The cost of generating renewable energy has fallen – a lot

It’s the moment the global sustainable energy market has been waiting for. Battery technology, the essential element in ensuring continuity of supply from weather-dependent sources such as wind and solar, has suddenly become cost competitive.

For lithium-ion batteries, the ‘levelized cost of electricity’ (LCOE) – the total cost of building and operating an electricity-generating plant – has fallen by 35% since the first half of 2018, analysis by research company BloombergNEF (BNEF) shows.

At the same time, the LCOE for offshore wind has dropped by 24%. Onshore wind and solar’s benchmark costs fell 10% and 18% respectively from last year.

“Looking back over this decade, there have been staggering improvements in the cost-competitiveness of these low-carbon options, thanks to technology innovation, economies of scale, stiff price competition and manufacturing experience,” says Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF.

Image: BloombergNEF

Powering change

Since 2010, the benchmark price for solar has dropped 84%, offshore wind by more than half and onshore wind by 49%. The price of lithium-ion battery storage has dropped by more than three quarters since 2012.

Batteries provide the opportunity to cover peaks in demand and to bridge periods when the wind is calm and the sun does not shine. Until now, gas and coal-fired power stations have filled the gaps. But battery storage is increasingly being added to solar and wind plants to help maintain supply.

Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi switched on what it said was the world’s largest virtual battery plant, able to store 648 MWh to balance demand on the grid and keep the city supplied for up to six hours in the event of a generating outage.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance says a low-carbon future is unthinkable without batteries, describing them as a core technological enabler for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Batteries could be harnessed to help 1 billion people globally who lack access to electricity, the Alliance says.

Looking offshore

“Solar and onshore wind have won the race to be the cheapest sources of new ‘bulk generation’ in most countries,” says Tifenn Brandily, energy economics analyst at BNEF. “But the encroachment of clean technologies is now going well beyond that, threatening the balancing role that gas-fired plant operators, in particular, have been hoping to play.”

Offshore wind, once relatively expensive compared to onshore wind or solar, has seen a sharp reduction in capital costs thanks in part to the use of much larger turbines, more than halving its benchmark cost. The UK has the world’s largest offshore wind capability with 34% of global installed capacity.

Image: Global Wind Energy Council

“The low prices promised by offshore wind tenders throughout Europe are now materializing, with several high-profile projects reaching financial close in recent months,” says Giannakopoulou. “Its cost decline in the last six months is the sharpest we have seen for any technology.”

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EGEB: Clean Energy for America Act, North Dakota and Vermont solar, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • New legislation would streamline the tax code to boost clean energy.
  • North Dakota is last in American solar capacity, but the state is looking to make progress.
  • A Vermont policy designed to spur solar development on landfills seems to be working.
  • Britain sets another record in consecutive hours for coal-free power.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the Clean Energy for America Act in Congress last week. The proposed bill aims to get rid of the current “patchwork” of expiring incentives for renewables in the US, and opts to replace it with a different system. From the bill’s summary:

The bill creates a performance-based incentive that would be neutral and flexible between clean electricity technologies. Taxpayers are able to choose between a production tax credit (PTC) and an investment tax credit (ITC), which are scaled based on the carbon emissions of the electricity generated – measured as grams of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) emitted per kilowatt hour (KWh) generated. Power plants that emit at least 35 percent less carbon than the current nationwide average begin qualifying for a small incentive, which increases for power plants that are progressively cleaner. Zero emission facilities qualify for the maximum credits – a 2.3 cents per KWh hour PTC or a 30 percent ITC. The PTC is available for the 10 years after a facility is placed in service.

The Clean Energy for America Act also touches upon clean fuel, energy-efficient homes and energy-efficient buildings, among other things. The Union of Concerned Scientists has expressed its strong support for the bill, though there’s plenty of overall skepticism about it being passed.

