Dodgy reporting distorts data on new coal plants

Recent reports of 621 coal plants being constructed worldwide are wildly inaccurate, according to a recent Guardian article. What’s more, the amount of electricity produced by coal globally has fallen each year since 2013.

The figure, which came from a parliamentary assessment based on out-of-date and unreliable data, was then further distorted as it was misreported to refer to power stations, rather than coal-fired power units (smaller modules, several of which make up one power station).

A look at the most up-to-date figures from the well-respected Global Coal Plant Tracker database run by US-based CoalSwarm, shows that in July construction was only occurring at 300 coal plants worldwide; 183 new power stations and 117 extensions of existing plants.

On top of this, big coal players such as China and India are cancelling several planned construction efforts due to many plants currently running as low as 43% capacity. Whilst Australia decides whether or not to subsidise Adani’s controversial export coal mine in Queensland, many of India’s domestic plants are struggling, including those owned by Adani.

Global coal production has dropped every year since 2013. According to CoalSwarm’s director, Ted Nace:

“A distinction needs to be kept in mind between capacity and electrical output…Even though there are more power plants, the actual production of electricity from those plants ~ and likewise the amount of coal used worldwide ~ has fallen every year since 2013, with a small drop in 2014 and larger drops in 2015 and 2016.”

The Guardian seems skeptical about whether these more accurate and up to date figures will be widely reported, given the way that the false figures were propagated by the majority of the press and several pro-coal public figures.

However, for those willing to look at the facts, its clear that the world is beginning to say farewell to coal.

Re-post ∼ The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts in The Guardian

Glen Innes recognised as renewable energy hub

Glen Innes is at the centre of the renewables revolution according to a recent ABC news article, which highlights the Sapphire and White Rock wind farms. Both are being constructed close to the town due to the ideal combination of high winds and grid connectivity found on this part of the Great Dividing Range.

Goldwind, who are responsible for White Rock wind farm, have also started construction of a 70,000 panel solar farm in the area making the town a genuine renewable energy hub.

The developments have brought a huge boost for the local economy. Some of the 30 farmers on whose land the new turbines are being built have declared that it is helping them to drought-proof their businesses. What’s more, local businesses are employing more staff to deal with the influx of construction workers who are now spending money in the area.

 

Alex Hewitt, MD of CWP Renewables says the company is looking to invest over $300 million in renewables projects in NSW over the next four years.

Starfish is collaborating with Sapphire Wind Farm, which will be the largest wind farm in NSW, to pioneer a community investment project. This would give community members the chance to capitalise even further on the development by investing directly in the wind farm. For further information and to show your interest complete the Community Investment Survey here.

Starfish’s is also work to develop a community-owned wind farm for the region, called New England Wind. This is a longer-term project, with a large amount of work required to secure a viable site and successfully put the project together ~ hence the excitement at Sapphire’s community investment, which, all going well, will happen in the short-term!

Read more ∼ Small town of Glen Innes to become renewable energy hub scattered with wind turbines by Phillipa McDonald on ABC News

Sapphire Community Investment Survey

New guide to small scale community solar released

The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) has released a new edition of its Small Scale Community Solar Guide, which aims to help more community renewable energy projects to get off the ground.

 

The guide comes in response to the growing popularity of community solar and showcases seven successful community solar projects which have been set up using different structures. It includes details of the financial and legal structure of each and recommendations about which setups would be best suited to different types of initiatives.

Projects include Lismore’s Farming The Sun initiative, which is a collaboration with Starfish Initiatives and demonstrates a community – Council partnership model.

Starfish also collaborated in writing the guide.

Tom Nockolds, co-author of the guide and co-founder of Pingala, said the C4CE expects the community renewables sector to continue to grow.

 

“Communities are fed up with all the politicking around energy in this country, and are just getting on and creating their own clean energy projects,” he said.

“They are learning from each other, and they are having an immediate, positive impact in their local areas.”

 

The aim of the guide is to spread this learning and impact as far and wide as possible.

 

Download the Small Scale Community Solar Guide here.

