Published on September 6th, 2013 | by David L Roberts11
Dave’s Top 10 Clean Energy News Stories From August
This continues my monthly report of 10 of the most compelling clean energy generation, energy conservation technology, and climate change stories encountered over the last month. Over a thousand articles were reviewed across the various clean energy platforms, 30+ were found to be of particular interest and are available in my newsletter upon request. Here is my pick of the “Top 10” that might have an impact on your business, your life, and the world we live in. Or, at the very least, might surprise you about what’s going on. And thanks to David Letterman for the “Top 10” idea. Articles are listed most important last.
10. China expresses “concern” about GHG emissions and citizen health from pollution and that they are constructing numerous (pollution free) wind and solar power stations. However, this report does not show a turning point until 2027, when China’s GHG emissions will peak, at which time their source of electricity from coal is estimated to decline from today’s 67% to 44%. Coincidentally, fossil fuels (coal and gas) also account for 67% of US electricity production today.
9. Here’s evidence that rising GHG emissions in CA are causing climate change: more forest fires, less precipitation as snow and less water in the Tahoe-Truckee watershed for sports, agriculture, and human consumption.
8. This U of M professor makes the case that bigger gains in reducing GHG emissions in transportation can come from controlling “upstream” sources, and less from innovations in new fuel and vehicle types. These include closing (converting) fossil fuel power plants (for EV plug-ins), amending farming methods, harvesting and shipping of biofeedstock (for ethanol or alternative fuel feedstocks), and mitigating methane leaks in natural gas production and piping.
7. Global solar energy installation grew by 58% in 2012, with the top four countries being Germany, Spain, Italy and China. Global wind installs grew 19% in 2012, with the top countries being US, Germany, Spain and the UK. Still, the combination of wind and solar only accounted for 1.7% of global energy consumed. Here’s a great chart showing the composition of (global) GHG emissions and where they come from by country and type of economic activity.
6. Claiming to be carbon neutral by applying the principles of photosynthesis from plants, a synthetic gasoline is being developed from hydrogen and CO2 by scientists from CalTech, Stanford, Berkeley Labs and 3 UC campuses with funding of $122M from the DOE.
5. Oregon leads 17 states considering charging motorists for miles driven vs. gas consumed. With vehicle fuel efficiency increasing due to hybrids, EVs, and the 54.5 mpg CAFE mandates of the EPA by 2025, less fuel is (and will be) consumed, reducing fuel tax funds needed by states for road construction and maintenance.
4. China hired IBM to develop a grid-scale weather forecasting technology — “Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting” (HyRef) — to better anticipate intermittency of wind and solar output for more cost effective integration into the utility power mix. With sales anticipated across Euro and the US, this could be a big win for “big blue.”
3. Once considered non-polluting sources of clean energy, hydroelectric damns — and the waters behind them — are being examined for the methane they release as a result of the organic sediments below. (Research tells us that methane is 20-25 times more harmful than CO2 in holding heat and contributing to global warming.) This “damn” discovery notwithstanding, it’s hard to image how to mitigate or capture the methane from 50,000 large damns and literally millions of smaller ones around the world.
2. Developed by Google nerds and dubbed by Fast Company as one of the TOP 10 data graphs, this wind map shows the velocity and direction of winds across the US — in real time. (Notably, for long-time CleanTechnica readers, CleanTechnica covered this wind map back in March 2012.)
#1 Most interesting (my opinion) clean tech news story of the month:
1. Other states and other countries considering energy cap-and-trade (C&T) are watching what appears to be a successful C&T program in CA. All of CA’s “offset” credits have been sold for 2013 and 2016. The program is a tax on energy and thus a revenue source for CA, but also is intended to help CA companies comply with AB32, enacted in 2006 to reduce GHG emissions 25% to 1990 levels by 2020. Environmentalists argue this gives companies permission to continue polluting. However, there’s been national success with previous C&T programs to reduce SO2 and NOx emissions.
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