climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions to achieve a 40 percent reduction in 2030, and increased natural gas prices. The scenarios produced a range of new transmission requirements, all consistent with our historic investment in transmission infrastructure. In other words, the needed transmission infrastructure build-out to get to a low-carbon future is reasonable. So it boils down to this: the nation will continue to invest billions of dollars in grid infrastructure updates whether we build for a clean energy future or ignore the potential for it - which will it be? We'd argue for the clean pathway to clean our air and stave off the worst effects of climate change

 

We can more efficiently use existing infrastructure to avoid unnecessary and costly transmission construction

 

Just as the highways clog at rush hour, the electric grid gets congested when customer power demand is at its peak. The QER emphasizes that there are a number of ways to alleviate congestion on transmission wires without building costly new infrastructure. These include managing energy use through energy efficiency (smarter use of energy) and demand response (customer reduction in electricity use during high congestion times in exchange for compensation), locally supplying energy through distributed generation (such as rooftop solar), or using stored energy when the transmission lines are constrained. These alternatives not only reduce new transmission construction requirements, but come with the added bonus of improving electric service reliability and reducing pollution from electricity generation. Indeed, three important DOE-funded planning studies show that scenarios combining high levels of these resources can reduce the expected costs of new transmission investment (see a description of the Eastern Interconnection study here).

 

We can also avoid costly transmission construction by using existing transmission more efficiently through improved operations. Without getting into the wonky details, this means grid operators can adopt smart network technologies and better network management practices to minimize electricity transmission bottlenecks.

 

We need to appropriately value and compensate energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, and other resources providing cleaner, cheaper grid services

 

Unlike traditional power plants, energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage and other resources can nimbly respond to unanticipated grid events or meet energy demand without requiring extra transmission capacity at peak times. But these resources often offer more to the grid than they receive in compensation. Accurately valuing the services these resources provide would allow regulators and utilities to incent their participation in grid markets. The QER therefore recommends that DOE help develop frameworks to value and compensate grid services that promote a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable grid. [...]"<

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Russian Energy Producer Rosneft LNG Plant Reported Delayed for Two to Five Years

Russian Energy Producer Rosneft LNG Plant Reported Delayed for Two to Five Years | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian energy producer Rosneft may have to delay development of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Pacific island of Sakhalin for at least two years, sources said, after prices fell and financing all but dried up due to Western sanctions.

 
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] Rosneft, which has spearheaded President Vladimir Putin's drive to increase oil and gas output and secure Russia's energy dominance, signed an agreement with Exxon in 2013 that aimed at starting production of 5 million tonnes per year of LNG from 2018 at Sakhalin.

Russia is the world's largest exporter of natural gas but mostly exports it by pipeline to customers in Europe. Once liquefied, natural gas can be transported by ship to customers in Asia, helping fulfill the Kremlin's goal of finding new markets.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the project said the 2018 target was no longer realistic.

A source at Rosneft, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the plant would most probably "be postponed for three to five years because of lack of funds and low fuel prices".

A second source said it could be delayed for two years.

"This is not a surprise," the source said. "The year 2018 had never been seen as the final deadline. All the stuff that's happening - a decline in LNG prices, a slump in demand, the economic crisis - only confirms that."

A Rosneft company spokesman said there had been no change to the project's timeline: "Rosneft has not revised the terms for the implementation of the far east LNG project."

Exxon's Moscow office declined to comment. A spokesman at Exxon's headquarters in Texas also declined to comment.

In May 2014, Rosneft and Exxon signed a deal to continue work on the LNG plant, which will be partly fed from gas produced at Sakhalin-1, an oil and gas project in which Exxon is a major investor. [...]"<

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UK Green Investment Bank Raises £463m on its planned £1bn Offshore Wind Farm Fund

UK Green Investment Bank Raises £463m on its planned £1bn Offshore Wind Farm Fund | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) has announced that its FCA regulated subsidiary, UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited (GIBFS), has reached first close on commitments of £463m on its planned £1bn fund to invest in operating offshore wind farms in the UK.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

£463m of capital raised at first close, to be invested in UK offshore wind projects.Investors include UK pension funds and a sovereign wealth fund.Innovative transaction creating the world’s first dedicated offshore wind fund.This is the first fund raised by the GIB group, a first move into asset management and the first time it has managed private capital since its formation.This announcement marks the end of GIB’s financial year. It committed £723m to 22 green energy projects across the UK in 2014/15. GIB has now backed 46 UK projects with a total value of almost £7bn. 

The UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) has announced that its FCA regulated subsidiary, UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited (GIBFS), has reached first close on commitments of £463m on its planned £1bn fund to invest in operating offshore wind farms in the UK.

First close marks the completion of the first stage of fundraising and is triggered by the commitment of an initial group of investors.

