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22 years till we blow the 2°C Carbon Budget

22 years till we blow the 2°C Carbon Budget | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Our current emissions path will leave us committed to more than  2°C of warming in just 22 years.  It would also commit us to much more warming beyond that given the economic inertia of global carbon emissions.


In fact the 2°C carbon budget is so stringent that even if global carbon emissions stopped growing and remained flat for the coming decades we would still break the 2°C budget in 2041, less than 30 years from now.


In the graphic above we show the speed at which we exhaust the 2°C  budget based on different annual emissions growth rate scenarios.


The first one is the same as our initial chart and shows that if emissions grow at 2% each year we break the 2°C budget in 2035.  In the second we see that if annual emissions remain constant at a 2011 level we break the 2°C budget in 2041.  The third shows that if annual emissions decline at 2% per year we will break the 2°C budget in 2058.


The gap between where we are and where we need to be is enormous.


We have a coal problem.  We have an oil problem.  We have a gas problem.  We have a deforestation problem.

 

WE HAVE A CARBON PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!

 

And our lack of ambition in dealing with it is quite astonishing.


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Shutting down fossil fuel burning, and ramping up renewable energy to 100% must occur as soon as possble, but moreover, it must occur as soon as NECESSARY!


The fourth graphic shows we must immediately start decreasing carbon emissions by 3.5% per year.  Or if we wait til 2020, we'll have to reduce emissions twice as fast and maybe still fail in half the time.

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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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Tax to Pay Externalities - U.S. Carbon Price - Climate CoLab

Tax to Pay Externalities - U.S. Carbon Price - Climate CoLab | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

A tax on carbon emissions should match the cost to sequester the same amount of carbon, or pay more to mitigate the effects of not doing so.

 

Enter one of 18 contests on what to do about climate change. Comment, collaborate, share, submit your ideas!

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I am working on this proposal and I invite your comments and criticisms.

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Zero carbon and economic growth can go together, UN study says

Zero carbon and economic growth can go together, UN study says | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

Guardian Australia: The top 15 emitter countries could make deep cuts to emissions while also tripling economic output, according to the study.

 

The Deep Decarbonisation Pathways report, released by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, analyzed the 15 countries that account for 70% of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, which includes Australia, the US, Britain and China.

 

According to the report, compiled by academics from each of the countries, the 15 countries could make deep cuts to emissions while also tripling economic output.

 

These cuts are needed, the report notes, if the world is to avoid the “catastrophic” impact of failing to keep to the internationally agreed limit of 2C global warming on pre-industrial levels. The study concedes the world is on track to overshoot this.


A further UN report in September will set out the monetary cost of a rapid increase in renewables to cut emissions to zero.

 

But the newly released study plots a path that involves phasing out coal use almost entirely, shifting electricity generation to renewable sources such as solar and wind, and powering vehicles and buildings with clean electricity rather than fossil fuels such as oil and petrol.

 

Industrial and farming processes that can’t use such clean technology would be offset by large-scale storage of carbon in soils and trees.



Via Flora Moon
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The Economics of Global Warming

The Economics of Global Warming | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

“Climate inaction inflicts costs that escalate every day.

 

It’s suicidal, both economically and literally, to focus on the fossil fuel industry’s limited, short-term economic benefits at the expense of long-term prosperity, human health and the natural systems, plants and animals that make our well-being and survival possible. Those who refuse to take climate change seriously are subjecting us to enormous economic risks and foregoing the numerous benefits that solutions would bring.

 

 The World Bank—hardly a radical organization—is behind one study. While still viewing the problem and solutions through the lens of outmoded economic thinking, its report demolishes arguments made by the likes of Stephen Harper.


Risky Business, a report by prominent U.S. Republicans and Democrats, concludes, “The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change,” especially in coastal regions and agricultural areas.
Those who fear or reject change are running out of excuses as humanity runs out of time. Pitting the natural environment against the human-invented economy and placing higher value on the latter is foolish. These reports show it’s time to consign that false dichotomy to the same dustbin as other debunked and discredited rubbish spread by those who profit from sowing doubt and confusion about global warming.

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New Desalination Technologies Spur Growth in Recyling Water

New Desalination Technologies Spur Growth in Recyling Water | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Long associated with turning seawater into drinking water, new desal technologies will allow for the reuse agricultural and industrial waste water.

