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Life After Oil and Gas - Elisabeth Rosenthal, March 2013

Life After Oil and Gas - Elisabeth Rosenthal, March 2013 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Wind, water and sun could power the United States. But will they?

 

A National Research Council report released last week concluded that the United States could halve by 2030 the oil used in cars and trucks compared with 2005 levels by improving the efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles and by relying more on cars that use alternative power sources, like electric batteries and biofuels.

 

“It’s absolutely not true that we need natural gas, coal or oil — we think it’s a myth,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the main author of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy. “You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”


Fatih Birol, chief economist at the 28-nation International Energy Agency, which includes the United States, said that reducing fossil fuel use was crucial to curbing global temperature rise, but added that improving the energy efficiency of homes, vehicles and industry was an easier short-term strategy. He noted that the 19.5 million residents of New York State consume as much energy as the 800 million in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) and that, even with President Obama’s automotive fuel standards, European vehicles were on average more than 30 percent more fuel efficient than American ones.


So as Europeans have grown accustomed to wind turbines dotting the landscape, much of America continues to regard renewable power as a boutique product, cool but otherworldly. When I tell colleagues that Portugal now gets 40 percent of its electricity from renewable power, the standard response is “Portugal is windy.” But many places in America are, too. When I returned from Kristianstad, Sweden, and marveled at how that city uses waste from farms, forestry and food processing plants to make biogas that supplies 100 percent of its heat, the response is likewise disbelief. But I’d venture that a similar plan could work fine in Milwaukee or Burlington, Vt., cities that also anchor rural areas.


MAPPING studies by Dr. Jacobson and colleagues have concluded that America is rich in renewable resources and (unlike Europe) has the empty space to create wind and solar plants.

 

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Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030

Renewable Energy Could Fully Power Grid by 2030 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Renewable energy could fully power a large electric grid 99.9 percent of the time by 2030 at costs comparable to today’s electricity expenses, according to new research by the University of Delaware and Delaware Technical Community College.

 

A well-designed combination of wind power, solar power and storage in batteries and fuel cells would nearly always exceed electricity demands while keeping costs low, the scientists found.

 

“These results break the conventional wisdom that renewable energy is too unreliable and expensive,” said co-author Willett Kempton, professor in the School of Marine Science and Policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. “The key is to get the right combination of electricity sources and storage—which we did by an exhaustive search—and to calculate costs correctly.”

 

Unlike other studies, the model focused on minimizing costs instead of the traditional approach of matching generation to electricity use. The researchers found that generating more electricity than needed during average hours—in order to meet needs on high-demand but low-wind power hours—would be cheaper than storing excess power for later high demand.

 

“Aiming for 90 percent or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90 percent reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings,” the authors observe.


Via EcoWatch
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Global Energy Markets Reach Tipping Point Giving Renewables an Edge

Global Energy Markets Reach Tipping Point Giving Renewables an Edge | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Global energy markets are reaching a tipping point. A pathway has opened for climate progress, but only if governments, business and public recognize and exploit the opportunity.

 

For the first time, a large fraction of the world’s fossil fuels could be replaced at a lower cost by clean energy, with today’s renewable technologies and prices. And virtually no further investments in fossil fuels make long-term economic sense because higher fossil fuel prices over their useful life will be exorbitant.

 

In country after country, fossil fuels still retain market share no longer justified by cost—the precipitous drop in the price of renewables, accompanied by the escalating marginal cost of extracting oil, gas and coal, have created a fundamentally new market dynamic in which fossil fuels hold on in spite of the fact that they are more expensive, not cheaper.


Fossil fuels are thus no longer the lowest cost energy source in enough of the world’s energy markets to enable disruptive clean energy technologies to scale at a rate which would give them overwhelming market-wide competitive advantages in a relatively short time frame—if markets responded competitively to price signals. But incumbent energy markets may not in fact harvest much of this renewable edge, because they are not price driven.