The initial investors comprise UK-based pension funds and a major sovereign wealth fund. GIB is also investing £200m in the fund. Fundraising continues and GIBFS expects to raise additional funds from other investors to reach the £1bn target.

In addition to the £463m of fund commitments raised, an additional significant amount of investor capital is available to co-invest into projects alongside the fund.

The fund is an innovative, first-of-a-kind transaction. It is the world’s first fund dedicated to investments in offshore wind power generation and, once fully subscribed, will be the largest renewables fund in the UK. The fund has an expected life of 25 years, allowing a new class of long-term investor to enter the sector.

This is the first fund raised by the GIB group and its first step into asset management. It is also the first private capital to be managed by the GIB group. It will be managed by a new FCA-regulated and authorised subsidiary called UK Green Investment Bank Financial Services Limited which is staffed by a dedicated team.

GIB has now transferred its investments in two operating assets into the fund, which will produce immediate cash yield for investors. They include:

Rhyl Flats. A 90 MW, 25 turbine wind farm operated by RWE Innogy UK off the coast of North Wales. It has been operational since December 2009. GIB has sold its full 24.95% equity stake in the project to the Fund.Sheringham Shoal. A 317 MW, 88 turbine wind farm operated by Statkraft and located in the Greater Wash area off the coast of Norfolk. It has been operational since October 2012. GIB has sold its full 20% equity stake in the project to the fund.

These two offshore wind farms are able to produce 1,290 GWh of renewable energy annually, enough to power 305,000 UK homes. The fund also has a strong pipeline of future investment opportunities.

Evercore Private Funds Group is acting as advisor and exclusive global placement agent for the fundraise and King & Wood Mallesons is acting as legal counsel to the fund. [...]"<

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China's Capital City to Shut Major Coal Power Plants due to Excessive Pollution

China's Capital City to Shut Major Coal Power Plants due to Excessive Pollution | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

(Bloomberg) -- Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China’s national standard last year, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants next year.

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

The capital city will shutter China Huaneng Group Corp.’s 845-megawatt power plant in 2016, after last week closing plants owned by Guohua Electric Power Corp. and Beijing Energy Investment Holding Co., according to a statement Monday on the website of the city’s economic planning agency. A fourth major power plant, owned by China Datang Corp., was shut last year.

The facilities will be replaced by four gas-fired stations with capacity to supply 2.6 times more electricity than the coal plants.

 

The closures are part of a broader trend in China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter. Facing pressure at home and abroad, policy makers are racing to address the environmental damage seen as a byproduct of breakneck economic growth. Beijing plans to cut annual coal consumption by 13 million metric tons by 2017 from the 2012 level in a bid to slash the concentration of pollutants.

Shutting all the major coal power plants in the city, equivalent to reducing annual coal use by 9.2 million metric tons, is estimated to cut carbon emissions of about 30 million tons, said Tian Miao, a Beijing-based analyst at North Square Blue Oak Ltd., a London-based research company with a focus on China.  [...]


Closing coal-fired power plants is seen as a critical step in addressing pollution in China, which gets about 64 percent of the primary energy it uses from the fossil fuel. Coal accounts for about 30 percent of the U.S.’s electricity mix, while gas comprises 42 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.  [...]

 

Air pollution has attracted more public attention in the past few years as heavy smog envelops swathes of the nation including Beijing and Shanghai. About 90 percent of the 161 cities whose air quality was monitored in 2014 failed to meet official standards, according to a report by China’s National Bureau of Statistics earlier this month.

The level of PM2.5, the small particles that pose the greatest risk to human health, averaged 85.9 micrograms per cubic meter last year in the capital, compared with the national standard of 35.

The city also aims to take other measures such as closing polluted companies and cutting cement production capacity to clear the air this year, according to the Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. [...]"<

 
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Heating and Cooling of Buildings EU Energy Debate

Heating and Cooling of Buildings EU Energy Debate | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The significance of heating and cooling technologies for Europe was again underlined at a major conference on district energy in Brussels. Miquel Arias Caňete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, was among a number of speakers who addressed the Heating and Cooling in the European Energy Transition Conference last week. Nearly half of Europe’s energy consumption flows into the heating of buildings and industrial processes. Some 15% of this energy is coming from renewables, suc
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] 

Nearly half of Europe’s energy consumption flows into the heating of buildings and industrial processes. Some 15% of this energy is coming from renewables, such as biomass and solar panels. Around 1 billion Euro per day is needed to pay for fuel imports.

In his opening address, Caňete stressed that heating and cooling is a sector that deserves maximum attention because of its high share in using fossil energy. He referred to the sector as “the missing piece in the energy and emissions debate”.