North Dakota Solar

For a number of reasons — including its fossil fuel resources and wind power — North Dakota hasn’t been a big solar state. In fact, it ranks last in the US for installed solar capacity, with less than 0.5 MW installed at the end of 2018.

But Morning Consult reports on how the state recently approved its first commercial solar project, and North Dakotans may be becoming a bit more receptive to solar’s potential.

Brian Kroshus (R), chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, voted in favor of the project. He believes North Dakota’s lack of a Renewable Portfolio Standard hasn’t incentivized state utilities to pursue solar energy.

When paired with the northern state’s preference for wind, it’s clear why solar has lagged behind, but there appears to be room for at least some solar development going forward.

Vermont Solar

It’s a different story in Vermont, home state of “Solar Star” city Burlington. Energy News Network took a look at the state policy which aims to put solar in areas like landfills and brownfields — and away from undeveloped land — by incentivizing developers to do so through a “premium rate” for such projects.

One example cited in the report is a 500 kW solar array that’s been set in a remediated brownfield. The state has received more than 100 applications for these projects since the program came about in July 2017. It’s been so successful, officials are now thinking about ways to further refine the program to make it more effective.

No Coal for Britain

Another week, another record for British energy use without coal. Britain was powered completely by sources other than coal for more than 100 hours straight over the recent weekend, according to The Telegraph.

A National Grid spokesman said it seems to be becoming a “regular occurrence,” and that does seem to be the case. A few weeks ago, Britain went more than 90 hours without coal. During a week in March, 35% of British electricity was generated by wind power alone.


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America's renewable energy usage set to surpass coal production for the first time ever

America’s renewable energy usage set to surpass coal production for the first time ever

  • Coal is falling out of favor as renewable energy poises to surpass it this month
  • While solar and wind energy use rise, coal has steadily declined over the decade 
  • Expert say renewables will soon pass coal in energy production this month

In the U.S., coal-fired power is running out of steam as renewable energy is poised to eclipse the amount of energy produced by coal plants.

A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has projected that as of this month, power derived from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal, will generate more energy than traditional coal-powered plants.  

Should that occur, it would mark a first for the renewable energy sector. 

A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has projected that as of this month, power derived from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal, will generate more energy than traditional coal-powered plants

A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has projected that as of this month, power derived from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal, will generate more energy than traditional coal-powered plants

A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), has projected that as of this month, power derived from hydro, biomass, wind, solar and geothermal, will generate more energy than traditional coal-powered plants 

IEEFA says the trend could potentially extend into the month of May, in a promising signal for renewable energy adoption. 

This trend will happen sporadically throughout the next several years, says the IEEFA, as renewable energy becomes cheaper and the world’s attention focuses on mitigating the effects of carbon-fueled climate change by turning away from fossil fuels. 

Growth in both solar and wind power has been particularly stark with the former producing 48 times more electricity than it did a decade ago due to cheaper equipment and government incentives. 

Though renewable energy is aided in its displacement of coal by a seasonal dip in the resource’s usage – coal plants typically decrease output in Spring as energy consumption decelerates and some plants shut down for maintenance – the positive trend is significant, especially when factoring in a struggling coal industry. 

Coupled with a rise in renewables has been a diametric trend of declining coal consumption. Last year, coal hit a nearly 40-year low in terms of proportional usage in the U.S. 

Coal has fallen out of favor in part due to decreasing costs of natural gas.

Renewable energy has closed the gap on coal which has fallen out of favor throughout the last several decades. However, they still constitute a relatively small portion of U.S. production

Renewable energy has closed the gap on coal which has fallen out of favor throughout the last several decades. However, they still constitute a relatively small portion of U.S. production

Renewable energy has closed the gap on coal which has fallen out of favor throughout the last several decades. However, they still constitute a relatively small portion of U.S. production

In 2016, coal was dethroned as the America's fuel of choice by natural gas, a feat aided in part by a thriving hydro-fracking industry that continues to pump abundant fossil fuels

In 2016, coal was dethroned as the America's fuel of choice by natural gas, a feat aided in part by a thriving hydro-fracking industry that continues to pump abundant fossil fuels

In 2016, coal was dethroned as the America’s fuel of choice by natural gas, a feat aided in part by a thriving hydro-fracking industry that continues to pump abundant fossil fuels

In 2016, coal was dethroned as the America’s fuel of choice by natural gas, a feat aided in part by a thriving hydro-fracking industry that continues to pump abundant fossil fuels out of the Bakken Oil Shale in North Dakota. 