 

With world water demands rising and extreme droughts like the one now gripping California expected to grow more frequent and widespread as the climate warms, drawing fresh water from oceans and other salty sources will be increasingly important.


Engineers and entrepreneurs across the globe are now trying to devise greener desalination. Some are inventing new alternatives to traditional reverse osmosis. Among them: Israel, whose own dependence on desalinated water has made it a world leader in the process, has come out with several state-of-the-art technologies, including a novel “semi-batch” reverse osmosis process developed by Desalitech that shrinks energy and brine, and a chemical-free “plant in a box,” produced by IDE Technologies; and Memsys, of Singapore and Germany, is working on hybrid-thermal membrane technology that is energy-efficient enough to run on solar power.

 


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Deep Decarbonization Draft Offers “Transformational” Climate Strategies (VIDEO)

Deep Decarbonization Draft Offers “Transformational” Climate Strategies (VIDEO) | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

As unprecedented storms, extinctions, and water, food, and energy wars continue to touch our world, warnings about destructive human-made climate change multiply and increase in stridency. At the United Nations in New York yesterday, some possible solutions were officially released. (VIDEO available here.)

Deep Decarbonization is the first global cooperative program to identify practical pathways for major industrial economies toward a low-carbon world economy by 2050. Unlike many recent assessments, it focuses on potential solutions rather than agonizing statistics and definitions.

 

The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) is a collaborative initiative to understand and show how individual countries can transition to a low-carbon economy and how the world can meet the internationally agreed target of limiting the increase in global mean surface temperature to less than 2 degrees Celsius (°C).


Jeffrey Sachs summarizes:

We are on a trajectory of some four degrees centigrade or more, depending on exactly the assumptions that one makes; and all of the evidence is that the business as usual path would be an absolutely reckless and unforgivable gamble with this planet.


“Change is in the air,” says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Solutions exist. The race is on, and it’s time to lead…. The report we are launching today shows how we can achieve deep decarbonization.”

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

I firmly believe we could progress much faster toward 100% renewable energy and shutting down the fossil fuel industry than this UN plan, if we decide to rally our collective energy and make it happen.

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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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"The World in 2025" Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies

"The World in 2025" Predicts Abundant Solar Power and Food, Tailored Drugs, Gene Therapies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In a recently released vision of the future, Thomson Reuters analysts predict solar power will be the dominant form of energy by 2025.

 

The report is an extrapolation of today’s emerging technologies. To make their predictions, analysts combined the most cited scientific articles over the last few years with a study of which fields are attracting the most patents.


“Solar Is the Largest Source of Energy on the Planet”
Due to advancements in photovoltaics, chemistry, photocatalysts, and 3D nanoscale heterojunctions, the way we collect, store, and convert solar energy will be far more efficient. From homes and offices to factory floors, solar will be our main source of energy. The most highly cited paper in the last two years relay new methods and materials for solar technology.


“Electric Air Transportation Takes Off”
Improvements in battery technology and new lightweight materials will drive the invention and adoption of electric aircraft and cars. Advances in lithium-ion batteries, reversible hydrogen storage, nanomaterials in fuel cells, and thin-film batteries will stockpile energy to power light, micro-commercial aircraft for short hops. These next-gen planes will be able to take off and land in less space.


“Petroleum-Based Packaging Is History; Cellulose-Derived Package Rules”
Totally biodegradable nanocellulose packaging will replace plastics in food, medicine, electronics, textiles, and consumer products. These pseudo-plastics are derived from biological materials and may also find use in controlled-release pharmaceuticals for ingestion. Plastic packaging will be nearly extinct in a decade.


Via the Change Samurai
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

All this in just 11 years?  Seems a bit too optimistic even for me, mostly because it takes a long time to make such significant changes without a large-scale concerted effort.  But I'm sure many of these will be in various stages of deployment, and there will be many more surprises along the way.

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First-of-its-Kind Map Details Extent of Plastic in Five Ocean Gyres

First-of-its-Kind Map Details Extent of Plastic in Five Ocean Gyres | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

When a research team set sail on a nine-month, worldwide expedition in 2010 to study the impact of global warming on Earth’s oceans, one of their projects was to locate the accumulations of plastic.


They found plenty. They explored the five huge gyres, which collectively contain tens of thousands of tons of plastic. The result was the creation of a compelling, first-of-its-kind map of this debris.