Repost ~ New community solar power guide released | The Fifth State

Give electric power tools a fair go

A NSW philanthropist has come up with and ingenious way to share her passion for renewable energy. Zeromow gives people, including those who work with power tools every day, the chance to try out an array of battery powered garden tools, including a fully electric ride-on lawnmower. 

 

Non-road spark ignition engines and equipment (NRSIEE), which include mowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers and outboard motors, are not subject to the same controls as on-road engines such as those found in cars. They can therefore be significantly more polluting. A government fact-sheet points out that:

 

“a two-stroke leaf blower used for one hour can produce as much hydrocarbons as 150 cars over the same time.”

 

For this reason high-emission NRSIEEs are banned in many other countries.

Sally Perini, who lives in the foothills of Sydney’s Blue Mountains, set up Zeromow after falling in love with electric cars and switching in order to ‘walk the talk’ and reduce her impact on global warming. Sally was then inspired by Mike Vaughan who set up Enviromowing in Brisbane, which is a mowing service powered entirely by electricity (including vehicles and equipment).

Sally hopes that by allowing other gardeners and landscapers to try her electric tools ~ which she charges from her own solar panels or another source of renewable energy ~ she can help fast track the changeover to the quieter, more efficient lithium-ion battery equipment and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released.

Sally Perini is also one of the philanthropists who has donated money to Starfish’s earthfunerals initiative, which has allowed us to establish our first Natural Burial Ground. We are honoured to be in such great company!

Re-post ~ Fossil fuels and Australian tools: It’s time to go fully electric by Sophie Vorrath for One Step Off The Grid

Costa Rica setting the bar for sustainability

Costa Rica has broken its own record for sustainable energy production and had another UNESCO Biosphere Reserve declared within its borders, all before the end of July 2017. Phew!

Aiming to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021, Costa Ricans have set themselves high standards in sustainability. Over the last 30 years they have already achieved producing around 93% of their energy from sustainable sources such as wind, geothermal, solar and hydroelectric power. However, in the first six months of this year they upped that figure to an impressive 99%!

Adding to the year’s environmental achievements, The Savegre River, an area of great biodiversity in the Zona de los Santos, was declared as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Biosphere Reserves are areas dedicated to exploring how sustainable development might practically work by ‘combining core protected areas with zones where sustainable development is fostered by local dwellers and enterprises’. The naming of this new reserve means that Costa Rica is now home to a total of four Biosphere Reserves.

 

A pair of Cappuchin Monkeys laze happily in the Savegre River Biosphere Reserve. The area is home to 54% of the mammal species native to Costa Rica, 20% of the country’s flora and 59% of its birds. Image – Paradise Products

 

According to the Costa Rica Tourism board, tourism has had a huge part to play in encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices at all levels of society. The Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST) encourages entrepreneurs to think sustainably and rewards their efforts with a five-leaf system which can be displayed on their publicity materials, setting them apart from other businesses.

 

Re-post ~ Costa Rica Achieves Two New Records in Sustainability Effort | Market Watch

Read more ~ Costa Rica Achieves Two New Records in Sustainability Effort | Newswire Canada

Wind power saves agribusiness expansion project and creates rural jobs

The largest hydroponic vegetable grower in Australia has been able to expand its operations thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration with a 196MW wind farm development.

 

Nectar Farms had planned to power its $565m expansion project with gas but almost had to abandon the project when costs proved to be prohibitive. However, after discussions with state government, local council and Neoen, the wind farm developer, they will now convert their entire operation to run on electricity from the wind farm and expand their glasshouses to 40 acres, creating 1,300 new jobs in an area which has recently suffered the closure of a goldmine.

 

Bulgana GPH Announcement from New Era Media on Vimeo.

 

Energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio highlighted the fact that renewable energy can ‘unlock opportunities for large, energy intensive businesses, to create jobs in regional communities’.

“We’re delivering affordable, secure and clean energy, which is powering new jobs right across our state,” D’Ambrosio said.

The project will also incorporate 20MW of battery storage, meaning it is 100% powered by wind energy. Nectar Farms will only use 10% of the electricity generated by the wind farm, with the rest to be purchased by the Victorian government.

This is one of several wind and solar farms planned for western Victoria, which will help the state to meet its target of 40% renewable electricity by 2025 and also count towards the federal renewable energy target.

