Guardian - Renewable Energy

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Weatherwatch: how do we store surplus renewable energy?

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 21:30

We are able to produce more renewable energy than we can use immediately. Now we must find ways to keep it stored until the demand is high

A milestone was reached for renewable energy in November when more than 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand was met by wind turbines for the first time – enough for nearly six million homes. Scottish weather is powering a revolution. With ever-larger wind turbines being built at sea, and wave and tidal power being developed, the problem will soon be how to use this surplus energy. Some is already exported to England via interconnector cables and in 2020 there will be another running from the Aberdeen area to Norway. But this will not be enough and the race is on to find ways to store cheap energy to sell back to the grid when demand is high.

Large batteries are helping, but another proven method is pump storage. This uses virtually free surplus electricity at night to pump water into upland reservoirs to be used to power turbines during peak periods. Scotland has had these schemes since the 1960s but there is potential for many more and two new ones are proposed to pump water uphill from Loch Ness to reservoirs in the hills.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Scott Morrison and the Business Council are pushing coal – but on what evidence? | Richard Denniss

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 01:20

Despite plummeting costs of renewables the government and the BCA insist that emissions reduction would be ‘economy wrecking’

Fresh from losing the economic fight about company tax cuts, the Coalition government is doubling down on an economic fight about renewable energy. And yet again, as they march into battle they have the Business Council of Australia as their key source of economic and political advice. What could go wrong?

The cost of renewable energy has fallen dramatically in the past 10 years and will continue to fall for years to come. By some accounts, new renewables with storage are already cheaper than coal fired power stations. Some argue that they aren’t quite there yet. But no one argues that in 30 years’ time a new coal-fired power station that has to buy coal will be able to compete with a solar farm that gets its sunshine for free.

Related: Energy impasse is Australia's 'largest failure in public policy', Business Council says

The science of climate change indicates the economic risks posed to Australia are both materially significant and proportionally higher than for most other countries … global carbon pricing is inevitable … [and] given these economic risks, Australia needs to act to decouple energy and emissions growth from economic growth, or we will face steadily declining competitiveness as global carbon pricing and other controls increase.”

Related: Business Council says Australia's failure to pass corporate tax cuts a 'colossal mistake'

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Australia’s renewables sector doubles output in boom year

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:00

Clean Energy Council warns surge ‘could come to an end if the energy policy debate is left to languish unresolved’

Australia’s renewables sector has doubled its output over the past 12 months, with more than $20bn of projects now under construction, but the current boom will not last without policy certainty, according to the Clean Energy Council.

The council, which represents solar, wind, energy efficiency, hydro, bioenergy, energy storage, geothermal and marine businesses, along with more than 5,000 solar installers, has released new figures claiming a record year for Australia’s renewables industry – with more than 80 wind and solar farms under construction, and rooftop solar installations now topping two million homes.

Related: Government’s 'big stick' got whittled down to something much smaller | Katharine Murphy

Related: Coal, coal, coal and soaring emissions - as a Liberal, I have had enough | Oliver Yates

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Categories: Sustainable Living

The Guardian view on climate change: too much, too soon | Editorial

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 18:28
We are losing the war against climate change; the use of fossil fuels is driving higher carbon emissions when they need to be coming down

Outside of the desperate and the deluded, everyone knows that the world is in the early stages of a truly catastrophic climate change. As Sir David Attenborough told the UN climate change conference in Poland, “the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon”. We have even worked out, with scrupulous care, what we must do to avoid this or to mitigate the effects of climate change. We know what to do. We can see how to do it. There’s only one problem: we do almost nothing.

Figures released today by the University of East Anglia for the conference in Katowice show that global carbon emissions will be higher than ever before this year. In fact they will rise by nearly 3%, an astonishing and terrifying annual figure at a time when the need to diminish them has never been more urgent. The main driver of this growth has been the increased use of coal, which is rapidly approaching its previous peak level, from 2013. There is a particular irony in that this conference is being held in Poland, a country that still derives 80% of its electricity from coal, even if this is less grossly polluting than it was in the Communist era. In fact emissions there are down 30% from their peak in 1988. But far more must be done. To limit global warming to the Paris agreement goal of 1.5C, CO2 emissions would need to decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

A billion people without electricity ‘missing out on pledged climate funds’

Mon, 12/03/2018 - 13:03

UN climate summit in Poland will hear public money available is not enough to provide clean energy for those living off-grid

The world’s 1 billion people who live without electricity are not benefiting from climate change money promised by governments to help them develop.

In theory, there has never been a better time for developing countries to install renewable energy such as solar or wind to combat climate change. The UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), along with the World Bank and regional development banks, have all said they intend to significantly increase their green energy financing, offering developing countries cheap loans and grants. Many donor countries like Britain and Japan have also pledged to help poorer nations switch to clean energy.