A large proportion of buildings have poor energy performance and without specific action, he said it will be a long time before the situation improves. In industry, he advocated more synergy is needed between industry and the heating of buildings with waste energy.

“Next to that, electricity and heat supply has to be integrated. In times of excess renewable electricity, it should be used for heating purposes. This is especially the case since heat use in the EU is energy wise about 2.5 times higher than electricity use.  Under European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), some €38 billion has now been allocated by Member States for energy efficiency, local renewable energy and local transport.”

Pieter Liese, MEP, said that a EUR1bn payment for energy per day is sent from the EU to countries with a doubtful regime such as Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. He pleaded for a common European policy and approach. He stated that although politicians like to talk about electricity, it is clear that improving heating and cooling processes is a more sensible subject. 

According to Ulrich Schmidt, chairman of the European Heating Industry, 75% of Europe’s housing stock are energy inefficient and 65% of gas boilers are old and inefficient while 40 % of homes date back to before 1960. 

“Owners of existing equipment are reluctant to replace their appliances since the pay-back time from the benefit of less fuel consumption is too long. Moreover, old-fashioned boilers are considered by consumers to be more reliable than modern ones.”

Ligia Noronha, Director of Technology, Industry and Economics, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), stated that energy efficiency is a key component of the EU energy transition. She highlighted the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative. It is an analysis of 45 leading cities. District heating is seen as a major instrument in improving energy utilisation. By 2050, Europe could meet 50% of its heat demand via district heating. 

 John Dulac from the IEA said that as much heat is thrown away by inefficient processes as what is needed in the EU. 

“‘SILO’ thinking is the big problem. The share of cogeneration in electricity production has to increase drastically. Moreover, electricity production and heat/chill production have to be integrated. “

Paul Voss, Managing Director of Euroheat & Power, warned that if the EU failed to integrate its heating and cooling potential and the current trend in emissions reduction continues, only 60% of the overall reduction target will be reached by 2050.

Three workshops were also part of the itinerary of the day, with Professor Hans-Martin Henning, Deputy Director for solar energy systems at the Fraunhofer Institute outlining a vision for the sector for 2050.

He said heat demand in buildings can be reduced from 30% to 50% by 2050 and added that solar thermal heating, biomass and CHP can play a major role in reducing CO2 emissions of buildings.  

Henning also showed the audience how storing energy as heat is much cheaper than other ways of storing energy. 

“Germany needs 700 GWh of heat storage, 60 GWh of pumped hydro and 24 GWh of batteries. CHP has excellent possibilities of storing heat and is very suitable for balancing renewable electricity,” he said.

"<

 

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LA's Urban Heat Island Effect Alters Weather

LA's Urban Heat Island Effect Alters Weather | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Over the last 60 years urban areas of Southern California have lost significant amounts of fog due to the heat created by paved roads and buildings.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" A new study reports that coastal fog in Southern California is on the decline, especially in heavily urbanized areas.

In particular, Los Angeles saw a 63 percent decrease over the last 60 years.

You can blame the heat island effect created by city streets and buildings, said the study's author Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

Fog may be a nuisance for drivers, but according to Williams, it also plays a crucial role in hydrating many costal ecosystems.

These include mountains with coastal forests and hillsides covered in chaparral, which easily burns when conditions are too dry.

"They all receive water directly from fog and benefit from the shading of these clouds," Williams said.

In fact, he noted that in some parts of Southern California, fog may provide plants with almost as much water as rain does. Williams says this loss of coastal fog could impact the regional environment.

Fog typically forms when the air is cool enough for clouds to condense close to ground level. This often happens at night and in the early morning.

However, Williams said this process is being upset by all the concrete in urban areas, which absorbs heat in the day and slowly releases it over night, raising temperatures.

"When you increase the temperature of the surface of the Earth, then you essentially need to go higher up into the atmosphere before [it] is cool enough to promote condensation," Williams explained.

The end result is that as cities heat up, clouds rise and fog disappears.

Data for the study came from the detailed logs of the 24 coastal airports between Santa Barbara and San Diego.

"Of course airports have been collecting really good data on clouds because the presence of clouds and their hight in the atmosphere really affects air travel," he said.

Many of these logs had hourly updates on cloud height, some dating back to the 1940s.

Using this information, Williams and his colleagues determined that the greatest loss of fog occurred in Ontario where there was a nearly 90% decrease over the last 60 years.

Other airports such as LAX, Burbank's Bob Hope, Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County also saw a considerable decrease in the average amount of fog.

However, less urban areas like Santa Barbara and the undeveloped the Channel Islands remained quite misty.

Williams says this trend is concerning because man-made climate change is expected to heat things up even more in the future.

Coastal fog can help cool an area down but as cities continue to bake, they will gather and emit even more heat, driving away even more fog.