The world is cluttered with bankrupt projects built on the basis of outdated assumptions about the future. What is true is that companies—or countries—who see the clean energy revolution and act on it sooner will have much better balance sheets in 15 years than those who stick with a sinking fossil ship.

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SOIL CARBON COWBOYS

Meet Allen Williams, Gabe Brown and Neil Dennis - heroes and innovators! These ranchers now know how to regenerate their soils while making their animals healthier and their operations more profitable. They are turning ON their soils, enabling rainwater to sink into the earth rather than run off. And these turned ON soils retain that water, so the ranches are much more resilient in drought. It's an amazing story that has just begun.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is about raising cattle in a way that grasslands have coevolved to depend upon, except with bison instead.  While we don't really need to eat much meat, what little we do eat should be raised in a way that contributes to the environment rather than takes away from it.  It seems clear we can actually improve our grassland soils while sequestering more carbon, by working with nature rather than fighting it.  

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Renewables to Receive Lion's Share of $7.7 Trillion in Global Power Funding

Renewables to Receive Lion's Share of $7.7 Trillion in Global Power Funding | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Renewable energy may reap as much as two-thirds of the $7.7 trillion in investment forecast for building new power plants by 2030 as declining costs make it more competitive with fossil fuels.

About half of the investment will be in Asia, the region where power capacity will grow the most, according to the forecasts in a report released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance today. That will help global carbon dioxide emissions peak by the end of the next decade the London-based researcher said.

A glut of solar and wind manufacturing capacity has brought down prices of cells and turbines. That’s making clean energy plants in more locations profitable even though governments from Germany to the U.S. are scaling back incentives. Annual investment in technologies such as solar, wind and hydropower surpassed fossil fuels for the first time in 2011.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:
It's great that private investments are funding renewables, but why investment anything in non-renewables? What would happen if we properly accounted for the externalized costs of fossil fuels?
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Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies

Tech Companies Lead in Move to Renewable Energy - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

If the Internet was a country, its electricity use would rank sixth highest in the world. That huge power demand, and the potential to drive a renewable energy solution to its sourcing is the basis for Greenpeace’s report on tech companies that are moving toward one hundred percent renewable energy to power the Internet.

 

Five companies—Apple, Facebook, and Google, along with B2B companies Rackspace and Salesforce—have committed to a goal of powering their operations with one hundred percent renewable energy.

 Microsoft was noted for its carbon neutrality effort, for which it increased its renewables by 70 percent from 2011 to 2012. And SAP’s recent announcement that it would power all its data centers and facilities worldwide with one hundred percent sustainable electricity by the end of this year.
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It's great that the tech companies are leading the way, but everyone should be making a similar commitment to reach the 100% renewable energy goal.

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Is There Enough Solar Power for the Entire World? - CleanTechies

Is There Enough Solar Power for the Entire World? - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

It’s been a while since I wrote a post reminding us all exactly how little area is required, in relative terms, to provide enough solar power for the entire world.  Numbers are cool, but graphics are better.  [Here] is a map that shows the swath that we’d need to take out of Northern Africa in order to get the job done.

 

We all need to keep the truth in mind as we contemplate the appropriate energy policy for Earth in the 21st Century, i.e., our planet receives 6000 times more energy from the sun every day than all seven billion of us can consume here.  We have it within our grasp to transform ourselves into a civilization that pulls itself back from the brink of extinction by migrating to clean energy.  Let’s do it.

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Can You Imagine? Toppling the Fossil Fuel Empire

Can You Imagine? Toppling the Fossil Fuel Empire | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein


As the world struggles with how to deal with the slow motion apocalypse of global climate change it becomes more and more apparent that we are trapped in "the kind of thinking" that got us here.


Our failure of imagination regarding the ever-increasing production and use of fossil fuels will, over time, kill billions of us and irreversibly change all life on the planet. It is a failure of imagination, not at a policy level but at the level of civilization.