The decline has continued even despite renewed interest from President Donald Trump in reinvigorating the coal industry.  

Even with the rapid ingress of renewable energy, solar, wind, and hydroelectric still constitute a relatively small portion of U.S. production. 

According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable energy supplies about 11 percent of America’s energy while fossil fuels supply 80 percent.

With the decline of coal, however, more players in the fossil fuel industry are transitioning to renewable energy in hopes of ensuring their futures both economically and otherwise. 

In March, Excel energy – a $30 billion company that generated half of its energy using coal – announced that it will close a quarter of its plants and aim to produce zero-carbon energy by 2050 according to CNN.

HOW CAN SCIENTISTS TURN SUNLIGHT INTO FUEL?

Scientists have developed a way to transform sunlight into fuel that could lead to an ‘unlimited source of renewable energy’.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have done this by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

They did this through using a technique called semi-artificial photosynthesis that is based on the same process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. 

Artificial photosynthesis has been around for decades but it has not yet been successfully used to create renewable energy.

This is because it relies on the use of catalysts, which are often expensive and toxic. 

Researchers used natural sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using a mixture of biological components and manmade technologies. 

Researchers reactivated a process in algae that has been dormant for millennia.

They did this using hydrogenase, an enzyme present in algae that is capable of reducing protons into hydrogen. 

‘During evolution, this process has been deactivated because it wasn’t necessary for survival but we successfully managed to bypass the inactivity to achieve the reaction we wanted – splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen’, said Katarzyna Sokół, first author and PhD student at St John’s College.

Ms Sokół hopes the findings will enable new innovative model systems for solar energy conversion to be developed.

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Let’s move the whole state of Illinois to 100% clean, renewable energy.  Tell your legislator to support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (HB 3624/SB 2132). 

This bill will:

  • Set a goal of 100% clean energy for IL by 2050
  • Clean up the state’s electric sector by 2030
  • Create jobs and economic opportunities, especially for disadvantaged communities
  • Electrify the transportation sector

This is big. Send a message to tell your State Rep and State Senator to support and co-sponsor the Clean Energy Jobs Act!

The cities of Chicago and Evanston have already committed to go all-in on renewables — now, it’s time for all Illinoisans to have clean air, affordable energy, and access to the clean energy economy!  Join the movement for 100% clean energy and ask your State Legislators support the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Earlier this year, Sierra Club & the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition introduced the Clean Energy Jobs Act.  Seventh Generation is partnering with Sierra Club to grow revolutionary, grassroots climate activism in the U.S.  Climate change may be a global challenge, but right now some of the most inspiring progress is happening in local communities and states around the country. Let’s make history, Illinois!

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Blockchain Is The Next Big Thing For Renewable Energy

If you are interested in this story then read also Meet The Companies Spearheading Blockchain For Clean Energy.

Blockchain has been touted as the next big technological advance – impacting everything from online transactions to e-government. But what does it mean for renewable energy?

Essentially an online register that securely stores information, blockchain serves as a repertoire of knowledge accessible to everyone. Rather than being controlled by one entity, blockchain is spread across multiple computers and uses a form of data logging to ensure that the information cannot be changed or corrupted by anyone else. By decentralizing data and protecting the way it is manipulated, blockchain promotes transparency and the sharing of information. As such, the record has immense potential in helping shape a wave of new technology and our ability to interact with it.