 

But in the process, they realized that the plastic in the gyres didn’t begin to account for the enormous amount of plastic that’s been manufactured since the mass production of plastic began in the mid 1940s.


In a National Geographic report, marine biologist Andres Cozar Cabañas, who was part of theMalaspina expedition led by the Spanish National Research Council, said:

 

“Our observations show that large loads of plastic fragments, with sizes from microns to some millimeters, are unaccounted for in the surface loads. But we don’t know what this plastic is doing. The plastic is somewhere—in the ocean life, in the depths or broken down into fine particles undetectable by nets.”


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$5.1 Trillion to be Invested in Renewable Energy by 2030 - CleanTechies

$5.1 Trillion to be Invested in Renewable Energy by 2030 - CleanTechies | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

$5.1 trillion dollars is one very big number. It’s a figure equal to just a little less than one-third of the U.S. economy’s annual GDP. $5.1 trillion is the amount that will be invested by 2030 to build new power plants that use renewable energy, according to a Bloomberg News Energy Finance report.

 

Out of 5,000 gigawatts of power generation capacity to be added worldwide by 2030, renewable power will account for 4,000 gigawatts—nearly 80 percent of all new capacity. The leading technology in these new clean energy installations will be solar power, say the Bloomberg analysts. They predict that solar will be economically competitive with other power sources by 2020.


Solar and wind power’s combined share of global generation will rise to 16 percent of the world’s total by 2030, up from its current 3 percent, predicts the Bloomberg forecast.


Via Flora Moon
Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

This is good, but it could be better. Why not use renewable resources for 100% of new capacity?  Why not do even more than that, by replacing the current fossil fuels with 100% renewable, as much as we can afford, as soon as possible?

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Stephane Bilodeau's curator insight, July 9, 7:54 PM

Since 2011, annual investment in renewable energy technologies has totaled more than the dollars invested in fossil fuel power generation. This upward trend for clean energy shows every sign of continuing to rise.

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World Bank: Climate Change Policies Will Boost Global Economy

World Bank: Climate Change Policies Will Boost Global Economy | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
World Bank report finds that policies to fight climate change could boost the global economy big-time.

 

The economic argument against taking action on climate change — i.e., “It’s just too expensive!” — is fast becoming passé, with a World Bank report this month noting that policies to cut carbon pollution might actually boost the global economy by up to $2.6 trillion a year.

 

The 88-page report, “Climate-Smart Development: Adding Up the Benefits of Actions that Help Build Prosperity, End Poverty and Combat Climate Change,” focuses on five countries – Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the United States – plus the European Union. Big benefits will flow by 2030 if that group implements just three sets of policies on clean transportation, energy efficiency in industry and energy efficiency in buildings, the report asserts.


The World Bank’s finding matches that of the recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, “Energy Technology Perspectives,” according to a ThinkProgress article. The IEA found that an aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency (and energy storage) to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit/2 degrees Celsius would be staggeringly cost-effective, “resulting in net savings of $71 trillion” by 2050.


As the World Bank says, “Thanks to a growing body of research, it is now clear that climate-smart development can boost employment and can save millions of lives.” Smart development policies and projects can also slow the pace of adverse climate changes. “Based on this new scientific understanding, and with the development of new economic modeling tools to quantify these benefits, it is clear that the objectives of economic development and climate protection can be complementary.”

 

What in the world are we waiting for?


Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

Not only must we move rapidly to shut down the entire fossil fuel industry for environmental reasons, it also makes economic sense. Across the board, it makes more sense to shift to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible compared to the alternative of not doing so.

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How to Leapfrog Carbon

How to Leapfrog Carbon | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

In the 18th century, Germany was burning wood. In the 19th century, it was burning coal. In the 20th century, it was burning oil. Today it's getting electricity from solar and renewables.


But what if the dozens of developing countries across the globe, that are still stuck in the 18th century and that still rely on burning wood for energy, jumped directly to renewable energy, and leapfrogged the whole carbon cycle?

 

Can you imagine how that would transform the fight against global warming and climate change?

 

Well, that's exactly what's going on right now in rural India.


The bottom line is that solar power and other renewable forms of energy are the energy of today and of the future, in both developed and developing nations. Not coal. Not oil. Not natural gas.


And as the richest country in the world, we need to finally embrace that fact, and lead the world in investing more in these clean and green energies that will be powering our country into the future.

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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.

Tom Cockburn's curator insight, July 13, 5:52 AM

Vital debate for the future

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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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