The energy giants are protected by rogue governments like those in Alberta and Ottawa. They are permitted to take as much of the stuff out of the ground as fast as they can ship it and sell it, regardless of the global consequences. Like no other sector of the economy (except perhaps nuclear power) they are allowed to externalize hundreds of billions -- possibly trillions -- in costs they should be paying: air and water pollution costs, health costs, the costs associated with distorting the rest of the economy, the cost of new roads and bridges and freeways and paved-over farm land. We refuse to tax it to cover those costs, and that means ridiculously low prices and little incentive to wean ourselves from its pernicious and deadly effects.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Paying the costs of mining and burning fossil fuels now rather than leaving the mess for our children to clean up at a much higher cost is only fair and proper.  And if you are worried about constraining the economy, we will be able to grow much faster and further once we are rid of the constraining limits of fossil fuels.

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Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax Creates Jobs, Cuts Emissions, Grows Economy

Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax Creates Jobs, Cuts Emissions, Grows Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Editor's Note: A carbon tax or some other adequate carbon pricing system is urgently needed in order to deal with global warming and climate change. However, the idea of a “tax” isn’t particularly popular with some segments of society (particularly, those who don’t understand that pollution is an externality that must be internalized in some way in order to achieve a “perfect” free market). But a little bit of attention to how such a tax can be revenue neutral and help the economy should (theoretically) help to break down those barriers. Thanks to the folks at Skeptical Science for this piece:


The main source of opposition to carbon pricing is the perception that it will 'kill jobs' or otherwise hurt the economy. However, economic forecasts have rarely been done for a carbon fee in which 100% the revenue is returned to the taxpayers. Under proposed revenue-neutral carbon tax legislation, about two-thirds of taxpayers are projected to receive more in refunds than they pay in higher energy prices. It's a net financial gain for most people. This is a key factor that differentiates a revenue-neutral carbon tax system and its economic impacts from other carbon pricing systems.


“Personal income per capita goes up because households receive the total benefit of the dividend as well as improved job opportunities and wages in the general economy, which more than counteracts any negative effects from higher energy and commodity prices.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I'd prefer that a "tax" on fossil fuels is revenue-neutral with respect to neutralizing the effects of externalities.  That is, the revenue would be used to clean up the pollution, or pay for mitigation which is likely much higher.  This would raise the cost of fossil fuels to match their true costs.  

 

Just distributing the tax revenue to the people also raises the cost of the fossil fuels, but it also empowers the people with the ability to pay for cheaper alternatives.  It doesn't clean up the effects of burning fossil fuels, but it would effectively subsidize their elimination.

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Solar Reaching Parity with Coal by 2017

Solar Reaching Parity with Coal by 2017 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

From China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs - CleanTechies - 

 

Many people, even fanatical advocates of solar power, are unaware quite how close we are to reaching a critical milestone in the industry. Within a fairly short space of time, solar generated electricity will be fully cost competitive with coal-powered electricity — at least if the governments of the world’s two largest energy consuming nations have their way.

 

Sankowski maintains that, driven by high levels of pollution and national security concerns, the Chinese government asked a question back in the early 2000s: “How Much Will It Cost To Make Solar Cheaper Than Coal?” The answer was based on Swanson’s Law that states that every doubling of photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity results in a 20 percent reduction in unit cost.

 

When Swanson’s Law still worked after a couple of doublings of capacity the Chinese government stepped up their efforts. As a result, Suntech now expects the goal to be achieved by 2016, or 2017 at the latest. 

 

The simple fact is that with both innovation and increased capacity, the cost of solar energy has fallen considerably over the last few years and continues to do so. If, as looks likely, it does become truly cost comparative with coal in the next few years, then the days of cheap, clean, renewable energy dominating the world’s two biggest energy markets may be closer than you think.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

After clobbering coal, we still have to knock out natural gas.  We would already be there if we were paying the full cost of burning fossil fuels.

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Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ | KurzweilAI

Musk announces plans to build ‘one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world’ | KurzweilAI | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Elon Musk: “Our intent is to combine what we believe is fundamentally the best photovoltaic technology with massive economies of scale to achieve a breakthrough in the cost of solar power.”

