Renewable Roundup: Germany ditches fossil fuels, US renewables surpass coal
Here are some Global Warming stories that have been bubbling up recently in profusion.
The last time the United States consumed more renewable energy than coal was in the 19th century, when hydropower was just getting started and wood burning was a major fuel source.
Three years in the planning, the Cleve Hill Solar Park has gotten final approval from the UK Planning Inspectorate Office. When completed, it will be the largest solar power plant in the country with 880,000 solar panels producing a maximum of 350 MW of electricity — enough to power 91,000 UK homes.
The entire facility, which will include some unspecified battery storage capability, will occupy 364 hectares (900 acres) of farmland in Kent, 96 km southeast of London. That’s equivalent to 600 football pitches, otherwise known as soccer fields in less developed parts of the world. Because its capacity exceeds 50 MW, it was deemed to be a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, a designation that meant it had to undergo an extensive application including public hearings, according to Engadget.
Amazon, once a little online bookstore, is now a corporate behemoth. As such, it needs behemoth levels of energy. The good news is that a lot more of Amazon’s energy will be coming from the sun in the coming years, as Amazon is building 5 new utility-scale solar power plants in the US, China, and Australia.
This does not excuse the rest of their corporate evil, but credit where it is due.
What I think is happening is that Tesla had its smoothest production ramp of any new vehicle to date on top of having a demand issue with the global pandemic.
A group of companies in Japan is working to create an electric oil tanker that will itself run on renewable energy. There’s some heavy irony in this one.
Still in the developmental stage, electric helicopters have proven the concept, but there is still the problem of providing such power over extended time periods. For example, a Robinson R44 converted into a purely electric helicopter set a world record in December 2018 when it flew for 22 minutes, covering 34.5 miles at a speed of 80 knots. Battery power and capacity will have to be increased — without requiring prohibitive extra weight — for electric helicopters to become a viable proposition.
What if all cars switched to electric overnight? We recently published a peer-reviewed conference paper looking at the emissions impact for such a switch in Scotland alone, and have now extended our analysis to the whole of the UK for a forthcoming publication.
The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 and aims to bring all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2050. We are still some way off: though there were 39 million vehicles on UK roads last year, just 27,000 new electric vehicles were registered. But the switch will happen, eventually.
The changeover will in fact take ten years or so after electric cars become cheaper to buy than gas guzzlers, as the old clunkers owned by even the most reprobate Denialists wear out and become too expensive to maintain. Electric cars are already cheaper to lease.
Yeah, Moore and his people are not helping.
Climate science denier and Trump transition team advisor Dr. Tim Ball, who a Canadian court earlier derided as incompetent, ill-intended, and apparently indifferent to the truth, has been further rebuffed in the British Columbia Court of Appeal and must now stand libel for a 9-year-old attack against prominent Canadian climate scientist (and outgoing BC Green Party leader) Dr. Andrew Weaver.
Ball, a retired geography professor who for almost two decades has been giving lectures and media interviews in Canada and around the world denying the science of climate change, actually “won” this case when it was decided in the British Columbia Supreme Court in 2018. In January 2011, Ball had attacked Weaver on the populist website, Canada Free Press, in an article that BC Supreme Court Justice Ronald Skolrood later described as “poorly written,” and “rife with errors and inaccuracies, which suggests a lack of attention to detail on Dr. Ball’s part, if not an indifference to the truth.”
Yet, while finding that Ball had clearly set out to publicly question Weaver’s competence and trash his reputation — “It is quite apparent that this was Dr. Ball’s intent” — Justice Skolrood still let him off the hook, saying, “Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views.”
This disdain Ball claimed as a vindication, calling the decision “a victory for free speech and a blow against the use of the law to silence people.”
Weaver appealed the free pass and Ball’s celebration ended late last month, when a three-judge panel of the BC Court of Appeal found that while the busy climate contrarian is free to speak, he is nevertheless accountable for the sting in his words, giving Weaver ultimate vindication.
(Crossposted with DailyKos.)