Re-post ~ Giles Parkinson – Victoria agribusiness turns to 196MW wind farm with 20MW storage in RenewEconomy

The Top 100 Solutions To Climate Change. (You’ll Never Guess What’s Number One)

Drawdown ~ a new project and book spearheaded by Paul Hawken, represents the first comprehensive attempt to rank solutions to climate change and measure their relative effectiveness. Researchers studied existing data on solutions which are already in use and proven to reduce global warming, in order to help normal people understand what they can do to combat climate change and how much effect it might have.

Hawken and his team were surprised by some of the results and pleased to be able to highlight such a diverse array of solutions. In addition to the oft-touted wind and solar solutions the team discovered that factors such as educating girls (#6) and reducing food waste (#3) were high up on the list.

And number one? Refrigerant management! When was the last time you heard about that on the news?

 

Together, educating girls and family planning constitute the most impactful intervention towards carbon drawdown.

 

Drawdown top ten

 

Each potential solution was modeled on three scenarios: The Plausible Scenario, where these solutions continue to be adopted at a realistic rate based on current trends; The Drawdown Scenario, where the implementation of solutions is accelerated achieve drawdown by 2050; and The Optimum Scenario, where all currently available solutions achieve their maximum potential and fully replace conventional technologies.

 

“Drawdown is that point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis.” ~ Paul Hawken

 

This project serves a two-fold purpose of keeping humanity hopeful with evidence that drawdown is possible and providing clear, science-based information for ordinary people about where our climate change efforts should be focused.

The even better news is that even the ‘Optimum Scenario’ only takes into account technologies and approaches which have already been developed and proven. There is a whole world of emerging technologies which will likely have huge impacts on the problem of global warming. These ‘coming attractions’ and are likely to make drawdown an even more achievable goal.

 

Read more ~

Drawdown website

A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change: the results are surprising by David Roberts in Vox Magazine

Paul Hawken’s classic book Natural Capitalism (written with Amory Lovens and L. Hunter Lovins) is available for free download here.

Aussie solar company (em)powers rural farmers

An Aussie startup company, Village Infrastructure Angels (VIA), has launched a social enterprise project which leases solar set-ups to villagers in developing countries.

By providing rural communities with access to solar-powered lighting and phone charging capabilities, as well as shared agro-processing facilities, company founder and solar entrepreneur Stewart Craine hopes to cut dependence on fossil fuels, improve agricultural productivity and empower communities.

 

 

So far the project has proven to alleviate the time burden involved with food production, particularly for women, and open up possibilities for other paid employment. This has been achieved by leasing solar powered mills to communities to help them grind and de-hull grains. A mill shared between a group of families can turn what used to be a highly labour-intensive task into a five-minute doddle, improving agricultural productivity and freeing up time for other activities.

Introducing solar technology in these rural communities also decreases their reliance on fossil fuels as it provides an alternative to kerosene lamps and diesel-powered generators.

 

 

Craine, who also helped found the solar lighting group Barefoot Power,  has already attracted interest from investors for this new project.

 

“…pilot projects have so far proved that local teams could quickly generate sufficient revenue from a modest number of solar power projects in rural villages to cover their daily operating costs, and additional revenue which accumulates in the bank to repay investors.”

 

The company has achieved its pilot goal of reaching 1000 households and plans to reach 10,000 households by 2018 and a whopping 200,000 by 2020. This is in an effort to help more of the 1 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity.

Re-post ~ New Aussie solar start-up empowering rural farming villages by Sophie Vorrath in One Step Off the Grid

Investors snapping up community energy projects… which are selling out in hours!

solar panels bakers maison

Within six hours of it opening, investors had pitched in to invest in one of the newest community funded renewable energy  projects,  a huge 230 kilowatt solar system on the roof of Bakers Maison in western Sydney.

The public appetite for community-funded renewable energy appears to be limitless, with projects proving so popular they are selling out within minutes of being offered to investors.

This latest initiative, saw 20 investors pitch in almost $400,000 in total in just six hours.

The project has been set up by volunteer-run ClearSky Solar Investments. The company will pay investors for the solar energy it uses over a period of between seven to 10 years. The investors get a 7% return on the money they put in. After that time, the business owns the panels and will use its energy for free.