 Read Also: Cruise Ship Pollution Is Causing Serious Health And Environmental Problems

Solar Bankers uses blockchain technology to develop digitalized electricity systems. Decentralized energy system on the foundation of novel solar modules can create highly efficient energy, even in places with weak infrastructures or conflict areas. This enables less developed countries and emerging nations to avoid high setup costs of a traditional, centralized electricity network.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Blockchain has served as the go-to platform for the online currencies that have created a lot of hype as an alternative form of legal tender. Whilst they are often mentioned in the same breath, blockchain is far more than just a platform for cryptocurrency. While energy-intensive cryptocurrency mining has caused a spike in carbon emissions, blockchain is a blank canvas capable of driving innovation in the field of green technology . Startups and major companies alike are looking to unlock the potential that blockchain holds to catalyze the transition to green energy.

Consumer Driven Smart Grids

Many startups are already using blockchain as a tool to make energy grids more accessible and sustainable by promoting data-sharing in real time. The idea behind creating energy grids linked to blockchain is fairly simple: by giving consumers total control over where they source their energy as well as the information behind the production itself it drives competition and promotes sustainable energy.

Consumers using a smart-grid that relies on blockchain will be able to compare their energy providers and buy directly from them. In Estonia, a blockchain-powered smart grid called WePower has been testing just how well a choice-driven energy market could work by teaming up with an independent energy provider who shares their energy data in real time. Consumers helping pilot the program have bought into the grid and been given credits to spend on specific energy sources, giving them the freedom to alter their choices based off of real-time power generation and their prices.

A wind turbine replaces an old coal power plant.

Getty

Estonia’s fully digital grid made it easy for a WePower to test its blockchain project as well as using it to help promote clean energy . WePower’s CEO Nick Martyniuk told Wired that “blockchain provides the necessary trust for data sharing and creates liquidity as well as accountability between energy buyers and producers.”

 Read Also: The European Union Is Helping These Islands To Go Renewable

Should the blockchain-based grid take off and become more mainstream, it could open up a whole new market for clean energy as Martyniuk points out, “Even though the cost of renewables has dropped significantly, small to medium size companies don’t have a good way to start buying green energy.”

An Opportunity for Clean Energy

A smarter electricity grid giving consumers transparent energy choices could push for more integration of clean energy. As Yvo Hunink points out, cheaper forms of energy, such as renewables, are set to be the market’s favorite choice and could help propel clean energy as a mainstream option.

Based off projects in India, Hunink illustrates what a blockchain-driven grid could look like: “A biomass plant owned by a farmer in rural India could start delivering the backup power to the grid as soon as the central grid fails, for a price that may vary dynamically according to the rest of available energy in the system. If the blackout is during the day, many solar panels would also be able to cover the load, however, at night, the biomass plant operator has better leverage to sell his energy for a higher price. The market dynamics of supply and demand could all be automatically contracted within a smart contract blockchain environment.

Solar panels containing photovoltaic cells float on water at the hydroelectric dam project by EDP-Energias de Portugal SA’s renewables unit.

© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

The decentralization of energy systems democratizes information and allows individuals to make their better-informed decisions. As a tool, blockchain smart grids could help to reduce inequality and provide cheaper, cleaner energy to both areas with developed electricity grids and those lacking any energy access. Blockchain could be one of the many solutions to long term reduction of carbon emissions and help promote sustainable development across the world.

 Read Also: The New Age Of Electricity – Utilities In 2019

However, in order to be successful, smart grids will require everyone to share their information, a move that many companies and private citizens alike have refused to do. Blockchain will need everyone on common ground in order to truly reach its potential as a global tool, but until then, startups will continue to pioneer the technology and help small communities and developing nations take charge of the clean energy revolution.

If you are interested in this story then read also Meet The Companies Spearheading Blockchain For Clean Energy.