"That can then feedback until the cloud layer is eaten away entirely in the daytime," he said.

Soon, Williams hopes to explore how much water fog provides Southern California in general to see whether the continued loss of these low clouds could dry out the region even more.

His current paper appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters."<

 

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Alberta Pipeline Spills 5 Million Liters in Major Leak Near Oil Sands

Alberta Pipeline Spills 5 Million Liters in Major Leak Near Oil Sands | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Nexen Energy apologized Friday for a major leak in an Alberta pipeline that was only installed last year and said a warning system failed to detect it.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] A contractor discovered the leak Wednesday about 35 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray, Alta. Nexen shut down the pipeline soon after, but not before some five million litres of bitumen, produced water and sand spilled into muskeg.

Nexen, which was taken over by China’s CNOOC Ltd. in 2013, says the affected area is about 16,000 square metres, mostly along the pipeline’s route. [...]

John Bennett, national program director of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, said he was worried.

“We’re always concerned when petroleum products get spilled into the environment. There’s always damage, and it’s usually permanent of some nature,” said Bennett. “It’s full of toxic elements that should not be released into the environment.” "<

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Airplane Contrails Boost Global Warming by Trapping Earth's Heat Energy

Airplane Contrails Boost Global Warming by Trapping Earth's  Heat Energy | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The warming effects of aircraft vapor trails could be eased with fewer night flights, especially during winter, the report says.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

Nicola Stuber, first author of the study, to be published in tomorrow's edition of the journal Nature, suggests that contrails' overall impact on climate change is similar in scope to that of aircrafts' carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over a hundred-year period.

Aircraft are believed to be responsible for 2 to 3 percent of human CO2 emissions. Like other high, thin clouds, contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet.

However, they also trap energy in Earth's atmosphere and boost the warming effect, the study says. [...]

Contrails are artificial clouds that form around the tiny aerosol particles in airplane exhaust.

They appear only in moist, very cold (less than 40ºF/4ºC) air—usually at altitudes of 5 miles (8 kilometers) or higher.

Some contrails can last for a day or longer, though they gradually disperse and begin to resemble natural clouds.

Contrails Mystery Scientists disagree about the extent of contrails' climate impact.

"The jury is out on the impact of contrails," said Patrick Minnis, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Langley, Virginia.

David Travis, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, notes that some recent studies suggest that contrails have little impact on global climate change but have a greater regional warming impact.

"I prefer to think of contrails as a regional-scale climate problem, as they are most common in certain regions of the world, such as western Europe, eastern and central U.S., and parts of eastern Asia," he said.

"This is due to a combination of dense air traffic in these areas and favorable atmospheric conditions to support contrail persistence once they form."

Because of their locations and short life spans, contrails are a difficult study subject.

"The greatest impediment to understanding the contrail impacts on weather and climate is the poor state of knowledge of humidity in the upper troposphere [3.8 to 9.3 miles/6 to 15 kilometers in altitude]," NASA's Minnis said.

"Until we can measure it properly and extensively, and model it and its interaction with cirrus clouds and contrails, we will continue to have large uncertainties about the effect of contrails."

Winter is Contrail Season

At the high altitudes favored by commercial airlines, the air is much more humid in winter, so contrails are twice as likely in that season, study co-author Stuber said.

"We also found that flights between December and February contribute half of the annual mean climate warming, even though they account for less than a quarter of annual air traffic," she said of her U.K.-based research.

Study leader Piers Forster, of England's University of Leeds, suggests that contrails' current impact on the atmosphere is likely to increase as air traffic grows. [...]"<

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EPA and the Petroleum Industry: Fracking, Cover-ups and Academic Freedom

EPA and the Petroleum Industry:  Fracking, Cover-ups and Academic Freedom | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Thyne says he’s not the only one who’s been subjected to undue pressure from the oil and gas industry. He says he knows of faculty around the nation who have been targeted as well, including an engineer at Cornell University who called for an outright fracking ban in his state.

“Industry did a bunch of nasty pieces on him, trying to make him look like a wild-eyed, pistol-waving lunatic,” Thyne says.

There was even one woman from the tiny town of Raton, N.M., who claimed she was being followed and harassed after complaining about her water well being contaminated by nearby drilling operations.

“This ain’t shit,” Thyne says of his own situation. “I’ve talked to people who’ve been shot at. … It’s a real sticky situation, because there are some people getting jobs in the community, because of the development, and they’re good-paying jobs, and this is changing our economy, so it’s all positive, and then you say, ‘Yeah, well, so-and-so screwed up my well, and they won’t compensate me for it, so I’m going to take them to court, or I’m going to make waves.’ And you’ve got your neighbors mad at you.”

In addition, taking a big oil or gas company to court isn’t a walk in the park.