Related: 'Liquid gold': students make world's first brick out of human urine

A version of this article was published by Ensia

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Business community unites to urge Coalition to abandon energy 'big stick'

Sun, 12/02/2018 - 17:00

Some of Australia’s highest solar takeup is occurring in the electorates of some of the Coalition’s strongest coal supporters, new analysis shows

Australia’s biggest energy and business groups have banded together to urge the government to abandon its “big stick” approach to energy legislation, warning the divestiture powers the government craves will impede investment and create genuine sovereign risk.

Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor threatened to break up Australia’s energy companies if power prices didn’t come down – by utilising commonwealth divestment powers never used before in Australia – through legislation due to be introduced to parliament this week.

Related: Business Council excoriates Coalition's 'ad hoc and extreme' energy policies

Related: Energy companies push back on Coalition threat to break them up

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Categories: Sustainable Living

If you thought Snake Plissken’s New York was a dangerous place... | Kevin McKenna

Sun, 12/02/2018 - 05:59

Trump in power; the farce of Brexit; dire warnings of power shortages – welcome to dystopia now

Film reviewers often reach for a clutch of well-thumbed words and phrases to convey a sense of time and place quickly. This is not a criticism. These reviewers are rarely given sufficient space to explore often complicated themes of several films at a time.

A familiar locution, understood by all readers, allows them to cut to the action, as it were. “Dystopian nightmare” is one of them and when I see this deployed by my favourite reviewers my interest is piqued.

You could be forgiven for scanning the horizon for signs of the four horsemen and yon pale rider chappie

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Windy weather carries Britain to renewable energy record

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 12:15

Windfarms supplied third of UK’s electricity this week, with output hitting 14.9GW high

Storm Diana brought travel chaos to road, rail and airports, but the clouds did have a silver lining: the strong winds helped set a renewable energy record.

Windfarms supplied about a third of the UK’s electricity between 6pm and 6.30pm on Wednesday, a time of peak energy demand. Output hit a high of 14.9GW, beating a previous record of 14.5GW.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Australia’s carbon emissions grow at fastest rate since 2004

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 03:51

Report says Australia will fall short of meeting its nationally determined contributions under the Paris agreement

Australia’s carbon emissions have again continued to increase, according to official government figures released on Friday.

The results show emissions are rising much faster than in recent years – the quarterly growth trend is the highest it has been since 2004.

Related: Climate change strike: thousands of school students join national protest

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Coastal flooding and peat bogs | Letters

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 17:34
More than 15,000 buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding in the UK between 2005 and 2014, write Tom Spencer and Gerd Masselink. Meanwhile Alastair Edwards says the Irish shouldn’t be bashed too much over their carbon emissions, but Dr John Doherty warns against erecting wind turbines on bogland

The UK Climate Projections 2018 study predicts significant sea level rise around the UK coastline by 2100 (Climate change ‘may force people to quit flood areas’, 27 November) and, in announcing the report, the secretary of state for the environment says “we will be looking at ways we can encourage every local area to strive for greater overall resilience”.

Yet only a month ago, the government’s own advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, argued strongly that current methods being used to protect England’s coastal communities are not fit for purpose. Their report showed that between 2005 and 2014, over 15,000 buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding and/or erosion.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Australia isn't on track to meet its 2030 emissions target, UN report says

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 01:51

About half of the G20 countries will fall short of their Paris agreement pledges, scientists warn

• Hundreds of students striking over climate change descend on parliament

Australia is not on track to meet its 2030 emissions reduction targets and global greenhouse gas emissions are showing no signs of peaking, a new UN report has warned.

In its annual emissions gap report, which looks at the gap between carbon reduction policies countries have in place and what is required to keep global warming to well below 2C, the UN says global emissions have reached record highs.

Related: World must triple efforts or face catastrophic climate change, says UN

Related: Hundreds of students striking over climate change descend on parliament

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Arsenal leads charge into battery power at Emirates Stadium

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 13:00

Club is first in UK to use large-scale system with capacity to last an entire match

Arsenal has become the UK’s first football club to install large-scale battery energy storage, in a bid to cut electricity costs and support green energy.

Tucked in the basement of the Emirates, the system is capable of powering the 60,000-seat stadium for an entire match, or the equivalent of 2,700 homes for two hours.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Homeowners trapped by 25-year solar panel contracts

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 08:00

Householders who lease their roofs to power firms find it hard or costly to move home

Julie Griffiths* wanted to reduce her carbon footprint by installing solar panels. The cost would have been a prohibitive £12,000, so she signed a deal to lease part of her roof to a solar power company, which would fit the panels for free. It would pocket the newly introduced feed-in tariffs (FITs) – subsidies paid by the government for the electricity generated. She, meanwhile, would have lower energy bills. At the end of the 25 years, the panels and the tariffs would be hers.