Climate change: animation shows US leading the world in carbon emissions

Humans are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. But climate change is a cumulative problem, a function of the total amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the sky. Some of the heat-trapping gases in the air right now date back to the Industrial Revolution. And since that time, some countries have pumped out vastly more carbon dioxide than others.

The wonderful folks at Carbon Brief have put together a great visual of how different countries have contributed to climate change since 1750. The animation shows the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of the top emitters and how they’ve changed over time. Take a look:

What’s abundantly clear is that the United States of America is the all-time biggest, baddest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.

That’s true, despite recent gains in energy efficiency and cuts in emissions. These relatively small steps now cannot offset more than a century of reckless emissions that have built up in the atmosphere. Much more drastic steps are now needed to slow climate change. And as the top cumulative emitter, the US bears a greater imperative for curbing its carbon dioxide output and a greater moral responsibility for the impacts of global warming.

Yet the United States is now the only country aiming to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. China now emits more than the US, and India’s emissions are rapidly rising. But these countries have a much smaller share of cumulative global emissions. Their populations are also much bigger than the US and other wealthier countries, so the amount that India and China emit per person is vastly smaller than the United States or the United Kingdom.

Here are some takeaways from this animation:

1) Cumulative emissions are the critical factor behind the warming we’re experiencing

It’s not simply the rate of our output of heat-trapping gases that changes the global climate; the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted is a critical factor as well.

While atmospheric carbon is gradually absorbed by the ocean and plants, a large fraction, about 20 percent, lingers for millennia. That means a big chunk of the greenhouse gases emitted at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution is still heating up our planet today. If we were to magically cease emitting all greenhouse gases at once, the planet would likely continue warming for a period of time. This leads to the next point.

2) The United States has an outsized role in global warming, despite recent progress

When it comes to total greenhouse gas emissions, the United States does a behind-the-back, through-the-legs, backboard-breaking dunk over China and the Soviet Union.

In other words, the largest share of global greenhouse gases emitted since the Industrial Revolution comes from the US. And with great emissions comes great responsibility to mitigate climate change.

And yes, the United States has already made some of the largest cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions of any country in the world. Between 2005 and 2015, US emissions fell 11.5 percent, largely due to switching to less carbon-intensive fuels like natural gas. However, US energy consumption hit a record high last year, and emissions are on the rise again after years of decline.

3) Carbon intensity matters more than population for cumulative emissions

The graph also shows us that the worst greenhouse gas emitters of all time aren’t the most populous countries. Instead, most of the chart toppers are the largest economic powers. You can see the United Kingdom drop down the rankings as its empire disintegrated over the years, losing an economic grip on the world, for example.

That should teach us something about the most populated countries in the world today: India and China.

China and India do contribute a large and growing share of global emissions — which absolutely needs to be slowed down and reversed — but most of the warming we’re seeing now is due to the emissions of wealthier countries like the United States.

China emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, but it emits less per person. China emits more carbon dioxide than the United States, but it emits less per person. Union of Concerned Scientists

And remember the total emissions rate from both China and India has to be divided by more than a billion to yield an apt comparison to countries like the United States.

In 2015, the United States emitted 15.53 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita. China emitted 6.59 metric tons. India emitted just 1.58 metric tons. As these countries get richer, their per capita emissions are poised to rise further. This is why technology transfer from wealthier countries to less developed economies is shaping up to be a critical component of fighting climate change.

But ultimately the largest share of the burden in cleaning up this mess should fall to those who played the largest role in creating it. This animation leaves no doubt as to the culprits.

Since the first Earth Day, the planet’s CO2 levels have gone off the rails

Image: nasa

When Americans celebrated the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, the planet’s atmosphere was markedly different than it is today. Nearly 50 years ago, scientists measured Earth’s levels of carbon dioxide — the planet’s most important greenhouse gas — at around 325 parts per million, or ppm. 