 

“SolarCity was founded to accelerate mass adoption of sustainable energy. The sun, that highly convenient and free fusion reactor in the sky, radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year.

 

“This means that solar panels, paired with batteries to enable power at night, can produce several orders of magnitude more electricity than is consumed by the entirety of human civilization. A cogent assessment of sustainable energy potential from various sources is described well in this Sandia paper.

 

“We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen. 

 

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Life and Leadership, by Fritjof Capra | DailyGood

Life and Leadership, by Fritjof Capra | DailyGood | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Sustainability is not an individual property, but is a property of an entire web of relationships. It is a community practice. This is the profound lesson we need to learn from nature. The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community.

 

A sustainable human community interacts with other communities — human and nonhuman — in ways that enable them to live and develop according to their natures. Sustainability does not mean that things do not change. It is a dynamic process of coevolution rather than a static state.

 

Living systems generally remain in a stable state, even though energy and matter flow through them and their structures are continually changing. But every now and then such an open system will encounter a point of instability, where there is either a breakdown or, more frequently, a spontaneous emergence of new forms of order.

 

Human organizations always contain both designed and emergent structures. The issue is not one of discarding designed structures in favor of emergent ones. We need both.  The challenge for leaders is to find the right balance between the creativity of emergence and the stability of design.

 

 

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Wind Turbines Yield Almost Immediate Net Benefit

Wind Turbines Yield Almost Immediate Net Benefit | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Wind energy has often been heralded as one of the saviours of planet Earth, as well as being economically beneficial and efficient: it is the oft-unmentioned winning-point for renewable technologies that they are not only environmentally friendly, but also cheaper to run and invest than traditional energy generation methods.


A life cycle assessment like the one conducted in this research looks at the net environmental impact across the whole spectrum of construction, installation, and running; raw materials, transport, manufacturing, installation, ongoing maintenance, recycling, and disposal at the end of its life.

 

The final analysis showed that the largest environmental impacts were caused by materials production and the manufacturing process, but this impact is paid back within 6 months. Even in the worst-case-scenarios, it is expected a wind turbine will pay for its environmental impact within the first year of its use.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

With 100% net environmental pay back within 1 year, we should be able to double our wind energy generators every year, until we run out of places to put them.  The energy generated each year by all the existing turbines in that year can effectively be used to build the same number of turbines in the next year.  

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Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world

Circular economy solutions for a sustainable world | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The circular economy - a concept which ensures that products are designed with their eventual reuse, upcycling or biodegradation in mind - emerged as the most prominent trend that is driving the innovation of sustainable solutions worldwide, according to Sustainia100, a report released on Monday by Scandinavian think thank Sustainia.


Circular economy thinking was evident in a quarter of all solutions, including Japanese manufacturer Teijin, whose “Eco Circle” recycling process makes it possible to recycle polyester products multiple times without compromising on quality. This process helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 77 per cent compared to new polyester made by petroleum, according to Teijin.


Laura Storm, director of Sustainia, commented: “We are seeing how especially the circular economy is a growing focus area. Companies re-think consumption, waste, materials and return-systems at impressive scale”.


“The global pressure on our natural resources has led to increased resource scarcity, which calls upon industries to transform their way of operating. Clever use of materials is a key innovation driver,” she added.


Via Praxa Capital
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The energy payback for a 2-megawatt wind turbine that lasts over 20 years is... 5-8 months

The energy payback for a 2-megawatt wind turbine that lasts over 20 years is... 5-8 months | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Anti-renewable energy people often claim that it takes a lot of energy to make wind turbines so they aren't as clean as they seem. Let's look at the facts.

 

The first thing to remember is that there's no such thing as a free lunch; building anything requires an upfront investment. Coal and natural gas power plants take a lot of energy to build too, and on top of that initial energy deficit, it also takes a lot of energy to mine coal or frack for natural gas, and then transport it in trains or pipelines, etc. With renewables, the wind and the sun are free, so after the production and installation, you're pretty much done for decades.