“You’ve got to have really deep pockets, you’ve got to go to court for a couple of years,” Thyne says. “They’re going to push it back and push it back and push it back, and then they’re going to wait until the last second, literally, and they’re going to settle. And they’re probably going to simply buy your land for what you paid for it, and get you to sign a nondisclosure [agreement] and say bye bye.”
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Venture Capital from GE, Autodesk Invest in Smart Building Technology Boom

Venture Capital from GE, Autodesk Invest in Smart Building Technology Boom | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Sales of smart building technologies almost could triple to $17.4 billion between 2014 and 2019. That’s driving a flood of investment from corporations and venture capitalists alike.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] As of this week, you can add cloud software company Lucid to the list of energy-efficiency startups — particularly those that monitor building power consumption for lighting and climate-control systems — attracting substantial cash infusions this year.

Among those contributing to the $14.2 million Series B round disclosed by Lucid this week: GE Ventures, Autodesk, Formation 8 and Zetta Venture Partners.  

Lucid plans to use the new funds for enhancements to BuildingOS, a cloud service that analyzes data from more than 160 hardware and software building technologies.

“Lucid’s technology is rapidly connecting many disparate building systems together, making the vision of truly connected buildings and real-time management possible,” said Ben Sampson, an associate with GE Ventures.

Its reference accounts include Genentech, along with more than a half-dozen educational institutions such as Cornell University and Stanford University.

Lucid joins a respectable list of companies attracting private capital this year, as businesses and organizations become more comfortable with gathering data from the Internet of Things.

Research firm Mercom Capital Group reports that startups focused on smart grid and energy efficiency raised more than $325 million in the first quarter.

Two deals last quarter that explicitly focused on building management or analytics: Blue Pillar, which scored a $14 million deal after more than 250 deployments; and Enbala Power Networks, which raised $11 million.

All told, the last year has been incredibly active in the sector, reaching $944 million in 2014. Those investments covered more than 111 deals at a time when the broader field of cleantech has suffered a decline in available capital, according to a separate report from Lux Research.

“While cleantech is declining from its peak of 291 deals in 2008, building energy deals have risen steadily since then, growing by 208 percent over the same period,” Lux wrote in its presentation about funding trends.

One of the more notable deals over the past two years was Distech Controls, which raised about $37 million in May 2013. [...]

Why so active?

The spike in funding reflects the rather bullish revenue projects for building energy management technologies over the next decade. Depending on how broadly you view the market, projections vary dramatically.

If you focus just on building energy management, revenue is likely to reach around $2.4 billion this year, growing almost fivefold to $10.8 billion by 2024, according to the forecast from Navigant Research.

Players in the space include not only a slew of startups, but also multinational companies such as Siemans and Intel.

“Building energy management systems (BEMS) represent an important evolutionary step in the approach to facilities and operations management,” said Casey Talon, senior analyst, commenting on that projection. “As the market matures, more integrated and sophisticated BEMS solutions are delivering energy efficiency improvements while also enabling comprehensive business intelligence and strategic management.”

Indeed, if you consider smart buildings from a more holistic perspective, the growth potential is much larger — up to $17.4 billion by 2019, compared with $6.3 billion last year, according to IDC Energy Insights. In North America, spending is being driven by large corporate operational efficiency initiatives. "<

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IMF Reports Global Energy Subsidies are Unmanageable, Inefficient and Reinforce Inequality

IMF Reports Global Energy Subsidies are Unmanageable, Inefficient and Reinforce  Inequality | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

A new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged policymakers the world over to reform subsidies for products from coal to gasoline, arguing that this could translate into major gains both for economic growth and the environment.


Image Source:  http://bit.ly/1LO0yQb

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] 

In a speech at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington D.C., marking the release of the paper, IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton noted that “subsidy reform can lead to a more efficient allocation of resources, which will help spur higher economic growth over the longer term.” Removing energy subsidies can also strengthen incentives for “research and development in energy-saving and alternative technologies,” he said. He also noted that, while intended to benefit consumers, subsidies are often inefficient and “could be replaced with better means of protecting the most vulnerable parts of the population.”

“The paper shows that for some countries the fiscal weight of energy subsidies is growing so large that budget deficits are becoming unmanageable and threaten the stability of the economy,” Mr. Lipton said, adding that IMF research shows that 20 countries maintain pre-tax energy subsidies that exceed 5 percent of GDP. For other emerging and developing countries, he said, the share of the scarce government resources spent on subsidies remains “a stumbling block” to higher growth and fundamentally impairs their future. “Because of low prices, there is little investment in much-needed infrastructure. More is spent on subsidies than on public health and education, undermining the development of human capital.”

Energy subsidies also reinforce inequality because they mostly benefit upper-income groups, which are the biggest consumers of energy. “On average, the richest 20 percent of households in low- and middle-income countries capture 43 percent of fuel subsidies,” said Mr. Lipton.