Now, almost five decades later, that number has shot up to around 412 ppm, nearly 90 ppm higher. It’s a change atmospheric researchers, geologists, and climate scientists call unparalleled in at least 800,000 years, though it’s likely carbon dioxide levels haven’t been this high in millions years

“The rate of CO2 increase since the first Earth Day is unprecedented in the geologic record,” said Dan Breecker, a paleoclimatologist at The University of Texas at Austin.

“No matter how you look at this it’s totally unprecedented,” agreed Kris Karnauskas, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“It’s totally unprecedented”

“The last time CO2 levels were this high, the sea level was many feet higher than it is today,” added Matthew Lachniet, a climate scientist at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. This was a warmer geologic period on Earth called the Pliocene, spanning some 2.5 to 5 million years ago. Earth’s oceans were some 30 feet higher then, noted Lachniet, after the planet’s ice sheets melted into the sea.

UPDATE: April 22, 2019, 9:05 a.m. EDT: As of 4/20/2019, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reports that CO2 ppm is now over 414 ppm. Earlier in the month updates were postponed due to an equipment failure.

Just how unprecedented are today’s CO2 levels?

Over the last million years, Earth’s CO2 levels have certainly fluctuated, but they’ve naturally wavered between 180 and 280 ppm, explained Jason Briner, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Buffalo. 

CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years.

CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years.

Image: Scripps Institution of oceanography

But on Earth Day in 2019 we’ve “now exceeded” even the highest ceiling of natural CO2 swings by some 130 ppm. In short, it’s not normal. Especially over the last 49 years, since the first Earth Day.

“Dang,” said Briner. “87 ppm in 49 years.”

The CO2 rate isn’t just really high — it’s picking up steam 

In the 1970s, after the first Earth Day, CO2 levels were going up by about 1 ppm per year. But in recent years the rate has increased to, on average, over 2 ppm, said Karnauskas. That rate is unheard of over the last 800,000 years (Scientists have direct proof of Earth’s CO2 levels from as far as 800,000 years ago from air bubbles trapped in ancient ice.)

Previous rises in carbon dioxide levels have simply been more gradual events. “Past climate changes pale in comparison,” said Karnauskas.

Earth can’t keep up with these changes

We’re pumping colossal amounts of CO2 into the planet’s skies. 

Normally, Earth can deal with this excess carbon. Over longer periods of time the planet absorbs the carbon into the oceans and the rocky ground. But today these changes are simply happening too rapidly. The planet just can’t consume the CO2 deluge. 

When the rate of CO2 release is fast, like it is now, this carbon is gulped up by the oceans, explained Breecker. Today, about 31 percent of human-generated CO2 is absorbed into the seas. But at such a fast rate (especially since the first Earth Day), the ocean surface can only soak up so much carbon dioxide at once, while the rest stays in the air and heats the planet.

When Earth has more time to deal with CO2 increases — say on the order of hundreds of thousands of years — this carbon is also stored away in rocks, in a well-understood process called “silicate weathering.”

Rising CO2 ppm since around 2005.

Rising CO2 ppm since around 2005.

Image: nasa / noaa

But today, there’s no time for these slow-moving natural processes to deal with historically high greenhouse gas emissions. C02 emissions are just increasing too quickly.

“The rate of CO2 emissions is very important,” said Breecker. “It affects how much of the CO2 that is emitted stays in the atmosphere and thus contributes to warming.”

Where are we headed?

Without significant and ambitious efforts to slash carbon emissions this century, we are going to blow through 500 ppm, no question.  

In a “business-as-usual” scenario, which means emissions continue unchecked, humanity will see some outrageous carbon numbers, which portends significant future warming. “If we maintain a business-as-usual we can conceivably hit 700 ppm in the future relatively easily,” said Lachniet. 

Under this high carbon emissions scenario, global average temperatures are expected to rise this century to between 4.7 and 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit — depending on how sensitive Earth is to these unprecedented levels of CO2. 

The red line shows a high carbon emissions scenario.

The red line shows a high carbon emissions scenario.