A new study published in the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing looks at the cumulative energy payback of 2-megawatt wind turbines that are used in the Pacific Northwest, precisely calculating the lifecycle energy required for manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and turbine end-of-life processing, and looking at how that stacks up against energy production over the life of the turbines (a working life of 20 years or more is not unusual).


The payback for the associated energy use is within about 5-8 months, and even in the worst case scenario, lifetime energy requirements for each turbine only takes 1 year of operation. So for the next 19 years, each turbine will, in effect, power over 500 households without consuming electricity generated using conventional energy sources, and if the turbines end up operating for over 20 years, that's just a bonus.

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78. Chasing Net-Zero: Net-zero 101

78. Chasing Net-Zero: Net-zero 101 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
This is the first episode of our four-part mini-series called Chasing Net-Zero. These solar powered, energy efficient homes generate as much energy as they consume in the course of the year and they're making a big splash across North America. In our first episode we dive into the history of net-zero homes and figure out you can build one of these comfortable, beautiful homes that also doubles as a mini-powerplant. 
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Sustaining Seven Billion People

Sustaining Seven Billion People | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

"With seven billion people now living on Earth, the ever growing demand is putting unprecedented pressure on global resources—especially forests, water, and food. How can Earth’s resources be managed best to support so many people? One key is tracking the sum of what is available, and perhaps nothing is better suited to that task than satellites."

 

...the top image shows where crops are grown throughout the world. Green areas are cropland, while tan areas are other types of land cover. In the last 40 years, cropland has increased by 70 percent to feed a growing population. Crops now cover about 40 percent of Earth’s land.


The lower image provides a landscape scale view of farming.


Measurements from the Landsat satellite also make it possible to tell how much water the crops consume in an arid environment. Such measurements are likely to become more important as demands on limited water resources increase. Currently, agriculture accounts for 85 percent of the world’s fresh water consumption.


Via Seth Dixon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Such studies of the agriculture around the world are essential. The way we are doing agriculture to support seven billion people now, peaking at 9-10 billion in another 60 years, it is clear that we are putting severe strains on the environment.  But we have grown lazy, and we are doing it all wrong.

 

We CAN drastically reduce the amount of meat we consume, and thus quickly reduce the amount of arable land we need.  We CAN grow plants in ways that actually sequester more carbon and improve the soil it over time rather than erode and degrade.  And we CAN in fact grow all the food we need in the space we live in, thus enabling us to recycle all the water used as well, which is mostly just lost in evaporation. 

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Seth Dixon's curator insight, June 24, 9:53 AM

Agricultural production is one of the ways in which people modify the environment more than any other.  Global population is expected to top out at around 9 billion around 2050, so will we be able to sustainably feed all of the entire human population?  Satellite imagery can help answer these questions. 


Tagsremote sensing, geospatial, images, sustainability, agriculture, food production, environment modify, unit 5 agriculture

Russell Roberts's curator insight, July 6, 12:53 AM

Thanks to environmental reporter Wes Thomas and professor Seth Dixon for this incisive analysis of how to provide sustenance to a world population nearing the 7 billion mark.  Dixon says the key is tracking the "sum of what is available...and perhaps nothing is better suited to the task than satellites."  Ever since the launch of "Landsat" and resource imaging satellites, scientists have been collecting data on global resources such as water, land use, forests, and crop production.  Dixon and Thomas say it's time the data were  put into a plan to fight hunger and habitat destruction around the world.  Such a plan may work if we as humans can keep from killing ourselves over religion, politics, and territory.  A tall order , indeed.  Aloha de Russ.

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World Energy Exec Sees International Win-Win, Fast Track For Renewables

World Energy Exec Sees International Win-Win,  Fast Track For Renewables | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and initiator of a series of world conferences on off-grid and minigrid electrification, sees our world on the cusp of unprecedented energy transformation. Not only will the use of renewables for reliable, clean electricity contribute to universal access to power, it may also help keep the lid on climate change.


“We are living through a period of unprecedented change brought on by extremely disruptive megatrends. The geographical, economic, and demographic changes the world is undergoing now are transformative. These include urban growth, changes in energy demand, and accelerations in the rate of technological change, all accompanied by risks.