It seemed a win-win situation until recently, when she needed to sell the house. Her buyer’s mortgage application was refused because of the lease agreement, which had effectively signed over a large part of the roof to the solar company.

I am retired with MS and need to sell my house, but the buyer is refusing to go ahead unless I have the panels removed

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Categories: Sustainable Living

‘Everyone wants employment’: Morwell waits for 'white knight' in divided election

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 17:00

Locals say jobs are their priority in the Victoria election: but does the town’s future lie in renewables or its coal-fired heyday?

When Andy McCarthy moved to the Latrobe Valley to start a solar power business eight years ago, he was tentative about what he said about renewable energy. Even the idea of renewables was threatening for many locals, an emotional topic for a region dependent on coal for generations.

Related: Victorian election 2018: on the ground in Morwell, part one

Related: ‘I wasn’t rusted to either side’: Ricky Muir returns for a run at Morwell

Related: Victorian election debate: Daniel Andrews forced to defend bail for Melbourne attacker

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Swap gas boilers for hydrogen or miss emission targets, UK told

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 11:17

Households need electric and hydrogen hybrid boilers sooner rather than later, climate advisers warn

Millions of gas boilers will need to be replaced with hydrogen alternatives and coupled with electric heating devices if Britain is to hit its carbon targets at the lowest cost, according to the government’s climate advisers.

In a report on the role hydrogen could play in the energy system, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) spelt out the huge but necessary cost the country faces to switch to green heating.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Labor to keep national energy guarantee in bid for climate truce

Wed, 11/21/2018 - 03:26

Shadow cabinet keeps Turnbull policy with a higher target, and formulates a plan B for renewables

Labor has resolved to keep the Coalition’s national energy guarantee with a higher emissions reduction target, and will propose a detailed plan B for renewables in the event it can’t be legislated.

The shadow cabinet on Wednesday took the decision to stick with the Neg developed by Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg, with an emissions reduction target for electricity of 45% by 2030, in an attempt to see whether the Liberals could be persuaded to vote for their own mechanism post-election.

Related: Instead of 'fair dinkum' power, how about some 'fair dinkum' action? | Katharine Murphy

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Importing gas to replace domestic supply could push emissions up 20%, AGL says

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 17:00

Energy company says importing LNG will firm up renewable energy projects but critics say gas is already more expensive than clean alternatives

Controversial plans to import liquefied natural gas into Australia to fill a shortfall as domestic gas is exported to Asia would significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, AGL has conceded.

Energy companies have proposed four LNG import terminals for the east coast to ensure gas supply and ease high prices. The imported natural gas would effectively replace the two-thirds of gas sold overseas from export plants in Queensland.

Related: 'Nothing to hide?' Oil and gas lobby pushes to limit data on its emissions

There’s no scenario where [importing gas is] in the public interest or a good outcome for the environment.

Related: Half of Australia's emissions increase linked to WA's Gorgon LNG plant

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Rugeley coal plant to be transformed into a sustainable village

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 13:01

Energy firm plans to build 2,000 homes powered by solar panels on the Staffordshire site

An old coal power station is set to be transformed into a “sustainable village” of 2,000 homes powered by solar panels, in the biggest redevelopment yet of a former UK power plant.

French firm Engie said it had decided against selling off the Rugeley site in Staffordshire and would instead build super efficient houses on the 139-hectare site as part of its bid to “move beyond energy”.

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Victoria's forestry fight: how the election is raising the environmental stakes

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 02:09

Major parties want ‘sustainable logging’ in native forests, but experts warn of ‘endgame’ for endangered species and drinking water

To understand the campaign to save Victoria’s old growth forests, ecologist David Lindenmayer says, you just need to turn on a tap in Melbourne.

Forget about the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum, a species in which Lindenmayer is a global expert, or the vulnerable greater glider. Forget, too, about the carbon value of the mountain ash forests of the Victorian central highlands, which are among the most carbon-dense forests in the world.

Related: States may go it alone on clean energy target, says Victoria's energy minister

Related: Australian government backs coal in defiance of IPCC climate warning

Related: Victoria's renewable energy boom set to create thousands of jobs

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Categories: Sustainable Living

Green energy subsidies fuel rise of Northern Ireland mega-farms

Fri, 11/16/2018 - 12:46

Huge expansion of agri-food industry is harming environment, say investigators

Green energy subsidies are fuelling the rise of poultry mega-farms across Northern Ireland, with owners accused of contaminating sensitive habitats with emissions from chicken faeces.

An alliance of agri-food companies enlisted the support of Northern Ireland politicians to unlock an estimated £800m in subsidies for contractors. This has paved the way for industry expansion at the expense of the environment, according to an investigation by the not-for-profit journalism group SourceMaterial.

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Categories: Sustainable Living