At the same time, Mr. Lipton warned that an increase in prices which can result from subsidy reform can have a significant impact on the poor and that “mitigating measures to protect them as subsidy reform is implemented” must be an integral part of any successful and equitable reform program.

In addition, Mr. Lipton noted that “subsidies aggravate climate change and worsen local pollution and congestion.” The study finds that eliminating pre-tax subsidies would reduce global CO2 emissions by about 1-2 percent which would, by itself, represent “a significant first step in reducing emissions by delivering about 15-30 percent of the Copenhagen Accord’s goal.” As for advanced economies, he noted that subsidies most often take the form of taxes that are too low to capture the true costs to society of energy use (“tax subsidies”), including pollution and road congestion. “Eliminating energy tax subsidies would deliver even more significant emissions reductions said Mr. Lipton, reducing “CO2 emissions by 4&frac12; billion tons, a 13 percent reduction.” [...]"<

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Economist reports proposed Site C Dam ‘dramatically’ more costly than BC gov't claims

Economist reports proposed Site C Dam ‘dramatically’ more costly than BC gov't claims | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

Peace Valley Landowners Association commissioned leading U.S. energy economist, Robert McCullough, to look at the business case for what will be province’s most expensive public infrastructure project

 

Image source:  http://unistotencamp.com/?p=601

Duane Tilden's insight:

>"Just weeks before BC Hydro plans to begin construction of the $8.8-billion Site C project, a new report says the Crown corporation has dramatically understated the cost of producing power from the hydroelectric dam.

 

...Mr. McCullough, in his report, said it appears the Crown corporation BC Hydro had its thumbs on the scale to make its mega project look better than the private-sector alternatives.

“Using industry standard assumptions, Site C is more than three times as costly as the least expensive option,” Mr. McCullough concluded. “While the cost and choice of options deserve further analysis, the simple conclusion is that Site C is more expensive – dramatically so – than the renewable [and] natural gas portfolios elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.”

The report challenges a number of assumptions that led the government to conclude that Site C is the cheapest option. Mr. McCullough noted that the province adopted accounting changes last fall that reduced the cost of power generated by Site C. He said those changes are illusory and the costs will eventually have to be paid either by Hydro ratepayers, or provincial taxpayers.

Mr. McCullough, a leading expert on power utilities in the Pacific Northwest, also disputes the rate that BC Hydro used to compare the long-term borrowing cost of capital for Site C against other projects, noting that other major utilities in North America use higher rates for such projects because they are considered risky investments. The so-called discount rate is critical to the overall cost projections, and he said the paper trail on how the Crown arrived at its figure “can only be described as sketchy and inadequate.”

The report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, will be released on Tuesday by the PVLA.

The group will call on Premier Christy Clark to delay construction to allow time for a review by Auditor-General Carol Bellringer.

Ken Boon, president of the association, said the government needs to put the project on hold because it has approved the project based on poor advice. [...]"<

 

 

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Water Prices in 2015 Up 6 Percent in 30 Major U.S. Cities

Water Prices in 2015 Up 6 Percent in 30 Major U.S. Cities | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

Continuing a trend that reflects the disrepair and shows no sign of slowing, the price of residential water service in 30 major U.S. cities rose faster than the cost of nearly every other household staple last year …

Duane Tilden's insight:

>" [...] The economics of water — particularly the cost of treatment, pumping, and new infrastructure, as well as the retail price for consumers — gained renewed prominence as California and Texas, America’s two most populous states, face historic droughts and water managers seek to rein in water consumption, with price increases as one tool in their arsenal.

The average monthly cost of water for a family of four using 100 gallons per person per day climbed 6 percent, according to data collected from the utilities. It is the smallest year-to-year change in the six-year history of the Circle of Blue survey but comparable to past years. The median increase this year was 4.5 percent. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index rose just 1.8 percent in the 12 months ending in March, not including the volatile food and energy sectors. Including food and energy, prices fell by 0.1 percent.

For families using 150 gallons and 50 gallons per person per day, average water prices rose 6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.

The survey results reflect broad trends in the municipal water industry that nearly every U.S. utility must grapple with, according to Andrew Ward, a director of U.S. public finance for Fitch Ratings, a credit agency.

Distribution pipes, which can branch for thousands of miles beneath a single city, have aged beyond their shelf life and crack open daily. Some assessments peg the national cost of repairing and replacing old pipes at more than $US 1 trillion over the next two decades. In addition, new treatment technologies are needed to meet Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act requirements, and cities must continue to pay down existing debts. At the same time, conservation measures have proven successful. Utilities are selling less water, but they still need big chunks of revenue to cover the substantial cost of building and maintaining a water system. All together, these and other factors amount to a persistent upward pressure on water rates. [...]