“There’s a huge appetite out there for people to invest in renewable energy, we just need more projects,” ClearSky Director Warren Yates said.

Bakers Maison employs 120 people and runs every day of the year, baking and freezing French-inspired products that are sold to all corners of Australia. “We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility bills,” General Manager Pascal Chaneliere said.

The bakery already had a 100 kilowatt solar power system, which will now be bolstered by this new, much larger community project. Mr Chaneliere said getting investors involved to help out with the costs of the new solar panels would help further reduce their bills.

“We signed a contract for the cost of electricity for the next coming years, so it makes a lot of sense. We know exactly what will be the expenditure for the next five years.”

David Blowers from the Grattan Institute said community projects had potential to save the electricity grid from expensive upgrades that are passed on as costs to consumers. He said network businesses should look to get involved in some community projects.

“You want to see a framework which encourages the right sort of solution for the right sort of problem,” Mr Blowers said. “At the moment it’s a one solution fits all, which is you build more poles and wires.” He added his view that Government needed to look at the way the grid costs were regulated to make sure costs were spread fairly.

More than 50 community solar projects are up and running across the nation, with individuals investing almost $24 million in total.

But Australia remains well behind Denmark, which has 5,500 projects up and running, many of those wind farms.

Scotland has more than 500 community energy projects, while Germany has 880 energy cooperatives.

 

Re-post ~ Investors snapping up community-energy projects | ABC News
Read more ~ The surprising asset ordinary Aussies are investing in | News.com.au

Doomsday Clock worsens to 2&1/2 minutes to midnight…

It’s been 64 years since the world has been this close to Doomsday.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been updating the Doomsday Clock regularly for 70 years. On Thursday, they turned the hands to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.

That’s a bit closer than last year, when the clock was three minutes to midnight and the closest the clock has been to midnight since 1953 when it was two minutes to midnight. That move came following the U.S. detonating its first thermonuclear bomb and Russia detonating a hydrogen bomb.

Doomsday Clock

In the early days, the threat of nuclear war was the primary gear turning the clock’s arms. Climate change became a cog in 2007, moving the clock closer to midnight that year. Scientists invoked it in 2015 again, pushing the clock closer still to midnight. And in 2017, another cog was added: a rising tide of political leaders around the world making statements unhinged from facts.

Climate change facts are clear: that  the world had its hottest year ever recorded in 2016, the third year in a row that mark has been set. Arctic sea ice has been decimated by repeated heat waves, seas continue to rise and researchers have warned of instability driven by climate shocks.

The cause is human’s pouring carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Carbon temperatures

“Facts are stubborn things and they must be taken into account if the future of humanity is preserved,” said Lawrence Krauss, one of the clockmakers and a professor at Arizona State University.

Yet despite knowing all of that, scientists have stressed that the world is not doing enough to put humanity on course to avoid catastrophic climate change. David Titley, a professor at Penn State and one of the authors of the new doomsday clock report, said that while the Paris Agreement represents a positive step, the climate talks in Morocco late last year didn’t move the ball forward enough.

While these actions weighed on the decision to move the clock’s hands closer to midnight, scientists also considered another disturbing trend of world leaders espousing policies and making statements not tied to evidence.

There’s no more stark example than the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. He has espoused climate science denialism as have many of his cabinet nominees and advisors. He’s also made false statements on dozens of topics, from voter fraud to the size of his inauguration crowd.

This is hugely problematic when it comes to climate change, where the U.S. stands as an outlier with the only head of state to deny the science behind it.

This is the exact moment when the world needs to be doing more to address climate change. Yet the current administration of the world’s largest historical emitter is poised to ignore this fact, putting the future of humanity at risk.

“Nuclear weapons and climate change are precisely the sort of complex existential threats that cannot be properly managed without access to and reliance on expert knowledge,” the scientists wrote in their report.

Scientists said they only moved it forward 30 seconds because Donald Trump has held office a few days. There’s still a slight hope his actions could be different from his words. If they’re not, the hands of the clock may move even closer to midnight.

Re-post ~ The Doomsday Clock just moved closer to Midnight | Climate Central

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