Image: BOB KOPP / ECONOMIC RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE: AN AMERICAN PROSPECTUS

Even if society makes some emissions cuts — though not on the order of the ambitious emissons cuts called for by the historic Paris Agreement — we’re on track for some 625 ppm by the century’s end, noted Karnauskas. That’s a 190 percent increase from CO2 levels on the very first Earth Day.

Although political leadership in the U.S. is still actively fostering misinformation about climate science, the United Nations (UN) has made clear that society must radically decarbonize to spare the future from the worst consequences of climate change. “The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” Debra Roberts, an environmental scientist and a lead author of the UN’s latest climate report, said in a statement.  

Yet with 412 ppm and counting, we’re already locked in for significant future warming. “The Earth will continue to warm for centuries in the future,” said Lachniet. “It takes the planet a while to catch up.”

“Scary times ahead.”

More heat promises more severe drought and extreme, pummeling weather. But limiting the planet’s carbon load — say to under 500 ppm — will be a boon to children today, and humanity beyond.

“The decisions we make or don’t make today will have an influence on climate 1,000 years from now,” said Lachniet.

As things now look on Earth Day 2019, the trends and magnitude of the CO2 increase since 1970 doesn’t bode well. 

“Scary times ahead,” said Briner.

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We Fact-Checked President Trump’s Dubious Claims on the Perils of Wind Power

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WASHINGTON — It’s no secret that President Trump really, really dislikes wind power. He’s been vocal on the subject for years, ever since a battle with Scottish officials over a plan to build what he called a “really ugly wind farm” within sight of his golf resort in Aberdeen.

More recently, in rallies and speeches, Mr. Trump has stepped up his attacks on wind turbines, suggesting that their noise can cause cancer (there’s absolutely no evidence of this) and predicting power failures when the wind stops blowing (also not true).

Here’s a closer look at a few of his recent comments.

You might get cancer. (You won’t.)

During a sometimes rambling digression about wind turbines at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual spring dinner in Washington on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said: “They say the noise causes cancer.”

The suggestion that turbine noises cause cancer is completely unfounded. “The American Cancer Society is unaware of any credible evidence linking the noise from windmills to cancer,” a spokeswoman for the group said in an email.

Separately, some researchers have been investigating claims that noise from wind turbines might cause other health problems like nausea, headaches or sleeplessness. So far, experts haven’t found strong evidence of links to those conditions, although that debate is likely to persist.

When compared to the research around coal power, an energy source that Mr. Trump has long championed, the difference is stark.

There is ample evidence linking the particulate pollution from coal plants to heart disease, respiratory problems, and lung cancer. When Mr. Trump moved to relax restrictions on coal plant pollution last year, his own Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the change could lead to as many as 1,400 additional premature deaths each year by 2030.

Property values will plummet. (Unlikely.)

At the same dinner, Mr. Trump made this claim: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value.”

There have been a few smaller studies suggesting that wind-farm development may have depressed property values in some areas. But the balance of evidence suggests that this is uncommon. Much larger studies, including an analysis of more than 50,000 home sales across nine states conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2013, have found no evidence that home values are generally affected by nearby wind projects.

In any case, Mr. Trump’s golf course in Scotland does not appear to have suffered financially after the construction of the wind farm nearby.

The lights will go out if the wind drops. (They won’t.)

At a rally in Ohio last month, Mr. Trump suggested that wind power was too unreliable to be useful. “Let’s put up some windmills,” he said. “When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind. Please turn off the television quickly!”

It’s true that wind turbines generate electricity only when the wind is blowing. But that doesn’t mean the power in your home will suddenly go out when the wind dies down.

Across the United States, regional grid operators typically rely on a diverse array of power sources throughout the day so that the lights stay on. During sunny hours, they can draw electricity from solar panels. When it’s windy, they can make use of power from wind farms. If power from those renewable sources starts to drop, operators can use power from natural gas turbines or hydroelectric dams to fill in the gaps.