 

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China's Switch to LNG From Coal Will Cut Global Pollution

China's Switch to LNG From Coal Will Cut Global Pollution | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

To many people, natural gas seems to be more of the same, a continuation of the old fossil fuel path that has driven industrialization, air pollution and global warming. 

Duane Tilden's insight:

"> [...] 

China is currently producing twice the greenhouse gases of the United States. And its emissions are growing rapidly. Its emissions surpassed those of the U.S. in 2006, reached double the U.S. in 2014, and are expected to rise by seven per cent per year for the foreseeable future. China obtains 70 per cent of its electricity from burning coal, by far the worst polluter. China has plans for doubling its use of coal in the next 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, the emissions from the U.S. have stabilized, partly from a slowing economy, but the biggest effect came from a switch from coal to natural gas. If you replace an old coal power plant with a modern natural gas one, you can cut carbon dioxide emissions by a factor of three.

Natural gas doesn’t cut emissions to zero; it is still a fossil fuel. But it obtains much of its energy from hydrogen, an atom that out numbers the carbon atoms in methane (the key component of natural gas) by 4:1. Natural gas can be burned with much higher efficiency than coal, by use of a combined cycle turbine that harnesses both gas and steam power generation.

China wants to move away from coal, to natural gas, nuclear, and solar. Their chief concern is not global warming, but the horrific air pollution that is killing an estimated 4,000 people per day in China, 1.6 million per year. [...]"<



Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Opinion+global+pollution/10950478/story.html#ixzz3WeR8dmxZ

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Woodfibre LNG Plant: Old Technology, Design Flaws and Environmental Issues

Woodfibre LNG Plant:  Old Technology, Design Flaws and Environmental Issues | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
Speakers at a presentation in West Vancouver on the risks associated with the proposed LNG project in Howe Sound voiced concerns, Wednesday, over everything from environmental contamination to the risk of explosions from transporting natural gas.
Duane Tilden's insight:

>"[...] “Canada doesn’t have a whole pile of rules about LNG because it doesn’t have a whole pile of plants,” said Eoin Finn a seasonal resident of Bowyer Island in Howe Sound, and speaker at the event. Finn holds a PhD in physical chemistry and is a close follower of the LNG project.

He said an LNG plant of this size has never before existed in Canada. He has concerns over the country’s lack of environmental regulations in place against this particular resource.

“There are no plants on the West Coast of Canada nor on the U.S. except a tiny one in Alaska but that’s 100 miles from anywhere and it’s about one-tenth (the size of) Woodfibre.”

When it comes to the risks associated with the proposed development, Finn said there are many, including emissions output, the risk of shipping accidents and the plant’s cooling system, which would use seawater.

“One of the big issues is that the plant will be cooled by seawater from the sound. This is pretty old technology that’s been dismissed and refused and abandoned in California and Europe.”

He said that the current proposed cooling system for the plant would suck in 17,000 tonnes of seawater (3.7 million gallons) per hour, and chlorinate it while it circulates through the system, before releasing it back into Howe Sound. 

Finn explained that any such practice would be “extremely damaging” to marine life and that similar systems down the coast in California have been banned.  

Although the plant will be powered by electricity, Finn said it will still produce emissions, including 140,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Among Finn’s other concerns was tanker traffic associated with the project, which would see between six and eight tankers navigating through the sound per month.

He cited a risk of explosions associated with the ships, which could have potential negative effects on area property values. Large waves generated from those vessels could also be a problem for the area, something Finn compared to the BC Ferries Fast Cat situation years before.  [...]

Wade Davis, Bowen Island resident and professor of anthropology, said the issue of whether or not the plant will go in place holds a deeper meaning than simply a local environmental danger.

“This is not simply about a local issue in Howe Sound, this is a metaphor for who we are to be as a people,” he explained to the audience. “If we are actually prepared to invest our lives in this way, the most glorious fjord in the world, what else in our country will be immune to such violations?” he asked.  [...]"<

 

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The 50 Year Underground Coal Mine Fire

The 50 Year Underground Coal Mine Fire | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

By the early 1980s, the mine fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania was growing worse and increasingly threatening the people who lived there. GAI, Inc., a private geotechnical engineering company, was hired to review the situation and propose a solution to finally contain the fire. What they eventually came up with was so drastic, it might easily have been called Centralia’s “Nuclear Option.”

Duane Tilden's insight:

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GAI’s review and associated containment plan took months to complete. It analyzed mountains of data about Centralia PA, its abandoned mines, and the geology of the surrounding area. GAI also explored the beginnings of the fire, the current location of the burn, and the previous, failed attempts to stop it.