 

If we take digital mobile communications as a bellwether for our current ability to adapt, we see from its attainment of 90% global use in just 15 years—almost universal, even in areas unserved by electric power—that we’re at a moment of not only great risk, but also of great opportunity. We at IRENA believe that the rate of technological development for renewables is moving so fast that we have reached a tipping point. Things will work out very differently, very soon.”


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Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food

Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

   New Scientist, 26 June 2014

 

Eating less meat is better for the climate than previously thought, according to a study that looked at what vegetarians and vegans actually eat.

 

If you stop eating meat, your food-related carbon footprint could plummet to less than half of what it was. That is a much bigger drop than many previous estimates, and it comes from a study of people's real diets.


As much as a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions come from food production.


Pescatarians, who eat fish but not other meat, are almost as carbon-friendly as vegetarians, creating only about 2.5 per cent more food-related emissions. But vegans can feel the most superior, pumping out 25 per cent less emissions than vegetarians, who still eat eggs and dairy.


This research presents a strong case for the greenhouse gas benefits of a low-meat diet," says Christopher Jones of the University of California, Berkeley.


"Americans waste about a third of the food they buy, and eat about 30 per cent more calories than recommended, on average," says Jones. "Reducing food purchases and physical consumption would have even greater greenhouse gas benefits than reducing meat consumption in the American case."

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Fossil Fuels, Utilities & Gas Cars To Be Obsolete By 2030 - RenewEconomy

Fossil Fuels, Utilities & Gas Cars To Be Obsolete By 2030 - RenewEconomy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Last year, in an interview with Stanford University’s Tony Seba, we foreshadowed the remarkable conclusions of his new book: that energy and transportation as we know it will be history by 2030.

That book, the Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation, is now published, and it has even more dramatic prognosis: Silicon Valley will make oil, nuclear, natural gas, coal, electric utilities and conventional cars obsolete by 2030.  

 

What’s more, Seba says it might happen even earlier than 2030.

 

He’s not the only person to predict this transformation. Jeremy Grantham agrees, and many in the utilities industry see the same risks. Paul Gilding has made similar predictions.

 

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Global Renewable Energy Capacity Has Nearly Doubled to 1,560 Gigawatts Since 2004

Global Renewable Energy Capacity Has Nearly Doubled to 1,560 Gigawatts Since 2004 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
In the past nine years, global renewable energy capacity has nearly doubled from 800 gigawatts (GW) to 1,560 gigawatts with solar and wind demonstrating the biggest gains.

 

 According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century‘s (REN21) Renewables 2014 Global Status Report, worldwide solar PV capacity is 53 times higher than in 2004, while wind power capacity is nearly seven times higher.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

While solar and wind energy are exploding, they started with a smaller fraction, but they are bound to dwarf the hydroelectric capacity.

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Let’s Use Fossil Fuels To Make Stuff, But Let’s Not Cook The Planet

Let’s Use Fossil Fuels To Make Stuff, But Let’s Not Cook The Planet | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Originally published on Shrink That Footprint, By Lindsay Wilson.


The IPCC just released its third assessment report on mitigating climate change. I’ve spent the morning reading the full summary, and to help you save a little time I’ve whittled it down to a six word summary: Fossils fuels are for making stuff.


Of course we’ll continue to use fossils fuels for making stuff where absolutely necessary (steel, plastic, fertilizer…) but we need to stop using them as our go to energy source for doing things (power, transport, heating and cooling). This of course is a simplification, with obvious exceptions like heavy transport, but it’s a pretty solid way to think about the challenge.

 

If that sounds radical that is simply because it is. According to the IPCC, limiting warming to 2°C means increasing the world’s low carbon energy share from 15% in 2010, to 60% by 2050 and to 90% by 2100. And just to be very clear here when the IPCC says ‘energy’ they don’t mean electricity. They are talking about all the energy we use in industry, transport, buildings and agriculture.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We can do better.  We can achieve 100% renewable energy certainly by 2050, and with a concerted effort, by 2030.