So far, America’s grid operators have been very good at this balancing act, even as coal has declined and renewables have surged in popularity. Last year, wind power accounted for nearly one-fifth of the electricity generated in the Texas grid, and people were still able to watch TV there. When power failures around the country do occur, it’s almost always because of severe weather knocking out transmission lines, not because wind turbines stopped spinning.

However, it’s also fair to say that if wind and solar power continue to expand — the two sources produced 8.2 percent of the nation’s electricity last year and are growing rapidly — grid operators could face new challenges in juggling those intermittent sources.

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Possible solutions for that might include adding batteries or other energy storage to balance supply and demand, or improving weather forecasts so that operators can better predict the output of wind farms. Or building more transmission lines to get access to wind power from distant regions, on the principle that the wind is usually blowing somewhere in the country.

Experts have concluded that it’s technically possible for the United States to manage a lot more wind and solar power than it uses today.

For instance, a 2016 modeling study published in Nature Climate Change found that, using existing technology, the country could get 55 percent of its electricity from wind and solar if it built a network of high-voltage transmission lines. That study analyzed reams of historical weather data and concluded that the lights would stay on even with daily and seasonal fluctuations in the wind.

To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate debates about what the power grid of the future should look like and how big a role renewable energy ought to play in that mix. But the fact that the wind can come and go is hardly a slam-dunk argument against using wind power.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Kanye West wants President Trump to replace Air Force One with a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Jet called the Aerocruiser Designed by Shabtai Hirshberg

Courtesy Getty Images

On Thursday, October 11th, 2018 Kanye West told President Trump that he should ride in the “The freshest, the flyest,” and replace Air Force One with the Aerocruiser designed by Shabtai Hirshberg. Clean Energy News had the opportunity to discuss the project with the designer of the Aircraft…

Q. Tell us about your Redesign of a Commercial Aircraft for 2030 project?

A. The project started out by researching current commercial airflight. Looking ahead and forecasting usage patterns through 2030, the projections demonstrate that commercial passengers will double current airflight capacity. I was surprised that no one was doing anything about a solution.

Courtesy Getty Images

Q. What is the name of this Aircraft?

A. The aircraft’s name is Aerocruiser which is a combination of “aero” = aircraft + cruiser which derives from “cruise speed” = most optimal speed for an aircraft. The Aerocruiser is designed to travel at trans-sonic flight speeds of Mach ~0.89-0.95.

Q. Can you describe your aircraft and what inspired the design?

A. The Aerofoil design is intended for land and water take-off/landing capabilities. This design can help expand current airport capacities without negative impact to the surrounding neighborhoods while utilizing the world’s water bodies as a natural resource.

Q. Are you currently in collaboration with Kanye West and President Trump to replace Air Force One with the Aerocruiser?

A. Not currently but I would be very happy to work with them on this project.

Q. How will the Aerocruiser help with greenhouse gas emissions?
A. In addition to passenger capacity, the design requires less propulsion and as a result, less fuel and emissions. Side by side with a 787, this aircraft would take up less physical and carbon footprint. The Aerocruiser is more efficient.

Q. Why did you select Hydrogen as the fuel for the Aerocruiser?

A. This project was about a futuristic design, the choice to leverage hydrogen fuel cell technology would be to reduce impact on the environment. If we were to build this craft with today’s available technologies, I would consider leveraging turbo fans.

Q. What would a typical flight time be for this Hydrogen Fuel Cell jet?

A. At hypersonic (Mach 5) speeds, the Aerocruiser could fliy from NYC to London in 30 minutes.

Q. How would this aircraft help develop the Hydrogen Economy?

A. There is a possibility to leverage electrolysis to generate the hydrogen as the fuel source. Air vapor could be used in the Aerocruiser design.

Q. What other transportation design projects are you currently working on?

A. I am currently working with a London based firm on building an Aerocruiser 2.0 based on my aircraft design.