Finally on July 12, 1983 the findings were announced to the public. At that time, the mine fire was determined to be under 195 acres and burning in the Skidmore, Seven Foot, and Buck Leader coal veins. It was suggested that the fire could eventually grow to a maximum size of 3,700 acres of land.

GAI’s report made it clear that containing the Centralia mine fire would neither be easy nor cheap. The plan to contain the fire would require excavating a trench of massive proportions. This would need to be 3,700 feet long and 450 feet in depth – deep enough to hold a 45 story office building!

Worse yet, the trench would cut through the middle of the town. Although it would eventually be filled in with incombustible material to prevent the mine fire from moving further west, half of the borough of Centralia Pennsylvania would be destroyed while excavating it. The whole project would take years to complete.

If the damage caused by GAI’s plan wasn’t “nuclear” enough, there was always the price tag. GAI estimated it would cost a jaw-dropping $660 million to complete the project. This was over 100 times more expensive than the 1965 rejected plan to contain the mine fire. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, $660 million in 1983 is roughly equivalent to $1.5 billion in 2015. Today these cost estimates are still shocking.

It is no wonder that in August of 1983 the majority of Centralia PA’s residents voted to be relocated. After years of struggling with the mine fire, the “nuclear option” proposed by GAI to stop the fire and level half of the town was more than most could bear."<

  
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Industrial Plant to be Re-Developed into Mega-Indoor Vertical Farm Factory

Industrial Plant to be Re-Developed into Mega-Indoor Vertical Farm Factory | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it

AeroFarms, a leading commercial grower for vertical farming and controlled agriculture, together with property management firm RBH Group, a slew of investment partners along with the City of Newark and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) announced the intent to redevelop a former industrial site in Newark's Ironbound district into a state-of-the art 69,000 square foot indoor vertical farm.

Duane Tilden's insight:

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Currently under construction, the first phases will open in the second half of 2015, creating approximately 78 jobs in a local community with an unemployment rate that is twice the national average. Additionally, AeroFarms has partnered with the Ironbound Community Corporation to create a recruiting and job training program targeting local residents.

The building is located on a 3-acre industrial site in the center of the Ironbound community in Newark, NJ. It is adjacent to elevated truck Route 1 and 9, a freight rail right of way, and to other industrial businesses along Rome and Christie Streets. 

When completed, AeroFarms will have the capacity to grow up to 2 million pounds per year of baby leafy greens and herbs in an environmentally controlled, safe, and sanitary facility. It will provide healthy foods to the local community as well as to other markets. AeroFarms is a model for successful, sustainable farming offering 75 times more productivity per square foot annually than a traditional field farm while using no pesticides and consuming over 95% less water. [...]"<

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Geothermal Energy Could Cleanly Power the Planet

Geothermal Energy Could Cleanly Power the Planet | Green & Sustainable News | Scoop.it
The Earth's heat offers a clean and steady source of electricity, though it doesn't come cheap.
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An alternative to fossil fuels, geothermal has potential far beyond Indonesia. It could help tame global warming by producing copious amounts of renewable energy. The United Nations estimates global reserves at about 200 gigawatts—double the total capacity of all U.S. nuclear power plants. Yet despite decades of effort, only 6.5 percent of that potential has been tapped.

Indonesia's story explains why.

Volcanoes Offer Peril and Promise

A chain of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has dozens of active volcanoes—more than any other country. Those volcanoes offer the nation a potent energy source via deep underground reservoirs of hot water that seeps out of molten rock. Power plants can extract steam from those reservoirs and use it to turn turbines that generate electricity. [...]

Indonesia currently produces the third largest amount of geothermal power, after the U.S. and the Philippines. Still, it's tapping less than 5 percent of its potential 29-gigawatt capacity. It has 62 projects under way, and if all get built, Indonesia could overtake the Philippines by the end of this year and the U.S. in another decade or two, according to a 2015 industry analysis by the Washington-based Geothermal Energy Association. (See related blog post: "Nicaragua Looks to Geothermal for Energy Independence.")

"Its resources are so startlingly good," says Paul Brophy, president of EGS Inc., a California-based firm that recently did consulting work for Indonesia's government on the geothermal industry.

The country, aiming to triple geothermal output from 1.4 to 4.9 gigawatts by 2019and to hit 10 gigawatts by 2025, is trying to fast-track projects.

Last year it amended a law to stop defining geothermal development as "mining" and thus allow work in protected forests, where many resources are located. The revision also shifts project approval from local to federal officials.

"That's critical," Brophy says, noting that the central government has more geothermal expertise.

Implementing the new provisions will take time, says Josh Nordquist of U.S.-based Ormat Technologies, which has invested in geothermal projects in Indonesia. Doing so could be a "real burden" for the government, he says, but adds, "I believe in the end it will work." [...]"<

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