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World Wind Power To Double By 2020

World Wind Power To Double By 2020 | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Originally published on Energy Post.
By Karel Beckman
Despite an overall slump in installations in 2013, the global cumulative wind power capacity will more than double from 319.6 Gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2013 to 678.5 GW by 2020, says research and consulting firm GlobalData.

 

“China doubled its cumulative wind capacity every year from 2006 to 2009 and has continued to grow significantly since then."


Ian Perrin comments: GlobalData's analysis requires a year-on-year growth of 11.35% to achieve their expected outcome. That looks impressive but James Ayre's earlier article  http://cleantechnica.com/2014/...  requires wind power to be increased fifteen-fold by 2030 if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe. That implies a year-on-year growth of 17.25%. Can it be done?


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We should be able to grow the world's wind (and solar) energy capacity a lot *faster* than merely doubling in 6 years.  Wind energy is already competitive, and the payback time is only 1 year, so we should be able to double wind energy every year.

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Economic Value Of Renewables For Environment, Economy & Society

Economic Value Of Renewables For Environment, Economy & Society | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Originally published on PV Solar Report, by Aya Kusch
A recent econValue report outlines how, with the right policies and framework in place, renewables could increase jobs and incomes, improve trade balances, and help industrial development.

 

As Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)), says: Yes, jobs in coal will most likely be lost, but that will be more than offset by the jobs created by clean energy sectors. Improved health also has economic benefits, and consumers will eventually be spending less on energy due to less demand on the grid.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

If it is not already enough for renewable energy to improve the environment, don't forget how it also helps improve society and the economy.  

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Al Gore thinks there's hope for humanity after all

Al Gore thinks there's hope for humanity after all | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In the current rolling debate over whether we’re already the walking dead, given our presumptive too little, too late actions on climate change, Al Gore is boldly predicting victory in the latest issue ofRolling Stone.

 

“The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail,” writes Gore in his article, “The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate.” “The truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still — almost certainly — be avoided.”

 

But if there’s one overarching theme to Gore’s appeal for hope, it’s that renewable energy is getting less expensive, while coal energy is becoming more of a liability for markets. People like new things, and cheap — especially Americans. So to prevent “game over,” we need only keep looking toward the sun.

 
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

That we indeed CAN avoid many catastrophes does not mean it will be easy or even certain.  In fact, the only certain thing is that our future will be very challenging.

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Solar Likely To Become Dominant Source Of Electricity Globally By 2050, IEA Forecasts

Solar Likely To Become Dominant Source Of Electricity Globally By 2050, IEA Forecasts | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

The IEA says its core scenarios for reaching climate targets by 2050 call for 68 per cent of generation to be sourced from renewable energy, but in the (increasingly likely) event that carbon capture and storage and nuclear cannot take up their imagined shares, then the IEA has painted a “high renewables” scenario where solar takes an even greater role.

 

Its estimates, however, seem conservative given that most private forecasters suggest that the solar industry will reach 100GW installation a year anyway by 2017 or 2018, and capacity is likely to grow further beyond that. Its “vanilla” scenario for reaching its climate goals require just an average of 67GW of solar PV to be installed a year. The solar market is likely to reach that figure in 2015.

 

This, as many independent analysts have told us before, is going to create a radical change in the way that electricity markets operate. What is interesting is that the IEA is now buying into these scenarios, albeit more tentatively than others.


Via SustainOurEarth
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It's almost like the IEA is saying "Like it or not, solar is coming and not even the fossil fuel interests will be able to stop it."

 

We need to aim much higher, to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030, so we can completely shut down the fossil fuel industry as soon as possible.

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How One Chicago Restaurant Went Totally Trash-Free

Some restaurants produce eight gallons of waste every hour. Thanks to a sustainability plan, Sandwich Me In stretched that time...to two years.

 

"Any questions you would ask me, we have a green solution to that. To me, that's the only way to let other restaurants know that this can work, and this can happen."

 

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